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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 21st Oct 2020

News Highlights

Patients with most severe Covid-19 may be best plasma donors

A new study co-led by researchers at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has indicated that older males who have recovered from a severe attack of the coronavirus may be the best candidates for donating plasma to treat current patients. Doctors have been using antibody-rich convalesescent plasma to treat Covid-19 patients or and also as a possible pophylaxis to prevent the disease.

PM Modi addresses India, warns against letting guard down ahead of festive season

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Tuesday, warning citizens not to get complacent and stated that the virus is still around despite lockdown rules having been relaxed. Modi also said that India had one of the highest recovery rates in the world due to its flexible lockdown approach, uses of masks, effective contract tracing and quick deployment of the Rapid Antigen Test.

Coronavirus hospitalisation on the rise in the USA

An increase in infections has driven conronavirus hospitalisations up in 39 U.S. states, with more than 37,700 Americans admitted to hospitals nationwide due to Covid-19 on Monday. Although less than the peak of 59,700 recorded in April, the number of hospitalisations has been increasing since September. However, the country is only recording around 700 deaths a day, far below the peak of nearly 2,000 deaths a day.

Younger people drive new coronavirus wave in Greece

Greece, which has had far fewer coronavirus infections compared to other European countries, passed the mark of 600 daily infections for the first time on Tuesday, with younger people accounting for most of the new infections. Epidemiologist Gikas Magiorkinis said that the pandemic was spreading in the northern part of the country and urged citizens to wear masks and follow safety measures. The country also dismissed plans of allowing spectators back for sporting events to help stop the spread of the virus.

Lockdown Exit
India Covid-19: From losing loved ones to volunteering for a vaccine
In September, a close friend of Anil Hebbar died of Covid-19 in India's western city of Mumbai after being ferried around three hospitals over five days. Mr Hebbar, who runs a medical equipment firm, had visited his 62-year-old friend, a well-known social worker, in the intensive care unit, hours before his life ended. The social worker was not the only friend Mr Hebbar lost during the pandemic. Since March, 10 people he knew well have succumbed to the virus in Mumbai, which quickly emerged as a hotspot. The city has reported more than 230,000 cases so far. "It was all very overwhelming. I felt this had to stop. That's one reason I decided to volunteer for the Covid-19 vaccine trial," Mr Hebbar, 56, told me. Earlier this month, he signed himself up for the clinical trials for a vaccine being developed by pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
China Moving On From Pandemic As Europe, Parts Of U.S. Brace For More
The SARS 2 pandemic is still raging on in Europe. Parts of the U.S. are seeing hospitals under duress. But China, where all this began, is moving along. China’s GDP grew 4.9% year-on-year in the third quarter, accelerating from 3.2% growth in the previous quarter, official data showed yesterday. Market consensus had it growing a little stronger than that — at 5.5% — but it’s better than the rest of the world’s economic progress as the pandemic continues. The latest encouraging data from China gives us an insight into the recovery in store once a vaccine is released and the outbreak is contained.
China's Covid success compared to Europe shows lockdowns are the first step, not a solution
As much of Europe stares down the barrel of renewed coronavirus lockdowns, and a potentially miserable -- and deadly -- winter to come, China is going from strength to strength. On Monday, the country posted positive economic growth for the second quarter in a row, underlining how speedily the world's second-largest economy has recovered. That comes in the wake of an apparently successful experiment with allowing mass domestic travel, as millions of people criss-crossed China for the Golden Week national holiday. China's ability to track and trace cases across the country whenever there is the suggestion of a new cluster of infections has enabled the government to respond quickly and bring local epidemics under control.
Remember concerts? In covid-free New Zealand, it’s a reality and not just a memory.
New Zealand is one of a handful of countries to have successfully curtailed community spread of covid-19, having been widely praised for its “go hard, go early” approach. With a population around 5 million, New Zealand has to date registered fewer than 2,000 cases of covid-19 and 25 deaths. New Zealand also boasts an embarrassment of music talent. That ranges from small, scrappy, critically adored bands like the Beths to festival headliners like drum and bass act Shapeshifter, pop A-lister Lorde, arena rock unit Six60, and TikTok-fueled starlet Benee. The latter has just wrapped a tour during which she live-streamed a concert from the 12,000-person capacity Spark Arena. “That’ll be one of the only live streams [that’s not] someone alone in their living room,” Campbell Smith, who co-manages Benee, said a few days before the event. “You can see, in New Zealand, thousands of people jammed together at a concert, legitimately.”
COVID, tech advances could disrupt 85 million jobs by 2025: WEF
The coronavirus pandemic has deepened inequalities across labour markets and accelerated the urgency with which the public and private sectors must act to ensure millions of people remain employable in a changing jobs market, the World Economic Forum (WEF) stressed on Tuesday. Within the next five years, automation and a new division of labour between humans and machines will disrupt 85 million jobs around the world, WEF’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 found. Remote work is here to stay and going forward, workers should expect to change careers and hone skills multiple times throughout their careers to adapt to new labour trends.
