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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 7th Aug 2020

News Highlights

Most Europeans head back to office while Britons stay home

According to research by AlphaWise, U.S. bank Morgan Stanley's research unit, almost three quarters of the staff of white-collar firms in Europe have started returning to work, compared to only about one-third of their counterparts in the UK. More than 83% of office staff have returned to their offices in France but the numbers in the UK are far fewer, despite the plea by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Britons to start returning to their workplaces.

France, Spain and Germany fear second wave amidst spike in cases

France, Spain and Germany each reported over 1,000 new daily infections and their highest numbers in months, as the world continues to battle a surge in Covid-19 cases. Germany announced mandatory tests for travellers coming from high-risk regions and French cities such as Nice and Toulouse ordered the public to wear masks in busy streets.

Americans suffer increased mental health after effects of Covid-19 lockdowns

A new report released by the Commonwealth Fund indicates that Americans are disproportionately suffering mental health consequences related to the coronavirus pandemic as compared to people from other countries. More than 160,000 Americans have already died of Covid-19 complications and, with economies tanking and millions of people losing their jobs, many millions more are living with acute stress and anxiety about the future.

Covid-19 human trials set to commence in Indonesia

Indonesia is set to start Phase 3 clinical trials next week of a potential coronavirus vaccine, part of a collaboration between China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd and Bio Farma, a state-owned pharmaceutical company. Professor Kusnandi Rusmil, head researcher at Bandung's Padjadjaran University, said half of the 1,620 volunteers of the trial will receive the vaccine over a six-month period while the rest will receive a placebo.

Lockdown Exit
Covid-19 could push some universities over the brink
DUE TO BE completed in 2022, Boston University’s $141m data-sciences centre will tower over the city like an uneven Jenga tower, providing 350,000 square feet of space. The University of Reading in Britain has nearly finished a £50m ($65m) life-sciences building, designed to make more space for subjects that are attracting lots of students. The University of New South Wales in Australia has pumped more than A$500m into new facilities, as part of a project intended to push it into the top 50 of global rankings. Now, thanks to the virus, this is all in question
Global recovery will come faster if COVID-19 vaccine available to all: WHO chief
Economic recovery around the world could come faster if any COVID-19 vaccine is made available to all as a public good, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday (Aug 6). He was speaking in an online panel discussion with members of the Aspen Security Forum in the United States moderated by the NBC network. "Sharing vaccines or sharing other tools actually helps the world to recover together. The economic recovery can be faster and the damage from COVID-19 could be less," Tedros said. "Vaccine nationalism is not good, it will not help us," he said in an allusion to the competitive scramble of nations and pharmaceutical researchers to come up with an effective vaccine and order as many doses as possible in advance.
Primary care networks and mental health services post COVID-19
A new briefing by the NHS Confederation’s PCN Network and Mental Health Network sets out where such opportunities may lie and possible approaches mental health providers and PCNs could take to improve partnership working. It says better partnership working will not only help to meet rising demand in the short-term but also ultimately improve care for patients with a mental health condition in the long-term. The briefing, which comes off the back of a meeting between senior leaders from the two networks’ memberships in June, shines a light on where partnership working has been successful, including how Mosaic Healthcare PCN in Hampshire used data and stakeholder workshops to identify the physical and mental health needs of their population which lead to a clear focus on social prescribing and closer relationships with social services and voluntary organisations.
UK lags behind Europe on returning to office
Office workers in the UK have been comparatively slow to return to their desks in relation to employees in Europe, now lockdown has eased. According to analysis from US bank Morgan Stanley’s research unit AlphaWise, only one-third (34%) of UK white-collar employees are commuting again, well off the pace of their European counterparts, where almost three-quarters of staff (68%) have done so. In France – the leading European country among returnees – 83% of office staff have returned, whereas in Spain, Italy and Germany three-quarters (around 75%) are now heading back in. Office workers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still advised to work from home as much as possible but the prime minister has urged staff in England to return to their workplaces, a request that has not been taken up by many so far.
Shoppers steer clear of high streets despite lockdown lifting
Shoppers continued to stay away from UK high streets last month despite the reopening of non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants following the lifting of lockdown measures. The number of visitors to UK retail destinations dropped by 39.4% in July compared with the same month a year ago, according to figures from Springboard, a data company that tracks footfall at consumer hotspots. Despite an improvement of almost a fifth from June, in the best month for visitor numbers since February, the figures suggest intense pressure remains for the high street as people continued to stay away from town and city centres amid the ongoing health risks from Covid-19. Non-essential shops began reopening in England and Northern Ireland in mid-June, and in Wales and Scotland later that month. Hotels, pub and restaurants in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland followed suit in July, though customers were only allowed back inside Welsh pubs and cafes this week.
Spain diagnoses 1,772 new coronavirus cases in post-lockdown record
Spain reported 1,772 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, marking the biggest jump since a national lockdown was lifted in June and beating the previous day’s record rise. The rate of increase in new cases, which does not include data from two regions, sharply rose from the previous day, while one more death was registered, bringing the total to 28,499. Cumulative cases, which include results from antibody tests on people who may have recovered, increased to 305,767 from 302,814, the health ministry said in a statement.
