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Coronavirus - 10th June


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Join date : 2011-03-19
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Coronavirus - 10th June Empty Coronavirus - 10th June

Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 10 2020, 09:29

Summary for Wednesday, 10th June

  • Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci says the virus is his "worst nightmare"
  • He warns the crisis is not over as many countries, including the US, begin relaxing lockdown rules
  • In the UK, NHS waiting lists could double to 10m by the end of the year, health officials warn
  • Meanwhile PM Boris Johnson will later announce plans to further ease lockdown restrictions in England
  • The number of cases in India's Mumbai overtakes Wuhan with 51,000; meanwhile authorities in Delhi warn that cases there could reach half a million
  • Brazil's government will start publishing regular Covid-19 data again after a Supreme Court order
  • There have been more than 7m infections globally, with 3.37m recoveries and more than 411,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University

Welcome back to our coverage of all things coronavirus. As the day moves from Asia to Europe, Africa and the Americas, we will keep you posted on all global developments.
Here’s what you need to know this Wednesday morning.

  • US top coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci has warned that the pandemic is far from over – despite many countries easing their restrictions
  • China has dismissed as “ridiculous” a US study of hospital traffic and search engine data that suggested the virus may have been spreading in the country as early as August 2019
  • Brazil has fully restored its website of coronavirus data, following an order by the Supreme Court. The government controversially removed totals of cases and deaths over the weekend
  • In France, the Eiffel Tower is set to reopen on 25 June after being shut for more than three months
  • In England, plans for all children to return to primary schools before the summer break have been dropped
  • The World Health Organization has rowed back on comments that asymptomatic transmission of the virus was "very rare" - now saying such transmissions are still a "big unknown"
  • Worldwide, there now have been almost 7.2 million infections and more than 400,000 deaths linked to Covid-19

Fauci warns pandemic ‘isn’t over yet’

“It isn’t over yet,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the US coronavirus expert and White House adviser, has said - describing the pandemic as his “worst nightmare”.
“In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world,” he told a conference.
“That’s millions and millions of infections worldwide. And it’s condensed in a very, very small time frame.”
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made his comments during a conference held by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).
But, despite admitting he was surprised by how fast the virus had spread, he said he was confident a vaccine would be found.

Brazil restores detailed data after court decision

Brazil has restored detailed data to its Covid-19 website , after it was ordered to do so by the country’s Supreme Court.
At the weekend, the website stopped publishing cumulative totals for cases and deaths in the country - provoking uproar.
Critics accused Jair Bolsnaro’s government of trying to cover-up the scale of the outbreak, and the decision was overturned on Tuesday.
The newly-restored data shows Brazil has had almost 740,000 cases since the outbreak began and almost 40,000 deaths.
The figures are the second and third highest in the world, respectively.

Australia goes 24 hours without a local transmission

For the first time since the crisis escalated, the country has avoided seeing any locally-spread cases.
Official statistics for yesterday recorded only two new infections in the previous 24 hours.
Both involved people in quarantine in New South Wales who recently returned from overseas, local media reported.
Since imposing a lockdown in March, Australia has successfully curtailed the virus. In total, it has had 7,267 cases and 102 deaths.
Restrictions are steadily being lifted - this week will see the return of the Australian Football League (AFL), a week after the National Rugby League restarted. Small numbers of fans will be permitted to attend two AFL games.

New cases detected in Melbourne

We just reported that Australia saw no community transmissions in 24 hours to Tuesday - a national milestone - but unfortunately that will not be the case today.
State officials in Victoria have confirmed four new infections there, including at least two in Melbourne.
The news is better in Australia's other most populous state, New South Wales, which has now recorded two weeks without a local transmission.

Asymptomatic transmission an 'open question'

The World Health Organization (WHO) has clarified comments that asymptomatic transmission of the virus was "very rare".
“I used the phrase ‘very rare’ and I think that it’s a misunderstanding to state the asymptomatic transmission globally is very rare. What I was referring to was a subset of studies. I was also referring to some data that isn’t published,” said WHO scientist Dr Maria Van Kerkhove
Van Kerkhove said just how much transmission comes from people with no symptoms was still a "big unknown".
Looking at investigations of clusters of infections from various countries, she said that where an asymptomatic case has been followed up, it was “very rare” to find secondary infections among their contacts.
But she explained it was still an “open question” as to whether the same was true globally.

Not all primary pupils in England to return

In the UK, the government has confirmed that not all primary pupils in England will return to school before the summer break starts in July.
The government's "ambition" was for all primary pupils of all ages to return in this academic year. But social distancing rules, and a limit of 15 pupils per class, mean this will not be possible for all schools.
Primary pupils in England in Reception, Year 1 and 6 began to return to school last week.
Vulnerable children and the children of key workers have been able to attend primary and secondary schools throughout the lockdown.
Most secondary school pupils in England will not return until September. There are different rules in other parts of the UK.

Pakistan should reimpose 'intermittent lockdowns' - WHO

The World Health Organization has sent a letter to the Pakistani health authorities urging them to re-impose intermittent lockdowns.
The global body stressed the country did not meet the conditions for lifting restrictions.
A surge of new cases has hit Pakistan after the government asked provinces to ease coronavirus measures.
A total of 108,316 people have been infected, and on Monday Pakistan reported a single-day record of 105 deaths.
The WHO said Pakistan needed to mitigate the risks of the health system collapsing.
"WHO strongly recommends the government adapt the two weeks off and two weeks on strategy," said the letter, signed by WHO's Head of Mission in Pakistan Dr Palitha Mahipala.

China says 'August theory' is 'incredibly ridiculous'

China has said a Harvard Medical School report - which suggested that Covid-19 may have been spreading in Wuhan as early as August 2019 - is "incredibly ridiculous".
China reported the new coronavirus to the World Health Organization on 31 December.
But the Harvard report used satellite images of traffic outside hospitals in Wuhan, and online search queries, to suggest people may have been infected from late August.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “I think it is ridiculous, incredibly ridiculous, to come up with this conclusion based on superficial observations such as traffic volume.”
The report was not peer-reviewed, and other scientists have said it is hard to draw conclusions from the Harvard data.
One expert at the Scrippt Research Translational Institute said the research method used in the study was "very indirect and imprecise".
Here's what the study said.

South Korean cases continue to emerge

South Korea has recorded 50 new virus infections over the past 24 hours.
The country, which never had a lockdown, had reduced infections to single digits in April.
Yet several clusters have emerged in recent weeks after social distancing rules were relaxed in early May.
Overall, the country has recorded just under 12,000 infections, and 276 deaths linked to the virus. Currently, there are around 1,000 confirmed active cases.

Argentina daily cases rise above 1,000

Argentina's daily new infections continue to rise, climbing above 1,000 for the first time.
The health ministry recorded 1,141 new cases on Tuesday, taking the total number of cases to 24,761 while 24 new deaths are taking the overall toll to 717.
But though numbers are rising, they are still much lower than in neighbouring Chile or Brazil - now the epicentre of the global pandemic.
Despite protests, Argentina has just extended lockdown measures for the capital Buenos Aires.

South Korean unemployment at 10-year high

Unemployment in South Korea has climbed to the highest level in more than 10 years as the economy is hit by the virus pandemic.
In May, the rate went to 4.5%, up from 3.8% in April.
"The biggest layoffs are still from small retailers, restaurants and lodging. There seems to be some improvements in restaurants but convenience stores and other 'mom-and-pop' stores still seem to be struggling," an official told Reuters news agency.
As a consequence of the pandemic, unemployment is rising around the globe.
OECD data from April shows average unemployment across member states at 8.4% - with the United States accounting for the largest number of jobs lost

Delhi virus cases could reach 500,000

The number of cases in India's capital of Delhi could climb to more than half a million by the end of July, the city's deputy chief minister has warned.
If this happens, Delhi will need at least 80,000 hospital beds, said Manish Sisodia - a huge leap from its current capacity of nearly 9,000 beds.
It comes amid reports of residents complaining about being turned away at hospitals and tales emerged of people struggling to get a hospital bed.
On Tuesday, the government announced that it would double the number of beds in 22 private hospitals .
Delhi currently has more than 30,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
The warning comes as India has taken steps to further relax its stringent lockdown - malls, restaurants, temples and offices opened earlier this week. The country has reported more than 250,000 infections and 7,471 deaths.

