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Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th Aug 2022

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Several cities in China add COVID curbs as millions still under lockdown

Several COVID-hit Chinese cities from the country's east to west imposed fresh restrictions and lockdowns on their populations on Thursday to contain flare-ups that are again threatening to disrupt local economies. Reducing people's unnecessary movement for a few days - a softer type of lockdown - as soon as dozens of new cases emerge is a key practice of China's "dynamic COVID-zero" strategy. The aim is to avoid turning efforts to halt an outbreak into the extended nightmares seen in Shanghai and Wuhan
11th Aug 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 5th Aug 2022

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China’s Hawaii Sanya Partially Locks Down as Covid Outbreak Grows

China partially locked down the beach resort city of Sanya after detecting about two dozen new virus cases this week, stranding thousands of tourists at one of the country’s most popular summer spots. People in areas categorized as high-risk are banned from leaving their homes, while other residents can only venture out of their compounds once every two days to purchase necessities, the municipal government said. The city has shut indoor venues including karaoke parlors and bars, and halted the movement of buses, ships, and yachts. All public venues require a negative Covid test no older than 24 hours for entry.
4th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 25th Jul 2022

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China Snap Lockdown Crimps Beachside Business, Strands Tourists

A Covid outbreak has derailed what is usually the peak season at one of China’s top summer hot spots, with a snap lockdown in the seaside city Beihai shutting hotels and leaving more than 2,000 tourists stranded at one point. The outbreak in the southern city of 1.83 million people nestled into a curve of the South China Sea near Vietnam has grown to over 1,400 cases as of Thursday. The first case was detected a little more than a week earlier, on July 12.
23rd Jul 2022 - Bloomberg


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th Jul 2022

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High-pressure oxygen shows promise in long COVID; earlier Omicron infection may protect against subvariants

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. High-pressure oxygen treatment may help long COVID. Patients with long COVID may see some improvement after breathing pure oxygen in a high-air-pressure environment, according to data from a small Israeli trial.
15th Jul 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 13th Jul 2022

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The Never-Ending Covid Emergency

Why keep extending the emergency? One reason is that in March 2020 Congress barred states from kicking ineligible people off Medicaid rolls during the emergency in return for more federal funding. Medicaid enrollment has ballooned to 95 million—30% of Americans are now enrolled—from 71 million in December 2019. The emergency expands Medicaid in GOP states that opted out of the ObamaCare expansion. It is also a boon for insurers in states that pay per Medicaid participant. Hospitals and physician groups support extending the emergency because they worry that state Medicaid payments will decline if the federal fillip goes away.
12th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 21st Jun 2022

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Shanghai surprise: How I survived 70 days confinement in the world's strictest Covid lockdown

When I left a Covid-ravaged Hong Kong, I was in search of a sanctuary. It was early March and the city was in the throes of the biggest coronavirus outbreak per capita in the world. Little could I have known as I boarded the plane that my cunning escape plan would take me from the frying pan into the fire; that as I landed in Shanghai I would be swapping the world's biggest outbreak for the "world's strictest lockdown" -- and 70 days of enforced confinement. Still less could I have foreseen that, after serving three weeks of government-mandated quarantine on arrival, my housing compound would be hermetically sealed for a further 49 days straight, or that my mom and I would catch Covid, or that I would be carted off for a further spell of isolation at one of the government's notorious "fangcang" camps.
18th Jun 2022 - CNN


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th Jun 2022

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Toyota supplier Toyoda Gosei asks employees to take leave as lockdown bites

A major Toyota Motor Corp supplier has asked employees to take a day off with reduced pay this month, a spokesperson for the supplier, Toyoda Gosei Co, said on Wednesday, reflecting the impact of the chip shortage and China lockdowns. Toyoda Gosei, which makes air bags, brake hoses and radiator grilles, has asked domestic employees to take a day of leave in June following production suspensions by Toyota and other automakers, the spokesperson confirmed to Reuters, declining to name the automakers.
8th Jun 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 1st Jun 2022

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Next Hong Kong leader says city must work harder at COVID-19

Hong Kong’s incoming chief executive, John Lee, said Tuesday the city still has to work hard at controlling the coronavirus and boosting vaccination rates. Lee, who returned home after meeting with Communist Party officials in Beijing, said Hong Kong needs to control the spread of COVID-19 to create favorable conditions for a resumption of regular travel with mainland China. “We still have cases of infection, between 200 to 300 cases (daily), and vaccination rates for the second dose have yet to reach 90%,” Lee said to reporters after landing at Hong Kong's airport.
31st May 2022 - ABC News


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 30th May 2022

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No work and nowhere to live: a rural migrant's ordeal in locked-down Shanghai

When Shanghai began its draconian COVID-19 lockdown two months ago, the French restaurant where Sun Wu waited tables closed and the 22-year-old, like countless other rural migrants, lost his job. To make ends meet, Sun helped sort government deliveries for residents under lockdown, earning 250 yuan ($38) a day and moving from a dormitory to live in the warehouse where he worked as required by COVID rules
27th May 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th May 2022

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Global firms warn of sluggish China demand due to lengthy COVID curbs

Two months into harsh COVID-19 lockdowns that have choked global supply chains, China's economy is staggering back to its feet, but businesses from retailers to chipmakers are warning of slow sales as consumers in the country slam the brakes on spending.
26th May 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th May 2022

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Tightening COVID net, Beijing issues punishments and stark warnings

China's COVID-hit capital Beijing further tightened its dragnet on the virus with zero community transmission the target, punishing workplaces that flout rules or circumvent curbs and imploring residents to police their own movements. Since late April, the city of 22 million has wrestled with dozens of new cases a day. While these have been mostly in quarantine areas, a handful have been found in the community at large, illustrating the challenge the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant poses even to the world's most stringent pandemic containment policies. With Shanghai, China's business and commercial hub, and numerous other giant cities also shackled by partial lockdowns or other curbs, the zero-COVID approach remains the government's focus despite the damage it has done to the world's second-biggest economy and global supply chains.
25th May 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 25th May 2022

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Beijing ramps up COVID quarantines, Shanghai residents decry uneven rules

Beijing stepped up quarantine efforts to end its month-old COVID outbreak as fresh signs of frustration emerged in Shanghai, where some bemoaned unfair curbs with the city of 25 million preparing to lift a prolonged lockdown in just over a week. Even as China's drastic attempts to eradicate COVID entirely - its "zero-COVID" approach - bite into prospects for the world's second-biggest economy, new reported infection numbers remain well below levels seen in many Western cities. The capital reported 48 new cases for Monday among its population of 22 million, with Shanghai reporting fewer than 500.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

China Covid News: Beijing Cases Drop, Remains Under High Restrictions

China’s top official for pandemic control has shifted her attention from Shanghai’s ebbing Covid-19 crisis to Beijing, raising pressure on the capital to contain its lengthy outbreak, and potentially signaling harsher curbs to come. Sun Chunlan, China’s Vice Premier and health czar whose appearance at virus hotspots across the country typically reflects the central government’s priorities, on Monday urged authorities in Beijing to adhere stringently to Covid Zero and eradicate community spread more swiftly.
24th May 2022 - Bloomberg


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 24th May 2022

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Beijing extends work-from-home 'requirement' for millions as COVID spreads

The Chinese capital extended its work-from-home requirement for many of its 22 million residents to stem a COVID-19 outbreak, while Shanghai deployed more testing and curbs to hold on to its hard-won "zero COVID" status after two months of lockdown. Beijing said 99 new cases were detected on Sunday, up from 61 the previous day - the largest daily tally so far during a month-old outbreak that has consistently seen dozens of new infections every day.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 19th May 2022

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Shanghai residents leverage Excel skills, management savvy to navigate lockdown

Li Di, a senior executive with a global bank, knew he had to help when he was admitted to the Nanhui quarantine site in April, after testing positive for COVID, and was confronted by chaos. "There were only 120 to 150 staff to take care of 10,000 patients. The staff literally had their hands full," said Li. Li set up a team of more than a dozen volunteers to arrange meals, distribute various supplies and help elderly patients who were struggling with various quarantine centre requirements.
18th May 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th May 2022

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Shanghai residents leverage Excel skills, management savvy to navigate lockdown

China's worst COVID-19 outbreak has frayed nerves and stirred resentment among many residents of Shanghai but some have thrived in the face of adversity, stepping up with bright ideas and commitment to help their communities through the crisis. Not surprisingly, many such people have used the skills they developed in their jobs to help others navigate the frightening new world of forced quarantine and lockdowns that no one dreamed of before COVID.
17th May 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai hits prized 'zero COVID' status but lockdown lingers

Shanghai achieved its long-awaited milestone of three consecutive days with no new COVID-19 cases outside quarantine zones on Tuesday but most residents will have to put up with confinement for a while longer before resuming more normal life. For other cities in China that have been under lockdown, three days with no new cases in the community usually means "zero COVID" status and the beginning of the lifting of restrictions.
17th May 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 17th May 2022

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Tesla delays plan to restore Shanghai output to pre-lockdown levels

Tesla Inc has delayed a plan to restore production at its Shanghai plant to levels before the city's COVID-19 lockdown by at least a week, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. The U.S. electric car maker originally aimed to increase output at its Shanghai plant to 2,600 cars a day from May 16, Reuters reported earlier this month citing another memo. But the latest memo said that it plans to stick to one shift for its Shanghai plant for the current week with a daily output of around 1,200 units. It also said that it would now aim to increase output to 2,600 units per day from May 23.
16th May 2022 - Reuters

European businesses fear more COVID disruption in China

European businesses in China are awaiting the next wave of disruption from COVID-19 outbreaks and see little chance of improvement until the country increases vaccination rates, the European Chamber of Commerce in China said on Monday. Shanghai has set out plans to end its COVID lockdown that has lasted more than six weeks, hitting China's economy, where industrial output and retail sales fell in April at the fastest in more than two years, missing expectations
16th May 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 13th May 2022

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China to "strictly limit" unnecessary overseas travels by Chinese citizens to combat COVID

China would "strictly limit" unnecessary travel outside the country by Chinese citizens as part of its COVID-19 response, the National Immigration Administration said in a statement on Thursday.
12th May 2022 - Reuters

Beijing denies lockdown rumours as Shanghai hunts elusive COVID

Beijing denied it was heading for lockdown as panic buying gripped the capital on Thursday, while Shanghai combed the city for lingering COVID-19 cases in the hope of clearing the way to escape from weeks of painful restrictions.
12th May 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th May 2022

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New Zealand to Fully Reopen Its Border At The End of July

New Zealand will fully reopen its border two months early, allowing the arrival of tourists, students and migrants from non visa-waiver countries like China and India. The border will be accessible to all from 11:59 p.m. on July 31, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday. Previously, the government had said the final re-opening step would occur in October, though it signaled the date would likely be brought forward. The maritime border will also open for cruise ships on July 31. New Zealand has been progressively allowing foreign visitors to return this year, hoping to revive a decimated tourist industry and add workers to a labor market battling with skills shortages. Visitors from visa-waiver countries such as the US, UK, Canada and Germany were able to enter from May 2, while Australians could arrive from April 13.
11th May 2022 - Bloomberg

How China's lockdowns are taking a toll on global companies

International brands are revealing the damage to their bottom lines from China's "zero Covid" policy, where tens of millions of people remain in lockdown and almost every major business has been disrupted. In recent weeks, dozens of mainland Chinese cities, including the financial hub of Shanghai, have been locked down as authorities work to stamp out the coronavirus. For industries ranging from Big Tech to consumer goods, that's destroying both supply and demand — and giving executives another major headache. Many companies had just run up millions, or billions, of dollars in losses due to the war in Ukraine, which led to a massive — and costly — corporate exodus from Russia.
11th May 2022 - CNN


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 11th May 2022

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Toyota to slash production plan, suspend some domestic operation due to COVID lockdown in China

Toyota said on Tuesday it would suspend operations on 14 lines at eight domestic factories for up to six days in May due to the COVID lockdown in China. The duration will be between May 16 and May 21, the company said, expanding the number of lines and factories affected by partial suspension to a total of 20 and 12, respectively. The partial suspension would affect output of about 30,000 vehicles.
10th May 2022 - Reuters

Luxury brands navigate Shanghai's lockdown to keep VIPs pampered

Since the COVID-19 containment began on April 1 in Shanghai, closing stores and paralysing online shopping, brands have overcome attendant delivery difficulties to gift provisions to "very important clients" (VICs). Many companies have delivered provisions to employees. For the more wealthy, banks and high-end hotels have joined luxury brands in sending out goodies - a privilege not unnoticed on social media.
10th May 2022 - Reuters

Tesla stutters under tighter Shanghai lockdown; Beijing keeps hunting COVID

Tesla operated its Shanghai plant well below capacity on Tuesday, showing the problems factories face trying to ramp up output under a tightening COVID-19 lockdown, while China's capital kept up its fight with a small but stubborn outbreak. Many of the hundreds of companies reopening factories in Shanghai in recent weeks have faced challenges getting production lines back up to speed while keeping workers on-site in a "closed loop" system.
10th May 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai re-tightens on COVID, frustrating trapped residents

The city of Shanghai is doubling down on pandemic restrictions after a brief period of loosening up, frustrating residents who were hoping a more than monthlong lockdown was finally easing as the number of new cases falls in China’s financial center. On Tuesday, service was suspended on the last two subway lines that were still operating, marking the first time the city’s entire system has been shut down, according to The Paper, an online media outlet.
10th May 2022 - Associated Press


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 10th May 2022

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'Like a prison': Shanghai, Beijing ratchet up COVID restrictions

China's two largest cities tightened COVID-19 curbs on Monday, fuelling public angst and even questions about the legality of its uncompromising battle with the virus that has battered the world's second largest economy. In Shanghai, enduring its sixth week of lockdown, authorities have launched a new push to end infections outside quarantine zones by late May, according to people familiar with the matter
9th May 2022 - Reuters

Chaos at Apple supplier shows strains of Shanghai COVID lockdown

Quanta Shanghai Manufacturing City would seem like an ideal site to implement China's "closed-loop" management system to prevent the spread of COVID that requires staff to live and work on-site in a secure bubble. Sprawled over land the size of 20 football fields, the campus houses factories, living quarters for 40,000 workers, some living 12 per room, and even a supermarket. But as COVID-19 breeched Quanta's defences, the system broke down into chaos. Videos posted online showed more than a hundred Quanta workers physically overwhelming security guards in hazmat suits and vaulting over factory gates to escape being trapped inside the factory amid rumours that workers on the floor that day tested positive for COVID.
9th May 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai tightens lockdown to hit zero-COVID goal by late May

Shanghai is tightening its already strict COVID-19 lockdown in a fresh push to eliminate infections outside quarantined areas of China's biggest city by late this month, people familiar with the matter said. Curbs will likely vary across the city's 16 districts as some have already hit the target, but the people said movement curbs will generally remain until the end of May due to fears of a rebound, despite recently falling case numbers in the country's worst coronavirus outbreak.
9th May 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai tightens lockdown despite falling COVID cases

Authorities in Shanghai have again tightened anti-virus restrictions, just as the city was emerging from a month of strict lockdown due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Notices issued in several districts said residents were ordered to stay home and are barred from receiving nonessential deliveries as part of a “quiet period” lasting at least until Wednesday. The tightened measures could be extended depending on the results of mass testing, the notices said.
9th May 2022 - Associated Press


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th May 2022

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Beijing Residents Keep Faith With Government’s Zero-Covid Strategy

BEIJING—For weeks, Beijing has teetered on the edge of a hard, Covid-induced lockdown. For the most part, citizens are unruffled, confident that the restrictions that have paralyzed Shanghai for six weeks are simply unthinkable in the capital. In recent ...
8th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 5th May 2022

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Beijing Shuts Down Subway Stations to Slow Spread of COVID-19

Authorities in Beijing have shut down dozens of subway stations as part of its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Chinese capital announced Wednesday that it was closing more than 40 subway stations, amounting to about 10% of its system, along with hundreds of bus routes. Beijing has been on alert since mid-April after 10 middle school students tested positive for COVID-19, sparking widespread panic buying of groceries and other supplies in anticipation of a possible citywide lockdown similar to the one imposed on the financial hub of Shanghai. Authorities have begun a mass testing campaign for most of its 21 million residents, while shutting down schools and businesses, including such venues as gyms and theaters.
4th May 2022 - Voice of America

Hong Kong GDP falls more than expected as COVID curbs bite

Hong Kong’s economy contracted last quarter for the first time in more than a year as local restrictions to curb Covid hit activity and China’s own omicron outbreak disrupted trade. Gross domestic product fell 4% in the January-to-March period from a year earlier, according to advance estimates released by the government on Tuesday. The number — Hong Kong’s first since the end of 2020 — was far worse than a median estimate of a 1.3% contraction in a Bloomberg survey. It was also the biggest contraction since the third quarter of 2020. The city faced “immense pressure” in the first quarter of 2022, a government spokesperson was quoted as saying in a release from the Census and Statistics Department accompanying the data. The city’s fifth coronavirus wave, along with moderating global demand growth and “epidemic-induced cross boundary transportation disruptions,” all dragged on the economy, the person said.
4th May 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Beijing Halts Public Transport As China Continues To Fight Covid

Dozens of metro stations and bus routes in Beijing have been shut down as COVID continues to spread and millions of residents in Shanghai still remain under strict lockdown even after more than a month. China's capital city Beijing has shut more than 40 subway stations, about a tenth of the network, and 158 bus routes, service providers said. Most of the suspended stations and routes are in the Chaoyang district, the epicentre of Beijing's outbreak, reported The Express Tribune. Beijing is also resorting to mass testing. Twelve out of 16 Beijing districts were conducting the second of three rounds of tests this week, having done three mass screenings last week.
4th May 2022 - NDTV

Beijing reopens mass isolation centre in fight against Covid

Beijing has reopened a mass isolation centre as authorities seek to contain an outbreak of Covid-19 in the city. The Xiaotangshan Fangcai hospital, which holds at least 1,200 beds and testing facilities, was first opened during the 2003 Sars epidemic, and used again in early 2020 to treat Covid patients. Its reopening signals a ramp up in efforts by China’s capital to manage the rising number of cases without going into a city-wide lockdown. On Wednesday, China reported 5,489 cases, including 353 symptomatic. Most (4,982) were in Shanghai, which has been under a weeks-long lockdown sparking widespread complaints and protests over food shortages and overzealous enforcement. Beijing reported 46 symptomatic cases and five asymptomatic on Wednesday, bringing the city’s total since the start of its Omicron outbreak to about 400.
4th May 2022 - The Guardian

Beijing closes 10% of its subway stations to curb coronavirus outbreak

Beijing on Wednesday closed around 10% of the stations in its vast subway system as an additional measure against the spread of the coronavirus. The subway authority said in a brief message that the measure to shut 40 stations, mostly in downtown Beijing, was being taken as part of epidemic-control measures. No date for the resumption of service was given. Beijing has been on high alert for the spread of COVID-19, with restaurants and bars limited to takeout, gyms closed and classes suspended indefinitely. Major tourist sites in the city, including the Forbidden City and the Beijing Zoo, have closed their indoor exhibition halls and are operating at only partial capacity. A few communities where cases were discovered have been isolated.
4th May 2022 - Los Angeles Times

Taiwan's Foxconn says no change to production in China's COVID-hit Zhengzhou

Major Taiwanese Apple Inc supplier Foxconn said on Wednesday that it is continuing production in China's Zhengzhou, which announced on Tuesday it would impose new COVID-19-related movement curbs for May 4-10. "Our park has maintained production unchanged," it said in a statement, referring to the industrial area where its facilities are located in the central Chinese city.
4th May 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 4th May 2022

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Central Chinese city of Zhengzhou imposes new COVID movement curbs for May 4-10

The central Chinese city of Zhengzhou announced on Tuesday it would impose new COVID-related movement curbs for May 4-10. Schools in the main city district will go online, while employees with government organisations and companies in the area must work from home during that period, according to a statement on the city's official WeChat account. The new measures would be subject to adjustment after May 10, in accordance with the COVID-19 outbreak situation, the notice said.
3rd May 2022 - Reuters

Some in Shanghai get out for a rare stroll; Beijing tightens COVID curbs

Some of Shanghai's 25 million people managed to get out on Tuesday for short walks and shopping after enduring more than a month under a COVID-19 lockdown, while China's capital, Beijing, focused on mass tests and said it would keep schools closed. Beijing is desperate to prevent an outbreak now numbering in the dozens of new cases a day from spiralling into a crisis like the one in Shanghai. Most people in the financial hub of Shanghai are still unable to leave their homes after more than a month of confinement
3rd May 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 3rd May 2022

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China's hotels brace for May holiday bust as COVID lockdowns weigh

For the Fengxi Inn guest house, China's annual May Day holiday is usually a sell-out period, with guests booking out its rooms weeks in advance due to its location nestled in the green lush hills of the country's southwestern Guizhou region. But it is expecting much fewer visitors this year for the upcoming holiday, even after slashing room rates and blasting promotions on social media, as China fights its largest outbreak since the virus emerged in Wuhan in late 2019 with lockdowns and curbs on movement.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai factories scramble to reopen as COVID lockdown lingers

Companies reopening factories in locked-down Shanghai are booking hotel rooms to house workers and turning vacant workshops into on-site isolation facilities as authorities urge them to resume work while complying with tough COVID-19 curbs. Hundreds of companies including multinationals Tesla and 3M have reopened factories in the Chinese economic hub under local guidelines requiring them to isolate workers inside a "closed-loop".
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 29th Apr 2022

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Analysis: China struggles for options as COVID threatens economic goals

China's policymakers are struggling to find ways to ward off an economic slowdown that threatens job losses in a politically sensitive year, as COVID-19 lockdowns disrupt supply chains and jolt businesses. Beijing is sticking with an economic growth target of around 5.5% this year and plans to create more than 11 million new urban jobs, policy insiders say. However, analysts say that goal will become harder to achieve unless China eases its zero-COVID policy, which it has shown few signs of doing.
29th Apr 2022 - Reuters

COVID lockdowns upset the rice bowls of China's commuter workers

Analysts at Nomura estimate 46 cities are currently in full or partial lockdowns involving strict mobility restrictions on local residents, affecting the lives of 343 million people. Border towns such as Yanjiao have grown at a dizzying rate over the past decade as office workers in Beijing looked for affordable housing nearby, with hundreds of thousands crossing the Hebei-Beijing border on a daily basis before COVID. Even after the lockdown for Yanjiao residents was lifted on April 4, border checkpoints were clogged in the early hours of the morning and resentment at COVID curbs was palpable.
28th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Beijing orders schools closed in tightening of virus rules

Beijing is closing all city schools in a further tightening of COVID-19 restrictions, as China’s capital seeks to prevent a wider outbreak. The city of 21 million has already ordered three rounds of mass testing this week, with the third coming Friday. On Thursday, the city’s Education Bureau ordered all schools to end classes from Friday and said it hadn’t determined when they would resume. It also wasn’t clear whether schools would be able to offer classes online or allow students facing crucial exams to return to class. Beijing announced 50 new cases on Thursday, two of them asymptomatic, bringing its total in the latest wave of infections to around 150. Students make up more than 30% of total cases, with clusters linked to six schools and two kindergartens in Chaoyang.
28th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 28th Apr 2022

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COVID-19: Is China's Shanghai lockdown an overreaction?

Shanghai, the most populous city in China, has been under lockdown for the past month as it pursues a 'zero-COVID' strategy for eradicating the virus. The country's approach aims to cut transmission as soon as possible, using stringent measures such as short and targeted shutdowns and quick testing schemes where cases are found. Despite this, cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant have risen in Shanghai and other cities over the past month.
27th Apr 2022 - Sky News

Beijing presses on with mass COVID testing as locked-down Shanghai seethes

Millions of people in Beijing took their second COVID-19 tests of the week on Wednesday as the Chinese capital tried to keep an outbreak numbering in the dozens from spiralling into a crisis like the one the locked-down city of Shanghai is enduring. Evidence that Shanghai's month-long isolation has become almost unbearable for many of the city's 25 million people is emerging on an almost daily basis on the country's heavily censored internet.
27th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai seeks ‘societal zero COVID’ with rounds of testing

Shanghai city authorities said Wednesday they will start rounds of COVID-19 testing over the next few days to determine which neighborhoods can safely be allowed a limited amount of freedom of movement, as residents in Beijing watch carefully on word for whether the capital city will lock down. On Wednesday, China reported 14,222 new cases, the vast majority of which were asymptomatic. The country is battling its largest outbreak since the pandemic was first reported in Wuhan in late December 2019. Shanghai’s vice head of its health committee, Zhao Dandan, announced Wednesday that the city would begin another round of testing for city residents over the next few days to determine which districts were lower risk.
27th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Satellite Data Show Extent of China's Crippling Lockdowns

Chinese port activity fell below levels seen during the first coronavirus outbreak in 2020 and construction has plummeted, satellite data show, suggesting official economic figures will likely worsen as Covid lockdowns spread. Satellite images are becoming an important real-time data tool to measure the impact of China’s worst coronavirus outbreak since 2020. Official numbers are released only monthly, and are increasingly coming under scrutiny as Beijing sticks to its ambitious growth target of about 5.5% even though its Covid Zero approach has forced major hubs like Shanghai to shut down. New York-based SpaceKnow, which tracks activity at more than 1,300 factories from space, said manufacturing output remained strong through the lockdowns in March and early April, although inventories are building up. That’s likely a sign of logistical snarls as coronavirus restrictions cause major disruptions and shortages of trucks able to move goods to ports and around the country.
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Fed up with COVID lockdown, bankers, fund managers looking to leave Shanghai

Finance sector professionals in Shanghai are preparing to move back to Hong Kong and other offshore centres after spending only a few years in the Chinese city as a harsh COVID-19 lockdown has hurt their business prospects and upended daily lives. Thousands of bankers, traders and investors in the financial hub of the world's second-largest economy have found themselves confined to their homes, with some even struggling to secure food and other essentials for their families.
26th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th Apr 2022

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Fed up with COVID lockdown, bankers, fund managers looking to leave Shanghai

Finance sector professionals in Shanghai are preparing to move back to Hong Kong and other offshore centres after spending only a few years in the Chinese city as a harsh COVID-19 lockdown has hurt their business prospects and upended daily lives. Thousands of bankers, traders and investors in the financial hub of the world's second-largest economy have found themselves confined to their homes, with some even struggling to secure food and other essentials for their families.
26th Apr 2022 - Reuters

China's Covid Crisis Threatens Global Supply Chain Chaos for Summer 2022

China’s stringent rules to curb Covid-19 are about to unleash another wave of summer chaos on supply chains between Asia, the U.S. and Europe. Beijing’s zero-tolerance approach amid an escalating virus outbreak brings the pandemic full circle, more than two years after its emergence in Wuhan upended the global economy. Shipping congestion at Chinese ports, combined with Russia’s war in Ukraine, risks a one-two punch that threatens to derail the recovery, already buffeted by inflation pressures and headwinds to growth. Even if the virus is reined in, the disruptions will ripple globally — and extend through the year — as bunched-up cargo vessels start sailing again.
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid Lockdowns Show Xi Jinping Puts Ideology Before China's Economy

China’s worst equity selloff since early 2020 reflects a growing concern about President Xi Jinping: He can’t afford the political costs of shifting from a Covid Zero strategy that is pummeling the economy. In Shanghai, a weekslong Covid-19 lockdown got even worse, with workers in hazmat suits fanning out over the weekend to install steel fences around buildings with positive cases. In Beijing, the process is just getting started, as authorities on Monday began shutting down a bustling district in the capital to quash fresh outbreaks and ordered mandatory testing elsewhere. The threat of paralyzing China’s two largest and wealthiest cities with a strategy abandoned by most countries helped push the CSI 300 down 4.9%, the gauge’s steepest one-day drop since the first such lockdown in Wuhan two years ago.
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Apr 2022

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Shanghai erects metal barriers in fight against COVID-19

Volunteers and low-level government workers in Shanghai have erected metal barriers in multiple districts to block off small streets and entrances to apartment complexes, as China hardens its strict “zero-COVID” approach in the metropolis. In the city's financial district, Pudong, the barriers — either thin metal sheets or mesh fences — were put up in several neighborhoods under a local government directive, according to Caixin, a Chinese business media outlet. Buildings where positive cases have been found sealed up their main entrances, with a small opening for pandemic prevention workers to pass through. China reported 21,796 new community-transmitted COVID-19 infections on Sunday, with the vast majority being asymptomatic cases in Shanghai. Across the country, many cities and provinces have enforced some version of a lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
25th Apr 2022 - The Independent

Shanghai's COVID lockdown drags into 4th week, fears flicker Beijing could be next

Shanghai fences up COVID-hit areas, fuelling fresh outcry By Investing.com UKShanghai further tightens Covid restrictions after weeks of strict lockdownThe GuardianNerves Fray, Frustration Grows in Shanghai's Lockdown PurgatoryU.S. News & World ReportNerves fray, frustration grows in Shanghai's COVID-19 lockdown purgatoryCNAView Full coverage on Google News
25th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai's Covid Experience May Affect How the Rest of China Sees the Pandemic

In recent days, the censorship machine within WeChat has come out. Last weekend, its biggest guns were aimed at a short six-minute clip called the “Voices of April.” It was a simple video showing the city skyline, with audio snippets of officials’ comments at press conferences and residents’ pleas for help. It seems to have touched on a sore subject: the overstretched Shanghai public health system. However, it was not something so sensational it deserved instantaneous censorship. When my friends tried to circumvent WeChat’s censor and share the video via various cloud services, their links were quickly blocked. By Saturday afternoon, people became so frustrated they started posting the song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from the musical Les Miserables. That got censored, too. But the word was out. And it matters that it is out in Shanghai. The city is not Xian, or northeastern Jilin province where local governments could just bury discontent. Shanghai is China’s commercial and cultural hub; its 25 million residents include native Shanghainese and more than 10 million from all over China. These are constantly in touch with their hometowns.
25th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

What Shanghai Is Going Through Is News to Many in the Rest of China

For weeks, Shanghai has made international headlines as a Covid-19 outbreak has forced the city’s 25 million residents to lock down in their homes, many in severe distress over how to get food and medical care. Yet in the rest of China, it is easy to get the impression that nothing out of the ordinary is going on in Shanghai. If viewed through the lens of state media, Shanghai authorities are delivering food packages and ensuring everyone’s well-being with few glitches. There is little in authorities’ statements to signal a crisis. Official narratives have framed Shanghai residents’ resilience and resourcefulness in securing essentials—often through grass roots efforts like group-buying and bartering—as examples of positive energy.
25th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Effect of nations' COVID restrictions on mental health varied by type, group

An international team led by a Simon Fraser University researcher in Canada assessed the stringency of daily public health policies using the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker and psychological distress and life evaluations using the Imperial College London-YouGov COVID 19 Behaviour Tracker Global Survey. Respondents from 15 countries were tracked from Apr 27, 2020, to Jun 28, 2021, when most participants weren't fully vaccinated. They completed the four-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-4) and the single-question Cantril Ladder every 2 weeks. Included countries were Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The researchers also studied a subset of the Nordic countries, with Sweden following a mitigation strategy, and Denmark, Finland, and Norway adopting an elimination approach. Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea pursued a COVID-elimination strategy, while the remainder took a mitigation approach.
22nd Apr 2022 - CIDRAP


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Rise in Hong Kong suicides during Covid should spark action

In late February, the number of suicides in Hong Kong began to rise; at the peak on March 23, four people committed suicide every day on a seven-day rolling average basis. Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, director of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, noted that if the trend continued, the number of suicide cases this year could hit 1,400, exceeding the historical peak during the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic 19 years ago when 1,264 people, or 18.8 per 100,000 people, took their own lives. A government survey in 2010-13 estimated that one in seven Hongkongers aged 16 to 75 suffers from anxiety, depression or other mood disorders. Ageing can also have a negative impact on mental health.
23rd Apr 2022 - South China Morning Post

Thailand ends mandatory quarantine for vaccinated visitors

Visitors to Thailand who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will no longer need to undergo any test or quarantine on arrival starting May 1, a measure the authorities hope will help rejuvenate the country’s lucrative tourism industry. “Many countries have already eased their restrictions,” Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Friday. “We are a country that relies on the tourism industry, especially during these times. This will help move the economy forward.” Under the new rules announced by the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, unvaccinated travelers will still have to provide proof of negative results from a RT-PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. All visitors still must register with an online “Thailand Pass” system and provide proof of health insurance with coverage of at least $10,000 for COVID-19 treatment.
22nd Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Shanghai lockdown takes heavy toll on young families

Residents trying to juggle work and taking care of preschoolers are among the hardest hit by the prolonged restrictions. Many say their biggest worry is the quarantine rules which have led to parents being separated from their children
22nd Apr 2022 - South China Morning Post


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A prolonged China slowdown raises risks for global economy, IMF chief says

A prolonged slowdown in China would have substantial global spillovers, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday, but added that Beijing has room to adjust policy to provide support. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its growth forecast for China this year to 4.4%, well below Beijing's target of around 5.5%, on the risks of widespread COVID-19 lockdowns and supply chain disruptions. In a video speech to the annual Boao Forum for Asia, Georgieva said China's actions to counter its economic slowdown are vital for the global recovery.
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai to keep COVID curbs as infections outside quarantine rise again

Shanghai urges cooperation with COVID tests amid rising scepticism By ReutersInvesting.comShanghai turns residences into COVID isolation facilities, sparking protest By ReutersInvesting.com UKUPDATE 2-Shanghai hopes COVID tide turning, with fewer cases outside quarantine areasYahoo FinanceShanghai reports rise in Covid-19 deaths for April 20Daily MaverickView Full coverage on Google News
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters


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In Shanghai lockdown, Carrefour staff sleeps at store to keep residents supplied

To prepare the 3,000-plus orders of vegetables, meat and essentials her Carrefour supermarket sends out every day to locked-in Shanghai residents, manager Zhang Wei wakes at 5 a.m. after a night in a sleeping bag on her office floor. Zhang and 43 colleagues have been hunkered down inside the store in Shanghai's western Xujing suburb since April 1, isolated from the outside world while working long days to fill online orders from neighbouring housing compounds. Her Carrefour branch is one of more than 1,000 grocery stores open during Shanghai's lockdown, albeit under stringent requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The city government is trying to increase the number of stores open.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters

For China investors, COVID lockdowns are the clear and present danger

Prolonged lockdowns in Shanghai, as China doubles down on its zero-COVID policy, have become the predominant risk to its economy and markets, forcing money managers to cut holdings or turn defensive on stocks. Global fund managers such as Pictet Wealth Management and Principal Global Investors and China-focused managers such as MegaTrust Investment and Water Wisdom Asset Management point to the worrying toll that weeks of tough anti-virus measures in many major cities have taken on people and businesses.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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Fear, paranoia, anger – this is life under China’s zero-Covid strategy

When cases grew in Shanghai, I was hopeful. I thought there would be no way Shanghai would be like Jilin and Changshun, smaller cities that had recently locked down millions of people to contain Covid outbreaks. I assumed that the government would finally have to relax its kneejerk “zero Covid” approach. I could not have been more wrong. Restrictions throughout China have become more draconian. We call this the Shanghai effect. After 24 million people became locked down here, everything was amped up elsewhere too. I live in a smaller city near Shanghai, and life has changed significantly in the last few months, our movements increasingly restricted. Some factories in Shanghai are beginning to reopen, but it seems that other restrictions will remain until cases fall further.
19th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

Shanghai urges cooperation with COVID tests amid rising scepticism

The Chinese city of Shanghai on Tuesday pleaded for public cooperation with a massive new push to test most of the population for COVID-19 as it tries to bring community transmission down to zero after nearly three weeks of lockdown. The plea came as some people refused to join PCR testing queues out of weariness after weeks of such requirements, or fear it puts them at greater risk of infection. Residents shared stories on social media about busloads of people being taken from their homes and sent into quarantine, including babies and the elderly.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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COVID-19: Shanghai firefighters use drones to deliver medicine to people in lockdown

Amid a lockdown in China's most populous city, firefighters have used drones to deliver medicines to people in contactless fashion. Around 25,000 new cases were reported in the city on Monday.
13th Apr 2022 - Sky News

Analysis: China's widening COVID curbs threaten global supply chain paralysis

China's race to stop the spread of COVID-19 is clogging highways and ports, stranding workers and shutting countless factories - disruptions that are rippling through global supply chains for goods ranging from electric vehicles to iPhones. While some factory owners try to tough it out through "closed loop" management that keeps workers isolated inside, some said that is becoming harder to sustain given the extent of local COVID-19 curbs aimed at heading off the Omicron variant, complicating efforts to procure materials or ship products.
13th Apr 2022 - Reuters

More Taiwan firms suspend production in China as COVID spreads

More than 30 Taiwan companies, many making electronics parts, said on Wednesday that government COVID-19 control measures in eastern China had led them to suspend production until at least next week, as disruption from the measures spreads. China has put Shanghai under a tight lockdown since late March and neighbouring Kunshan has also tightened curbs to control the country's biggest COVID-19 outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan. Global companies, from mobile phone to chip makers, are highly dependent on China and Southeast Asia for production and have been diversifying their supply chains after the pandemic caused havoc.
13th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai vows punishment for COVID lockdown violators as cases hit 25000

China's commercial capital, Shanghai, warned on Wednesday that anyone who violates COVID-19 lockdown rules will be dealt with strictly, while also rallying citizens to defend their city as its tally of new cases rebounded to more than 25,000. The city police department spelled out the restrictions that most of the 25 million residents are facing and called on them to "fight the epidemic with one heart ... and work together for an early victory". "Those who violate the provisions of this notice will be dealt with in strict accordance with the law by public security organs ... If it constitutes a crime, they will be investigated according to law," the department said in a statement.
13th Apr 2022 - Reuters

China Is Said to Let Some Cities Like Shanghai, Guangzhou Shorten Quarantines

China is allowing Shanghai, Guangzhou and six other cities to shorten quarantines for overseas travelers and those who’ve had close contact with infected individuals as authorities test potential tweaks to the country’s rigorous Covid measures, according to people familiar with the matter. The cities are reducing the period to 10 days from 14 days as part of a trial that began on Monday this week and will run for a month, the people said, asking not to be identified as they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly. Apartment complexes, retail outlets, office buildings and other locations locked down because of infections will also be allowed to open after 10 consecutive days without a positive test result, shortened from the 14 days previously required, they said.
13th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


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U.S. orders some personnel to leave Shanghai consulate amid COVID surge

The U.S. State Department on Monday ordered non-emergency U.S. government workers to leave the consulate in Shanghai due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and China's measures to control the virus. On Friday, the State Department announced that non-emergency personnel could voluntarily leave the consulate. It is not clear why the departure of those workers has become mandatory.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai patients crowdsource medical help during COVID lockdown

Shanghai residents have turned online for grassroots help on medical treatment as the city's tough COVID-19 curbs limit access to healthcare and fuel frustration and anxiety. While the city of 25 million has used lockdowns and extensive testing to fight the disease, those suffering from other medical conditions are posting requests for help in mutual-help platforms and social media chat groups. One woman said she sought help online as her worry grew over the risk of infection to her paralysed mother from a urinary catheter used for about a month.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th Apr 2022

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China’s Latest Covid-19 Lockdowns Begin to Drag on the Economy

China’s strict Covid-19 lockdowns in Shanghai and other industrial hubs are beginning to weigh on its economy, with auto sales slumping and consumer prices rising the fastest in three months. Car sales in China dropped 10.5% year-over-year in March to 1.58 million vehicles as measures to contain the coronavirus outbreaks halted auto factories, slowed down car shipments and kept consumers from visiting car dealerships, the China Passenger Car Association said Monday. Separately, inflation rose by an annual 1.5% in March, the National Bureau of Statistics said Monday, the fastest year-over-year gain in three months, as city lockdowns drove up consumer prices.
11th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

COVID-19: Shanghai close to 'civil unrest' as tensions build under strict lockdown regime

Shanghai feels close to a state of "civil unrest", people living there have told Sky News. One foreign resident of Puxi district, who wished to remain anonymous because of potential repercussions, said: "It's a dire situation here in Shanghai. "I've got friends who have run out of food, their communities don't help them as they are foreigners, no information to let us know what's going on and it seems more and more panic seems to be causing breakouts of fights between the locals as everyone is starving.
11th Apr 2022 - Sky News

China Banks Allow Shanghai Mortgage Delay as Covid Outbreak Worsens

China’s largest banks are allowing residents in Shanghai to delay their mortgage payments as part of the nation’s broader efforts to support the financial hub in its Covid fight. Lenders including Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and Bank of Communications Co. are offering Shanghai clients a payment holiday on their mortgage loans for as long as three months. China Construction Bank Corp. allowed clients to delay their payment on both mortgage and consumer loans for up to 28 days while Bank of China Ltd. said any records of overdue payment due to the pandemic will be removed.
11th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


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Shanghai carries more out more COVID tests as food supply frustrations rise

Shanghai carried out another round of mass COVID-19 testing on Saturday, this time testing residents at least twice in a single day, as a city official in China's financial hub acknowledged shortcomings in the handling of the outbreak. It was the fourth consecutive day of city-wide testing in Shanghai, which reported a record 23,600 new locally transmitted cases. While those case numbers are small by global standards, the city has become a test bed for the country's elimination strategy, which seeks to test, trace and centrally quarantine all positive COVID cases.
9th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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Shanghai COVID measures target international flights - sources

Chinese authorities are telling foreign airlines they must have more empty seats on international flights when they arrive at Shanghai's Pudong airport, sources said on Thursday, as part of measures to prevent the importation of COVID-19 cases. Shanghai, China's financial hub and its most populous urban centre, is grappling with the country's largest COVID outbreak, locking down nearly all of its 26 million residents and massively disrupting daily life and business.
7th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai: Residents 'running out of food' in Covid lockdown

Some residents under lockdown in Shanghai say they are running out of food, amid the city's biggest-ever Covid outbreak. Residents are confined to their homes, banned from leaving for even essential reasons such as grocery shopping. Nearly 20,000 cases were reported on Thursday in China's biggest city - another near-record high. Officials have admitted the city is facing "difficulties" but say they are trying to improve this.
7th Apr 2022 - BBC News

Shanghai Residents Plead for Help Online as Daily Covid-19 Count Nears 20,000

Nearly a week into a citywide lockdown to combat a Covid-19 outbreak, many of Shanghai’s 25 million residents turned to social media for help to get food, medicine or, if they are taken away for quarantine, advice on what to do with their pets. Cases continued to rise, and neighboring provinces were preparing to take some of the overflow of Shanghai residents needing to go into quarantine. Shanghai reported nearly 20,000 new local infections Wednesday compared with a little over 17,000 the previous day, according to the city’s health commission. Over 98% of the new cases are asymptomatic, authorities said. Nationwide, the country reported almost 23,000 new cases. A top Chinese health official acknowledged that the Shanghai situation has “far exceeded what the capacity of the local medical system can handle.” In a post on his social-media account Thursday, Wu Zunyou, chief medical expert of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that in theory a megacity should be able to bring community spread under control in 10-14 days with repeated rounds of mass testing.
7th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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In Shanghai, a long, fruitless wait for help amid COVID lockdown

Shanghai is trying to detect and centrally quarantine every COVID-positive person, plus their close contacts, among its 26 million residents. But many say local authorities are struggling to carry out that mission given the size of the city. Complaints include unclear guidance on what to do if a person tests positive, long waits to enter central quarantine centres, and crowded and unsanitary conditions for some once they get there.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters.com

Shanghai eases child separation policy but extends COVID lockdown

Shanghai on Wednesday made concessions on an unpopular COVID isolation policy that has separated children from their parents and sparked a public outcry, but extended a citywide lockdown that has left some residents struggling to buy food. The lockdown of China's most populous city, which started in parts of Shanghai 10 days ago and has now confined nearly all of its 26 million residents at home, has massively disrupted daily life and business.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters.com


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'This is inhumane': the cost of zero Covid in Shanghai

Jia Ruiling’s* father has been enduring severe pain since 17 March. He has late-stage stomach cancer, but his hospital refused to treat him because Jia’s neighbourhood in Shanghai was under lockdown as a result of a handful of Covid cases. “We begged the hospital to accept him again and again,” Jia said. “At some point my father was in so much pain that he wanted to take his life. What can we do? Please, help us let the central government know.” China’s strict zero-Covid policy means all positive cases have to be hospitalised. But in the last few weeks, as case numbers have risen sharply and 26 million people entered a harsh lockdown, mainland China’s most important financial hub has come to a standstill. The number of new daily positive cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time on Monday. Although 38,000 health workers have been shipped in from around China to help, medical resources are overwhelmingly diverted to combat Covid, leaving it difficult for non-Covid patients like Jia’s father to access them.
5th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

Shanghai lockdown deepens after new surge in asymptomatic COVID cases

Chinese authorities on Tuesday extended a lockdown in Shanghai to cover all of the financial centre's 26 million people, despite growing anger over quarantine rules in the city, where latest results show only 268 symptomatic daily COVID-19 cases. In a major test of China's zero-tolerance strategy to eliminate the novel coronavirus, the government widened the lockdown to eastern parts of the city and extended until further notice restrictions in western districts, which had been due to expire on Tuesday. The broader lockdown came after testing saw asymptomatic COVID-19 cases surge to more than 13,000. Symptomatic cases fell on Monday to 268, from 425 the previous day.
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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Drone footage shows deserted Shanghai as city remains in lockdown – video

Covid-19 cases in China’s most populous city of Shanghai have risen again as millions remain isolated at home under a sweeping lockdown. Drone footage shows the usually bustling city empty of people and traffic. Almost all 26 million residents are under some form of lockdown. Those who test positive are taken to large quarantine centres. Jane Polubotko, a 30-year-old who works for a local music tech company, was taken to the Shanghai New International Expo Center after testing positive. 'We get food three times a day, the food is OK,' she said. 'There are no showers here and we're not allowed to receive any parcels from the outside world'
4th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

Covid cases rise in Shanghai as millions remain in lockdown

Covid-19 cases in China’s largest city of Shanghai have risen again as millions remain isolated at home under a sweeping lockdown. Health officials on Sunday reported 438 confirmed cases detected over the previous 24 hours, along with 7,788 asymptomatic cases. Both figures were up slightly from the day before. Shanghai with its 26 million people last week began a two-stage lockdown, with residents of the eastern Pudong section supposed to be allowed to leave their homes Friday, while their neighbours in the western Puxi section underwent their own four-day isolation period.
4th Apr 2022 - The Guardian


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'Man-made disaster': Shanghai struggles with COVID-19 lockdown

Brad Zhang emerged from a 3-week hotel quarantine in Shanghai to find that the financial hub had ground to a halt in the midst of China's biggest COVID-19 lockdown since the pandemic began. China's commercial capital Shanghai went into a two-stage lockdown this week that split the vast city along the Huangpu river, which divides its historic center from the eastern Pudong financial district.
31st Mar 2022 - Nikkei Asia


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Shanghai urges COVID lockdown patience as case numbers drop for first time in 2 weeks

Volkswagen on Thursday said it would halt work at its factory in Shanghai between April 1-5, reversing an earlier plan to maintain some of its production, as the city extends a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. The German automaker, which has a Shanghai joint venture with SAIC Motor, said it would carry out maintenance work in the factory. Volkswagen earlier in the day said it would maintain some production over the period by providing accommodations and meals at its factory for employees volunteering to work.
31st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Volkswagen suspends Shanghai production amid COVID lockdown

Volkswagen on Thursday said it would halt work at its factory in Shanghai between April 1-5, reversing an earlier plan to maintain some of its production, as the city extends a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. The German automaker, which has a Shanghai joint venture with SAIC Motor, said it would carry out maintenance work in the factory. Volkswagen earlier in the day said it would maintain some production over the period by providing accommodations and meals at its factory for employees volunteering to work.
31st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai residents rush to stock up as second stage of COVID lockdown looms

Shanghai is set to put the vast majority of its residents under COVID lockdown from Friday, as it expands curbs to include the western half of the city and extends restrictions in the east where people have already been forced to stay home since Monday. The Chinese commercial hub, home to 26 million people, is on the fourth day of a 10-day lockdown that was to cover the city in two phases, with first the east and then the west entering lockdowns of five days each. The stay-at-home measure in the financial and industrial districts in the east began on Monday and was due to lifted at 5 a.m. on Friday.
31st Mar 2022 - Reuters


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China: Panic buying in divided Shanghai under lockdown

After weeks of isolated compound lockdowns, the city of 25 million has been split into two. Earlier this week those living in Shanghai's eastern half were told to stay home, with the western half due to enter a lockdown on Friday. The move comes as the city battles a surge in Omicron Covid cases. The city has reported around 20,000 Covid-19 infections since 1 March, registering more cases in four weeks than in the previous two years of the pandemic. China's zero-Covid strategy has been increasingly challenged by the highly infectious Omicron variant.
30th Mar 2022 - BBC News

‘Pick the shelves clean’: food shortage rap helps cut through gloom of Shanghai lockdown

A rap about food shortages has become a hit in Shanghai, with the artists behind the song describing it as an attempt to “cheer up” tens of millions of residents locked down in China’s largest city amid a surging Covid outbreak and increasing restrictions. The song, Grocery Shopping, laments empty shelves and fights in the supermarket aisles, and is set to footage of residents crowding around market stalls, or lining up for PCR tests. “Set your alarm, wake up, food fight,” the lyrics say. “Order that tofu, but the sauce all gone.” The song’s release comes as Shanghai authorities expanded some lockdown measures and the city reported record daily case numbers in an outbreak city-wide frustrations.
30th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

Shanghai in lockdown: 'It's like being in a cage'

As Shanghai enters a two-stage COVID lockdown, some residents are struggling with the new restrictions. Rachel Judah has more.
30th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai expands COVID lockdown as new daily cases surge by a third

Authorities began locking down some western areas of Shanghai two days ahead of schedule, as new COVID-19 cases in China's most populous city jumped by a third despite stringent measures already in place to try to stop the virus spreading. Home to 26 million people, China's financial hub is in the third day of a lockdown officials are imposing by dividing the city roughly along the Huangpu River, splitting the historic centre west of the river from the eastern financial and industrial district of Pudong to allow for staggered mass tests.
30th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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GM told workers to sleep in factory during China lockdown: report

General Motors is asking workers to sleep on the floors of its Shanghai factories to keep production going during the city's new COVID-19 lockdown, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. China, which has pursued a zero-COVID strategy throughout the pandemic, is battling several new outbreaks of COVID-19. The city of Shanghai said Sunday it was locking down half of the city from Monday to Friday while it launched a mass COVID-19 testing drive. The other half of the city is to be locked down for the same period starting April 1. While the lockdowns last, China has told companies based in the zone to enforce a "closed-loop" arrangements, whereby workers live and work in a bubble away from the public, Reuters said.
29th Mar 2022 - Business Insider

Capital of China's Jilin province apologises for food shortages due to COVID curbs

The Chinese city of Changchun, capital of the COVID-hit northeastern province of Jilin, on Tuesday apologised to its 8.5 million residents for food shortages related to shutdowns and disruption caused by COVID containment measures. Due to COVID-19, two major wholesale food markets in Changchun have shuttered, leading to a shortfall in food supply, said the city's deputy Communist Party secretary, Liu Renyuan, a problem aggravated by a shortage of workers that has delayed deliveries to homes.
29th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai tightens COVID lockdown on second day of curbs

China's most populous city tightened the first phase of a two-stage COVID-19 lockdown on Tuesday, asking some residents to stay indoors unless they are getting tested as the number of new daily cases exceeded 4,400. The financial hub of Shanghai, home to 26 million people, is in its second day of a lockdown authorities are imposing by dividing the city roughly along the Huangpu River, splitting the historic centre from the eastern financial and industrial district of Pudong to allow for staggered testing.
29th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Hong Kong leader to review COVID restrictions in coming days

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Thursday she would review COVID restrictions in the coming days, as she understands people are increasingly impatient with rules that have isolated the international financial centre and hurt business. Restrictions, including a ban on flights from nine countries such as Britain and the United States, a quarantine of up to 14 days for people arriving in Hong Kong, a ban on face-to-face classes and the closings of gyms and most public venues, have frustrated many residents in the city of 7.4 million. Speaking at a regular COVID-19 media briefing, Lam said she would provide an update around March 20-21 rather than wait for the restrictions to expire on April 20.
17th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Hong Kong leader says no plans to tighten COVID social distancing measures

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Monday there were no plans to tighten strict social distancing measures as the Chinese-ruled territory battles to contain a coronavirus surge that has submerged its health system amid soaring deaths. Lam said there was limited room to tighten further, with the global financial hub already having put in place the strictest measures since the pandemic started. Gatherings of more than two people are banned, most venues are shut - including schools - and masks are compulsory everywhere, even when exercising outdoors.
14th Mar 2022 - Reuters

China does not have a new Covid variant. Yet it's on lockdown. Why?

As the world breathes the first whiffs of normality in over two years, and cities open up with people returning to work and children to schools, China is staring at another spate of lockdowns. Beijing locked down a city of 17.5 million people on Sunday, restricting access by suspending services amid fears of another possible coronavirus outbreak. China, where the first coronavirus cases were detected in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan, has reported a total of 4,636 deaths on the mainland out of 1,15,466 confirmed cases since the pandemic started. According to Worldometer, China on Monday reported 1436 cases in 24 hours. Its numbers are low compared with some countries, but authorities say they are ready to lock down communities if one case is found.
14th Mar 2022 - India Today

Hong Kong Can't Impose Snap Lockdown Like Shenzhen, Lam Says

Hong Kong doesn’t have the infrastructure to roll out a lockdown and compulsory testing as swiftly as mainland China, according to Chief Executive Carrie Lam, whose announcement of a now-delayed city-wide test sparked chaos and confusion in the financial hub. The 17.5 million residents of the southern Chinese technology hub of Shenzhen were told on Sunday that they’d go into a week-long lockdown while three rounds of city-wide testing are conducted. In contrast, Lam said almost three weeks ago that everyone in Hong Kong -- home to 7.4 million people -- would be tested three times in March, before the plan was indefinitely postponed last week as authorities prioritize vaccinating the elderly and reducing fatalities in what’s become the world’s deadliest outbreak.
14th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg


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Hong Kong races to build isolation facilities as COVID cases surge

Hong Kong is rushing to build facilities for COVID-19 patients, with Reuters drone footage showing construction work in full swing after a temporary bridge linking the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen to the Asian financial hub opened at the weekend. As a surge in COVID-19 cases overwhelms Hong Kong's healthcare facilities, authorities have deployed mainland medical and construction workers, as well as building materials, to speed up efforts to contain an outbreak of the virus
9th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Hong Kong's zero-COVID fight takes mental toll on society, experts say

Hong Kong resident Yeung waited for 13 hours outside a hospital in the city's eastern district in cold, rainy weather with his 3-year-old daughter, who had a high fever, before they could be admitted for COVID-19 treatment. By the time they could enter, her fever had gone down and she didn't require medical attention. Yet the 42-year-old utilities worker had to stay in the hospital for four nights without a bed, because he and his daughter were not allowed to leave. They were then sent to a government isolation centre for nine more days.
9th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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China says Hong Kong must stick to "dynamic zero" COVID strategy

A top Chinese health official rallied embattled Hong Kong on Tuesday to stick with a "dynamic zero" coronavirus strategy and warned that the city's "lifeline" health system was at risk and the situation had to be turned around as soon as possible. Hong Kong reported more than 43,100 new cases on Tuesday after the launch of an online platform for people to record infections in a surge that has seen the city suffering the most deaths globally per million people in the week to March 6, according to the Our World in Data publication. China has championed the "dynamic zero" strategy that involves stamping out infections with strict mitigation measures as opposed to the approach adopted in other places of relying on high vaccination rates and moderate mitigation like masks in an effort to "live with COVID".
8th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Hong Kong retail chains ration staples to curb COVID panic buying

Two of Hong Kong's largest consumer retail chains started rationing some food and drug items on Friday to curb panic buying that has plagued the city over the past week amid fears of a citywide lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar. Health authorities reported 52,523 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and 136 deaths. This compares with about 100 infections at the start of February and a clean three-month streak of zero cases before the end of December.
6th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Hong Kong transport operators, supermarket cut services as COVID surges

Hong Kong's subway operator, bus and ferry companies, and one of its biggest supermarket chains, are cutting back services due to a worsening COVID-19 outbreak that has seen daily infections explode this year. Authorities reported a new daily record of 56,827 new infections and 144 deaths in the Chinese-ruled city on Thursday, an exponential rise from around 100 in early February and a clean three-month streak of zero cases at the end of 2021. The surge in cases and mixed messaging from government officials have triggered an exodus of people from the global financial hub, where authorities are clinging to a "dynamic zero" policy that seeks to eradicate all outbreaks.
3rd Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Japan set to extend COVID curbs as hospitals battle infections

Japan prepared on Wednesday to extend infection controls in some regions amid high numbers of hospital patients hit by the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The central government has received requests from five prefectures, including Osaka and Kyoto in western Japan, to extend measures set to expire on Sunday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters. Media said 10 prefectures, including Tokyo, the capital, were expected to seek an extension of two to three weeks for the curbs, which encompass shorter business hours and limits on the sale of alcohol.
2nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

Hong Kong reports record cases; movements may be restricted

Hong Kong’s leader on Wednesday said people’s movements may be restricted during mandatory testing this month of the entire population for the coronavirus, as health officials reported a record 55,353 daily infections and over a hundred deaths. Chief executive Carrie Lam said authorities are still refining the plan, but that there would be no “complete” lockdown that would prevent entry and exit from the city. “The extent of it must take into account Hong Kong’s circumstances and people’s needs,” she told reporters. Hong Kong is planning to test its more than 7 million residents as it grapples with soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases in its worst outbreak of the pandemic, linked largely to the omicron variant.
2nd Mar 2022 - The Associated Press


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A closer look at Hong Kong’s latest rules on Covid-19 testing, quarantine

Changes such as registering positive results using rapid antigen tests on a government portal can help speed up confirmation of Covid-19 infections. Close contacts who are at least double vaccinated can leave quarantine earlier if they test negative using rapid antigen kits on sixth and seventh days.
28th Feb 2022 - South China Morning Post

Hong Kong’s Covid-19 Regime Sparks Rush for Exit by Spooked Residents

For Charles Murton, one of Hong Kong’s tens of thousands of expatriate residents, the city’s surprise decision to shut schools next month to test its 7.4 million people for Covid-19 was the last straw. He has been drawing up plans to leave the city he immigrated to as a teenager, eyeing a move with his wife and two young children to Singapore, a perennial Hong Kong rival that continues to open its borders even as Covid-19 numbers there surge to record highs. “The virus is something that you’ve got to live with, but that doesn’t seem to be the thought process here,” said Mr. Murton, a 41-year-old logistics executive. For two years, Hong Kong largely shut out Covid-19 by at times banning travelers from certain high-risk countries, using lengthy quarantines for arrivals and social distancing, and isolating infected people and their close contacts—at the cost of effectively cutting off the global financial hub’s residents from the outside world. Now, after the Omicron variant punctured the city’s defenses, overwhelming hospitals and testing facilities, the city is tightening the screws in new and unpredictable ways to adhere to Beijing’s zero-Covid policy of stamping out the virus whenever it appears.
28th Feb 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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Hong Kong's Covid Crackdown Hits Domestic Helpers the Hardest

Hong Kong’s latest Covid containment campaign is taking its greatest toll on the hundreds of thousands of migrant women who work as live-in domestic workers in the city. Scores have been evicted or sacked after testing positive for Covid, by employers who don’t want the virus in their households, according to local rights groups. And some are facing steep fines for violating the two-person limit on gatherings -- a rule that’s upended the longstanding tradition of domestic workers meeting up with friends on their single day off.
26th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg


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Hong Kong domestic workers left homeless after being fired for contracting Covid-19

Live-in domestic workers in Hong Kong have been left homeless after they were diagnosed with Covid-19 and their employers fired them or refused their return to the residence, support groups have said. Many of the workers, who are mostly women from Indonesia and the Philippines, were also left without insurance to cover their medical bills. Hong Kong is in the midst of its worst ever outbreak with the Omicron variant infecting thousands of people a day, overwhelming hospitals and government isolation facilities.
24th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

Analysis: China steps in to steer Hong Kong's COVID crisis as risks loom

As COVID-19 rages across Hong Kong at the start of a sensitive political year for China and President Xi Jinping, Beijing is determined not to be embarrassed and undermined as it was by the often-violent protests that rocked the city in 2019. In the past week, since Xi told the city its "overriding mission" was to control the worsening crisis, Hong Kong has stepped up anti-COVID measures, including plans for mass testing buttressed by equipment, testing vehicles and personnel from the mainland.
24th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Hong Kong rolls out vaccine passport and tighter COVID measures

Hong Kong rolls out a vaccine passport on Thursday that requires people aged 12 and above to have at least one COVID-19 vaccination and also tightened restrictions in a city that already has some of the most stringent rules in the world. Residents will have to show their vaccine record to access venues including supermarkets, malls and restaurants. They will also have to wear masks for all outdoor exercise and will not be allowed to remove masks to eat or drink on public transport
24th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Hong Kong turns to emergency powers for China help in COVID surge

Hong Kong has invoked emergency powers so that doctors and nurses from mainland China can join its efforts to fight what it said was a “dire epidemic situation” as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus sweeps across the densely-populated territory. Authorities on Thursday morning reported 8,674 new cases, nearly all of them locally acquired. “Hong Kong is now facing a very dire epidemic situation, which continues to deteriorate rapidly,” the government said in explaining its need for the emergency powers. The outbreak is expected to “continue to escalate exponentially and go beyond the epidemic control capacity” of the territory’s administration, meaning “Hong Kong’s healthcare system, manpower, anti-epidemic facilities and resources, etc will soon be insufficient to handle the huge number of newly confirmed cases detected every day”. The Chinese territory is one of the world’s most densely-populated places with many families living in tiny high-rise apartments that make it impossible for people to isolate themselves. It has been hit hard by the Omicron wave, which slipped through the defences of its stringent quarantines and contact tracing that had kept the virus at bay since the pandemic began two years ago.
24th Feb 2022 - AlJazeera


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Hong Kong ramps up isolation facility plans as COVID infections climb

Hong Kong reported 6,063 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, as the the city's government made more plans for isolation facilities to take some strain off a healthcare system as infections have risen by more than 60 times since the month began. City leader Carrie Lam said on Saturday the government will build 10,000 isolation units in two new community facilities, with the help of China. Some 114 Chinese medical personnel arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday - the second batch that thas been sent from the mailand.
19th Feb 2022 - Reuters


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Hong Kong Exodus Forces Market Watchdog Staff Into 12-Hour Days

Now even Hong Kong’s top market regulator is warning the city’s development as an international financial center is at risk. After years of political upheaval and a deepening isolation because of Hong Kong’s zero-Covid strategy, the Securities and Futures Commission is struggling to police the city’s $6.3 trillion market. Grappling with a brain drain due to emigration and job switches, the watchdog lost 12% of its employees last year, including 25% of its junior professional staff, forcing those remaining to work 12-hour days to cover the workload, according to former employees. In a budget statement submitted this month to the city’s legislature, where it asked for approval to boost pay after a one-year salary freeze, the SFC said: “Without the appropriate number and mix of staff, the commission will not be able to deliver on the various initiatives underpinning Hong Kong’s development as an IFC.”
17th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg


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Japan's COVID-19 surge shows signs of peaking as curbs extended

Japan's biggest wave of COVID-19 cases to date is showing signs of peaking though authorities are extending virus curbs into next month to try to bring down the rate of hospitalisations. Top medical adviser Shigeru Omi said on Thursday that health centres would shift towards focusing on care for the elderly and those at risk of developing serious illness. "While infections are still increasing, there's a relative slowing trend among working people in their 20s and 30s," he told reporters after a health task-force meeting.
10th Feb 2022 - Reuters


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Trucker Fury Belies Reality of Canada's Ever-Looser Covid Rules

Canada’s capital is in its second week under siege from truckers and other activists demanding Covid-19 restrictions be removed, but many of those rules are already being rolled back by provincial governments. Two western provinces announced they’re ending their vaccine passports on Tuesday, and Quebec -- whose curfew was the strictest measure imposed in Canada -- laid out a schedule to remove many of its remaining Covid measures. The spread of the protests this week to U.S. border crossings like the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit has added urgency to the process. It’s also exposed an underlying irony: while the truckers are camped outside the federal parliament buildings, it’s provincial legislatures where most Covid public-health orders are made.
9th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

Japan to extend COVID-19 curbs for 13 regions by three weeks

Japanese Prime Minister said on Wednesday that the government would extend COVID-19 restrictions in Tokyo and 12 prefectures by three weeks as the Omicron variant continued to spread. Japan has been breaking daily records for coronavirus cases and deaths amid a surge in infections driven by the Omicron variant. It will add one more prefecture to the list of regions facing quasi-emergency measures, including restrictions on the business hours of eateries, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.
9th Feb 2022 - Reuters


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Top Hong Kong Adviser ‘Very Optimistic’ City Will Reopen Within Year

A top adviser to Hong Kong’s leader says he’s “very optimistic” the city will reopen to the world within the next year and that shortening Covid-19 quarantine for inbound travelers is the government’s “next objective.” “We all want to end this thing as soon as we can,” Bernard Chan, a financier and convener of Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s advisory Executive Council, said in a Bloomberg Television interview Wednesday. “I’m very hopeful as more data shows the omicron variant’s incubation period is actually much shorter, that perhaps we can aim for a shorter quarantine time,” he said. “You know, that’s probably the next objective.”
8th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg


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Hong Kong risks exodus over extended COVID isolation, Euro chamber says

HK reopening seen delayed until China rolls out mRNA vaccine. High costs include exodus of international residents. Appeal as global business hub seen fading Firms may shift to mainland, Singapore or Seoul
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters


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One surrendered Hong Kong hamster tests COVID positive as city lockdown grows

Hong Kong authorities said on Sunday one hamster surrendered to authorities by pet owners had tested positive for COVID-19 and that over 2,200 hamsters had been culled as the city struggled to contain an outbreak. On Tuesday, officials ordered the killing of hamsters from dozens of pet shops after tracing a coronavirus outbreak to a worker at a shop and asked people to surrender any bought on or after Dec. 22. While a handful of hamsters had already tested positive for the virus, this latest case is the first involving a hamster in the care of a pet-owner that had tested positive.
24th Jan 2022 - Reuters


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A divided nation: Western Australia stays shut as COVID deaths mount in east

Australia will remain a divided nation, with the vast mining state of Western Australia cancelling plans to reopen its borders on Feb. 5, citing health risks from a surge in the Omicron COVID-19 variant in eastern states. The country reported 86 deaths from the virus on Friday, figures from the state and territory jurisdictions that have reported so far showed, its deadliest day since the start of the pandemic. Australia's most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), reported 46 deaths of patients with COVID-19, also its worst day, including one infant, while Victoria state saw 20 deaths.
21st Jan 2022 - Reuters


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Swiss cabinet extends quarantine, work-from-home rules into February

Switzerland will extend until the end of February coronavirus quarantine and mandatory work-from-home rules and tentatively plans to keep until the end of March other curbs on public life it tightened last month, the government said on Wednesday. Those measures included the need for people to prove they have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 to gain entry to many indoor venues as the cabinet tries to avoid another lockdown while COVID-19 cases spike.
19th Jan 2022 - Reuters


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'Just want to go home': China's Xian in COVID lockdown for 7th day

A lockdown of 13 million people in the Chinese city of Xian entered its seventh day on Wednesday, with many unable to leave their residential compounds and relying on deliveries of necessities as new COVID-19 infections persisted. Xian reported 151 domestically transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms for Tuesday, or nearly all of the 152 cases nationwide, bringing the total number of local Xian cases to nearly 1,000 during the Dec. 9-28 period. No cases of the Omicron variant have been announced in the city so far.
29th Dec 2021 - Reuters


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South Africa recalls new isolation and quarantine rules

