| |

Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid-19: Preparation for NI vaccination programme in December

Plans are under way to allow Northern Ireland's vaccination programme to begin next month, according to the Health Minister Robin Swann. Without regulatory approval any plans at this stage are provisional. According to the Department of Health, the vaccination programme will be on a phased basis, and will run well into 2021. Plans include a public information campaign to encourage take up among the public.
26th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Limit contacts before Christmas bubbling, executive urges

People should limit their contact with others before Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed at Christmas, Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has said. Across the UK, three households can mix for five days from 23-27 December. However, Ms O'Neill said it was important to reduce Covid-19 transmission "as low as possible". First Minister Arlene Foster said the next two weeks "are crucial... so that we can all have the safest and the happiest Christmas possible".
26th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Boris Johnson warns of ‘new year national lockdown’ if Covid-19 tier system not enforced

Boris Johnson has warned of a “new year national lockdown” if coronavirus restrictions are not enforced over the winter months. The Prime Minister said the new tiered measures for England, which will see millions of people living under the toughest curbs from next Wednesday, are essential to keep the disease under control. He told a Number 10 news conference that he was “sorry” about the effect the tier system would have. But he said there was an “escape” route from the restrictions, adding: “Your tier is not your destiny.”
26th Nov 2020 - London Evening Standard

Britain will 'spend its way out of crisis' with lockdown savings

Britain’s coronavirus recovery could be better than expected as households spend their pent-up savings having a good time like in “the Roaring Twenties”, experts have said. Official forecasts that the pandemic may cost the UK three years of economic growth may be too gloomy, economists believe. Households have been saving during the crisis and the promise of a vaccine may allow life to return to normal faster than expected.
26th Nov 2020 - The Times

No ski resorts and no fireworks: How Europeans will spend Christmas this year

Governments across Europe have been holding meetings in recent days to work out how they can allow families to get together at Christmas without risking a dreaded third spike in coronavirus cases. It comes as mini-lockdowns appear to be putting a cap on a second wave of infections that began after a summer of relaxed restrictions in the region. From family “bubbles” to no fireworks, the U.K., France, Italy and now Germany have released further details of what will, and will not, be allowed this Christmas and New Year.
26th Nov 2020 - CNBC

Pandemic weakening more in France than elsewhere in Europe, says PM

France has done a better job of flattening a second wave of COVID-19 infections that some of its European neighbours but it would be premature to talk about an end to the lockdown, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday. Castex said the 'R' rate that measures the spread was now at 0.65 countrywide, the same level France reached at the end of a three-month confinement in the spring, but that citizens must not lower their guard over the festive holidays.
26th Nov 2020 - MSN.com

India Coronavirus: How do you vaccinate a billion people?

When it comes to vaccine making, India is a powerhouse. It runs a massive immunisation programme, makes 60% of the world's vaccines and is home to half a dozen major manufacturers, including Serum Institute of India - the largest in the world. Not surprisingly, there's no lack of ambition when it comes to vaccinating a billion people against Covid-19. India plans to receive and utilise some 500 million doses of vaccines against the disease and immunise up to 250 million people by July next year.
26th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Mike Ryan says there's a 'genuine desire to offer people the hope of Christmas' but risks remain

Easing Covid-19 restrictions in the coming weeks so people can spend Christmas with their families presents Ireland with “genuine dilemmas”, Dr Mike Ryan of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. “There’s a genuine desire to offer people the hope of a celebration of Christmas and ensure that people have the opportunity to celebrate that to the extent possible with family, but recognising movements and large gatherings can drive transmission,” the Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme said.
26th Nov 2020 - thejournal.ie

French PM details plan to lift coronavirus lockdown

France aims to lift a nationwide lockdown on December 15, Prime Minister Castex said, with shops authorised to reopen as early as Saturday after weeks of closure.
26th Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24

London pubs to reopen if they serve food as capital placed in tier 2

Pubs in London will be allowed to open next week if they serve food, after the capital was placed in tier 2 of the new restrictions. The move will delight MPs and businesses in London – but is likely to kick off a political row as most cities in the North and Midlands face the harshest tier 3 curbs. Success in curbing Covid-19 infections in Liverpool means it will drop into tier 2, but Manchester faces the toughest restrictions after lockdown ends on 2 December – shutting pubs and restaurants except for takeaways.
26th Nov 2020 - The Independent

As France eases lockdown, ski resorts left out in the cold

Megeve, in the foothills of Mont Blanc, was gearing up to welcome back skiers before Christmas after a COVID-19 lockdown was eased. But France’s government - while allowing cinemas, museums and theatres to reopen from Dec. 15 - says its ski slopes must stay off limits until 2021, leaving those who make their living in the Alpine village frustrated and, in some cases, perplexed.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Most of England to enter two toughest tiers when lockdown is lifted

The majority of England will enter the two toughest tiers of Covid restrictions from next week, ministers are set to announce, amid signs of a growing parliamentary rebellion and fears that the measures could remain unchanged until spring. On Thursday Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is expected to say that most of the country will be placed into tiers 2 or 3, which imply significant restrictions on hospitality, after the national lockdown ends on 2 December. As ministers grappled with the backlash, a further 696 coronavirus deaths were announced on Wednesday – the highest UK daily total since 5 May. Lockdown-sceptic Tory MPs have seized on a newly published forecast from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which assumes months more of struggle to get to grips with the virus.
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

As COVID-19 Vaccine Nears, Employers Consider Making It Mandatory

Just a few months into the coronavirus pandemic, Holly Smith had already made up her mind. She was not going to reopen her restaurant to diners until there was a vaccine. She just didn't think it was safe. When she shared the decision with her staff, they asked: Would the vaccine be mandatory? Yes, she said. It would be. "I'm not going to open until I can indeed be sure that everyone on my staff is vaccinated," says Smith, chef and owner of Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, Wash. "The immediate people on the team — you've got to take care of them. If you don't take care of them, they cannot help you take care of business."
25th Nov 2020 - NPR

Greater Manchester's largest NHS trust draws up Covid-19 vaccination plans for staff

Manchester's largest NHS trust is drawing up plans to vaccinate its staff against coronavirus. The Manchester Evening News has seen an early internal planning document circulated within Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust runs a number of hospitals including Manchester Royal Infirmary, Wythenshawe Hospital, Saint Mary's Hospital, Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and Trafford General. Several potential Covid-19 vaccines are in the later stages of clinical trials, but still have to pass safety tests. It's not yet known whether - or when - a vaccine could be approved for use. But in line with Government instruction the NHS in all settings is gearing up to be ready to roll out vaccination programmes from any date in December, although mass vaccination is said to be more likely to happen in the new year.
25th Nov 2020 - Manchester Evening News

Manchester braces for return to Tier Three: Mayor Andy Burnham predicts government will plunge region back under toughest Covid curbs when UK-wide lockdown ends on December 2

Andy Burnham said it is 'more likely than not' that GM will go into 'very high' level Decision will be announced tomorrow over which regions go into which tiers. It will come into force when national lockdown ends next Wednesday, 00.01am. He had stand-off with Ministers last month whether to place GM into tier three
25th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Christmas UK lockdown lift: Dr Hilary Jones warns plan could spell disaster

Dr Hilary Jones has slammed the UK as a ‘weak nation’ if it feels like the five day Christmas lockdown lift is necessary. The Good Morning Britain medical expert has warned that the government’s plans for a five-day break from coronavirus lockdown rules over the festive period could have an enormous effect on the country going forward. Trying to break it down into simpler terms, he added that we could lose the advantage we currently have on keeping coronavirus contained. ‘I think controlling the virus is like trying to control your weight. It’s easy to put weight on, it’s very difficult to lose it,’ he explained.
25th Nov 2020 - Metro.co.uk

COVID Christmas rules: What's allowed during the festive season?

Coronavirus rules will be relaxed over the festive season across the UK with people allowed to celebrate in three-household "Christmas bubbles" with their families. Leaders in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have all agreed that groups can meet at home, outdoors or in a place of worship from 23 to 27 December. Individuals will also be able to travel between tiers and across the whole of the UK without restriction within the five-day period for the purposes of meeting with their bubble.
25th Nov 2020 - Sky News

How do you exit a lockdown effectively? Listen to the experts

European countries enduring a second wave of COVID-19 have once again locked down. There are signs that these measures are curbing the spread of the coronavirus. But experts warn certain steps are necessary if Europe is to successfully exit this period of lockdown and avoid repeating past mistakes.
25th Nov 2020 - World Economic Forum

Covid lockdown in France: Macron’s sobering message to the nation

President Macron announced an easing of restrictions in France last night while preparing the nation for an unfamiliar festive season of sobriety, home-cooked meals and early nights. In a televised address Mr Macron, who placed France in lockdown on October 29, said that he planned to lift it on December 15 if daily new infections fell below 5,000 by that date.
25th Nov 2020 - The Times

France’s lockdown to ease as Macron says second peak has passed

President Emmanuel Macron has announced a three-step route out of lockdown for France ahead of the Christmas season, declaring the second coronavirus peak to be ‘over’. People will be able to visit non-essential shops and go to museums and cinemas by mid-December – but won’t be able to enjoy a meal in a restaurant or a gym workout until late January as the Government strives to keep infection rates down. It comes after a month of tight restrictions, with residents currently requiring a permission slip to leave their homes, although schools and some workplaces remain open.
25th Nov 2020 - Metro

French government pledges more support for businesses as lockdown measures eased

The French government is pledging an additional €1.6 billion to help businesses forced to remain shut, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions. Restaurants and gyms will remain closed until at least January 20, while no date has been given for the re-opening of bars or nightclubs. The extra funds will be used to expand a grant scheme to help firms cover their costs during the crisis. Meanwhile, business groups have welcomed news that all shops will be allowed to open from Saturday.
25th Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24

President Emmanuel Macron on Gradual Easing of Lockdown in France, Covid-19 Vaccinations: Video

French President Emmanuel Macron said he will gradually lift a nationwide lockdown from Saturday, as he attempts to avoid a resurgence of the coronavirus. He also commented on Covid-19 vaccinations in a televised address, Tuesday
25th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

France announces limited lockdown easing with Europe wary of festive surge

France has announced a limited easing of its strict nationwide lockdown and Germany and Spain have outlined restrictions on Christmas and new year gatherings as European governments act to prevent Covid cases multiplying over the holiday period. The announcements came as the second wave of the pandemic continued to cause daily death tolls not seen in the worst hit countries since the spring: Spain recorded 537 new deaths on Tuesday and Italy a further 853, its highest daily toll since the end of March.
24th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

'Essential workers' likely to get earlier access to Covid-19 vaccine

Essential workers are likely to move ahead of adults 65 and older and people with high-risk medical conditions when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signs off on Covid-19 vaccine priority lists, coming after health care workers and people living in long-term care facilities, a meeting of an expert advisory panel made clear Monday. The intention is to bring many people of color closer to the front of the vaccine priority line — should they want to be vaccinated — in recognition of the fact that the pandemic has disproportionately hit Black and Latino communities.
23rd Nov 2020 - STAT News


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 25th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Coronavirus: French lockdown to ease after second peak passes

France will begin to ease its strict coronavirus restrictions this weekend, allowing non-essential shops to reopen, President Emmanuel Macron has said. People will also be able to share "moments with the family" over the Christmas period, Mr Macron announced. But he said bars and restaurants would have to remain closed until 20 January. France has reported more than 2.2 million cases and more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
25th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Watchdog criticises poor planning that left UK without enough PPE as COVID-19 struck

Britain’s failure to stockpile key pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) before the coronavirus pandemic left supplies dangerously low and forced the government to pay five times the normal price to meet demand, the public spending watchdog said. About a third of doctors and nurses, including those working in the riskiest areas of hospitals with COVID-19 patients, complained they were given inadequate protective equipment as the pandemic swept across Britain earlier this year. There were insufficient supplies of gowns and visors despite warnings from some of the government’s top scientific advisers last year that they should be increased, the National Audit Office (NAO) said in a report.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

The ‘daunting’ hurdles of distributing Covid-19 vaccines in America

James English has $74,000 to figure out how to distribute the world’s first ultra-cold storage drug to a staff of skeptical and worn-out healthcare workers, as the major sources of supports to contain Covid-19 so far come to an end. English is the regional operations chief and health branch director for Covid-19 in Washoe county, Nevada, and is one of the hundreds of local public health directors across the US who will eventually help distribute Covid-19 vaccines. English faces difficulties likely to be encountered nationally, as the nation undertakes the most logistically challenging vaccination campaign in its history. “The largest hurdle – we have as a small health department – is we do multiple roles,” said English. “Our funding is very minimal.”
24th Nov 2020 - The Guardian on MSN.com

Hundreds in NYC line up to get tested for COVID-19 ahead of Thanksgiving

Hundreds lined up outside COVID testing facilities Tuesday morning before they even opened their doors. In Brooklyn, dozens flocked to CityMD facilities in the early hours with long lines snaking through Flatbush, Williamsburg and Bushwick. Wealthy New Yorkers are avoiding the wait by paying line-waiters $80 an hour to line up on their behalf. Gov. Cuomo warned New Yorkers in a press conference Tuesday not to be fooled by one negative test result. Americans across the country are clamoring to get COVID tests as they ignore the pleas of public health experts to cancel Thanksgiving travel plans
24th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid in Scotland: No changes to local levels after review

Scotland's local Covid-19 alert levels are to remain unchanged, with Nicola Sturgeon saying the government must follow a "cautious approach". Where each local authority area sits in the five-level system of measures is reviewed every Tuesday. The first minister said restrictions were "having an impact", but that no changes would be made this week. She said case numbers may be declining across Scotland, but it was important to "keep the virus at bay". And Ms Sturgeon said she was "hopeful" that a deal will be agreed later on Tuesday to ease curbs over Christmas in a "temporary and limited" way to allow more people to meet up.
24th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Covid-19: England arrivals to be able to cut quarantine with private test

People arriving in England from abroad will be soon able to reduce their quarantine by more than half if they pay for a Covid test after five days, the transport secretary has announced. The rules will come into force from 15 December and the tests from private firms will cost between £65 and £120. Grant Shapps said the scheme would "bolster international travel while keeping the public safe". The travel industry welcomed the policy but described it as "long overdue". It follows Boris Johnson's announcement that England will come under "toughened" three-tiered regional restrictions when the lockdown ends on 2 December.
24th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: German states agree on Christmas rules

Tighten the screws in a bid to salvage some semblance of normalcy at Christmas: That seems to be the essence of a new COVID strategy for December reportedly developed by Germany's regional leaders.
24th Nov 2020 - DW (English)

Italy seeking EU rules for Christmas skiing to limit COVID-19 risk

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has warned Italians not to ski during the Christmas holidays to help curb a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 people in Italy. He also called on other European countries to agree on common rules for the sector to prevent cases being imported from abroad if Italy keeps its slopes closed - although neighbouring Austria has already expressed its reservations about the idea. Italy’s ski resorts earn annual revenues of about 11 billion euros ($13.06 billion), a third of which comes from the days Italians usually spend in the Alps and Dolomites at Christmas and New Year.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

'We must do everything to avoid a third wave and lockdown,' says Macron

France will begin easing its Covid-19 lockdown this weekend so that by Christmas, shops, theatres and cinemas will re-open and people will be able to spend the holiday with the rest of their family, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday. In a televised address to the nation, Macron said the worst of the second wave of the pandemic in France was over, but that restaurants, cafés and bars would have to stay shut until January. "We must do everything in our power to avoid a third wave and a third lockdown," the French president said.
24th Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24 English

Crowds of up to 4,000 and grassroots sport to return after English lockdown

Crowds of up to 4,000 people will be allowed to return to sporting events in England from next week, and grassroots sport will also resume as part of an easing of coronavirus restrictions announced by the prime minister. The changes were greeted with widespread relief after weeks of concerted pressure from sporting bodies and the public, who had both argued the importance of being able to participate in sport during the pandemic and also of the ability to watch it safely. England is to return to a system of tiered restrictions from 2 December but gyms, pools, golf courses and leisure facilities will now be allowed to open in all tiers after the government accepted their positive impact on physical and mental health
24th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

England gets new set of restrictions for end of COVID-19 lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new measures on Monday to replace a COVID-19 lockdown in England from Dec. 2, reinforcing a previous regional approach to try to reopen businesses in areas where infection rates are lower. Just over two weeks after Johnson introduced a national lockdown in England to try to tame a spiralling increase in new coronavirus cases, he said the measures had reduced COVID infection rates and would be eased on Dec. 2 as promised. Johnson has been under pressure to scrap the lockdown from lawmakers in his Conservative Party, where many have threatened to vote against any new restrictions without more evidence of their effect in stemming infections.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters

UK health minister says test and trace can't control COVID-19 alone

British health minister Matt Hancock said that ‘test and trace’ can not control coronavirus in the way that an effective system of mass testing can, as he defended the performance of the heavily criticised contact-tracing system. The test and trace system was inefficient and slow, Reuters found after speaking to tracers and analysing the data, making it inadequate to avoid a second wave and a new English national lockdown which started on Nov 5. “The test and trace programme, ahead of the second lockdown, was functioning to reduce transmission enormously,” Hancock told lawmakers. “By the time of the second lockdown, it had already broken the chains of transmission hundreds of thousands of times.”
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Riding the CoronaCoaster of UK rules

In the beginning, there was “Stay at Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.” That was the British government’s simple slogan for its country-wide lockdown that began in March to try to stem the COVID-19 pandemic and avoid a collapse of the National Health Service’s hospital system. Nothing has been simple ever since. In the ensuing months, the original slogan has been replaced by a series of new catchphrases, the “Rule of Six,” a “Tiers” alert system, and ever-changing regulations for different parts of the United Kingdom that even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently called “confusing.” “I like to follow the rules,” says Joinal Abdin, 41, who lives near Oldham, in northern England. Does he understand them? “No. Half of the time I’m confused, to be honest with you.”
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Making headlines: COVID-19 and gender inequality

We have repeatedly heard about how COVID-19 disproportionately affects women. While men are more likely to die from the virus, in many other respects, women are bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s impact. The effects on women have been multiple: violence against women has increased, with incidents of domestic violence soaring. School closures, overburdened healthcare systems and social distancing measures have significantly increased many women’s unpaid care and domestic loads at home, which, in turn, has made them less able to balance these responsibilities with paid work.
24th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 24th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Here’s how the U.S. government plans to distribute the first Covid-19 vaccines.

In the wake of a steady stream of positive results indicating the effectiveness of several coronavirus vaccines, the official in charge of the federal coronavirus vaccine program explained on Sunday news shows how the vaccines might be distributed to Americans as early as next month. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of the administration’s Operation Warp Speed, said that within 24 hours after the Food and Drug Administration approves a vaccine, doses will be shipped to states to be distributed. “Within 48 hours from approval,” the first people would likely receive injections, Dr. Slaoui said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”
23rd Nov 2020 - New York Times

Qantas announces Covid-19 vaccination will be mandatory for all passengers

An airline has revealed that it will demand proof of a Covid-19 vaccination from international passengers. Head of Australian carrier Qantas has confirmed that having the jab - and being able to prove it - will be required by every passenger wanting to fly abroad on their services. CEO Alan Joyce said that as soon as a vaccine became available, it will become a condition of travel, deeming it a necessity for international travel.
23rd Nov 2020 - Manchester Evening News

Covid-19 visiting scheme in place at 'small number' of care homes

Most of Northern Ireland's care homes have not implemented a visiting scheme eight weeks after it was announced by the health minister, the chief nursing officer has said. Charlotte McArdle said a "small number" of homes had started up the so-called care partners scheme. Normal care home visits have been suspended due to Covid-19. The care partner initiative allows a designated relative or carer to visit a resident. Guidance on the scheme was announced by Health Minister Robin Swann on 23 September.
23rd Nov 2020 - BBC News

UK PM Johnson sets out new measures to replace COVID lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new measures on Monday to replace a COVID-19 lockdown in England from Dec. 2, reinforcing a previous regional approach to try to reopen businesses in areas where infection rates are lower. Just over two weeks after Johnson introduced a national lockdown in England to try to tame a spiralling increase in new coronavirus cases, he said the measures had reduced COVID infection rates and would be eased on Dec. 2 as promised. Johnson has been under pressure to scrap the lockdown from lawmakers in his Conservative Party, where many have threatened to vote against any new restrictions without more evidence of their effect in stemming infections.
23rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19: Tougher tier rules when England lockdown ends

Boris Johnson has confirmed that the national lockdown in England will come to an end on 2 December and individual regions will return to tiered restrictions. Gyms and non-essential shops in all parts of England will be allowed to reopen, weddings, funerals and group worship can take place and pubs will no longer have to close at 22:00, where tier rules allow. However, Boris Johnson warned that tier restrictions will have to be toughened to bring down the R rate.
23rd Nov 2020 - BBC

In Italy, theater reopens in town devastated by COVID

In a signal of rebirth, the Donizetti theater in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, reopened this weekend after three years of renovations. But the planned gala celebration had to be postponed, and new productions for an annual festival dedicated to the city’s native composer Gaetano Donizetti had to be streamed online from an empty theater. Festival musical director Riccardo Frizza said the autumn festival was envisioned as a life-affirming moment for the city and province, where 6,000 people died in a single month last spring.
23rd Nov 2020 - Associated Press

US, Germany and UK could start Covid vaccinations as early as December

As G20 leaders pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests so that poorer countries are not left out, the US, UK and Germany each announced plans to begin vaccinations in their countries in December, while Spain said it would start administering the vaccine to its citizens in January. Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine as early as this week, even before the US authorises it, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday. Pfizer and BioNTech could secure emergency US and European authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed a 95% success rate and no serious side effects.
23rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

European nations plan cautious easing of lockdowns for Christmas

Policymakers across Europe are preparing to relax Covid-19 lockdowns for the second time this year as they look to “save Christmas” and enable family reunions for 500m across the continent — except this time, they are avoiding calling it a reopening. Restrictions implemented at the end of October throughout the continent are starting to yield results, with a slowdown in new infections recorded in most countries according to data tracked by the Financial Times. This is fuelling calls from retailers to end the mandatory closures of shops deemed non-essential during the most lucrative trading month of the year. The UK, France and Ireland are among the countries where lockdowns are due to expire in early December.
23rd Nov 2020 - Financial Times

WHO Warns Europe Against Lifting Lockdowns Too Early Amid Slight Decline In Coronavirus Cases

While Europe is starting to see the first early signs that the coronavirus spike across the continent is beginning to ease, World Health Organization officials warn that European countries need to take care to not lift lockdowns too early and repeat the mistakes governments made in the spring that could lead to another surge in cases. David Nabarro, the WHO’s special coronavirus envoy, said to Swiss newspaper Solothurner Zeitung that European countries are in danger of setting themselves up for a third coronavirus wave in early 2021, before vaccines in the works could be widely administered to the general public, according to Deutsche Welle. To prevent another large outbreak after current restrictions are pulled back, he advised European governments to only ease lockdowns after coronavirus infection rates show a clear, sustained decrease.
23rd Nov 2020 - Forbes

Gyms and non-essential shops will open after England lockdown ends: BBC

Gyms and non-essential shops in all areas of England are expected to be allowed to reopen when the country’s current lockdown ends on Dec. 2, the BBC reported on Monday.
23rd Nov 2020 - Reuters


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 23rd Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

First Americans could get COVID-19 vaccine by December 11, top health official says

The first Americans could receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as 24 hours after the FDA grants approval, which would kick off the largest inoculation campaign in U.S. history starting in mid-December. "Within 24 hours from the approval, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state will have told us where they want the vaccine doses," Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for the government's "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine program, told NBC's "Meet the Press."
22nd Nov 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Maine planning for massive rollout of COVID-19 vaccines

When the trucks roll into Maine with the first batches of COVID-19 vaccine doses – perhaps as soon as mid-December – the state will need to overcome many logistical hurdles to bring the vaccines to pharmacies, doctors’ offices, hospitals, schools, fire halls and eventually the arms of patients. The mass vaccination effort will be a daunting operation, and planning for it has been underway for months. The pandemic has accelerated this fall, so getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible is a top priority for public health officials. Since the pandemic began last winter, more than 255,000 people have died in the United States from COVID-19, including 174 in Maine.
22nd Nov 2020 - Press Herald

Covid-19 vaccine not to be compulsory, says Health Secretary

The Scottish Government has outlined its distribution plan for an inoculation to the virus, with hopes it could be available in the first week of December. However, Ms Freeman told the BBC there would be a public information campaign put in place to dispel any concerns held about the vaccine rather than making them mandatory.
22nd Nov 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

South Australia emerges carefully from COVID-19 outbreak

South Australia was on track on Saturday to end its hard COVID-19 lockdown three days early, recording only one new infection, while other states marked weeks of no new cases or deaths related to the novel coronavirus. The lockdown, which kept people in South Australia at home and the majority of businesses shut, was imposed earlier this week after false information provided to contact tracers by a man who tested positive raised fears of mass infections. The lockdown, planned for six days, was to be lifted as of Sunday, although a range of measures were to remain to limit big crowds
22nd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Inching toward normal, Australia eases some COVID-19 curbs

Australia moved a step closer to normal life on Sunday, opening some internal borders and easing restrictions in regions affected by COVID-19, as the vast majority of the country has seen no new community infections or deaths for weeks. South Australia, which last week became the epicentre of the country’s infections, reported no new community cases and lifted a drastic lockdown earlier than planned, with the state premier saying swift action had avoided disaster. The number of active cases in the state stood at 37 after an outbreak linked to a returned traveller from Britain forced 4,500 people to quarantine. “We have avoided a catastrophic situation in our state by following the unequivocal health advice,” Premier Steven Marshall told a news briefing.
22nd Nov 2020 - Reuters India

France to start easing lockdown rules in three steps, government spokesman says

France will start easing coronavirus lockdown rules in coming weeks, carrying out the process in three stages so as to avoid a new flareup in the pandemic, the government said on Sunday. On Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron will give a speech to the nation about the virus situation and may announce a partial relaxation of restrictions which have been in place since Oct. 30. “Emmanuel Macron will give prospects over several weeks, especially on how we adjust our strategy. What is at stake is adapting lockdown rules as the health situation improves while avoiding a new flare up in the epidemic,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told Le Journal Du Dimanche. “There will be three steps to (lockdown) easing in view of the health situation and of risks tied to some businesses: a first step around Dec. 1, then before the year-end holidays, and then from January 2021,” Attal added.
22nd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Britons ‘to receive freedom passes if they pass two Covid tests a week’

Britons could be given special 'freedom passes' if they test negative for coronavirus twice a week. Passholders would have to show that they have been regularly tested with an electronic form, it has been reported. The pass, which could take the form of a QR code, would allow holders to live a relatively normal life. Boris Johnson is said to be set to unveil the scheme on Monday when he launches the Government's Covid Winter Plan.
22nd Nov 2020 - Evening Standard

More States Offer Covid-19 Contact-Tracing Apps, But Adoption Is Uneven

Covid-19 contact-tracing apps from Apple Inc. and Google are coming to more states, along with evidence that they can help slow infections as long as enough people use them. Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have recently adopted the “exposure notification” technology the companies built into their smartphone operating systems—Big Tech’s most significant contribution to the fight against Covid-19. California, and other states are piloting the technology and could release it soon.
21st Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19: Hong Kong-Singapore travel corridor postponed

The launch of a travel corridor between Hong Kong and Singapore has been postponed for two weeks amid a surge of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. The deal was due to kick in on Sunday, allowing passengers to fly both ways without the need to self-isolate. The decision is a blow to attempts by the two financial hubs to revive their battered travel sectors. Hong Kong reported 43 new infections on Saturday, the highest daily toll in nearly three months. The number includes 13 cases with unknown transmission sources, raising fears the local outbreak could get out of control.
21st Nov 2020 - BBC

Covid restrictions: Doctors call for Rule of Six to be scrapped after lockdown ends in England

Doctors have called for the Rule of Six to be scrapped when the England-wide lockdown is lifted in December, and instead replaced with older restrictions that allow only two households to meet. The British Medical Association (BMA) said the previous tiered system was “inconsistent” and did not contain the spread of the virus, and warned the rules must be revised before the national lockdown ends.
21st Nov 2020 - iNews

Polish malls to reopen, but PM warns against Christmas travel

Shopping centres will reopen in Poland in a week’s time, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Saturday, in a boost to retailers in the run-up to Christmas, but he added that the government was working on rules to limit travel. The government closed entertainment venues and some shops from Nov. 7 after a surge in COVID-19 cases, but infections have levelled off since then, allowing some loosening of restrictions. There is one condition: ... the discipline of every shop, mall, furniture store. If not, these stores will be closed,” Morawiecki told a news conference. “These decisions can save hundreds of thousands of jobs, which is why we are taking them,” he said.
21st Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

England not going back to normal after lockdown, official says

It is too soon to say what restrictions England will face once its COVID lockdown ends next month but it will not be going back to normal, health officials said on Friday. Stephen Powis, the medical director of England’s NHS health service, said the government would be lifting the current restrictions on Dec 2 but added: “I am sure we will not be going back to normal - further restrictions will be required.”
21st Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Families ‘can visit relatives in care homes at Christmas’ with roll out of rapid 30 minute coronavirus tests

A London council has vowed relatives will be able to see their loved one in care homes this Christmas as they started planning 30-minute on-the-spot Covid tests for families. Hammersmith and Fulham began borough-wide targeted coronavirus testing this week using the lateral flow swabs - piloted in Liverpool - which produce results in under an hour. The council, which is running the operation in conjunction with the Government, will initially test asymptomatic frontline workers in nursing homes and in GP practices, followed by school staff, social workers, people in sheltered homes and other key workers.
20th Nov 2020 - Evening Standard

NHS to start giving Covid-19 vaccine to under-50s by end of January, leaked papers say

The NHS is planning to roll out the coronavirus vaccine to under 50s by the end of January, it has been reported. Under the plan every adult in England who wants to would have been vaccinated by early April. Two Covid vaccines have already been proven to be effective but still need to pass safety tests before they are rolled out to the public. And a third, produced by Oxford/AstraZeneca, this week reported good news about its effectiveness among the elderly. As healthcare is devolved the NHS services in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be creating their own plans.
20th Nov 2020 - Mirror Online

The world's now scrambling for dry ice. It's just one headache in getting coronavirus vaccines where they need to go

Vaccines like to be kept cool, none more so than the Pfizer candidate for Covid-19, which has to be deep-frozen. And that's going to be an issue for developing countries -- and for rural areas in the developed world. The "cold chain" is just one of the challenges in distributing vaccines worldwide. There are plenty of others: decisions about priority populations and databases to keep track of who's received what vaccine, where and when. Additionally, different vaccines may have more or less efficacy with different population groups; and governments will need PR campaigns to persuade people that vaccines are safe.
20th Nov 2020 - CNN

Bristol professor says coronavirus vaccine roll-out should not just focus on age

The roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine should not solely prioritise people by age, a Bristol expert has argued. Gabriel Scally says there needs to be "more discussion" before the government finalises the priority list, outlining who should be at the front of the queue once a COVID-19 vaccine is ready. Speaking in a virtual meeting of the Independent SAGE committee of scientists this afternoon (Friday, November 20), he suggested people's professions and the prevalence of coronavirus in their neighbourhoods should also be considered.
20th Nov 2020 - Bristol Post

Dr Fauci allays Covid vaccine development speed concerns, reiterates public health measures – video

Dr Anthony Fauci speaks at the coronavirus task force press briefing, marking his first appearance at the White House podium in months. The infectious disease expert has moved to allay concerns about the speed with which the coronavirus vaccine has been developed, and implored Americans to continue basic public health measures until it is rolled out
20th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Nursing home worker says COVID-19 restrictions causing depression in residents

Eight months since the coronavirus caused widespread lockdowns across the country, a dietitian at a nursing home in Sacramento, California, said its residents have been suffering from isolation, and it has led to a slate of emotional and behavioral problems. “The older population already runs the risk of being very lonely in our society, whether they live in a facility such as ours or they live at home. So that was something we saw right away among the dementia patients — the ones who really require a lot of routine and normalcy,” Katy Tenner told ABC News’ daily podcast, “Start Here.” “There was nothing normal or routine about suddenly having their loved ones not being able to come visit.”
19th Nov 2020 - ABCNews.go.com


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 20th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

To beat Covid-19 will take far more than a new vaccine

We are entering a new phase of Covid-19 as interim data, first from Pfizer and BioNTech, and then Moderna, show promise of a safe and effective vaccine. More candidates are expected to follow — Sanofi has two vaccines in trials. One, a collaboration with GSK, is based on our flu vaccine and data from phase 1 and 2 studies will come shortly. The second is a messenger RNA vaccine similar in approach to Pfizer and Moderna. But, having a vaccine is only one facet in the complicated war to contain the virus.Distribution is perhaps the biggest hurdle. Vaccines are not interchangeable and ensuring that individuals get two doses, if required, of the same vaccine is critical. There may also be issues with safeguarding potency. Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines need to be stored at minus 20C and about minus 70C respectively, and used within five or 30 days of being refrigerated. Pharmaceutical companies are rushing to develop transportable cold storage containers and logistics companies are building freezer farms. Mass vaccination clinics, such as the UK’s repurposed Nightingale hospitals, could help distribution in cities.
19th Nov 2020 - The Financial Times

Asylum seekers in the EU must be given access to new Covid-19 vaccines, UN says

Asylum-seekers in the EU should have equal access to promising Covid-19 vaccines, the head of the UN's migration agency told the European Parliament on Thursday. 'It is for the sake of their safety and well-being of the entire host communities' in the countries taking them in, said Antonio Vitorino, director general of the International Organisation for Migration. He was one of several high-profile speakers dialling in for a virtual conference organised by the European Parliament and Germany on migration and asylum in Europe
19th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

Robin Swann aims to push for an 'ambitious' mass Covid-19 testing programme

The Health Minister has said Northern Ireland should push for a mass testing system as seen in Liverpool, but warned such an ambitious plan would take time. Speaking at a Stormont health briefing on Wednesday, Robin Swann said he had already raised the issue with Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Mr Swann added that rapid progress on a Covid-19 vaccine could bring hope by the spring, but further restrictions before Christmas would still be inevitable. It comes as the Department of Health confirmed a further 11 Covid-19 related deaths in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to 889.
19th Nov 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

Normal Christmas would 'throw fuel on the fire' and trigger spike in Covid-19 cases, says scientist

Professor Andrew Hayward, from UCL, said there was a 'substantial' risk in relaxing rules over Christmas. He said it would risk sacrificing the gains made through lockdown just ahead of a vaccine being administered. Comes after Oxford vaccine was found to deliver a 'robust' immune response in phase two trials of the jab Prime Minister said Wednesday it was his 'desire to try and allow loved ones to have Christmas together.'
19th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: St Andrews University to roll out free tests for students before Christmas

St Andrews University students will be offered free Covid-19 tests before they head home to visit family at Christmas. People without symptoms, will be able to get a test whether or not they plan to leave St Andrews over the festive break. They will be voluntary but students have been strongly advised to take them as young people are more likely to have no symptoms, even if they have the virus. The university plans to open a testing centre it its own sports centre by November 30. Students will be offered a lateral-flow test, which involves taking a swab from the mouth and nose in a process that takes just a few minutes. Results will be received within 24 hours.
19th Nov 2020 - The Courier

Bill Gates worries about dysfunctional Covid-19 vaccine distribution

Bill Gates fears a “dysfunctional” approach to distributing Covid-19 vaccines, he said Tuesday, despite an inspiring effort by biopharmaceutical companies to produce promising candidates with high measures of protection. Developing apparently effective vaccines so quickly — especially exploiting a novel approach that uses mRNA to instruct cells to make viral proteins and trigger an immune response — has been “fantastic,” Gates said in conversation with Rick Berke, STAT’s co-founder and executive editor, during the 2020 STAT Summit. Despite worries about the speed with which companies moved to get there under perceived political pressure, he said “no corners were cut” by companies backed by Operation Warp Speed or by Pfizer, which developed a vaccine with a German partner without U.S. government funding.
19th Nov 2020 - STAT News

Finland and Norway Avoid Covid-19 Lockdowns but Keep the Virus At Bay

While the U.S. and Europe struggle to contain an autumn surge in coronavirus infections, two small nations are bucking the trend, keeping cases under control without stringent restrictions. In the north of Europe, Finland and Norway boast the West’s lowest rates of mortality linked to Covid-19 and a low incidence of coronavirus infections even though they have kept their economies and societies largely open while lockdowns returned to the continent. While Sweden has captured global attention with its refusal to adopt mandatory restrictions—a policy now being reversed in the face of spiraling infections and deaths—its two northern neighbors now stand out as the closest Western equivalents to Asian nations that have managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic.
19th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Christmas Covid relaxation to be the same UK-wide

The Scottish Government is working with other UK administrations on a "four nations approach" to easing restrictions to allow families to meet up over the festive period, the First Minister told MSPs.
19th Nov 2020 - The Scotsman

UK could face new ‘month-long lockdown’ if rules are eased over Christmas

A new 25-day lockdown may be needed if the UK enjoys a five-day break from coronavirus rules over Christmas, according to a leading coronavirus expert. Reports suggest households might be allowed to mix indoors for a five-day period from Christmas Eve, but SAGE experts have said each day’s freedom might require five days of tougher measures to make up for it, Birmingham Mail reports. A five-day easing could mean a potential 25-day period of tighter measures into January if the Government follows advice from Sage. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has maintained the current lockdown will end on December 2, with his promise re-iterated by ministers like Alok Sharma.
19th Nov 2020 - Bristol Post

Coronavirus: Christmas socialising poses 'substantial risks' - scientist

Mixing between households at Christmas could pose "substantial risks", particularly for older people more vulnerable to coronavirus, a scientist advising the government has warned. Prof Andrew Hayward said there would be a "cost" to families getting together. It comes as No 10 said proposals to ease restrictions over Christmas will be set out next week. Scientists have suggested that for every day measures are eased, five days of tighter rules would be needed. Prof Hayward, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, said mixing at Christmas does pose "substantial risks" particularly where generations "with high incidence of infection" socialise with older people "who currently have much lower levels of infection and are at most risk of dying" if they catch Covid-19.
19th Nov 2020 - BBC

Which parts of UK could be under highest restriction after lockdown

England's lockdown is set to end on December 2 and will be replaced by a tiered system of restrictions, according to the Government. And the entire UK is working on a joint approach to rules for Christmas - with speculation bans on indoor gathering and limits on the number of people who meet could be lifted. SAGE experts say for every day the rules are eased the country would need five days of 'lockdown' to bring the virus back under control. The latest data shows which parts of the country are set to be experiencing high rates of infection on and after December 2.
19th Nov 2020 - Wales Online

Optimism in Germany over Covid-19 trends

US president-elect Joe Biden has said he will not order a nationwide shutdown to fight the Covid-19 pandemic despite a surge in cases. States and cities across the United States have been imposing their own restrictions, including home confinement, the closure of indoor dining and a limit on gatherings as infections soar across the country. "There's no circumstance which I can see that would require total national shutdown. I think that would be counterproductive," Mr Biden, who takes office on 20 January, told reporters.
19th Nov 2020 - RTE.ie

'A massive headache': European leaders put off Covid Christmas decisions

Europe’s governments are putting off painful decisions about Christmas and new year celebrations, with few yet keen to say exactly what will be allowed and many already warning there could be much that will not. “It’s a massive headache,” a French government minister told Le Monde, noting the “impossible choice” between a “socially untenable” ban on family get-togethers and the medical imperative of not further fuelling the spread of coronavirus. In a speech in late October announcing France’s second lockdown, President Emmanuel Macron said that if the pandemic was brought under control, the government would “see nearer the time whether we can hope to celebrate the festive season en famille”. As with most countries, that time has plainly not yet come.
19th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

French PM says lockdown to be eased gradually, after ‘mistakes’ of first wave

France's second lockdown is to be eased progressively, according to Prime Minister Jean Castex, who says the first Covid-19 confinement measures were lifted too quickly in May. In order to avoid more "stop and go" measures, the next phase in getting France back in business will involve continued restrictions and closures in some sectors. President Emmanuel Macron is due to address the nation next week about easing the lockdown. The format and date of the presidential address have yet to be decided. While several statistical indicators suggest grounds for optimism, with even Health Minister Olivier Véran saying the peak of the second wave of infections has passed, many government members have stressed that the second lockdown will have to be brought to an end gradually.
19th Nov 2020 - RFI English

Promise of season’s greetings as France lifts lockdown on Christmas trees

Florists in France have been given the green light to sell Christmas trees from Friday, in what many hope is a sign that the government is set to ease the Covid-19 lockdown and allow family celebrations to go ahead. Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said the sale of sapins de Noël was to be limited to outdoors, to allow social distancing. "Many places where Christmas trees can be sold are already open, such as supermarkets and DIY stores," he said. "But for florists, outside sales can also be organised." With the holiday season just around the corner, shop owners are keen on returning to business as usual.
19th Nov 2020 - Yahoo News UK

How China crushed coronavirus

Hong Wei returned to his hometown of Luoyang in Henan province for the Spring Festival in early February. It took a few days for the gateway of his residential compound to be cordoned off, signalling that only residents should enter. For Hong, this was just the first sign of the mass mobilisation of people that has characterised China’s remarkably successful response to the coronavirus pandemic. Hong’s uncle had already stocked up on all the ingredients to serve roast meat, braised fish and soup at his restaurant ready for what is usually his most lucrative period, but once state media began telling people to stay at home, he voluntarily closed his restaurant
19th Nov 2020 - Wired.co.uk

Will lockdown end on 2nd December? Latest news on if England’s Covid restrictions could be extended

England is now entering the third week of what Boris Johnson has said will be a four-week lockdown. Pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops have been closed since Thursday 5 November. If everything goes as planned, the country will open back up again on Wednesday 2 December. But Government ministers have indicated it is too early to say whether lockdown might be extended.
19th Nov 2020 - iNews

Will Scotland be in lockdown for Christmas? What Nicola Sturgeon has said after tier 4 Covid rules introduced

The Scottish Government is in discussions with the rest of the UK administrations in the hope of creating a four-nations consensus on the issue. Nicola Sturgeon has moved large parts of west central Scotland, including Glasgow, into its toughest tier of coronavirus restrictions. Under level four restrictions, pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops are forced to close.
19th Nov 2020 - iNews

England will need five days of lockdown for each day relaxed at Christmas - adviser

England will need five extra days of lockdown measures to stop COVID-19 infections spreading for each day they are relaxed over the Christmas period to allow people to see their families, a senior government health adviser has warned. Susan Hopkins, deputy director of the national infections service at Public Health England, told reporters on Wednesday that the advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies would mean two days of tighter restrictions. However, Public Health England, the government agency responsible for responding to public health emergencies, later clarified that Hopkins had misspoken, and that “for every one day of relaxation, five days of tighter restrictions would potentially be needed.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to ease lockdown restrictions on Dec 2 after a month-long lockdown imposed to stop a second wave of infections threatening the health service. He said two weeks ago that he hoped that Christmas could be as normal as possible.
19th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 19th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Ban household-mixing and travel between tiers after lockdown, BMA urges

Mixing between more than two households and travel between tiers should be banned in England until a vaccine is rolled out to prevent the NHS being swamped after lockdown, the main doctors’ organisation has warned. With ministers due to announce next week a return to regional tiers of coronavirus restrictions from 2 December, the British Medical Association (BMA) said that without tough action, hospitals and GPs will become overwhelmed. A BMA report argues that robust measures will be needed until an effective vaccine is widely available, and that ministers must learn from what it called the over-lax exit from the last lockdown.
18th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Doctors spell out how to exit England's lockdown

In England, lifting lockdown must be handled better this time round to avoid a surge in Covid that could overwhelm the NHS, doctors say. The British Medical Association has published a blueprint for how it thinks England should proceed with any easing. It includes replacing the "rule of six" with a two-households restriction to reduce social mixing and banning travel between different local lockdown tiers. Government has yet to say if or exactly how England will exit on 2 December. It will decide next week, based on whether cases have fallen enough and how much strain hospitals are under.
18th Nov 2020 - BBC

Is lockdown working? London businesses urge Government to give city a chance amid claims curbs are helping

In England, lockdown is starting to work in the battle against Covid-19, a Cabinet minister claimed today, as business chiefs appealed for London to be given a chance to recover when restrictions are lifted. Official data is understood to show that the number of coronavirus infections in the community in England is still growing but less quickly in recent weeks. Business chiefs warned that London must be put into a tier which will allow the city to reopen. Jace Tyrrell, who is chief executive of New West End Company, said: “Our hope is that the Government will recognise that the capital can be safely and sustainably reopened for business from December 3.
18th Nov 2020 - Evening Standard

‘Hope for easing of lockdown over Christmas ‘as ministers plan brief relaxation of Covid restrictions’

In England, families may be able to mix in “bubbles” at Christmas under plans for a brief relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over the festive period, according to reports. Britons could get up to five days of loosened measures starting from December 24 under the new proposals reportedly being considered by ministers. Government chiefs are also considering allowing families made up of up to two or three households to meet for Christmas. It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to “ensure people can spend time with close family over Christmas”.
18th Nov 2020 - Evening Standard

UK households will face ban from mixing after lockdown - the Telegraph

British households will be banned from mixing when the lockdown ends under government's plans to rescue Christmas, the Telegraph reported here on Tuesday. Ministers are planning to announce an “end of lockdown package” next week, according to the report. The package will also include a schedule for UK’s vaccination programme and an expansion of mass testing, which is expected to soften the blow of further restrictions, the report added. Under current social distancing guidance, meetings of larger groups are against the law, though people from different households can gather in groups.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

'The cow can't tell my secrets' - UK care farms a lifeline during pandemic

Care farms nestled in the British countryside are providing a lifeline for people struggling with mental health during the pandemic, allowing them to swap therapy sessions on Zoom for the joys of fresh air, mucking out cow sheds and cuddling donkeys. With vital public services for vulnerable people shut down or reduced to video calls because of social distancing measures, care farms have been able to stay open as activities take place in wide open spaces. At Future Roots in the southern county of Dorset, 14-year-old Liam Holt has found that spending time outdoors working with animals and other people has had a transformational effect on his state of mind.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

South Australia virus lockdown begins amid hopes to curb outbreak

One of Australia’s strictest lockdowns began on Thursday with outdoor gatherings, weddings, funerals, takeaway food all coming to a standstill as authorities try to stifle the latest flare-up of the novel coronavirus. Images on social media showed empty streets in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia state, on day one of the state-wide lockdown. Residents flocked to supermarkets to load up with supplies until late on Wednesday. The state, home to about 1.8 million people, has recorded 23 cases from the latest cluster. There were no new infections to report on Thursday while 3,200 close contacts of the infected were in quarantine, the state’s chief public health officer, Nicola Spurrier, told a news conference.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

How a vaccine could upend real estate markets -- again

In just a matter of months the coronavirus pandemic dramatically changed the landscape of the housing market, especially in big cities. But now news of a promising vaccine could turn the market on its head again. Nationally, home prices have never been higher, driven up as surging demand due to record low mortgage rates comes up against historically low inventory of homes for sale. But the most expensive urban areas have been experiencing the opposite problem. Cities like New York and San Francisco have seen higher vacancy rates and lower rents and sale prices as many people, untethered from office jobs, retreated to the suburbs and less densely populated areas.
18th Nov 2020 - CNN Business


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

England’s national lockdown should end on 2 December - but what happens next?

