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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 10th Sep 2020

News Highlights

Despite no lockdowns, Sweden sees new positive cases decline

Sweden has seen its lowest number of new positive Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. This is despite the country's controversial decision not to impose lockdown measures to build immunity among the population. Johan Carlson, an epidemiologist and the director of the Swedish public health agency, said their strategy was 'consistent and sustainable.'

AstraZeneca will resume trials after setback

Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca will resume clinical trials of its Covid-19 vaccine early next week, according to individuals close to the trials, cited by The Financial Times. The drugmaker was forced to pause the trials when one participant became sick.

Trump knew Covid-19 was deadly early on, book alleges

President Donald Trump, who has faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic in the U.S., knew of its dangers to public health early on, but nonetheless misled the public as to its severity. The report comes in a forthcoming book by journalist Bob Woodward, who Trump spoke to on February 7th. In the conversation, Trump acknowledged to Woodward 'it's...more deadly than even the most strenuous flu.' He later justified downplaying the risk of Covid-19 by saying he did not want to cause panic.

Israel imposing tough measures in 'contagion zones'

Measures such as curfews and school closures are being imposed for a week in so-called 'contagion zones' in Israel, to combat the pandemic that has claimed more than 1,000 lives there. The measures took effect on Tuesday and apply to more than forty areas in the country. The localised lockdowns may be a precursor to a nationwide lockdown, if the measures do not have the desired effect.

Lockdown Exit
Outbreaks of infections including Covid-19 in England's care homes at lowest levels for six MONTHS
Between August 24 and August 30 outbreaks dropped to just 58 in England. This is below the highs of 1,010 a week recorded at the height of the pandemic. Outbreaks are when two or more people have the same symptoms, like a cough. They may not mark a coronavirus infection as the figure includes other diseases
France's economy set to bounce back despite impact of coronavirus
France's economy, which like those of other countries was pushed into a bruising recession by the coronavirus, will bounce back now that lockdown measures are lifted but will still contract over the year as a whole, official data showed Tuesday. France's gross domestic product, which had shrunk by a record 13.8 percent in the second quarter, is forecast to grow by 17 percent in the subsequent three months, the national statistics office Insee calculated. Nevertheless, the rebound was not quite as strong as expected and Insee said it was sticking to its forecast for an overall economic contraction of 9.0 percent for the year as a whole.
New Zealand economy faring better than expected
A cluster of numbers suggests the economy may be faring better than expected despite a resurgence of Covid-19 and reimposition of some travel restrictions. ANZ Bank's preliminary look at business confidence for September showed an improvement in sentiment, with companies markedly less pessimistic about the broad outlook for the economy, falling to a net negative 26 percent from 41.8 percent in August. The more closely followed measure of firms' view on their own future improved 8 points, with a net 10 percent expecting conditions to get worse in the next year.
Rural Communities Needlessly Risk Covid-19 From Prisons
In May, two West Virginia prisons, FCI Gilmer (in central WV) and FCI Hazelton were designated to be quarantine sites for the entire Bureau of Prisons (BOP) system. A number of prisoners were to be transferred from overcrowded DC jails before being sent yet again to another facility after 14 days of quarantine. Part of the objection to the initial transfer was that the BOP screening of prisoners for Covid-19 included a temperature check and questions, but no actual testing for Covid-19. Gilmer received 124 inmates and promptly had an outbreak affecting at least 83 prisoners and additional staff.
Positive Covid tests in no-lockdown Sweden hit lowest rate since pandemic began
Sweden carried out a record number of new coronavirus tests last week with only 1.2% coming back positive, the health agency said on Tuesday, the lowest rate since the pandemic began at a time when countries across Europe are seeing surges in infections.
One in three central London venues haven't reopened since lockdown
One in three central London hospitality venues yet to reopen from lockdown won’t do so until footfall drastically improves, it was estimated today as pub giants called for more government support. Trade association UKHospitality, which represents hotel, pub, restaurant and club owners, made the reopening forecast at a time when numerous people are yet to return to offices and travel restrictions keep tourists away. Some firms have also struggled with making certain smaller sites financially viable due to social distancing rules.
