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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 13th Aug 2020

News Highlights

Nations mimicked each others' coronavirus responses, study finds

Swedish researchers have found that in 36 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, world leaders ended up copying each others' lockdown measures such as school and border closures. The researchers said that the countries, including the UK, US and New Zealand, showed startling similarities in their response measures, despite the differences in the scale of the pandemic in each country or the preparedness of their health systems.

South Korea equips bus shelters as new weapon to fight Covid-19

South Korea, which won global acclaim for its use of technology to control the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic to reach its shores, has opened up another 'futuristic' front to control the spread of the virus. Bus shelters have been equipped with temperature scanning doors and ultraviolet disinfection lamps, which will only open to passengers if their temperature detected is below 37.5 degrees centigrade.

Covid-19 misinformation leaves scores dead, says study

According to a study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine, more than 800 people died and about 5,800 people were admitted to hospital in the first three months of this year as a result of false information on social media related to the coronavirus. Several died from drinking poisonous products proclaimed to be a cure for the virus.

London and Stockholm show similar infection rate, despite vastly different strategies

A paper in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests that 17% of the population in both London and Stockholm were infected with coronavirus in April, despite their countries following vastly different strategies. London was under full lockdown whereas Stockholm, following Sweden's herd immunity strategy, opted to not shut schools and kept bars and restaurants open, with only light restrictions on the size of crowds. 

Lockdown Exit
England's revamped contact-tracing app to begin public trials on Aug 13
A revamped coronavirus contact-tracing app for England will begin its public trials on Thursday (Aug 13), BBC News reported on Wednesday. The software will be modelled after Apple and Google's privacy-centric method of one smartphone detecting another, the BBC said. Engineers were still trying to resolve issues with the Bluetooth-based tech wrongly flagging people as being within 2 metres of each other. 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, the BBC reported. The test-and-trace programme is key to reopening the economy but has been dogged by problems. A smartphone app developed by the National Health Service (NHS) was initially expected to be rolled out in May but did not materialise. In June, the government pivoted away from a homegrown model for the app to use the Apple and Google system.
Russia's coronavirus case tally passes 900,000
Russia’s confirmed coronavirus case tally, the fourth largest in the world, rose to 902,701 on Wednesday after officials reported 5,102 new infections. Authorities said 129 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 15,260.
Germany's coronavirus infection rate reaches three-month high
Germany's government has urged citizens to keep their guard up and stick to public health guidelines, as new Covid-19 infections hit a three-month high and schools reopened in the country's most populous state. Germany's response so far has widely been seen as successful in slowing the spread of the pandemic efficiently and quickly, but the country's disease control authority today reported 1,226 new infections, the highest number since early May, although the figure has topped 1,000 on several days recently. Health minister Jens Spahn said smaller and mid-sized outbreaks have occurred in almost all regions, largely driven by travellers returning from abroad and people partying or having family gatherings. "This is worrying, without doubt," he told Deutschlandfunk radio. "And it can naturally lead to a new dynamic, if we don't all now exercise caution." In the early days of the pandemic the average age of people infected was 50; it is now 34.
Disney World actors ready to work after COVID testing dispute resolved
Walt Disney World actors, who argued that the Florida theme park’s proposed coronavirus safeguards were inadequate to protect them, have resolved a dispute over COVID-19 testing, a union statement said on Wednesday. The Actors’ Equity Association had called on Walt Disney Co to provide regular coronavirus testing for its members, who cannot wear protective masks while performing as other park employees do. Disney said on Wednesday it would provide space just outside Walt Disney World in Orlando for a testing site run by the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The site will be open to Disney employees, known as cast members, and the public. “Our actions support all cast and our community at large,” Disney said in a statement. Walt Disney World reopened on July 11 with several safety measures including limited attendance, social distancing in lines and on rides and mask requirements for guests and staff.
Exit Strategies
NHS staff to be given ‘Covid-19 passports’ so they can be redeployed quickly in any second wave
NHS staff will be given “Covid-19 passports” to help hospitals redeploy workers during a feared second wave of infection. Bosses at NHS England say the digital passports, which are stored on workers’ phones, have been successful in pilots across the country and are being rolled out “to support the Covid-19 response”. The Covid-19 crisis has triggered a major reorganisation of NHS care, with hospitals now having to plan to restart routine services while at the same time maintain their readiness for any increase in coronavirus cases.