With Christmas fast approaching, all eyes are fixed on the UK government to see if the second national lockdown - introduced to control the spread of Covid - will end in December. It has nearly been two weeks since prime minister Boris Johnson introduced the latest round of restrictions to combat rising coronavirus infections and hospital admissions across England.
17th Nov 2020 - The Scotsman

Will Christmas be in lockdown? What Covid restrictions might look like in the UK, according to experts

As the current end date for England’s second national lockdown approaches, people’s minds will be on what type of Christmas they will enjoy. Announcing the strict measures, lasting from 5 November to 2 December, Boris Johnson told the nation: “Christmas is going to be different this year, very different, but it is my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now, we can allow families across the country to be together.”
17th Nov 2020 - iNews

American, British Airways, OneWorld to trial COVID-19 tests

American Airlines, British Airways, and the oneworld alliance will launch a coronavirus testing trial this month aimed at convincing the U.S. and UK governments to introduce testing so that transatlantic travel can restart. BA was operating 84 flights per week between London Heathrow and New York JFK prior to the pandemic, but last week operated just 21. BA CEO Sean Doyle said that without a travel testing regime, Britain was being left behind countries such as Germany. Alongside its partners, BA plans to collect data from at least 500 passengers on flights from three U.S. cities to London Heathrow by asking them to take three free COVID-19 tests as part of their journey: one before departure, one on landing, and one three days after their arrival.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19 complexities pose new challenges to govt; much depends on success and availability of vaccines

It is almost a year that the news of first case of COVID-19 in Wuhan in China became known to the world. There has been much research since than about how this virus has grown to spread as a Pandemic. There have been blames and counter blame that this has been grown in China to be used as a biological weapon. But this has not been substantiated with evidence till date. In our country first case was reported on 30th January 2020 in the state of Kerala when a student from Wuhan came back. Laxity and unpreparedness on the part of the government at that time led to several problems and increase in the number of cases.
16th Nov 2020 - National Herald


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 17th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Many thousands suffering from long COVID, UK health minister says

Many thousands of people in Britain are suffering from “long COVID”, ongoing illness after contracting the coronavirus, health minister Matt Hancock said on Monday. “We’ve already seen the serious impact that long COVID can have on people’s quality of life, even the fit and the young, symptoms like fatigue and breathlessness, muscle pain and neurological problems, long after they first had the virus,” Hancock told a media conference. “And we know that long COVID affects thousands of people, many thousands of people,” he added, saying England would have a network of 40 clinics to deal with long COVID by the end of the month.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

'More people may die,' Biden says, if Trump goes on blocking pandemic cooperation

President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday “more people may die” if outgoing President Donald Trump continues blocking a U.S. transition of power as the coronavirus pandemic worsens, and he urged Congress to pass new relief legislation. Biden said business and labor leaders had signaled willingness to work together to bolster the pandemic-battered U.S. economy but stressed COVID-19 first must be brought under control. The Democratic president-elect delivered a speech and took questions from reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, after consulting jointly with the CEOs of top U.S. companies and labor leaders on Monday. He welcomed further progress in COVID-19 vaccine development.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Visitor Covid-19 testing launched in care homes under pilot

A pilot to provide Covid-19 tests to designated friends and family of those living in care homes has today been launched across Hampshire, Cornwall and Devon. The move, which aims to help facilitate indoor visits and even physical contact between care home residents and their patients
16th Nov 2020 - Nursing Times

Covid-19: New 'mega labs' in early 2021 to speed up testing

Two new "mega labs" will open in early 2021 with the aim of doubling the UK's daily coronavirus testing capacity, the government has said. The sites - at Leamington Spa in the Midlands and another at an unconfirmed site in Scotland - will increase testing capacity by 600,000. The latest data shows current capacity is around 519,000 - although the number of tests actually processed is lower. Meanwhile, Labour is calling for a national plan to roll out the vaccine. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the vaccination programme will probably be the largest logistical operation since World War Two - and called for a plan setting out who will be eligible for a jab and when.
16th Nov 2020 - BBC

Northern MPs to demand 'clear route out of lockdown' during virtual PM meeting

Northern MPs will ask for a “clear route out of lockdown” during a virtual meeting with the Prime Minister on Monday, an ex-minister has confirmed. Jake Berry, who leads the Northern Research Group (NRG) of more than 50 Tory backbenchers representing north of England constituencies, said he would be seeking answers from Boris Johnson about lifting the current measures, with some areas seeing little reprieve from restrictions designed to control the spread of coronavirus. The meeting between Mr Johnson and MPs representing so-called “blue wall” seats across the North, many of them taken from Labour at last year’s election, will take place via online video conference.
16th Nov 2020 - expressandstar.com

Sweden sharply limits gatherings as second COVID-19 wave swells

The Swedish government has moved to sharply reduce the size of public gatherings, as it sought to come to grips with a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has seen record daily numbers of new cases and growing pressure on hospitals. Swedes have not been adhering to coronavirus recommendations and public gatherings will now be limited from a previous upper threshold of 300 to eight people, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said at a news conference on Monday.
16th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Insurers cannot provide unlimited cover in pandemic - UK Supreme Court told

Major insurance companies told the UK Supreme Court on Monday that thousands of small companies battered by the coronavirus pandemic were not eligible for business interruption payouts and to suggest differently was “reverse engineering”. On the first day of a four-day appeal of a test case brought by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) against insurers, industry lawyers told top judges that businesses could not claim for losses stemming from nationwide lockdowns to curb the virus. Gavin Kealey, a lawyer for insurer MS Amlin, said that only business losses related to COVID-19 infections within a 25-mile radius of insured properties were covered.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 16th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

End of lockdown did little for incomes of UK's hardest-hit - study

The lifting of the first COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year did little to improve the incomes of people in Britain who lost out from the restrictions, and lower-earning households have borne the brunt of the hit, a think tank said on Sunday. With unemployment on the rise in Britain, the proportion of adults reporting a drop in incomes improved only slightly to 23% between July and September from 27% in the April-June period, the Resolution Foundation said in a report. Three-in-ten of the adults who took a sustained income hit were unable to afford some basic household costs such as heating and fresh fruit and vegetables, the report said.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Controversial US data firm Palantir could manage UK’s ailing Test and Trace scheme

US data analysis company Palantir Technologies could be drafted in to manage the UK government’s troubled COVID-19 Test and Trace programme, according to press reports. Palantir has been linked with the project for several weeks and the Financial Times is the latest to suggest that the company could get involved with the troubled project. Palantir was founded in 2003 by a team including paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and the company’s billionaire CEO Alex Karp. Taking its name from the “seeing stones” in The Lord of the Rings, Palantir is known for counter-terrorism work and fraud investigation with agencies of the US federal government.
14th Nov 2020 - pharmaphorum.com

Covid: Vaccine or no vaccine, we have to get through this first

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised the NHS will be ready to start rolling out the vaccine from 1 December if its passes its final regulatory hurdles. But that doesn't mean the epidemic will be brought to a sudden halt. There is a huge logistical exercise in vaccinating large numbers of people - the UK has bought enough for 20 million people. And don't forget, unlike the flu vaccine, this one requires two doses. Health and care workers along with older age groups will be prioritised. But given it takes a month from the first dose for an individual to get the full protection and the fact there are 12 million over 65s - nine in 10 deaths have been in this age group - winter is likely to be well gone by the time significant numbers are protected.
14th Nov 2020 - BBC

Restrictions will be needed beyond lockdown and over Christmas to keep coronavirus at bay

England will need ongoing restrictions to normal life after lockdown, with measures likely to last into December and over Christmas in order to keep the coronavirus under control, government scientists have warned. In a new analysis released by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on Friday, scientists said the virus was now so widespread that without further controls lasting beyond the end of the current lockdown, infections would rise again to levels recorded at the start of the month.
14th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Madrid Removes Lockdown For 10 Areas That Reduced Their COVID Rates by More Than Half

The Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid has made the decision decided this Friday to lift the restrictions across 10 areas in which the epidemiological situation has improved considerably in recent weeks and a downward trend is observed. The lifting of mobility and activity limitations will be effective from 00:00 next Monday, ‘they will remain in effect throughout this weekend,’ said a spokesperson . The areas where the restrictions are lifted are: Brújula and Las Fronteras in Torrejón de Ardoz; El Espinillo, San Andrés and San Cristóbal, in Villaverde; Guadarrama, in the town of Guadarrama; Rafael Alberti and Peña Pietra, in Puente de Vallecas; San Blas, in Parla; and Vinateros-Torito, in the district of Moratalaz.
14th Nov 2020 - Euro Weekly News

Melbourne's COVID-19 restrictions are easing, but hundreds of refugees still face indefinite lockdown

It's been a tough year for Melburnians, who are now experiencing their first taste of relative freedom after one of the world's longest and harshest COVID-19 lockdowns. But for hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees living in Melbourne, their perpetual lockdown remains in place with no end in sight. After living in detention in Nauru and Christmas Island for six years, Minah, an asylum seeker from Iran, was moved to Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) in Broadmeadows 13 months ago. "For no reason, for no crime, I have to stay in detention," Minah said. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
14th Nov 2020 - ABC News

Iran blames U.S. sanctions for vaccine payment problems

U.S. sanctions are preventing Iran from making advance payment to the global COVAX facility set up to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries, the Iranian government said as the virus death toll kept climbing in the Middle East’s hardest-hit state. Battling a third wave of the coronavirus, Iran is considering imposing a two-week total lockdown in the capital, state media reported as the death toll rose by 461, close to a daily record, to 40,582 on Friday. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that Iran had identified 11,737 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the total number to 738,322.
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

More than 300,000 New Yorkers have fled the Big Apple in the last eight months

More than 300,000 residents have reportedly fled New York City from between March and October, report says. 295,103 residents filed change of address forms with the U.S. Postal Service, but the number of movers likely rises when considering multi-person households. Many residents relocated to New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester. Wealthy residents on the city's Upper West Side made 9,076 mail forwarding requests - the largest chunk in the city. Key factors included economic stressors, crime surges, concerns over local schooling and the pandemic
14th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Asia Today: S. Korea begins fining people not wearing masks

South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in COVID-19 cases in 70 days as the government began fining people who fail to wear masks in public. The 191 new cases Friday represented the sixth consecutive day above 100 and was the highest daily increase since Sept. 4, when authorities reported 198 new infections. More than 120 of the cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, where the coronavirus has spread in hospitals, nursing homes, churches, schools, restaurants and offices. The continuing spread has alarmed government officials, who have eased social distancing measures to soften the pandemic’s shock on the economy.
13th Nov 2020 - Associated Press

Coronavirus Long Haulers Tell Us Their Symptoms and the Aftereffects of Disease

Eight months and more than 50 million documented cases into the pandemic, there’s still much we don’t understand about SARS-CoV-2. We do know that the majority of those infected with the novel coronavirus display no or mild symptoms. Worryingly, a not-insignificant portion of the 20 million people globally who’ve recovered suffer lingering effects, including lung, heart, and nervous system impairment.
9th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 13th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

South Korea in final talks over COVID-19 vaccines, seeks supplies for 60% population

South Korea is in final talks with global drugmakers including Pfizer Inc over potential coronavirus vaccines as it seeks to secure supplies to cover 60% of its population this year, health authorities said on Thursday. The government has allotted 172 billion won (116.57 million pounds) to purchase an initial 60 million doses to fend off persistent COVID-19 outbreaks that have pummelled Asia’s fourth-largest economy and upended daily life for its 52 million people. This week, Pfizer said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective amid a hastened global race to contain the pandemic which has killed more than 1 million people since it emerged in China late last year.
12th Nov 2020 - Reuters

U.S. govt partners with pharmacy chains to increase COVID-19 vaccine access

The U.S. government is partnering with regional pharmacy chains and independent community pharmacies to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines whenever they are made available, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday. The partnership will cover about 60% of pharmacies throughout the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the U.S. health agency said. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, CVS Health Corp, Walmart Inc, Kroger Co and Costco Wholesale Corp are among the companies that have so far agreed to participate, the U.S. agency said in a statement.
12th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Feds announce COVID-19 vaccine agreement with drug stores

Federal health officials have reached an agreement with pharmacies across the U.S. to distribute free coronavirus vaccines after they are approved and become available to the public. The goal eventually is to make getting a COVID-19 vaccine like getting a flu shot. Thursday's agreement with major chain drug stores, grocery market pharmacies and other chains and networks covers about 3 in 5 pharmacies in all 50 states and U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico. It looks ahead to a time next spring when yet-to-be-approved vaccines will start to become available beyond priority groups such as health care workers and nursing home residents. “The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, calling the agreement “a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.”
12th Nov 2020 - The Independent

English pharmacy teams among second cohort in line for COVID-19 vax, says PSNC

Community pharmacy teams will be among the second cohort in line to get vaccinated against COVID-19 – alongside other health and social care workers, PSNC has claimed. The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) made the case for community pharmacy teams to receive the COVID-19 vaccine “alongside all other health and social care professionals”, and claimed that NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) “has now confirmed to us that this will be the case”, the negotiator said in an update to contractors earlier this week (November 10). Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) director of operations Matt Barclay told C+D today (November 12) that CPS understands that pharmacy teams wil be included "as part of the health and social care rollout of any programme” in Scotland.
12th Nov 2020 - Chemist+Druggist

Spanish government to reduce sales tax on face masks from 21% to 4%

Spain will reduce the rate of sales tax on face masks from 21% to 4%, said the government on Wednesday. Finance Minister and government spokesperson María Jesús Montero said in Congress yesterday that the Cabinet will approve a decree next week reducing the value added tax (VAT) on these products, which are mandatory in public spaces for everyone aged six and above. The compulsory use of face masks has been in place for months, as Spain continues to struggle to curb the spread of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the number of reported single-day fatalities reached 411, a number unseen since the days of the full lockdown in the spring.
12th Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Victoria zeroes in on last step out of lockdown

Victoria has again recorded no new cases of coronavirus and no further deaths, for the 13th day in a row. There are three active cases in the state and there were more than 20,000 tests processed in the last day, Health Minister Martin Foley said. "This extraordinary figure of over 20,000 shows Victorians want to stay safe and stay open by coming forward in such extraordinary numbers even with the slightest of symptoms. I would urge all Victorians to continue to do so." Mr Foley said.
12th Nov 2020 - The Age

Coronavirus: Safety officials had 'political' pressure to approve PPE

Britain's safety watchdog felt leaned on by the government to make factually incorrect statements about PPE suits bought for NHS staff earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic, the BBC has found. Emails reveal how the Health and Safety Executive said protective suits, bought by the government in April, had not been tested to the correct standard. But the emails describe "political" pressure to approve them for use. The government said all PPE is "quality assured" and only sent out if safe.
12th Nov 2020 - BBC

COVID-19: Test and Trace still missing four in 10 contacts of those who tested positive

Test and Trace reached 60.4% of contacts of people who tested positive for coronavirus in the week ending 4 November, latest figures show. This is slightly up on the previous week's figure of 59.9%, making it one of the lowest rates since the scheme began. Figures also show that 149,253 people tested positive for coronavirus at least once in England in the same week - the highest weekly number since the system was launched in May, and an 8% increase on the previous week.
12th Nov 2020 - Sky News

England test-and-trace system hit by 'huge' IT problems last month

The government’s struggling test and trace system for England was hit by “huge” IT issues that delayed calls to some of the most vulnerable coronavirus patients last month, NHS emails show. Sources said the previously undisclosed problems led to delays of up to 48 hours in reaching potentially infected people linked to care homes and hospitals. The government’s scientific advisers have said 80% of an infected person’s close contacts should be reached within 24 hours to stem the spread of the disease. The IT failure happened in mid-October when the numbers of infections and people in hospital were rising exponentially across large parts of the UK. They will add to concerns that the £12bn system has failed to keep up with the second wave, which it was supposed to help prevent.
12th Nov 2020 - The Guardian


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

UK 'sleep-walking' into personal debt crisis, warns charity

Britain is ‘sleep-walking’ into a personal debt crisis with the number of people in severe problem debt topping a million due to the coronavirus pandemic, charity StepChange has warned. A further 3 million people are at risk of joining the 1.2 million people already in severe financial difficulty, according to StepChange research published on Thursday, with 5.6 million people already in arrears or borrowing to make ends meet. The charity defines severe problem debt as meeting at least three of its indicators including falling behind on essential bills or using credit to make debt repayments. “This report paints a picture of a nation sleep-walking into a debt crisis,” Phil Andrew, CEO of debt charity StepChange, said, warning that protective measures by the government and banks had not kept up with the situation.
12th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Covid-19: Universities to oversee student exodus for Christmas

An evacuation-style plan will aim to get students home safely for Christmas. Students in England are to be allocated departure dates during a "student travel window" between 3 and 9 December, to minimise the risk of them spreading Covid-19. In Wales, they are being asked to travel by 9 December at the latest. Many will be offered rapid result tests, while teaching will move online from 3 December in Wales and 9 December in England. The Scottish government wants as many as possible of the 80,000 or so students going home for Christmas to be offered voluntary tests before they travel. Northern Ireland is expected to publish plans for students' return in the coming days. One union said the plan for a week-long travel window in England "leaves little room for error"
11th Nov 2020 - BBC

Will lockdown be over by Christmas? Date Covid rules are set to end, and all we know about what comes next

It is little over a month until Christmas, and people are still unsure of their plans, with England in lockdown and coronavirus restrictions in place in the rest of the UK. The four-week England lockdown, which came into effect on Thursday 5 November, is due to end on Wednesday 2 December. However, there are fears that this could be extended if the R rate does not fall below one, and infections are continuing to grow.
11th Nov 2020 - iNews

One MILLION students will travel across UK in same week when lockdown ends on December 2

Universities in England told to switch to online classes by early December Then will have staggered departure dates between December 3 and 9 Government said Covid-19 tests will be offered to as many students as possible
11th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Spain hopes to receive first Pfizer vaccines in early 2021 - minister

Spain stands to receive its first vaccines against COVID-19 developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech in early 2021, the health minister said on Tuesday, under a deal being negotiated by the European Union. The EU hopes to sign a contract soon for millions of doses of the vaccine, the European Commission announced on Monday, hours after the two companies said it had proved more than 90% effective, in what could be a major victory in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Spain would initially get 20 million vaccine doses, enough to immunize 10 million people, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on state broadcaster TVE, adding that the vaccination would be free.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Remote work is 'here to stay' — even with a vaccine, says former IBM CEO

Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said she believes pandemic-driven tech trends will continue after scientists find a Covid-19 vaccine. Her comments came on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement that its coronavirus vaccine is more than 90% effective in preventing infections. Investors are trying to gauge whether trends such as working from home will continue after a vaccine arrives.
11th Nov 2020 - CNBC


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 11th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid-19: Vaccine could be rolled out from December and student testing

A vaccine could be rolled out by the NHS from 1 December if it gets approval, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told MPs. Mr Hancock updated the Commons on the government's vaccination plans after early results released on Monday showed a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19. However, Mr Hancock cautioned that there were still no guarantees it would be approved and questions remained over the impact it would have on the transmission of the virus.
10th Nov 2020 - BBC

There may be a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, but 'normality' may not come until end of 2021

A COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be authorized before the end of the year, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to throw away your mask anytime soon. Rolling out a vaccine to everyone who wants one will take months in the U.S., not to mention the rest of the world. And while vaccines are essential tools for fighting a pandemic like COVID-19, they don't fix everything.
10th Nov 2020 - USA TODAY on MSN.com

PSNC pushes for pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination service parity with GPs

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is pushing for a COVID-19 vaccination service in pharmacy “to have parity” with the one commissioned for GP practices. The details for a community pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination service are still being discussed, with the PSNC, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) having entered “urgent negotiations” about the sector’s role in a vaccination programme, the negotiator announced last week (November 6). Following news of positive interim results released by Pfizer/BioNTech regarding their COVID-19 vaccine, health secretary Matt Hancock said on the BBC Breakfast programme today (November 10), that the “NHS is ready” to deliver a potential COVID-19 vaccine. “The GPs are ready, we’re working with the pharmacists…who’ve got a very important role to play,” he said.
10th Nov 2020 - Chemist+Druggist

Mass testing alone isn't enough to get England out of lockdown

When Boris Johnson announced his landmark Operation Moonshot programme in early September – an ambitious plan to test millions of people for coronavirus each day – few expected that two months later, the UK would be looking to Slovakia as an example of what might be possible. After all, the Eastern European nation has hardly hit the headlines as a Covid-19 hotspot. It recorded its first case in early March, and during the first wave of the pandemic, infection rates rarely exceeded 100 per day. But with daily cases reaching new heights amidst the second wave, prime minister Igor Matovič announced that Slovakia would use rapid antigen tests to conduct the first large-scale population testing program in Europe, in a bid to avoid a national lockdown.
10th Nov 2020 - Wired.co.uk

FEATURE-Trackers to mask detectors: India bets on COVID tech amid privacy fears

From a tracker that can tell where someone sleeps at night to a device detecting whether they have a mask on or not, India's government is betting on hi-tech solutions to fight COVID-19, despite growing privacy concerns.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Unpacking the legal and ethical aspects of South Africa's COVID-19 track and trace app

The most effective way to stop the spread of a virus is to prevent contact with everyone who is infected. Those who are infected can be isolated and treated if necessary. To determine who they are, it’s necessary to actively look for and manage cases. During the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging technologies are being repurposed to help trace whoever has been in contact with an infected person. Some of these technologies, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), wi-fi and Bluetooth, are not new. GPS has been used to find accident victims at precise geographic locations. Some of the uses of wi-fi are oxygen monitoring devices, smart beds, access to electronic medical records and real-time access to X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging scans.
10th Nov 2020 - The Conversation Africa

UK making good progress on travel testing to cut quarantine - minister

Britain is making good progress with a plan to allow COVID-19 tests to cut a 14-day quarantine period for those returning from abroad, a change which could help fuel a travel recovery once current lockdowns end, the transport minister said. Airport bosses welcomed the update from the minister, Grant Shapps, at an online conference but said more needed to be done. The top priority for them is that the government eliminates the requirement for quarantine through testing for the coronavirus. “We’re making very good progress on a ‘test to release programme’ to launch once we’re out of this lockdown,” Shapps said on Monday. “Once we emerge from the lockdown, we can roll out new systems to help get people flying and travelling again.”
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Screening the healthy population for covid-19 is of unknown value, but is being introduced nationwide

Subsequently it was reported that the UK government had abandoned plans for Operation Moonshot. Yet, on Tuesday 3 November it was reported that Moonshot Phase 1 has actually begun in Liverpool. According to the City Council’s website “everyone who lives or works in the city” is eligible for regular and repeat testing from 6 November by attending one of 14 army-run test centres over the course of two weeks. [3] The website says this is the beginning of national roll out and “will help to demonstrate that massive asymptomatic testing can identify far more cases and break the transmission of coronavirus.” The army is conducting testing for 11 to 18 year olds in schools, and a letter to parents from one school head advised “if you wish to exclude your child from this test please do so to me in writing by first thing on Monday morning.” Screening for under-11s is not mentioned. Official communication to residents has been through news announcements, appealing to public duty and claiming that the test detects “infectiousness.” Little or no information is provided about the nature and limitations of the test(s) being performed and Public Health England are keeping the results of their studies of the accuracy of the test confidential. No information has been given to participants to explain whether the project is actually research, or how personal data will be held and used. An assumption is made that everyone has a smart phone.
10th Nov 2020 - BMJ

Covid-19: NHS England should manage test and trace system, says Independent SAGE

The Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Independent SAGE) has renewed its call for urgent reform of the government’s covid-19 test and trace system,1 urging that it be replaced by a system overseen by the NHS to avoid future lockdowns. Independent SAGE showed that 1 217 214 contacts have been reached by England’s NHS Test and Trace service since May at an approximate cost of £10 000 (€11 000; $13 000) per head so far, based on the government’s commitment to spend £12bn on a tracking system. Contact tracing in the national service is provided by the private companies Serco and Sitel. Latest figures show that the number of contacts traced has remained stagnant at around 60%. However, Kit Yates of the University of Bath concluded after analysing government data that only 14% of those who provided contacts have been reached and advised to quarantine. “We know that not everyone is isolating, because it’s not practical for people and they’re not being supported effectively,” he said, projecting that only 5-10% of those told to isolate are doing so.
10th Nov 2020 - BMJ

UK to roll out twice-weekly testing for health service staff

Britain will start rolling out twice-a-week COVID-19 tests to all National Health Service (NHS) staff from Tuesday, health minister Matt Hancock said, in order to protect patients and health workers. “(Rapid) tests allow us, from today, to begin rolling out twice-weekly testing for all NHS staff, which will help keep people safe when they go into hospital, and help keep my wonderful colleagues in the NHS safe too,” Hancock told parliament.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters

GPs in England will scale back care to deliver Covid vaccines

GP services will be cut back well into 2021 so family doctors can immunise millions of people against coronavirus at new seven-day-a-week clinics, NHS England has said. Health leaders warned that surgeries will not be able to offer their full range of care for patients from next month as doctors and nurses will be immersed in administering jabs at more than 1,200 mass vaccination centres across England, potentially including sports halls, conference centres and open air venues. It came as Britain reported 532 new deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test on Tuesday, the highest daily figure since May. Some 20,412 people tested positive for Covid-19, down slightly from the previous day.
10th Nov 2020 - The Guardian


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 10th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid-19 Quarantine Debate Shifts From Hotels to Homes

One of the most in-depth examinations of hotel quarantines since the coronavirus crisis began has concluded that some travellers should be allowed to self-isolate at home. The recommendation, from a government panel in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, could offer lessons to other countries seeking ways to reopen their borders. The panel was set up by state-level authorities to investigate the hotel-quarantine program after a second-wave outbreak in Melbourne was linked to hotels, where the virus spread from travellers to personnel such as security guards. Allowing people to quarantine at home could make travel more palatable for those who can’t afford pricey hotel bills, or don’t want to spend weeks cooped up in a hotel room. It would also ease the workload for health care workers at quarantine hotels and allow more inbound travellers if hotels are full.
9th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

We may soon have a COVID-19 vaccine. But will enough people take it?

With COVID-19 vaccine trial results looking positive, governments and pharmaceutical firms face their next daunting challenge: convincing the world to get inoculated. Public resistance to vaccines has been much discussed this year, but the issue became very real on Monday when Pfizer and BioNTech announced their candidate was more than 90% effective in large trials - hoisting an actual shot onto the horizon. Numerous opinion polls carried out before and during the pandemic showed confidence is volatile, and that political polarization and online misinformation threatens uptake. Many people have concerns about the accelerated speed of COVID-19 vaccine development.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Israel asks for U.S. help in getting potential Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Israel said it asked the U.S. government on Monday to help it get access to Pfizer's potential COVID-19 vaccine. Earlier in the day, Pfizer Inc said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective, a major victory in the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than a million people, battered the world’s economy and upended daily life. Israel’s finance minister Israel Katz said he had discussed the vaccine during talks with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. “I asked Mnuchin for help in supplying the vaccine to Israel in parallel with its supply to the United States, as part of an agreement signed between the U.S. administration and the company for the immediate delivery of 600 million doses,” Katz said in a statement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it an important day in the fight against the pandemic and said “the end is in site”. “My goal at the moment is to do one thing - to bring vaccines to you citizens of Israel, and we will do so,” he said.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Covid in Scotland: Easing of restrictions 'highly unlikely'

Scotland's Covid-19 restrictions are "highly unlikely" to be eased when they are reviewed on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon has said. Tuesday will mark the first review of local measures under Scotland's new five-level alert system. The first minister said the curbs currently in place had undoubtedly had an impact on the spread of the virus. However, she said it was important for this to translate into a "significant and sustained reduction in cases". Ms Sturgeon said she "would not expect areas to go down a level", and that "careful judgement" would be given to whether any councils had to move up a level.
9th Nov 2020 - BBC

UK must 'plan a path' to Christmas says Welsh First Minister

According to the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford, the UK must plan a path to Christmas amid the coronavirus pandemic and he called on the UK Government – specifically cabinet minister Michael Gove – to make good on the promised meeting of the four nations to discuss a single approach.His comments come as Wales prepares to come out of a 17-day firebreak lockdown on Monday, while England continues in its month-long lockdown which ends at the start of December.“I really hope that meeting materialises," said Mr Drakeford. “The restrictions people have had to live with are incredibly difficult and demanding, and everybody is tried and fatigued of coronavirus.
9th Nov 2020 - The Scotsman

How will we know when England can come out of lockdown?

The next couple of weeks will be crucial in determining what kind of Christmas we have this year: a lonely, joyless affair in front of our TVs or, at best, a modest celebration, sharing the odd Christmas cracker with one or two close relatives. The arithmetic that will determine the outcome is straightforward, say scientists. If we are to have any prospect of getting out of national lockdown in four weeks, then case numbers of Covid-19 will have to fall – significantly. And it will not be obvious that we are succeeding in reaching that goal until we are in the third or fourth week of our 28-day seclusion.
9th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

‘Cost of lockdown in India wasn’t justified’

Delay in enforcing a strict lockdown and a stimulus equal to 3 per cent of GDP would have helped lessen the economic impact of the pandemic, feels economist Abhijit Banerjee who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2019 along with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer. He was in conversation with Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director, The New Indian Express, and author and journalist Shankkar Aiyar on TNIE’s Expressions, a series of live webcasts with people who matter.
9th Nov 2020 - The New Indian Express

Coronavirus: Has pandemic fatigue taken hold in India?

People in India are increasingly lowering their guard during the ongoing festival season, despite the high risk of contracting COVID-19. Many restrictions have been lifted, but the pandemic is far from over. Rudra Nath, 42, a factory foreman in Alwar district of northwestern Rajasthan state, says he feels exasperated having to tell his co-workers to keep their masks on all the time. It has been over a month since the iron fabrication factory resumed production. Since June, the government has been gradually relaxing restrictions on public movement and commerce meant to contain the coronavirus.
9th Nov 2020 - DW (English)

As Covid-19 cases drop, South Korea revises physical distancing guidelines

South Korea has eased its level of physical distancing regulations – even though authorities are concerned that the Covid-19 virus could spread more easily during the coming winter season. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said the move was made as the average daily number of new cases has remained below 100 over the past week. It has introduced a revised five-tier scheme, which took effect on Saturday, and is based on the average number of daily infections per week. The new system divides the nation into seven zones and allows provincial governments to decide the level of their own physical distancing regulations in line with the number of new infections in their respective regions.
9th Nov 2020 - New Straits Times

Revealed: Covid recovery plans threaten global climate hopes

The prospect of a global green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is hanging in the balance, as countries pour money into the fossil fuel economy to stave off a devastating recession, an analysis for the Guardian reveals. Meanwhile, promises of a low-carbon boost are failing to materialise. Only a handful of major countries are pumping rescue funds into low-carbon efforts such as renewable power, electric vehicles and energy efficiency. A new Guardian ranking finds the EU is a frontrunner, devoting 30% of its €750bn (£677bn) Next Generation Recovery Fund to green ends. France and Germany have earmarked about €30bn and €50bn respectively of their own additional stimulus for environmental spending.
9th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Wales sees 'early positive signs' as it comes out of firebreak lockdown, first minister says

Wales has seen “early positive signs” in its fight against coronavirus as it comes out of its firebreak lockdown, its first minister has said. In a press conference on Monday, Mark Drakeford said there had already been signs that COVID-19 cases were “beginning to fall”. The country’s short 17-day coronavirus lockdown ended on Monday and was replaced with a new set of national measures. Groups of up to four people can now meet up in cafes, pubs and restaurants, while shops, gyms, hairdressers and places of worship will also reopen.
9th Nov 2020 - Yahoo News Australia

Locked out: Stranded Australians call foul over COVID-19 cap

Syam Mohan, a 33-year-old geriatrics nurse, took three weeks’ leave in early February to travel with his wife and three-month-old son from Sydney to Kerala in India for a family wedding. By the time their return date approached, coronavirus cases had emerged in Malaysia, where the young family had a stopover as part of their journey home. Fearing that their infant son, Milan, would be at higher risk of infection, Mohan made the difficult decision to leave his wife and son with family in Kerala and fly home alone on February 27. He expected they would be able to join him a few weeks later once the crisis calmed.
9th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Israel tests passengers from Denmark for new mutated coronavirus

Israel said on Monday it would test people arriving from Denmark for a new mutated strain of coronavirus stemming from Danish mink farms, and ask them to self-isolate. The health ministry issued the statement after unconfirmed reports by N12 News and other media that three Israelis returning from Denmark were suspected of having been infected with the new strain. “The likelihood of a patient carrying the mutation arriving in Israel is low ... At the same time we are exercising extra caution,” the ministry said.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters

UK making good progress on travel testing to cut quarantine - minister

Britain is making good progress with a plan to allow COVID-19 tests to cut a 14-day quarantine period for those returning from abroad, a change which could help fuel a travel recovery once current lockdowns end, the transport minister said. Airport bosses welcomed the update from the minister, Grant Shapps, at an online conference but said more needed to be done. The top priority for them is that the government eliminates the requirement for quarantine through testing for the coronavirus. “We’re making very good progress on a ‘test to release programme’ to launch once we’re out of this lockdown,” Shapps said on Monday. “Once we emerge from the lockdown, we can roll out new systems to help get people flying and travelling again.”
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Restaurants Defend Dining Rooms as Covid-19 Spreads

Restaurant chains are setting long-term plans to keep dining rooms open whenever and wherever possible as the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of relenting. McDonald’s Corp. Starbucks Corp.and other chains are serving customers inside, in line with safety standards they say they have honed during roughly nine months of grappling with the virus. Some executives say they see an immediate boost in sales when dining rooms reopen. However, with Covid-19 cases rising to new heights, these chains and other restaurant owners are closing some dining rooms again now where officials have instructed them to do so. Illinois suspended indoor dining statewide on Wednesday, while a two-week stay-at-home order imposed by El Paso, Texas, through Nov. 11 has shut dining rooms.
8th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19: Monday executive meeting to look at current restrictions

Cafes and restaurants could be allowed to reopen from Friday but not bars, the deputy first minister has suggested. Michelle O'Neill said it was "something we are considering" ahead of the executive meeting to discuss easing some Covid-19 restrictions. Current measures are due to end on Friday, and ministers have been advised pubs and restaurants should remain closed for another two weeks. Ms O'Neill said there could be some "flexibility" for easing restrictions. Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics, she said any decisions would be taken in a "graduated" manner. Meanwhile, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed it has closed its training college at Garnerville in Belfast for two days for a deep clean.
8th Nov 2020 - BBC

Covid-19 mass testing in Liverpool to be extended to secondary school pupils

The mass Covid-19 testing in Liverpool will be extended to secondary school pupils within days, it has now been agreed. Parents of pupils aged 11-18 will be sent letters asking if they are willing to consent to their child receiving a test.
8th Nov 2020 - Liverpool Echo

It’s official: allotments are good for you – and for your mental health

Jen Anderson managed to grow five “small but tasty” melons in Glasgow this summer, and she is not alone in finding her allotment a godsend during the pandemic. For the four years she has owned it, she says, it has “absolutely 100%” made her happier. Her experience tallies with a study by academics at the University of Sheffield, published last week, which outlines the wellbeing benefits of allotment gardening. The 163 volunteers recorded “high levels of social and community activities, including the sharing of surplus food produce, knowledge exchange, awareness and interaction with wildlife, emotional connection to their allotment, appreciation of time spent outside and aesthetic delight in the natural world”.
8th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Queen Elizabeth II wears mask at tribute to Unknown Warrior

Queen Elizabeth II donned a face mask in public for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic when attending a brief ceremony at Westminster Abbey last week to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior. While the 94-year-old monarch has been seen in public on several occasions over the past few months, she had not been pictured wearing a face covering until now. On Wednesday, during her first public engagement in London since March, she wore a black mask that was edged with white. Pictures of the ceremony were officially released late Saturday.
8th Nov 2020 - The Associated Press

Some veteran teachers skip wave of pandemic-era retirements

At age 86, agriculture teacher Gerald Bonds, of Farmington, New Mexico, has seen plenty of crises during his career. He sees no reason to call it quits over the coronavirus pandemic. Bonds is in his 58th year of teaching at Farmington High School and, like most teachers in his state, has been instructing his students remotely — an arrangement he despises. “I hate it. I want to see the students face to face and talk to them,” Bonds said in a video interview. Confronted with the technology headaches of distance learning and the health risks, some teachers have retired early or taken leave from work. But many veteran instructors like Bonds are sticking it out.
8th Nov 2020 - Associated Press

Deaths, cases, hospitalizations set records in North Dakota

North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum renewed a call Thursday for individual responsibility, as the state reported a grim daily record of 29 more deaths from COVID-19, along with new highs for infections and hospitalizations. “Today, statistically, marks the worst day yet for North Dakota,” a solemn Burgum said during his weekly coronavirus update at the state Capitol. “We don’t like where we are relative to where we’ve been.”
8th Nov 2020 - Associated Press on MSN.com

Spain has recorded third-highest coronavirus fatality rate in Europe since July

Spain has added 7,100 coronavirus fatalities to the official death toll since July. This equates to 15 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants – the third-highest fatality rate per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe. In Germany, this figure is 10 times lower, and in Italy, it is just one-third of the rate in Spain. Portugal (eight), France (nine) and Belgium (12) are the European countries with the closest fatality rate per 100,000 inhabitants. What’s more, Spain reported an average of 150 daily Covid-19 related fatalities last week, making the virus the leading cause of death.
8th Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

LIST OF 14 REASONS YOU CAN LEAVE HOME DURING SECOND CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN

As Police gear up to enforce the second coronavirus lockdown, Island Echo has put together an easy-to-read list of all the reasons you are permitted to leave your home address over the next 4 weeks.
7th Nov 2020 - Island Echo

Covid: How to survive a winter lockdown, from those who've done it

Lockdown in Tromsø began in March 2020, when the average temperature was -1.1C, with lows of -8.9C. It rained or snowed almost every day. Ida Solhaug says coping with a winter lockdown is all about mindset. The mindfulness researcher at the University of Tromsø says my line of questioning - about how to "get through" the cold months - is a big part of the problem. She says Brits often see winter as "something to endure" rather than "really embracing winter for what it's worth".
7th Nov 2020 - BBC

Covid-19: Nichola Mallon says extending lockdown could help save Christmas

Image caption Restrictions on the hospitality industry should be extended for two weeks to rescue the Christmas period, the infrastructure minister has said. Nichola Mallon said she had come to the conclusion following evidence to the Northern Ireland Executive.
6th Nov 2020 - BBC


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 6th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Test and trace sinks to 60% of Covid-19 contacts reached in England

A total of 137,180 people in England tested positive for Covid-19 in the week ending 28 October, the highest weekly number of cases since NHS test and trace launched in May. It represents an 8% rise in new positive infections on the previous week, according to Public Health England data. The test-and-trace system also reported having one of its worst weeks in terms of its performance in tracing the close contacts of those infected with Covid-19.
5th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Isolation of elderly at Christmas must form part of lockdown lifting decision

