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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 25th Jun 2020

News Highlights

Ill-fated tennis exhibition event leads to high profile Covid-19 cases

The Adra Tour, a series of exhibition tennis matches across the Balkans, organised by Serbian legend Noval Djokovic, has become the centre of a controversy with several high profile players testing positive for the coronavirus, including Djokovic himself. Visuals of the charity event show large crowds of spectators with no social distancing observed and disturbing images of players attending parties and subsequently testing positive.

First vaccination trials begin in Africa for Covid-19

Large scale trials of a vaccine developed at the University of Oxford are being conducted in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. Volunteers in South Africa received injections of the vaccine even as the cases increased to more than 106,000, more than one-third of all confirmed cases in Africa.

Judge orders Bolsonaro to wear a mask

Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, who has resisted calls for lockdowns and made controversial statements about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, has been ordered by a federal judge to wear a mask in public or face a fine of $387 a day. Brazil has more than a million cases of the coronavirus with over 50,000 deaths.

England to enforce new rules for businesses operating in 'new normal'

The pub scene in the UK is set to undergo a sea change in operations with patrons having to give their names before ordering drinks and live acts banned and even standing at the bar prohibited. Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will have to keep contact details of customers for 21 days to assist with tracking and tracing in case of any new local outbreaks.

Lockdown Exit
Chile celebrated success against the coronavirus — and began to open up. Infections have soared.
It wasn't that long ago that Chilean President Sebastián Piñera boasted that the country was ready for the coronavirus. "Far better prepared than Italy," is how he put it in March. And after locking down the population, bolstering hospitals and testing aggressively, the country did appear to be faring well against the pandemic. With a comparatively advanced health-care system, it kept numbers of cases and deaths lower than in neighboring Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. By April, officials were touting plans to distribute a first-in-the-world “immunity passport,” enabling Chileans who had recovered from covid-19 to get back to work. They now appear to have been overconfident. After weeks of soaring infections, Chile has now reported more than 250,000 cases of the coronavirus, seventh in the world, and 4,500 deaths. Officials said over the weekend that 3,000 more deaths were probably caused by covid-19. Its 1,338.9 cases per 100,000 people lead Latin America.
Face masks and class ‘bubbles’: Spain prepares plans for a safe return to school
Spanish education officials have for weeks been debating how to get non-university students safely back to school in the fall for in-person classes. Schools shut down across Spain in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and classes were moved online, but educators have been warning about the gaps in access to technology and the risk that some students could be left behind. Central and regional officials are now working toward the goal of getting all children in pre-university studies back to school despite the logistical problems involved. One of the main issues is how to maintain a safe physical distance between students in facilities with large class sizes and reduced space.
French connections - Life after lockdown: Exploring the 'new normal' in France
As France eases out of lockdown, people are heading back to their old ways of life, but these feel so unfamiliar. Though the places are the same, the way the French are supposed to navigate life is just different, whether it's wearing a mask or avoiding a kiss to say hello. What long-term impact are the coronavirus and the two-month lockdown going to have on French society? In this episode of French Connections Plus, Genie Godula and Florence Villeminot take a look at the "new normal" in post-lockdown France.
Putin declares a Russian victory over coronavirus, but warns 'epidemic isn't over yet'
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that further social support measures and incentives for businesses will be introduced as he hailed the nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic in the run-up to a vote that could extend his rule until 2036. Speaking in a televised address, Putin declared that Russia has successfully gone through the most dangerous phase of the outbreak. "Together we have proven that we are capable to fulfil the most difficult tasks," he said.
Russia holds World War Two victory parade in coronavirus shadow
Russia is celebrating its biggest public holiday, Victory Day, with a military parade in Moscow that was meant to be held on 9 May. It is 75 years since the then USSR defeated Nazi Germany. World War Two cost more than 20 million Soviet lives. President Vladimir Putin reluctantly postponed the big annual celebration because of the coronavirus pandemic. But it was rescheduled ahead of a key constitutional vote, which could allow him a further two terms in power. Moscow's lockdown eased this month, but mass gatherings technically remain banned. Soldiers taking part had to go into quarantine ahead of the parade. The number of confirmed cases in Russia rose above 600,000 on Wednesday, with another 7,176 new infections reported over the previous 24 hours. This is, however, lower than in May, when the country reported more than 10,000 new cases a day for more than a week.