More Than Half of Canada’s Workers Fear Returning to the Office
More than half of Canadians are afraid to go back to their workplaces and 77% are worried their colleagues might show up infected with the coronavirus, according to research from consulting firm KPMG. About six in 10 say they’ll will refuse to go back if they believe their place of work is not safe enough and 57% are concerned about sharing meeting rooms and other common areas. The survey polled more than 1,000 Canadians online and was conducted July 22 to 24
Health experts warn US cities of 'trouble ahead'
White House health experts are warning of a slow rise in the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus in U.S. cities such as Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Washington and urged local leaders to remain vigilant to avoid a surge.
Learning 'pods': a new solution to the coronavirus school crisis
Parents are banding together to form education pods for children to learn in groups, but not everyone can afford them.
Lockdown sees Turkish women bear brunt of unpaid work: research
Turkish women did four times as much household and care work as men during lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, research supported by the United Nations Development Programme showed on Thursday. A survey conducted in May of more than 2,400 people showed women shouldered most of the unpaid work during lockdown even though men spent substantially more time working in the home. The gender gap in paid work narrowed under lockdown as a result of changes in work patterns and a fall in men’s paid work hours, the research found. But gender gaps in unpaid work and total work time widened: on average women’s workload, including both paid and unpaid work, increased while that of men decreased, the findings said.
Exit Strategies
City of Brussels: Tougher mask rules needed if COVID-19 cases keep rising
Face masks will become mandatory in public spaces in Brussels if the current trend of rising COVID-19 infections continues, Rudi Vervoort, the city's minister president, announced Thursday. Following a meeting of the Regional Security Council, Vervoort said that the threshold level for the tougher rules to kick in is set at 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over 7 days. Currently, the capital is at 38 cases per 100,000, he noted.
Pelosi says Congress will resolve COVID-19 aid but must help needy: CNBC
U.S. lawmakers will resolve their differences over the next batch of COVID-19 aid and reach a deal, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday, but assistance must go to those who need it the most amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. "Will we find a solution? We will. Will we have an agreement? We will," Pelosi told CNBC in an interview. "If we're going to juggle some of this money, let's focus it where it's going to do the most good," she added, saying aid must help people who are the most needy. "They will spend it. It will be a stimulus or at least a stabilization."
Northern Ireland launches UKs first Covid-19 contact-tracing app
Northern Ireland has released its contact-tracing app – the first country in the UK to roll-out the technology. The app, StopCOVID NI, uses Bluetooth technology to notify users if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. Those who test positive will be sent a code by SMS, which can then be put into the app. Users will then be asked to share the random IDs their phone has been swapping with other app users over the last 14 days. Once a user agrees, these ‘diagnosis keys’ will allow the app to tell those people that they have been exposed to Covid-19. Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann urged the public to download the app, which uses the exposure notification APIs developed by Apple and Google. “Deploying this world leading technology can prove a major factor in helping our efforts to curb Covid-19 and prevent its spread. Its potential to be a game changer will, however, be totally dependent on the support of the Northern Ireland public,” he said.
Italy threatens to ban Ryanair alleging Covid-19 guideline violations
Italy’s aviation regulator has threatened to ban Ryanair from its skies, alleging that the airline has not complied with rules brought in to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The Italian civil aviation authority Enac accused the Dublin-based airline of “repeated violation of anti-Covid-19 health measures drafted by the Italian government and in force to protect passengers’ health”. Continued violation of the rules by the airline could mean it is banned from flying to or from Italy, or the regulator could impose a limit of 50% capacity on Ryanair flights to give passengers more space.
Brazil adrift as virus toll approaches 100,000
Five months after confirming its first case of the new coronavirus, Brazil is fast approaching the bleak milestone of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, a tragedy experts blame on the country's lack of coherent response. It will be just the second country to cross that grim threshold, after the United States, where the death toll is now over 150,000. "It's a tragedy, one of the worst Brazil has ever seen," said sociologist Celso Rocha de Barros, as the number of infections in the sprawling South American country approached three million -- also the second-highest in the world, after the US.
Germany wants mandatory testing for travellers as daily cases exceed 1,000 for first time since May
Germany announced mandatory tests for travellers returning from high-risk regions after new coronavirus cases breached the 1,000-a-day threshold for the first time since May, fuelling fears of a return to an economically disruptive lockdown. Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday (Aug 6) that free compulsory testing would be in force from Saturday after the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's public health agency, reported 1,045 new cases in a single day. Part of the increase was due to more tests taking place, he said, but the impact of holidaymakers returning to Germany and of flagging social distancing discipline was also significant.
Germany fights virus uptick with mandatory testing for travellers
Germany announced mandatory tests for travellers returning from high-risk regions after new coronavirus cases breached the 1,000-a-day threshold for the first time since May, fuelling fears of a return to an economically disruptive lockdown.
Brussels set to make face masks compulsory in public places
The local Brussels government is preparing to force people to wear face masks in public spaces and in private places accessible by the public, should the recent surge in coronavirus infections continue. According to Rudi Vervoor, the minister-president of the Brussels region, the order will be imposed as soon as the daily number of cases rises above 50 in every 100,000. Last week, the regional average for cases per day was 38.4, prompting officials to impose swift curbs on social engagements. The announcement came with UK ministers reportedly set to announce that incoming travellers from Belgium would have to quarantine for 14 days due to the spike in cases. A number of other countries, including Estonia, Ireland, Latvia and Norway, have already introduced similar restrictions.