COVID-19: Angola to reopen schools in October
Angolan authorities have decided to reopen schools in the country next month after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to media reports. “Classes will resume in phases and on alternating days. Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 will resume on October 5,” nation.africa news website quoted Education Minister Luísa Grilo as saying. Classes for the grades 7 and 8 will resume on Oct. 19, she added. The class sessions are expected to be divided into two and will go for two-and-half hours for primary schools and three-and-half hours for secondary schools, according to the website. Meanwhile, Adao de Almeida, the head of the presidential palace, announced that the government will continue observing certain COVID-19 guidelines until Oct. 9 when schools will resume, according to the website.
Exit Strategies
Teacher slams Matt Hancock for 'disgusting' criticism of schools getting tested for Covid-19
Matt Hancock's criticism of a school that sent an entire year group for coronavirus testing has been branded "disgusting". The Health Secretary told the public on Wednesday morning not to get coronavirus tests unless they have symptoms in order to stop people having to travel long distances to get tested. He said that it was "unacceptable" for whole schools, or large parts of schools, to get tested for coronavirus.
France to open 20 new Covid-19 testing centres in Paris region
French health officials are to open 20 new Covid-19 testing centres in the Paris region after demand for tests soared at la rentrée, last week’s grand return to work and classes following the long school holidays. The authorities said testing capacity in and around the French capital had risen more than fourfold from 45,000 to 200,000 a week and 1 million people were being tested nationally every week – about 140,000 a day – but there were still queues and delays. The new diagnostic centres will be open to all those wishing to be tested, but certain hours will be reserved for patients considered a priority and those with Covid-19 symptoms or at risk of contamination. The health minister, Olivier Véran, has blamed the delays on a surge in demand from people returning from holidays and said the government was hoping to improve access to tests in the next few weeks.
Coronavirus: Too many people getting COVID-19 tests are 'not eligible', says health secretary
People with no coronavirus symptoms getting tests are to blame for the system reaching its limit, the health secretary has suggested. Matt Hancock told Sky News the reason many people have reported being unable to book a test is because the proportion of those asking for them who have no symptoms has risen to 25%. "We have seen an increase in demand including from people who are not eligible for tests, people who don't have symptoms," he said on the Kay Burley programme. "You are eligible for a test if you have symptoms of coronavirus or if you have a very specific reason otherwise. We have seen an increase, and about 25% of people who are coming forward don't have symptoms and aren't eligible."
Coronavirus: Students prepare for socially-distanced university life after months of lockdown
In Manchester alone tens of thousands of students are returning to university after months of living at home during lockdown. But with freshers week cancelled and the city's nightlife non-existent, the social aspect of life at university will be hugely different. There are already huge concerns from the government, health bosses and universities that with the arrival of students to university accommodations and shared homes, the spread of coronavirus within this generation could increase.
Spain to negotiate travel corridors to its islands with Britain, Germany
Spain, whose tourism industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, is insisting on the creation of safe travel corridors even as the list of global restrictions affecting the country continues to grow. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya announced that Spain will negotiate with Britain, Germany and Scandinavian countries to open up travel corridors to the Spanish islands (the Balearics and the Canaries) exempting visitors from the need to self-isolate upon their return. Although summer travel has ended in much of Spain, the Canary Islands, located off the western coast of Africa, are now entering their own high season.
How France’s 'chaotic' Covid-19 testing strategy is causing a real headache
By setting an objective of carrying out one million Covid-19 tests per week, the French government created a new problem for itself. When French Health Minister Olivier Véran promised one million tests per week by September 1st, it was in response to mounting complaints in France that the country was testing too little meaning it was too late to keep track of the coronavirus epidemic in the country and effectively break up transmission chains. The government kept its promise and the national health agency Santé Publique France reported on Thursday that 1,059,303 Covid-19 tests had been effectuated over the course of last week. "Why one million? It is not a totem, just a reflection of our effective capacity to test," Véran said at the time. But simply ramping up the number of tests only led to other problems. France's testing centres, or laboratoires (labos) are struggling to deal with the number pf people who want to get tested. It's common to see long queues snaking around the streets as people, some potentially infected and contagious, queue for hours.
