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

News Highlights

South Africa: Biggest jump in cases since start of pandemic

South Africa, the country worst hit by the coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa, recorded 3,267 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, taking its total tally to 40,792 infections. Almost two-thirds of the cases are in the Western Cape, where health services are under stress and where local authorities in Cape Town have implemented one of the most rigorous testing regimes.

Iceland: Pay to avoid quarantine

Tourists wanting to travel to other countries on vacation but daunted by the prospect of quarantine may want to consider holidaying in Iceland in the coming months. Travellers arriving at the island's international airport can soon opt to avoid a mandatory two-week quarantine by paying 15,000 Kronur (about U.S.$112) for a Covid-19 test.

Coronavirus deaths continue to rise in Brazil and Mexico

The WHO stated that Latin America is now the 'red zone' of coronavirus transmission in the world as Brazil and Mexico recorded a large number of cases and deaths on Saturday. Brazil is now third on the list of countries with 35,047 deaths, behind only the U.S. and the U.K. while Mexico's death toll is 13,170.

India: Generic pharma companies to crank out doses of remdesivir

Four generic pharmaceutical companies based in India have signed voluntary licensing agreements with Gilead Sciences, allowing them to manufacture remdesivir for distribution in 127 countries and territories. The companies hope to manufacture millions of doses of the drug, which has been authorised for emergency use to treat Covid-19 patients.

Lockdown Exit
Coronavirus: Pandemic ‘not over’, warns WHO as Brazil reports record number of daily deaths
The Covid-19 pandemic is “not over”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned after Brazil reported a daily record number of deaths on Thursday. Stringent lockdown restrictions are being lifted across much of Europe and the west but a number of countries have seen an “uptick” in cases, according to the WHO. Meanwhile, officials in Brazil announced 1,473 fatalities on Thursday night, taking the South America country’s death toll to more than 34,000 – the third highest in the world behind only the US and the UK.
Global report: South Africa records biggest jump in Covid-19 cases since pandemic hit
South Africa recorded 3,267 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, the biggest jump since the pandemic began. The country is the worst hit in sub-Saharan Africa and has nearly a quarter of all cases on the continent, with 40,792 infections. With 848 deaths, it ranks only second to Egypt for fatalities (1,126). Nearly two thirds of the country’s cases are in the Western Cape province, where Cape Town is the biggest city, and health services are under pressure. The region is also a major tourist destination, and local authorities have implemented one of the most rigorous testing regimes in the country.
Brazil overtakes Italy as country with third-highest coronavirus deaths
Brazil has overtaken Italy as the country with the third-highest Covid-19 death toll after a daily record of 1,473 fatalities took its total tally to more than 34,000. The figure was published by Brazil’s health ministry on Thursday night and means only the United States and the United Kingdom have registered more deaths because of the pandemic. The official number of infections rose to nearly 615,000, second only to the US. In an online broadcast shortly before the numbers were released, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro made almost no mention of the victims but continued to publicly attack efforts to slow the advance of coronavirus with quarantine measures and social distancing. “We can’t go on like this. Nobody can take it anymore,” Bolsonaro said of the shutdown efforts being implemented by state governors and mayors across Brazil. “The collateral impact will be far greater than those people who unfortunately lost their lives because of these last three months here,” Bolsonaro said.
Europe threatens to block holidaymakers visiting from UK due to high coronavirus rates
British tourists could be blocked from holidaying in some of the most popular European Union countries this summer after ministers from the bloc yesterday (Friday) warned that the UK’s coronavirus infection rates are too high. While EU home affairs ministers agreed in a video conference call to lift border controls inside the territory by the end of June, France, Germany, Greece and Spain have all indicated that they could keep restrictions on British holidaymakers. The objections to British tourists are partly due to the UK’s plans for 14-day quarantines for visitors.
France, Germany, Greece and Spain threaten UK travellers with quarantine sanctions
The UK is facing backlash over its plans to impose a 14-day quarantine on all new arrivals, while some EU countries say they won't let Brits in until the infection rate is reduced.
Coronavirus pandemic | Thailand to position itself as 'trusted' destination after COVID-19 eases
Thailand, the first to report a virus case outside of China, wants to build on its reputation and remake its popular image as a destination for big tour groups.
Vietnam Breaks Out of the Covid Tourist Trap
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Vietnam is pulling ahead in the race to reopen Southeast Asia to city-hoppers and sunseekers. International arrivals were down 98% in May from a year earlier, after a record 2019. Yet success in containing the coronavirus epidemic means domestic travel has already restarted. Thailand, by comparison, is still under a state ...