Germany fights virus uptick with mandatory testing for travellers
Germany announced mandatory tests for travellers returning from high-risk regions after new coronavirus cases breached the 1,000-a-day threshold for the first time since May, fuelling fears of a return to an economically disruptive lockdown. Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday free compulsory testing would be in force from Saturday after the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health agency, reported 1,045 new cases in a single day. Part of the increase was due to more tests taking place, he said, but the impact of holidaymakers returning to Germany and of flagging social distancing discipline was also significant. Germany classifies almost all the world outside the European Union as high risk, as well as some regions within the bloc, including Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre in Spain, and Belgium’s Antwerp province. The compulsory tests mean travellers will not have to quarantine for two weeks. Anyone who refuses to take the test could face a fine of up to 25,000 euros (22,485 pounds).
Bank of England boss Bailey backs end of furlough scheme
The Governor of the Bank of England has backed the government's decision to end its furlough scheme in October. Andrew Bailey told the BBC it was important that policymakers helped workers "move forward" and not keep them in unproductive jobs. He said coronavirus would inevitably mean that some jobs became redundant. The Bank also predicted the economic slump caused by Covid-19 will be less severe than expected, but warned the recovery will also take longer. More than nine million jobs have been furloughed under the government's job retention scheme, but the Bank expects most people to go back to work as the economy recovers.
Coronavirus: England's contact-tracing app readies for launch
A second attempt at a Covid-19 contact-tracing app for England will soon be tested by members of the public. Officials hope to confirm the date for the limited roll-out within a few days. It could be as soon as next week. The app will let people scan barcode-like QR codes to log venue visits, as well as implementing Apple and Google's method of detecting other smartphones. But efforts are still ongoing to deliver medical test results within the product. Users will get alerts if others they have recently been close to declare that they have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The software will provide information about the prevalence of the disease in the local area to encourage people to be more cautious if levels rise.
Coronavirus stresses Americans more than others, study finds
The coronavirus pandemic has turned life upside down around the world, with many workers losing their jobs, economies plummeting and parents worried about reopening schools. But the US is being hit harder in more than one way. Not only does the US have the highest number of cases and deaths; the US population is also suffering more mental health consequences than people in other countries, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund released on Thursday. "As our country struggles with the surging number of cases and the economic havoc that the pandemic is wreaking, people in other countries are living a different, better reality," Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, said in a news release alongside the report. "Americans should realize that our country can do better, too."
Michelle Obama says she's suffering from 'low-grade depression'
Former First Lady Michelle Obama says she's suffering from a "low-grade depression." The reasons? The pandemic, race relations in the US and the political strife surrounding it all, she says. "I'm waking up in the middle of the night because I'm worrying about something or there's a heaviness," Obama said in her "The Michelle Obama Podcast" on Wednesday. "I try to make sure I get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low." It's a familiar feeling for many Americans.
British workers more reluctant to return to office than Europeans, new research reveals
British office workers have returned to their desks at a far slower rate than their European counterparts, new research has revealed. A study, conducted by research unit AlphaWise at US bank Morgan Stanley, found around 34 per cent of British white-collar workers are back in the office, compared to 83 per cent of French office staff. Britain also lagged behind the other major European economies on office returns, with around three-quarters of German, Italian and Spanish workers having returned to the pre-pandemic commuting routine, according to the study.
Partisan Exits
Trump again claims Covid-19 will 'go away' as Fauci warns of long road ahead
Donald Trump on Wednesday repeated that he believes coronavirus will “go away”, despite his top public health expert warning that it could take most of 2021 or longer to get the pandemic under control and that it is “unlikely” the virus can ever be eradicated. At a White House briefing, the US president said of Covid-19: “It’s going away, it will go away, things go away, absolutely. No question in my mind, sooner rather than later.” Trump has made numerous versions of this assertion over the more than six months that the US has been battling the outbreak, despite vast evidence otherwise and frequent contradictions from public health leaders. On Wednesday the US had 4.8m recorded cases of coronavirus and has witnessed 157,690 deaths from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Public health experts in the last few days have praised a gradual decline in new cases in some states that were badly hit while warning that nationwide the pandemic was in a worrying “new phase”.
Facebook removes Trump post over false Covid-19 claim for first time
Facebook has removed a post from Donald Trump’s page for spreading false information about the coronavirus, a first for the social media company that has been harshly criticized for repeatedly allowing the president to break its content rules. The post included video of Trump falsely asserting that children were “almost immune from Covid-19” during an appearance on Fox News. There is evidence to suggest that children who contract Covid-19 generally experience milder symptoms than adults do. However, they are not immune, and some children have become severely ill or died from the disease. “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from Covid-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful Covid misinformation,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
US government shelves survey that painted bleak picture of Covid-19 life
The US Census Bureau has suspended a weekly survey that painted a bleak picture of American life during the Covid-19 pandemic, with no sign of when, or if, it will resume publishing the report. The “household pulse survey” tracked various quality-of-life measures, such as food sufficiency, internet access and mental health, and was first conducted by the Census Bureau on 23 April to “quickly and efficiently deploy data collected on how people’s lives have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic”, according to the agency’s website. While data such as weekly unemployment claims released by the Department of Labor has shown how many people have lost their jobs, the survey provided a window into the effect the economic downturn is having on the lives of Americans.
