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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 29th Mar 2021

Overnight News Roundup

How will people act after getting vaccinated? The complex psychology of safety?

  • People will be struggling with questions about safety having just been vaccinated, wondering whether to change behaviours and interactions, and how to understand just how protected they are and the others people they encounter are - or aren't.
  • In the coming weeks millions of people will confront myriad nuanced and complex individual choices - which gatherings to attend, with whom, and how certain people need to be that we are indeed safe from spreading or receiving the virus. But the problem is, humans are not very good at gauging risks.
  • Vaccines are essential for stopping COVID-19, but they reduce not wholly eliminate the odds of being infected with the virus. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are about 85% effective. Those are high numbers, but no guarantees of safety. For every 20 people who received a Pfizer or Moderna shot, one could still become COVID-19 and become seriously ill.
  • COVID-19 and other viruses mutate, sometimes rapidly. As billions of cells in millions of humans replicate the virus, its genetic material constantly changes, perhaps in ways that potentially circumvent our defences and vaccines.
  • Scientists also aren't sure how long vaccine protection lasts yet, and whether vaccinated individuals can get infected and spread COVID-19, even if they themselves don't get sick.
  • Public health officials have long recognised such complex realities about harm and safety. To address them, they've pursued harm reduction strategies. Neurocognitively people assess risks using fast thinking, or gut feelings. This means we don't see dichotomies of safety in terms of shades of grey but in black and white - which is what is needed here.
  • In the months ahead many people will face complex decisions with no easy answers. Though desires to feel safe against COVID-19 run deep, people need to accept, adapt and alter behavious to far more complex realities, like how comfortable they are that everyone at a dinner party or a bar will be fully vaccinated.
  • Health authorities need to urgently work to enhance public understanding of these issues through appropriate public health messaging campaigns. These messages need to convey the complexities of risk: the fact that being vaccinated is not a 100% guarantee of safety.
  • We need to remain careful. Research suggests that until the vast majority of people get vaccinated AND wear masks and social distance when they should, COVID-19 will remain around us in schools, stores and elsewhere.
How will people act after getting vaccinated? The complex psychology of safety?
How will people act after getting vaccinated? The complex psychology of safety
In early March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines stating that fully vaccinated people can visit each other or members of a single unvaccinated household indoors without wearing masks or physically distancing themselves. These clarifications, along with the fact that millions of Americans are now getting shots, are welcome news. But how will Americans respond? In the next weeks and months, millions of people will confront myriad nuanced and complex individual choices — which gatherings to attend, with whom, and how certain we need to be that we are indeed safe from spreading or receiving the virus. The problem is that humans aren’t good at gauging risks.
Volatility of vaccine confidence
How can vaccine hesitancy be addressed? Communication about vaccines must be delivered in an empathic manner to avoid stigmatizing those who question inoculation. This requires leveraging established relationships to address concerns of the vaccine hesitant. Examples include the Engaging in Medical Education with Sensitivity initiative during the 2019 measles outbreaks, in which Orthodox Jewish nurses empowered parents in that community to reach their own conclusions about vaccines while listening to their concerns and helping them contextualize information. Also, the University of Maryland's Health Advocates In-Reach and Research network of Black barbershops and salons trains personnel as health educators to encourage customers to pursue healthy behaviors.
COVID-19: Vaccinated people should be able to meet up and go on holidays, says scientist
A scientist has called for vaccinated people to be allowed to meet up with each other and to travel freely, saying there is no scientific reason why this should be forbidden. Professor Tim Spector, who leads the COVID Symptom Tracker app study run by King's College London, said the vaccination programme was successful and now people's mental health needs to be considered. He told the PA news agency: "I think we're actually in a much better place than many people are telling us, and I, for one, I'm not worried too much about what's happening abroad.
Covid-19: Several Vaccine Production Sites Approved in E.U.
Covid-19: Several Vaccine Production Sites Approved in E.U.
The European Union’s stumbling Covid-19 vaccination drive, badly shaken by the recent AstraZeneca safety scare, got a boost Friday from the European Medicines Agency, which approved new AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine production sites. The agency, an arm of the European Union and Europe’s top drug regulator, approved sites in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. It also loosened regulations for how long the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at ultralow temperatures. The moves could speed up the Continent’s lagging vaccine production and distribution, which have been plagued by delays and setbacks.
BioNTech nabs EU approval for former Novartis plant tapped in COVID-19 vaccine production push
On a quest to turn out 2 billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty this year, Pfizer and BioNTech just scored a major boost thanks to the European approval of a linchpin manufacturing plant in Germany. BioNTech won a thumbs up from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to start making and supplying partners with vaccine drug product from the Marburg, Germany facility it picked up from Novartis last fall. The regulator this week cleared BioNTech to manufacture messenger RNA—the vaccine's active ingredient—there, making it one of the largest mRNA production sites globally, BioNTech said in a release. Once fully operational, the site is expected to hit annual capacity of up to 1 billion vaccine doses per year, the company said. That's 250 million doses more than BioNTech said the site would be able to turn out last month. The company hopes to produce 250 million doses there in the first half of the year, and the first Marburg-made shots are expected to roll out in the second half of April.
EMA’s CHMP at last backs approving COVID-19 vaccines production plants
EMA’s CHMP at last backs approving COVID-19 vaccines production plants
India tells overseas vaccine buyers it has to prioritise local needs
India tells overseas vaccine buyers it has to prioritise local needs
India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, said on Friday it would make domestic COVID-19 inoculations a priority as infections surge and had told international buyers of its decision. Reports that India will delay deliveries of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to a global programme to inoculate poorer countries triggered alarm on Thursday, with the head of Africa’s disease control agency describing the continent as “helpless”. India has exported 60.5 million doses, more than the number of inoculations conducted at home, and says there is no outright ban on exports.
India bans Covid-19 vaccine exports to put itself first
India has imposed a de facto ban on vaccine exports as it puts its own needs first. The country is in the grip of a second wave of Covid-19, which is worsening rapidly. The Serum Institute of India (SII), the largest maker of vaccines in the world, has been told to halt exports until it can cover what India needs, according to sources in the Indian health ministry and Unicef.
Joint jab for Covid-19 and flu could be ready next year, says top vaccine developer
Joint jab for Covid-19 and flu could be ready next year, says top vaccine developer
Scientists at Imperial College London have demonstrated ‘proof of principle’ and hope to begin developing the joint vaccine later this year. A joint jab for Covid-19 and flu could be ready for use by the end of next year, according to one of Britain’s leading vaccine developers. Professor Robin Shattock, of Imperial College London, said the combination jab “is in our sights” after successfully combining three existing vaccines into one shot using the RNA technology he is developing. Tests of the three-in-one vaccine shot he created for Ebola, Marburg and Lassa fever produced the “same type of immune response” in mice as if they had been administered separately, he said.
Can one vaccine ward off all coronavirus? Researchers are about to find out
Variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are emerging and becoming dominant around the world. So some vaccines are being updated to allow our immune system to learn how to deal with them. But this process of identifying and characterising variants that can escape our immune system, then tweaking a vaccine to deal with them, can take time. So researchers are designing a universal coronavirus vaccine. This could mean one vaccine to protect against different variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Alternatively, a universal vaccine would target many different coronaviruses, perhaps one waiting in the wings to cause the next pandemic. Here's where the science is up to and the challenges ahead.
Covid-19: Pfizer director says science 'winning the race' against virus
Science is winning the race between coronavirus and the vaccine, Pfizer's UK medical director has said. Dr Berkeley Phillips told BBC News NI it was important people were "allowed to start living again". While the main threat continues to come from new variants, Pfizer is already designing an updated vaccine that will work, he said. Dr Phillips said "incredible progress" had been made in the past year and "we're winning that race". "If you look at what's happening in the UK there are dramatic reductions in the death rate, dramatic reductions in hospitalisations and in the number of cases," he said.
India bans Covid-19 vaccine exports to put itself first
India has imposed a de facto ban on vaccine exports as it puts its own needs first. The country is in the grip of a second wave of Covid-19, which is worsening rapidly. The Serum Institute of India (SII), the largest maker of vaccines in the world, has been told to halt exports until it can cover what India needs, according to sources in the Indian health ministry and Unicef.
The Interview - Top Israeli health official on Covid-19: 'I support giving vaccines to our neighbours'
The Interview - Top Israeli health official on Covid-19: 'I support giving vaccines to our neighbours'
In an interview with FRANCE 24, Israel's head of public health services Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis analysed the successful Covid-19 vaccination campaign by the Israeli government, with 80 percent of the eligible population already vaccinated against Covid-19. "You can get to a point in this pandemic where you open sectors and the disease goes down," she told us. On the vaccination of the Palestinians, Alroy-Preis said the arrangements with the pharma companies state that "we cannot take the vaccines out of Israel" but insisted she supported "giving vaccines to our neighbours."
Coronavirus: UK ‘set to offer 3.7m vaccines to Ireland’ amid EU exports row
The UK is planning to offer 3.7 million Covid-19 vaccines to the Republic of Ireland in a move that could exacerbate its rift with the EU, it has been reported. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, and Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis are said to have met privately to discuss the plan, which they see as integral to ensuring lockdown restrictions can be lifted in neighbouring Northern Ireland with the reduced risk of border crossings triggering a third wave of infections, according to The Sunday Times.
Arlene Foster: UK should share surplus Covid-19 vaccines with Ireland
First Minister Arlene Foster has said she believes the UK government will offer Covid-19 vaccine stocks to Ireland once its own vaccination programme is complete. Her comments come as The Sunday Times reports that the UK is planning to offer 3.7 million Covid jabs to Ireland, partly to help lift the lockdown in Northern Ireland. According to the newspaper Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove and Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis have had “outline discussions” about the plan.
Should US share its COVID-19 vaccine supply with the world? The White House says it will – but not yet.
Global leaders and residents of other countries voice increasing criticism of the United States and other wealthy nations for buying up most of the world's supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health ...
Hong Kong and Macao suspend BioNTech coronavirus vaccine rollout due to packaging defect
Hong Kong and Macao suspend BioNTech coronavirus vaccine rollout due to packaging defect
Authorities in Hong Kong and Macao have suspended the rollout of BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine citing a packaging defect found in their first batch of doses. Both governments said in statements Wednesday they had received a letter from BioNTech and its Chinese partner, Fosun Pharma, indicating an issue with the seal on individual vials in batch number 210102. According to government figures, as of Tuesday, 150,200 people in Hong Kong had received their first dose of the BioNTech vaccine, which outside of China is partnered with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
Macron backs EU vaccine export controls, sees more French restrictions
Macron backs EU vaccine export controls, sees more French restrictions
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he supported stricter EU export controls on vaccines for drug companies that do not meet their contractual commitments with the European Union. “It’s the end of naivety,” Macron told reporters after a virtual EU summit. “I support export control mechanisms put in place by the European Commission. I support the fact that we must block all exports for as long as some drug companies don’t respect their commitments with Europeans,” he added. Macron said the EU had been late in ramping up vaccine production and inoculations, but was catching up and would become the world’s biggest producer of vaccines this summer.
Coronavirus: France accuses UK of 'blackmail' over vaccine exports
France has accused the UK of "blackmail" over its handling of coronavirus vaccine exports, amid continuing tensions over supply chains. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was asked whether the EU had been "scammed" by sending millions of doses to the UK while its own rollout stuttered. "We need to build a co-operative relationship," he told France Info radio. "But we cannot deal this way." France has called for the EU to implement tougher export controls. Vaccine rollouts have started sluggishly across the bloc, and the EU has blamed pharmaceutical companies - primarily AstraZeneca - for not delivering its promised doses. AstraZeneca has denied that it is failing to honour its contract.
French foreign minister claims Britain will struggle to deliver second coronavirus vaccine doses
Britain will struggle to source second Covid-19 jabs for those who have already had their first dose because of supply shortages, France’s foreign minister has claimed
Cases of COVID-19 rising
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta orders new lockdown to battle COVID-19 infections wave
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday announced a halt to all movement in the capital Nairobi and four other counties on Friday as the COVID-19 outbreak reached its worst ever stage in East Africa’s richest economy.
Covid-19 Cases In The U.S. Are Increasing Again
The state dealing with the most significant outbreak at the moment is Michigan, which recorded more than 6,000 new cases Friday for the first time a single day since December, as its rolling 14-day average has spiked by 25%. The tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut has also experienced double-digit percentage increases in daily case counts. 1,265 new deaths were reported on Friday, but the 7-day average in the U.S. has fallen below 1,000 for the first time since November.
Covid-19: Massive increase in new cases, as deaths continue to rise
The coronavirus infection rate in Belgium continues to rise, while the number of deaths due to the virus is increasing, according to the latest official figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Sunday. Between 18 and 24 March, an average of 4,636 new people tested positive per day, which is a 27% increase compared to the week before. The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic is 866,063. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died as a result of the virus. Over the past two weeks, 504.9 infections were confirmed per 100,000 inhabitants, which is a 67% increase compared to the two weeks before.
France sees further rise in coronavirus patients in intensive care
The number of patients with coronavirus in French intensive care units rose on Saturday to a new high for this year, increasing the pressure to impose new restrictions that President Emmanuel Macron says will probably be needed. France had 4,791 ICU patients being treated for COVID-19, up from 4,766 on Friday, health ministry data showed. The numbers are approaching a peak recorded in mid-November during the second wave of the virus, although last spring, when France imposed its first lockdown, saw a peak of more than 7,000. Doctors say intensive care units in the worst-hit regions could become overwhelmed.
Hungary PM says no room to ease lockdown measures as coronavirus infections rise
A record rise in coronavirus infections and deaths keeps Hungary from loosening lockdown measures, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday before his government discussed plans to reopen the economy. Partial reopening may begin after Easter, once a quarter of the population is vaccinated, the government decided, a senior Orban aide said. Hospitals are under “extraordinary” pressure in Hungary, a hot spot as the pandemic hits Central Europe especially hard. Orban, who faces elections in 2022, is balancing the world’s highest daily per-capita coronavirus death rates, according to Johns Hopkins University, with a need to open the economy to avoid a second year of deep recession. “The next 1-2 weeks will be hard,” Orban told state radio.
Philippines’ renewed coronavirus lockdown in Manila likely to sharpen criticism of government’s response to pandemic
The government has been unwilling to acknowledge any shortcomings and has instead sought to blame ‘pandemic fatigue’ and emerging variants of the disease.
Battling vaccine hesitancy
How we can show hesitant Black D.C. residents that coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective
Black Americans are dying at nearly twice the rate of White Americans from the coronavirus. In the nation’s capital, about 75 percent of coronavirus deaths are among Black Americans — despite making up less than half of the population. So, it’s particularly troubling that 44 percent of Black D.C. residents say they won’t get vaccinated. As Black doctors and voices within the health-care community, we have a responsibility to address these views about vaccines. Among Black people who are unsure, the most common two reasons given are worries about side effects and a desire to see how other people respond to the vaccine. These are perfectly reasonable concerns; no one wants to be a guinea pig.
Frustrated EU leaders pass vaccine fight to ambassadors
Suddenly, the EU’s top diplomats — the Committee of Permanent Representatives — look more like the Committee of Pro-Rata Referees. After EU heads of state and government spent hours arguing during a video summit on Thursday about how to divvy up an extra load of 10 million coronavirus vaccine doses, they gave up and asked diplomats to settle the matter. The decision to seek arbitration among the ambassadors came after Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz virtually sabotaged the meeting by insisting that his country receive extra doses, even though European Commission data shows Austria faring relatively well among EU nations in terms of vaccine supplies. There's also the issue that all EU countries, Austria included, had previously agreed to a pro-rata formula that gives each member state an equal chance to purchase their fair share of shots.
Hong Kong exploring ways to incentivise coronavirus vaccine take-up: pandemic adviser
Chinese University’s David Hui Shu-cheong says even more inoculation facilities may be necessary as city makes up for lost time from BioNTech packaging delay Financial Secretary Paul Chan, meanwhile, says economy hangs in balance, calling herd immunity a precondition to jump-starting recovery
Expanding vaccination eligibility
More than 30 states expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility
With national vaccinations ramping up to more than 2.5 million people per day, at least 34 states have made all adults eligible to receive one of three approved COVID-19 vaccines—or plan to by mid-April— as the United States continues to race to vaccinate as many people as possible while variant cases continue to rise. "It's clear, there is a case for optimism; but there is not a case for relaxation," said Jeff Zients, coordinator of the White House's COVID-19 response, today during a White House press briefing. California is the largest state to announce a change in eligibility: On Apr 1 all residents 50 and older will be eligible, and all residents 16 and older will be able to get a vaccine on Apr 15. On Mar 29, Texas will open up its vaccination to all residents.
Foreigners flock to Serbia to get coronavirus vaccine shots
Thousands of vaccine-seekers from countries neighboring Serbia have flocked to Belgrade after Serbian authorities offered free coronavirus jabs to foreigners who showed up over the weekend
Keep Your Covid-19 Vaccination Card Safe — You’re Going To Need It
Keep Your Covid-19 Vaccination Card Safe — You’re Going To Need It
Your most precious travel accessory this summer is going to be a small white piece of paper. Some destinations, cruise lines and major sports venues are already requiring travelers to provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Other businesses, like Krispy Kreme, are offering freebies and other perks to people who can prove they’ve been inoculated. If you are among the 48 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the only proof that you have received your Covid shots is typically your paper vaccination record card with the CDC logo in the upper corner. The vaccination card tells you what Covid-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it — but that information is not being stored in any centralized, easily searchable database.
France and Spain's lockdown vices
France's lockdown vice? Cheese
French households feasted on cheese last year as they turned to home cooking and sought gastronomic comfort during coronavirus lockdowns that shuttered the restaurant trade. The amount of cheese purchased by French shoppers for at-home consumption increased by more than 8% in 2020, compared with just 2% the previous year, according to figures from farming agency FranceAgriMer and market data firm Kantar. That was part of a shift in food consumption in many countries last year as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, with households initially bulk buying staples like pasta and flour, and later settling into home-eating habits with extra purchases of products like butter. In France, mozzarella saw the steepest rise in demand among major cheese categories, with a 21% volume jump, followed by a 12% increase for raclette - a winter favourite eaten melted with potatoes and cured meats.
Spaniards cut back on drink, took more sedatives during pandemic - study
Spaniards cut back on alcohol and almost halved their binge-drinking during the pandemic as the lockdown shuttered bars and nightclubs, a survey by Spain’s Observatory for Drugs and Addiction found on Friday. At the same time, the consumption of unprescribed sedatives increased and internet use jumped, as people spent more of their leisure time browsing, and more youngsters turned to online gambling, the survey showed.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 30th Apr 2020

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Lockdown Exit
Coronavirus Northern Territory: Restrictions to be lifted in NT
Outdoor weddings, funerals and even playgrounds will be back in business under a “new normal” strategy being prepared in every state and territory across Australia and one of the safest regions has predicted its plan will provide a template for the nation. “Because being the safest in the nation means being the first in the nation to get back on track. Back to business, back to work, back to enjoying the great Territory lifestyle.” Promising a “new normal” by early June, Mr Gunner said the Territory could offer a model for other parts of the nation.
NT Government eases coronavirus restrictions on weddings, bars, gyms and funerals
From noon Friday, people in the NT will be able to use public swimming pools, waterparks, go fishing with friends and play golf. From midday on May 15, Territorians can head back to the gym, borrow a book from a public library, get their nails done or dine at a restaurant or cafe. On Friday June 5, the Government will lift its two-hour time limit and ease its restrictions on indoor activities, which means people can get a tattoo, visit a nightclub, and play team sports such as basketball and soccer.
Germany faces having to bring BACK strict coronavirus lockdowns as cases surge just days after easing them
Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, also urged caution. “Let's ensure we can continue to defend this success we have achieved together," he told a regular briefing. "We don't want the number of cases to rise again. Let's, insofar as is possible, stay at home, let's stick to the reduced contact."
Slovenia to ease coronavirus restrictions, gradually reopen schools
Slovenia will from Thursday lift a restriction imposed at the end of March that prohibited citizens from travelling outside their local municipalities. Education Minister Simona Kustec told national TV Slovenia later on Wednesday that schools and kindergartens, which have been closed since the middle of March, would gradually start reopening from May 18. The government said earlier that hairdressers and beauty parlours, as well as outdoor bars and restaurants and a number of shops, would be able to open from Monday. Libraries and museums are also expected to open on Monday. Large public events, including large sports gatherings, in Slovenia and the rest of Europe would “most probably” only be possible after a vaccination or medication for the coronavirus is discovered and widely used. He also called on citizens to remain disciplined in the coming weeks to prevent the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus: Health officials urge vigilance as countries ease lockdowns
As governments move forward with plans to ease coronavirus restrictions, health officials around the globe are calling on the public to remain vigilant so that hard-won victories in the battle against the pandemic are not lost.
Slovenia to Ease Coronavirus Restrictions, Gradually Reopen Schools
Slovenia will from Thursday lift a restriction imposed at the end of March that prohibited citizens from travelling outside their local municipalities, Prime Minister Janez Jansa said on Wednesday. Education Minister Simona Kustec told national TV Slovenia later on Wednesday that schools and kindergartens, which have been closed since the middle of March, would gradually start reopening from May 18. She did not give details.
Cyprus unveils road map to easing coronavirus restrictions
Cyprus’ president unveiled a road-map Wednesday for gradually lifting a strict, stay-at-home order over the next month that has until now helped to contain the spread of the coronavirus. But Nicos Anastasiades said that the “danger hasn’t passed,” as health experts note that the virus won’t completely go away any time soon. He warned that “deviations from or acts of ill-discipline” to authorities’ guidelines would lead to a return to lockdown conditions “that nobody wishes.”
Reopening puts Germany's much-praised coronavirus response at risk
But Merkel, like many of the country’s scientists, has pushed back, saying additional weeks of tight restrictions are needed to drive COVID-19 cases lower. “It is the right thing to do to lift some restrictions,” she emphasized. “But the way some states are going forward is rather brisk,” she said. “I would say too brisk.”
Coronavirus restrictions will be eased in Queensland on Friday to allow some recreational activities
Queensland will be the first Australian state to ease strict lockdown conditions as the country's effort to flatten the coronavirus curve begins to get results. State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Queenslanders will finally be freed to go for a drive, sit at the beach, have a picnic, visit a national park and shop for non-essential items from midnight on Friday after weeks of restrictions. 'Because we have done such a terrific job of flattening the curve, after discussions with the Chief Health Officer, from next Friday we will be able to lift some of the stay-at-home restrictions,' she said on Sunday morning. Just hours later Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan announced his state would follow, allowing gatherings of up to ten people for non-work activities. Mr McGowan said it was a 'cautious relaxation' of restrictions, acknowledging it had been difficult for everyone, but especially the elderly, to not see family and friends during the pandemic.
The big changes coming to your everyday life after Australia's coronavirus restrictions are relaxed
Australian National University microbiologist Peter Collignon last week told Daily Mail Australia pubs and hotels may not return to normal until September - although they could re-open under strict conditions in July. Sign-in and sign-out procedures to maintain contact tracing and a 50 per cent capacity limit at venues are among those measures being discussed by hospitality industry leaders. The implementation of a staggered return to work could also reduce the risk of transmission on buses - accompanied by a ban on standing and preventing passengers from sitting next to each other.
Coronavirus: Cemeteries in NI to reopen
The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed to reopen cemeteries during the coronavirus pandemic. First Minister Arlene Foster said it was about "balancing public health concerns with the basic human need to visit a loved one's grave". It falls to councils to reopen cemeteries and implement measures that will ensure social distancing. Some councils have announced their plans for reopening this weekend:
Coronavirus: NI lockdown could lift at different pace, suggests Arlene Foster
Northern Ireland may emerge from coronavirus restrictions at a different pace than other parts of the UK, First Minister Arlene Foster has said. She said measures will be eased when scientific and public health criteria are met, not timetables or dates. That criteria "will be set down and agreed" by the NI executive as well as UK colleagues, she told Cool FM. This could mean "different parts of the UK move in different time" to other areas.
Scott Morrison announces the first coronavirus restrictions to be relaxed
Several types of elective surgery, dental procedures and IVF will resume next week as Australia begins the road out from coronavirus restrictions. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision to allow 25 per cent of operations to restart marked a step towards normal life. But, in a sign that normality is still far away, beachgoers in Sydney's east were yelled at by lifeguards to 'keep swimming' because they are only allowed to use the beach for exercise and can face $1,000 fines if police catch them milling around.
Coronavirus: Queues at shops as Germany begins to ease coronavirus lockdown
Germany has taken the first steps to lifting its lockdown, by allowing some smaller non-essential shops to reopen. Shops no larger than 800 square metres were allowed to resume business on Monday morning, along with bookshops, car showrooms and bike stores. It follows an agreement reached last week between local and central governments over the coronavirus restrictions. Despite the lifting of some COVID-19 measures, Germany's government has stressed the move is an early step in the process.
Coronavirus: Trump unveils plan to reopen states in phases
Trump issued guidelines for reopening states after lockdown called 'Opening up America Again' based on three phases to gradually ease lockdowns. Phase One avoiding non-essential travel, not gathering in groups, but large venues such as restaurants, places of worship and sports venues can open under strict physical distancing protocols. Phase Two would permit resumption of non-essential travel. schools and bars to open with diminished standing room occupancy. Phase 3 permits public interactions with physical distancing and unrestricted staffing of worksites. Vists to care homes and hsopitals can esume and bars can increase standing room capacity - the science would drive the decisions at governor and state level
Exit Strategies
Coronavirus: Islands could be used to ‘pilot’ UK lockdown exit plan
Britain’s lockdown exit plan could be “trialled” on island communities, Michael Gove has said. The Cabinet Office minister told MPs this afternoon that a relaxation of restrictions could be “piloted” on the UK’s outlying islands before being rolled out on the mainland. Mr Gove’s comments came just hours after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to comment on such an idea.
N.J. coronavirus reopening strategy: What about schools, parks, restaurants, retail?
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled six key points that will guide his decision to start reopening the state after a month of near-lockdown restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but for many residents, the announcement likely left more questions than answers. The strategy offered no timeline and Murphy said the stay-at-home order, nonessential business closures and strict social distancing would remain in place until further notice. When pressed for specifics, Murphy said that he expected the restrictions to linger for weeks, not months.
Why small groups will be first 'social bubbles' allowed out of coronavirus lockdown
The government said that the idea was “very alive to the issue of social isolation and the need for mental wellbeing”. Under the social bubble proposal, people would be allowed to combine their household with one or two others, up to a maximum of 10 people. A cautious version of the plan would probably mean that the vulnerable such as the over-70s and those with underlying health conditions would be advised to keep isolating and not merge with other households.
The coronavirus restrictions first in line to be relaxed
In Australia, going shopping with friends and team sport could be allowed again when the National Cabinet reviews coronavirus restrictions on May 11. Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy revealed those activities are 'in the mix' to be permitted once more. He suggested the national guidance that prevents gatherings of more than two people in public could be relaxed to allow friends and families to come together. But Professor Murphy said larger gatherings such concerts and festivals - as well as international travel - were out of the question.
Coronavirus: Why Denmark is taking steps to open up again
Denmark is among the first European countries aiming to put the lockdown into gradual reverse, just as it was one of the first to impose restrictions. "It's important we don't keep Denmark closed for longer than we need to," said Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, as she announced the move. The spread of coronavirus appears to be under control and the government wants to get the economy going again. But Denmark's moves will be slow and cautious. Ms Frederiksen likened them to walking a tightrope.
Coronavirus: Work has begun on plan to ease lockdown restrictions, No 10 says
Planning is underway on how to ease the coronavirus lockdown, Downing Street has announced. The prime minister's spokesman confirmed preparatory work is already happening on how the social distancing measures introduced at the end of March can eventually be eased. Labour has supported an extension of the three-week emergency "stay at home" rules but called on the government to be "transparent" and publish its strategy for returning life as close to normal as possible.
Bill Gates explains how the United States can safely ease coronavirus restrictions
The ability for parts of the United States to safely and effectively begin to lift coronavirus restrictions will depend on the country's capacity to aggressively test for and trace new cases of the virus, Bill Gates told CNN's Fareed Zakaria Sunday. His comments come as several US states prepare to ease social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions this week, despite warnings from health researchers that no state should reopen before May 1. Meanwhile, the total number of reported coronavirus cases in the United States is nearing 1 million, and more than 54,000 Americans have died.
What New York's coronavirus pandemic reopening may look like
With the coronavirus pandemic appearing to have passed its peak in New York, the gradual reopening of the epicenter of the national health crisis is starting to take shape. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday outlined his most detailed plan for that reopening, starting with what he called lower risk businesses upstate getting back to work as early as mid May. "We have to be smart about this," Cuomo said Tuesday, adding that testing and infection rates and the availability of hospital beds must be at adequate levels. "Again, I know ... people are feeling emotional. Emotions can't drive our reopening process."
California reopening amid coronavirus: No firm timing for plan
California has the beginnings of a framework for slowly reopening, but it’s not exactly a timeline. Gov. Gavin Newsom released a four-part plan that he said could have some businesses running in weeks and some schools reopened by the summer. But the outline, officials acknowledge, still has many uncertainties. It is contingent on improvement in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak and on increased testing to assess how the illness is spreading
How close is the UK to easing coronavirus lockdown?
The UK has not yet met the five tests set out for easing the coronavirus lockdown, according to experts in health and economics, suggesting ministers will have to take a cautious approach to any relaxation in the coming weeks. Across Europe, many other countries have started to gradually ease restrictions, although there has been little in the way of co-ordination. Boris Johnson urged the public to have patience this week as the prime minister insisted he could only start easing the lockdown once the government’s tests were met to ensure a return to normal life persists.
Coronavirus: PM to update UK on 'steps to defeat' coronavirus
Boris Johnson is due to lead the daily coronavirus briefing for the first time since his return to work, after chairing a cabinet meeting. Ahead of the press conference, Mr Johnson urged UK businesses to "keep going" with lockdown measures. No 10 said he will update the UK on the government's "steps to defeat" the disease from 17:00 BST. Meanwhile, Downing Street faces the deadline for its target of 100,000 daily virus tests. Downing Street has said social distancing measures will not be relaxed if this would allow the virus to spread "in an exponential way".
Cyprus unveils road map to easing coronavirus restrictions
Cyprus’ president unveiled a road-map Wednesday for gradually lifting a strict, stay-at-home order over the next month that has until now helped to contain the spread of the coronavirus. But Nicos Anastasiades said that the “danger hasn’t passed,” as health experts note that the virus won’t completely go away any time soon. He warned that “deviations from or acts of ill-discipline” to authorities’ guidelines would lead to a return to lockdown conditions “that nobody wishes.”
Government prepares blueprint for UK’s ‘safe’ return to work
Boris Johnson’s government is set to issue detailed “workplace by workplace” guidance on how Britain can safely go back to work, as the prime minister prepares to announce that coronavirus is being contained. Alok Sharma, business secretary, is aiming to produce by the weekend about 10 papers setting out in “granular detail” how the economy can start to reopen once Mr Johnson orders the easing of the lockdown. He will set out how safe working can take place in environments from factories and construction sites to offices and call centres, answering demands from business for more clarity on an exit strategy.
Lifting the coronavirus lockdown: the route to reopening shops, schools and social bubbles
Among the most critical industries to get going again quickly are manufacturing and construction, which together make up more than 16 per cent of the economy but whose output has fallen by 55 per cent and 70 per cent respectively, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. “Desk-based” businesses will be told to enforce the two-metre rule in desk spacing and told to keep communal spaces closed unless people can socially distance. They must also ensure that there is a reliable supply of hand-washing facilities and sanitising gel. Home working will still be encouraged — but the emphasis from ministers will change. The message will be that if companies can change working practices to enforce social distancing by reducing the workforce on site and staggering working hours they should do so.
With rising coronavirus deaths, L.A. reopening will be slow
The differing situations across the state are causing some local officials to chafe under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s blanket stay-at-home order, while others are pushing to prolong it. Officials in parts of the Central Coast, Central Valley and far Northern California, where the coronavirus appears more under control, want to reopen their economy and have asked Newsom to work with them to phase out their shelter-at-home order. Some have proposed a slow reopening of such places as restaurants and churches, with a continued focus on social distancing and the use of face coverings. The stark differences in the how the coronavirus has affected various parts of California has become a vexing issue as talk turns to easing the restrictions.
Coronavirus: 'Phased' school reopening when lockdown lifts
Schools have been closed for five weeks, apart from for key workers' children and vulnerable pupils. Ms Williams said she did not expect schools to "suddenly open" for all. She said there would be "a phased approach in allowing more pupils to return to school", based on five principles. Ms Williams, who has previously said schools may not open until September, said school provision would "gradually adapt and extend further during the next phase in line with changes to the current restrictions outlined by the first minister last week".
The current coronavirus restrictions in place around the world and how they are being eased
How have countries around the world started to reduce their lockdown restrictions? This is what is happening in Spain, Italy, and more
Gov. Gavin Newsom says California will crack down on coronavirus restrictions
California will reinforce statewide COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Gov. Gavin Newsom made the announcement after crowds flocked to beaches in Orange and Ventura Counties over the weekend. 'This virus doesn't take the weekends off,' he said in a briefing Monday. Photos showed crowds flouting social distancing guidelines. Newsom warned that COVID-19 spread in California will continue if stay-at-home orders aren't followed. A handful of states, including Minnesota and Mississippi, have started reopening their economies. Public health experts fear this will spark a second wave of infections
Coronavirus: Belgium unveils plans to lift lockdown
Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has announced a detailed plan to gradually lift the country's coronavirus restrictions. Under new rules, all shops will be allowed to open their doors again from 11 May, with schools reopening the following week - albeit with a cap on pupil numbers in each class. But Ms Wilmès cautioned that "nothing is set in stone"
Coronavirus: 'Traffic light' system to lift lockdown in Wales
The framework includes questions to consider before decisions are made around relaxing restrictions. They are: Would easing a restriction have a negative effect on containing the virus? Does a particular measure pose a low risk of further infection? How can it be monitored and enforced? Can it be reversed quickly if it creates unintended consequences? Does it have a positive economic benefit? Does it have a positive impact on people's wellbeing? Does it have a positive impact on equality?
Coronavirus: NI lockdown could lift at different pace, suggests Arlene Foster
Northern Ireland may emerge from coronavirus restrictions at a different pace than other parts of the UK, First Minister Arlene Foster has said. She said measures will be eased when scientific and public health criteria are met, not timetables or dates. That criteria "will be set down and agreed" by the NI executive as well as UK colleagues, she told Cool FM. This could mean "different parts of the UK move in different time" to other areas.
Italy to relax lockdown restrictions from early May
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced today that Italy’s lockdown rules will be partially lifted in two weeks.“I wish I could say: let’s reopen everything. Immediately. We start tomorrow morning … But such a decision would be irresponsible,” Conte wrote in a Facebook post. “It would make the contagion curve go up in an uncontrolled way and would nullify all the efforts we have made so far. “We must act on the basis of a national (reopening) plan, which however takes into account the territorial peculiarities.”
Partisan Exits
Florida will begin lifting coronavirus stay-at-home orders from MONDAY, governor announces
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a plan Wednesday to lift stay-at-home orders from Monday. Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties will remain under restrictions as they have reported the most coronavirus cases in the state. It comes after the state reported its biggest spike in daily deaths on Tuesday. It joins 16 other states - mostly in the South and Midwest - which have lifted or announced dates to lift coronavirus restrictions following weeks of mandatory lockdowns Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Montana and Iowa will slowly start opening their economies this week. Minnesota, Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, Colorado, Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas have already partially reopened. Public health authorities have warned that increasing human interactions and economic activity may spark a new surge of infections
Coronavirus: This is what reopening in US looks like
Barber shops, tattoo parlours, beaches and restaurants reopen in Georgia as the governor lifts coronavirus restrictions. BBC Newsnight's David Grossman travelled across the state to see what life looks like as the state emerges from economic hibernation.
US states reopening: Maine is first Northeastern state to ease COVID-19 restrictions
Maine will allow some businesses - including drive-in theaters, barber shops and hair salons, dog groomers and car dealerships - to reopen from Friday. Current restrictions, including no gatherings of more than 10 people and 14 day quarantine for out of state visitors, still apply. Maine joins 15 other states - mostly in the South and Midwest - which have lifted or announced dates to lift coronavirus restrictions following weeks of mandatory lockdowns. Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Montana and Iowa will slowly start opening their economies this week. Minnesota, Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, Colorado, Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas have already partially reopened. Public health authorities have warned that increasing human interactions and economic activity may spark a new surge of infections.
Why Georgia Is Reopening Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
Georgia governor Kemp’s move to reopen was condemned by scientists, high-ranking Republicans from his own state, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; it even drew a public rebuke from President Donald Trump, who had reportedly approved the measures before distancing himself from the governor amid the backlash.
Alabama and Ohio are latest to lift coronavirus restrictions
14 states that are home to more than 95 million people have started reopening their economies or announced their reopening plans. Alabama will reopen from Thursday and will be followed by Ohio on Friday. All Missouri businesses and social events will be allowed to reopen from May 4 and Iowa will open restaurants, malls, fitness centers, libraries and retail stores at 50% capacity from May 1. Stay-at-home orders issued by governors across the US and subsequent decisions to slowly reopen state economies have turned into highly charged political issues Minnesota, Mississippi, Colorado, Montana, Tennessee, Georgia, Oklahoma, Alaska and South Carolina will, or have already, restarted their economies following weeks of mandatory lockdowns. Texas partially reopened last week but the governor announced on Monday that state's stay-at-home order would expire April 30.
Global coronavirus restrictions loosening, allowing for some return to normalcy
Germany, which has lost more than 6,000 people to the contagion, took its first steps to ease restrictions last week — and by Tuesday locals were pictured visiting the Berlin Zoo and snapping selfies in front of elephants as the zoo partially reopened. Smaller businesses were also permitted to reopen in the country, but strict social distancing measures remain in place, and there are still bans on large gatherings of people.
Several U.S. states prepare to ease coronavirus restrictions despite experts' worries
By and large the states forging ahead with re-openings this week are concentrated in the South, the Midwest and mountain West, where outbreaks have been far less severe than in the Northeast. Most are led by Republican governors. Tennessee said it will allow restaurants to reopen on Monday. Mississippi’s stay-at-home order expires the same day. Montana, which reported three new cases on Sunday, is allowing businesses to reopen Monday if they limit capacity and practice social distancing, while Minnesota is clearing the way for 80,000 to 100,000 workers in industrial and office jobs to return to work on Monday. In Colorado, Democratic Governor Jared Polis has given the green light for retail curbside pickup to begin on Monday. Hair salons, barbershop and tattoo parlors can open on Friday, with retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters to follow.
More states are easing coronavirus restrictions this week, unnerving experts and some local officials
Several states are reopening from coronavirus shutdowns this week despite the recommendations of health researchers. Colorado, Minnesota and Montana plan to ease social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions. Iowa will allow elective surgeries to resume and farmers markets to reopen starting Monday.
Gov. Dunleavy says Alaska will ease some coronavirus restrictions starting later this week
Gov. Mike Dunleavy accelerated his timeline to open up segments of the economy, announcing Tuesday night that under certain restrictions, barbershops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and tanning salons can open starting Friday, allowing one customer in at a time. “We’re going to give these businesses an opportunity to be open, and really it’s one provider, one client, no waiting room," Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said. Restaurants can open up for dine-in service, but with reservations. They can have up to 25% capacity. Retail stores will be allowed to open for limited shopping, operating at 25% capacity with hand sanitizer at the entrance. Bars, bingo parlors and bowling alleys cannot open yet, state officials said. The changes are not yet posted on state websites or in public documents, though state officials said more information will be released this week.
Continued Lockdown
Coronavirus: Irish restrictions extended until 5 May
The Republic of Ireland is to extend its Covid-19 restrictions for a further three weeks until 5 May. Taoiseach (Irish PM) Leo Varadkar made the announcement on Friday afternoon following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency team. Gardaí (Irish police) have set up more than 1,000 checkpoints in recent days to stop people breaking restrictions. There have been 288 Covid-19 related deaths in the country, while the death toll in Northern Ireland is 92.
UK coronavirus restrictions to roll into 'next year'
Restrictions on everyday life in the UK to slow the spread of COVID-19 are likely to be needed for the “next calendar year”, the country’s top medic said on Wednesday. Britain is in the fifth week of a lockdown that only allows people to leave home for essential work, food shopping, exercise and limited other reasons. Normal life will only return once an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 is available, Chris Whitty said at the government’s daily news conference.
Gov. Baker Defends Decision to Keep Mass. Closed for 2 More Weeks
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday defended his decision to extend the state's stay-at-home advisory and non-essential business closures for an additional two weeks. The governor announced Tuesday that he was extending the shutdown from May 4 until May 18 and established an advisory board to come up with recommendations on how a phased reopening can take place. The decision upset some in the business community who are struggling to survive due to coronavirus restrictions.
What coronavirus restrictions are in place around the world?
Some countries are now easing strict lockdown conditions as the world continues to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The global death toll stands at more than 200,000, with close to three million people having been infected worldwide. As countries weigh up the risk of a fresh wave of virus cases against the need to kick-start their economies, here is the lockdown status in several nations
Some UK coronavirus lockdown restrictions could last until next year, No10 suggests
Boris Johnson's spokesman did not deny claims we could have to continue social distancing until 2021 - raising the bleak prospect of pubs shuttered beyond Christmas
Scientific Viewpoint
When Can We Lift the Coronavirus Pandemic Restrictions? Not Before Taking These Steps
With much of the country grinding to a halt in a desperate attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, many people are wondering when the U.S. will be able to “reopen.” The American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank, recently released a report co-written by former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb that offers a four-phase “road map to reopening.” Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health—and an expert on pandemic preparedness—provided input for the report and helped to review it.
When coronavirus restrictions will be lifted if Australia tries to eliminate coronavirus
Coronavirus measures could be eased as early as next month, or Australians can wait until June for restrictions to be fully lifted to benefit from economic growth, according to new research. Researchers from eight leading Australian universities prepared Health Minister Greg Hunt with the 'Roadmap to Recovery' report this week, which outlines when life in Australia could return to normal. The government has been presented with two options; 'controlled adaptation' which would mean restrictions are eased sooner, or wait for elimination of the virus and keep measures in place until June and experience greater economic activity. 'Any choice between these two options entails a delicate trade-off between protecting health, supporting the economy and societal well-being,' the report read
Italy Was Once The Epicentre Of The Coronavirus. But A Report Says It’s Far Too Early To Lift Lockdown Restrictions.
Lifting all coronavirus restrictions to pre-lockdown levels would overwhelm Italy's intensive care unit capacity within a month, according to modelling by the group of experts that advises the Italian government. The technical scientific committee (CTS) estimates there would be a peak of more than 150,000 people requiring admission to ICUs by June if daily life returned to how it was pre-crisis, with the total figure surpassing 430,000 by the end of the year. The CTS report, which was published by major Italian media outlets this week, lays out three baseline and 46 detailed scenarios assessing the rate of transmission of the virus in different areas of the economy, places of social contact, and age groups, as well as the impact of factors such as social distancing and the use of face masks.
Covid-19 is ‘just as deadly as Ebola’ for those who end up in hospital – UK expert
Covid-19 is just as deadly as Ebola for people admitted to hospital in the UK, a leading expert has said as his team published a major British study of almost 17,000 patients. The research found almost half of people admitted to hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales with coronavirus have no underlying health conditions, while obese people are almost 40% more likely to die than those who are not.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 6th May 2020

News Highlights

Countries around Europe continued to gingerly nudge their way out of months of restrictive lockdowns. Italy, France and Spain, three of the hardest hit nations, have all partially eased lockdown restrictions to travel, exercise, shopping, dining and funerals.German museums and shops opened and barbershops seemed to be in demand in Austria too.