India coronavirus: Rumours hamper testing in Punjab
Wild rumours about coronavirus are fuelling opposition to testing in the northern Indian state of Punjab, reports BBC Punjabi's Arvind Chhabra. "Human organs are being smuggled," Sonia Kaur, who lives in a village in Punjab's Sangrur district, tells the BBC. "Not just the villagers but the whole world is scared of this. Social media is full of such news." Ms Kaur says she has heard of people's organs being harvested under the guise of diagnosing and treating coronavirus. She is echoing the fears of countless others in rural Punjab who are sceptical of the virus. Rumours are flying fast in Punjab that the virus is a hoax, that people who don't have Covid-19 are being taken away to care centres, where they are being killed for their organs, and that bodies are being swapped to allay suspicion.
'I'm shocked': businesses brace for long wait to reopen under Melbourne's Covid roadmap
Soon after the pandemic began the sign out front of the Thornbury Picture House read: “Cinema closed until real life doesn’t feel like a movie.” Now the message is a little less whimsical: “Stay strong, Thornbury. We love you.” Under a Covid-19 roadmap announced by the Victorian government on Sunday, the independent cinema in Melbourne’s north will be among the businesses who will wait the longest to switch the lights back on. “I’m just shocked that we’re the final stage to reopen,” says its owner, Gus Berger. Along with beauty salons, gyms and music venues, it is hoped businesses like Berger’s will be back on 23 November. But that requires Victoria to have recorded no new coronavirus cases for 14 days.
Victoria's COVID-19 roadmap favours men as women bear brunt of job restrictions, analysis shows
Already Victorian women have been hit harder by job losses during the pandemic, bearing 61 per cent of all jobs lost between February and July. The new analysis by Angela Jackson, lead economist at Equity Economics, shows the road to recovery favours male-dominated industries over female-dominated ones, increasing the risk of women suffering lifelong financial scarring. "The planned reopening clearly favours male jobs over female jobs," she said. "Australian women have borne the brunt of job losses due to COVID-19 and the timing of the opening of industries in Victoria will unfortunately continue this trend."
Victoria's roadmap out of Covid lockdown is 'a sledgehammer approach', expert says
The Victorian government has “taken a sledgehammer approach” to its roadmap out of lockdown “when a hammer may have been just as effective”, Deakin’s chair of epidemiology Prof Catherine Bennett has said. Bennett said it was important for the public to understand that the model, developed by computer scientists and epidemiologists from the University of Melbourne, assumed all cases of Covid-19 in the community were randomly distributed, and that all cases are mixing in the community in the same way. In reality, many cases are already in isolation, or are part of outbreaks in workplaces where transmission and movements may be different. “Now, two-thirds of our cases are in health or aged care workers and their household contacts, and a third of cases are out in the community,” Bennett said. “So assuming we have 60 new cases per day by next weekend, that really means there would be roughly 20 community cases.”
Turkey scales back school reopening amid rise in COVID-19 cases
Turkey announced on Tuesday it was scaling back plans to reopen schools later this month, with only the youngest pupils beginning classes at first, for up to two days a week. Fatalities from the coronavirus have jumped to their highest since mid-May when lockdowns were in place. The government has said it does not plan to reitroduce a full lockdown but has urged Turls to follow social distancing and hygiene measures to curb the cirus. Masks have been mandatory.
Judge criticises UK government’s ‘inadequate’ efforts to aid Covid-19 backlog
A crown court judge has refused to extend the custody time limit for keeping a man in prison awaiting trial and accused the government of under-funding the criminal justice system during the pandemic. Amid a growing backlog of cases, Judge Raynor at Woolwich crown court on Tuesday issued a highly critical 24-page ruling on the case of a 19-year-old who has been held for almost a year. He contrasted the Ministry of Justice’s “inadequate” efforts with the success of emergency courts in Spain and South Korea. It is the second time in the past month that the same judge has warned that he cannot repeatedly order defendants to remain behind bars if the justice system is failing to bring them to trial.