Vietnam 'may resume some international flights'

Vietnam is considering the resumption of overseas air travel to destinations seen as "safe" from coronavirus.
Foreigners have been banned from entering the country since 22 March, with very few exceptions.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has now asked officials to draw up a list of “safe regions” for the resumption of international commercial flights, according to the country's state media.
The report says safe destinations will be those that have had no new cases of coronavirus for at least 30 days.
Despite having a long border with China and a population of some 97 million people, Vietnam has had just 332 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 192 of which were imported, and not a single death so far .

Refugees stranded by virus have nowhere to go

Bangladesh has said it will not take back 269 Rohingya refugees who have been detained by Malaysia.
The refugees - who originally fled persecution in Myanmar - are thought to have left southern Bangladesh in a boat in early April.
In previous years, smugglers have brought tens of thousands of Rohingya illegally into Malaysia, which is seen as a regional safe haven.
But recently, Malaysia has refused to allow refugees boats to land, citing the virus pandemic.
In this instance however, the refugees were brought to shore and detained after they were discovered by the coast guard in Malaysian waters. Malaysia later asked Bangladesh to take the refugees back.
But Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told the Anadolu Agency: "Bangladesh will not take them. Bangladesh is neither obligated nor in a position to take any more Rohingya."

Our home turned into a hospital overnight'

Krutika Pathi - BBC News, Delhi
Mukul Garg wasn’t too worried when his 57-year-old uncle developed a fever on 24 April. Then, within 48 hours, two others in his family of 17 also became ill.
The symptoms trickled in as expected - temperatures spiked and voices grew hoarse with coughing.
Garg initially chalked it up to seasonal flu, unwilling to admit it could be coronavirus.
“Five or six people often fall sick together in this house, let’s not panic,” he told himself.
Over the next few days, five more people in the house showed Covid-19 symptoms. And the pit in his stomach grew.
Soon, the Garg family would become its own coronavirus cluster as 11 of its 17 members tested positive.
“We met nobody from the outside and no-one entered our house. But even then the coronavirus entered our home, and infected one member after the other."

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All 17 members of the Garg household

How face masks affect our communication

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Many of us are wearing face masks as a protection against the virus. But how do they alter our interactions with others?
When it comes to studying faces, the eyes and mouth are the most informative regions because they tend to be the most expressive.
We subconsciously analyse their combined movements to figure out what someone is trying to tell us.
The mouth region, in particular, is good for expressing feelings of happiness.
Concealing this area can be problematic when wanting to come across as approachable and friendly – which might explain why a number of healthcare workers have taken to adhering smiley-faced pictures of themselves onto their medical gowns in a bid to ease patient anxiety.

India court orders states to send back stranded workers

India's Supreme Court has ordered all states to send back migrant workers stranded in cities due to the coronavirus lockdown within the next 15 days.
Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have been seen walking long distances on roads to return home to their villages, after industries were shut and jobs cut.
With little access to food and water - and under the scorching heat - some died along the way. The scenes caused outrage in India and spurred fears of a large-scale humanitarian crisis.
The government started running special trains for migrants in May and at the last hearing in the court, it said more than 4,000 trains had transported around 570,000 people home so far.

10 million people could be on NHS waiting list

A staggering 10 million people could find themselves on waiting lists for the UK's National Health Service (NHS) by the end of the year, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis - double the current amount.
A backlog of cases, having to maintain social distancing and a shortage of staffing are among the factors that could lead to this, said the NHS Confederation.
The body, which represents health and care leaders, said emergency funding and longer-term spending were needed.
The Department of Health has said it will continue to provide the resources, funding and support the NHS needs.
Guidance had been issued on how the NHS "should start to restore services in a safe way", a spokesman added.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce further easing of lockdown restrictions - with zoos and drive-in cinemas expected to be allowed to re-open from Monday.

Doctor's diary: 'People think it's over, but it's not'

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What is it like to work on the front line?
Some doctors and nurses in the UK have not been home since the early days of the pandemic to avoid carrying the infection to their families.
And some of them fear that cases will begin to rise as members of the public - unlike medical staff - are too eager to move on.
"It's hard to explain to family members - I try to get across that we are doing our best," junior doctor Kirsten Sellick told the BBC. "But it's been heart-breaking speaking to them on the phone."
Click here to read the story of Kirsten and nurse Becky Aird at the Bradford Royal Infirmary in the UK.

Mumbai overtakes Wuhan total as Indian cases spike

India's financial capital, Mumbai, has recorded 51,000 cases of Covid-19 since the outbreak began - taking it past the total in Wuhan, where the virus emerged.
The news comes amid a surge of infections in India, which has 266,598 confirmed cases.
Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, has 90,000 of them.
Infections are also spiking in the capital Delhi, where authorities have said they expect to see more than half a million cases by the end of July.
The surge coincides with India's decision to relax restrictions after three months of a stringent lockdown that was intended to curb the spread of the virus.
Experts say that there was no other option but to lift the lockdown, which exacted a massive economic cost on the country.

Welcome to our coverage

Good morning to those of you joining us in the UK - our team in London are now taking over live coverage.
Here are some of the main UK headlines:

UK papers focus on schools and statues

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There is widespread criticism in Wednesday's papers of the government's decision to drop plans for all primary school children in England to return to class before the end of the school year in July.
The Daily Mirror is concerned about what it calls "The Lost Generation", while the Guardian says PM Boris Johnson has been urged to draw up an "urgent national plan" to get all pupils back to school from September, or risk an "epidemic of educational poverty".
You can read a full review of the UK's morning papers here .

Boxing stages first major fight card since outbreak

Another sport has returned to action, as the first major fight card in boxing took place since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
There were no fans at the event in Las Vegas, with undefeated American Shakur Stevenson beating Felix Caraballo in the main event.
"It's a different atmosphere," said Stevenson. "Losing the weight was different. Training in the gym was different. I couldn't be around anybody.
"Even when fighting and there was no crowd was different. I would catch him with mean shots and there would be no 'Ooohs' or 'Aaahs.'"
After his win, Stevenson and Jared Anderson, who beat Johnnie Langston in a heavyweight bout, wore t-shirts reading "Black Lives Matter".

People most infectious at start, WHO studies say

World Health Organisation (WHO) experts said on Tuesday that studies show people with coronavirus are most infectious just at the point they begin to feel unwell.
Dr Mike Ryan, WHO's top emergencies expert, said the novel coronavirus lodges in the upper respiratory tract, making it easier to transmit by droplets than related viruses such as Sars or Mers, which are in the lower tract.
"That means you could be in the restaurant feeling perfectly well and start to get a fever, you are feeling okay, you didn't think to stay home, but that's the moment at which your viral load could be actually quite high," he said.

First part of £60m PPE delivered to NI from China

The first part of a £60m consignment of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been delivered to Northern Ireland from China.
The Department of Health said 1.5 million Type 11R masks reached Belfast in recent days.
The Department of Health said a total of just over 63 million masks had been ordered alongside almost 55 million pairs of gloves, to be delivered in phases, over the coming weeks.
Health Minster Robin Swann said there is intense global demand for PPE products and the achievement in securing the order "should not be underestimated".
He said PPE products would be issued to frontline staff after the equipment had been assessed.

Pre-Covid neglect left schools unprepared, says union

The general secretary of the head teachers union, the NAHT, has said that schools would have been better equipped to cope with the current crisis if they had not been neglected before the pandemic.
Paul Whiteman told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that lack of recruitment and investment was "being brought to bear now".
"It's all about capacity," he said. "There simply isn't the capacity in the system in terms of numbers of teachers or numbers of classrooms available to do more, if observing those [social distancing measures] that the Department for Education are recommending."
Whiteman added that careful planning was now needed to mitigate the lasting effect of coronavirus on children's education.
"Crucially, we're not going to catch children up over a very short period over the summer, this is going to be a longer-term catch up that's going to be needed and we need to plan that right now."

Why Kenyans are begging their president for freedom

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In our series of letters from African journalists, Joseph Warungu captures the frustrations of Kenyans who have been pleading with the government to ease the measures taken to curb the spread of Covid-19.
"Mr President, we beg you - please, please set us free!"
These are not the words of people held in detention or mandatory quarantine.
Instead, it is the cry of many Kenyans who cannot stand the lockdown measures anymore.