Wearable device for Covid-19 contact tracing to be rolled out soon, may be issued to everyone in Singapore
A wearable device for contact tracing may be issued to everyone in Singapore to help curb the spread of Covid-19. This was announced in Parliament by Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan on Friday (June 5), when he explained that technical difficulties have prevented Singapore's contact tracing app TraceTogether from working well on iPhones. "The app does not appear to work as well on iOS or Apple devices," he said.
Wear masks in public, says WHO in update of Covid-19 advice
The World Health Organisation (WHO) updated its guidance on Friday (June 5) to recommend that governments ask everyone to wear fabric face masks in public areas where there is a risk of transmission of Covid-19 to help reduce the spread of the pandemic disease. In its new guidance, prompted by evidence from studies conducted in recent weeks, the WHO stressed that face masks were only one of a range of tools that can reduce the risk of viral transmission, and should not give a false sense of protection. "Masks on their own will not protect you from Covid-19," the WHO's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a briefing.
Coronavirus 'a devastating blow for world economy'
The coronavirus pandemic is a "devastating blow" for the world economy, according to World Bank President David Malpass. Mr Malpass warned that billions of people would have their livelihoods affected by the pandemic. He said that the economic fallout could last for a decade. In May, Mr Malpass warned that 60 million people could be pushed into "extreme poverty" by the effects of coronavirus. The World Bank defines "extreme poverty" as living on less than $1.90 (£1.55) per person per day. However, in an interview on Friday Mr Malpass said that more than 60 million people could find themselves with less than £1 per day to live on.
Diary of a Wuhan lockdown survivor
Towards the end of January, acclaimed Chinese writer Fang Fang (the pen name of Wang Fang) began to write a daily online diary as her home town Wuhan became the epicentre of the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak. Within days, Michael Perry, Fang’s American translator, began to render her entries into English. Recently, these were collected and published as Wuhan Diary. Why should a personal account of lockdown by a 65-year-old writer matter to the rest of the world? Because she speaks truth to power like few in her country. In spite of stringent media and social media policing, Fang continues to ask hard questions of the authorities, points out lapses and challenges official claims—actions that most journalists in China can’t undertake. Her diary is not just a portrait of a society in lockdown but also that of a people muzzled.Fang’s book also feels like a warning as the world enters the sixth month of the outbreak.
'Can't quite believe it': New Zealand tiptoes towards elimination of coronavirus
As health officials announce each new day of no new Covid-19 cases, social media explodes with New Zealanders celebrating the news. “That feeling like you got away with something that seemed impossible and you can’t quite believe it even though you want to believe it,” wrote one, on Twitter. “But for an entire country.” Twenty-two New Zealanders have died of Covid-19, ; thousands have lost their jobs and the nation’s largest export sector, tourism, lies in tatters. But as New Zealanders look to the hundreds of thousands of deaths recorded in other countries, there is a sense that the rest of the world faced a different pandemic, the disastrous scale of which never fully arrived here. Now, providing there are no new and unexpected cases to marr the country’s 14-day streak of zero fresh instances of Covid-19, scientists say they expect to be able to declare next week that the virus has been eliminated from New Zealand – making it the first country among the OECD group of wealthy nations, and the first country that has recorded more than 100 cases to make such a statement, analysts said.
Prime minister told to dump rhetoric and plan for new Covid wave
Senior figures from across the NHS have issued an urgent plea for a comprehensive plan to tackle a second wave of coronavirus infections, as Boris Johnson continues to lose public confidence in his handling of the pandemic. Amid persistent fears among scientists that the virus remains too prevalent to ease the lockdown further, the prime minister has been urged to ditch “cheap political rhetoric” that risks eroding the public’s adherence to lockdown measures in the months ahead. Health chiefs say there should be no further easing before a comprehensive test and trace system has been proved to work, as NHS figures accuse the government of lacking a strategy and dodging an “honest and open” debate about Britain’s plight. They also warned of a “dramatic” drop in capacity at NHS hospitals.
Coronavirus deaths continue to rise in Brazil, Mexico
As the novel coronavirus continues to ravage Latin America, the death toll in Brazil topped 35,000 on Saturday and passed 13,000 in Mexico. In Brazil, 1,026 more fatalities over the past 24 hours raised the death toll to 35,047, according to the Health Ministry. The total case count in the world’s second-worst hit country reached 646,006 as 31,065 more people tested positive for COVID-19. In Mexico, 625 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 13,170. A total of 4,346 more people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, raising the overall count to 110,026, the Health Ministry said. Earlier this week, the World Health Organization said Latin America has become the "red zone" of coronavirus transmissions in the world and that solidarity and support are needed for these countries to overcome the pandemic.