Victoria 'may revisit requirements in roadmap plan', top doctor says
Victorian health authorities have suggested they may look at thresholds put in the state's roadmap plan out of lockdown in coming weeks, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth says. Under Premier Daniel Andrews' plan released over the weekend, Victoria would need to reach a daily average of just five cases a day for the state to return to a "COVID-normal" sense of life where people can freely leave their homes and businesses can reopen. The DCMO acknowledged the debate around those figures and whether they are too conservative.
Partisan Exits
Covid-19: Government plans to spend £100bn on expanding testing to 10 million a day
The UK government has drawn up plans to carry out up to 10 million covid-19 tests a day by early next year as part of a huge £100bn (€110bn; $130bn) expansion of its national testing programme, documents seen by The BMJ show. The internal correspondence reveals that the government is prepared to almost match what it spends on the NHS in England each year (£130bn) to fund mass testing of the population “to support economic activity and a return to normal life” under its ambitious Operation Moonshot programme. A briefing memo sent to the first minister and cabinet secretaries in Scotland, seen by The BMJ, says that the UK-wide Moonshot programme is expected to “cost over £100bn to deliver.” If achieved, the programme would allow testing of the entire UK population each week. A separate PowerPoint presentation prepared for the government by the global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, also seen by The BMJ, says the plans had the potential to grow the UK’s testing capacity from the current 350 000 a day to up to 10 million tests a day by early 2021. Critics have already rounded on the plans as “devoid of any contribution from scientists, clinicians, and public health and testing and screening experts,” and “disregarding the enormous problems with the existing testing and tracing programmes.”
'Extraordinary revelations' over pandemic and Victoria's lockdowns surface
Mr Kenny said in what was an “amazing exchange” between Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and Neil Mitchell on radio station 3AW, the Professor revealed the curfew in the state wasn’t based on his advice. “I was consulted on it, but it was a separate decision making pathway,” Professor Sutton said. "Remember the Premier, Daniel Andrews keeps saying he has no alternative, he is taking the only road that he possibly can, and that he's following the data and he's following the medical advice," Mr Kenny said. "Well he imposed a curfew on Melbourne, he locked Victorians in their homes every night for three months, and this move is not based on medical advice".
Trump knew coronavirus was 'deadly', downplayed it: Woodward book
US President Donald Trump knew the coronavirus was "deadly" and worse than the flu even as he intentionally misled the US public in February and March about the risks, according to a forthcoming book by American journalist Bob Woodward.
Pope wears face mask, warns against political exploitation of coronavirus
The pope called people who turn their backs on the suffering coronavirus had caused "devotees of Pontius Pilate who simply wash their hands of it." Pope Francis, seen wearing a mask for the first time in public, said on Wednesday no one should seek political gain from the coronavirus and that vaccine developers should not see it as a chance to make a profit. At his second weekly general audience with public participation after six months of virtual audiences, the pope was seen wearing a white mask as he entered and left his car and using sanitizer occasionally squirted onto his hands by an aide.
Continued Lockdown
The UK's Drinking Problem Got Worse Under Lockdown. Here Are The Facts
When Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey, was reading through the most common reasons UK respondents gave for drinking more in lockdown, one stood out to him: “I’m rewarding myself for getting through Covid.” The annual survey, conducted this year during April and May to take a snapshot of lockdown, revealed what we probably already know: that more than half of people have been drinking more – but also that excessive drinking left many of us feeling worse, exacerbating underlying mental and physical health issues.
Survey shows many young people are drinking less alcohol in lockdown
Our Global Drug Survey released today, which includes replies from more than 55,000 participants, shows a mixed response. We found some people are increasing their use of alcohol and cannabis, mainly due to boredom, which previous research has found. But other people have reduced their drinking and drug use now festivals, nightclubs or parties are no longer an option—a trend that has so far gained less attention.