Isolation of elderly people at Christmas must be considered when deciding to ease lockdown restrictions, a leading member of Nphet has said. Dr Colm Henry of the HSE said the Government and public health bosses must consider the “sense of isolation and hopelessness” they feel. While the number of positive Covid-19 cases in Ireland has fallen dramatically, the HSE warned this progress must not be lost.
5th Nov 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

In COVID clampdown, China bars travellers from Britain, Belgium, India

China has barred non-Chinese travellers from Britain, France, Belgium, the Philippines and India, imposing some of the most stringent entry curbs of any country as coronavirus cases surge around the world. The restrictions, which cover those with valid visas and residence permits and take effect in conjunction with a more restrictive testing regime for arrivals from several other countries, drew a frosty response from Britain.
5th Nov 2020 - Reuters

China bans non-Chinese arrivals from UK as England enters lockdown

China has barred non-Chinese travellers from the UK, Belgium and the Philippines, imposing new border restrictions in response to the worsening Covid-19 pandemic. The Chinese embassy in the UK said on Wednesday that China’s borders were now closed to those arriving from the UK, including those with valid visas and residence permits. The measure, a reversal of recently loosened restrictions, comes as England began a month-long lockdown in an effort to stop a resurgent outbreak. The country has the highest death toll in Europe of almost 48,000 deaths. “This is a temporary measure taken by China in response to the current pandemic,” the Chinese embassy in the UK said.
5th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

U.S. coronavirus cases climb by record for second day in a row, up over 109,000

Coronavirus cases in the United States surged by at least 109,757 on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally, the second consecutive daily record rise as the outbreak spreads in every region. The tally is expected to push higher still when California’s county-by-county data is added. U.S. cases have risen by over 100,000 for three out of the last seven days, putting pressure on hospitals in several states and causing families to rethink their plans for Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 26. Nineteen out of 50 states reporting record one-day increases on Thursday. Previously, the most states that reported records for new cases in a single day was 16 on Oct. 30, according to Reuters data.
5th Nov 2020 - Reuters

UK reports 24,141 new COVID-19 cases, 378 deaths

Britain reported 24,141 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 378 deaths from the virus, slightly down on figures from the day before, government data showed. The cumulative toll for those who died within 28 days of a first positive COVID-19 test in the United Kingdom now stands at 48,120 while the number of people who have tested positive is 1,123,197 according to the data.
5th Nov 2020 - Reuters


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 5th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid-19: Scott Morrison buys 50 million doses of two more vaccines

The federal government has previously signed deals to buy two Covid vaccines Now Scott Morrison has signed two more agreements with vaccine companies Deals are for 40m doses from Novavax and 10million from Pfizer/BioNTec The government hopes to roll out a vaccine around Australia early next year
4th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Ending England's lockdown in December is realistic, says medical chief

It is realistic that England’s forthcoming national lockdown can end on Dec. 2, chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Tuesday, as it is designed reduce COVID-19 transmission rates enough to move into less stringent measures. Whitty said that any decision on whether to extend the lockdown, due to come into force on Thursday, would be for government, but he had faith that the public would adhere to the new restrictions. Asked if there was a reliable chance of lockdown ending as scheduled on Dec. 2, Whitty said: “The aim of this is to get the rates down far enough that it’s a realistic possibility to move into a different state of play at that point in time.”
4th Nov 2020 - Reuters

UK employers turn to temporary staff as COVID crisis mounts again

British employers cut their hiring for permanent positions for the first time in three months in October and relied increasingly on temporary staff in the face of a second wave of coronavirus restrictions, a survey showed on Thursday. The growing number of people looking for work pushed down starting pay, and the number of vacancies posted by companies seeking to hire workers fell slightly, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and accountants KPMG said. Firms appeared better prepared to operate through the new restrictions than they were in March, but the outlook was concerning, REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry said.
4th Nov 2020 - Yahoo! News

Londoners hit the town one last time before new lockdown

Londoners shrugged off a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic and flocked to pubs and restaurants on Wednesday night, hours before the introduction of a new month-long lockdown across England. While the UK’s death toll from the coronavirus rose on Wednesday by 492, the most since mid-May, London’s Soho entertainment district was busy with revellers seeking one last night out before lockdown. People will be ordered to stay at home from 0001 GMT on Thursday to combat a surge in new infections that scientists say could, if unchecked, cause more deaths than a first wave that forced a three-month lockdown earlier this year.
4th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 4th Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid: Group of four rule for Wales' pubs after lockdown

Groups of four people from different households will be allowed to meet indoors at pubs, cafes and restaurants after Wales' firebreak lockdown ends. The sale of alcohol after 22:00 GMT will still be banned when new regulations come in on 9 November. Pubs and restaurants will reopen at the end of the lockdown, but the terms for their operation had been unclear. Larger groups of people who all live in the same house will be allowed to eat and drink out together. First Minister Mark Drakeford asked people visit such places in the smallest groups possible.
3rd Nov 2020 - BBC

Third of staff 'fear catching Covid at work'

More than a third of workers are concerned about catching coronavirus on the job, according to a study by the Resolution Foundation think tank. The poorest paid are particularly worried, the research found, but also the least likely to speak up about it. Younger workers are also less likely to raise a complaint, the Resolution Foundation said. The widespread concerns come despite government advice on making workplaces Covid-secure, researchers said. Lindsay Judge, research director at the Resolution Foundation, said: "More than one-in-three workers are worried about catching coronavirus on the job, despite the extensive steps employers have taken to make workplaces Covid-secure.
3rd Nov 2020 - BBC

UAE prime minister receives coronavirus vaccine shot

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the latest Emirati official to get the vaccine, developed by China’s Sinopharm. Prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has said he received a coronavirus vaccine shot. “We wish everyone safety and great health, and we are proud of our teams who have worked relentlessly to make the vaccine available in the UAE,” he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
3rd Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

‘Critical moment’ as Europe, N Africa see COVID-19 surge: WHO

Governments face another “critical moment for action” as coronavirus cases surge in parts of Europe and North Africa, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in his latest briefing on the pandemic. Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom are among countries in Europe turning, once again, to lockdowns to try and get the disease under control, while the health crisis in the United States is also deepening.
3rd Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

UK in talks with Palantir over COVID-19 test-and-trace program: FT

The British government is in talks with U.S. data analytics company Palantir Technologies Inc in an attempt to strengthen its test-and-trace program for COVID-19, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. Officials have been in talks with the tech company about using its Foundry software to manage sensitive contact tracing data, the FT reported on citing people familiar with the matter.
3rd Nov 2020 - Reuters


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 3rd Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

UK regulator, insurers, set for November court battle over COVID-19 case

The UK Supreme Court will hear an appeal on Nov. 16 of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) test case over which insurance companies should offer payouts to small businesses battered by the coronavirus pandemic, it said on Monday. The hearing is expected to last four days, the court said in a statement. Small businesses – from cafes and wedding planners to events businesses – have said they faced ruin after attempts to claim compensation for business losses during the pandemic, which prompted a three-month national lockdown in March followed by other restrictive measures, were rejected by insurers. The FCA, six insurers and an action group are appealing a lower court judgment that sought to clarify whether 21 policy wordings, affecting potentially 700 types of policies, 60 insurers, 370,000 policyholders and billions in claims, cover disruption and government-ordered closures to curb the virus.
2nd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Europe Aims to Emerge Smarter From Latest Lockdowns

One by one, governments across Europe are reintroducing strict new measures to tame a resurgent pandemic after concluding that light-touch strategies aimed at containing Covid-19 have failed to keep infections in check. Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Austria and Belgium are all now back under pandemic-containment regimes similar to those imposed in the spring, with bars and restaurants shut and people’s freedom to socialize with others curtailed. Schools by and large remain open, though, and governments have expressed hope the new restrictions will be lifted within weeks. Some public-health experts say the reimposition of lockdowns shows the middle-way policies deployed over the summer, such as restrictions targeted at specific places or demographic groups, haven’t succeeded in curbing the spread of the virus. New coronavirus cases in the European Union and the U.K. are running in excess of 175,000 a day on average, according to the latest official tallies, while in the U.S. daily cases are around 80,000. Without tougher action, these governments say hospitals in many places will be overwhelmed in weeks.
1st Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Amid COVID-19, Portugal’s ethnic minorities feel heavily policed

According to Pina, the PSP police officers said they had been sent by the DGS (Portugal’s National Health Office, responsible for deciding COVID-19 public health measures) because she was selling beer, which is currently only permitted in Portugal after 8pm if accompanied by food. Another reason often given for mandatory closures is that cafes allow people to gather in large groups. But here, as in many neighbourhoods in the suburbs of Lisbon, residents feel they are not being treated equally to people in the rest of the city. “If you go down the road to the white neighbourhoods you’ll see the cafes are full of people drinking, sitting in groups, playing cards for example,” says José Sinho Baessa da Pina, a community organiser from Casal da Boba. “They treat us completely differently up here. It’s like they’re not here to protect us – they’re here to provoke us.”
2nd Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

UK's Sunak says hopeful England lockdown can be lifted in Dec

Britain’s government will seek to lift its four-week coronavirus lockdown for England in early December, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday, a day after another minister said it might have to be extended. “Our expectation and firm hope is, on the basis of everything we know today, is the measures we put in place for the time that they are going to be in place for, will be sufficient to do the job we need, and we will seek to exit these restrictions back into a tiered approach at the end of the four-week period,” Sunak told BBC radio.
2nd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 2nd Nov 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Little Recognition and Less Pay: These Female Healthcare Workers Are Rural India's First Defense Against COVID-19

India’s ASHA program is likely the world’s largest army of all-female community health workers. They are the foot soldiers of the country’s health system. Established in 2005, a key focus of the program was reducing maternal and infant deaths, so all recruits are women. They have also played an essential role in India’s efforts to eradicate polio and increase immunization, according to numerous studies. But even as health authorities have leaned on ASHAs to quell the spread of COVID-19 in rural areas, where a substantial number of new cases have been reported, many of these health care workers say the government is failing them. Pay was meager to begin with, but some workers have reported not being paid for months. Their hours have increased dramatically, but pay rises, when they have come, have not reflected the increased demands. Many ASHAs have also complained about not being provided adequate protective equipment for their high-risk work.
28th Oct 2020 - TIME

The face mask test: which are the best at limiting the spread of Covid?

Some fabric face coverings on sale in supermarkets and high-street pharmacies could be giving people a false sense of security by letting the vast majority of large particles pass through them, an investigation by the consumer magazine Which? has revealed. Three of the masks the magazine’s researchers tested failed to capture 93% of bacterial particles, meaning that these particles could be inhaled or exhaled by the mask wearer. However, it was found that the best-performing face coverings were as good as surgical masks at blocking bacterial particles, preventing more than 99% of them from penetrating the fabric.
30th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

As Covid-19 Closes U.S. Classrooms, Families Turn to India for Homework Help

Sheri Akerele has been struggling to keep her sons in third and seventh grade focused on online classes as coronavirus fears shut down in-person classes in their school in Atlanta for months. Like many parents, she found her children weren’t absorbing their lessons completely, but she could spend only so much of her busy day walking them through their lessons.
30th Oct 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Will the Hardest-Hit Communities Get the Coronavirus Vaccine?

It is an idea that may never have been tried in wide-scale vaccine distribution: Citing principles of equity and justice, experts are urging that people living in communities hardest-hit by the pandemic, which are often made up of Black and Hispanic populations, get a portion of the first, limited supply of coronavirus vaccines set aside just for them. A committee of experts advising Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is considering the idea. But as it comes into focus, its underlying concepts and execution must be further defined, and the approach may then face legal and political challenges, even as the medical system grapples with the anticipated logistical hurdles of distributing new vaccines.
30th Oct 2020 - The New York Times

Coronavirus: UK restricts flu vaccine exports to protect supplies

Exports of flu vaccine from the UK will be restricted to protect supplies, the government has announced. It comes amid an increase in global demand during the coronavirus pandemic. A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care said: "There is sufficient national supply of flu vaccine, with deliveries to providers continuing over the coming months.
30th Oct 2020 - Sky News

'It's possible': the race to approve a Covid vaccine by Christmas

The race for a Covid vaccine is reaching a crucial stage, with the glimmer of a possibility that one of the leading contenders will be approved by Christmas. In an interview with the Guardian, Kate Bingham, who heads the UK’s vaccine taskforce, said the UK was in “a very good place”. But there are still hurdles to clear in the coming weeks. The Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Boseley, explains the challenges ahead.
30th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Someone leaked the COVID hospitalization data taken from the CDC

Earlier this year, the federal government made a major change to how data on the pandemic is reported, taking the aggregation of hospital data away from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and shifting it into the CDC's parent organization, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). At the time, there were worries that this represented an attempt to limit the public's ability to see how bad the pandemic was—worries that were reinforced when the data was no longer made public as it came in. But some recent reporting indicated that the change was primarily the work of White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx, who wanted greater control over the data gathering and processing. Still, regardless of the motivation, the data flowing in to HHS only made its way out to the public via weekly summaries.
31st Oct 2020 - Ars Technica

The Leeds bakery that gave away 200 meals to families struggling to feed children

Taking over a successful family business right before a pandemic would be enough to make anybody anxious. But Samantha Atkin is somehow unflappable. In Bramley, a suburb of Leeds, the 28-year-old runs Carol’s Confectioners, a bakery and sandwich shop that specialises in Jewish bread. It is one of the many cafes, pubs and restaurants that offered free meals to children during the half-term holidays. “We watched it on the news and there was just absolutely no way, in the position we’re in, to not make a sandwich for a child,” Atkin said.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 30th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Coronavirus: Eat Out to Help Out 'accelerated second wave of COVID-19', study says

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme caused a "significant" rise in new coronavirus infections, a new study suggests. According to the University of Warwick, the sharp increase in COVID-19 infection clusters emerged a week after the scheme began. The government's initiative was designed to boost the economy after the national lockdown, and allowed pubs and restaurants to offer heavily discounted meals on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.
30th Oct 2020 - Sky News


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 29th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Dr Fauci says it could be '2022' before things go back to normal

Dr. Fauci has warned that the country or even the world won't return to 'normality' until 2022 because that's how long it will take for enough people to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Fauci, the Director of the CDC, was giving a talk over Zoom to The University of Melbourne in Australia. He said: 'If we get a vaccination campaign, and by the second or third quarter of 2021 we have vaccinated a substantial proportion of the people, I think it will be easily by the end of 2021, and perhaps even into the next year, before we start having some semblances of normality.' He said that he was 'very certain' there would be a vaccine in the next few months but it would take longer to roll out.
29th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

Three Covid-19 Success Stories

Yet there are also reasons for cautious optimism. I’d like to highlight three recent success stories. 1) Disney World in Florida has operated for 3 months safely. An October 9, 2020 story in the New York Times reported that, “As tumultuous as the three months since the reopening have been, however, public health officials and Disney World’s unions say there have been no coronavirus outbreaks among workers or guests. So far, Disney’s wide-ranging safety measures appear to be working.”
28th Oct 2020 - Forbes

Lockdown in paradise: how the Seychelles is reopening to visitors

Darting through the opal-blue water of Anse Source d’Argent is a riot of silver fish; their puckered lips pecking at the mounds of blushing coral beneath me. A pale moray eel slithers past, flashing a toothy grin. As the warm waves lap over my back, I revel in this quiet, watery world. Praslin Island in the Seychelles couldn’t feel further from the grey UK or, indeed, the events of this year. With only 153 cases of coronavirus recorded since the start of the pandemic and zero deaths, the Seychelles has recently been added by the Foreign Office to the travel corridor list, meaning visitors from Britain don’t have to quarantine on their return. Direct flights there have resumed. It’s good news for those desperate for respite
28th Oct 2020 - The Times

South Korea’s Moon Says Virus Is Contained; Aims to Revive Economy

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Moon also vowed to make South Korea carbon-neutral by 2050, putting a date on the goal in line with one proposed by his progressive ruling party. It also aligns the country with commitments made by other major economies including the European Union, China and Japan. Moon called for strengthening the government’s fiscal role next year by increasing the budget by 8.5%. South Korea’s vigorous response in fighting the pandemic has helped boost Moon’s political standing at home and led to a stronger-than-expected rebound from its pandemic-triggered recession. “By reinforcing the active role of fiscal policy, we can quickly overcome the crisis,” Moon said.
28th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg

Covid-19 exit strategies could see Britain follow New Zealand route or head for herd immunity — or neither

Calls for an “exit strategy” from Covid-19 are mounting amid concerns the current path will wreck the economy without eliminating coronavirus. Ministers are currently focused on preventing infections from spiralling out of control, but have not said how or if they plan to move on from the three-tier regime in future.
28th Oct 2020 - iNews

Coronavirus England: 5.5% slump in bus passenger journeys to 4.07bn

The number of bus passenger journeys in England fell by 238million in the year ending March 31, figures show. The total of 4.07billion journeys was a 5.5 per cent reduction on the previous 12 months. The Department for Transport (DfT) said the fall can 'largely be attributed' to the coronavirus pandemic.
28th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

US consumers brace for COVID-19 surge by hoarding food – again

American consumers who’ve worked their way through the trove of shelf-stable meals they frantically bought back in March are at it again. This time, food makers are prepared. General Mills Inc., the maker of Cheerios and Annie’s boxed mac and cheese, added 45 external production lines through contractors since the first round of pantry loading this spring. Campbell Soup Co. spent $40 million to expand production of Goldfish crackers and is building capacity for chip brands like Cape Cod. Conagra Brands Inc. boosted third-party manufacturing and warehousing, while Stonyfield Farm, a producer of organic dairy products, is buying more milk from its direct supply network of farms.
28th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 28th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid-19: Scotland to ease pub and restaurant restrictions

Nicola Sturgeon said the move would allow licensed premises in level two of the country's new five-tier system to serve alcohol with a meal until 20:00. In level three areas - likely to be much of the central belt - they can reopen until 18:00 but cannot serve alcohol. The new rules will start on Monday. The level that each of the 32 council areas in Scotland will fall under is expected to be confirmed on Thursday. The new system will add two levels to the three-tier system currently in use in England, adding a "level zero" at the bottom - where life can return almost to normal - and strict measures similar to a full lockdown in level four.
27th Oct 2020 - BBC

'It’s better than having the doors closed': strict rules pose reopening challenge for Melbourne businesses

Melbourne’s hospitality industry begins its transition from a long slumber to welcoming customers, but strict density limits may delay the opening of some businesses as they adjust to the new rules. Roughly half of cafes and restaurants on Melbourne’s famous Chapel Street shopping strip will be able to open their doors on Wednesday, as businesses hurriedly rework their premises to allow outdoor dining. Chrissie Maus, general manager of the Chapel Street Precinct Association, was “extraordinarily relieved and excited” when premier Daniel Andrews announced hospitality could reopen, but said “it’s an absolute pipe dream to think that the majority of our businesses will just be able to transition to outdoor dining”.
27th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Where's lockdown exit plan, Boris? London echoes demand for clear strategy to leave Covid tiers

Boris Johnson faced growing pressure today to set out a clearer exit strategy from the coronavirus pandemic. A call by more than 50 Conservative MPs for a route map out of the lockdowns clamped on Northern cities was echoed by pleas in the south and London for more clarity. More regions woke up today to find themselves being put into the toughest level of restrictions, Tier 3, meaning 8.2 million people in England face complete bans on households mixing.
27th Oct 2020 - Evening Standard

Safe and sound: How New Zealand musicians have been able to return to the stage

It's early October, and Elizabeth Stokes and Jonathan Pearce of New Zealand indie-rock band the Beths are in Raglan, a small surf town on the west coast of the country's north island. In an empty Sprinter van sitting snugly side-by-side so as to better squeeze in the laptop's camera frame, they flip the camera to show off their view: a mountain-ringed suburban neighbourhood on a lovely, quiet, sunny afternoon. It's their second day on the road in support of new album Jump Rope Gazers. The night before they played Raglan's Yot Club and ended up hanging with inebriated members of the New Zealand national cricket team. The batsman Martin Guptill and the bowler Kyle Jamieson just happened to be at the venue and the proprietor of the place – “an absolutely classic New Zealand bloke,” Pearce explains, “shaggy hair, shorts, so loose” – made all parties hang out.
27th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Cities reboot: Adapting to a pandemic world

Downtown is deserted and happy hour is history - the pandemic has upended urban life for billions and futurologists expect a changed cityscape to emerge in the post-viral world. From home to office, park to pub - all corners of city life have undergone some sort of reboot during COVID-19. More than 43 million people have been infected by the virus and the death toll tops 1.1 million, according to a global tally by Johns Hopkins University. After months in lockdown, second waves of the novel coronavirus have forced new travel curbs and a messy mosaic of lockdown laws from Madrid to Melbourne. Experts agree cities will never look the same.
27th Oct 2020 - Thomson Reuters Foundation News

Covid: Post-furlough unemployment 'hits young and ethnic minorities'

Young and ethnic minority workers were more likely to be made unemployed post-furlough, according to a new report. A survey of about 6,000 adults by the Resolution Foundation found 19% of 18-24 year olds who were furloughed during lockdown were unemployed in September. For black, Asian and minority ethnic workers the figure was 22%, compared to 9% for the general population. The Treasury said its wage support schemes had helped to protect millions of jobs. The government's Job Retention Scheme initially covered up to 80% of an individual's wages if they were placed on furlough and unable to work.
27th Oct 2020 - BBC

Is Mark McGowan about to go soft on WA's hard border lockdown?

A social media post by Premier Mark McGowan congratulating Victoria for recording zero new cases of COVID-19 has prompted speculation WA could be preparing to relax its strict border lockdown. "Well done Victoria – thanks to you, Australia's future looks bright," Mr McGowan wrote on Facebook after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a loosening of Melbourne's pandemic restrictions, which have been in place since June.
26th Oct 2020 - WAtoday


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Can Pre-Flight COVID-19 Testing Get Travelers Back On Planes?

In hopes of jumpstarting a business decimated by the pandemic, airlines and airports are offering pre-flight, on the spot testing for COVID-19, with some test results back in 15 minutes.
26th Oct 2020 - NPR

‘Emotional day’ as Melbourne welcomes exit from Covid-19 lockdown

Melbourne, Australia's second-biggest city, will exit its coronavirus lockdown after nearly four months under onerous restrictions, authorities announced Monday, with no new daily cases or deaths recorded. Lockdown orders for Melbourne's residents will be lifted from midnight Tuesday into Wednesday while restaurants, beauty salons and retail stores will be permitted to throw open their doors to customers. Home to 5 million people, Australia's second-biggest city has been in lockdown since early July after a spike of Covid-19 infections that began in hotels where people were in quarantine after arriving from abroad.
26th Oct 2020 - FRANCE 24 English

China's top leaders meet to plan next five years as coronavirus rebuilding begins

China's top leaders are meeting behind closed doors in Beijing on Monday to map out their economic and political agenda for the next five years, as the ruling Communist Party looks to capitalize on its containment of the coronavirus epidemic. President Xi Jinping, who also heads the Party, will join the members of the Central Committee, the Party's top decision-making body, to formulate the 14th Five-Year Plan, the vast policy framework by which China will be governed from 2021 to 2025. In an unusual step, the committee will also be drawing up a "vision" for 2035, a long-term plan for the year which Xi has set as a deadline for China to "basically achieve socialist modernization."
26th Oct 2020 - CNN

As Europe And The U.S. Struggle To Contain Covid-19 Surge, Australia Lifts Its Strictest Lockdown

The Australian city of Melbourne, recently a coronavirus hotspot in the country, is the latest to announce it will lift restrictions after going 24 hours without a single new infection or death for the first time in four months, in sharp contrast to the other side of the world where new infections are spiking in the U.S. and in Europe, where fresh lockdowns are being introduced.
26th Oct 2020 - Forbes

Melbourne will finally exit lockdown this week after nearly four months as the Australian city records zero new infections or deaths

October 26 was the first time Victoria state recorded zero cases since June 8 From Tuesday night pubs and shops will re-open and residents can leave home There will be more restrictions relaxed on 8 November if numbers stay low In total, Victoria has seen 20,341 total Covid-19 cases and 817 related deaths
26th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Australia’s Second-Largest City to Begin Emerging from Strict COVID-19 Lockdown

After more than three months under stifling restrictions imposed in response to a second wave of COVID-19 cases, life in Australia’s second-largest city is slowly about to return to normal. Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews announced Monday that Melbourne’s five million citizens will be able to leave their homes effective Tuesday at midnight, and that all cafes, restaurants, bars, shops and hotels will be allowed to reopen. The announcement comes as Melbourne and the surrounding Victoria state recorded its first 24-hour period without any new coronavirus infections since June 9. The state had been plagued by a dramatic spike of new COVID-19 cases, peaking in August when daily new cases rose above 700. The resurgence of new cases has been blamed on security lapses at hotels where travelers were being quarantined after traveling overseas.
26th Oct 2020 - Voice of America

Boxing Day Test crowd allowed at MCG after Melbourne lockdown ends

A crowd at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test has been all but guaranteed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews as the state’s coronavirus restrictions were significantly eased. Melbourne will start to open up following more than four months in hard lockdown, after no Covid-19 cases were recorded in Victoria on Monday. Cricket Australia is yet to lock in its international schedule for a summer highlighted by a blockbuster four-Test series against India. Premier Andrews said the lifting of restrictions meant it was too late for crowds to attend next month’s Melbourne Cup, but not the biggest day in Australian cricket.
26th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Finally at zero new cases, Victoria is on top of the world after unprecedented lockdown effort

If the past few months have been like a long-haul flight, Victorians are now standing in the aisles waiting for the cabin door to open, a little groggy and disoriented but relieved. They have every right to be. No other place in the world has tamed a second wave this large. Few have even come close.
26th Oct 2020 - The Conversation AU

Covid in Australia: Melbourne to exit 112-day lockdown

The Australian city of Melbourne will exit lockdown from Wednesday after recording no new Covid-19 cases for the first time since June. Victoria state was the epicentre of Australia's second wave, accounting for more than 90% of its 905 deaths. The state capital, Melbourne, went into lockdown 111 days ago - enforcing home confinement, travel restrictions and and closing stores and restaurants. However on Monday, authorities said the city was ready to re-open. "With zero cases and so much testing over the weekend... we are able to say that now is the time to open up," said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. In July, Victoria saw cases surge to more than 700 per day but the severe stay-at-home rules and a curfew have brought the numbers down. Mr Andrews praised the state's six million residents, saying: "Fundamentally, this belongs to every single Victorian who has followed the rules, stayed the course, worked with me and my team, to bring this second wave to an end."
26th Oct 2020 - BBC

Australia's COVID-19 epicentre delays decision on lifting lockdown restrictions

Victoria state, Australia’s COVID-19 epicentre, on Sunday delayed an expected announcement on the easing of lockdown restrictions due to an outbreak in Melbourne, prompting warnings that residents were at a “financial and mental breaking point”. The restrictions have limited most retail businesses in the state’s capital to providing online services only since early August, and 5 million people living under stay-at-home orders were expecting an announcement on Sunday. State premier Daniel Andrews told a media conference the outbreak in Melbourne’s northern suburbs threatened to push the reopening date of retail and hospitality businesses closer to Nov. 1.
26th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid-19: Call for 'exit strategy' as South Yorkshire enters tier 3

More than 1.4 million people in South Yorkshire are the latest to move to England's top level of restrictions. Tier three measures came into effect at midnight affecting areas including Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield. Sheffield City Region's mayor said the measures were needed but called on the government to "define precisely what the exit criteria is" from tier three. Meanwhile, Wales entered the first full day of a national lockdown amid border patrols to stop non-essential travel. Gloucestershire Constabulary said it will patrol routes into the Forest of Dean area and pull over vehicles suspected of making unnecessary journeys out of Wales.
25th Oct 2020 - BBC

Peru rejects AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine purchase deal

The Peruvian government said on Thursday that it refused to sign a coronavirus vaccine purchase agreement with AstraZeneca PLC because it did not provide sufficient data from its studies and offered minimal amounts of inoculations. Prime Minister Walter Martos said in a news conference that the government had asked AstraZeneca for data from its vaccine studies, but that the firm had not sent the information.
25th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Victoria's coronavirus lockdown is almost over and confidence is key in our economic recovery

Look, it hasn't been a lot of fun. "Go Hard or Go Home!" Chris Hemsworth's energetic trainer yells from the video on screen as my wife and I exercise after a day of home-schooling. Mate, stop it. We've been doing both. As Victorians have slowly slid out of strict lockdown conditions — an 8:00pm curfew, a maximum of an hour's exercise outside, a restriction on going more than 5 kilometres from home — we're getting back to something closer to normal. Tomorrow will see more restrictions eased.Schools are back. Park picnics let us see friends. The weather is getting better.
24th Oct 2020 - ABC News

Australia's COVID-19 hotspot sees more school cases before easing curbs

Australia’s Victoria state, the country’s COVID-19 hotspot, reported four cases related to infections in schools on Saturday, a day before the expected easing of strict social distancing restrictions. Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s second-most populous state, is emerging from a second wave as a hard lockdown since July has brought daily infections of the new coronavirus down to single digits from an August peak over 700. In the previous 24 hours, the state found seven new cases, officials said, including four related to a cluster linked to two schools in Melbourne’s northern suburbs that prompted authorities to order 800 people to self-isolate.
24th Oct 2020 - Reuters

US COVID-19 deaths could hit 500,000 by February, researchers say

The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States could exceed 500,000 by February unless nearly all Americans wear face masks, researchers said on Friday, as the country set a new single-day record for new cases. The latest estimate by the widely cited University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflects concern that cold winter weather will drive Americans indoors, where the coronavirus spreads more easily, particularly in confined, poorly-ventilated spaces.
24th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Thousands of long-term care facilities have already opted into CVS and Walgreens coronavirus vaccine deal, HHS says

Thousands of long-term care and assisted living facilities have already opted into the Trump administration’s program with CVS Health and Walgreens to administer coronavirus vaccines to seniors, a senior administration official said. Between 9,000 and 10,000 facilities have opted into the program since it was announced last week, Paul Mango, a deputy chief of staff at HHS, told reporters.
23rd Oct 2020 - CNBC


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 23rd Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid-19 app development ‘bumpy and painful’ says NHS boss

The development of the contact tracing app for Covid-19 was ‘bumpy and painful’ according to the head of the NHS’s innovation division. England and Wales’s app, which uses Bluetooth to keep an anonymous log of those in close proximity, was delayed due to technical issues and concerns about privacy. Speaking about the app, NHSX boss Matthew Gould said it was an ‘error’ not to tell the public it was working on both versions of the technology at the same time. ‘It was bumpy and painful but at each point I think we did plus or minus the right thing,’ he told the FabChange2020 conference.
22nd Oct 2020 - Metro

Why Germany's coronavirus strategy might come back to haunt it

Germany’s coronavirus epidemic, and strategy to deal with the virus, has not been the same as its European counterparts. This might be a good thing, given that Germany has recorded 397,922 cases of the virus, far lower than Spain.The country has also differed from its European peers at a political level in that it has taken largely a decentralized approach to managing the virus response. But that approach could prove to be a double-edged sword when it comes to clear public guidance and messaging on the virus, however, according to Carsten Nickel, deputy director of research at Teneo Intelligence. “The question is whether Germany’s strength since the beginning of the pandemic – the not just local imposition but in fact locally-driven design of restrictive as well as support measures – will turn into an obstacle,” Nickel said.
22nd Oct 2020 - CNBC

Coronavirus: Italians find new ways to eat out

The ebb of the first wave and summer al fresco dining saw an encouraging return to business for many Italian eateries and bars; but as the cold sets in, this second wave in is forcing restaurateurs to find new ways to stay afloat. New national restrictions mean restaurants and bars have to close by midnight until 13 November and can seat a maximum of six people per table. Vagh in ufezzi is a simple restaurant with paper place mats and no cover charge. Until two weeks ago, diners would have paid for each dish they ordered; now they are paying by the hour.
22nd Oct 2020 - BBC

Analysis: China and U.S. economies diverge over coronavirus response

The United States and China dealt with the spread of the devastating coronavirus pandemic in vastly different ways, and that split is reshaping the global battle between the world’s two leading economies. About 11 months after the Wuhan outbreak, China’s official GDP numbers this week show not only that the economy is growing, up 4.9% for the third quarter from a year earlier, but also that the Chinese are confident enough the virus has been vanquished to go shopping, dine and spend with gusto. In the United States, 221,000 people are dead from COVID-19 after a delayed federal response, partisan battles over mask-wearing and lockdowns, and plenty of public events that do not follow public health guidelines. The country is in the midst of a new wave of infections.
22nd Oct 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: China continues to ban tour groups to prevent COVID-19 from spreading

China will continue to suspend outbound and inbound group tours in a move aimed to prevent international travellers from bringing the coronavirus into the country. The decision was made due to the risk of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases across the country this winter, authorities said yesterday. In China, where COVID-19 was first discovered, the virus appears to have been mostly banished through a combination of lockdowns and travel restrictions that have officials touting the nation as a coronavirus success story.
22nd Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Europe’s resilient manufacturers bounce back from virus

Factories across Europe are buzzing with activity again, encouraging some industrial bosses to invest in extra production as they shrug off the rise in coronavirus infections that is casting a shadow over the continent’s economic recovery. Many manufacturers adapted production sites quickly to protect their workers after the pandemic hit, and in recent months they have benefited from rising demand, driven by a rebound in exports, particularly to the resurgent Chinese market.
22nd Oct 2020 - Financial Times

Permanently remote workers seen doubling in 2021 due to pandemic productivity - survey

The percentage of workers around the world that is permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021 as productivity has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey from U.S.-based Enterprise Technology Research (ETR). ETR in September surveyed about 1,200 chief information officers from around the world across different industries. The CIOs also expressed increased optimism about business prospects in 2021, as they see an increase in tech budgets by 2.1%, compared with a 4.1% decline this year due to the lockdowns triggered by the pandemic. The survey said information technology decision-makers expect permanent remote work to double to 34.4% of their companies’ workforces in 2021, compared with 16.4% before the coronavirus outbreak, a result of positive productivity trends.
22nd Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Test and trace works better when numbers are low - UK science adviser

England’s test and trace scheme needs improvement and it is hard to run an effective system when there are large and increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, UK chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said on Thursday. “It’s undoubtedly the case that test trace and isolation becomes much more difficult to have an impact once numbers are high. So, it’s much more effective when numbers are low,” he said at a news conference. “It’s very clear that there’s room for improvement.”
22nd Oct 2020 - Reuters


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 22nd Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Senate to take up $500 billion COVID-19 stimulus package as relief talks continue

The Senate failed Wednesday to pass a $500 billion COVID-19 aid package as negotiations drag on less than two weeks before Election Day. The bill would have given a federal boost to weekly unemployment benefits, sent $100 billion to schools and allocated funding for testing and vaccine development. The vote was 51-44, short of the 60 votes required to allow the legislation to move forward. Nearly all Democrats opposed it over concerns that more money was needed to combat the virus and help Americans. The bill's $500 billion price tag was far less than the roughly $1.8 trillion package the White House offered and the $2.2 trillion package Democrats backed. The two parties have spent months attempting to find a bipartisan agreement for one last batch of coronavirus relief before the election.
21st Oct 2020 - USA Today

Sunak scraps three-year spending review to focus on Covid-19

Rishi Sunak has cancelled the UK government’s three-year spending review for the rest of parliament to allow Treasury ministers more time to focus on coping with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The chancellor said he would set out a one-year spending plan that would focus entirely on dealing with the budgeting needs of departments and the devolved governments during the pandemic. The move is a blow to Boris Johnson’s ambition to reclaim the economic agenda with an upbeat outlook for the UK and the government’s investment plans once the coronavirus has been brought under control.
21st Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus updates: San Francisco to lift more restrictions, mayor says; stimulus talks inch forward

Covid-19 is likely to become as “endemic” as the annual flu virus, according to the U.K.’s chief scientific advisor. A vaccine is not likely to eradicate the virus, the advisor cautioned.
21st Oct 2020 - CNBC

Confusion persists over curfew plans for Madrid once state of alarm expires

Once again, Madrileños were left unsure as to their fate this weekend as the end of the current state of alarm – imposed by the central government in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus – approaches, with the emergency situation due to come to an end on Saturday. According to regional health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero, the Madrid regional government is preparing a curfew order to restrict movement between midnight and 6am from Saturday onward, he said during an interview with state broadcaster TVE. “What we are determining are measures to establish more exhaustive control, principally from midnight to 6am, measures that will restrict movement and the concentration [of people] that produces these contagions,” he explained.
21st Oct 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Retailers hopeful for Christmas boost after turnover falls 1.5 per cent

Retailers are hoping the incoming Christmas trading season will bring relief from the challenging conditions sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the latest monthly retail turnover figures for September should be interpreted as a sign of optimism that trading conditions are beginning to normalise ahead of the festive period. “Every day before Christmas counts,” Mr Zahra said. “It is the all important trading period. Christmas trading is up to two-thirds of a retailer’s (annual) profits.” National data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows retail turnover for September slid 1.5 per cent compared to the prior month, primarily driven by falls in essential spending categories such as groceries and household goods.
21st Oct 2020 - NEWS.com.au

Australia's Victoria state paves way for pop up dining as virus cases remain low

Australia’s most heavily hit coronavirus state of Victoria logged a sixth consecutive day of low single digit new cases on Wednesday, as the state government said it was on track to announce fresh easing measures at the weekend. “We do genuinely hope on Sunday to make some announcements in the future and if these numbers stay on trend we will be able to do that,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told a news conference. Victoria, which has been under strict lockdown measures since early July, hopes to revitalise outdoor dining over the summer in the hard hit hospitality sector, by allowing pop up restaurants in public gardens and carparks in downtown areas.
21st Oct 2020 - Reuters UK


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

    View this newsletter in full

Rapid one-hour Covid-19 tests launch for travellers to Italy and Hong Kong from Heathrow Airport

Passengers flying from Heathrow to Italy or Hong Kong will now be able to get a Covid-19 test at the airport and receive their results within an hour. The private test costs £80 and is aimed at helping people travelling to destinations where proof of a negative result is required on arrival. A growing number of countries worldwide are adding the UK to their list of high-risk coronavirus countries, meaning travellers face more restrictions.
20th Oct 2020 - ITV News

COVID-19, what COVID-19? India gets back to work

India is on course to top the world in coronavirus cases, but from Maharashtra's whirring factories to Kolkata's thronging markets, people are back at work - and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season. After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world's second-most populous country decided life must go on.The pandemic's confirmed fatality rate has been heaviest in richer nations with older populations - the US death toll is double that of India despite having only a quarter of the population. Poor countries have suffered far worse economic pain, with the World Bank predicting 150 million people could fall into extreme poverty worldwide
20th Oct 2020 - CNA

Lockdown is over, but not COVID-19 virus, warns PM Modi ahead of festivals

In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed the nation ahead of festivals and warned that the lockdown is over, but not the virus. Modi's remark comes in the wake of laxity by some people despite the rising number of cases. The time is not to get careless and think that corona is over or there is no danger from the virus, said the Prime Minister, adding, "We have seen many videos where we can see that several people have stopped taking precautions and are taking it lightly. If you are being careless and going out without the mask, then you are putting your families, children, and elders in danger."
20th Oct 2020 - Bangalore Mirror

India Has One Of Highest Recovery Rates Due To Flexible Lockdown: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that India has one of the highest recovery rates--88 per cent--because it was one of the first countries to adopt a flexible lockdown. "India's size, scale and diversity have always made the global community curious. Our population is almost four times that of the USA. Many of our states are as populated as other nations in Europe and Asia. Thanks to people power and people-driven approach, India kept its COVID-19 death rate very low," PM Modi said. The Prime Minister said India was one of the first to encourage the use of masks. India actively began to work on effective contact tracing. India was among earliest nations to deploy the Rapid Antigen test.
20th Oct 2020 - NDTV

Vietnam is fighting Covid without pitting economic growth against public health

To date, Vietnam (population: 95 million) has recorded 35 deaths from the novel coronavirus. Vietnam had all the ingredients for a Covid-19 disaster. It has a 1,300km (800-mile) border with China, with lots of informal trade via secret mountain trails, and an under-developed healthcare system (albeit a well functioning one). So, beyond contact-tracing, why has Vietnam been so good at dealing with the pandemic? The central reason is perhaps the way the government has depoliticised the pandemic, treating it purely as a health crisis, allowing for effective governance. There was no political motive for government officials to hide information, as they don’t face being reprimanded if there are positive cases in their authority area that are not due to their mistakes.
20th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Dan Andrews hints that many hated lockdown measures could be eased early after Victoria recorded just one new coronavirus case on Tuesday

Melbourne could get an early reprieve from lockdown after again detecting just one new case on Tuesday. The city's 14-day rolling average of new cases continues to plummet, which is now down to 6.4, while regional Victoria's average also dropped to 0.4. Premier Daniel Andrews appears to have finally buckled to pressure to open the city beyond the very limited relaxing of restrictions last weekend. 'I think we're well placed to reach the point on the weekend where we can talk more and possibly bring forward some of those changes that were slated for November 1,' he said.
20th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Beyond the police state to COVID-safe: life after lockdown will need a novel approach

As second-wave outbreaks of COVID-19 around the world demonstrate, it’s a tricky transition from hard lockdowns to more relaxed, but still effective, measures. The responses of different nations (Sweden and Taiwan, for example) have their champions, but the truth is there no shining example to follow on how to keep the coronavirus in check while returning, as much as possible, to living life as before. Right now the government of Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, is involved in just such an experiment. Its success in moving beyond lockdown to a sustainable “COVID-normal” will hold lessons for nations still on the upward curve of their own second waves (such as Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Britain).
20th Oct 2020 - The Conversation AU


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 20th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

With state of alarm set to end in Madrid, government looks for new ways to control coronavirus spread

The Spanish government is rushing to reach a new agreement with the country’s regions on coronavirus measures before the state of alarm it implemented in Madrid ends on Saturday. Under the emergency measure, which was declared in the region on October 9, nine cities in the central region – including the Spanish capital – were placed under perimetral lockdowns and subject to other restrictions on social gatherings in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
19th Oct 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Victoria is right to be cautious in exiting stage four

“Stuff the silver, we came for gold.” This famous line from swimming coach Laurie Lawrence was straight after one of the most star-studded races of all time. Underdog Duncan Armstrong had just caused a boilover, defeating two of the sport’s all-time greats to win the 200m freestyle at the 1988 Olympics. It was an extraordinary, unexpected victory. And so it is with Victoria’s remarkable COVID-19 response, crushing a substantial second wave like no other of the 73 countries that have experienced a second wave. It is a monumental success. From a peak of almost 8000 active cases in early August there are only 137 in the state today.
19th Oct 2020 - Brisbane Times

What can we learn from nations that got it right? Victoria Allen analyses UK's Covid testing farce

Why has Test and Trace fallen apart in England while other countries have managed to make the system work? The principle is simple – test people with symptoms, trace their contacts and ask them to self-isolate – but the execution has varied dramatically. England has lagged behind countries such as South Korea, which rapidly grasped the importance of testing people and tracking their contacts. And where Germany invested in local contact tracers, the English system relied on poorly performing call centres.
19th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

'I had 60 texts straight away': hair salons booked out as Melbourne lockdown gets a trim

On Sunday the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, announced a partial reopening of Melbourne as case numbers continue to drop. As the city didn’t quite reach the required benchmark of less than five average daily cases, the majority of hospitality and retail restrictions stayed in place. But hairdressers were the exception and were allowed to open their doors from midnight. “My manager said that after the announcement was made we had 250 bookings within an hour and today we have just been running around like crazy,” Covelli says.
19th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Australia Market rises on Victoria easing coronavirus lockdown

The Australian share market finished session higher on Monday, 19 October 2020, as risk sentiments lifted up on Victoria state easing lockdown after declining coronavirus cases and U. S. officials statement that a new stimulus package could be passed before elections.
19th Oct 2020 - Business Standard

Daniel Andrews says the 25km rule will be subject to change.