Along with the easing of restrictions, there is a cautious optimism and a sense that although there is still a long way to go, the 'new normal' will include a new way of living and working.

While shutting down entire swathes of the economic system was not easy, restarting has many challenges too. Case in point: Italy, where 4.4 million people were given permission to get back to work but only half could be absorbed by employers on that first day.

Lockdown Exit
Coronavirus: Italian workers swap lockdown for lockout | News
Italy’s efforts to breathe life into its crippled economy have been dealt a blow with the discovery that less than half the workers allowed to return to work on Monday actually got there. Of the 4.4 million people permitted to resume their jobs this week as the country’s coronavirus contagion slows, fewer than two million were taken back by employers, Rocco Palombella, the head of Italian union UILM, said. “People didn’t go back because companies cannot start full production when the market has collapsed,” he said.
Coronavirus: Several provinces begin to slowly loosen lockdown restrictions
Some provinces began easing their COVID-19 lockdowns on Monday, but top health officials cautioned many of the changes Canadians have made to their daily lives to slow the spread of the illness are here for the long haul. “It’s not over,” said federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu. “It is a cautious reopening in certain provinces and certain sectors, but … the new normal will have to include new ways of living, new ways of working that will protect us in this unique and difficult time.”
Sweden still hasn't locked down. But normal life is a luxury for only a few
I think there will be more restrictions in the near future, but I have a hard time imagining a complete lockdown. Swedes, who are too accustomed to their freedom, would protest. I don’t believe in a full lockdown; I think social distancing works to slow things down and flatten the curve. But it’s important to keep the economy rolling without risking more lives, and I know it can seem impossible to do both. “There are a few critical times in life when you must make sacrifices, not just for your own sake, but also for those around you, for your fellow human beings, and for our country,” said Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, in a national address on March 22.
German museums and shops open as lockdown eased
Cabinet minister Peter Altmaier told us in a Newsnight interview there had been "a decline in infections, for now, at least four weeks in a row". Noting that there is no German word for "serendipity", Professor Robert Kaufman of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology said: "We apparently did not have hotspots, it spread slowly and we were lucky." Applying its large-scale testing capability and tracing of thousands of early cases, Germany contained its infection at a relatively low level. So now restrictions are being relaxed. Religious services resumed on Sunday, many shops were able to reopen on Monday, some museums will follow on Wednesday - as well as cabinet decisions about further easing of the rules.
Milan emerges from lockdown a different city
Italians are very wary and business is slow as some coronavirus-related restrictions are relaxed in Italy
Austria coronavirus under control despite lockdown easing
Austria's health minister said Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic in the country was under control, three weeks after it began to ease a strict lockdown. "The situation is very constant, very stable," Rudolf Anschober said, adding the daily increase in new infections had shrunk to 0.2 percent, down from up to 50 percent in mid-March. Small shops and hardware and gardening stores reopened in mid-April after a month-long lockdown though wearing masks in shops and public transport, and practising social distancing became mandatory. Bigger shops followed suit this weekend, and restrictions that largely forbid people from leaving their homes were lifted. Classes in schools are resuming this month, and restaurants are expected to reopen by mid-May. Anschober said the first phase of lockdown lifting had succeeded "excellently", but reminded people to remain vigilant despite more easing measures.
Spain's path out of Covid lockdown complicated by polarised politics
On Wednesday, Pedro Sánchez will once again ask Spanish MPs to approve an extension of the state of emergency that underpins one of the strictest coronavirus lockdowns in Europe. If recent days and parliamentary sessions are anything to go by, the prime minister will not be in for an easy ride. At a time when opposition parties elsewhere in Europe are rallying around the flag, the adversaries of Sánchez’s socialist-led coalition are using the virus as a cudgel.
Europe’s reopening road map: How 11 countries are beginning to lift lockdowns
Europe is gingerly trying to get back to business, with restrictions loosening across the continent as the spread of the coronavirus slows. The German Spy Museum in Berlin opened its doors for the first time in weeks, bars in central Rome began offering takeaway services, and shaggy-haired Austrians flocked to barbers’ shops in Vienna. With Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Germany all relaxing some of their restrictions on Monday, Europe is settling down to a new normal as it returns to public life. It’s slower and less dynamic than before, and some restrictions will remain in place for weeks or even months, with face masks—ranging from clinical coverings to brightly colored homemade varieties—a ubiquitous reminder of the changes.
Sweden state epidemiologist 'not convinced' no lockdown was right call
The strategy architect isn't sure it was the right call not to introduce a lockdown. The state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet he was "not convinced at all" and his team was constantly examining how it was going and what else should be done. He also said it was important to "be humble all the time because you may have to change," according to The Independent. Sweden has introduced only a handful of rules and has left places like parks and restaurants open, but its death toll is much higher than neighboring countries'.
How Germany's states are pushing to relax coronavirus lockdown measures
Germany is this week further easing restrictions put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus. Hairdressers and barbers are now allowed to open their doors after weeks of forced closure, and lots of school pupils are getting back to the classroom. Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders agreed to allow church services again, and to reopen playgrounds. Museums and zoos can also reopen. There have to be strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place for the reopening of all facilities.
Italy coronavirus lockdown restrictions relaxed as millions return to work
More than four million Italians were allowed back to work on Monday, while cafes also reopened in Europe's coronavirus epicentre. It marked the end of the the continent's first and longest, keeping people from their jobs and loved ones. Fabrizia Maselli was allowed to make the short 15-minute walk from home to visit her mother for the first time since the start of March, for an emotional reunion.
‘The biggest shock was fresh air’: Italy begins cautious exit from virus lockdown
“I literally haven’t been out of the house,” said Rina Sondhi, who lives in the Umbrian town of Orvieto. “The biggest shock for me was the fresh air. Today I feel liberated, but with caution – that’s the important thing, we can have the freedom but we must be really careful.” An estimated 4 million people returned to work on Monday as part of what the Italian government called the second phase of the country’s coronavirus emergency, with the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, appealing to the public in a Facebook post on Sunday night to “act responsibly”.
Italy Starts Easing Lockdown, Rebooting Its Stricken Economy
Move to reopen will test whether one of Europe’s largest economies can restart without igniting a new surge in infections
Coronavirus lockdown: Nigerians cautious as restrictions eased in Lagos and Abuja
In Nigeria, some businesses have reopened on the first working day after the easing of a lockdown imposed on key urban areas in a bid to restart Africa's largest economy. But the main doctors' association described the move as "very premature". In the commercial hub, Lagos, traffic jams were absent, indicating that many were remaining indoors. Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari said the measures had imposed "a very heavy economic cost". The lockdown began five weeks ago to contain the spread of coronavirus. As many in the big cities live a hand-to-mouth existence, the restrictions led to fears that it could leave people hungry as it cut off their means to earn money.
Europe is in a new phase of reopening, but it's hardly a return to normal
The Italian government said that to fully reopen stores, bars and restaurants it must slow the reproduction rate of the coronavirus to 0.5, meaning that each infected Italian is infecting less than one other person (an "R0 value" of 1, for instance, means that every infected person is infecting one other person). To reopen theaters, conventions and stadiums, Italy wants the number to be as close as possible to 0. Currently the figure is around 0.6-0.7 nationally. Restaurant, bar and store owners around Italy were last week "handing over their keys" to local mayors in protest over the slow reopening, and Conte apologized on Friday for a delay to financial aid payments to businesses impacted by the pandemic. A joint letter from 13 of the 20 Italian regions last Wednesday asked the government "to guarantee the possibility of reopening activities to all those who respect the measures already provided" by the lockdown decree. "It's clear that health is the first essential objective, but it can't be the only one," the letter added.
Erdogan says Turkey to start easing coronavirus restrictions as of Monday
Turkey will start easing coronavirus containment measures as of Monday, President Tayyip Erdogan said, lifting intercity travel restriction in seven provinces and easing a curfew imposed for senior and youth citizens at the weekend after weeks. Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said senior and youth citizens will be allowed outside for 4 hours for one day a week starting this weekend and that travel restrictions would be lifted for seven cities, excluding Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. He said shopping malls, barber shops and some stores will be allowed to open on May 11 as long as they abide by normalisation rules, adding that universities would return to their academic calendar as of June 15. But, Erdogan warned that the government would impose much harsher measures if the normalisation plan is not followed.
Italy's St. Mark's Square Already Packed Again as Lockdown's Lifted
One of Italy's biggest hot spots -- for tourism, not coronavirus -- is packed again as the country's citizens rush out of nearly 10 weeks of lockdown. St. Mark's Square in Venice was filled Monday as Italy enters its phase 2 ... which allows visiting relatives within the region, taking part in funerals and exercising outside while maintaining social distancing. There's little social distancing going on in the Square ... but, on the other hand, almost everyone is wearing a face mask.
‘My soul is dancing’: Spain comes out to play after Europe's strictest lockdown
On Saturday, Spaniards took to streets and beaches as they were finally allowed out to exercise, after quarantine. On the Costa del Sol, Lola Culsán joined them
Coronavirus: Spain's capital Madrid adjusts to new normal
"I'm so glad to be finally able to walk outside for a bit," she says. "The people I work for are nice and treat me well but 48 days inside is a long time. "I'm grateful I could carry on working as many have lost their jobs."
Italy, France, Spain ease lockdowns after low coronavirus deaths
Italy, France and Spain are all beginning to loosen their stringent, weekslong coronavirus lockdowns. It comes as all three countries on Sunday reported their lowest coronavirus death and new infection rates in weeks. These countries are among the hardest-hit in Europe, with Italy being the world's coronavirus epicenter for much of March. All three countries have imposed strict lockdown measures since mid-March. Now, many aspects of normal life are being eased back in. Restrictions to travel, exercise, shopping, dining, funerals, and working patterns are all being reconsidered or partially lifted.
Spaniards soak up sun after lockdown eased, as daily death toll lowest in 6 weeks
Spain is gradually beginning its de-escalation from the strictest lockdown rules in Europe, with adults allowed outside for solo exercise near their homes for the first time since the confinement began on March 15. Four islands in the Canaries and the Balearics will be the first to transition to so-called "Phase One" on Monday, which will see a further opening up of small businesses and lifting of restrictions on movement.
France, Italy and Spain prepare to ease coronavirus lockdowns
The Guardian (late April) takes a closer look at European opening plans
Exit Strategies
The Guardian view on a lockdown exit strategy: get plans in place
The task, as Mr Speranza says, is to work out a way “to live with the virus” until a vaccine is discovered. Mr Sánchez has indicated that a ban on all non-essential work will be lifted after Easter. Other European countries, including France and Austria, where some shops will reopen next week, have also begun to game-plan the second phase of the crisis. The modus vivendi will, if it is to work, involve continued physical distancing, much greater testing and contact tracing in the community, and a functioning antibody test to establish who has had and recovered from the disease.
Germany set to pass lockdown decisions back to states
Germany could soon see all shops reopen and all students return to school in stages. The mooted changes would curtail Germany's largely nationwide approach to restrictions, restoring an even freer hand to the states.
Hope and Worry Mingle as Countries Relax Coronavirus Lockdowns
At least a dozen countries pulled back on restrictions put in place to combat the virus. But leaders warned that an uptick in infections could shut life down again.
Coronavirus: Bavarian beer gardens to reopen as lockdown measures eased in Germany
Restaurants and hotels are also set to reopen this month in the southeastern state of Bavaria.. In a more immediate lifting of coronavirus lockdown measures, families in Bavaria will be able to visit elderly relatives in care homes again from Wednesday. Mr Soeder is among the first state governors to announce concrete plans to further reopen the economy. Bavaria - which is Germany's second-most populous state and contains the city of Munich - had the highest per capita coronavirus infection rate in the country.
Coronavirus and college: UC Berkeley chancellor expects hybrid plan, no tuition break for fall
UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ expects the school to adopt a “hybrid plan” for the fall semester, with some classes in person and others online. Christ, speaking Tuesday during an online panel discussion with other campus leaders, made her most extensive public comments about Cal’s plans for the fall. She said the school will make a final decision by mid-June and intends to have “a semester in the cloud for students who cannot come to campus.”
Coronavirus: 'Segment and shield' way to lift UK lockdown now
Strengthening protection for people shielding, while easing restrictions for everyone else, is the only immediate way to safely lift the UK's coronavirus lockdown, researchers say. They say people could be sorted into three groups by risk - the most vulnerable, those caring for or living with them and everyone else. It is not pain-free or perfect, they say, but could lift curbs for many yet still protect the NHS and save lives. Their unpublished work uses modelling.
Coronavirus: Possible post-lockdown workplace rules revealed
Reduced hot-desking and alternatives to social distancing where it is not possible are among measures being considered to let workplaces reopen. One of seven draft plans to ease anti-coronavirus restrictions, seen by the BBC, also urges employers to minimise numbers using equipment, stagger shift times and maximise home-working. PM Boris Johnson is to reveal a "roadmap" out of lockdown on Sunday. But the UK must not lift restrictions too soon, he said in a video message.
Plan to lift Wales' coronavirus lockdown revealed - with a warning that 'even more' will be asked of us
Health minister Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government hoped the 'highly ambitious' plan would be ready at the end of the month.
French Law Firms Prepare for a 'Soft Opening' After COVID-19 Lockdown
Managing partners say that while their offices will be ready to welcome lawyers and staff May 11, most will probably choose to stay home for now.
Europe’s reopening road map: How 11 countries are beginning to lift lockdowns
Europe is gingerly trying to get back to business, with restrictions loosening across the continent as the spread of the coronavirus slows. The German Spy Museum in Berlin opened its doors for the first time in weeks, bars in central Rome began offering takeaway services, and shaggy-haired Austrians flocked to barbers’ shops in Vienna. With Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Germany all relaxing some of their restrictions on Monday, Europe is settling down to a new normal as it returns to public life. It’s slower and less dynamic than before, and some restrictions will remain in place for weeks or even months, with face masks—ranging from clinical coverings to brightly colored homemade varieties—a ubiquitous reminder of the changes.
Portugal starts to emerge from coronavirus lockdown
Portugal will begin to ease its coronavirus lockdown on Monday, with small shops, hair salons and car dealers resuming operations as a state of emergency was lifted after more than six weeks. The wearing of face masks or visors in stores and on public transport is compulsory under the government's plan unveiled last week for the gradual reopening of the country.
Coronavirus UK: Boris Johnson to ease lockdown restrictions in workplaces | Health
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said on Sunday that Britons would need to live with “some degree of constraint” until a vaccination became available. “Ultimately, unless and until we have a vaccine then I suspect that we are going to have to live with some degree of constraint because of the nature of the virus,” he said. “But we obviously want to, wherever possible, and consistent with the measures on public health, restore people’s lives to as close to normal as possible.” Here is a looks at what the nation’s workplaces might look like once restrictions are lifted.
Coronavirus France: Cameras to monitor masks and social distancing
Video surveillance cameras in France will monitor how many people are wearing masks and their compliance with social distancing when the coronavirus lockdown is eased next week. The resort city of Cannes on the Côte d'Azur has trialled the monitoring software, installed at outdoor markets and on buses. It is not clear how many other cities will adopt this digital surveillance. French firm Datakalab says its software does not violate EU data privacy law.
France toll tops 25,000, PM defends post-lockdown plan
Spain began a four-phase plan to reopen the country by the end of June, while the 24-hour death tally from coronavirus stayed under 200 for the second day in a row. Red Cross workers handed out protective masks at Madrid's metro stations today as mask usage in public transport is mandatory. Small businesses like beauty salons and bookstores can start limited services and customers can pick up take-away orders from restaurants. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday that six million masks were due to be distributed in Spain, one of the worst-hit nations by the global pandemic.
Coronavirus: France gets ‘green, yellow and red zones’ to help guide lockdown easing
France has been split into red, orange and green zones to show how the lockdown may be relaxed across the country. The health minister has revealed a map showing the worst-affected areas by coronavirus by measuring the circulation of Covid-19 and the burden on intensive care units in different regions. It will serve as a reference when the country eases confinement measures after 11 May. The government has said "green zones" will be able to lift some restrictions more rapidly than "red zones", which currently includes the whole of the Paris region and northeast France.
Australians told how coronavirus restrictions will be eased ahead of Friday's announcement
Australians have been told how coronavirus restrictions will slowly be lifted. Scott Morrison said easing of rules conditional on uptake of COVID-19 app. Chief medical officer said a slow, staggered move out of lockdown was likely. Community sports could restart first along with partial university reopenings. Each stage of restriction easing would need to be reviewed over multiple weeks. Comes as psychology expert said return to society could be a shock for some. 'You’ve been on your own so much - it might be a little odd,' the expert said
Coronavirus restrictions could become 'new normal' until vaccine found
Some social distancing measures will remain in place until a coronavirus vaccine is developed but ministers will seek to restore people's lives to "as close to normal as possible", a Cabinet minister today told the daily news conference. Michael Gove warned people would have to live with "some degree of constraint" until they can be immunised against the deadly disease - suggesting Britons would have to accept a "new normal".
Coronavirus restrictions on 1.8m 'shielded' people to be reviewed
Blanket restrictions on nearly two million people told to shield due to the coronavirus will be reviewed in a bid to create “more stratified” guidance, according to England’s deputy chief medical officer. At the start of the lockdown, 1.8 million people in England were asked to stay indoors for 12 weeks as they were considered most at risk from Covid-19. Speaking at the Downing Street daily briefing, Dr Jenny Harries said officials were “trying to review” the restrictive rules “because we do recognise that asking somebody to stay shielded … for a very long period of time … is quite a difficult thing for them to do.”
Australia edges closer to lifting coronavirus restrictions as app downloads surpass 4million
ABF has given the go-ahead for NZ Warriors to travel to Australia on Sunday. Downloads for the coronavirus tracing app have surpassed four million. Scott Morrison said pubs could reopen sooner if more people download the app. Officials are expecting millions more to download the app by Friday next week. The national cabinet has brought forward the decision to ease restrictions
France and Spain reveal plans to relax lockdown
Shops and schools across France will reopen and free movement will be restored within 60 miles of homes when the lockdown is eased on May 11, the government announced last night.Alongside measures
Coronavirus: French PM to set out road to normality, restrictions ease in Australia
Western Australia and Queensland cautiously loosen social distancing rules, while Beijing bans ‘uncivilised’ behaviour
Coronavirus: Nicola Sturgeon rejects claims of lockdown lift in May
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has denied claims that lockdown restrictions could be lifted next month. Several Sunday papers have reported that lockdown measures could be relaxed from 11 May, including the re-opening of schools and some retailers. Ms Sturgeon said it was still not possible to say when schools in Scotland would reopen. She said that all decisions must be "solidly based and not premature". Three days ago, Ms Sturgeon announced that Scotland's coronavirus lockdown would continue for "at least another three weeks".
Partisan Exits
Live updates: Vice President Pence says coronavirus task force could be disbanded within a month
Vice President Pence told reporters today that the coronavirus task force created to manage the federal government’s response to the pandemic could be disbanded within a month because “of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.” The number of people who have died in the U.S. from covid-19 passed 70,000 on Tuesday, with nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases, according to state health departments and tracking by The Washington Post.
America's coronavirus reopening debate comes down to how much a human life is worth, New York governor says
Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said debates on how soon states should ease social distancing restrictions come down to the value of human life -- and that policymakers are avoiding saying so explicitly. Cuomo, whose state by far has the most recorded coronavirus cases, reacted Tuesday to projections that the country's coronavirus death rate will soar because many states are easing restrictions now. "The fundamental question, which we're not articulating, is how much is a human life worth?" Cuomo said at a news conference.
U.S. daily coronavirus death rate will more than double by June 1, draft government report projects
Covid-19 deaths in the United States will rise to more than 3,000 a day by June 1, with new confirmed cases surging to about 200,000 daily, a draft government report projects. The predictions belie the projections made Sunday evening by President Trump, who said the U.S. could eventually suffer as many as 100,000 deaths. At 3,000 deaths per day and rising, the national total would quickly outstrip that number if the new report is correct.
Coronavirus Reopening: Cuomo Outlines May 15 Regional Reopening Criteria
On the topic of reopening, he said it would be “more complicated then the close down,” which he called “a blunt operation.” Reopening is “more nuanced, you have to be more careful,” the governor said. The reopening will be phased and work hand-in-hand with measuring certain metrics. “It’s not going to happen state-wide,” Cuomo said. “And rather than wait for the whole state to be ready, reopen on a regional basis. If upstate has to wait for downstate to be ready, they’re going to be waiting a long time. So, analyze the situation on a regional basis.”
The price of reopening the economy: tens of thousands of American lives
In an interview published in Tuesday's edition of the New York Post, Trump said Americans were ready come out of isolation and get back to normal life. "I think they're starting to feel good now. The country's opening again. We saved millions of lives, I think," Trump said. "You have to be careful, but you have to get back to work," he said. "People want the country open... I guess we have 38 states that are either opening or are very close." A Washington Post and University of Maryland national poll released Tuesday finds Americans widely oppose reopening most businesses. While 56% said they are comfortable going to the grocery store now, 67% said they would be uncomfortable visiting a retail store and 78% said they'd be uncomfortable going to a sit-down restaurant, according to the poll.
Coronavirus model projects 134,000 deaths in US, nearly double its last estimate
Ali Mokdad, a professor of Health Metrics Sciences at IHME, told CNN's John King that there are "several reasons" for the increased projections. "One of them is increased mobility before the relaxation, premature relaxation, of social distancing," he said. "We're adding more presumptive deaths as well, and we're seeing a lot of outbreaks in the Midwest, for example." He said multiple variables impact infections -- like heat, testing capacity and population density -- but "the most important one is mobility." Right now, he said, "we're seeing an increase in mobility that's leading to an increase in mortality, unfortunately, in the United States."
The reopening gamble: Set your timer for three weeks
Set a timer for three weeks. By late May, we should know whether certain US states collected on a major gamble or committed a hideous error by reopening their economies. If a tide of sickness and death overwhelms the early openers, lockdowns may return, making Americans' trudge back toward normal economic life even slower and more painful. But if infections can be kept at manageable levels, these pioneers may begin to piece together a vision of the "new normal" that everyone keeps talking about. The good news is that some of the states beginning to open up — like South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin were never as savagely hit as states like New York, California and Michigan. The bad news is that their turn may be next. Science warns the virus is still out there, waiting for an opening.
Warmer weather and debate over restrictions drive Americans outside while coronavirus cases rise
From California to New York, more Americans are headed outside -- some for recreation and others in protest. But as some states loosen or let go of their stay-at-home orders, researchers predict a higher death toll from coronavirus this summer than previously expected. As of Sunday, more than 1.1 million people in the US have been infected with coronavirus, and more than 67,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. States such as California have stood firm on their stay-at-home orders -- and have been met with protests.
Northern Ireland church leaders urge politicians to consider easing coronavirus restrictions
The leaders of Northern Ireland's main Churches have urged politicians to consider easing restrictions on private prayer in church buildings "sooner rather than later". In a joint statement, the leaders of the Church of Ireland, Methodist Church in Ireland, Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church and the Irish Council of Churches, said they accept that now is not the time for "a full return" to collective worship in our Churches. However, they asked for the issue to be reviewed regularly.
Reopening of America: More than half of states will lift coronavirus restrictions by the end of the week
In Nevada, a chanting crowd of protesters marched up to the door of the governor’s residence on Saturday, drawing police who stood with automatic weapons. And a group demanding to “Fully Open California” organized to cause traffic gridlock in Laguna Beach. With confirmed US. deaths topping 65,000, efforts to reopen the country also are sparking outcries about public safety. But officials have battled crowds and some public resistance to mask-wearing and social distancing measures.
States are easing coronavirus restrictions and 'it's going to cost lives,' researcher says
"You're making a big mistake. It's going to cost lives," Dr. Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician and disaster preparedness specialist at Columbia University Medical Center, told CNN on Friday. Redlener and Joseph Fair, a senior fellow in pandemic policy at Texas A&M University, sent a report to all governors on Friday, warning them that no state or city should reduce restrictions until coronavirus infections have been steadily decreasing for 10 days to two weeks, and not until enough tests are available to assess just how many people really are infected. Redlener's warning comes as more than 30 states are easing social distancing restrictions this weekend. The changes ranged from opening state parks to allowing some businesses to restart.
As Coronavirus Restrictions Ease, Many Still Wary
As states around the country begin lifting stay-at-home orders, individuals face their own choice over whether it feels safe to resume activities we all used to take for granted. We asked NPR listeners to tell us how they are making these decisions and nearly 250 people responded. In general, it's clear that even as local officials lift restrictions, many people plan to wait longer before resuming their old routines. "As long as there are new cases, I think it's not really safe," says Naomi Silas, a freelance graphic designer and graduate student in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Coronavirus: Lockdown should ease to help economy, says Philip Hammond
Former chancellor Philip Hammond has urged the government to set out its plan to restart the economy. Ministers have been reluctant to discuss a lockdown exit strategy, arguing that it might undermine the message for people to stay at home. Mr Hammond said the country cannot afford to wait until a vaccine is developed and called on the government to start easing lockdown measures.
Continued Lockdown
Coronavirus: Robin Swann says lockdown debate getting ahead of itself
The debate about easing Northern Ireland's pandemic lockdown restrictions is "getting ahead of itself", the health minister has said. A further 17 Covid-19 related deaths in NI were reported by Robin Swann's department, bringing its total to 404. The executive is holding talks about whether to relax any measures to curb the spread of the virus. "Call it my May Day alert," said Mr Swann, as he urged people to stay at home this bank holiday weekend.
Coronavirus: Cobourg, Port Hope staying the course on closures, restrictions for now
Northumberland County has not seen a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in quite some time now. As of May 5, the area has seen 13 confirmed cases — all of which have been resolved, according to numbers provided by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. But that doesn’t mean the Town of Cobourg and the Municipality of Port Hope are jumping at the idea of lifting restrictions and reopening facilities and amenities just yet.
Gov. Tom Wolf talks about coronavirus and reopening more of Pennsylvania
Wolf didn’t offer a timetable for opening another series of counties, including the southcentral part of the state. “There is no schedule,” Wolf said. Last week, Wolf had said some southcentral counties could be among the candidates for reopening, but he didn’t identify those counties. He didn’t offer any new hints in Tuesday’s media call. Wolf said the state hasn’t made a decision to remove the number of cases in nursing homes and prisons when examining counties for reopening. He did say those cases would be considered in making decisions. “The goal is to keep people safe,” Wolf said.
Defying French lockdown lift, Guadeloupe says won't open schools now
Mayors in Guadeloupe, a French overseas department in the Caribbean, have voted against reopening schools next week as stipulated in plans drawn up in Paris for easing the coronavirus lockdown. The region, like France’s other overseas territories scattered around the world, is subject to French laws, but mayors have authority over schools. On Monday, they gathered in an extraordinary “territorial conference” with the archipelago’s departmental and regional presidents to discuss the reopening of schools. Of the 32 mayors, 29 voted against restarting classes when the lockdown starts to be eased in France from May 11, saying students should go back only in September.
Scientific Viewpoint
Countries lifting coronavirus lockdown too early will increase deaths and cause economic meltdown, a top scientist warns
Yaneer Bar-Yam, from EndCoronavirus.org, a group made up of scientists from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said America was not ready to open up because it was slow off the mark with its lockdown. Tweeting a graphic comparing countries that crushed the infection curve, he said: "Overwhelming data says opening prematurely will increase cases, escalate loss of life and economic harm. "Countries that acted late to impose social distancing and testing are suffering. "Countries that acted early soon will safely restart economies. "Don’t play with fire."
Workers should work 'four days on, 10 days off' to ease coronavirus lockdown
The government should tell businesses to enact a “four days on, 10 days off” policy for workers once the coronavirus lockdown is eased, according to one of the UK’s leading chemical biologists. Chair of chemical biology at Imperial College London Professor Keith Willison, writing for the neoliberal think tank Adam Smith Institute, said this cyclical plan would help avoid a second peak while getting the economy moving again.
Coronavirus lockdown should continue for elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, academics say
“Segmentation and shielding recognises that, although social distancing impacts on the whole of society, the public health burden of Covid-19 is concentrated in a subset of vulnerable people,” said Mark Woolhouse, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. “By targeting protection to those that need it most, the strategy helps to ensure that the health system is not overwhelmed by severe cases, while giving policy makers greater leeway to partially relax social distancing measures for the majority of the population,” he said. The academics have modelled a range of scenarios to illustrate how different restrictions could be applied to different groups. They have sent their findings to the UK and Scottish Governments.
New report models Italy's potential exit strategy from COVID-19 lockdown | Imperial News
It finds that if the country returns to just 20% of mobility levels before the lockdown – mobility being a measure of people going to work, shops, visiting friends and family etc. – then deaths could rise again within just three weeks. The authors warn that some social distancing measures will need to remain in place, along with testing, contact-tracing and isolation of people infected with Covid-19, to keep transmission in check and prevent a resurgence of the outbreak.
Coronavirus: Italy 'could be heading for deadlier second peak' after easing lockdown, scientists warn
Italy could be set for a “second peak” of deaths after easing its lockown measures, researchers tracking the coronavirus outbreak have predicted. According to analysis carried out by Imperial College London, the country could be set for a large increase in deaths within three weeks of partially lifting its social-distancing restrictions. Currently, Italy has the second highest-death rate in Europe, with 29,315 deaths, behind 29,502 in the UK. But researchers from Imperial have forecast a second spike will take place if the country returns to just 20 percent of its pre-lockdown mobility levels – a measure of how much people leave the home.

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

News Highlights

Countries around the world are opening up slowly but worries still abound. Greece's economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which looks unlikely to pick up in the near future. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is leaving it to individual states to decide on how they plan to reopen their economies. At the same time, German officials are assuring citizens that they can still consider holidaying abroad over the summer, though details may still need to be finalised. Bundesliga football could soon resume, but with some restrictions, and up to two households will be able to meet and eat together.

The UK is considering lifting the lockdown from Monday, with details set to be outlined over the weekend, but the Prime Minister cautioned against any haste, lest there be a second wave of coronavirus cases.

Interestingly, Australian businesses are rethinking ways of working, dispensing with ideas like the shared office cookie jars and hot desking, and looking to cubicles and partitions from the past, symbolically some might say, as the entire world moves towards 'Post-Covid19' workspaces.