Fire sweeps refugee camp on Greek island amid virus lockdown
Moria had been under a coronavirus lockdown when the first fire gutted a large section of it, and health officials said some of those who had tested positive for the virus had fled. “The combination of migration and the pandemic in these conditions is creating an exceptionally demanding situation,” Alternate Migration Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos said. Civil protection authorities declared a four-month state of emergency for public health reasons on Lesbos. Officials said the original fire was started by camp residents angered by the lockdown measures and isolation orders imposed after 35 people tested positive for COVID-19. The cases were found during broad testing and contact tracing after the illness of a Somali man who had been granted asylum and had left the island in July but later returned.
Singapore’s poorest stay in lockdown while others move freely
With restaurants and malls bustling, pre-pandemic life is slowly returning for people in Singapore—except for the more than 300,000 migrant workers who make up much of the city’s low-wage workforce. Since April, these workers have been confined to their residences with limited exceptions for work. After an extensive testing and quarantine campaign, the government cleared the dormitories where most of these workers live of COVID-19 in August, letting residents leave for several “essential errands,” like court appearances and doctor’s appointments. The government said last month it was working toward relaxing more rules for workers. Those plans are now under threat, with new virus clusters emerging in the dorms, where workers from China, India, Indonesia and elsewhere share bunks and tight living spaces.
Scientific Viewpoint
AstraZeneca May Resume COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Next Week:
British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc could resume trials for its experimental coronavirus vaccine next week, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people associated with the trials. The London-listed firm had to pause global trials of its potential vaccine for COVID-19 after an unexplained illness in a participant, which sent its shares lower as the move was seen as dimming prospects for an early rollout.
Regeneron expects to report biomarker data for COVID-19 therapy by September end
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said on Wednesday it expects to report biomarker data for its COVID-19 antibody cocktail by the end of this month. The drugmaker last month struck a partnership with Roche to make and supply the Covid-19 antibody cocktail, which is being tested on several hundreds of patients after it prevented and treated the respiratory disease in animals.
Could face masks be a crude 'vaccine' against Covid-19? Scientists claim infections caused by smaller viral loads passing through a covering could build up immunity
Masks, particularly surgical and cloth ones worn by most, are not perfect. They allow small viral particles to slip through filters into people's airways. This may be helping train people's bodies to be able to fight Covid infection
Why COVID-19 is more deadly in people with obesity—even if they're young
Science's COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation. This spring, after days of flulike symptoms and fever, a man arrived at the emergency room at the University of Vermont Medical Center. He was young—in his late 30s—and adored his wife and small children. And he had been healthy, logging endless hours running his own small business, except for one thing: He had severe obesity. Now, he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was increasingly short of breath. He was admitted directly to the intensive care unit (ICU) and was on a ventilator within hours. Two weeks later, he died.
Study finds no increased COVID-19 risk for train staff in Germany
Staff in long-distance trains of Deutsche Bahn were not subject to an increased risk of infection with COVID-19, according to an ongoing study of around 1,000 employees published by the German state-owned rail operator on Wednesday. Only one Deutsche Bahn employee tested positive for COVID-19, according to first results of the study by Deutsche Bahn and the Charite Research Organization (CRO). The aim of the study is to gain scientifically sound findings on the occurrence of infections on trains. It was important that train staff were "not exposed to an increased risk of falling ill with COVID-19," said Martin Seiler, member of the management board for human resources and legal affairs at Deutsche Bahn.
Sweden's low positive test rate 'vindicates coronavirus strategy'
Sweden registered its lowest rate of positive coronavirus tests yet even as its testing regime has been expanded to record levels, in what some experts regard as a vindication of its comparatively unintrusive Covid-19 strategy. Over the past week the country carried out more than 120,000 tests, of which only 1.3 per cent identified the disease. At the height of the pandemic the proportion was 19 per cent. ohan Carlson, an epidemiologist and the director of the Swedish public health agency, said that Swedes seemed to be benefiting from widespread immunity because of the decision not to impose a full lockdown during the first wave. “Our strategy was consistent and sustainable,” Professor Carlson said.