Coronavirus: Germany's growing anti-lockdown movement
It was a curious sight to behold. On August 1, a motley crowd of protesters from across Germany — ranging from far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists to supporters of the anti-vaccination movement and followers of esotericism — flocked to Berlin to vent their anger at government-imposed restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus. In front of the city's iconic Brandenburg Gate, people shouted "we're the second wave" and "resistance." According to the police, some 20,000 protesters converged on the capital that Saturday. The event had been organized by a controversial Stuttgart-based organization known to have staged the country's largest anti-coronavirus lockdown protests so far. That day's theme — "Tag der Freiheit," or "Day of Freedom" — was eerily reminiscent of the title of a 1935 Nazi propaganda film by Leni Riefenstahl.
South Africa's Ramaphosa sets up body to probe COVID-19 corruption
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has set up a ministerial committee to investigate alleged corruption in state tenders in the fight against COVID-19, his office said on Thursday, including with businesses supplying protective gear. Reports of suspect deals between government officials and businesses providing medical equipment, as well as food aid parcels to the poor, have sparked outrage in South Africa, where more than half a million cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 make it the fifth largest outbreak in the world. South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog said on Monday it was investigating irregularities in these contracts, the latest in a series of high-profile graft scandals involving politically-connected individuals.
Continued Lockdown
Colombia's long virus lockdown fuels anxiety and depression
In the Colombian capital of Bogotá, the mayor’s office reports that suicide attempts are up 21% since the start of quarantine, with psychologists also reporting a rise in new patients.
The South Koreans left behind in a contact-free society
Digital technology has helped South Koreans cope with the pandemic. But the elderly have been left behind in the new contact-free era. Like many people around the world, Lee Ye-rin has spent most of the last few months alone at home. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 32-year-old office worker now works remotely from her apartment in Seoul; she avoids going to the gym by training at home and streams films on her TV rather than going to the cinema. She reads e-books instead of going to the library, which has been closed during the pandemic anyway. “I have rarely eaten out since the outbreak,” Lee says. “Instead, I order a variety of takeaway meals and even ice-cream for dessert on a delivery app. When I am fed up with that, I order ingredients from the grocery store and cook at home.”
N. Korea's escalating virus response raises fear of outbreak
North Korea is quarantining thousands of people and shipping food and other aid to a southern city locked down over coronavirus worries, officials said, as the country’s response to a suspected case reinforces doubt about its longstanding claim to be virus-free. But amid the outside skepticism and a stream of North Korean propaganda glorifying its virus efforts, an exchange between the country and the United Nations is providing new clarity — and actual numbers — about what might be happening in North Korea, which has closed its borders and cut travel — never a free-flowing stream — by outsider monitors and journalists.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un directs aid to town under lockdown over 'virus concerns'
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un directed his government agencies to act immediately to stabilise the livelihoods of residents in a city locked down over coronavirus concerns, state media reported Thursday. North Korea declared an emergency and locked down Kaesong near the inter-Korean border in late July after finding a suspected virus case there. It hasn't confirmed yet if the person tested positive and still says the country hasn't had a single case of COVID-19, a claim questioned by outside experts.
Strict lockdown measures raise suspicions of virus outbreak in North Korea
North Korea is quarantining thousands of people and shipping food and other aid to a southern city locked down over coronavirus worries, officials said, as the country’s response to a suspected case reinforces doubt about its longstanding claim to be virus-free. But amid the outside scepticism and a stream of North Korean propaganda glorifying its virus efforts, an exchange between the country and the United Nations is providing new clarity — and actual numbers — about what might be happening in North Korea, which has closed its borders and cut travel — never a free-flowing stream — by outsider monitors and journalists.
Proportion of COVID-19 contacts reached by English tracing scheme falls
The proportion of the contacts of positive COVID-19 cases reached by England’s test and trace system fell in its latest week, the health ministry said, adding that the decline was partly due to local health protection teams handling outbreaks. The Department of Health said 4,642 positive cases were transferred to the system in the week to 29 July, of whom 79.4% were reached and asked to provide their contacts. Some 19,150 people were identified as coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive and of these 72.4% were reached and asked to self-isolate, it said, a decrease from 76.2% in the previous week
Scientific Viewpoint
AstraZeneca in first COVID-19 vaccine deal with Chinese company
Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products will produce AstraZeneca Plc’s potential COVID-19 vaccine in mainland China, the British drugmaker said on Thursday, its first deal to supply one of the world’s most populous countries. The deal underscores Astra’s frontrunner position in a global race to deliver an effective vaccine, given that Chinese ventures are leading at least eight of the 26 global vaccine development projects currently testing on humans. Under the agreement Shenzhen Kangtai, one of China’s top vaccine makers, will ensure it has annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses of the experimental shot AZD1222, which AstraZeneca co-developed with researchers at Oxford University, by the end of this year, AstraZeneca said.