No name, no pint - new rules for England's pubs after lockdown
Drinkers in England’s pubs will have to give their name before they order a pint, and there will be no live acts or standing at the bar, the government said in advice for reopening the sector next month. Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will have to keep a record of customers for 21 days to assist the state health service’s test and trace operation, which aims to identify and contain any local flare-ups of COVID-19 and stop a second wave of infections. Live performances, including drama, comedy and music, will also not be allowed, the government said. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said that pubs, restaurants and hotels could reopen in England on July 4, easing the coronavirus lockdown that has all but shut the economy.
Putin ploughs ahead with Victory Day parade despite coronavirus threat
Russia is holding its postponed Victory Day military parade on Wednesday despite steadily rising coronavirus infections, as Vladimir Putin seeks a popularity boost in the run-up to a referendum on extending his time in office. The parade celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany and has grown to outsize proportions in the years since Putin came to power at the turn of the century. On 1 July Russians will vote on amending their country’s constitution to allow Putin to run twice more for president, potentially extending his stay in the Kremlin to 2036. Online voting will begin less than 24 hours after an estimated 14,000 Russian troops, as well as tanks, artillery, and aircraft, traverse Red Square in a patriotic display of the country’s military prowess.
Exit Strategies
3 new lockdown changes announced for South Africa
Government has begun introducing new regulations around South Africa’s ‘advanced level 3’ lockdown, with more set to be introduced in the coming weeks. Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country will move to an ‘advanced’ level 3 lockdown, with a number of business sectors reopened to the public. Ramaphosa said that many businesses that stopped operating on 27 March when the lockdown first came into effect have not been able to operate. Following discussions with industry representatives, provincial heads, scientists as well as cabinet, Ramaphosa said that restrictions will be eased for:
Coronavirus: WHO warns UK of ‘year of living differently’ as Boris Johnson set to further ease lockdown
World Health Organisation (WHO) officials have warned “this is the year of living differently” and urged caution in the UK ahead of further easing of lockdown restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Tuesday that the hospitality industry can reopen from 4 July, with the two-metre social distancing rule set to be halved. While the UK has made progress in suppressing the virus, Dr Margaret Harris cautioned that the pandemic is not over, adding that there is a link between rising reproduction rates and the easing of lockdown measures.
The Pandemic’s Worst-Case Scenario Is Unfolding in Brazil
As Asia, Western Europe, and parts of the U.S. emerge from what will hopefully be the worst of the pandemic, the virus in Brazil isn’t slowing down. Between late May and mid-June the country galloped past Spain, Italy, and the U.K. in total fatalities, which now exceed 51,000, the second-highest toll after the U.S. It’s second in overall cases too, with more than 1 million confirmed infections. With local officials now lifting quarantines despite continued growth in cases, it’s conceivable that, when Covid-19 finally recedes, Brazil will have been hit harder than any other country.
Coronavirus deaths in Latin America and Caribbean top 100000 with Brazil hardest hit by far
Latin America and the Caribbean on Tuesday surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths, more than half of them in Brazil, according to an AFP count based on official figures. The pandemic is accelerating across the region, which now has a total of 2.1 million cases, with Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Chile the most affected countries. Brazil has the second-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world, after the United States, at more than 52,640 fatalities out of 1,145,906 confirmed cases.
Coronavirus: Scottish pubs and restaurants to reopen in July
People in Scotland will be allowed to meet up with two other households indoors from 10 July and pubs and restaurants can re-open from 15 July. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said the five-mile travel limit will be lifted from 3 July, while beer gardens can re-open from 6 July. Hairdressers and barbers can open from 15 July, as can holiday accommodation. Ms Sturgeon said the move was possible thanks to the "real sustained progress" made in suppressing coronavirus. But she said the changes depended on keeping the virus under control, and could be reversed if there was a fresh outbreak. And they will not apply to people who are shielding, who will be given further advice "before the end of July".
Nicola Sturgeon: no 'reckless race' with rest of UK on lockdown easing
Nicola Sturgeon has said she is not prepared to put lives at risk “in some kind of reckless race with other parts of the UK”, as she faced criticism for maintaining the 2-metre rule for businesses despite having announced plans for school pupils to return from August with no distancing in place. Scotland’s first minister set out indicative dates for further easing of the country’s lockdown rules – including lifting the five-mile travel restriction from next Friday and reopening beer gardens from the following Monday – as weekly data from the National Records of Scotland showed a reduction in deaths for the eighth consecutive week. Continuing to urge caution, she told the Scottish parliament: “Our pace is slightly slower than England but it is, in my view, right for our circumstances and, I hope, more likely to be sustainable than if we went faster now.”