India’s Modi urges coronavirus caution ahead of festival season
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government is working rapidly to ensure the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to all citizens once they are available. In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, Modi urged Indians to continue wearing masks and uphold physical distancing rules to prevent further spread of the epidemic ahead of the upcoming festival season.
Exit Strategies
Rapid one-hour Covid-19 tests launch for travellers to Italy and Hong Kong from Heathrow Airport
Passengers flying from Heathrow to Italy or Hong Kong will now be able to get a Covid-19 test at the airport and receive their results within an hour. The private test costs £80 and is aimed at helping people travelling to destinations where proof of a negative result is required on arrival. A growing number of countries worldwide are adding the UK to their list of high-risk coronavirus countries, meaning travellers face more restrictions.
COVID-19, what COVID-19? India gets back to work
India is on course to top the world in coronavirus cases, but from Maharashtra's whirring factories to Kolkata's thronging markets, people are back at work - and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season. After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world's second-most populous country decided life must go on.The pandemic's confirmed fatality rate has been heaviest in richer nations with older populations - the US death toll is double that of India despite having only a quarter of the population. Poor countries have suffered far worse economic pain, with the World Bank predicting 150 million people could fall into extreme poverty worldwide
Lockdown is over, but not COVID-19 virus, warns PM Modi ahead of festivals
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed the nation ahead of festivals and warned that the lockdown is over, but not the virus. Modi's remark comes in the wake of laxity by some people despite the rising number of cases. The time is not to get careless and think that corona is over or there is no danger from the virus, said the Prime Minister, adding, "We have seen many videos where we can see that several people have stopped taking precautions and are taking it lightly. If you are being careless and going out without the mask, then you are putting your families, children, and elders in danger."
India Has One Of Highest Recovery Rates Due To Flexible Lockdown: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that India has one of the highest recovery rates--88 per cent--because it was one of the first countries to adopt a flexible lockdown. "India's size, scale and diversity have always made the global community curious. Our population is almost four times that of the USA. Many of our states are as populated as other nations in Europe and Asia. Thanks to people power and people-driven approach, India kept its COVID-19 death rate very low," PM Modi said. The Prime Minister said India was one of the first to encourage the use of masks. India actively began to work on effective contact tracing. India was among earliest nations to deploy the Rapid Antigen test.
Vietnam is fighting Covid without pitting economic growth against public health
To date, Vietnam (population: 95 million) has recorded 35 deaths from the novel coronavirus. Vietnam had all the ingredients for a Covid-19 disaster. It has a 1,300km (800-mile) border with China, with lots of informal trade via secret mountain trails, and an under-developed healthcare system (albeit a well functioning one). So, beyond contact-tracing, why has Vietnam been so good at dealing with the pandemic? The central reason is perhaps the way the government has depoliticised the pandemic, treating it purely as a health crisis, allowing for effective governance. There was no political motive for government officials to hide information, as they don’t face being reprimanded if there are positive cases in their authority area that are not due to their mistakes.
Dan Andrews hints that many hated lockdown measures could be eased early after Victoria recorded just one new coronavirus case on Tuesday
Melbourne could get an early reprieve from lockdown after again detecting just one new case on Tuesday. The city's 14-day rolling average of new cases continues to plummet, which is now down to 6.4, while regional Victoria's average also dropped to 0.4. Premier Daniel Andrews appears to have finally buckled to pressure to open the city beyond the very limited relaxing of restrictions last weekend. 'I think we're well placed to reach the point on the weekend where we can talk more and possibly bring forward some of those changes that were slated for November 1,' he said.
Beyond the police state to COVID-safe: life after lockdown will need a novel approach
As second-wave outbreaks of COVID-19 around the world demonstrate, it’s a tricky transition from hard lockdowns to more relaxed, but still effective, measures. The responses of different nations (Sweden and Taiwan, for example) have their champions, but the truth is there no shining example to follow on how to keep the coronavirus in check while returning, as much as possible, to living life as before. Right now the government of Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, is involved in just such an experiment. Its success in moving beyond lockdown to a sustainable “COVID-normal” will hold lessons for nations still on the upward curve of their own second waves (such as Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Britain).
Partisan Exits
NIH chief: Trump has not met with White House COVID-19 task force in 'quite some time'
NIH Director Francis Collins told NPR's "Morning Edition" that Trump instead gets his information from Vice President Pence and task force member Scott Atlas, neither of whom are infectious disease experts. "I think the president primarily is getting his information from the vice president, from Dr. Atlas," Collins said. Obviously, it's a bit of a chaotic time with the election. ... There's not a direct connection between the task force members and the president as there was a few months ago, but this seems to be a different time with different priorities."