Global report: India's Covid-19 case total surpasses Italy's
India’s health ministry reported 9,887 new cases on Saturday, bringing the official total to 236,657. The country has fewer confirmed cases than only the US, Brazil, Russia, Britain and Spain. India’s official death toll of 6,642 is relatively low compared with the other countries, but experts say the country is still nowhere near its peak and doctors fear what will happen once the imminent monsoon season begins. Despite there being no sign the infection curve flattening, the country will begin opening up on Monday after more than two months of the world’s largest lockdown, which has involved 1.3 billion people. Shopping malls and places of worship will open their doors, but no large gatherings, distributions of food offerings, sprinkling of holy water or touching of idols and holy books will be allowed.
Merkel among winners as Europeans give verdict on anti-Covid battles
One of the first EU countries to start easing its lockdown, Denmark’s per-million death toll is slightly lower than Germany’s, at just over 100. Public satisfaction with Frederiksen’s government has slipped just three points and remains at 85%, while support for her Social Democrats has surged from 27% to 35% – its highest share since 2006. In France, one of the Europe’s harder-hit countries with a per-million death toll of 433, Macron and his government – which has coped, on balance, reasonably well, and better than many comparable countries – have been the target of heavy criticism over an early shortage of face masks and a long delay in beginning widespread testing. But since public satisfaction in the government’s response slumped to 36% in the second half of March, it has climbed steadily back to 42% for a net fall of 14 points, while his personal approval rating stands at 44%, relatively high by French presidential standards.
Want a vacation with no coronavirus quarantine? Iceland is charging $150
As more people yearn for a post-lockdown break, Iceland is seeking to get ahead of rival destinations while protecting the country from a spike in coronavirus cases. Travellers arriving at the island's international airport will soon be able to avoid a mandatory two-week quarantine by opting to pay 15,000 kronur (S$150) for an on-the-spot test as the nation seeks to salvage a tourism industry crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic. Testing will be free until the start of July, after which passengers landing at the country's main Keflavik hub will be given the choice of isolation or paying for the test, Iceland's Ministry of Health said on Friday (June 5).
Spain adopts conservative attitude to restarting European travel
Spain is clearly siding with the most conservative members of the European Union when it comes to reopening borders. A meeting of interior ministers held on Friday revealed that most member states want to restore free travel by June 15 within the Schengen space, which includes 22 members of the EU plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechstenstein. Italy already lifted its restrictions on European travel on June 3. But Madrid is insisting on waiting until July 1. Spain is also very cautious about reopening Europe’s external borders to visitors from other countries, some of which are currently experiencing significant Covid-19 outbreaks, such as the United States, Japan and several Latin American nations.
Spain’s Prado reopens its doors
One of the world’s greatest galleries will throw open its doors again on Saturday, but in circumstances very different from the past. The Prado, home to masterpieces by Hieronymus Bosch, Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya, will welcome visitors after its longest closure since the Spanish civil war, more than 80 years ago. The museum shut on March 11 as Spain’s coronavirus outbreak gained pace. Reopening has meant rethinking its basic facts of life, with only a fifth of its paintings on display, vastly reduced ticket sales and strict health guidelines in place. “It is obvious we can’t open in the same conditions the museum was in March, because of the health emergency,” said Miguel Falomir, its director.
Thousands of China’s movie screens could be shut forever
China has the largest number of movie screens in the world but all have been shut since January 23, the day the central Chinese city of Wuhan was locked down to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Coronavirus: Spain considers reopening land borders with France and Portugal this month
Spain has announced it is considering plans to reopen its land borders with France and Portugal from 22 June. The country shut its borders in mid-March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with only Spaniards, cross-border workers and truck drivers able to cross into neighbouring countries. Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto said the country would probably lift quarantine measures for travellers coming from Portugal and France at the same time.
Exit Strategies
Coronavirus: PM to set out plans to rebuild economy amid fears of lack of strategy over second surge
Fear is growing among ministers that millions of jobs may be lost if pubs and restaurants are not allowed to reopen this summer and Mr Johnson is understood to have tasked his team with developing plans to get business moving as soon as possible to prevent a major economic slowdown. But medical professionals have warned that the prime minister must not take his focus away from coping with the coronavirus as the death rate remains high and the rate of transmission has risen above 1 in some areas.
Bali to target tourists from nearby countries in new normal
The tourism industry in Bali is planning to target travelers from nearby countries, such as Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam, once the province is reopened for international visitors under the new normal protocols. The industry and all stakeholders engaged in tourism and the creative economy in Bali are currently preparing for the new normalization of tourism by implementing hygiene, health, and safety protocols, said secretary of the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Bali), I Putu Winastra, in a statement received here on Saturday. "The protocol will be applied to every tourism sector, including transportation, accommodation, restaurants, and all tourism objects," he informed.
No infection control
If someone were to draw on everything the world has learned about Covid-19 in the past six months and write a playbook about what not to do in the event of a high-fatality pandemic, our government’s strategy could comfortably feature as a case study of what happens when the wrong decisions are made. Where many countries rightly rely on data, mass testing, and science-led strategies to enforce lockdowns and limit the spread of Covid-19, our government has been defensive, slow to act and adopted a hands-off approach in which citizens are left to protect themselves.