Why ‘herd immunity’ is a distraction
Sweden’s many successes in curbing coronavirus have been overshadowed by its one spectacular failure: namely protecting the elderly. Goodman’s assessment of Sweden’s approach as “an unorthodox, open-air experiment” is not alone; the headline of a Washington Post article by Professor Gina Gustavsson in May termed it an experiment in “blind patriotism.” According to a more recent report in The Washington Post by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey, one of Donald Trump’s chief health advisers, Scott Atlas, “is urging the White House to embrace a controversial ‘herd immunity’ strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus.” The article goes on to suggest that Dr Atlas is advocating an embrace of the so-called “Swedish model.”
Drugmaker Pauses Covid-19 Vaccine Trial for Safety Review
Britain is expected to limit most social gatherings to six people after a spike in cases. A political uproar quashed plans for targeted lockdowns in Israel. People caught maskless in Indonesia were told to lie in a coffin as punishment.
Coronavirus Australia: Andrews government 'in fear' of the virus, expert says
A health expert has revealed a coronavirus vaccine is far from a given despite worldwide investment. In an explosive interview with the Herald Sun, Brian McNamee, the chair of CSL – the firm tasked with producing vaccines in Australia – said the treatment could face a lengthy delay, if one arrives at all. “If they had asked us we would have told them that drug development is a very complex thing,” Dr McNamee said. “We can’t bank on a vaccine. I think the treatments are improving but we have to learn to live with COVID. We have to manage it.” However, Dr McNamee said the company was “cautiously optimistic”, but warned of “risks”. “…that’s why at CSL we’ve got two vaccines we could manufacture because the likelihood of both working is not high,” he told the publication.
Brazil trials of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine show promising results, governor says
The governor of Brazil's Sao Paulo state said on wednesday that Phase 3 clinical trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech have shown promising results and it may be available to Brazilians as early as December. Governor Joao Doria added that Phase 2 trials of the potential vaccine had shown an immune response of 98% in the elderly.
UK science adviser: other vaccine trials also likely to be paused
Other COVID-19 vaccine trials are likely to be paused at some point the British government's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, said, describing a pause in the trial of an AstraZeneca vaccine as "not good" but a sensible step.
Coronavirus Resurgence
North of England has had highest proportion of Covid-19 deaths since national lockdown eased
A greater proportion of people have died from coronavirus in the North of England after the national lockdown began to be eased than in other parts of England and Wales. Analysis of official figures by ITV News shows nearly a quarter of deaths in the North involving Covid-19 have been registered after 15 May, compared to less than 10% in London.
Iowa refuses to close bars and require masks as Covid-19 cases surge in cities
Amid warnings that the failure to enforce masks and social distancing was likely to cost hundreds of additional lives in the coming months, the White House taskforce said in a report on 31 August that bars “must be closed” in 61 of Iowa’s 99 counties and seating in restaurants should be limited. It also recommended restrictions on the size of gatherings in the worst hit counties along with the closure of gyms. “Community transmission continues to be high in rural and urban counties across Iowa, with increasing transmission in the major university towns,” the report warned. “Mask mandates across the state must be in place to decrease transmission.”
UK reports 2,659 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday
The United Kingdom reported 2,659 confirmed new cases of COVID-19, according to government data published on Wednesday, compared with 2,460 a day earlier. Eight new deaths were recorded compared with 32 deaths a day eaelier. Case numbers have started to increase in recent days.
Increase in number of Covid-19 cases but no new deaths
There have been no new Covid-19-related deaths at the NHS trust serving south Cumbria, according to NHS statistics. Hospital trusts in the North West reported three fresh deaths on Monday and three others at the weekend. All newly-reported were recorded in or around 'hotspot' areas for Covid-19 infections across the region -specifically, around Greater Manchester and Yorkshire. Cumbria has experienced a slight rise in its number of Covid-19 cases this week, as five BAE workers went into isolation after testing positive for the virus.
Six more North-East schools, pubs and restaurants confirm Covid-19 cases
Four more North-East schools and two pubs have confirmed positive Covid-19 tests since the beginning of the week. The affected schools, in County Durham and Teesside, have told affected children to self-isolate for 14 days. Today, Outwood Academy Normanby told parents it was sending all Year 8 pupils home after positive Covid-19 test. In a statement, the school said parents should remain in the visitors' car park while pupils make their way out of the school.