Leeds researchers find Covid-19 patients can suffer with PTSD months after leaving hospital
Leeds researchers have found that some Covid-19 patients suffer with breathlessness, fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for months after they leave hospital. Researchers from the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust assessed 100 people who are recovering from the virus after being treated in hospital and identified several longer-term symptoms. Patients were found to have suffered from fatigue, which was the most common symptom, as well as breathlessness and issues with concentration and memory. The researchers also found that almost half of the Covid-19 survivors who had been in intensive care had some of the symptoms of PTSD. More than two thirds (68.8 percent) of the intensive care patients and just under half (45.6 percent) of the people who were treated in other hospital wards told researchers their overall quality of life had deteriorated.
Covid-19 may spread more easily among children than thought, report warns
A report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into an outbreak at a summer camp in Georgia suggests children – even asymptomatic cases – may play an important role in community transmission of Covid-19. The claim contradicts a number of earlier studies where the consensus appeared to be that children rarely transmit the virus between themselves or to other people. This week 260 employees in one of Georgia’s biggest school districts were barred from entering their schools to plan for reopening because they either had the virus or had been in contact with an infected individual.
Mental health study ramped up as Covid-19 struggles take toll on farmers
Robert Gordon University (RGU) and the NHS are working with Scottish farmers to improve mental wellbeing across the industry. The study was launched last year after studies showed that, on average, one farmer commits suicide every week in the UK. Those behind the project now fear farmers are facing additional hardship due to Covid-19 and are calling for them to take part in a survey to determine the best ways of offering help. Regional manager at NFU Scotland, Lorna Paterson, urged people to come forward and participate. She said: “Our farmers’ mental health generally is under severe pressure, and this has been escalated due to Covid-19.
COVID-19 and cancer insights revealed in new European study
A large Imperial-led study has revealed valuable insights into the impact and risk factors for cancer patients with COVID-19. The findings, from almost 900 cancer patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany, highlight a number of key clinical insights, including: The average mortality rate among cancer patients with SARS-CoV-2 was 33.6% - Patients who were male, older aged and had pre-existing conditions were more likely to have worse outcomes from COVID-19 - Continued chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment had little impact on the severity of COVID-19, or survival rates
Brazil facing 200,000 virus deaths by October: expert
With Brazil poised to register 100,000 coronavirus deaths, AFP spoke to medical statistician Domingos Alves about what went wrong in the giant South American country and where its outbreak is headed. Alves, coordinator of the Health Intelligence Lab at the University of Sao Paulo's Ribeirao Preto medical school, was scathing in his criticism of President Jair Bolsonaro's government, which he accused of "sacrificing the Brazilian people" in the name of keeping the economy afloat.
Where the Pandemic Is Only Getting Worse
To focus solely on the U.S., however, would be to miss the even more alarming situation occurring in much of the developing world. Brazil, second only to the U.S. in confirmed cases and deaths, has recorded more than 2 million infections. India, the world’s second-most populous country with the third-highest number of cases, is approaching the same grim milestone. Similar increases are occurring in South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia. Taken collectively, these countries account for more than a third of the world’s confirmed infections. And such figures only reflect the cases we know about.
Coronavirus infection rates continued to fall in early stages of lockdown easing, study finds
Coronavirus infection rates continued to drop despite some lockdown restrictions being lifted, a report from the UK's largest testing study has found. The rate of infection throughout the country was halving every eight to nine days during May, according to an initial report released last month by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI. A second report has now revealed the rate of infection continued to fall in late June and early July, with the virus still halving every eight to nine days.
'A matter of when not if': New Zealand begins battle against 'Covid fatigue'
New Zealand has attained the status of one of the world’s safest countries when it comes to the coronavirus; there is no known community transmission in the country and life has largely returned to normal. But with one eye on nations where the virus was once quashed before spiralling out of control again, officials and the government have changed their language in recent days in order to fight a new battle – this time against complacency. “We have to be absolutely on our toes,” Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s top health official, said in a Radio New Zealand interview on Wednesday. “That’s not just the health system … it’s everybody.”
Human Trials of Coronavirus Vaccine Set to Begin in Indonesia
Human trials on a potential coronavirus vaccine are due to start in Indonesia next week as part of a collaboration between state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma and China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, a senior researcher said. The launch of the vaccine trial comes as Indonesia has struggled to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, with a consistently escalating number of cases. The phase 3 clinical trial is set to begin on Aug. 11 and will involve 1,620 volunteers aged between 18 and 59, Professor Kusnandi Rusmil, head researcher at Bandung’s Padjadjaran University, told reporters. Half of the participants will receive the vaccine over a six-month period, while the rest will receive a placebo, he said, noting 800 volunteers had been signed up so far. "We want to have our vaccines so we can use it for our people," Rusmil told reporters.
Coronavirus: Vaccine may be less effective in obese adults
Previous studies have found that vaccines for the fu and hepatitis B are less effective in obese adults than non-obese adults. Some theorize this is because those who are obese have an impaired T-cell response, a type of immune system cell, to immunizations. Researchers fear that a similar event could occur when a coronavirus vaccine finally becomes available. This puts 42.4% of the US adult population, who are obese, at risk of severe infection or complications such as death.