South Africa has recalled rules that no longer required people without symptoms of COVID-19 to isolate or test if they have been in contact with a positive case, the government announced on Tuesday, saying an amended circular will be re-issued. Last week the health ministry said that asymptomatic individuals who had been in contact with a case of COVID-19 no longer had to isolate but should monitor for symptoms for 5-7 days and avoid attending large gatherings.
28th Dec 2021 - Reuters


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Sweden New Covid Restrictions: Vaccine Pass Forms Part of Tighter Curbs

Sweden will introduce a range of new measures to curb Covid-19 transmission as hospitalizations increase and the Nordic country prepares for a surge of infections caused by the omicron variant. “We have a new virus variant and the situation has changed,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said at a press conference Tuesday. “We need to do what is needed and it will get tougher for a while.” From Thursday, new rules state that large events will have to require proof of vaccination for entry, restaurants may only serve seated patrons and all events with more than 20 participants will need to take some form of precaution to lower the risk of virus transmission.
21st Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Iceland Tightens Covid Curbs Amid Surge in Cases

Iceland is taking stronger measures to quell a surge in Covid-19 cases after daily infections reached a record. The North Atlantic island’s government cut the number of people allowed at gatherings to 20 from the current 50, Health Minister Wilum Thor Thorsson said on Tuesday. When rapid tests are in use, 200 people will be allowed to gather, down from the current 500. The new rules take effect at midnight. “We are very worried,” Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir told local media after a government meeting. “Uncertainty over how effective vaccinations are against the new variant calls for the government to react.”
21st Dec 2021 - Bloomberg


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Dutch COVID-19 restrictions extended through Christmas holidays

The Netherlands will extend COVID-19 restrictions through the Christmas holidays, including the early closure of schools, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is making up roughly 1% of new infections in the country, "is a reason to be concerned and to be cautious," Rutte said in a televised comments. Elementary schools will close a week early to try to prevent children from infecting older family members during Christmas as hospitals struggle with a wave of COVID-19 patients.
15th Dec 2021 - Reuters


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Philippines Keeps Loose Virus Curbs in Capital Region

The Philippines is keeping its loose coronavirus restrictions in the Manila capital region until Nov. 30 as daily cases decline and vaccination picks up. The capital, which accounts for a third of economic output, will remain under Alert Level 2, the second-lowest under a five-tiered system, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement on Saturday. Provinces near Metro Manila will also be under the same level. Relaxed restrictions on public movement have been in placed since Nov. 5, and minors have been allowed in indoor establishments. Under Alert Level 2, indoor restaurants, gyms and cinemas can operate at half capacity, while outdoor establishments can open at 70% capacity.
13th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg


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Austrian chancellor expects tighter COVID rules to remain past Christmas -newspaper

Austria's latest measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus will likely stay in force over Christmas and New Year, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg was quoted as saying on Sunday, as the country posted a record number of infections. The country reported 9,943 new infections within a 24 hour period on Saturday, surpassing the previous worst day of Nov. 13 2020 when 9,586 cases were recorded. To stem the virus, the government said on Friday that it will bar those not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from cafes, restaurants and hairdressers, effective Monday.
7th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Philippines' 20 month lockdown of children sparks creative playtime

For the first time in her young life, two-year-old Nathania Ysobel Alesna was playing outside her house in the Philippine capital after 20 months of being kept at home by government coronavirus restrictions. At a department store east of Manila one recent day, Nathania giddily rode a scooter and a bike as her mother, Ruth Francine Faller, looked on.
5th Nov 2021 - Reuters


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Ugandan kids lose hope in long school closure amid pandemic

Dressed in his school uniform, Mathias Okwako jumped into the mud and started his daily search for gold, a commodity that may be closer to his grasp than another precious asset: an education. His rural school in Uganda sits idle just across the road from the swamp where he and scores of children now work as informal miners. Weeds grow in some classrooms, where window frames have been looted for firewood. Another school nearby is renting out rooms to tenants. Uganda’s schools have been fully or partially shut for more than 77 weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, the longest disruption anywhere in the world, according to figures from the U.N. cultural agency.
1st Nov 2021 - The Associated Press


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Singapore extends COVID-19 curbs for a month as cases spike

Singapore will extend its social curbs to contain the spread of COVID-19 for around a month in order to ease the pressure on the healthcare system, the government said on Wednesday. The city-state in late September reimposed curbs that include limiting social interactions and dining out to two people in order to slow virus transmission. However, daily cases have continued to rise and hit a record 3,994 on Tuesday. While Singapore has vaccinated more than 80% of its 5.45 million population, asymptomatic or mild cases have been rising steadily, spreading the virus and mounting pressure on hospitals and medical staff.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters


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New Zealand extends Auckland lockdown in battle on Delta variant

New Zealand's biggest city of Auckland will retain its lockdown for two more weeks in the battle on the Delta variant of coronavirus, as the country pushes to step up vaccinations, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
18th Oct 2021 - Reuters


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Kingdom 'ready' for reopening

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday urged the public, businesses and government to cooperate in preparing for the country's reopening to fully vaccinated tourists next month. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has also eased additional virus curbs, including shortening nighttime curfew hours starting on Saturday
16th Oct 2021 - Bangkok Post


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Japan's Takeda says 'human error' caused contamination of Moderna vaccines

Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd said on Friday that "human error" caused metal contaminants to get into Moderna Inc COVID-19 vaccine doses, leading to a recall. Takeda, which imports and distributes the vaccine in Japan, and Moderna said in a new report that a Spanish manufacturer discovered contaminants in some vials in July, but supplies from the same production were allowed to be shipped to Japan. Japanese authorities in August suspended the use of three batches of Moderna shots containing 1.63 million doses after being notified of the contamination.
1st Oct 2021 - Reuters


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Women followed lockdown rules more closely than men, study shows

The first Covid lockdown showed that women followed rules more closely than men, according to a new study which branded the restrictions a ‘live social experiment’. Researchers looking at 15% of the Austrian population’s behaviour said that everyone tended to make significantly longer phone calls during the crisis. Men were found to be less likely to accept having their movements restricted by lockdown measures and tended to return to normal more quickly, along with younger people. Scientists looked at anonymised mobile phone data from 1.2 million Austrians between February and June 2020, to study the impact of the first lockdown on behaviour in the central European country.
29th Sep 2021 - Metro


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Vietnam delays reopening resort island over low vaccination rate

Vietnam has pushed back a plan to re-open the resort island of Phu Quoc to foreign tourists until November, after failing to meet targets for inoculating residents due to insufficient vaccine supplies, state media reported. The Southeast Asian nation, which is currently shut to all visitors apart from returning citizens and investors, has been struggling to speed up inoculations to help contain a spike in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant in recent months.
24th Sep 2021 - Reuters

‘It breaks my heart’: Australian parents say mental health strain on their children is worsening

New analysis from the Australian National University published on Friday shows like Amy, many parents or caregivers are struggling to find support for their children. In August, the university surveyed 3,135 Australians age 18 and older, 763 of whom were parents or caregivers with children age 18 and under living in their household from the time the pandemic hit. The sample had 1,368 children between them. Parents and carers were asked about the mental health of their children, and reported they had seen the largest negative impact on the mental health of those aged five to 18 years, while there were fewer concerns for children aged two to four. Co-author of the study, Prof. Nicholas Biddle, said 71% of parents and carers of young people aged 15 to 18 reported worsening mental health conditions for their children.
23rd Sep 2021 - The Guardian


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Ukraine tightens coronavirus lockdown curbs

Ukraine tightened coronavirus lockdown curbs on Thursday, restricting large events and occupancy at gyms, cinemas and cultural sites, after a recent steady increase in new infections. Ukraine imposed a nationwide "yellow" code after cases dropped over the summer, allowing it to lift lockdown restrictions. This week, however, the government extended a state of emergency that allows authorities to impose curbs until year-end to rein in infections. The health ministry has said it plans compulsory coronavirus vaccinations for those in occupations such as teaching and employment in state institutions and local governments.
23rd Sep 2021 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

Australians find silver lining in lockdowns as wealth booms

Australians are finding a silver lining to lockdowns as super-cheap credit lifts the value of homes and shares to record highs, a windfall of wealth that gives consumers the means to spend big once restrictions ease. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics out on Thursday showed net household wealth surged A$735 billion ($531.48 billion) in the June quarter to A$13.3 trillion, or A$522,032 for every man, woman and child. "Aussie households have never been wealthier," said Ryan Felsman, a senior economist at CommSec.
23rd Sep 2021 - Reuters


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New Zealand says it may not get to zero COVID-19 cases again

Its biggest city Auckland is still in lockdown with a small number of new cases being reported everyday. "We may not get back to zero but the important thing is we are going to keep finding any infections and basically continue to contact trace, test and isolate people so that we stop the virus circulating in the community... that's the aim," Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health told Radio New Zealand. Bloomfield said the aim now was to try and get on top of the outbreak while also ramping up vaccination rates.
22nd Sep 2021 - Reuters


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China keeps virus at bay at high cost ahead of Olympics

The Beizhong International Travel Agency in the eastern city of Tianjin has had only one customer since coronavirus outbreaks that began in July prompted Chinese leaders to renew city lockdowns and travel controls. Most of China is virus-free, but the abrupt, severe response to outbreaks has left would-be tourists jittery about traveling to places they might be barred from leaving. That has hit consumer spending, hindering efforts to keep the economic recovery on track. China’s “zero tolerance” strategy of trying to isolate every case and stop transmission has helped keep the country where the virus first was detected in late 2019 largely free of disease. But the public and businesses are paying a steep price.
21st Sep 2021 - The Associated Press


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New Zealand, Australia travel bubble suspended for longer amid Delta outbreaks

New Zealand suspended quarantine-free travel with Australia for a further 8 weeks on Friday, extending a halt in the so-called travel bubble between both countries, as they deal with fresh outbreaks of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
17th Sep 2021 - Reuters


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New Zealand PM Ardern extends lockdown in Auckland to Sept 21

New Zealand's largest city Auckland will remain in lockdown to beat the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
13th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Vietnam's biggest city to keep virus curbs, flight resumption sought

Vietnam's coronavirus outbreak epicentre Ho Chi Minh City will extend its restrictions, state media reported on Monday, as the capital Hanoi and several provinces sought an easing of curbs and the aviation authority proposed domestic flights resume.
13th Sep 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand keeps Auckland in strict lockdown to beat Delta

New Zealand extended a strict lockdown in its largest city on Monday, requiring 1.7 million people living in Auckland to remain indoors for at least another week to snuff out small outbreaks of the highly infectious Delta variant of coronavirus. Health authorities recorded 33 new cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 on Monday, all in Auckland, which was higher than 23 and 20 cases reported over the weekend.
13th Sep 2021 - Reuters


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Auckland COVID cases drop again as New Zealand presses on with Delta curbs

New Zealand reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, all in locked down Auckland, its biggest city, as the country looks to limit the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.
10th Sep 2021 - Reuters


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Philippines defers new COVID-19 plan, maintains capital curbs

The Philippines capital region will remain under the second strictest coronavirus containment measures, a senior official said on Tuesday, despite a day earlier announcing a relaxation of curbs to spur business activity. Imposition of the more relaxed "general community quarantine" in Metro Manila has been deferred, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said, without giving a reason.
7th Sep 2021 - Reuters


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Vietnam's capital ramps up testing after extending COVID-19 curbs

Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, extended COVID-19 restrictions on Monday for a further two weeks, as authorities launched a plan to conduct tests on the city's 8 million people to try to curb a climb in infections that started in late April. The Southeast Asian country dealt successfully with the virus for much of the pandemic, but the virulent Delta variant has proved more challenging in recent months.
6th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: India school closures 'catastrophic' for poor students

The prolonged closure of schools in India has led to "catastrophic consequences" for poor children, according to a recent survey. Only 8% of the children sampled were studying online regularly and 37% were not studying at all, the survey found. Primary and upper-primary schools in India have been closed for 17 month to curb the spread of coronavirus. The survey, supervised by leading economists, spoke to 1,400 children across India in August. Researchers focused on households in relatively deprived villages and slums, where children generally attend government-run schools.
6th Sep 2021 - BBC News

Philippines plans new COVID-19 lockdown strategy to help economy

The Philippines will relax some COVID-19 restrictions in the Manila region from Wednesday and also intends to outline plans to shift to smaller, localised lockdowns to support the economy, the presidential spokesperson said. The moves come despite the Southeast Asian country reporting record infection numbers as it battles the Delta variant. The government believed localised COVID-19 restrictions would be more effective in controlling outbreaks without constraining mobility and business activity too much, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told a briefing.
6th Sep 2021 - Thomson Reuters Foundation


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COVID-19: New ad campaign urges people to keep staying at home despite coronavirus transmission rates declining

An advertising blitz has been launched to encourage people to keep staying at home until COVID-19 restrictions can be lifted. The campaign also urges them to continue with mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing. And it appeals to people to understand the importance of remaining in lockdown, despite declining coronavirus transmission rates, the success of the vaccine rollout and the launch of the roadmap out of lockdown.
25th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19: Adverts urge people to 'keep going' and remain at home

An advertising campaign has been launched to encourage people across the UK to "keep going" and remain at home. The government adverts come amid falling infection rates, the success of the vaccine rollout and the launch of the roadmap out of lockdown. People are also being urged to continue behavioural changes, including social distancing, hand washing and wearing face masks. The TV advert is being shown for the first time on Wednesday night on ITV.
25th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Coronavirus in Austria: Viennese cafés open their doors to students despite lockdown

Only a little jazz tune disturbs the studious atmosphere. In a downtown café, young Viennese residents enjoy the calm, space and comfort of the red benches, escaping from the closed doors to which the Covid-19 lockdown is forcing them. The city has launched an initiative to allow students to reserve time slots to study at cafes. Drinks are not allowed, but bottled water, small snacks and internet access are available.
25th Feb 2021 - FRANCE 24

Aussie expats who've had COVID-19 jab amidst long UK lockdown: 'I feel privileged, I feel honoured'

Thousands of Australians have lined up this week as the coronavirus vaccine rollout finally commenced. But half a world away, many Australians have already rolled up their sleeves to be some of the first in the world fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In the UK almost 18 million people have been inoculated since its vaccine drive began in mid-December, which includes many Australian expats. England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said on Wednesday the government didn't expect the vaccine uptake to be as high as it has been, though it is pushing to stay as close to the 90 per cent or higher it has already achieved in priority groups.
25th Feb 2021 - 9News

Hungary extends lockdown, sees 'exceptionally difficult' two weeks ahead as infections rise

Hungary is entering its toughest period since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and over the next two weeks hospitals will come under strain like never before, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday. "I have only bad news," Orban said in a Facebook video. "We are facing the hardest two weeks since the start of the pandemic. The number of infections is rising sharply and will continue to rise due to the new mutations." On Thursday, Hungary reported 4,385 new infections, the highest number this year.
25th Feb 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com


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Italy's health minister rules out loosening of COVID-19 curbs

Italy's government will extend coronavirus restrictions already in place until after Easter, the health minister said on Wednesday, as Rome plans to speed up vaccination efforts to try to beat the pandemic. Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19, has seen its daily cases fall from a high of around 40,000 in November to under 15,000 at present, but officials fear loosening restrictions may lead to a surge in infections driven by new, highly contagious variants. "The epidemiological conditions do not allow us to relax the curbs," Health Minister Roberto Speranza told parliament, adding that strains first discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil are increasingly being detected in Italy.
24th Feb 2021 - Channel NewsAsia Singapore

Italian mafia tightens grip on small businesses during lockdown

The provision of Mafia “welfare” to Italy’s struggling small businesses sharply increased during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdown according to the first comprehensive report by the country’s interior ministry on organised crime since the pandemic began. The report by the anti-mafia investigation directorate (DIA) said there was a significant threat that organised criminals would take advantage of the country’s economic crisis to take over small businesses after initially providing them with assistance.
24th Feb 2021 - Financial Times

Greece to continue Athens lockdown as COVID cases rise

Greece will not be able to lift lockdown restrictions in the wider Athens area on March 1 as previously planned, following a sharp increase in coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday. Athens metropolitan area, where half of Greece’s population lives, has been under strict lockdown restrictions that were set to expire on Feb. 28. On Tuesday, authorities reported 2,147 new cases, around half of them in the Attica region around Athens, and 22 deaths
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Britain's lockdown is one of the toughest in the world, study claims

Britons are living under the sixth strictest lockdown in the world – and the second harshest in Europe – according to an analysis by the University of Oxford. Researchers have ranked the pandemic responses of 180 countries on a 'stringency map' by looking at how Covid restrictions have affected schools, offices, social gatherings, international travel and freedom to leave home. Each country was scored on a scale of one to 100, with a higher figure indicating the most severe virus-controlling curbs. The numbers represented an average since the start of the pandemic.
23rd Feb 2021 - Daily Mail


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Portugal's COVID-19 nightmare eases but end of lockdown still out of sight

Health experts warned that lifting the lockdown too soon could lead to a rise in cases caused by the variant initially discovered in Britain, currently responsible for almost half of the country’s cases. Another surge would be catastrophic for a fragile health system. Germany sent on Tuesday a replacement team of military doctors and nurses to take over from the first deployment sent three weeks ago to prop up Lisbon’s underresourced hospitals.
23rd Feb 2021 - Reuters


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Italy Extends Ban on Movement Between Regions Until Late March

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has extended a ban on movement between the country’s 20 regions for another month -- until late March -- as his new government tries to step up a vaccination campaign to counter the pandemic. A cabinet meeting chaired by Draghi prolonged travel curbs between regions until March 27 and maintained a 10 p.m. curfew, according to a statement. The government also introduced a ban on visits between households in the highest-risk areas.
22nd Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

Residents in Chinese city vent frustration after more than 40 days in lockdown

Gaocheng, a district of the Hebei capital Shijiazhuang, went into lockdown in early January after a spike in cases. Many complain that they are still unable to leave their houses despite a fall in cases and an easing of restrictions earlier this month
22nd Feb 2021 - South China Morning Post

UK shopper numbers rise for fifth straight week despite lockdown

The number of people heading out to shops across Britain increased by 6.8% last week versus the previous week, a fifth straight week of uplift despite the national lockdown, market researcher Springboard said on Monday. It said shopper numbers, or footfall, in the week to Feb. 20 was up 10.5% in high streets, 4.5% in shopping centres and 1.2% in retail parks. “You could be fooled into thinking that last week was a normal (school) half term week rather than the eighth week of a national lockdown, as footfall continued to rise for the fifth consecutive week,” said Springboard director Diane Wehrle.
22nd Feb 2021 - Reuters

Don't ignore 'lockdown fatigue', UK watchdog tells finance bosses

Staff at financial firms in Britain are suffering from “lockdown fatigue” and their bosses are not always making sure all employees can speak up freely about their problems, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday. Many staff at financial companies have been working from home since Britain went into its first lockdown in March last year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. One year on, the challenges have evolved from adapting to working remotely to dealing with mental health issues, said David Blunt, the FCA’s head of conduct specialists. “During this third lockdown, there has been a greater impact on mental well-being, with many people struggling with job security, caring responsibilities, home schooling, bereavements and lockdown fatigue.”
22nd Feb 2021 - Reuters


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Toronto's lockdown extended until at least March 8

A lockdown and stay at home order is being extended in Canada's largest city until at least March 8. The shutdown in Toronto began on Nov 23 after a second novel coronavirus wave hit the province. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said it was a difficult but necessary decision. Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, asked the provincial government this week to extend the lockdown, saying she has never been more worried about the future because of new coronavirus variants.
20th Feb 2021 - Japan Today

City residents vent frustration after spending over 40 days in lockdown

Gaocheng, a district of the Hebei capital Shijiazhuang, went into lockdown in early January after a spike in cases. Many complain that they are still unable to leave their houses despite a fall in cases and an easing of restrictions earlier this month
20th Feb 2021 - South China Morning Post


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Covid-19: NI lockdown extended until 1 April

Lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland will be extended until 1 April, the Stormont Executive has agreed. But children in primary 1 to primary 3 (aged four to seven) will go back to school in Northern Ireland on 8 March. Restrictions were imposed on 26 December to manage the spread of Covid-19. Health officials have said they want to avoid a possible rise in cases around St Patrick's Day on 17 March. Another review of the measures will take place on 18 March. First Minister Arlene Foster said Northern Ireland knew "from experience what looks like success is hard-won, but also fragile". "We need decisions to be safe and sustainable, with a proper sequencing of actions."
18th Feb 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19: Parents who lost teenagers to suicide in lockdown issue warning - 'there's going to be a lot of PTSD'

As authorities wrestle with how to safely reopen schools, there is evidence in the US that closures have taken a huge mental health toll on students and their families. "450,000 people and counting in the US have died of COVID, and that's a terrible thing," said Dylan's father Chris. "I'm fortunate in that I don't know any of those people. But I do know one person who committed suicide.
18th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Covid crisis: 1.9m people in UK 'have not worked for more than six months'

Almost 2 million people in Britain have not worked for more than six months during the coronavirus pandemic, amid growing risk to workers from long-term economic damage caused by the crisis. The Resolution Foundation said up to 1.9 million people in January had either been out of a job or on full furlough for more than six months, revealing the lasting impact on employment caused by Covid and multiple lockdowns. Highlighting the risks to workers from long-term unemployment, it called on the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to use next month’s budget to extend targeted support for sectors of the economy hardest hit by the crisis. The report warned that while the outlook for the economy was steadily improving thanks to the vaccination programme and as the government prepares to roll back Covid restrictions, many workers remained concerned about their job prospects.
18th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Covid: NI schools set to return but lockdown extended

Northern Ireland's lockdown restrictions will be extended until the start of April, First Minister Arlene Foster announces. But some primary school children will return to classes on 8 March under the plans and there will be another review of measures on 18 March. Covid has exposed deep inequalities and injustices in society, Labour leader Sir Keir says as he unveils a plan for a British Recovery Bond scheme
18th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Dad says Covid lockdown was behind 12-year-old son’s suicide

Brad Hunstable lost his 12-year-old son Hayden to suicide four days before his 13th birthday in April 2020. Hayden hung himself after a battle with depression that his father says was brought on by the lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Hunstable's youngest daughter Kinlee found Hayden in his room on April 17, 2020, in Aledo, west of Dallas, Texas. Mr Hunstable told Metro UK: "Covid killed my son. I think Hayden would still be alive today if Covid had never happened. "I had no idea he was struggling or depressed, he was such a happy kid and loved his friends and family. But Covid is a perfect storm for suicide and depression. I think everything just got on top of him, he felt overwhelmed and he made a tragic decision."
18th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Canada's largest city, Toronto, wants lockdown extended

Canada’s largest city asked the Ontario provincial government on Wednesday to extend a lockdown order to at least March 9. Restrictions placed on Toronto by Ontario’s government are currently scheduled to be removed on Feb 22. But Dr Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said she has never been more worried about the future because of new coronavirus variants. She has written the province's top health official to request the lockdown last at least two weeks longer. She said there are 345 confirmed variant cases in Toronto and said the city is facing exponential growth. She noted the experience of Germany, whose health minister said Wednesday the virus variant first detected in Britain last year now accounts for more than a fifth of all positive tests in his country, rising from 6% in just two weeks. “By the time the confirmed counts are big enough to shock us, it will be too late to do anything; we will be in a third wave as bad as anything we’ve been through thus far,” she said.
18th Feb 2021 - Japan Today

Danish supermarket to help small, shuttered businesses survive lockdown

Danish supermarket cooperative Kvickly has pledged to set aside some of its extra proceeds made while smaller retailers were shut down by coronavirus restrictions and use it for marketing to help them reopen successfully. Supermarkets, but not smaller retailers, in the Nordic country have been allowed to stay open during a lockdown introduced in December to curb the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain. Kvickly said it would donate its proceeds from sales of non-food items to shuttered shops for use in marketing campaigns as they reopen for business. That would amount to at least 7-10 million Danish crowns ($1.14-$1.63 million) - but more if the current coronavirus lockdown is extended beyond March 1.
18th Feb 2021 - Reuters


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France Covid Lockdown: Government Says Too Early to Reopen Bars, Restaurants

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal says it’s too early to re-open restaurants, bars, culture and sports venues as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths remain on a “high plateau.” “The pressure remains high,” Attal told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Paris. He said ministers were preparing the conditions to re-open these venues so as to prepare for when the situation will allow it.
17th Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

New Zealand considers Auckland lockdown extension as two more Covid cases found

A coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand grew by two cases Wednesday to five in total as lawmakers considered whether to extend a lockdown in Auckland The nation's largest city was put into a three-day lockdown on Sunday after three unexplained cases were found in the community. It was the first lockdown in six months in a nation which so far has managed to successfully stamp out the spread of the disease. The original cases from the latest outbreak were a mother, a father, and their daughter, who attends high school. Health authorities said the two new cases were a high school classmate, who was a close contact of the daughter, and the classmate's sibling. However, ramped-up testing has not indicated the virus has spread further. Laboratories processed more than 17,000 individual tests on Tuesday, authorities said, and they also tested wastewater samples which came back negative
17th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Ukraine extends COVID-19 lockdown but some regions can ease up

Ukraine will prolong a lockdown until the end of April but will allow regions with fewer COVID-19 cases to ease restrictions, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Wednesday. Regions will be put into green, yellow, orange and red zones depending on the scale of new infections, he told a televised cabinet meeting.
17th Feb 2021 - Reuters


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'They're just fed up': parents and teenagers on life in the second UK lockdown

Remote education does not just mean a new system of learning, but missing out on day-to-day interactions with friends and losing the traditional structure of weekdays. While teachers work to engage students from home, there are concerns about the impact of lockdown on school attainment and social development. As many students break for half-term, teenagers and their families have spoken about how the second lockdown has affected them. ‘I’m so scared about next year and the prospect of doing formal exams’ - Remote learning has “definitely been a struggle”, said 17-year-old Aisha Qureshi. She is in her first year of A-levels, after having her GCSE exams cancelled last year.
16th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Germans ‘sick and tired’ as long lockdown hits national mood

Once Europe’s poster child in the battle against Covid-19, Germany has turned into a problem child with the pandemic threatening to spin out of control – even after two months of a strict national lockdown that has frayed nerves, eroded faith in the government and darkened the country’s mood. German leaders had to scramble on Monday to defend a controversial decision to shut its borders to the Czech Republic and parts of Austria to foreign travellers, including commuting workers, in a desperate bid to slow the spread of a highly infections coronavirus mutation from the United Kingdom.
16th Feb 2021 - South China Morning Post

Zimbabwe Extends COVID-19 Lockdown As Nation Receives 200,000 Doses of China's Sinopharm Vaccine

Every life lost, is a big loss to us. I therefore extend the national lockdown by two weeks. This will see the reduction of active cases and monitoring of cases in incubation."
16th Feb 2021 - Zimbabwe

Covid 19 coronavirus: Fears for south Aucklanders' mental health amid third lockdown

South Aucklanders already struggling to feed their families could be hit hard by the stresses of a third Covid-19 lockdown, a prominent Māori leader says. Manukau Urban Maori Authority (MUMA) chairman Bernie O'Donnell said since the first lockdown in 2020, the organisation has been busy helping families in south Auckland via its food bank and social services. O'Donnell, who is also a member of the Auckland District Health Board, said most people have been focused on feeding their families and putting a roof over their heads. "But it's the issues we don't see, like how our psyches are impacted by this," he said.
16th Feb 2021 - New Zealand Herald

No new virus cases raise hopes New Zealand will end lockdown

For a second consecutive day, New Zealand reported no new community cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, raising hopes that a lockdown in Auckland will be lifted Wednesday. Just how three family members contracted the disease remains a mystery. After the cases were found, top lawmakers hurriedly placed New Zealand’s largest city into a three-day lockdown, the nation's first in six months. COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the final decision by lawmakers on whether to lift the restrictions will depend on any new information or cases that crop up over the next 24 hours. “A day when we get zero positive test results is always a good day,” Hipkins said.
16th Feb 2021 - ABC News

‘No choice’: Hunger forces Zimbabweans break COVID lockdown rules

John Kwarabu, 36, knew he would be forced to stay at home when Zimbabwe’s authorities announced a 30-day coronavirus lockdown early last month. His job, hawking mobile phone appliances in the central business district of the capital, Harare, did not fall under essential service providers, the only population segment exempted from restrictions barring movement. With the curbs set to take effect on January 5, Kwarabu decided to head to his rural home in Hwedza, some 130km (81 miles) from Harare, to plant food crops for two weeks. His stay, however, was cut short when his wife called him after a week, telling him that food had already run out for herself and their three children. “I had no choice. I couldn’t let my family starve,” said Kwarabu, sitting on the concrete slab in front of a building in the capital. Following his return, he has been risking arrest and fines as he boards a bus from Tafara – a sprawling suburb north of Harare – without a permit to head to the city centre and try to earn a living. On good days, he manages to sell a few items – USB cables, chargers and power banks – from the stock he had before the lockdown was imposed and buys food for his family.
16th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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Landlords evicting hundreds during lockdown with government’s new ‘eviction ban’ loopholes

Hundreds of renters have been thrown out of their homes in the middle of lockdown after the government caved in to landlord lobbying and introduced loopholes to its eviction ban. New figures show eviction attempts by landlords doubled during the winter coronavirus lockdown, while more than 500 households were forced out by county court bailiffs. The government promised in March that nobody would be made homeless because they had lost their income due to coronavirus, and put a blanket ban on evictions.
15th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Despite tough facade, North Korea's battle with COVID-19 continues

North Korea started off the year on a strong note by holding a large military parade as well as reaffirming the country’s commitment to self-reliance. But behind the tough façade, the country is still trying to contain the spread of COVID-19 within its borders. The pandemic has not gone away for the rest of the world, and North Korea is no exception. North Korea was one of the first countries in the world to take the pandemic very seriously; closing off its borders back in January of 2020. Given that the virus had originated just across its borders in China, the North Korean government wasted no time in implementing drastic security measures. Although this prevented an uncontrollable spread of the virus within the country, the negative economic impact has been immense, and—contrary to official statements—North Korean citizens do seem to have been infected with the virus throughout the course of the pandemi
15th Feb 2021 - DailyNK

Too soon to say when Victoria will end snap Covid lockdown, Daniel Andrews says

Daniel Andrews says it is too early to say whether Victoria will emerge from its “circuit breaker” lockdown as planned on Wednesday, despite recording only one new locally acquired case of Covid-19 on Monday. At the midpoint of the state’s five-day lockdown, and with health officials confident that close contacts of 17 coronavirus cases linked to the Holiday Inn hotel quarantine outbreak have been identified, the premier said a decision on easing restrictions had not been made. Victoria recorded one new locally acquired case in the past 24 hours, a woman who attended a private function of 30 people in Coburg on 6 February that has been linked to other infections.
15th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Australian officials say too early to make call on ending Victoria lockdown

The leader of Australia’s Victoria state said on Monday it was too early to say if a snap five-day coronavirus lockdown would end as planned on Wednesday evening, as authorities confirmed a national vaccine rollout was on track to begin next week. Victoria, the second most populous state in the country, reported just one new COVID-19 infection on Monday, taking the total cases in a recent cluster linked to a quarantine hotel to 17 people. The most recent case is the mother of a three-year-old child who tested positive a day earlier.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Fed-up Britons returning to shops despite lockdown and 'Beast from the East'

The number of people heading out to shops across Britain increased by 1.5% last week from the previous week, a fourth straight week of rises, indicating that Britons are increasingly tiring of lockdown, industry data showed on Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England into a new national lockdown on Jan. 4 to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases that threatened to overwhelm parts of the health system. Under the rules in England, schools are closed to most pupils, people should work from home if possible, and all hospitality and non-essential shops are closed. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have imposed similar measures.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Locked down and lonely, London Zoo faces fight to survive

London Zoo should be teeming with children released from school by half-term holidays. But instead, the monkeys’ pranks are unobserved, King Cobra is coiled friendless in the reptile house and the future of the world’s oldest scientific zoo is in peril. As the menagerie in Regent’s Park, central London, nurses a multi-million-pound hole in its budget and lockdown keeps visitors away, even during school holidays, the keepers are sad and anxious. “Lockdown here has been really surreal - like with no visitors here, it’s been a really sad time for the zoo,” Kate Sanders, big cats team leader at the zoo, told Reuters.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Despair Deepens for Young People as Pandemic Drags On

Life seemed promising last year to Philaé Lachaux, a 22-year-old business student in France who dreamed of striking out on her own in the live music industry. But the onset of the pandemic, leading to the loss of her part-time job as a waitress, sent her back to live at her family home. Now, struggling to envision a future after months of restrictions, Ms. Lachaux says that loneliness and despair seep in at night. “I look at the ceiling, I feel a lump in my throat,” she said. “I’ve never had so many suicidal thoughts.” “The pandemic feels like a big stop in our lives,” she added. “One that puts us so low that I wonder, ‘What’s the point?’”
14th Feb 2021 - The New York Times

Germany says pandemic border checks are only temporary

Intensified checks at Germany’s borders meant to slow the spread of the pandemic are only temporary and a last resort, a German government spokesman said on Monday. “A return to normal is in the interest of everyone involved,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference.
14th Feb 2021 - Financial Post


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Germany to close borders to Czech Republic and parts of Austria in fight against new Covid variants

Germany is planning to close its borders with the Czech Republic and part of Austria as it tries to keep outbreaks of the more infectious UK coronavirus variant at bay. Travellers from these countries are likely to face a near total ban on entry to Germany, similar to the rules Berlin has already imposed on Britain, Ireland and Portugal. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is worried that the arrival of highly contagious mutant strains of the virus could undo her country’s progress in bringing down the infection rate, which has fallen by two thirds since Christmas.
13th Feb 2021 - The Times

Coronavirus: Germans' mental health worse in second lockdown — study

People living in Germany are struggling with their mental health more during the current shutdown than they had during the first, according to interim research results published by Saarland University on Saturday. Researchers at the university have been monitoring 1,500 men and women for a year to measure the psychological and social consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The time period has spanned two lockdowns — the first in mid-March to mid-April 2020 and the second, which began in mid-December and is ongoing. Both lockdowns have seen much of public life curtailed, including the closures of schools, public institutions as well as shops and gastronomy businesses except for takeaway.
13th Feb 2021 - DW (English)