Economist warns of 'significant impact' if second lockdown occurs, as UK falls into recession
Economist and author Dr Linda Yueh assesses the UK entering into the largest recession on record after figures showed the pandemic sent the economy plunging by 20.4% between April and June.
Italy will allow some cruise ships to return later this month
The Italian government has given permission to its cruise industry to start sailing again in Mediterranean waters, after several months of lockdown, in a bid to boost its economy. The announcement was made on Friday by the country’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, who said that Italy will reopen its borders for cruise ships as of August 15. Over the weekend, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), a privately owned company based in Geneva, said it will have two departures from Italian ports this month, starting from August 16. The company, which was the first global operator to announce the resumption of its operations after the Coronavirus outbreak paralysed all travelling, is planning to conduct a swab test of every passenger just before boarding, and those found positive, or show symptoms of illness, will be denied boarding.
World leaders 'copied each others' lockdown measures' during coronavirus pandemic
In research of 36 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – including the UK, US and New Zealand – Swedish researchers examined when world leaders made decisions on issues like school closures and restrictions on internal travel. They found that despite differences in the spread of the virus, countries mimicked each other in a short space of time, with around 80% of OECD nations implementing multiple measures within a two-week period in March. The researchers said this was "striking" given the differences in the scale of the pandemic in each country, the preparedness of their healthcare systems and the makeup of their populations.
Paris's Mask Plan is Worthy of the Surrealists
Now at the height of the summer tourism season, with people moving around more and Covid-19 cases rising to levels reminiscent of the early stages of the pandemic — albeit with a fraction of the hospitalizations and deaths — the bureaucratic impulse is back. Prime Minister Jean Castex pledged new measures on Tuesday, from broader adoption of face-masks to more testing and information campaigns, saying the infection curve was going “the wrong way.” You could hardly call it a second wave, with confirmed daily deaths averaging at 7 compared with almost 1,000 during the peak, but politicians have understandably thinner skins these days.
Bus stop newest front in South Korea's Covid-19 battle
South Korea has opened a high-tech new front in the battle against coronavirus, fortifying bus shelters with temperature-checking doors and ultraviolet disinfection lamps. Ten advanced facilities have been installed in a northeastern district of Seoul, offering protection from monsoon rains, summer heat, and the novel coronavirus. To enter, passengers must stand in front of an automated thermal-imaging camera, and the door will only slide open if their temperature is below 37.5C. A separate camera is installed lower down to test children.
Chile cautiously lifts lockdown lid on capital's centre
Chile will lift one of the world's longest quarantines on Monday, moving the capital Santiago's central business district and adjoining Central Station to a "transitional" stage under a "Step by Step" reopening. "This is a very important announcement for us and one that gives us great satisfaction," Health Minister Enrique Paris told a news conference in Santiago on Wednesday. Chile has faced one of Latin America's fiercest coronavirus outbreaks, at one stage, ranking only behind Qatar globally in cases per head of population, but case and fatality rates have declined steadily during the last two months.
Partisan Exits
Covid 19 coronavirus: Destiny Church's Brian Tamaki says NZ should take to the streets if lockdown is extended
Destiny Church bishop Brian Tamaki has told his followers they should take to the streets if the New Zealand Government announces an extension to the current three-day lockdown in effect in Auckland. Speaking outside his church in South Auckland, across the road from a Covid-19 testing station, Tamaki said "there's another virus just as bad as Covid-19, it's called fear". At one point during the video, the bishop draws attention to a plane up in the sky, saying he thinks it's coming from China, "probably filled with non-English speaking people coming into our borders". He pointed the finger at the Government who he says is telling New Zealanders to close their front doors while keeping the borders open to "immigrants, refugees still, and people from countries where this Covid-19 pandemic has been very active".
Continued Lockdown
Worst recession on record strikes UK as coronavirus lockdown shrinks economy by 20 per cent
The UK’s economy has fallen into the worst recession on record, with coronavirus pushing down spending and output. Between April and June, the size of the economy reduced by 20.4 per cent, according to data released by the ONS.