Lockdown Exit
Tracking the lockdown: what is opening up around the world
National and local authorities around the world are beginning to wind down restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, gradually lifting the lockdowns that have stunted economies,
Jersey expected to ease lockdown restrictions even further next week
Jersey’s Chief Minister has said the island will likely move into Level three of lockdown next week. Level three has previously been described as a ‘soft lockdown’ with the stay at home order being lifted. Whilst there will be no limit to time spent out of the house, people will be asked to stay and work from home wherever possible. Currently Jersey remains at Level four, where islanders are limited to four hours outside and can meet with two people that do not live in your household so long as you socially distance.
'This Is Freedom?': Post-Lockdown Italy Not How We Imagined
As lockdown begins to ease, there should be feelings of relief and hope, but the start of Phase 2 in Italy has been tainted by uncertainty and fear. The vague wording of the government’s rules and the continued need for a self-certification form justifying the motive for leaving the house means many Italians are still feeling anxiety about going outside. Those who have been permitted to restart work and reopen businesses have been overwhelmed by stringent safety measures that must be adhered to. Some bookshops, that had been allowed to reopen on April 14, chose to keep the shutters down as sanitizing books and maintaining distancing seemed unfeasible as well as expensive.
How has Italy reacted to a cautious easing of lockdown?
In the economically disadvantaged south of the country, remaining closed for another month will result in the failure of many commercial activities and will aggravate the economic and social emergency that is brewing. Over the next few weeks, the government will have to find solutions that will keep at bay a second, possibly deadlier wave of coronavirus cases as well as avoiding economic collapse.
How are Spanish pubs and bars trading during coronavirus lockdown?
While the coronavirus pandemic has caused significant headaches for countless businesses across the world, in some ways it has brought sectors closer together. With everyone facing the same challenges, now is the time to learn the challenges other operators in other countries have encountered and how they have overcome those hurdles.
What to Expect When Lockdown Lifts, According to People in Norway, Germany and Italy
Now that the UK had passed the peak of the pandemic, speculation as to how the government will ease the lockdown has begun. Boris Johnson was originally set to review lockdown guidelines this Thursday, but the review has now been postponed until Sunday – a likely sign that the government is in no rush to get everything back to normal. Indeed, a report released this week from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) outlines the many considerations for easing a lockdown, including the potential economic, psychological and social costs and benefits.
Greeks' relief as coronavirus lockdown eased but fears over impact on vital tourism industry loom
Greece's fate lies instead in the hands of the millions of tourists from the US, UK and other European countries; tourism accounts for 20% of the Greek economy and one in four jobs, according to the country’s national statisticians. Greeks desperately want tourists to return, but at the same time they are worried that they will bring the virus with them. The two most important countries for Greek tourism, Germany and the UK, are both facing severe Covid-19 challenges. Germany saw a rise in cases after it begun lifting restrictions; the UK is now the worst-hit country in Europe. Such is the seriousness of the situation that Dr Tsiodras has mentioned the UK specifically almost every evening during the last few daily briefings. “It’s a paradox when it comes to pandemics and it is related to the [issue of] timely adoption of measures,” the Harvard educated professor told Greeks while trying to explain why fatalities in the UK have surpassed those of tragically-hit Italy.
Coronavirus: Germany opens up again as Merkel hands over to states
Germany will radically loosen its lockdown measures as chancellor Angela Merkel yields to pressure from the leaders of the country’s 16 states to make their own plans for opening up. The draft agreement for the meeting on Wednesday between the chancellor and the state premiers says that schools and shops can all reopen, but under strict new hygiene guidelines, including the 1.5-meter social distancing rules. States can also decide for themselves when they open restaurants, pubs, clubs and gyms, but big events like festivals are banned until 31 August. Already last week, churches, zoos, museums, and playgrounds were given the green light.
Germany clamping down on golf clubs failing to follow safety rules
As golf courses start to reopen across Europe, the consequences of failing to follow strict guidelines aimed at delivering "safe golf" during the ongoing coronavirus have been highlighted in Germany.
Coronavirus: Germany reopens shops as lockdown is relaxed
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany's goal of slowing the spread of coronavirus has been achieved, so all shops can be reopened as lockdown restrictions are eased. Bundesliga football has been given the green light to resume and schools will gradually reopen in the summer term. Germany's 16 federal states, under an agreement with the government, will take control of timing the reopening. They will operate an "emergency brake" if there is a new surge in infections. General contact rules involving will continue for another month. A limited resumption has already begun, but this easing of restrictions is far broader. Two households will be able to meet and eat together, and elderly people in nursing homes and facilities for the disabled will be able to have visits from one specific person.
Coronavirus: Germany reopens museums, galleries and gardens to the public
Germany has begun relaxing the lockdown measures put in place to control the spread of coronavirus, as officials say the infection rate has been declining for “at least four weeks in a row”. Museums, galleries and gardens, as well as many shops, were allowed to reopen this week. Individual states will decide about gradually opening universities, bars, trade fairs, theatres, cinemas, and more under certain hygiene and distancing rules. A draft document prepared by federal chancellery chief Helge Braun, seen by Reuters, also said amateur open-air sports could restart and schools should gradually reopen from 11 May.
Coronavirus: Summer holidays abroad possible, German official says
Germans may be able to have summer holidays abroad, the country's tourism chief said, as European nations look at how to handle the summer break. Federal tourism commissioner Thomas Bareiss told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper that if the outbreak stayed under control, people might be able to take vacations abroad soon. Germany was in talks with other nations about summer holidays, he said. European governments are mulling how to handle the upcoming vacation period. More than 100,000 people are confirmed to have died amid the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.
France’s Covid-19 epidemic continues to decline as end of lockdown approaches
The numbers of patients in hospital and in intensive care continued to decline. Patients in hospital have declined for three weeks, for a total of 24,775, down from a peak at 32,292 on 14 April. The number of patients in intensive care has dropped below half of what it was at the peak of the epidemic, now standing at 3,430, down from 7,148 on 8 April. Confinement measures imposed as of 17 March were to begin easing on 11 May, with officials warning lockdown has to be lifted gradually in order to ward off a second wave of the epidemic.
Coronavirus lockdown plunges French services into record slump - PMI
IHS Markit’s overall PMI index, which includes services and already published data from the manufacturing sector, fell to 11.1 from 28.9 in March, marginally worse than the 11.2 originally reported. The lockdown, in place since mid-March, is due to be lifted from next Monday, but some restrictions will remain in place, leaving little prospect for a quick recovery for most firms. “Any return to long-term growth rates might be gradual, with consumers taking time to overcome hesitancy surrounding public health before they resume their previous spending habits,” IHS Markit economist Eliot Kerr said.
How Slovakia Flattened the Coronavirus Curve With a Model Lockdown
Why isn’t Slovakia overrun by the coronavirus? Experts that I spoke to credit three main factors. The most important was the government’s quick decision to institute a national lockdown effective March 16, 10 days after the country confirmed its first coronavirus case. The lockdown included the closure of all schools, restaurants, bars, and shops except for grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks—as well as a ban on all public events and gatherings. The lockdown measures have only worked because of the second factor: an immediate and universal compliance by the Slovak population.
Britain’s Johnson Says Lockdown Announcement to Come Sunday
Boris Johnson assured members of the House of Commons they would be fully informed and would be given opportunity to question him or members of the government about any decisions. He said it would be “an economic disaster” for Britain if restrictions were lifted in such a way as to trigger “a second spike” in COVID-19 infections. Johnson said the government would work with the government in Scotland, the opposition, unions and business "to make sure we get the un-lockdown plan completely right."
Coronavirus latest: Germany can be bold easing restrictions, Merkel says
Poland will postpone Sunday's presidential election, the country's governing parties announced on Wednesday. A new date for the election will be announced "as soon as possible," ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and coalition partner leader Jaroslaw Gowin said in a statement. "Having in mind Poles' safety, due to the epidemic, the elections will be held by postal vote," they said.
Covid 19 coronavirus: How Australia's businesses are preparing to leave their lockdown
No more shared cookie jars, fewer meetings, staggered start times and temperature checks before you leave the house – Aussies may be heading back to work, but the office will never be the same. On the plus side, hot-desking will likely be a thing of the past as the world makes the transition to "post-Covid workplaces", where hygiene, safety, social distancing and regular cleaning will take the driver's seat after decades of cost-cutting measures. And millennials who entered the workforce in the "open plan" era may soon be getting their first taste of the cubicle.
U.S. States Roll Back Restrictions as Lockdowns Ease Across Asia
Swathes of the country remained under lockdown, and tensions escalated in some places over the restrictive policies that are designed to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Public-health officials have cautioned that lifting restrictions too hastily could lead to a surge in new cases. Before states reopen, they say, the number of new cases should fall under a certain threshold and state leaders should have a robust testing capacity in place and develop contact-tracing teams. Guidelines from the Trump administration recommend governors take steps toward reopening after they see a decline in documented cases or positive tests over a two-week period.
Exit Strategies
Contact tracing: An army of 18,000 sleuths and call-handlers could help Britain emerge from coronavirus lockdown
“Where were you on the evening of Friday May 1st?” It is the sort of question one might expect to hear from a hard-boiled detective or a prosecutor in a courtroom drama. It is also the kind of question that Britons will have to get used to answering if daily life is to return to anything resembling normal. Much of the focus of the government’s “test, track and trace” strategy to reopen Britain and prevent a second lockdown has been on testing and on an app being developed by NHSX, the digital-innovation arm of the health service.
The current UK lockdown rules for over-70s explained amid talk they may be kept inside for longer
How people over the age of 70 will have to live once lockdown is lifted has been a big topic of conversation during the coronavirus crisis. Under current Government rules, over-70s have to abide by the same social distancing measures as the rest of the UK population. The majority of people in this age bracket can still go out for exercise, do essential shopping and pick up medicine. However, they have to be more careful than everyone else. Campaigners fear that when lockdown is relaxed, older people might be kept under the rules for longer than younger people for their own safety. That proposal - which has been rumoured but is not in any way confirmed by the Government - has sparked a backlash among doctors' leaders and campaigners, the Mirror reports. Here are the current rules explained, and what might or might not happen in the future.
Coronavirus: Australia is in the feared third quarter of lockdown
Experts say that in this time we’ve been subject to three psychological phases. The first was one of panic and confusion, when we were crying out for a sense of control and easily embraced restrictions. Then came the honeymoon phase when lockdown was almost a novelty. There was no more battling morning traffic, you could stay in your pyjamas all day, some started baking sourdough and others reconnected with nature. Now we’re in the eerie ‘Third Quarter,’ which has been identified in those stuck in space or submarines. Typically, isolated individuals become more irritable, you might feel sad or lonely, start drinking more alcohol and struggle to get to sleep. “There’s a sense of being trapped, there’s not a lot of new stimulation going on,” Clinical Psychologist Kimberley Norris told Sunrise.
UK to begin lifting lockdown from Monday
Lockdown measures in the UK could start to be lifted from Monday, with details set to be outlined at the weekend. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced a new target of 200,000 coronavirus tests a day - a target he hopes will be met by the end of May.
Australia's biggest states retain lockdown measures on Mother's Day
Australia’s two most populous states on Thursday refused to allow a one-day reprieve from strict limits on personal movement for Mother’s Day this weekend, even as the country’s rate of new coronavirus cases remains low.
UK draws up three-stage plan for easing coronavirus lockdown
The first phase of relaxation will involve outdoor workplaces and small shops reopening, the second will involve large shopping centres reopening and more people being encouraged to return to work, the report said. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure centres will be among the last businesses to reopen, the Times said. The UK lockdown was announced by Johnson in a televised speech on 23 March with tough restrictions on movement introduced the next day. Three weeks later on 16 April, Dominic Raab – standing in for the coronavirus-stricken Prime Minister – said lockdown would persist for at least another three weeks as the UK was not past the peak of the disease.
When will the UK lockdown end? The four potential exit strategies
During a Downing Street press conference on 16 April, Dominic Raab, deputising for Boris Johnson, said that the lockdown measures will remain in place for at least three more weeks, or up until May 7th. He also set out five tests that must be met before the government would consider lifting measures.
Rural parts of UK could come out of lockdown before cities
Rural parts of the UK which have seen far fewer cases of coronavirus could come out of lockdown ahead of the rest of the UK, England’s chief scientific adviser has said. Places like Devon, Cornwall and Somerset as well as other rural locations could see restrictions eased ahead of places such as London and Birmingham. Each nation in the UK will make its own decisions about easing lockdown rules. Sir Patrick Vallance said that while the R number – the number of other people infected by each person with coronavirus – is below one across the country, prevalence of infection will be different depending on region.
End of lockdown: When is it, how will it happen and is the pandemic over?
The Prime Minister has said we are now past the peak of the pandemic, and hinted that lockdown measures could be lifted soon. He said the "dates and times" of each measure being lifted would come when the Government had more data, but the UK is heading towards "phase two" of its coronavirus response, which will involve partially lifting lockdown. Here, we analyse when the lockdown could end and what the "new normal" might look like.
Coronavirus: How might lockdown end and what will be the 'new normal'?
High Street fashion chains and others closed during lockdown are waiting to hear how they might reopen. Changing rooms could be closed and customers encouraged to shop alone, the British Retail Consortium suggests. Next says it will prioritise reopening larger, out-of-town outlets, where social distancing is easier. Some DIY stores, meanwhile, have already reopened - but they are accepting card payments only and have shorter trading hours. And B&Q has banned under-16s. But several retailers will be missing from the High Street altogether, the chairman of key-cutting company Timpson has warned.
Boris Johnson says lockdown easing due to start on Monday
The prime minister said on Wednesday he would set out his strategy for the “second phase” of the UK’s fight against coronavirus in a televised address on Sunday, adding the government would “get going” with some measures to revise the shutdown on Monday. The initial relaxation of the lockdown is expected to be limited, such as allowing unlimited exercise and sunbathing in parks, while allowing some businesses to ramp up operations where social distancing can be observed, such as on construction sites. The first wave of tweaks will cover the toughening up of other measures, such as the wearing of face masks on public transport and tougher checks at border.
Coronavirus: How social 'bubbles' could work when UK lockdown is eased
Britons could be allowed to reunite with loved ones using "bubble" arrangements under proposals to ease the lockdown. Ministers are looking at ways of letting people meet up with friends and family when lockdown restrictions are eventually eased. Under the arrangements, people will be able choose a small number of friends and family to mix with, outdoors for the time being, and will be under strict orders not to mix with anybody else. People could also be allowed to leave their homes more often and for longer periods of time. The proposals are being considered by the government to introduce a "new normal" to the way Britain operates socially.
When will gyms open in the UK? If fitness centres could be among the first to reopen when lockdown is eased
n Italy, the country has entered into phase two of its exit out of lockdown. Italians will now be able to travel within regions in order to visit relatives, provided that they wear masks. However, schools, hairdressers, gyms and a variety of other commercial activities will stay closed. Cafes and restaurants will offer takeaways only. In the Czech Republic, gyms and fitness centres will be open to the public next week, but the showers and dressing rooms will be off limits.
Spain to avert political crisis, extend virus lockdown
To compensate losing the backing of the conservative Popular Party and angering Catalonia’s separatists, Sánchez’s Socialists struck last-minute deals with the center-right Citizens party and Basque regionalists to guarantee the parliamentary endorsement. That gave the government 178 votes in favor to 75 votes against, with 97 abstentions. The state of emergency was set to expire on Saturday. The extension will take it through May 24. The government argued the extension is critical to apply its complex rollback plan for the lockdown, which will vary by province as they prepare for a possible second wave.
Spain’s holiday islands Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca waiting to move into lockdown de-escalation phase one
The regional minister said it is “essential” to have well-defined controls at ports and airports to allow all the Balearic Islands to move forward through the different stages of the de-escalation. She stressed the island government wants to see checks at travellers’ place of departure and destination, and said Formentera’s experience this week, with checks on arriving ferry passengers’ temperatures, health questionnaires and antibody tests, will make it possible “to see exactly what the situation is.” Gomez expressed confidence her department has planned resources well “to be able to deal with the situation,” both in terms of hospitals and medicalised hotels on all the islands except Formentera. “We can practically duplicate the capacity we have in criteria and hospital beds in approximately a day,” she maintained.
Scotland lockdown exit plan: what Nicola Sturgeon has said about easing restrictions and when it could happen
The First Minister has said that lockdown measures will be lifted "when we judge it is safe to make them, which I am afraid is not right now"
France's Macron throws lockdown lifeline to culture sector
French president Emmanuel Macron promised guaranteed stipends for out-of-work actors and money for filmmakers whose productions have been cancelled, as part of a bailout for an arts industry shut down by the coronavirus.
France’s Covid-19 epidemic continues to decline as end of lockdown approaches
The number of patients in intensive care has dropped below half of what it was at the peak of the epidemic, now standing at 3,430, down from 7,148 on 8 April. Confinement measures imposed as of 17 March were to begin easing on 11 May, with officials warning lockdown has to be lifted gradually in order to ward off a second wave of the epidemic.
When will tennis courts reopen after lockdown, and is it safe to play?
It seems plausible that the prime minister’s upcoming speech on Sunday night could herald a relaxation of restrictions. France is permitting outdoor recreational tennis from next Monday while most other European countries have already moved to this position. Ireland is working towards the reopening of outdoor tennis clubs and public parks from May 18.
Paris Metro Prepares for Lockdown Easing With Police and Cleaners
The Paris public transport system will deploy as many as 2,000 police officers to enforce rules on social distancing and the wearing of masks when France starts to ease lockdown measures on May 11. The operator of metros, buses and commuter trains in the French capital, known as the RATP, has also increased its cleaning budget by at least 70% and is testing methods like anti-viral sprays in buses, according to Chief Executive Officer Catherine Guillouard.
France prepares plan to re-impose lockdown if coronavirus cases spike
France is less than a week away from beginning to lift its strict, nationwide lockdown on May 11th. The government has stressed repeatedly that this easing of restrictions will depend on the development of the epidemic curve, and has not excluded postponing the whole process to a later date if necessary. “If, as we approach May 11th, the number of daily new cases is not what we predicted, we will pay the consequences," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said as he presented the government's plan to lift the lockdown last week.
Here’s How Boris Johnson Is Planning to Lift the U.K.’s Lockdown
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the key to keeping the infection rate down lies in tracking the spread of the virus and isolating people who have it as well as those who have been in contact with them. The U.K. has stepped up testing and wants to recruit 18,000 contact tracers. The mobile phone app that will keep a record of people the owner has been in contact with won’t be ready until mid-May.
Can Australia's coronavirus contact tracing app COVIDSafe lift the country out of lockdown?
To speed up the process of contacting people who may have been exposed to coronavirus, the Federal Government is asking Australians to download its new COVIDSafe app. The more people use the app, the message goes, the faster we can slow the spread of the virus and the sooner we can lift restrictions and return to the pub. "The first job of the COVIDSafe app is to keep you safe," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Coronavirus Australia: Fears of infection as lockdown begins to lift
Two out of five Australians believe it’s likely they will be infected with COVID-19 over the next six months, as the nation struggles with the virus pandemic. In a landmark study, the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods collected data from 3,155 Australians in January and February and again in April. Two-thirds of Australians reported they felt anxious or worried for the safety of themselves, their family members or friends to the the coronavirus.
Tony Blair think tank outlines 'roadmap' out of coronavirus lockdown for the government | Latest Brexit news and top stories
In its latest coronavirus case study, the Tony Blair Institute outlined recommendations for pulling the country out of hibernation. They include setting out the levels of easing they will use and what they will mean for people and business, and building on the current five tests with “triggers, hard metrics and thresholds” to move between levels. They also urge explaining how expanded containment measures can reduce the risk at each level and tailoring communications to enlist the support of individuals and businesses. The report also suggested the government follow steps taken by New Zealand and Australia where leaders have been able to sketch out a detailed guide to leaving a lockdown. They argued that clear messaging would assist companies to prepare for a new operation environment.
When will UK lockdown end? Date restrictions will be reviewed as UK passes peak of infections
On Sunday (10 May), the Prime Minister will address the nation to outline a “road map” of how current restrictions will be gradually lifted as part of the ‘second phase’ of the coronavirus response.
Partisan Exits
UK could start easing virus lockdown next week - Johnson
A Reuters investigation found policies designed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed pushed a greater burden onto care homes which struggled to get access to tests and protective equipment. Asked by a member of the public during a question session on Sky News whether the government had sacrificed the elderly in residential homes to ensure the health service was not overrun, Mr Hancock said: "No we didn't do this ... we have, from the start, worked very hard to protect people in care homes."
Boris Johnson Hints UK Could Begin Easing Lockdown As Soon As Monday
Boris Johnson has said the government could begin to ease the UK’s coronavirus lockdown from Monday. Speaking during prime minister’s questions in the Commons, the PM said he planned to give a statement on Sunday setting out plans for the next day. He did not specify which measures might be dropped or amended first as ministers were “continuously” receiving data from health and science experts. "We will want, if we possibly can, to get going with some of those measures on Monday,” he said, in a reply to Labour leader Keir Starmer. “I think it would be a good thing [...] if people had an idea of what’s coming the following day. That’s why I think Sunday, the weekend, is the best time to do it.”
Coronavirus: Robin Swann says lockdown debate getting ahead of itself
The debate about easing Northern Ireland's pandemic lockdown restrictions is "getting ahead of itself", the health minister has said. A further 17 Covid-19 related deaths in NI were reported by Robin Swann's department, bringing its total to 404. The executive is holding talks about whether to relax any measures to curb the spread of the virus. "Call it my May Day alert," said Mr Swann, as he urged people to stay at home this bank holiday weekend. Northern Ireland's Executive must review whether to amend the coronavirus regulations by Saturday, but some ministers have already said any changes need to be gradual. Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill wants the Executive to publish its plans for emerging from restrictions on Thursday.
Birx warns against gatherings as US reopens from lockdowns
Dr Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House coronavirus taskforce, has warned against US citizens gathering in public spaces again as the number of COVID-19 infections topped 1.1 million in the country and the death toll rose to more than 67,000 on Sunday. Birx said massing on beaches was not safe unless people kept at least two metres (six feet) apart, and weighed in against allowing such businesses as beauty salons and spas to reopen in the first phase.
Continued Lockdown
Lockdown continues: Australia's biggest state will NOT relax rules
New South Wales will not relax any coronavirus restrictions until next week but Queensland will allow five household members to visit another family in a home from Sunday. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said no restrictions will be relaxed in his state - and told reporters that he will not be visiting his own mother on Mothers' Day. On Friday the national cabinet will set out a three-step framework to ease the rules - but state and territory leaders will be able to choose when they implement the changes. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said rules in Australia's biggest state by population will not be changing until after the weekend.
Coronavirus lockdown batters German services in April - PMI
Phil Smith, principal economist at IHS Markit, said the plunge in services business activity accelerated in April and that the rate of contraction was much worse than seen during the depths of the global financial crisis more than a decade ago. "However, though manufacturing also suffered a record drop in output in April, the PMI surveys confirm that the decline in Germany's economy has been less severe than in France, Italy and Spain, where lockdowns have been more strict," Smith added. Germany took a further step on the long road back to post-coronavirus normality on Monday, with museums and hairdressers reopening under strict conditions, churches opening their doors for worshippers and more car factories resuming work. But more than a month after all but essential social and commercial life was suspended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, the country's politicians are at odds over how far and how fast to move. Despite first steps to ease restrictions, there is still a lot of uncertainty among businesses about the timing of further relaxation of measures and the health of demand going forward, Smith noted.
Coronavirus lockdown: India jobless numbers cross 120 million in April
Scenes of desperate migrant workers, particularly daily-wage earners, fleeing cities on foot to return to their villages, filled TV screens and newspapers for most of April. Their informal jobs, which employ 90% of the population, were the first to be hit as construction stopped, and cities suspended public transport. But protracted curfews and the continued closure of businesses - and the uncertainty of when the lockdown will end - hasn’t spared formal, permanent jobs either. Large companies across various sectors - media, aviation, retail, hospitality, automobiles - have announced massive layoffs in recent weeks. And experts predict that many small and medium businesses are likely to shut shop altogether.
The head of Sweden's no-lockdown coronavirus plan said the country's heavy death toll 'came as a surprise'
The head of Sweden's coronavirus response said in a new interview that the country's high death toll had "come as a surprise" and was "really something we worry a lot about." The state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told "The Daily Show" that the Swedish strategy had still been successful in many ways. But he said the no-lockdown strategy was not a conscious decision in favor of more deaths — instead he said the outsize toll was not part of the plan. About half of Sweden's deaths have been in nursing homes, which prohibit visitors. Tegnell said health officials had thought it would be easier to keep the disease away from them.
As Coronavirus Lockdown Eases, Cypriots Still in Limbo
Birinci is one of thousands of Cypriots caught in limbo since the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north both imposed stringent lockdowns but without consulting each other. "I think what has been lacking since the beginning is cooperation between the two sides," said Hakan Karahasan, another Turkish Cypriot badly affected by the lockdown.
Australia's coronavirus lockdown to cost $4bn a week in reduced economic activity – treasurer
The treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the current restrictions Australian governments have adopted to stop the spread of coronavirus – restrictions likely to taper down from this Friday – are resulting in a reduction in economic activity worth $4bn per week. Frydenberg will use a speech to the National Press Club on Tuesday to warn the economic shock associated with Covid-19 will be both profound and prolonged, with Treasury estimating a 10 to 12% fall in gross domestic product during the June quarter alone.
Scientific Viewpoint
WHO warns of new lockdowns if transition not managed carefully
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus listed a series of steps needed before countries lift measures designed to control the spread of the Covid-19 respiratory disease
6 criteria for relaxing #COVID19 measures recommended by @WHO
6 criteria for relaxing #COVID19 measures recommended by @WHO 1. Strong surveillance system 2. Health system has necessary capacities 3. Minimized outbreak risks 4. Preventive measures in place 5. Importation risks are manageable 6. Communities are educated, engaged & empowered
Doctor Who Treated First COVID-19 Patient in U.S. Worries About Second Wave As Lockdown Is Lifted
The doctor who treated the first COVID-19 patient in the United States has expressed his concern that a second wave of the disease could emerge as lockdown measures are gradually eased. George Díaz, infectious diseases chief at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, told journalists on Monday in a video briefing: "What worries me is that when the economy starts to reopen, we are going to see a second outbreak that is perhaps as big as the first, and the first one was very difficult for us and for the whole world. "And more than anything, I am concerned that I don't know if we are going to have the resources to handle a second outbreak," he said, AFP reported.
Structural Basis for Potent Neutralization of Betacoronaviruses by Single-Domain Camelid Antibodies
VHHs isolated from a llama immunized with prefusion-stabilized coronavirus spikes. Structural characterization of VHHs reveals conserved mechanism of neutralization. SARS-CoV-1 S-directed VHH cross-reacts with SARS-CoV-2 S. Bivalent VHH neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviruses.
New Lockdown
`If this thing boomerangs': Second wave of infections feared
As Europe and the U.S. loosen their lockdowns against the coronavirus, health experts are expressing growing dread over what they say is an all-but-certain second wave of deaths and infections that could force governments to clamp back down. “We’re risking a backslide that will be intolerable,” said Dr. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity. Elsewhere around the world, German authorities began drawing up plans in case of a resurgence of the virus. Experts in Italy urged intensified efforts to identify new victims and trace their contacts. And France, which hasn’t yet eased its lockdown, has already worked up a “reconfinement plan” in the event of a new wave.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 8th May 2020

News Highlights

Countries around the world are grapling with a dilemma: either ease lockdown restrictions to restart the economy or continue with lockdowns to control the coronavirus infection rate.

India, which has imposed a strict lockdown for over 40 days, relaxed its rules, and infection rates and morbidities jumped almost immediately. Russia, which had relatively few cases, saw a spike of more than 10,000 cases in a single day, just as it said it was considering relaxing lockdown rules next week. France, the UK, Spain and Germany are all making plans to ease restrictions and resume economic and social activity based on revised rules. However, Spain's two hardest hit cities, Barcelona and Madrid, may keep restrictions in place.

Unfortunately, amid the lockdown in South Africa, more and more people are making calls to support groups for help with issues related to anxiety, panic and stress. Depression and anxiety are terrible companions to have at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic.

Lockdown Exit
COVID-19: how Asia-Pacific is emerging from lockdown
Countries all over the world are announcing their plans to emerge from COVID-19-inflicted lockdown, and the Asia-Pacific region is no different. Even countries like Thailand and Viet Nam, that have not suffered a heavy infection rate or death toll, must now reckon with the economic damage caused by the pandemic, and are eager to cautiously reopen their schools and get people back to work. Here is a roundup of measures announced from countries and economies in the Asia-Pacific area:
What Canada can learn from Hong Kong’s Covid-19 successes
Professor Samuel Yeung-shan Wong says Canada should follow Hong Kong by supporting public mask wearing and testing all arrivals at airports for coronavirus A study by Wong, published in Canada, says Hong Kong’s aggressive contact tracing and quarantine measures also helped restrict the spread of the disease
How to stay safe on public transport under Italy's lockdown phase two
Italy's health ministry has issued new guidance on reducing the risk of infection when using public transport. The Italian government has also stated that masks must be worn when using on all forms of public transport. In addition to this, the Italian health ministry on Wednesday published official advice on staying safe when using public transport – assessed by workplace injury insurance agency INAIL.as being a “medium-high risk" environment for coronavirus infection, the Ansa news agency reports. The risk rises to “high” during peak times in urban areas, the insurers said.
France to test controversial Covid-19 tracking app during lockdown exit
As France awakens from lockdown on 11 May, the government will start testing “under real conditions” a prototype for its much-criticised StopCovid contact tracking phone app, ahead of the product’s intended full roll-out on 2 June. The app works by using Bluetooth to interact with nearby phones and detect when users come into contact with potential coronavirus carriers. It generates an anonymous numerical ID that’s exchanged with other smartphones also running the app. The ID of anyone who tests positive is red-flagged, and a warning is then sent to those who have crossed paths with the infected person. The app does not, however, reveal details about where and when the encounter took place – unlike similar technology in China, geolocation data is not recorded. The use of StopCovid – developed in France by researchers and companies under the supervision of the government – will be purely voluntary, but it needs to be widespread if it’s to play any meaningful role slowing the epidemic.
Coronavirus: Private renters facing ‘tsunami of evictions’ once lockdown ends, charity warns
Shelter says that those relying on benefits must find an estimated £13m a week in total to keep up with their rent payments. The government has suspended evictions for the duration of the crisis, but thousands could be forced out of their homes when the lockdown ends. Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, has warned of a “tsunami of evictions” amid the “serious financial difficulty” that people across the country are now facing. “As renters lose their jobs and see their incomes hit, many will have to rely on the welfare safety net for the first time,” she said. “Our services are already hearing from families in homes they could comfortably afford under normal circumstances, who are now in serious financial difficulty. “We’re facing an onslaught of people suddenly unable to afford their rent, at a time when people need to stay put and cannot safely move to a cheaper home.
Hugs, rugby on agenda as New Zealand continues to ease lockdown
Super Rugby in New Zealand is poised to resume when the country relaxes its COVID-19 lockdown, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday, with bars, retailers and schools also set to open. Ardern is due to announce next Monday whether New Zealand will move to 'Alert Level 2', which allows significantly more freedom than Kiwis have experienced since lockdown began in late March. While she stressed no decision had yet been made, Ardern acknowledged New Zealand's success in containing the virus had put it in a good position to cautiously relax the rules. "Think of ourselves as halfway down Everest," she said. "It's clear that no one wants to hike back up that peak and the descent is known to be even more dangerous."
Coronavirus: Lockdown bites poor as France eases grip
The government will set out on Thursday how it plans to lift restrictions on movement on Monday. But for many the damage from one of Europe's strictest lockdowns has been done. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gave details of the changes on Thursday. The plan is to divide the country into red and green zones, with different rules for different places. "From Monday we will progressively unwind the lockdown that started on 17 March... but the country is cut in two, with the virus circulating more quickly in some regions, notably in the Paris region, which is very densely populated," the prime minister said.
Exiled Parisians face bittersweet homecoming as France eases Covid-19 lockdown
Two months ago, some 1.2 million people fled the Paris region in a reverse rural flight that prompted howls of protests from countryfolk fearful of the spreading coronavirus. Now, residents of the French capital and its suburbs have been told they can head back the other way as the country prepares to end its lockdown on May 11. Already, the logistics of their return from exile is a headache for the SNCF, France’s national train operator, which is running a limited service and can only fill 50% of seats to comply with social distancing rules. But the government has pledged to let all Parisians return home, provided they carry a justification form required of all travellers who plan to cover a distance of more than 100 kilometres once the lockdown is lifted.
Parts of Asia that relaxed restrictions without a resurgence in coronavirus cases did these three things
South Korea and Hong Kong successfully relaxed pandemic restrictions without having another rise in cases by data sharing, using targeted testing and contact tracing. The varying results of efforts across Asia to contain the virus and reopen society present policy options and perhaps lessons for countries behind on the outbreak’s timeline. Public health specialists who spoke with CNBC said they’re not confident U.S. officials are taking note of what’s working and not working in Asia.
Pew-pew woo-hoo! Hong Kong reopens video arcades shut by coronavirus lockdown
Hong Kong will reopen video game arcades as the city begins to ease its pandemic precautions and attempts to kick its economy into a higher gear. The new guidelines, announced yesterday, will allow bars, gyms, beauty salons, cinemas and "amusement game centres" to resume business on Friday with some restrictions. In arcades, operators will either need barriers between machines, or to leave every second console inoperable. The number of people allowed to gather in groups will be raised from four to eight and schools will resume in three phases starting 27 May. The reopening has been ordered because: "In light of the more stabilised situation in Hong Kong in terms of the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the recent weeks... a window of opportunity exists for us to lift some of the social distancing measures at the moment," a spokesperson for the Food and Health Bureau said.
Less is more: Chinese consumers look for meaning after lockdown
After almost two months of lockdown and being out of work, Chinese consumers are not shopping as much as they used to.
Exit Strategies
Pubs, transport and shops – how the UK’s lockdown measures could be eased
According to some reports, unlimited outdoor exercise will be allowed from Monday, however gyms and playgrounds are expected to remain closed. Public Health England has signalled the “stay home” message could be abandoned and reports suggest people using benches, having picnics or sunbathing will no longer be asked to move on, provided they keep two metres apart. Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested on Wednesday that outdoor “pavement cafes” could be put in place over the summer.
How will lockdown be eased? Boris Johnson expected to relax some UK coronavirus rules - but it's not yet clear which ones
It is widely reported that the Government is going to scrap its key "stay at home" message from next week, and replace it with a new slogan. The main focus for easing the restrictions is likely to be about restarting the economy and allowing some people to return to work without risking their health. According to the Daily Mirror, employees at workplaces that stayed open during the lockdown will be encouraged to return. Some outlets have reported that the Government will advise Britons to wear face masks on public transport and in shops and offices where it is harder to stick to social distancing rules. Despite some reports about shops opening as long as social distancing can take place, The Daily Telegraph says non-essential retailers, including garden centres, will have to hold on a little longer before fully reopening.
Five-part plan to get UK out of lockdown over six months
Britain’s plan for returning to normal will be implemented in five stages over the next six months, it is understood. Boris Johnson is set to lay out his ‘roadmap’ for exiting lockdown on Sunday, with some changes hoped to take effect the next day. While that is sooner than expected, a 50-page blueprint being drafted by officials indicates some restrictions won’t be lifted until at least October, according to The Daily Mirror. The five-stage plan reportedly proposes reopening some garden centres and open-air markets as early as Monday, but keeping bigger indoor venues like pubs, bars and restaurants closed until August.
Don't expect a snapback for the UK economy after lockdown is lifted
One of the lessons of the last recession was that austerity measures were imposed too quickly and recovery was choked off, and the stakes are much higher this time. Whether or not there is a second wave of infections there is certainly the risk of a second wave of acute economic distress starting in the autumn. The psychological impact of Covid-19 on consumer behaviour meant it was never realistic for the UK to have a V-shaped recession. The aim now is to avoid a great depression.
Coronavirus: NI Executive discusses plan for easing lockdown
Executive ministers met for more than three hours on Thursday, ahead of a call between the PM and leaders of the devolved institutions. They agreed to recommend that people in Northern Ireland should now wear face coverings when they were in enclosed spaces for short periods of time, where social distancing is not possible. The decision was taken in line with scientific advice, Mrs Foster told the Executive's daily press conference. Health Minister Robin Swann later said that while evidence on the overall protection provided by face coverings "is not conclusive, on balance it is sufficient to recommend that members of the public consider using them in particular circumstances". "In practice, these circumstances will largely relate to public transport and retail environments," he added. "Their use will not be mandatory. Crucially, face coverings must not lead to any false sense of security about the level of protection provided."
UK due to extend lockdown ahead of deconfinement measures
Johnson suggested on Wednesday that some restrictions could be relaxed as of 11 May, while repeating that he wanted to avoid a second wave of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic at all costs. “The reality is we’re still at a high point of the virus. We believe we are past the peak, but we have to make sure we do not create a situation we can have a strong second peak very quickly,” echoed Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on BBC Radio 4. “We’re going to make sure we go forward in a way that actually puts people’s health first,” he added. British media reported that citizens will soon be able to exercise unlimitedly outdoors, have picnics or even sunbathe in parks, as long as they keep a safe distance of two metres between people. People are currently only allowed to go out for groceries, medical treatment or exercise.
Britain heading for a limited easing of lockdown next week
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a very limited easing of Britain’s coronavirus lockdown next week, adopting a cautious approach to try to ensure there is no second peak of infections that could further hurt the economy. “If people don’t follow the rules or if we see that the R-level (the reproductive rate of the virus) goes back up, we will tighten the restrictions again.” The government has been criticised for moving too slowly to tackle the outbreak which has led to more than 30,000 deaths in Britain - the worst official death toll in Europe. But with an increasing number of anecdotal reports that more people are flouting the lockdown in anticipation of Sunday’s announcement and a public holiday on Friday, ministers are under pressure to make any new rules as clear as possible after being criticised for mixed messaging.
When will the UK lockdown rules be reviewed, and what happens in phase two?
The Prime Minister has said we are now past the peak of the pandemic, and hinted that lockdown measures could be lifted soon. He will address the nation on Sunday 10 May at 7pm to outline the Government's plan to lift the lockdown. He said the "dates and times" of each measure being lifted would come when the Government had more data, but the UK is heading towards "phase two" of its coronavirus response, which will involve partially lifting lockdown. Here, we analyse when the lockdown could end and what the "new normal" might look like....
Coronavirus in Germany: Summer holidays on the horizon as Angela Merkel agrees to ease lockdown restrictions
Germans are already planning their summer holidays abroad with the lifting of lockdown restrictions across the nation. Thomas Bareiss, the federal tourism commissioner, told German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel that, if the coronavirus outbreak remained under control in the country, then people may be able to holiday abroad soon.
Spain virus death toll declines as lockdown easing moves ahead
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez argues that his administration needs enhanced powers to coordinate the health service, which is normally under the remit of the 17 regional governments, and to implement economic policies designed to mitigate the impact of the lockdown. Even though Sanchez won the vote, it could be a prelude to another political crisis. The main opposition party, the conservative PP, abstained and threatened to vote against Sanchez if he seeks another extension. The PP had backed Sanchez's previous requests for a longer state of emergency and a negative vote could compromise the political legitimacy of the measure. The government is pursuing a cautious easing of confinement rules to avoid a resurgence in infections. Spain has the second-most extensive outbreak in the world, behind the U.S. and ahead of Italy, the original epicenter of the virus in Europe.
Coronavirus: Germany moves to carefully lift lockdown as infection rates fall
Pressure to relax the rules had been growing as the lockdown achieved the country's goal in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Angela Merkel has laid out a plan for Germany exiting the lockdown as the rate of daily coronavirus infections in the country continues to drop. The German chancellor announced a loosening of the measures after meeting with the country's 16 state governors. She said restaurants and other businesses will be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks.
When could hairdressers re-open in the UK after lockdown?
With several more European countries, including Germany, Spain and Portugal, now easing their social distancing measures enough to allow hairdressers to re-open, how are stylists operating amid a new way of work and what can we expect from salons when they finally open their doors again in the UK? Here's what we know about salons that have reopened in other countries while social distancing.
Factbox: From hairdressers to beaches - Spain's plan to phase out lockdown
Spain has a four-phase plan to lift a coronavirus lockdown and return to normal by the end of June. Following are the key points of the plan, which will vary from province to province. Advancing through the stages will depend on factors such as how the rate of infection evolves, the number of intensive care beds available locally and compliance with distancing rules
French PM to unveil final strategy to exit Covid-19 lockdown
On Thursday, people in France will find out what awaits them on Monday 11 May if the 2-month lockdown is lifted. Edouard Philippe, who has promised there will be no easy return to normal, is due to present the first phase of the government's exit plan at 16:00 local time. Many questions hang in the balance, including whether the exit will go ahead as planned on Monday. Philippe had said previously that if the indicators were bad the lockdown would be extended. The indicators guiding his choice include the evolution of the pandemic, the ability of hospitals to deliver critical care and testing capacity.
Prime Minister's five-step plan to ease lockdown - and it could start as early as Monday
Millions of Britons could take the first steps out of lockdown as early as Monday under the Government's plan to return the nation to some kind of normality. The proposals will be set out in a "roadmap" by the Prime Minister on Sunday - and the first could be enacted within hours of his address. The Mirror reports that unlimited exercise will be allowed from Monday, May 11 and staff encouraged to return to work at businesses which have stayed open during the lockdown. But the full plan is likely to take several months to work through and steps could be delayed or changed by a second spike of coronavirus later in the year.
Live: France unveils final plan on easing Covid-19 lockdown
“Next Monday will mark the start of a very gradual process stretching over several weeks at least, which will allow the country to emerge slowly but steadily from the lockdown," Philippe told a news conference, hours after the government put the final touches to its highly-anticipated roadmap. Philippe said the government was looking to “strike the right balance between the indispensable resumption of economic (...) life and the indispensable need” to ensure the safety of the public. He said the exit from lockdown would be “differentiated”, with restrictions to be lifted gradually and varying between regions. "The country is cut in two, with the virus circulating more quickly in some regions," he explained.
France Set to Ease Lockdown to Relieve Coronavirus Pain
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the country was ready for a nationwide plan to relax curbs on public life, though strict controls will remain on public transport in Paris, where infection rates are too high. Looser restrictions on businesses and stores will start coming into effect on Monday in a gradual process designed to avoid a second wave of infections. “We are always looking for a balance between the indispensable return to normal life and the indispensable respect of all measures that will prevent the epidemic from restarting,” Philippe said on Thursday, adding that restrictions could be reimposed if infections rise. “The target of all the French people is that we can live with this virus” until a cure is found.
French PM to present end of lockdown roadmap today
In that previous speech he urged people to be disciplined in the run-up to May 11, so as to ensure there was not a resurgence of Covid-19 and that deconfinement could begin on schedule. If all went as hoped, he said a first deconfinement stage could then begin, lasting until June 2, when it was expected that there would be further changes. Rules for the first stage will to some extent vary depending on whether people live in a geographical department that has been labelled green (good), orange (intermediate) or red (bad), for the number of new cases, the capacity of hospitals to cope, and whether or not the area is well equipped for testing and contact tracing (alerting people who may be at risk due to having had close contact with an infected person).
Lockdown Level 3: These are the 12 biggest changes that will take place
Level 3 will include more significant changes than the ones we saw in the transition to Level 4. Here's how the government see the next phase working.
Barcelona and Madrid may be left in lockdown as Spain lifts curbs
Spain's two hardest-hit cities may keep restrictions in place as the rest of the country emerges from lockdown. Sanchez's plan to lift lockdown restrictions has four stages, in which restrictions are progressively eased, with each region applying to enter the next phase if it meets certain conditions, such as hospital capacity requirements. The first phase would allow for groups of up to 10 people to meet in homes or outdoors, and street cafes to reopen. Religious celebrations can also be observed, as long as places of worship practise social distancing and limit themselves to 30 percent of their previous capacities. Catalonia's regional government on Wednesday said Barcelona and Girona would not be included in the first phase, which starts on Monday, saying there was a moderate to high risk of a new wave of infections. But Madrid - the city which is at the centre of Spain's outbreak, and which is still registering high numbers of new cases - has applied to the national health ministry to begin opening its doors on Monday.
Pakistan to Ease Coronavirus Lockdown Saturday
Pakistan has announced it will gradually ease a nationwide coronavirus-related “partial" lockdown starting Saturday, saying the number of COVID-19 infections remain relatively low and under control. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Pakistan Cabinet approves easing lockdown after May 9
The Pakistan cabinet has approved easing the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the country gradually after May 9th, provided that strict implementation of the coronavirus-related preventative measures suggested by the government ensured. Prime Minister Imran Khan, however, warned that threat from the viral disease was not over and could strike again if the government's stadard operating procedures were not followed
Study to explore the impact of Covid-19 lockdown on children
The country’s largest longitudinal study is about to launch a new research project to discover how the Covid-19 lockdown has affected children in Aotearoa New Zealand. Growing Up in New Zealand is following the lives of more than 6,000 New Zealand children and their families from before birth until adulthood. The University of Auckland study plans to carry out a digital survey with cohort children later this week to gather information about their experiences of “lockdown” at Covid-19 Alert Levels 4 and 3. Study director, Professor Susan Morton, of the University’s School for Population Health in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, says hearing the voices of children is crucial to provide insights into how young people may have been impacted by the pandemic.
As India Loosens Its Strict Lockdown, Coronavirus Deaths Jump Sharply
Part of India’s success in blunting the spread of the coronavirus had been a fierce lockdown that was zealously obeyed. But in the last few days, the government has loosened up the rules, drawing people into the streets. And now the dangerous contagion appears to be spreading more aggressively.
The great Indian lockdown survey: The good, bad and the ugly
Economic Times Online conducted a readers' poll to gauge the mood of the public in a country that has been under a crippling lockdown for over 40 days. Now that the wheels have begun clacking again in factories and plants, we present here the insights gleaned from almost 13,000 of India's best-informed readers of business news.
Germany Paves Way for Broad Economic Restart With Virus Tamed
Merkel and state leaders have agreed on a framework to ease the lockdown in Germany. These moves are to be phased in regionally with an emergency stop built in should there be a repeat of a coronavirus spike in any one region
Germany eases lockdown, with 'emergency brake' on hand if needed
Chancellor Angela Merkel announced steps on Wednesday to ease the coronavirus lockdown in Germany but at the same time launched an "emergency brake" mechanism allowing for renewed restrictions in case infections pick up again. Declaring an end to the first phase of the pandemic in Germany, Merkel said there was still a long way to go in the battle against the virus, which has battered Europe's largest economy. The government will decide on an economic stimulus package in June, Merkel said, adding this was a "very ambitious" time frame. Germany went into lockdown in March to contain coronavirus contagion. Its reproduction rate has been falling for several days, and Merkel said it was now consistently below 1 - meaning a person with the virus infects fewer than one other on average. "We are at a point where our goal of slowing the spread of the virus has been achieved and we have been able to protect our health system..., so it has been possible to discuss and agree on further easing measures," Merkel told reporters.
UK has drawn up three-stage plan for easing coronavirus lockdown: The Times
The United Kingdom has drawn up a three-stage plan to ease the coronavirus lockdown that was first imposed at the end of March, The Times newspaper said. The government must review the lockdown by May 7 but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made clear that he is worried about triggering a second deadly spike in cases. Johnson is expected to set out a plan for exiting the lockdown on Sunday. The first phase will involve small shops reopening alongside outdoor workplaces and the second will involve large shopping centres reopening, with more people encouraged to go into work, The Times said. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure centres will be among the last to open, the newspaper said.
Welcoming Britain back: tourism businesses set out post-lockdown plans
However, behind the scenes tourism officials and hospitality bosses are busy working out how destinations will start to welcome back visitors this summer. Without knowing exactly what changes will be announced when Boris Johnson produces his roadmap on Sunday, tourist boards across the UK are setting out plans for a phased reopening of attractions and businesses as they endeavour to salvage some of the 2020 season. “We can’t afford to wait until lockdown’s over and find we’ve not got the plans in place,” said Gill Haigh, chief executive of Cumbria Tourism. “The question is how we reset.”
Life after lockdown: France unveils grand culture bailout as Germany re-opens museums 'with poles'
France announced grand plans to save Gallic culture on Wednesday, including a pledge of massive public commissions for creative projects and an extension of its uniquely generous unemployment system for arts and entertainment workers to avoid collapse under coronavirus. Theatres and museums could slowly start preparing to re-open from next week while respecting safety guidelines to avoid a resurgence of infections, said President Emmanuel Macron. The moves came as countries around Europe are grappling with how to support the arts and re-open cultural venues and are coming up with creative ways to respect social distancing, including using ribbons and poles.
Russia sees record spike in coronavirus cases with more than 10,000 in one day
Despite a rise in coronavirus cases of 10,000+ in a single day, Russia has indicated it could gradually lift confinement measures from next week.
Australia to ease COVID-19 curbs in three stages, targets July for full removal
Australia will ease social distancing restrictions implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus in a three-step process, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, with the aim of removing all curbs by July. Australia imposed strict social distancing restrictions in March, which, coupled with the closure of its borders, is credited with drastically slowing the number of new infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Morrison said Australia’s states and territories will decide when to begin implementing each stage.
Partisan Exits
UK newspapers accused of giving 'mixed messages' on lockdown
Downing Street was keen to pour cold water on reports that the lockdown could be lifted from Monday, after newspaper headlines such as Lockdown Freedom Beckons and Happy Monday. Senior government figures privately expressed concern about what one referred to as “over-egged” reports about both the “tone and the pace” of a potential easing. The same source also played down one report that people could be able to sit two metres away from friends outside as soon as Monday. “It will be much more cautious than what is being reported,” they said.
Keir Starmer: UK needs to leave lockdown together
The leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, has said that easing of lockdown restrictions needs to take place across the UK as a whole, as he urged "caution" to avoid another spike in cases of coronavirus.
Coronavirus: PM 'must show respect' to UK nations over lockdown
The SNP's Mr Ian Blackford said: "We are still facing an enormous death toll and everything we do should be based on the scientific and medical advice. "What we should be focusing on are the health considerations for the public and the absolute desire to drive down the impact of this virus. "If we allow an earlier removal of restrictions, all we are going to do is run the risk of that second spike and the impact on the health of individuals and the economy will actually be greater. "There has to be discipline and an appreciation from the population of what we are doing and why." Also appearing on the Good Morning Scotland programme, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was "worried" about Scotland potentially taking a different approach to restrictions to the rest of the UK. He said: "Across the United Kingdom, we went into lockdown together and I think it would be far better if any easing or relaxation was done together. "There are real problems if different regions and different nations do it at different times.
Strain emerges between UK government and Scotland over easing lockdown
Nicola Sturgeon’s spokesman confirmed the first minister plans to renew all Scotland’s lockdown regulations on Thursday without amending them. They were not aware of any scientific or expert advice which supported Johnson’s proposals, he said. “I think the first minister has said in recent days she’s been very clear that she’s not anticipating any imminent changes to the current measures that are recently in place.” The UK’s nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have collaborated closely on policies and strategies during the pandemic, with Johnson announcing the lockdown plans on 20 and 23 March on behalf of all four governments.
Scotland appeals for "four nation" approach to lockdown as UK plans early exit
Scotland's Health Secretary has appealed for a "four nation" approach to easing the Coronavirus lockdown in the UK amid reports that Boris Johnson will lift some restrictions south of the border this weekend.
Coronavirus: Lockdown tensions between UK and Welsh ministers grow
The results of a review into Wales' coronavirus lockdown will be announced by the Welsh Government on Friday. First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to outline how and when minor adjustments could be made. It comes after Downing Street conceded Wales and the other UK nations may move differently on easing the restrictions. The Welsh Government said more details will be announced in Friday's press conference. Mr Drakeford's approach is expected to be cautious, with a focus on ensuring the R rate of transmission is not allowed to rise.
Germany's Maas condemns anti-lockdown protesters' attack on journalists
For the second time in a week, journalists in Berlin were attacked by members of the public. Illegal anti-lockdown protesters turned on a camera team, in a move decried by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
Leaving Lockdown, Entering Recession: Strike in Spain Shows Workers’ Fears
Labor unions in Europe have recently voiced concerns about the safety of employees who have been returning to work. But the strike at Nissan highlights what may be the next major concern of organized labor: protecting jobs in a post-pandemic economy. The coronavirus has brought about a recession that is expected to be the worst ever in the European Union, one that will most likely push companies to close down struggling factories.Automakers in particular are believed to have excess capacity, as demand for new cars has slipped in recent years. About a fifth of carmaking capacity worldwide is not being used.
Spanish PM secures support for lockdown plans
The fragile left-wing coalition government is set to rescue its lockdown plans from “chaos” in a parliamentary vote today after securing the support of a centre-right party. The Socialist-led government of Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister, was in danger of losing a vote for a two-week extension of the state of emergency after one of its allies, a Catalan separatist party, decided to vote against it. The Catalan Republican Left party withdrew its support, saying powers should now be returned to the regions. However, the government won the backing of Ciudadanos, a centre-right party, and maintained the support of a Basque regional party to stave off what the Socialists called “chaos”.
Anger grows in French coastal areas over continued Covid-19 beach ban
Local Mayors and MPs have struggled to explain the decision and numerous campaigns including #RendezNousLaMer have sprung up on social media to get the decision overturned. Gwendal Richard, a keen surfer, told French newspaper Ouest-France that the beach ban was “completely unjust”. “All those who love the sea” are welcome to join him on nearby beach in Erquy to express their anger “peacefully” on 11 May, he says. He’s calling on them to line up on the beach while respecting social distancing regulations and wearing facemasks and he plans to stream the event live on Facebook.
Continued Lockdown
Why lockdown rules aren't always the same around Italy
As Italy adjusts to phase two, the staggered reopening has been complicated by the highly decentralised government system which allows the country's 20 regions to layer on their own rules. Veneto and Calabria have thus been serving food and drink at bars and restaurants with outdoor seating since last week. The area around Genoa is thinking of reopening its beaches. Neighbouring Emilia-Romagna is keeping them closed - even to those who live by the sea. And fines for breaking the rules range from a maximum of 3,000 euros in most places to 5,000 in Lombardy. Such regional differences in the rules have been cause for confusion throughout the lockdown.
Breaking A Sweat: Gyms Across Spain Weary About Re-Opening Under New Lockdown Limitations
Since the beginning of the quarantine most social and leisure activities have moved online, for example watching concerts or meeting up with friends has now taken place on the internet. Similarly, working out has been done virtually although since May 2, residents in Spain have had the opportunity to take to the streets to exercise. When it comes to sports installations or gymnasiums, which according to sources are the preferred source of exercise for around 5.5 million people in Spain, they will be allowed to reopen their facilities after Phase 1 of the de-escalation plan begins. For now, Phase 1 will allow these sports establishments to recommence individual sports activities with advanced bookings, no physical contact and closed changing rooms. Further on, in Phase 3, the gyms will be limited to 30 per cent capacity and changing rooms will remain closed.
Spain approves fourth lockdown extension to May 25 as PM secures ‘last minute’ support from opposition parties
The country’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez finally managed to secure enough ‘last minute’ support from the opposition parties to extend the country’s lockdown for a fourth time, despite many threatening to withhold their vote this time round (as reported). The lockdown extension will allow the government to restrict citizen’s movements to contain the coronavirus.
Major Brazilian cities set lockdowns as virus spreads
São Luis became Brazil’s first major city to begin a coronavirus “lockdown” on Tuesday with another, Fortaleza, saying it would follow suit on Friday, as local health services struggle to cope with the pandemic. Tuesday’s lockdown measure covers São Luis and parts of three other municipalities with a total population of around 1.3 million people in the poor northeastern state of Maranhão. It forbids people from going outside except to obtain groceries, medications or cleaning supplies. Maranhão has not felt the brunt of the crisis, in contrast to the populous southeastern states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and the interior state of Amazonas, where hospitals are overwhelmed and authorities have resorted to burying victims in mass graves. But with 4,227 confirmed cases and 249 deaths, Brazil’s poorest state is still dealing with a significant caseload.
Brazil faces 'economic collapse' in 30 days due to lockdown: economy minister
Brazil could face "economic collapse" in a month's time due to stay-at-home measures to stem the coronavirus outbreak, with food shortages and "social disorder," Economy Minister Paulo Guedes warned Thursday. Brazil, Latin America's biggest economy, is also the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the region. But far-right President Jair Bolsonaro -- who appeared alongside Guedes, his free-market economics guru -- opposes stay-at-home measures to slow the virus, saying they are unnecessarily damaging the economy. "Within about 30 days, there may start to be shortages on (store) shelves and production may become disorganized, leading to a system of economic collapse, of social disorder," Guedes said. "This is a serious alert."
Brazil on Lockdown: New Rules for Most Heavily Affected Cities
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, northern and northeastern states have moved ahead and decreed lockdowns in municipalities with the imminent collapse of their health care systems.
South African Business Wants Virus Lockdown Ended Within Weeks
Business For South Africa says up to 4 million jobs at risk - companies may need to consider cutting dividend, Kingston says. They are calling for the lockdown to end within weeks not months to avoid serious economic dislocation
Anxious, stressed South Africans really battling under lockdown, says Sadag
Amid a protracted COVID-19 lockdown, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) has been receiving more calls from people feeling anxious, panicked and stressed. A recent Sadag survey suggests that 55% had feelings of anxiety and panic and 46% were under financial stress and pressure. Before the lockdown, the group averaged about 600 calls per day - now it's between 1,200 and 1,400 calls. Sadag's Cassey Chambers said that besides people contacting them because of anxiety, panic and depression, they were also getting calls about stress related to accessing food parcels, food security, shelters, safety, social grants and UIF. She said that calls were coming from employees and business managers.
COVID-19: Moscow Cases 'Likely Three Times Higher' Than Official Toll; Pakistan To Lift Virus Lockdown
The global death toll from the coronavirus has passed 260,000 with more than 3.7 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness. Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions.
Day 44 of coronavirus lockdown: Ground report from Indian cities
Here is a look at the latest updates on the outbreak of coronavirus across some of India's most important cities
People can’t help flouting lockdown laws – but why?
The last few weeks have seen endless reports of ‘covidiots’ flouting Government lockdown laws, which clearly state that we’re not allowed to meet up with friends or family from outside our household, and if we leave our homes for exercise or essentials we must keep two metres (6ft) away from others at all times. So far, police in England have issued more than 9,000 fines (CHK) under these new coronavirus laws – yet people are still flouting them. Although these rules are expected to be relaxed from next week, with a limit on exercise lifting and picnics and trips to rural areas to be allowed, police are concerned that this bank holiday weekend will spark another dangerous backlash against social distancing.
'We pray for this bad time to end': the steep cost of lockdown in South Africa
In country where half of population lives in poverty, coronavirus lockdown is causing mounting problems. “We had no chance to prepare, to get food, to get ready, to save some money. It is like I have been bound in chains … I understand it is [the same] for the whole world but we don’t know how or when we will solve [this disease],”
Spain’s Andalucia & Costa del Sol ask Government for changes to lockdown ‘outing’ timetable due to soaring temperatures
The Junta of Andalucia has approached the Central Government to request changes to the existing ‘outing’ timetable, announced last weekend, in order to protect families with young children from the soaring summer temperatures. Currently a parent can take out up to three children for an hour between the hours of 12pm and 7pm, but given the increasing heat the Junta is proposing a few changes to the existing lockdown ‘outing’ timetable.
Spain’s parliament votes to extend lockdown powers
Spain’s parliament has granted a government request to prolong the extraordinary legal order that underpins the country’s lockdown after fierce clashes in parliament and a last-minute deal with an opposition party.
Scientific Viewpoint
Easing French coronavirus lockdown will ‘spark second wave of cases’
France has been warned it faces an inevitable “second wave” of coronavirus as the country prepares to take its first significant steps out of lockdown. President Emmanuel Macron has already announced that schools and nurseries will progressively be reopened from Monday as part of a phased revival of activity. But Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus department at France’s Pasteur Institute, issued a word of caution. “There will be a second wave, but the problem is to which extent. Is it a small wave or a big wave? It’s too early to say,” he said.
COVID-19 surges in Russia, Brazil; WHO warns of huge death toll in Africa
With an ongoing surge of COVID-19 activity, Russia's total is now the world's fifth highest, as cases soared in parts of Brazil, another pandemic hot spot. And in another development, the World Health Organization (WHO) today warned that smoldering uncontained outbreaks in the first pandemic year in Africa could kill as many as 190,000 people.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Japan extends state of emergency amid fears over second wave
Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has extended the country’s state emergency until the end of the month, amid warnings that relaxing physical distancing advice too soon could flood already crowded hospitals with coronavirus patients. Abe declared a month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures on 7 April, enabling local governors to request that people avoid unnecessary trips outside and that non-essential businesses close. The measures have since been expanded nationwide, but they are far less restrictive than those introduced in the US and parts of Europe, with no fines or other penalties for those who do not comply.
New Lockdown
`If this thing boomerangs': Second wave of infections feared
As Europe and the U.S. loosen their lockdowns against the coronavirus, health experts are expressing growing dread over what they say is an all-but-certain second wave of deaths and infections that could force governments to clamp back down. “We’re risking a backslide that will be intolerable,” said Dr. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity. Elsewhere around the world, German authorities began drawing up plans in case of a resurgence of the virus. Experts in Italy urged intensified efforts to identify new victims and trace their contacts. And France, which hasn’t yet eased its lockdown, has already worked up a “reconfinement plan” in the event of a new wave.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 31st Mar 2021