Covid-19 and patient backlog putting 'huge pressure' on NHS

The entire NHS is under "huge pressure" because of the combined effects of keeping up social distancing, the backlog of treatments and challenges around staffing, NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson has said.
It comes as the NHS Confederation warns that the number of people on waiting lists could double to 10 million by the end of the year.
Dickson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There is going to be huge pressure to get waiting lists down.
"There's also going to be huge pressure in other parts of the service - we shouldn't just concentrate on waiting lists or hospitals but also look at what's happening in community services and primary care."
Dickson added: "We certainly want to see the government renew their agreement with the independent sector because frankly we need all the capacity we can get to try and build up services going forward."
The Department of Health has said it will continue to provide the resources, funding and support the NHS needs.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 10 2020, 09:51

US to resume operations at Wuhan consulate

The US is set to resume operations at its consulate in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Terry Branstad, US ambassador to China, "intends to resume operations in Wuhan in the near future," Frank Whitaker, minister counsellor for public affairs at the embassy, said in an email to Reuters news agency.
The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan late last year.
The US State Department withdrew its consulate staff and their families in late January after the Chinese government put the city under a strict lockdown.

Twenty-one US states report weekly rise in new cases

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Cases are spiking in parts of California and the southwest of the US, with 21 states reporting weekly increases in new cases.
It could lead authorities to reimpose or tighten public health restrictions, with Arizona having already reactivated its emergency plan for medical facilities while California has placed counties where half of its 39 million residents live on a watch list.
"Many of the cases that are showing up in hospitals are linked to gatherings that are taking place in homes - birthday parties and funerals," said Olivia Kasirye, public health director of Sacramento County, one of the nine counties on California's watch list.
Arizona, Utah and New Mexico all posted rises of 40% or higher for the week ending on Sunday, compared with the prior seven days.

EU asylum applications fall to lowest level in over a decade

Asylum applications in Europe fell to the lowest level in April for over a decade, European Union figures show.
The European Union shut its external borders in March and members of the EU closed their own borders to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The number of asylum applications fell to 8,730, an 86% drop from 61,421 in February, according to figures obtained by Reuters news agency from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
EASO figures also recorded a 44% drop in asylum applications from February to March when countries started to impose lockdowns.
Most applications during 2020 until April came from Syrians followed by Afghans, Venezuelans and Colombians.

Unanswered questions on UK travel quarantine rules

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Most people entering the UK from overseas are now expected to self-isolate for 14 days .
But there are still questions about how the quarantine rule will be enforced and why it has been implemented now.
Click here to read answers to some of those questions, such as is the policy enforceable, is it supported by science and why don't people have to say where they are staying?

Russian plant recalls ventilators linked to fires

A Russian plant has recalled a model of ventilators linked to two hospital fires in Moscow and St Petersburg last month that killed eight people.
The Urals Instrument Engineering Plant (UPZ) where the Aventa-M ventilators were made said it would conduct additional inspections and tests.
Russia suspended the use of some Aventa-M ventilators last month. A batch of the ventilators sent to the US was also recalled by US officials.
There have been persistent reports of a shortage of ventilators in Russia especially in the provinces.
Production has increased rapidly, but research by the Reuters news agency found that outside Moscow many ventilators were old - made in the 1990s.

Spain's La Liga set to resume - what you need to know

The Spanish football season returns to action on Thursday and there is plenty at stake in La Liga with the title race, European places and the battle to avoid relegation all wide open.
Games will be played behind closed doors every single day, beginning with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis (21:00 BST), so the pace will be frantic.
Click here for more on La Liga's most compelling storylines, such as the return of Uruguay's Luis Suarez for leaders Barcelona, who are two points ahead of Real Madrid.

Critics 'flip-flopping' over schools, says minister

Children in England may soon be able to visit a zoo - but not school.
Plans to further open primary schools were scaled back this week, after head teachers warned there was not enough room to do so while observing social distancing rules.
Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme why there were no emergency plans to help schools increase their capacity, business minister Nadhim Zahawi said it was still the government's "ambition" that schools would open up for at least a month before September.
"Some will make it happen because they have local facilities, others can't," he said.
"What we're saying is [that] we're not going to compel them to [open], but what we are going to do is invest in the most vulnerable".
A £100m fund has been announced to help the most disadvantaged pupils get equipment such as laptops to help homeschooling. So far only about half of the 230,000 laptops have been handed out.
Zahawi also accused critics of "flip-flopping" over whether schools were being opened too fast, or not fast enough.
Boris Johnson is expected to face further questions over schools during Prime Minister's Questions later.

Fauci: 'Nightmare' pandemic 'isn't over yet'

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Dr Anthony Fauci, the US coronavirus expert and White House adviser, has warned that the pandemic "isn't over yet".
Speaking during a conference on Tuesday, he described the crisis as his “worst nightmare”.
“In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world,” he said. "That’s millions and millions of infections worldwide. And it’s condensed in a very, very small time frame.”
Fauci attributed the spread of the virus to the contagiousness of the virus and global travel by those infected .
However, he said he was confident a vaccine would be found.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than seven million confirmed cases around the world and more than 400,000 people have died

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 10 2020, 11:10

South African Air Force headquarters closed

South Africa's Air Force headquarters in Pretoria has been temporarily closed after two people working there tested positive for coronavirus.
The building was evacuated on Tuesday as a precautionary measure and will be closed for two days for "deep cleaning", the military said in a statement .
The two people have since been quarantined.
The military advised all employees who had contacted the infected people over the last 14 days to get tested.
South Africa has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the continent.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday urged South Africans not to be scared by rising infection rates, after the country recorded more than half of its total number of cases in the last two weeks.
Read more: Coronavirus in South Africa: Eight lessons for the rest of the continent

Scientific adviser warns of riots over Covid-19

Riots could break out across the UK this summer over the effects of coronavirus, a scientific adviser has warned.
Professor Clifford Stott, a professor of social psychology at Keele University, said mass job losses, rising unemployment along with concerns about economic and racial inequality could spark "confrontations" in the coming months.
A divide between poorer and more affluent areas brought on by possible local lockdowns could also have an effect, said Prof Stott, who sits on the government's Sage sub-committee on behaviour.
"If the police don't invest in building positive police-community relations now, there is a potential for serious and large public disorder to emerge this summer," he told PA news agency.
"I think in the worst case scenario it's not inconceivable that we could have disorder on a scale equivalent to August 2011," he said.

Japan MPs approve emergency coronavirus budget

Japan’s lower house of parliament has approved an emergency budget worth more than £230bn ($293bn; 258bn euros), doubling the scale of measures to boost one of the world's largest economies after the pandemic tipped it into recession.
Consumer spending has slowed down despite Japan’s relatively low infection numbers and death toll from Covid-19.
The country's second emergency budget - approved on Wednesday - includes subsidies for smaller businesses and cash for medical workers.
It has been hailed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as "the world's biggest virus programme".
The budget bill will be sent to the upper house and is expected to be enacted as early as Friday.

'Europe must prepare for next pandemic': A round-up of news from the region

  • Europe must prepare better for the next pandemic, the leaders of Germany, France and four other EU countries have said. The EU's response to the current crisis "raises questions" about its preparedness, the leaders wrote in a letter on Tuesday
  • Slovakia opens its borders today to more than 16 European countries. It is also lifting quarantine rules for travellers from 19 countries designated low risk. But arrivals from countries not on the "safe list" will still need to self-isolate and take a coronavirus test. Arrivals from the UK pose the greatest risk of spreading the virus, Prime Minister Igor Matovic says
  • Also in Slovakia, from Wednesday, people will no longer be required people to wear face masks outside. Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen, and the two-metre gap between customers in restaurants will become a recommendation rather than an obligation
  • More than 180,000 people have died with Covid-19 in Europe

Covid or no Covid, Pakistan is a lockdown-free country

M Ilyas Khan - BBC News, Islamabad
As the spread of Covid-19 reaches a record high in Pakistan, the relaxation of lockdown restriction is also peaking.
While the government continues to give the impression that a set of social distancing rules evolved for marketplaces are being enforced, there is no evidence of that.
Floor markings, which some high-end medicine and grocery chains had drawn to ensure physical distance among customers, are gone, and guards who controlled the number of customers entering a store at one time have vanished.
The anomaly has been pointed out by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its latest communication to Pakistani provinces, saying they relaxed lockdowns before the peak in infections had arrived.
The Pakistani response is typified in the comment from the Punjab province’s health minister Yasmin Rashid. She was quoted by a TV channel as saying that “while the WHO may say what it likes, we have to proceed in the light of our own circumstances”.
Rashid’s comments echo Prime Minister Imran Khan’s stand from day-one - that given the extent of poverty in Pakistan, lockdown was never an option.
This view of the federal government flies in the face of the healthcare community, which has been consistently pushing for a strict and continuous lockdown.
The issue was politicised right from the start when the government of Sindh province, which is led by the opposition PPP party, went for a strict province-wide lockdown. After the first three months, it had to ultimately relax restrictions in the wake of continuing opposition from the federal government.
So, Covid or no Covid, Pakistan is a lockdown-free country for now.