Under new lockdown rules, Melbourne residents will be allowed to travel 25 kilometres from their homes.
18th Oct 2020 - ABC News

Canada's Economy Needs Tougher Shutdowns To Reopen: CIBC

If Canadians want to get back to eating in indoor restaurants and drinking in bars ― as others in some places in the world can do today ― the country will need tougher lockdowns in the short term first. That’s the prognosis from CIBC’s chief economist, Avery Shenfeld, in a report issued Friday that explored what lessons the pandemic-stricken parts of Canada can learn from places such as Japan, South Korea and Newfoundland, where authorities have been able to reopen the economy to a large extent without a major new outbreak. In Shenfeld’s analysis, the problem is pandemic-stricken areas are reopening bars, restaurants and similar establishments too soon, allowing caseloads to rise back up again.
18th Oct 2020 - HuffPost Canada

Israel takes first steps out of second virus lockdown

Israel started cautiously emerging from a second coronavirus lockdown Sunday after a month of tight restrictions, re-opening preschools, kindergartens, beaches and national parks, with numbers of new infections falling. Public radio said about a million young children would return to kindergartens and other facilities Sunday. Businesses not involving face-to-face contact with the public were allowed back to work, and a contentious ban on individuals moving more than one kilometre from their homes was lifted.
18th Oct 2020 - FRANCE 24


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 19th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Israel Eases Second Lockdown as Covid-19 Cases Subside

Israel on Sunday began to emerge from its unpopular second nationwide lockdown following a month of restrictions that helped suppress coronavirus infections. After four weeks of closing most businesses and confining Israelis across the country to one kilometer around their homes—one of the most sweeping efforts to combat a second outbreak of Covid-19—Israel was able to reduce the infection rate from more than 8,000 new cases a day to under 1,500. The lockdown will be further eased in the coming weeks and months if infections don’t rise again.
18th Oct 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

NHS Covid-19 app users sent incorrect risk-level change alerts

Users of the NHS coronavirus app for England and Wales have reported receiving confusing notifications that the risk level in their area has changed in ways that contradict official government guidance. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said on Saturday it had identified and resolved the problem, which affected updates made to the app’s postcode alert system on Friday evening.
18th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Italy agrees on $4.7bn fund to compensate companies during COVID-19 pandemic

The Italian government has moved to approve a new stimulus package to support its economic rebound from the COVID-19-induced recession, it said on Sunday. Among other measures, the package is to include a €4bn ($4.7bn, £3.6bn) fund to help companies worst hit by lockdowns throughout the country. After late-night cabinet deliberations on Saturday, the ruling coalition agreed a preliminary deal for its 2021 budget, a source said. The Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte is on Sunday also expected to announce new measures to curb a second wave of the virus
18th Oct 2020 - Yahoo News

Covid pandemic has peaked in India; can be controlled by end of Feb 2021: Govt-appointed panel

A government-appointed panel on Sunday said initial coronavirus-induced lockdown saved large number of lives and avoided creating widespread panic. The 'Covid-19 India National Supermodel' committee led by Professor M Vidyasagar (IIT Hyderabad) made the finding in its study titled 'Progression of the Covid-19 pandemic in India: Prognosis and Lockdown Impacts'. On 1 June, the Department of Science and Technology constituted a committee comprising of eminent scientists and academicians to evolve a national supermodel for Covid-19 progression.
18th Oct 2020 - Live Mint

Australia's COVID-19 hotspot partially eases lockdown

Australia’s state of Victoria, the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, will see more freedom of movement as of Monday after months-long restrictions, but retailers and restaurants must wait longer, making some of the owners unhappy. After more than 100 days in a strict lockdown that allowed only for two hours of outdoor activity a day, the 5 million people living in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, will be able to spend as much time exercising outdoors as they wish. However, people must stay within 25 kilometres (15 miles) of their homes, Premier Daniel Andrews said. Public gatherings will remain tightly limited, and retailers and restaurants must operate only on take-away or delivery orders, with the state government eyeing their reopening by Nov. 1.
18th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Australia's second-biggest city eases lockdown as virus cases fall


18th Oct 2020 - Medical Xpress

Australia's second-biggest city eases lockdown as virus cases plummet


18th Oct 2020 - Japan Today

Australia's second-biggest city eases lockdown as virus cases plummet


18th Oct 2020 - RFI

Australia Eases Lockdown in its Coronavirus Epicenter Victoria


18th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus: Israel set to ease second lockdown as infections fall

Israel's government has agreed to ease a month-long second nationwide lockdown, after a significant decline in the number of new coronavirus cases. From Sunday, people will be permitted to go more than 1km (0.6 miles) from their homes for non-essential purposes; nurseries will reopen; and restaurants will be able to serve takeaway food. Beaches, nature reserves and national parks will also reopen for visitors. The prime minister declared the lockdown had been a "major success". Israel has reported 300,000 Covid-19 infections and 2,128 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
18th Oct 2020 - BBC


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 16th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

South Africa puts public works, jobs at heart of COVID-19 recovery plan

South Africa will embark on a massive public works and job-creation drive in response to the coronavirus crisis, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday, unveiling a plan to return Africa’s most industrialised economy to growth. South Africa was in recession before it recorded its first coronavirus infection in March, with one of the world’s strictest lockdowns and a global drop in demand for its exports causing GDP to fall by more than 17% in annual terms in the April-June quarter, when over 2 million jobs were lost. Ramaphosa’s government has been in talks with business and labour leaders for months trying to plot a path to recovery.
15th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Why complacency and lifting restrictions could be driving India's high COVID-19 numbers

On Tuesday, India added 55,342 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, bringing its total number of confirmed infections to 7.17 million, according to data from the country's Ministry of Health. These daily new infections may be off their recent peaks and were the lowest numbers in almost two months, but India is the second worst-affected country after the United States, and it is set to have the largest caseload in a matter of weeks. India's high number of new cases is being driven by the ongoing lifting of lockdown restrictions and complacency around following precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, epidemiologists say. Restrictions have been steadily eased in recent months in an effort to revive livelihoods, but they have yet to be completely lifted, and the economy remains sluggish.
15th Oct 2020 - CBC.ca

Japan mulls lowering international travel advisories issued over pandemic

Japan is considering lowering travel advisories that it issued for all countries and regions in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, government officials said Thursday. The ministry may lower the travel advisory to Level 1, asking citizens to exercise caution or lift it completely. As for more specific travel alerts for infectious diseases, 159 countries and regions are now placed at Level 3, warning against all travel. The ministry is expected to lower the alert by one level for Vietnam and some other countries that have a low number of infections, according to the officials.
15th Oct 2020 - Kyodo News

Thousands of stranded Australians could get ticket home under new Darwin quarantine deal

A push to expand the intake of stranded Australians trying to get home is facing delays after Friday's scheduled National Cabinet meeting was postponed. Thousands of Australians stranded overseas could soon return home under a deal to allow people to quarantine near Darwin. The ABC reported on Thursday up to 1000 people a month would isolate at the NT's Howard Springs facility after returning home on commercial and charter flights.
15th Oct 2020 - SBS News

Victorian 'pivot' opens path out of lockdown

Victoria's COVID-19 response has retreated from an undeclared ambition of eliminating the virus before Christmas to a more pragmatic and achievable aim of suppressing its spread to levels the state can live with safely. Senior epidemiologists say the government's conflicting public health message – Premier Daniel Andrews talking about 10 daily cases being the new five and five being the new zero – reflects the unrealistic targets it set when the road map out of lockdown was set two months ago. The overarching problem, say epidemiologists, is that the government was quietly pursuing an elimination strategy for the virus. The terms elimination and suppression – or "aggressive suppression" as the national cabinet and the Victorian government have preferred – can be confusing, but experts say there has been a clear change in approach in recent weeks.
15th Oct 2020 - The Age

Coronavirus deaths almost double in a day in Italy, at least nine European nations see record cases

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland all recorded record numbers of infections In addition, many countries are seeing increased hospitalisations and deaths Italy recorded another 83 deaths Thursday, nearly double the 43 on Wednesday Merkel lost her temper Wednesday night after state leader refused to sign off on her lockdown proposal: 'What we’ve agreed is not enough to ward off disaster'
15th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 15th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Reboot on the way for France's failed coronavirus tracking app

France is to reboot its StopCovid contact tracing app, which has proved a failure since going live four months ago, while coronavirus infections across the country continue to hit record highs. In an interview with France Info this week, Prime Minister Jean Castex revealed the government was working on a “new version” of the tracking tool, to be rolled out during school holidays on 22 October. Mocked on social networks, StopCovid has been downloaded 2.6 million times since June – a paltry figure compared to 18 million downloads for similar apps in Britain and Germany. And it has managed to identify just a handful of potential contact cases.
14th Oct 2020 - Yahoo! News

Regional Victoria ‘step 3’ coronavirus roadmap restrictions and lockdown rules explained

Regional Victoria has now moved to step three of the state’s roadmap out of lockdown. Stage three restrictions were previously in effect across all of regional Victoria from Thursday 6 August. Metropolitan Melbourne entered stage four from Sunday 2 August. Step three has relaxed some restrictions on visitors, with the government introducing the idea of a “household bubble” to allow people to visit each other again. Similar to dining out, entertainment venues and events that are predominantly outdoors are now open. All students in regional Victoria will now be expected to return to onsite learning.
14th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus spikes in two Australian states; easing restrictions delayed

Several coronavirus clusters have emerged in Australia’s two most populous states, officials said on Wednesday, prompting the biggest, New South Wales (NSW), to delay easing some restrictions. The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was concerned the state was on the cusp of another major community transmission, after 11 new cases were locally acquired and a cluster appeared in the southwest Sydney suburb of Lakemba. She said the easing of some social restrictions involving restaurants and weddings would now be put on hold.
14th Oct 2020 - Reuters Australia


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 14th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Study: There's work to be done before people feel ready for COVID-19 vaccine

A new study indicates some significant public messaging should be communicated before any COVID-19 vaccines are made available in the US. And with vaccines potentially being approved by the end of the year or early next year, the clock is ticking. The report, published in the journal Vaccines, shows that 68% of respondents are supportive of being vaccinated for COVID-19, but concerns remain about side effects, sufficient vaccine testing and vaccine effectiveness. "Messages promoting the COVID-19 vaccine need to alleviate the concerns of those who are already vaccine-hesitant," said senior study author Brian Poole, a professor of microbiology and molecular biology at Brigham Young University
13th Oct 2020 - EurekAlert!

Coronavirus: 'Stay home' advice to change for vulnerable groups in England

The 2.2 million mainly elderly people on the shielding list in England are to be sent letters telling them they do not need to stay in their homes to keep safe. Instead, they will be given advice linked to the COVID alert level for their postcode, ranging from "meet others outside where possible" for Tier 1 areas, to "ask people in your household, support bubble or volunteers to collect food and medicines" for those whose homes are in Tier 3.
13th Oct 2020 - Sky News

Australia's most populous states eases COVID-19 curbs despite cases hitting six-week high

Australia's most populous state said it will ease restrictions despite reporting the biggest one-day jump in new COVID-19 cases in six weeks. New South Wales said that from Oct. 16 venues that offer outdoor dining will be allowed to have double the number of patrons outside. NSW previously required such venues to ensure four square metres (13 square feet) for each patron. "We know particularly in our state during this pandemic some of the hardest hit industries have been arts and recreation and hospitality," NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said. Australia's federal government hopes easing state restrictions will help revive the country's ailing economy
13th Oct 2020 - TheChronicleHerald.ca

Police, permits and swabs: the pains of crossing Western Australia's hard border

Travel to Western Australia is now granted only in limited circumstances and with strict quarantine conditions, under the hard border rules designed to keep the state free of Covid-19, and it applies even to residents returning to the state. Melissa Davey writes about her experience of a strict lockdown while having a seriously ill father in another state. She writes: "I’ve interviewed so many families who lost loved ones in aged care. I have no problem with undergoing testing and socially distancing. But I have been living alone in Victoria for months in lockdown, wearing a mask to even go for a walk. There are less than 15 active cases per million people in the state, yet, even with active clusters under control, there are no signs state borders will reopen, especially not WA, which wants zero community transmission in the rest of the country. I’m increasingly realising this will never happen."
13th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Victoria's failure to hit roadmap targets shows 'foolhardy' strategy to eliminate virus, experts say

Victoria is “obviously failing” to reach its roadmap targets for lifting restrictions, but that has little to do with perceived weaknesses in its contact tracing system, epidemiologists and other experts have said. Prof Tony Blakely, an epidemiologist with the University of Melbourne, said the targets on the roadmap’s third and final steps for reopening effectively required elimination of the virus, despite Daniel Andrews repeatedly saying suppression, not elimination, was the state’s strategy. He said it now made sense to pivot towards a policy of safely opening up, and while that would mean clusters would continue to pop up, Victoria’s contact tracing was in a position to emulate the success of NSW in keeping on top of the numbers.
13th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Budget 2021: 'Do I need to be in Dublin city anymore?' self-employed businesswoman on working from home

Businesswoman Carol Ann Casey has been working from home during the pandemic - and she’s delighted Budget 2021 has today provided “confidence” to workers and small business owners. Ms Casey runs her own company, CA Compliance, an independent investigations, governance and HR compliance service, from Dublin city centre. But since March, she’s been working from home in Rathmines, south Dublin. “The Budget has really given workers and business owners the certainty they need right now,” Ms Casey told the Irish Independent.
13th Oct 2020 - Irish Independent


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 13th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

What step three out of lockdown could look like for Melbourne

Melbourne is likely to move to a variation of step three of its roadmap out of lockdown come Sunday, although restrictions are not expected to drastically ease as first planned. Premier Daniel Andrews today said Melburnians could expect greater freedoms for social gatherings, with some businesses also set to reopen after months of shut down. Restrictions may also be further eased for regional Victoria, despite the roadmap first detailing it could not move to the next step until there were zero cases in the state for 14 days.
12th Oct 2020 - 9News

Reimagining education to beat the constraints of lockdown

Firki, an initiative by Teach For India, is a blended online and offline learning model. It recently launched inspirED 2020, the first of its kind virtual conference that brought together students, educators, policymakers, parents, and investors under one roof to reimagine education. For Bharath, the event developed a unique platform for all voices – teachers, students, and parents – to share their perspectives on the NEP and map the possibilities on the ground.
12th Oct 2020 - The New Indian Express

Dr. Scott Gottlieb: U.S. could never test for Covid as much as China but it must get better

The U.S. may never be able to test for coronavirus and trace contacts at the same level as China, but America still must improve its public health response, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC. “We don’t need to have their level of surveillance state to have better testing and tracing in place,” the former FDA chief said. “We could be doing a lot better at calling on collective action for people to wear masks on a more routine basis,” he added.
12th Oct 2020 - CNBC

Victoria's premier says Melbourne roadmap out of Covid lockdown likely to be redrawn

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews concedes Melbourne’s roadmap out of lockdown will likely be redrawn, suggesting case numbers could reach a point where they are “as good as they are going to get”. Victoria recorded 15 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the latest in a stream of stubborn double-digit days. The state’s death toll remains at 810 and the national figure at 898. This brings Melbourne’s rolling 14-day average to 9.9, still significantly above the five daily cases average notionally required to lift restrictions on Sunday. This date was originally set at 26 October, but was brought forward when Melbourne was racing ahead of schedule in the battle to bring down case numbers.
12th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Covid: Australia in talks over quarantine-free travel

Australia's government says it is in talks with several nations about quarantine-free travel, but warns that Europe and the US will not be on the list. The first agreement would be with New Zealand, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. Other nations that could follow suit are Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Pacific Island nations. Australia closed its borders in March, early into the pandemic. To date, it has recorded 27,263 cases and 898 deaths. It has fared better than other nations but recently saw a second wave in the state of Victoria, forcing Melbourne and its surrounding areas into another lockdown. Infections have fallen dramatically since.
12th Oct 2020 - BBC

Australia in travel talks with Japan, Korea as coronavirus cases ease

Australia is in talks with Japan, South Korea, Singapore and South Pacific nations on reopening travel as coronavirus infections ease, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday. Australia shut its borders in March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and is looking to revive tourism to help pull the country out of its first recession in nearly three decades. While Australia has managed to contain the outbreak better than others, it is facing a second wave in the state of Victoria, where Melbourne remains under a tight lockdown. But infections there have been falling since early August. Morrison said he had spoken to his counterparts in Japan, South Korea and some Pacific nations, while Foreign Minister Marise Payne had held talks in Singapore this week on resuming travel.
12th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

The coronavirus pandemic: A threat to food security

For years, the Global Hunger Index has shown global advances in combating malnutrition. But the coronavirus pandemic could undo them, according to the latest report for German aid organization Welthungerhilfe.
12th Oct 2020 - DW (English)


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid-19: South Africa drops to 10th in the world for total infections

While South Africa's continued downward trajectory in active Covid-19 cases is cause for optimism, appropriate protocol including social distancing, the wearing of masks and hand sanitising remains in place
10th Oct 2020 - Zululand Observer

Selling flowers out of her VW Beetle helps Rio woman survive COVID-19

You can’t miss the green 1969 Volkswagen Beetle parked at the corner, orchids and ferns crowding its open bonnet, sunflowers sticking out of windows, potted plants on the roof. Turning her car into a flower shop was Valcineia Machado’s survival plan after her business collapsed in the COVID-19 pandemic, and she is has become a hit in Rio’s Copacabana beach district. At 51, she has reinvented herself, moving from real estate to selling roses and other flower on a busy corner.
10th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Top five countries with highest number of Covid-19 infections

The total number Covid-19 infection has now reached to 36,785,758, as per the figures published by the John Hopkins University. While more than a million others have succumbed to the disease.
10th Oct 2020 - Hindustan Times

How & Why Bengaluru Is Emerging as India’s Worst Hit COVID-19 City

Statistically speaking, Pune has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in India, as on 7 October. Bengaluru has the third-highest number of cases. However, at present, Bengaluru is the city worst affected by COVID-19 in India, and perhaps in the world. The key to understanding the severity of Bengaluru’s COVID situation is in the number of cases reported in a 15-day period – between 23 September and 7 October, to be precise.
10th Oct 2020 - The Quint

Goa govt to rope in AYUSH doctors to treat Covid-19 patients

India reported 73,272 coronavirus cases and 926 deaths in the last 24 hours ending 8 am on Saturday. With this, the total number of infections rose to 69,79,424 including 1,07,416 deaths, 8,83,185 active cases and 59,88,823 recoveries, according to the Union Health Ministry. The recovery rate has risen to 85.81 per cent and the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.54 per cent. Kerala, the first state to get the novel coronavirus, took four-and-a-half months to record its first 10,000 infections. This Wednesday, it reported more than 10,000 infections in a single day. There was a time Kerala was feted globally for effectively containing the spread of the virus. Over the past few weeks, it has seen more cases every day than any other state barring Maharashtra and Karnataka.
10th Oct 2020 - The Indian Express

China, Indonesia to enhance COVID-19 vaccine cooperation

China and Indonesia have vowed to strengthen cooperation on COVID-19 vaccine during talks between Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesian President's special envoy and the country's Coordinator for Cooperation with China. The pair met Friday in southwest China's Yunnan Province. Saying that vaccine cooperation is the current focus of bilateral anti-epidemic cooperation, Wang said China is willing to work with Indonesia to comprehensively promote the research and development, production and use of the vaccine, and jointly contribute to the availability and affordability of vaccines in the region and the world.
10th Oct 2020 - CGTN

How Australia will take 30 years to pay off the coronavirus recession

Economist Andrew Charlton fears it will take 30 years to pay off Australia's debt He was an economic adviser to Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd during the GFC His former boss ended a string of ten consecutive surpluses in its first term
9th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Millions of Brazilians at risk of slipping back into poverty

Many people in Brazil are struggling to cope with less pandemic aid from the government and jumping food prices, with millions expected to slip back into poverty. Brazil’s government, starting this month, halved the amount of its monthly emergency cash transfers to help Brazil’s poor withstand the hardship of the economic meltdown, down to 300 reais ($54). As the government winds down the programme through year-end, with unemployment still high, many of those people who benefitted will become newly impoverished, according to Marcelo Neri, director of the social policy centre at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a university and think-tank. Half of them are expected to fall into poverty in October alone, he said. The programme, which started in April, has been the main driver behind lifting 15 million people from poverty, including two million from July to August, according to a report the university published on Friday. Poverty, which the FGV defined as income equal to half a minimum monthly salary, or 523 reais ($95), has reached its lowest level since at least the 1970s, according to Neri, the report’s author.
9th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

'No way this room was sanitized': Despite assurances, hotels get mixed reviews on COVID-19 cleanliness, masks

No one wants to find a dirty rag in their sink when checking into a hotel room. But during the coronavirus pandemic – when guests expect their rooms to be spotless and free of germs – finding a room that hasn't been fully sanitized is even more concerning. "No way was this room sanitized, much less 'cleaned' properly," Danielle Bocage wrote in a Facebook post criticizing her recent stay at a Hilton hotel in Georgia. "I am completely disappointed at the lack of attention my room had." "The guest brought concerns about her room to the property’s attention on the second day of her stay, and we understand received a personal apology, an offer to move rooms, and an offer to service the room," Hilton spokesperson Nigel Glennie told USA TODAY. "The guest declined these offers but did accept a refund for one her three nights."
9th Oct 2020 - USA TODAY

South Africa is the continent's COVID epicenter. Here is how it is transitioning into recovery mode

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa looked appropriately dour, and sounded appropriately cautious, as he appeared on national television [recently] to warn of the dangers of a second wave of infections and to urge the public against relaxing their guard against the virus. And yet the president’s key message was a simple, optimistic and impressive truth. “We have succeeded in overcoming the worst phase of this epidemic,” he declared.
9th Oct 2020 - Genetic Literacy Project

Germany Donates $1 Million in Medical Equipment to Peru Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Germany has donated just over $1 million in medical equipment to Peru to help people in remote sections of the Amazon cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Thursday’s humanitarian gift of oxygen concentrators, digital thermometers, oximeters and more than 32,000 coronavirus tests for health professionals aims to help some 90,000 people from underserved communities in the Indigenous and rural areas of Peru’s Amazon. Pilar Mazzetti of Peru's Health Ministry thanked Germany for donation, saying it opens the possibility to tend better to the indigenous communities, which have always been left behind, and which are difficult to tend to due to the distance. The donation, part of binational agreements signed in August, aims to provide primary health care to majority of the Indigenous communities, which have no health center.
9th Oct 2020 - Voice of America

Australia expects COVID-19 vaccination is still a year away

Australia considered a rollout of a coronavirus vaccine no sooner than mid-2021 a best-case scenario in its pandemic planning that would save the economy tens of billions of dollars, the treasurer said on Wednesday. The Treasury and Health Departments developed economic modelling based on an assumption that a vaccine would be widely available in Australia toward the end of next year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. “These are very uncertain times and as a government, we have taken every step possible to give Australia the best possible chance of getting a vaccine,” Frydenberg told the National Press Club.
8th Oct 2020 - The Independent

China's successful control of COVID-19

According to a July survey by the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans believe that China has done a bad job dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is clearly not an opinion shared by WHO. In a press conference in September, Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, offered “deepest congratulations...to the front-line health workers in China and the population who worked together tirelessly to bring the disease to this very low level”.
8th Oct 2020 - The Lancet

Wealthy Argentines Flee Taxes, Politics to Settle in Uruguay

Catalina Jack, a 37-year-old Argentine economist with two masters degrees, unceremoniously pulled up stakes in Buenos Aires three months ago and boarded a fast ferry to Uruguay. She got a job with a software firm and now looks out on the world from a home she rents near the beach resort of Punta del Este. Her brother and his family had settled nearby a few weeks before. Two dozen friends have made the move or are doing so.
7th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg Tax

World Mental Health Day: New Red Cross survey shows COVID-19 affecting mental health of one in two people

Half of all respondents – 51 percent – in a seven-country survey said that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected their mental health, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey found. In a new report – "The greatest need was to be listened to: The importance of mental health and psychosocial support during COVID-19," – the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement demonstrates how the pandemic is adding an extraordinary level of stress and suffering on communities around the world. The outbreak is worsening existing mental health conditions, triggering new ones, and making access to mental health services even more scarce. It calls for urgent and increased funding for mental health and psychosocial support within humanitarian responses.
7th Oct 2020 - Red Cross


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

COVID-19 is predicted to make child poverty worse. Should NZ's next government make temporary safety nets permanent?

Despite the 2017 Labour-led government taking power with a mandate to fight Aotearoa New Zealand’s abysmally high child poverty rate, only incremental progress has been made. The percentage of children living in poor households dropped only slightly, from 16.5% in June 2018 to 14.9% by June 2019. That equates to approximately one in seven children (168,500) living in poverty, according to one official measure used in New Zealand and internationally: households with incomes less than 50% of the median disposable household income before housing costs (BHC).
8th Oct 2020 - The Conversation AU

Cash no longer king in Italy as COVID helps government push for plastic

Italy’s love affair with cash is fading. The coronavirus is turning Italians off notes and coins and the government is launching a raft of incentives to accelerate the trend, believing plastic payment can curb rampant tax evasion. The Treasury estimates some 109 billion euros of tax is evaded annually, equal to about 21% of the revenue actually collected. The government believes the problem can be tackled by boosting digital payments which, unlike cash, leave a trace. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is offering refunds on some money spent electronically, tax breaks for outlets with card machines and a new 50-million euro ($58.93 million) state lottery for card users only. The coronavirus, which forced the government to lock down the economy between March and May, is helping his efforts.
8th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Coronavirus: Government’s test and trace system has ‘concerning’ worst-ever week

The government’s contact-tracing programme failed to reach more than 30 per cent of close contacts of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in England, the latest figures show, in what is the worst week on record since the beginning of Test and Trace. Some 68.6 per cent of close contacts were reached through the system, once dubbed “world-beating” by prime minister Boris Johnson, in the week ending 30 September, according to data published by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). This is the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace began, and is down from 72.5 per cent in the previous week. Meanwhile, only two-thirds of positive Covid-19 cases were transferred to the system over the same time period.
8th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Black Country NHS workers could get coronavirus vaccine by December

Diane Wake, chief executive of the Dudley Group NHS Trust, revealed the arrival of a vaccine could be just weeks away. She said the long-hoped-for vaccine could be made available for NHS workers before the end of the year, in what would be a major breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus. Ms Wake told a trust board meeting: "I'm hoping for a Covid-19 vaccine to be available to healthcare providers some time in December. "It has not been confirmed yet but I'm hoping to be able to offer a Covid-19 vaccine to our staff." The chief executive said vaccines would likely be provided via mobile units.
8th Oct 2020 - expressandstar.com

Covid vaccine: When it will be ready and who will get it

It's on everyone's Christmas list - a Covid-19 vaccine this side of New Year. While the government is working to that timeline even the head of its own Vaccines Taskforce thinks that it's very far from certain. And while UK-based companies are increasingly confident they can make the millions of doses we need here in the UK, given stages of development for the different vaccines, it's also likely we'll be relying on contracts for vaccines made overseas. "We've seen a lot of data with encouraging signs for immune response that we hope will translate into protection against infection," according to Kate Bingham, Chair of the UK Vaccines Task force.
8th Oct 2020 - ITV News

Justin Trudeau Says Coronavirus Vaccine Will Be Free For All Canadians

With a coronavirus vaccine hopefully being created in the not-so-distant future, Justin Trudeau has confirmed all Canadian’s will be able to access it for free. The Canadian PM discussed the matter yesterday, October 7, in Canada’s House of Commons after his opposition Jagmeet Singh asked him about it. Describing people as ‘worried’ and ‘deeply concerned’ about the ongoing health crisis and their access to a potential vaccine, Singh asked, ‘Once a vaccine is ready, will the Prime Minister commit clearly that that vaccine will be freely available to all Canadians?’
8th Oct 2020 - UNILAD


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 8th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Hard-hit Peru's costly bet on cheap COVID-19 antibody tests

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the harried health officials of Peru faced a quandary. They knew molecular tests for COVID-19 were the best option to detect the virus – yet they didn’t have the labs, the supplies, or the technicians to make them work. But there was a cheaper alternative -- antibody tests mostly from China, that were flooding the market at a fraction of the price and could deliver a positive or negative result within minutes of a simple fingerstick. In March, President Martin Vizcarra took the airwaves to announce he’d signed off on a massive purchase of 1.6 million tests – almost all of them for antibodies. Now, interviews with experts, public purchase orders, import records, government resolutions, patients, and COVID-19 health reports show that the country’s bet on rapid antibody tests went dangerously off course.
7th Oct 2020 - The Independent


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 7th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

NHS in race to reach 50,000 Covid-19 contacts missed in data blunder

The race is on to trace contacts of almost half of the thousands of positive coronavirus cases initially not recorded in England due to a technical glitch. Some 49 per cent of the almost 16,000 cases had still not been reached for contact tracing purposes as of Monday following data issues over the weekend. The Times newspaper said contact tracers had reported conversations disconnecting mid-call, but a spokesman for the department said no such incidents had been reported either on Monday or over the weekend.
6th Oct 2020 - Evening Standard

Hundreds of musicians protest outside Parliament

In London, a 400-strong ensemble of freelance musicians played outside Parliament to highlight the plight of the music industry during the current pandemic. Violinists Nicola Benedetti and Tasmin Little were among the performers who played a short segment of Mars, from Holst's The Planets, in central London. They then held a two-minute silence, to put pressure on the government to give more support to self-employed artists. A concurrent protest took place outside Birmingham's Symphony Hall. The events were supported by the Musicians Union, which represents more than 32,000 performers in the UK.
6th Oct 2020 - BBC

UK government urged to classify leisure centres 'essential' or face mass closures

The UK government has been urged to reclassify swimming pools, gyms and leisure centres as essential services vital to public health or face the prospect of thousands of facilities being shut permanently if a second lockdown is introduced. As the Guardian revealed in June, nearly half of Britain’s public leisure centres and 20% of the country’s swimming pools risk being closed for good before Christmas – putting more than 58,000 jobs in peril – because of the coronavirus pandemic. Even though lockdown restrictions have been eased, a third of leisure centres have still not reopened because of their parlous financial state.
6th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Spain’s Emergency Wage Support May Be Extended Yet Again in 2021

Spain is prepared to extend its furlough program beyond January, Social Security Minister Jose Luis Escriva said, in the clearest statement yet on the future of the wage-support policy. “We stand ready to reevaluate the situation,” Escriva said in an interview, one week after the government agreed to prolong its previous aid measure through Jan. 31. “A lot will depend on a vaccine.” A further extension could protect hundreds of thousands of at-risk jobs in a country that already has one of the region’s highest rates of unemployment and which is also suffering one of its most dramatic coronavirus outbreaks.
6th Oct 2020 - Yahoo

Coronavirus Victoria: Possibility ‘third step’ won’t happen when planned

It was always going to be a tall order, but there are now real doubts creeping in as to whether Victoria will get its case numbers down by enough to move to “step three” of its path out of lockdown when expected. Just a single word from chief health officer Brett Sutton today highlighted that doubt. That’s the word “may”. When asked if Victoria would reach its target of a rolling 14-day average of five daily cases or fewer of COVID-19 by the goal of October 19, he replied, “That’s a point that we’ll absolutely get to, and it may still well be mid-October.” Of course, that means that Victoria “may” also not meet that goal by mid-October. The numbers just aren’t coming down fast enough.
6th Oct 2020 - NEWS.com.au

Australia to pay businesses to employ young people after COVID-19 shutdowns

Australia will spend A$4 billion over the next year to pay businesses that hire those under the age of 35, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said, as part of an ambitious plan to boost jobs and growth. Australia has been widely lauded for limiting the spread of COVID-19, but strict lockdown measures forced shut entire sectors of the economy, sending unemployment to a 22-year high of 7.5% in July. The impact on younger Australians is even worse, with recent data showing the unemployment rate for 15- to 24-year olds was hovering near 20%. As part of the government's hiring credit scheme, Canberra will pay businesses A$200 a week for the next a year if they employ a person under 29.
6th Oct 2020 - Yahoo

Australia to run record budget deficit as government cuts tax, boosts job support

Australia pledged billions in tax cuts and measures to boost jobs on Tuesday to help pull the economy out of its historic COVID-19 slump in a budget that tips the country into its deepest deficit on record. While the number of deaths and infections in Australia from COVID-19 has been low compared with many other countries, the hit to GDP has been severe. Underlying the budget forecasts was an assumption that a vaccine would be developed in 2021.
6th Oct 2020 - Reuters


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 6th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

'Major questions unanswered' about effectiveness of NHS Covid-19 App

There are “major questions unanswered” about the effectiveness of the NHS Covid-19 App, a charity has said. The app was officially launched in England and Wales on 24 September, after months of setbacks and multiple trials. But the Health Foundation has raised concerns about the lack of published evidence from the app’s pilots, which it says could put public trust at risk.
5th Oct 2020 - Digital Health

Rich countries are total vaccine hogs. Covid-19 must change that

When swine flu hit, poor countries missed out on vaccines. Public health experts are trying to stop that happening again with Covid-19. This time around, there’s another way to buy vaccines: the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, set up by the WHO and vaccine organisations including Gavi, the vaccine alliance started by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI). Wealthier countries can donate directly to COVAX to fund vaccines for less well off nations — and the UK has chucked in £500m — but they can also opt to buy vaccines themselves, giving COVAX the capital to make necessary deals.
5th Oct 2020 - Wired.co.uk

Covid-19 has changed working patterns for good, UK survey finds

Most office workers do not intend to spend five days a week in the workplace once the Covid-19 crisis is over, with both bosses and employees seeing home working as a long-term trend. The pandemic has changed working patterns for good, a survey from the British Council for Offices (BCO) has found. In future white-collar workers will adopt a mixed approach, combining remote working with several days a week in the office. The Institute of Directors agrees that more firms are taking a mixed approach to where their employees work.
5th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

French minister: colleagues who didn’t download Covid app being ‘very French’

France’s technology minister has blamed the poor take-up of the country’s Covid-19 contact alert app on “timing and culture” and says colleagues in government who failed to download it were being “very French”. Cédric O, the minister for digital transition, said that using the app, StopCovid, was essential if the French wanted to avoid further restrictions. Paris and several other cities have been put on red “maximum alert” after a rise in the spread of the virus in recent days.
5th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

India sees 100,000 COVID-19 deaths: What happened and what now?

India has crossed the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus deaths, the third-highest in the world behind only the United States and Brazil. Despite the South Asian nation’s attempts to control the spread of the COVID-19 disease, which included one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, infections have surged at an alarming pace. To date, India has more than 6.6 million cases, second only to the US. On Monday, it registered a single-day spike of 74,442 new cases, while 903 virus deaths in the past 24 hours took the total fatalities up to 102,685. However, the country’s recovery rate stands at 84 percent, the highest in the world, with more than 5.5 million people recovered from coronavirus so far, according to the health ministry. Al Jazeera spoke to four leading health experts on India’s handling of the crisis so far and what can be done in future to mitigate the spread of the respiratory disease.
5th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Japan might reopen its borders to all travellers early next year

Countries all over the world have come out of lockdown and reopened their borders over the summer. Now Japan has started to welcome back at least some international travellers too. The Japanese government announced last month that it will lower the travel warning level for around ten countries around the world from ‘3’ (meaning ‘avoid travelling for any reason’) to ‘2’ (‘avoid non-essential travel’). A two-week quarantine will still be required for anyone flying into Japan, but it is hoped the move will encourage these nations to allow Japanese travellers in too – paving the way, eventually, for mutual leisure travel arrangements.
5th Oct 2020 - Time Out

Coronavirus state border restrictions are easing but these Australians still have no idea when they'll see their loved ones

Across Australia, coronavirus measures are being wound back. Queensland on Friday announced it would reopen its border to New South Wales by next month, so long as there are 28 days of no community transmission, and last week relaxed measures to allow entry to people from the ACT. Tasmania is due to reopen its borders to most states and territories at the end of the month. But there are still plenty of border restrictions in place across the country. Western Australia has been clear it is in no rush to end its hard border, and that's just one example.
5th Oct 2020 - ABC News

Australia's Victoria state to boost testing on path to easing restrictions

Australia’s coronavirus hotspot of Victoria will look into ways to increase testing for the disease to control its spread in anticipation of easing of the state’s stringent lockdown restrictions, officials said on Monday. New daily coronavirus infections in Victoria, Australia’s second most-populous state, fell to nine cases on Monday, down from 12 in the previous days. No deaths were reported.
5th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

World Bank proposes a $12 billion fund for COVID vaccine dispersal to poor and developing countries

The World Bank is seeking approval from its board for a $12 billion fund that would help poor and developing countries get access to a COVID-19 vaccine in the future. “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio spoke with World Bank President David Malpass about how the fund would work and how the global financial institution is uniquely positioned to help facilitate a future international distribution plan for the COVID-19 vaccine. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
5th Oct 2020 - Marketplace

NHS calls in Armed Forces to help distribute coronavirus vaccine

The British armed forces will be involved in distributing a coronavirus vaccine across the UK ‘according to priority’, the Health Secretary has said. Speaking at the Conservative Party conference on Sunday, Matt Hancock confirmed that a ‘combination of the NHS and the armed forces’ are already working on ‘making the rollout happen’. He said the doses would be distributed based on a prioritisation list, noting that it was important to ‘get the vaccine to the people who are most likely to be badly affected by coronavirus first’. Calling the vaccine a ‘great hope’, he told the conference: ‘The Prime Minister said this morning there will be some bumpy months ahead but we are working as hard as we can to get a vaccine as fast as is safely possible.
5th Oct 2020 - Metro


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 5th Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

‘Exhausted’ teachers warn they have no additional funding to handle Covid-19

In England, headteachers have warned they do not have enough funding from the government to meet the extra costs of the Covid-19 crisis, leaving school budgets “in the lap of the gods”. The new president of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), Ruth Davies, said schools are being expected to implement Covid safety arrangements “without any additional funding at all”, placing pressure on “exhausted” school leaders. She called on the government to provide money for items such as personal protective equipment, extra cleaning, more staff and the physical adaptations made to schools.
4th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: The difficulty of policing Covid-19 restrictions

In Northern Ireland, the PSNI has handed out about 800 spot fines of £60 or more during the Covid-19 pandemic - but finds itself in a debate over claims of inaction on face coverings. Not a single penalty has been issued in respect of masks in shops or on public transport since they became mandatory. In England and Wales (a population of 60m), just 89 fines have been handed out, showing this law is being enforced with a light touch across the UK. By his own admission, it is not a space the Chief Constable Simon Byrne wants his officers to rush into.
4th Oct 2020 - BBC

Germany makes people returning from Wales quarantine but not England

The German government has said that people travelling from Wales to Germany have to isolate for 14 days but travellers from England do not. In the advice given to travellers entering Germany, the German government said: "The United Kingdom has been strongly affected by Covid-19. In Wales and Northern Ireland there have been more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, which is why the German government has classified these regions as high risk areas. "Passengers travelling from Wales and Northern Ireland must therefore undergo a 14-day quarantine upon entering Germany. Those who can provide a negative Covid-19 test will not have to undergo quarantine."
3rd Oct 2020 - Wales Online

Could home coronavirus quarantine really get more Australians to come home from overseas?