Coronavirus Resurgence
In the latest sign of Covid-19-related racism, Muslims are being blamed for England's coronavirus outbreaks
Coronavirus conspiracy theorists have spread baseless rumors online -- frequently targeting minorities -- since the beginning of the pandemic. In England the latest wave of vitriol criticizes Muslims, blaming them for spreading Covid-19. Muslims were caught off guard last week, when the UK government suddenly announced local lockdowns in a slew of areas in northern England where cases have spiked. The announcement came just hours before Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest festivals in Islam. The affected areas included Greater Manchester, Burnley, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford and Leicester -- all places with a significant Islamic population according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
Aberdeen bars angered by lack of contact from authorities over Covid-19 cluster
The Scottish Government yesterday took the decision to shut down all bars and restaurants in the Granite City following reports of a coronavirus outbreak at the Hawthorn Bar last week. But many of the bars now on a list of venues where Covid-19-positive customers have wined and dined in Aberdeen have received no contact from either Environmental Health or NHS Grampian. Nearly 30 pubs, bars and restaurants were named on a list circulated by NHS Grampian yesterday. Mandy Davidson, owner of The Cock and Bull, said: The only reason we knew a customer that dined with us had since tested positive was a call from the guest in question.
Fresh concern over potential local lockdown as Covid-19 cases are still on the rise in Northampton
Covid-19 cases are rising faster than at any time in the last month in Northampton despite health chiefs' bid to ward off the danger of a local lockdown. Wednesday's government bulletin revealed 25 more positive tests across the county — 14 of them in Northampton, seven in nearby Wellingborough and three in Corby. Public Health England is due to publish its latest weekly surveillance report later today (Thursday) with Northampton likely to be on a par with some areas of Greater Manchester where extra measures were imposed last week in a bid to slow down the transmission of the virus.
France fears second wave as country records highest increase in daily coronavirus cases since May 30
France has recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus infections in more than two months amid growing concerns of a second wave of the virus in Europe. Figures showed 1,695 new cases within 24 hours —the highest daily increase since May 30, when they were up by 1,828. French authorities have strengthened public hygiene rules, with cities such as Lille, Nice and Toulouse ordering the public to wear masks in busy streets.
France, Spain and Greece see surge in coronavirus cases
France, Spain, Greece and Germany have all been reporting new spikes in infections, prompting fears of a second surge in cases. The three countries recorded marked increases in new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, fuelling fears of a second spike in infections during the holiday season.
Coronavirus: France records two-month high in cases
France has recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus infections in more than two months. Figures released on Wednesday showed 1,695 new cases within 24 hours. With more than 30,000 deaths, France has the third-highest death toll in Europe, behind the UK and Italy. The city of Toulouse has introduced new rules requiring face masks in its busiest streets, with Paris and a number of other cities expected to follow suit. France is not the only European nation to witness a resurgence in cases since lockdown measures were eased.
Telangana Lockdown: Traders Begin Voluntary 10-day Lockdown as Cases Rise
The surge in COVID-19 cases continued in Telangana, with 2,092 new cases being reported, the highest single-day spike so far, while the death toll mounted to 589 after 13 more people succumbed to the virus.
Asia Today: Central Japan region put under virus emergency
A governor in central Japan announced a state of emergency Thursday because of rising virus cases and asked businesses and people to curb activities, especially during an upcoming holiday. Aichi prefecture has been seeing more than 100 new infections a day since mid-July after an extended period with zero new cases. The prefecture includes Nagoya and the headquarters of Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s top automaker. Gov. Hideaki Ohmura said businesses are being asked to close altogether or close early, and people are requested to stay home at night to prevent infections from spreading.
Second wave strikes Europe? Spain reintroduces lockdown, Greece sees a worrying rise in cases and virus is 'more active' in Germany amid warnings France 'could lose control at ...
The head of Germany's doctors' union has said that the country is already in the midst of its second wave because people have flouted social distancing rules France says it stands on precipice and 'could at any moment tip' out of control Two towns north of Madrid, Spain, have been put under strict lockdown Greece recorded 121 new cases Tuesday - the highest daily tally since April 22 Italy has quarantined two infected cruise ships at Civitavecchia port in Rome
Philippines reports 3,561 new coronavirus cases, 28 more deaths
The Philippines on Thursday recorded another jump in coronavirus cases to overtake neighbouring Indonesia as the country with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in East Asia. A recent surge in cases of the virus in and around the capital Manila has pushed authorities to reimpose a lockdown affecting around a quarter of the country’s 107 million people. The Philippines recorded 3,561 new infections on Thursday, taking its total confirmed cases to 119,460. That is higher than Indonesia’s 118,753 infection cases. The death toll rose by 28 to 2,150, which is less than half of Indonesia’s 5,521 fatalities, but is expected to grow after the recent spike in cases.
Uptick in German coronavirus cases raises fresh lockdown fears
Germany announced mandatory tests for travellers returning from high-risk regions after new coronavirus cases breached the 1,000-a-day threshold for the first time since May, fuelling fears of a return to an economically disruptive lockdown.