Billionaire horse racing identity funding Victorian lockdown legal challenge
Billionaire businessman and horse racing identity Jonathan Munz is financing the High Court challenge against the Victorian government's COVID-19 lockdown. A source close to the case has confirmed Mr Munz is a financier of the legal action and is expected to pour more than $1 million into the case. The High Court, which convened via videolink in Brisbane on Tuesday, will hear the case within weeks. It has set aside November 6 for the case, and November 9 if needed. Mr Munz, who did not respond to requests for comment, has an estimated fortune of $1.58 billion, according to the most recent Australian Financial Review rich list.
The Government Tightening Its Belt with the North will Keep Us All in this COVID Chaos
Spurred by well-funded lockdown sceptics, there has been a bizarre rhetorical separation – in the UK at least – between saving lives and protecting the economy. Boris Johnson has rejected a second, nationwide lockdown, contrary to the advice of SAGE, as he says it would be “disastrous” for the economy. But there is no prospect of an economic revival until the virus has been suppressed and no evidence that this can be achieved without locking down, reducing cases to a manageable level, and implementing an effective test, trace and isolate regime. The alternative is a zombie economy; stubbornly avoiding death, yet with no prospect of ever being fully alive and healthy. Stopping the virus will save the economy; and saving the economy will stop the virus. Perhaps the Cabinet should turn this into a morning chant, to restore some financial generosity to some of its tight-fisted members.
Continued Lockdown
Docu Meme highlights unseen victims of coronavirus pandemic in Japan
As the number of novel coronavirus infections continues to grow, so do the stigmas and stereotypes associated with certain segments of Japan’s population, be they caregivers, entertainment-district workers, foreign residents, students or the unemployed and homeless. Adrift in the torrent of issues that have come out of the pandemic, many people are finding it difficult to be heard and receive the support they need. Out of this landscape emerged Docu Meme, an independent collective of documentary creators — Naoki Uchiyama, Itaru Matsui and Toru Kubota — who are on a mission to shed light on those who have been neglected or even rejected by society during the pandemic. Similar to viral images found on the internet, the group wants its documentary shorts to travel widely and convey as efficiently as possible the plight of voiceless people in Japan.
Scientific Viewpoint
UK plans to infect healthy volunteers in COVID-19 research trials
Researchers in the United Kingdom are preparing to infect healthy young volunteers with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, becoming the first scientists to use the controversial technique to study the disease and potentially speed up the development of a vaccine that could help end the pandemic. The UK government said on Tuesday that it will invest 33.6 million British pounds ($43.5m) in the Human Challenge Programme in partnership with Imperial College London, laboratory and trial services company hVIVO, and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.
What are the treatment options for COVID-19?
What are the treatment options for COVID-19? There are several, and which one is best depends on how sick someone is. For example, steroids such as dexamethasone can lower the risk of dying for severely ill patients. But they may do the opposite for those who are only mildly ill. In the United States, no treatments are specifically approved for COVID-19 but a few have been authorized for emergency use and several more are being considered. A panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health updates guidelines as new studies come out. Here’s what’s advised for various patients: -- Not hospitalized or hospitalized but not needing extra oxygen: No specific drugs recommended, and a warning against using steroids.
Efficacy, politics influence public trust in COVID-19 vaccine
If an initial COVID-19 vaccine is about as effective as a flu shot, uptake by the American public may fall far short of the 70% level needed to achieve herd immunity, new Cornell research suggests. In surveys of nearly 2,000 American adults, barely half said they would be willing to take a hypothetical vaccine with an efficacy, or effectiveness, of 50% - the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's minimum threshold for a COVID-19 vaccine, and comparable to flu vaccines. Vaccine acceptance increased by 10 percentage points, to 61%, if its effectiveness increased to 90%, making efficacy among the most important factors in Americans' willingness to adopt a COVID-19 vaccine, the research found. "Our results suggest that 50% efficacy will lead to significant vaccine hesitancy," said Douglas Kriner, professor of government at Cornell. "We might not get enough people to take it at that level, even though it would be a valuable public health intervention."
Exclusive: AstraZeneca U.S. COVID-19 Vaccine Trial May Resume as Soon as This Week - Sources
AstraZeneca Plc's COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United States is expected to resume as early as this week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed its review of a serious illness, four sources told Reuters. AstraZeneca's large, late-stage U.S. trial has been on hold since Sept. 6, after a participant in the company's UK trial fell ill with what was suspected to be a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis. The sources, who were briefed on the matter but asked to remain anonymous, said they have been told the trial could resume later this week. It was unclear how the FDA would characterize the illness, they said.
UK plans COVID-19 "challenge" trials that deliberately infect volunteers
Britain will help to fund trials using a manufactured COVID-19 virus to deliberately infect young healthy volunteers with the hope of accelerating the development of vaccines against it.