Testing ALL of Britain for coronavirus every week 'could prevent second lockdown'
Testing everyone for coronavirus every week could drive out the coronavirus without a second wave or another lockdown, according to scientists. Researchers led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said routine testing, contact tracing and household isolation could stop Covid-19 'quite quickly'. They said Britain should do a single-city trial of the system to see whether it could bring down new infections and deaths faster than the current situation.
Scotland Joins Rest of U.K. Easing Lockdown Amid Economic Pain
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accelerated the easing of lockdown rules amid growing political pressure to get people back to work and restart the critical tourism industry. The changes, which in parts echo moves announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, are earlier than planned and come as a report showed the economy may not recover until 2024 in a worst-case scenario. “Our pace is slightly slower than England’s, but it is, in my view, right for our circumstances,” Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Wednesday. Progress in tackling coronavirus means Scots could get back to normality “more quickly than we could have imagined a few weeks ago.”
Operators of gyms and pools query England's new lockdown rules
The government has given the green light to a night out in a pub or restaurant in England but gym workouts, swimming pools, nightclub dance floors and even manicures are still off limits – prompting accusations of glaring inconsistencies as the lockdown is eased. The chief executive of PureGym, the UK’s biggest gym chain, said he was “bitterly disappointed” by the delay in opening its 269 gyms and questioned the government’s commitment to tackling obesity. “It is a strange war on obesity that sees pubs and restaurants open before gyms,” said Humphrey Cobbold who highlighted that the company had already safely reopened its gyms in Switzerland and Denmark.
Wednesday briefing: Holiday hopes as PM eases lockdown
Boris Johnson hailed the easing of lockdown measures from 4 July as “the end of hibernation”, but some experts said the move could allow Covid-19 to regain a “foothold”. They fear the lack of an effective track and trace system and the heightened risk of transmission indoors: 97% of super-spreader events, those with five or more transmissions, have taken place indoors. Bars and restaurants face a privacy minefield after being told they must record customers details when they reopen next Saturday.
French give cool reception to Covid-19 contact-tracing app
France’s coronavirus-tracing app has failed to take off, with only 68 people using it to register a positive test result in the three weeks since its launch, despite 1.9m downloading it on their phones. The StopCovid app, which is meant to automatically inform users if they come into contact with an infected person, has sent only 14 notifications to other users. In recent days, the pace at which people uninstalled the app from their phones has also picked up, even as France lifted its final lockdown restrictions on businesses and schools, according to Cédric O, France’s junior minister for digital affairs. “We can only infer that, just as people are not adhering as much to mask-wearing and social distancing lately, that some do not think they need the app now that the virus is less active,” he said. “It may reflect that French people are simply less worried about the epidemic right now.” Olivier Blazy, a computer science professor at the University of Limoges, questioned whether the app would actually contribute to the public health effort. “Adoption has been derisory and the results are ridiculous,” he said. “There were more people involved in the creation of the app than people who have benefited from it.”
Moscow, center of Russia’s Coronavirus crisis eases lockdown restrictions
Residents of the Russian capital emerged Tuesday from a strict coronavirus lockdown, a day after Moscow authorities announced they would lift key restrictions.
Sierra Leone eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions
Sierra Leone eased COVID-19 lockdown restrictions that were imposed to curb the spread of the virus, the president said on Tuesday. In a series of tweets, President Julius Maada Bio said the country has seen high recovery and discharge rates, lower infection rates, and proportionally lower death rates. “Effective immediately, the curfew is adjusted to the period 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. I announce the lifting of the ban on inter-district travel starting on Wednesday, 24th June 2020. Once all measures are in place, commercial flights will resume in the very short run,” Bio said. “The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School, in consultation with stakeholders, has developed comprehensive health and safety guidelines for teachers, pupils, and communities for the purpose of providing safe environment for students who are taking public examinations,” he added.
Japan’s struggle to reimagine the post-pandemic world
Japan’s strength has been the consensus about making necessary changes to daily life to keep infection rates low, but when it comes to leveraging the pandemic to think outside of the box, its response has been muted
Restrictions eased in South Australia from Monday
Pubs and restaurants in South Australia will be allowed to double their customer numbers from Monday, in the latest lift on lockdown restrictions. The state government is lifting the current limit to 50 per cent capacity, meaning one person per two square metres in public premises. Businesses will be able to accept more customers without turning people away to comply with current restrictions.