India's COVID-19 lockdown threatens efforts to stop spikes in child marriage
When the police knocked on the door as 15-year-old Muskaan prepared to head to the temple in their village in northern India, the bride-to-be was distraught. With a sick father and unemployed brother, Muskaan believed that getting married to a distant relative’s son would alleviate the financial burden on her family and offer a better future. Yet a tip-off to the authorities in June by local activists concerned about a spike in early marriages during India’s coronavirus lockdown led to Muskaan’s wedding being called off, while her parents were charged under child marriage legislation. “When my father fixed my marriage, I agreed,” Muskaan, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said by phone from her village in Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh. Yet she said she would have preferred to go to school if possible.
Dutch government plans to tighten coronavirus quarantine measures
The Dutch health minister plans to introduce mandatory home quarantine for people identified by local authorities as having been in close contact with somebody infected with coronavirus, and for travellers returning from high-risk countries. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said in a letter to politicians that mandatory quarantine could be imposed if people refuse to isolate voluntarily. The move comes amid rising infection rates in the Netherlands and an unwillingness among some people to adhere to social-distancing measures and cooperate with contact tracing. "Mandatory quarantine is a tough measure but justified. Quarantine stops the spread of the virus so sticking to the rules is crucial," Mr de Jonge wrote.
Peru's President: Nationwide curfew on Sundays to prevent COVID-19 contagion
President Martin Vizcarra on Wednesday announced the return of mandatory social immobilization (curfew) on Sundays due to a rebound in COVID-19 infections in Peru. In this sense, the Head of State affirmed that the corresponding Supreme Decree will be published in the official gazette El Peruano on Thursday. It will prohibit family and friends meetings that usually take place on the seventh day of the week. "Starting this Sunday, we are going to return to mandatory immobilization on Sundays. We think that it is preferable to take a step back, only on Sundays, in order to generate a sense of responsibility for all and then regain the conditions that we all would like to have," he expressed.
Scientific Viewpoint
Why we fear the reopening of schools will create a second wave of Covid-19 infections
We also now have a clearer idea of how Covid-19 affects young people. The first major study to address this – ­involving 82 paediatric centres in 25 European countries, and published in the Lancet in late June – found that more than half with proven Covid-19 display standard cold symptoms. Only a quarter have a cough, and at least a third have no fever at all. This study involved only the sickest children, most of whom had been referred to ­hospital. The picture among paediatric cases in the wider community is even more nebulous.
Vaping linked to risk of COVID-19 in teens, young adults
Vaping may be associated with a five to seven times increased risk of COVID-19 among U.S. teenagers and young adults, a study published on Tuesday suggests. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine analyzed nationally representative survey data collected in May from 4,351 participants aged 13–24 years. The findings were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. “Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of COVID-19, but the data show this isn’t true among those who vape,” study leader Shivani Mathur Gaiha said in a press statement. Participants were asked if they had ever used vaping devices or combustible cigarettes, whether they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days, and if they had experienced COVID-19 symptoms, been tested for COVID-19 or been diagnosed with the infectious disease.
Long after a Covid-19 infection, mental and neurological effects smolder
Even people who were never sick enough to go to a hospital, much less lie in an ICU bed with a ventilator, report feeling something as ill-defined as “Covid fog” or as frightening as numbed limbs. They’re unable to carry on with their lives, exhausted by crossing the street, fumbling for words, or laid low by depression, anxiety, or PTSD. As many as 1 in 3 patients recovering from Covid-19 could experience neurological or psychological after-effects of their infections, experts told STAT, reflecting a growing consensus that the disease can have lasting impact on the brain. Beyond the fatigue felt by “long haulers” as they heal post-Covid, these neuropsychological problems range from headache, dizziness, and lingering loss of smell or taste to mood disorders and deeper cognitive impairment. Dating to early reports from China and Europe, clinicians have seen people suffer from depression and anxiety. Muscle weakness and nerve damage sometimes mean they can’t walk.