Coronavirus: EU to start allowing in outside travellers from July
The European Union will not fully open internal borders before the end of June, meaning restrictions on travel to and from other countries will only start easing in July, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on Friday (June 5). She told a news conference after a video call among EU and Schengen zone interior ministers that most governments would lift internal border controls by June 15, but that some were not ready to do so until the end of the month. "So that means that (all) internal border controls are lifted by the end of June, I guess. We should consider the gradual lifting of restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU (in) early July," Johansson said.
Contact-tracing and peer pressure: how Japan has controlled coronavirus
What we found at an early stage was that efforts to find cases through testing those who had had contact with patients was not particularly effective. Further investigation revealed that while many patients do not infect anyone, some end up infecting many, thereby forming “clusters” of infected people from a single source. Therefore, in addition to contact tracing, we focused on a retrospective tracking of links between patients and found unrecognised cases surrounding the possible source, thereby identifying clusters. In addition, monitoring of the number of unlinked cases led to an early detection of exponential growth in the number of patients, which enabled the government to provide the public with an effective early warning.
Japan's Coronavirus Numbers Are Low. Are Masks the Reason?
In the United States, where masks only recently arrived on the scene, they have been a less comfortable fit — becoming an emblem in the culture wars. A vocal minority asserts that nobody can force anyone to put a mask on. Protesters have harassed mask-wearing reporters. The president himself has tried to avoid being seen in one. As Japan has confounded the world by avoiding the sort of mass death from coronavirus seen in the United States, I began to wonder whether the cultural affinity for masks helped explain some of this success. It also got me thinking about the evolution in my own feelings about face coverings.
Europe’s big two kiss and make up for pandemic rescue deal
From champion of austerity to Europe’s biggest spender – Germany has travelled a long way in just a few months. The notoriously frugal ministry of finance has agreed to spend €130bn – a sum equal to 4% of national income – on more than 50 initiatives to promote growth across the country. This breathtaking investment programme comes on top of the almost 30% of GDP the government has so far spent on rescuing businesses and protecting jobs during the coronavirus crisis.
Britain halts trial of hydroxychloroquine as 'useless' for Covid-19 patients
British scientists halted a major drug trial on Friday (June 5) after it found that the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, touted by US President Donald Trump as a potential “game changer” in the pandemic, was “useless” at treating Covid-19 patients. “This is not a treatment for Covid-19. It doesn’t work,”Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the Recovery trial, told reporters. “This result should change medical practice worldwide. We can now stop using a drug that is useless.
Less than 10% of people in Britain are immune to coronavirus. There's no room for mistakes
This isn’t a game. Recent data from both Public Health England and the Office for National Statistics shows that less than 10% of the UK population is now immune to this virus. Reliable antibody tests at scale from multiple sources indicate approximately the same figure. We must discard any foolish optimism about “immunological dark matter” that will mysteriously prevent infection, or any other clutching at straws. The great majority of us are still susceptible to this virus, and if we allow it to transmit easily between us we will see a second wave – possibly during the winter, where it may be even more deadly.
Japan to require virus testing, itinerary in travel restriction easing
As Japan is considering ways to safely ease travel restrictions over the new coronavirus, travelers to and from the country will be required to undergo testing for COVID-19 and submit a trip itinerary, government sources said Friday. Japan is already in talks with Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand to mutually reopen borders, with businesspeople and professionals such as medical staff expected to be fast-tracked. Under the plan, travelers leaving Japan will first have to get a negative result in a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test, which they will then submit to the embassy of the country they plan to visit.
Europe’s Patchwork Reopening
As countries consider reviving tourism, the calculus is complicated, involving “travel bubbles,” ever-shifting timelines, virus testing and, in some cases, self-quarantines.
Covid-19: R value in England rises to between 0.7 and 1.0
Peter Benton, the director of population and public policy operations at the ONS, said: “That, we think, is a real reduction in the number of people being infected.” Previously, the ONS had said the trend looked flat and stable, but as more data has accumulated a downward trend is now evident, the analysis said. However, Benton said it remained a concern that of those who had tested positive in the study so far, only 30% had reported experiencing any symptoms either when the swab was taken or in the weeks before or after, suggesting that in the majority of cases, people may be unaware they are infected.
