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Coronavirus - 17th June


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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 17 2020, 12:45

Summary for Wednesday, 17th June

  • New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern orders the military to oversee the country's quarantine and border operations
  • It comes after two people allowed out early later tested positive for coronavirus
  • Any visitors for Russian President Vladimir Putin must pass through a special disinfection tunnel, state media report
  • Beijing's virus spike continues, as restrictions on travel are tightened
  • Three US states have reported record new infections
  • Brazil reports almost 35,000 new cases - its highest daily figure
  • In England, Premier League football resumes on Wednesday evening
  • Globally, there have been 8.1m confirmed cases since the outbreak began, and 441,000 deaths

Welcome back to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s what you need to know to bring you up to speed:

  • A “disinfection tunnel” has been set up to protect Russian president Vladimir Putin from the virus. Anyone visiting him at his residence must pass through this special disinfection chamber.
  • Russia now has more than 500,000 confirmed virus cases – making it the country with the third highest number of cases behind Brazil and the US.
  • Over in New Zealand – PM Jacinda Ardern has said the two new cases from the UK were “an unacceptable failure of the system”. Two women who had travelled from the UK – had been given special permission to visit a dying parent
  • And Brazil reported almost 35,000 new cases on Tuesday - its highest daily figure yet. It comes as one of Brazil's top officials said the situation was under control

Globally, there are now more than 8.1 million confirmed cases, and the death toll stands at 441,000.

New Zealand PM: 'An unacceptable failure of the system'

Simon Atkinson - BBC News, Sydney
After doing a stellar job of limiting the health impact of Covid-19 - New Zealand is beating itself up over a lapse that saw two women test positive for the virus.
The country has had about 1,500 coronavirus cases and only 22 deaths – thanks largely to strict lockdown and rapidly shut borders. In that context, today’s humble press conference by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s was all the more remarkable.
On Tuesday we learned that two New Zealand citizens had returned home from the UK to visit a dying parent . And having been allowed to leave an isolation facility early– then tested positive for Covid-19.
Now it has emerged procedures hadn’t been followed, meaning the women – who’d been staying in an Auckland hotel under isolation - had not been tested for the virus. A serious, embarrassing blunder, no doubt.
But in the global context – where hundreds of people are still dying each day in countries like the UK, the US and Brazil, often without obvious government remorse - the swiftness of the response is notable.
This is a blow for a country which had such pride in getting down to zero cases of coronavirus for about a month. And from the PM, there was no attempt to play things down or to put any blame on the women involved.
“This represents an unacceptable failure of the system,” Ms Ardern said. “It should never have happened and cannot be repeated”.
An investigation is under way. A senior military figure has been drafted in to oversee and review procedures for those arriving in New Zealand. And the policy allowing people to leave isolation or quarantine early on compassionate grounds has been suspended.
That, Ms Ardern said, was a “hard and unpopular position to take“. But was also “the right one for our country”.
“I can’t afford to let the gains we have all made, be squandered by processes not being upheld,” the PM told the news conference.
“This is a growing pandemic, not a slowing pandemic. We have to be cautious.”

Australia and UK formally start trade talks

Australia is relying heavily on its international trade to help lift its economy out of recession. And while its relations with China - its largest trading partner - are under severe strain, the big exporter is eagerly seeking markets elsewhere.
Brexit has thrown up the opportunity for a free trade agreement between the UK and Australia. While agreements for certain sectors have already been hammered out, a larger deal still needs to be worked on.
Today, Australia's trade minister announced the nation was formally starting those negotiations with the UK.
"Australia will be looking to secure better market access to goods exports especially in agriculture, and high-standard rules on digital trade and investment," Simon Birmingham said.
Australia's economy has endured the virus far better than many others - partly because the health impact was contained. Australia is also a large exporter - and trade in its commodities has continued during the crisis.

Disinfection tunnel set up to protect Putin

A special disinfection tunnel has been set up to protect Russia's President Vladimir Putin from the virus.
Anyone visiting his official Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, where he receives visitors, has to pass through this tunnel, said state-controlled RIA news agency.
The agency described the disinfectant as a fine cloud of liquid that covers people's clothes and any exposed upper body flesh.
It comes after Putin's spokesman, Dmistry Peskov, earlier in April said that anyone meeting Putin in person was tested for the virus. Peskov revealed that he himself had been infected a month later, reported Reuters.
Russia has reported more than 500,000 infections, the third highest number of cases in the world after Brazil and the United States, which it says is down to its mass testing programme.