In Australia, completing two weeks of quarantine in a small hotel room has been the norm for returning travellers for months, but home quarantine is apparently on the horizon. The announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that some international travellers may soon be able to quarantine at home has given hope to plenty of Australian expats and may encourage more to come home. But with only returning travellers from some "safe" countries set to be eligible, where does that leave the others? And what of interstate travellers?
3rd Oct 2020 - abc.net.au

New Zealand refuses quarantine-free trips from Australia as ACT joins travel bubble

New Zealand will not reciprocate quarantine-free trips across the Tasman as the Australian Capital Territory joins Australia’s travel bubble with the country. On Friday, Australia’s deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, announced New South Wales and the Northern Territory would allow Kiwis to bypass the compulsory fortnight of quarantine on arrival from 16 October. On Saturday the ACT joined the scheme. But Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand would stand strong on its pledge to not open up until Australia, or specific states and territories, recorded a month without community transmission of Covid-19.
3rd Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 Vaccines Should First Go to Health Workers, First Responders, Group Recommends

Certain health workers and first responders should be the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine when one becomes available, followed by people with health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease, a special U.S. committee recommended. As supplies of vaccines rise, the committee recommended vaccinating groups like teachers, child-care staffers and transit workers. Only later should other groups and finally remaining Americans get vaccinated, the committee said in a report released Friday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
2nd Oct 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19: Test and trace app incompatibility angers cross-border residents

People living near England's border with Scotland say they are angry that Covid-19 test and trace apps for the two nations are incompatible. Users living in one nation and travelling to the other can only use one app at a time. Barrister Brian Payne, who commutes to Newcastle from the Scottish Borders, called it a "significant failing". The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was working on "a technical solution".
2nd Oct 2020 - BBC

UK tourists can visit just six countries without restrictions

With a second lockdown feeling imminent, if you are desperate for an overseas holiday a last-minute break could be your best bet. Yet, with Turkey and Poland being added to the UK’s quarantine list this week, our choices of where we can go (and not quarantine at either end) are quickly diminishing. Just six countries remain which UK visitors can enter without restrictions: Sweden, Italy, Greece, San Marino, Gibraltar and Germany (although the latter has restrictions for passengers from Wales and Northern Ireland).
2nd Oct 2020 - Evening Standard

As lockdown eases, Kenyan doctors warn Covid still lurking

Kenya is reporting a decline in coronavirus cases, and hospital admissions for Covid-19 have fallen sharply, but some frontline health workers say infections are going undetected and could even be rising. For several weeks, the health ministry has been recording between about 50 and 250 new infections every day, a sudden and considerable slump from highs approaching 900 in just late July. The government has responded by easing some of the strictest measures imposed to contain the pandemic.
2nd Oct 2020 - FRANCE 24

India's contracting economy rebooting from coronavirus blow

Millions of distressed Indian manufacturers and traders are counting on the eagerly-awaited October-December festive season to rescue them from their coronavirus catastrophe. The government began easing a stringent two-month-long lockdown in June, but business still is only a quarter to a fifth of usual and customers are scarce, said Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders. In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced $1.46 trillion in infrastructure projects to boost the sagging economy and allocated $2 billion to upgrading the country’s overwhelmed health system.
2nd Oct 2020 - The Associated Press

'The beers are cold': Australia to open up to New Zealanders after COVID border shutdown

New Zealanders will soon be able to travel to Australia without having to self-quarantine as COVID-19 infections slow and Canberra seeks to revive its ailing economy, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Friday. New Zealand citizens and residents would be allowed to travel to Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales and its remote Northern Territory (NT) from Oct. 16, without having to undergo the two-week quarantine required of Australians returning from other nations, McCormack said.
2nd Oct 2020 - Reuters

Unlock 5.0 Guidelines In India: From Lockdown Extension Till Oct 31 to School Resumption

In India, while the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued new guidelines for ‘Unlock 5’, allowing more relaxations outside the containment zones, several states, on the other hand, have extended lockdown in COVID-19 hotspots till October 31 to break the chain of coronavirus transmission.
2nd Oct 2020 - India.com


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 2nd Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Coronavirus: Some users of NHS tracing app incorrectly given COVID-19 exposure alerts

Some users of the new NHS contact-tracing app have received notifications saying they'd been near someone with coronavirus, only to discover the alerts were system checks sent by Google and Apple. People who downloaded the COVID-19 app in England and Wales told Sky News they had received a notification which said: "Someone you were near reported having COVID-19." Yet, when they clicked on the message, they found no information explaining whether they should self-isolate.
1st Oct 2020 - Sky News

Italy to extend COVID state of emergency to end of Jan - PM

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday he would ask parliament to extend the country’s COVID-19 state of emergency to the end of January, as the government tries to avoid the surge in cases seen in other European countries. The state of emergency, due to expire in mid-October, gives greater powers to central government, making it easier for officials to bypass the bureaucracy that smothers much decision-making in Italy. “We will propose to parliament to extend the state of emergency, probably to the end of January 2021,” Conte told reporters during a visit to Caserta, in southern Italy.
1st Oct 2020 - Reuters

Everything that changes in Italy in October 2020

From the upcoming review of coronavirus restrictions to the clocks going back, here's what we can expect this October in Italy. Coronavirus rules up for review - One thing we’ll all be watching closely is the revision of Italy’s current set of coronavirus rules, with the government’s emergency decree (DPCM) up for review on October 7th. It’s not known yet what ministers are planning, however as the number of new cases is now rising again here in Italy it’s thought unlikely that any rules will be relaxed.
1st Oct 2020 - The Local Italy

1st in Europe to be devastated by COVID-19, Italy redoubled its efforts, and they're now paying off

When engineering student Sara Del Giudice returned home to Naples in late August from a short vacation with her boyfriend, instead of embracing her siblings and parents, she shut herself in her room. "We're a close family that hugs and kisses all the time, but I had a slight headache, a cough and achiness, and I just thought, better safe than sorry," said Del Giudice, 23. Several days later, she and her boyfriend tested positive for COVID-19. Despite both having negative antibody tests before their holiday on the island of Ischia, in the Gulf of Naples, her boyfriend was coming from Sardinia, where clusters of partying young people spread the virus with alacrity.
1st Oct 2020 - CBC.ca

Coronavirus: How Italy has fought back from virus disaster

Through the window of the car in front, there's a short, sharp cry from the toddler - eased with a quick lollipop or a colourful picture: a distraction aid once the swab is finished. And then the next in a long line of vehicles pulls up as Rome's "Baby drive-in" continues apace. The test serves children from newborn to the age of six. A result comes within 30 minutes. If it's negative, they can return to day-care or school, even if there's a positive case in their class.
1st Oct 2020 - BBC

Unlock 5.0 guidelines live: International flights to remain suspended till October 31

India's Covid tally raced past 62 lakh on Wednesday with 80,472 infections being reported in last 24 hours. While the number of recoveries surged to 51,87,825 pushing the recovery rate to 83.33 per cent, according to the Union health ministry data.
1st Oct 2020 - The Times of India

Is Pakistan really handling the pandemic better than its rival?

Whereas India’s burden is still rising by 70,000 new cases a day, Pakistan’s caseload seems to have peaked three months ago. Its daily total of new cases has remained in the mere hundreds since early August. India’s economy has also fared far worse. The Asian Development Bank predicts that its gdp will shrink by fully 9% in the current fiscal year, compared with a contraction of 0.4% for Pakistan.
1st Oct 2020 - The Economist

Australia's hotspot virus state Victoria reports 800th death, other states ease restrictions

Australia’s coronavirus hotspot state Victoria reported its 800th death from the virus on Thursday, but low case numbers raised the prospect of a “COVID-normal” 2021 without lockdowns or social restrictions, said the state premier. “We’re confident we’ll be able to build a COVID-normal Christmas, a COVID-normal summer and a virus at such a low level that we can sustain that over the long term,” Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne. “That may even be for the majority, or indeed the entirety of 2021.”
1st Oct 2020 - Reuters

Twelve new cases of Covid-19 today, all in managed isolation

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says all the new cases have been transferred to a dedicated quarantine facility. There are no new cases in the community. Dr McElnay says 10 of the cases came from India on 26 September on flight AI1354, they were sitting between rows 14 and 41, so spread out on their journey. One case arrived from the US on 26 September and tested positive on day three, the other person came to New Zealand from Philippines via Taiwan.
1st Oct 2020 - RNZ


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 1st Oct 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Police urged to use Covid-19 app on personal phones amid guideline confusion

Police officers have been encouraged to use the coronavirus contact tracing app on their personal smartphones while working if they wish to, amid confusion about guidelines concerning the technology. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) had initially asked officers to hold off downloading the app on both personal and work devices pending a technical assessment. A spokesman for the body denied any suggestion of “security issues” or a policy reversal, saying such checks are standard procedure for any new software used on work-issued smartphones.
30th Sep 2020 - London Evening Standard

As US states sound alarm on Covid-19 trends, some communities loosen restrictions

Wisconsin is reporting its highest number of Covid-19 hospitalizations on record, just days after the White House coronavirus task force warned of a "rapid worsening" of the pandemic in the state last week. With 646 Covid-19-related hospitalizations Wednesday, Wisconsin reported just 18% of hospital beds are available, according to the state's Covid-19 website. Almost a third -- 32% -- of those hospitalized are in the intensive care unit. The White House task force called on the state to increase social distancing "to the maximal degree possible," less than a week before President Donald Trump's scheduled campaign rallies in hot-spot metro areas La Crosse and Green Bay.
30th Sep 2020 - CNN

Japan eases restriction as it allows travel to few countries, including Australia

Japan has planned to lift restrictions on overseas travel in October. According to reports by a local news organisation Nikkei Asian Review, the government will be giving priority to 10 countries which include Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam. All COVID-19 related restrictions on domestic travel were lifted in Japan in the month of June, in a bid to revive the hard-hit economy.
30th Sep 2020 - Republic World

SBI Foundation launches the ‘India Health Alliance’ to fight against Covid-19 pandemic

The prime focus of ‘India Health Alliance' would be on combating the COVID-19 healthcare pandemic in India. SBI Foundation will be launching two new initiatives in the areas of Community Screening & Testing and Tele-Care
30th Sep 2020 - Mint


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 30th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid-19: End of term isolation will ensure students can go home for Christmas, Williamson announces

Two weeks of self-isolation at the end of term will allow university students to go home at Christmas, the education secretary has announced. Gavin Williamson told MPs that in-person classes could be cancelled at the end of term and replaced with online learning, so that students can carry out a two week quarantine before heading home. With thousands currently in self-isolation at education centres around the country, there have been huge concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could force some students to spend the festive period alone at their university residence. Mr Williamson, acknowledging "anxiety" about the impact of coronavirus restrictions on the Christmas holidays, said the government will work with universities to make sure all students are supported to return home if they choose to do so.
29th Sep 2020 - ITV News

COVID-19: The Most Complicated Vaccine Campaign Ever

On the day that a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, a vast logistics operation will need to awaken. Millions of doses must travel hundreds of miles from manufacturers to hospitals, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies, which in turn must store, track, and eventually get the vaccines to people all across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with state and local health departments, coordinates this process. These agencies distributed flu vaccines during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic this way, and they manage childhood vaccines every day. But the COVID-19 vaccine will be a whole new challenge.
29th Sep 2020 - The Atlantic

Children 'must be the priority' in Covid-19 planning

Children must be the priority at this stage of the Covid-19 crisis, says England's Children Commissioner. Anne Longfield calls for a recovery package to tackle a "rising tide of childhood vulnerability". She warns of an "inter-generational crisis", with the impact of the economic fall-out of the pandemic on parents determining the future prospects of their children. The government said the wellbeing of children was central to its response. Ms Longfield says the nation's efforts to "build back better" must begin with a focus on children, "sometimes sadly lacking during the pandemic".
29th Sep 2020 - BBC

French ministers in spotlight over poor take-up of 'centralised' Covid app

France is looking across the Channel with rare admiration after the NHS Covid-19 test-and-trace app was downloaded 12.4m times in four days – a much greater take-up than its French equivalent. An estimated 3 million people have downloaded the French app, called StopCovid, since its launch in June. In August it was revealed that the app had sent only 72 alerts. France’s minister for digital transition, Cédric O, admitted on Tuesday that more work was needed to convince the French population to download the app, which he said could help avert a new nationwide lockdown. O said he was surprised to learn that the prime minister, Jean Castex, had not downloaded StopCovid, and nor had the justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti, the foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, or the junior interior minister, Marlène Schiappa.
29th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Unlock 5.0 guidelines: More relaxations expected in October

Unlock 5.0 Guidelines & Rules: It remains to be seen if cinema halls are given the nod to reopen from October. Only open-air theatres were allowed to kickstart operations from September 21.
29th Sep 2020 - The Indian Express

Philippines placing southern city in lockdown

One southern Philippine province and its war-battered capital will be placed under a mild lockdown starting Thursday and the rest of the country will be under more relaxed restrictions to boost the battered economy of the country counting the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.
29th Sep 2020 - Associated Press on MSN.com

Melbourne lifts curfew after nearly two months of lockdown as coronavirus cases fall

Five million residents in Melbourne, Australia, emerged from a long lockdown on Monday, with stringent restrictions loosening after nearly two months as the state continues to see a drop in coronavirus cases. Victoria state's Premier Daniel Andrews announced late Sunday night that the city would enter "the second step toward reopening," which included lifting a nightly curfew that had mandated residents stay home from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. "Seven weeks ago, our average case numbers were peaking at more than 400 every single day," Andrews said in a statement on Sunday. "Today, Melbourne's rolling case average is 22.1. It's a remarkable thing -- and an achievement that belongs to every single Victorian."
29th Sep 2020 - CNN

Latino artists pay tribute to the theater amid coronavirus' impact through 'Viva Broadway'

Acclaimed Broadway Latino star Caesar Samayoa remembers the theater before coronavirus. Like many Americans, Samayoa noticed small changes occurring at his job beginning last March. Performing in the Broadway musical, “Come From Away,” Samayoa recalled that, one day, hand sanitizers appeared backstage, “Then we were told that we couldn’t have any backstage visitors,” he said. “Then it was announced that we couldn’t greet people at the stage door.” One Wednesday matinee, Samayoa was shocked to see a half-empty theater, since “Come From Away” usually played to full houses. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit New York City hard and his show—along with all of Broadway—was shut down. It's remained dark ever since. “New York is Broadway, and it feels like a part of our heart is gone," said Samayoa.
29th Sep 2020 - NBC News


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 29th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Coronavirus: Care leavers are facing 'digital poverty' with no online access to education or work, campaigners say.

Care leavers are facing "digital poverty" without laptops or access to the internet, campaigners say. A government scheme to provide digital devices and internet access to vulnerable young people in England during the pandemic is set to end in November. Charities say it risks leaving up to 80,000 18-25 year-old care leavers isolated and unable to access education and work or to keep in touch with friends and family. In an open letter to ministers, leading charities and youth organisations including Barnardo's and The Children's Society have called on the government to extend the scheme and ensure every care leaver gets internet access for at least 12 months when they first live independently.
29th Sep 2020 - Sky News

Pharmacy teams unable to get COVID-19 tests despite priority status

Some community pharmacy workers are struggling to get a COVID-19 test, despite their “essential workers” status, C+D has learned from pharmacy bodies. A Twitter poll of 79 respondents, posted earlier this month (September 15) by Royal Pharmaceutical Society director of England Ravi Sharma, found that 76% of pharmacy workers had experienced difficulties in accessing tests for COVID-19. Other pharmacy bodies have reported similar problems. Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), confirmed that the organisation has received “many concerns about this issue”. It is something Ms Hannbeck has raised with NHS England and asked them to look into, she told C+D last week (September 25). While there have been reports of shortages of COVID-19 tests for the general public, pharmacy team members are classed as “essential workers” who are prioritised for testing.
28th Sep 2020 - Chemist+Druggist

Covid-19: Up to £10,000 fine for failure to self-isolate in England

Refusing to self-isolate when told to is now illegal in England, with fines of up to £10,000. Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19, or has been told they have been in contact with someone who has, now has a legal duty to quarantine. It comes as a study commissioned by the government found just 18% of people who had symptoms went into isolation. Meanwhile, the government has promised an "uninterrupted supply" of PPE for front-line workers over the winter. Four-month stockpiles of PPE - personal protective equipment such as masks, visors and gowns - will be available from November, the Department of Health has said.
28th Sep 2020 - BBC

Police told not to download NHS Covid-19 app

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) has confirmed officers are being told not to install the NHS Covid-19 app on their work smartphones. The app detects when users have been in proximity to someone with the virus. Some officers have also been told they may not need to obey self-isolate alerts generated by the app when downloaded to their personal phones. Lancashire Constabulary has told staff to call the force's own Covid-19 helpline instead. The BBC contacted the North-West of England force after a source claimed the advice had been given because of "security reasons". The source also said officers had been told not to carry their personal phones while on duty if they had activated the app.
28th Sep 2020 - BBC

Unlock 5.0 guidelines: What further relaxations we could see in October

While several restrictions have been eased in different phases of ‘Unlock’ since June, the Union Home Ministry is slated to come out with fresh guidelines for October — which holds significance since it marks the beginning of the long festive season. Last month, the Home Ministry had said more relaxations and opening up of more activities would be gradually allowed in areas outside the containment zones. With industries hoping for a strong rebound in consumer demand this festive season, further easing of restrictions is expected.
28th Sep 2020 - The Indian Express

How does Australia's coronavirus welfare response compare to the rest of the world?

According to the International Monetary Fund’s policy tracker, which summarises the key economic responses governments have taken to limit the impacts of the pandemic, Australia’s fiscal response ranks among the highest in the developed world. As a proportion of its GDP, Australia’s domestic coronavirus aid sits well above that of countries in western Europe and China, but is lower than that of the United States, Canada and Japan. Experts said Australia's response represents the fact that, in terms of our coronavirus cases, we were less affected by the virus than many other developed nations.
28th Sep 2020 - SBS News

Open for Christmas: Australia's virus hotspot could be near normal by summer

Australia’s city of Melbourne, its hotspot in the second wave of coronavirus infections, is on track to return to near normal by Christmas, strengthening hopes for major summer sporting events to go ahead amid a general economic revival. Southeastern Victoria state recorded a single digit rise in new cases for the first time in three months on Monday, with the lifting of some of the toughest curbs its capital of Melbourne, such as a night-time curfew, Premier Daniel Andrews said. “That is a very, very significant set of numbers. We are well ahead of schedule,” Andrews told a daily news conference, anticipating a move to “COVID normal”, with most curbs eased.
28th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19: Australian state of Victoria has three virus deaths, only five new cases as Melbourne's lockdown ends

The Australian state of Victoria has had another three coronavirus deaths as new case numbers dropped to their lowest since June 12. The latest fatalities take the state toll to 787 and Australia’s national figure to 875. But there were only five new cases, the first time since June that number has been below 10.
28th Sep 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

COVID-19 cases in Australia’s Victoria fall as lockdown eases

New coronavirus cases in the Australian state of Victoria fell to single digits for the first time in more than three months on Monday, as officials began winding down some restrictions brought in to control the outbreak. Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, placed nearly five million residents of its capital Melbourne into a hard lockdown in early August as it emerged as the country’s COVID-19 hotspot, but lifted a night curfew on Sunday thanks to a steady fall in new daily case numbers.
28th Sep 2020 - AlJazeera

Australia Gradually Eases Its Toughest COVID-19 Lockdown in Melbourne

A curfew imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus has been lifted in the Australian city of Melbourne. The Victorian state government has said that a fall in the number of infections is allowing them to gradually relax other restrictions. Melbourne was placed into a second lockdown in July because of a spike in COVID-19 cases. New cases of COVID-19 in Melbourne have fallen enough that officials are talking about re-opening the city. In late July, authorities had reported more than 700 new daily infections. On Monday, they recorded just five cases. Infections have fallen sufficiently for Australia’s second-biggest city to move to the second of a four-step recovery plan.
28th Sep 2020 - VOA Asia

UK wants students to be able to go home for Christmas despite COVID

The British government wants university students to be able to return home for Christmas, culture minister Oliver Dowden said on Sunday, amid concerns that restrictions on movement may be needed to curb the rising number of coronavirus cases. Outbreaks have forced some institutions to ask students - many of whom are far from home and paying thousands of pounds for accommodation and teaching - to self-isolate in their rooms and follow lectures online. Health minister Matt Hancock had said on Thursday he could not rule out asking students to stay on campus over Christmas to prevent the virus from spreading. “I very much want students to be able to go home at Christmas,” Dowden told Sky News.
27th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Chile's president launches $2 billion plan to bring back jobs lost during pandemic

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Sunday the launch of $2 billion in subsidies aimed at creating new jobs or recovering those lost during months of lockdown aimed at stemming the coronavirus pandemic in the globe’s top copper producer. Pinera said the government would pay private businesses up to 50%, or as much as $317 of the salaries of any newly hired employee for the next six months. A similar program will cover up to around $200 of the salaries of employees who return to work after a furlough period during the coronavirus crisis.
27th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Modi offers India’s COVID-19 vaccine capacity to ‘all humanity’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged at the United Nations that his country’s vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the coronavirus crisis. “As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today,” Modi said in a prerecorded speech to the UN General Assembly.
27th Sep 2020 - AlJazeera

Australia-New Zealand travel bubble could happen before Christmas

A travel bubble with New Zealand could be in place before Christmas, New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister says. Winston Peters told Today the country was "raring to go", and said it would be a welcome boost for tourism on both sides of the Tasman. However, he said it depends on establishing coronavirus tracing protocols and other systems, especially given Melbourne's second COVID-19 outbreak.
27th Sep 2020 - 9News


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 28th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

"Will Centre Have 80,000 Crore For Covid Vaccines" Adar Poonawalla Asks

Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India - the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines by volume and which is conducting trials of Covid vaccine candidates ahead of mass production - took to Twitter today to highlight challenges in vaccine production and distribution in the country. "Quick question: will the Government of India have 80,000 crores available over the next one year? Because that is what the Ministry of Health needs to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle," Mr Poonawalla said.
26th Sep 2020 - NDTV

Covid-19 restrictions: 'South Asian weddings should have 400 guests - not 15'

The new 15-guest limit would be "out of the question" for South Asian weddings, according to an events manager who has lost all his bookings since March. Arum Javed said Monsoon Venue Group, in Birmingham, was on "shaky ground". Before Covid-19, British Asian weddings were traditionally lavish affairs, with multiple events that would tend to have 300 guests as a minimum. On Tuesday it was announced the maximum number of people allowed at weddings was being cut from 30 to 15. The change came as the government outlined a new set of restrictions aimed at limiting another rise in cases of the coronavirus.
26th Sep 2020 - BBC

Covid-19: What has it meant for the 'busiest' trains?

Newly released figures have revealed the 10 most overcrowded trains in England and Wales. Among them was the 07:16 service from King's Lynn, in Norfolk, into London King's Cross. But has coronavirus changed things? Spoiler alert. It has. The data released by the Department for Transport on Thursday suggested nearly one in five train passengers had to stand due to overcrowding during the morning rush hour. But these latest figures are for last autumn and seem to reflect a different world from today's Covid-19 reality. Great Northern, which runs the King's Lynn to King's Cross service, had told us it had already been working hard to reduce crowding before the pandemic struck. The government's figures show the service was running at 165% capacity when it was measured last year.
26th Sep 2020 - BBC

Covid-19: Swansea soprano stars in drive-in London opera

A night at the opera might summon up images of people in suits and ballgowns sitting in stalls and boxes overlooking a stage. But when she performs in Europe's first drive-in opera this weekend, Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw will be singing to an audience sitting in their cars. Ms Romaniw, from Swansea, is starring in Puccini's La bohème, in the grounds of London's Alexandra Palace. The 32-year-old said she felt "lucky to be performing again". Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, performances have been cancelled with many venues remaining closed due to social-distancing measures.
26th Sep 2020 - BBC

U.S. Midwest sees surge in COVID-19 cases as four states report record increases

Four U.S. states in the Midwest reported record one-day increases in COVID-19 cases on Saturday as infections rise nationally for a second week in a row, according to a Reuters analysis. Minnesota reported 1,418 new cases, Montana 343 new cases, South Dakota reported 579 and Wisconsin had 2,902 new cases. In the last week, seven mostly Midwest states have reported record one-day rises in new infections -- Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Minnesota and Utah reported record increases two days in a row.
26th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: Sea swims help with lockdown mental health

A sea swim before dawn to help those struggling with mental health issues has been attracting more than 100 people every week. Chris Reeves set up the Win the Morning, Win the Day group on social media six weeks ago, offering to meet up in Gosport with anyone wanting to get some exercise and talk about their problems. The group meets every Friday at 05.30 BST and Chris has imposed coronavirus safety measures, such as splitting people into groups of six and enforcing staggered starts to the walk. The idea is now gaining popularity, with groups also starting in Leeds, Manchester and Bahrain.
26th Sep 2020 - BBC

Pro-Trump supporters protest against 'Coronavirus Death Scoreboard' installed at a Chicago park

At least 50 pro-Trump supporters held a protest on Friday in Northbrook, Illinois. The event was in response to a 'Coronavirus Death Scoreboard' sign that had been installed by a liberal group, Peaceful Communities, last week Peaceful Communities said the sign was meant to be a reminder about the pandemic, but Trump supporters have perceived it as an attack him. The sign was vandalized five times within six days after it debuted. The protest was organized by Peter C.,a local high school student who is involved in local conservative politics
26th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

5 common coronavirus misconceptions and the science you need to know

Since the beginning of 2020, when we first started hearing about a new coronavirus, eventually dubbed SARS-CoV-2, our understanding of what it is, how it infects people, who it infects and how we can protect ourselves have all evolved as our knowledge has grown. But that evolution -- and the changing information and recommendations that accompanied it -- has also sown confusion, and in some cases, deliberate disinformation. "Just as Covid-19 has spread around the world, so too have rumors, untruths and disinformation. And they can be just as dangerous," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said on Wednesday.
26th Sep 2020 - CNN

Coronavirus: Children behind rising demand for tests in England

Demand for coronavirus tests has almost trebled among young children in England this month - but only 1% were found to have the virus, figures show. In the first two weeks of September, more than 200,000 under-nines were tested, according to government's test-and-trace programme. That is nearly three times as many as in the previous fortnight. A large study review has also confirmed that children are less likely to be infected than adults. But the role that children and adolescents play in transmitting the virus "remains unclear", it said.
26th Sep 2020 - BBC

Italy avoids Europe's dramatic Covid-19 surge but for how long?

The first Western country to be struck by the devastating coronavirus pandemic, Italy is today an outlier in Europe with limited new cases compared with neighbours. The question is why, and will it last. While France reported a record 16,096 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday and Spain over 10,000, Italy's number has for weeks remained below 2,000. It has carried out fewer tests -- some 120,000 per day, versus France's 180,000 -- but not enough to explain the sharp difference in new infections. Experts largely point to the success of a severe and lengthy lockdown, combined with a collective trauma. Horrific memories of coffins stacked up as cemeteries in the north overflowed and intensive-care beds ran out appear to have ensured Italians stick diligently to the rules, many even wearing masks in situations where it is not obligatory.
26th Sep 2020 - The Local Italy

'Italy showed the epidemic could be turned around': WHO

The World Health Organization has paid tribute to Italy's response to the coronavirus pandemic, which it said had showed the world the outbreak could be contained. In a new video shared on Friday, the WHO presented Italy as a successful case study for tackling Covid-19 – even as the country recorded its highest number of new cases since lockdown ended. "Italy showed the epidemic's trajectory could be turned around through commitment, coordination and communication across government and communities, a resilient public health system and by following a science-based response," the UN's health agency said.
26th Sep 2020 - The Local Italy

‘We’re suddenly drowning in people’: Argentinians flock to Uruguay amid pandemic

“It started as a trickle when the pandemic first hit Argentina, but now we’re getting over 20 calls a day,” she said from her office in Uruguay’s luxury beach resort of Punta Del Este. Valls runs a thriving business guiding well-off Argentinians through the red tape of acquiring Uruguayan residence – a skill she learned arranging her own residency application after marrying a Uruguayan lawyer last October. “The pandemic hit us like a sledgehammer – we are suddenly drowning in people wanting to come here,” said her husband Diego Torres. About 15,000 to 20,000 Argentinians are estimated to have moved to Uruguay since the pandemic began in March – a number equivalent to about 0.6% of Uruguay’s population of 3.5 million.
26th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Uruguay is winning against covid-19. This is how

Uruguay is Latin America’s positive outlier in a region ravaged by the pandemic. Luke Taylor explains how simple measures and following the science has put it head and shoulders above richer countries in fighting the novel coronavirus. Latin America continues to suffer some of the worst tolls of covid-19, with over seven million recorded infections1 accounting for nearly half of all daily deaths.2 But in the region's Southern Cone there is a clear outlier wedged between Brazil to the west, with over 3.5 million confirmed cases, and Argentina to the east, with half a million. Somehow, Uruguay has a lid on the pandemic. Its relatively small population of 3.5 million made controlling the transmission of covid-19 easier but never guaranteed its success—Panama, home to four million in Central America, has recorded over 100 000 cases and 2000 related deaths.
26th Sep 2020 - The BMJ

Unhappy With Your Old Life? Pandemic Frees Formerly Office-Bound Workers to Experiment With New Ones

Back in July, Chelsea Alexander Paul and her husband, Evan, sat down in their San Francisco apartment and made a spreadsheet of places where they could live and work for the same amount of money or less. The Pauls had lived in the city for four years and once lockdowns began, they spent months working from their one-bedroom home in the Mission District. As of now, their offices won’t reopen until August 2021, freeing them up to focus on a place with better work space and more outdoor activities. “It felt like what we had in the city wasn’t really there anymore and isn’t going to be there for a little while,” said Ms. Paul, who is 32 and senior marketing lead at the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation.
26th Sep 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Canadian snowbirds’ plans to head south for winter derailed due to coronavirus

A couple of years ago, Renee Huart-Field and her husband packed up their lives in Bracebridge, Ont., in pursuit of the retirees’ dream. And for a while, they were living it. The couple loaded most of their worldly possessions into a trailer, and with their two golden retrievers in tow, started splitting their time between two picturesque destinations.
26th Sep 2020 - Global News

Coronavirus vaccine: Who will be first to get jab? Draft list revealed

Coronavirus vaccine: Who will be first to get jab? Draft list revealed
25th Sep 2020 - Sky News


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 25th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

This Is Why NHS Covid-19 App Privacy Concerns Are Massively Overblown

The long-awaited NHS Test and Trace Covid-19 app has finally arrived and although the technology is not a “silver bullet” in the fight against the pandemic, it is at least a positive step to aid contact tracing efforts. For it to work it will need at least seven million people to download and use it but already it’s clear not everyone is on board.
24th Sep 2020 - Huffington Post UK

Users report issues as Covid-19 app launches in England and Wales

The launch of the NHS Covid-19 app in England and Wales has exposed problems with the programme, some of which were known about in advance, and some of which will come as a surprise to both the government and users. Although there were hundreds of thousands of downloads of the app in the first few hours on iPhones from the App Store and Android from the Google Play Store, simply accessing it caused a problem for many. Some Android users reported accidentally downloading the trial version that had been made available in Newham, east London, and the Isle of Wight. That then led to a rash of one-star reviews on the Google Play Store, giving the app an average rating of just 1.5 stars.
24th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

NHS Covid-19 app: One million downloads of contact tracer for England and Wales

NHS Covid-19 instructs users to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects they were nearby someone who has the virus. It also has a check-in scanner to alert owners if a venue they have visited is found to be an outbreak hotspot.
24th Sep 2020 - BBC

GPs raise concerns about patients paying privately for 'extortionate' Covid-19 tests

GPs have raised concerns about anxious patients paying ‘extortionate’ prices for private coronavirus tests after being unable to access the government Test and Trace system. Online pharmacies and private GPs are among those charging between £140 and £250 to carry out an antigen test for Covid-19. It comes after Pulse reported that GPs were being inundated by patients unable to get a test as as NHS Test and Trace continued to struggle to meet demand. Those paying for tests include parents whose children have been sent home from school or nursery but who cannot get a test through the Government online booking system and need to get back to work.
24th Sep 2020 - Pulse

'Close to 100% accuracy': Helsinki airport uses sniffer dogs to detect Covid

Four Covid-19 sniffer dogs have begun work at Helsinki airport in a state-funded pilot scheme that Finnish researchers hope will provide a cheap, fast and effective alternative method of testing people for the virus. A dog is capable of detecting the presence of the coronavirus within 10 seconds and the entire process takes less than a minute to complete, according to Anna Hielm-Björkman of the University of Helsinki, who is overseeing the trial. “It’s very promising,” said Hielm-Björkman. “If it works, it could prove a good screening method in other places” such as hospitals, care homes and at sporting and cultural events.
24th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Hancock refuses to rule out Christmas student lockdown

Matt Hancock has refused to rule out banning students from returning home at Christmas, to limit the spread of coronavirus outbreaks. The health secretary was responding to a question about concerns that students could be spreading Covid-19, amid numerous university-based outbreaks. At Glasgow University 120 students have tested positive for Covid-19 and are among 600 self-isolating there. Academics had warned against the mass movement of the UK's million students. The University and College Union had called for students to be taught wholly online, from home until Christmas, ahead of the start of term, but ministers advised some face-to-face learning was key to students' mental health.
24th Sep 2020 - BBC

Hospitality jobs have taken a hammering. Opening Australia's state borders will not be enough | Greg Jericho

The goodish news of last week’s unemployment figures have been quickly tempered by the release of the latest payroll job numbers. The figures were released on the day the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank described the recovery as “a slow grind” and they highlight the problems a service-driven economy such as ours faces in the midst of a pandemic. The latest payroll job numbers by the Bureau of Statistics give us the most current view of the labor force. It is a view that is becoming increasingly bleak. Where May, June and July saw a nice recovery of jobs as the lockdowns around the country were mostly relaxed, since then the number of jobs has fallen:
24th Sep 2020 - The Guardian


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 24th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Glitches dent German enthusiasm for Covid contact-tracing app

As England and Wales prepare to unveil a coronavirus contact-tracing app, Germany is drawing less than enthusiastic first conclusions about the effectiveness of battling the pandemic with smartphones. A hundred days after its launch, German authorities conceded that IT glitches and poor communication channels with laboratories make the country’s Corona-Warn-App “one more tool of many” rather than a Covid-19 cure-all. The German app, which drew praise from as far as Westminster after it was launched on 16 July, had by the start of this week been downloaded 18.4m times in Germany and 400,000 times abroad – more than similar apps in all other EU member states combined.
23rd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Germany set to declare Dublin 'at risk' due to virus

The "region of Dublin" has now been designated a "risk area" by Germany, due to the recent increase in Covid-19 infections. This designation means passengers from Dublin landing at any German airport will be required to be tested for Covid-19 and isolate until the result is known. The risk assessment is based on seven day incidences, with an infection rate above 50 per 100,000 of population triggering a testing requirement. Ireland's 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 per 100,000 of the population has increased to 70.7.
23rd Sep 2020 - RTE.ie

Coronavirus UK: Wages could be 'topped up' when furlough ends

Rishi Sunak is reportedly considering replacing the furlough scheme with German-style wage subsidies to help businesses in the UK. As the furlough scheme is set to end on October 31, there are concerns companies may start cutting jobs as the country prepares for a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The chancellor was set to announce an extension of Government-backed loan schemes for those struggling – but according to sources he decided to delay it at the last minute. The sources say he is using the delay to draw up a wider support package after Boris Johnson announced tougher new lockdown measures yesterday.
23rd Sep 2020 - Metro.co.uk

China's BGI wins 1.5 million coronavirus test kit order from Ethiopia

Ethiopia has agreed to purchase 1.5 million coronavirus testing kits that will be manufactured at a factory in the African country that has been newly built by China's BGI Group, China's state media agency Xinhua said late on Tuesday.
23rd Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

Covid-19 New Zealand: Mask rules eased as cases drop

Face masks are no longer mandatory on public transport in most of New Zealand as Covid-19 cases continue to drop. From midnight on Wednesday, they are required only in Auckland, the heart of a recent outbreak, and on planes. The rest of New Zealand lifted all pandemic restrictions on Monday. New Zealand was widely praised for its swift response to Covid-19 and everyday life largely went back to normal in June, but the virus reappeared in Auckland in August. The country's biggest city went back into lockdown, temporarily, as other curbs were re-imposed elsewhere. New Zealand has now recorded 1,468 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 25 deaths.
23rd Sep 2020 - BBC

Belgium eases mask rules, cuts quarantine despite rising cases

Belgium is ending a requirement to wear masks outdoors and reducing the time people have to self-isolate, in a slight easing of coronavirus restrictions announced on Wednesday despite sharply rising numbers of COVID-19 infections. Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes told a news conference that, from Oct. 1, people who have had contact with an infected person would only have to quarantine for seven days. Masks would no longer be mandatory everywhere outside, as currently the case in the capital Brussels and some other cities, she said. Masks will still have to worn in shops, cinemas, on public transport and in crowded streets.
23rd Sep 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 23rd Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Covid-19: number of schools in England 'not fully open' quadruples

The number of schools in England badly affected by Covid-19 cases among students and staff has quadrupled in the space of a week, and the number of pupils absent rose by 50%, according to estimates released by the Department for Education. The DfE’s figures revealed that 4% of state schools were classed as “not fully open” last week because of Covid-19, compared with 1% of schools seven days before, including cases where entire year groups had been sent home. Around 20 schools were closed outright for Covid-related reasons. Nine hundred schools were affected, in a week during which many headteachers and parents complained they were unable to access coronavirus tests, forcing those showing symptoms to be kept away from the classroom and self-isolate. Including independent schools at a similar rate would bring the figure for England close to 1,000 schools.
22nd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Spain to cut coronavirus quarantine to 10 from 14 days, SER radio says

The Spanish government and regional authorities are set to cut the quarantine imposed on those who have had contacts with people tested positive to coronavirus to 10 days from a previous 14 days, Cadena SER radio station reported on Tuesday. Spain has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in western Europe and regional authorities have ordered a partial lockdown from Monday in some Madrid neighbourhoods and other regions are taking measures to curb contagion.
22nd Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

No COVID-19 test, no grape harvest in Spain's Basque Country

All wine industry workers in Spain’s Rioja-producing region of Alava must undergo a coronavirus test before they start work to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks putting the grape harvest at risk. Grape pickers, who have dubbed 2020 the “harvest of the masks”, will be given their own equipment, including baskets and scissors, which cannot be exchanged, to avoid infections, said a spokeswoman for the Rioja wine regulatory board. Authorities in the Basque Country have made it compulsory for wine estates to provide a list of workers. The health department then carries out the PCR tests.
22nd Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

French universities' new rules seek to prevent new COVID-19 clusters

Face masks are obligatory, there are separate entrances and exits on campus and many on-site facilities are restricted or closed. But despite a range of sanitary measures at universities in France, at least a dozen COVID-19 clusters have emerged since some classrooms re-opened earlier this month. September marks the start of a new academic year and the French government says children and students should return to the classrooms again. But in a post-lockdown France, where cases are surging again, lectures look and sound very different.
22nd Sep 2020 - CGTN

India's new coronavirus infections at lowest in almost a month

India has reported 75,083 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, according to federal health data released on Tuesday, the lowest daily tally in almost a month. There were 1,053 deaths over the same period. India also reported a record number of single-day recoveries with 101,468 people in 24 hours now virus-free, taking the total to 4,497,867, according to its health ministry.
22nd Sep 2020 - AlJazeera

Australians stranded overseas 'betrayed', says a man telling of months of injury, illness and homelessness

For months Mr Hargreaves had been seriously ill, basically homeless, and stranded in a nightmare — unable to return to his home in Berry on the New South Wales South Coast. Mr Hargreaves and his wife travelled to France to house-sit in January. As concern around the pandemic spread in February his wife returned home, but he felt obliged to stay a few more weeks to honour his commitment.
22nd Sep 2020 - ABC News

Czech PM regrets early lifting of Covid-19 measures

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has admitted that his government had made a mistake when it eased restrictions aimed at containing Covid-19 over the summer. His comments came as governments across Europe struggle with a second wave of Covid-19 infections following the holiday months in which the number of cases began rising sharply. "Even I got carried away by the coming summer and the general mood. That was a mistake I don't want to make again," the billionaire populist said in a televised speech.
22nd Sep 2020 - RTE.ie

Coronavirus: The possibility of another lockdown still a worry for some despite restrictions easing

A psychiatrist believes COVID-19 is impacting mental health now more than ever despite alert level restrictions easing overnight. Auckland will move to COVID-19 alert level 2 on Wednesday and stay there for at least a fortnight while the rest of the country is now at level 1. But Professor Christopher Gale, a psychiatrist from the University of Otago, says the possibility of another lockdown is still a worry for some. Prof Gale told Newshub concerns do remain about people's wellbeing and the future of businesses. "What's happening now is a lot of people are finding personal hurt," he said on Monday.
22nd Sep 2020 - Newshub

Spain's home working draft bill to make employers pay for expenses

The Spanish government has agreed with unions and business leaders that employers must cover home working expenses after the coronavirus pandemic caused millions to work from their living rooms. “It was fundamental to regulate remote working to protect the rights of workers,” Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias told state-owned TV channel TVE on Tuesday. “This new rule will boost productivity and the competitiveness of the Spanish economy”, as well as the working conditions of the Spaniards who partly worked from home in 2020, Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz told a news conference later.
22nd Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Companies scramble to reverse UK back-to-office plans

Companies across England were left scrambling to reverse plans to return thousands of staff to their offices on Tuesday after the government abandoned its push to get more people working in towns and city centres. The government has encouraged workers to return to offices since August, ramping up the pressure on businesses to bring back employees after schools returned at the start of September. But just three weeks later, the prime minister announced an abrupt U-turn following a surge in Covid-19 infections, leaving companies frantically rethinking plans for office staff.
22nd Sep 2020 - Financial Times


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 22nd Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Greece extends negative COVID-19 test rule for Russians until October 5

Greece extended by two weeks until Oct. 5 a rule requiring visitors from Russia to provide a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country, its civil aviation authority said on Monday. The previous rule, which came into effect on Sept. 7, was due to expire at midnight on Monday.
21st Sep 2020 - Reuters

Are German schools prepared for a winter lockdown?

Winter is coming, and with it the possibility of the next wave of corona infections. But Germany's schools ready for another lockdown - a return to stay-at-home learning and online-classes? Deutsche Welle visits one Berlin school to find out.
21st Sep 2020 - Deutsche Welle

EXCLUSIVE-EU in early talks with Italy's ReiThera over potential vaccine supply deal -source

Italian biotech ReiThera is in early talks with the European Union about supplying the bloc with its potential COVID-19 vaccine, a source close to the company said, the latest attempt by Brussels to secure shots as the fight against the pandemic intensifies. The discussions come as Brussels seeks to raise more money to shore up supplies of potential inoculations amid concerns demand next year might exceed supply. The talks with ReiThera, which is developing a vaccine together with Germany's Leukocare and Belgium's Univercells, means the European Commission is now speaking with seven vaccine makers including Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N, Moderna MRNA.O, Pfizer PFE.N and CureVac CVAC.O about possible supply deals.
21st Sep 2020 - Nasdaq

China keeps guard up with travel warning

China is keeping its guard up ahead of the biggest holiday season since it largely brought the coronavirus outbreak under control. China has asked its 1.4 billion residents to avoid unnecessary travel abroad during the week-long national holiday starting on Oct 1, which will be a major test of the country's ability to prevent a renewed outbreak of Covid-19. Large parts of the country went into lockdown during the Lunar New Year holiday, but weak domestic consumption is expected to rebound during the so-called Golden Week, usually the peak season for tourism and entertainment industries.
21st Sep 2020 - Bangkok Post

Ardern eases NZ coronavirus lockdown as new mystery case investigated

New Zealand authorities have announced coronavirus lockdown measures will be wound back, though health authorities are scrambling to investigate the source of three new mystery cases in Auckland. Auckland will move to level two restrictions, which requires physical distancing, face masks on public transport and no more than 100 people at social gatherings, from 11.59pm on Wednesday. The rest of the country will move to level 1 restrictions, which impose no limits on domestic travel or social gatherings, from 11.59pm on Monday night.
21st Sep 2020 - The Sydney Morning Herald

New Zealand ends all pandemic restrictions outside main...

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday lifted all coronavirus restrictions across the country, except in second-wave hotspot Auckland, as the number of new infections slowed to a trickle. Some restrictions were also eased in Auckland to allow gatherings of up to 100 people, but the country's biggest city needed more time before all curbs could be lifted, Ardern said. "Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control," she told reporters in Auckland. "This was the centre of the outbreak and that's why that caution is needed here."
21st Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

New Zealand lockdown: Jacinda Ardern announces lifting of all restrictions outside Auckland

New Zealand ’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has announced the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions except in its largest city, Auckland. Residents in much of the country will be allowed to meet and move freely from Tuesday after no new infections were confirmed over the last 24 hours.
21st Sep 2020 - The Independent

Coronavirus: New Zealand lifts restrictions as cases peter out

Most of New Zealand will be free of coronavirus restrictions from midnight (local time), Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, confirmed today. Auckland will move to a level two lockdown from Thursday, allowing public gatherings of up to 100 people. The move puts New Zealand on target for elimination of the virus rather than suppression. “Analysis completed for the Ministry of Health suggests that by the end of this month there is still a 50-50 chance of having eliminated Covid once again,” the prime minister said.
21st Sep 2020 - The Times

New Zealand ends all pandemic restrictions outside main city of Auckland

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday lifted all coronavirus restrictions across the country, except in second-wave hotspot Auckland, as the number of new infections slowed to a trickle. Some restrictions were also eased in Auckland to allow gatherings of up to 100 people, but the country’s biggest city needed more time before all curbs could be lifted, Ardern said. “Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control,” she told reporters in Auckland. “This was the centre of the outbreak and that’s why that caution is needed here.”
21st Sep 2020 - Reuters


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 21st Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

The coronavirus vaccine volunteer: 'I hope this is a kick up the ass to do things better'

The world is watching the Covid-19 vaccine trials conducted by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute closely. Australian Josh McGrane is an associate professor and educational researcher living in Oxford. He decided to take part in the trials when he saw the call-out for volunteers on Facebook earlier this year.
20th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Is the UK better prepared for a second wave of coronavirus?