Thailand to tout 'trusted' tourism in coronavirus era
Thailand is positioning itself as a trusted destination for international tourists after travel restrictions ease, capitalising on its relative success in containing the coronavirus outbreak, industry officials say. The Southeast Asian country, the first to report a virus case outside of China, wants to build on its reputation and remake its popular image as a destination for big tour groups. "After COVID eases, we plan to refresh the country's image to a trusted destination where tourists will have peace of mind," Tanes Petsuwan, the Tourism Authority of Thailand's (TAT) deputy governor for marketing and communications, told Reuters. The campaign, to be launched later in the year, will be aimed at young affluent travellers from places that are considered low-risk such as China, South Korea and Taiwan, Tanes said. It will highlight scenic beaches and parks, part of a "tourism bridge" that could emerge in Asia including Hong Kong and Japan.
Brazil, Peru, and Mexico are easing restrictions despite a rapid rise in cases
The coronavirus outbreak continues to spread globally as the number of confirmed cases rise to more than 6.3 million, with the death toll of at least 380,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. Moreover, the situation in Latin America seems to be alarming as Brazil, Peru and Mexico are easing restrictions despite a rapid rise in cases. Meanwhile, the situation in the United States is grim as concerns of a fresh wave of coronavirus cases are intensifying due to protests breaking out across the country. Already, the United States has more than 1.8 million infected people with over 106,000 deaths.
The 6 most successful anti-Covid strategies so far, and the reasons why they worked
Five months have passed since the Wuhan outbreak. Although no cure is in sight, we have had the opportunity to learn from the successes of some, and the failures of others. While the battle is still raging, the following might be the top six factors that made the difference between success and failure so far....
Partisan Exits
China would make a coronavirus vaccine a 'global public good'
China will strengthen international cooperation in future COVID-19 clinical vaccine trials, building on earlier collaboration in vaccine development, the science and technology minister said on Sunday. China is expending great efforts in the global scramble to develop a vaccine for the new coronaries epidemic that began in its central city of Wuhan, with Chinese researchers conducting five separate clinical trials on humans, or half of all such trials globally, according to the data compiled by the World Health Organization. President Xi Jinping vowed last month at the World Heath Assembly, the WHO’s governing body, that vaccines China’s develops will become a “global public good” once they are ready for use, and it will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.
Coronavirus: Hard-hit Brazil removes data amid rising death toll
Brazil has removed months of data on Covid-19 from a government website amid criticism of President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the outbreak. The health ministry said it would now only be reporting cases and deaths in the past 24 hours, no longer giving a total figure as most countries do. Mr Bolsonaro said the cumulative data did not reflect the current picture. Brazil has the world's second-highest number of cases, and has recently had more new deaths than any other nation. The Latin American country has more than 640,000 confirmed infections, but the number is believed to be much higher because of insufficient testing. More than 35,000 people have died, the third-highest toll in the world.
Prime minister told to dump rhetoric and plan for new Covid wave
Health chiefs say there should be no further easing before a comprehensive test and trace system has been proved to work, as NHS figures accuse the government of lacking a strategy and dodging an “honest and open” debate about Britain’s plight. They also warned of a “dramatic” drop in capacity at NHS hospitals. The Observer spoke to organisations including the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the NHS Confederation and NHS Providers on how ministers should plan for a potential second wave. They called for: An “aggressive public health campaign” to boost flu immunisation to stop the NHS having to deal with flu as well as Covid-19 outbreaks this winter.
Xi calls for "China-France contributions" to winning global COVID-19 fight
France contributions" to winning the global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. China and France need to continuously support the international community joining hands against the pandemic, Xi said in a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Scientists at war with ministers over Covid: Experts call for public inquiry into 'failures'
Nearly 30 leading experts have demanded Boris Johnson launches a public inquiry to prepare Britain for a second wave of coronavirus, in another sign of a growing gulf between ministers and scientists. The group of 27 said a second epidemic was 'probable' this winter and warned it would be more deadly than the first if the Government doesn't address its failures from the previous outbreak. They have laid out a series of glaring shortcomings which they say have contributed to the UK suffering more than 40,000 Covid-19 deaths, the highest in Europe.
Brazil threatens to quit WHO, Trump says US beating pandemic
President Jair Bolsonaro threatened Friday to pull Brazil from the WHO over "ideological bias," as his counterpart Donald Trump said the US economy was recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and Europe sought to reopen its borders. Adding fuel to the political fire raging around the pandemic, its origins and the best way to respond, Bolsonaro criticized the World Health Organization for suspending clinical trials of the drug hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 -- a decision it reversed this week -- and threatened to follow in Trump's footsteps by quitting. "I'm telling you right now, the United States left the WHO, and we're studying that, in the future. Either the WHO works without ideological bias, or we leave, too," the far-right leader told journalists.
Serco wins Covid-19 test-and-trace contract despite £1m fine
Serco, one of the companies that has secured a lucrative government contract for the Covid contact-tracing programme, was fined more than £1m for failures on another government contract just months ago, the Observer has learned. The revelation has led to campaigners against the privatisation of public services to call for the £45.8m test-and-trace contract to be cancelled. Serco has a range of government contracts both in the UK and overseas, much of it focused on criminal justice and immigration. It has already had to apologise after breaching data protection rules on its test-and-trace contract by inadvertently revealing the email addresses of new recruits. The junior health minister, Edward Argar, is a former Serco lobbyist.