Coronavirus in Scotland: Another 67 people test positive for Covid-19
Another 67 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland, the First Minister has confirmed. No deaths were recorded in today’s figures. It is not yet clear how many of the new cases are connected to an outbreak in Aberdeen. Based on “provisional information”, 39 of them are in the NHS Grampian area. A further 17 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area. Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, Nicola Sturgeon said the latter cases were being monitored closely for signs of a pattern or cluster.
Vietnam turns Danang stadium into field hospital amid virus outbreak
Vietnam is close to completing the conversion of a sports stadium into a 1,000-bed field hospital in its new coronavirus epicentre Danang, the health ministry said on Thursday, as it battles an outbreak that has spread to at least 11 locations. Aggressive contact-tracing, targeted testing and strict quarantining had helped Vietnam halt an earlier contagion, but it is now racing to control infections in the central city and beyond after a new outbreak ended a run of more than three months without domestic transmission.
Dutch PM urges tourists to avoid busy parts of Amsterdam
The Netherlands’ Prime Minister on Thursday called on tourists to avoid busy parts of Amsterdam, following a sharp acceleration in the number of coronavirus cases in the Netherlands. Prime Minister Mark Rutte cut short his summer vacation after the National Institute for Health (RIVM) reported 601 new cases on Thursday, from 426 a day earlier, following weeks of gradual increases. “Very specifically for the city of Amsterdam, I say to tourists foreign and domestic, and partly on behalf of the mayor: avoid the busy parts of the city,” Rutte told reporters in The Hague. Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema on Wednesday began mandating masks in areas including the central Red Light prostitution district, which is a magnet for foreign tourists.
Ireland says rise in COVID-19 reproduction rate 'a serious concern'
A rise in the COVID-19 infection rate in Ireland is a “serious concern” but the country has not yet seen a significant resurgence in infections outside of identified clusters, a leading health official said on Thursday. Ireland, which for several weeks had one of the lowest infection rates in Europe, has seen a spike since last Thursday and has identified a number of clusters of infections in meat plants and accommodation for asylum seekers. The reproduction rate, or the number of people who become infected from each positive case, has increased to 1.8 from 1.3 a week ago, Professor Philip Nolan, the chairman of the country’s Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, told a news briefing. “A reproduction number of almost 2 is a serious concern, and although we have not yet seen a significant increase in community transmission, there is a significant risk this could develop over the coming days and weeks,” Nolan said.
Denmark Drops Plan to Lift Curbs on Public Gatherings as Infections Spike
Denmark will not raise a limit on public gatherings, originally planned for this month, after seeing a spike in COVID-19 infections, the Danish health ministry said late on Thursday. As part of the Denmark's gradual reopening following a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the government had planned to raise the limit on public gatherings to 200 people on August 8, up from the current limit of 100 people. "It is crucial that we maintain the good position Denmark is in, where we have the epidemic under control," health minister Magnus Heunicke said.
COVID-19 outbreak shutters huge Papua New Guinea mine
A coronavirus outbreak has forced the closure of a major Papua New Guinea mine, its operator said on Thursday (Aug 6), as the virus spreads to a remote corner of one of the Pacific's poorest nations. Ok Tedi Mining said it had decided "to immediately suspend operations for at least 14 days" after seven cases were detected at the facility near the Indonesian border. The copper and gold mine sits in the remote Papua New Guinea highlands, employs thousands of people and accounts for around seven per cent of the country's GDP, according to company figures. It is believed the virus was brought to the area by a mine worker arriving from the now locked-down capital Port Moresby more than 800km away, where authorities are struggling to contain several rapidly growing clusters
56 NFL players have tested positive for COVID-19 since reporting to camp
The NFL Players Association says that 56 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since players began reporting to training camps last week. That represents approximately 2 percent of the players currently on NFL rosters. The league would obviously love to see zero players testing positive, something the NBA and NHL have both managed by putting all their players into bubbles. But the NFL is not going to use a bubble, and so a 0 percent rate of infection is all but impossible.
Luton placed on Covid symptom app local lockdown 'watch list' and could 'pose a threat’ to London, expert warns
Luton has been identified as a potential hotspot of coronavirus infections that experts fear could "pose a threat" to London. Data collected by Kings's College Covid-19 Symptom tracker app suggests the Bedfordshire town has seen an "increased prevalence" of the virus since last week. According to the researchers' "watch list", over seven days 0.2 per cent Luton's population were suffering from coronavirus symptoms — compared to 0.33 per cent in Blackburn with Darwen, which is subject to local lockdown measures.
New Lockdown
Another UK city fears Government imposed local lockdown
Another UK city fears it could have a Government imposed lockdown. Preston City Council’s chief executive said the Lancashire city could be the next area to face Government intervention after a rise in coronavirus rates. The authority has advised residents to avoid having visitors to their homes, although there are no official restrictions such as the laws brought in for other parts of the county, as well as Greater Manchester and parts of West Yorkshire. Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Preston City Council chief executive Adrian Phillips said: “We are not waiting for some Government announcement. “We know our rates are increasing and they have increased over the last week to a level now where we are concerned that we could face Government intervention. “We’ve been working with our communities to make sure we get those key messages out.”