Coronavirus: EU considers barring Americans from travel list
EU ambassadors are to continue talks on Friday to plan reopening external borders on 1 July, and travellers from the US could be among those not allowed in. Some European countries are keen to open up to tourists but others are wary of the continued spread of the virus. On Wednesday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he expected a solution "in the coming weeks". The virus is spreading in the US, so it is likely Americans would be barred. The 27-member bloc must first agree the measures that non-EU countries should meet before deciding on a safe list. Brazil, Russia and other countries with high infection rates would also be left off a safe list, according to reports from Brussels.
Countries around the world scramble to contain coronavirus flare-ups as U.S. states remain open
Within the countries in question, the new flare-ups are mostly rooted in identifiable regions, where officials launched or expanded aggressive containment efforts this week. German authorities said Tuesday they would impose a new regional lockdown in a district of the country’s northwest to contain an outbreak linked to a meat-processing plant, after more than 1,500 workers were infected. Portugal cracked down on mass gatherings. Australia’s Victoria state re-shuttered several schools. An area in the northeast of Spain reintroduced restrictions. Even New Zealand, which has just 10 confirmed, active cases, tightened border measures as an increasing number of citizens abroad began to fly home.
As coronavirus rages worse than ever, Tennessee leaders forge ahead with reopening
Gov. Bill Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper are marching forward with plans to reopen businesses and lift coronavirus restrictions, despite a worsening outbreak infecting, hospitalizing and killing more Tennesseans than ever before. Lee and other state officials said Tuesday they are monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and developing “hot spot plans” for counties where infections were surging. But the governor didn't provide specifics on if, or when, he would reverse the reopening of the state. When asked if his administration was treating the outbreak with an appropriate seriousness, Lee maintained they were not underestimating the virus. “There is a genuine understanding that COVID-19 is a serious public health crisis for our state, and we take it seriously every single day ... We are encouraged that we have one of the lowest death rates per capita in the country, but every single death is a very serious issue for me,” Lee said.
Partisan Exits
The way Boris Johnson has eased lockdown sends all the wrong messages
At the last daily press conference on Covid-19, Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, pleaded with the public: “If people don’t take mitigation seriously, if people hear a distorted version of what’s been said – that says ‘this is all fine now, it’s gone away’ – and start behaving in ways that they normally would have before this virus happened, yes we will get an uptick for sure. So it is absolutely critical that people stick to the guidance that has been given.”
Coronavirus: Second wave warning, lockdown easing and NUS action
Health leaders are calling for an urgent review to determine whether the UK is properly prepared for the "real risk" of a second wave of infections. The presidents of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons, Nursing, Physicians and GPs urged the government to examine "areas of weakness where action is needed urgently to prevent further loss of life". Is a second wave inevitable? Our health correspondent James Gallagher looks closely. The warning comes after the prime minister announced a wholesale easing of lockdown in England from 4 July - here's all you need to know on that.
Coronavirus news: Drinkers warned risk of catching Covid-19 in reopening pubs ‘quite high’, as Boris Johnson eases lockdown and reduces 2-metre rule
Medical experts have warned the UK must prepare now for the “real risk” of a second wave of coronavirus amid growing fears of a renewed outbreak this winter. The warning came in an open letter published in the British Medical Journal after prime minister Boris Johnson announced the two-metre social distancing rule would be reduced to “one-metre plus”, allowing pubs, restaurants, hotels and cinemas to reopen from 4 July. Fitness bosses have criticised the decision to leave gyms out of the next stage of England’s lockdown easing, with the chief executive of David Lloyd Clubs blasting the move as “completely illogical”. Australia has reported its first death in more than a month, sparking concerns about a second wave which saw thousands in Victoria queue for Covid-19 tests and supermarkets impose new restrictions.
A tale of two pandemics: how Germany got it right, and Britain blundered
By 23 June, according to official figures, Britain had sustained 306,210 confirmed cases of Covid-19, compared with Germany’s 190,862. In Britain 42,927 people had died from the virus. In Germany the figure on the same day stood at 8,895 deaths. In Britain, according to Johns Hopkins University data, the current death rate per 100,000 people stands at 64.27. In Germany, the rate is 10.73. It is a stunning difference. Germans have been six times less likely to die from Covid-19 than British people. What explains it? One underlying reason is that the UK’s health spending level per head of $4,000 is only approximately two-thirds that of Germany. Another more immediate one is that Germany was much quicker to lock down: most German schools closed from 13 March, a week before all parts of the UK; shops and restaurants closed from 16 March, again a week before Britain. As a result, Germany was able to begin lifting parts of its lockdown at the end of April.