Rugby player quarantined after 'kissing TV reporter'

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Wests Tigers' veteran halfback Benji Marshall

A top rugby league player in Australia is self-isolating after reportedly kissing a journalist on the cheek at a training session.
New Zealand international Benji Marshall was quarantined after he greeted a broadcaster - possibly in breach of social distancing rules.
His club, Sydney-based Wests Tigers, said the player would remain housebound during a "scheduled day off", while the reporter undergoes a Covid-19- test.
Following the reports, Seven Network reporter Michelle Bishop tweeted that the was "off to be tested", adding: "Just goes to show you, we can all get caught up in life and forget what kind of world we are living in at the moment."
Australia's National Rugby League returned late last month following a 10-week break. Players are banned from mixing with people outside their clubs, households and families to reduce the risk of infections.

'Exponential' growth in virus cases in Latin America

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The head of the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) has warned that coronavirus is spreading "exponentially" in many areas of the region, which is now home to "nearly half" of all Covid-19 cases.
Dr Carissa Etienne said the virus was still spreading aggressively in countries including Brazil, Peru and Chile, and was increasing in places where it had previously been limited, including Venezuela and Haiti.
Climactic factors such as the winter and hurricane season will pose a considerable challenge to efforts to combat the illness, she warned in a virtual press briefing organised by PAHO.
"Winter fuels respiratory infections... that can rapidly spread in ca older climate and as more people gather indoors to stay warm," she said.
As of 8 June, more than 3.3 million coronavirus cases have been reported in Latin America and North America. Brazil has the world's second-highest number of cases, and has recently had more new deaths than any other nation.

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Coronavirus - 10th June Empty Is the North West a virus hotspot in England?

Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 10 2020, 11:37

Coronavirus: Is the North West a virus hotspot?

Nick Triggle - Health correspondent
10 June 2020

There has been huge nervousness in the last week about the reproduction (R) number - and in particular what it means for the North West of England.
Regional modelling suggested the R number - a measure of the rate at which the virus is being passed on - had tipped above one, meaning the number of infections could start growing again.
But how valid are those concerns? And what does it mean for the continuing easing of lockdown?

The R number may be misleading

Everyone has started focusing on the R number. But the problem is that it is not necessarily showing us what we think it is.
Firstly, it is worth saying that just one model has suggested the North West has an R number of above one.
But there are a number of different groups that model the R number for ministers.
The government's official view remains that all regions are below the magic one number - although it does not publish an official regional R.
Coronavirus - 10th June _1127410
Relaxing lockdown in England is putting pressure on the R number

What is more, the R number can go up even if the rate of infections is falling.
For example, if community transmission plummets - as it has done - what is happening in care homes becomes more of an influence on R.
Prof John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says it is certainly possible that could be happening rather than an increase in community transmission.
But, he added, we simply "don't really know".

So what is happening in the North West?

The number of new infections is actually coming down in the North West - it was a point acknowledged during a weekend press briefing by the two most powerful local politicians in the region, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and his Liverpool counterpart Steve Rotheram.
Instead, the concern centres around the fact that the region has suffered one of the highest rates of infection in England with cases being seen and the numbers in hospital falling more slowly than in other areas.
Coronavirus - 10th June _1127110

There are likely to be a number of reasons for this.
The Public Health England review into risk factors published last week detailed how deprivation and density of population were key factors.
Both could help explain why the North West has been hit hard.

The tension between local and central

But whatever the reasons, it has made local officials nervous about the way restrictions have been eased.
Both mayors have expressed concern about the re-opening of schools while the number of infections remains high.
Close to 100 new infections a day were being recorded at the start of June, around one in five cases nationally in England.

How does North West compare?

Confirmed cases per 100,000 people
Coronavirus - 10th June Canvas10

Mr Burnham believes the loosening of lockdown simply came "too soon" in the North West.
He would like to see more "local flexibility" for how different areas proceed from now on, noting how the different nations of the UK are proceeding at slightly different paces.

'No region' has much wriggle room

This is not unique to the North West though.
Across the country, council officials have expressed concern that the approach taken by the government has been too top-down, meaning vital local know-how has been bypassed.
There are signs this has begun to change - local councils have an input in the test-and-trace system - but Mr Burnham and others are still concerned they are not being consulted enough, saying the decision-making is too skewed towards the capital.
But such tensions are understandable.
Imposing a lockdown - once the decision has been made - is the easy bit. Navigating a way out of it is much more difficult, especially when things are so finely balanced.
Prof Sheila Bird, an expert in statistics at the University of Cambridge, says the situation in all regions is so finely balanced with "no region" actually having much wriggle room.
No wonder, she says, government scientists are worried.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 10 2020, 13:12

'Dire' global economy could shrink 7.6% this year - new report

Five years or more of income growth could be lost in many countries as a result of the pandemic, a new report has warned.
The report, by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), warns the impact of coronavirus and lockdowns will be "dire" everywhere - with the global economy shrinking by as much as 7.6% this year.
Without a second wave, the OECD expects the world economy to contract by 6%, with all countries suffering a deep recession. It cautioned that the recovery will be slow.
The new assessment also looked at the impact for individual nations with developed economies.
From these, it found that the UK economy is set to be hardest hit.
Looking at two scenarios - with or without a second wave - it predicted economies would shrink by:

  • UK (11.5% to 14%)
  • France (11.4% to 14.1%)
  • Italy (11.3% to 14%)
  • Canada (8% to 9.4%)
  • Germany (6.6% - 8.8%)

London killings remain at pre-lockdown levels - BBC analysis

Thomas Mackintosh - BBC London News
Killings in London are at a similar level to last year despite lockdown measures, BBC analysis suggests.
So far in 2020, the police have launched murder investigations into the deaths of 55 people in the UK capital.
According to a similar analysis of police statistics, at this point last year there had been 56 homicides.

Prime Minister's Questions coming up

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Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer will face each other at the dispatch box

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will go head to head shortly during PMQs, which starts at 12:00 BST.
Johnson can expect tough questions on the dropping of plans to reopen all primary schools in England by the summer.
You can follow live updates here.
It won't be the only time we see Johnson today - the PM is expected to host the government's daily press conference later to outline the latest step in the easing of the lockdown in England.

Starmer: What action taken on BAME coronavirus deaths?

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has raised Public Health England's report, which found those from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities were more likely to die from the coronavrius.
Sir Keir asks why the government has not acted on the report.
"We are already acting," replies Boris Johnson.
He says his government is working to ensure that those in high-contact professions such as bus drivers get expanded and targeted testing now.

Starmer: Cornoavirus deaths 'haunt us'

Sir Keir says the overall number of deaths from coronavirus in the UK - which has passed 40,000 - "haunts us".
The Labour leader says it is "amongst the highest number anywhere in the world".
"Last week, the prime minister said he was proud of the government's [actions], but there is no pride in those figures, is there?" he says.
Boris Johnson says he mourns every loss and grieves for the families.
But he says the "best scientific advice is to wait until the epidemic has been through its whole cycle" before drawing comparisons with the rest of the world.

Government 'extremely cautious' about reopening schools - PM

Sir Keir Starmer now turns to the issue of schools reopening and says the government should have had a "robust national plan" in place as well as "consensus among all key stakeholders and strong leadership from the top".
He asks the PM if he will set up a national taskforce to deal with the issue.
On Tuesday, plans for all primary schools in England to return for a month before the summer break were dropped .
Boris Johnson hit back arguing that Sir Keir "needs to make up his mind" on school reopenings.
He says his government is "being extremely cautious", but adds that parents are keen to see their children return to the classroom.

Scotland Covid-19 death toll rises by 12

A further 12 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 in Scotland in a day, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
It brings the total number of coronavirus-linked deaths there to 2,434.
That figure is lower than the National Records of Scotland (NRS) figure of 4,000 deaths released a few minutes ago.
The NRS figures, which are released weekly, include those in which Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

What are other countries doing about schools?