Patients who had more severe COVID-19 may be the best donors for convalescent plasma therapy: Study links stronger antibody responses to more severe disease, as well as more advanced age and male sex
Sex, age, and severity of disease may be useful in identifying COVID-19 survivors who are likely to have high levels of antibodies that can protect against the disease, according to a new study co-led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The findings suggest that older males who have recovered from COVID-19 after having been hospitalized are strong candidates for donating plasma for treating COVID-19 patients. Doctors have been using infusions of plasma -- the part of blood that contains antibodies -- from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat COVID-19 patients and also as a possible prophylaxis to prevent COVID-19. Doctors have used convalescent plasma to treat patients or immunize persons at high risk of virus exposure during outbreaks of measles, mumps, polio, Ebola, and even the 1918 pandemic flu.
We May Never Know the Full Story of COVID-19
Because of changes in China and the United States, reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak is more challenging. For a few weeks in January and February, journalists in Wuhan, some of them ordinary citizens, told the world what was happening at great personal risk. Then, in March, Chen Qiushi, one citizen journalist who wrote critical stories of the Chinese government’s initial handling of the outbreak, simply vanished. Chinese journalists and scientists have since been wary of speaking out. And very few Westerners have managed to report from Wuhan. We haven’t definitively learned much more about the origins of the disease since those first reports last year: Who was the index patient? Where does the host species reside? What species was the intermediary, if there was one? In other words, the answers to the journalistic questions who, what, when, and where.
COVID-19 shielding measures on hold in England
Shielding measures will not be reintroduced in England although those considered “clinically extremely vulnerable” should take practical steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19. The Department of Health and Social Care said it will write to people who have increased vulnerabilities with tips on how they can keep safe.
Could certain COVID-19 vaccines leave people more vulnerable to the AIDS virus?
Certain COVID-19 vaccine candidates could increase susceptibility to HIV, warns a group of researchers who in 2007 learned that an experimental HIV vaccine had raised in some people the risk for infection with the AIDS virus. These concerns have percolated in the background of the race for a vaccine to stem the coronavirus pandemic, but now the researchers have gone public with a “cautionary tale,” in part because trials of those candidates may soon begin in locales that have pronounced HIV epidemics, such as South Africa. Some approved and experimental vaccines have as a backbone a variety of adenoviruses, which can cause the common cold but are often harmless. The ill-fated HIV vaccine trial used an engineered strain known as adenovirus 5 (Ad5) to shuttle into the body the gene for the surface protein of the AIDS virus. In four candidate COVID-19 vaccines now in clinical trials in several countries, including the United States, Ad5 similarly serves as the “vector” to carry in the surface protein gene of SARS-CoV-2, the viral cause of the pandemic; two of these have advanced to large-scale, phase III efficacy studies in Russia and Pakistan.
Dr. Fauci reveals whether or not he thinks we need more coronavirus lockdowns
Despite a surge in new coronavirus cases, Dr. Fauci doesn’t believe we need a nationwide lockdown just yet. While the number of coronavirus cases jumped by 30% over the last two weeks, the death rate has remained steady. Fauci said the coronavirus pandemic would have to get much worse for him to recommend a nationwide shutdown.
Boris Johnson's three-tier lockdown system is 'the worst of all worlds' because it's inconsistent and makes rules more confusing, SAGE member warns
Professor Stephen Reicher said new system had been 'disastrous' on two fronts It failed at its main goal of making local Covid lockdown rules clearer, he claimed And a lack of transparency about why areas are chosen has frayed public trust
India could have more than 600 million coronavirus cases by February, says government panel
More than 600 million Indians, over half of the country’s population, are likely to have been infected with coronavirus by February 2021, an expert panel advising the Indian government has predicted. The estimate comes even as prime minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Tuesday, citing the country’s low fatality rate as evidence that “India is doing better than many other developed countries.” India has recorded more than 7.5 million Covid-19 cases and over 115,000 deaths, second in the world only to the US on 8.06 million cases and more than 218,000 deaths. But the latest mathematical model used by the Indian government’s expert panel on coronavirus suggests that in reality about 30 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion people have antibodies - implying they have already been infected and recovered.
Coronavirus: 'India must cut pollution to avoid Covid disaster'
India's dreaded pollution season has returned as air quality in the capital Delhi and other northern cities rapidly deteriorated in the last two weeks. This is bad news for India's fight against coronavirus because several studies around the world have linked air pollution to higher Covid-19 case numbers and deaths. A Harvard University study shows that an increase of only one microgram per cubic metre in PM 2.5 - dangerous tiny pollutants in the air - is associated with an 8% increase in the Covid-19 death rate. Another study by scientists at the UK's University of Cambridge also found a link between the severity of Covid-19 infection and long-term exposure to air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and ground-level ozone from car exhaust fumes or burning of fossil fuels.