Overnight News Roundup

World leaders, WHO back treaty to prepare for future pandemics

World leaders call for pandemic treaty
World leaders call for pandemic treaty, but short on details
More than 20 heads of government and global agencies called in a commentary published Tuesday for an international treaty for pandemic preparedness that they say will protect future generations in the wake of COVID-19. But there were few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and leaders including Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, Premier Mario Draghi of Italy and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda proposed “a renewed collective commitment” to reinforce preparedness and response systems by leveraging the U.N. health agency’s constitution.
Covid-19: World leaders call for international pandemic treaty
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has joined more than 20 world leaders in calling for a new global settlement to help the world prepare for future pandemics. In a newspaper article the leaders, including the German chancellor and French president, said Covid posed the biggest challenge since World War Two. The pandemic has shown "nobody is safe until everyone is safe", they said. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the UK would need a surplus of vaccines before it could export supplies.
World leaders, WHO back treaty to prepare for future pandemics
As the world battles the biggest health crisis in recent history, leaders of 23 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) have said an international treaty for pandemic preparedness will protect future generations. The idea of such a treaty, aimed at tightening rules on sharing information and ensuring universal and equitable access to vaccines, as well as medicines and diagnostics for pandemics, was first floated late last year by European Council President Charles Michel.
Scientists say ministers should ditch ‘rigid’ Covid rules and teach public how to reduce risk of transmission
Scientists say ministers to ditch ‘rigid’ Covid rules and teach public how to reduce risk of transmission
Ministers should stop telling people to stick to “rigid” coronavirus rules and instead focus more on explaining how they can reduce the risk of catching the disease, a senior Government scientist has said. The Government loosened Covid-19 restrictions today, implementing a new Rule of Six in England, allowing six people or two households to meet outdoors, including in private gardens. Scientists believe the next step in easing the measures could lead to a rise in Covid-19 cases as people will be more likely to bend the rules after three months of a winter lockdown.
Continued lockdown
Covid in Ireland: Further six weeks of lockdown expected
The government is expected to announce today a further six weeks of lockdown with a minor and gradual easing of restrictions over the course of April. The present guidelines were due to be relaxed next Monday, after more than three months of lockdown, but it is expected that any changes to public health measures will be limited. It is understood that the 5km exercise and travel limit will be relaxed to at least 10km from next week, and that two households will be allowed to meet outdoors later in the month.
Vienna Plans to Extend Easter Lockdown Until Following Weekend: Minister
Vienna plans to extend an Easter coronavirus lockdown by five days until the following Sunday, Austria's health minister said on Monday, while two nearby provinces introducing the same restrictions are still undecided on prolonging them. The eastern provinces of Lower Austria, which surrounds Vienna, Burgenland, which borders Hungary, and the capital itself last week announced a lockdown from Thursday, April 1 to Tuesday, April 6, closing non-essential shops and replacing a nighttime curfew with all-day restrictions on movement
Turkey tightens coronavirus measures, brings back weekend lockdowns: Erdogan
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced tighter measures against the coronavirus on Monday, citing the rising number of high-risk cities across the country. Erdogan said a full weekend lockdown was to be in place during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, and restaurants would only serve food for delivery and take-outs. A curfew from 9 pm until 5 am across the country will continue, Erdogan said. Turkey has recorded 32,404 new coronavirus cases in the space of 24 hours, the highest number this year, health ministry data showed on Monday.
Chile imposes lockdowns to fight new Covid wave despite vaccination success
Despite mounting the world’s fastest per-capita Covid-19 vaccination campaign, Chile has been forced to announce strict new lockdowns as it plunges deeper into a severe second wave of cases which is stretching intensive care capacity. Chile trails only Israel and the UAE in vaccine doses per 100 inhabitants worldwide, but new cases have risen quickly amid mixed health messaging, travel over the southern hemisphere summer holidays and the circulation of new variants.
Qatar health official calls for lockdown as COVID cases rise
A Qatari health official has called for a full lockdown in the country to stem the spread of the coronavirus as the country continues to report an increasing number of infections on a daily basis. Ahmed al-Mohammed, acting chairman of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Intensive Care Units, said on Monday that Qatar was witnessing a peak in the number of cases since the first wave, including a reportedly large number of infections among children under the age of 14.
Hospitals in Ecuador's capital overwhelmed by COVID-19 infections, doctors say
Ecuador’s health system is under severe strain from a spike in coronavirus infections, doctors in the country’s capital said on Tuesday, adding that some Quito hospitals are working above capacity to treat COVID-19 patients. Ecuador’s suffered a brutal outbreak of coronavirus in early 2020, primarily in the largest city of Guayaquil. Authorities controlled the situation after several months, but in recent weeks have seen cases jump in cities around the country. “The saturation of the health system is not only in Quito but at the national level,” Dr. Victor Alvarez, president of the doctors association of the state of Pichincha, where Quito is located, told reporters. “Seeing images of patients lying on the ground, or perhaps on a military mattress, receiving oxygen in emergency units, that’s sad.”
GSK to help manufacture 60m doses of Novavax Covid vaccine in UK
Manufacturing Johnson & Johnson vaccine partner Emergent still lacks FDA's manufacturing green light
The U.S. manufacturing partner turning out drug substance for Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is still waiting on an FDA green light, potentially putting a squeeze on J&J's supply pipeline. The FDA is weighing an emergency nod for Emergent BioSolutions, tapped in July 2020 to provide large-scale drug substance manufacturing for J&J's shot, Politico reported, citing two people familiar with the company's emergency use authorization process. The regulator could clear Emergent "very soon," one source said.
GSK to help manufacture 60m doses of Novavax Covid vaccine in UK
British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline will be part of the manufacturing process for up to 60m doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by US rival Novavax in an agreement set to boost UK production of coronavirus jabs. The vaccine has yet to receive the green light from UK regulators, but is expected to be submitted for approval over the next three months after showing strong efficacy in a recent late-stage trial, including against the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant circulating in the UK. Under an agreement in principle with Novavax and the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce, GSK will “fill and finish” 60m doses of the vaccine, preparing the vials and packaging the finished doses for distribution, the company said.
Novavax COVID-19 vaccine could be approved by UK in April, Evening Standard says
Britain could approve Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine next month, the chief investigator for the shot's trial told the Evening Standard newspaper. “The regulator will do a very detailed and thorough review and will decide in good time,” said Professor Paul Heath, chief investigator for the Novavax jab trial in the UK. “I would hope it would be in the spring, possibly end of April.”
COVID-19: Up to 60m vaccine doses to be manufactured at Barnard Castle, Boris Johnson says
Up to 60 million doses of COVID vaccine will be manufactured at Barnard Castle in the North East, Boris Johnson has announced. The prime minister revealed that the Novavax jab - which has yet to be approved - will undergo its "fill and finish" stage at a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) facility. Part of the vaccine is already being produced in the North East, at a Fujifilm site in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, as it awaits approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
New studies into vaccine effectiveness
Covid jab probably does protect those around you
The Covid-19 vaccine blocks pretty much all cases of serious illness - but the government has been much more cautious about saying whether it stops people carrying the virus and infecting others. Until evidence had built up from lots of people being vaccinated, scientists could not say for sure if the jab would stop transmission - and there was concern those vaccinated might stop taking precautions, potentially leading to a rise in infections. But with some now refusing the vaccine in the belief it will not stop them passing on the virus, is this caution becoming counterproductive? A number of people have contacted the BBC, saying they believe the jab could stop them becoming severely ill only.
T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants: U.S. study
A critical component of the immune system known as T cells that respond to fight infection from the original version of the novel coronavirus appear to also protect against three of the most concerning new virus variants, according to a U.S. laboratory study released on Tuesday. Several recent studies have shown that certain variants of the novel coronavirus can undermine immune protection from antibodies and vaccines. But antibodies - which block the coronavirus from attaching to human cells - may not tell the whole story, according to the study by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). T cells appear to play an important additionally protective role. “Our data, as well as the results from other groups, shows that the T cell response to COVID-19 in individuals infected with the initial viral variants appears to fully recognize the major new variants identified in the UK, South Africa and Brazil,” said Andrew Redd of the NIAID and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the study.
Covid: Half of UK has antibodies from vaccination or infection
Roughly half of people in the UK now have antibodies against Covid, either through infection or vaccination, tests conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. Most of this will be through vaccination - with 30 million people having received at least one dose. Antibodies are proteins in the blood which recognise specific infections and fight them off. Among the oldest who are most at risk, levels are even higher. But there has been a small decline in detectable antibodies in that group since the peak of infections in January.
No rare blood clots in first 440,000 people vaccinated for coronavirus in Wales
No cases of a blood clotting disorder have been found in the first 440,000 people vaccinated against Covid-19 in Wales. Scientists in Swansea University looked at anonymised patient data between January 1, 2019 and January 31, 2021 to determine whether there had been a rise in cases of venous sinus thromboembolism. The extremely rare condition was found in a small number of patients in Norway and Germany and was one of the reasons why several European countries decided to temporarily halt the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. However the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there has been no confirmation the reports of blood clots were caused by the vaccine.
Scientists warn new COVID mutations in a year as vaccines stall
Scientists warn new COVID mutations in a year as vaccines stall
Leading health experts from around the world warned the slow roll-out of vaccines and unequal distribution could mean the shots become ineffective as new coronavirus mutations appear within the next year. Seventy-seven scientists – from leading academic institutions from around the globe – participated in the survey with about 30 percent suggesting second-generation vaccines will be needed as soon as in nine months, unless vaccines become more widely produced and distributed around the world.
Celebrities urge Black Britons to take COVID vaccine
Celebrities urge Black Britons to take COVID vaccine
A group of celebrities is urging Black Britons to take a COVID-19 vaccine as concerns mount over a lag in uptake rates. Figures published on Monday by the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that more than 90 percent of people over the age of 70 nationwide had received their first dose of vaccine as of March 11.
Sir Lenny Henry has written an open letter urging black Britons to take the Covid-19 vaccine
Film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, author Malorie Blackman and radio DJ Trevor Nelson are among the signatories of an open letter written by Sir Lenny Henry urging black Britons to take the Covid-19 vaccine. In the letter, actor and comedian Sir Lenny acknowledged the "legitimate worries and concerns" that people feel, adding: "We know change needs to happen and that it's hard to trust some institutions and authorities." He said: "But we're asking you to trust the facts about the vaccine from our own professors, doctors, scientists involved in the vaccine's development, GPs, not just in the UK but across the world including the Caribbean and Africa.
Coronavirus: Brazil's Covid death rate TRIPLED among people in their 20s in February
Coronavirus: Brazil's Covid death rate TRIPLED among people in their 20s in February
Study could not definitely link the rising death rate to the new variant emerging. Brazilian hospitals have been overloaded in February and March, possibly adding to risk. Deaths have also approximately doubled in people in their 30s, 40s and 50s Brazil has had one of the worst Covid outbreaks in the world, after the U.S.
Berlin state hospitals stop giving AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to women under 55
Berlin state hospitals stop giving AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to women under 55
Berlin has stopped giving people under the age of 60 the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as a “precautionary measure”. It comes after the country's medical regulator announced 31 cases of rare blood clots in people who had recently received the vaccine. Nine of the people died. All but two of the cases involved women aged 20 to 63, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Germany's medical regulator, said. Several European countries stopped using the Anglo-Swedish firm's vaccine while investigating links with blood clots earlier this month.
Berlin suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine for below-60s
The German state of Berlin is again suspending the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for people below 60 over reports of blood clots. Berlin’s top health official, Dilek Kalayci, said on Tuesday that the decision was taken as a precaution before a meeting of representatives from all of Germany’s 16 states after the country’s medical regulator reported 31 cases of rare blood clots in people who had recently received the vaccine. Of them, nine people died.
Covid-19: 'Background fear' fewer young people will take vaccine
Covid-19: 'Background fear' fewer young people will take vaccine
There is a "background fear" uptake of a Covid-19 vaccine will reduce as the roll out moves to younger age groups, a leading GP has said. Various factors such as social media and rumours could influence people, according to the chairman of Northern Ireland's GP committee. However, Dr Alan Stout said there hadn't been a huge amount of vaccine hesitancy so far in Northern Ireland. "The numbers have been massively impressive," he said. Young men tended to be the hardest group to get "for any sort of healthcare intervention", added Dr Stout, with this trend likely to continue when it came to the coronavirus vaccine.
Covid: 'Madness' as hundreds descend on Nottingham park
Police have warned people to stick to coronavirus rules after large crowds were seen brawling and drinking in a city park on the day restrictions eased. Videos shared on social media showed some hugging and others pushing and shoving at Nottingham Arboretum. One local resident described the scenes on Monday as "horrendous". Police said they had now put a dispersal order in place to prevent similar scenes over the next few days. Since Monday morning, two households or groups of up to six people have been allowed to meet outside in England.
Covid: Secret filming exposes contamination risk at test results lab
Covid: Secret filming exposes contamination risk at test results lab
Secret filming at one of the biggest UK Covid testing labs has found evidence of potential contamination, discarded tests and pressure to hit targets. A BBC reporter working as a lab technician, filmed staff cutting corners and processing samples in a way that could cause contamination. This means some people who had taken a test via NHS Test and Trace may have received no result or a wrong result. The lab said it had followed all necessary rules and regulations. Evidence at the lab captured on film shows: Checks to ensure samples could be identified, were rushed, meaning tests were sometimes discarded unnecessarily. Some test samples "glooped" across an area where other samples had been placed, risking contamination. Swabs used by people to take Covid tests were left in their tubes when processed, presenting a further contamination risk. A quality control scientist telling the reporter that the quality of the results progressively got worse throughout the day. The findings have led experts to question the way the lab was operating.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 11th May 2020

News Highlights

Governments around the world are opting to accept the risks of easing pandemic-fighting restrictions in order to restart economies that have ground to a near halt. A huge number of people have been left without income or a saftey net, especially in countries in South Asia, where daily wage earners form a significant chunk of the workforce.

However, some countries that eased lockdown restrictions have seen an almost immediate spike in cases. Germany eased lockdown restrictions just days ago, and coronavirus cases jumped, with the reproduction rate for the virus - the estimated number of people a confirmed patient infects - now stands above 1. In South Korea, officials are searching for thousands of people who may have been infected in a cluster of cases linked to nightclubs and bars in the densely populated capital city of Seoul. In China, fresh cases were reported in the cities of Shulan and Wuhan, the city where the virus began at the end of last year. And Pakistan, which has just begun easing restrictions, saw a jump of 1,637 cases and 24 fatalities.

Italy, the first European nation to enter lockdown, is opening up slowly, but things are far from normal. Social distancing regulations allow bars and restaurants to only offer takeaway. Cafes are experiencing far less demand than usual for pastries and coffee, because patrons have to consume their items on the street, and not at the counter as they are used to. This is the 'new normal' that businesses and customers around the world will have to get used to.