Reality Check
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised the government’s policy on re-opening schools during PMQs, saying “plenty of other comparable countries are getting their children back to school”.
But what are other major countries on the continent actually doing?
In France, primary schools started to re-open on 11 May in “green” zones, where the rate of infection was low. The government issued detailed instructions to schools on how to ensure the safety of pupils: this includes a maximum of 15 children to a class, no shared toys and staggered arrivals. Children over 11 are required to wear masks.
In Germany, students who had final exams this year went back first but, from 4 May, primary schools started to re-open too with safety provisions. Germany’s 16 state governments are in charge of the implementation but the majority of them prioritised the return of final year primary pupils.
Spain partially re-opened from 26 May, to allow for revision classes and state exams, but all other children will not return until September.
Italy will keep all its schools shut until September.

Complaints filed by victims' relatives in Italy

Fifty relatives of coronavirus victims have filed complaints over the handling of the pandemic, in the first such legal group action in Italy. Stefano Fusco, 31, created a Facebook group to reach out to others in similar situations after his grandfather died in a care home in March. He said: "We don't want revenge, we want justice."
The complaints were filed at the prosecutors' office in Bergamo, the city in northern Italy worst hit by the pandemic. The country has reported 34,043 deaths liked to coronavirus.
Consuelo Locati, one of the lawyers representing the families, said another 200 complaints were set to be handed to Bergamo prosecutors.

US consulate ‘not welcome’ in Wuhan, say Chinese social media users

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
There’s a lot of anger on Chinese social media at plans to reopen the US consulate in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
The US State Department announced its plans to resume consular activities in the city on 22 June earlier today. But Chinese social media users are saying that US officials are “not welcome” in the city and that it would be a “shameless” move to reopen the consulate.
“Don’t bring the Trump virus to China!” says one user on the popular Sina Weibo microblog, which has received more than 7,000 likes. Calling Covid-19 the “Trump virus” has been popular in China in response to US President Trump previously calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus”. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also been slammed by the Chinese public for calling the virus “the Wuhan virus”.
Given that the US has more than 1.9m confirmed cases of Covid-19 – hundreds of thousands more than any other country in the world - many in China are anxious that US diplomats entering China and resuming operations in the city could prompt a second outbreak.
Wuhan was the city hardest hit by Covid-19 in China, with more than 50,000 confirmed cases.

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Coronavirus - 10th June Empty Re: Coronavirus - 10th June

Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 10 2020, 17:26

Remaining Premier League fixtures can be staged in Liverpool

Coronavirus - 10th June Bad52b10

Liverpool can play home matches at Anfield when the Premier League season restarts, while the Merseyside derby has been cleared to be held at Everton's Goodison Park stadium.
The match on 21 June could be the first chance for Liverpool, who are 25 points clear at the top, to clinch their first league title in 30 years.
It was one of the games considered a risk because of fears fans could congregate outside the ground, so Southampton's St Mary's had been earmarked as a potential neutral venue.
But the city of Liverpool's ground safety advisory group has now recommended that both Liverpool and Everton can play their remaining home fixtures "safely and securely" behind closed doors at their own stadiums.

What's been happening on Wednesday?

A round-up of headlines as countries consider how to tackle the implications of the coronavirus crisis:

  • The world will take years to recover from the pandemic, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned
  • At Prime Minister's Questions, Boris Johnson announced £63m more in welfare help for the UK's most vulnerable families, while Labour called for a national taskforce on the reopening of schools
  • Zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas are set to reopen in England from Monday, the PM is due to announce at Wednesday's daily briefing
  • Health bosses fear the Covid-19 crisis could see the number of people waiting for treatment in Britain double to 10 million by the end of the year

Egypt expects jump in Covid-19 cases

A senior Egyptian health official has warned that the number of confirmed daily cases in the country is expected to surge this month.
Hossam Hosni, who heads the Covid-19 committee at the health ministry, said citizens were not fully adhering to social distancing and other lockdown measures.
"Social caution is more important than the curfew," he told the Saudi-funded Al-Hadath channel. "Regardless of the presence of a curfew, people have to be socially cautious."
He said the daily count this month would reach 2,000 and possibly higher. But he predicted that cases would start to decline by mid-July.
Egypt has so far registered about 35,000 Covid-19 cases and more than 1,200 deaths.

Scottish leaders clash over care home testing

Political leaders in Scotland have clashed over testing in care homes - where almost half of all coronavirus-linked deaths in the nation are still occurring.
Speaking during First Minister's Questions, Nicola Sturgeon said that so far about 11,000 care home staff and about 15,000 residents had been tested.
But opposition leaders criticised the speed of the rollout - pointing out that there were over 50,000 care home staff in Scotland.
Scottish Conservative Jackson Carlaw told Sturgeon to "'get a grip" on the situation and set a deadline to complete care home testing.
Sturgeon hit back accusing Carlaw of making “unsubstantiated claims”.
Watch the exchange below and follow the latest from Holyrood here .

Tech giants urged to clamp down on Covid-19 disinformation

Top EU officials have called on Facebook, Google and Twitter to "step up their efforts" to tackle disinformation about coronavirus.
The officials urged the internet giants to provide monthly reports on how they are curbing misleading news, as well as attempts by foreign groups to weaken health measures in Europe.
"Disinformation does not only harm the health of our democracies, it also harms the health of our citizens," a statement said.
The EU has previously warned of attempts by foreign actors - in particular Russia and China - to influence citizens through disinformation campaigns.

Nine more coronavirus deaths in Wales

A further nine people have died in Wales after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths there to 1,419, Public Health Wales has said.
UK-wide figures will be published later.

Tokyo Olympics will be 'simplified'

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto has said the rearranged Olympics will "not be done with grand splendour", but will be simplified.
The Games, originally scheduled to start next month, were postponed for a year in March because of the pandemic.
Speaking after an executive board meeting for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Muto added that more than 200 areas had been identified "where Olympics simplification was possible" but that "we are not at the stage where we have concrete ideas on how to simplify the Games".

No new coronavirus deaths in NI for fourth day in a row

Northern Ireland's Department of Health has reported no further deaths of people with coronavirus for a fourth day in a row.
UK-wide figures will be published later today.

Coronavirus came to UK 'at least 1,300 times'

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News
Coronavirus - 10th June 90964e10

Coronavirus was brought into the UK on at least 1,300 occasions, a major analysis of the genetics of the virus shows.
The study, by the Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium, quashes the idea that a single "patient zero" started the whole UK outbreak.
The analysis also finds China, where the pandemic started, had a negligible impact on cases in the UK and instead most cases came in from European countries.
The researchers analysed the genetic code of viral samples taken from more than 20,000 people infected with coronavirus in the UK.
Read more here

Google Maps to give Covid-19 related transport updates

Coronavirus - 10th June 589de110

Google Maps will show commuters the latest transport alerts in a bid to stop overcrowding on public transport.
Users will be alerted whenever their trip is likely to be affected by Covid-19 restrictions with mandatory precautions from official local data.
People will be warned in instances such as public transport services being suspended due to the pandemic.
The feature is being rolled out in the UK, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand and the US.
Public transport services in many countries have been reduced during the outbreak.

Germany and Austria to lift border controls

Germany will lift border controls with Switzerland, France, Austria and Denmark on Monday, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has announced.
Austria is to drop checks at its border with Italy and end quarantine requirements for more than 20 European countries from Tuesday.
Border controls between Austria and Germany have already been lifted, but the new move means Austrians can return from holiday destinations like Italy and Croatia without having to go into quarantine or show a negative test.
Coronavirus - 10th June 3285fc10

Tobacco sales ban challenged in South Africa

A South African court has begun hearing a controversial petition challenging a tobacco sales ban imposed in March as part of stringent measures to control the spread of coronavirus.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita), which represents some cigarette makers, has taken the government to Pretoria High Court.
"We have termed it a draconian prohibition, a ban of this nature is probably the most dramatic of any measure that can be taken," argued Fita lawyer Arnold Subel.
State lawyers said the ban was imposed to force people to stop smoking to help prevent overburdening the health system.
President Cyril Ramaphosa lifted a ban on alcohol sales on 1 June, but kept the moratorium on tobacco "due to the health risks associated with smoking".