U.K. Economy Suffers Biggest Slump in 300 Years Amid Covid-19 Lockdowns

The U.K. economy recorded its biggest contraction in more than three centuries in 2020, according to official estimates, highlighting the Covid-19 pandemic’s economic toll on a country that has also suffered one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks. Though the U.K. is grappling with a new, highly contagious variant of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hopeful that a rapid vaccination drive will permit a gradual reopening of the economy in the coming months, paving the way for a consumer-driven rebound later in the year. Gross domestic product shrank 9.9% over the year as a whole, the Office for National Statistics said Friday, the largest annual decline among the Group of Seven advanced economies. France’s economy shrank 8.3% and Italy’s contracted 8.8%, according to provisional estimates. German GDP declined 5%. The U.S. shrank 3.5%.
13th Feb 2021 - The Wall Street Journal


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Covid-19: Ireland may have Level 5 restrictions until Easter

The Republic of Ireland could see a continuation of high level restrictions to the Easter period, Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin has warned. Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Martin said the government is revising its Living with Covid Plan. He said it made sense to take a cautious approach as the vaccination programme is being rolled out across the country. On Wednesday, there were 54 additional coronavirus-related deaths reported. The Republic of Ireland's overall toll of coronavirus-related deaths is 3,794.
11th Feb 2021 - BBC News

You’re not lazy — Why you need to stop feeling guilty in lockdown, according to an expert

Retailers are calling for more financial support from the government after the UK’s Covid lockdowns in 2020 cost £22bn in lost non-food sales. The high street was hit by its biggest fall in sales for non-food stores on record – down 24% – as footfall decreased by two-fifths, according to data from the trade body the British Retail Consortium (BRC). While many retailers continued to sell online, that did not make up for sales lost from shops. Profits were also affected by the cost of setting up and operating home delivery systems.
11th Feb 2021 - CNBC

In an era of division, lockdown unites us

Lockdown scepticism has been increasingly hard to sustain of late — but that hasn’t deterred some. The most prominent of these voices seem to have something else in common, in supporting Brexit. From Julia Hartley-Brewer, Allison Pearson and Toby Young, to Steve Baker, Daniel Hannan and Nigel Farage, most high-profile lockdown sceptics also share a dislike of the European Union. Nigel Farage even started a new political party, Reform UK, whose initial focus was promoting lockdown scepticism
11th Feb 2021 - The Times

U.K. Retailers See $31 Billion Cost of Three Covid Lockdowns

Britain’s three pandemic lockdowns have cost retailers that have been ordered to close about 22 billion pounds ($31 billion) in lost sales, according to a trade group. In a sign of the mounting toll Covid-19 is taking on one of the country’s biggest employment sectors, the British Retail Consortium says 2020 was the worst year on record, with in-store non-food sales declining by 24%, compared with 2019. Foot traffic in stores was down more than 40% in 2020 as Covid-wary consumers avoided malls and town centers and turned to online shopping instead, the group said in a statement.
11th Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid: Prisoners like 'caged animals' in lockdown jails

Prisoners in England's jails have been locked in their cells for more than 90% of the day to keep them safe from Covid-19, the prisons watchdog says. And the extra restrictions, which began in March, have led to a decline in their mental and physical health and a rise in drug taking and self-harm. "It's being imprisoned while you're in prison," one inmate told inspectors. Predictions up to 2,000 inmates would die in the pandemic in England and Wales without action have been avoided.
11th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Germany to reinstate border controls over virus variant

The German government decided Thursday to temporarily reinstate border controls along its southeastern frontier after designating the Czech Republic and parts of Austria as “mutation areas" due to their high number of variant coronavirus cases, German news agency dpa reported. The temporary border controls and certain entry restrictions will start Sunday at midnight, dpa reported. Travelers coming from certain areas of Austria or the Czech Republic will have to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test in order to enter Germany a requirement that will present a hurdle for thousands of cross-border workers. It was not clear for how long the border controls would last.
11th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Covid-19 school closures are widening Europe’s class divisions

No one is ever truly ready for lockdown. But when the Netherlands closed its schools in December, the Herman Wesselink College, a high school in a well-off suburb of Amsterdam, was readier than most. About half its students have parents who completed higher education. Nearly all have their own bedroom to study in. The school has given its pupils laptops for years, and during the first lockdown last spring switched smoothly to remote learning. The director says students have not fallen behind a whit in terms of content, though their study skills have languished. The Mundus College, a trade school in a poorer Amsterdam neighbourhood, has had it rougher. About a third of its students are new immigrants or refugees. Vocational education is hard to do remotely. Classes have stayed open at half-size under an exception for vulnerable students, but it is impossible to follow social-distancing rules for subjects like nursing, says Diana Brummelhuis, the director:
11th Feb 2021 - The Economist

Amid variant fears, Germany extends Covid-19 lockdown until March 7

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government agreed Wednesday to continue a partial lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic until at least March 7, even as Germans grow increasingly weary of the tough restrictions. Following crunch talks with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states, Merkel said that the number of new Covid-19 infections in Europe’s top economy was dropping after more than two months of shuttered schools and shops. “When we look at this development we can be quite satisfied,” she told reporters. But she called on Germans to be patient as fears grow over more contagious virus variants first detected in Britain and South Africa.
11th Feb 2021 - FRANCE 24 English

Ireland's third virus lockdown set to last to April

Ireland's virus lockdown is set to be extended until April, Prime Minister Michael Martin said as the country battles to get infection rates and deaths down. "Certainly we are looking at a continuation of high levels of restrictions until the Easter period," Martin told state broadcaster RTE. Restaurants and pubs across Ireland have been shut since Christmas Eve and the non-essential retail retail sector has been closed since New Year's Eve.
11th Feb 2021 - Times of India

Retailers call for more Covid help after £22bn loss in non-food sales

Retailers are calling for more financial support from the government after the UK’s Covid lockdowns in 2020 cost £22bn in lost non-food sales. The high street was hit by its biggest fall in sales for non-food stores on record – down 24% – as footfall decreased by two-fifths, according to data from the trade body the British Retail Consortium (BRC). While many retailers continued to sell online, that did not make up for sales lost from shops. Profits were also affected by the cost of setting up and operating home delivery systems. Central London has been one of the hardest hit parts of the country; the loss of tourists and many commuters contributing to a surge in closures of shops and other high street businesses. The number of empty units in the City of London increased by 47% last year as the number of workers and visitors slumped, according to figures from analysts at Local Data Company.
11th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

German businesses dismayed by further lockdown extension

The German business community expressed consternation on Thursday after Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders agreed to extend the coronavirus lockdown until March 7. “Politicians are leaving industry in the lurch,” said Andrea Belegante from the BdS lobby group that represents the restaurant and catering business, adding she was “stunned”. “Again there are no prospects, again no concrete steps towards an opening strategy, again only a postponement without prospects to the beginning of March.”
11th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Merkel says lockdown won't last a day longer than necessary

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus which have been extended until March 7 will not be maintained a day longer than necessary.
11th Feb 2021 - Reuters

More than 40% of Britons in poor health or struggling financially amid pandemic, says UK regulator

More than 40 percent of Britons are struggling financially or suffering poor health, a sharp increase from last year driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said on Thursday. The FCA said there are now 27.7 million adults in Britain affected by low financial resilience, poor health or other recent negative life events, up from 24 million in February 2020, a month before the country went into its first lockdown to fight the pandemic. Britain’s total population is 67 million. Having just one of the characteristics puts a consumer at greater risk of harm, the FCA said in the latest findings of its regular Financial Lives survey. The survey contacted 16,000 people between August 2019 and February 2020, with a follow up survey of 22,000 people in October last year.
11th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Portugal Extends COVID-19 Lockdown as Overstretched Hospitals Struggle

Portugal extended on Thursday a nationwide lockdown until March 1 to tackle its worst surge of COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began as authorities scramble to relieve pressure on overstretched hospitals. The country of just over 10 million fared better than other nations in Europe in the first wave of the pandemic, but 2021 brought a devastating surge in infections and deaths, in part blamed on the rapid spread of the British variant of the virus and the easing of restrictions over Christmas.
11th Feb 2021 - USNews.com


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Merkel, state governors to decide on lockdown extension

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country s 16 state governors are to decide Wednesday whether to extend a lockdown beyond mid-February, as overall infection numbers are declining but concern is high over cases of new variants. Germany's second lockdown began in November and was extended and toughened before Christmas as numbers of COVID-19 patients threatened to overwhelm hospitals. It is set to end on Feb. 14, but authorities are expected to extend it again — keeping bars, restaurants and most stores closed, among other things.
10th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Germany set to extend lockdown on concerns over new coronavirus variants

A draft document emerged early Wednesday outlining plans between Chancellor Angela Merkel and state officials to maintain the lockdown. The reopening of schools is a priority for the German leadership, although the country’s federal system means that individual states are expected to be able to decide how to do this. The reopening of shops and hotels could begin next month in areas where the infection rate is low, too.
10th Feb 2021 - CNBC

Germany plans to extend lockdown until March 14: draft document

Germany will extend restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus until March 7, though schools and hair salons may open sooner, Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders of the 16 federal states agreed on Wednesday. The number of new daily infections in Germany has been falling, prompting some regional leaders to push for a timetable to ease the lockdown, which has been in place since mid-December. But concerns are growing about the impact of more infectious variants of the virus on case numbers. “There is a lot of uncertainty around the mutants, and it is clear, they will gain the upper hand.... That is why we have to get the case numbers down, down, down,” Merkel told journalists in a news conference.
10th Feb 2021 - Reuters


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Covid-19: Travel rule breakers could face £10k fines and prison terms

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned travel rule breakers they could face fines of £10,000 and even a decade in prison. Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hancock set out the "tough" measures for people who do not comply with the new quarantine rules for UK arrivals. He said the policy, which begins on Monday, applied to England but that the devolved administrations were looking at similar measures.
9th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Portugal poised to extend lockdown as COVID-19 cases fall

Portugal’s COVID-19 infection rate has dropped sharply after a lockdown aimed at addressing a devastating January pandemic surge, but it is still recording the most daily deaths in the world by size of population, health experts said Tuesday. Portugal hit a peak of cases on Jan. 29, with a 14-day average of almost 1,700 cases per 100,000 habitants. Amid a lockdown, that rate has fallen to around 980 per 100,000 -- a marked improvement but still one of the European Union’s highest rates. But Portugal's seven-day rolling average of daily deaths stands at 2.24 per 100,000 — significantly above other countries, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
9th Feb 2021 - The Independent

Covid: Domestic abuse victims 'may be stuck' in lockdown with abusers

More support is needed to reach domestic abuse victims trapped in lockdown with their abusers, charities have warned. In August, Dyfed Powys Police received 900 reports of domestic abuse compared with 350 incidents a month in 2017. While reports have risen, there are fears many victims in rural areas are not seeking help. The West Wales Domestic Abuse Service (WWDAS) said many could not reach out for help while stuck at home. Chief Executive Michelle Pooley said that while the charity had seen more people referred for support, people living in tight-knit rural communities were less likely to seek help.
9th Feb 2021 - BBC News

UK lockdown reduces consumer spending to lowest levels since last spring

Britain’s tough new lockdown measures have dented consumer confidence and reduced spending to levels not seen since last spring, according to two separate surveys. Both the British Retail Consortium and Barclaycard said spending in January was at its weakest since May as booming online activity failed to compensate fully for the closure of stores. One of Britain’s leading thinktanks, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), added on Monday that after the UK’s sluggish start to 2021 it had cut its forecast for growth this year and put back the start of the recovery.
9th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

UK consumer spending slumps during latest lockdown

UK consumer spending and retail sales fell in January at the fastest pace since May, suggesting the economy has been hit harder by the current lockdown than November’s restrictions despite people switching to online shopping. Consumer spending fell 16.3 per cent in January compared with the same month last year, the largest annual drop since the spring, according to Barclaycard data, tracking nearly half of all UK credit and debit card transactions. The drop was much sharper than the 1.9 per cent fall in November and it is consistent with the economy shrinking more severely than the 2.6 per cent contraction registered during that previous lockdown period.
9th Feb 2021 - Financial Times

Merkel wants German lockdown to continue until March - sources

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to keep restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus in place until at least March 1, participants in a meeting of her own conservative parliamentary group told Reuters on Tuesday. Merkel and leaders of Germany’s 16 states are due to hold talks on Wednesday to discuss whether steps can be taken to ease lockdown measures which have been in place since November and were tightened in mid-December. “We have to wait until March 1,” participants in the meeting cited Merkel as saying. “My goal would be not to have to correct steps to open up again with further closing steps.” Primary schools, nurseries, hairdressers and retail would take priority in any easing but the overall aim was to avoid another lockdown, Merkel said.
9th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Germany set to stay in lockdown for fear of virus mutations — draft document

German officials are considering lifting some measures in the coming weeks, but the shutdown will continue for now, DW learned on Tuesday. Federal and state representatives are set to announce their decision tomorrow. "Considering the virus mutations, the steps to lift the restrictions must come carefully and gradually in order to avoid risking the successful curbing of infections," Germany's top officials are expected to say, according to a draft statement obtained by DW. The document foresees the country continuing its shutdown until March. The authorities see reopening of day care centers and schools as a priority, the document states. They remain "optimistic that all citizens would be offered vaccination by the end of summer at the latest."
9th Feb 2021 - DW (English)

Spain extends border controls with Portugal until March due to COVID-19

Spain’s government announced on Tuesday it had extended controls along its 1,200-km (750-mile) border with Portugal until March 1, as both countries try to rein in a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths. “The severity of the restrictive mobility measures still in force in Spain and Portugal justifies maintaining ... controls at the internal land border ... with the same limitations applied during the initial ten days,” the Spanish interior ministry said in the government’s official bulletin. The two governments had agreed to close on Jan. 28 the border for non-essential travel with exceptions for cross-border workers, health workers and truck drivers.
9th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Israelis take part in screaming sessions to waive lockdown blues

Tired of COVID-19 confinement and seeking both communion and emotional release, some Israelis have taken to group screaming. A record vaccine rollout has done little to ease Israel's pandemic curbs. Next month's election - the fourth in two years, due to coalition infighting and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's legal woes - has many complaining of malaise. While some Israelis take part in street demonstrations, others take to nature and shout to the heavens. "We decided to meet, our group together, in order to take the group screaming so that we can release our bad energies," said Mary Peery, leading 10 mostly elderly companions on a yell-punctuated hike through an orange orchard and over a hilltop. "When we do it in a group it's like a prayer and maybe God will hear us and release us from this COVID-19 curse." To scream, the group stood in choric proximity and removed their masks, drawing looks from passersby. One of the organisers played down any health risk, however, saying everyone in the group had either recovered from COVID-19 or been vaccin ated.
9th Feb 2021 - Hindustan Times

Dutch government to extend night curfew through March 2

The Dutch government will extend a night-time curfew intended to slow the spread of coronavirus through March 2, broadcaster RTL reported on Monday, citing sources in The Hague. The curfew, the first in the Netherlands since World War Two, sparked several days of riots from anti-lockdown protesters when it was initially introduced on Jan. 23.. RTL reported that Mark Rutte’s government would announce the extension at a news conference later Monday. New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands have been declining after months of lockdown measures, but the government is warning that a wave of new infections is coming due to the growth in more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
9th Feb 2021 - Reuters

To lift lockdown gloom, Israelis keep calm and carry on screaming

Tired of COVID-19 confinement and seeking both communion and emotional release, some Israelis have taken to group screaming. A record vaccine rollout has done little to ease Israel’s pandemic curbs. Next month’s election - the fourth in two years, due to coalition infighting and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal woes - has many complaining of malaise. While some Israelis take part in street demonstrations, others take to nature and shout to the heavens. “We decided to meet, our group together, in order to take the group screaming so that we can release our bad energies,” said Mary Peery, leading 10 mostly elderly companions on a yell-punctuated hike through an orange orchard and over a hilltop.
9th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Navajo Nation outpaces much of US in delivering COVID vaccines

The Navajo Nation announced on Tuesday it will receive about 29,000 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines as the tribal area continues to outpace the broader United States in delivering jabs. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said that as of Sunday, the Navajo Area Indian Health Service (NAIHS) delivered 74,048 of the 78,520 vaccine doses it had received, a 94 percent rate. Nez said the goal is to administer 100,000 doses by the end of February. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the broader US has delivered 42,417,617 of its total 59,307,800 doses, or about 71 percent, as of Monday. Dr Loretta Christensen, chief medical officer of the NAIHS, told Al Jazeera the Navajo Nation has been “very good with what we have received and we’ve been very efficient and timely in using that vaccine”. The success comes in administering the vaccine due to planning and high-level cooperation, Christensen said.
9th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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Boris won’t rule out longer lockdown if South African variant spreads further

Boris Johnson refused to rule out extending lockdown further if the South African variant of coronavirus continues to spread. The suggestion comes amid revelations the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘less effective’ against the mutation – though scientists say it still protects against severe disease. Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) adviser Professor Mike Tildesley claimed this finding means ‘more restrictions might be needed for longer’. And when pressed on whether there may need to be a delay to easing restrictions if the vaccine is proved to be less effective, the prime minister said vaccines are ‘going to offer a way out’ and ‘remain of massive benefit to our country’.
8th Feb 2021 - Metro

Covid-19 cases now back to pre-Christmas levels after lockdown

Covid-19 case rates for the four nations of the UK have dropped to their lowest level since before Christmas, with some regions of England recording rates last seen in early December, new analysis shows. In London the seven-day rate has fallen to its lowest since December 8, while the figure for south-east England is at its lowest since December 7. While a handful of local areas across the UK have recorded a week-on-week rise in the latest figures, most of the increases are small.
8th Feb 2021 - Wales Online

Dispatches from the U.K.'s toughest lockdown yet

The U.K. is four weeks into its third and toughest lockdown since the start of the pandemic. The latest lockdown came into effect Jan. 6 as a variant of the coronavirus, first detected in September in Kent, rapidly became the most common form of the virus in England and spread to other countries. Valerie Hillier talks about life in lockdown Britain
8th Feb 2021 - CBC.ca

S Africa looking to roll out AstraZeneca jab in ‘stepped manner’

South Africa is looking to roll out the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in a “stepped manner” to assess its ability to prevent severe illness, according to a key adviser to the country’s government. On Sunday, almost a week after receiving its first one million doses, the continent’s hardest-hit country said it would put on hold its use of the vaccine after research showed it was only minimally effective in preventing mild-to-moderate illness against a variant of the coronavirus now dominant in South Africa. Speaking to a briefing of the World Health Organization (WHO), Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the country’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19, said it was too early to say whether the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca vaccine would still be effective in preventing serious disease, as there was not yet enough data on its effectiveness in older people against the variant. South Africa paused its roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine for now while determining the next steps, and could vaccinate 100,000 people with the shot to see how well it works on preventing hospitalisations and deaths.
8th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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Covid-19 vaccine denied for special school staff then reinstated

A clinical commissioning group has apologised for the confusion it created after cancelling Covid-19 vaccine appointments for special school staff – before reinstating them. Schools Week revealed last week that thousands of special school staff had been offered the vaccine. But the approaches nationwide vary, with some local authorities including staff in the priority roll-out as frontline care workers, or offering them leftover supplies. However, there was confusion in Berkshire after the local “allocations bureau” cancelled jab appointments for special education needs (SEN) staff last week.
6th Feb 2021 - Schools Week

Long Covid kids: Mum's 'heartbreak' over children's illness

A mum has described how it was "horrendous to watch" as her son and daughter suffered the debilitating effects of so-called long Covid. Nichola Careless, from Ashington, said her daughter Eleni, 11, tested positive last year and was mildly ill at first. But her symptoms became severe and she continues to have shortness of breath, stomach ache, joint pain and dizziness. Her 12-year-old son, Immanuel, became even more ill and the once-keen sportsman now has to use a wheelchair. Although Eleni had a positive test for Covid in September, Immanuel's result was negative. But what at first seemed a common cold for him developed into a fortnight-long cough, before both children became severely ill.
5th Feb 2021 - BBC News


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UK home-working rises to highest since June on COVID lockdown

The proportion of British workers working solely from home rose to 36% in the week to Jan. 31, its highest since June when the country was emerging from its first coronavirus lockdown and up from 34% the week before,
4th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Fears lockdown could drag on as ‘scientists move goalposts on reopening UK’

Rishi Sunak is concerned scientific advisers are ‘moving the goalposts’ for easing Covid restrictions, potentially delaying the end of lockdown, reports say. The Chancellor fears the experts are focusing on bringing case numbers down, instead of the initial target of protecting the NHS and saving lives, the Telegraph reports. According to the newspaper, Mr Sunak wants this lockdown to be the last and has told allies the country is nearing a ‘fat lady sings’ moment for lifting the restrictions. Boris Johnson has insisted there will be a ‘gradual and phased’ approach to lifting restrictions, with the national lockdown in place until at least March 8, and a review before then in mid-February.
4th Feb 2021 - Metro

Istanbul’s population falls as countryside beckons during COVID

Istanbul’s population fell last year for the first time in at least two decades as coronavirus lockdowns shuttered Turkey’s commercial capital and attracted people to the countryside. The population of Istanbul province shrank 0.4% to 15.46 million, reversing record 3% growth the year before, according to data published by the statistics office on Thursday. The trend followed patterns seen elsewhere around the world during the pandemic. For decades, Turks from around the country of over 83 million have flocked to Istanbul seeking work and opportunities. But since the coronavirus hit, the government has implemented curfews to curb socializing and restricted opening hours for shops and restaurants, making young professionals reassess what they get for their money in big cities. Surrounding provinces were the beneficiaries, with the population of Tekirdag to the west up 2.4% to 1.1 million and Kocaeli to the east up 2.3% to 2 million. The pandemic also struck Istanbul’s tourism sector and universities with tens of thousands of seasonal workers and college students staying away for much of the last year.
4th Feb 2021 - Aljazeera.com


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The rise of parental burnout in lockdown

On top of usual household duties, for the last 10 months parents have been educating children, working remotely and keeping relationships intact - so it's no wonder they’re feeling the strain of lockdown. Even Kate Middleton has urged parents to seek help when they need it. Dr Punam joins us to discuss the warning signs of parental burnout and what you can do about it.
3rd Feb 2021 - ITV News

COVID-19: SEND children suffered 'profound disruption' during first lockdown, report

Young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) experienced "profound disruption" to their well-being and family life during the first lockdown, according to new research. The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, paints a "concerning picture" of teachers and professionals struggling to support pupils and their families. Almost all (98%) providers said they had pupils who would find it hard to keep to social distancing, while 75% had pupils who require personal care which involves close contact with others.
3rd Feb 2021 - Sky News

Domestic abuse soared 10 per cent in lockdown official statistics show

Domestic abuse rose by 10% in a year, although overall crime was down during the Covid-19 pandemic, official figures show. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 842,813 domestic abuse-related offences were recorded by police forces in England and Wales in the year ending September 2020 – up from 769,691 the previous year. Total police recorded crime dropped by 6% to around 5.7 million offences, driven by substantial falls during April to June, particularly in theft offences, as the country spent most of the period under strict lockdown restrictions, a report published on Wednesday said. But the results of a separate survey carried out by the ONS show the number of victims of crime in July to September 2020 returned to a similar level as in the pre-coronavirus period of January to March following a 19% drop in April to June.
3rd Feb 2021 - Wales Online

Covid: Teachers pushed to 'breaking point' under lockdown

Teachers have said working through another lockdown has pushed the profession "close to breaking point". While most pupils across England have been told to learn remotely, schools remain open for vulnerable students and the children of key workers. School staff in the South West said they were working "incredibly hard" to make the lives of students "as normal as possible". Some said their workload had "never been higher" as a result. Teachers across England had to "start from scratch" when they were faced with the prospect of lockdown learning, said Dan Hayward from Ivybridge Community College in Devon.
3rd Feb 2021 - BBC News

Europe Struggles as Vaccine Delays Force Further Lockdown Extensions

Concern about more infectious variants of the coronavirus continue to shape governments’ responses to the pandemic despite stabilizing or falling infection numbers as Europe struggles with a slow vaccine rollout. The Dutch government Tuesday extended a national lockdown until March 2, with a reassessment on Feb. 23, in response to new strains of the coronavirus. The extension of the lockdown, imposed on Dec. 19, comes despite a slight improvement in the country's health situation. Dutch primary schools and day-care centers will reopen on Monday, meaning almost 2 million young children will resume in-person education. In Germany, the federal and regional governments will meet on Feb. 10 to discuss a possible extension of the current lockdown, which expires on Feb. 14.
3rd Feb 2021 - Wall Street Journal

WA Premier says COVID-19 restrictions will continue past lockdown

Mark McGowan said the Government would need to see 14 days of no community transmission for restrictions to completely end.
3rd Feb 2021 - ABC News

WA lockdown to remain as state records no new cases

Western Australia’s five-day lockdown will remain as the state records a second day of zero COVID-19 cases.
3rd Feb 2021 - 9News

Dutch PM Rutte confirms lockdown to last until at least March

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday that most of the lockdown measures in the Netherlands, many of which have been in place since October, will remain in place for weeks due to fears over a surge in cases as a result of variant strains. Rutte’s government is still weighing whether to continue an evening curfew that has triggered rioting in some Dutch cities beyond next week, the prime minister told a press briefing. The government announced earlier this week that primary schools and daycares will reopen on Feb. 8, adding that it is also looking at possibly reopening secondary schools but that will not happen before March.
3rd Feb 2021 - Reuters

Scotland toughens quarantine rules, hopes for lockdown easing in March

Scotland will toughen its coronavirus controls on international travellers but it also hopes to start relaxing its lockdown restrictions in early March, the head of the country’s devolved government, Nicola Sturgeon, said on Tuesday. Everyone arriving directly in Scotland from overseas will be required to quarantine, regardless of where they have come from, Sturgeon said.
3rd Feb 2021 - Reuters UK


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Covid-19: 'Critical' those in South African variant test areas stay at home

It is "critical" that people in areas singled out for enhanced testing for the South African variant stay at home, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said. He told MPs there were other "mutations of concern" in Bristol and Liverpool, and people there should also only go out when "absolutely essential". The government is expected to announce surge testing in certain postcodes of the two cities. Home testing kits are already being deployed in a number of other areas. On-the-spot doorstep tests and mobile testing units are also being used with the aim of reaching 80,000 people, amid fears the more infectious variant may be spreading in communities in England.
2nd Feb 2021 - BBC News

Scotland toughens quarantine rules, hopes for lockdown easing in March

Scotland will toughen its coronavirus controls on international travellers but it also hopes to start relaxing its lockdown restrictions in early March, the head of the country’s devolved government, Nicola Sturgeon, said on Tuesday. Everyone arriving directly in Scotland from overseas will be required to quarantine, regardless of where they have come from, Sturgeon said. “I can confirm today that we intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, regardless of which country they have come from,” she told the Scottish parliament. Scotland will ask Britain’s government to adopt a similar approach to minimise the risk of people with COVID-19 entering Scotland over the border with England and other parts of the United Kingdom.
2nd Feb 2021 - Metro US

Latest lockdown is leading to more of us looking for help

More couples are seeking relationship counselling as extended Covid lockdowns take their toll on household harmony, with one psychologist reporting a 30pc increase in calls for help. The stresses of homeschooling, working from home, job losses, financial worries and possible addictions and mental health deterioration can be devastating to even the healthiest of relationships. “When Covid caused the first lockdown last March there was a feeling that the country was all in it together and put their shoulders to the wheel, that it would be over soon. But now nearly a year later people are tired and exhausted,” said Mary Johnston, specialist in counselling with Accord CLG.
2nd Feb 2021 - Independent.ie

Alcohol Deaths in England and Wales Hit a Record in Lockdown

The number of alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales jumped to a record in the first nine months of last year, raising fresh concerns about the toll being taken by the pandemic. Health experts fear that many Britons are hitting the bottle to cope with the stress and isolation caused by lockdowns, leading to an increase in liver disease and mental health problems. Office for National Statistics figures Tuesday showed there were 5,460 deaths caused by alcohol misuse between January and September, a 16% leap from the same period of 2019. They accounted for 12.8 fatalities per 100,000 people, the highest since the data series began in 2001.
2nd Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

Spain’s bars and restaurants confront their darkest hour

Spain’s hospitality sector, which is taking the brunt of the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, now faces its toughest months since the country emerged from its first state of alarm in June. Between the start of the summer and the third wave of the pandemic, there were certain restrictions in place, but the vast majority of establishments were still able to stay open. Now, with the post-Christmas surge in Covid-19 cases filling hospitals’ intensive care units, the authorities have once again been obliged to crack down. “The sector is in ruins, we are closed in half of Spain,” notes José Luis Yzuel, president of the hospitality business association Hostelería de España.
2nd Feb 2021 - EL PAÍS in English

Hong Kong leader defends 'ambush lockdown' tactics

Hong Kong's leader defended her administration's use of "ambush lockdowns" on Tuesday after a spate of overnight operations to conduct surprise mandatory coronavirus tests uncovered no new cases. The new tactic involves authorities giving no warning of an impending lockdown, sealing off buildings where cases are detected and then ensuring everyone inside is tested, usually overnight. But the operations have had limited success.
2nd Feb 2021 - FRANCE 24

Hong Kong threatens to knock down doors to force COVID-19 tests

Hong Kong is threatening to knock down the doors of residents who don’t respond to authorities conducting mandatory-testing blitzes as the city tries to end a persistent winter wave of coronavirus cases. “The government can take legal action, including evicting or expelling individuals, or applying to the magistrate for a warrant to break into the unit,” the government said in a statement Tuesday. The Asian financial hub has been attempting to curb a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections with targeted lockdowns that see authorities cordon off an area and restrict movement until residents receive negative results. The government has suggested some might be deliberately evading the tests in areas that range from densely packed neighborhoods to just a handful of buildings.
2nd Feb 2021 - The Japan Times

Forced-entry lockdown warning; Hong Kong records 25 new Covid-19 cases

More than 20 coronavirus-hit buildings in Sham Shui Po, Jordan and Tin Shui Wai were placed under mandatory screening orders from 7pm. By Wednesday morning, residents were beginning to leave lockdown zones; no infections found in two of the neighbourhoods
2nd Feb 2021 - South China Morning Post

Malaysia extends coronavirus lockdown by 2 weeks

Malaysia’s government on Tuesday extended a lockdown and broad movement restrictions by two weeks, as the Southeast Asian nation grapples with a surge in coronavirus infections that has pushed the cumulative total past 200,000 cases. The lockdown, which covered all but one state and was to end on Feb. 4, will now continue until Feb. 18, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said. “The health ministry has confirmed that daily cases in all states are still showing a rising trend... the sporadic spread in the community is also high,” Ismail Sabri said in a televised address. The lockdown will allow some leeway for businesses to continue operating, especially micro-enterprises and small-time traders, but continue to bar inter-state travel and social activities, the minister said.
2nd Feb 2021 - Reuters


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Covid: Suicide prevention help calls during lockdown

A man whose father took his own life is calling for more mental health support amid fears more people are struggling because of Covid restrictions. Dion Davies' father Terry took his own life in 2018. Suicide rates in England and Wales remain at a 20-year high with fears lockdowns are increasing known risk factors like loneliness. Official figures show more people have reported symptoms of depression since the pandemic began.
1st Feb 2021 - BBC News

Growing Number of U.K. Firms Face Bankruptcy as Lockdown Drags

The number of U.K. listed companies at risk of insolvency has doubled as restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus continue to ravage the economy. A record 35% of U.K. companies issued profit warnings last year, according to a report by the consulting firm EY. There was also a surge in the number of companies issuing three or more profit warnings in a 12-month period, a warning sign for insolvency
1st Feb 2021 - Bloomberg

Israel extends nationwide coronavirus lockdown

Israel's nationwide lockdown was extended Monday to contain the coronavirus which has continued to spread rapidly as the country presses ahead with an aggressive vaccination campaign. The current lockdown, declared on December 27, is the third in the Jewish state since pandemic began last year. The cabinet prolonged the closure until Friday morning, but scheduled a fresh meeting for Wednesday to assess whether a further extension was required, a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the health ministry said.
1st Feb 2021 - FRANCE 24

Japan may extend Covid-19 emergency in 10 prefectures until March 7

Japan is planning to extend the state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic in 10 prefectures, including Tokyo, until March 7, Japanese media reported. According to the Kyodo news agency, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will make a final decision after consulting with an expert panel on Tuesday. The prefecture of Tochigi, where the number of new infections has been declining, is about to have its state of emergency removed. Meanwhile, Okinawa, which was under consideration for inclusion in the list, is off the hook for the time being.
1st Feb 2021 - Hindustan Times

Germany's stricter lockdown sinks retail sales in December

German retail sales plunged more than expected in December as a decision to tighten lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 choked consumer spending in Europe's largest economy at the end of the year, data showed on Monday. The stricter lockdown, which included schools and kindergartens but excluded factories and offices, has been extended until mid-February. The Federal Statistics Office said retail sales fell by an unprecedented 9.6% on the month in real terms after a downwardly revised increase of 1.1% in November.
1st Feb 2021 - theguardian.pe.ca


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 1st Feb 2021

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Tired and upset: a lament for Portugal's long lockdown

Portugal’s extension of a nationwide lockdown this week in the face of spiking COVID-19 infections was no surprise to Marco, 43, who had to shut his Lisbon fitness studio earlier this month. But he is tired and upset. “We’ve been at this for a year, something should have been done sooner,” he told Reuters on Friday as he walked his dog in an otherwise largely empty church square. Facing the world’s highest per capita death toll, Portugal has extended a harsh lockdown until mid-February, banned non-essential travel for its nationals and imposed checks on the border with Spain.
30th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Portugal curbs travel, extends lockdown in face of world's worst virus surge

Portugal extended a nationwide lockdown until mid-February and announced curbs on international travel on Thursday, as Prime Minister Antonio Costa accepted blame for the world’s worst coronavirus surge, with hospitals on the verge of being overrun. With a population of 10 million, Portugal reported a record 303 COVID-19 deaths and 16,432 new cases, and now has the world’s highest per capita seven-day averages of both new cases and deaths. “The number of deaths is growing at an unimaginable pace,” said Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa as he addressed the nation in a prime-time speech. “The pressure is extreme...we need to act quickly and drastically.”
30th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Israel Struggles With Coronavirus Variants