Frontline doctors warn coronavirus 'war' not over ahead of UK lockdown changes
Frontline doctors have warned the Covid-19 "war" is not over ahead of stricter UK lockdown rules banning social gatherings of more than six people. Medics working in some of the hardest-hit regions across the country are reporting coronavirus wards are still slammed with cases amid soaring infection rates.
Coronavirus: New virus measures 'not a second lockdown'
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said "we must act" to avoid another lockdown as virus cases rise in England. He set out a new "rule of six", restricting gatherings to a maximum of six people, enforced by police able to issue fines or make arrests. Mr Johnson also outlined a "moonshot" plan to control the virus with mass testing, possibly by next spring. It comes as the UK reported another 2,659 coronavirus cases, the fourth day running of over 2,000 reported cases. "I want to be absolutely clear, these measures are not another national lockdown. The whole point of them is to avoid a second national lockdown," Mr Johnson said in the first Downing Street coronavirus briefing since July. He added "it breaks my heart to have to insist on these restrictions".
Birmingham faces looming lockdown, West Midlands mayor admits
West Midlands mayor Andy Street said tougher restrictions were now 'looking likely' in Birmingham. Birmingham's case rate has jumped to 69 per 100,000, up from 30 a week ago, after 700 new cases. Local leaders in Birmingham are meeting with national health chiefs today to thrash out future plans
Nicola Sturgeon likely to consider similar measures to England in Thursday lockdown review
Scotland is to review lockdown measures tomorrow, but with the current coronavirus cases continuing to spike once again, the First Minister has warned not to expect any major relaxations. Nicola Sturgeon said that Scotland is likely to take a 'cautious' approach and 'won't 'rule out the need to make changes to the number of people allowed to gather together' as we have 'seen in England.' Scotland now looks likely to follow in Boris Johnson's footsteps, who has made gatherings of more than six people illegal in England from 14 September.
UK announces 2,659 more coronavirus cases and eight deaths
The rise of 2,659 cases means almost 13,000 case have been diagnosed in the past four days alone. At a press briefing this afternoon, the chief medical officer for England said cases were not rising due to increased testing, and were a 'real phenomenon'. He reassured decisive action could bring cases down. It comes as the government bars people meeting in groups above six, set to come into force next Monday. Boris Johnson said the measures are essential to 'keep our economy going and schools open'
Covid Cases In Spain Increase By 8964 In The Last 24 Hours
Daily Covid figures published by the Ministry of Health have increased by 8,964 cases in the last 24 hours, of which 3,168 have been diagnosed in the last 24 hours, compared to 2,440 on Monday. In total, 554,513 people have been diagnosed with Covid-1 in Spain since the pandemic began.
Scotland 'at a very dangerous point' in battle with Covid-19 amid stark second lockdown warning
Scotland is at a “very dangerous place” said Nicola Sturgeon amid warnings of a potential second lockdown as cases continue to rise across the country. The First Minister, speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing,
Radical new lockdown measures possible in more town and cities - with pubs shutting at 10pm
More towns or cities in England could face "curfews" with pubs forced to shut at 10pm with the government considering drastic measures if Covid-19 begins to run out of control. Bolton has become the first town in England to be handed a curfew after new cases surged over the weekend to 120 per 100,000 people. All hospitality venues, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes, have been told to shut, with immediate effect, to people eating and drinking on site, reports MirrorOnline. They are able to stay open as takeaways - but only until 10pm. Between 10pm and 5am, all hospitality venues must shut entirely. And it is reported that ministers will consider extending the policy to other areas if there are flare-ups.
Coronavirus UK: Meetings of more than six BANNED from Monday
The PM is announcing a change in the law after the number of daily Covid cases rose to almost 3,000. The ban will only apply to social gatherings, with those coming together for work or education still allowed. Gatherings of more than six people also allowed where household or support bubbles larger than half a dozen Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick Vallance and the Government all agreed that urgent action was needed. Failure to comply could result in a £100 fine, which will then double on each repeat offence up to £3,200
Japan's households, firms keep hoarding cash at record pace as COVID-19 strains broaden
Japan's currency in circulation and bank deposits rose at a record annual pace in August as companies and households continued to pile up cash to guard against the coronavirus- driven income slump, central bank data showed on Wednesday.