Lockdown Exit
Italy, the first country in Europe to enter lockdown, starts to emerge
Magda vergari, co-owner of the Bar La Lastra in the hills above Florence, used to sell 80 to 100 pastries a day. “Now, I’m ordering 20,” she says gloomily. Despite an easing of Italy’s strict covid-19 lockdown on May 4th, her sales of coffee are also running at a quarter of the normal level. The problem is that customers are not allowed to enjoy their breakfast cappuccino and brioche at the counter. The new rules preserve social distancing, and only allow bars and restaurants to offer takeaways. Ms Vergari’s regulars must consume their purchases in the street outside
South Australia takes first steps toward opening up
The resumption of local sport and travel within South Australia are two of the state's top priorities. "We've got one shot to get this right, so there will be a sensible, logical easing of restrictions," Premier Steven Marshall said. But as the state opens up, it could still close down further to outsiders, with Police Commissioner Grant Stevens looking at toughening border restrictions even further.
No, Sweden isn't a miracle coronavirus model
We do know that Sweden’s COVID-19 journey hasn’t been exceptional. Like other countries, it has experienced a surge in deaths in care homes, where about one in three virus deaths are estimated to have taken place. Visiting relatives and staff are expected to "self-regulate” but, according to reports, they don’t always do so. The Swedes have also had a lack of systematic testing and equipment shortages. Things might have been even worse without the Swedes’ demographic and cultural defenses. This is a population that does social distancing already in many ways. More than half of the country lives in single-person households, working from home is common and access to fast broadband is everywhere. But Swedes are becoming increasingly unconcerned about keeping their distance as time goes on, as images of packed restaurants indicate. Public health officials have warned about their behavior. In Stockholm they’ve threatened to shut bars and restaurants.
Pakistan lifts lockdown amid jump in virus cases
The latest development comes two days after the prime minister Imran Khan said he was ending the lockdown in phases because his government was unable to financially help those millions of people who rely on their daily earnings to survive and feed their families. Khan says he tried to financially help the country’s poor amid the pandemic, but he was unable to support all those who lost their jobs due to the lockdown. So far, Khan has bowed to pressure from the country’s powerful clerical establishment by allowing mosques to remain open, even as the number of new cases has recently increased.
China’s export rose and imports plunged amid lockdown restrictions to curb the coronavirus
Even though China is curbing the virus spread, demand seems to be a major concern for the country, according to economists. Though there has been some rise in the demand, the low-income group have been the worst hit by the lockdown restrictions on movement. Services expenditure will be lower compared to last year as people would be reluctant to go to malls, to dine or to move along with family.
World gambles with looser lockdowns, risks coronavirus resurgence
With the new coronavirus exacting an economic toll unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s - wiping out millions of jobs and raising the spectre of unrest and hunger - governments around the world are trying to chart a way out of prolonged lockdowns and beginning to phase out restrictions. But without a vaccine or widespread testing to identify and isolate cases, health experts warn some leaders are taking a "gamble" that could result in a new surge of infections and deaths. "We are in uncharted territory," said Dr Annelise Wilder-Smith, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "Governments are having to strike a balance between this virus and the negative impacts of lockdowns on societies, including economic downturns, societal strife and mental health concerns. It's a large experiment."
Despite COVID-19 lockdown wiping off US$420bn from China's retail market, rebounding sentiment will boost H2 spend, say analysts
China started to ease the lockdown from 18 March 2020 and completely lifted it on 8 April 2020 in Wuhan city, the epicenter of the outbreak. Shopping malls, restaurants and retail stores in the country rushed to reopen to recover from the losses during lockdown. According to the Ministry of China, approximately 80% of restaurants and over 90% of commercial facilities had resumed operations across the country by 3 April. However, despite easing the restrictions, many consumers remain confined to homes due to the fear of infection, affecting businesses that are fully operational again but now do not have the required traffic to trade profitably. Customer traffic at a Walmart store in Shanghai had registered less than half of usual levels on 28 March, 10 days post lockdown, while electronics retailer Suning.com also received half of the usual customer volume at some of its physical stores. H&M recorded a sales decline of 23% for the week commencing 26 March 2020 against the same week in 2019 despite 99% of its stores being open.
The Latest: Pakistan lifts lockdown amid jump in virus cases
Pakistan has begun lifting the weeks-long lockdown that was enforced to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as authorities reported another big jump of 1,637 cases which rose to 27,474 with 24 new fatalities. Army soldiers who manned roadside checkpoints along with police since late March when the lockdown was enforced, were seen leaving for their barracks in the capital, Islamabad and elsewhere in the country on Saturday. The latest development comes two days after the prime minister Imran Khan said he was ending the lockdown in phases because his government was unable to financially help those millions of people who rely on their daily earnings to survive and feed their families.
The two countries that show life beyond lockdown isn't what people think it will be
Life as we know it in much of the world has been turned upside down by the coronavirus. But two countries have been widely held up as examples of how to handle a pandemic: South Korea and Germany. Their approaches were markedly different -- but each is now in the enviable position of being able to ease restrictions imposed to quash the spread of coronavirus with some confidence that infections won't immediately spike again. So how are they preparing to return to "normal" life? In one word: Cautiously. And those watching enviously from other countries may notice that much remains far from normal.
New coronavirus cases in China and South Korea as world lockdowns ease
China and South Korea both reported more coronavirus infections Friday after reopening economies damaged by devastating outbreaks. Governments around the world are opting to accept the risks of easing pandemic-fighting restrictions, that left huge numbers of people without income or safety nets. In the US, some governors are disregarding or creatively interpreting White House guidelines in easing their states’ lockdowns and letting businesses reopen.
France to start 'very gradual' easing of lockdown from May 11
France would start to ease restrictions on movement from next Monday through "a very gradual process" which would stretch over several weeks at least to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed on Thursday. "Following the data of the past few days, the gradual lifting of the confinement can be started on May 11. This is a new step in the fight against the epidemic," Philippe announced. "We must be very vigilant because an eventual resurgence of the virus will be very difficult for our country. That's why we opted for a progressive process," he stressed.
Lifting lockdown: what Britain can learn from the rest of the world
As Boris Johnson considers easing the lockdown, he will look at neighbouring countries to help inform his decision. To limit the spread of coronavirus, governments have mostly followed the same script: as deaths increase, restrictions on people are strengthened. However, the speed of implementation has varied widely between countries. New data helps to visualise how Britain stopped short of taking the same steps as its European neighbours. Collated by the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, the data records how quickly different countries reacted to the pandemic. Each is rated according to a “stringency index” on which stronger measures and more decisive action earn higher scores.
Coronavirus: Australia sets out three-point plan to lift lockdown by July
The country's Prime Minister Scott Morrison says states and territories have agreed a roadmap to remove most of the curbs.Using an Australian word for a duvet, Mr Morrison said: "You can stay under the doona forever. You'll never face any danger. "But we've got to get out from under the doona at some time." He said the states will set their own pace in easing coronavirus restrictions. Each step will likely be separated by a four-week transition.
Covid 19 coronavirus: Why New Zealand had to go into lockdown
The story and document explanation of why New Zealand acted swiftly and moved the country into lockdown to combat the coronavirus
France vows to 'test massively' as it relaxes lockdown
Olivier Veran said France will be able carry out 700,000 PCR tests a week for the virus from Monday when it begins the fraught process of relaxing its almost eight-week lockdown. The minister said the authorities—which have been heavily criticised for the lack of mass testing—now have enough capacity to cover the needs of the whole population.
Coronavirus Italy: Beaches open as lockdown eased
Italy began relaxing its coronavirus lockdown this week, after 50 days under one of Europe's strictest regimes. 4million people returned to work as public spaces were reopened and markets allowed to start trading. Social distancing continued after PM said freedom is dependent on people keeping each-other safe. Further easing will come on May 18 when Masses will restart, as governors push for shops to open sooner
Spain's Reopening Is Stricter Than America's Coronavirus Lockdown
Here in Spain, even easing measures leaves them stricter than in most of the United States.
Germany eases lockdown, with 'emergency brake' on hand if needed
Declaring an end to the first phase of the pandemic in Germany, Merkel said there was still a long way to go in the battle against the virus, which has battered Europe’s largest economy. The government will decide on an economic stimulus package in June, Merkel said, adding this was a “very ambitious” time frame.
How Singapore's second wave is exposing economic inequalities
Pandemics have a way of exposing softness in any national underbelly. “Epidemic diseases are not random events which afflict societies capriciously,” as Yale’s Frank Snowden writes in Epidemics and Society (2019), a book on the history of such diseases. “Every society produces its own specific vulnerabilities.” In Singapore’s case it took a few months for Covid-19 to hone in on the country’s migrant workers. Now those daily WhatsApp messages pointedly break down infections into subcategories, to make it clear that only a small proportion of cases are actually Singapore citizens. The vast majority of the rest fall within a group described as “work permit holders (residing in dormitories)”.
Anger as Italy slowly emerges from long Covid-19 lockdown
Last week, after Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, outlined plans to slowly ease the country’s quarantine, millions of people were overcome with feelings of anger and disappointment as their hopes were dashed by what many described as a “false reopening”. Italians will now be able to travel within regions to visit relatives, provided they wear masks, but schools, hairdressers, gyms and many other commercial activities will stay closed; cafes and restaurants will offer takeaways only; and all travel between regions will be banned except for work, health or emergency situations. Restrictions on funerals have been relaxed, with a maximum of 15 mourners allowed to attend, but masses and weddings will have to wait.
With Coronavirus Lockdown Lifted, Chinese Splurge on Big Luxury Brands
Overall spending by Chinese shoppers was down for the quarter, Mr. Guiony said. That is because Chinese shoppers do most of their luxury spending on trips abroad to European capitals, big U.S. cities and elsewhere. With international travel locked down, it is unclear when Chinese will have the chance, or the desire, to splurge again overseas.
Exit Strategies
UK coronavirus app could be 'ditched for different model' after trials
The UK could either “adapt” its coronavirus contact-tracing app or ditch it and “move to a different model”, after piloting it in the Isle of Wight and learning lessons from other countries. About 40,000 people in the Isle of Wight have been trialling the app, designed by an arm of the NHS, which alerts users if they have been near to a suspected case of coronavirus. However, there has been intense speculation the UK could have to change its app to a “decentralised” model favoured by Apple and Google, which stores data about movements on a user’s phone rather than centrally in an anonymised form with the government. Amid reports of teething problems with the app, Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, suggested changes could be on the way.
Boris Johnson's lockdown release leaves UK divided
Boris Johnson urged the country to take its first tentative steps out of lockdown this week in an address to the nation that was immediately condemned as being divisive, confusing and vague. In a speech from Downing Street, Johnson said if the circumstances were right, schools in England and some shops might be able to open next month, and the government was “actively encouraging” people to return to work if they cannot do so from home. But he stressed that this was “not the time simply to end the lockdown” and that he intended to take a cautious approach guided by the science, otherwise a second deadly wave of the “devilish” virus would take hold.
Brits to be asked to 'wear masks to work' as part of PM's master plan to ease lockdown
Boris Johnson is likely to ask Brits to wear face masks at work, on public transport and while shopping when he reveals his blueprint for how the coronavirus lockdown will be eased on Sunday
Lockdown exit plan for May 17: Govt may ready a negative list of prohibited activities
India may draw up a negative list of activities that are prohibited in order to help ease the country out of the lockdown. The strategy is aimed at opening up a bigger share of the economy and preventing the kind of confusion that’s allowed district administrations to be more restrictive than intended. The government permitted the resumption of many activities in two stages, on April 20 and May 4, but lack of clarity over the guidelines has meant the impact of this relaxation has been much less on the ground than it should have been.
World reacts to Scott Morrison’s ambitious plan to reopen Australia
In the UK, The Independent wrote that: “While the country has been hailed for successfully containing the disease and preventing local hospitals being swamped by coronavirus patients, the lockdown measures have still taken a devastating toll on the economy.” India Today credited border closures, thought to have “drastically slowed” the number of new infections, but insisted Australia’s economy wouldn’t escape unscathed. “It has taken a devastating toll on the economy, which is on course for its first recession in 30 years,” wrote the media outlet.
Coronavirus lockdown: The world reacts to Britain’s ‘incomprehensible’ response, botched testing and care home crisis
No country has been spared the ravaging coronavirus pandemic, but some have handled it better than others, and there is almost universal agreement amongst the world’s media that Britain’s response has been abysmal. As Britain this week recorded the highest death rate in Europe – and the second in the world behind the US – an incredulous foreign press described the situation using colourful invective: it is “a shambles”, “a nightmare” reflecting “negligence”, “complacency” and “stupidity”.
Australia's biggest states hold off relaxing COVID-19 lockdowns
Australia’s most populous states held back from relaxing coronavirus restrictions on Saturday although other states began allowing small gatherings and were preparing to open restaurants and shops.
Japan eyes lifting restrictions as coronavirus cases decline
Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who also serves as Japan's minister in charge of the coronavirus response, said on Friday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country is dropping, but before restrictions are lifted the slowdown in the pace of new infections must continue for a certain duration. Nishimura attributed the decline in new infections to efforts made by the public to adhere to the government requests including to refrain from going outside without good reason, work from home, significantly reduce human-to-human contact, avoid crowds and wear masks outside, among others.
Coronavirus: Challenge of reshaping UK cities for after lockdown
The UK government is urging the public to walk and cycle to work instead of using public transport or driving. It comes as people across the UK have told BBC News they are finding it impossible to stay safe outside because our cities were not built for social distancing. How we will travel while maintaining social distancing is one of the biggest challenges the government faces as it seeks to start to lift the lockdown. It has led communities, UK transport groups and public health experts to call for radical changes - some already happening globally - such as wider pavements, traffic restrictions and cycle networks.
Paths out of lockdown: questions Boris Johnson must answer
Boris Johnson will address the nation on Sunday to set out a road map for how England might leave the Covid-19 lockdown. Any immediate changes have been billed as modest and incremental, but people are expecting more details on how life could differ over the next few weeks. Here are the questions the prime minister needs to answer:
How do the UK nations differ over easing lockdown?
The Government has spoken of a "four-nations approach" to tackling the coronavirus crisis - where each UK country would ideally follow the same path and timings back to post-lockdown normality. But there have been signs of tensions between Downing Street and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - with warnings over "mixed messages" to the public. It follows reports Prime Minister Boris Johnson could allow sunbathing and picnics to be permitted in England from as early as Monday. This could mean the four nations will find themselves moving at different speeds as they move towards ending the full lockdown which was imposed on March 23, politicians have said.
Coronavirus UK: Four nationals split in approach to lifting lockdown
All four leaders have spoken of the desire to follow the same path and timings back to normality. But there have been ‘mixed messages’ this week with Nicola Sturgeon saying she must extend the lockdown in Scotland to stop a resurgence of the virus and Boris Johnson considering the return of some outdoor activities. The prime minister is said to be planning on offering the public ‘unlimited exercise’ and outdoor picnics from Monday as a reward for staying inside since March 23. Some businesses could also reportedly be given the green light to reopen in order to kickstart the UK economy.
Coronavirus: 'Modest' lockdown changes announced in Wales
People will be able to exercise outside more than once a day in Wales and some garden centres set to reopen, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said. Announcing only "modest" changes to the coronavirus lockdown, Mr Drakeford warned it was "too soon" to go further. The rest of the stay-at-home restrictions will be extended for another three weeks until 28 May.
Government eyes flexible furlough extension to get Britain back to work
The UK government is looking at the return of some furloughed workers on a part-time basis beyond June as Boris Johnson prepares to announce a road map this weekend to get Britain back to work. The prime minister is under pressure to ease restrictions and start to unlock parts of the economy amid dire warnings that the UK faces its worst recession in three centuries. Ministers have signalled to business leaders that the furlough scheme could be phased out gradually over the summer rather than end abruptly in June as planned, while bringing in greater flexibility to allow some workers to return part-time initially.
Boris Johnson to keep Britain in lockdown until June
Boris Johnson will keep Britain in lockdown until next month at the earliest after he was warned that outbreaks in care homes and hospitals made significant easing any sooner too dangerous. He is being urged by cabinet ministers to give specific dates by which elements of the lockdown can be lifted to avert a collapse of consumer and business confidence. The prime minister told the cabinet that he would proceed with “maximum caution”, with only modest and incremental changes to the restrictions before the end of this month. “It is baby steps taken slowly and only when it’s clear they can be taken,” said an ally familiar with the plans, which will be finalised today and tomorrow and outlined at 7pm on Sunday.
I Left Norway’s Lockdown for the US. The Difference Is Shocking.
Compared to Norway’s strict, early measures and rigorous testing, the US response to the pandemic has been catastrophic.
Coronavirus: Australia sets out three-point plan to lift lockdown by July
The country's Prime Minister Scott Morrison says states and territories have agreed a roadmap to remove most of the curbs.
South Australia’s countdown to lockdown lift
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has urged locals not to become complacent about the threat posed by the coronavirus as the state looks to lift some restrictions on daily life. SA will lift a raft of measures from Monday, allowing alcohol-free outdoor dining at cafes and restaurants and the resumption of outdoor sports training. Universities and TAFE colleges will be allowed to resume face-to-face learning, public swimming pools, places of worship and libraries can reopen, and open house inspections and home auctions will be permitted
Spain’s Army Predicts TWO More Coronavirus Outbreaks Ahead of Big Lockdown Easing
Spain's army is predicting two more coronavirus outbreak waves in the country, as lockdown restrictions get ready for a major phase of easing. The report was published in the ABC newspaper and said that it would take between 12 and 18 months for Spain to return to “normality.” The timings would also depend on when a vaccine is developed and administered.
Factbox: From hairdressers to beaches - Spain's plan to phase out lockdown
Spain has a four-phase plan to lift a coronavirus lockdown and return to normal by the end of June. Following are the key points of the plan, which will vary from province to province. Advancing through the stages depends on factors such as how the rate of infection evolves, the number of intensive care beds available locally, and compliance with distancing rules.
Spain Reports New Jump in Coronavirus Cases as Lockdown Eases
The country may be facing a patchy return to what Sanchez has dubbed the “new normal,” as regions still must individually seek authorization for their provinces to move to the next phase in gradually easing confinement measures. While regions such as the Balearic and Canary Islands reported fewer than 10 new daily infections in recent days and are pushing to relax restrictions in time to start the summer tourist season, Madrid and Catalonia, the country’s economic heartland, are still grappling with hundreds of new cases a day. Spain has the second-most extensive outbreak in the world, behind the U.S. and ahead of Italy, the original epicenter of the virus in Europe.
French epidemiologist says massive Covid-19 testing needed to ease lockdown
As France prepares to start easing lockdown measures put in place to curb the coronavirus pandemic, French Health Minister Olivier Véran said the country is ready to test up to 700,000 people per week. But for Parisian epidemiologist Catherine Hill, “testing patients with symptoms is just not enough”, she told FRANCE 24, since most people were infected by patients who had not yet symptoms or are completely asymptomatic. “The solution would be: we have to test much more wildly”, she added.
Easing lockdown in France: What's the difference if you live in a red and green département?
France has published its final 'coronavirus map' showing which départements are coloured red and green for when lockdown is eased on May 11th. But what will the difference be for those living in red or green départements?
France's gvt to ease Covid-19 lockdown measures but 'not a lot is being relaxed'
French government unveiled details as it is to ease coronavirus lockdown measures, including public transportation, the wearing of masks and labour conditions. But “not a lot is being relaxed”,
Work after coronavirus: how will it change when the lockdown is over?
The economist Jim Stanford has been working from home for two months. It is, he says, driving him crazy. He says: “You know I’m very fortunate – I’ve a comfortable apartment, I have a desk that I can use as a kind of quasi office and I’m in a safe and loving family environment. And despite all that, to tell you the truth, it’s driving me crazy. “I miss the human interaction and I find it stressful to be working in close quarters with the people that I love and live with who are also going about their business in different ways.
The calculus of death shows the COVID lock-down is clearly worth the cost
With health economics consultant Daniel West, I have attempted to estimate the numbers involved in Australia. In order to provide a strong challenge to the status quo of lock-down the estimates we have used for increased deaths from a lockdown-induced recession are at the high end of the likely scale. The estimates we have used for deaths from COVID19 if the lockdown ends are at the low end. Our analysis suggests that continuing strict restrictions in order to eradicate COVID-19 is likely to lead to eight times fewer total deaths than an immediate return to life as normal.
France Eases Lockdown in Europe’s Bid to Stem Economic Pain
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the country was ready for a nationwide plan to relax curbs on public life, though strict controls will remain on public transport in Paris, where infection rates are too high. Looser restrictions on businesses and stores will start coming into effect on Monday in a gradual process designed to avoid a second wave of infections. “We are always looking for a balance between the indispensable return to normal life and the indispensable respect of all measures that will prevent the epidemic from restarting,” Philippe said on Thursday, adding that restrictions could be reimposed if infections rise. “The target of all the French people is that we can live with this virus” until a cure is found.
Coronavirus UK: What will exit from lockdown look like
Boris Johnson has promised to set out a roadmap for lifting lockdown by the end of next week, but for many Brits, it’s hard to imagine how things can return to normal. It has been almost seven weeks since the stay at home order was issued, and though the daily death rates have finally started to decrease, the fight against coronavirus is far from over.
Partisan Exits
This end to COVID-19 lockdowns could only have been made in America
“We’re gonna learn a lot. These are all experiments,” sayid Ashish Jha, the director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute. Jha was among four infectious disease experts I spoke with who agreed that the varied — and possibly reckless — way reopenings are being managed state to state would provide information on the spread of the virus. They also seemed to agree the usefulness of the information would be somewhat limited.
Dominic Raab confirms ‘no change’ in UK coronavirus lockdown as top scientist says crucial reproduction rate rising
There has been “no change” in the Government’s guidance on social distancing, Dominic Raab has confirmed, as one of its top scientific advisers said the coronavirus reproduction rate was rising. Speaking after the latest three-weekly review of lockdown measures, the Foreign Secretary said Boris Johnson would use his Sunday address to the nation to set out a “road map” for how the curbs on normal life might eventually be eased. But he pleaded with Brits not to change their behaviour over the bank holiday weekend following a string of press reports that Mr Johnson will ease some measures on outdoor activity when he makes his speech.
Continued Lockdown
The law extending the state of health emergency in France re-adopted by Parliament
With the partial re-opening of much of France scheduled for 11th May the government extended its health emergency powers to allow it to manage the situation after the re-opening and cope with any eventuality
What does the end of India’s Covid-19 lockdown mean for you?
The lockdown has not ‘killed’ the virus and was never going to. We will have to learn to live with Covid-19, possibly until 2022. What that means is that the easing of restrictions appears to be coming primarily because the country simply can’t afford to be shut for much longer. The effects on livelihoods and indeed lives would be too much, even if there is a clear explanation of what has changed now versus, say, three weeks ago. However, this lack of a clear approach leaves open the possibility that what are now cluster containment zones – areas with a high number of cases where full lockdowns remain in place – will continue to grow if case counts go up.
Explained: India enforced one of the strongest lockdowns, here’s how it stacks up against other countries
University of Oxford quantifies that. The Stringency Index has found that India indeed had one of the strongest lockdown measures in the world — at a 100 score since March 22. It was relaxed slightly on April 20 after the government eased norms for certain workplaces in regions outside the red zones. It is among the metrics being used by the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker. The Tracker involves a team of 100 Oxford community members who have continuously updated a database of 17 indicators of government response. These indicators examine containment policies such as school and workplace closings, public events, public transport, stay-at-home policies. The Stringency Index is a number from 0 to 100 that reflects these indicators. A higher index score indicates a higher level of stringency.
Scientific Viewpoint
Early Covid lockdown in China could have reduced cases: Study
Published in the science journal Nature, this week, the researchers said – in a rare argument based on a mathematical model -- that earlier implementation of “non-pharmaceutical interventions” (NPIs) could have also reduced the “geographical range of the outbreak”.
‘It's painful but it's worth it' - editor of The Lancet says lockdown shouldn't be lifted until June 1
The editor of the medical journal The Lancet has urged the government not to end lockdown too early, saying it should continue until June 1. Richard Horton, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, said while an extra few weeks of lockdown would be “painful” they would be worth it. Horton’s comments on the BBC’s Political Thinking with Nick Robinson, in which he was questioned about his stance on the handling of the virus in the UK, come just days before Boris Johnson is expected to set out a roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Global report: Madrid told not to ease lockdown as Italy warns rule-breakers
The Spanish government has refused the Madrid region permission to loosen its coronavirus confinement, as angry officials in Italy issued a warning that they would not hesitate to reimpose strict lockdown restrictions if distancing rules were flouted. The Spanish health ministry said the area in and around the capital was not yet ready to move to the next phase of de-escalation, 24 hours after the regional public health director resigned over the regional government’s bid to loosen the lockdown from Monday.
'Now it starts again': new coronavirus outbreaks spark unease in China
Cases rise in Shulan, near the Russian border, and in Wuhan, where stringent lockdown measures had been eased in recent weeks
Coronavirus: PM's plan to reopen primary schools by 1 June 'reckless', says teaching union
The prime minister's suggestion that some children could start returning to schools in England from 1 June has been described as "reckless" by the largest teaching union. In a pre-recorded address to the nation on Sunday, Boris Johnson said the start of next month was the earliest possible date to consider sending pupils back to class.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Germany: Coronavirus transmission rate rises above 1
Germany's coronavirus infection quota has jumped beyond one, just days after federal and regional authorities eased restraints. Keeping the patient 'reproduction rate' down is decisive, say epidemiologists.
South Korea braces for second wave of COVID-19 pandemic
South Korean president Moon Jae-in urged citizens not to lower their guard against the coronavirus in order to avert a second wave of infections. South Korea reported 34 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours, just days after easing restrictions.
Coronavirus: Germany infection rate rises as lockdown eases
Coronavirus infections are rising in Germany, official data shows, just days after the country eased its lockdown restrictions. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the reproduction rate - the estimated number of people a confirmed patient infects - is now above 1. This means the number of infections is now rising in the country. The report came as thousands of Germans gathered on Saturday calling for a total end to the lockdown.
German towns bring back lockdown after coronavirus spike
Local authorities postponed lifting lockdown measure after a spike in virus cases States will reimpose lockdown if new cases his 50 per 100,000 over seven days. Three different regions in Germany have seen new cases surpass that threshold. Towns have postponed reopening restaurants, tourist spots and fitness studios

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 12th May 2020

News Highlights

Millions of people across Europe continue to take the first slow, tentative steps to reopening their economies after months of lockdown. Several countries eased lockdown measures on Monday, including France, Spain and the Netherlands, where leaders have allowed the reopening of shops, schools and salons.

The UK government announced a series of adjustments to its lockdown Sunday night, including allowing unlimited outdoor exercise and encouraging more people to return to work. However, the statement from Boris Johnson was criticised as being vague and confusing, with contradictory instructions and opaqueness on what citizens can and cannot do. This is despite it being set out in a 50-page document called, 'Covid-19 Recovery Strategy,' published by the government, which detailed the tests which needed to be passed for the lockdown to be gradually wound down. Additionally, the government now recommends people wear face masks on public transport,and in stores, and they are allowed to link up to one other household in a 'social bubble.'

Meanwhile, cases around the world continue to rise. Zambia has recorded 100 cases within the past twenty-four hours, a development which comes immediately after the reopening of its economy. More worryingly, a month after lockdown was lifted in Wuhan city, where the global pandemic began late last year, a cluster of new infections has occured, pushing authorities into a fresh wave of mass-testing, sparking fears that a second wave of infection may be inevitable.

Lockdown Exit
COVID-19 Cases Increase After Lockdown Suspension In Zambia
Zambia has recorded 100 cases of the novel coronavirus within the past twenty-four hours a development which comes immediately after that country’s president, Edgar Lungu had reopened the economy.
Wear face coverings, UK says, as lockdown easing mired in confusion
Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a cautious plan on Monday to get Britain back to work, including advice on wearing home-made face coverings, though his attempt to lift the coronavirus lockdown prompted confusion and even satire. The United Kingdom has one of the world's highest official COVID-19 death tolls and, after criticism that he was slow to impose a lockdown, Johnson is wary of triggering a second wave of infection. "Our challenge now is to find a way forward that preserves our hard-won gains while easing the burden of lockdown," he told the House of Commons. "This is a supremely difficult balance."
Stay away from Lake District despite easing of lockdown, police say
Police in the Lake District have urged people to “take a long hard look at your own conscience” and stay away from the national park – despite the prime minister telling people they can drive to beauty spots for exercise in England from Wednesday. Parts of Cumbria have the highest coronavirus infection rates in the UK, prompting fears that the relaxation of lockdown will lead to a further spike.
Confusion in Italy as it enters 'Phase Two' lockdown
Italy finds itself divided at the beginning of the so-called "Phase Two" of its lockdown. Some like the 'new normal' based on the measures announced by prime minister's Giuseppe Conte's government, while others do not. Experts, lobbies, and citizens consider some of its aspects both arbitrary and unreasonable . From last Monday (4 May), for instance, it is now allowed to visit family members - provided they live in the same region. "The law allows me to visit my second cousin, whom I only meet at Christmas, but not my dearest friend, whom I have known since I was nine-years old", complains Francesca, a 27-years-old Sicilian shop assistant, to EUobserver.
'We cannot afford another lockdown': Italy's cautious return to work
Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and it is now one of the first beginning to ease its draconian lockdown measures to lessen the economic damage of the crisis. Last Monday the country began cautiously moving out of its tough lockdown with factories, building sites and offices reopening and citizens allowed to leave their houses for exercise. The government has planned a phased reopening with shops allowed to open from 18 May and restaurants and bars scheduled to re-open fully in June.
Outdoor terraces open as lockdown eases in much of Spain
Spaniards returned to outdoor terraces at cafes and bars on Monday as around half of the country moved to the next phase of a gradual exit from one of Europe's strictest lockdowns.
Gloved and masked, Belgians head back into shops after lockdown
Belgium allowed most of its shops to reopen on Monday with strict hygiene rules for customers, following in the footsteps of Spain in an easing of its eight-week lockdown as the number of COVID-19 cases fall.
Spanish regions poised to exit lockdown
Spain is finally ready to begin lifting its strict lockdown restrictions after being forced into quarantine for the last couple of months in the wake of the spread of COVID-19. Late last week, the Spanish government unveiled a detailed map revealing which parts of the country will be allowed to advance to the first stage of the government’s plans for lifting the restrictions.
Uncertainty looms as more businesses open in Spain under Phase 1
Spanish restaurants, cafés and stores were preparing to reopen or expand business on Monday as parts of the country moved into Phase 1 of the coronavirus deescalation plan. The move comes with a series of conditions to prevent a spike in transmission after Covid-19 deaths and infections declined from their peak in early April.
Coronavirus: Midnight opening for hair salon to mark France’s emergence from lockdown
So eager was Marc Mauny to reopen his hair salon after nearly two months of lockdown that he threw open its doors at the stroke of midnight on Monday and promptly received his first customer. As France battled to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, Mr Mauny's salon in Mayenne, about 167 miles west of Paris, had to close under a government order that allowed only food stores, tobacconists and pharmacies to keep trading. A scheme to gradually relax the restrictions means that starting from 11 May, other business can now reopen, providing they put in place safety precautions.
France School Reopening Offers Dystopian Window Into Post-Lockdown Lessons
Teachers and parents in France have voiced concerns about president Emmanuel Macron’s controversial decision to reopen schools on Monday. Under strict protocols imposed by the government, parents will need to take the temperature of their children before arriving at school, lesson times will be staggered to avoid student contact, and class sizes will be limited to allow for a metre (3.2ft) spacing between desks. Despite being one of the countries hardest hit by coronavirus, France is one of a handful of western European nations to restart lessons, with Italy and Spain both delaying the return of students until at least September, while the UK is yet to give a date on the resumption of classes.
Shops and salons return as France eases its coronavirus lockdown
France took its first steps out of lockdown today as shops, factories and hair salons reopened amid alarm over scenes of overcrowding on public transport. People were also being allowed to travel up to 60 miles from their homes and some schools and nurseries were permitted to reopen. The relaxation of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns is due to be followed by further measures over the coming weeks to take the country closer to normality after recording 26,383 deaths and 177,094 cases.
'I'm a little frightened': Parisians edge their way out of lockdown
It nearly did not happen at all. According to local media, the government hesitated until the last minute before finally confirming last week it would lift the lockdown in the French capital and its surrounding area, the country’s most densely populated region and the hardest hit by Covid-19. Unlike most of the rest of France, classified green, and to a much greater extent than the three other regions coloured red for high-risk – broadly the country’s north-east quarter – the coronavirus is still circulating in and around Paris, where Covid-19 patients currently account for more than 10% of admissions to emergency care wards.
Outdoor terraces open as lockdown eases in much of Spain
Fearing a resurgence in cases if restrictions imposed in mid-March are lifted too quickly, the authorities decided that neither the capital Madrid nor Barcelona -- the two worst affected regions -- would be included on Monday in this first phase. A region can progress to the next phase depending on the evolution of the pandemic -- which has claimed nearly 27,000 lives in Spain -- as well as the capacity of its health care system to respond to a fresh wave of infections. One of the worst-hit countries, Spain plans a phased transition through to end-June to the end of its lockdown measures.
Live: Millions cautiously emerge from eight-week lockdown in France
France cautiously emerged from one of Europe's strictest coronavirus lockdowns on Monday, allowing non-essential shops, factories and other businesses to reopen for the first time in eight weeks. Schools in France will be re-opened in phases and people can now leave home without government paperwork, although documentation is still needed for rush-hour travel around Paris. Although some trains and stations in the wider Paris region have been worryingly crowded, France's first day post-lockdown is "going as it should", the country's transport secretary, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said. The government has called for caution to avoid a sudden spike in cases amid the lifting of restrictions.
Coronavirus live: France takes first tentative steps out of lockdown
Coronavirus infection rates will rise after lockdown rules relaxed, says French MP. Boris Johnson under fire for 'confused' lockdown strategy speech. Spain loosens restrictions further but prime minister warns of danger that virus could spread Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Norway, Switzerland and Ukraine also easing lockdowns to various degrees More than 130 detained after protests against coronavirus restrictions in Germany
Coronavirus: Relief and fury as France comes out of lockdown
France took its first tentative steps out of lockdown today amid widespread criticism of President Macron’s handling of the pandemic. Restrictions were eased to allow the opening of businesses, shops and primary schools, but many employees stayed at home amid concern that a return to work could provoke a new wave of infections. Fears that the end of the lockdown would lead to congestion on roads around Paris proved unfounded at rush hour, a clear sign that people had continued to work from home.
In the press - ‘Return to abnormal’: French newspapers mark the end of lockdown
As France ends this nearly two-month lockdown period, many papers are taking a moment to recognise the essential workers that made it possible for us to get through it. "Thank you for everything" is the front-page headline from 20 Minutes. Papers are saluting healthcare workers, but also cashiers, custodians, delivery drivers and volunteers. "If we’re starting up again it’s thanks to them," writes Le Parisien. The paper is being sold along with a single-use mask today for readers in the Paris area.
Germany: Infection R-rate still above 1, but restrictions still lifted
Germany's coronavirus reproduction rate has remained above 1 for the third day in a row. The news comes as lockdown measures are being relaxed across the country.
Can I visit my family and friends? Australia’s coronavirus lockdown rules and restrictions explained
Can you get takeaway coffee with a friend? What about visiting your family or parents, or going fishing? Laws to stop spread of Covid-19 seem to change daily and in some states carry a big fine. Untangle them with our guide
Australians less ideological about COVID lockdown than Americans
Voters in Australia are far less partisan in their support of lockdown measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 than their American counterparts. Research led by the United States Study Centre at the University of Sydney has found that Republican Party voters in the US are more likely to oppose lockdowns than their Democrat counterparts. In Australia, the measures have received far greater bipartisan support. Researchers attributed the united support in Australia to the bipartisan backing and trust in advice from medical experts.
Exit Strategies
Coronavirus in Scotland: Germany's variable exit from lockdown could suit us, hints Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has signalled plans to lift lockdown restrictions at different speeds in the regions of Scotland. The first minister said that regional variation was not unusual in Europe, citing Germany, which has a relatively low death rate and one of the most decentralised healthcare systems in Europe. German experts say the federal system has allowed its states — called lander — to act decisively to control the outbreak. Boris Johnson was criticised for making a UK-wide broadcast advising citizens to return to work and relax in parks, without making it clear that this does not apply in Scotland where Covid-19 is spreading more widely. Ms Sturgeon said: “If you look across Europe, the different lander in Germany are doing things at different speeds.
Coronavirus: New Zealand to reopen shopping malls, cinemas and cafes from Thursday
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern thanks ‘team of five million’ ahead of relaxation of lockdown rules, but warns: ‘The battle is won, but the war is not over’ as New Zealand prepares for a partial opening up of the economy
People south of border could be mixing in social 'bubbles' as UK Govt reveals roadmap to easing lockdown curbs
People in England have been told to stay away from Scotland and respect the stricter health guidance in place north of the border. The guidance comes in the UK Government’s new 50-page roadmap, Our Plan to Rebuild, which lays out an easing of some restrictions in England and Wales, allowing people to engage in more leisure activities like golf and tennis, provided the social distancing rules are applied. The wearing of face masks on public transport and in restricted public settings like small shops is recommended as a complement to and not a substitute for social distancing.
Scots urged not to get distracted by lockdown messages from elsewhere in UK
Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to “try not to get distracted” by messages from other parts of the UK as she stressed the message in Scotland is to stay at home. The First Minister said Scots “shouldn’t be going out except for essential purposes”, with the only change the removal of the once-a-day limit on exercise, as she announced the death toll among people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland has risen by five to 1,862.
Plan to lift Britain out of lockdown revealed in 50-page 'roadmap'
A 50-page document setting out how the UK’s lockdown will gradually be wound down has been published by the Government. The ‘Covid-19 Recovery Strategy’ says people should wear face coverings on public transport and in some stores while people may be able to link up with one other household in a ‘bubble’. Non-essential retail could open no earlier than June 1 if businesses are proven to be safe enough for shoppers. Cultural and sporting events including the Premier League will be able to take place behind closed doors for broadcast from next month, avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact. Businesses like hairdressers, beauty salons, restaurants, pubs, cinemas and places of worship could open from July 4 if they meet ‘Covid secure’ requirements.
Coronavirus lockdown: what are the new rules announced by Boris Johnson?
The most significant immediate change is Johnson formally urging people who cannot work at home - for example in construction - to return to their jobs from Monday. Johnson said such people “should be actively encouraged to go to work”, while trying to avoid public transport and maintaining physical distancing. While the PM says every workplace should be “Covid-secure”, the plan for more people returning to work will bring fresh warnings from unions about the predicament of staff who feel they are not being kept safe.
Coronavirus: How lockdown rules now differ between Scotland and England
Boris Johnson's changes to lockdown in England and plans to restart the economy have opened up differences with Scotland. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says her key approach remains the "stay at home" message, but she has given an indication of what might happen in her "Looking beyond lockdown" document. The prime minister has also outlined what the future holds in his "Our plan to rebuild" strategy. So how do the approaches differ?
UK lockdown: Can I see my family and friends under new coronavirus rules?
There was no mention of people being allowed to see those outside of their own households - friends and family - despite people being allowed to go back to work. And, as weeks without any contact with relatives shift into months, concerns over mental health and loneliness are growing with many people desperate for the restrictions to ease. So, what do the new rules mean for seeing family and friends?
Public advised to wear face coverings under lockdown easing plan
People should “wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops”, the government document says. Children under the age of two should not have their faces covered, and nor should any of primary age who do not have somebody with them who is supervising them. This is aimed at preventing people who have the virus but are not experiencing symptoms from passing it on to others.
Merkel: We must stick to basic rules even as coronavirus lockdown eases
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday stressed that people needed to continue keeping their distance from one another and covering their mouths and noses even as Germany eases some of the restrictions it had imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. “It’s very important to me to again draw attention to the fact that we’re entering a new phase of the pandemic and that it will now be necessary, with all the easing of measures, to be sure that people stick to the basic rules i.e. keeping their distance, wearing mouth and nose protection and showing consideration for each other,” Merkel told reporters
When will hairdressers open? Date salons could reopen in UK as government issues new lockdown guidelines
The leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not replacing the “stay home” message with Johnson’s new “stay alert” slogan. The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has instead ordered those in Scotland to follow different advice on outdoors exercise. Although this will now be unlimited, Sturgeon said there must be “no sunbathing, picnics or barbecues”, which is in contrast to Johnson’s new advice.
Sport after lockdown: what does the future of sport look like?
On Sunday evening, the Government announced a slight easing of the lockdown, permitting an increase in daily exercise. Some recreational sports can resume, so long as it is with members of your own household or one person from outside your household. That rules out team sports. Taking new guidelines and the most recent updates into account, we look at what the future may have in hold for sport and how it may have to be adapted to a variety of challenges, in the next few months.
No quarantine for people travelling between UK and France
Officials yesterday confirmed anyone flying into the UK will have to go into isolation for 14 days to help minimise the spread of coronavirus. But Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron issued a statement after speaking on the phone on Sunday setting out a mutual exemption between their two countries. While the announcement raises the prospect of holidays in France this summer becoming viable, they said the agreement could be revised in the coming weeks.
France's emergency law is delayed despite relaxing of coronavirus lockdown
In the absence of clarity, the government instead appealed to French people “to be responsible” to prevent them exploiting the gap in legislation and gallivanting hundreds of kilometres across the country. However, the confusion created queues in some meto stations in the Paris region, where commuters are obliged to show a work certificate for travel between 06:30 to 09:30 and 16:00 to 19:00 local time. Those rules will now be enforced from Wednesday and anyone failing to show a valid work certificate will be fined, according to Valérie Pécresse, the Ile de France regional president.
Europe eases lockdown: Which countries are lifting coronavirus restrictions today?
Millions of people across Europe woke up to a relaxation of lockdown measures on Monday, with several countries taking their first steps this week towards a return to normality. The UK government announced a series of adjustments to its lockdown on Sunday night, including allowing unlimited outdoor exercise and encouraging more people to return to work, in a statement from Boris Johnson which was criticised as vague and confusing. Meanwhile in countries such as France, Spain and the Netherlands, leaders have gone further and allowed the reopening of shops and schools.
French Health Minister warns lockdown easing could be reversed
France could reverse the relaxation of its nationwide lockdown if there was a resurgence of the new coronavirus outbreak, Health Minister Olivier Veran warned on Monday. “If the virus were to resume its wild race, we would again take lockdown measures,” Veran told BFM television. France, with the world’s fifth-highest death toll, has enforced an eight-week lockdown since March 17 to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. It is gradually lifting those restrictions from Monday. Commenting on the recent discovery of new clusters of infection in the country, Veran said: “I am not surprised. It shows we are going to have to live with the virus. The more vigilant we are collectively, the fewer clusters we will have.
Global report: Covid-19 lockdown rules relax in European nations amid confusion in UK
In France, from Monday members of the public were able to walk outside without filling in a permit for the first time in nearly eight weeks, teachers will start to return to primary schools, and some shops – including hair salons – will reopen. Bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas will, however, remain closed. In Spain, urban hotspots such as Madrid and Barcelona remain under lockdown – but elsewhere people made plans to meet friends and family in bars and restaurants that have outdoor spaces.
New Zealand to end coronavirus lockdown
New Zealand will phase out its coronavirus lockdown over the next 10 days after successfully containing the virus, although some restrictions will remain, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday. Ardern said that from Thursday shopping malls, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds will reopen -- with the country moving to Level Two on its four-tier system. The 39-year-old leader warned "none of us can assume COVID is not with us" but said New Zealand currently had only 90 active cases after a seven-week lockdown.
France, Spain ease virus lockdowns but UK wary
In France, people from Monday morning were able to walk outside without filling in a permit for the first time in nearly eight weeks, teachers will start to return to primary schools, and some shops—including hair salons—will reopen. Bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas will, however, remain closed. Spaniards outside of urban hotspots such as Madrid and Barcelona—which remain under lockdown—made plans to meet friends and family in bars and restaurants that have outdoor spaces.
British Medical Association - Government’s ‘road map out of lockdown’ is too fast, too confusing and too risky, says BMA
“The Westminster Government’s plan to ease certain aspects of lockdown in England is too fast, too confusing and too risky. “As the Prime Minister said in his address to the nation tonight, the death toll in this country has indeed been tragic, and it would be irresponsible to allow any chance of a second spike of this virus, however, these measures risk doing just that. “There is no detail of how those being asked to return to work will be protected from the infection or prevented from infecting others and there are mixed messages about returning workers not using public transport when many will not own cars. These pose serious risks of further spread of the infection.
New Zealand deserves level 2, with all of its confusing weirdness
At 11.59pm on Wednesday our long national nightmare comes to an end. Sort of. After 49 days in some form of lockdown things will suddenly get a lot more normal. You can go shopping, go to the movies, go out for dinner, go out for a haircut, go out to play sport, fly around the country, and best of all - go out to see friends and family. But some large restrictions remain, some of them jarringly out of step with each other. Those gatherings will be limited to 10 people, down from an initial limit of 100 - meaning anyone who has put off their wedding until now will probably not be happy. Schools won't fully open until Monday, and bars will remain closed for another week.
Four 'Avatar' sequels start filming at the same time as New Zealand lifts lockdown restrictions
The coronavirus locdown is over in New Zealand, with government approving new health and safety measures. With the resumption of business activities in the country, The "Avatar" sequels are also likely to resume production. The government has allowed TV and movie productions and other activities after successfully handling the situation created by the coronavirus pandemic.
White House requires masks for staff, Western states ask for $1 trillion in aid
As more foreign and state governments outline the early stages of reopening, World Health Organization officials say countries that have already lifted lockdowns saw a jump in Covid-19 cases. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said some of the state’s restrictions will lift on Friday, and LA County beaches were set to reopen Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration continues to fast-track coronavirus-related treatments and tests: A faster, cheaper Abbott Labs test was granted emergency use approval.
Partisan Exits
Dominic Raab adds to confusion over changes to UK lockdown rules
The confusion over Boris Johnson’s request for people to return to work if they can has continued, as the foreign secretary said changes would be introduced on Wednesday, not Monday as initially stated. The prime minister made a televised address to the nation on Sunday evening setting out his roadmap out of the coronavirus lockdown. He said that those who could not work from home were being “actively encouraged” to return to work, prompting a backlash from unions who said there was insufficient guidance in place to keep people safe. “How can the prime minister – with 12 hours’ notice – tell people they should be going back to sites and factories? It’s a recipe for chaos,” said the TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady.
Anti-lockdown protests threaten Germany's coronavirus battle: politicians
Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to Germans on Monday to stick to social-distancing rules to slow down the coronavirus pandemic after data suggested the disease was spreading faster again.
The UK’s new lockdown rules are another coronavirus comms mess
The government’s coronavirus communication strategy has been a mess of dodgy briefings, reversals and corrections galore. Yesterday’s performance was the worst yet
What Kent made of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's lockdown easing announcement including new rules on working and suggestion on schools reopening
It would be fair to say Boris Johnson's lockdown announcement on Sunday left a lot of people scratching their heads. Delivered 49 days since he implemented the measures for many it raised more questions than it answered - questions KentOnline has helped with here.
Continued Lockdown
Spike in China and South Korea figures while Germany feels lockdown tensions
China and South Korea reported new spikes in coronavirus cases, setting off fresh concerns in countries where outbreaks had been in dramatic decline, and new protests against pandemic restrictions erupted in Germany despite the easing of many lockdowns in Europe. In the United States, former President Barack Obama harshly criticised his successor Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as an “absolute chaotic disaster”. The United States has seen 1.3 million infections and nearly 80,000 deaths in the pandemic, the most in the world by far, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, health officials are anxiously watching to see just how much infection rates rise in a second wave as nations and states emerge from varying degrees of lockdown. China reported 14 new cases on Sunday, its first double-digit rise in 10 days.
Germany: Politicians worry about radicalization at anti-lockdown protests
After a weekend of demonstrations across Germany, lawmakers worry that they are being used to spread far-right and anti-vaccine ideologies. Attacks on journalists and police have also been on the rise.
The UK reacts to new coronavirus lockdown rules: 'I live in Wales, I can't visit my family in England but if I lived in France I could'
Little Britain star Matt Lucas summed up the mood of the nation with an impersonation of Boris Johnson following his controversial speech to the nation last night about the lifting of some coronavirus lockdown rules. In a video posted on Twitter he said: "So we are saying don't go to work, go to work, don't take public transport, don't go to work. Stay indoors, if you can work from home go to work, don't go to work. Go outside, don't go outside. And then we will or won't something or other."
Coronavirus: French arrivals exempt from UK quarantine plans
Passengers arriving from France will be exempt from forthcoming UK coronavirus quarantine measures. Boris Johnson said on Sunday the rules would be imposed on people coming into the UK, to prevent Covid-19 being brought in from overseas. As yet, no start or end date for the measures has been announced. The government has already indicated that people arriving from the Republic of Ireland will not be made to go into quarantine. However, the measures will apply to UK holidaymakers returning from other destinations
Coronavirus: 'Do not drive from England to Wales to exercise'
People have been warned they are not allowed to drive from England into Wales for exercise as the two countries move to different lockdown rules. Rules have been relaxed in England, meaning people can "drive to other destinations". In Wales, people cannot travel "a significant distance" from home. Police forces in Wales have the power to fine people for making non-essential journeys and that includes those travelling from England into Wales.
Scientific Viewpoint
Mexican border town uses ‘sanitizing tunnels’ to disinfect US visitors from Covid-19
The Mexican border city of Nogales, Sonora, has set up ‘sanitizing tunnels’ to disinfect people leaving the US through Nogales, Arizona. On the Mexican side of two major border crossings, drivers coming from Arizona must exit their vehicles and step into an inflatable tunnel that sprays them with a cleansing solution. The border city’s mayor has told Mexican news outlets that a majority of the people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Nogales, Sonora, had recently returned from the US
Doctors and police warn of new coronavirus wave as UK lockdown weakens
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Police officers will continue to do their best, but their work must be based on crystal clear guidance, not loose rules that are left open to interpretation – because that will be grossly unfair on officers whose job is already challenging. If the message of what is expected of the public is not clear then it will make the job of policing this legislation almost impossible.”
Coronavirus Resurgence
Coronavirus: Wuhan in first virus cluster since end of lockdown
New coronavirus clusters have been reported in Wuhan city - where the virus first emerged - and the north-eastern province of Jilin in China. Wuhan reported five new cases on Monday, after confirming its first case since 3 April on Sunday. Authorities said the small cluster of cases were all from the same residential compound. China has been easing restrictions in recent weeks and cases had been declining. Health authorities and experts have warned that as countries emerge from strict lockdowns and people move around more freely, a rise in infections is likely.
Germany eases lockdown, but renewed virus spread leaves government concern
Germany is moving ahead to ease restrictions on its lockdown, though fears remain for a second wave. Correspondent Nick Spicer reports that while the country has recorded the smallest number of new Covid-19 infections in six days, its leading tracking agency reported over the weekend an increase in the virus reproduction rate to above 1.
France urges vigilance in easing lockdown after clusters detected in low-infection 'green' areas
France has called for “vigilance” after uncovering two coronavirus "clusters" in supposedly low-infection "green" areas a day before easing lockdown nationwide. The first cluster in was detected in Dordogne, southwestern France, after throngs attended a funeral, and another in the Vienne, western France, among school staff who had met to prepare re-opening a lower secondary school. After two months of draconian confinement, France is on Monday due to begin easing confinement restrictions, with 400,000 businesses re-opening along with most shops and nursery and primary schools. The maximum distance people can move from home will rise to 100km up from one.
Germany's infection rate rises above one after they ease lockdown
Fears that Germany might have begun to open up its economy too soon as reproduction rate rises quickly in just three days
Germany’s coronavirus infections rise again just days after lockdown eased
Coronavirus infections are on the rise in Germany again days after lockdown restrictions were eased, official data suggests. The virus’ spread cannot be accurately tracked in real-time, so available data is used to estimate the number of people each confirmed patient infects, known as the reproduction rate. A new report indicated the rate in Germany is now above 1, meaning the number of infections could be growing once more. The news will fuel fears that the pandemic could slip out of control again just days after Germany began lifting restrictions.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 1st Apr 2021