With more than 30% of its population vaccinated, Israel leads the fight against Covid-19. Yet the emergence of more infectious variants is overwhelming its hospitals, showing the long road ahead for the rest of the world. After inoculating 82% of Israelis aged 60 and more, going into a nearly month-long lockdown and shutting down the national airport this week, Israel is indicating the end of the tunnel may be further away. That dents hopes for a rapid vaccine-driven global recovery after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge at Davos to make Israel a test case for how quickly Covid shots can help reopen economies.
29th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid: Data shows outbreaks in England's offices in lockdown

More than 60 suspected Covid outbreaks in offices were recorded in the first two weeks of the current lockdown in England, a BBC investigation has found. Under England's lockdown rules, in force since 6 January, people should work from home if they can. Public Health England figures, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, suggests offices have had more outbreaks compared to other workplaces. The government has urged firms to help employees work from home. It said it has worked with trade unions, businesses and medical experts to produce "comprehensive guidance" to help firms that are permitted to stay open and it has introduced rapid testing of employees.
29th Jan 2021 - BBC News


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 29th Jan 2021

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UK travellers to be questioned at border on reasons for going abroad

UK travellers will be interrogated at the border on their reasons for going abroad, Boris Johnson has said, as he confirmed that British citizens returning from high-risk countries must quarantine in hotels at their own expense. The government is facing criticism from the Scottish and Welsh governments, as well as scientists, for rejecting a more comprehensive hotel quarantine system. They are warning that it could allow as yet unknown new variants to slip through the gaps. Speaking in the Commons, Johnson said no one should be travelling except for a narrow range of reasons. “I want to make clear that under the stay-at-home regulations it is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes and we will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel,” he said.
29th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Covid-19: Schools in NI set to remain shut until 8 March

Most pupils in Northern Ireland will not return to school until Monday 8 March at the earliest, the Stormont Executive has agreed. First Minister Arlene Foster said the ongoing public health situation meant remote learning must continue. It may also be the case that only some year groups go back to school on 8 March, if a return then is possible. Mrs Foster said she recognised it would come as a "disappointment" for many parents and pupils. "The kitchen table is no substitute for the school desk," she said, giving details of the decision at a news conference in Dungannon. "It is also important though that we give people a clear view of what is happening so we thought it was important to indicate today that we would not be back before 5 March in schools."
28th Jan 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19 lockdowns could result in 300,000 fewer US babies this year, and long-lasting economic impact | TheHill

The birth rate in the United States has been declining for years, falling to a record low in 2020. Hopes of a second “baby boom” mirroring that of the mid-1900s have been dashed by the coronavirus pandemic. A new report by NBCLX found that birthrates are dropping at a faster rate than in previous years.
28th Jan 2021 - The Hill

Almost 20% of U.K. Workforce Furloughed as Third Lockdown Got Under Way

Almost one in five of the U.K. workforce was on furlough leave as a third national lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus got under way, according to figures published Thursday. The report will raise concerns that removing government lifelines for jobs could wreak havoc on the economy following the worst slump in three centuries last year. Pulling the plug would threaten to decimate consumer spending, the engine of growth. The Office for National Statistics data show 17% were reliant on Treasury wage support in early January, the highest proportion since July, after the government ordered the public to stay home and retail and hospitality businesses were closed. The program pays as much as 80% of an employee’s wage if they’re kept on the payroll. The figures come a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put England on notice that the national lockdown will continue for at least another six weeks, warning that some rules may even be tightened in an attempt to suppress a virus that has claimed more than 100,000 lives in the U.K.
28th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

Blue-chip UK employers try to soothe parental lockdown pain amid fears of burnout

From unlimited paid time off to laptops for children, some of Britain’s blue-chip employers are trying to persuade parent employees juggling jobs and childcare during the pandemic that they have their backs. A third British lockdown from Jan. 5, that shut schools to most children and confined many workers to their homes, has exacerbated a childcare crisis that unions warn could herald a drain of talent that disproportionately impacts women. On Wednesday, the government said schools will remain largely closed for at least another six weeks. Some banks, professional services firms, law firms and insurers are offering staff flexible working arrangements, reduced hours and increased emergency leave alongside benefits such as free counselling and parent buddy schemes.
28th Jan 2021 - Reuters

UK banks told to pause branch closures during pandemic lockdown

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority on Thursday told banks to rethink moves to close branches during the pandemic lockdown. The FCA said banks should consider the impact of national pandemic restrictions on their ability to comply with regulatory guidance on closing branches, including consulting customers affected. “We are concerned that these activities could have significant consequences for customers. It may be harder than usual to reach all customers under the current restrictions and engage with them on closure proposals effectively,” the FCA said in a statement.
28th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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German lockdown beginning to take effect, new CDU leader says

Germany’s coronavirus lockdown is starting to take effect, the new leader of the ruling Christian Democrats said on Wednesday, noting that the seven-day infection rate had fallen to 97.2 per 100,000 in his state of North Rhine Westphalia. “The current development is encouraging,” Armin Laschet, also state premier, told the regional parliament, adding that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office and regional leaders were working on a “sequence of steps for possible openings” after the current lockdown is due to end on Feb. 14. But he said there should be no hasty decisions. The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 13,202 to 2,161,279, data showed on Wednesday, down from a rise of 15,974 a week ago, although the reported death toll rose by 982 to 53,972.
27th Jan 2021 - Metro US

Boris Johnson extends England's coronavirus lockdown into March

England's coronavirus lockdown is set to be extended for at least three more weeks, with schools not reopening until the second week of March at the earliest, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said. Johnson told the House of Commons there was "not enough data" currently available to announce the end of restrictions in the country, but said the government would publish a review of restrictions on February 22, before potentially reopening schools from the week of March 8. He said it would "not be possible" to reopen schools as early as the February half-term, due to the continuing high levels of infections in the country.
27th Jan 2021 - Business Insider India

UK plans tough new border measures to combat coronavirus

Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated on Wednesday the COVID-19 lockdown in England would last until March 8 when schools could start to reopen as the government announced new measures to clamp down on travel to and from Britain. A highly contagious new variant of the virus, which emerged in southeast England at the end of last year, has led to a soaring number of infections across Britain with cases and deaths reaching record levels. On Tuesday, Britain’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000, the first European state to reach that figure, leading to questions about Johnson’s handling of a crisis that has also battered the economy.
27th Jan 2021 - Reuters

German lockdown beginning to take effect, new CDU leader says

Germany’s coronavirus lockdown is starting to take effect, the new leader of the ruling Christian Democrats said on Wednesday, noting that the seven-day infection rate had fallen to 97.2 per 100,000 in his state of North Rhine Westphalia. “The current development is encouraging,” Armin Laschet, also state premier, told the regional parliament, adding that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office and regional leaders were working on a “sequence of steps for possible openings” after the current lockdown is due to end on Feb. 14. But he said there should be no hasty decisions.
27th Jan 2021 - Reuters

German govt slashes GDP growth forecast as extended lockdown bites

The German government on Wednesday slashed its growth forecast for Europe’s largest economy to 3% this year, a sharp downward revision from last autumn’s estimate of 4.4% caused by a second coronavirus lockdown. “We are currently seeing a flattening of the number of infections, which is giving hope,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said, but he cautioned that the situation remained serious due to a more infectious virus variant. “We must therefore not gamble away what has been achieved,” Altmaier said against the backdrop of calls to ease lockdown measures soon.
27th Jan 2021 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th Jan 2021

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COVID-19: School closures having 'calamitous' impact on kids and parents

Keeping schools closed is having a "calamitous" impact on children, some of the UK's top paediatricians have warned as they called for teachers to be prioritised for a vaccine. The group said they were witnessing an "acute and rapid increase in mental health and safeguarding cases", with parents suffering breakdowns and other psychological stress due to home-schooling. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted it was the government's "absolute priority" to re-open schools. Experts - from Imperial College London, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust and the Royal Brompton Hospital - added that vaccinating school staff "offers protection to one of our most important key-worker groups" and also protects children.
26th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Lockdown must continue to stop new variants, say Norwich scientists

Strict lockdown measures must continue to stop the evolution of more dangerous variants of Covid-19, Norwich scientists have warned. Scientists from the Earlham Institute, based at Norwich Research Park, say it is crucial to stop more virulent variants from emerging to give the coronavirus vaccine roll-out the best chance of succeeding. While the government has said it will review data next month to see if some easing of restrictions could be possible, scientists have stressed the importance of lockdown.
26th Jan 2021 - EDP 24

UK unemployment reaches four-year high in Covid-19 lockdown

Unemployment in the UK has reached the highest level for more than four years as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and tougher lockdown measures place more pressure on businesses and workers. The Office for National Statistics said the unemployment rate rose to 5% in the three months to the end of November – representing more than 1.7 million people – from 4.9% in the three months to the end of October, reaching the highest level since August 2016. Unemployment was 4% in February before the pandemic struck.
26th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Chinese city suffers food shortages during Covid-19 lockdown

Residents of a locked-down Chinese city have raised an outcry about food and medicine shortages, spurring a rare public debate about the country’s strict epidemic controls. Citizens in Tonghua, near China’s border with North Korea in northeastern Jilin province, complained on blogging platform Weibo that a sudden lockdown has left some trapped in their apartments without supplies for more than a week. “We Tonghua people weren’t knocked down by the virus . . . but by hunger and basic illnesses,” wrote one blogger.
26th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar confirms lockdown extension plans to March as he rules out zero Covid approach

In Ireland, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has said that the Government plans to keep full lockdown restrictions in place until March 5. Mr Varadkar said that the harsh restrictions are set to remain in place for another six weeks should Cabinet agree on the measures which would be in line with measures in place in Northern Ireland. The Tanaiste also said that the Government was looking at a phased reopening of schools in February however he hinted that it would depend on whether cases numbers were low enough.
26th Jan 2021 - Irish Mirror

Level 5 extension until March 5th: Ministers told detailed legal work needed on travel rules

In Ireland, Cabinet has signed off on an extension of current Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions until March 5th, as well as a range of measures designed to curtail travel into the State. However, Government sources cautioned that it could be some time before many of the measures are brought into place due to a range of complexities around the new policies. It is understood that the Cabinet was warned that there are issues around the legal and practical approaches to implementing some of the new policies, including mandatory hotel quarantine, and shifting self-quarantine at home onto a mandatory rather than advisory footing.
26th Jan 2021 - The Irish Times

UK jobless rate highest since 2016 as second COVID-19 lockdown hits

Britain’s unemployment rate hit its highest in nearly five years in the three months to November, when coronavirus cases began to rise for a second time and most of the country returned to a partial lockdown. Redundancies touched a record high, taking the unemployment rate to 5.0%, its highest since mid-2016, according to official data, although the increase was slightly weaker than economists’ forecasts. There were some signs of a limited recovery in December, when lockdown measures eased, although a deterioration is likely in early 2021 as a tougher lockdown shut schools and closed most non-essential businesses to the public.
26th Jan 2021 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Jan 2021

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Three weeks into harsh lockdown, weary Brits fear it will take much longer to beat the new variant

People in the United Kingdom have been living under lockdown for the past three weeks, hoping their sacrifice would bring the country's latest coronavirus surge -- caused by the new, more contagious variant of the virus -- under control. But despite the harsh restrictions, case numbers are not dropping as fast as experts have hoped. Deaths continue to rise and public health experts and government are starting to warn people that the country will be in this battle for the long run. The new variant, known as B.1.1.7, has wreaked havoc in the UK, fueling a surge in cases towards the end of 2020 despite a national lockdown being in place. Data showing an uptick in cases in younger people suggests this was largely because schools had stayed open, enabling the variant to spread rapidly.
25th Jan 2021 - CNN

Covid and Economy: UK Restaurants, Bars, Small Business Teetering in Lockdown

The U.K.’s third major lockdown to control the coronavirus could be the final straw for thousands of businesses struggling to pay rent and taxes with little or no money coming in the door. “It is costing us thousands of pounds a week, even being shut, and we have zero income,” said Andrew Wong, owner of the upmarket Chinese restaurant A. Wong in London’s fashionable Pimlico neighborhood. “I think all the time about shutting down and walking away, though I’m not going to do it.” While the economy appears to be adapting better to virus curbs -- gross domestic product shrank 2.6% in November versus 19% in April -- the same can’t be said about company finances. One lobby group estimates 250,000 small firms are at risk of going bust. Almost 10,000 pubs and restaurants licensed to serve alcohol closed permanently last year, according to consultants CGA and AlixPartners.
25th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

Young people on growing up in lockdown: ‘All we want is to be heard, not ignored’

Throughout the pandemic, decisions made by adults have had a significant impact on all aspects of young people’s lives, yet some teenagers feel their voice and experiences during the pandemic have not been heard. The political has become personal for many, leading some young people to become increasingly engaged with politics and involved in community action. Research undertaken by my colleagues and I at the University of Huddersfield and consultancy Ecorys, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, has been exploring young people’s experiences during lockdown, including their engagement and involvement with politics. The research project, Growing up under COVID, involves 70 young people aged 14-18 in the UK, Italy, Lebanon and Singapore.
25th Jan 2021 - i on MSN.com

The Truth About North Korea's Ultra-Lockdown Against Covid-19

Kim Jong-un acted quickly. On January 22, 2020, North Korea closed its borders with China and Russia to stop a new, mysterious virus from spreading into the country. At the time, what we now know as Covid-19 had killed just nine people and infected 400 others. More than a year later, the hermit kingdom’s border remains sealed tight shut. North Korea’s response to the pandemic has been one of the most extreme and paranoid in the world, experts say. The lockdowns and quarantines it imposed have been strict, while border restrictions have put a halt to fishing and the smuggling of goods into the country. At the same time, the nation’s state media and propaganda apparatus has pumped out messages warning citizens of the dangers of Covid-19 and praising the country’s “flawless” approach to the pandemic.
25th Jan 2021 - Wired

Lebanon's Coronavirus lockdown: 'We can't leave our homes day or night'

People in Lebanon are living under one of the world's strictest lockdowns. Under the round-the-clock curfew, citizens who are not "essential workers" have been barred from leaving their homes since 14 January. Here residents in the capital, Beirut, describe what it's like.
25th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Boris Johnson is set to give go-ahead for Australia-style quarantine

Minister plans will force travellers to isolate for ten days when they enter Britain Cabinet sources expect Prime Minister to sign off on a comprehensive proposal It means Britons will face having to pay extra, on top of the cost of their trip
25th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Norway widens capital region's lockdown to combat pandemic

The Norwegian government will widen the capital region’s coronavirus lockdown from Monday onwards, increasing the number of affected municipalities to 25 from the 10 that were initially included, health minister Bent Hoeie said on Sunday. Oslo and nine neighbouring municipalities imposed some of their toughest lockdown measures yet on Saturday after an outbreak of a more contagious coronavirus variant, first identified in Britain, closing all non-essential stores.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

UK extends councils' lockdown powers until July 17, Telegraph says

The British government has quietly extended coronavirus lockdown laws to give local councils in England the power to close pubs, restaurants, shops and public spaces until July 17, the Telegraph reported on Saturday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday the government could not consider easing lockdown restrictions with infection rates at their current high levels, and until it is confident the vaccination programme is working. The changes to the regulation governing coronavirus restrictions were made as part of a review of the third lockdown earlier this month by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the Telegraph said.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 25th Jan 2021

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Northern Ireland extends COVID-19 lockdown to March 5

The British region of Northern Ireland on Thursday extended its COVID-19 lockdown for an additional four weeks to March 5 and its deputy first minister said the measures might have to be extended again. Northern Ireland introduced a six-week lockdown on Dec. 26, closing schools, non-essential shops, bars and restaurants. “It’s an additional four weeks and there may well be something beyond that,” Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill told a press briefing.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Renewed lockdown sends UK economy tumbling again: PMI

Britain's relapse into a third national COVID-19 lockdown has sparked the sharpest drop in business activity since May, with services companies hit hardest, a survey showed on Friday. A preliminary "flash" IHS Markit/CIPS UK Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 40.6 in January, down from 50.4 in December. The drop below the 50 threshold for growth was bigger than any economist forecast in a Reuters poll, which had pointed to a reading of 45.5. In addition to the latest lockdown, data company IHS Markit said Britain's post-Brexit shift to a more bureaucratic trading arrangement with the European Union had contributed to the decline. “Services have once again been especially hard hit, but manufacturing has seen growth almost stall, blamed on a cocktail of COVID-19 and Brexit, which has led to increasingly widespread supply delays, rising costs and falling exports," Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said. The pace of job losses accelerated, after easing in December.
23rd Jan 2021 - Prince Edward Island Guardian

UK cannot consider easing lockdown while rates are so high - PM

British Prime Minister said the government could not consider easing lockdown restrictions with infection rates at their current high levels, and until it is confident that the vaccination programme is working. “You can’t unlock whilst rates of infection are so very high,” he told a press briefing on Friday. “We really can’t begin to consider unlocking until we’re confident that the vaccination programme is working.”
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Norway's capital tightens lockdown to combat more contagious virus variant

Norway’s capital Oslo and nine neighboring municipalities imposed some of their toughest lockdown measures yet on Saturday after an outbreak of a more contagious coronavirus variant, first identified in Britain. Shopping centres and other non-essential stores will be closed from noon, for the first time in the pandemic, and will not reopen until Feb. 1 at the earliest, the government announced. Shops selling food will remain open, along with pharmacies and petrol stations. Organised sports activities will be halted, restaurants must close and schools must rely more on remote learning, while households have been asked not to have any visitors at home.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19 long-haulers want you to know that they're still not okay

Ten months have passed since Suzanne Hughes first fell ill. Before March 2020, the 56-year-old would go for long walks along the Welsh coast and spend hours tending to her garden. Now she feels lucky if she manages to walk more than a couple of minutes from her front door. “I can only do 30 per cent of what I’d like to do,” Hughes says. Even small exertions require a trade-off between what she wants to achieve now and how she’ll be feeling hours later. “Everything I do, I have to think, ‘What is this going to do to me? What’s the payback?’” Although we are still deep within the darkest days of the pandemic, with almost six per cent of the UK population already vaccinated against Covid-19 it is becoming possible to imagine life beyond the pandemic. In the coming months many of us will return to lives no longer dominated by a virus that has already taken so much from us. Covid-19 long haulers may never get that luxury.
19th Jan 2021 - Wired.co.uk


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 22nd Jan 2021

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UK PM Johnson says to early to say when national lockdown will end

It is too early to say when the national COVID lockdown in England will end, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, adding that persistently high infection levels demonstrated how infectious a new variant was. “I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of some of the restrictions,” Johnson told broadcasters. “What we’re seeing in the ONS data, in the REACT survey, we’re seeing the contagiousness of the new variant that we saw arrive just before Christmas. There’s no doubt it does spread very fast indeed.”
21st Jan 2021 - Reuters

Follow lockdown rules or face punishment, says UK interior minister

British interior minister Priti Patel warned those who break COVID-19 lockdown rules that they faced punishment by police, announcing a new 800 pound ($1,097.36) fine for those who attend house parties. "My message is clear: If you don't follow these rules, then the police will enforce them," Patel told a news conference. "Police officers are now moving more quickly to hand out fines when they encounter breaches."
21st Jan 2021 - MSN.com

England's third lockdown shows 'no evidence of decline' in Covid rates, study says

A third national lockdown in England appears to have had little impact on the rising rate of coronavirus infections, according to the findings of a major study, with “no evidence of decline” in the prevalence of the virus during the first 10 days of tougher restrictions. The closely watched REACT-1 study, led by Imperial College London, warned that health services would remain under “extreme pressure” and the cumulative number of deaths would increase rapidly unless the prevalence of the virus in the community was reduced substantially. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the latest figures were “appalling” and warned, “There are still tough weeks to come.”
21st Jan 2021 - CNBC

4.6m people in UK given Covid vaccine amid pressures for tougher lockdown

The UK has now given doses of the coronavirus vaccine to 4.6 million people, Matt Hancock has said, as he came under pressure to consider tougher restrictions given concerns that cases of the virus may not be falling. Answering an urgent question in the Commons, the health secretary said more than 5m doses had been given, also counting more than 400,000 second injections. “This virus is a lethal threat to us all and, as we respond through this huge endeavour, let’s all take comfort in the fact we’re giving 200 vaccinations every minute,” said Hancock, who was appearing from home, as he is self-isolating after being alerted by the test-and-trace app this week.
21st Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Merkel: Germany's tough COVID-19 lockdown beginning to pay off

Chancellor Angela Merkel called it encouraging at a press conference on Thursday that the COVID-19 surge in Germany was beginning to ease. "This shows that the tough cutbacks that people in Germany have had to endure for weeks are starting to pay off and it basically shows that the effort is worth it," she said. The number of daily COVID-19 infections was below the previous week's level and increased by 20,398 on Thursday, according to Robert Koch Institute
21st Jan 2021 - The Star

Lebanon extends total lockdown by two weeks

Lebanon has prolonged a total lockdown by two weeks to stem an unprecedented rise in coronavirus cases and protect its collapsing health sector. The strict restrictions include a round-the-clock curfew and limit grocery shopping to home deliveries. "The total lockdown is extended to February 8, 5 am," the Higher Defence Council, Lebanon's top security body, said in a statement.
21st Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out lockdown lasting to the summer amid claims he is willing to keep Covid curbs longer to make sure it is the last national squeeze of pandemic

Boris Johnson today refused to rule out the brutal lockdown lasting until the summer amid claims he is willing to keep curbs longer to ensure it is the last national squeeze. The PM insisted it is 'too early to say' whether the restrictions will stay in place for months longer - despite cases falling by more than a fifth on last week and hopes rising that the most vulnerable groups will be vaccinated by mid-February, with a record 366,919 jabs administered in 24 hours. Mr Johnson also delivered a stark message that the new coronavirus strain is 'much more contagious', repeating his plea for people to stay at home and obey the rules.
21st Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Malaysia extends lockdown in capital and other states until February

Malaysia on Thursday extended restrictions on movement in the capital Kuala Lumpur and five states until Feb. 4 as part of a lockdown to combat a surge in coronavirus infections. The Health Ministry has confirmed that COVID-19 cases are accelerating within the community in many states, Security Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement. This week, the government placed six other states under a two-week lockdown. Essential sectors including plantations, manufacturing and construction are allowed to operate but state and international borders remain closed.
21st Jan 2021 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

English lockdown is helping to relieve pressure on health system, education minister says

It is too early to say when the national coronavirus lockdown in England will end, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, as daily deaths from COVID-19 reach new highs and hospitals become increasingly stretched. Britain posted a fresh record in daily deaths on Wednesday for the second day running, hitting 1,820, figures that Johnson has called “appalling”. The daily death count dropped on Thursday. A prevalence survey, known as REACT-1, suggested infections had not fallen in the first days of lockdown, though the government has said that the impact of national restrictions introduced on Jan. 5 was not yet reflected in the numbers.
21st Jan 2021 - Reuters


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 21st Jan 2021

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Small UK businesses are ‘running out of cash’, chancellor warned

"I suppose the technical phrase is we’re screwed,” said Ruari McCulloch, owner of Pinstripes & Peonies, a high-end London florist, which counts several London department stores and the Paris Air Show among its clients. Mr McCulloch is one of the many small business owners facing the toughest few months yet of the pandemic, starved of income for much of the past year as the UK approaches the anniversary of the first national coronavirus lockdown in March. Cash levels are depleted and debt loads have risen fast for companies with high fixed costs but zero revenues, leading to urgent calls from the UK’s business lobby groups, including the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce, for immediate and sustained financial support from the chancellor Rishi Sunak.
20th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Covid: Crops 'damaged nationwide' by lockdown walkers avoiding mud

Crops are "being damaged nationwide" by lockdown walkers avoiding mud, a rural business organisation has said. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said an influx of people walking over planted crops was affecting farmers' businesses. One farmer said there had been a tenfold increase in walkers during lockdown, while another had seen a 5ft (1.5m) path widen to 36ft (11m) across. Walking charity Ramblers said people must "stick to marked paths". CLA president Mark Bridgeman said while he did not want to discourage people from using the countryside, "crops are being damaged nationwide" by those avoiding quagmires.
20th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Germany Extends Lockdown Measures, Concerned About Covid-19 Variant

Germany prolonged on Tuesday night its lockdown that has been in force since November and introduced even stricter measures amid concerns about the spread of a new and more infectious coronavirus variant.
20th Jan 2021 - Wall Street Journal

Germany extends and tightens COVID lockdown

Germany's coronavirus restrictions will stay in place until the middle of February. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the country's 16 states agreed that the recent drop in infection rates was not enough to ease the current measures.
20th Jan 2021 - Deutsche Welle

New strain of coronavirus is discovered in GERMANY as Merkel extends lockdown restrictions

Health officials said the variant was identified in Bavarian hospital patients It's not yet known how transmissible this latest strain of the virus may be German schools and shops will continue to be closed until at least February 14
20th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

The silent epidemic: Abuse against Spanish women rises during lockdown

Fewer Spanish women were killed by their partner or ex-partner in 2020 than in previous years, but that statistic masks a rise in gender-based violence as COVID lockdowns left victims confined with their abusers, rights groups and officials say. Emails to abuse helplines soared nearly six-fold in April, the first full month of Spain’s lockdown. “Control-based violence - which doesn’t murder, but is insidious and devastating - grew, because violent partners already had women under their physical control,” Victoria Rosell, the ministry’s top official on gender abuse issues, told reporters on Wednesday. In 2020 overall, calls to the government’s abuse helpline rose 15% while emails increased more than 230%, but contact with victims was often lost as enforced cohabitation pushed women to seek help silently to avoid partners’ reprisals.
20th Jan 2021 - Reuters

France faces tough COVID month, with ski lifts and restaurants set to stay shut

A more infectious coronavirus variant is expected to spread rapidly through France in the coming month, hospital chiefs said on Wednesday, raising fears of another lockdown as hopes faded that ski lifts and restaurants could reopen soon.
20th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Israel extends Covid lockdown despite vaccination drive

The Israeli government decided Tuesday to extend the country's coronavirus lockdown to the end of the month after a spike in infections, despite an intensive vaccination campaign. Israel began its third lockdown in late December and tightened it on January 8, with officials saying at the time it would be lifted after two weeks if the daily caseload decreased sufficiently. Since the rollout of vaccinations one month ago, the Jewish state had innoculated more than 2.2 million of its nine million inhabitants, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Tuesday.
20th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Coronavirus: French students highlight pandemic's mental health toll

French students have planned a series of protests on Wednesday to draw attention to the rising mental health problems many say they are suffering as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. A combination of isolation, inactivity and a broader loss of purpose has left many students close to breakdown, according to university psychologists. Student mental health resources, such as counsellors, have been overwhelmed by the numbers seeking help in recent weeks. In the last two weeks alone, two undergraduates in Lyon have tried to take their lives.
20th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Germany extends Covid-19 lockdown until mid-February

Germany on Tuesday toughened a partial lockdown and extended it to February 14, with Chancellor Angela Merkel warning of possible border checks to contain “the danger” of new coronavirus variants believed to be more contagious. Speaking after hours of crisis talks with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states, Merkel said the latest restrictions were necessary as “a precaution for our country, the health of our citizens and also for the economy”. According to a final text seen by AFP, Merkel and the state premiers agreed to make medical masks mandatory on public transport and in shops—meaning only surgical masks or the so-called FFP2 masks will be allowed. They also said employers must make it possible for staff work from home wherever it is feasible.
20th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24 English


Continued Lockdown - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 20th Jan 2021

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China's capital steps up COVID-19 measures as outbreak persists

China’s capital Beijing said on Wednesday it will investigate all individuals who entered the city from abroad from Dec. 10 and shut down a subway station after reporting the biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks. The measures come amid what has become the country’s most severe COVID-19 outbreak since March 2020 ahead of the key Chinese Lunar New Year holiday season, when hundreds of millions travel, raising fears of another major COVID-19 wave that could bring the country back into a debilitating standstill. The National Health Commission said on Wednesday that a total of 103 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Jan. 19, down from 118 a day earlier. Northeastern Jilin province reported 46 new cases, however, setting another record in daily cases, while Hebei province surrounding Beijing reported 19 new cases.
20th Jan 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Covid-19 in Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon extends lockdown to at least mid-February

Schools will remain closed to most pupils for at least another month after Nicola Sturgeon extended lockdown in Scotland. Cases of Covid-19 are stabilising but the first minister warned that any relaxation risks sending “the situation into reverse”. The first minister said that ministers had agreed to extend the current curbs — which came into force on December 26 and have since been tightened — until at least the middle of February.
19th Jan 2021 - The Times

COVID-19: Scotland lockdown extended until at least the middle of February, Nicola Sturgeon announces

Scotland's lockdown will be extended until at least the middle of February, Nicola Sturgeon has announced. The first minister said that despite COVID-19 case numbers having "stabilised and even declined", any relaxation of the rules while infection rates remain high could "quickly send the situation into reverse". Schools, which were meant to emerge from lockdown at the start of next month, will also remain closed along with nurseries to all those apart from vulnerable children and those of key workers until mid-February.
19th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Dutch govt to beef up lockdown amid fears about new variants

The Dutch government said Tuesday it needs to beef up lockdown measures “as soon as possible” to rein in the spread of the coronavirus amid fears about more transmissible variants. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said in a letter to parliament that the government will announce extra measures on Wednesday afternoon. The Netherlands has been in a tough lockdown for a month and will remain that way at least until at least Feb. 9, but the slow decrease in the number of new infections and the threat posed by new variants have prompted the government to consider a tightening that is expected to include a curfew for the first time since the pandemic began.
19th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Germany extends lockdown to Feb. 14 on fears of COVID variants, sources say

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany may need to consider border crossing curbs if other European countries do not act to halt the spread of the coronavirus, particularly its new, more transmissible variants. “We can do anything we like, but we will not succeed if others are not working in parallel,” Merkel told journalists on Tuesday, two days ahead of a videoconference of European leaders. “We need to make sure that everyone around us is doing the same. Otherwise we have to look at measures such as entry restrictions.”
19th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Europe, Struggling to Exit the Pandemic, Faces Bleak 2021

Covid-19 infections and deaths remain stubbornly high across much of Europe while vaccination efforts are moving so slowly that widespread immunity is unlikely in the region before the fall, raising the prospect of a bleak 2021 for hundreds of millions of Europeans. With between 3,000 and 4,000 people dying from the disease every day across the European Union in recent weeks, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, governments are prolonging and tightening antivirus measures such as curfews, remote learning and restaurant closures. Fears are growing, too, of more contagious variants of the virus taking hold before governments can scale up their vaccination programs.
19th Jan 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Lebanon doctors urge lockdown extension

The head of Lebanon's main coronavirus hospital Tuesday backed the extension of a total lockdown to curb soaring infection figures and save a fragile healthcare system from collapse. "Easing the lockdown cannot occur if the virus is spreading unchecked in the community," Firas Abiad said on social media. "The infection is not under control." The country of more than six million has recorded 255,956 coronavirus cases and 1,959 deaths since its outbreak started in February. It entered a strict 11-day lockdown last Thursday after recording a 70% uptick in infections in one of the steepest increases in transmission worldwide.
19th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Portugal tightens Covid-19 lockdown amid record numbers of new cases, deaths

Stricter lockdown rules are being enacted in Portugal, the government announced Monday, as a surging Covid-19 pandemic sets grim records and pushes hospitals to the limit of their capacity. Prime Minister António Costa said too many people had taken advantage of exceptions included in the lockdown that began last Friday, with authorities reporting 70% of normal movement over the weekend. “We are going through the most serious phase of the pandemic” so far, Costa said, urging people to comply with the rules. “This is no time for finding loopholes in the law.”
19th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

British firms call for immediate $10.3 billion in COVID aid

British firms called on Tuesday for another 7.6 billion pounds ($10.3 billion) of emergency government help, saying they cannot wait until finance minister Rishi Sunak’s March budget to learn if they will get more pandemic support. With Britain back under lockdown and companies adjusting to life after Brexit, firms are taking big decisions about jobs and investment and need to know if their financial lifelines will be extended, the Confederation of British Industry said. “We just have to finish the job. Now would be a very odd time to end that support,” CBI Director-General Tony Danker said in a statement.
19th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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Are too many of us bending the rules of this lockdown?