Coronavirus: 'Extraordinarily risky' to lift lockdown measures now, warns ex-chief scientific adviser
Lifting lockdown measures now in England risks a second wave of coronavirus during the winter, a former chief scientific adviser to the government has warned. “I think it’s extraordinarily risky,” Sir David King told Sky News. “If we take the long view we know that the winter is a likely period when the virus takes off again. We must therefore aim to completely get rid of the virus from this country before the winter.” His warning came a day after Boris Johnson announced the most significant relaxation of the Covid-19 lockdown so far, telling the public that pubs, cinemas, hairdressers and restaurants will reopen on 4 July, and that the two-metre rule will be eased.
Judge orders Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro to wear a mask
President Bolsonaro has been ordered by a federal judge to wear a mask in public after he attended political rallies in Rio de Janeiro without any face covering. Renato Borelli said that Mr Bolsonaro could be fined 2,000 reais ($387) a day if he continued to disobey a federal district ordinance meant to slow the Covid-19 outbreak. Facemasks have been mandatory in public in the city since April. Last week Abraham Weintraub, the education minister, was fined for failing to wear a face mask at a rally in Brasilia, the capital. He shook hands and posed for pictures with demonstrators, many of whom also went without masks. Brazil is facing one of the worst outbreaks of coronavirus, with more than 1.1 million cases so far and more than 50,000 deaths. Mr Bolsonaro has resisted calls for lockdowns, saying that his country’s economy could not survive.
'End of hibernation': what the papers say about England's lockdown easing
A combination of sunny weather and the approaching relaxation of coronavirus lockdown rules in England has led to jubilation on some front pages today, as others mark the start of the end of “our long national hibernation”. “Summer’s back on!” says the Daily Mail, and quotes Boris Johnson urging people to get out and enjoy themselves. It notes, however, the move is a “calculated gamble to head off economic disaster”. The Express takes a similar tack. It uses a picture of the prime minister with beer held aloft alongside the headline: “Cheers Boris! Here’s to a brighter Britain”. It tempers the joy with a message across the top: “PM: we’re coming out of hibernation but virus still a risk”. Metro also uses the pub theme with “Get the beers in”.
Continued Lockdown
Disneyland Resort delays reopening of Anaheim theme parks amid COVID-19 concerns
Disneyland Resort announced on Wednesday that it will delay the reopening of the theme parks and hotel. There was no new date given. "The State of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4. Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials," Disneyland said in a statement. Disneyland employee unions had asked the state to delay the park's expected reopening in July out of concerns for health and safety.
Colombia extends coronavirus lockdown measures until July 15
Colombia's lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus will continue until July 15, President Ivan Duque said in a nightly broadcast on Tuesday. The Andean country has reported more than 73,500 cases of coronavirus and 2,404 deaths. "The current conditions of obligatory isolation, where we are returning to productivity and moving towards the re-opening of businesses, will continue as they are today until July 15," Duque said. Duque first declared a national quarantine to control the spread of the new coronavirus in late March. While certain restrictions have been relaxed, the quarantine was due to lift on July 1
Twitter tackles violent upsurge against women in lockdown
Twitter has launched a new prompt to fight gender-based violence in response to a surge in sexual assaults and domestic attacks during lockdown, a company official said on Wednesday. The social network said the feature, currently available in 11 countries, directs users to local helpline services if they search for terms such as “domestic violence” or “sexual assault”. “This is the first time that this notification prompt has been made available in multiple locations in multiple languages,” said Kathleen Reen, a senior director of Twitter in Asia-Pacific.
Virus lockdown could fuel radicalisation, Europol warns
Coronavirus lockdowns could radicalise more terror suspects, the EU’s police agency warned Tuesday (23 June), saying both right and leftwing violence were on the rise. The pandemic’s worldwide economic and social impacts could escalate existing discontents, Europol director Catherine De Bolle said as she unveiled the organisation’s latest terrorism trends report. “These developments have the potential to further fuel the radicalisation of some individuals, regardless of their ideological persuasion,” De Bolle said in the report. “Activists both on the extreme left and right and those involved in jihadist terrorism attempt to seize the opportunity the pandemic has created to further propagate their aims.”