Being overweight increases risk of severe Covid-19 by at least 40%, study finds
Researchers analysed data from more than 300,000 people in England. They found extra weight is linked with 'higher odds' of admission to hospital. Even being only overweight (BMI of 25 to 30) raised the risk by 40%. It came after a report by Public Health England last month warning of the risks
'Hundreds dead' because of Covid-19 misinformation
At least 800 people died around the world because of coronavirus-related misinformation in the first three months of this year, researchers say. A study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene says about 5,800 people were admitted to hospital as a result of false information on social media. Many died from drinking methanol or alcohol-based cleaning products. They wrongly believed the products to be a cure for the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously said that the "infodemic" surrounding Covid-19 spread just as quickly as the virus itself, with conspiracy theories, rumours and cultural stigma all contributing to deaths and injuries.
Measure the risk of airborne COVID-19 in your office, classroom, or bus ride
Amid the pandemic, once normal activities are now peppered with questions and concerns. Can kids go back to crowded schools? Is it safe to eat dinner with friends? Should we worry about going for a run? A recent modelling effort may help provide some clues. Led by Jose-Luis Jimenez at the University of Colorado Boulder, the charts below estimate the riskiness of different activities based on one potential route of coronavirus spread: itty-bitty particles known as aerosols. Coughing, singing, talking, or even breathing sends spittle flying in a range of sizes. The closer you are to the spewer, the greater the chance of exposure to large, virus-laden droplets that can be inhaled or land in your eyes. But many scientists have also grown concerned about the potential risks of aerosols—the smallest of these particles—which may float across rooms and cause infections. It’s a worry that's greatest where ventilation is poor and airborne particulates could build. While the World Health Organisation recently acknowledged that aerosol transmission cannot be ruled out for some situations, they emphasised more research is needed to conclusively demonstrate its role in the spread of the virus.
'They've jumped the gun': scientists worry about Russia's Covid-19 vaccine
ADE “is a genuine concern”, Kevin Gilligan, a virologist and senior consultant with Biologics Consulting, told Nature Biotechnology in June. “Because if the gun is jumped and a vaccine is widely distributed that is disease-enhancing, that would be worse than actually not doing any vaccination at all.” This week, following Russia’s announcement that it is pushing ahead with mass production of Sputnik V and mass inoculation , the fears expressed by the likes of Gilligan became a chorus, underlining the concerns among scientists that Russian researchers have jumped the gun.
US to buy 100m doses of Moderna's potential Covid-19 vaccine for $1.5bn
The US has committed to buy 100m doses of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna, Donald Trump has announced, even while the vaccine remains in an experimental stage. The US president on Tuesday said his administration had agreed to buy 100m doses from the US biotech group, with an option to buy another 400m, for which the company said it would be paid just over $1.5bn. The deal comes after the US struck a similar agreement with Moderna’s rival Pfizer to purchase 100m doses for a price of almost $2bn. Mr Trump said: “We are investing in the development and manufacture of the top six vaccine candidates to ensure rapid delivery. “The military is ready to go, they’re ready to deliver a vaccine to Americans as soon as one is fully approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and we’re very close to that approval.”
Coronavirus infection rate in London similar to Stockholm – despite Sweden's lockdown snub, study suggests
The same proportion of people in London were infected with coronavirus in April as in Stockholm — where authorities opted for a herd immunity strategy, according to a new study. Antibody testing regimes from both the UK and Swedish governments suggested that 17 per cent of the population in both cities had contracted Covid-19 in April, the paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine highlights.
Russian coronavirus vaccine ‘could kill the acceptance of vaccination if it goes wrong’
Germany has warned that Russia’s claim that it has developed the world’s first coronavirus vaccine could prove “dangerous”. Russian president Vladimir Putin said this week that a COVID-19 vaccine developed in the country has been registered for use and one of his daughters has already been inoculated. But German health minister Jens Spahn said he was sceptical about the claims, warning they could ultimately “kill the acceptance” of vaccination as a weapon against the pandemic. Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio: "It can be dangerous to start vaccinating millions, if not billions, of people too early because it could pretty much kill the acceptance of vaccination if it goes wrong, so I'm very sceptical about what's going on in Russia.