Lockdown is not driving down Covid-19 fast enough – so are too many of us bending the rules? It may be a case of pushing the boundaries too far at a time when the more infectious UK strain of the virus is such a threat and spreading at speed. But whether it’s drifting back to the workplace or even something as simple as meeting up for a takeaway coffee with a friend in the park, people who have options to stay at home may be finding too many loopholes which will only prolong the current crisis.
18th Jan 2021 - Independent.ie

Let us play: parents and charities plead for swings and slides to be kept open during lockdown

Play charities are calling for councils to keep playgrounds open during lockdown, as many are closed due to fears that they encourage people to “congregate and socialise”. In a letter from Play England to all local authorities in England, several experts who work with children say that playgrounds should stay open “to reduce the catastrophic impact of Covid and lockdown on children’s physical and mental health and wellbeing”. Stevenage council closed 54 playgrounds last week after a rise in cases in the area, including among children and young people. Jim McManus, director of public health at Hertfordshire county council, said: “Nobody wants to do this but the virus is circulating so much we don’t have a choice.”
18th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Germany to Extend Lockdown Until Mid-February, Mulls Curfew

Germany will likely extend lockdown measures until at least mid-February and may impose a nighttime curfew in coronavirus hot spots. Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers are due to decide on the latest strategy to stem the spread of the disease during a video call on Tuesday. The talks, originally planned for Jan. 25, were brought forward after the German leader warned of the risks posed by variants that can spread more quickly. With regional authorities responsible for health policy under Germany’s federal system, the discussions are a critical -- and at times contentious -- part of the country’s fight against the pandemic. State leaders have regularly balked at Merkel’s tougher stance, and resistance could grow as numbers come off peak levels and with officials wary of voter dissatisfaction ahead of state elections in March.
18th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

Germany needs to extend and tighten COVID-19 lockdown - Scholz

Germany must extend and tighten its lockdown measures to get down infection numbers in the pandemic more quickly, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Monday. “I consider an extension and precise measures to increase the effectiveness of the (existing) measures necessary,” Scholz said, adding that stricter rules for working from home should be considered to reduce mobility and social contacts. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 state premiers are expected to discuss further curbs on Tuesday to slow the spread of new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus.
18th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Where's the spark? How lockdown caused a creativity crisis

Doomed. That was the prevailing mood at Color, a 50-person creative agency, when the pandemic shut its offices in Seattle and Los Angeles. “Among the many business fears that Covid brought on,” says Elie Goral, executive creative director, “the concept of needing to isolate our creative energy was one of the scariest. Creative ideation is that frenetic spark that happens when a group of people are together, face-to-face, beers in hand, pacing back and forth against a messy whiteboard.” A “close-knit culture” had traditionally helped his colleagues to share abstract ideas and feedback. He worried about the impact of remote working “without the ability to casually socialise in the spaces around our offices specifically designed for impromptu conversation”.
18th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

All arrivals to UK face hotel quarantine to stop new Covid strains

Ministers have ordered plans to be drawn up for a fresh crackdown at Britain’s borders to stop new variants of the coronavirus undermining the vaccination effort. Officials have been told to prepare for the creation of quarantine hotels for those arriving in Britain and to use GPS and facial-recognition technology to check that people are staying in isolation. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, warned that it was too early for people to book summer holidays abroad.
18th Jan 2021 - The Times

Covid-19: British people in lockdown flock to packed-out beaches amid deadly coronavirus outbreak

As the United Kingdom grapples with its third lockdown amid a deadly Covid-19 outbreak, British residents are still heading to the beaches and parks in droves. Thousands of maskless walkers were pictured enjoying a rare glimpse of winter sunshine at England’s Brighton Beach at the weekend. British media also published photos of packed-out parks and lined streets, as residents left their homes to exercise. A lockdown is currently in place across the UK to help curb surging infection numbers, however the rules do allow for people to leave their homes for exercise and long as they stay local.
18th Jan 2021 - Stuff.co.nz

Slovakia tightens anti-coronavirus lockdown, extends it till Feb 7

The Slovak government tightened lockdown of the country and extended it till Feb. 7, as it launched week-long testing campaign in an attempt to tame the coronavirus epidemic. The lockdown, declared on New Year’s Eve until Jan. 24, includes a ban on visits between families, travel beyond one’s district or public church services. Slovaks are now asked to get tested from Monday until Jan. 26. After that, only people with a negative result will be able to go to their workplace, the rest will have to stay home. “We decided to go for the ideal combination, a lockdown with massive testing,” Prime Minister Igor Matovic said at a televised press conference. A negative test result will be also required for trips to the country or going to the post office. The tighter rules can be lifted earlier than Feb. 7 if the number of hospitalised patients drops below 2,500.
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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Amid COVID-19 surge, South Africa delays reopening schools

Faced with a rapid resurgence of COVID-19 overwhelming the country’s hospitals and driven by a more infectious variant of the virus South Africa has delayed reopening its schools. The variant is having far-reaching consequences for Africa’s most developed nation as several countries trying to prevent its spread have stopped or reduced flights with South Africa. South Africa has the highest prevalence of COVID-19 in Africa with a cumulative total of more than 1.3 million confirmed cases, including 36,851 deaths.
17th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Covid-19: Rise in suspected child abuse cases after lockdown

The number of reported incidents of children dying or being seriously harmed after suspected abuse or neglect rose by a quarter after England's first lockdown last year, figures indicate. The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel received 285 serious incident notifications from April to September. This is an increase of 27% from 225 in the same period the previous year. The data also includes children who were in care and died, regardless of whether abuse or neglect was suspected.
17th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19: Lockdown could 'lose a generation' of young people

A "whole generation of young people" could be lost to education during the Covid-19 lockdown because they do not have access to digital learning, a leading charity warned. Schools have been closed to most children, meaning remote-learning at home with lessons via the internet. Rae Tooth, of the Villiers Park Education Trust, is concerned about children without computers. The government said it was providing thousands of laptops for pupils. Ms Tooth, chief executive of the Trust, told BBC Politics East that "digital poverty" hits the ability of children to learn if they have no access to the internet, (or can only access if via smartphones with small screens).
17th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Austria extends COVID-19 lockdown, sees hard months ahead

Austria on Sunday extend its third COVID-19 lockdown into February, hoping to drive down infection rates despite an influx of variants that spread the coronavirus more easily. The goal is to let shops, museums and personal services like hairdressers reopen from Feb. 8, while the catering and tourism sectors will stay shuttered until at least March. “We have two to three hard months ahead of us,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference, flanked by regional leaders and health officials in a show of unity a day after thousands marched in Vienna to protest against restrictions.
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters

France observes nationwide 6 p.m. curfew to slow coronavirus spread

Cities, towns and villages across France were practically empty on Saturday as residents stayed home and businesses shut to observe a nationwide curfew intended to help stem the spread of coronavirus, especially a more infectious variant. The virus has killed 70,000 people in France, the seventh highest toll in the world, and the government is particularly worried by the more transmissible variant first detected in Britain, which now accounts for about 1% of new cases. The curfew was brought forward two hours to 6 p.m. and will run until 6 a.m. In addition, from Monday anyone travelling to France from outside the European Union will have to show a negative test result and self-isolate for a week upon arrival.
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters

6pm curfew across whole of France for at least 15 days

All of France will be under a strict 6pm curfew for at least 15 days to fight the spread of coronavirus, the Prime Minister has announced. Jean Castex also revealed strict new controls for those arriving in France from countries outside the European Union. Starting on Monday, they must produce a PCR test with negative results and self-isolate for seven days followed by a new, negative test. France wants to coordinate a response with the European Union about arrivals from EU countries, he said. The French government is trying to avoid a third lockdown with partial measures like curfews which Mr Castex called both “preventative” and “reactive”.
17th Jan 2021 - Surrey Live

Italy suspends flights from Brazil in response to new coronavirus variant

Italy is suspending flights from Brazil, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Saturday, in response to a new coronavirus variant. Anyone who has transited Brazil in the last 14 days is also prohibited from entering Italy, he said on Facebook, while people arriving in Italy from Brazil will be required to take a test for the virus. "It is critical for our scientists to study the new strain. In the meantime, we are taking a very cautious approach", he said. Such rules will remain in place until Jan. 31, the order issued on Saturday by the health minister showed.
16th Jan 2021 - Yahoo News

Australian Open thrown into chaos as 47 players are forced into lockdown over coronavirus cases from charter flights

The Australian Open lead-up has been thrown into chaos with at least 47 players now confined to their hotel rooms for the next 14 days following three positive coronavirus tests from two separate charter flights into Melbourne. Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, three-time grand slam winner Angelique Kerber and 2019 US Open title holder Bianca Andreescu are among the players affected. Ms Andreesecu's coach Sylvain Bruneau wrote in a media statement that he had been the source of the infection on the second flight from Abu Dhabi, having tested positive on arrival in Melbourne. "I am deeply sorry to share that I have just tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival after travelling from Abu Dhabi," he wrote.
16th Jan 2021 - SBS News


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Furlough for 71% of working mothers rejected by bosses, survey reveals

More than 70 per cent of working mothers who asked to be furloughed had their requests denied by bosses, a new survey has revealed. The survey of 50,000 women was undertaken by the TUC and shows that a “lack of support” for working parents is causing “huge” financial problems, the trade union umbrella body said. The job retention scheme currently allows bosses to furlough parents due to childcare issues, but the poll showed 71 per cent of working mothers had requests turned down after the recent school closures, as reported by the Daily Mirror. It also indicated that 78 per cent of working parents had not been offered furlough by their employers at all.
14th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Huge crowds seen boarding Tube trains despite Covid lockdown

Footage from the London Underground has shown large crowds of people continuing to use the tube network despite the current Covid lockdown. A clip filmed on the platform of Canning Town, in East London, revealed masses of commuters boarding trains during peak hours this week. It comes as unions warn that thousands of people are still being made to travel for jobs they can’t do from home, or under the guise of being a ‘key worker’. Sharing the video on social media, BBC transport correspondent Tom Edwards said Tube drivers were becoming increasingly worried about the number of travellers still using the network. But Transport for London have since said the crowds were caused by trains being cancelled, and are not indicative of the rest of the Underground service.
14th Jan 2021 - Metro

COVID-19: Schools in England may not reopen after February half-term, Boris Johnson suggests

Schools in England may not reopen after the February half-term, the prime minister has suggested. Boris Johnson said the government's priority was to get pupils back in the classroom "as soon as possible", but that whether this would happen after half-term in the middle of next month depended on a "number of things". The PM told MPs on the Liaison Committee that the determining factors would be the success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the effect of new variants, any other possible changes in the virus, and the success of lockdown measures.
14th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Coronavirus lockdown: 1 in 4 people in the UK drinking more than usual under Covid restrictions

A quarter of people in the UK drank more than usual during the first lockdown, with younger women and those suffering from anxiety especially prone, a UCL study has found. More than 30,000 adults were questioned about their drinking behaviour between 21 March and 4 April for the study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Just over a third (34.3 per cent) were not drinking but among people who drank, 48.1 per cent reported drinking about the same, 26.2 per cent reported drinking more and 25.7 per cent reported drinking less than usual.
14th Jan 2021 - iNews

Germany's economy contracted by 5% in 2020 as coronavirus lockdowns hit growth

Coronavirus cases have prompted several lockdowns on public life and economic activity in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced last week that the latest lockdown would be extended until the end of the month.
14th Jan 2021 - CNBC

In victory for privacy activists, France is banned from using drones to enforce coronavirus rules

France's privacy watchdog has banned the use of drone cameras to enforce coronavirus restrictions and for other law enforcement purposes, marking a victory for groups arguing that the pandemic has given rise to excessive surveillance. France's Interior Ministry had conducted drone flights "outside of any legal framework," the official privacy watchdog, known as CNIL, said in its strongly worded rebuke, which was released Thursday. France imposed some of Europe's toughest measures in response to the virus last year and initially deployed helicopters and drones to monitor adherence to the rules. The drones were equipped to spot lockdown violators, guide teams on the ground and broadcast warnings via loudspeakers.
14th Jan 2021 - Washington Post

French watchdog condemns police for unlawful use of drones to patrol lockdown

French data privacy watchdog CNIL condemned the Interior Ministry for the unlawful use of drones to oversee demonstrations and make sure people were respecting the COVID-19 lockdown. In a decision made public on Thursday, the authority stressed that the use of such tools by the police nationwide broke the law in the absence of any regulatory framework. In a statement, the interior ministry said it acknowledged the CNIL’s decision, and would respect its terms.
14th Jan 2021 - Reuters

UPDATE 1-More UK companies shuttered by COVID clampdown last month

The proportion of businesses in Britain open during the second half of December fell sharply in the second half of December as COVID-19 restrictions tightened across the country, an official survey showed on Thursday. The Office for National Statistics said 71% of businesses were operating, down from 84% in the first half of the month and the lowest proportion since late June, when Britain’s economy was emerging from its first COVID-19 lockdown. The proportion of workers furloughed, based on the responses of businesses, rose to 14% in the latest survey from 11% previously. The figures are likely to reinforce expectations that the economy entered a double-dip recession in late 2020.
14th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Denmark extends lockdown to combat more contagious coronavirus variant

Denmark on Wednesday extended hard lockdown measures by at least three weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, in particular a more transmissible variant of the virus that is spreading in the Nordic country. Denmark has so far registered 208 cases of the new variant dubbed cluster B 1.1.7., which was first registered in Britain and has spread across Europe. “It is the growth that is extremely worrying,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told a news conference late on Wednesday. “This means that we will see a situation with sharply increasing infection rates later in the winter, if the situation continues as it is now,” he said
14th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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COVID-19: Compliance with restrictions at highest point since first lockdown, new data reveals

Compliance with coronavirus rules has risen sharply since December and is now at its highest point since the first lockdown, according to a major new survey seen by Sky News. The results cast doubt on the government's claims that rule-breaking is contributing to a rise in COVID-19 deaths, after ministers and senior police officers warned that enforcement would be increased to ensure compliance. But while the restrictions are being followed by most people, the study confirmed "rule-bending" remains as commonplace as throughout the pandemic, with a large minority adding their own "modifications" to the rules, especially when it comes to meeting other people and self-isolation time.
13th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Scotland's Covid lockdown tightened with click and collect and takeaway curbs

Shops in Scotland have been ordered to stop non-essential click-and-collect services and alcohol consumption is to be banned outdoors, in a further tightening of lockdown measures. Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, said shops would be allowed to offer click and collect only for essential goods such as clothes, shoes, baby equipment, books and homeware from Saturday 16 January. Takeaway outlets will be banned from allowing customers into the building. “I must stress at the outset that the situation we face in relation to the virus remains very precarious and extremely serious,” she told MSPs. UK government ministers are considering restricting click and collect in England, and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, joined Sturgeon in welcoming John Lewis’s voluntary decision on Tuesday to suspend its collect services.
13th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Parents forced to prioritise children over jobs as UK lockdown pressures bite

Parents in the UK face impossible choices between their livelihood and their children’s wellbeing, according to campaigners and business groups who say employers have become less willing to grant furlough requests to help manage the pressures of home schooling. During the first national lockdown last spring, parents were twice as likely to be furloughed as those without children, according to analysis by the Office for National Statistics, which also found that many of those still working could only manage by catching up in the early hours and late at night. Polling by the TUC found that one in six mothers — mostly those in low-paid jobs — had no choice but to cut their hours.
13th Jan 2021 - The Financial Times

To thrive in lockdown, keep looking forward

One of the most challenging aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the stubborn persistence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It may feel as though the situation is improving at times, but when events force governments to enact new lockdowns, the effect can be disheartening. A recent study, by researchers at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, has explored some strategies for maintaining emotional well-being during lockdown. It suggests that the most effective strategy for managing the emotional burden of lockdown may be to train one’s perspective forward — toward positive aspects of the future.
13th Jan 2021 - Medical News Today

COVID-19 batters Asia's already-struggling democracies

Over the past 15 years, democracy across Asia has regressed. Although the region still has strong democracies like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, many other leading Asian democracies and countries with democratic potential have slid backwards, turning into near-autocracies or outright authoritarian states. While Thailand had been one of the freest states in Asia in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it has suffered two military coups in the past decade and now is run by a parliamentary government that took power after a seriously flawed election in 2019. Bangladesh had built itself into a shaky but increasingly vibrant democracy by the early 2010s, but in the past decade has deteriorated into a de facto one-party regime, with opposition activists, civil society leaders and journalists jailed and murdered. The Philippines, which had become a solid democracy in the decades following after the Marcos regime, elected President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 and then witnessed mass extrajudicial killings, crackdowns on media outlets and violent targeting of Duterte’s political opponents. And in India, the most populous democracy in the world, recent years have included the Narendra Modi government undermining the independence of the judiciary and cowing independent media.
13th Jan 2021 - The Japan Times

COVID-19: Police in talks with ministers about tightening 'vague' lockdown exercise rules

Police are in talks with ministers to tighten the "woolly" and "incredibly vague" lockdown regulations around exercise, a senior officer has said. Existing rules are "a real challenge", Owen Weatherill, from the National Police Chiefs' Council, told a committee of MPs on Wednesday. The assistant chief constable, who is leading the policing response to the pandemic in England and Wales, was giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee. Mr Weatherill told members police were holding discussions with the Home Office and the Department of Health, in the hope that they could "give greater clarity to the public and also to our officers". He said: "It's really difficult to get the right balance, I don't think there's a perfect answer for anybody, because whichever way you frame it somebody will be disadvantaged. That's the reality of what we're dealing with here. "There was a deliberate effort to try and make it flexible initially so there was a degree of freedom of choice for people, and you could exercise some of the decisions you wanted to within certain ranges, but that clearly is presenting other problems.
13th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Covid 19 coronavirus: Woman walks husband on leash to avoid Canadian lockdown law

A Canadian couple have been fined for breaching local lockdown laws after police caught a husband and wife out for a walk. Unusually, the wife had leashed her husband for the excursion. She reportedly told officers that she was "walking her dog" when she was confronted by police. The incident occurred in the city of Sherbrooke, in Quebec provice.
13th Jan 2021 - New Zealand Herald

School key worker ‘lottery’ sees NHS staff miss out on lockdown classroom places as more children attend

One week after schools in England closed, key worker parents and NHS staff are missing out on face-to-face education places for their children, as schools attempt to adhere to broader key worker guidance while managing a problematic increase in attendance. Both teachers and parents told i that they were finding it increasingly difficult to manage demand for children to attend school. While schools in England closed for most pupils on Tuesday 5 January, as with the first lockdown they remain open for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers, as well as for those children without digital devices or quiet spaces in their homes, and the children of EU transition workers.
13th Jan 2021 - iNews

Europe extends and tightens lockdowns, with fingers crossed for vaccines

Governments across Europe announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns and curbs on Wednesday amid fears of a fast-spreading variant first detected in Britain, with vaccinations not expected to help much until the spring. Vaccines are being rolled out across the continent, but not as quickly as many countries had wished, and the effects are not expected until inoculations are widespread among the population. Italy will extend its COVID-19 state of emergency to the end of April, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said as infections show no sign of abating. Switzerland announced tighter measures to tackle new variants of the COVID-19 virus and extended the closure of restaurants, cultural and sport sites by five weeks to run until the end of February.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters Africa

Scotland to tighten lockdown rules on retail and takeaway from Saturday

Scotland will tighten its lockdown measures to restrict non-essential retailers from offering “click-and-collect” services and limit how takeaway food and drink can be sold from Saturday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. A national lockdown was announced for mainland Scotland on Jan. 4, shortly before UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced similar measures for England. Sturgeon said that a rapid increase of cases caused by a new variant of the coronavirus appeared to be slowing down, but said it was not an indication that it was safe to ease lockdown, adding that more needed to be done. “Case numbers are still so high, and the new variant is so infectious that we must be as tough, and as effective as we possibly can be to stop it spreading,” Sturgeon said on Wednesday.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Germany will have COVID curbs beyond January - health minister

Germany will not be able to lift all coronavirus lockdown curbs at the beginning of February, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, stressing the need to further reduce contacts to fend off a more virulent variant of the virus. The German cabinet on Wednesday approved stricter controls on people entering the country after a national lockdown was last week tightened and extended to the end of January.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Denmark to extend lockdown measures by three weeks - media reports

Denmark on Wednesday extended hard lockdown measures by at least three weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, in particular a more transmissible variant of the virus that is spreading in the Nordic country. Denmark has so far registered 208 cases of the new variant dubbed cluster B 1.1.7., which was first registered in Britain and has spread across Europe. “It is the growth that is extremely worrying,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told a news conference late on Wednesday. “This means that we will see a situation with sharply increasing infection rates later in the winter, if the situation continues as it is now,” he said.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Lockdown starting to have an effect, says UK PM Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday tougher restrictions brought in last week were starting to have an effect on the spread of COVID in some parts of the country, cautioning that it was still early days. “What we are now seeing, and it’s very, very important to stress that these are early days, we are now seeing the beginnings of some signs that that is starting to have an effect in many parts of the country, but by no means everywhere and it is early days,” he told parliament. He also said he did not rule out bringing in even tougher restrictions to try to temper the spread of the coronavirus, which has largely been driven by a new variant.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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Rent Strikes Loom at British Universities

National lockdowns across the U.K. have left many college students who returned home for the holidays stuck there, on the hook to pay rent for empty rooms back at school. The added — and in many cases, expensive — frustration for British students is fueling threats of rent strikes. What has angered them is timing. In December, the government said it would relax Covid restrictions during the Christmas holiday. Many students followed safety protocols put in place by the government and their universities and returned home.
12th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

With England in lockdown 3, it's time ministers got it right on face masks

Faced with a new, more infectious variant of the virus and a vaccination programme that won’t reach everyone until the autumn, the prime minister has suggested the government may have to tighten restrictions during England’s third lockdown. But ministers already have a simple tool at their disposal. Getting face masks right is one of the most important things we can do now to stop the spread of Covid-19. In England, the attitude to face masks has been inconsistent at best and negligent at worst. Masks are required in shared public spaces such as supermarkets, though many workers have complained that customers aren’t wearing them, and enforcement has largely fallen on individual stores. In schools, the government inexplicably made masks mandatory in corridors but not in classrooms. To reduce transmission as much as possible, they should be worn throughout the school day.
12th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Merkel Warns Germany May Need Ten Week Lockdown Extension

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the nation’s lockdown may need to be extended due to risks posed by the Covid-19 variant from the U.K. Bloomberg’s Arne Delfs reports on "Bloomberg Markets: European Close.”
12th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

Germany and Netherlands likely to extend Covid lockdowns

Germany’s tough anti-Covid measures are likely to last a further eight to 10 weeks, Angela Merkel has warned, while the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, has extended the Netherlands’ national lockdown into next month. As Europe struggles to stem the number of cases and deaths and concerns mount about the new, more contagious UK variant, the German chancellor said infections could rise 10-fold by Easter if the country did not succeed in containing the virus’s spread. Germany’s lockdown, under which schools and non-essential shops and services have closed, was due to last until 31 January, but Merkel reportedly told a working group of her Christian Democratic Union: “We still need eight to 10 weeks of hard measures.” The country has been recording record daily case numbers and deaths in the 900-1,000 range but the figures remain skewed due to under-reporting over the Christmas holiday and a true picture is not expected to be available until 17 January.
12th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Boris Johnson gathers Cabinet amid fears lockdown could get tighter

Boris Johnson is said to be considering tightening the coronavirus lockdown rules in England amid a surge in cases. Here are some of the options Mr Johnson could consider: Curbs on click and collect - At the moment non-essential shops are allowed to offer click and collect services but there are concerns that this still results in too much interaction between different households. The Government could opt to ban non-essential shops from offering click and collect services, restricting it to just supermarkets and other essential shops. Nicola Sturgeon said today she is considering such a move in Scotland. Takeaways - Restaurants are not allowed to physically open during lockdown but they are allowed to offer takeaway food. However, there are rising worries that picking up takeaway food is also leading to too many households mixing while they wait for food to be prepared. Rules could therefore be tightened to stop people waiting inside restaurants. Ms Sturgeon also said this is under consideration in Scotland. - Closing more work places
12th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Double-Dip Recession Beckons in Europe as Lockdowns Drag On

The euro-area economy is poised to shrink again at the start of this year as the resurgent pandemic plunges the region into a double-dip recession. Analysts at banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS Group AG are downgrading forecasts to account for renewed lockdowns -- in some places tougher than ever -- and the prospect that the new coronavirus variant ravaging the U.K. will do the same on the continent. Add vaccination delays to trade disruptions because of Brexit, and the scene is set for a second straight quarter of falling gross domestic product. That would echo the downturn at the start of 2020, even if less severe, and increase pressure on indebted governments and the European Central Bank, which meets to set policy next week, to provide more financial support.
12th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

Bubbles will be allowed if Covid lockdown tightens up

People living alone or with childcare needs would still be able to form a support bubble with one other household in a tougher lockdown, Matt Hancock has promised. However, the heath secretary said that exercising outside with another person from a separate household could be banned if people kept breaching the exemption. Mr Hancock and Boris Johnson said that the rules would be tightened if necessary. The prime minister warned yesterday against “false complacency”.
12th Jan 2021 - The Times

Covid in Scotland: Lockdown likely to extend to February

The first minister says there may not be any lifting of current lockdown restrictions at the end of January. Nicola Sturgeon said that despite early signs of hope that the situation may be stabilising, restrictions would still be needed to stop coronavirus running "amok". She said it was very unlikely there would be any wholesale change to lockdown when measures are reviewed.
12th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Lockdown leading to 'very difficult period' for UK economy, warns Bank governor

The UK economy is facing its “darkest hour” due the latest Covid-19 lockdown, which is likely to delay the recovery, the Bank of England governor has warned. In comments on Tuesday that echoed warnings from the chancellor, Rishi Sunak a day earlier that the economy “is going to get worse before it gets better”, Bailey said the UK would bounce back, but only after the lockdown had ended and concerns about the spread of the virus had receded. Referencing Winston Churchill’s use of the phrase in 1940 following the evacuation of Dunkirk, he said: “There’s an old saying about the darkest hour is the one before dawn.”
12th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Lockdown fines ‘increasingly likely’ in police crackdown, top officer warns

Lockdown rule-breakers are ‘increasingly likely’ to face fines as forces move ‘more quickly’ to enforce Covid restrictions, Britain’s most senior police officer has warned. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said it is ‘preposterous’ that anyone could be unaware of the stringent measures designed to curb Covid cases. Writing in The Times, she said: ‘It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus. ‘We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.’
12th Jan 2021 - Metro

UK retailers call for police help to enforce mask rules

British retailers called on the police to help enforce the wearing of masks to limit the spread of COVID-19, with one of the biggest supermarkets saying on Monday it would no longer allow entry to those flouting the rules. With infection numbers rising sharply the UK government has expressed concern about the spread of the virus in supermarkets, with people breaching rules by not wearing masks while shopping in them. Non-essential retail, restaurants and bars are shut across Britain, leading to a high level of demand for supermarkets and other food stores. “People have got to follow the guidance in supermarkets, people need to be keeping their distance, making sure that they’re wearing masks, doing the right thing,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Dutch government expected to extend lockdown by three weeks

The Dutch government is expected to announce a three-week extension of COVID-19 lockdown measures on Tuesday evening, national broadcaster NOS reported. Prime Minister Mark Rutte was scheduled to announce the latest social curbs to fight the coronavirus pandemic during a live press conference at 7 p.m.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Lockdown impact on Germany economy not too severe - Scholz

The impact of Germany’s current lockdown on the economy it not too severe and Berlin will use its fiscal firepower, which is adequate, where support is needed, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday. Berlin is forecasting economic growth to rebound by 4.4% this year after an estimated 5.5% contraction in 2020, though some private forecasters regard the official outlook as optimistic given the country is once again in grip of lockdowns. Last month, Germany’s Ifo institute Ifo cut its 2021 growth forecast to 4.2% from 5.1%. Germany unveiled a 130-billion euro stimulus package last June, the centrepiece of a fiscal response to COVID-19 that is among the largest of any Western nation.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Merkel sees coronavirus lockdown until early April: Bild

Germany plans to tighten controls on people entering the country as part of efforts to bring under control a surge in coronavirus cases which is leading to record numbers of deaths in the European Union’s most populous country. The proposal, due to be approved by ministers on Wednesday, will require people arriving from countries with high case loads or where a new, more virulent strain of the virus is circulating to take a test for the disease. Mobile phone operators will have to send information to arriving passengers as soon as their phones are switched on in Germany after a period of absence, according to the proposal, seen by Reuters.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters

UK police to get tougher on COVID lockdown rulebreakers

British police will get tougher on those who flout rules aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 and stricter measures could be brought in, the country’s top officer and the minister responsible for policing said on Tuesday. Hit by a new highly transmissible strain of the coronavirus, Britain is battling a surge in new infections, hospitalisations and deaths. In parts of London, one in 20 people are now thought to have the disease.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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UK facing even tougher lockdown with masks in more places and limits on exercise

The Prime Minister is believed to have spoken with senior ministers on Sunday about whether or not the current lockdown rules are ‘working’ to reduce the spread of the virus. A further 54,940 cases were confirmed on Sunday,
11th Jan 2021 - Metro

Largest UK student accomodation provider gives 50% off rent for lockdown

The UK’s largest student accommodation provider has offered a 50 per cent rent discount in light of the new lockdown. It comes after students were told to remain where they were - while many were still at family homes for the Christmas break - until at least mid-February,
11th Jan 2021 - The Independent

In the first lockdown, England proved it could end homelessness. Why not now?

Halfway through a walk early last summer, I noticed a change around Peckham Rye train station in south-east London. Before the pandemic, there had been a semi-permanent cluster of men and women who would sleep by the entrance. Their makeshift shelters had become increasingly elaborate over the years. Mattresses, duvets and the occasional tent were common enough sights, a damning indictment of the UK’s spiralling homelessness crisis. But I couldn’t see any trace of them that afternoon. A few months had passed since the implementation in March of Everyone In, the scheme to temporarily house rough sleepers in self-contained accommodation during the first wave of the pandemic, including in newly deserted hotels and hostels. The homelessness charity Crisis called it extraordinary, while others lined up to congratulate the government on its unusually bold course of action to shelter thousands of society’s most vulnerable people.An article in the Lancet estimated that the measures prevented more than 21,000 infections and 266 deaths. Simply put, Everyone In saved lives.
11th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Covid lockdown: what can be done to tighten the rules in England?

With hospitalisations and deaths rising sharply and the NHS struggling to cope, scientists have called for a tightening of lockdown measures in England. “We’re in a crisis – that crisis is not only killing people, it’s compromising the ability and the effectiveness of the NHS, including its ability to roll out the vaccinations,” said Stephen Reicher, a professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews and a member of a committee advising the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage). “We need to act early, and act hard – half-measures really don’t work. They give you all the pain, but they don’t give you the gain.”
11th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Covid: Are lockdown rules changing? Public Health England answers your questions

As coronavirus cases continue to rise and strong restrictions continue across the UK, people are wondering how it will all end. Vaccinations centres have opened across the UK, but who will get the jabs, and when? Restrictions are being reviewed, but what if people don't follow them? We're watching very carefully, it is early days. We won't really know until next week, or maybe the week after whether these restrictions have had the effect that we very much hope for. Every single day these things are reviewed. It's a balance between the need for what human beings want to do with what they we need to do to keep people protected. It will be kept under review. Radio 1 Newsbeat put your questions to Professor Yvonne Doyle, who is Public Health England's medical director and director for health protect
11th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Chris Whitty urges people to ‘double down’ on lockdown rules as he warns of ‘worst weeks’ ahead for NHS

England’s chief medical officer has urged people to stay at home and stop “unnecessary contact” as he warned of the “worst weeks of the pandemic” for the NHS. Chris Whitty said that the UK was in an “appalling situation”, with the Covid-19 variant causing the virus to spread in a way that the “old variant was not able to do”. He added that this winter “is in a completely different league” for the NHS. “We got to be very clear that we are now at the worst point of this epidemic for the UK,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding that people should “really think about” unnecessary contact.
11th Jan 2021 - Evening Standard

Supermarkets told to limit customers over fears lockdown rules being broken

Shoppers could once again be faced with long queues outside supermarkets as part of a wider Government crackdown on compliance with the latest lockdown measures. Ministers are said to have agreed to toughen enforcement of the rules amid fears poor compliance could mean the nationwide restrictions fail to bring the soaring coronavirus infection rates under control. The crackdown will focus on the retail sector and the rules allowing people to leave their homes for daily exercise, according to The Times. A Government source told the newspaper: ‘We need to make sure supermarkets in particular are following the rules given this is one of the few places where you still see people from different households in the same indoor space.’
11th Jan 2021 - Metro

Greeks escape lockdown for the beach as winter temperatures soar

Greeks headed to beaches and public parks on Sunday as a rare January heat wave offered a respite from the coronavirus lockdown that has thrown life across Europe into disarray. With temperatures in Athens set to reach 23 Celsius (73.4 Fahrenheit), people lounged on the sand, swam in the sea, and strolled on the promenade on the Athens coast, while police patrolled to control the crowds. In the last 50 years, such high temperatures for January have been seen only twice: in 1987 and 2010, the National Observatory of Athens said. “It is not normal. This time last year it was cold,” said 65-year old Kyriakos Pitoulis. “On the other hand, it helps because people are cooped up at home and they want to go somewhere to let off steam. They cannot stay home all the time.”
11th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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Greece extends some COVID lockdown curbs until Jan. 18

Health authorities reported 721 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and 49 related deaths, bringing the respective totals since the first coronavirus case was detected in February last year to 143,494 and 5,195. Greece earlier extended restrictions on international travellers arriving in Greece by two weeks.
9th Jan 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19 In Butler County: Hospitals Adjusting On Fly After State Announces New Vaccine Distribution Plan

This is the fourth version of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan in Pennsylvania. While things change, local health systems are rolling with the punches. “Many people are ready, many people perceive their risk. They’ve been riding this out for a long time and have been careful for a long time,” said Dr. David Rottinghaus, the chief medical officer at Butler Health System. Dr. Rottinghaus said Butler Health System was tasked with vaccinating the county’s 1A Phase. “We distributed almost 1,000 in the last 3 days. We are pretty far down the road in tier 1A,” Rottinghaus said.
9th Jan 2021 - CBS Pittsburgh

Coronavirus digest: London declares major incident over soaring cases

In Britain, London mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a major incident, warning that hospitals across the capital could struggle to cope with new infections linked to a new strain. "The stark reality is that we will run out of beds for patients in the next couple of weeks unless the spread of the virus slows down drastically," Khan said in a statement, calling for more support and action from the central UK government. "We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point." The number of patients in the capital's hospitals has grown by 27% in the last week and the number on ventilators has increased by 42%. Britain on Friday reported 1,325 news deaths from the coronavirus — its highest daily tally since the pandemic began. The last record of 1,224 was reported in April.
9th Jan 2021 - DW (English)

Hotel quarantine overhaul in light of UK COVID-19 in Australia

A nationwide hotel quarantine overhaul is underway after confirmation the new - more contagious - variants of COVID-19 have made their way into our communities. Saturday January 9: Victoria has recorded one new COVID-19 case in hotel quarantine overnight,
8th Jan 2021 - Nine News Australia


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Merkel aide warns of longer lockdown in Germany if rules too lax

Germany faces the risk of a much longer coronavirus lockdown if the federal states do not consistently implement tougher restrictions, especially in light of a highly contagious new variant, an aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday. “With every relaxation now, the likelihood of even longer necessary restrictions is greater and greater,” Helge Braun, head of Merkel’s office, told Reuters in an interview. Like many other European countries, Germany is struggling to contain a second wave of the virus.
7th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Canada’s Quebec imposes curfew, extends lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar

Canada’s Quebec province will impose a curfew starting on Saturday and extend an existing lockdown through Feb. 8, to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as it works to speed up a vaccination campaign to counter soaring cases of COVID-19. The new curfew will run from 8 pm to 5 am, even as non-essential businesses remain shut and home gatherings are prohibited as part of a “shock treatment” to save lives and the province’s health network, Premier François Legault said on Wednesday. Schools will remain open, he said. Quebec is wrestling with more than 2,500 COVID-19 cases a day, a surge that threatens to increase hospitalizations beyond their spring peak in the next few weeks.
7th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Ireland tightens lockdown as COVID-19 'tsunami' threatens hospitals

Ireland announced its strictest lockdown measures since early last year on Wednesday as a “tsunami” of infections caused by a new COVID-19 variant pushed hospitalisations to a record high and sparked fears the healthcare system could be overwhelmed. Ireland’s 14-day infection rate has quadrupled in the past 10 days to 819 cases per 100,000, fueled by a new more transmissible COVID-19 variant first identified in Britain and the relaxation of restrictions ahead of Christmas. Officials reported a record high of 7,836 cases on Wednesday. “Already exhausted healthcare workers now face a tsunami of infection even greater than the first wave,” Prime Minister Micheal Martin told a news conference announcing the new measures. “In addition we have a more infectious strain of the virus in our midst... which can rapidly lead to growth well beyond previous worst case scenarios.”
7th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK


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Germany toughens lockdown as it struggles to control second wave

Germany is extending its lockdown until the end of January and banning non-essential travel in those areas worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, as it battles to control an upsurge in new infections. “We are appealing to people to reduce their contacts to an absolute minimum,” Angela Merkel told reporters after a videoconference with the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states. The chancellor said infection rates were still too high and many hospitals were reaching the limits of their capacity. Germany also had to be “particularly careful” in view of the new viral variant spreading from the UK that was much more infectious than previous forms of the coronavirus, she said.
6th Jan 2021 - The Financial Times

Merkel Tightens German Lockdown

Markets are eyeing an ever-worsening situation with coronavirus in many parts of the world. In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson says one in 50 people in England and one in 30 in London have the virus as the nation steps up its vaccination drive. In Europe’s biggest economy, the lockdown has been extended and tightened. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders agreed to limit movements and sharpened restrictions on private gatherings. Bloomberg’s Maria Tadeo reports on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Europe.”
6th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

Israel economy to lose up to $1.3 billion a week from tighter lockdown

A tightening of Israel’s third nationwide coronavirus lockdown is expected to cost the country’s economy as much as 4.0 billion shekels ($1.3 billion) a week, according to government and central bank estimates. New restrictions that will tighten a lockdown imposed on Dec. 27 will take effect at midnight and last 14 days. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the curbs as Israel’s final push to stop a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases while it presses ahead with a rapid vaccination drive, hoping to emerge from the crisis within weeks. Israel’s vaccination campaign has reached nearly 15% of its 9 million population in about two weeks.
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Hungary should extend partial lockdown beyond Monday, surgeon general says

Hungary should extend a partial lockdown currently due to end on Monday because of a rise in coronavirus infections in neighbouring countries, Surgeon General Cecilia Muller said on Wednesday. The measures imposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government in November include a 1900 GMT curfew, a ban on all gatherings and the closure of hotels and restaurants.
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

German economy can get through long virus lockdown - finance minister

Europe’s biggest economy can hold out through a coronavirus shutdown for a long time, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday, adding he expected lower levels of government debt than after the financial crisis of 2008. “We can hold out for a long time,” Scholz told ZDF television. “Budget legislators in the German parliament have authorised us to provide the aid that is needed,” he said.
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Swiss plan to extend COVID-19 restrictions to end of February

Switzerland plans to extend its lockdown restrictions by five weeks to the end of February, including closing all restaurants, cultural and recreational sites, the government said on Wednesday. A formal decision is due next week after consultations with cantons. Exemptions for regions less severely hit by the coronavirus have been scrapped, the government said, with a country-wide approach now entering force. The extension of the so-called lockdown-light is needed because “it is already foreseeable that the number of cases will not decrease significantly and sustainably in the coming weeks,” the government said.
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK


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Germany set to extend hard lockdown as daily deaths mount

Germany s disease control center on Tuesday reported 944 more COVID-19 deaths, fueling expectations that Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country s 16 state governors will extend the country s lockdown until the end of the month. Germany’s latest lockdown took effect Dec. 16 after a partial shutdown starting in early November failed to reduce the number of daily new coronavirus infections. It was initially set to expire Jan. 10. Merkel's meeting with the governors on Tuesday will decide how long the lockdown should go on and to what extent schools will reopen. Another topic high on the agenda will be addressing criticism of the country's vaccination program amid frustrations over its gradual start. Vaccinations in Germany and the rest of the 27-nation European Union started over a week ago. In Germany, a nation of 83 million, nearly 265,000 vaccinations had been reported by Monday, the Robert Koch Institute said.
5th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Germany set to extend lockdowns as COVID-19 deaths rise

Germany’s disease control center on Tuesday reported 944 more COVID-19 deaths, fueling expectations that Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors will extend the country’s lockdown until the end of the month. Germany’s latest lockdown took effect Dec. 16 after a partial shutdown starting in early November failed to reduce the number of daily new coronavirus infections. It was initially set to expire Jan. 10.
5th Jan 2021 - MassLive.com

Europe starts 2021 by extending lockdowns as coronavirus cases spiral

A number of European nations have kicked off 2021 in familiar fashion, locking down residents and struggling to curb Covid-19 cases. The tightened restrictions come as a new variant of the virus causes alarm among governments across the continent. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a strict new national lockdown in England on Monday. The restrictions will last for at least six weeks. "It's clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out," Johnson said in an address to the nation on Monday evening.
5th Jan 2021 - CNN

Germany heading towards extension of hard lockdown

The German government and the country’s 16 federal states have agreed to extend a strict lockdown until Jan. 31 in an effort to bring coronavirus infections under control, Bild newspaper reported on Monday, without providing a source. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state premiers are scheduled on Tuesday to discuss a possible extension of the lockdown beyond Jan. 10. Some, including Bavaria’s premier Markus Soeder, have already spoken in favour of an extension. Speaking after the Bild report, a government source told Reuters: “All but two federal states support (a lockdown extension until) Jan. 31. However, the formal decision will be made on Tuesday.”
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK


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Lockdown in Wales could remain in place until the end of January

A review of the Level 4 lockdown restrictions in Wales is due to be held this week, but First Minister Mark Drakeford has warned that there is not "much headroom for change". The restrictions, which has seen people being told to stay at home and avoid all but essential travel, have been in place since Sunday, December 20 and are reviewed every three weeks. All non-essential shops, gyms and hospitality were also told to close. Ministers are to review restrictions this Thursday ahead of an announcement on Friday, January 8. It is likely that not much will change, and with the next review not for another three weeks it means the lockdown could extend to the end of January. But Mark Drakeford said in a BBC interview that it was "very hard to see where the room for manoeuvre is at the moment" with the NHS "under huge pressure".
4th Jan 2021 - Wales Online

Germany to Extend Curbs Amid Criticism Over Vaccine Rollout

Germany is poised to extend stricter lockdown measures beyond Jan. 10 amid criticism over alleged failures in the government’s fledgling vaccination program. Chancellor Angela Merkel is consulting with regional officials and health experts on Monday and Tuesday to decide on prolonging the restrictions, which include closing schools and non-essential stores. She will announce the outcome of the talks at a news conference likely sometime on Tuesday afternoon in Berlin. Authorities have agreed to extend the curbs until Jan. 31, Bild newspaper reported, without identifying the source of the information.
4th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

European countries set to extend lockdowns as Covid cases surge

Germany is preparing to extend its nationwide lockdown until the end of January as governments across Europe consider prolonging or strengthening restrictions to battle highly contagious mutations of coronavirus. “Premature easing would set us back very far again,” Markus Söder, the premier of Bavaria and leader of the Christian Social Union, one of Germany’s governing parties, said on Sunday, after the heads of the country’s 16 states met virtually over the weekend. “The numbers are simply still far too high,” he added. “As annoying as it is, we have to stay consistent and not give up too soon again.”
4th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Austria extends lockdown for another week until Jan. 24 - APA

Austria has scrapped plans to allow anyone with a negative coronavirus test to exit lockdown a week early, effectively extending strict measures and keeping restaurants and non-essential stores shut until Jan. 24, news agency APA reported on Monday. The decision came after Austria’s opposition parties blocked a draft law that would have allowed an early exit from lockdown for anyone producing a negative test for the coronavirus, APA cited Health Minister Rudolf Anschober as saying.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK


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Germany poised to extend coronavirus lockdown

Germany is likely to extend a national lockdown beyond Jan. 10 to curb coronavirus infection rates that are still running high and putting huge strains on hospitals and health workers, politicians said at the weekend. Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders are expected to agree to extend the restrictions when they convene on Tuesday. It is not yet clear how long the extension would last. “The numbers are still too high, so we will have to prolong the restrictions,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told RTL television
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

COVID-19: The U-turns and mixed messages of the government's schools policy

The first primary school return: Education Secretary Gavin Williamson initially set out plans for all primary-age children to return to school for at least four weeks before the summer break. But on 9 June he said he had "no choice" but to change his mind, amid concerns that the two-metre social distancing rule would make a full return impossible. School meals for disadvantaged children: The government did not intend to keep the free school meals available during the holidays. But England footballer Marcus Rashford, himself a recipient of the meals as a child, led a campaign which saw councils and local restaurants and other food outlets step up to provide meals for children who needed them.
2nd Jan 2021 - Sky News

Covid: All London primary schools to stay closed

All primary schools in London will remain closed for the start of the new term, the government has confirmed. London mayor Sadiq Khan said the government had "finally seen sense and U-turned" on its plan to allow pupils in some areas to return on Monday. Leaders of nine London local authorities had written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson urging him to rethink the decision. Mr Williamson said the city-wide closures were "a last resort". The government said it had decided all primary schools in the capital would be required to provide remote learning after a further review of coronavirus transmission rates. Vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers will continue to attend school, the government said.
1st Jan 2021 - BBC News

Yorkshire theatres reflect on a tough year - but the show must go on in 2021

It has been a tough year for our theatres but, as Nick Ahad reports, the energy and verve with which they have reacted, plus the public’s support, gives hope for the future.
31st Dec 2020 - The Yorkshire Post


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Denmark to extend lockdown measures until Jan. 17 - TV2

Denmark's government will extend a hard lockdown for two weeks until Jan. 17 to limit the spread of COVID-19, broadcaster TV2 reported on Tuesday citing unnamed sources. The extension will keep schools,
29th Dec 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com


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Panama to extend lockdowns in effort to curb coronavirus

Panama will extend lockdowns in two provinces, including the capital, from Jan. 4 - 14 in an effort to contain a jump in coronavirus cases in the heavily populated areas, the health minister said on Sunday. With 231,357 registered COVID-19 cases and 3,840 deaths, Panama is the Central American nation that has accumulated the highest number of infections. Under the lockdown measures, which authorities last week said would go into effect nationwide from Dec. 31 - Jan. 4, residents may only leave their homes for essential services such as medical appointments and grocery shopping, Health Minister Luis Sucre said.
28th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Two million elderly facing Christmas alone to get 'greatest gift' of someone to chat to

Elizabeth is just one of the two million older people who will be spending Christmas alone this year. The pensioner has been housebound because of the pandemic – but a new phone service set up by Age UK is helping to spread some festive cheer. The charity estimates that more than half of elderly people won’t see their friends or family this Christmas. So with that in mind, I joined their team of trained volunteers for a day to see how the phone service is helping to combat loneliness among the over-60s. Elizabeth was first on their list of people to call and it was easy to imagine her face lighting up at the sound of a friendly voice. In a chat with volunteer Clare, she says: “It’s been a difficult week but I feel so much better today.
22nd Dec 2020 - Mirror


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Loneliness could worsen as COVID-19 disrupts Christmas, UK charities warn

Tighter restrictions across Britain at Christmas are an “abject disaster” for mental health and could drive many into further isolation, charities said on Monday. Mental health experts and charities warned that loneliness and mental health problems arising from months of lockdowns could worsen as Britain banned millions from meeting after the discovery of a more infectious strain of the coronavirus. “There’s no escaping that it will be a difficult time both in the Christmas period and in January,” said Antonis Kousoulis, director of the Mental Health Foundation, who is researching the impact of COVID-19 on people’s mental health.
21st Dec 2020 - Reuters

Lockdown? I've got this, I thought. But COVID-19 is lonely, even for loners like me.

Over the years, I’ve had some bad breakups. One came in the middle of a couples therapy session. One required me to fly to Atlanta to end things, where the discount flight schedule left me stuck in my ex’s home for the remainder of a very awkward weekend. And one relationship ended silently, with a fed-up boyfriend handing me a book titled “The Misanthrope.” I didn’t realize what happened until I looked it up: “Mis·an·thrope — a person who dislikes humankind and avoids human society.” It hurt, but I could not dispute its accuracy.
21st Dec 2020 - USA TODAY

Pandemic exposes the vulnerability of Italy's 'new poor'

The coronavirus pandemic did not produce Elena Simone’s first budgetary rough patch. The 49-year-old single mother found herself out of the job market when the 2008 global financial crisis hit Italy and never fully got back in, but she created a patchwork of small jobs that provided for herself and the youngest of her three children. That all changed with Italy’s first COVID-19 lockdown in the spring. With schools closed, so went Simone’s cafeteria job. Her housecleaning gigs dried up, too. While others returned to work when the lockdown ended, Simone stayed frozen out.
21st Dec 2020 - The Associated Press


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Italy has patient with new COVID strain, nations ban UK flights

Italy has found a patient with the new coronavirus strain, that was also found, in Britain, the health ministry announced on Sunday. Italy has found a patient with the new coronavirus strain, that was also found, in Britain, the health ministry announced on Sunday. Several European countries and others, such as Kuwait, have banned flights to and from the United Kingdom, in hopes of blocking the new strain which is sweeping across southern England from establishing a strong foothold on the continent.
20th Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

COVID-19: New strain 'seeded right across Wales', says health minister

The new strain of coronavirus in parts of England is also behind a rise in cases in Wales, the country's health minister has told Sky News. Vaughan Gething says the new variant was "seeded right across Wales" and "could not be ignored". Level 4 restrictions in Wales - in line with Tier 4 rules in England - came into effect on Sunday, while plans to allow five days of relaxed restrictions allowing up to two families to form a festive bubble have been cut short and will now only apply to Christmas Day.
20th Dec 2020 - Sky News


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Germany facing lockdown to Easter with hospitals 'on brink of overload'

Germany’s Covid-19 death toll has risen by nearly 1,000 in a single day, leading to speculation that its lockdown could last until Easter. One of the country’s regional chief ministers has warned that for the first time the hospital system is “on the brink of overload” as the infection rate continues to rise and spare intensive care capacity dwindles. The World Health Organisation has advised Europeans to wear masks when meeting family and friends at Christmas. People should also meet outdoors whenever possible, it said. Yesterday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which compiles the German government’s coronavirus statistics, reported 952 deaths within the past 24 hours, well above the previous daily record of 590 on Friday. It said that there were 27,728 new cases.
17th Dec 2020 - The Times


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Unicef to feed hungry children in UK for first time in 70-year history

Unicef has launched a domestic emergency response in the UK for the first time in its more than 70-year history to help feed children hit by the Covid-19 crisis. The UN agency, which is responsible for providing humanitarian aid to children worldwide, said the coronavirus pandemic was the most urgent crisis affecting children since the second world war. A YouGov poll in May commissioned by the charity Food Foundation found 2.4 million children (17%) were living in food insecure households. By October, an extra 900,000 children had been registered for free school meals.
16th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

COVID-19: For the first time in its history UNICEF will help feed children in the UK

UNICEF says it's the first time in its 70-year history that it has responded to a UK "domestic emergency". For the first time UNICEF has launched a domestic emergency response in the UK to help feed children hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
16th Dec 2020 - Sky News


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Supreme Court continues to block state COVID-19 restrictions on religious gatherings

The Supreme Court continued its solicitude toward religious freedom in the face of a pandemic Tuesday by giving religious leaders in New Jersey and Colorado another chance to block strict limits on houses of worship. The action followed similar ones affecting religious institutions in New York and California. In all four cases, the high court indicated that states may not impose stricter standards on churches, synagogues and mosques than they do on most commercial establishments.
15th Dec 2020 - USA Today

Pets Help Counter Lockdown Blues

The UK’s reputation as a nation of animal lovers has strengthened even further over the course of 2020, with a surge of new pets helping to comfort owners against a backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Sainsbury’s Bank, almost a quarter (24%) of UK adults say they have either welcomed a new pet into their home since March 2020 or are planning to do so before Easter 2021. Findings from the bank revealed that around half (47%) of those people who have taken in a new pet have done so for reasons of companionship and improved mental health support. Other positive advantages also emerged from the research. In addition to lifting the spirits through lockdown, about a fifth of owners (22%) pointed out that their health had improved thanks to exercising with their pet.
15th Dec 2020 - Forbes


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Covid-19: Lancashire sees 'disappointing' rise in rule breaches

A "disappointing" rise in Covid-19 rule breaches saw 31 fines handed out at four house parties over the weekend, Lancashire Police have said. Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods said the county, which is under tier three restrictions, had seen an increase in breaches in recent days. House parties were the "biggest issue" and gatherings in Blackburn and Nelson had to be broken up, he added. The force added that fines would only be used as "an absolute last resort". The latest government figures showed the county had a wide range of Covid-19 infection rates in the week up to 9 December, with Burnley seeing the highest rate of 287.9 cases per 100,000 people while Fylde recorded the lowest rate of 92.8 cases per 100,000.
14th Dec 2020 - BBC

UK pubs fear for future as £650m Covid losses forecast for December

Pubs expect December sales to be as much as 90% lower than last year, costing the industry £650m and fuelling concern that vast parts of the sector will disappear for good. December is typically the most lucrative month of the year for the UK’s ailing pub sector, accounting for as much as a quarter of annual profit, thanks to Christmas parties and New Year’s Eve festivities. However, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said its forecasts showed pubs would sell 270m fewer pints than usual over the period, with only one in five of the UK’s 47,200 pubs expected to be open. “I’d be stunned if sales across the industry were any better than 10% or 20% as good as last year,” said Chris Jowsey, the chief executive of Admiral Taverns, which has 1,000 pubs across the UK. “It’s not unusual for lots of pubs to make anywhere up to 25% of their profit in December. For a lot of smaller pubs it’s really important because it carries you through the lean months of January and February, so it’s a bit of a disaster.”
14th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Malaysian women, children bear brunt of coronavirus lockdown

Domestic violence and calls to abortion hotlines have both soared, while job losses and a greater burden of unpaid care work have also taken a toll. Rights body highlights case in which pregnant migrant women were on verge of selling their babies because they could not access health care
14th Dec 2020 - South China Morning Post


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When could London go into tier 3? The date of first Covid tiers review, and when lockdown rules would change

London is in danger of being moved into to tier three, after significant rises in Covid-19 cases in several of the city’s boroughs. Public Health England (PHE) data shows 22 of the capital’s 32 boroughs have infections rates higher than the national seven-day average of 150 per 100,000 people. Government officials will meet to review the tier system on 16 December, and decide which areas should move up or down. These changes will then come into force from Saturday 19 December. They will only be in place for four days before restrictions are relaxed nationwide over Christmas, but will return on 28 December.
13th Dec 2020 - iNews

COVID-19 vaccine to be provided free of cost in Kerala, says CM Pinarayi Vijayan

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan today said that the COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free of cost in the state once it is available. Kerala on Saturday recorded 5,949 new COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths. The number of total cases in the state has jumped to 6.64 lakh and the death toll to 2,594, the Chief Minister said. “No one will be charged for the vaccine. This is the stand of the government,” the Kerala Chief Minister told reporters at Kannur.
12th Dec 2020 - The Financial Express

France to introduce night-time curfew in bid to slow spread of Covid-19

France is set to introduce a night-time curfew and delay the opening of cultural venues as the nation struggles to curb the spread of Covid-19. Jean Castex, the French Prime Minister, said on Thursday that infection rates were not falling as fast as was hoped following the country’s lockdown which began in late October. Its current lockdown will be lifted as planned on 15 December, which is when the daily 8pm to 6am curfew will begin.
11th Dec 2020 - Evening Standard


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Pope's Midnight Mass to start early to respect COVID curfew

Pope Francis will celebrate Midnight Mass earlier than usual to comply with Italy’s anti-coronavirus curfew and will deliver his Christmas and New Year’s blessings in ways that aim to prevent crowds from forming. The Vatican on Thursday released the pope’s COVID-19 Christmas liturgical schedule. It said the pope’s Dec. 24 Mass — which for years hasn’t been celebrated at midnight at all but at 9:30 p.m. to spare pontiffs from the late hour — would begin at 7:30 p.m. this year. Italy has imposed a 10 p.m. nationwide curfew, as well as restaurant closures and other restrictions, to try to prevent crowds from forming following a surge of COVID-19 infections and deaths this fall.
10th Dec 2020 - Associated Press

Italians Will Be Frozen in Place This Christmas

If U.S. states’ lockdowns are too onerous for you, be thankful you’re not in Italy. In November Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte promised that “if we respect the rules, we’ll have a serene Christmas.” Italians largely complied but didn’t get their reward. Now Mr. Conte says it’ll be “a different Christmas, but not less authentic.” Covid-19 hit Italy early and hard. With more than 60,000 deaths and a case-fatality rate of 3.5% (compared with 1.95% in the U.S., 2.57% in Sweden and 2.4% in France), it is clearly a country where things went wrong. In the spring, when the epidemic was concentrated in the North, the country implemented the strictest lockdown in the Western world. It seemed to succeed, and Italians had an uneasy summer, with enclaves of normalcy. Some went to the beach; some hiked mountains; some even went clubbing. In October infections began to rise again.
10th Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

‘Lockdown Lite’ Spares Economies but Doesn’t End Pandemic

Global stock markets cratered when the first wave of Covid-19 infections shut down economies around the world. The current wave by some measures is worse, but markets have barely shrugged. Partly that’s because with effective vaccines headed for approval, the end of the pandemic is in sight. But it also is because governments have tried to apply the lessons of the spring by imposing shorter and less stringent restrictions, or none at all. The economic hit has thus been smaller and more manageable. “We’ve learned a whole lot in terms of how to deal with this pandemic,” Gita Gopinath, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, said in an interview Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual summit.
10th Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal


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France warns it could delay end of Covid lockdown if epidemic spread does not slow

France’s government said Wednesday it would not necessarily end the country’s second coronavirus confinement as planned on 15 December if epidemic indictors did not reach targets. The comments came ahead of a meeting of the health defence council that decides on restrictions. France had planned to lift travel and movement restrictions and reopen cinemas, theatres and museums on 15 December in the second of a three-part easing of lockdown if it met certain conditions were met. But with health officials warning the country was far off from a target of 5,000 new infections per day, President Emmanuel Macron was to meet with the senior ministers and officials comprising a special health defence council to discuss whether to change those plans.
9th Dec 2020 - RFI

More afraid of hunger: COVID-19 rules causing many in Philippines to starve

Daniel Auminto lost his job and then his home when the coronavirus pandemic sent the Philippines into lockdown. Now he and his family live on the street, relying on food handouts to survive. Charities are struggling to meet the ever-growing demand for food as millions of families go hungry across the country. COVID-19 restrictions have crippled the economy and thrown many out of work. “I’ve never seen hunger at this level before,” said Jomar Fleras, executive director of Rise Against Hunger in the Philippines, which works with more than 40 partners to feed the poor.
9th Dec 2020 - The Japan Times

Domestic violence surges in Lancashire during lockdown

Police in Lancashire made more than 2,000 arrests for offences linked to domestic abuse in that time, with charities warning the problem “is not going away”. And figures reveal such cases make up a growing proportion of the work officers have to deal with. While comparable arrest figures for previous years were not available, nationally the number of domestic abuse cases has risen steadily in recent years.
9th Dec 2020 - Lancashire Evening Post

France says will delay easing of lockdown if necessary

France will delay relaxing some COVID-19 lockdown restrictions if necessary to stave off a third wave of infections, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday. France is due to reopen cinemas, theatres and museums and allow citizens to move between regions on Dec. 15, but there are signs it may not meet preconditions to enter into the second phase of rolling back the curbs. “If we consider that ... we must modify this second phase (of lifting lockdown measures), then of course we will do it,” Attal told CNews television. President Emmanuel Macron will discuss the matter with senior ministers on Wednesday. He had originally set a target of 5,000 new infections per day and fewer than 3,000 COVID patients in intensive care before the lockdown could be eased.
9th Dec 2020 - Reuters

UK firms avoid hiring permanent staff in November lockdown

British employers recruited fewer permanent staff during an England-wide lockdown last month, and relied instead on temporary workers to plug the gap, a monthly survey of recruiters showed on Wednesday. The number of permanent staff recruited fell for a second month in a row in November and dropped by its most since July, when Britain had just emerged from its first coronavirus lockdown, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said.
9th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK


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Masked dolls and anti-virus lab kits - toys reflect Spain and Portugal's Coronavirus Christmas

Children in Spain and Portugal could find that their Christmas presents this year reflect the coronavirus pandemic as dolls wearing face masks, kits for making personal protection items, and other toys adapted to fit the times fly off shop shelves. Millions of kids around the world were stuck in their homes during a series of lockdowns, and when they did emerge, they were often told to wear masks. So, as the holiday season approached, some toymakers gave their toys a twist. “I think it’s a way of adapting to reality,” said mum Reyes Lopez as she looked around a toy store in Madrid. “Dolls also have to represent society.”
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters

What Has Lockdown Done to Us?

Drew Holden is a public affairs consultant in Washington, D.C., and a former Republican congressional staff member. He writes: " Research suggests that, to mitigate negative side effects, lockdowns should be well communicated and as short as possible. In many cities and states, one or both of these guidelines were ignored. When lockdowns seemed wanton and capricious, many Americans felt deceived. If new lockdowns are absolutely needed — something that the World Health Organization and some health experts believe is inadvisable — then policymakers must avoid both the reality and appearance of hypocrisy. This is particularly true because, unlike many other wealthy countries, the United States is not providing any type of ongoing direct aid to those who are struggling."
8th Dec 2020 - The New York Times

England’s lockdown puts brakes on retail sales growth

The November lockdown in England brought to an end five months of strong retail sales but the consumer sector showed much more resilience than in the spring, with online purchases soaring and strong spending on electronics and digital entertainment. Retail sales in the UK grew 0.9 per cent in November compared with the same month last year, down from a 4.9 per cent annual expansion in October, according to data compiled by the British Retail Consortium trade body in association with the consultancy KPMG. The overall near-stagnation masked widely different trends across the sector.
8th Dec 2020 - Financial Times

France, Germany and Italy agreed to keep their skiing resorts shut until January, sparking a row with Austria

It took a pandemic to silence Gerhard Schmiderer. For the past quarter-century, the now 70-year-old “DJ Gerhard” has blasted trashy hits for drunken après-skiers at MooserWirt, a bar in St Anton, an Austrian ski resort. This year, however, the speakers will be silent rather than blaring out yet another rendition of The Final Countdown, a raucous anthem sung by big-haired Swedes. The usual revellers dancing on tables in ski boots will be absent. The 500m run back to the resort will no longer be strewn with those who have quaffed too much and fallen over in the snow.
8th Dec 2020 - iNews

Germany speeds up disbursement of coronavirus aid in December

Germany is speeding up the disbursement of coronavirus aid for lockdown-affected firms this month by lifting the threshold of an initial payout which comes with less bureaucratic paperwork, government officials said on Tuesday. Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders have agreed to extend restrictive measures designed to stem a tide of new coronavirus infections until Jan. 10. The measures, which had been put in place since Nov. 2, have forced restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms and entertainment venues to close. But factories, shops and schools remain open.
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

France may have to delay unwinding COVID-19 lockdown as cases plateau

France may have to delay unwinding some COVID lockdown restrictions next week after signs the downward trend in new cases has flattened out after shops were allowed to reopen late last month, two government sources said. France was far from hauling the number of daily new infections down to a target 5,000 and the risk of a rebound in the European Union’s second-biggest economy remained high, Jerome Salomon, the health ministry’s top official, said. The 5,000 threshold was an early condition of President Emmanuel Macron for replacing the lockdown with a nightly curfew, allowing cinemas and museums to reopen and ending the need for people to carry sworn affidavits outside their homes.
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK


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Greece extends key lockdown measures over Christmas holidays

Greece’s government said Monday it will maintain core lockdown measures through the Christmas holidays, acknowledging that monthlong restrictions have not reduced COVID-19 cases to the extent it had hoped for. Schools courts, and restaurants will remain closed through Jan. 7, government spokesman Stelios Petsas announced, while non-essential travel between Greece’s administrative regions will also be banned.
7th Dec 2020 - The Independent

France Set to Miss Goal for Lifting Lockdown as Progress Stalls

France is poised to miss a coronavirus goal set by President Emmanuel Macron as a condition for lifting the country’s lockdown next week, with daily new Covid-19 cases holding at more than twice the targeted level. The government is worried about the pandemic indicators, and is mulling alternatives to a planned end of stay-at-home measures on Dec. 15, Liberation reported on Monday, citing unidentified advisers in the Health Ministry. That could go as far as delaying the end of the lockdown should cases spike, according to the newspaper.
7th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus France: Elderly woman fined for lockdown form error

A French court has ruled that an elderly woman diagnosed with dementia must pay a fine of €166 (£151; $201) for having put the wrong date on her form for leaving home during lockdown. Her daughter had appealed against the original €135 fine imposed during a police check in April. In France's coronavirus lockdown, a downloadable form has to be filled in whenever a person wants to leave home. The woman, 73, was stopped while out shopping in Luxeuil, eastern France. France Bleu news reports that when police booked her they did not record that she was speaking incoherently. She was going to a supermarket about 800m - about half a mile - from her home.
7th Dec 2020 - BBC

Navajo Nation Extends Lockdown Due To "Dire" Surge Of Coronavirus

Citing an "uncontrolled spread" of coronavirus across 75 of its communities, the Navajo Nation expanded its current lockdown by three weeks in an attempt to clamp down on the spread of the virus. The order, a continuation of the Nov. 16 mandate, remains in place from Monday until Dec. 28. The government previously ordered a lockdown for the nation of over 170,000 between March and August. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez warned in a statement Sunday the situation is severe.
7th Dec 2020 - WKMS

Denmark tightens lockdown to curb COVID-19 spike

Denmark will implement further lockdown measures in parts of the country to curb a spike in coronavirus infections, the government announced on Monday. Restaurants, museums, cinemas and other cultural institutions will have to close on Dec. 9 in 38 of 98 municipalities, including Copenhagen, and students in upper primary school, high schools and universities will be sent home.
7th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Greece to keep schools, restaurants shut until after Christmas

Greece said on Monday that it will not re-open schools, restaurants and courts until Jan. 7, effectively extending most of the restrictions the country imposed last month to contain the spread of coronavirus. Greece had to enforce a nationwide lockdown in November, its second this year, after an aggressive surge in COVID-19 cases. It has extended it twice since then, most recently until Dec. 14. In a televised briefing, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said the health system was still under enormous pressure and some restrictions should not be lifted until next month, including a night curfew and movement between regions.
7th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Debate over mulled wine heats up in Germany amid pandemic lockdown

With most Christmas markets closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, open-air mulled wine stands have popped up across Germany as bars and restaurant owners try to bring festive cheer and earn some income as the nation’s “lockdown light” grinds on. But with infection numbers in Germany remaining stubbornly high, politicians fear gatherings of people drinking alcohol, often without wearing masks and sticking to social distancing rules, could hamper efforts to bring case numbers under control. “Mulled wine stands are in full swing tonight,” SPD health policy expert Karl Lauterbach posted on Twitter at the weekend, referring to the situation in Cologne. “Those infected today will infect others next week. Is it similarly catastrophic in other cities?”
7th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Navajo Nation implements another three-week lockdown as ICUs reach capacity amid coronavirus surge

The Navajo Nation has extended its lockdown for three more weeks to try to slow the growth of Covid-19 cases in the community that has already filled nearly all of their ICUs to capacity. "We are near a point where our health care providers are going to have to make very difficult decisions in terms of providing medical treatment to COVID-19 patients with very limited resources such as hospital beds, oxygen resources, medical personnel, and little to no options to transport patients to other regional hospitals because they are also near full capacity," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez warned in a statement issued Sunday. A public health order issued by the Nation said it is "experiencing an alarming rise in positive COVID-19 cases and uncontrolled spread in 75 communities across the Navajo Nation."
7th Dec 2020 - CNN


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More people signed off sick with mental health problems during lockdown, analysis reveals

The proportion of people applying for fit notes from their GP for mental health reasons jumped 6 per cent during lockdown in England, according to new research. It adds to growing concern the UK will see a surge in mental health problems as a result of the pandemic and the impact on society and the economy. The latest data on the number of statements of fitness to work signed by GPs, published by NHS Digital, shows mental health problems now account for almost four in 10 of all sick notes signed by GPs. The Centre for Mental Health think tank has warned the government needs to prepare for the aftermath of Covid-19.
6th Dec 2020 - The Independent

Victoria eases Covid restrictions again as it reaches 37 days without a case

Victoria has announced a significant easing of its Covid-19 restrictions in time for summer, allowing households to receive 30 visitors a day, relaxing mask-wearing rules, and increasing public gatherings to 100. Victoria, once the worst hit state in the country, has now had 37 straight days free of Covid-19. The result, praised by premier Daniel Andrews as “amazing” on Sunday, has allowed a further easing of restrictions. Victorians will, as of midnight local time, be allowed to have 30 visitors daily to their home from any number of other households, a doubling of the previous limit of 15.
6th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

COVID-19 vaccine: ‘We need to think of vaccination as a long trek to freedom’ - Swann

A total of seven large-scale venues across the north are expected to be announced over the coming days which will deliver the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, over the coming weeks. The first batch of 25,000 vaccines, which have to be stored before use at -80 degrees Celsius, is expected to arrive next week following the approval for use earlier this week. It has been confirmed that those administering the vaccine and other health and social care workers, care home residents and people aged over 80 will be prioritised first.
4th Dec 2020 - Derry Journal