WATCH: How the disinfection tunnel works

This is what visitors will have to go through before they can step forward into Putin's official residence according to state news agency RIA:
Watch video here

The breakthrough, cheap, life-saving drug

A reminder that yesterday saw one of the most positive developments so far of the pandemic, with the news that a cheap and widely available drug had a remarkable effect on critically ill patients.
In hospital trials, the low-dose steroid treatment dexamethasone cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth.
Researchers say it could have saved the lives of 5,000 people in the UK had it been used earlier.
Read more from our health editor Michelle Roberts here

English Premier League set for comeback

Football fans rejoice! The English Premier League is set to return today - but not exactly as you might know it.
Fixtures will be played behind closed doors to prevent any further spread of the virus - and for the first 12 matches of the campaign, all player names on the back of shirts will be replaced by "Black Lives Matter" - a reference to protests happening worldwide.
Today's game between Aston Villa and Sheffield United - will be the first of 92 league games packed into a frantic 40 days before the season ends on 26 July.
All games will be broadcast live, with four matches to be shown on the BBC.
Here's all you need to know about the return of the Premier League

Beijing takes action as cases continue to rise

The number of virus cases has continued to rise in Beijing, with 137 cases in the past week alone.
Beijing had, prior to this, gone 57 days without a single locally-transmitted case.
The outbreak is believed to have started in the massive Xinfandi food market that supplies 80% of the city's meat and vegetables.
And now the government is taking quick action to make sure it doesn't spread further. At least 27 neighbourhoods have been classed as high or medium risk. Those living in such areas cannot leave the city.
People in low-risk areas can leave, but need to test negative first.
A number of flights have been cancelled and railway services have also been reduced until at least 9 July.
Primary school, middle school, and college classes are suspended, sports teams cannot play, and swimming pools and gyms are closed.
Read more about the situation in Beijing here

What has happened in the UK?

If you're just joining our live coverage, here's a quick roundup of the main headlines in the UK this morning.

  • Yesterday, a major breakthrough was announced in the UK, with news that a cheap and widely available steroid treatment called dexamethasone can help save the lives of critically ill patients
  • A campaign by the England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford prompted the government to yesterday reverse its original decision not to extend the free school meal voucher scheme in England over the summer holidays
  • The English Premier League is set to return today , but not quite as we know it, with football matches played behind closed doors to prevent any spread of the virus and games broadcast live to fans at home
  • Some of England's biggest councils could see "large-scale reductions" to services as they attempt to balance the books, new analysis by the County Councils Network suggests
  • Prince Charles has still not fully regained his sense of smell and taste after having coronavirus in March, he revealed on a visit to NHS staff
  • Doctors have called for the recommendations of a report into the impact of Covid-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic people to be implemented immediately

Brazil sees almost 35,000 new cases in 24 hours

Brazil has reported a staggering 34,918 new virus cases on Tuesday - its highest daily figure yet.
It comes on the same day that one of its top officials said the situation was under control.
Walter Braga Netto, head of the office of the president's chief of staff, said: "There is a crisis, we sympathise with bereaved families, but it is managed."
Brazil has the second highest number of cases in the world after the US, with more than 923,000 cases.

WHO to update guidance after breakthrough trial

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it will update its clinical guidelines after a trial showed that a cheap and widely available drug can help save the lives of patients seriously ill with coronavirus.
The low-dose steroid treatment dexamethasone is a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus, UK experts say.
The WHO's clinical guidance is meant to keep doctors and other medical professionals informed with the latest data.
"This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortalityin patients with Covid-19 requiring oxygen or ventilatorsupport," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday.
Results from Tuesday's trial are still preliminary, but it showed that dexamethasone cut death rates by by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth.
Had the drug had been used to treat patients in the UK from the start of the pandemic, up to 5,000 lives could have been saved, researchers said.
The BBC spoke to a patient who survived Covid-19 after taking part in the trial. She said she feels "eternally grateful" and believes she would have died without it.

Deaths cross 10,000 in India

India added more than 2,000 deaths on Tuesday, which takes the total number to 11,903. The country has confirmed more than 340,000 infections, making it the fourth-highest in the world.
India's case fatality rate (CFR) - or the proportion of Covid-positive people who have died - jumped from 2.9% to 3.4% , reported the Hindustan Times newspaper.
But that number is contentious as experts say it doesn't account for unreported cases or the delay from illness to death. Some have pointed out that the CFR at this stage of the pandemic can lull governments into complacency.
What is worrying in India is that around three-quarters of the Covid-19 deaths have been reported from three states - Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi.