The real reason lockdown is exhausting
Whether schooling children at home or facing many months living alone, lockdown has proven to be challenging for large numbers of people. At the start of May people in many countries, including the US, India, Canada, Japan, France and Germany, were in favour of lockdown measures being prioritised to protect health rather than the economy. About two-thirds of Britons said they could cope well with a lockdown that lasted until July, but might struggle with much more. More recent polling, however, suggests that adherence to lockdown measures began to wane even before restrictions were eased. Clearly, people’s patience has been tested. Video calls, bizarre dream-filled nights’ sleep and reduced exposure to daylight have all been blamed for lockdown lethargy. But another unforeseen problem could be tiring you out – the disruption to your daily habits. With daily routines shaken up – and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future even after restrictions are eased – we are now making many more little decisions about our daily lives. This can cause “decision fatigue”.
Colombia extends coronavirus lockdown measures until July 15
Colombia's lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus will continue until July 15, President Ivan Duque said in a nightly broadcast on Tuesday. The Andean country has reported more than 73,500 cases of coronavirus and 2,404 deaths. "The current conditions of obligatory isolation, where we are returning to productivity and moving towards the re-opening of businesses, will continue as they are today until July 15," Duque said. Duque first declared a national quarantine to control the spread of the new coronavirus in late March. While certain restrictions have been relaxed, the quarantine was due to lift on July 1
Scientific Viewpoint
Coronavirus: Human trial of new vaccine begins in UK
About 300 people will have the vaccine over the coming weeks, as part of a trial led by Prof Robin Shattock and his colleagues, at Imperial College London. Tests in animals suggest the vaccine is safe and triggers an effective immune response. Experts at Oxford University have already started human trials. The trials are among many across the world - there are around 120 vaccine programmes under way.
Coronavirus: Antibody test lacks 'proper assessment'
Covid-19 antibodies tests for NHS and care staff are being rolled out without "adequate assessment", experts warn. The tests could place an unnecessary burden on the NHS, the 14 senior academics say in a letter in the BMJ, Last month, the government said it had bought 10 million antibodies tests and asked NHS trusts and care homes to make them available to staff in England. Officials say the blood tests - to see if someone has had the virus - will play an "increasingly important role". Some patients and people having routine blood tests in England are being offered them too.
Worst of COVID-19 is yet to come in South Africa: Top scientist
Commenting on the rapid rise in infections and deaths, Karim blamed the relaxing of restrictions announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the five-level lockdown strategy
CDC director: Covid-19 has 'brought this nation to its knees'
Covid-19 has "brought this nation to its knees," Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday. The country is probably going to spend about $7 trillion "because of one little virus," Redfield said during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. "We've all done the best that we can do to tackle this virus." Redfield's comments were made as half of US states are seeing spikes in new coronavirus cases -- and it's not just due to increased testing, health officials say.
Scientists want UK city to lift lockdown completely to see what happens
Scientists have proposed lifting lockdown completely in a UK city about the size of Southampton to see if coronavirus can be controlled through the weekly testing of residents. A demonstration study is needed on a “medium-sized city” of around 250,000 people to see if regular testing and local quarantines could tackle Covid-19 outbreaks, according to a paper published in the Royal Society Open Science journal. “It is a deep mystery to me why this idea has not gained traction,” said Julian Peto, professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-authored the paper with 10 other experts.
Why New Zealand decided to go for full elimination of the coronavirus
Baker felt “very moved” by the government’s decision, but also anxious, because he didn’t know if it would work. “As a scientist, you feel very worried if you’re giving advice when the evidence base isn’t totally there yet, particularly when it’s something that could be harmful to people,” he says. However, putting the entire country into home quarantine early on extinguished community transmission and gave authorities time to strengthen testing and contact tracing capacities, which were initially “really quite woeful”, says Baker. The country has recorded only 1515 covid-19 cases and 22 deaths to date, and hasn’t had any new, locally acquired cases since 22 May. The current active cases are all citizens in supervised quarantine after returning from overseas. On 8 June, New Zealand lifted all its restrictions except for its border control measures. “There was this amazing sense of relief,” says Baker. He is proud of New Zealand’s success, but says it is important not to become complacent or smug. Baker warns that other countries that have seemingly got on top of the virus, such as China and South Korea, have experienced subsequent outbreaks.