Coronavirus: How Leicester coped with local lockdown
Leicester became the first city in the UK to be put in local lockdown, meaning a delay to the easing of some restrictions that had been in place throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the reintroduction of others. But other places have followed - so what can their residents learn from Leicester? Restaurants, pubs and hairdressers in Leicester were able to reopen for the first time since March on Monday - weeks later than in other areas of England - and people have once again been allowed to make non-essential journeys and travel in and out of the city. However, leisure centres, gyms and pools must remain closed and, like in some other areas of England, there is a ban on visiting people's homes, either indoors or in private gardens.
Minister plays down prospect of expanding Aberdeen lockdown
Nicola Sturgeon has told people living in Aberdeen they should not leave the city for any holidays as confirmed cases in the coronavirus outbreak rose overnight to at least 79. The first minister said the city’s 229,000 residents had to observe the emergency lockdown rules that forbid non-essential journeys more than five miles from home. That included not taking holidays in Scotland, the UK or overseas, she said. “Our advice to the people of Aberdeen is that you should not be going on holiday right now, either to other parts of Scotland, or to other parts of the UK. We advise against overseas holiday in general for people right across Scotland,” she said. “We’re also advising people outside of Aberdeen not to travel to the city for leisure purposes or to visit friends and family.”
West Bengal Lockdown News: These Areas in Nadia District to be Under Complete Lockdown From Tomorrow Midnight
Amid a rise in Coronavirus cases, a complete lockdown will come into force in some places of Nadia district for a week starting Friday midnight. A comprehensive lockdown will be imposed in areas of Sadar and Tehatta subdivisions of Krishnanagar Police District at Kalyani and Ranaghat sub-divisions of Ranaghat Police Districts, Nadia District Magistrate Vibhu Goel said
Virus lockdown shuts Kashmir year after India lifts autonomy
Authorities enforced security restrictions in many parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Wednesday, a year after New Delhi revoked the disputed region’s semi-autonomy in a decision that set off anger and economic ruin amid a harsh security clampdown. Officials lifted a curfew in the restive region’s main city of Srinagar late Tuesday, but said restrictions on public movement, transport and commercial activities would continue because of the coronavirus pandemic. Government forces placed steel barricades and razor wire across many roads, bridges and intersections. Shops and businesses remained shut and police and soldiers stopped residents at checkpoints, only letting an occasional vehicle or pedestrian pass.
New lockdown ratchets up economic pain in Australian city
A bright side for plant nurseries of Melbourne’s first pandemic stay-at-home order was that many householders took the time to garden. But the latest lockdown in Australia’s second-largest city is far tougher. More than 250,000 people were thrown out of work on Thursday. Those whose jobs are deemed essential need government-issued permits to travel the near-empty streets of a virtual ghost town to get to their jobs. The rolling restrictions have created confusion and uncertainly in a population navigating Australia’s toughest-ever lockdown that makes masks compulsory and imposes an 8 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew.
Melbourne enters Australia's toughest virus lockdown
Australia's second-largest city entered the country's toughest lockdown yet on Thursday, sparking a fresh wave of anxiety and confusion over ever-tougher regulations. Melbourne's streets were visibly quieter as non-essential businesses were forced to shutter under new coronavirus rules expected to be in place for six weeks. A second lockdown for the state capital of Victoria began in early July but additional regulations came into force overnight, requiring hundreds of thousands more people to stay at home.
Health minster defends Qld border lockdown
Queenslanders are waiting anxiously to find out if efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus have been successful as the state counts down to another border closure. It has been 16 days since two COVID-19-infected teens dodged quarantine and spent days moving about the community before police tracked them down. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says there were no new cases diagnosed overnight but health officials remain on high alert following the breach. "The next four days is still very crucial," she told reporters on Thursday. "If you are sick, stay at home and get tested."The premier urged people to be vigilant to stop the spread of the virus, saying "it only takes one or two cases for this virus to take hold".
What happens if Melbourne's stage four lockdown doesn't work?
Victoria's health authorities hope Melbourne's stage four lockdown will help drive COVID-19 infection numbers down, and say they aren't thinking about a stage five. But a New Zealand infectious diseases expert says her country's strict lockdown could provide some important lessons.
Complete lockdown in some areas in West Bengal’s Nadia from Friday midnight
The Nadia district administration in West Bengal on Wednesday announced a complete lockdown at some places for a week starting Friday midnight to contain the spread of Covid-19, a senior official said. Comprehensive lockdown will be imposed in some areas of Sadar and Tehatta subdivisions of Krishnanagar Police District at Kalyani and Ranaghat sub-divisions of Ranaghat Police Districts, Nadia District Magistrate Vibhu Goel said.
Nation’s Leading Vaccine Authorities Urge Thorough Review of Safety and Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines
COVID-19 vaccines should be made widely available only after the Food and Drug Administration has been able to evaluate safety and efficacy data from completed Phase 3 clinical trials, according to the nation’s leading vaccine authorities. Nearly 400 experts in virology, epidemiology, vaccinology, clinical care, and public health are calling on FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to ensure a thorough, transparent process that will give experts and the general public alike reassurance that the candidate vaccines are safe and effective.