Belgium may need to return to full COVID lockdown: virologist
Belgium will need to postpone all non-essential hospital procedures to deal with a surge in COVID-19 infections, Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told lawmakers on Tuesday, days after warning of a COVID “tsunami” hitting the country. The nation of 11 million people had 816 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 residents over the past week, according to official figures, second only to the Czech Republic in Europe, and has lost 10,443 people to the disease, among the world’s highest per capita fatality rates.
Moderna CEO sees virus vaccine interim data in November: Report
Moderna Inc’s Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel expects interim results from its coronavirus vaccine trial in November and that the United States government could approve the drug for emergency use in December, the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported. Speaking at the newspaper’s annual Tech Live conference, Bancel also said on Monday that if sufficient interim results from the study are delayed, government permission to use the vaccine may not come until next year.
This 14-year-old girl won a $25K prize for a discovery that could lead to a cure for Covid-19
As scientists around the world race to find a treatment for the coronavirus, a young girl among them stands out. Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year-old from Frisco, Texas, has just won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge -- and a $25,000 prize -- for a discovery that could provide a potential therapy to Covid-19. Anika's winning invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. "The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon," Anika told CNN.
As FDA sets the stage for the first Covid-19 vaccine EUAs, some big players are asking for a tweak of the guidelines
Setting the stage for an extraordinary one-day meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the FDA has cleared 2 experts of financial conflicts to help beef up the committee. And regulators went on to specify the safety, efficacy and CMC input they’re looking for on EUAs, before they move on to the full BLA approval process. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel recently outlined his new timeline, looking to nail down interim efficacy and safety data by the second half of next month that could allow them to hunt an EUA — provided the data work. And Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has just shifted his stance on their EUA timing to a point just after the looming election, underscoring how the scene has continued to change in light of a heated partisan debate between a president who has repeatedly promised a quick OK and his political opponent, who’s waiting for a thumbs up from experts like NIAID chief Anthony Fauci before offering his own support.
Roche CEO Warns Against High Hopes for Speedy Covid Vaccines
Many people’s hopes for a speedy coronavirus vaccine are still too high, Roche Holding AG Chief Executive Officer Severin Schwan warned, adding to the chorus of drug industry leaders trying to temper expectations. It is “completely unrealistic” to expect a Covid-19 vaccine to be widely available by the end of this year, and most people probably won’t have access to a shot until the second half of 2021, Schwan said in an interview with Bloomberg TV anchor Francine Lacqua. Companies need time to test the candidates in enough people to be sure they’re safe and then scale up production, he said. Though Roche isn’t working on a coronavirus vaccine, it’s partnering with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. on a potential treatment.
Coronavirus Resurgence
UK Records More Than 200 Daily Covid-19 Deaths For First Time Since June
The UK has recorded 241 Covid-related deaths in a single 24-hour period – the highest number since June 5. England recorded 213 deaths, Wales 10, Scotland 15 and Northern Ireland three. The figures represent deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test that were recorded in the 24 hours up to 5pm on Monday (for England and Wales) or 9.30am on Tuesday (for Scotland and Northern Ireland). The UK last saw 200 deaths recorded in a single 24-hour period on June 5 when 258 deaths were reported, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) figures show. The DHSC’s overall death toll, measured since the start of the pandemic, has now risen to 43,967. But due to how and when deaths are reported this doesn’t tell the full story
Arizona reports more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases and 7 new known deaths
Arizona reported 1,040 new COVID-19 cases and seven new known deaths on Tuesday as new cases and hospitalizations continue gradual increases, but remain far below levels from the summer peak. Identified cases rose to 232,937 and known deaths were at 5,837, according to the daily report from the Arizona Department of Health Services. The past several weeks have seen relatively higher daily case reports. The number of patients hospitalized statewide for known or suspected COVID-19 cases was at 777 on Monday, up from 721 inpatients on Sunday. Monday's 777 inpatients was the highest reported since Aug. 28. At the peak of Arizona's surge in July, the number of hospitalized patients suspected or confirmed to have the virus exceeded 3,000.
Younger people lead new wave of COVID-19 infections in Greece
Greece recorded a new daily record of coronavirus cases on Tuesday, topping the 600 mark for the first time, with younger people accounting for a majority of the new infections, health authorities said. Nationwide, there were 667 new confirmed infections and eight new deaths, authorities said. "The pandemic is showing clear signs that it is steadily spreading," said epidemiologist Gikas Magiorkinis, adding that people in the age group of 18 to 39 years old made up some 60% to 70% of the new infections.
Quebec reports 877 new COVID-19 cases, 12 additional deaths as hospitalizations rise
Quebec’s health-care system is “running on empty,” Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday as the province reported 33 new hospitalizations from COVID-19. But while Legault expressed sympathy for the exhaustion and frustration of nurses working in hospitals, he said his government could not offer them raises above the level of inflation during ongoing contract talks.