Fauci says he 'seriously doubts' that Russia has developed a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine after Putin approved of the world's first vaccine
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced earlier this week that the country approved of the world's first coronavirus vaccine — months before a vaccine is expected to be available globally. Russia's health ministry intends on mass producing the vaccine this coming fall. However, there is a lack of widespread testing to prove the vaccine's safety and effectiveness. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, while the US has a number of vaccines in development, "if we wanted to take the chance of hurting a lot of people or giving them something that doesn't work, we could start doing this, you know, next week if we wanted to." "But that's not the way it works," the infectious disease expert said.
Philippines talking to Russian vaccine maker on trials, seeks 'complete dossier'
Philippine scientists were set on Wednesday to meet representatives of the Russian state research facility that developed a coronavirus vaccine, to discuss participation in clinical trials and access to its research data. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded the Russian vaccine and offered to be “injected in public”, to allay public fears about its safety. Russia on Tuesday became the world’s first country to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, to be named “Sputnik V” in homage to the Soviet Union’s launch of the world’s first satellite.
Russia vaccine claim faces scepticism as nations renew virus battle
Russia claimed Tuesday it has developed the world's first vaccine offering "sustainable immunity" against the coronavirus, despite mounting scepticism about its effectiveness as fears grow over a second wave of infections across the globe. President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had received the inoculation, dubbed "Sputnik" after the pioneering 1950s Soviet satellite. "I know that it is quite effective, that it gives sustainable immunity," Putin said of the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with Moscow's defence ministry.
Covid-19 lockdown means 115 million Indian children risk malnutrition
A staggering 115 million children in India are at risk of malnutrition, as the world’s largest school lunch programme has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. When India went under a strict lockdown on 24 March to reduce the spread of the virus, 12-year-old Kavi’s life changed. His mother, a roadside tailor, was no longer able to work and his father doesn’t have a job due to health problems. With schools closed, Kavi began selling fruit and vegetables from a sparsely stocked cart. The cart is now their primary source of income, but isn’t enough for a family of four. “Some days, we just eat rice or chapati with salt,” says Kavi.
Argentina, Mexico to produce AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
An agreement signed between British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the biotechnology company mAbxience of the INSUD Group includes transfer of technology to initially produce 150 million doses of the vaccine to supply all of Latin America with the exception of Brazil, the Argentine government said. "Latin American production will be handled in Argentina and Mexico and that will allow timely and efficient access for all countries in the region," Fernandez said. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said later on Twitter that the deal had been pushed by Fernandez and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He said output of the vaccine could extend to 250 million doses.
Philippines' Duterte has 'huge trust' in Russia vaccine, volunteers for trial
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded Russia’s efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and is willing to personally participate in trials, as he welcomed a supply offer from Moscow that he expects will be free of charge. Russia on Tuesday became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for mass domestic inoculation even as the final stage of clinical trials continue. Russia has offered to supply or co-manufacture the vaccine in the Philippines, which said it was ready to work with Moscow on trials, supply and production. The Philippines has among Asia’s highest case numbers, which rose by 2,987 to 139,538 on Tuesday. “I will tell President (Vladimir) Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity,” Duterte said late on Monday.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Germany records biggest jump in new coronavirus cases since early May
Germany recorded the biggest daily increase in new coronavirus cases in more than three months, data showed on Wednesday, with the health minister warning of outbreaks in nearly all parts of the country due to holiday returnees and party-goers. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 1,226 to 218,519, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) showed. That was the biggest daily increase since May 9. The number of coronavirus deaths remained relatively low, edging up by six to a total of 9,207. “This is, no doubt, very worrying,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio, adding that citizens had to remain cautious to prevent the virus from spreading further. “Because we now have a lot of outbreaks all over the country,” Spahn said.
Parties lead Germany to biggest spike in coronavirus cases in three months
Germany today reported its largest daily spike in new cases of coronavirus in more than three months, as authorities blamed people returning from holiday and boozy parties across the country. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 1,226 to 218,519 today, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) showed — marking the biggest daily increase since 9 May. However the number of German coronavirus deaths edged up by six, remaining low at a total of 9,207.