Six new cases of Covid-19 in community linked to church, bus driver tests positive
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says they are all linked to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship Church group. He says all members of the church group are being asked to be re-tested, even if they have no symptoms. Four of the new cases are part of the group of 14 that are associated with a new event, a series of bereavement activities, that are linked to the Mt Roskill cluster, Dr Bloomfield says. He said all close contacts of the group are in self-isolation.
Coronavirus lockdown rules: Social gatherings of more than six people indoors and outdoors to be banned from next week
Social gatherings of more than six people both indoors and outdoors will be banned from next week amid growing concerns at the heart of Government over the rise in Covid-19 infections. Boris Johnson will announce the tougher restrictions on Wednesday in a press conference, which will come into effect from Monday. The move applies to all age groups and will see the number of people allowed to meet legally dramatically reduced from 30 down to six as the Government attempts to regain control over the renewed spread of the virus.
Czech coronavirus cases top 1,000 in a day for first time
Czech authorities ordered people to wear face masks inside buildings from Thursday as the daily count of new coronavirus cases topped 1,000 for the first time.
Israel imposes week-long restrictions on coronavirus contagion zones
Israel on Tuesday began a week long campaign of night curfews and school closures in dozens of towns and neighbourhoods with high coronavirus counts, hoping it will help stem a spike in cases.
England to set tough new socialising rules after virus spike
PM Boris Johnson announced new restrictions on social gatherings in Egland on Wednesday, saying there was a clear need to act after a spike in Covid-19 infections. Speaking at a televised news conference, flanked by his top medical advisers, Johnson said groups of more than six people would be banned from meeting, in what he called a "rule of six" that was easier to understand than previous guidance.
New Lockdown
Coronavirus: Wales' first local lockdown starts in Caerphilly
Caerphilly has gone into lockdown, becoming the first county in Wales to face tougher restrictions following a spike in Covid-19 cases. No-one is allowed to leave the county without good reason, with stricter measures brought in from 18:00 BST. Family and friends living apart are no longer able to meet indoors, stay overnight, or form extended households. A senior police officer said Gwent Police was not planning to introduce roadblocks or cordons during lockdown. Ch Supt Mark Hobrough said neighbourhood officers would talk to motorists and visit shops and businesses to ensure everyone was aware of the new rules, with enforcement the "last objective".
All the new lockdown rules coming into effect across England from Monday - and who is exempt
Gatherings will be slashed from 30 people to 6 as UK battles a soaring coronavirus rate, the government has announced. In an announcement at around 10.30pm last night, the government announced a series of new restrictions for Brits to abide by. The rules change from Monday in England, with Birmingham facing a crisis of its own, as its rate of Covid-19 cases rises to around 70 per 100,000. Birmingham is beyond only two other parts of the country - and the rate in Solihull is causing, alarm, too, with around 50 cases per 100k.
Over 22,000 people in Spain’s Palma de Mallorca put on partial lockdown as COVID-19 infections rise – new rules here
The government of the Balearic Islands has today enforced a partial return to lockdown in several districts of Palma de Mallorca. The move, actioned by the Ministry of Health, serves to reduce the number of coronavirus infections in areas where it is the most prevalent. It is also supported by epidemiological research which has shown that there is high community transmission in the region.
As Caerphilly enters lockdown, chief doctor says: 'We've done it before and we will do it again'
People are spreading coronavirus because they've got used to socialising outdoors and think they can carry on inside, says the doctor at the centre of the lockdown in Caerphilly. Doctor Sarah Aitken, interim medical director at the Aneurin Bevan health board, said the spike in Covid-19 cases is the virus "showing us that it spreads better indoors than out" and cases have gone up as people headed indoors during a washout August. "What people have got used to doing outside, they can't do inside," Dr Aitken told WalesOnline. "We know the virus spreads better indoors and that's exactly what it's doing. "We've had a fairly good summer by British standards and people have got used to mixing and socialising outside. As the weather has changed and people have moved indoors, the virus has shown it spreads indoors."