Overnight News Roundup

Vaccination certificates won't end the lockdown. 'ProSocial' approaches will

  • Israel has a Green Pass Programme to help its citizens return to public spaces such as gyms and theatres. The EU and China have announced similar passport-to-travel ideas, In the United States, the Biden administration is assessing the viability of vaccine certificates.
  • On the pro side of the certificate debate are pandemic-injured markets, access to education, mental health problems, and the overall sense of normality, making it paramount to open as fast as possible. On the con side are concerns that a hasty reopening sets the stage for a draconian future; deepening existing inequalities in healthcare, education and employment, a way of short-cutting public debate and consideration around surveillance and the use of personal data.
  • Triggering 'ProSocial behaviour' - the desire to get vaccinated because it is personally satisfying to help society as a whole - is a better way to promote large-scale vaccination that vaccine certificates, which favour a select group of people who long to go on vacation, back to the gym and find a new normal.
  • The pathway to a ProSocial alternative is based on four challenges:
  • Public officials need to invest in altruistic policies regardless of political risk - social investment targeted at the most vulnerable needs to turn into lasting support for the many struggling to get vaccinated.
  • Organizational challenges - employers, schools and other organizations that shun uncertified people because they test positive or refuse vaccination is a punishment-based approach creating resentment and discrimination. There needs to be extended support and security for individuals who choose not to be vaccinated - if you quarantine we will continue to pay you to work from quarantine
  • Interpersonal challenges - The anti-vaccination protests around the world and the sizeable anti-vax movement will be reinforced and grow larger with harshly imposed certification. The situation requires a softer approach using the psychological concepts of compassion and empathy. ProSocial bonds of support must be built and space given to people to allow them to change their minds when they are ready. 
  • Intrapersonal challenges - The key here is limiting thr level of fear people internalize. Fearing a job loss for testing positive or deciding not to be vaccinated, for instance, is a breeding ground for extreme views and counterproductive behaviour. The fear stems from not understanding things out 'of our control.' The sense of power and control can be used to advance a pro-vaccine message in at least three ways: connecting people to ProSocial grassroot movements, by encouraging unions, non-governmental organizations and other advocates to promote trust and reciprocity in society's organizations.
  • The new normal is far more complex than a trip to Charlie's Chocolate Factory with your GoldenTicket. The pandemic is a vast systemic problem but one with controllable outcomes. Hoping for a quick fix with vaccine certificates is not a solution. An effective response that intrinsically motivates people at all levels of society towards a common, ProSocial goal is. 
Vaccination certificates won’t end lockdown. Prosocial approaches will
Vaccination certificates won’t end lockdown. Prosocial approaches will
Covid-19 immunity and vaccination certificates are being held up as golden tickets to the new normal. Israel, the country leading the way on vaccination rates, has a green pass program to help its citizens return to public spaces such as gyms and theaters. The European Union and China have announced similar passports to revive travel. In the United States, the Biden administration is assessing the viability of vaccine certificates. These efforts raise serious red flags. Vaccination certificates will likely deepen existing inequalities in health care, education, and employment. And the rush to a new normal via certificates sets the stage for function creep — a way of short-cutting public debates and considerations around surveillance and the use of personal data. Triggering prosocial behaviors — the want to get vaccinated because it is internally satisfying to help society as a whole — is a better way to promote large-scale vaccination than vaccine certificates, which favor a select group of people who long to go on vacation, go back to the gym, and generally find their new normal.
COVID-19: Digital vaccine certificates to help European travel 'ready in June at latest'
EU digital vaccine certificates will be ready in June at the latest, Spain's foreign minister has said. European Union leaders agreed last month to work on the certificates to try to kickstart the tourism industry. Speaking on Wednesday, Arancha Gonzalez Laya said the scheme would be a good tool for European citizens and "if all goes well, we will have a vaccination certificate in June at the latest". "If it can be in mid-May, better but not later than June," she added. The certificates would not prevent those without the jab from travelling, Ms Gonzalez Laya said, but people who had one would be able to pass through EU borders faster.
Coronavirus: how wealthy nations are creating a ‘vaccine apartheid’
Coronavirus: how wealthy nations are creating a ‘vaccine apartheid’
A chorus of activists are calling for changes to intellectual property laws in hopes of beginning to boost Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing globally, and addressing the gaping disparity between rich and poor nations’ access to coronavirus vaccines. The US and a handful of other wealthy vaccine-producing nations are on track to deliver vaccines to all adults who want them in the coming months, while dozens of the world’s poorest countries have not inoculated a single person. Activists have dubbed the disparity a “vaccine apartheid” and called for the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies to share technical know-how in an effort to speed the global vaccination project.
Coronavirus surge could be worse than the last for the Americas: PAHO
Coronavirus surge could be worse than the last for the Americas: PAHO
Countries in the Americas could see a worse surge in coronavirus cases than the previous surge last year, with Brazil, Uruguay and Cuba already suffering more, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday. Director Carissa Etienne said the end of the Southern Hemisphere summer, following holidays where people grouped together and spread cases, had prompted spikes. She urged citizens to stay at home and governments to think hard before lowering movement restrictions. So far this year, over 19.7 million COVID cases and 475,000 related deaths have been reported in the Americas, she said. Vaccines are rolling out - 124 million people have received one dose and 58 million have received two, PAHO said.
Covid in Brazil ‘completely out of control,' says Sao Paulo-based reporter
“We have people dying because of lack of oxygen, people are literally suffocating,” Patricia Campos Mello, a reporter for Folha de Sao Paulo, told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith.” “The situation is completely out of control,” Campos Mello added. Campos Mello comments came after Brazil registered on Tuesday a daily record tally of Covid deaths, recording more than 3,700 deaths.
The FDA could authorize Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds 'in time for the fall school year,' former FDA commissioner says
The FDA could authorize Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds 'in time for the fall school year,' former FDA commissioner says
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine could get FDA approval for 12 to 15 year olds "in time for the fall school year," the former FDA commissioner said. Scott Gottlieb was asked on CNBC on Tuesday when he thought the FDA could approve the vaccine for that age group. Gottlieb is also a member of Pfizer's board. His comments come after Pfizer announced on Wednesday that its vaccine was highly effective at preventing COVID-19 infection in kids aged 12 to 15 in a late-stage trial of more than 2,000 participants. Pfizer said it plans to submit the data to the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency to request for emergency authorization of the vaccine
Pfizer Covid-19 jab ‘100% effective’ in younger teenagers, research suggests
The Pfizer Covid-19 jab is “100% effective and well tolerated” among children aged 12 to 15, a new study suggests. Pfizer said it now plans to seek approval for use of the vaccine in this age group from regulators around the world and hopes youngsters will start to receive the jab before the next school year. The pharmaceutical company said it plans to submit the data to the UK regulator – the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – within the next couple of months. Researchers examined the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in a trial of 2,260 teenagers in the US.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine found safe and 100% effective in 12- to 15-year-olds, company says
Pfizer announced Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning shots in that age group before they head back to school in the fall. Most COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide are for adults, who are at higher risk from the coronavirus. Pfizer's vaccine is authorized for ages 16 and older. But vaccinating children of all ages will be critical to stopping the pandemic - and helping schools, at least the upper grades, start to look a little more normal after months of disruption. In a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers aged 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given placebo shots, Pfizer reported.
Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine protects younger teens
Pfizer announced Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before they head back to school in the fall. Most COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide are for adults, who are at higher risk from the coronavirus. Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for ages 16 and older. But vaccinating children of all ages will be critical to stopping the pandemic — and helping schools, at least the upper grades, start to look a little more normal after months of disruption. In the vaccine study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given dummy shots, Pfizer reported.
Pfizer, BioNTech: COVID vaccine effective in teens
Pfizer and BioNTech today announced that their COVID-19 vaccine was 100% effective and triggered a robust antibody response in a phase 3 US trial involving 2,260 adolescents 12 to 15 years old. The immune responses in that age-group, the companies said, exceeded those recorded previously among 16- to 25-year-olds. The companies say they plan to submit the data to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of the vaccine in this age-group. "The initial results we have seen in the adolescent studies suggest that children are particularly well protected by vaccination, which is very encouraging given the trends we have seen in recent weeks regarding the spread of the B.1.1.7 UK variant," BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in the companies' press release.
Pfizer and BioNTech say vaccine prevents Covid-19 in adolescents
Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that their Covid-19 vaccine prevented symptomatic disease and was well-tolerated in a Phase 3 study of adolescents ages 12 to 15. The companies say they will submit the data to the Food and Drug Administration as an amendment to the vaccine’s emergency use authorization, and will also submit the results to other regulators around the world. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a press release that the companies hope it will be possible to begin vaccinating adolescents in this group before the beginning of the next school year.
A dangerous coronavirus variant is wreaking havoc in parts of Europe. Experts fear US could be next
A dangerous coronavirus variant is wreaking havoc in parts of Europe. Experts fear US could be next
A dangerous coronavirus variant is wreaking havoc in other parts of the world, so the US must stick with safety measures over the next few months to prevent that kind of damage as the variant takes more of a hold stateside, an expert says. The B.1.1.7 variant, first spotted in the UK, is more contagious, may cause more severe disease and is rapidly infecting younger populations, epidemiologist Michael Osterholm told CNN on Tuesday night. Recent research suggests the strain may also be more deadly. "If we can just hold out, if we can just get enough vaccine between now and the summer, we can actually beat this one," Osterholm said.
AstraZeneca COVID vaccine 70% effective vs B117 variant
Data from a UK phase 2/3 clinical trial suggest the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-vaccine is 70.4% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the B117 variant, which was identified in the United Kingdom in late 2020. The data, published in The Lancet yesterday, also showed it was 28.9% effective at preventing asymptomatic infections or cases with unknown symptoms. Overall efficacy was 61.7% against the B117 variant and 77.3% against other variants, according to the study. The vaccine was 81.5% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 caused by non-B117 strains.
This wave of COVID-19 is coming for the 30-somethings — because politicians won’t protect them
“I always say we have the brightest, smartest people right here in Ontario,” Premier Doug Ford said at a news conference on Wednesday. It’s too bad he doesn’t listen to them. Because it’s a simple fact that the brightest, smartest people in the province — front-line physicians and epidemiologists for example — would want to lock it down right now, institute paid sick leave for Ontarians, and vaccinate younger essential workers. They’ve said as much recently and at various points in the pandemic. But there’s no time like the present to say it again, when highly contagious and more virulent variants of concern account for nearly 70 per cent of COVID-19 infections in the province.
Governments, Sanofi unveil nearly $1B for vaccine-manufacturing site
Governments, Sanofi unveil nearly $1B for vaccine-manufacturing site
Three levels of government unveiled funding for a nearly $1 billion expansion of drug-maker Sanofi’s vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto to support future domestic production of influenza and coronavirus vaccines. The funding, announced at a joint news conference Wednesday, will allow French pharmaceutical company Sanofi S.A. to build an “end-to-end bulk vaccine manufacturing facility” at the firm’s North York campus in Toronto, Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne said. The project, which is expected to be fully operational by 2026, is meant to prepare Canada for vaccine self-sufficiency during future pandemics. When complete, it will enable “state-of-the-art” product formulation, filling, inspection and packaging of vaccines. “This project of nearly $1 billion is one of the largest-ever bio-manufacturing investments that has been (made) in Canadian history,” Champagne said.
Analysis: In mutant variants, has the coronavirus shown its best tricks?
Analysis: In mutant variants, has the coronavirus shown its best tricks?
The rapid rise in different parts of the world of deadly, more infectious coronavirus variants that share new mutations is leading scientists to ask a critical question - has the SARS-CoV-2 virus shown its best cards? Although it will continue to mutate, immunologists and virologists said they suspect this coronavirus has a fixed number of moves in its arsenal. The long-term impact for the virus’ survival, and whether a limit on the number of mutations makes it less dangerous, remains to be seen. “It is plausible that this virus has a relatively limited number of antibody escape mutations it can make before it has played all of its cards, so to speak,” said Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego.
University scientists deconstruct Covid-19 vaccines and publish 'recipe' on open web
University scientists deconstruct Covid-19 vaccines and publish 'recipe' on open web
Scientists have determined the “recipes” for two Covid-19 vaccines using leftovers in vials bound for the trash and published the mRNA sequences on Github, the online repository for software code. The group of scientists from Stanford University were able to determine the sequences of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and included the mRNA sequences in a post they published on Github last week, tech news site Motherboard first reported. Experts say the publication will help researchers around the world better identify when testing samples whether they are looking at sequences from the Covid-19 virus or vaccines to treat the virus, because they can give false positives.
Amid rollout imbroglio, AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine has at least one fresh start: A new brand name
Amid rollout imbroglio, AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine has at least one fresh start: A new brand name
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has an official name, Vaxzevria, now approved in Europe. But is a new name enough to hurdle its rollout communication glitches and now wavering vaccine confidence? Probably not on its own. However, some do see another hope on the horizon for AstraZeneca’s vaccine—the FDA. AZ plans to apply for FDA emergency use authorization in the first half of April, its executives have said, and the U.S. regulatory body may represent the company's best chance to improve public opinion of its shot. The agency’s endorsement “will go a good way to restoring confidence” Ann Falsey, M.D., a vaccine scientist and investigator on the U.S. clinical trial, told Nature in an article published after AZ restated its efficacy data last week. She reiterated that the "final story is, the results for the final analysis are great. They look very similar to the interim analysis."
New COVID-19 wave sweeping Europe
Macron to make COVID address as third wave overloads hospitals
French President Emmanuel Macron is to address the nation on Wednesday and is expected to announce that schools will close in April as he seeks to change the course of a third wave of COVID-19 infections that risk overwhelming hospitals. A government official said an extension of the April school holidays was an option. An operation to transfer intensive care patients from overloaded hospitals to lesser-hit regions and a full lockdown in the hardest-hit parts of France had also been discussed, the source said. BFM TV reported a four-week shutdown of schools was under consideration, with one week of remote learning and three weeks of holiday instead of the planned fortnight.
Mounting COVID-19 deaths dim Hungary's hopes of reopening
Hungary on Wednesday reported coronavirus fatalities reaching a new high and doctors described hospitals filling beyond capacity, signalling the government may be forced to postpone a reopening scheduled to begin in mid-April. The central European country of 10 million recorded 302 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, its highest daily toll of the pandemic, and 6,700 new COVID-19 cases, the government said. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who faces an election in a year, is walking a tightrope between a lockdown to tame the COVID-19 surge and the need to reopen the economy to avoid a second year of deep recession. Hungary has had the highest daily per capita fatalities in the world for several days, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
France Reports 2021 High of 5072 People in Intensive Care With COVID-19
France's health ministry said on Tuesday that the number of people in intensive care units (ICUs) with COVID-19 increased by 98 to 5,072 people, the highest this year. The last time France had more than 5,000 people in ICUs for coronavirus-related disease was on April 23, 2020 during the first lockdown, when the number of people in ICU peaked at 7,148 on April 8.
Kyiv sets strict lockdown amid record COVID-19 death toll
Ukraine’s capital Kyiv will impose a strict lockdown from April 5 amid a gloomy prediction for a further surge in infections and a record daily number of coronavirus-related deaths, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Wednesday. Ukraine’s Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said there were 407 coronavirus-related deaths recorded in the country over the past 24 hours, and warned infections were likely to rise further over the next one to two weeks.
Covid: France schools to close under third lockdown
French schools will close for at least three weeks as part of new national restrictions to fight rising Covid cases, President Emmanuel Macron says. Mr Macron said that schools would move to remote learning from next week. Lockdown measures, introduced in some areas of France earlier this month, are also being extended to other districts. All non-essential shops are to close from Saturday and there will be a ban on travelling more than 10km (six miles) from home without good reason. The country is facing a peak of over 5,000 people in intensive care.
Ireland eyes May retail reopening as lockdown eased slightly
Ireland hopes to reopen all shops for the first time this year in May and hotels in June, Prime Minister Micheál Martin said on Tuesday, as the government announced a minor easing of one of Europe’s toughest and longest-running national lockdowns. Ireland shut most shops, building sites and hospitality in late December after a brief reopening led to an enormous spike in COVID-19 infections. A steady fall in infection rates since then has stalled in the last two weeks
‘We are a laughing stock’: Covid-19 and Germany’s political malaise
Steffen Bockhahn does not mince his words when it comes to Germany’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign. “We are the laughing stock of the world,” he says. “Germany was supposed to be world champion at organising things, and look at us.” Bockhahn heads the social affairs department of Rostock, a north-eastern port which has set up a massive vaccination centre housed in an exhibition hall on the outskirts of the city. The complex has the capacity to administer 2,100 jabs a day. A shortage of vaccine doses means it’s currently doing less than half of that. Germans have been grumbling about the slow pace of inoculations for weeks now: so far, only 11 per cent of the population have received at least one dose, compared with 45 per cent in the UK, 29 per cent in the US and 60 per cent in Israel, according to the latest Our World in Data figures.
Hungarian journalists accuse gov’t of censoring COVID reporting
Hungarian journalists accuse gov’t of censoring COVID reporting
Hungarian journalists have accused the government of putting lives at risk by barring the media from covering the full extent of what is now the world’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak. In an open letter published by most of the country’s independent news outlets on Wednesday, reporters said they had been blocked from hospitals and barred from speaking to medics, making it impossible to alert the public to the crisis.
Some Johnson & Johnson Covid Vaccine Doses Delayed in US by Factory Mix-Up
Some Johnson & Johnson Covid Vaccine Doses Delayed in US by Factory Mix-Up
Workers at a Baltimore plant manufacturing two coronavirus vaccines accidentally conflated the vaccines’ ingredients several weeks ago, ruining about 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and forcing regulators to delay authorization of the plant’s production lines. The plant is run by Emergent BioSolutions, a manufacturing partner to both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. Federal officials attributed the mistake to human error. The mixup has halted future shipments of Johnson & Johnson doses in the United States while the Food and Drug Administration investigates. Johnson & Johnson has moved to strengthen its control over Emergent BioSolutions’ work to avoid further quality lapses.

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

News Highlights

Nations around the world continue to grapple with the debilitating effects and hard choices associated with three events; the coronavirus, the ensuing lockdown and now the long hard process of trying to restart economies which have been shuttered.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has ordered a gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown measures, as factory and construction workers returned to work on Tuesday, despite more than 10,000 new cases being reported almost every day for the last week. New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Areden, announced an easing of lockdown measures, to start on Thursday, allowing schools and offices to reopen and restaurants and retail stories to restart trading. Italy is planning to allow bars, restaurants and hairdresser salons to reopen from May 18, while in Singapore, barbers, food manufacturers and laundrettes are being granted permission to open with strict health guideliness in place.

Several U.S. states are hesitant to fully ease lockdown measures, even though President Trump is urging them all to reopen their economies and 'get Americans back to work.' The CDC's top infectious diseases expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, told a Senate committee that prematurely reopening the American economy would cause 'needless suffering and death.'

In recently reopened Wuhan authorities announced plans to conduct coronavirus testing of the entire city's population of 11 million people, after new cases of Covid-19 reappeared for the first time in weeks.

Lockdown Exit
Italy Emerges From Lockdown. Slowly.
We spoke to journalist Greta Privitera back in mid-March, a few weeks after she and her family isolated themselves at home in northern Italy. Now, with Italy taking baby steps toward normalcy, Greta says she’s enjoying her walks outside, she still worries about another surge in COVID-19 cases. And by the look of things, she’s not alone.
As lockdown eases in Rome the banal, everyday things mean so much more
Italians, however, are not used to spending the majority of their time inside. Which is why I am equally proud and amazed at how well the Romans have been cooperating during this period. Instead of protesting and condemning the restrictions imposed upon them, they have shown their will to fight to preserve their country and its culture at all costs. Coming up with mantras like “Andrà tutto bene” (It’s all going to be okay), singing from balconies and rooftops, and building neighbourhood support networks for those in need, they have shown the world that the communal Italian spirit grows even stronger in the face of adversity.
Coronavirus: An Italian grandmother's first trip outside after lockdown
Italy is one of several European countries which has started easing its lockdown. People across the nation were confined to their homes for almost two months. BBC World Service joined one 77-year-old grandmother as she ventured out for the first time in many weeks.
People Return to Sidewalk Cafes in Northeastern Spain as Lockdown Restrictions Eased
Restaurants, cafes, and some nonessential shops have reopened in Spain as parts of the country moved into “phase 1” of the nation’s coronavirus reopening plan on May 11. El Pais reported the government announced that more than half of the country’s population will be able to visit loved ones, attend funerals, go shopping without a prior appointment, and have a drink at a street cafe. In some regions, according to the report, restaurants and cafes can open their terraces at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 10 people per table. Video taken in Zaragoza, in northeastern Spain, on May 12 shows local residents sitting at outdoor cafes and restaurants, following the guidelines to socially distance from one another. Local news website heraldo.es reported that many terraces did not open from May 11 because some establishments won’t make enough money from the tables they would have provided.
‘Shop till you drop?’ Luxury stores back in business as France eases lockdown
Only half of the avenue’s shops were open Monday, Edouard Lefebvre said, reflecting the extensive preparations needed to safely receive customers and the hesitant steps many people took toward pre-pandemic routines. “Clients won’t come back on day one. It takes time to get used to coming back to the Champs-Elysees, to come back to Paris,” Lefebvre said in an interview with the Associated Press. Still, pictures of long lines standing outside luxury stores, posted on social media later in the day, suggested many shoppers were willing to take the plunge.
French primary pupils trickle back to class after eight-week lockdown
Across France, primary school pupils on Tuesday sat at least a metre apart in small classes and listened to teachers in masks on their first day back after two months of home-schooling during the coronavirus lockdown. The lessons, though, did not cover maths or grammar, but hygiene amid a public health emergency: wash your hands, don’t touch your face and keep away from each other. That was the new reality as some 1.5 million elementary and primary pupils - roughly one in every four - returned to class as France tentatively emerges from lockdown. But with less than two months of the academic year left, some parents, teachers and their unions have questioned the wisdom of reopening schools when the virus continues to circulate, especially in the greater Paris region.
French teachers anxious as schools gradually reopen after Covid-19 lockdown
Thousands of French schools started to reopen this week as the country emerged from an eight-week lockdown to contain Covid-19. Teachers prepared for pupils according to a strict protocol – with masks, hand sanitiser and markings on the ground for social distancing. But some worried that the measures might not be enough to keep staff and children safe.
Coronavirus: Hairdressers among businesses to reopen in France
France has begun to ease its lockdown, and thousands of businesses have started to reopen. Among the businesses reopening are hairdressers. One salon owner in Paris spoke to the BBC about the safety of her staff, and the economic challenges she is facing.
Paris bans drinking by the Seine after crowds celebrate lockdown-easing
Parisians have been banned from drinking alcohol on the banks of the Saint-Martin canal and the Seine river after police were forced to disperse crowds just hours after an eight-week coronavirus lockdown was eased. Many city dwellers stuck in flats without balconies, terraces or gardens for almost two months turned out on Monday evening to celebrate. Photos quickly circulated of unmasked revellers gathering by the water in the French capital. On the orders of the interior ministry, Paris’s police prefect issued a ban, saying it “deplored” having to do so in an indignant press release reminding everyone that the success of the déconfinement rested on “the principle of each citizen’s individual responsibility”.
Factory workers in Russia resume work after Putin eases coronavirus lockdown
Factory and construction workers in Russia were set to return to work on Tuesday after President Vladimir Putin ordered a gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown measures despite a sharp increase in new cases of the novel virus.
Can I drive somewhere else to exercise or walk my dog? Lockdown rules in UK explained
Across the UK, different approaches to lockdown are being adopted - so knowing exactly what you can and cannot do as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread can be confusing. Under government guidance, people are allowed to leave their homes for exercise - but does this include driving to a beauty spot or park to run or walk your dog? Here’s what you should know.
Welsh tourism hotspots 'inundated' with booking requests after lockdown easing in England
Owners of hotels and hostels across Wales say they've been inundated with people trying to book accommodation over the coming weeks after it was announced lockdown restrictions would be eased in England. It comes after Wales’ three National Park Authorities are calling on all UK residents to respect rules and measures in place in Wales to protect everyone.
Ardern thanks 'team of 5 million' as New Zealand reopens schools and offices
New Zealanders will begin easing back to normality this week as almost two months of strict lockdown comes to an end following the country’s successful battle against Covid-19. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the country would downgrade from Level 3 to Level 2 restrictions on Thursday, allowing schools to reopen, workers to return to their offices, and restaurants and retail stores to resume trade. Recreational and competitive sport could also restart, and libraries, playgrounds and museums would open. Bars would reopen on 21 May, Ardern said, as they have been deemed “high-risk” by the director-general of health, and social gatherings would be limited to 10, including at weddings and funerals.
'A return of worry': relief mixes with anxiety as New Zealand eases lockdown
“The announcement of moving to Level 2 will bring a sense of relief for many. However, for a significant number the return to work and school may bring about a return of worry and anxiety,” Dr Dougal Sutherland, a clinical psychologist at Victoria University of Wellington said. “Despite the obvious downsides, Levels 3 and 4 did bring a sense of protection and security for some who suffer from anxiety. As we emerge from the shadows of strict lockdown old fears about becoming unwell may reappear. Triggers for anxiety that have lain dormant for weeks, such as the fear of social evaluation by others, may arise again.” With many having lost their jobs or been forced to take pay cuts, Level 2 may also drive home the stark reality of the social and economic consequences of the pandemic, Sutherland said.
Coronavirus: New Zealand deserves Covid-19 level 2, with all of its confusing weirdness
Kiwis have overwhelmingly backed the Government's moves thus far, but that patience is not eternal. As the days with almost no new cases continue to stack up the streets of our major cities already look more and more crowded. The next decision day will be in two weeks' time. With the economy mostly back to normal then, the lobbying to ease restrictions further will be a lot more muted. But if the Covid-19 case numbers are still looking as good as they have for the last week then, New Zealand will want to have a party. And we'll deserve it.
Coronavirus: Commuters pack London Tube platforms after PM's lockdown announcement
Commuters have packed some London Underground trains the morning after the prime minister revealed his plan for easing the lockdown in England. Footage showed platforms at Canning Town and Queensbury stations on the Jubilee Line filled with passengers early on Monday morning. A Tube driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said there was "no social distancing going on".
Exit Strategies
Coronavirus: NI Executive publishes plan for easing lockdown
A five-stage plan for easing the Covid-19 lockdown in Northern Ireland has been published by the executive. Unlike plans announced in England and the Republic of Ireland, NI's blueprint does not include a timetable - but the first minister said she hoped to reach the final stage by December. Progression will depend on key health criteria being met, Arlene Foster said.
Public advised to wear face coverings under UK government's lockdown easing plan
People should “wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops”, the government document says. Children under the age of two should not have their faces covered, and nor should any of primary age who do not have somebody with them who is supervising them. This is aimed at preventing people who have the virus but are not experiencing symptoms from passing it on to others.
Lockdown: subsidies announced for cyclists in Italy
Citizens of Italian cities of more than 50,000 inhabitants can get up to €500 in subsidies for buying a bicycle or an e-scooter, Italy’s Transport Minister Paola De Micheli announced on Monday. The measure is part of a €55 billion support package for the Italian economy and aims to keep people from using their cars and public transport as the country recovers from the crisis surrounding the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
Coronavirus: Italy allows bars and restaurants to reopen from next week
Italy’s bars, restaurants, hairdressers and salons will be able to re-open next week after the government announced new moves to relax lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s regional authorities have been granted the power to lift restrictions on bars and other popular leisure businesses from 18 May.
Italy to give regions powers to roll back coronavirus lockdown
At a meeting between ministers and local government leaders on Monday, the coalition agreed, however, that Italy’s 20 regions could set their own pace, defusing a growing source of strife among political parties. “We have always said that if the contagion data were encouraging, we would have brought forward the reopening,” said Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. “The regions will (shortly) receive guidelines to open bars, restaurants, hairdressers and beauty clinics from May 18,” he added on Twitter. Almost 31,000 Italians have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21, the third-highest death toll in the world after that of the United States and the UK.
Italy speeds up reopening with cafes and restaurants allowed to open on May 18th
The government agreed to demands from regions for an acceleration of phase two of the lockdown at a meeting of regional leaders, Italian media reports. These businesses were not set to get the green light to open until at least June 1st under the previous plan. But now they'll be allowed to open on Monday, when Italy's other shops are set to reopen. “This is the start of the phase of regional responsibilty,” said Francesco Boccia. , the minister for autonomy and regional affairs. The governors of ten regions – Abruzzo, Calabria, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Lombardy, Molise, Piedmont, Sardinia, Umbria and Veneto, as well as the president of Trentino province – had warned they would "act autonomously" if Rome failed to confirm that they can reopen shops, restaurants, salons and beaches as soon the current decree expires on May 17th.
Spain set to impose 14-day quarantine on visitors
The Sun said an official announcement from the EU is expected tomorrow about international travel, but it quotes Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE) as saying: “Travellers who come to Spain from abroad must quarantine themselves for 14 days following their arrival.” Quarantine would require visitors to stay in their hotel or apartment, and abide by a strict code of conduct limiting leaving accommodation only to buy essential items or in exceptional circumstances. Mask wearing will be mandatory. Spain’s BEO says the measures are necessary due to the international spread of coronavirus and the need to act with caution to make sure visitors do not cause more outbreaks.
Europe's press calls UK lockdown roadmap 'confusing'
European media have widely described the British prime minister's "conditional plan" to reopen society as a "mixed message" driven by "extreme caution". Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote that "all clarity has been eliminated" after Boris Johnson presented his plan for easing the lockdown. "Prime Minister Johnson has presented a 'roadmap' for exiting the coronavirus crisis - and confused the British. Discontent is also growing in the cabinet and in parliament: the government has not discussed the plan in advance," the paper wrote. Newspapers elsewhere wondered whether the British public had understood the message at all. "What on earth does it mean to be alert?" wrote Spanish El Confidencial, pointing out that it was the most common question on social media.
Coronavirus: Putin eases Russian lockdown as cases rise
Russian President Vladimir Putin says that from Tuesday the nationwide coronavirus lockdown will be eased and businesses will go back to work. He said the country's "non-working period" imposed to curb the virus had lasted six weeks. The easing of restrictions will affect all sectors of the economy, Mr Putin said, but some regions may keep tighter controls if necessary. Russia now has the third-highest number of confirmed infections worldwide. In the last 24 hours it reported a record daily rise of 11,656 cases, bringing the official total to 221,344.
Russia's Coronavirus Cases Surge Past 230K as Putin Eases National Lockdown
Despite reporting more than 10,000 new cases a day for over a week, President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced that a "non-working" period in place for six weeks would be lifted from Tuesday. A lockdown in Moscow, the epicenter of the crisis in Russia, remains in place until the end of May, but even in the capital some restrictions were being lifted. Some 500,000 employees of companies involved in industry and construction were allowed to resume work, though authorities made it mandatory to wear masks and gloves in shops and on public transport.
Asia Today: Singapore partly reopens despite rise in cases
Singaporeans were able to get a haircut at the barber or pop in to their favorite bakery Tuesday as the government loosened restrictions three weeks before a partial lockdown ends. Despite an upsurge in cases due to an outbreak among foreign workers staying in crowded dormitories, the government says transmission in the local community has dropped and plans a phased reopening of the economy. Barbers and hairdressers, food manufacturers and outlets as well as laundry shops are among selected businesses that can open with strict health measures Tuesday after five weeks of shutdown. Barbers can operate by appointment only and notices outside shops call for face masks before entry. Officials reminded citizens not to rush out or loiter outside to keep the city safe.
As nations reopen, warning emerges about coronavirus tracing voids
Authorities have cautioned that the scourge could come back with a vengeance without widespread testing and tracing of infected people’s contacts with others. Fears of infection spikes in countries that have loosened up came true in recent days in Germany, where new clusters were linked to three slaughterhouses; in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the crisis started; and in South Korea, where a single nightclub customer was linked to 85 new cases. The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, said that robust contact tracing measures adopted by Germany and South Korea provide hope that those countries can detect and stop virus clusters before they get out of control.
The Latest: Singapore loosens coronavirus restrictions
Singaporeans will be able to get a haircut at the barber or pop in to their favourite bakery Tuesday as the government loosens coronavirus restrictions three weeks before a partial lockdown ends. Despite an upsurge in cases due to an outbreak among foreign workers staying in crowded dormitories, the government says transmission in the local community has dropped and it plans a phased reopening of the economy. Barbers and hairdressers, food manufacturers and outlets, and laundry shops are among selected businesses that can open with strict health measures in place Tuesday after five weeks of shutdown. Barbers are open by appointment only and notices outside shops call for face masks before entry. Officials reminded citizens not to rush out or loiter outside.
Australian states to ease coronavirus lockdown
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said the transitions would happen gradually over the next three months. But the health authorities would continue to monitor the newly infected cases. The individual states will take the final decision on the exact changes. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday lifted few restrictions by allowing five visitors of family and friends and gathering of 10 outside as of Wednesday. On Sunday, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan announced a plan to allow cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs to reopen with a maximum of 20 people, with one every four square metres, effective May 18. In New South Wales, Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday confirmed several COVID-19 restrictions to be relaxed from Friday including the opening of cafes and restaurants for up to 10 patrons while in Queensland, families of up to five people have also been allowed to visit another home. Other states of Northern Territory, South Australia and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) also announced relaxing few restrictions including the limited number of indoors or outdoors gatherings within social distancing norm, non-contact outdoor sport, fishing, and open house inspections and auctions.
'It's an experiment': The rocky road predicted for Australia as restrictions are relaxed
A public health expert has described Australia’s move into relaxed restrictions as “an experiment” and warns the nation may be subjected to more stringent rules if the strategy backfires and coronavirus cases spike. Stephen Leeder, a Professor in Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Sydney, said while NSW’s first day of zero cases in over two months on Monday was good news, lifting restrictions is a matter of seeing what works and what doesn’t. NSW Health said Tuesday was the first time since February 29 there had been no new coronavirus cases in the state
Asia Today: Philippine lockdown to be eased, with caution
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said the massive lockdown that has restricted millions to their homes will be eased, but he warned that people who want to return to work must follow safeguards to avoid more deaths and a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks. The Philippine economy contracted in the first quarter and the finance secretary reported that up to 1.5 million jobs have been lost during the lockdown on Luzon island, the country's most populous region and which includes the capital, Manila. Duterte made the announcement in videotaped remarks shown on nationwide TV on Tuesday. He said his spokesman will later disclose which regions will remain under lockdown and which areas would be released from it based on the scale and speed of infections. The two-month lockdown was supposed to last until May 15.
Global report: Fauci warns of 'needless death' as WHO urges vigilance in lifting lockdowns
The World Health Organization has called on countries to show “extreme vigilance” when loosening Covid-19 restrictions as the top US infectious diseases expert, Anthony Fauci, warned that prematurely reopening the American economy would cause “needless suffering and death”. The WHO’s emergencies chief, Michael Ryan, has hailed the gradual lifting of coronavirus lockdowns in some countries whose death and infection rates were dropping, as a sign of “hope”, but he cautioned that “extreme vigilance is required”. He urged countries to boost their public health responses, ensuring they could identify fresh cases, and trace and isolate all contacts, which he said could help “avoid a major second wave”.
Russia to ease its coronavirus lockdown despite a record number of new infections (Podcast)
President Vladimir Putin's decision comes after Russia registered a record number of daily cases on Monday. Also: The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defends his plan to relax restrictions in England, and White House staff told to wear masks at work after high-profile infections.
Partisan Exits
Coronavirus: SAGE report fails to consider strategy for easing lockdown
"This is what transparency looks like," said Sir David King as he launched a critical report of the government's handling of the coronavirus epidemic. He's a former government chief scientist and the report was the first from a panel of experts assembled to rival the official Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). The 12-strong group live-streamed their two-hour meeting on YouTube last week and have just produced what they say is a constructive report which they've sent to the government and parliament. It's worth saying that the news briefing to launch the report wasn't open to the public. "We were told the membership (of SAGE) was secret. Why on Earth would you want to be secret?", said Sir David.
SDLP's Eastwood urges Executive to 'reconsider' timeline for exiting Covid-19 lockdown
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has urged the Northern Ireland Executive to "reconsider" its decision not to include a timescale as part of it's coronavirus lockdown exit plan. The Executive published its five step plan on Tuesday, but unlike plans from England and the Republic of Ireland it does not include potential dates for lifting restrictions.
PM Boris Johnson forced to clarify UK lockdown advice
In his first statement to Parliament on the coronavirus pandemic, months after the beginning of the outbreak in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday issued a lengthy clarification to his government's advice over the lifting of lockdown measures. He had addressed citizens on Sunday evening in a recorded televised address, but his statement was criticised for prompting more questions than it had answered.
UK lockdown: Matt Hancock refuses to accept public are confused over government coronavirus messaging
Health secretary Matt Hancock has denied that the government is confusing the public with its messaging over the coronavirus lockdown. England’s latest Covid-19 guidelines, announced by Boris Johnson on Sunday night, have been met with confusion and anger as people have questioned what they can and cannot do. Over the past 24 hours, the government has been forced to correct senior ministers over when people should return to work and whether they can meet relatives and friends in parks.
Boris Johnson grilled on 'vague' UK coronavirus lockdown advice
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined her government's strategy concerning the lockdown on Monday -- and it contrasts sharply with Boris Johnson's plan for the UK. She told a daily briefing it was "too risky" to change restrictions, and the message to people remains: "stay home". People are not being encouraged to go to work, she said. Johnson's "stay alert" instruction in his TV address on Sunday night applied to England and Wales, the first minister explained.
Unless the government changes tack, the UK's lockdown will have been for nothing
There are no silver bullets, clever models or easy answers for how to control the coronavirus. But neither is it rocket science. Governments have three choices in how they respond. The first and most difficult path is to contain the virus through a programme of mass testing, contact tracing and isolating. This requires a huge effort: building a large infrastructure to monitor cases of the virus and identify hotspots, ensuring this system runs efficiently, providing adequate PPE to everyone who needs it, and deploying border controls to vet who is entering the country.
Lockdown easing: have other leaders fared better than Boris Johnson?
Boris Johnson has been heavily criticised for failing to show Britain a clear route out of lockdown. Easing a nation out of two months of confinement is a complicated business, and some degree of confusion is almost inevitable. Here, Guardian correspondents look at how other European leaders have managed the process.
Boris Johnson's lockdown release condemned as divisive, confusing and vague
In a speech from Downing Street, Johnson said if the circumstances were right, schools in England and some shops might be able to open next month, and the government was “actively encouraging” people to return to work if they cannot do so from home. But he stressed that this was “not the time simply to end the lockdown” and that he intended to take a cautious approach guided by the science, otherwise a second deadly wave of the “devilish” virus would take hold. But his remarks drew criticism and concern from across the political spectrum – and his decision to drop the “stay at home” message in favour of advice to “stay alert” was met with a chorus of disapproval from the leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Continued Lockdown
South Africa's coronavirus lockdown: Doubts creep in
We are now over six weeks into what remains one of the toughest lockdowns on earth, the government's health experts are predicting that the peak of the epidemic may still be two or three months away, infection numbers are surging in some regions, and the shocked silence and prompt conformity that greeted Mr Ramaphosa's early diktats has been replaced by an increasingly sceptical, angry, and politicised debate. A return to business as usual in this famously fractious nation? Perhaps. But South Africa is entering a long and difficult period in its fight against Covid-19.
Brazil's regional capitals bolster lockdown measures to curb COVID-19
Several of Brazil's regional capitals on Monday stepped up lockdown measures in a bid to fight the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 11,000 lives. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second-largest city and the one with the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths after Sao Paulo, Mayor Marcelo Crivella announced a measure to restrict traffic in 10 districts starting Tuesday and banned the reopening of shops in the favelas. "We had an increase in cases at the start of May. Some people think that it was due to May 1 celebrations. It is very important to remember that we are only protected if everyone is using a face mask," Crivella said at a press conference.
Coronavirus lockdown has made jury trials backlog even worse in courts - people are suffering, says Bar Council chair
Since we were in that courtroom together, Pinto, an experienced corporate crime barrister who works as a judge part-time, has become chair of the Bar Council. She is a member of the working group of senior legal figures who have been meeting once a week to discuss how trials can resume. The latest announcement is “very encouraging”, she says. But there was already a backlog of 37,500 cases from last year for English and Welsh courts to deal with, because of “very, very grave reductions in the budget over a decade or so and a complete lack of investment in the system”, Pinto tells i. Scottish courts could soon have another 1,600, and the backlogs are growing longer, potentially worsening victims’ traumas and leaving people’s lives in limbo.
Scientific Viewpoint
UK coronavirus lockdown: Former top Government scientist Sir David King says it's 'foolhardy to go back to work now'
'I think we should be considerably more cautious about undoing the lockdown' the Government's former chief scientific officer said
Mass coronavirus testing plans unrealistic, warns Italian biotech boss
The mass testing that is central to lockdown exit plans in many countries is unrealistic because of high costs and lack of production capacity, according to the boss of an Italian biotech company that supplies tests around the world. Carlo Rosa, chief executive of DiaSorin, which sells Covid-19 diagnostic and antibody tests, said demand far exceeded supply and the percentage of people who had contracted the virus globally was too low to hope for mass immunity as another way out of restrictive lockdown measures.
WHO warns summer heatwaves pose greater risks for vulnerable in lockdown
A summer of heatwaves is expected to hit many European cities, according to the World Health Organization. Every year, high temperatures affect the health of many people, particularly older people, infants, people who work outdoors, and the chronically ill, the WHO said. With the coronavirus in play, the extreme heat can be even more dangerous as it can aggravate existing conditions. Experts have previously dismissed the idea that warmer weather can automatically stop or slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Coronavirus lockdowns could spark rise in HIV infections, experts warn
The CDC said it is expecting a drop in the number of STIs being diagnosed in the short term, “but an increase in the long term once restrictions lift and more people are screened and tested again.” It said that for HIV, “the decrease in the availability of testing and limited access to treatment and prevention services may result in more infections and poor health outcomes in the long run.” In San Francisco, Dr. Matthew Spinelli worries about the homeless, or those who lack the connectivity to take part in the videoconferences that have replaced in-person visits to health centers. “People are just scared of a hospital right now, so I’m pretty worried,” said Spinelli, who practices at the city’s largest hospital.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Coronavirus: Rush to contain second wave in South Korea as 101 cases linked to clubs
South Korean officials are scrambling to contain a new outbreak of coronavirus after a cluster of more than 100 cases was linked one man who visited several nightclubs in Seoul. Bars and discos across South Korea's capital have now been closed, after the sudden outbreak raised fears of a second wave of COVID-19 in a city that has been seen as a model for how to contain the disease.
New nightlife cluster causes spike in South Korea virus cases
South Korea announced its biggest spike in coronavirus infections in more than a month Monday, driven by a cluster at Seoul nightclubs and forcing authorities to delay this week's planned re-opening of schools. The country has been held up as a global model in how to curb the virus, but over the weekend its capital -- as well as neighbouring Gyeonggi province and the nearby city of Incheon -- ordered the closure of all clubs and bars after a burst of new cases sparked fears of a second wave.
Coronavirus: South Korea sees ‘superspreader’ event after lockdown relaxed
it took just one unwitting party animal to wreck it all. The virus behind the global pandemic is highly contagious. A dramatic “superspreader” event in Seoul has reminded us of that. And it’s a warning of what lies ahead as Australia begins to relax its lockdown. Just days after reopening its 2100 nightclubs and bars, the capital of South Korea has ordered them to close once again. Almost 6000 venues in the surrounding province also are shuttered. At the weekend, the country’s health system reported the sudden appearance of more than 40 new coronavirus cases. It was the first time in a month the figure had spiked so high. Contact tracers immediately went to work. What had caused this disturbing turnaround? Turns out, it was mostly due to just one 29-year-old man. He was desperate to let his hair down after long weeks confined to his home. He went on an epic pub crawl to make up for the lost time. In the process, he infected at least a dozen fellow partygoers. Some 30 infections are linked to the five nightclubs he visited. A further 7200 people may have been exposed.
WHO warns that coronavirus cases have jumped in countries that eased lockdowns
Several countries that have lifted coronavirus restrictions and reopened businesses have seen jumps in coronavirus cases, underscoring the “challenges that may lie ahead,” the World Health Organization warned Monday. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged caution as more countries seek to ease such restrictions and jump-start the economy. Before any country begins to lift restrictions, it should have necessary testing, tracing and isolating infrastructure in place, Tedros said.
China’s Wuhan sees first new virus cases since lockdown lifted
Wuhan, where the global coronavirus epidemic first started, reported its first new infections since the Chinese city ended its 76-day lockdown on April 8. The six locally transmitted cases, reported on May 10 and 11, were found in people already under quarantine who were asymptomatic before testing positive, according to the local government. All six cases emerged from a single residential compound. Although the new cases are few and appear under control, they serve as a reminder of the risks China faces as it tries to reopen an economy that has seen its worst contraction since 1992. “Seven provinces reported new infections over the past 14 days, and clustered cases were continuing to increase,” Mi Feng, spokesman for the National Health Commission, said on Monday. China reported only one confirmed case on Tuesday, with no new infections in Wuhan.
China's Wuhan to test entire population for coronavirus after new cases emerge
Wuhan plans to conduct coronavirus tests on the Chinese city's entire population after new cases emerged for the first time in weeks in the cradle of the global pandemic, state media reported today. Officials had been ordered to submit by noon on Tuesday plans to administer nucleic acid tests on all residents in the city of 11 million people, according to an official notice carried by news outlets. "Each district should make plans and arrangements to conduct nucleic acid tests on the entire population in its jurisdiction within a 10-day time limit," the notice said, although it was unclear when testing would begin.
China is playing lockdown whack-a-mole in its battle against a second wave of Covid-19 cases
Shulan, a small city in Jilin province, which neighbors North Korea and Russia, has been put under a partial lockdown since Saturday, with all non-essential transportation banned for its over 630,000 citizens. The city has reported 13 locally transmitted cases as of today, ending Jilin’s more than two-month streak of reporting no new cases, according to Shulan’s mayor (link in Chinese), who said the city is in “wartime” mode. The source of the infections are still under investigation, according to the Shulan government.
France and Germany see infection uptick as lockdown eased
Coronavirus infection rates are rising in Germany and France as lockdown rules are relaxed, new data revealed on Monday. Germany is being closely watched worldwide as the most successful large European country in curbing the spread of the virus, partly thanks to a massive programme of testing, which has prompted a partial reopening of the economy. Merkel has frequently said the reproduction rate of the new coronavirus must be held below one to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed.
China's Wuhan reports first coronavirus cluster since lockdown lifted
Wuhan reported its first cluster of coronavirus infections since a lockdown on the city, the epicentre of the outbreak in China, was lifted a month ago, stoking concerns of a wider resurgence. The five new confirmed cases, all from the same residential compound, come amid efforts to ease restrictions across China as businesses restart and individuals get back to work. "We must resolutely contain the risk of a rebound," the health authority in Wuhan, a city with a population of about 11 million, said in a statement on Monday. New confirmed cases reported in China since April have been low compared with the thousands every day in February, thanks to a nationwide regime of screening, testing and quarantine
As countries consider lifting lockdowns, some in Asia are experiencing a resurgence in coronavirus cases
Public health experts — including those at the World Health Organization — have warned countries against lifting containment measures too early, which could cause a rebound in new coronavirus cases. In Asia, where the coronavirus first hit, several countries including China and South Korea have experienced an uptick in cases after restrictions were eased. In some instances, authorities have had to reimpose measures that restrict interactions between people to once again fight the virus spread. Meanwhile, investors and analysts said another round of lockdowns would exacerbate the damage already inflicted on the global economy.
New Lockdown
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says second lockdown would cost more than $4 billion a week
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the economy will expand by nearly $10 billion a month once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but he's warned Australians of the huge cost if a second lockdown is needed. Mr Frydenberg was originally scheduled to deliver his second budget tonight, but instead outlined the massive impact to the economy of the coronavirus pandemic. Calling it a "one in a hundred year event" that has put the Australian way of life on hold, the treasurer said COVID-19 was a health and economic shock, the likes of which the world has never seen.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 14th May 2020