Spain's total coronavirus cases rise to 326,612
Spain’s health ministry reported 1,418 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, below last week’s peaks. Cumulative cases, which also include results from antibody tests on people who may have recovered, increased further to reach a total of 326,612. The disease claimed 64 lives over the past seven days, the statistics showed. In total, more than 28,500 people have died from the disease in Spain, one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries by COVID-19. Since lifting a nationwide lockdown, Spain has struggled to contain a rise in new infections, with heavy concentrations in the populous regions of Madrid and Catalonia. New infections recorded on Monday and Tuesday were however below last week’s peak of 1,895, reported on Friday.
Overnight curfew for restaurants and bars on some Greek islands after surge in Covid-19 cases
Greece will bring in an overnight curfew for restaurants and bars in some of its most popular tourist destinations after a new uptick in coronavirus infections. From 11 August, restaurants and bars are closed from midnight until 7am in Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Rhodes and Crete, Aristotelia Peloni, a government spokeswoman, said in a televised address. Athens also announced new restrictions starting from 17 August on holidaymakers arriving from Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Sweden and Spain. They now must provide proof they have tested negative for Covid-19.
New wave of Covid-19 continues to grow in French Polynesia
Authorities in French Polynesia now say 71 people have contracted Covid-19 over the past four days. The tally increased by 21 over the past 24 hours. Despite the surge in the number of cases, both the French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch and the French High Commissioner Dominique Sorain ruled out a new lockdown. Schools are reopening this week despite concern by some unions. However discos and nightclubs will now have to be shut and meetings of more than 50 people will need to get official approval. Masks are also to be worn in shops. Mr Fritch said the spread of the virus was due to poor discipline and irresponsible behaviour.
Coronavirus: Cases surge as France goes 'wrong way'
New coronavirus infections have nearly doubled in France in recent weeks as Prime Minister Jean Castex warned that the country had been going "the wrong way" for two weeks. The health ministry reported 1,397 new infections of Covid-19 since Monday. Fourteen people have died. A ban on meetings of more than 5,000 people has been extended to 30 October. Mr Castex also asked local authorities to further extend the requirement to wear face masks in public. "The epidemiological situation, which we are following very closely, is deteriorating: 2,000 new cases per day compared to 1,000 three weeks ago," Mr Castex said at a press conference in Montpellier.
How one hotel outbreak of Covid-19 put an Australian state back in lockdown
Melbourne bureau chief, Melissa Davey, discusses life under a second lockdown after a hotel security breach in Victoria caused a resurgence of coronavirus cases
Australia’s Victoria State Has Deadliest Virus Day
Australia's Victora State has recorded a new daily record in coronavirus deaths, with 21 fatalities in 24 hours. The nation's second-most populous state, which is in the midst of a six-week lockdown that's one of the strictest in the western world, had 410 new cases in that period, according to a health department statement on Wednesday.
New Zealand considers freight as possible source of new coronavirus cluster
The discovery of four infected family members in Auckland led Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to swiftly reimpose tight restrictions in the city and social distancing measures across the entire country. The source of the outbreak has baffled health officials, who said they were confident there was no local transmission of the virus in New Zealand for 102 days. "We are working hard to put together pieces of the puzzle on how this family got infected," said Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. Investigations were zeroing in on the potential the virus was imported by freight. Bloomfield said surface testing was underway at an Auckland cool store where a man from the infected family worked. "We know the virus can survive within refrigerated environments for quite some time," Bloomfield said during a televised media conference. The New Zealand unit of Atlanta, U.S.-based, Americold Realty Trust, a refrigerated storage specialist with operations in the United States, Canada, Argentina and Australia as well as New Zealand, identified itself as the owner of the cool store.
New Zealand scrambles to find source of new coronavirus infection
Health authorities in New Zealand were scrambling today to trace the source of a new outbreak of the coronavirus as the nation's largest city went back into lockdown. Authorities had confirmed four cases of the virus in one Auckland household from an unknown source and were awaiting the test results of four more people they suspect have infections - two work colleagues and two relatives of those in the house. The cases this week were the first known local transmission of the virus in New Zealand in 102 days. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said more than 200 people with connections to those in the house were contacted today.
Covid 19 coronavirus lockdown: Jacinda Ardern says Auckland in level 3 at midday; NZ in level 2
Auckland is back in level 3 lockdown, with region-wide police checkpoints planned and a stronger presence at supermarkets. Super City residents were scrambling earlier today to prepare for the midday restrictions, with lengthy queues forming outside supermarkets and Covid-19 testing centres.