Beware second wave of coronavirus, medics warn Britain
A second coronavirus wave is a real risk for Britain and local flare-ups are likely, major health bodies said on Wednesday, in one of the strongest warnings yet to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he eases lockdown to help the economy. Britain has one of the world’s highest death tolls from COVID-19 but infections have fallen. The government plans to lift many restrictions in England from July 4 to help an economy facing the deepest contraction in three centuries. With fears of renewed spikes of infections concerning leaders around the world, some of Britain’s most eminent health leaders want urgent preparations for such a possible scenario. “The available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk,” the medics said in a letter in the British Medical Journal.
Chinese Covid-19 Vaccines Cleared for Final Testing in U.A.E.
A Chinese state-owned vaccine developer secured regulatory approval to test its coronavirus shots in the United Arab Emirates, making it one of the first among a slew of global efforts to get the greenlight for the final stage of human trials. Beijing-based China National Biotec Group Co. was awarded approval on Tuesday to conduct Phase III trials for its Covid-19 vaccines in the Middle Eastern country, the company said in a statement posted on its official WeChat account.
U.K. Must Prepare for Second Wave of Pandemic, Doctors Warn
Health leaders are calling on the U.K. government to prepare for a possible second wave of the coronavirus, just as Prime Minister Boris Johnson relaxes the country’s lockdown measures. In a letter published in the British Medical Journal, doctors including the presidents of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians warned that local flare-ups are likely and a second wave is a real risk. Preparing for that possibility is now urgent, as is a review of national preparedness, they said. “The review should not be about looking back or attributing blame,” the letter said. “It should be a rapid and forward-looking assessment of national preparedness.”
Don’t listen to Trump. Mask-wearing is essential.
All Americans, and all businesses, want the country reopened. Mr. Trump has framed the issue falsely, as a choice between economic revival and public health. In fact, the goal is to reopen intelligently, without triggering a fresh tsunami of infections. That will require responsible decision-making by state and local leaders as well as companies and individuals. Wearing masks is an essential place to start.
First Vaccinations Begin in Africa for Covid-19 Trial
Africa’s first participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial started Wednesday as nervous volunteers received injections, while officials said the continent of 1.3 billion people cannot be left behind. The large-scale trial of the vaccine developed at the University of Oxford in Britain is being conducted in South Africa, Britain and Brazil. South Africa has nearly one-third of Africa’s confirmed cases with more than 106,000, including more than 2,100 deaths. The country late Tuesday reported its biggest one-day death toll of 111. “I feel a little bit scared but I want to know what is going on with this vaccine so that I can tell my friends and others what is going on with the study,” one of the vaccine trial volunteers, Junior Mhlongo, said in Johannesburg.
Herd immunity could develop from just 43% of people catching Covid-19, scientists claim
Government scientists floated the idea at the start of the UK's outbreak, with the 'delay' stage of its original plan based on allowing the virus to spread slowly. But experts warned that half a million people could die if the country didn't go into lockdown to stop the virus in its tracks, and officials have since denied that aiming for herd immunity — which could have seen 40million people allowed to be infected — was ever the plan. The study hinges on people only being able to catch the virus once, then becoming immune to it in future — but scientists still haven't worked out whether this is true.
Social distancing remains vital to our battle against COVID-19
Many of us are guilty of relaxing and wishfully thinking that the coronavirus pandemic is nearing the end. Summer can bring thoughts of family vacations and trips with friends. People are planning these getaways — some responsibly and others less so — because we are tired of quarantining. However, this virus is still dangerous, and the risks of unfettered spread remain. We’ve paid a heavy price for containing this virus; it would be a tragedy to let it run wild now. Our economy will improve. There will be a time again when social distancing is something that lives only in the past. But at this moment, caution and smart thinking remain vitally important.
EU goes easy on GMOs in race for COVID-19 vaccine
Brussels is ready to loosen its stance on GMOs in order to avoid bottlenecks in clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine involving multiple countries. Current GMO legislation does not foresee situations of urgency, resulting in very complex and time-consuming procedures, the Commission argues, saying “there is considerable variety across member states in the national requirements and procedures implementing the GMO directives.” Potential vaccines currently under development by pharmaceutical companies such as Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson contain or consist of GMOs. The proposed derogation, which still needs to be voted by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers, will last for as long as COVID-19 is regarded as a public health emergency, the Commission said. The relaxed rules will apply not only for clinical trials on a COVID-19 vaccine but also for treatments, the Commission’s communication reads, although compliance with good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and an environmental risk assessment of the products will still be carried out before their marketing authorisation.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Germany reckons with second wave risk
The working conditions of slaughterhouses are coming under scrutiny as they emerge as hotbeds for infections. A regional lockdown announced Tuesday affecting more than 500,000 locals near Germany’s industrial heartland offers a laboratory for how Europe can manage new outbreaks of COVID-19. That includes thorny questions of how to administer those measures in local communities and whom to blame for contagion. "At the moment it's a local outbreak," said Ralf Reintjes, professor of epidemiology and surveillance at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. But if the approach fails in Gütersloh and in other towns such as Göttingen, where a tower block is in quarantine, he warned, Germany will "probably have a second wave."