The bus bringing bingo to the streets

In Scotland, going to a bingo hall is one of the many activities that aren't allowed under the lockdown.
However a community group in Paisley has come up with a way to keep playing while adhering to social distancing rules.
People are given bingo cards and pens and sit apart from each other as the numbers are called from a bus with a sound system.

DC National Guards test positive for Covid after protests

Coronavirus - 10th June 63355910
DC National Guard members have tested positive for Covid after being deployed to protests in the city

Several members of the Washington, DC National Guard have tested positive for Covid-19 after being deployed to the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, the military says.
The National Guard says it will not disclose the number of guardsmen infected due to "operational security".
The members were among the 1,300 troops sent to the US capital during mass demonstrations that began last weekend. They were joined by almost 4,000 additional National Guard troops from other states.
Meanwhile members of the White House coronavirus task force say they fear a spike in cases linked to nationwide civil unrest triggered by Floyd's death. Dr Deborah Birx advised state governors to ensure Covid tests are available in urban areas after 70 testing sites were destroyed in protests, US media report.

Latest from the Middle East

Coronavirus - 10th June A5afef10
Iran's government has been easing restrictions since early April

  • Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, has played down fears of a second wave in the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, attributing the rise in confirmed cases to increased testing. The high number “does not have a negative aspect to it”, he told a cabinet meeting. The health ministry reported 2,011 new cases and 81 deaths on Wednesday.
  • In Israel, approval for the Shin Bet security service to track the mobile phones of people infected with the coronavirus will expire at midnight, after the government froze a draft bill that would have anchored the controversial practice into law, the Haaretz newspaper reports . The head of Shin Bet reportedly told ministers on Monday that lower infection rates meant its involvement was no longer necessary .
  • The United Arab Emirates should take urgent measures to protect the health of prisoners amid reported outbreaks in a least three detention facilities, Human Rights Watch has said . Prisoners' relatives told the group that some people had been denied medical care.
  • A plane carrying medical supplies for Palestinians flew from the UAE to Israel on Tuesday - the second direct commercial flight between the two countries in a month. The UAE said the shipment was co-ordinated with the UN. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said he had been unaware of it, casting doubt on whether the aid would be accepted.

Scottish tourism sector could reopen on 15 July

Scotland's tourism businesses have been told to prepare to reopen on 15 July.
Making the announcement, Scotland's Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said firms needed clarity to plan for reopening.
However, he warned that "absolutely nothing can be guaranteed" and the date is conditional on continued progress in tackling the coronavirus.
Follow this breaking story here.

PM to lead UK briefing at 17:00 BST

Coronavirus - 10th June F0091310

We’re expecting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lead the UK daily briefing in around an hour.
He’s due to give an update on plans to ease lockdown in England - including by allowing zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas to reopen from Monday .
It’s been confirmed that Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical adviser, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser will be joining him.

Italian prosecutors to question PM over virus outbreak

Coronavirus - 10th June 55fc9910
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte

Prosecutors in the northern Italian city of Bergamo say they will question members of the government, including Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, over their handling of the coronavirus.
The prosecutors said they would summon Mr Conte and others as "informed persons" - that is without attributing any crime to them.
It comes as a group of 50 relatives of victims in Bergamo - one of the worst-hit parts of the country - filed legal complaints over how the pandemic was handled. They say they and their relatives were abandoned during the crisis. The group, which calls itself Noi denunceremo (we will denounce), says it is seeking justice rather than revenge or compensation.
Prosecutors say they will initially ask officials why they did not immediately isolate the "hot spot" municipalities of Nembro and Alzano Lombardo when northern Italy began locking down in February.
Mr Conte has not publicly commented.

How can air passengers stay safe?

Passengers on flights should ask permission before going to the toilet and disembark one row at a time, according to a panel of aviation health experts.
The panel has made a series of recommendations to the UK Department for Transport on how to make air travel as safe as possible.
The recommendations also include passengers wearing face coverings at all times and being provided with alcohol-based wipes for cleaning their table or other surfaces.
However, the experts urged caution over the effectiveness of temperature screening and coronavirus swab tests at airports - saying about one in every three infectious people would be missed.
Airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair plan to start operating more flights later this month.

Earlier UK lockdown could have cut death toll 'by at least a half'

Coronavirus - 10th June 9e56c010
Professor Neil Ferguson is a former scientific adviser to the UK government

Imposing lockdown in the UK a week earlier could have cut the death toll "by at least a half", a former scientific adviser to the government has said.
Giving evidence to the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, Prof Neil Ferguson told MPs: "The epidemic was doubling every three to four days before lockdown interventions were introduced.
"So, had we introduced lockdown measures a week earlier we would have reduced the final death toll by at least a half."
Prof Ferguson's modelling suggested 250,000 people could die without drastic action , shortly before lockdown measures were introduced on 23 March.
But he resigned as a government adviser on coronavirus last month after allegedly breaching lockdown rules.

What’s happening in the UK?

We should be hearing from the UK government in the next 25 minutes, but let’s take a look at the latest from the country first.

France faces 800,000 job losses, warns minister

France is likely to suffer 800,000 job losses in coming months, its finance minister has warned as the economy reels from the effects of the lockdown.
"The shock is considerable and calls for massive public policies to support all those affected," Bruno Le Maire told a finance committee in parliament.
Such measures include a furlough scheme, tax breaks for companies and financial incentives to hire apprentices, he said.
Contract workers from France’s food, catering and events industry held a protest in Paris on Wednesday to spread the message that the pandemic is killing their jobs.
The flashmob-style demonstration included about 30 people dressed in black putting signs reading “sentenced to death” into a coffin.

UK death toll rises by 245

A further 245 people have died with Covid-19 in UK across all settings, the latest daily government figures show. It takes the total number to have died after testing positive for coronavirus to 41,128.

US testing lab reports its own Covid outbreak

Coronavirus - 10th June Ea2d3510
Nearly two dozen employees at Abbott Laboratories in Maine have tested positive for Covid-19 since April

A manufacturer of rapid coronavirus testing kits is now reporting its own outbreak.
Of the 600 employees at Maine's Abbott Laboratories, 23 have become infected since mid-April. Five of the cases were recorded after 31 May, prompting the state's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to begin an investigation.
Maine's CDC Director Nirav Shah said on Tuesday that Abbott conducts weekly tests on all workers, and is looking to ensure that the testing materials haven't been contaminated by sick employees. It's not yet clear if the employees contracted the virus from the lab, or elsewhere.
As of Wednesday, the state had reported more than 2,600 cases of Covid-19 and 100 deaths.
The number of new daily cases has been declining in Maine in recent weeks. But in at least nine states - including Texas, Arizona, and South Carolina - Covid hospitalisations have been on the rise since late May.

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Coronavirus - 10th June Empty Re: Coronavirus - 10th June

Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 10 2020, 20:28

What did we learn from today's Downing Street briefing?

Today's UK coronavirus briefing was hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was joined by Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser.
Here is what we learnt:

  • The PM said the UK has met all the government's five tests for the lockdown to be eased and could proceed with further adjustments to the rules
  • From Saturday certain single people in England , such as a grandparent living on their own, will be able to abandon social distancing and interact freely with another household
  • Zoos and drive-in cinemas will be allowed to reopen in England , with certain restrictions
  • There would be a new national "catch-up programme" for school pupils in England, after it was confirmed many children will not return to classrooms until September. More details are to be announced by the education secretary next week.
  • On the two-metre social distancing rule, the PM says there is a "balance of risk to be struck" before it is loosened
  • Chris Whitty says it is important to learn lessons from what happened in the outbreak, saying the issue of whether testing could have been sped up very early on in the epidemic would have to be addressed

Analysis: Whitty's remarks on testing significant

Nick Eardley - Political correspondent
The UK government has been criticised on testing and the slowness of ramping up the testing programme after the epidemic hit.
Some argue stopping widespread testing was a significant error – which meant the government and health service lost track of the spread of the virus.
It’s significant that Chris Whitty, the chief scientific adviser for England, has just identified it as the thing he would change.
The government’s critics are likely to bring this up with the PM again.
He doesn’t want to talk about regrets or mistakes just now, but others are more willing to do so.