'A real shockwave': New Zealand's coronavirus bubble pops
"For the last hundred-odd days, we've been getting on with life as normal, while the world was capitulating around us. "It's kind of sent a real shockwave among everyone." News that New Zealand had detected at least four new cases also made headlines around the world overnight, after it appeared the small Pacific nation had eradicated the virus and was lauded for its success. A mass national testing effort is now underway, which will dictate what happens next. The New Zealand general election is scheduled for September 19.
Pendle and Oldham residents warned of stricter lockdown within days
Two north west areas could be facing stricter lockdown measures as concern grows over an increase in coronavirus cases. Residents in Pendle, Lancashire, and Oldham, Greater Manchester, are already living under stricter rules than other parts of the country, after additional measures were brought in stopping them from meeting others at home from the end of July. Despite this, officials said Covid-19 rates have continued to increase and both areas were placed on the government’s watch list of 29 local authorities. Pendle is now recording the highest coronavirus rates in the country, with Oldham following closely behind, and Blackburn with Darwen in third place.
French PM: Coronavirus spread may get harder to control
The renewed spread of coronavirus in France could become harder to control without a collective effort to stop a rise in the infection rate, its prime minister said on Tuesday. The public was becoming careless, Jean Castex warned, speaking shortly before health authorities said new daily infections were up by 1,397 over 24 hours, almost twice as much as Monday, to reach 204,172. “If we don’t act collectively, we expose ourselves to the heightened risk that the rebound in the epidemic becomes hard to control,” Castex said during a visit to a hospital intensive care ward in southern France. A health ministry statement also reported 15 new deaths in hospital due the disease, compared to an increase of 16 over a three-day period between Monday and Saturday, with the total death toll standing at 30,354.
New Lockdown
Melbourne stage 4 restrictions and Covid lockdown rules explained
Stage four restrictions have been in effect across metropolitan Melbourne since Sunday 2 August and will last for six weeks. Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, said the restrictions have been brought in to get community transmission – cases where the source of the transmission cannot be determined – under control. Andrews said government modelling showed that without these measures, stage three restrictions would need to last six months. Here are some of the main things you need to know about the stage 4 restrictions for Melbourne.
All rest homes going into level 4 lockdown for three days
Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace told Nine to Noon no visits from family would be allowed. "We have decided that we will go into full lockdown. So every rest home in New Zealand will go into full lockdown immediately, we will be in that situation until midnight on Friday and then the situation will be reassessed at that point," he told Nine to Noon. Full lockdown meant rest homes would be operating under level 4 restrictions, he said. "It means there will be no visits, no family visits to their loved ones in rest homes and all the guidance and all the precautions that applied when we were at level 4 will apply for the next three days."
Coronavirus: New Zealand locks down Auckland after cases end 102-day run
New Zealand has put its largest city back into lockdown after recording four new Covid-19 cases, ending a 102-day streak without a local infection. A three-day lockdown was swiftly imposed in Auckland after the cases were confirmed. The four new cases are all members of a single family. None had travelled recently. The restrictions will come into effect on Wednesday, as authorities scramble to trace contacts of the family. Auckland residents will be asked to stay at home, large gatherings will be banned, non-essential businesses will be shut, and some social-distancing restrictions will be reintroduced in the rest of the country. The country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also on Wednesday deferred the dissolution of parliament, following the latest Covid-19 cases.
New Zealand's biggest city back in lockdown
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday delayed a key step toward next month's general election, as the country was plunged back into lockdown after the discovery of the first COVID-19 cases in more than three months.
New Zealand city of Auckland prepares for lockdown as mystery COVID cases emerge
New Zealanders on Wednesday scrambled to stock up on essentials as the country’s biggest city prepared to go into lockdown again, following new cases of the coronavirus that ended a 102-day record run without any new infections. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced overnight that she was shutting down Auckland after four new cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the city from the same family, despite the international borders’ being shut to foreigners and returning New Zealanders put in mandatory quarantine. The government has said the source of the new infections was unknown so far.