This is a big moment for Britain. One senior NHS official said yesterday that cases might be doubling every seven days, with infection rates even worse in some areas of the country. If that is right, the latest official figures showing 6,000 people a day in England getting infected could soar past 100,000 a day within five weeks. Yesterday the UK recorded 4,422 new cases — the first time it has exceeded 4,000 for two successive days since early May.
20th Sep 2020 - The Times

Boris Johnson visits Oxford coronavirus vaccine lab

The Prime Minister was shown around by Professor Kate Ewer, a senior immunologist at the labs. He was given a tour through the laboratory and met scientists who are leading the COVID-19 vaccine research.
19th Sep 2020 - Oxford Mail

Coronavirus vaccine could be ready by March but we will feel impact of pandemic throughout 2021 - Taoiseach

A vaccine for coronavirus could be ready by March or April next year, but the impact of the virus will be felt throughout all of 2021, according to the Taoiseach. Micheál Martin also said that a “huge economic issue” surrounding the pandemic cannot be ignored. Speaking with Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ Radio One this morning, Mr Martin said that the “full impacts” of the virus will be felt throughout next year even if a vaccine is found. “There is a huge economic issue here as well that we can’t ignore. We have a deficit of 8pc, we have €24bn maybe at the end of the year necessary. I think we’re looking at something similar right throughout 2021
19th Sep 2020 - Irish Independent

Obese Britons putting at risk hopes of widespread vaccine protection

Britain’s obesity crisis could prevent a vaccine from ending the pandemic, experts have warned. Scientists are concerned that vaccines being developed to protect against Covid-19 may be less effective in fat people, leaving them more vulnerable to infection, which could, in turn, put others at risk.
19th Sep 2020 - The Times

Latin American nations plan to join COVAX vaccine facility after deadline

Brazil and Argentina, Latin American nations seeking more time to commit to the global COVID-19 vaccine facility known as COVAX, said they intend to so as soon as possible after missing Friday's deadline. Peru's foreign ministry said on Saturday it managed to sign the binding agreement on Friday and will get access to 12 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, a scheme for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual vaccines. Argentina asked for more time to prepare the required paperwork but expects to sign on Wednesday its commitment to the vaccine mechanism led by the World Health Organization, a health ministry official told Reuters. The Brazilian government said in a statement late on Friday that it will sign up for COVAX after negotiations with the GAVI Alliance, which is the COVAX secretariat.
19th Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

Covid-19: Lockdown in parts of Madrid amid virus spike

Parts of the Spanish capital Madrid are to be subject to lockdown restrictions to curb a rise in Covid-19, as cases across Europe continue to spike. From Monday, more than 850,000 people in the Madrid region will face limits on travel and sizes of groups. Spain has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe, and Madrid is once again the worst-hit region. Many northern hemisphere countries are now bracing for a second wave of the pandemic as winter approaches.
19th Sep 2020 - BBC

Puppy prices soar during coronavirus lockdown

Popular breeds have seen even sharper price increases, and puppies are often selling for £3,000 or more, according to a leading online marketplace. Animal welfare charities have warned high prices could encourage "puppy farming", smuggling or dog theft. They are also concerned that it could lead to a dog welfare crisis as people return to work away from the home. Interest in getting a pet rose hugely after lockdown in late March, with high demand prompting many breeders to raise their prices. Figures from the Pets4Homes website, based on about 150,000 adverts, showed the average price being asked from March to September was £1,883. During the same period last year the average price was £888.
19th Sep 2020 - BBC

Coronavirus: Lockdown theatre group takes show to Nottingham doorsteps

An arts charity, which normally performs shows in theatres, care homes and nurseries, has started touring residents' doorsteps because of coronavirus. City Arts is taking its family-friendly puppet show "The Search for Tedding Island" outside the homes of Nottingham residents while many theatres remain closed due to the pandemic. The show, which is aimed at children aged two to five, is being performed with government social distancing guidelines in place. Creative development manager Alison Denholm said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has created a lot of challenges for theatre and arts.
19th Sep 2020 - BBC


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Wristband Covid-19 tracker for passengers landing in Abu Dhabi

Passengers arriving in Abu Dhabi are now required to wear a tracking wristband during the mandatory 14-day home quarantine due to Covid-19, according Etihad Airways. Authorities at Abu Dhabi International Airport are giving out the medically-approved tag to all passengers arriving from all countries. "On arrival into Abu Dhabi you must self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation must take place at home and you will be required to wear a medically approved wristband for the duration. The wristband will be provided by the authorities at Abu Dhabi Airport after you clear immigration," Etihad Airways said in the new guidelines posted on its website. "If you are holding a diplomatic passport, under the age of 18, over the age of 60, or suffering from a chronic disease, you will be exempt from having to wear the wristband."
18th Sep 2020 - Khaleej Times

Indonesians caught without a mask forced to dig graves for Covid-19 victims

Villagers who refuse to wear masks are being forced to dig graves for victims of Covid-19 by local authorities in one part of rural Indonesia, in the hopes that a little bit of manual labor and empathy will convince others to do their part to help stop the pandemic. Three middle-aged men and five minors in Cerme district of Gresik Regency, East Java, were given the unique punishment on September 9, authorities said.
17th Sep 2020 - CNN on MSN.com

Hundreds of French COVID-19 testers strike over work conditions, says union

Hundreds of workers at COVID-19 laboratories in France went on strike on Thursday, a trade union said, angry over poor working conditions as the coronavirus testing system buckles under huge demand. The hard-left CGT union said the strike was disrupting testing in some towns and could drag on if laboratory owners failed to deal with staff shortages and increase pay. The walkout comes as the government demands more and faster testing to fight a surge in new coronavirus cases. "We're overwhelmed," laboratory nurse Aminata Diene, one of about 50 lab workers protesting outside a diagnostics centre on the edge of Paris said.
17th Sep 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Further funds announced to control Covid-19 infections in care homes

An emergency support fund to help limit the spread of Covid-19 in care homes in England is being topped up with an additional £546m ahead of the winter. A key purpose of the Infection Control Fund is to help the care sector restrict the movement of people in and out of the home
17th Sep 2020 - Nursing Times

Bugs in online booking system add to UK's Covid-19 testing crisis

The website for booking coronavirus tests is struggling to cope with the number of requests, adding more problems to those already accrued by the NHS test-and-trace scheme. People in the UK who attempt to book a test for Covid-19 online are directed – once they have passed screening questions to ensure they are entitled to the test – to a purpose-built website where they can theoretically book either a home test kit or a walk-through or drive-through test. However, in practice, an increasing number of users are reporting errors on the site itself that prevent them from even attempting to book a test.
17th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Contact Tracing, the West’s Big Hope for Suppressing Covid-19, Is in Disarray

When countries across the West emerged from lockdown in the spring, governments trained legions of investigators to identify and isolate people potentially infected with the coronavirus. The goal was to prevent a resurgence of the pathogen. Four months later, the systems to find people who might pass on infections, known as contact tracing, are in disarray. Europe and the U.S. are each recording tens of thousands of new daily infections. In France, Spain and England—nations where cases are now rising quickly—investigators have been interviewing far fewer contacts of infected people than officials expected. In some U.S. states and big cities, investigators aren’t even reaching many people who test positive and those who are reached often don’t disclose their contacts. That has prevented investigators from casting a wide net to stop new infections.
17th Sep 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

COVID-19 Has Crushed Everybody's Economy—Except for South Korea's

As the United States struggles with a stubbornly persistent pandemic and a stubbornly slow return to economic growth, South Korea seems to have found the recipe to succeed on both fronts—if it can survive a late-year uptick in new coronavirus cases. In the latest economic projections by the OECD, South Korea is looking at a mere 1 percent GDP contraction for 2020, the second-best performer among major economies behind only China. In contrast, the euro area is expected to shrink by around 8 percent, and the United States could see full-year contraction on the order of almost 4 percent of GDP.
17th Sep 2020 - Foreign Policy

Coronavirus: South Africa eases strict lockdown as cases drop

South Africa, which had one of the world's earliest and strictest lockdowns, has announced a further easing of anti-coronavirus measures. From 20 September an overnight curfew will be reduced, gatherings will be allowed at 50% of a venue's capacity, and restrictions on the sale of alcohol will be eased. "We have withstood the coronavirus storm," said President Cyril Ramaphosa. But rules on social distancing and mask-wearing will remain in place.
17th Sep 2020 - BBC

‘It doesn’t work’: Kevin Rudd calls for new lockdown strategy in Australia

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has called for a new approach to lockdowns as Australia continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to journalists after the Yahoo Finance All Market Summit on Thursday, Mr Rudd blasted the government’s COVIDSafe app as a failure. He said better technology infrastructure was needed to boost Australia’s economic path out of the pandemic, and allow for more surgical lockdowns in the future, if required. “I’m told by the prime minister and the health minister to download the app, I go ahead and do it,” he said. While he still has the COVIDSafe app on his phone, “it doesn’t work,” he lamented. “But frankly where is the effective Bluetooth technology that enables us not just to have a passive information system but an active information gathering system, if and when we need it.
17th Sep 2020 - Yahoo News Australia

NYC again delays in-person learning for most students

New York City has again delayed the start of in-person learning for most of the more than 1 million students in its public school system
17th Sep 2020 - ABC News


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 17th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

U.S. plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccine immediately after regulators authorise it

The U.S. government on Wednesday said it will start distributing a COVID-19 vaccine within one day of regulatory authorisation as it plans for the possibility that a limited number of vaccine doses may be available at the end of the year. Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense on Wednesday held a call with reporters and then released documents on the distribution plans that it is sending to the states and local public health officials. “Our goal at Operation Warp Speed, is that 24 hours after (regulatory authorization) is issued, we have vaccine moving to administration sites,” one of the officials said.
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters

US government will offer Covid-19 vaccine free to all Americans – and they’ll need two shots of it

Every American will be offered a free coronavirus vaccine from January 2021 – and most people who take up the offer will need two injections of it. A report given to the US Congress Wednesday says the vaccination campaign may begin by the end of the year, and is likely to be in full-swing by January. Anyone who takes up the offer of a free shot will be given two doses 21 to 28 days apart, with each patient being given both shots from the same vaccine manufacturer. Multiple US pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Moderna are racing to develop their own shots, with results from ongoing final-phase testing expected as early as October. Other manufacturers around the world are developing their own shots, with scientists saying most vaccines tested appear to offer protection from Covid-19.
16th Sep 2020 - Metro

U.S. plans to ship free Covid-19 vaccines within 24 hours of authorization

The federal government released broad plans Wednesday aimed at distributing free Covid-19 vaccines within a day after an emergency use authorization or full approval is granted. A "playbook" developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructs state health agencies to create a vaccine planning committee made up of leaders from different community groups, such as health centers, hospitals, long-term care facilities and pharmacies. The CDC playbook advises states to prepare for a limited supply of vaccine doses in the fall. It's unclear which vaccine will receive authorization first, as well as when data from the clinical trials will be available for officials to review. Still, the CDC previously told states to prepare for a rollout by Nov. 1.
16th Sep 2020 - NBC News

Coronavirus: Schoolchildren and parents could be among groups prioritised for COVID-19 tests, says cabinet minister

Schoolchildren and their parents could be prioritised for coronavirus tests - after hospitals and care homes - as the government deals with "real challenges" in the system, a cabinet minister has told Sky News. The government has come under growing pressure over a lack of availability of COVID-19 tests in some areas - blamed on problems with laboratory capacity - and admitted it could take a "matter of weeks" to solve the issues.
16th Sep 2020 - Sky News

Melbourne on track for easing lockdown, but anyone trying to leave city faces hefty fine

Australia's Victoria state on Wednesday said the daily rise in infections in its coronavirus hot spot of Melbourne has eased further, putting it on course to relax an extended hard lockdown in the city by the end of the month. However, a new law that goes into effect from midnight Wednesday will punish anyone caught trying to leave Melbourne for rural areas, where restrictions are less severe, with fines of up to $5,000. Average cases over the last two weeks in Melbourne, the state's largest city, fell below 50, health authorities said, the benchmark the state set to start easing curbs. Construction sites, manufacturing plants, warehouses and childcare facilities can reopen, allowing more than 100,000 workers to return to their jobs, if the 14-day rolling average is under 50 cases as of Sept 28. However, people will still be limited to moving around in a 5-kilometer radius around home and only allowed outside for two hours a day for exercise, with a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. "We have to see this through. We absolutely do.
16th Sep 2020 - Japan Today

New Zealand's coronavirus fight eases economic pain but outlook still bleak

New Zealand’s response to control the novel coronavirus helped lessen the short-term economic shock of the pandemic, but massive debt and continuing disruptions will delay a full recovery, government data showed on Wednesday. The Treasury opened up its books ahead of the general election on Oct 17, in which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has a strong lead on the back of the her success in containing COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Finance Minister Grant Robertson said most short-term indicators were less grim than predicted at the government’s annual budget in May. “These are signs that the New Zealand economy is robust, and that our plan to eliminate COVID-19 and open up the economy faster is the right approach,” he told a news conference after the pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update was released.
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Countrywide lockdown successfully blunted aggressive progression of COVID-19 in India: Choubey

India successfully blunted the aggressive progression of COVID-19 by imposing a countrywide lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic, Minister of State for Health Ashiwni Choubey told Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. In a written reply to a question, Choubey said it has been estimated the decision of lockdown slowed down the progress of the pandemic in India, prevented 14–29 lakh cases and 37–78 thousand deaths. He said, 'In the beginning of the pandemic itself, by imposing countrywide lockdown, India successfully blunted the aggressive progression of COVID.' 'India has been able to limit its cases and deaths per million to 3,328 cases per million and 55 deaths per million population respectively, which is one of the lowest in the world as compared to similarly affected countries,' he said. The minister further said that no funds were allocated to the states specifically for testing and treatment. Initially the testing equipment and kits were procured by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and provided to the states, he added.
15th Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

Australia's COVID-19 hotspot on track for easing lockdown

Australia’s Victoria state on Wednesday said the daily rise in infections in its coronavirus hot spot of Melbourne has eased further, putting it on course to relax an extended hard lockdown in the city by the end of the month. Average cases over the last two weeks in Melbourne, the state’s largest city, fell below 50, health authorities said, the benchmark the state set to start easing curbs. Construction sites, manufacturing plants, warehouses and childcare facilities can reopen, allowing more than 100,000 workers to return to their jobs, if the 14-day rolling average is under 50 cases as of Sept. 28.
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 16th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Coronavirus: Matt Hancock admits 'challenges' with COVID-19 testing after 'sharp rise' in demand

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted there are "challenges" with the coronavirus testing system following a "sharp rise" in demand. Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said the government was "working hard" to fix issues with COVID-19 testing availability but admitted it could take a "matter of weeks". He revealed tests were now having to be prioritised and also hinted at a possible future further rationing of tests.
15th Sep 2020 - Sky News

UK's creaking COVID-19 test system puts health services at risk

Britain’s testing system for COVID-19 was creaking on Tuesday as a bottleneck prevented people including medics from getting a test in a potential threat to key health services, health sector organisations said. In an attempt to slow one of the highest coronavirus death tolls in the West, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised in May to create a “world beating” system to test and trace people exposed to the virus. “Our members are telling us that lack of access to testing for staff is a major barrier to them delivering services,” said Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector.
15th Sep 2020 - Reuters

EXCLUSIVE: CDC’s Confession That America’s Covid-19 Tracking Failed

In mid-June, the post-coronavirus reopening of America was in full swing, even as the number of new cases was rising fast. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was key to President Trump’s grand reopening, providing local officials with guidance on how to open up safely. But in private officials admitted the country had failed to track the spread of the deadly virus and that the agency thus lacked the vital information it needed to offer such guidance, Forbes can now reveal.
15th Sep 2020 - Forbes

'Just a matter of time': nurses die as US hospitals fail to contain Covid-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had advised hospitals to isolate Covid-19 patients to limit staff exposure and help conserve high-level personal protective equipment in short supply. Yet Covid patients continued to be scattered through the Oakland hospital, according to complaints to California’s division of occupational safety and health (Cal/Osha). Areas of concern included the sixth-floor medical unit where veteran nurse Janine Paiste-Ponder worked. Covid patients on that floor were not staying in their rooms, either because they were confused or uninterested in the rules, according to Mike Hill, a nurse in the hospital intensive care unit. Hill, who is also the hospital’s chief representative for the California Nurses Association, said that staff was not provided highly protective N95 respirators.
15th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Ireland’s COVID-19 plan to limit social events and Dublin pub reopenings

Ireland introduced new coronavirus measures Tuesday including special restrictions on social gatherings and pub reopenings in Dublin as part of a national "Plan for living with COVID-19." The plan, which comes into effect at midnight, aims to provide a flexible framework for reducing infection risk over the next six months. It details five risk levels with the lowest corresponding to minimal restrictions and level five equating to a return to full lockdown. Currently the country as a whole is at level two, meaning that most parts of the economy and society — such as schools, restaurants, pubs and gyms — are open.
15th Sep 2020 - POLITICO

Chinese citizens can receive COVID-19 vaccines as early as November

Wu Guifen, chief biosafety expert of China's CDC, announced the news Monday She said the clinical trials for the unnamed vaccines were 'proceeding smoothly' China launched an emergency COVID-19 vaccine scheme for key workers in July It has four of the world's eight vaccines that are being tested in the final stage
15th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Irish Government announces blueprint for living with Covid-19

The Irish Government has unveiled its blueprint for living with Covid-19. The Cabinet signed off on the medium-term plan for living with coronavirus, which includes different levels of restrictions, ranging from one to five. Tighter restrictions have also been announced for Dublin, which has seen a continuous rise of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.
15th Sep 2020 - Helensburgh Advertiser

'A chaotic mess': The UK's Covid-19 testing programme is falling apart

“I’m feeling worse,” says Ryan Gladwell, a barman at a pub in Derbyshire who is currently off work with Covid-19 symptoms. “I’ve still been unable to get a test. Day five of trying now.” That’s day five of heading to the government’s website to book a test only to be told that none are available – either at drive-in satellite testing centres or via at-home testing kits. Gladwell has also called 119 several times to no avail. He’s worried about his own health but also that of his young son, who has a serious heart condition.
15th Sep 2020 - Wired.co.uk

Australia's COVID-19 epicenter reports no deaths from the virus for first time in two months

Australia on Tuesday recorded its first day without a COVID-19 death in two months, as states began to lift restrictions amid growing confidence that a second wave of infections has been contained. While officials said there were 50 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, a small increase from a day earlier, Australia reported no fresh fatalities for the first time since July 13. Most of the new cases were in Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, which has accounted for about 75% of the country’s COVID-19 infections. Still, with infections falling in regional areas of Victoria, state Premier Daniel Andrews announced social distancing restrictions in those areas would be eased late on Wednesday.
15th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 15th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Coronavirus Victoria: Mystery cases could derail lockdown exit plan

One of Australia’s top health experts has warned there are still too many mystery COVID-19 cases in Victoria, with concerns the number could impact the state’s roadmap out of lockdown. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth told ABC News Breakfast that, while the state was “overwhelmingly” headed in the right direction with falling coronavirus case numbers, those cases without a known source are still a concern. “(Stage 4 restrictions) are clearly having the desired effect, that light at the end of the tunnel’s growing bigger by the day,” he said. “But 20 cases yesterday that have as yet been unlinked. That is still a number that’s too high. “We need of course for everybody with symptoms in Melbourne and indeed Victoria to make sure that they’re getting themselves tested so we can understand those transmission links and the public health unit can shut them down.”
15th Sep 2020 - NEWS.com.au

Britain's universities have been abandoned to fight Covid-19 alone

Universities usually welcome everyone to the new academic year with a big smile, amid genuinely upbeat talk of “challenges” and “opportunities”. It’s still like that this year, but the smile has something of a manic rictus to it, and the talk is based on every single finger and toe being crossed by every single vice chancellor. Here’s where universities have got to: almost all of them are offering some form of “blended learning”, flipping between face-to-face classroom and online seminars. Big traditional lectures are out: recorded resources are in.
14th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

North Korea lifts lockdown in Kaesong, rejects flood and coronavirus aid

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lifted a lockdown in a major city near the border with South Korea where thousands have been quarantined for weeks over coronavirus concerns, state media says. During a key ruling party meeting, Mr Kim also insisted the North would keep its borders shut, and rejected any outside help as the country continued to carry out an aggressive anti-virus campaign while also rebuilding thousands of houses, roads and bridges damaged by heavy rain and floods in recent weeks. Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also said Mr Kim replaced Kim Jae-ryong as premier following an evaluation of the Cabinet's economic performance and appointed Kim Tok-hun as his successor.
14th Sep 2020 - ABC News

Lockdown relief in sight for regions, but Melbourne must wait

Pubs and restaurants could reopen for outdoor dining and home visits may be permitted in regional Victoria this week after Premier Daniel Andrews flagged he could announce on Tuesday a significant easing of restrictions in the regions. But the news was less rosy for Melburnians on Monday, with Chief Heath Officer Brett Sutton confirming strict lockdown rules would continue in the metropolitan area until September 28, despite his prediction that the all-important 14-day average for new COVID-19 cases would drop below 50 by the end of this week.
14th Sep 2020 - The Age

New Zealand to lift coronavirus curbs in most of country on Sept. 21

New Zealand will lift coronavirus restrictions across the country on Sept. 21, except in its biggest city, Auckland, which is the epicentre of a second wave of infections, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. Ardern said Auckland's restrictions would be reviewed next Monday. She also said the government would immediately ease all physical distancing requirements on planes, a boost for Air New Zealand, AIR.NZ which has had to limit passengers on its planes for months. “I know this change will make a real difference to Air New Zealand and those parts of the country seeking increased numbers of visitors,” Ardern said in a news conference in the South Island city of Dunedin, where she is on an election campaign trip.
14th Sep 2020 - Reuters

India considers emergency authorisation of vaccine as COVID-19 cases surge

India said on Sunday it was considering granting an emergency authorisation for a COVID-19 vaccine, particularly for the elderly and people in high-risk workplaces, as the country’s number of reported infections passed 4.75 million. India, which has consistently reported over 1,000 COVID-19 deaths daily this month, has now recorded 78,586 fatalities from the disease. It lags only the United States globally in overall number of infections, but it has been adding more daily cases than the United States since mid-August. “India is considering emergency authorisation of a COVID-19 vaccination,” said Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. “If there is a consensus we may go ahead with it, especially in the case of senior citizens and people working in high-risk settings.”
14th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Singapore grapples with coronavirus in migrant workers' dormitories

Singapore is battling new clusters of coronavirus infections in migrant dormitories that had won the all-clear from authorities, highlighting the difficulty of stamping out the disease, even in a closely monitored population. As the wealthy city-state tumbled into recession, officials facing intense pressure to revive the economy are opting for limited isolation measures rather than the wide clampdowns earlier, but most low-wage workers are still penned in. “There is little choice,” said Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases expert at the city’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital. “We need to be realistic. We need the economy to go on.”
14th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Philippines 30cm distancing rule seen as 'reckless'; deaths hit record

Experts described as dangerous and premature on Monday the Philippines’ decision to cut the social distancing minimum to 30 centimetres (12 inches) on public transport, as the country saw another daily record in newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths. Reducing gaps between passengers incrementally to a third of the 1 metre minimum could backfire, experts and medical professionals warned, and prolong a first wave of infections that the Philippines has been battling since March. The new rules took effect on Monday, when the country reported 259 new confirmed deaths, a record for the second time in three days. Total fatalities increased to 4,630, while infections have doubled in the past 35 days to 265,888, Southeast Asia’s highest number.
14th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Still closed, Irish pubs show shortcomings of slow lockdown exit

Ireland’s plan to reopen its economy at a slower pace than most was supposed to ensure a more sustainable rebound from the COVID-19 crisis. Tell that to pub owner Paul Moynihan. Eagerly awaiting a promised July 20 reopening of non-food pubs, he spent 10,000 euros ($11,855) on a beer garden at his establishment in the village of Donard hoping some late summer trade would help compensate the sudden March closure. But the government moved the date three times and those pubs are now only due to open their doors on Sept. 21 - even though infection rates are 10 times more than late July.
14th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 14th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

India considers emergency authorisation of vaccine as COVID-19 cases surge

India said on Sunday (Sep 13) it was considering granting an emergency authorisation for a COVID-19 vaccine, particularly for the elderly and people in high-risk workplaces, as the country's number of reported infections passed 4.75 million. India, which has consistently reported over 1,000 COVID-19 deaths daily this month, has now recorded 78,586 fatalities from the disease. It lags only the United States globally in overall number of infections, but it has been adding more daily cases than the United States since mid-August. "India is considering emergency authorisation of a COVID-19 vaccination," said Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. "If there is a consensus we may go ahead with it, especially in the case of senior citizens and people working in high-risk settings." Vardhan said the timeline on Phase III trials could be shortened by giving emergency authorisation, but stressed no corners would be cut in clinical trials and that a vaccine would only be made available when the government could ensure its safety and efficacy.
14th Sep 2020 - Channel NewsAsia Singapore

Leaked figures reveal scale of coronavirus test shortage

A huge backlog has forced Britain to send swabs abroad, casting doubt on its capacity to test as many people as it claimed. The government’s “world-beating” testing programme has a backlog of 185,000 swabs and is so overstretched that it is sending tests to laboratories in Italy and Germany, according to leaked documents. A Department of Health and Social Care report marked “Official: sensitive” also confirms that most British laboratories are clearing fewer tests than their stated capacity, as they are hit by “chaos” in supply chains. The government claims that it has capacity for 375,000 tests a day. However, the actual number of people being tested for the coronavirus stalled to just 437,000 people a week at the start of the month — equivalent to just 62,000 a day.
13th Sep 2020 - The Times

Coronavirus: How the lockdown has changed schooling in South Asia

We've taken a look at the situation in India and its neighbours in South Asia where the United Nations estimates nearly 600 million children have been affected by lockdowns.
12th Sep 2020 - BBC

Coronavirus: Who would get the vaccine first?

If or when scientists succeed in making a coronavirus vaccine, there won't be enough to go around. Research labs and pharmaceutical companies are rewriting the rulebook on the time it takes to develop, test and manufacture an effective vaccine. Unprecedented steps are being taken to ensure roll-out of the vaccine is global. But there are concerns that the race to get one will be won by the richest countries, at the expense of the most vulnerable. So who will get it first, how much will it cost and, in a global crisis, how do we make sure nobody gets left behind?
11th Sep 2020 - BBC

Army medics to help NHS deliver biggest vaccination push in British history

The Army is to be drafted in for the biggest vaccination programme in UK history to protect the population against coronavirus, i can reveal. Public health and civil contingency planners believe they will need military assistance to help administer tens of millions of jabs when the Covid-19 vaccine is ready. Nightingale hospitals – currently mothballed after the first wave of the pandemic – and public buildings could be commandeered as mass vaccination sites.
11th Sep 2020 - iNews

What if We Have to Wait Years for a Coronavirus Vaccine?

“With all the challenges regarding developing, testing, manufacturing and distributing a safe and effective vaccine — no matter how much effort so many scientists and companies put on the problem — it could still take years or even longer,” Dr. George Yancopoulos, the chief scientific officer of the biotechnology company Regeneron, told Dr. Mukherjee.
10th Sep 2020 - The New York Times

European Parliament cancels Strasbourg session due to coronavirus resurgence

The European Parliament on Tuesday canceled plans to return to Strasbourg next week, after the city and its surrounding area were designated as a coronavirus red zone by French authorities. Announcing the decision, European Parliament President David Sassoli noted that holding the session in Strasbourg would have meant Parliament staff having to quarantine on their return to Brussels.
9th Sep 2020 - POLITICO


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 11th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Coronavirus: Thousands download Covid-19 tracing app

More than 500,000 people have downloaded Scotland's new contact tracing app since it went live. It became available to download free onto a smart phone from Apple's App Store or Google Play on Thursday. The Protect Scotland app lets people know if they have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive. The Scottish government has said the software will support the Test and Protect system and is "another tool in the fight against Covid-19". Up until now, contact tracing has been done manually using a method followed for years to help control the spread of infectious diseases.
10th Sep 2020 - BBC

University of Exeter to offer students Covid-19 tests

A university has signed a contract with a private company to buy thousands of coronavirus tests for students and staff. The University of Exeter will be offering the tests to anyone showing symptoms or who is deemed at high risk. Deputy vice chancellor Tim Quine said the safety of staff and students was the university's "first priority". The saliva-based tests, provided by Halo, will give results within 24 hours, it claimed. Mr Quine told BBC Radio Devon the university had to do its own bit to help prevent the spread of the virus. He said: "By bringing students to the region we know we are changing the risk dynamic".
10th Sep 2020 - BBC

Coronavirus: Hundreds of thousands download Covid-19 tracing app

More than 500,000 people have downloaded Scotland's new contact tracing app since it went live. It became available to download free onto a smart phone from Apple's App Store or Google Play on Thursday. The Protect Scotland app lets people know if they have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive. The Scottish government has said the software will support the Test and Protect system and is "another tool in the fight against Covid-19". Up until now, contact tracing has been done manually using a method followed for years to help control the spread of infectious diseases.
10th Sep 2020 - BBC

Coronavirus: Concerns over Boris Johnson's 'moonshot' testing plans

Scientists and health professionals have raised doubts about Prime Minister Boris Johnson's "Operation Moonshot" plan for mass coronavirus testing. The PM hopes millions of Covid-19 tests - including some giving results within minutes - could be processed daily. But experts say there are issues with laboratory capacity for current tests, while the technology for more rapid tests "does not, as yet, exist". The British Medical Journal says leaked memos show the plan could cost £100bn. Speaking after his announcement that gatherings in England are to be restricted to six people from Monday, Mr Johnson said the government was "working hard" to increase testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October. And he said that "in the near future" he wanted to start using testing "to identify people who are negative - who don't have coronavirus and who are not infectious - so we can allow them to behave in a more normal way, in the knowledge they cannot infect anyone else".
10th Sep 2020 - BBC

Bicycle sales go up amid pandemic as India eases COVID-19 lockdown

As more people try to avoid public transport during the pandemic to avoid the virus, India is seeing an precedented sale of bicycles. Bicycle groups have emerged on social media and are lobbying for more bike lanes in cities. Bicycle dealers are finding it hard to cope with the steep rise in demand. Will COVID-19 bring about a change in the way people commute or will this trend be short-lived? Watch the video for more.
10th Sep 2020 - Business Today

Tamil Nadu government announces more lockdown relaxations

The Tamil Nadu government has eased its curbs further allowing vehicles used in the transportation of staff to offices, factories and other establishments to carry up to 60% capacity rather than 30-40% as they are doing now
10th Sep 2020 - The Times of India

China is building a new 'COVID-proof' city designed to make lockdowns easier

The Xiong'an New Area near Beijing will have a self-sufficient neighbourhood. It is designed to let people live more comfortably in the event of pandemics. The complex will have larger balconies, 3-D printers and drones, among others. Its architect from Spain was inspired while working in coronavirus lockdown.
10th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

‘Distress and fear’: poverty looms for a million Australian children once coronavirus supplement slashed

The $550-a-fortnight pandemic top-up, set to disappear on 25 September, has been ‘life-altering’ for single mothers, say welfare campaigners. About 244,000 single parents receive parenting payment ($790-a-fortnight plus the $550 Covid supplement and the family tax benefit), while those with children older than seven get jobseeker payment ($565 plus the $550 Covid supplement and the family tax benefit). The coronavirus supplement is also provided to students receiving youth allowance or Austudy. Toni Wren, the executive director of Anti-Poverty Week, said government data showed about 1.1 million children lived in families receiving the supplement in July. That included 500,000 children whose parents were receiving the jobseeker payment.
10th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

New York to resume indoor dining, Los Angeles bans Halloween parties

New York City restaurants struggling to stay in business after months of closures imposed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic won a long-awaited approval on Wednesday to resume limited indoor dining. But Los Angeles County health officials prohibited Halloween parties and said children should not be allowed to trick or treat during the popular fall holiday on Oct. 31. The contrasting moves on opposite coasts of the United States came as new coronavirus infections have fallen for seven weeks in a row but the nationwide death toll since the pandemic broke out in March exceeded 190,000, according to a Reuters tally. In New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said indoor dining could resume at thousands of restaurants as of Sept. 30, although capacity was limited to 25 percent.
10th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Save the Children conducts largest global survey on the impact of COVID-19

93% of households that lost over half of their income due to the pandemic reported difficulties in accessing health services; Two thirds of the children had no contact with teachers at all, during lockdown; eight in ten children believed they had learned little or nothing since schools closed; and violence at home doubled: during school closures, the reported rate was 17% compared to 8% when the child was attending school in person.
10th Sep 2020 - Save The Children Australia


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 10th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Teacher slams Matt Hancock for 'disgusting' criticism of schools getting tested for Covid-19

Matt Hancock's criticism of a school that sent an entire year group for coronavirus testing has been branded "disgusting". The Health Secretary told the public on Wednesday morning not to get coronavirus tests unless they have symptoms in order to stop people having to travel long distances to get tested. He said that it was "unacceptable" for whole schools, or large parts of schools, to get tested for coronavirus.
9th Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

France to open 20 new Covid-19 testing centres in Paris region

French health officials are to open 20 new Covid-19 testing centres in the Paris region after demand for tests soared at la rentrée, last week’s grand return to work and classes following the long school holidays. The authorities said testing capacity in and around the French capital had risen more than fourfold from 45,000 to 200,000 a week and 1 million people were being tested nationally every week – about 140,000 a day – but there were still queues and delays. The new diagnostic centres will be open to all those wishing to be tested, but certain hours will be reserved for patients considered a priority and those with Covid-19 symptoms or at risk of contamination. The health minister, Olivier Véran, has blamed the delays on a surge in demand from people returning from holidays and said the government was hoping to improve access to tests in the next few weeks.
9th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Too many people getting COVID-19 tests are 'not eligible', says health secretary

People with no coronavirus symptoms getting tests are to blame for the system reaching its limit, the health secretary has suggested. Matt Hancock told Sky News the reason many people have reported being unable to book a test is because the proportion of those asking for them who have no symptoms has risen to 25%. "We have seen an increase in demand including from people who are not eligible for tests, people who don't have symptoms," he said on the Kay Burley programme. "You are eligible for a test if you have symptoms of coronavirus or if you have a very specific reason otherwise. We have seen an increase, and about 25% of people who are coming forward don't have symptoms and aren't eligible."
9th Sep 2020 - Sky News

Coronavirus: Students prepare for socially-distanced university life after months of lockdown

In Manchester alone tens of thousands of students are returning to university after months of living at home during lockdown. But with freshers week cancelled and the city's nightlife non-existent, the social aspect of life at university will be hugely different. There are already huge concerns from the government, health bosses and universities that with the arrival of students to university accommodations and shared homes, the spread of coronavirus within this generation could increase.
9th Sep 2020 - Sky News

Spain to negotiate travel corridors to its islands with Britain, Germany

Spain, whose tourism industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, is insisting on the creation of safe travel corridors even as the list of global restrictions affecting the country continues to grow. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya announced that Spain will negotiate with Britain, Germany and Scandinavian countries to open up travel corridors to the Spanish islands (the Balearics and the Canaries) exempting visitors from the need to self-isolate upon their return. Although summer travel has ended in much of Spain, the Canary Islands, located off the western coast of Africa, are now entering their own high season.
9th Sep 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

How France’s 'chaotic' Covid-19 testing strategy is causing a real headache

By setting an objective of carrying out one million Covid-19 tests per week, the French government created a new problem for itself. When French Health Minister Olivier Véran promised one million tests per week by September 1st, it was in response to mounting complaints in France that the country was testing too little meaning it was too late to keep track of the coronavirus epidemic in the country and effectively break up transmission chains. The government kept its promise and the national health agency Santé Publique France reported on Thursday that 1,059,303 Covid-19 tests had been effectuated over the course of last week. "Why one million? It is not a totem, just a reflection of our effective capacity to test," Véran said at the time. But simply ramping up the number of tests only led to other problems. France's testing centres, or laboratoires (labos) are struggling to deal with the number pf people who want to get tested. It's common to see long queues snaking around the streets as people, some potentially infected and contagious, queue for hours.
9th Sep 2020 - The Local France

India coronavirus: Rumours hamper testing in Punjab

Wild rumours about coronavirus are fuelling opposition to testing in the northern Indian state of Punjab, reports BBC Punjabi's Arvind Chhabra. "Human organs are being smuggled," Sonia Kaur, who lives in a village in Punjab's Sangrur district, tells the BBC. "Not just the villagers but the whole world is scared of this. Social media is full of such news." Ms Kaur says she has heard of people's organs being harvested under the guise of diagnosing and treating coronavirus. She is echoing the fears of countless others in rural Punjab who are sceptical of the virus. Rumours are flying fast in Punjab that the virus is a hoax, that people who don't have Covid-19 are being taken away to care centres, where they are being killed for their organs, and that bodies are being swapped to allay suspicion.
9th Sep 2020 - BBC

'I'm shocked': businesses brace for long wait to reopen under Melbourne's Covid roadmap

Soon after the pandemic began the sign out front of the Thornbury Picture House read: “Cinema closed until real life doesn’t feel like a movie.” Now the message is a little less whimsical: “Stay strong, Thornbury. We love you.” Under a Covid-19 roadmap announced by the Victorian government on Sunday, the independent cinema in Melbourne’s north will be among the businesses who will wait the longest to switch the lights back on. “I’m just shocked that we’re the final stage to reopen,” says its owner, Gus Berger. Along with beauty salons, gyms and music venues, it is hoped businesses like Berger’s will be back on 23 November. But that requires Victoria to have recorded no new coronavirus cases for 14 days.
9th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Victoria's COVID-19 roadmap favours men as women bear brunt of job restrictions, analysis shows

Already Victorian women have been hit harder by job losses during the pandemic, bearing 61 per cent of all jobs lost between February and July. The new analysis by Angela Jackson, lead economist at Equity Economics, shows the road to recovery favours male-dominated industries over female-dominated ones, increasing the risk of women suffering lifelong financial scarring. "The planned reopening clearly favours male jobs over female jobs," she said. "Australian women have borne the brunt of job losses due to COVID-19 and the timing of the opening of industries in Victoria will unfortunately continue this trend."
9th Sep 2020 - ABC News

Victoria's roadmap out of Covid lockdown is 'a sledgehammer approach', expert says

The Victorian government has “taken a sledgehammer approach” to its roadmap out of lockdown “when a hammer may have been just as effective”, Deakin’s chair of epidemiology Prof Catherine Bennett has said. Bennett said it was important for the public to understand that the model, developed by computer scientists and epidemiologists from the University of Melbourne, assumed all cases of Covid-19 in the community were randomly distributed, and that all cases are mixing in the community in the same way. In reality, many cases are already in isolation, or are part of outbreaks in workplaces where transmission and movements may be different. “Now, two-thirds of our cases are in health or aged care workers and their household contacts, and a third of cases are out in the community,” Bennett said. “So assuming we have 60 new cases per day by next weekend, that really means there would be roughly 20 community cases.”
9th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Turkey scales back school reopening amid rise in COVID-19 cases

Turkey announced on Tuesday it was scaling back plans to reopen schools later this month, with only the youngest pupils beginning classes at first, for up to two days a week. Fatalities from the coronavirus have jumped to their highest since mid-May when lockdowns were in place. The government has said it does not plan to reitroduce a full lockdown but has urged Turls to follow social distancing and hygiene measures to curb the cirus. Masks have been mandatory.
9th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Judge criticises UK government’s ‘inadequate’ efforts to aid Covid-19 backlog

A crown court judge has refused to extend the custody time limit for keeping a man in prison awaiting trial and accused the government of under-funding the criminal justice system during the pandemic. Amid a growing backlog of cases, Judge Raynor at Woolwich crown court on Tuesday issued a highly critical 24-page ruling on the case of a 19-year-old who has been held for almost a year. He contrasted the Ministry of Justice’s “inadequate” efforts with the success of emergency courts in Spain and South Korea. It is the second time in the past month that the same judge has warned that he cannot repeatedly order defendants to remain behind bars if the justice system is failing to bring them to trial.
9th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Victoria 'may revisit requirements in roadmap plan', top doctor says

Victorian health authorities have suggested they may look at thresholds put in the state's roadmap plan out of lockdown in coming weeks, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth says. Under Premier Daniel Andrews' plan released over the weekend, Victoria would need to reach a daily average of just five cases a day for the state to return to a "COVID-normal" sense of life where people can freely leave their homes and businesses can reopen. The DCMO acknowledged the debate around those figures and whether they are too conservative.
8th Sep 2020 - 9News


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Coronavirus: NI politician calls for clarity on Covid-19 testing issues

Stormont's health minister has raised concerns about the UK-wide Covid-19 test booking system after some NI users were offered tests in Great Britain. Robin Swann said he has contacted UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock "seeking action on a number of concerns". He was speaking after Sinn Féin assembly member Pat Sheehan was offered a test in Scotland and called the online booking system a "shambles". Mr Swann described it as a "glitch" and said it must be resolved as a priority. Mr Sheehan tweeted details of his personal experience of the booking system after trying to organise a test for his four-year-old daughter who had developed a high temperature.
8th Sep 2020 - BBC

Covid-19: Irish pubs set for 21 September reopening

The Irish government has agreed that pubs that do not serve food will be able to reopen from 21 September. The reopening will be subject to possible local restrictions if case numbers rise. The move will put pressure on the Stormont Executive to reopen non-food bars in Northern Ireland. Draft guidelines, which were drawn up in conjunction with tourism body Fáilte Ireland, were circulated last weekend.
8th Sep 2020 - BBC

Spain Re-negotiates Tourist Corridors With The United Kingdom

Foreign Affairs Minister Gonzalez Laya sees the opening of "window of opportunity" for Spanish tourism. There's no doubt that the loss of international tourists due to the multiple restrictions on travel to Spain and mandatory quarantines imposed by nations across Europe on those visiting Spain has been a hard blow for the tourism sector, which has predicted that by the end of the year its losses will amount to nearly 100 billion euros.
8th Sep 2020 - Murcia Today

Covid lockdown: Uttar Pradesh lifts weekend curbs on markets

The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday revoked its order of mandatory closure of markets on Sunday, reverting to the pre lockdown arrangements
8th Sep 2020 - Indiatimes

Victoria's roadmap out of lockdown is the wrong approach. Here's what good public policy looks like

In the early months of the pandemic, Australia’s public policy response to COVID-19 was widely celebrated across the world. The missteps and extended lockdowns in Victoria recently, though, shows how at least one state has slipped from being a gold standard. So, what has gone wrong? Effective public policy-making in a pandemic is enormously difficult. Very few countries around the world, if any, have had an exemplary record in the past few months. There are nonetheless a set of key principles that should underpin approaches to decision-making.
8th Sep 2020 - The Conversation AU

'Self-sufficient' Chinese city to reflect coronavirus lessons

The Australian state at the centre of the country's second wave coronavirus is deepening its contact tracing programme to try to maintain a steady decline in daily new cases, amid criticism of its handling of the crisis.
8th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Australia's coronavirus hot spot state to deepen contact tracing

The Australian state at the centre of the country's second wave coronavirus outbreak is deepening its contract tracing programme to try and maintain a steady decline in daily new cases, amid criticism of its handling of the crisis.
7th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Philippines urges virus vigilance after lowest cases in eight weeks

The Philippines reported its lowest number of new daily coronavirus cases in nearly eight weeks on Monday, but officials sought to temper optimism and warned of a prolonged battle as the pandemic rages on.
7th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 8th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Rapid Covid-19 testing system 'quite some way' from being reality, says Sturgeon

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said her administration is in discussions with the UK Government about a rapid testing system. She said pilot work is under way. “We are as keen as anybody to see these kinds of scientific developments give us more solutions to Covid than we have right now,” the First Minister said. “But we have to be realistic, we are still quite some way from that being a reality on a mass scale across the country.” Discussing a vaccine, she said: “We all hope there will be an effective vaccine as quickly as possible. “But we cannot right now bank on it, just as we can’t bank on some of these other scientific developments.”
7th Sep 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Coronavirus latest: UK to shift to regional quarantine system

Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England, echoed Mr Hancock’s warnings to young people, saying that “the vast majority” of new cases were in people in their late teens and early 20s. “What we don’t want to see is a continuing increase of cases in this age group because it could lead to them infecting their parents and grandparents who are much more at risk of poor outcomes from the virus,” added Dr Doyle. Separately, Mr Hancock said the “best-case scenario” for a Covid-19 vaccine to be approved in the UK was later this year, but it was most likely to happen in the “first few months of next year”.
7th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Delhi metro: India's largest subway reopens with masks and distancing

The metro in the Indian capital, Delhi, has reopened more than five months after it was shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus. It's India's largest rapid transport system - it carried 2.7 million passengers a day before the lockdown. Masks, social distancing and temperature checks are mandatory according to the new rules. The move comes as case numbers continue to climb in India, with daily tallies of more than 80,000. The country has so far reported more than 4.1 million cases, and 70,000 deaths. Despite the risks, India continues to reopen because the economy is still reeling from the effects of a prolonged lockdown.
7th Sep 2020 - BBC

India becomes pandemic's 2nd worst-hit country after U.S.