Ten private doctors and a government official 'falsified 500 death certificates'
Mexico City prosecutors are looking into a group of private doctors and a government official after at least 500 death certificates were allegedly falsified Prosecutors were alerted by Mexico City's Health Protection Agency after it found that the doctors never visited the homes or clinics were the deceased died Cause of death were listed as respiratory failure, atypical pneumonia or viral pneumonia - but it is feared coronavirus could have been to blame. COVID-19 has been reported as the cause of death of 3,456 people in Mexico's capital. Mexico has registered 12,545 coronavirus deaths in Latin America, the second highest amount behind Brazil, which has reported 34,021
Continued Lockdown
Coronavirus tracked: How badly the UK compares with the rest of Europe
With the second highest death toll from the Covid-19 coronavirus in the world, reports this week claimed that the UK had more daily deaths than the whole of the EU combined on a recent day, despite its population being just one seventh of the size. While the actual figures are close, the data used in the graphic has a number of flaws that reveal that to be inaccurate. The government’s daily coronavirus press conference no longer includes a slide comparing the UK’s coronavirus death toll to other countries. The chart was removed on 10 May, after the UK overtook Italy to become the country with the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths in Europe.
Coronavirus infection rate in UK is second highest of any major European country
The level of infection and the deaths in all these countries are now coming down, but not all are improving at the same pace. In the UK and Sweden, the number of daily confirmed cases remains high and the shape of their epidemic is diverging from those of Spain, France and Italy.
Pune Cantonment Board to open on June 8; virus zones stay locked down till month end
The Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) has decided to open area that falls under its jurisdiction on June 8, 2020, after nearly two-and-a-half months of lockdown. The decision was taken during a specially convened meeting by the board administration where the general body passed a resolution to the effect. The lockdown will be implemented on a staggered basis in the non-containment zones. Seven containment zones will be under lockdown till June 30. These are, Bhimpura, Modikhana, Bacchu Adda, Ghorpadi, New Modikhana, Gawli adda and Shivaji market.
Nepali climbers and support staff destitute after Everest closure
Nirmal Purja, the record-breaking Nepali mountaineer who is currently in lockdown in Winchester, is among a number of climbers attempting to raise funds for colleagues. He was concerned for the climbing community based in Nepal. “The community there is suffering. Some people don’t even have food to put on the table. It’s the saddest thing,” he said. Some of the large international mountaineering companies have continued to pay their staff but others have not, and there has been little support for the network of support staff that provide backup services to the international expeditions. The more experienced guides tend to be well paid and have savings that allow them to manage the interruption in their income, Purja said, but the lower-paid cooks and porters have found the disappearance of a year’s salary very difficult.
Covid 19 coronavirus: New Zealand 'a week away' from Italy-style health system crash before lockdown
New Zealand was a week away from a Italy-style "health system meltdown" because of Covid-19 just days before the decision was made to lock the country down. The revelation is contained in a startling letter by Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director Dr Bryan Betty, where he also warned it would take just several infected people several days to cause a "potentially exponential increase in cases again". Betty sent the letter to GPs on Thursday night. In it, he praised their work in confronting the virus and helping avoid a crisis. "New Zealand has done incredibly well to avoid a Covid-19 crisis, which I believe is in large part due to general practice," he wrote.
Paul Workman: Locked down in London, Day 75
You might consider this as well: Wuhan recently tested 10 million people in 19 days, worried about a second wave of COVID-19. The U.K.’s “world-beating” track-and-trace system won’t even be fully operational until the autumn. It’s been a slow start. It appears a number of the 25,000 people hired as trackers have been somewhat idle. One of them said he’s spent the last two weeks sitting in his garden “sunbathing, drinking and chilling with my pals.” This is the government that has now ordered people to start wearing face coverings on public transit—as of June 15. That leaves a lot of people asking—why wait until June 15?
UK coronavirus death toll passes 40,000, R rate climbing
The Manchester Evening News reported that the R (disease reproduction) number in northwestern England is now above 1, the highest rate across England. An R value over 1 means the disease can spread rapidly throughout the population again. The numbers came from scientists at Public Health England and Cambridge University. The rise will provoke further debate over the speed at which the government is lifting the lockdown. There is evidence the R number “has risen in all regions and we believe that this is probably due to increasing mobility and mixing between households and in public and workplace settings,” the analysis said.