Covid-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in the US
Coronavirus hospitalizations are currently increasing in 39 states as the number of infections continues to trend upwards across the United States. The uptick in hospitalizations is being driven mostly by the Midwest with 16 states hitting, or nearing, their peak number of patients with Covid-19. More than 37,700 Americans were hospitalized nationwide with coronavirus on Monday, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project. It is still down from the peak 59,700 hospitalizations that were recorded in April. Hospitalizations have been on the rise since late September after there was a resurgence in infections nationwide. Despite the increase in cases and hospitalizations, there has not been an uptick in deaths like the surges seen in the spring and summer. The number of Americans dying per day has been averaging about 700 for the past month, which is well below the April peak of nearly 2,000 fatalities a day
Rural U.S. Hospitals Are On Life Support As a Third Wave of COVID-19 Strikes
When COVID-19 hit the Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert, a small rural town in Randolph County, in late March, the facility—which includes a 25-bed hospital, an adjacent nursing home and a family-medicine clinic, was quickly overwhelmed. In just a matter of days, 45 of the 62 nursing home residents tested positive. Negative residents were isolated in the hospital while the severely ill patients from both the nursing home and the local community were transferred to other better-equipped facilities. “We were trying to get the patients out as fast as possible,” says Steve Whatley, Southwest Georgia Regional’s board chairman. “It was a daily nightmare.”
Staggering numbers reveal how Covid-19 infections have exploded in student hotspots
The astonishing speed in which Coronavirus infection rates exploded as students returned to the North East has been revealed. Cases mushroomed in student-heavy postcodes across the region. In Durham City Centre, it took just a fortnight for the area to suffer a 140-fold surge in the infection rate. And an investigation by Reach PLC's data team has found areas with the most students comfortably have the most cases. In Newcastle city centre, which currently has the city's highest infection rate, 40% of the population are students. Around half of those living in Shieldfield and Heaton Park, another virus hotspot, are currently studying. In comparison, areas with very few students - such as New York and Seahouses - have the lowest infection rates, although there are multiple factors behind this.
Coronavirus: Homes for the elderly find ways to avoid lockdown
The doors are still open at the Lore Malsch Protestant care home in Munich, albeit to the surprise of some visitors. "Now we're getting phone calls — lots of calls," says the home's manager, Jan Steinbach. People are asking whether they are still allowed to visit loved ones as the nationwide caseload in Germany ticks upwards. Whether to limit visitors during the pandemic is a real quandary, with no correct answers for care homes. Let visitors in, and risk bringing COVID-19 into a facility full of at-risk people. Keep them out, and deny residents contact with their loved ones, potentially damaging their health through isolation itself.
Italian government enlists top influencers to promote COVID masks
Top Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni and her rapper husband Fedez have urged their fans to wear face masks, heeding a call from Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to raise awareness about battling COVID-19. Ferragni, 33, and Fedez, 31, are especially popular amongst teenagers and interrupted their usual flow of Instagram glamour to stress the importance of masks in curbing infections.
New virus restrictions deal fresh blow to Spain economy
Fresh virus restrictions imposed in Spain's two regional economic powerhouses, Catalonia and Madrid, have darkened the country's already bleak growth forecasts and angered business leaders. The two regions together account for around 40 percent of Spain's economic output and are home to most of the country's big firms, as well as the pillars of its economy such as tourism and the manufacturing sector. "We will die of hunger," hundreds of restaurant operators chanted during a protest Friday in Catalan capital Barcelona against a 15-day shutdown of bars and restaurants to contain a surge in cases in the northeastern region.
European nations mixed in their response to virus spikes
Countries across Europe are battling coronavirus infection spikes with new lockdowns, curfews, face mask orders and virus tracking smart phone apps. In a small indication of success, Spain's government said it won't extend a state of emergency in the Madrid region when it expires Saturday, but will look to more local measures. But as a resurgence of the global pandemic sweeps across the continent, local and national governments also are facing swelling opposition to the new measures. Britain's government on Tuesday said it will impose tough new measures on Greater Manchester, sparking anger from the region's mayor.
France's new COVID-19 cases slow but deaths sharply up
France reported a massive increase of the number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 on Monday, while also becoming the eighth country in the world to report more than 900,000 cases since the start of the outbreak. The daily data showed the partial curfew imposed on nine major cities, including Paris, since Saturday has yet to yield some results. Experts say it takes two weeks on average for containment measures to show their effectiveness. During the country’s national lockdown put in place between March 17 and May 11, hospitalisations kept rising until April 14.