India's increasing coronavirus caseload made the Asian giant the world's second-worst-hit country behind the United States on Monday, as its efforts to head off economic disaster from the pandemic gain urgency. The 90,802 cases added in the past 24 hours pushed India’s total past Brazil with more than 4.2 million cases. India is now behind only the United States, where more than 6.2 million people have been infected, according to Johns Hopkins University. India’s Health Ministry on Monday also reported 1,016 new deaths for a total of 71,642, the third-highest national toll.
7th Sep 2020 - Japan Today

Coronavirus Australia: How Victoria could fast-track end of lockdown

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is facing mounting pressure over his controversial roadmap out of lockdown, with politicians, everyday Victorians and even medical experts slamming the plan. The backlash comes as new modelling shows the plan will see 260,000 more Victorians lose their jobs, with a staggering 432,000 already out of work due to lockdown. Under the state’s roadmap, some restrictions will begin to ease this Sunday, although many will remain in place until at least late October.
7th Sep 2020 - News.com.au

Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern responds to Australia's 'hotspot' plan to invite Kiwis in quarantine-free

Australia's plan to grant Kiwis from COVID-19-free areas access to some states without spending time in quarantine upon arrival will not be reciprocated by New Zealand. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday every state and territory except Western Australia had agreed to a "hotspot" plan which would reduce the need for hard borders between them, and New Zealand would be included. "I spoke to Prime Minister Ardern this morning and what I advised her was that Australia will be looking to apply the same hotspot approach to New Zealand," Morrison said in a news conference.
7th Sep 2020 - Newshub

Coronavirus in Australia: Melbourne's lockdown exit road map

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has released a new road map out of stage 4 coronavirus restrictions – and the news is grim for Melburnians. In a press conference on Sunday afternoon, Andrews revealed the current strict Covid-19 lockdown, which was due to end in mid-September, would now be extended for an extra fortnight in metro Melbourne. It means Melbourne residents will only be permitted to leave their home to shop for food and essential goods or services, to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment, to exercise or for permitted work, for two weeks more.
7th Sep 2020 - New Zealand Herald

Good news for travel enthusiasts as Cuba finally welcomes tourists after months of COVID-19 lockdown

The countries have finally started lifting the nationwide lockdowns amid COVID-19 pandemic to boost the tourism industry and the latest to join the bandwagon is Cuba as it now welcomes travellers. Rolling out its red carpet for tourists post the COVID-19 lockdown, the news came as a ray of hope not just for travel enthusiasts but also for several laid-off leisure industry employees residing in the Communist-run island. Similar to the rest of the world, Cuba had too closed its airports in March courtesy COVID-19 and decided to open from September 4. On Friday, an Air Canada plane arrived at the Cayo-Coco airport on the northcentral coast and is now expected to fly weekly to Cuba and biweekly from next month.
7th Sep 2020 - Hindustan Times

Philippines urges virus vigilance after lowest cases in eight weeks

The Philippines reported its lowest number of new daily coronavirus cases in nearly eight weeks on Monday, but officials sought to temper optimism and warned of a prolonged battle as the pandemic rages on. Infections started soaring soon after authorities eased restrictions in a bid to revive the country's troubled economy
7th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Australia's COVID-19 epicentre awaits lockdown exit plan; rates dropping slowly

Australia's coronavirus hot spot state of Victoria on Sunday extended a hard lockdown in its capital Melbourne until Sept 28, as the infection rate has declined more slowly than hoped. "We cannot open up at this time. If we were we would lose control very quickly," State Premier Daniel Andres told a televised media conference on Sunday.
6th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 7th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

China and India vie for clout in Bangladesh with COVID vaccines

China and India are competing to deliver coronavirus vaccines to Bangladesh in a diplomatic offensive carefully choreographed to expand their influence in the densely populated South Asian nation. Last month, Bangladesh cleared the way for privately owned Chinese company Sinovac Biotech to conduct a stage three clinical trial of its CoronaVac vaccine. Dhaka-based clinical research institute icddr,b will conduct the trial and said Wednesday that a conditional deal is in place for the vaccine to be produced locally. "If the CoronaVac vaccine is successful, it has been agreed with Sinovac that a local competent vaccine manufacturer in Bangladesh will be selected and enabled through a license from Sinovac to manufacture the vaccine in Bangladesh," they told the Nikkei Asian Review in a written response to questions.
5th Sep 2020 - Nikkei Asian Review

'Worst is yet to come': India coronavirus cases top four million

India became the third country to cross four million coronavirus cases on Saturday, also setting a new global record for a daily surge in infections and closing in on Brazil's total as the second-highest in the world. The 86,432 cases added in the past 24 hours pushed India's total to 4,023,179. Brazil has confirmed 4,091,801 infections while the United States has 6,200,186 people infected, according to Johns Hopkins University
5th Sep 2020 - AlJazeera

Global Covid-19 death tally crosses 875,000

Researchers in Costa Rica are due to begin trials of an inexpensive coronavirus treatment based on antibodies taken from horses injected with the SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to scientists. Developed by University of Costa Rica's Clodomiro Picado Institute (ICP), the equine antibodies medication is to be tested on 26 patients from mid-September, Roman Macaya, president of the Social Security Fund that manages public health centers, told Reuters. Costa Rican authorities hope to be able to begin applying the treatment more widely in hospitals if the results from the phase 2 study are encouraging. There are 471 hospitalized coronavirus patients in Costa Rica.
5th Sep 2020 - Yahoo News

Depression triples in US adults amid COVID-19 stressors

COVID-19 has tripled the rate of depression in US adults in all demographic groups—especially in those with financial worries—and the rise is much higher than after previous major traumatic events, according to a study published yesterday in JAMA Network Open. Led by researchers from Boston University, the study involved data from 1,441 respondents to a COVID-19 Life Stressors Impact on Mental Health and Well-Being survey, which was conducted Mar 31 to Apr 13, when 96% of the country was under coronavirus-related lockdowns.
5th Sep 2020 - CIDRAP

Lack of staff, funds and tools: health officials worry the US isn’t ready for Covid vaccines

“We haven’t gotten a lot of information about how this is going to roll out,” said Umair Shah, executive director of Texas’ Harris county public health department, which includes Houston. In a four-page memo this summer, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told health departments across the country to draft vaccination plans by 1 October “to coincide with the earliest possible release of Covid-19 vaccine”.
5th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Hospitalisations rise as France's daily COVID-19 cases hit record

French health authorities reported 8,975 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, setting an all-time high of daily additional infections since the disease started to spread in the country at the end of the winter. The number of people hospitalised for the disease, while still well below its April 14 peak of 32,292, has gone up for the sixth day running, at 4,671. The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections stood at 30,686 and the cumulative number of cases now totals 309,156.
5th Sep 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

France closes 22 schools days after reopening due to Covid-19 outbreaks

The French government has shut 22 schools in metropolitan France and the overseas territory of Réunion due to fresh cases of Covid-19. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer insisted that back-to-school had gone smoothly for the vast majority, but parent associations are concerned that too much is being left up to families to manage. "The health protocol is working," assured Blanquer, speaking to Europe 1 radio on Friday morning, marking the end of the first week since the new school year began. "There are 22 establishments which have had to close due to cases or suspected cases of Covid-19," he said, "Twelve of those were in mainland France and 10 in the overseas territory of Reunion Island."
5th Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

French parents: school's back and already we have COVID cases

Covid-19 has forced the closure of a dozen schools in France just days into the new academic year, the government said on Friday, as coronavirus cases surge in parts of the country
5th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Long waits for covid tests cause tension in France

France is now testing over 1 million people per week for Covid-19, but around the country there are reports of long waits and rising tensions between medical staff and patients.
5th Sep 2020 - The Connexion

Coronavirus: Even limited use of contact-tracing apps has effects, says study

Contact-tracing apps reduce transmissions and deaths even at very low levels of adoption, according to a new study from the University of Oxford and Google. The study provides reassurance regarding the value of coronavirus contact-tracing apps, which some had suggested would need to be used by 60% of the population to be effective. But the research emphasises that digital notifications to people who may have been exposed to the virus still work best when complemented by manual contact tracing, when researchers take histories from patients to find out who they had been in close contact with.
3rd Sep 2020 - Sky News

Australia should attempt to drive coronavirus cases to ZERO, former health boss says

Australia should drive new COVID-19 cases to zero, public policy think tank says The Grattan Institute report said 'short-term pain' will pay off on the other side Zero cases means Australia can avoid reimposed lockdowns and more deaths
3rd Sep 2020 - Daily Mail


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 4th Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Nigerian Authorities Cite Need for More COVID-19 Test Sample Collections

Nigerian authorities are disturbed by the low level of coronavirus test sample collections, a senior government official said on Thursday. Africa's most populous country of some 200 million inhabitants, as of Thursday had 54,463 confirmed coronavirus cases which have resulted in 1,027 deaths. Boss Mustapha, who chairs the government's task force on the disease, said he and other officials who make up the panel overseeing the response to the pandemic were "disturbed by the low level of sample collection" because of the implications for testing, tracing, and treatment. "Despite the increased diagnostic capacity and improved access to testing, the demand remains low with not enough samples being collected," he said, adding that "the recent reduction in cases in some states could be attributed to low testing."
4th Sep 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

Covid-19: Reusable face masks to be provided for school transport

Reusable face masks will be provided to approximately 80,000 pupils in Northern Ireland entitled to free home-to-school transport. Each pupil will get a pack that includes 10 reusable masks. Schools will also be provided with home testing kits to be distributed to parents of pupils with symptoms of Covid-19. Every school in Northern Ireland will receive 10 kits in the first instance as part of the scheme. Pupils in the vast majority of schools returned to class on Tuesday. Face coverings on dedicated school buses are not compulsory, but are strongly recommended by both the Department of Education (DE) and Translink.
3rd Sep 2020 - BBC

Labour demands pupil 'catch-up' strategy as attainment gap widens after school closures

Labour has demanded ministers give a "cast-iron guarantee" that no child will be allowed to fall behind with their learning as a result of the pandemic school closures. Some pupils were out of a classroom setting for almost six months after schools were shut in March as part of the coronavirus lockdown. The party called for the Government to produce what it labelled a "close the gap" strategy after newly-published studies suggested the Covid-related closures significantly widened the attainment gap between pupils.
3rd Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Use Covid-19 lockdown to plan stronger post-pandemic business rebound, Ugandan entrepreneurs told

Dr Lawrence Musanje, a Ugandan who owns and runs two State of the art Dental practices in the Denver Metro area in Colorado USA has advised Ugandans not to allow themselves get paralyzed by the lockdown. Dr Musanje who is also the CEO of A & J Alliance Inc, a management Company, called upon Ugandans to use the lockdown to plan for a stronger post-pandemic rebound.
3rd Sep 2020 - Daily Monitor

How one North West town is recovering post-lockdown

Before lockdown, the high-street in Newton-le-Willows in St Helens was blooming. But suddenly, spirits were dampned as lockdown restrictions were brought into place across the UK. Now, six months on, Ann O'Connor has been to revisit the town to see how people there are recovering post-lockdown.
3rd Sep 2020 - ITV News

Spain will extend furlough scheme 'as long as necessary'

Spain's ERTE furlough scheme will be extended "as long as necessary", Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz told IB3 radio station on Thursday, before talks with unions and employers on the issue scheduled for Friday. The scheme, which is currently due to end on Sept. 30, provides furloughed workers with 70% of their base salary for the first six months, before dropping to 50% for the following months. "The key to the mechanism is that it stays. It's absurd to put an end date on it. I believe that the ERTEs should stay in place. For how long? As long as necessary," she told IB3. On Friday, the minister is due to meet union representatives and business leaders in Palma de Mallorca to negotiate the conditions of how to extend the programme. In a separate interview with La Sexta television, Diaz described the drop in coverage to 50% as "profoundly unfair".
3rd Sep 2020 - Yahoo Finance UK

Judge Overturns Lockdown Restrictions in Spanish City

A court in Valencia has overturned a ruling by the Ministry of Health that put the Spanish city of Benigànim in lockdown. THE head of the contentious-administrative Court number 3 of València, Laura Alabau, agreed with the application put forward that the decree of the State of Alarm was not sufficiently justified. Alabau is the same judge who refused to celebrate weddings between homosexuals in Dénia. The magistrate’s decision is in line with the Prosecutor’s Office, which also reported unfavourably on the measures adopted by the Health Ministry. The department headed by Ana Barceló issued a resolution yesterday afternoon, not yet published in the DOGV, to “attend to the details required by the contentious administrative court number 3 of Valencia” and that the confinement of Benigànim is still active.
3rd Sep 2020 - Euro Weekly News

France launches €100bn coronavirus recovery plan

A further €35bn will go to industrial competitiveness and innovation, including €20bn in reduced production taxes for industry over two years and €1bn to help the “reshoring” of strategic businesses in sectors such as health and IT. The final €35bn is for “social and regional cohesion”, including employment projects and skills training for the young. Unlike Germany’s €130bn recovery plan, which included a cut in value added tax, France’s strategy aims primarily to boost investment rather than stimulate demand. The government expects the economy to shrink up to 11 per cent this year as a result of the pandemic and a nationwide lockdown from mid-March to mid-May, and the state has already spent tens of billions of euros to avert mass bankruptcies and a surge in unemployment.
3rd Sep 2020 - The Financial Times

Slammed by virus, France unveils huge economic rescue plan

Facing resurgent virus infections, France’s government unveiled a 100 billion-euro ($118 billion) recovery plan Thursday aimed at creating jobs, saving struggling businesses and yanking the country out of its worst economic slump since World War II. The massive plan includes money to bring back manufacturing of medical supplies to French factories, develop hydrogen energy, help museums and the cinema industry, train young people for 21st century jobs and hire more staff at unemployment offices. “It’s an important step for our strategy in the fight against the economic and social consequences of the crisis that hit France,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said.
3rd Sep 2020 - ABC News

Victoria's roadmap out of lockdown to be based on four-step 'traffic light' system, business leader says

The head of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce says Covid-19 roadmap templates for business are based around a four-step “traffic light” system, as Victorians eagerly await the government exit roadmap from lockdown on Sunday. The chamber’s chief executive, Paul Guerra, has outlined to Guardian Australia the draft Covid-19 roadmaps the government is using to consult with Victorian business ahead of easing restrictions. “If you move down the vertical axis [of the template] there are these six common requirements. [They are] ensure physical distancing, wear a mask, practise good hygiene, quickly act if staff become unwell, avoid interactions in enclosed spaces and create workforce bubbles,” Guerra said.
3rd Sep 2020 - The Guardian


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 3rd Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

'It gets into your bones': the unique loneliness of coronavirus lockdown when you live alone

Melbourne’s second-wave lockdown rules are some of the strictest in the western world – and many single people have faced weeks of isolation
3rd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19: Ireland now in ‘most challenging phase’, says Government

The current surge of Covid-19 can be successfully suppressed through people slightly reducing their daily contacts, public health officials have said. Getting the R number below 1 is “absolutely realistic”, through a “marginal reduction” in the number of contacts people have each day, according to Prof Philip Nolan of the National Public Health Emergency Team. The R figure represents the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average. “It is a modest amount of extra effort that we have to do,” he said on Wednesday evening. The reproduction number stands at 1 to 1.2, according to Prof Nolan, who is chairman of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group.
2nd Sep 2020 - The Irish Times

Coronavirus: Jeremy Hunt calls for weekly COVID-19 testing for secondary school teachers

Secondary school teachers should be tested weekly for coronavirus, a former health secretary has said. Jeremy Hunt, who now chairs the health and social care committee, told Sky News that regular COVID-19 tests would help reassure parents.
2nd Sep 2020 - Sky News

UN: Libya at `turning point,’ COVID heading `out of control’

The top U.N. official for Libya warned Wednesday that the conflict-torn North African country is at “a decisive turning point,” with foreign backers of its rival governments pouring in weapons and the misery of its people compounded by the coronavirus pandemic that appears to be “spiraling out of control.” Acting special representative Stephanie Williams told the U.N. Security Council that its actions “will help determine whether the country descends into new depths of fragmentation and chaos, or progresses towards a more prosperous future.”
2nd Sep 2020 - The Washington Post

Coronavirus: UK considers putting Portugal back on quarantine list

Ministers are considering reimposing quarantine measures for those arriving in the UK from Portugal as coronavirus cases rise, sources have told the BBC. The country has recorded more than 20 cases per 100,000 people in the past week. Normally when a country surpasses that mark the UK government imposes 14 days of self-isolation on returning travellers. Ministers are expected to reach a decision on the measures by Thursday.
1st Sep 2020 - BBC


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 2nd Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Brazil's Bolsonaro extends COVID-19 welfare payments key to popularity

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday extended until the end of the year payments for low-income Brazilians hit by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, a program that has boosted his popularity but created tension with his finance team. The stipend, for poor and informal sector workers who have seen their earnings wrecked by the crisis, will be halved to 300 reais (41.37 pounds) a month, Bolsonaro told reporters in the capital Brasilia. Recent opinion polls show the payments have helped raise the right-wing president’s popularity, even in the poorer northeastern region of the country, once a stronghold of the left. The program has also been widely credited with preventing a record economic slump from turning into a depression. Both the Bovespa stock market and the Brazilian real were up more than 2% on Tuesday.
1st Sep 2020 - Reuters

South Florida restaurants and casinos reopen as governor vows no more COVID-19 shutdowns

In Miami-Dade County, most indoor dining has been banned in the county since early July to stop the spread of the coronavirus. “This does not mean this is over by a long shot,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in an online news conference. “While we’re heading in the right direction, we’re not out of the woods.” The loosening up of restrictions in South Florida comes after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was considering allowing South Florida to move into Phase 2 , which would allow more businesses to resume operations.
1st Sep 2020 - USA TODAY

Lockdown in Co Kildare lifted following weeks of restrictions

The lockdown in Co Kildare has been lifted with immediate effect, the Government has confirmed. The Government introduced public health measures in the county on August 7 following outbreaks of Covid-19 cases. In a statement, the Government said that public health measures in the county will be aligned with those introduced nationally on August 18.
1st Sep 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

How will local lockdowns affect schools in England?

Q: According to the government’s guidance issued on Friday evening for schools in England, how will future lockdowns affect them? A: The new guidance lists four levels of lockdown “tiers”, which are most likely to be local ones such as those in Leicester. The categories range from tier one, the lowest, in which all schools would remain open, to tier four, in which remote learning would be in place for all pupils other than the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils. But unlike the national lockdown from March, alternative provision and special needs schools would remain fully open.
1st Sep 2020 - The Guardian

India Paid the Price of Lockdown for Little Reward

Plenty of places have been pummeled by the pandemic, though few have notched a descent as steep. And unlike Malaysia, Singapore or China, the shutdown in India didn’t curtail the spread of the virus. The country is now vying with Brazil for second-place behind the U.S. with the most cases. Infections numbered more than 3.62 million as of Monday and there have been 64,469 deaths. (The population is 1.3 billion.) India paid the economic price without the public health dividend.
1st Sep 2020 - Bloomberg

India eases virus restrictions as cases near 3.7 million

Experts say India, the world’s third most affected country, is fast becoming the new coronavirus epicenter and its case total is likely to soon pass Brazil and ultimately the United States. Most of India’s cases are in western Maharashtra state and the four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, but new surges are being recorded in the country’s vast hinterlands, overwhelming the poorly equipped healthcare system. In poorer states, the federal government has deployed special teams to monitor the situation. “This was to be expected,” said Dr. Gagandeep Kang, an infectious diseases expert at the Christian Medical College at Vellore in southern India. “It was inevitable that the numbers would climb.”
1st Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

Coronavirus: India sees nearly two million cases in August

India has reported nearly two million Covid-19 cases in August, the highest monthly tally in the world since the pandemic began. August was also the worst month for fatalities with 28,000 virus deaths. With 3.6 million confirmed cases, India has the third-highest caseload in the world, after the US and Brazil. The government continues to lift restrictions to try to boost an economy that lost millions of jobs because of a strict lockdown which began in March. In August, India saw an average of 64,000 cases per day - an 84% hike from average daily cases in July, according to official data. This number is the highest in the world - for example, the US, which has the most number of cases, saw 47,000 daily cases on average last month.
1st Sep 2020 - BBC

Japan’s karaoke bars adapt to the Covid era

The large chains have introduced apps that turn your smartphone into a remote control to avoid touching communal buttons or screens. Another upgrade synchronises and scrolls the lyrics on your phone, should social distancing mean you are sitting too far from the screen to read the words properly. Some chains allow the really nervous self-isolator to sing alone in a room in their establishment but be linked online to any other rooms in their nationwide network to form a virtual group. Arguably the most helpful of all in terms of coaxing people back to the microphone has been Joysound’s flagship offering: a series of settings that adjust the tone and clarity of your output to compensate for singing through a mask.
1st Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Victorian Government may use traffic light system to lead businesses out of stage 4 coronavirus lockdown

On Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said a roadmap to reopening the state would be announced in detail on Sunday, to allow the Government to gather another week of data. The first steps in designing the roadmap were outlined in documents seen by the ABC from the State Government's first consultation call with industry leaders on Monday night. Drafting of the plan will be a week-long process involving more than 10 sector working groups and six COVID-safe principles will apply:
1st Sep 2020 - ABC News

What is the COVID 'bubble' concept, and could it work in Australia?

The concept of a COVID-19 “germ bubble” refers to close contacts with whom we don’t practise mask use or keep physical distancing. In strict lockdown, this generally means just the members of your own household. But several countries, such as New Zealand and the United Kingdom, have experimented with bubbles larger than a single household. Victorian Premier Dan Andrews will unveil a roadmap out of restrictions on Sunday. Many will be keen to see if a bubble strategy is part of this, after Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton confirmed the concept is under “active consideration”. Extended bubbles mean your household can nominate other people or households with whom you could have close contact. These would need to be exclusive, so the infection risk is contained, and your nominated households would be required to live in the same town or city.
1st Sep 2020 - The Conversation AU

Auckland Exits Lockdown as New Zealand Again Eyes Elimination

New Zealand’s largest city has exited lockdown after the government said a Covid-19 outbreak there has been brought under control and it remains on track to again eliminate the virus from the community.
1st Sep 2020 - Bloomberg on MSN.com

Covid 19 coronavirus: The radical plan to end Melbourne's lockdown early

With clarity still lacking on how or even exactly when Melbourne will emerge from stage 4 restrictions, one suggestion gaining traction is to ring-fence individual suburbs while the rest of the city goes back to something approaching normality. The city's coronavirus restrictions should come to an end in two weeks' time and federal politicians have begun to demand the state provide some certainty to residents as to when they can expect to come out of curfew – and go back to Bunnings.
1st Sep 2020 - New Zealand Herald

South Africa's Absa PMI expands on easing lockdown

South Africa’s seasonally-adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) expanded in August as an easing of the coronavirus restrictions lifted business activity and sales. The index, which gauges manufacturing activity in Africa’s most industrialised economy, rose to 57.3 points in August from 51.2 points in July, staying above the 50-point mark that separates expansion from contraction. “The improvement in demand was not only due to South Africa moving to a lower lockdown level, but was also supported by an uptick in export orders,” Absa said in a statement.
1st Sep 2020 - Reuters Africa

As lockdown begins, Hungary reopens borders to some eastern neighbours

Hungary has decided to exempt tourists visiting from three neighbouring states from a lockdown of its borders that took effect on Tuesday, provided they test negative for COVID-19 beforehand, prompting a rebuke from the European Commission. The EU executive said Hungary’s move to admit visitors from the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia but not from other EU member states amounted to discrimination and was illegal. Hungary said last week it would close its borders to foreigners from Tuesday to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. Returning Hungarian citizens can leave a 14-day quarantine only if they provide two negative COVID tests.
1st Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

New Zealanders wear face masks as Auckland lockdown lifted

Schools and businesses reopened in Auckland on Monday after the lifting of a lockdown in New Zealand’s largest city to contain the resurgence of the coronavirus, but face masks were made mandatory on public transport across the country. The Pacific nation of 5 million people had appeared to have succeeded in halting community transmission of COVID-19, but a fresh outbreak in Auckland prompted the government to place the city back in lockdown earlier this month. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scaled back the restrictions in Auckland on Sunday, but made masks compulsory on public transport.
1st Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Back to school: how European classrooms are coping with COVID

Schools across Europe are reopening as summer break ends and governments insist that students return to the classroom after months of online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Reuters looks a little closer at what countries are doing...
1st Sep 2020 - Reuters

Colombia expands reopening as coronavirus cases stabilize

Airports, bus terminals, restaurants and gyms reopened in most of Colombia on Tuesday as the South American nation attempts to reignite its economy following months of restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic. The step expanded previous moves that allowed shops, construction sites, shopping malls and factories to resume operations in June in most of the country’s cities. Hospital occupancy rates and deaths from the new coronavirus have stabilized across much of Colombia over the past 10 days, prompting the national government to lift more of the emergency measures that had been in place for five months, including a ban on most people from traveling within the country.
1st Sep 2020 - The Washington Post

Bhutan to gradually lift coronavirus lockdown

Bhutan, the remote Himalayan kingdom famous for measuring gross national happiness, on Tuesday took the first steps to lift its coronavirus lockdown, saying there was limited community transmission. The country of 750,000 people between India and China -- one of the few nations in the world that have yet to register a virus death -- has so far recorded 225 infections. "Experiences in many countries reveal a surge in Covid-19 cases, mostly detected in the second week of post-lockdown," Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, a doctor who continues to practise on weekends, said in a television address late Monday.
1st Sep 2020 - FRANCE 24

Algeria approves more measures to ease coronavirus lockdown

Algerian authorities said on Monday they will carry out further measures to ease a coronavirus lockdown from Sept. 1, including lifting a ban on some cultural activities such as reopening museums and libraries. Nurseries would also be reopened with 50% of their capacity but prohibit the use of air conditioners and access to children by family members. The new steps will also end a paid leave for pregnant women and those with children under 14 years. Algeria has already eased restrictions linked to the novel coronavirus, including reopening some businesses, mosques, leisure venues and beaches. It has so far reported 44,494 infections and 1,510 deaths.
31st Aug 2020 - Reuters


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 1st Sep 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Pandemic exposes 'severe stress' in commercial property financing

The fate of the property is not only emblematic of the severity of the crisis emerging for the hotel industry but also of the pressure building across the commercial real estate sector — from small-town malls to sky-high office blocks — hitting one of its primary sources of financing; the $1.4tn market for commercial mortgage-backed securities. “I don’t think anyone foresaw the devastation that Covid would wreak on commercial real estate and the CMBS market,” says Lea Overby, an analyst at Wells Fargo who has covered the sector for almost two decades.
30th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

'You just feel disconnected': how Covid has upturned uni students' lives

University students are returning to (mostly virtual) class at a time of tumult and disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has hit Australian universities hard, with a slew of academic institutions recently announcing severe job cuts – among them the University of Sydney, RMIT University, the University of Melbourne, and the University of New South Wales. The staff cuts, coupled with distant learning, have dramatically altered the university experience for tens of thousands of Australian students. Unions and academics have sounded the alarm that this could lead to degrees of lower quality. Enrolments for next year are set to balloon, which could result in a challenging environment of more students and fewer teachers. Guardian Australia spoke to several students – some at universities that have announced staff cuts, others learning under lockdown – about their experiences during the pandemic.
29th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Schools to reopen in Nigeria's Lagos as COVID-19 cases decline

Schools will reopen in Nigeria’s commercial hub of Lagos next month as part of plans to revive the economy as COVID-19 cases decline, the state governor said on Saturday. Lagos, the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria, plans to reopen colleges on Sept. 14, and primary and secondary schools on Sept. 21, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said. “The gradual easing doesn’t mean the pandemic is over,” he said in a tweet. “It is not an invitation to carelessness or nonchalance.” The Lagos governor said restaurants, social clubs and recreational centers would also be allowed to reopen as long as they followed safety rules. Nigeria has reported 53,727 infections in total - including 18,104 in Lagos - and 1,011 deaths
30th Aug 2020 - Reuters Africa

China's Wuhan says all schools to reopen on Tuesday

Wuhan, Ground Zero for the COVID-19 pandemic and the Chinese city hardest hit by the coronavirus, will reopen all its schools and kindergartens on Tuesday, local authorities said. As many as 2,842 educational institutions across the city are set to open their doors to almost 1.4 million students when the autumn semester gets underway, the local government announced on Friday. Wuhan University reopened on Monday. The city said it has drawn up emergency plans to switch back to online teaching should risk levels change. It advised students to wear masks to and from school and avoid public transportation if possible. Schools have been ordered to stock up on disease control equipment and to carry out drills and training sessions to help prepare for new outbreaks. They must also restrict unnecessary mass gatherings, and submit daily reports to health authorities
29th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

In Brazil's Javari Valley, isolated communities fear Covid-19 'catastrophe'

Remote indigenous communities in Brazil, who have little or no contact with the outside world, are facing a grave threat from Covid-19 -- and advocates accuse the government of failing to protect these vulnerable groups. The virus has already killed a member of the Marubo and a member of the Tikuna indigenous people living in the remote Javari Valley, and more than 450 people have been infected, according to the Brazilian government. "The situation in the Javari Valley is critical," said Douglas Rodrigues, a physician who has worked with recently contacted indigenous groups over the past 40 years. "We are preparing for a catastrophe," he told CNN. Overall, some 800,000 indigenous people live in villages throughout Brazil. The largest concentration of isolated communities is based in the Javari Valley, a region the size of Austria, located in southwest Amazonas state, near the border with Peru.
29th Aug 2020 - CNN

Reopening schools: how different countries are tackling Covid dilemma

Research on the ability of children of different ages to catch and transmit the virus is contradictory, and differences in education systems and social conventions make comparisons difficult. One complicating factor is what epidemiologists call contact matrices: the degree to which different age groups mix, particularly within extended multigenerational families, which can vary from society to society and from group to group within a society. Countries have taken different approaches but some of the questions are broadly familiar. Should all children and staff be required to wear masks, or only some age groups? Should children be tested for the virus? How should social distancing be managed in the classroom and playground? And finally, should schools be reopening at all?
28th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

New Zealand's Ardern takes mask making into her own hands ahead of virus measure

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday she was making her own face covering to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, raising the profile of a public health measure which will become mandatory across the country next week. The Pacific nation of 5 million people had seemed to stop community transmission of COVID-19 due to tough lockdown measures but reintroduced restrictions in its largest city, Auckland, this month following a fresh outbreak. With restrictions to scale back on Sunday, Ardern said in a Facebook post she was taking matters into her own hands before masks become compulsory on public transport across the country the following day
28th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Payments for English self-isolating on low incomes to be trialled

Regional leaders in England have called on the government to increase the level of support under a new scheme launched on Thursday for people on low incomes who are required to self-isolate and are unable to work from home. Health secretary Matt Hancock announced plans to trial the scheme in some parts of the north-west of England lockdown area. Those who test positive will be entitled to access £130 over their 10-day self-isolation period, while members of their household will be entitled to a payment of £182 when they self-isolate for 14 days. Any non-household contacts reached via the government’s NHS test-and-trace programme will be able to claim a similar amount, depending on the length of their isolation period.
27th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

Second wave of coronavirus could hit France in November: government advisor

A second wave of the coronavirus pandemic could hit France in November, a government advisor told local media on Wednesday, as the city of Marseille tightened restrictions to fight the outbreak. Authorities in Marseille said late on Tuesday that bars and restaurants would have shorter opening times, and they also broadened mandatory mask-wearing in the southern port city between Aug. 26 and Sept. 30. “There are fears of a second wave in November,” Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the government on the pandemic, told France 2 television on Wednesday.
26th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 28th Aug 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Active Irish COVID-19 tracing app users drop on battery problem - HSE

A brief technical issue led some people to delete Ireland’s COVID-19 tracing app, leaving 1.2 million active users compared to the 1.65 million who downloaded it since early July, the head of Ireland’s health service operator said on Thursday. Ireland’s app has been downloaded by 33% of the population - among the highest take up rates in Europe - and its developers have since been hired to roll out a similar service in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Gibraltar and Pennsylvania. Like many European versions, Ireland’s app uses architecture designed by Alphabet’s Google and Apple. A Google Play Services update caused the app to rapidly drain handset batteries for a two-day period earlier this month. “There were some issues, which we have addressed with Google and Apple. We’ve a total of 1.65 million downloads, there were of course some that were deleted and we’ve probably about 1.2 million active users but we are seeing people reloading,” Health Service Executive (HSE) chief Paul Reid told a news conference.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Matt Hancock to announce if Northern England coronavirus rules will change on Friday

Matt Hancock is expected to announce on Friday whether local lockdowns will continue in parts of Northern England amid growing criticism from regional leaders. The Health Secretary and England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, chaired Thursday’s meeting of the Joint Biosecurity Centre. Around four million people in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and West Yorkshire have been unable to visit other households indoors since the end of July, while pubs stayed open. Last week, Mr Hancock announced a more targeted approach to restrictions, with the views of MPs sought to gain “the maximum possible local consensus”. He added this would allow local councils to focus resources on the wards which need more targeted intervention in order to drive infection rates down.
27th Aug 2020 - iNews

France, Germany join nations tightening controls to halt virus surge

Germany and France drew up tougher rules on Thursday in line with a growing number of countries battling a resurgence in coronavirus infections with Paris making masks obligatory in all public places in a bid to curb a rise of new cases in the city.
27th Aug 2020 - YAHOO!

Germany to pay another 12 months of furlough

Germany has extended its furlough scheme until the end of 2021 despite reservations in Angela Merkel’s party about a bill that may exceed €30 billion. The measure is intended to buy time for the economy to recover after GDP contracted by 11.7 per cent over the first six months of this year. It is expected to take until late next year or early 2022 to regain the lost ground. At the peak during lockdown 10.1 million workers, including one in three in the industrial sector, were on furlough. The number is thought to have fallen to about 5.2 million by late July. The Kurzarbeit (short-time work) scheme, which has roots in the early 20th century, is normally restricted to 12 months. It began in January and had been due to run out on December 31.
27th Aug 2020 - The Times

Germany extends its furlough scheme until the end of NEXT YEAR at a likely cost of £27billion

German economy saw GDP fall by 11.7 per cent over first six months of the year More than 10.1 million workers were on furlough at the peak of the lockdown It is thought that the economy will not get back on its feet until the end of 2021
27th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Lessons to be learned from Germany for UK SMEs, as businesses seek to save time and money and capitalise on eased lockdown restrictions

The answer could be found in Germany, where lockdowns began to ease months before the UK. German SMEs are already dealing with the next economic phase, and research carried out by Vimcar, the fleet management software for small and medium-sized companies, has revealed some of the challenges that UK businesses will face. More than half of the German SMEs surveyed (55%) have introduced new hygiene regulations for their business fleets in order to get back on the road. This additional time pressure has led to a flawed process in some cases, however, as two-thirds (65%) of those businesses admitted that their disinfection of vehicles was not being documented. Of the 18% that were documenting hygiene procedures, most were doing so manually with hand-written lists. These findings suggest that, whilst necessary, extra hygiene regulations will inevitably prove a cost and resource drain on UK SMEs, who are already struggling to get back on their feet.
27th Aug 2020 - Business Leader

France to make face masks mandatory everywhere in Paris

Face masks must be worn everywhere in the French capital Paris from Friday morning in order to curb a surge in coronavirus infections, police said on Thursday. The measure applies to all pedestrians as well as cyclists in Paris and its suburbs in an area that includes three neighbouring departments that form the Petite Couronn inner ring around Paris, a densely populated area with a total population of nearly seven million people. Motorists will not have to wear a mask inside their car. “The deterioration of the health situation...has led the prefect to take this strong measure in the interest of the population,” the Paris police prefecture said in a statement.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Xinjiang starts to ease Covid-19 lockdown after surge in social media anger

China has relaxed some Covid-19 lockdown measures on the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang following a surge of complaints about their severity on Chinese social media. The city of 3.5 million people, which has been in strict lockdown since mid-July, has reported no new cases of the disease since August 16. Xinjiang residents flooded social media platform Weibo with complaints about the restrictions which had kept them trapped at home for more than a month. There have also been claims people were forced to take traditional Chinese medicine, which has not been proven to alleviate Covid-19 symptoms.
27th Aug 2020 - South China Morning Post

Netherlands to close mink farms after coronavirus outbreaks

More than 100 mink farms in the Netherlands will be ordered closed by March after animals at dozens of locations contracted the coronavirus, Dutch news agency ANP reported on Thursday. Hundreds of thousands of the ferret-like animals, which are bred for their fur, have been culled in the Netherlands and other European countries since the virus outbreak. The Netherlands had already intended to halt its mink breeding industry by 2024, but decided to bring forward the closures after several farm employees contracted COVID-19.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th Aug 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Germany extends its furlough scheme until end of 2021

Germany has extended its furlough scheme until the end of 2021 despite reservations in Angela Merkel’s party about a bill that may exceed €30 billion. The measure is intended to buy time for the economy to recover after GDP contracted by 11.7 per cent over the first six months of this year. It is expected to take until late next year or early 2022 to regain the lost ground.
27th Aug 2020 - The Times

EU eyes initial COVID-19 vaccination for at least 40% of population

European Union nations, Britain and EU partners have agreed on a blueprint for a COVID-19 vaccination plan envisaging inoculation of at least 40% of their populations, a step that may set back the World Health Organisation’s own vaccine blueprint. The EU target for early vaccinations is twice as high as the goal set by the WHO, which is aiming to buy vaccines initially for 20% of the world’s most vulnerable people through a global procurement scheme. The EU estimates that the share of its population in need of initial vaccination, should a shot be developed, would be at least 40%, effectively reducing the availability of possible doses for less developed countries. There is so far no approved COVID-19 vaccine, except one authorised in Russia before large-scale trials. The supply of the vaccines that might be successful is expected to be limited for a long period as production capacities are limited.
26th Aug 2020 - Reuters

NYC’s Virus Threat Has Faded, But Its Future Is Stuck in Limbo

The city is grasping for some semblance of its old self. Among the terrible what-ifs, there’s the big one: What if the virus strikes again? Begin in the East 80s, off Madison: waiters in surgical masks hand out sanitized menus to the regulars dining al fresco. Across town, in the West 70s, the sirens have yielded to the familiar clang of jackhammers. In Central Park, the zoo, the playgrounds, even the carousel have reopened. Soon, schools across the city will too, but not fully. Squint, and you can see it: New York, once the epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, is grasping for some semblance of its old self. Five eternal months after the lockdown began, office workers have started to trickle back to midtown. A fraction of the suburban commuters are braving the Metro-North lines. Wall Street is roaring, though still mostly working from home.
26th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

UK arrivals into Guernsey to be tested in next phase of lockdown exit

Passengers arriving into Guernsey from 'Group B' countries - which includes the UK and Jersey - may only need to self-isolate for as little as 24 hours in the next phase of the island's exit from lockdown. In an update to the island's lockdown strategy, inbound passengers would be tested on arrival and again on the seventh day. They would be subject to 'passive surveillance' until day 14, meaning they must report any Covid-19 symptoms and avoid all care homes and the hospital except in the event of an emergency. Passengers coming to the island from Group A countries would still have to complete a mandatory self-isolation period of 14 days. The rules for Group C will also remain the same, with no self-isolation requirement for passengers arriving from countries where an 'air bridge' is in place. Currently, this refers only to the Isle of Man.
26th Aug 2020 - ITV News

Coronavirus: Face coverings U-turn for England’s secondary schools

Secondary pupils will have to wear face coverings in school corridors in local lockdown areas of England, after the government reversed its guidance. Head teachers in any secondary school will also have the "flexibility" to introduce masks in their schools. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it followed updated advice from the World Health Organization. But Labour accused the government of "passing the buck" on decisions back to schools. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new guidance meant that in coronavirus "hot spot" areas that "it probably does make sense in confined areas outside the classroom to use a face covering in the corridor and elsewhere".
26th Aug 2020 - BBC

Coronavirus: Lockdown eased in Wigan and parts of Lancashire

Lockdown rules are easing in Wigan, the only borough in Greater Manchester where extra restrictions imposed just under a month ago have been lifted. Rossendale and parts of Blackburn with Darwen, in Lancashire, have also had restrictions eased, the Department for Health and Social care said. Wigan Council leader David Molyneux, thanked residents for being "responsible, patient and kind". Tighter rules were reintroduced after a regional increase in Covid-19 cases. Mr Molyneux said residents had "done their bit to reduce the spread of the virus." "I know it hasn't been easy but by working together and following the rules we've managed to keep our loved ones safe," he said.
26th Aug 2020 - BBC

Schools learn the lessons from lockdown, want to start and finish earlier

A northern beaches high school has proposed ending the school day at 2pm, saying a European model of earlier start and finish times would make students more independent and give teachers more time for one-on-one feedback. But some parents are worried the move would not suit junior school students, who are less independent learners, while the timetable would challenge working parents relying on 3pm public transport. Pittwater High School principal Jane Ferris said compressed timetables introduced during the COVID-19 lockdown had made her reflect on "the European model", where schools such as Sweden and Germany start around 8am and finish after lunchtime. The school found many students enjoyed having blocks of time to catch up on work or prepare for assignments, while teachers had greater opportunities to give students feedback and engage parents.
26th Aug 2020 - The Sydney Morning Herald

“We will do this together:” Germany will continue subsidizing workers’ wages through the end of 2021

It may have been intended as a short-term tool in Germany's fight against the pandemic's economic effects, but that's not how the government's massive wage-support program is panning out. Now recognizing that it will take at least a couple years to get the economy back to pre-pandemic levels, Angela Merkel's coalition government announced late Tuesday the extension of the current Kurzarbeit ("short time work") scheme until the end of 2021.
26th Aug 2020 - Fortune

Germany Boosts Already Hefty Coronavirus Stimulus

Germany is beefing up its already formidable stimulus package to prop up its economy through the Covid-19 pandemic, brushing away concerns from some economists that the state is keeping insolvent businesses afloat artificially. Wage subsidies for furloughed workers, the flagship measure in the country’s new package, will be extended by 12 months to the end of 2021, in contrast with most other European countries, whose programs are set to expire in the coming months. Furlough programs, known in Europe as short-time work, allow companies to temporarily idle workers without resorting to payroll cuts. So far, the program has allowed Germany to avoid a spike in unemployment and could help businesses adjust faster to rising demand when the economy normalizes. The 5.6 million workers currently enrolled can earn up to 87% of their pay from benefits while working reduced hours or not at all.
26th Aug 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus: How are other countries getting children back to class?