Japan's coronavirus entry ban disrupting lives of foreign residents
Kady, who asked for her last name to not be used in this story, is one of the roughly 3 million foreign residents of Japan who have been affected by the entry ban. Many are frustrated at how wide a net the measures cast. All foreign nationals, including permanent residents and spouses of Japanese nationals that have traveled to any of the listed countries within the last two weeks, are being denied entry. "It blows my mind that we tax-paying residents are being treated the same as tourists and are unable to return to our homes," said a 37-year-old Australian, who asked to remain anonymous. She has been unable to return since traveling back to Australia with her toddler for Christmas and to undergo medical treatment.
Beware the dangers of COVID-19 fatigue
Like statistics, science-based decision-making doesn’t seem to be a high priority in Quebec. The premier and his trusty public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, seem more excited about announcing relaxed rules for socializing than wrestling with a highly contagious virus. Soon after Quebec permitted outdoor gatherings of 10 people from three different households last month, its public health institute published updated epidemiological models suggesting that even in best case scenarios, the odds were 50 per cent that deaths would increase in Montreal by July. The response to the models? Crickets. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that the science behind Quebec’s response is shaky when Dr. Arruda is ready to ignore the 80 per cent of Quebec’s almost 5,000 dead who perished in nursing and retirement homes. Arruda recently told a TV interviewer that if it weren’t for long-term care, “we would have a situation in Quebec that’s extraordinary.” That’s like a surgeon telling you that other than the terrible complications, the operation was a huge success.
Six Months of Coronavirus: Here’s Some of What We’ve Learned
At first, it had no name or true identity. Early in January, news reports referred to strange and threatening symptoms that had sickened dozens of people in a large Chinese city with which many people in the world were probably not familiar. After half a year, that large metropolis, Wuhan, is well-known, as is the coronavirus and the illness it causes, Covid-19. In that time, many reporters and editors on the health and science desk at The New York Times have shifted our journalistic focus as we have sought to tell the story of the coronavirus pandemic. While much remains unknown and mysterious after six months, there are some things we’re pretty sure of. These are some of those insights.
Scientific Viewpoint
Vietnamese Covid-19 test kit eligible to be sold in Europe
A new Covid-19 test kit developed by researchers of Hanoi University of Science and Technology has been granted a certification that allows the biological product to be sold in the European market. According to the university, the test kit is one of the very first in the world that uses RT-LAMP to detect SARS-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19. Led by Dr Le Quang Hoa, a lecturer of the university’s School of Biotechnology and Food Technology, and Dr Nguyen Le Thu Ha from Innogenex International Science and Technology Ltd Company, the research team found the reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) technique could be used to detect the novel coronavirus.
Asean’s response to Covid-19: A report card
On the whole, I think Asean, led ably by Vietnam, has responded quite well to the pandemic. What we need to remember is that Asean is an inter-governmental organisation. It is not a supranational institution. The response of the region to Covid-19 depends less on Asean than on the member states themselves. The response of the member states has been uneven, given the disparities among them. Some member states like Singapore have world-class healthcare systems. Others do not. Some member states, like Vietnam, responded promptly and decisively to Covid-19. Others did not. Some member states had the financial means to procure masks, test kits, PPE and ventilators. Others did not have such means. On future steps; I refer to an article, written by my good friend Nicholas Robinson and Christian Walzer: “How do we prevent the next outbreak” in the Scientific American on March 25.
Coronavirus: 'Pharmacy of the world' India in overdrive
Last month, Gilead Sciences, an American pharmaceutical firm, signed a non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreement with four generic pharmaceutical firms based in India, allowing them to manufacture remdesivir for distribution in 127 countries and territories. It also permits them to set the price for their products. The drug has been authorised for emergency use to treat Covid-19 patients, including in the United States and India. As of January, the firm had remdesivir stocks to treat 5,000 patients. Backed by manufacturers in India and elsewhere, it hopes to increase its availability to more than a million treatment courses by December, assuming a 10-day treatment course. There is also a good chance that any eventual vaccine against the coronavirus will be mass-produced in India if it has to be widely available. Among the front runners is the Pune-based Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine-maker by number of doses, which exceed 1.5 billion a year.
Coronavirus: WHO advises to wear masks in public areas
The global body said new information showed they could provide "a barrier for potentially infectious droplets". Some countries already recommend or mandate face coverings in public. The WHO had previously argued there was not enough evidence to say that healthy people should wear masks. However, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday that "in light of evolving evidence, the WHO advises that governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments".
Britain halts trial of hydroxychloroquine as 'useless' for Covid-19 patients
British scientists halted a major drug trial on Friday (June 5) after it found that the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, touted by US President Donald Trump as a potential “game changer” in the pandemic, was “useless” at treating Covid-19 patients. “This is not a treatment for Covid-19. It doesn’t work,”Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the Recovery trial, told reporters. “This result should change medical practice worldwide. We can now stop using a drug that is useless.