How coronavirus exposed Europe's weaknesses
For many Europeans the moment coronavirus arrived on their continent was on February 23 when Italian authorities quarantined 10 small towns south-east of Milan. They watched, agog, as the carabinieri cordoned off access, trapping residents inside their infected neighbourhoods. Few had imagined that the kind of draconian controls imposed by China in Wuhan would be necessary or indeed feasible in a European democracy. The lockdown of Lombardy’s “red zone” should have punctured any complacency. And yet it took another two to three weeks for governments across the continent to appreciate the scale of infection in their own countries and take sweeping measures to contain it. Some countries coped admirably with the first wave — or had the good fortune of minimal exposure to the virus. Others were hampered by poor preparedness, indecisive leadership and discord between central, regional and local governments. Nations squabbled and failed to learn from each other. The EU itself wobbled under the strain. These are five of the key moments that shaped Europe’s early response — and, in some cases, continue to plague its handling of the pandemic as a second wave crashes over the continent.
New COVID-19 outbreak rocks New Zealand as 11 new cases emerge - just days after Jacinda Ardern win
At least 11 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in New Zealand on Tuesday Fishermen quarantining at the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch tested positive Comes days after Jacinda Ardern was re-elected as New Zealand prime minister The Sudima Hotel, housing hundreds of workers, was placed into lockdown
Spain considers curfews to fight new coronavirus wave
The Spanish government is considering new restrictions, including possible curfews, in hard-hit regions like Madrid to tackle a new wave of coronavirus contagion, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday. The country, which has Western Europe’s highest case load, is likely to surpass one million infections this week and several regions have toughened their coronavirus restrictions in the past few days. “We have very tough weeks ahead, winter is coming,” Illa told reporters. “The second wave is no longer a threat, it is a reality in all of Europe.”
Is US headed toward national COVID-19 lockdown? Why Fauci, others say that’s unlikely
With more than 8.1 million coronavirus cases and nearly 220,000 deaths — numbers that grow by the hour — Americans may wonder if the U.S. is in for a national lockdown. The question is of particular importance now, as infections grow in nearly every state and as some ponder whether former Vice President Joe Biden, if elected president, is planning on shutting the country down. But the real question may be: Is it legal? Early in the pandemic, President Donald Trump used his federal powers to limit border crossings from Canada and Mexico, prevent foreign nationals from Europe from traveling into the U.S., and require foreign nationals from China to quarantine once entering the country.
New Lockdown
Boris Johnson plunges Greater Manchester into Tier Three lockdown
Ministers gave Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham until noon today to agree to enter Tier Three lockdown. Last-ditch haggling between PM and Mr Burnham on money failed with tough restrictions now being imposed. Boris Johnson said he had no choice but to impose new rules which will see pubs and restaurants told to close Mr Johnson had offered Mr Burnham £60m in extra business support but the mayor wanted at least £65m. Mr Burnham slammed PM's approach as he said ministers were condemning the region to lockdown 'poverty'
Majority of Wales below UK coronavirus average as new lockdown looms
A new national lockdown was announced in Wales yesterday - but figures show that just ten of the country's local authorities have a higher coronavirus rate than the UK average. Only one of Gwent's five counties, Blaenau Gwent, is suffering from the coronavirus more than the average across the UK. A government map, detailing the impact of the coronavirus in each local authority across the UK, shows that Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Caerphilly all have lower incidence rates than the average in the UK.
Europe Backpedals as Virus Lockdowns Return to Ireland, Wales
Ireland and Wales imposed stringent lockdowns and Italy’s financial center is planning a curfew, as Europe steps up efforts to regain control of the coronavirus pandemic. In Germany, tensions rose with parliamentary leaders sparring with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration over efforts to contain the spread of the disease. New cases in Europe’s largest economy rose to a record on Tuesday, and the first German region imposed stringent constraints. After leaders vowed to steer away from harsh lockdowns to protect the economy, Europe is reviving the measures in some areas. Piecemeal curbs have made little impact in slowing the disease, which has infected 4.9 million people and caused more than 200,000 fatalities.
COVID-19: Naples mayor sees Campania headed for lockdown
Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris said Tuesday that he expects Campania to go into lockdown soon because of a spike in COVID-19 cases and blasted the management of the coronavirus by the administration of regional Governor Vincenzo De Luca. "I think very serious mistakes were made by the region and that's not passing the buck," De Magistris told RAI radio. "The (contagion) numbers speak for themselves. "De Luca even banned the doctors from telling the truth."The problem is not young people (out socializing). "We are sure to go into lockdown in Campania. There are (just) 15 places (left) in intensive care". De Luca last week closed schools in Campania, which had been the last region in Italy to reopen them last month, until the end of October due to the pandemic, irking central government and parents. "Closing the schools just after they reopened is so sad," said De Magistris.