Illinois to distribute first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine to 50 counties with highest death rates, possibly by mid-December

Illinois plans to distribute its initial allocation of roughly 109,000 doses of a new COVID-19 vaccine to the 50 counties across the state with the highest death rates from the virus, the state’s top public health official said Friday. In the Chicago area, that includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties. It also includes Kankakee County but not McHenry. First, though, the Pfizer vaccine needs emergency use authorization from the federal Food and Drug Administration, which could come as soon as Thursday. If that happens, Illinois expects to receive its first shipment sometime during the week of Dec. 13.
4th Dec 2020 - Chicago Tribune

'They don't need me now': COVID impact forcing Britons to food banks

British food banks are seeing more families needing their support as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forces struggling people to seek help, charities and volunteers say. Lockdowns and other measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus have forced businesses to close or lay off staff. The rise in those out of work has resulted in more people turning to food banks, which provide emergency food supplies to families in need. “I was working part-time as a cleaner for evenings, and then when COVID started, we had to quit because everything was closed and our offices, they’re not opening until 2021 because people can work from home,” said Vilma Tunylaite, 40, queuing at a food bank in southwest London. “And me, they don’t need me now.”
4th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Wales to give citizens ID cards to prove they got the Covid vaccine

People in Wales will be given ID cards by the NHS after getting the coronavirus vaccine so they can prove they have had the jab, the Welsh government has announced. Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said vaccinated people will receive a “credit-card sized” token, after the UK became the first nation to approve the jab developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. While plans for so-called “immunity passports” remain unclear in other parts of the UK, Welsh ministers believe new cards will help remind people to get the second part of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. In a written statement Mr Gething said: “Those receiving a Covid-19 vaccination will be given a credit card-sized NHS Wales immunisation card which will have the vaccine name, date of immunisation and batch number of each of the doses given handwritten on them.”
4th Dec 2020 - The Independent


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Germany Extends Partial Lockdown Until Jan. 10 to Curb Virus

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will extend its partial lockdown by three more weeks into next year as the country struggles to regain control of the coronavirus spread. Bars, gyms and cinemas will remain closed until Jan. 10 and the government will reconvene with regional leaders on Jan. 4 to reassess the restrictions, Merkel said late Wednesday after talks with the premiers of Germany’s 16 states.
3rd Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

Germany's second lockdown pushed services sector deeper into recession: PMI

Germany’s second lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the services sector deeper into recession in November, bringing overall private sector activity in Europe’s largest economy to a near halt, a survey showed on Thursday. Restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms and entertainment venues have been closed since Nov. 2 to contain an aggressive second wave of coronavirus infections. Factories and shops remain open with social distancing conditions in place.
3rd Dec 2020 - Reuters

Germany Extends Lockdown Again as Infections Remain High

Germany lengthened its coronavirus restrictions for the third time in the current wave of the pandemic, saying late Wednesday that the constraints would remain in place until at least Jan. 10, after a mild lockdown first introduced in November has failed to push infections lower.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Astronauts’ lessons on how to cope — in lockdown and beyond

If lockdown and social distancing are not enough of a challenge, how would you like to be confined to a research lab with your colleagues for three weeks — 19 metres under the sea? Or perhaps you would prefer to be left in a cave system, isolated from the outside world with no natural light, minimal privacy and limited equipment for hygiene and comfort? Welcome to the world of astronaut training. Both Nasa and the European Space Agency run field studies in locations with similarities to working in space: a “dangerous and unfriendly” place, according to Nasa’s website. Hazards include isolation and confinement, while behavioural issues are “inevitable”
3rd Dec 2020 - Financial Times

Meals on wheels: Camper van dining beats lockdown rules in Belgium

A Belgian restaurant has found a way to keep orders rolling in during lockdown - by serving its seafood to customers in camper vans. People can rent a vehicle or bring their own, park up outside the “Matthias and Sea” restaurant and wait for masked staff to bring the food over from the kitchens. COVID-19 restrictions have banned indoor dining. But restaurants can still do takeaways and serve food outside. Owner Mattia Collu said he got the idea while delivering orders to people’s houses in and around his base in the southern village of Tarcienne.
3rd Dec 2020 - Reuters

From Australia to the Philippines, coronavirus lockdowns drive spike in online child sex abuse

Out-of-school kids and adult predators spending more time at home and on the internet during the coronavirus pandemic is the “perfect storm” driving a spike in online child sex abuse around the world, activists and police say. From slums in the Philippines to Australia’s suburbs, the cross-border crime has mushroomed as offenders take advantage of school closures and lockdowns to reach children — either in person or via social media, gaming sites and the dark web. In Australia, federal police received more than 21,000 reports of child sex abuse in the 12 months to June 30, an increase of over 7,000 cases on the previous year. Their investigators also recorded a 136% increase in online child sex exploitation material.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Japan Times

Greece extends nationwide lockdown by a week, to Dec. 14

Greece has extended to Dec. 14 a nationwide lockdown imposed last month to contain a surge in new coronavirus cases, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Thursday. The lockdown, the country’s second since the pandemic began, was extended by a week. “There is a stabilisation or rather a decline in the (number of) cases but at a slower pace than expected,” Petsas told a televised briefing. Greece has registered a total of 109,655 COVID-19 cases and 2,186 deaths, with northern Greece hardest hit and hospitals operating at almost full capacity. The restrictions were initially expected to end on Nov. 30 but the government had already extended them to Dec. 7. Petsas said seasonal stores, selling Christmas items, would re-open next week.
3rd Dec 2020 - Reuters Africa


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Germany to keep restaurants, hotels closed until January 10 - sources

Germany will extend restrictive measures designed to stem a tide of new COVID-19 infections until Jan. 10, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday after talks with German state leaders. The measures, which had been due to expire on Dec. 20, include keeping restaurants and hotels shut and limiting private gatherings to five people from two households. “The states will extend their measures from December 20 until January 10,” Merkel told a news conference, adding that another round of consultations would be held on Jan. 4. “In principle things will remain as they are.” While the daily rise in infection numbers has started to fall, Germany reported its highest single-day death toll on Wednesday since the start of the pandemic, and regions that had been spared the worst are seeing case numbers surge.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters

Greece's undeclared workers hit hard by virus lockdown

Every time Elisa drives to a client's house for a hairdressing job, she makes sure to pack a bag of groceries in the car in case she is stopped by Greek police. Skirting the country's strict lockdown rules to put food on the table, she is among thousands of undeclared Greek workers facing additional hardship during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. "I write out a declaration that I'm going shopping, and I mainly work in my neighbourhood," says the 32-year-old.
2nd Dec 2020 - FRANCE 24

Coronavirus: France to impose border checks to stop skiing abroad

Random border checks will be imposed to stop French holidaymakers going to ski in neighbouring Switzerland, Prime Minister Jean Castex has said. France, in common with Germany and Italy, is shutting its ski lifts over Christmas to stop the spread of Covid-19, but Swiss slopes are already open. The ski season at Christmas and the New Year is a vital part of the economy for many European countries Mr Castex said it was his duty to protect fellow citizens. "The conclusion you need to make is that 'I'm not going to Switzerland'," he told BFMTV on Wednesday, adding that anyone who did go would face quarantine on their return.
2nd Dec 2020 - BBC

In '76 Days', a Documentary Portrait of Lockdown in Wuhan

“Papa!” screams a hospital worker, covered from head to toe in a Hazmat suit and PPE, in the opening moments of the documentary “76 Days.” This is in the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan, back in January and February when the city of 11 million went into a 2 1/2-month lockdown and hospitals were overrun. The health worker’s father has just died, and her agony at not being able to sit by his side is overwhelming. Her colleagues restrain her as she sobs, moaning, “Papa, you’ll stay forever in my heart.”
2nd Dec 2020 - The Diplomat

COVID-19 lockdowns drive spike in online child abuse

Out-of-school kids and adult predators spending more time at home and on the internet during the coronavirus pandemic is the "perfect storm" driving a spike in online child sex abuse around the world, activists and police say. From slums in the Philippines to Australia's suburbs, the cross-border crime has mushroomed as offenders take advantage of school closures and lockdowns to reach children—either in person or via social media, gaming sites and the dark web.
2nd Dec 2020 - Medical Xpress

Only working age care home residents allowed to leave for visits over Christmas

Only residents of working age should be allowed leave care homes for Christmas, according to Government guidance. An exemption can be made in exceptional circumstances, such as visiting a loved one at the end of their life. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the risks are usually significantly greater for older people than for those of working age. The guidance says that residents, their families and care homes should very carefully consider whether making visits out from the home is the best thing to do, or whether a visit at the care home would provide meaningful contact in a safer way.
2nd Dec 2020 - Evening Standard

Joy as Britain's care home residents share first hugs with relatives since March

Residents of Britain’s care homes shared their first precious hugs and kisses with relatives since March on Wednesday, after homes were able to give visitors rapid tests for COVID-19 which give results in 30 minutes. Bob Underhill, an 84-year-old retiree, was reunited with his wife Patricia, 82, who has Alzheimer’s. Both were overcome as they met, then hugged and kissed through their face masks. “I’ve only seen her twice since March because they had a shutdown here, and we just had to sit and wait,” said Underhill.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

‘Where people come to wait to die’: COVID-19 in US nursing homes

Ucedrah Osby heard the terrible news in a way nobody ever wants to: from a local television report, at the same time as everybody else in Bakersfield, California who tuned in. “They were doing interviews,” she recalled. “They were saying that the facility had a COVID outbreak.” Osby’s uncle, Clyde Lee Cooper, 76, lived in Kingston Healthcare Center, the nursing home in question. Over the course of that week in early May as Osby desperately tried to get updates on Cooper’s health, coronavirus engulfed the place. Ambulances arrived, wheeling patients away who never returned. To date, 104 residents have contracted COVID-19 in a facility with 184 beds, at least 19 have died of the coronavirus, and dozens of staff members have tested positive.
2nd Dec 2020 - AlJazeera


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Major study shows how many of us followed the rules for lockdown two

A quarter of people have found it harder to follow rules during the UK’s second lockdown, citing bad weather, feeling worn out and a sense of unfairness, a study has found. Some 24% of people are finding the second lockdown harder, 24% said the rules are easier to follow now and 48% said they are coping about the same, according to King’s College London (KCL) research. The majority (82%) said they are being just as careful or more careful now about obeying the rules.
1st Dec 2020 - Wales Online

Vulnerable children in lockdown 'national concern'

The "invisibility of vulnerable children" during the pandemic should be a "matter of national concern," says England's chief inspector of schools. Amanda Spielman warns when many pupils were out of school in the lockdown, teachers might not have picked up early warning signs of abuse or neglect. The chief inspector says such children, at risk of harm, slipped out of sight. Launching her annual report, Ms Spielman says it should now be a priority to find such overlooked cases.
1st Dec 2020 - BBC

German Joblessness Fell in November Despite Second Lockdown

Germany’s labor market shrugged off a worsening pandemic and new restrictions, with unemployment unexpectedly declining for a fifth month in November. A drop of 39,000 left the total number of jobless people at 2.82 million, pushing the unemployment rate down to 6.1%. While companies are avoiding widespread dismissals in response to the country’s second lockdown, they have grown reluctant to hire.
1st Dec 2020 - Bloomberg Quint

Britons were the lockdown bingers of Europe, finds study

Comfort-seeking Britons have eaten and drunk their way through more unhealthy snacks and alcohol during lockdown than their peers elsewhere in Europe, a study suggests. Overall, the survey of 5,000 consumers in 10 European countries found that lockdown restrictions may have caused lasting positive change in relation to food consumption, with significant shifts in shopping patterns, meal preparation and eating habits. In line with the rest of Europe, people in the UK increased their consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables during the pandemic. However, the British are snacking and boozing more than people in other European countries
1st Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Europe Keeps Schools Open, not Restaurants, Unlike U.S. cities

As a second lockdown appeared inevitable amid skyrocketing coronavirus infections, the scientists advising the French government in October warned that keeping students in their classrooms meant it would take longer to tame the surge. The government kept the schools open anyway, even as the country became an epicenter of the second wave of the coronavirus in Europe. French leaders decided that they would try to subdue the surge, while also trying to minimize economic and academic damage by keeping children learning where they do it best: in school. Five weeks into a second nationwide lockdown, France, like much of Europe, has proved that it is possible to bring the rate of known infections down, even with schools open. It is a lesson that has been taken up late in the United States
1st Dec 2020 - The New York Times

One quarter of Britons found the second national lockdown harder to follow

More than a quarter of Britons found it harder to follow the second lockdown compared to the first, a survey has revealed. The most common reasons for struggling were feeling fatigued by Covid restrictions, a belief measures were unjust and bad weather restricting people from going outside and seeing friends and family. Experts feared that 'lockdown fatigue' would mean many Brits would defy the second shutdown and see loved ones anyway. But King's College London scientists found a 'remarkable resilience' in the British public, with 82 per cent still following the rules to the best of their abilities.
1st Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Merkel urges Germans to be careful or risk third coronavirus wave

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that Germany could face a third wave of coronavirus infections if citizens are careless in the coming weeks. Germany’s number of new infections has stabilized at a high level since a partial lockdown was imposed on Nov 2. to contain a second wave of coronavirus infections. But officials have said that progress was still fragile. “We’ll have to be very, very careful during the winter,” Merkel said in a virtual panel discussion with police officers. “Otherwise we’ll end up directly in the next wave.”
1st Dec 2020 - Reuters

Hospitality hit hardest as Austrian unemployment rises during lockdown

Austrian unemployment rose in November as a coronavirus lockdown kicked in in the second half of the month, Labour Minister Christine Aschbacher said on Tuesday, with hospitality jobs especially hard hit. “The effects of the pandemic but also the global economic crisis that it caused are leaving deep marks on the job market,” Aschbacher said, adding that public health measures were currently the top priority.
1st Dec 2020 - Reuters UK


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Moderna CEO: Most exciting vaccine data is protection from severe Covid-19

Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, joins “Squawk Box” to discuss data from its Covid-19 vaccine trial that shows 100% protection from severe infection.
30th Nov 2020 - CNBC

Germany partial lockdown pushes more companies into short-time work: Ifo

The share of companies in Germany using short-time work schemes rose in November compared to the previous month, economic institute Ifo said on Monday, as a partial lockdown hit employment in tourism and restaurant industries. Ifo said a survey of around 7,000 companies showed that the share of companies using the scheme rose to 28% in November from 24.8% in October. Short-time work, also known as Kurzarbeit, allows employers to switch employees to working fewer hours or even none during an economic downturn. It aims to stop immediate shocks from leading into mass unemployment.
30th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

UK shopper numbers down 56.9% as English lockdown takes toll

Total shopper numbers across British retail destinations were down 56.9% in the week to Nov. 28 year-on-year, reflecting the impact of a third full week of England’s national COVID-19 lockdown, market researcher Springboard said on Monday. It said that on a week-on-week basis shopper numbers, or footfall, rose by 4.8%.
30th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Japan's aged care facilities remain locked down amid a COVID-19 third wave, and now there are fears residents may develop dementia

The only contact Yuumi Matsuno has had with her mother since coronavirus reached Japan has been over the phone, separated by a pane of glass. For 10 months, the nursing home Hisako lives in has limited all visitors from the outside, except staff, in part to prevent any potential spread of COVID-19. While it has largely been successful, it has come at a cost. "She [my mum] doesn't talk as much as before," Ms Matsuno said. "When you speak on the phone, sometimes it's hard to hear and perhaps she feels it is troublesome, so she speaks less.
28th Nov 2020 - ABC News


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Covid infections in England fall by 30% over lockdown - React study

Coronavirus infections in England have fallen by about a third over lockdown, according to a major study. Some of the worst-hit areas saw the biggest improvements - but, despite this progress, cases remained high across England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the data showed the country could not "take our foot off the pedal just yet". The findings by Imperial College London were based on swabbing more than 100,000 people between 13-24 November. The React-1 study is highly respected and gives us the most up-to-date picture of Covid-19 in the country.
30th Nov 2020 - BBC

France must review COVID-19 crowd limits on church attendance

France’s State Council, the country’s highest court, on Sunday ordered the government to review a law limiting the number of people in churches during religious services to 30. The Council said in a statement that the measure was not proportionate to coronavirus infection risks. Last week, the government announced that a nationwide lockdown in place since Oct. 30 would be unwound in phases.
29th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Covid: Has England's lockdown worked?

Covid tiers: large parts of England in tier 3 restrictions after lockdownThe GuardianUK: Lockdown to end on Dec. 2, says PM Boris JohnsonAnadolu AgencyCovid-19 tiers: Almost all of England facing tough virus rulesBritain to detail post-lockdown restrictions in EnglandReutersView Full coverage on Google News
28th Nov 2020 - BBC

Covid: Hospitals could be overwhelmed without new tiers, says Gove

Hospitals in England could become "overwhelmed" with Covid cases if MPs do not back new restrictions, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has said. Many Tory MPs oppose the tougher tier system, which begins on 2 December. But writing in the Times, Mr Gove said MPs - who will vote on the measures next week - need to "take responsibility for difficult decisions". Labour is yet to decide whether it will support the new restrictions. It has warned, however, that areas in tier three will be stretched to "breaking point" without further financial support from the Treasury. It comes as a further 479 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported in the UK, bringing the total to 58,030. There were also a further 15,871 positive cases registered in the past 24 hours.
28th Nov 2020 - BBC

Germany hits 1 million COVID cases as lockdown rules are extended

More than 1 million people across Germany have been infected with coronavirus, officials revealed on Friday. The Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control center, said 22,806 cases were reported the previous day across the nation’s 16 states, bringing the total number of reported infections to 1,006,394. The grim milestone was announced the same day officials revealed Germany had recorded its second consecutive record daily death toll overnight.
28th Nov 2020 - New York Daily News on MSN.com

Coronavirus: Germany should not ease lockdown over Christmas, says top doctor

Uwe Janssens, president of the German Interdisciplinary Association of Critical Care and Emergency Medicine, told DW on Friday that easing lockdown restrictions would put a huge strain on the health care system. "We currently have infection rates above 20,000 per day," Janssens explained. "And although we have a lot of intensive care beds in Germany, there is a great strain on the intensive care units at the moment." This week, Germany announced an extension of lockdown measures until December 20. But restrictions are expected to loosen over Christmas, allowing more family members to meet. "We understand that people will meet together, but we really think it is not a good idea to allow 10 people to come together," Janssens said, citing the number that Chancellor Angela Merkel mentioned in her announcement of the way forward on Wednesday.
28th Nov 2020 - DW (English)

Pandemic inflames violence against women

No country has been spared the coronavirus epidemic, nor the scourge of domestic violence, which has surged during lockdowns. From a spike in rapes in Nigeria and South Africa, increased numbers of women missing in Peru, higher rates of women being killed in Brazil and Mexico and overwhelmed associations in Europe: the pandemic has aggravated the plague of sexual violence. According to UN data released in late September, lockdowns have led to increases in complaints or calls to report domestic abuse of 25% in Argentina, 30% in Cyprus and France and 33% in Singapore. In essentially all countries, measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in woman and children being confined at home. “The house is the most dangerous place for women,” Moroccan associations noted in April as they pressed authorities for “an emergency response”.
28th Nov 2020 - The Japan Times

Lithuania extends lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge

Lithuania on Wednesday extended its coronavirus lockdown until Dec. 17, when the new government is expected to take over. The outgoing government said the lockdown had stabilised new infections at about 11,000 per week, twice as high as during the week of Nov. 4 when the three-week lockdown was announced. “The spread has slowed somewhat, but the situation remains really serious,” Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said during a televised cabinet session.
28th Nov 2020 - Reuters

German minister says partial lockdown could last until Spring 2021

Germany’s partial lockdown measures could be extended until early Spring if infections are not brought under control, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday. Altmaier told Die Welt it was not possible to give the all-clear while there were incidences of more than 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in large parts of Germany.
28th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Maharashtra Covid-19: Existing lockdown restrictions extended till Dec 31

The Maharashtra government on Friday extended the lockdown on account of coronavirus in the state till the midnight of December 31, 2020, an official release said. In the last couple months, the government has eased several lockdown restrictions
27th Nov 2020 - The Times of India


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This Lockdown, England’s Theaters Know What to Do Online

The first coronavirus shutdown caught playhouses unawares, but they learned lessons that stood them in good stead when the shutters came down again. What a difference a lockdown makes. By way of proof, consider the terrific lineup of actresses brought together for “Little Wars,” an imaginative if overly arch play by the American writer Stephen Carl McCasland that is streaming online through Dec. 3. Its run finishes the day after England’s second coronavirus shutdown is scheduled to be lifted, at which point theaters in most regions will, with luck, be open again. Whereas streaming prospects during the first lockdown relied largely on recordings from theaters’ archives, the preference now is for material fashioned for the strange era in which we find ourselves. The digital premiere of “Little Wars” testifies to the abundance of talented performers who can be drawn upon during the pandemic, and to their desire to practice their craft against difficult odds. I’m not sure McCasland’s conceit would amount to as much as it does without the collectively hefty presence of such actresses as Linda Bassett, Juliet Stevenson and Sophie Thompson, all established theatrical names here.
26th Nov 2020 - The New York Times

Students may be compensated for lost teaching during UK lockdown

Students could be awarded financial compensation for lost teaching time during the Covid-19 lockdown after the higher education complaints watchdog told an institution to pay £1,000 to an international student. However, the National Union of Students (NUS) described the process for dealing with complaints about university disruption during the pandemic as “farcical” and “inadequate” as the Office of the Independent Adjudicator published details of a handful of individual cases. About 200 complaints have been submitted to the ombudsman so far. Many more are expected, as students can only take their case to the OIA if they have exhausted the internal complaints procedure at their own university. The NUS says the system must be simplified to speed up redress.
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Covid tiers: large parts of England in tier 3 restrictions after lockdown

Significant sections of England including much of the north and Midlands have been placed in the top tier of new coronavirus restrictions, the government has announced, potentially putting ministers on a collision course with Conservative MPs. Only three areas – Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly – are in the lowest level of the new rules, which come into force when the England-wide lockdown ends on 2 December and are intended to stay in force to the spring. This means that, by population, almost 99% of England will be in the top two tiers.
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus pandemic: Germany seeks EU deal to close ski resorts

Germany is seeking an agreement with EU countries to keep ski resorts closed until early January, in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus. Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament that efforts were being made to reach a Europe-wide decision. Italy and France have expressed support for a co-ordinated approach. But Austria has voiced concern. Some of the early European coronavirus hotspots were at ski resorts, helping spread infections across the continent. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that Europe faced a "tough" six months , amid mounting cases. Renewed restrictions have led to a reduction in new infections in some countries, but there are fears the pandemic could worsen over the winter.
26th Nov 2020 - BBC

Merkel extends Germany’s partial lockdown until Christmas

Germany will extend its current measures to curb the coronavirus spread until 20 December. Unless there is a dramatic drop in infections, they will likely go through early January, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday. Merkel said the measures introduced in early November, including limits on private gatherings and the closure of restaurants, leisure and cultural facilities, cannot be lifted given current infection rates. The number of new infections in Germany has plateaued over the past two weeks, with October's exponential growth brought to a halt. "The steeply rising curve has become a flat one, but this is only a partial success. We can by no means be satisfied," she said.
26th Nov 2020 - RFI

Germany Extends Strict Lockdown Measures With Eye Towards Reopening Ski Slopes

Germany is extending its current coronavirus lockdown measures through mid-December, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced this week. The country will remain under measures introduced in early November that include limits on private gatherings and it will keep bars, restaurants, and museums closed. Residents will be given some leeway around the Christmas holiday. Members of one household can meet up with 10 people between Dec. 23 to Jan. 1. Children under 14 are exempt. The overall restrictions are set to continue until Dec. 20, but it's expected, with the continued surge in infections, that these rules will stay in place until early January, Merkel said.
26th Nov 2020 - NPR

Greece extends nationwide coronavirus lockdown by a week

Greece will extend its nationwide lockdown by a week until Dec. 7 as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country, a government spokesman said on Thursday. An increase in infections since October has forced the government to impose Greece’s second national shutdown since the pandemic began. The country has registered a total of 97,288 COVID-19 cases and 1,902 deaths during the pandemic, with northern Greece hardest hit and hospitals operating at almost full capacity.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters India

Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol in 'very high' tier 3

Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol will fall under “very high” Tier 3 restrictions when England’s national lockdown ends in six days’ time, the government has announced. It follows Boris Johnson’s announcement earlier this week that while nationwide restrictions will expire on 2 December, a tougher version of the regional tiered system will be re-introduced. Other areas that will be placed under the highest levels of coronavirus restrictions are vast areas of the north-east, including Middlesbrough, Darlington, Newcastle upon Tyne and County Durham.
26th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Angela Merkel extends Germany’s Covid lockdown through Christmas

Germany’s national shutdown is likely to extend into New Year to dampen the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said. "Given the high number of infections, we assume that the restrictions which are in place before Christmas will continue to be valid until the start of January, certainly for most parts of Germany," Ms Merkel told parliament on Thursday. She added the increase in coronavirus cases was still much too high and the number of deaths a reason for concern. The country embarked on a so-called "wave-breaker" shutdown on November 2 - shutting restaurants, bars and, leisure facilities, but schools, hair salons and shops remained open.
26th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Greece extends nationwide coronavirus lockdown

Greece will extend its nationwide lockdown until Dec. 7 as COVID-19 cases continued to surge across the country, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Thursday. Greece has registered a total of 97,288 COVID-19 cases and 1,902 deaths, with the hardest hit area being northern Greece. Hospitals are operating at almost full capacity, according to health ministry data.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters

New lockdowns crush French, German consumer confidence in November

French and German consumer confidence plunged in November as new coronavirus restrictions crushed any prospect of a quick return to normal in the euro zone’s two biggest economies, data published on Thursday showed. Restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues have had to shutter up this month in both countries under new restrictions to contain a new wave of COVID-19 infections. While retail shops have remained open in Germany, non-essential stores had to close in France. They will be able to reopen on Saturday under strict sanitary protocols.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters

UK pub operators report losses, job cuts as lockdown pain builds

British pub operators Mitchells & Butlers and Fuller, Smith & Turner said on Thursday they had cut around 1,650 jobs and suffered millions in financial losses as the hospitality industry reels from new lockdowns. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has warned of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of job losses if the government does not give pubs more freedom or grants to help them cover fixed costs in order to survive winter. M&B, which owns All Bar One, Harvester and Browns, said it had cut 1,300 jobs. Smaller rival Fuller’s said its total number of employees had been reduced by 20% following about 350 job cuts, the sale of its pizza chain The Stable and through natural attrition. The companies said they have enough resources to operate in the foreseeable future, but the downside scenarios cast doubts about their ability to continue as going concerns.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Share of UK workers on furlough at highest since June, as second lockdown hits

The proportion of British workers on furlough has jumped to its highest level since late June following the introduction of a temporary four-week lockdown across England to reverse a second wave of COVID cases, official figures showed on Thursday. Businesses reported that 15% of staff on average were on furlough between Nov. 2 and Nov. 15, up from 9% in the previous survey which covered the second half of October, the Office for National Statistics said.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Germany's second partial lockdown weighs on consumer morale

German consumer morale fell further heading into December as a partial lockdown to curb a second coronavirus wave in Europe’s largest economy hit households’ income expectations as well as their willingness to buy, a survey showed on Thursday. The GfK institute said its consumer sentiment index, based on a survey of around 2,000 Germans, dropped to -6.7 in November from a revised -3.2 in the previous month. The reading missed a Reuters forecast for a narrower drop to -5.0. GfK consumer expert Rolf Buerkl said although retail shops had been kept open so far, the closure of restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues since Nov. 2 clouded consumers’ mood.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK


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We asked over 2,000 Australian parents how they fared in lockdown. Here's what they said

Parents have faced unprecedented stress during the pandemic as they care for children while juggling paid work from home. However, very little research so far has focused on family well-being during the pandemic. So we asked more than 2,000 parents to tell us in their own words about the pandemic’s impact on their families. We did this in April 2020, during Australia’s first lockdown. Our published study is the largest of its kind in Australia, and one of very few internationally looking into families’ experiences of the pandemic.
25th Nov 2020 - The Conversation AU

Germany plans Christmas curbs as COVID-19 deaths hit record

Germany reported a record 410 COVID-19 deaths over 24 hours just before federal state leaders and Chancellor Angela Merkel were due to discuss an extension of pandemic-related restrictions into December and for the Christmas and New Year holidays. The 16 federal states are expected to decide on Wednesday to extend the “lockdown light” until Dec. 20. This will keep bars, restaurants and entertainment venues shut while schools and shops stay open.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

France's new coronavirus cases, hospital numbers drop sharply

The number of new coronavirus infections and the number of people in hospital with the virus in France dropped sharply as a national lockdown went into its fourth week. The health ministry reported the number of new cases rose by 9,155 to 2.15 million on Tuesday, compared with 4,452 on Monday - when numbers are usually low due to weekend reporting lags - and compared with 45,522 last Tuesday.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Can't dine out? UK restaurants offer DIY meal kits to survive lockdown

From fast food to fine dining, some restaurants in Britain are relying on home kits to keep them afloat during lockdown, turning clients into cooks who recreate favourite meals in the comfort of their own kitchens. For brothers James and Thom Elliot, the lockdowns provided an unexpected lifeline for their “pizza in the post” Pizza Pilgrims business. The venture now sells over 1,000 kits a day delivered by couriers.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Lithuania extends lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge

Lithuania on Wednesday extended its coronavirus lockdown until Dec. 17, when the new government is expected to take over. The outgoing government said the lockdown had stabilised new infections at about 11,000 per week, twice as high as during the week of Nov. 4 when the three-week lockdown was announced. “The spread has slowed somewhat, but the situation remains really serious,” Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said during a televised cabinet session.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters India


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Covid-19: Bradford salon fined £17,000 for lockdown opening

In England, a hair salon owner is now facing £27,000 in fines for repeatedly opening in breach of Covid-19 lockdown rules. Sinead Quinn was working at Quinn Blakey Hairdressers in Oakenshaw, Bradford, on Saturday when Kirklees Council officers issued a £4,000 fine. The council found the salon open again on Monday and Tuesday and issued two further £10,000 fines. It had £1,000 and £2,000 fines for previous breaches.
24th Nov 2020 - BBC

Pets at Home says pets have been 'a lifesaver' during lockdown

Animals have been "a lifesaver" for people struggling during Covid lockdown, according to retailer Pets at Home which has seen sales rise sharply. Chief executive Peter Pritchard said pets had played "an incredibly important role" through a period of "social loneliness". He added that during the early days of lockdown one of the few reasons people could go out "was to walk your dog". In the six months to 8 October, Pets at Home saw revenues rise by 5.1%.
24th Nov 2020 - BBC

Child protection referrals surge after first lockdown as councils report rise in mental health issues

Child protection referrals have surged in the months following the UK’s first lockdown as local councils report an increase in demand for mental health and family services, The Independent can reveal. New data shows more than 630 vulnerable young people a day were being referred to councils’ children’s services in July, August and September – marking an increase of 15 per cent – or 7,518 referrals – compared to the three previous months when schools and services.
24th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Restauranteurs Look To Australia For A Guide On Surviving A Winter Lockdown

In the US, as Covid-19 cases continue to rise by the day, hitting new mind-boggling heights, new dine-in ordinances are being introduced on state and country-wide levels and more states report considering closures by the day. Without bold Congressional action, restaurant and bar owners are left to their own devices to finagle new business approaches in an attempt to survive a challenging winter ahead. “Northern hemisphere restaurants would be wise to take a page from the playbook of some of their southern hemisphere counterparts,” Juan Garcia, founder of restaurant rating and review site Foodporn tells me. “In Melbourne, Australia, for example, the entire winter months of July to October were spent in stage-four lockdown; meaning restaurants, cafes and bars were completely closed to dine-in customers. This forced a transformation never before seen in Melbourne hospitality.”
24th Nov 2020 - Forbes

France's new COVID-19 cases slow again before possible lockdown loosening

French health authorities on Monday reported 4,452 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, down from Sunday’s 13,157, with the daily increase decelerating for the fourth day in a row ahead of a possible loosening of the country’s second lockdown. The Monday figure tends to dip as there are fewer tests conducted on Sundays. The seven-day moving average of new infections, which averages out weekly data reporting irregularities, stands at 21,918, dipping below the 22,000 threshold for the first time since Oct. 17. That figure had peaked at 54,440 on Nov. 7.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters

French business morale hits five-month low on new lockdown

French business confidence dropped in November to a five-month low as the country entered a new coronavirus lockdown, hitting the services sector particularly hard, a survey showed on Tuesday. INSEE, the official stats agency, said its monthly business climate index fell to 79 from 92 in October, the lowest reading since June, when France was still emerging from its first lockdown. French President Emmanuel Macron is due to announce on Tuesday evening a relaxation of the second lockdown following a decline in new case numbers since it was imposed on Oct. 30.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK


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Germany set to extend coronavirus restrictions to December 20

Germany Germany plans to extend its current lockdown restrictions until at least December 20, according to a draft agreement among the 16 state governors due to be discussed with Chancellor Merkel on
23rd Nov 2020 - The Times

Germany Moves Toward Tightening Partial Lockdown Until Dec. 20

A Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc prevented a majority of people from getting the disease but fell short of the bar set by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. The virus is forecast to claim another 30,000 American lives by mid-December. New York state will reopen an emergency facility on Staten Island, where hospital capacity is strained. New York City will be in “dire, dire shape” without federal aid, its mayor said. And in neighboring New Jersey, the number of patients in intensive care jumped 13% in one day.
23rd Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus: German states plan December offensive

To tighten the screws in a bid to salvage some semblance of normalcy at Christmas. That seems the essence of a new COVID strategy for December and January being hammered out by Germany's regional leaders.
23rd Nov 2020 - DW (English)

Germany looks set to extend lockdown into December as infections remain high

Germany could be preparing to extend its current lockdown into December as the number of coronavirus infections remains high across the country. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet state leaders on Wednesday. Berlin is hopeful a coronavirus vaccine can soon be rolled out.
23rd Nov 2020 - CNBC