Coronavirus outbreak forces new area in Spain to reintroduce restrictions
A coronavirus outbreak in Spain’s northeastern region of Aragón has forced regional authorities to take a new step back in the deescalation process. A day after moving three comarcas – administrative divisions smaller than a province – back to Phase 2 of the national deescalation plan, the regional government announced on Tuesday that the comarca of Bajo Aragón-Caspe would also return to an earlier stage. The move, aimed at curbing coronavirus contagions, comes in response to an outbreak detected among fruit pickers in Huesca province.
France: Two Paris schools close as precaution after coronavirus cases
French authorities have closed two schools in Paris as a precautionary measure after the discovery of coronavirus cases but they have not been classed as potentially dangerous clusters, authorities said Wednesday. France, unlike some other European countries which have taken a much more cautious approach, on Monday resumed obligatory schooling for all pupils after the coronavirus shutdown. Some schools had already been open at least partially for several weeks after the initial easing of the lockdown. But a school in the 12th district of Paris with 180 pupils has been closed until the end of the week after three cases were discovered, the local health authority told AFP.
South Korea says it has a second wave of coronavirus infections — but what does that really mean?
A case in point: despite Seoul saying it believed it was going through a second wave, a World Health Organization (WHO) representative declined to repeat that suggestion when discussing the situation in South Korea on Tuesday. So what actually constitutes a second wave of coronavirus infections? And if South Korea's experiencing one now, which countries are likely to to be next?
South Korea reports 46 new virus cases as it tackles 'second wave'
South Korea reported 46 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday after health authorities declared the country was battling a second wave of infections that had been circulating for weeks. The South endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the disease outside China but appears to have brought it broadly under control thanks to an extensive "trace, test and treat" programme while never imposing a compulsory lockdown. Social distancing rules were relaxed after a public holiday in early May and the country has since been returning largely to normal. But in the last month the South has seen around 35 to 50 cases a day, mostly in the Seoul metropolitan area where half of the population lives. "We believe the second wave has been running since it was triggered by the May holiday," said Jung Eun-kyeong, director of Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Australia reports first COVID-19 death in more than a month, second wave worry stirs
Australia reported its first COVID-19 death in more than a month on Wednesday, as concerns about a second wave of infections saw thousands of people queue, sometimes for hours, to be tested for the virus. A man in his eighties died in Victoria state, where 20 new cases were reported overnight, Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne. Australia has so far escaped a high number of casualties from the new coronavirus, with just over 7,500 infections and 103 deaths, aided by strict lockdown measures and social distancing rules. Fears of a second wave stem from an upswing in new cases in Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, where authorities are trying to contain outbreaks in half a dozen Melbourne suburbs. State Premier Daniel Andrews has asked for military personnel to help operate pop-up test centres and enforce a 14-day quarantine requirement for anyone coming from overseas, a spokeswoman said.
Israel, Palestinians tighten restrictions as coronavirus reemerges
Israeli and Palestinian authorities have brought back some coronavirus restrictions after the number of new cases jumped in what officials fear could herald a “second wave” of infections. Israel’s cabinet on Wednesday approved legislation to resume the use of Shin Bet counter-terrorism surveillance technology to track infections, a practice that had been halted on June 9 amid objections by privacy watchdogs, officials said. A partial lockdown went into effect in a town in central Israel and several neighborhoods in the city of Tiberias where infection rates were particularly high. The Palestinian Authority put the West Bank city of Hebron and announced that this Friday’s public prayers would be suspended, though mosques would otherwise remain open in line with health precautions.
Virus Surges Across U.S., Throwing Reopenings Into Disarray
Newly diagnosed cases of Covid-19 and other indicators of the pandemic’s spread soared in hot spots across the U.S., driving city and state officials to consider slowing or reversing reopening plans. Cases are surging in Texas, Florida, Arizona and in California, which on Tuesday broke its record for new cases for the fourth day in the past week. Even in New Jersey, where numbers have been falling, Governor Phil Murphy warned that the transmission rate is “beginning to creep up.”