Questions remain over timing of UK lockdown

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News
Speed matters. Small delays, even of a few days, can have a huge impact on lives lost.
This is because coronavirus was growing “exponentially” in February and March.
If cases were doubling every four days then just 100 cases would become 3,200 within three weeks. Wait another four days and it would be 6,400, another four days and it becomes 12,800.
However, scientists have told me an estimated 100,000 people were being infected every single day in England by the time the country went into lockdown .
Introducing measures a week earlier would have significantly cut that figure and in turn saved lives.
Why this did not happen is one of the major questions about the government’s handling of the outbreak.
It is easier to look back than to make the decision in the moment. There was a lack of information and the scale of the outbreak within the UK was not clear.
But other scientists were making the case for the UK to go into lockdown weeks before it happened.

Analysis: Pressure on PM to relax 2m rule

Nick Eardley - Political correspondent
There is a lot of pressure on the prime minister to relax the 2m (6ft) rule – in line with those other countries where it’s 1m or 1.5m.
Those pushing for less stringent distancing rules say it gives businesses like shops, pubs and restaurants more of a chance to survive when they reopen.
Boris Johnson appears prepared to do so once the number of cases is lower. He argues there’s a balance of risk to be struck.
And the chief scientific adviser noted that it wasn’t a scientific rule, but a judgement call. That will fall with ministers.

Miami beaches reopen

Beaches in Miami-Dade county are reopening today, the latest county in Florida to do so after the state first shut down its nonessential businesses - beaches included - in April.
The move comes as Covid cases in Florida continue to surge. With 66,000 confirmed infections and 2,765 deaths, the state has seen an upward trend since the start of June.

How is Scotland’s contact tracing system going?

Reality Check
The prime minister says statistics about England’s test and trace system will be published tomorrow.
The Scottish government earlier released details of how its version – Test and Protect – has been doing since it was launched on 28 May.
Between 28 May and 7 June, 681 people tested positive for coronavirus, of whom 481 have completed contact tracing.
The idea behind the scheme is to get hold of anyone who had contact with those infected and tell them to isolate themselves in case they have caught the virus.
So far, 741 contacts have been traced, although Public Health Scotland stresses that this a new system and that the figures will be updated.

Covid-19 causes surge in overall Moscow deaths

BBC Monitoring - The world through its media
Authorities in Moscow have posted a sharp year-on-year rise in the overall number of deaths in the city in May, linking 92% of the additional deaths to Covid-19.
According to data published by the Russian capital’s health department, coronavirus was the main or secondary cause of 5,260 deaths in May, far higher than the previously reported official total death toll for the entire Covid-19 epidemic in Moscow, 3,085.
According to the figures, a total of 15,713 deaths were registered in Moscow in May - 5,715 more than the number for May 2019.
On Tuesday, Moscow lifted its period of "self-isolation" allowing everyone to move about freely for the first time since the end of March. The move came despite a stubbornly high number of new cases.

Analysis: Fine line to tread over virus risks

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
The pandemic has, effectively, become a game of risk management – that’s because, as UK chief medical adviser Chris Witty says, nothing is “risk free”.
We could continue to suppress the virus by not easing lockdown any further. That would further reduce the spread of coronavirus – and no doubt save lives.
But it would come at a huge cost – economically, socially, to children’s education and also to people’s health, whether it is from mental or physical illness linked to continued strict curbs.
So instead, the government and its advisers are treading a fine fine, and trying to navigate a way through this (whether they are doing a good job or not is a different question).
The aim is to keep the spread of the virus low, while re-opening society.
Whatever is done there will be losers. After all, there is a new virus circulating, which for some is deadly.
In the end it will come down to both political judgements, in terms of how quickly restrictions continue to be lifted, and also individual judgements in terms of how quickly we each embrace the new freedoms.
That, unfortunately, is the way life is in this pandemic.

Catching up on global headlines

If you're just joining us, here are the latest coronavirus headlines from around the world:

  • The pandemic will have "dire" economic consequences globally, a report has warned. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said global output could shrink by 7.6% this year
  • France is likely to suffer 800,000 job losses in coming months as a result of the pandemic, its finance minister has said
  • Japan’s lower house of parliament attempted to offset the economic impact of the outbreak by approving an emergency budget worth more than £230bn ($293bn; 258bn euros)
  • Some European countries are set to lift their border controls. Germany will open its borders with Switzerland, France, Austria and Denmark on Monday, while Austria is to end quarantine requirements for more than 20 European countries
  • In Italy, prosecutors say they will question members of the government over their handling of the outbreak. PM Conte said he would be questioned on Friday over his government's response in the northern city of Bergamo
  • In the US, several members of the Washington DC National Guard tested positive for Covid-19 after being deployed to the recent Black Lives Matter protests

Belgian prince faces €10,000 fine for breaking lockdown rules

Prince Joachim has already apologised for breaching Spain's quarantine rules when he travelled to the southern city of Córdoba last month.
Now he will be up to €10,400 (£9,200; $11,800) out of pocket too.
The 28-year-old prince, a nephew of King Philippe of Belgium, travelled to Spain last month for what the palace had described as an internship and a "family event". He later tested positive for Covid-19 and health officials had to get in touch with people he had been in contact with.
According to local reports, the prince has been fined for failing to observe the necessary 14-day quarantine and attending two meetings or parties.
If he pays up within 15 days, he only needs to pay half the fine.

A lesson from Germany?

Reality Check
Earlier on Wednesday, Professor Chris Whitty – the chief medical officer for England – was asked what his biggest regret was in the handling of the pandemic
He said he wished that testing could have been speeded up “very early on” in the outbreak, and mentioned Germany as an example.
In the week ending 4 April, Germany was using 132 laboratories to carrying out an average of 116,655 diagnostic tests for Covid-19 per day.
The total number of tests done by that date was over 1.3 million.
The UK, by contrast, had carried out a total of 316,836 tests by 10 April and didn't hit its target of 100,000 daily tests until the end of that month.

'Virus is surging in new places': Latest from Latin America

As cases continue to soar across Latin America, some parts of the region have begun to open up. Here are some of the latest updates:

  • Shopping centres have opened up in Uruguay for the first time in three months. Shoppers must submit themselves to strict security protocols and temperature checks
  • At least eight doctors have been fired in Nicaragua after criticising President Daniel Ortega's strategy for managing the coronavirus, AFP news agency reports. So far the government has not opted to impose a quarantine
  • The number of new coronavirus cases in Argentina rose above 1,000 for the first time on Tuesday, and the head of the Pan-American Health Organisation warned that the illness is "surging in new places" where transmission levels had previously been low

Chelsea Women donate £100,000 prize money to domestic abuse charity

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Chelsea are to donate their prize money for winning the Women's Super League to a charity that supports women and children experiencing domestic abuse.
UK charities say there has been a huge spike in reports of domestic abuse during the coronavirus lockdown.
Chelsea Women were named champions on Friday , when final places in the curtailed 2019-20 WSL season were decided on a points-per-game basis.
The £100,000 first prize will be given to Refuge. Team manager Emma Hayes said the charity was "close to the hearts and minds of the women's team".
Read more here

WHO: No sign of season change affecting virus

There is little evidence that a change in the seasons will affect the spread of Covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
"We cannot rely on an expectation that the season or the temperature will be the answer to this," Mike Ryan, the head of the organisation's emergency programme, told reporters.
"Right now, we have no data to suggest that the virus will behave more aggressively or transmit more efficiently or not" when the seasons change, he said.
In the initial stages of the pandemic, some suggested that warmer weather might slow the spread of Covid-19. But this idea faded as the virus took hold during springtime in the northern hemisphere.
Separately, Mr Ryan also said that a lack of personal protective equipment remained a major issue globally. "Health systems in some countries are struggling and are under huge strain," he added.

People return to places of worship in India

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Places of worship have now opened in India as the country eases its lockdown measure.
These images from Koltata show priests wearing protective gear, preparing to enter the Dakshineswar Kali Temple.
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Restrictions on shops, market places and transport services were eased on Monday.
It comes despite a surge of infections in the country, which now has 266,598 confirmed cases.
However experts say there was no other option but to lift the lockdown, which had a massive economic impact on the country.
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Virus deaths soar among New York homeless

New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and sleeping in shelters during the coronavirus outbreak were disproportionately vulnerable to death or illness, a report from the Coalition for the Homeless has found.
As of 1 June, the Covid mortality rate in New York City overall was 200 deaths per 100,000 people. Among those sleeping in shelters, this figure was 321 deaths per 100,000 people.
And according to the coalition, the number of coronavirus-related deaths among homeless New Yorkers sleeping in shelters in April 2020 was 157% higher than the number of deaths from all causes among this same group during an average month in 2019.
As of 31 May, there were 926 confirmed Covid-19 cases across some 179 shelters

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 10 2020, 21:42

What are 'social bubbles'?