Navarre declares perimetral lockdown of entire region to contain coronavirus spread
The entire Navarre region in northern Spain will be confined from this Thursday onward for a 15-day period, in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. People will only be able to enter or leave the area if it is for work reasons, to access care services or in cases of emergency. The regional government also announced on Monday evening that the entire hostelry sector would be closed, as well as an obligatory 9pm closure for commercial, cultural and sporting activities. The regional premier, María Chivite of the Navarre Socialist Party, justified the measures on Monday due to the spread of the virus in the region, and the progressive rise in pressure on area hospitals. The 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants has reached 945, according to the latest report from the Spanish Health Ministry, which is way above the national average of 312.
Ireland to impose 5km travel limit in strict new Covid lockdown
Ireland is to close much of its economy and society in a second Covid-19 lockdown that imposes some of the severest restrictions in Europe. Non-essential shops will close and people are asked to stay at home, with a 5km (3 mile) travel limit for exercise, to curb surging infection rates, the government announced on Monday evening. From midnight on Wednesday the country will move to its highest lockdown tier for six weeks. Visits to private homes or gardens will not be permitted and there are to be no gatherings except for tightly controlled weddings and funerals.
Coronavirus: German Alpine region goes into lockdown
An Alpine area of southern Germany has gone into a new lockdown, the first part of the country to do so since the first Covid peak earlier this year. The 105,000 people of Berchtesgadener Land, bordering Austria, will only be allowed to leave home for essential reasons for the next two weeks. Like much of Europe, Germany is confronting a sharp rise in infections. But the situation remains less severe than in other major Western European countries. Germany has recorded 84 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in total over the past 14 days, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Wales aims to lift nation during 'brutal' lockdown
Wales kicking coach Neil Jenkins says the squad will aim to pick the nation up when they face France behind closed doors in Paris on Saturday. Wales will be in lockdown when Wayne Pivac's side play in a French city that will be under curfew with the kick-off at 21:00 local time. The Wales rugby union side can still play because of their professional status and Jenkins knows the squad have a duty to represent the country during the "brutal" Covid-19 lockdown period.
The evidence used by the Welsh Government which helped decide on a fire-break lockdown
At Monday's Welsh Government press conference, the First Minister announced that Wales would enter a 17-day national lockdown to prevent the further spread of coronavirus in the country. COVID-19 cases in Wales have continued to rise in recent weeks, despite almost 2.5m people living under local restrictions. In early September, Caerphilly became the first region to be placed under local lockdown rules, it was soon followed by Rhondda Cynon Taf and Bridgend. Other regions have since followed, but the restrictions will now be replaced by new national rules announced by Mark Drakeford. The fire-break is being introduced to prevent the pressure on health services in Wales from growing, with warnings from both the First Minister and the chief executive of NHS Wales that critical care was at capacity.
Ireland will go back into lockdown for six weeks from Wednesday
Ireland will be put back under the toughest coronavirus restrictions this week, with the prime minister hopeful they will allow the public to celebrate Christmas ‘in a meaningful way’. As of midnight Wednesday, the Republic will be placed under level five restrictions – the most severe – for six weeks in a bid to bring down spiralling infection rates. Under the Government’s five-tier living with Covid roadmap, all non-essential shops, barbers, hairdressers and salons will be forced to close until December 1. Restaurants and cafes will only be permitted to operate on a takeaway and delivery basis and the public will be told to work from home if they can.
Manchester lockdown: Andy Burnham criticises late-night ‘provocative ultimatum’ over Tier 3 restrictions
Andy Burnham has criticised the Government’s “provocative” late-night ultimatum warning local leaders have until midday on Tuesday to agree to Covid-19 restrictions or face action. The Labour mayor of Greater Manchester said the Monday night statement was made to provoke local leaders in those areas resisting the tier three coronavirus model set out by the Government, and insisted he was still open to finding a solution. But he claimed he was unaware of the financial package on offer to support Greater Manchester through the stricter lockdown, although a Government minister said it was £22m.
Part of Bavaria goes into first German lockdown since April
Residents of the Berchtesgadener Land district of Bavaria will not be able to leave their homes without a valid reason for two weeks from Tuesday, officials said on Monday, making it the first area in Germany to go back into lockdown since April. The decision, which takes effect from 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Tuesday, follows a spike in coronavirus cases in the district to 272.8 per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days.
Can a 2-Week 'Circuit Breaker' Lockdown Curb COVID-19? The U.K. May Be About to Find Out
The coronavirus is having its way with the United Kingdom—a fact that is told starkly by the numbers. The 21st most populous country in the world, the U.K. is 11th in total number of COVID-19 infections—and climbing fast. Its daily infection rate is doubling every seven to eight days in some regions, more people are now hospitalized there than on March 23 (when the country went into general lockdown), and in some regions, hospital beds and intensive care units are at 90% capacity. With cold weather coming on and flu season beginning, things look darker still. “We could sleep-walk into a long and bleak winter,” warned opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer in an address last week.