News Highlights

Lockdown restrictions are being relaxed around the world in an effort to resuscitate dormant economies even as governments grapple with the risks involved in taking such a decision.

According to researchers at Insead, France may see more than 150,000 new coronavirus cases and 5,000 deaths this month as the virus circulates more rapidly in the absence of lockdown. Schools have been reopened in France, but social distancing measures are in place, both in classrooms and playgrounds. A photograph of seven nursery school children trying to play, while sitting apart from each other in chalk-drawn squares in the playground, sparked criticism from several French media commentators.

New Zealand reported no new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the second day in a row without any cases. The country's handling of the pandemic has earned plaudits around the world, in particular for its use of 'social bubbles' as a method of social distancing, a technique now being considered in the UK. For seven weeks during lockdown, five million people were forced into household or family 'bubbles' and company, while exercising or shopping, could only come from people who shared an individual's 'social bubble,' so it could not include outsiders. 

However, some countries are reimposing restrictions. Lebanon, on Tuesday, became the latest country to do so, after experiencing a surge in infections, almost two weeks after it had appeared to have contained the spread of the virus. Authorities have now ordered a four-day, near-complete lockdown to allow officials time to assess the rise in numbers.

Lockdown Exit
UK property website Rightmove sees signs of life as lockdown eases
British property website Rightmove said visits to its site rose 45% on Wednesday morning compared with a day earlier after the government moved to reopen the housing market which it had effectively closed as part of the coronavirus lockdown. Email enquiries to agents rose by 70% and new listings also increased with 2,115 new properties added in five hours, Rightmove said. Buyers and renters in England were given the go-ahead to move house again by the government on Wednesday when estate agents’ offices reopened and buyers and renters were allowed to able to view properties in person.
Coronavirus: Lockdown confusion at the borders
Lockdown rules are now different in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But where does that leave those who live on a border, or live in one country and work in another? In England's northernmost town, Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, some residents told us they felt torn. Boris Johnson encouraged people in England who could not work from home to go back to work. Yet over the border in Scotland, the message has remained "stay at home".
Coronavirus: Some return to work as lockdown eases slightly in England
Some people in England who cannot work from home are returning to their workplaces today, as the government begins easing some lockdown measures. The government urged people to avoid public transport if possible. But some commuters said Tube trains and buses were still too busy to observe social distancing rules. Meanwhile, new guidance issued by the College of Policing said officers had "no powers to enforce two-metre distancing" in England.
Coastal towns tell visitors to stay away as lockdown eases in England
Britain’s coastal resorts have told visitors to stay away amid concerns that people may be drawn to the seaside as the weather improves and the lockdown is eased in England. The tourism body for Blackpool has rebranded as Do Not Visit Blackpool in an attempt to discourage visitors after new guidance came into force on Wednesday allowing people in England to “travel to open space, irrespective of distance”. Simon Blackburn, the leader of Blackpool council, said the UK government’s new message meant there was “nothing we can do” to stop visitors but he urged people to stay away.
Coronavirus: Union warns it will 'stop trains' after crowds on first day of eased lockdown
People who cannot work from home are now being urged to go back to work as the government eases lockdown rules in England.
Coronavirus: Moving home allowed as curbs lift on estate agents in England
The government has set out plans to restart England's housing market, which has been in deep freeze since the coronavirus lockdown. Estate agents can now open, viewings can be carried out and removal firms and conveyancers can restart operations. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the changes must be carried out under social distancing and safety rules. It is estimated there are 450,000 buyers and renters with plans on hold.
England tiptoes out of lockdown as economy dives
England tentatively began easing its coronavirus lockdown on Wednesday, with some people who cannot do their jobs at home urged to return to work, as stark economic data showed the disastrous impact of the pandemic.
Italians across country reflect on lockdown as restrictions ease
Italy began easing its coronavirus restrictions on May 4. Before that, the country had been carrying out one of the world's strictest lockdowns, and the country is still urging people to follow social distancing. Business Insider talked to a handful of people throughout Italy about how they had been navigating the lockdown and what they were doing with some of their new freedom.
Teachers in France paint squares to enforce social distancing for school children
Teachers in France are using paint and chalk to ensure social distancing measures are enforced as students return to school this week. France is gradually lifting stay at home measures following two months of coronavirus lockdown. Teachers have been told they must wear face masks and classes are capped at 10 students at preschools and 15 elsewhere. Images of school children playing in 'isolated squares' in Tourcoing, northern France were taken by Lionel Top, a TV journalist with the BFM news channel, on Tuesday. He said the children had been told to stay in their zones.
Coronavirus: ‘Heartbreaking’ photo shows nursery children in France forced to play in isolation chalk squares after lockdown
A photograph of nursery school children sitting apart from each another in squares drawn on the ground in chalk has caused sadness and outrage in France. The picture was taken by TV journalist Lionel Top on Tuesday in the northern town of Tourcoing, on the border with Belgium. It shows a group of seven children trying to play while being isolated by chalk squares. Around 1.5 million elementary and primary school pupils returned to classes this week after the French government relaxed restrictions after almost two months of coronavirus lockdown.
France Seen Facing 5,000 More Deaths in May as Lockdown Eases
France’s tentative exit from lockdown will probably allow coronavirus infections to rebound, leading to more than 150,000 new cases and 5,000 deaths this month, according to researchers at the business school Insead. As restrictions ease and the virus circulates more actively, the number of new Covid-19 cases will likely start rising again, Insead’s Phebo Wibbens and two colleagues said in a report. To bring new daily infection numbers to just 100, France would have needed to prolong its lockdown by three months, according to their statistical model.
Bus drivers fear for safety as lockdown eases
Bus drivers have expressed concerns over their safety as lockdown measures ease and passenger numbers rise. The Office for National Statistics said road transport drivers had "some of the highest rates of death" involving coronavirus of any working group. Forty two London transport staff, including 12 bus workers, have died after contracting Covid-19. People in England are being encouraged to return to work if they cannot work at home, but avoid public transport.
Russian factory workers return after Putin eases coronavirus lockdown as cases surpass Britain's tally
Factory and construction workers in Russia were set to return to work on Tuesday (May 12) after President Vladimir Putin ordered a gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown measures despite a sharp increase in new cases of the novel virus. Putin, in a surprise announcement on Monday, said it was time after six weeks to lift nationwide restrictions that had forced many people to work from home and businesses to temporarily close. He made the announcement on a day when Russia overtook Italy to become the country with the fourth-highest number of cases in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
South Korea sticks with virus lockdown rollback despite nightclub outbreak
South Korea health authorities said on Wednesday they had no immediate plans to reinstate strict social distancing rules despite a fresh coronavirus outbreak in the capital of Seoul.
New Zealand Sees No New Coronavirus Cases for Second Day Ahead of Lockdown Relaxations
New Zealand reported zero new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, the second day in a row without any new cases and the fourth day since early last week. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said it was encouraging news as the country prepares to ease many of its lockdown restrictions from midnight. Most businesses, including malls, retail stores and sit-down restaurants, will be able to reopen. Social distancing rules will remain in place and gatherings will be limited to 10 people. "The sense of anticipation is both palpable and understandable," Bloomfield said
Coronavirus: Hollywood looks to New Zealand amid US Covid-19 crisis
Segments of Hollywood are looking to move to New Zealand's near-Covid-free shores as the country's film industry stands to win big in coming months. New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Annabelle Sheehan's optimism is matched by BusinessNZ, Equity NZ, and the Wellywood councillor in charge of economic development. Sheehan said 47 local productions with a spend of around $200 million were stalled or unable to start when lockdown hit. That was on top of seven or eight international projects in production or about to start, employing about 3300 people and spending just under $400m.
Lockdown life in New Zealand, the bubble that 'beat' coronavirus
Some might have been tempted to complain that such restrictions were draconian. But Ardern relayed the order with clarity and empathy. On that day she also introduced "the bubble", a concept to help New Zealanders visualise who they might have close contact with during lockdown - typically just their own household. The concept made social distancing into something tangible, like a two-metre shell protecting anyone who ventured outside. "Be strong, and be kind," the prime minister said that day, a five-word slogan that would come to symbolise the country's unity during the lockdown, as messages like "be kind" or "kia kaha" (te reo Māori for "be strong") were etched in chalk on pavements by children, while teddy bears were left in windows as part of a nationwide game of I-spy.
Investors Optimistic as New Zealand Begins to Exit Lockdown
New Zealand equity investors are among the most positive in the region as Kiwis begin to exit from one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns. The nation’s stock market is the second-best performer in the Asia-Pacific since global benchmarks plunged to their March lows, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A fading infection count and moves to unwind virus restrictions have helped unwind virus restrictions and helped the market recover about 27% from its trough, trailing only South Korea’s 33% improvement.
People Return to Sidewalk Cafes in Northeastern Spain as Lockdown Restrictions Eased
Restaurants, cafes, and some nonessential shops have reopened in Spain as parts of the country moved into “phase 1” of the nation’s coronavirus reopening plan on May 11. El Pais reported the government announced that more than half of the country’s population will be able to visit loved ones, attend funerals, go shopping without a prior appointment, and have a drink at a street cafe. In some regions, according to the report, restaurants and cafes can open their terraces at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 10 people per table.
Coronavirus Australia: Victorians wake to relaxed COVID-19 lockdown restrictions
Victorians can now invite five friends or family members over, attend mass or tee off at their favourite golf course, as the state officially relaxes its coronavirus restrictions. As of 11.59pm on Tuesday, Victorians can invite five friends or family members over to their home, but Premier Daniel Andrews has warned it is “not an invitation to host a dinner party every night of the week”. “It’s not about having a rotating roster of acquaintances and associates, or your third-best friend from primary school over for a visit,” he said earlier in the week.
France reports 348 new Covid-19 deaths as country emerges from lockdown
People wearing protective face masks walk at the financial district of La Défense near Paris as France begun a gradual end to a two-month nationwide lockdown intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus causing Covid-19
Exit Strategies
Exclusive: First coronavirus antibody test given approval by Public Health England
One hundred per cent accuracy of test developed by Swiss firm Roche confirmed by experts at PHE's Porton Down facility last week
Coronavirus lockdown: How Northern Ireland differs to other UK regions and Republic
Despite the UK Government’s preference for a “four nations approach” towards softening the lockdown, clear differences have emerged between the countries. The devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have diverged from England, notably in keeping the “stay at home” slogan after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his new “stay alert” message on Sunday. Here is a look at how the four UK nations – and the Republic of Ireland – differ in their approach to exiting the restrictive regime which was imposed across the board on March 23.
UK lockdown: Who is encouraged to return to work after Boris Johnson’s speech?
On Sunday 10 May, Boris Johnson announced the implementation of new measures to ease lockdown in England. Among the new guidelines, the prime minister unveiled a change to the advice being given to workers across the nation. When the lockdown was first introduced on Monday 23 March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the government stated that if members of the public are able to work from home, then they should do so accordingly.
Coronavirus: How lockdown rules differ across the UK
After almost two months of being urged to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives, the terms of the UK lockdown have now changed. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks to get parts of the British economy moving again, the restrictive measures we have become used to are now different depending on which of the home nations you live in.
The UK seems to be betting on the R number to help lift lockdown, but it may not be the easy way out
Easing the lockdown so that people in the UK can slowly return to their pre-pandemic lives depends on many factors, but there is one number that is mentioned time and again. The R number, or R rate, refers to the reproduction rate of coronavirus - basically how many people on average an infected individual will pass Covid-19 to.
When will gyms reopen in the UK? If fitness centres could be among the last to open when lockdown is eased
The Prime Minister revealed the government’s plans for the “roadmap” out of lockdown on Sunday 10 May. However, Scotland is not replacing the “stay home” message with Johnson’s new “stay alert” slogan. The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has instead ordered those in Scotland to follow different advice on outdoors exercise.
Coronavirus: Italy allows bars, restaurants and hair salons to reopen from next week
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte lets regional leaders lift restrictions from 18 May. Italy’s bars, restaurants, hairdressers and beauty salons will be able to reopen next week after the government announced new moves to relax lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s regional authorities have been granted the power to lift restrictions on bars and other popular leisure businesses from 18 May. It follows pressure from local government leaders for an easing of the rules, as the number of new Covid-19 cases reaches its lowest level in more than two months.
Ski resorts in Europe set to reopen for summer as lockdown measures are eased
High-altitude ski resorts in France, Austria and Switzerland are to reopen their slopes for the summer as lockdown measures begin to ease around Europe.
Russia eases lockdown at the height of its coronavirus crisis
The "regime of non-working days," as the state of affairs in Russia has officially been called for the last six weeks, ended on Tuesday. The situation allows the gradual abolition of all restrictions, Putin said in his recent speech to the nation. This applies to all sectors of the economy, he said, adding that all businesses should be able to function again: heavy industry, construction, agriculture, transport and energy. People older than 65 and those in risk groups must, however, continue to stay at home, Putin said. Nationwide, people must wear face masks in public. Many citizens were surprised about the eased regulations because Russia, with more than 10,000 new cases per day, now ranks first in the worldwide statistics of new infections and second in the absolute number of infected people. Why then, many wondered, these relaxations? And why now and not a few weeks ago, when the official infection figures were much lower?
What Canada can learn from other countries about lifting lockdown measures too soon
As Canada moves to start easing lockdown measures, experts say there are key lessons we can learn from other countries to avoid risking a sudden spike in new COVID-19 cases. Countries like South Korea and Germany lifted some restrictions and have faced setbacks — but also did some things right. What they've shown is that easing measures could result in new outbreaks and a return to restrictions if not handled correctly. Experts say effective testing, tracing and isolating of cases need to be put in place before reopening. "Shutting your eyes and trying to drive through this blind is about as silly an equation as I've seen," Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization's top emergencies expert, said this week. "And I'm really concerned that certain countries are setting themselves up for some seriously blind driving over the next few months."
Coronavirus: Three mistakes Australia must avoid to prevent a deadly second wave
Australia should be looking to other countries for “cautionary tales” as it eases lockdown restrictions and the coronavirus curve flattens. Many countries overseas who have experienced soaring numbers of coronavirus cases, such as Germany and the UK, have started easing lockdown as Australia too announced rules would be relaxed. But with this comes the risk of a spike in coronavirus cases and the feared second wave of outbreaks. So what ‘mistakes’ have other countries made and what lessons can Australia learn to ensure cases can remain controlled.
Australia is 'winning' against coronavirus, finance minister says as country eases restrictions
As authorities globally look to ease restrictions intended to contain the coronavirus and reopen economies, Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the country is on the path to victory against the coronavirus. Acknowledging that Australia remains “very focused on avoiding a second wave” of infections, Cormann said the health risk is “appropriately managed at the moment.” Australia has been among the countries in Asia Pacific that have announced plans to ease lockdown measures put in place earlier to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Life in a bubble: Britain embraces New Zealand’s method for halting coronavirus spread
The bubble method of social distancing being adopted in the UK was pioneered by New Zealand and is credited with helping the country to all but eliminate Covid-19 with only 21 deaths. For seven weeks, a lockdown forced five million people into household or family “bubbles” in which they had to stay. Company while exercising or shopping could only be drawn from an individual’s bubble, which could not include outsiders. Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, spoke often through social media to New Zealanders from her bubble in her official Wellington residence. It was limited to her partner, infant daughter and her parents. In late March, using Facebook Live, she apologised for wearing a casual green jumper, saying that she had just put her daughter
Russia moves to ease lockdown despite surge in virus cases
Russia moved to ease a nationwide coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday despite a surge in cases that has seen it register one of the world's highest number of infections. With pressure building to get the economy moving again, President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced an end to a national "non-working" period in place since late March. Containment measures remained in many parts of the vast country, including hard-hit Moscow which is on lockdown until the end of May, but others began to lift some restrictions. In Bashkortostan in the Urals officials reopened parks and river banks and in Magadan in the Far East residents were allowed to leave their homes to exercise. In Moscow some half-a-million construction and industrial workers were allowed back on the job, as wearing masks and gloves became mandatory in shops and on public transport.
Coronavirus in U.K.: Boris Johnson's Reopening Plans Leaves Britons Confused
Critics say the government has failed to answer some basic questions. Among them: 1) when to return to work and 2) how to get there.
Partisan Exits
China-linked hackers are targeting US coronavirus vaccine research, FBI warns
Hackers linked to the Chinese government are trying to steal coronavirus-related research on vaccines, treatments and testing, the FBI and a U.S. cybersecurity agency warned. The FBI, in a joint statement with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said it is investigating “the targeting and compromise of U.S. organizations conducting COVID-19-related research by [People’s Republic of China]-affiliated cyber actors and non-traditional collectors.” The hackers have been caught attempting to “identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property” and public health data related to coronavirus research, according to the statement.
PM: UK will ‘go forward together’ despite lockdown splits
Boris Johnson has insisted the UK will “go forward together” out of coronavirus lockdown after facing claims that devolved administrations had been “shut out” of the UK Government’s plans.
German adviser sacked for report on 'lockdown peril'
A German ministerial adviser has been sacked for circulating a report that described coronavirus as a “false alarm” and accused the government of causing “a large number of avoidable deaths” through its lockdown. The 92-page document was drawn up by a civil servant in the interior ministry and leaked to a right-wing website, apparently after he felt that his misgivings were being ignored by his superiors. “The (entirely unforced) collateral damage of the corona crisis has by now become gigantic,” it says. “The protection measures ordered by the state … have meanwhile lost any purpose but remain largely in force.
Italy's South Tyrol invokes autonomy to pry open lockdown
Spurred by economic pressure, the provincial governor defied Rome this week and reasserted South Tyrol’s cherished autonomy, allowing restaurants, hair salons, tattoo parlors and museums to reopen Monday -- well ahead of the timetable set by Italy’s government. ‘’We have a relatively positive situation regarding the epidemic, with a rate of contagion the lowest in Italy,’’ said Gov. Arno Kompatscher, whose South Tyrolean People’s Party has controlled the province since 1948. The party’s legislators in the national parliament back Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte’s government. ‘’We appreciated the actions of the government in the phase of emergency, where it was necessary to move in a united way,” Kompatscher said. “But we are very proud and jealous of our autonomy.’’
Tensions mount as Scotland goes its own way on virus lockdown
First independence. Then Brexit. Now Scotland's handling of the coronavirus outbreak has stirred up fresh tensions with the UK government, despite an initial unified approach. The leader of the Scottish government, Nicola Sturgeon, has put clear water between Edinburgh and London by refusing to implement the same easing of lockdown measures. At the weekend, she warned lives could be at risk if stay-at-home restrictions were lifted too soon, just before British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a plan for a gradual return to normality.
Confusion as UK publishes lockdown exit plan
The publication of a 50-page document followed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s televised address to the nation on Sunday evening, which was widely criticized for lacking precision. A broadcast round by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Monday morning ahead of the document’s release added to the confusion when he appeared to contradict the prime minister’s assertion that anyone who is able to work safely should return to their jobs on Wednesday, not Monday as Johnson had stated the night before.
Continued Lockdown
How the coronavirus crisis destroyed work-life balance in Spain
The lockdown has given the 4.5 million families in the country with small children an overload of responsibility. Experts are calling for urgent measures
Coronavirus UK: Contract tracing may mean 770k self-isolate a day
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) made the estimate. They say for every 20,000 new cases each day, 770,000 people would be traced. Currently 3,000 cases are diagnosed per day but it is heavily under-reported. The study measured the impact of app-based tracing against manual tracing . Both methods are due to be implemented by health chiefs in the coming weeks.
Coronavirus: Saskatchewan government detaining people who won’t self-isolate
The Saskatchewan government is detaining people who are allegedly not self-isolating and putting them in a place where prisoners who are awaiting bail or trial are usually held. According to the Ministry of Justice, the White Birch Remand Centre in Regina is being used as an “isolation centre” for those “unwilling or unable to follow the self-isolation orders established by the chief medical officer of Saskatchewan.”
South Sudan: Coronavirus cases confirmed inside UN civilian protection site
The UN Peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) told the UN Spokesperson’s Office on Wednesday that the appearance of cases within one of the camps in the capital was “not unexpected, given the rising number of cases confirmed within communities across the city.” “The UN continues to urge displaced people in the sites to follow prevention measures such as social distancing, handwashing, and isolating themselves if they become sick”, Stéphane Dujarric told reporters during the regular online briefing in New York.
Coronavirus: UAE announces 725 new cases, 511 recoveries
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Wednesday announced 725 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, as well as 511 new recoveries. The total number of cases in the country has reached 20,386 and the total number of recoveries has also reached 6,523. As many as 34,869 new tests have also been carried out, the ministry added. 3 people have succumbed to the illness, bringing the total number of deaths to 206 in the country. The UAE's daily testing average is equivalent to a four-month screening average in other countries, and the country has conducted over 1.5 million Covid-19 tests so far, the ministry had said earlier.
Madrid protests at continued lockdown as Spain starts to reopen
A top official in Madrid has called on Spain’s government to move faster to end the city’s lockdown, arguing that keeping residents at home as other areas start to ease restrictions serves little health purpose and will deepen the damage to the nation’s economy. Ignacio Aguado, deputy head of the Madrid regional government, said there would be severe consequences for unemployment and poverty if Madrid was left behind after half the country began phasing out the coronavirus lockdown this week.
Philippines extends lockdown in capital beyond 11 weeks
The Philippines on Tuesday announced an extension of a lockdown of its capital, Manila, to 11 weeks, stretching one of the world's strictest and longest community quarantines to June to try to contain coronavirus outbreaks.
Putin's coronavirus crisis deepens with fatal hospital fire and spokesman's diagnosis
A fire in a hospital treating coronavirus victims claimed the lives of five patients and forced the evacuation of 150 people in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on Tuesday, further testing the Russian government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic amid a growing crisis that has reached the Kremlin's inner circle. The St. Petersburg fire broke out on the sixth floor of an intensive care unit at the St. George Hospital, killing five coronavirus patients connected to ventilating equipment, the TASS news agency reported, citing medical personnel. According to initial findings, the fire may have been caused by a short circuit in a ventilator or its malfunction, state news agencies said. The Investigative Committee, Russia's top law enforcement body, said a criminal investigation had been opened into the matter.
Scientific Viewpoint
Coronavirus: Experts warn 100,000 people could die if UK lockdown lifted early
The UK death toll could surpass 100,000 if lockdown restrictions are eased too soon, leading academics have warned. As many as 73,000 excess deaths could happen in the next year as a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report published in the Lancet. The UK’s COVID-19 death toll now exceeds 40,000, which is the worst in Europe, and the government has just eased restrictions. Dr Amitava Banerjee, from University College London (UCL), is the lead author on the new study.
Lockdown ease in Europe gains pace as Fauci warns of danger if US re-opens too soon
Austria announced its border with Germany would be unlocked following a two-month shutdown and Britons were allowed unlimited outdoor exercise, despite a global death toll closing in on 300,000. Curbs that have confined billions to their homes continued easing but the death toll spiked in some of the world's most populated countries, with Brazil, Russia and the US all reporting bad news. It came as US government expert Anthony Fauci issued a stark warning to Congress about the dangers of resuming normal life too soon, saying a run of 14 days with falling cases was a vital first step.
Italian hospital sees 30-FOLD increase in children admitted for rare inflammatory condition - with 80% of those testing positive for coronavirus - suggesting the diseases are linked
In Lombardy, Italy, over the last 5 years, 19 children were admitted to a hospital with an inflammatory syndrome with symptoms resembling Kawasaki Disease. Between February 18, 2020 and April 20, 2020, 10 children were admitted with the same symptoms such as a full body rash. 80% of the 10 tested positive for coronavirus bodies and 60% had more severe complications such as heart issues. Researchers say this is evidence the mysterious condition is linked to COVID-19 and that it should be classified as 'Kawasaki-like Disease.' On Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed 15 US states are investigating a link between coronavirus and the syndrome
Coronavirus UK: Thousands of coronavirus test results 'disappear'
The results of tens of thousands of Covid-19 key worker testing kits have reportedly gone missing, it has emerged. Data from essential workers’ home testing and drive-through kits have been ‘disappearing into a black hole,’ according to NHS sources, reported the HSJ. Without the information, local authorities and organisations do not know exactly how many people in their area have tested positive for the virus. A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson has denied that tests have been lost and said there was a ‘technical error relating to postcode data, but this has now been fixed’.
Abbott's rapid coronavirus test misses nearly half of positive cases, study finds | TheHill
A rapid coronavirus diagnostic test manufactured by Abbott may miss nearly half of all positive infections, according to a pre-published study from New York University. The analysis of Abbott's ID NOW system, which has not been peer-reviewed, found the test to be "unacceptable" in a clinical setting. But Abbott said it's not clear if the researchers used the samples correctly. A spokesperson said the company's own rate of false negatives that it has shared with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is .02 percent.
In France, Covid-19 is said to have contaminated less than 5% of the population, far from collective immunity
Even in the most affected regions, less than 10% of the inhabitants have been infected, according to this updated study by French epidemiologists.
Moscow defends reporting of low coronavirus death statistics
Deaths of those infected with coronavirus were ascribed to other causes following post-mortem exams, said officials.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Spain's New Virus Cases, Deaths Edge Higher as Lockdown Eases
PM Pedro Sanchez is also facing growing pressure from industry groups, particularly in the tourism and restaurant sectors hammered by the fallout from the virus. The government issued a decree Tuesday mandating a 14-day confinement for people arriving from outside Spain, a potential blow to travel companies desperate for a return to normality.
Wuhan to use massive testing against COVID-19 resurgence; Russia cases soar
Two countries—China and Singapore—are taking massive testing steps to tamp down COVID-19 resurgences, as cases continued to soar in Russia, now the country with the third-highest number of cases. The global total today climbed to 4,239,872 cases, and 290,390 people have died from COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.
South Korea To Refrain From Reimposing Lockdown Despite Surge In COVID-19 Cases
Authorities in South Korea,May 13 said that there were no immediate plans on reinstating stringent social distancing rules despite fresh surge in COVID-19 cases
Coronavirus flare-ups in China and South Korea prompt new fears of a 2nd wave
China plans to test all 11 million people in epicenter city Wuhan after finding new cases, while South Korea races to contain a new cluster in Seoul.
China ‘to test all 11m Wuhan residents’ amid fears of coronavirus comeback
Authorities in the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic first broke out are planning to test all 11 million residents in the next 10 days, local media have reported. No official announcement has been made,
South Korea And China See COVID-19 Resurgence After Easing Restrictions
South Korea is now grappling with some of its largest infection clusters yet after authorities began to loosen some social distancing restrictions this month. Scores of new cases have been reported in the past two weeks, many of which are linked to a young man who stopped in at several clubs and bars in Seoul the night of May 1. Officials do not know how he contracted the virus in the first place. It's a demoralizing development for officials there, who postponed their plans to reopen on-site classes in schools for the first time in more than two months. But South Korea is not the only apparent success story to report a regression recently.
Chinese city in partial lockdown, 'major risk' of virus spreading
A city in northeastern China has partially shut its borders and cut off transport links after the emergence of a local coronavirus cluster that has fuelled growing fears of a second wave of infections. Jilin, with a population of more than four million, suspended bus services Wednesday and said it will only allow residents to leave the city if they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the past 48 hours and complete an unspecified period of "strict self-isolation". All cinemas, indoor gyms, internet cafes and other enclosed entertainment venues must shut immediately, and pharmacies must report all sales of fever and antiviral medicines, the local government said in a statement.
New Lockdown
Some countries reimposing coronavirus lockdowns after renewed spikes
Lebanon on Tuesday became the latest country to reimpose restrictions after experiencing a surge of infections, almost exactly two weeks after it appeared to have contained the spread of the virus and began easing up. Authorities ordered a four-day, near-complete lockdown to allow officials time to assess the rise in numbers. The reemergence of coronavirus cases in many parts of Asia is also prompting a return to closures in places that had claimed success in battling the disease or appeared to have eradicated it altogether, including South Korea, regarded as one of the continent's top success stories.
China’s Jilin city goes into partial lockdown to contain coronavirus cluster
Jilin city in northeast China has closed schools, imposed restrictions on transport and banned gatherings as a cluster outbreak sparks fears of a new wave of Covid-19 infections. Train and long-distance bus services have been stopped, gatherings banned and indoor public venues closed after six new cases were confirmed on Tuesday. That brought the total to 21 community cases, with two asymptomatic patients, since the first infection in the cluster was reported a week ago. Anyone who wants to leave Jilin – the second biggest city in the province of the same name – must provide a negative report for a nucleic acid test done in the 48 hours before departure. Social gatherings have also been banned and indoor public venues – such as theatres, internet cafes, mahjong parlours and public bathhouses – have been closed until further notice, the statement said.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 6th Apr 2021

Overnight News Roundup

Infectious disease expert warns of new Covid-19 wave infecting younger people

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, told the Huffington Post, 'I believe, in some ways, we're almost in a new pandemic. The only good news is that the current vaccines are effective against this particular variant, B117.' Osterholm went on 'this variant is known to be more contagious and deadly and it is more likely to affect children, an age group that throughout the pandemic has been largely unaffected by COVID-19.'

Osterholm said he initially was in favour of students physically returning to classrooms, but the virus is changing, so he's changing too. 'There isn't a country in the world right now that has seen a big increase of this B117 that is not locking down. The USA is the exception. And so the bottom line message from all of these countries is, we could not control this virus until we did lockdown. We have to do a better job of helping the public understand that this is short term. All we're trying to do is get through this surge of cases that is going to occur over the next six to eight to 10 weeks because of the B117 variant.'

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb attributed new COVID-19 outbreaks in some states to a rise in infections in younger people but said he does not think there will be a fourth wave of cases thanks to the rising number of vaccinations. 'What we're seeing is pockets of infection around the country, particularly in younger people who haven't been vaccinated and also in school-aged children.