Oxford vaccine clinical trials to take volunteers from Brazil
The clinical trial for a vaccine conducted by experts at the University of Oxford will soon recruit 2,000 volunteers in Brazil The university said that on Tuesday, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency approved the inclusion of Brazil in the clinical trials.
Analysis | The Health 202: Protecting U.S. nursing homes would have significantly slashed coronavirus deaths
The full picture of the coronavirus’s toll on U.S. nursing homes is finally becoming clear. It is enormous. Data updated yesterday by the federal government now show that nearly 32,000 American nursing home residents have died of the virus — a figure certain to grow, with 12 percent of all facilities yet to report their totals. Nearly 700 nursing home employees have also died. As of Thursday, more than 106,000 Americans overall had died of the disease.
WHO interview: 'If our behaviour returns to normal Europe risks new waves of Covid-19'
The Local sat down with the man at the forefront of the World Health Organisation's quest for a coronavirus treatment to ask whether reopening our societies will create a second wave and what happens when populism meets science. In the world of science, John-Arne Røttingen is somewhat of an international superstar. In 2015, the Norwegian epidemiologist led the steering group of the groundbreaking study that helped produce a vaccine for Ebola at record speed. If the stakes were high back then, they are even higher now. Røttingen, who heads the Norwegian Research Council, is directing the WHO's international study into Covid-19 treatments and an eventual vaccine.
Scientists Link Covid-19 Risk to Genetic Variations
Why do some people infected with the coronavirus suffer only mild symptoms while others become deathly ill? Geneticists have been scouring our DNA for clues. Now, a study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Variations at two spots in the human genome are associated with an increased risk of respiratory failure in patients with Covid-19, the researchers found. One of these spots includes the gene that determines blood types. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.
‘Like Trash in a Landfill’: Carbon Dioxide Keeps Piling Up in the Atmosphere
Levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide reached another record in May, the month when they normally peak.
What Will It Take to Reopen the World to Travel?
Australia — After months of locked-down borders, countries that have stifled the coronavirus are trying to choreograph a risky dance: how to bring back visitors without importing another burst of uncontrolled contagion.
China withheld data on coronavirus from WHO, recordings reveal
The World Health Organization struggled to get needed information from China during critical early days of the coronavirus pandemic, according to recordings of internal meetings that contradict the organisation’s public praise of Beijing’s response to the outbreak. The recordings, obtained by the Associated Press (AP), show officials complaining in meetings during the week of 6 January that Beijing was not sharing data needed to evaluate the risk of the virus to the rest of the world. It was not until 20 January that China confirmed coronavirus was contagious and 30 January that the WHO declared a global emergency. “We’re going on very minimal information,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist and the WHO technical lead for Covid-19, according to the AP. “It’s clearly not enough for you to do proper planning.”
Thai researcher eyes affordable, accessible coronavirus vaccine for SE Asia
A researcher leading Thailand's push to manufacture a coronavirus vaccine says its aim is to make it cost-effective and accessible to Southeast Asia, and play a part in preventing a supply shortage globally.
Coronavirus Resurgence
The Latest: 2nd day of 50-plus cases in S Korea virus spike
China has reported its first non-imported case of the new coronavirus in two weeks, an infected person on the island of Hainan off the southern coast. The National Health Commission said Sunday that there were also five imported cases in the previous 24-hour period, bringing the nation’s total case count to 83,036. China says it has largely stopped the spread of the virus at home, though it continues to have occasional localized outbreaks. It is on guard against imported cases as it begins to ease restrictions on flights and people arriving from abroad.
The Latest: China has 1st non-imported infection in 2 weeks
China has reported its first non-imported case of the new coronavirus in two weeks, an infected person on the island of Hainan off the southern coast. The National Health Commission said Sunday that there were also five imported cases in the previous 24-hour period, bringing the nation’s total case count to 83,036. China says it has largely stopped the spread of the virus at home, though it continues to have occasional localized outbreaks. It is on guard against imported cases as it begins to ease restrictions on flights and people arriving from abroad.
The first wave of Covid-19 is not over – but how might a second look?
Restaurants are opening, parks are full and people are getting back to work: parts of Europe, Asia and much of the Middle East are enjoying the benefits of flattened coronavirus curves. Meanwhile, parts of the US, India and Latin America are still recording thousands of new cases every day. The first wave of the coronavirus is not over. The future shape of the pandemic will be decided both by human action, in the form of social distancing, testing and other traditional methods of disease control, but also several unanswered questions about the nature of the virus itself. Experts say there are several possibilities.
Iran marks new daily record in coronavirus cases: Live updates
Iran marked its highest daily jump since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak with 3,574 coronavirus cases. The figures marked the third consecutive day that the country recorded more than 3,000 daily new infections. After two months of restrictions, mosques, churches, ports, business activities, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to re-open from Sunday.