French schoolchildren will be returning to school on 1 September with a somewhat relaxed version of the rules under which some of them went back to school in May. For example, there will no longer be a limit on class sizes, and distancing is not compulsory in situations where it would stop a school being able to fit all its pupils in. The exception to that is the use of masks, which will be compulsory indoors for staff and students over the age of 11, even if they manage to stay more than 1m apart. This means teachers will take lessons wearing masks. Schools are no longer forced to prevent different classes and groups of students from mixing, but they are encouraged to stagger start and finish times to prevent large groups building up. Floors, desks and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as door handles, must be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day.
26th Aug 2020 - BBC

Saving lives or UK economy from Covid a 'false choice', MPs warn

Saving lives or the economy in the coronavirus pandemic is a “false choice”, MPs have warned as a study confirms the UK to have one of the highest excess death rates combined with the worst projected hit to the economy. Data analysed by the Guardian shows the UK has effectively endured the worst of both worlds, with 610 excess deaths per million while GDP is set to fall by 11.5% this year. This places it narrowly ahead of Italy and Spain, which also have high excess death figures and devastating economic forecasts.
26th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Developing countries don't want to wait for superpowers' vaccines

After COVID-19’s emergence in Buenos Aires led to a strict lockdown in March, Juliana Cassataro and her fellow vaccine researchers grew concerned. The U.S., Europe and China had already revved up their quests to obtain shots; how far back in line would Argentina have to wait for supplies? “We did not want to stay in our homes,” said Cassataro, a scientist at the National University of San Martin in the nation’s capital. “We wanted to use our knowledge to help in this pandemic.” Determined to give Latin America its own protection from the fast-spreading virus, Cassataro’s team — 10 women and two men — quickly got to work. A government grant of $100,000 in May paid for initial studies, and human trials could start in about six months.
26th Aug 2020 - The Japan Times

UK school pupils WILL wear face masks if local area in lockdown

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said face coverings will be compulsory. Decision on whether to wear masks in most schools to be down to headteachers. The eleventh-hour U-turn followed new advice from World Health Organisation
26th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid 19 coronavirus: The Government targets South Auckland in new virus testing blitz

The Government is embarking on a week-long Covid-19 testing blitz, promising to test 70,000 people in a bid to "further tighten the screws on this elusive virus". The approach will be "aggressively targeted," according to Health Minister Chris Hipkins, with a specific focus on South Auckland. Officials will be testing asymptomatic people in this region – a new strategy for this outbreak – and will target specific regions, rather than only people with Covid-19 symptoms.
26th Aug 2020 - New Zealand Herald

England schools in COVID hotspots to bring in face masks after government U-turn

It may have been intended as a short-term tool in Germany's fight against the pandemic's economic effects, but that's not how the government's massive wage-support program is panning out. Now recognizing that it will take at least a couple years to get the economy back to pre-pandemic levels, Angela Merkel's coalition government announced late Tuesday the extension of the current Kurzarbeit ("short time work") scheme until the end of 2021.
26th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Column: Public confidence, often inscrutable, pivotal for recovery

Public confidence in virus control, rather than the length and stringency of government lockdowns, may be the best way to gauge how economies emerge from this year’s pandemic - though tracking that confidence can be a bewildering business. Apparent gaps between what people are saying and doing complicate the task facing economists in assessing confidence, and how economies are expected to heal - at least before the arrival of a game-changing vaccine that’s still likely to be at least six months away. Britain provided an example of this confusion last week, with retail sales volumes returning to pre-pandemic levels in July despite consumer confidence polls remaining mired in gloom close to 10-year lows for the past two months. There’s a similar picture in the United States, where consumer confidence readings are also stuck near six-year lows even as retail sales return to their highest on record in July.
26th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Aug 2020

    View this newsletter in full

UK chief executives think shift towards remote working will endure

Over three quarter of UK chief executives believe the shift towards remote working will endure, the results of a survey show as companies continue to look at when to bring staff back to offices. PwC surveyed 699 bosses online in 67 countries/regions (including 96 bosses in the UK) in June and July. The company was looking at how business leaders have responded to the pandemic. The results showed 86% of UK bosses see a long term shift towards remote working enduring, and 68% believe the shift towards lower-density workplaces, with fewer people working together in person, will endure.
25th Aug 2020 - Evening Standard

France set to make Brits arriving in the country quarantine 'within days' according to reports

France is looking to impose mandatory quarantine on Britons arriving in the country in the coming days. People who arrived in the UK from France after August 15 are required to self-isolate for 14 days due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases in France. And France’s secretary of state for European Affairs Clement Beaune suggested those travelling from the UK to France could soon face similar requirements. He told France 2: “There will be reciprocal measures so that Britons don’t close the border in one direction. “For travellers returning from the United Kingdom, there will probably be restrictive measures decided in the next few days by the Prime Minister and by the Defence Council.” Meanwhile, Switzerland could become the next European country to be subject to quarantine measures by all four nations of the UK, according to latest figures. A seven-day rate of 20 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people is the threshold above which the UK Government considers triggering quarantine conditions.
25th Aug 2020 - Evening Chronicle

Paris and French Riviera labelled coronavirus 'risk zones' by Germany

Tourists travelling from the greater Paris and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur regions to Germany must take a Covid-19 test and quarantine upon their return, the German foreign ministry stated on Monday. The greater Paris region of Île-de-France and the southern Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, which includes tourist hubs on the French Riviera, were added to the German foreign ministry's list of 'risk areas' late on Monday evening. All travel to these areas should be avoided unless the journey is "indispensable," according to the German foreign ministry. Travellers who return from these areas must undergo a Covid-19 test and self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.
25th Aug 2020 - The Local Europe

Vic govt needs to provide plan for when stage four lockdown ends

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Paul Guerra has called on the Victorian government to reveal what the plan is for when Melbourne’s stage four lockdowns are finished in three weeks. Melbourne’s stage four lockdown is set to be lifted on September 13 and the state government has not provided any clarity about what will happen when the lockdown is lifted. “We’re less than three weeks away now … what businesses now need is the certainty around September 13,” Mr Guerra told Sky News host Peta Credlin. “What does the plan look like to not only get out of this current phase, but what is the sign posting that means that we can go – if in fact we go to stage three- how do we get to stage two and ultimately how do we get out of this.”
25th Aug 2020 - Sky News Australia

Colombia to move to 'selective' quarantine, participate in vaccine trials

Colombia will enter a period of “selective” quarantine when its five months of national coronavirus lockdown ends at the close of August, President Ivan Duque said on Monday, and will be part of Johnson & Johnson vaccine trials. Restrictions on events and large crowds will continue during September while the government evaluates the spread of the virus, Duque said, as more economic reactivation with safety protocols moves ahead. “On Sept. 1 a new phase begins where we change the concept of preventative obligatory isolation with a large number of exceptions to a concept of selective isolation, of distancing, of individual responsibility,” Duque said during his nightly television broadcast.
25th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Did Europe Make a Mistake Reopening Its Borders?

Colombia will enter a period of “selective” quarantine when its five months of national coronavirus lockdown ends at the close of August, President Ivan Duque said on Monday, and will be part of Johnson & Johnson vaccine trials. Restrictions on events and large crowds will continue during September while the government evaluates the spread of the virus, Duque said, as more economic reactivation with safety protocols moves ahead. “On Sept. 1 a new phase begins where we change the concept of preventative obligatory isolation with a large number of exceptions to a concept of selective isolation, of distancing, of individual responsibility,” Duque said during his nightly television broadcast.
24th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 25th Aug 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Coronavirus: Partial lifting of Aberdeen lockdown restrictions

Some of Aberdeen's lockdown restrictions have been lifted from midnight. Pubs and restaurants were shut 18 days ago, and restrictions were placed on travel and visits to other households, after a spike in Covid-19 cases linked to bars and nightlife in the city. The five-mile restriction on non-essential travel and the ban on indoor gatherings ended at midnight. Hospitality businesses will be able to reopen from Wednesday. However, the reopening of pubs, cafes and restaurants will be subject to environmental health checks. Talks have been going on throughout Sunday involving the Scottish government, Aberdeen City Council, NHS Grampian and Police Scotland.
24th Aug 2020 - BBC

Why some workforces are returning to the office and others are staying away

In some parts of the northern hemisphere, it feels almost like a normal summer: city centres are quiet, schools are on holiday, offices closed. But this illusion conceals deeper uncertainty about what happens next. Assuming those offices reopen next month, will workers return? If not, why not?  The answers so far seem to depend where you live. Polls struggle to keep up with the pandemic but two recent surveys suggest a difference of opinion between the US and UK, and other countries. The ManpowerGroup What Workers Want survey of eight countries, published this week but carried out in June, suggests staff in the US and UK were more negative then about returning to the workplace than their counterparts in Germany, France, Italy, Mexico, Singapore and Spain. That nervousness is reflected in the number who have returned to work, according to another poll by AlphaWise last month for Morgan Stanley. At that stage, only 34 per cent of UK office workers said they had gone back to their usual workplace, compared with 83 per cent in France.
24th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

Analysis | Did Europe Make a Mistake Reopening Its Borders?

The hope was that we could relax travel and social restrictions this summer because people are much less likely to catch the virus when they’re outside enjoying the warm weather. European economies depend on tourism and couldn’t afford a season of empty sun loungers and restaurants. Airlines and hotels would collapse without new bookings, and they implemented new hygiene measures to reassure customers. People were desperate to see friends and families again. The experiment has backfired. We’re not even through August and cases are surging in western Europe, while south-eastern Europe, which avoided the worst of the initial virus wave, is up against it too. Germany won plaudits for its handling of the spring outbreak, but it recorded more than 2,000 new cases on Saturday — the biggest daily jump since April.
24th Aug 2020 - The Washington Post

The latest FCO travel guidance to Spain, as UK orders 14-day quarantine for returning visitors

Spain has been reintroduced to the UK Government’s so-called ‘red list’, meaning travellers returning to Britain from the country will once again have to self-isolate for 14 days. One of the most popular holiday destinations among British tourists, Spain had been included on the travel corridors list since the roster of countries was first made public early in July.
24th Aug 2020 - The Scotsman

Russia may resume flights to seven more countries this week

Russian authorities may this week announce the resumption of international flights to France, Hungary, Malta, Cyprus, Jordan and China’s Shanghai, the Izvestia newspaper cited unnamed airport and airline sources as saying on Monday. Russia grounded international commercial flights during the coronavirus lockdown earlier this year and has so far only resumed flights to London, Turkey, Tanzania and Switzerland. Russia has confirmed the world’s fourth largest tally of coronavirus cases. It has recorded close to 5,000 new cases of the virus on a daily basis for the last several weeks.
24th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Maharashtra set to lift curbs on inter-district travel, discontinue e-pass

Sources also said that the state government is considering easing more lockdown restrictions, such as increasing the attendance in government offices to 50 per cent from the current 15 per cent and opening indoor gymnasiums among others.
24th Aug 2020 - The Indian Express

Aberdeen lockdown to be partially lifted at midnight, it is understood

Crunch talks have been ongoing today as council bosses tried to convince the government to lift the locally-imposed lockdown. This evening the first minister also announced cafes, pubs and restaurants would be allowed to reopen on Wednesday. But – they will only be allowed to welcome customers back once an environmental health check has been completed. Visiting restrictions at city hospitals and care homes will no longer be in force tomorrow either. Other businesses will now open in line with the rest of Scotland, meaning gyms and leisure facilities are in line to open a week today.
24th Aug 2020 - The Press and Journal


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 24th Aug 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Brazil's coronavirus spread on 'stable or downwards' trend, WHO says

The coronavirus crisis in Brazil appears to be leveling off, if not easing, the World Health Organization said on Friday, offering a chink of light for the world’s second biggest COVID-19 hot spot.
23rd Aug 2020 - Reuters

French teachers prepare for special 'la rentrée' amid Covid-19 spike, tensions

Middle and high school students in France will return to classrooms on September 1. But as the country’s daily tallies of new coronavirus infections rise, some teachers are concerned about the conditions they and their students will face, including heightened sanitary measures. The daily levels of new coronavirus infections in France have been rising for several weeks, but the new school year (la rentrée scolaire) is set to start on September 1. Affirming that “education is more important than anything”, Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer gave his assurance on August 20 that students would be welcome in class every day. He also announced that stricter sanitary measures would be in place, notably concerning face masks.
23rd Aug 2020 - Yahoo News UK

Coronavirus: Schools let down by lack of 'plan B', says union

More staff, extra teaching space and greater clarity on what to do if there is a spike in cases is needed for schools to reopen safely, the UK's largest teaching union has said. The National Education Union (NEU) accused the government of letting down pupils, teachers and parents by failing to have a "plan B" if infections rise. The UK's four chief medical officers have insisted it is safe to return. The education secretary said ministers were doing "everything we can" to help. Millions of pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are due to return to school in the coming days and weeks. In Scotland, schools have already reopened.
23rd Aug 2020 - BBC

The meaning of life: Australians praying more during COVID-19

Churches may have closed their doors, but more Australians are opening their minds to spirituality and prayer. Researchers have found Australians say they have been praying more during the COVID-19 crisis, suggesting the pandemic has led many to reassess their priorities in life.
23rd Aug 2020 - The Sydney Morning Herald

Give students hope amid coronavirus mental health crisis, experts urge

The suicides of some year 11 and 12 students have prompted mental health experts to warn that Australia must act quickly to counteract a growing sense of hopelessness among HSC students. Parents and teachers are increasingly worried about the welfare of senior students as their rites of passage are cancelled, the job market shrinks and the tertiary education sector faces a financial crisis due the coronavirus pandemic.
23rd Aug 2020 - The Sydney Morning Herald

Australia's mental health funding has surged after coronavirus – so why is it so difficult to get help?

Many people are being forced to wait for weeks or months, with ‘far more people needing support than there are people to provide them’
23rd Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Australia's coronavirus death toll passes 500 as Victoria reports 17 more fatalities and 208 new cases

NSW reports four new cases while two more people test positive in Queensland in cluster linked to Brisbane youth detention centre
23rd Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Socialising pushes Spain’s Covid-19 rate far above rest of Europe

Coronavirus is spreading far faster in Spain than in the rest of Europe, confronting the country with a race against time to bring the outbreak under control before the return to school and work next month following the holiday season. Figures published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, an EU agency, on Friday indicated that in the previous 14 days Spain had reported about 145 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 of population. Apart from Malta, no other European country had a ratio above 100, and the Spanish figures compare with ratios of 51 in France and 21 in the UK. In three districts of Madrid, the Spanish region with most cases, the equivalent ratio is above 400 and in one it is almost 600. On Friday, the regional government of Madrid urged people in the worst-affected areas to stay at home.
21st Aug 2020 - Financial Times

Oscar stars as Chinese football welcomes back fans after coronavirus

The Chinese Super League permitted spectators on Saturday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic, with former Chelsea star Oscar marking the occasion by hitting the winner. In a significant development for football in China, where the virus emerged last year, up to 2,000 people were allowed to attend the clash in Suzhou between title rivals Shanghai SIPG and Beijing Guoan. SIPG captain Oscar seemed to relish having the limited number of fans back, the 60-million-euro Brazilian setting up his side's equaliser before making it 2-1 with 14 minutes left. Beijing's beaten players unfurled a banner afterwards thanking their supporters, while Oscar blew kisses to the sparse crowd
22nd Aug 2020 - Deccan Herald


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 21st Aug 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Demand for community Covid-19 tests soars by 210%

Demand for community Covid-19 swab tests has soared by 210% in the last few weeks, it has emerged. HSE boss Paul Reid said a “complex set of demands” have emerged for workplace settings, close contacts and people whose first language is not English. He told the HSE briefing that demand for testing doubled in one week. “That is putting a different challenge on us in terms of the increased volume but also increased complexity,” Mr Reid added.
20th Aug 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

4 In 10 People Tested For Covid-19 Are Still Not Getting Results Within 24 Hours

Boris Johnson’s government is still failing to return Covid-19 test results within 24 hours, despite the prime minister pledging all would be done within a day by the end of June. NHS Test and Trace data covering the week ending August 11, released on Thursday, showed that the service is in fact getting worse at carrying out quick checks. Just 60% of in-person tests were returned within 24 hours and 14% of home tests within 48 hours, marking huge drops from the previous week, when the figures were 70% and 33% respectively. Swift testing is key to the government’s strategy of stamping out outbreaks in the months ahead, but the new figures mean that as many as four in 10 are still not getting results within 24 hours.
20th Aug 2020 - Huffington Post UK

Covid-19 face masks call as Ireland's main churches 'recommend' use

The four main churches in Ireland have issued a joint statement in which they are “formally recommending and encouraging the use of face coverings at all services of worship”. The move comes amid growing concerns about rising Covid-19 infection rates across the island. The Catholic Church, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church have issued the statement. They say: "At this time, both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland, the governments have not formally made mandatory the wearing of face coverings at services of worship. "This is, in part, due to the fact that as churches we are committed to maintaining 2 metre physical distancing between household groups and strict adherence to all government guidance on hand hygiene, cleaning, ventilation etc.
20th Aug 2020 - Belfast Live

Portugal set to be added to UK Covid-19 safe travel list

Portugal is being added to the UK’s travel corridor list, meaning arrivals from the country will no longer have to quarantine, but Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago are being removed, it has been confirmed. As revealed earlier by the Guardian, UK government ministers including the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, agreed on Wednesday to changes affecting Portugal, Croatia, and Trinidad and Tobago. But, after final discussions and the agreement of the UK’s devolved administrations on Thursday afternoon, Austria is also being taken off the travel corridor due to concern over its coronavirus infections. In a sign of diverging approaches between the devolved nations, Scotland is also moving separately to remove Switzerland from its own travel corridor list.
20th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

UK ‘not considering’ face masks in offices after France makes them mandatory

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said that the government does not intend to follow France’s decision to make face coverings a requirement in offices. His comments came after France’s Ministry of Labour announced on Tuesday that face masks would be mandatory from the beginning of September in the workplace, with the exception of private offices. In response to a question about France’s move, Mr Hancock told the BBC: “We constantly look at the scientific advice and the answer here is we’re not currently considering doing that.” The health secretary said that evidence from the test and trace programme suggests that most infections in the UK have been passed on from one household to another.
20th Aug 2020 - The Independent

UBS Doubts There Will Ever Be Coronavirus Lockdowns Again

There’s no real consensus on how to stop, cure or treat SARS-CoV-2. But if there is one place to go to make sense of it all, it’s market research provided by massive and global wealth managers. Undoubtedly, knowing where the virus is heading, and what can be done to cut it off at the pass, is as important to big picture investors as the U.S.-China trade war.
20th Aug 2020 - Forbes

Coronavirus vaccine: Australia rules out mandatory immunisations

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has back-tracked after suggesting vaccinations against the coronavirus could become mandatory. Announcing a deal that could provide free doses to Australia's entire population, Mr Morrison had said there should only be medical exemptions. But after concerns raised by health experts, he clarified: "There are no compulsory vaccines in Australia." Meanwhile, visitors to Australia may also be required to have immunisation. Health Minister Greg Hunt said he "wouldn't rule out" making it mandatory for anyone travelling to Australia - including Australians returning to the country - if that was the advice from medical experts.
20th Aug 2020 - BBC

Australia to kick off trial in September to allow foreign students to return amid Covid-19 pandemic

Australia plans to start allowing foreign students to return from next month as part of a trial that will aim to reboot the country's lucrative international education sector. The first batch of students will be brought to the state of South Australia, which has effectively curbed its Covid-19 outbreak. As of Wednesday, the state had recorded 23 cases since the beginning of June and had not had a locally-transmitted case in 13 days. The trial will involve bringing 300 university students - reportedly mainly from China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore - on a flight in early September from Singapore to Adelaide. The students, like Australian citizens and residents arriving from abroad, will undergo 14 days of quarantine at a hotel, to be paid for by the universities.
20th Aug 2020 - The Straits Times

Could the coronavirus vaccine be mandatory in Australia? Experts say it's possible

News this week that Australia could have 25 million doses of the so-called "Oxford vaccine" available by early 2021 raises hope that a way to control COVID-19's spread may not be far away. But it also raises some serious ethical questions about how the vaccine would be distributed — including whether it should be mandatory. Prime Minister Scott Morrison — who originally declared on Wednesday the vaccine would be "mandatory" before revising his language to "encouraged" — added to speculation by suggesting that the "no jab, no play" framework used to compel uptake of childhood immunisation could offer a model for coronavirus vaccination too. So, in practice, what does that mean? Can those reluctant to receive a new vaccine be forced to accept it? And how would that affect the human rights of those who don't want to receive it?
20th Aug 2020 - ABC News


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 20th Aug 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Britain to bring in mass testing to curb spread of COVID-19

Britain plans to bring in regular, population-wide testing for COVID-19 so it can suppress the spread of the virus and ease restrictions that have crippled its economy without triggering a second wave in one of the worst-hit countries in the world. Health minister Matt Hancock said the government was trialling a range of new, faster tests that can give instant results and hoped to roll them out towards the end of the year. “The mass testing, population testing, where we make it the norm that people get tested regularly, allowing us therefore to allow some of the freedoms back, is a huge project in government right now,” he told BBC Radio. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been criticised by political opponents and health experts for being too slow to go into lockdown and in rolling out testing to know how far the virus had spread.
19th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: Home testing for coronavirus to be ramped up to 150,000 per fortnight

More people across the UK will be offered coronavirus tests in a bid to keep track of local outbreaks and reduce infection rates ahead of winter. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey will test 150,000 people per fortnight by October and will extend to cover Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Currently, 28,000 people are tested for coronavirus per fortnight in England. The survey is separate from the mass testing programme of people with symptoms.
19th Aug 2020 - Sky News

Angela Merkel to back plans extending Germany's furlough scheme to 24 months

German chancellor Angela Merkel is said to back a proposal that would extend the country’s furlough scheme to 24 months. Roughly 10.1 million workers have signed up to Kurzarbeit, or “short-work” in English, since companies were forced to close in late March during a nationwide lockdown over the coronavirus.
19th Aug 2020 - The New European

All Workers In France Must Wear Masks Starting Sept. 1

The French government says people will be required to wear face masks in workplaces, following a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections since the country began lifting lockdown restrictions in July.
19th Aug 2020 - NPR

COVID vaccine will relieve states from 'lockdown addiction'

Sky News host Peta Credlin says an effective COVID vaccine which can move swiftly across the globe would allow national and state leaders currently “addicted to lockdown” to declare victory and let normal life resume. The Prime Minister announced on Wednesday the federal government signed “a letter of intent,” which would allow 25 million Australians free access to a vaccine “in the event that those trials prove successful”. Ms Credlin said the vaccine – which is in phase three of development by Oxford University – could allow the public to start picking up the pieces and getting workers back into jobs. “Rather than forced to live as health officials and police dictate,” she said.
19th Aug 2020 - Sky News Australia

Canada's hardest-hit province for COVID-19 launches plan to combat second wave

The Canadian province of Quebec on Tuesday announced plans to tackle earlier mistakes in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, while preparing its health sector against a possible second wave of coronavirus in the autumn. Quebec, once the country’s hardest-hit province for COVID-19, will boost public health sector hiring, reduce screening delays, and ensure staff like orderlies can no longer work at multiple long-term care facilities, a practice previously blamed for spreading the virus, Health Minister Christian Dubé told reporters. Canada has flattened its curve of coronavirus cases since the spring, but some of the country’s 10 provinces have reported higher numbers of COVID-19 infections recently, as the economy restarts and restrictions on social gathering are relaxed.
19th Aug 2020 - Reuters

WHO: Coronavirus herd immunity requires effective vaccine

The World Health Organization says the planet is nowhere near the amount of coronavirus immunity needed to induce herd immunity, where enough of the population would have antibodies to stop the spread. Herd immunity is typically achieved with vaccination and most scientists estimate at least 70% of the population must have antibodies to prevent an outbreak. But some experts have suggested that even if half the population had immunity, there might be a protective effect. WHO's emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan largely dismissed that theory at a press briefing on Tuesday, saying we should not live "in hope" of achieving herd immunity.
19th Aug 2020 - newschannel10.com


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 19th Aug 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Venezuela's COVID-19 infections set to overwhelm testing capacity, says opposition adviser

Venezuela’s rate of infection of COVID-19 is set to overwhelm its testing capacity, likely leading to an artificial flattening of the contagion curve, a lawmaker and medical adviser to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Monday. However, legislator Jose Manuel Olivares, from Guaido’s pandemic advisory team, told an online media conference that authorities conduct just 600 to 800 tests a day and the results are delivered up to two weeks later. “We are reaching the point that the number of daily cases is going to be greater than the testing capacity ... and that is going to produce an artificial flattening” of the contagion curve, Olivares said. The apparent flattening “will generate a supposed calm” in the population and “the result will be the population’s greater exposure” to the virus, he added.
18th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Leicester lockdown: Nail bars, salons and some outdoor venues to reopen from Wednesday

Leicester's local lockdown is to be partially relaxed from Wednesday, with nail bars, outdoor pools and beauty salons all set to reopen. The UK's former coronavirus hotspot has seen its infection levels decrease since a lockdown was imposed there. Current rules against gatherings in private homes and gardens will remain in place.
18th Aug 2020 - ITV News

Leicester lockdown 'may be eased today' as coronavirus infections halve

Leicester’s lockdown could be eased on Tuesday after the city's coronavirus infection rate fell by half in the seven weeks since restrictions were imposed. The East Midlands city was the first in the UK to be put under a local lockdown on June 30 to combat a spike in Covid-19 cases, with an infection rate of 135 per 100,000. However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock could ease the restrictions today as cases have now halved to 67 in 100,000, The Government is set to hold a review of local lockdown measures later on Tuesday. The move comes as public health officials warn that Birmingham could soon be placed under local lockdown after seeing coronavirus cases double. When Leicester’s restrictions were imposed in June, Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby claimed the decision was targeted at the Labour-run city and its Liberal Democrat-run neighbour Oadby and Wigson.
18th Aug 2020 - Evening Standard

Coronavirus: government eases Leicester lockdown

Nail bars, outdoor pools, and beauty salons can reopen in Leicester from Wednesday, but restrictions on gatherings in private homes and gardens will remain in place, Matt Hancock has said. “My gratitude goes out to the people of Leicester who have all made sacrifices to keep the virus at bay and protect their local communities,” the health and social care secretary said. “The rate of infection has now dropped to a safe enough level to allow further businesses including beauty salons, nail bars and some outdoor venues to reopen in the area. Current restrictions on gatherings must remain in place to further bring down the rate of infection.”
18th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Germany lockdown easing to be paused amid spike in cases, says Merkel

Angela Merkel has ruled out easing coronavirus restrictions any further after a spike in infections in Germany. The chancellor warned that the recent rise in cases had been caused by greater mobility and more personal contact. And she warned there were people returning from high-risk holiday areas and clusters of private celebrations at which people were gathering in groups. Urging people to stick to the rules, such as wearing masks, to ensure public life can be as open as possible, she said: “For us, the priorities are firstly to keep economic life going as much as possible and to protect jobs – that’s why we have stimulus programmes and secondly to make (running) schools and nurseries possible.”
18th Aug 2020 - The Independent

German economy set to recover as lockdown eases

Germany's Bundesbank expects the country's economy to rebound strongly in the summer quarter, saying the "broadly based recovery" will continue. But pre-crisis levels of activity wouldn't be reached any time soon.
18th Aug 2020 - Deutsche Welle

France to make masks compulsory in most workplaces

France imposed some of Europe’s toughest lockdown restrictions earlier this year, greatly reducing the rate of coronavirus infections. But in the past few weeks the numbers of new COVID-19 cases ...
18th Aug 2020 - Reuters

The quarantine rules for Spain, France, Portugal, Greece and other key destinations

There is always an element of risk that comes with booking a holiday. What if the apartment looks nothing like the pictures, or your chosen sun trap chooses that one week of August to be struck by a freak thunderstorm? But the coronavirus pandemic has taken things to a whole new level. Even if you feel comfortable enough to book a trip abroad, you can’t know that the country won’t change its rules while you’re there, or whether the UK might slap your chosen destination back on the quarantine list. That is exactly what happened to holidaymakers in Spain last month, and since then the likes of Belgium and the Bahamas have also had their air bridge statues revoked.
18th Aug 2020 - iNews

Chile shuts down street vendors' mall after COVID-19 lockdown easing brings crowds

The Chilean authorities shut down a mall in downtown Santiago on Monday morning after hundreds of people crowded into the precinct to buy merchandise to sell, just hours after a lockdown for the area was eased. At least 300 people queued outside the Asia Pacific mall, which specializes in selling Chinese-made products, ahead of opening hours and rushed inside as private security guards attempted to dispense alcohol gel and take temperatures, in some cases resulting in physical clashes with shoppers. The mall is situated in the capital’s Central Station, a low-income area popular with informal workers and migrants, where a strict lockdown over the past three months was eased on Monday morning.
18th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Philippines promises 'refreshed' coronavirus approach as capital exits strict lockdown

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday eased the strict coronavirus lockdown in and around the capital Manila as his government promised a “refreshed” approach to fighting COVID-19 that includes intensified testing. Duterte, in a televised address, said there was a need to reopen the economy with small and medium enterprises “barely surviving”, while at the same time calling on the public to “follow the safeguards”. The Philippines, which before the pandemic was one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, fell into recession for the first time in 29 years with a record slump in the second quarter, due to the pandemic-induced lockdown. The Philippines, which has the most number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, has so far recorded a total of 164,474 infections and the death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 2,681, according to health ministry data.
17th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th Aug 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Ryanair to cancel number of flights following Covid-19 travel restrictions

Ryanair is to cut a fifth of its flights for the next two months after bookings plummeted following new coronavirus travel restrictions. The budget airline said it will reduce its flight capacity by 20 per cent in September and October after forward bookings “notably weakened” in recent days. It reported a drop-off in flight bookings over the past 10 days driven by “uncertainty over recent Covid case rates in some EU countries”.The cuts will reduce the frequency of flights from countries such as Spain, France and Sweden.
17th Aug 2020 - The Northern Echo

Scottish Government publishes testing strategy for Covid-19

The strategy focuses on a number of key areas of testing: whole population testing of anyone with symptoms (Test & Protect) - proactive case finding by testing contacts and testing in outbreaks - protecting the vulnerable and preventing outbreaks in high risk settings by routine testing - testing for direct patient care, to diagnose and to treat, and to support safe patient care as NHS services restart surveillance to understand the disease, track prevalence, understand transmission and monitor key sectors
17th Aug 2020 - The Edinburgh Reporter

Coronavirus: Croatia, Greece and Turkey could join UK quarantine list amid spikes in COVID-19 cases

Greece, Croatia and Turkey could join the UK's quarantine list as the countries record a rise in coronavirus cases. British holidaymakers returning to the UK from these countries could be next to face quarantine measures after France, Malta, the Netherlands and other nations were suddenly removed from the UK's travel corridor list. Many thousands of Britons are believed to be holidaying in Greece, Croatia and Turkey, which have all seen spikes in coronavirus cases.
17th Aug 2020 - Sky News

South Africa relaxes lockdown after coronavirus peaks

South Africa’s president has said coronavirus infections appear to have peaked in the country, as he announced a sweeping relaxation of lockdown measures. President Cyril Ramaphosa said nearly all restrictions on the country’s economy will be eased from today. A controversial ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco will be lifted. Domestic travel, small family gatherings and the reopening of businesses will all be allowed.
17th Aug 2020 - The Herald-Zimbabwe

Latin America coronavirus cases exceed six million and continue to accelerate

Coronavirus cases in Latin America, the region of the world worst-affected by the pandemic, exceed six million and continued to accelerate, according to the WHO figures, as most of its nations begin to relax lockdown measures. The region has reported an average of more than 86,000 daily infections of the new coronavirus in the last seven days and more than 2,600 Covid-19 deaths. That accounts for just under one-third of the world's total case load and a similar share of reported deaths from the pandemic. The Pan American Health Organization, the regional arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), warned this month of an increase in other diseases due to the saturation of health services and the suspension of routine vaccination campaigns as a result of the pandemic.
17th Aug 2020 - MercoPress

Greater Manchester lockdown latest as Andy Burnham maps out possible next steps

Andy Burnham says the extra Covid-19 curbs in force across Greater Manchester could 'possibly' be relaxed later this week. The mayor of Greater Manchester said he believes restrictions could remain - and possibly tighten - in areas with high rate of infection, but be eased in other areas where cases have fallen. As a result, he said restrictions limiting different households from mixing in homes and gardens could be lifted by Government. Mr Burnham told the Mirror : "Hopefully, we will begin to see some people getting released. "If things stay as they are I think it is likely that we would see a change.” "Our cases are flattening - with one exception, Oldham - and we are starting to turn the tide in most of our boroughs.
17th Aug 2020 - Manchester Evening News

Here’s how many UK universities will offer in person teaching when they reopen

With new coronavirus cases being diagnosed each day across the UK, and certain lockdown restrictions and measures still in place, will universities open as usual in September? Universities in the UK will open this year with many discussing and planning ways in which they can continue to work in regards to keeping both staff and students safe as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Some may choose to do virtual learning, stick with in person teaching, or do a mixture of both.
17th Aug 2020 - South Yorkshire Times

Brittany Ferries lobbies French Government to drop quarantine plan

The boss of Brittany Ferries has called on the French government not to impose reciprocal quarantine plans on Brits travelling to France saying it will add to what has already been a “disastrous” summer for businesses. Christophe Mathieu, the firm’s director general, said Brittany Ferries is now lobbying French ministers at the highest levels to avoid the implementation of reciprocal quarantine measures following the UK’s decision to impose a 14-day lockdown on travellers coming to Britain from France.
17th Aug 2020 - Business Live

South African rand stronger after Ramaphosa announces lockdown easing

The South African rand began the week stronger on Monday after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a sweeping removal of lockdown restrictions over the weekend. Ramaphosa said that from midnight on Monday a ban on alcohol and tobacco sales would be lifted, inter-provincial travel would be allowed and restaurants and taverns could return to normal business subject to hygiene protocols.
17th Aug 2020 - CNBC Africa

Covid-19 plan launched to support pupils and parents in Aberdeen

Aberdeen City Council has published a detailed plan showing how organisations are working together to keep pupils safe in the new term. The document, which is child-friendly, emphasises the importance of self isolating if pupils have symptoms of coronavirus, and encourages them to stay at home if they feel unwell. It also highlights the ongoing work in partnership between the council and NHS Grampian in monitoring school records of pupils and staff feeling unwell.
16th Aug 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Face masks, smaller classes and distanced desks: Europe's back-to-school plan

Across Europe, the start of the new school year was meant to signal a return to normality. Countries such as Italy kept pupils at home from March to the summer holidays, while others such as Denmark allowed schools to reopen for the remainder of the term after the worst of the pandemic's first wave had passed. All tried to reassure parents and children that in-person teaching would restart in the fall. Yet the planned reopening of schools could not come at a worse time: Many European countries, from Spain to Poland, are experiencing an uptick in coronavirus cases. Already the spike has forced some schools to close their doors again, including in the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern where four schools had to partly shut after reopening last week due to coronavirus cases.
16th Aug 2020 - Politico


Exit Strategies - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 17th Aug 2020

    View this newsletter in full

Britons will accept local lockdowns if a Covid vaccine can't be found, survey finds

Britons will accept local lockdowns, home schooling and bans on live audiences for the foreseeable future if a coronavirus vaccine is not found, a survey suggests. As parts of the UK grapple with local lockdowns, 87 per cent of people said they would accept these being imposed in the future, and 85 per cent said they would accept their own local area being subject to such restrictions. The wide-ranging research by King's College London, which has been tracking attitudes throughout the pandemic, revealed what people would expect and tolerate in the long-term if a vaccine or treatment for Covid-19 does not transpire.
16th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: Tokyo Olympics at risk unless COVID-19 vaccine can be found, expert says

The Tokyo Olympics will not be able to take place next summer unless a COVID-19 vaccine is found, a leading Japanese vaccine researcher has told Sky News. Professor Yoshiharu Matsuura, from the Research Foundation for Microbial Disease of Osaka University, told Sky News: "In Japan, the government is putting a large emphasis on vaccine development and a medicine for the virus because of the Olympics. "They want to push ahead with the Olympics next year and they are saying the only way for that to happen is the vaccine."
16th Aug 2020 - Sky News

Mexico City cinema, theater and bars emerge from lockdown gloom

After months without museums, cinemas and bars, Mexico City residents began exploring them again this week, even as authorities continue battling the coronavirus pandemic that has so far killed over 55,000 people in Mexico. Mexico has the third highest death toll worldwide from the virus, which has hammered the economy and caused unprecedented disruptions to life in the metropolis of 22 million people. The capital has been one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic, but as cultural centers and businesses reopened with new safety measures this week, some Mexicans could not wait to get back to venues that have been closed since late March.
16th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

'As a working father I want the best of both worlds — with the pandemic, I'm almost there'

My wife and I are both proud of our careers at The Times. Our children may not quite understand why evening playtime has to be interrupted so often by phone calls and the tapping of laptops, but they are forgiving, even if Keir does now know more swear words than a four-year-old should. But the pandemic has led to a rebalancing. I extended my parental leave by a month and have temporarily dropped to a four-day week while my wife works a nine-day fortnight. The extra time that this, plus working from home, has created with the children puts less pressure on the spare time we do get. I have always tried to be an adventurous dad — I took a three-year-old to Glastonbury last year — but sometimes the nicest times are the lazy ones.
16th Aug 2020 - The Times

'Go hard, go early' – now New Zealand goes back to the drawing board

When scientists in Auckland began modelling an outbreak of Covid-19 in the city’s densely populated southern regions – situated right by the country’s main international airport – they hoped they were participating in a drill scenario. “This is exactly the type of outbreak we were worried about, and in fact it’s exactly what happened,” said Professor Shaun Hendy, who works modelling the progression of the disease for the government. “We’ve been looking at different ways it [coronavirus] could come back and they’re all low-likelihood ways, but this was very much one of the scenarios we considered. For a while we were hoping it was a drill.”
16th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 cases at 583 653 as SA moves to level 2 lockdown

South Africa’s confirmed Covid-19 cases now stand at 583 653, of which 105 000 are active cases. A total of 11 660 people have died from the virus since the first cases was recorded on March 5, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday. South Africa has recorded a recovery rate of 80 percent. Over the past three weeks the number of patients who have been hospitalised due to the disease has declined dramatically, Ramaphosa said. The president made the announcement during and address to the nation to provide an update on the country’s risk-adjusted strategy to manage the pandemic. South Africa will move to level 2 lockdown from Monday, which will see restrictions on activities and movement eased further.
16th Aug 2020 - IOL

India entered into and exited from lockdown way too early: Abhijit Banerjee

Indian govt, while imposing stay-at-home restrictions on 25 March, at a notice of four hours, couldn't foresee the migrant crisis as there was no database about migrant workers, says the Nobel laureate. India erred in imposing lockdown restrictions too early and exited from it within a short period of time, which resulted in an outcome that was worse than expected, economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee said on Saturday. Banerjee said India’s stay-at-home restrictions, imposed on 25 March, at a notice of four hours, did not foresee the migrant crisis as there was no database about migrant workers. Successive governments did not give priority to generating high quality data, which he said, led to absence of a culture of scientifically informed decision making. The consequence of lack of such a culture was evident during the pandemic, he said
15th Aug 2020 - Livemint

Italy urges tourists to act responsibly to keep COVID-19 rates low

There has been a slight rise in cases this month, with an average of 350 new infections a day. The government says it's mostly due to people returning from overseas holidays. In response, testing will be compulsory for arrivals from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain. Police say it is important the population remains vigilant. Di Giovanni warns that the crisis isn't over yet and "we can't lower our guard." The prime minister has extended Italy's state of emergency until the end of October, giving him the power to reimpose lockdown and other safety measures without needing the approval of parliament.
15th Aug 2020 - CGTN

Spain’s vineyards destroy record harvest as wine sales crash

It should have been a great year for Spanish wine: a bumper crop of grapes resulting in millions and millions of extra bottles for sipping or swilling at home and abroad. But with Covid-19 leading to a catastrophic drop in wine sales, the Spanish government is offering growers subsidies to destroy part of this year’s record grape harvest. Faced with over-production in a shrinking market, €90m is to be spent either on destruction or on the distilling of grapes into brandy and industrial alcohol. Lower limits have also been set on the amount of wine that can be produced per hectare – and have already been imposed on makers of cava, Rueda and Rioja.
15th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

German health minister warns against 'party holidays'

Germany’s health minister on Saturday criticised “party holidays” and defended a decision to declare nearly all of Spain, including the tourist island of Mallorca, a coronavirus risk region following a spike in cases there. “I know how much the Germans love Spain ... But unfortunately the infection rates there are rising sharply, too sharply,” Jens Spahn told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “Whoever goes to Spain despite the warning should protect themselves and others while on holiday. Party holidays are irresponsible in this pandemic.” People returning to Germany from designated risk regions face a coronavirus test or two weeks’ compulsory quarantine.
15th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Some Australia Libraries Called Every Elderly Member To Check In Amid Lockdown

This library system in Australia had the most wholesome plan to care for its elderly members during coronavirus lockdown. And so library staff started going through their database of community members to find every, single one who was over 70 years old, and then used their work-issued phones to start calling those seniors to check in. In total, there were more than 8,000 elderly members whom library staff called to check in during lockdown. The 16,000 call total, which the author of the piece later corrected, is because they called all 8,000 elderly members at the start of lockdown and are now calling them again.
14th Aug 2020 - Scary Mommy