Infectious disease expert warns of new Covid-19 wave infecting younger people
Infectious Disease Expert Warns Of New COVID-19 Wave Infecting Younger People
Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm warned Sunday of a coming “fourth wave” of coronavirus infections in the U.S. due in part to a more contagious variant that is spreading and affecting younger people. “I believe that, in some ways, we’re almost in a new pandemic,” Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace. “The only good news is that the current vaccines are effective against this particular variant, B117.” In addition to this variant being known to be more contagious and deadly, Osterholm said it is more likely to affect children, an age group that throughout the pandemic had been largely unaffected by COVID-19.
Ontario hastily reverses reopening as new variants usher in a third wave of Covid cases
Ontario hastily reverses reopening as new variants usher in a third wave of Covid cases
Lisa Salamon-Switzman, an emergency room doctor in Toronto, had already worked through two deadly surges of the coronavirus pandemic when a new batch of patients recently began arriving that left her unsettled because of their low oxygen levels – and their age. “They’re younger than what we saw earlier and they don’t really understand how sick they are,” she said of patients who are in their 40s and 50s. “And now it’s become this huge, huge wave.” Doctors and epidemiologists in Canada’s most populous province have been warning for weeks that the loosening of restrictions, a lack of sick pay for essential workers –and the arrival of infectious new coronavirus variants would usher in a devastating third wave.
Ontario 'pulling the emergency brake' with third COVID-19 lockdown as cases rise, ICU beds fill
Ontario 'pulling the emergency brake' with third COVID-19 lockdown as cases rise, ICU beds fill
The Canadian province of Ontario will enter a limited lockdown for 28 days on Saturday, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise and more dangerous virus variants take hold, the premier said on Thursday. The lockdown for Canada’s most populous province will fall short of enacting a stay-at-home order, which new government modeling released earlier on Thursday suggested would be necessary to avoid a doubling to some 6,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by late April. Ontario’s third lockdown since the pandemic began will shutter all indoor and outdoor dining, although retailers will remain open with capacity limits, Premier Doug Ford said, calling the measures “pulling the emergency brake” on the entire province.
Ontario 'pulling the emergency brake' with third COVID-19 lockdown as cases rise, ICU beds fill
The Canadian province of Ontario will enter a limited lockdown for 28 days on Saturday, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise and more dangerous virus variants take hold, the premier said on Thursday. The lockdown for Canada’s most populous province will fall short of enacting a stay-at-home order, which new government modeling released earlier on Thursday suggested would be necessary to avoid a doubling to some 6,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by late April. Ontario’s third lockdown since the pandemic began will shutter all indoor and outdoor dining, although retailers will remain open with capacity limits, Premier Doug Ford said, calling the measures “pulling the emergency brake” on the entire province.
After a year of waves and surges, the pandemic is entering a “tornado” phase in America.
The Threat That COVID-19 Poses Now
After more than a year of pandemic, after months of an aggressive vaccination campaign, the United States should finally be better positioned to protect itself against the coronavirus. Nearly all of our long-term-care residents are vaccinated. Tens of millions of other people have been vaccinated, and tens of millions more have some level of immunity from previous infection. With more people protected, a new surge could behave differently, but early signals from the states with rising case numbers suggest that this will not universally be the case. Just look at Michigan, the leading edge of this new surge. Cases are going up quickly, and hospitalizations are moving in lockstep—just as they have in past surges. This is a bit of a surprise. Given that so many older, more vulnerable people have been vaccinated, one might expect a divergence in the number of cases and hospitalizations. For the immunized, this disease is essentially harmless. Washington State, for example, has reported just 100 cases and as few as eight hospitalizations among its 1.2 million fully vaccinated people. But for the vulnerable and unvaccinated, COVID-19 is as devastating as it has always been.
The pandemic has accelerated the join-up of services and shown the practical benefits of doing so.
Simon Stevens: Covid vaccine success shows our blueprint for the future
Vaccinating 30 million people while dealing with a huge winter wave of coronavirus has, under the worst of circumstances, shown the NHS at its best. It is not just that the NHS was first in the world to begin delivering the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs, but it is the speed and precision of the rollout. With four million people at highest risk already having had their second jab, hospitals are now seeing a much quicker fall in coronavirus patients than after the first wave last spring. Vaccination is demonstrably working. We are determined to apply those lessons to the way the NHS supports targeted prevention and tackles other big killers such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes, as well as mental health.
Israel's dilemma: Can the unvaccinated return to workplaces?
Israel's dilemma: Can the unvaccinated return to workplaces?
After spending much of the past year in lockdown, Tel Aviv makeup artist Artyom Kavnatsky was ready to get back to work. But when he showed up for a recent photo shoot, his employer turned him away. The reason? He had not been vaccinated against the coronavirus. “He didn’t take me because I didn’t get vaccinated,” Kavnatsky said. “It’s discrimination, and it’s not all right.” The breakneck pace of Israel’s vaccination drive has made it one of the few countries able to return to much of its pre-pandemic routine. Bars and businesses, hotels and health clubs have all sprung back to life in Israel, where some 80% of the adult population is fully vaccinated and new infections and COVID-19 deaths have plummeted.
UK to pilot use of coronavirus passports at upcoming large gatherings
UK to pilot use of coronavirus passports at upcoming large gatherings
The United Kingdom is reportedly planning to test “coronavirus status certifications” in the next few weeks to determine whether or not people can return to mass gatherings such as concerts, sporting events and nightclubs. The Associated Press reports that the trials will collect evidence on how different factors affecting events such as ventilation and social distancing could allow large events to resume, citing British authorities. People who attend such events in April and May will need to be tested for the coronavirus before and after attending. British officials are also looking into COVID-19 passports that will show whether or not a person has been vaccinated, has recently received a COVID-19 test or has some form of immunity to the virus either from illness or immunization, the AP reports
UK ministers plan traffic light system to unlock foreign travel
UK ministers plan traffic light system to unlock foreign travel
Ministers will on Thursday hammer out a framework for reopening Britain’s overseas travel sector, as chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted the country was “in a good position to recover strongly” from the Covid-19 crisis. Travel industry and Whitehall officials expect Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, will back a “traffic light” approach to restarting foreign travel, depending on infection rates and the prevalence of Covid-19 variants in overseas destinations. May 17 has been named as the “earliest date” for foreign travel; aviation sector executives hope Israel and Iceland will be among early holiday destinations on a “green list”, with the US not far behind.
Fully vaccinated people can travel safely again, CDC says
Fully vaccinated people can travel safely again, CDC says
Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can safely enjoy again, according to new U.S. guidance issued Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward. Still, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky urged caution and said she would “advocate against general travel overall” given the rising number of infections. “If you are vaccinated, it is lower risk,” she said.
California to allow indoor gatherings as virus cases plummet
California to allow indoor gatherings as virus cases plummet
California on Friday cleared the way for people to attend indoor concerts, theater performances and NBA games for the first time in more than a year as the rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus in the state nears a record low. State officials won’t require testing or proof of vaccination for some of those events, but they do limit the number of people allowed to attend. Events that do require testing and vaccinations will be allowed to have more paying customers than those that don’t. Only people who live in California can attend these live performances.
COVAX chief 'disappointed' with slow vaccine exports to world's poorest
COVAX chief 'disappointed' with slow vaccine exports to world's poorest
A leader of the U.N.-backed program to ship COVID-19 vaccines to needy people in low- and middle-income countries has expressed disappointment about supply delays from a key Indian manufacturer but says he hopes the United States can begin sharing shots soon. Seth Berkley, the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said doses for health care workers and other high-risk groups in such countries to be delivered through the COVAX program will be set back weeks. He was elaborating on an announcement a day earlier from Gavi and partners that as many as 90 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India will be delayed through the end of April as India’s government grapples with a spike in cases.
Hydroxychloroquine and other 'miracle cures' continue to fuel Brazil's outbreak
Hydroxychloroquine and other 'miracle cures' continue to fuel Brazil's outbreak
Before the variants were identified, misinformation about preventing and treating COVID-19 was being spread from person to person, including at the highest levels of government. "People in Brazil are still denying science," Biolchini said. "We're talking about hydroxychloroquine and drugs that supposedly help you avoid COVID. This is clearly not what the science says."
COVID shows infectious disease is our greatest threat to global security
COVID shows infectious disease is our greatest threat to global security
Early last year, the greatest challenges to world peace and international security were widely seen to be threats like nuclear proliferation, terrorism and climate change. Outbreaks of infectious disease were simply not on the global security agenda. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated what a massive oversight that was; the speed and ferocity with which it has destabilized the world caught us all off guard and triggered the biggest global crisis of our time. And now global access to COVID-19 vaccines is in danger of becoming a new social divider that will only further exacerbate this. The United Nations Secretary General and the United Kingdom’s call for "vaccine ceasefires”, to give people living in conflict zones a chance to be protected against COVID-19, is one much-needed solution to this and an example of how vaccines can be a powerful force for peace. But while there is a long established relationship between conflict and infectious disease — Yemen and Syria as just two current examples — the link between infectious disease and global security goes much deeper.
India coronavirus: Daily cases surpass 100,000 for first time as country faces surging second wave
India coronavirus: Daily cases surpass 100,000 for first time as country faces surging second wave
India added more than 103,000 coronavirus cases on Monday, the first time its daily increase in infections has entered six figures, as a key state entered a new lockdown amid a surging second wave. Of the new cases reported on Monday morning, 57,700 were in the worst-hit state of Maharashtra, which ordered non-essential shops to shut from today and began enforcing an evening and weekend curfew, as well as a ban on large gatherings.
France Enacting National Lockdown After Covid Spike
France Enacting National Lockdown After Covid Spike
France will go under another nationwide lockdown starting on Saturday, President Emmanuel Macron said, closing down schools for in-person learning nationwide and restricting travel to within 10 kilometers (about six miles) of residents’ homes right as many in the country were planning to celebrate the Easter holiday.
France sees biggest jump in COVID-19 intensive care patients in months
France sees biggest jump in COVID-19 intensive care patients in months
France reported on Friday that 5,254 people were in intensive care units with COVID-19, an increase of 145 people in one day and the highest daily increase in five months. The risk of emergency wards being unable to cope was one of the main reasons for President Emmanuel Macron to order a third nationwide lockdown this week, after unsuccessfully trying for months to contain the epidemic with a curfew and regional lockdowns. From next week, France starts a third lockdown, with schools and non-essential businesses closed nationwide for four weeks. Announcing the lockdown on Wednesday, Macron said the number of ICU beds will be raised from 7,000 to over 10,000.
German intensive care association demands hard lockdown
German intensive care association demands hard lockdown
Germany urgently needs a two-week lockdown, faster vaccinations and compulsory tests at schools to break a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the DIVI association for intensive and emergency medicine was quoted as saying on Thursday. Christian Karagiannidis, the DIVI’s scientific head, said about 1,000 additional patients had ended up in intensive care since the middle of March. On Wednesday, 3,680 people were in intensive care in Germany, DIVI data show. “If this rate continues, we will reach the regular capacity limit in less than four weeks,” he told the Rheinische Post daily. “We are not overexaggerating. Our warnings are driven by the figures.”
Teesside firm that will produce Novavax coronavirus vaccine in new £7.9 million partnership
Teesside firm that will produce Novavax coronavirus vaccine in new £7.9 million partnership
The company making the new Novavax coronavirus vaccine on Teesside has signed a partnership worth nearly £8 million to improve the development of medicines for a range of diseases. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, which is producing doses of the Covid jab at its facilities in Billingham, will partner with the universities of Edinburgh, Manchester and York to boost the development of biological drugs used to treat conditions such as cancer, haemophilia and arthritis. The £7.9 million collaboration, announced today by business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, will involve 'state of the art tools and synthetic biology' to refine the production of biological drugs from cells and increase their cost-effectiveness.
COVID-19: Chris Whitty warns virus measures needed for another two years to combat threat of variants
COVID-19: Chris Whitty warns virus measures needed for another two years to combat threat of variants
Coronavirus safety measures are likely to still be necessary for another two years, England's chief medical officer has said. Professor Chris Whitty said it could take up to two years for the world to build up a bank of vaccines and technologies capable of rapidly dealing with COVID-19 variants and outbreaks. While he said these tools will eventually "find a way through", there still remains a level of risk that needs to be managed before then
Troubling
Troubling "Eek" variant found in most Tokyo hospital COVID cases - NHK
Around 70% of coronavirus patients tested at a Tokyo hospital last month carried a mutation known for reducing vaccine protection, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said on Sunday. The E484K mutation, nicknamed “Eek” by some scientists, was found in 10 of 14 people who tested positive for the virus at Tokyo Medical and Dental University Medical Hospital in March, the report said. For the two months through March, 12 of 36 COVID patients carried the mutation, with none of them having recently travelled abroad or reporting contact with people who had, it said.
Emergent plant that ruined Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses had prior FDA violations
Emergent plant that ruined Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses had prior FDA violations
In April last year, an investigator from the Food and Drug Administration reported problems he had discovered at a Baltimore plant operated by Emergent BioSolutions, a major supplier of vaccines to the federal government. Some employees had not been properly trained. Records were not adequately secured. Established testing procedures were not being followed. And a measure intended to “prevent contamination or mix-ups” was found to be deficient. Soon after the inspection, Emergent’s Baltimore plant was given an important role in Operation Warp Speed, the government’s program to rapidly produce vaccines to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Emergent was awarded $628 million by the government and also secured deals totaling more than $740 million with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca to produce coronavirus vaccines for both companies at the Baltimore site.
Dutch temporarily halt AstraZeneca shots for under-60s
Dutch temporarily halt AstraZeneca shots for under-60s
The Dutch government said Friday it is temporarily halting AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccinations for people under 60 following reports of very small number of people suffering unusual blood clots after receiving the shot. The Dutch decision comes three days after authorities in Germany also stopped using the AstraZeneca’s vaccine in the under-60s, citing fresh concerns over unusual blood clots reported in a tiny number of those who received the shots. Earlier Friday, a Dutch organization that monitors vaccine side effects said it had received five reports of blood clots with low blood plate counts following vaccinations. All the cases occurred between seven and 10 days after the vaccinations and all the people affected were women aged between 25 and 65 years.
Epidemiologic Evidence for Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during Church Singing, Australia, 2020
Epidemiologic Evidence for Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during Church Singing, Australia, 2020
An outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection occurred among church attendees after an infectious chorister sang at multiple services. We detected 12 secondary case-patients. Video recordings of the services showed that case-patients were seated in the same section, >15 m from the primary case-patient, without close physical contact, suggesting airborne transmission.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 15th May 2020

News Highlights

Cases spike in Brazil and Mexico

Brazil and Mexico saw record daily increases in new coronavirus cases, even as their contrasting leaders, both of whom have swum frequently against the tide of prevailing scientific opinion, made intensive efforts to reopen their economies.

A tale of two vaccines

A potential coronavirus vaccine, being developed by scientists at Oxford University, has shown promising signs in a small study of six monkeys. Novartis CEO, Vas Narasimhan, though, said a vaccine for Covid-19 may only become available in the second half of next year.

Japan lifts emergency and New Zealand plans for future

Japan lifted the lockdown across most of the country, as coronavirus infections subsided, vindicating its strategy of voluntary social distancing, whilst New Zealand, eased restrictions and announced a huge $50bn plan to try and return jobs to pre-Covid-19 levels.

Africa's coronavirus challenge

The WHO predicts nearly a quarter of a billion people across the whole of Africa will be infected with the coronavirus over the next year, but the total number of serious cases and deaths could end up being lower, in percentage terms, to Europe and North America, due to factors like the continent's younger age profile and lower obesity levels.

Lockdown Exit
Coronavirus: Some return to work as lockdown eases slightly in England
The government urged people to avoid public transport if possible. But some commuters said Tube trains and buses were still too busy to observe social distancing rules. Meanwhile, new guidance issued by the College of Policing said officers had "no powers to enforce two-metre distancing" in England. Under the new rules in England, people can now spend more time outside and move house. Garden centres can reopen and sports that are physically distanced - such as golf - are now permitted. Two people from different households can meet in outdoor settings, such as parks, as long as they stay more than 2m apart.
Coronavirus lockdown: Am I allowed to move house?
The first property viewing will not be in person, but online. Virtual viewings have become more common recently and will continue, while open house viewings will not return for a while. When prospective buyers and tenants want to inspect a property in real life, government guidance states only one household should be shown around at a time. Internal doors should stay open, or door handles wiped down along with other surfaces after each visit. Washing facilities should be offered, towels washed, and visitors could bring their own hand sanitiser.
The big restart: how businesses in England are coming out of lockdown
With just 16 of its 90-strong workforce back at its factory in Atherstone in the West Midlands, boss John Nollett was cautious as he digested the deluge of government guidance about how to reopen safely during the pandemic. “Staff were fully briefed for 30 minutes at the start of their shift with a Q&A session to ensure they were all happy to proceed,” said Mr Nollett of the company’s new workplace safety rules. “We believe we’ve done the right thing, but we’re not medics, just engineers.”
Marks & Spencer reopening cafes across the UK as coronavirus lockdown rules begin to ease
Marks & Spencer is to reopen 49 of its cafés across the UK tomorrow. The high street retailer said it had taken the decision to reopen the sites to takeaway customers after operating social distancing and extra hygiene measures in its stores. The retailer said its cafés would be opening for takeaway hot drinks only and the sites selected were located next to M&S Foodhall stores which have remained open through the lockdown.
Italy’s German-speaking majority region eases lockdown ahead of rest of country
Italy’s German-speaking region has defied Rome by easing lockdown restrictions quicker than in the rest of the country. Residents of South Tyrol have once again heard words like Freiheit and Los Von Rom – German for Freedom and Away From Rome – in echoes of historic calls of resistance. In decades past, the words ignited on a mountainside demanded independence from Rome’s rule for the province’s German-language majority. Now, they vent discontent in South Tyrol, which was once part of Austria, with the uncompromising and indiscriminate lockdown imposed by the Italian government to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Dentists re-open in France after two-month lockdown
Anyone who suffered through France's two-month lockdown with a toothache or other oral affliction of a non-emergency nature has a hope of licking the pain. Dental practices around the country are cautiously reopening and accepting appointments after the French government eased restrictions on some businesses, services and public activity. Yet getting back to work in the age of coronavirus requires caution, especially for over 40,000 dentists in France who are among the health professionals at highest risk of becoming infected.
Emerging from lockdown, France’s cherished bookshops battle to avoid shutdown
France's bookstores were allowed to reopen on Monday for the first time since March 17 as the country began easing lockdown measures put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19. After almost two months of confinement, the French government is trying to balance the need to resuscitate a crashing economy with the risk that the spread of the deadly virus accelerates once more.
From France to China, nations worry about low rates of coronavirus infection
In a worrying sign that coronavirus may not be done sweeping through nations that are beginning to emerge from lockdown, recent studies in Spain, France and England indicate that only a small fraction of these countries' populations had been infected with the virus. In France, where 16,642 people have died from coronavirus so far, according to an NBC News tally, a study led by the Pasteur Institute found only 4.4 percent of the population — or 2.8 million people — had been infected by the virus. This rose to between 9 and 10 percent in hard-hit regions such as Paris, according to the study released Wednesday.
When will UK lockdown end? What restrictions have been eased as UK passes peak of infections
The UK has outined plans for its route out of lockdown after passing the peak of infeThe UK has outined plans for its route out of lockdown after passing the peak of infections, meaning the NHS is able to cope with the number of casesctions, meaning the NHS is able to cope with the number of cases
China comes out of lockdown
China was once the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, but now the country is coming out of lockdown. Gideon Rachman talks to FT correspondents Yuan Yang and James Kynge about how quickly China can find a new normal.
Lockdown restrictions eased worldwide as countries adapt to ‘new normal’
Flat dwellers in Rio de Janeiro were getting some much needed entertainment from children’s movies projected onto screens set up outside their buildings, similar to a drive-in theatre. Cesar Miranda Ribeiro, president of the city-owned RioFilme company, said the effort called “Cinema In The Windows” is aimed at “trying to take care of the mental health of the people”. Chinese looking for some stay-at-home retail therapy have tuned into livestream shopping. Others seeking spiritual support and human connections are worshipping remotely via online religious services from the Vatican to village churches, to mosques and temples.
French tennis players taking things slow in return to court as lockdown ends in France
"What’s different is that this isn’t even like an injury. Everyone’s had an injury, and been away from the circuit for five, six months. But this was a different feeling," he said. "We weren’t on holiday — far from it for all the people who were confined — and we weren’t injured. It was a really complex situation to deal with.” What also felt strange was the many new obligatory measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 — such at not sitting down on a chair, using different balls than your opponent, and sliding on gloves to wipe down the net cord with disinfectant after the session. "Hopefully we can quickly have some normal training conditions again," Mahut said. "But you have to respect the rules … We’re already lucky enough to be back playing.”
Beer today, gone tomorrow: Australian brewers tip 7.8m pints down the drain
One of Australia’s largest brewers is tipping 90,000 kegs of beer down the drain. Lion, which manufactures Tooheys, James Boag, XXXX and other well-known Australian beers, collected the untapped kegs from pubs and clubs in March, after the Australian government declared pubs and restaurants had to shut to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The beer has now passed its shelf life and will be tipped into the wastewater treatment plants at the Tooheys and XXXX breweries, which will produce biogas to offset the breweries’ natural gas use and be used to brew fresh beer.
How public transport usage is creeping back after coronavirus lockdown
It's the next big challenge for governments as coronavirus lockdowns ease. For those of us who are lucky enough to have a workplace to go back to, doing so safely is presenting major challenges. Millions of people would normally commute by public transport, but how can you stick to social distancing while cramming onto a packed train or bus? If buses were to enforce a four-square-metres per person rule, there would only be room for six passengers and the driver on board. It would require 10 times as many buses to cope with an ordinary peak hour.
Coronavirus: New Zealand eases lockdown restrictions and moves into level two
During the pandemic, New Zealand has created a numerical system which details the specific measures that are being taken to protect people and prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is known as the "Alert System" and ranges from levels one to four, with four being the most restrictive. Level two allows for businesses to reopen safely, travel between regions and socialise with friends and family in groups of up to 10.
'We're back!' – Playgrounds, barbers and schools reopen in New Zealand as country eases lockdown
New Zealand eases lockdown, with barbers, playgrounds and some tourist attractions reopening.
New Zealand barbers opens at midnight as coronavirus lockdown restrictions eased
A New Zealand barber shop opened its doors as the clock passed midnight on Thursday to mark the moment most lockdown restrictions were eased across the country. Shopping centres, retail stores and restaurants were allowed to open their doors as of 12.01am, with many employees returning to their workplaces. Mass gatherings will still be limited to 10 people and social distancing guidelines remains in place under the country's Level Two restrictions.
New Zealand sheds lockdown restrictions, reopens shops, restaurants, malls
Malls, retail stores and restaurants are all reopening Thursday in the South Pacific nation of 5 million, and many people are returning to their workplaces. But most gatherings will be limited to 10 people and social distancing guidelines will remain in place. The reopening reflects the success New Zealand has experienced in its bold goal of eliminating the virus. The country reported no new cases of the virus on Tuesday and Wednesday. More than 1400 of the nearly 1500 people who contracted COVID-19 have recovered, while 21 have died.
'Stay out of my moist breath zone': Covid-19 anthem takes the drool out of school
Shirley Șerban of Lake Brunner school in the South Island penned the song Moist Breath Zone as a health and safety message for students returning to school after the Covid-19 lockdown. A three-and-a-half-minute music video posted on YouTube features two dogs, two hugging chimps, a yawning llama, a coughing kitten and a sleepy Staffordshire terrier among others. “We’re back at school, it’s really cool, to all be here together. We made it through and I missed you, the country’s getting better,” the song begins. “I’ll share my news, but my food’s for me alone. If I smell your breath, I will go sit on my own. Always wash your hands – make them soapy, full of foam.” “And stay out of my moist breath zone!” A moist breath zone is the area in which you can feel or smell someone else’s breath. The song has been welcomed by New Zealand’s Ministry of Education, which called Șerban’s effort “fantastic”.
Coronavirus: First flight, post Covid-19 lockdown, lands at Hamilton Airport
Hamilton Airport Chief Executive Mark Morgan stood at the arrival gate to welcome passengers from the Wellington flight. It was good to see domestic flights gradually return over the next six or seven weeks, he said. Return flights to Wellington started this week and flights to Christchurch start on May 18, with flights to Palmerston North a possibility later on. "Air New Zealand has said they may reschedule flights quickly, to respond to demand, but we should start to see three or four flights a day." Morgan said the airport had retained all staff and seeing flights resume would boost morale.
California hospitals brace for fresh coronavirus wave as Mexico comes hotspot
Over past few weeks, cases have increased in California counties near the border with Mexico, which is failing to tackle growing crisis
Tracking apps and thermal scanners: Life in post-lockdown South Korea
Thermal scanners at theme parks, shopping for makeup while wearing masks and constant tracking of people's whereabouts through apps and credit card data are markers of the new post-pandemic world in the country leading the way in its response to the virus. "Everyday distancing does not mean returning to life before COVID-19," Kim Kang Lip, vice minister of health and welfare, said Tuesday at a news briefing. "It means building new social norms and a culture based on exercising social distancing."
Exit Strategies
Coronavirus vaccine could be ready by this time next year, says EU drugs agency
A coronavirus vaccine could be ready for approval in a year’s time in an “optimistic” scenario, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said. The head of vaccines for the EMA – the body which approves medicines for the European Union – said he had doubts over claims one could be available by September. Dr Marco Cavaleri said: “For vaccines, since the development has to start from scratch ... we might look from an optimistic side in a year from now, so beginning of 2021.”
The United Kingdom's four countries take a divided approach to coronavirus crisis
The UK's coronavirus crisis has reignited one of the country's most bitter political debates: Can the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland survive as a union of four nations? On Sunday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the country from 10 Downing Street in a recorded message, announcing his plan for the UK to emerge from lockdown. He called on millions of people to return to work, and gave a rough outline of when schools and shops might reopen over the comings months. He also shifted his government's core message from the simple "Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives" to the more ambiguous "Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives."
Chinese newspaper brands UK's coronavirus response a 'mess' that needs 'miracle' to correct
A state-run Chinese newspaper has lashed out at Boris Johnson’s coronavirus response as a “mess” that needs “a miracle” to fix. Global Times, a tabloid managed by the Chinese Communist Party, also accused the UK Government of being “flippant” and “ill-prepared” and putting the economy before controlling the virus.
Gordon Brown: coronavirus must be 'eradicated in every continent'
Gordon Brown has warned that a second or third wave of coronavirus infection could emanate from poor countries with undeveloped health systems, saying the risks can be controlled only by coordinated international action. The global crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic will not end until it is “eradicated in every continent”, the former prime minister said. “It is in all our interests to prevent a second or third wave starting in the poorest, least protected countries with the most underdeveloped health systems. So a threat to others is a threat to us, and we help ourselves by helping others. Protecting ourselves locally means we need to act globally,” Brown wrote in the foreword to a report by the international development charity Christian Aid.
Are lockdowns being relaxed in my state? Here's how America is reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.
At the height of stay-at-home restrictions in late March and early April, more than 310 million Americans were under various directives – some called shelter-in-place orders, others labeled stay-at-home orders. The mandates generally required people to avoid all nonessential outings and stay inside as much as possible. Here is how all 50 states – plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. – are making moves to roll back social distancing regulations. We will keep this file updated as measures are announced:
Coronavirus in Scotland: FM 'not ruling out' easing rural lockdown first
Scottish ministers are "not ruling out" easing lockdown in some areas ahead of others, Nicola Sturgeon has said. Some parts of Scotland are less badly affected by coronavirus, with few cases currently in hospitals in Orkney, Shetland or Dumfries and Galloway. The first minister said she had "never ruled out" taking a "regionally varied approach" across Scotland. But she stressed that the government was not proposing that approach "at this stage" . And she said if it was to happen, it would need to be done in a "practical and clearly understandable way".
When will hairdressers reopen? Date salons could open after UK Government reveals plan for easing lockdown rules
Hairdressers and barber shops remain temporarily closed, with many across the UK getting creative with cutting their own hair at home - with some very interesting results. When will hairdressers open? Date salons could reopen in UK as government issues new lockdown guidelines. But when are hairdressers due to open? Here’s what you need to know.
Will summer holidays go ahead in 2020? When tourism in the UK and abroad might start after lockdown
Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently indicated that the summer season for holidays abroad is very likely to be cancelled
Ending Coronavirus Lockdowns Without a How-To Guide
Only by gently easing the stringent measures that reduced the spread of the virus can we improve our understanding of what works and what doesn’t, they say. “There’s so much uncertainty,” said Mike Tildesley, an associate professor in life sciences at the University of Warwick in England, who models infectious diseases. “As we start to relax, we will get more information. But that’s a really hard sell to the public.”
South Africa Set to Move Toward Easing Lockdown Restrictions
During a televised address Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa announced officials will immediately begin work on a proposal so that by the end of May, most of the country be placed on Alert Level 3 and certain businesses will partially reopen. South Africa's approach to slowing the spread of the coronavirus is measured on a tier system, with 5 being the most restrictive. The country began Level 4 on May 1 by allowing residents to exercise outdoors and some businesses to reopen. Ramaphosa said parts of the country with high infection rates would remain under Alert Level 4, and travel to areas with lower rates of infection will be restricted. Ramaphosa also defended his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, saying some citizens have questioned whether the nation’s approach in dealing with the coronavirus has been at the expense of the livelihood of its people. He said his administration’s strategic approach has been based on saving lives and preserving livelihoods.
S. Africa to further ease COVID-19 lockdown
South Africa is preparing to further ease a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown later this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday. "We are now preparing for a further easing of the lockdown and a gradual opening of the economy," Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation. Consultations with relevant stakeholders have begun on a proposal to place most of the country on alert level three of a five-level system by the end of May, said the president. However, hotspot places with the most infections would likely remain into June on level 4. "It is important that we maintain stringent restrictions in these areas and restrict travel out of these areas to parts of the country with lower rates of infection," he said.
The way forward is graded opening up, not an indefinite lockdown
My understanding of public health tells me that, unlike private healthcare, public health strives for the greatest good to the largest numbers. Lockdown may have inconvenienced the largest numbers, but mass quarantine should be the last step in our armamentarium. A total lockdown is like a nuclear weapon unleashed on society — with short-term and long-term collateral damage across the board. In low-income countries, it could mean starvation for people. Why would someone sentence so many people to death if there is another path that is known? The virus exploits the weakness in health and healthcare. The result? Poor people walking on the highways with their bags and baggage. A sea of humanity walking on the roads. Mass migration. While every death diminishes us as a society, I am more worried about all those marginalised for whom existence is now no more than being on the edge of extinction.
Japan lifts state of emergency in most prefectures as Covid-19 cases fall
Japan has lifted a state of emergency across most of the country, marking a big step towards rebooting the world’s fourth-largest economy as coronavirus infections subside. The move also provides some vindication for Japan’s strategy of voluntary social distancing, which has brought about a reduction in infections without a compulsory lockdown. The decision, announced by prime minister Shinzo Abe in a press conference on Thursday evening, meant restrictions were immediately rescinded in 39 prefectures but maintained in Tokyo and other big cities.
Coronavirus lockdown | Japan lifts state of emergency in most regions
Japan’s prime minister has announced the end of the state of emergency for most regions of the country, but restrictions are being kept in place in Tokyo and seven other high-risk areas, including Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday lifted the measure ahead of schedule in 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures, effective immediately.
New Zealand budget: $1bn for 'nature jobs' but dismay at lack of climate action
On Thursday the finance minister Grant Robertson unveiled more than NZ$50bn in recovery funding to get the economy back on track following a seven-week lockdown. Tens of thousands of people have lost work during the crisis, with further lay-offs expected. Some 11,000 new jobs will be created in environmental work in the regions, conservation minister Eugenie Sage said, with people employed in pest and weed control operations, biodiversity projects and Department of Conservation nature ambassador roles. “This investment in nature will not only support thousands of people with jobs but pay dividends for generations to come by giving nature a helping hand,” Sage said in a statement.
New Zealand budget: Robertson lays out $50bn plan to return jobs to pre-Covid-19 levels
The huge figure, announced alongside the annual Budget on Thursday, equates to about 17% of the nation’s GDP and 17 times more than what a New Zealand government usually allocates to new spending in its budgets. Underscoring the massive challenges facing the economy as it emerges from lockdown, Robertson said the fund was “the most significant financial commitment in modern history”. The spending, which includes an eight week extension to the government’s Covid-19 wage subsidy as well as spending on training and apprenticeships, public housing and infrastructure, will be funded by steep long-term borrowing, and could save 138,000 jobs according to Treasury models provided by the government. But a large tranche of the new funds were left unallocated as yet, with little detail on some of the government’s spending plans.
Oxford coronavirus vaccine found protective in small study on monkeys
A potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by scientists at Oxford University has showed promising signs in a small study of six monkeys. According to a report, some of the monkeys given a single shot of the vaccine developed antibodies against the virus within 14 days. All of them developed protective antibodies within 28 days, before being exposed to high doses of the virus, experts said.
Novartis CEO Says Covid-19 Vaccine May Take Until End of 2021
Novartis AG Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan said a vaccine for Covid-19 may only become available in the second half of next year, echoing the consensus view in much of the pharmaceutical industry. “The ultimate way to deal with this pandemic is likely to be a vaccine against Covid-19,” the CEO wrote in an opinion piece published in Switzerland’s Handelszeitung Thursday. “That will take more time -- my guess is about one and a half to two years.”
FDA warns on rapid coronavirus test used by White House
The US drug regulator has warned the coronavirus test being used by the White House could be missing significant numbers of patients, after a study found it could be giving false negative results in almost half of cases. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday night warned the test provided by Abbott Laboratories could be returning inaccurate results, just days after members of Donald Trump’s inner circle tested positive for Covid-19. The FDA said “early data” had shown Abbott’s ID Now test might be returning false negative results, adding that officials were investigating why that might be the case.
Coronavirus lockdown: Allowing family gatherings in England 'complicated'
Allowing family gatherings is an "important public health issue", England's deputy chief medical officer has said - but it is "complicated" to make the rules fair. Dr Jenny Harries said such a move could provide a "mental health boost". But she said if two large families wanted to meet "you end up effectively with quite a large gathering". Some lockdown measures have been eased in England but restrictions on how many people you can meet remain in place. Two people from different households can meet in outdoor settings, such as parks - as long as they stay more than two metres apart. But any larger meetings between different households at the same time are currently banned. The UK government has said this means someone cannot see both parents at the same time.
Partisan Exits
Michigan officials prepare for anti-lockdown protesters to descend on the capital today
Anti-lockdown protesters turned on each other Thursday when a fight erupted on the steps of the capitol. One protester was removed when he was seen waving an American flag with a doll hanging from a noose. Demonstrators descended on capitol building in Lansing demanding an end to the stay-at-home order. The rally has been dubbed 'Judgement Day' by organizers Michigan United for Liberty Law enforcement has warned demonstrators they may face arrest if they brandish firearms. Gov. Whitmer slammed the protesters this week saying their actions could lead to extension of the lockdown Whitmer has extended the stay-at-home order until at least May 28
Police Visit to Tesla Shows U.S. Confusion on Lockdown Loosening
Police visited Tesla Inc.’s sole U.S. car plant Wednesday to assess whether the electric-car maker was adhering to safety protocols agreed to with the county that Elon Musk publicly said he would defy earlier in the week. A lieutenant with the Fremont, California, police department went to the factory late in the afternoon to view employee screening and physical distancing measures, as well as to confirm universal use of face coverings. Findings from the visit -- which Tesla was notified of in advance -- will be presented to the public health officer for Alameda County, which will determine compliance, according to a police spokeswoman.
When will UK lockdown end? Why we don't know yet - but the new Government coronavirus plan gave us some idea
The UK Government issued a 50-page document detailing how coronavirus lockdown restrictions could be eased - but the dates are not confirmed
Britain Starts Easing Lockdown as Pressure Builds on Boris Johnson
Britain took its first steps to ease its lockdown Wednesday as new figures showed the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on its economy, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced growing political pressure over his government’s handling of the crisis. The tentative moves are the latest in a cautious European push to bring the region’s economy out of hibernation. The U.K. economy shrank an annualized 7.7% in the first quarter, official data showed Wednesday, its worst quarterly performance for more than a decade.
Anti-lockdown protests in Germany infiltrated by far-right extremists
The protesters are typically a mixed bunch: anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, left-wing extremists, neo-Nazis and hooligans, and others with no particular political affiliation. But what’s worrying officials in Berlin is that protesters have long ceased to merely appeal on the government to respect fundamental rights. “What unites people is the hatred of the political elite and public broadcasting,” said Matthias Quent, right-wing extremism researcher and director of the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society (IDZ) in Jena.
Coronavirus Lockdowns: Businesses Turn to Armed Defiance
Armed militia-style protesters have helped businesses across Texas defy coronavirus lockdowns and reopen. Protesters say they are enforcing the Constitution.
Continued Lockdown
Washington mayor extends US capital's lockdown
Washington's mayor extended the US capital's lockdown on Wednesday (May 13) amid a stream of new COVID-19 cases, even as many parts of the country gradually reopen in a push to prevent further economic damage. The orders extend the city's home sheltering regime, which was set to expire Friday, to Jun 8, and came as similar measures were granted for the city's suburbs in the states of Maryland and Virginia. The two states are gradually reopening their economies, but have permitted communities near the capital - population: 700,000 - to open under different timelines, due to heightened levels of COVID-19. "The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 diagnoses has yet to fall and the number of daily deaths has failed to decline," Mayor Muriel Bowser said in her proclamation. "Community transmission of COVID-19 remains widespread throughout the district," she said, as well as "in the Maryland and Virginia areas near Washington."
Coronavirus: US Supreme Court overrules Wisconsin lockdown
The US State of Wisconsin will be re-opened, effective immediately, after the state's Supreme Court ruled its restrictions over-stepped the mark.
Russians Struggling to Survive Add Pressure to End Lockdown
Grigory Sverdlin has been doling out free meals from a night bus in Russia's second-biggest city for the best part of the past two decades, with Russians running out of money after six weeks of lockdown
Strains in hard-hit Mumbai complicate India's coronavirus recovery
India’s lockdown, imposed March 25, is set to at least partially end May 18. Some restrictions on manufacturing, agriculture and self-employment were lifted May 4 to ease the burden on the poor and informal sector workers who comprise the majority of India’s workforce. Indian Railways also partially reopened to run special trains carrying migrant workers stranded in the lockdown who fled India’s big cities, including Mumbai, for their village homes. At least some of the passengers carried coronavirus with them, infection spikes in the states of Bihar and Orisha corresponding with their arrivals show.
Japan suicides decline as Covid-19 lockdown causes shift in stress factors
The suicide rate in Japan fell by 20% in April compared with the same time last year, the biggest drop in five years, despite fears the coronavirus pandemic would cause increased stress and many prevention helplines were either not operating or short-staffed. People spending more time at home with their families, fewer people were commuting to work and delays to the start of the school year are seen as factors in the fall. In April, 1,455 people took their lives in Japan, 359 fewer than in April 2019. Suicide has been on a downward trend in Japan since peaking at more than 34,000 cases annually in 2003. Last year saw just over 20,000, and the large drop last month came at a time when there were fears of a fresh spike.
Cape Town becomes the centre of South Africa's virus pandemic
Cape Town has half of South Africa's coronavirus cases, making it the center of infection in the country
Africa facing a quarter of a billion coronavirus cases, WHO predicts
Nearly a quarter of a billion people across 47 African countries will catch coronavirus over the next year, but the result will be fewer severe cases and deaths than in the US and Europe, new research predicts. A model by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional office for Africa, published in the BMJ Global Health, predicts a lower rate of transmission and viral spread across the continent than elsewhere, resulting in up to 190,000 deaths. But the authors warn the associated rise in hospital admissions, care needs and “huge impact” on services such as immunisation and maternity, will overwhelm already stretched health services.
Why is Russia's coronavirus death rate so low?
Russia has the world's second-highest number of coronavirus cases but has registered 10 times fewer deaths than Britain, France, Italy and Spain.So many are wondering: why is the country's mortality rate so low?. How they go about counting recorded cases....
Scientific Viewpoint
France slams pharma giant Sanofi for saying US will get first access to coronavirus vaccine
The French government warned Thursday that it would be "unacceptable" for pharmaceutical giant Sanofi to give any COVID-19 vaccine for the United States first, after the firm's chief said he would give preference to the American market. "To us, it would be unacceptable for there to be privileged access for such and such country for financial reasons," deputy finance minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Sud Radio. The French government official reacted to Sanofi's British CEO Paul Hudson statement on Wednesday that if its efforts to find a vaccine pan out, he would supply the US government first because "it's invested in taking the risk," after it expanded a partnership with his company earlier this year. "That's how it will be because they've invested to try and protect their population, to restart their economy," he told Bloomberg News.
Coronavirus: A quarter of COVID-19 patients who died in England had diabetes
NHS England said of the 22,332 people who died since 31 March, 5,873 (26%) of them had diabetes as an underlying health condition.
When will UK lockdown end? Why we don't know yet - but the new Government coronavirus plan gave us some idea
The UK Government issued a 50-page document detailing how coronavirus lockdown restrictions could be eased - but the dates are not confirmed
University research claims a quarter of UK already infected with COVID-19
A team of researchers from The University of Manchester, Salford Royal and Res Consortium, have shown that a significant proportion of people in the UK- more than 25% – is likely to have been infected already by the COVID-19 virus.
Coronavirus antibody test with 100% accuracy approved for use in UK