People living alone in England will soon be able to stay at another household (of any size) to form a "support bubble". The move was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as part of further easing of coronavirus restrictions.
A bubble is defined as a group of people with whom you have close contact.
For example:

  • A grandparent who lives alone would be able to form a support bubble with one of their children, which means they could go to see them and interact with their grandchildren as normal
  • A single parent could form a support bubble with a parent or friend
  • Two single people who each live alone could also form a support bubble
  • So could a couple who do not live together - but only if they both live alone or one of them lives alone and whoever lives with the other one doesn't form a bubble with anyone else

Read more here on how social bubbles work

Social bubbles could ease loneliness - Labour

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves has welcomed the latest government guidance that adults living alone in England can form a "support bubble" with one other household.
In a further easing of coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that, from Saturday, single adults could spend the night at another house .
Ms Reeves, Labour MP for Leeds West, said she hoped the measure would "ease some of the loneliness that we see in society", but qualified her support by saying that people were "anxious about the easing of restrictions and of good work being undone" if it wasn't backed up by the science.
She said the government had "got to get this right and needs to make sure the test, trace and isolate policy is in place to ensure that further easing of the restrictions can work".
Read more on how social bubbles work

Police warn of lockdown radicalisation threat

Gordon Corera - Security correspondent, BBC News
The lockdown may have led more individuals to become radicalised as they spend more time online, a British police chief has warned.
The Metropolitan Police's Lucy D'Orsi said the precise impact of the lockdown on the terrorism threat was not yet known.
She urged the public to remain alert as people return to crowded places closed in March.
The current UK threat level is "substantial", meaning an attack is likely.
"The reality is that the threat has not gone away," Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner D'Orsi told the BBC.

England zoos prepare to reopen to visitors

Some zoos and safari parks in England are preparing to throw open their doors to visitors from Monday, bringing in some much-needed revenue.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the outdoor attractions can reopen at today's daily briefing.
Dominic Jermey, head of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) which runs London and Whipsnade Zoos, said they were "raring to go".
"We expect to have tickets ready to book by Friday and everyone will need to book so we can manage capacity," he said.
Last month London Zoo said it faced an "uncertain future" without immediate financial support.
Jamie Christon from Chester Zoo in north-west England said a week ago they had been "in despair", not knowing when the zoo would reopen or if it would even survive.
"The zoo has suffered severe financial damage over the past three months and the road to recovery will be long and uncertain," he added.
Some other zoos have said they are still putting in place social distancing and hygiene measures and won't be able to open until July.

Delhi doctor: 'Persistent fear of contracting Covid-19'

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Queues of people with virus symptoms have formed outside hospitals in Delhi

Infections in India are rising. In the capital, Delhi, images have emerged of patients queuing outside hospitals, waiting to be treated for Covid-19.
Dr Parv Mittal, who works in Delhi's Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, spoke to BBC Outside Source.
"It's really difficult to say how we will be able to cope," he said. "I'm not sure if we have the beds. Even if you create the beds, there will be a shortage of manpower."
Delhi is seeing more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases every day, stretching hospital resources. Dr Mittal says his hospital initially struggled to get personal protective equipment (PPE). Now it has enough but working in PPE is "exhausting", he says.
"Wearing it even for one hour, you start sweating a lot. You start getting dehydrated. Initially we had to work for six to eight hours non-stop. There's a persistent fear of contracting the infection."

US ex-ambassador tests positive in mid-election

The former US ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, has announced he has tested positive for Covid-19.
"After a second try, test results came back positive," he wrote on Twitter earlier today.

  tweet John Huntsman:
:Left Quotes: After a second try, test results came back positive for Covid-19. Have been experiencing classic so many others, my goal is to keep my family safe. Though isolated temporarily, we’ve never been more energized in this important race for Governor. The work goes on!

Mr Huntsman, a Republican, is currently running to be governor of Utah. He served in that role from 2005 to 2009, and most recently spent two years as ambassador to Russia under President Donald Trump.
He also ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
On Tuesday, he said he had received the "wrong results" from an earlier test. "Very illuminating to see the process firsthand," he wrote on Twitter.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 10 2020, 22:03

Starbucks expects $3bn sales plunge in one quarter

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Global coffee chain Starbucks says it expects revenue this quarter to have plummeted by more than $3bn (£2.3bn) because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company also projected an adjusted loss of about 55 to 70 cents per share for its third quarter ending in June. In further bad news it said its current-quarter operating income was expected to plunge by up to $2.2bn
Like other cafe and restaurant chains, Starbucks had to close thousands of outlets around the world as part of coronavirus lockdowns or convert them to drive-through or take-away only.
The company says it expects to permanently close about 400 stores in the Americas over the next 18 months.

US cases near 2 million, with new infections rising in 21 states

As former hotspots like New York and New Jersey see declining infection rates, new coronavirus cases are climbing in 21 US states, as the country marches forward with its economic reopening.
And nationwide, total Covid-19 infections are creeping towards the 2 million mark, with more than 112,500 deaths.
Of these 21 states, 12 of them - including South Carolina, Texas and Utah - have reported increased hospitalisation rates since the Memorial Day holiday weekend last month.
In Arizona, which has seen an especially pronounced spike in both Covid infections and hospitalisations, local health officials are starting to sound the alarm. Banner Health, the state's largest hospital system, warned this week that its intensive care units were filling up, and ventilator use was rising, while the state health director told Arizona hospitals to "fully activate" emergency plans.
As of Wednesday, Arizona had confirmed 29,852 cases and 1,101 deaths.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 10 2020, 22:26

Trump to restart rallies after Covid-19 pause

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US President Donald Trump has said he will begin holding campaign rallies in at least four states after they were paused for three months due to the pandemic.
He told reporters at the White House today that rallies would restart in Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina.
He added that the first one would probably take place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, next Friday.
But he did not provide details on what precautions would be taken to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading at the events.
Mr Trump will face Democrat Joe Biden in November.
The BBC's Anthony Zurcher notes that the majority of the chosen states are electoral battlegrounds.

tweet Anthony Zurcher:
:Left Quotes: Tulsa just marked the 99th anniversary of the massacre of its black residents by a white mob, suggesting that Trump wants to focus on issues of race in his first rally since the coronavirus outbreak.
  tweet Emma Kinery:
:Left Quotes: Trump will hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, OK next Friday, June 19. It will be his first rally since the coronavirus outbreak
  tweet Anthony Zurcher:
:Left Quotes: Unlike the other states Trump mentioned for upcoming rallies - North Carolina, Arizona and Florida - Oklahoma is not an electoral battleground, although Oklahoma City did elect a Democratic member of Congress in 2018.

Round-up of today's main news

As we near the end of today's live coverage, here is a round-up of developments.

  • People living alone in England will soon be able to stay at another household (of any size) to form a "support bubble". The move was announced by PM Boris Johnson as part of further easing of coronavirus restrictions
  • One of the UK's leading epidemiologists says he believes if the country had locked down a week earlier it would have cut the number of coronavirus-related deaths by at least half . Neil Ferguson made the remarks to a parliamentary committee
  • The global economy will contract by 6% in 2020, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says, and the UK is likely to be the hardest hit among major economies
  • Prosecutors in the northern Italian city of Bergamo say they will question members of the government over their handling of the outbreak. PM Giuseppe Conte said he would be questioned on Friday. Bergamo is in one of Italy's worst-hit areas
  • In the US, several members of the Washington DC National Guard tested positive for Covid-19 after being deployed to the recent Black Lives Matter protests

We're pausing our live coverage

That's it from us for today - it's been good to have you with us.

Today's updates were brought to you by our team of reporters in the UK, Singapore, Australia, India and the US - Andreas Illmer, Anna Jones, Owen Amos, Yvette Tan, Jay Savage, Krutika Pathi, Ben Collins, Hamish Mackay, Flora Drury, Sophie Williams, Jasmine Taylor-Coleman, Matt Cannon, Alex Kleiderman, Sarah Collerton, Becky Morton, Henri Astier, Francis Keogh, David Walker, Holly Honderich, Paul Seddon, Emma Harrison, Gareth Evans, Vicky Baker and Gary Kitchener.
Our colleagues in Singapore will be resuming live coverage soon. In the meantime you can follow the latest developments on our website.

    Current date/time is Tue Sep 29 2020, 17:11