Prince Charles's sense of smell and taste still not back

Prince Charles has still not fully regained his sense of smell and taste after having coronavirus in March, he revealed on a visit to NHS staff.
The 71-year-old was diagnosed with Covid-19 near the start of the outbreak after suffering mild symptoms. A loss of smell is thought to be one of the key symptoms.
He later said he had "got away with it quite lightly" .
Read more here

Rashford's 'shock' at government U-turn

In an interview with the BBC, England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford said he was "grateful" the UK government had reversed its decision on extending its free school meal voucher scheme over the summer holidays.
The 22-year-old's successful campaign saw him draw on his own experience of relying on free school meals and food banks growing up in Manchester as part of an emotional open letter to MPs posted on Monday.
Mr Rashford said he spoke to the PM on the phone and thanked him for changing his decision.

Honduras President tests positive for virus

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has said that he, his wife two of his two aides have tested positive for coronavirus.
In a televised address, said he began feeling unwell over the weekend, and his condition was confirmed yesterday.
Mr. Hernández said he was feeling better and would continue to work remotely.
“I feel enough strength and energy to continue forward and beat this pandemic,” he said. “We are going to get ahead of this. I trust in God, Honduran doctors and medicine.”
Honduras has confirmed more than 9,600 cases of coronavirus and 330 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US.
Its economy began to reopen last week after nearly three months of lockdown measures including border closures and curfews.

Beijing turned into 'virus prevention bubble'

Stephen McDonell - BBC News, China correspondent
The Chinese capital is in effect, being turned into a coronavirus prevention bubble.
If you haven't done a test within the last seven days you're not allowed to leave the city.
However, virus testing capacity is limited and priority is given to the hundreds of thousands of people who have either been to the Xinfadi wholesale market or live nearby - all of these residents are prohibited from leaving Beijing under any circumstances.
Anyone in the neighbourhoods immediately adjacent to the market must also stay inside their housing compound at all times.
Read more here

Military put in charge of New Zealand quarantine facilities

Shaimaa Khalil - BBC News, Sydney
New Zealand military will now run the country’s border and quarantine operations after two people who were allowed out early later tested positive for coronavirus.
Assistant chief of defence Darryn Webb will be able to use military resources and personnel, if needed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Ms Ardern said that border controls must be rigorous and disciplined, and needed to have the confidence of ministers as well as all New Zealanders. She added that the two new Covid-19 cases represented "an unacceptable failure of the system".
The two women who came from the UK via Australia had not been tested on the third day of their arrival or before they left quarantine as per the government’s rules. They were granted a compassionate exemption to leave managed isolation in Auckland to visit their dying parent in Wellington.
Health Minister David Clark has temporarily suspended all exemptions after the incident.

Shielding of extremely vulnerable 'could soon end'

Today Programme - BBC Radio 4
In England, more than two million people deemed at greatest risk of severe illness from coronavirus could soon be told that they no longer need to isolate themselves at home.
The Health Service Journal (HSJ) is reporting that the shielding programme for those deemed to be extremely clinically vulnerable which began in March will stop at the end of July ; however there is yet to be a formal government announcement.
Steven McIntosh, policy director at Macmillan Cancer Support, which has been involved in discussions with the government, said the charity was expecting an announcement this week.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the government would need to be "clear" in its communication with those who were vulnerable by setting out "what the rationale" was, why it would be safe for any relaxation of the shielding guidance and what would happen if the infection rate rose again.
He said people had told nurses on the charity's support line of the "increasing pressure" from their employers to return to work "even though it [was] not yet safe to do so". He stressed the guidance on shielding remained in place and the charity was seeking a government guarantee that support for shielding people - such as food and medicine deliveries - would not end until it was safe.

Brazil likely to see a million cases by end of week

Katy Watson - BBC South America correspondent
Brazil has set a new record of daily cases – 34,918 patients were registered as having coronavirus in the past 24 hours. There are now more than 920,000 cases in the country, second only to the US. And nearly 1,300 deaths were registered, taking the death toll to 45,241.
The infection rate is showing no signs of slowing – at this rate, Brazil is likely to register a million cases by the end of the week. The country is the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic – a crisis that is worsening by the day.
With so little testing in Brazil, it’s thought that the true number of infections is far higher than official figures suggest.
But under pressure from the country’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, who has criticised quarantine measures as economically damaging, major cities are starting to re-open – all before the country is believed to have even reached the peak.

Three US states see record infection numbers

Authorities in Arizona, Florida and Texas have reported their largest daily increases in coronavirus infections.
On Tuesday Florida reported 2,783 new cases, Texas 2,622 and Arizona 2,392.
Testing has been increased in all three southern US states, and lockdown restrictions have been eased to help boost their economies.
At a press conference, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis brushed aside claims that the spike in cases was being caused by businesses reopening, and said the state would not be closing parts of its economy again.
“We’re not shutting down,” he said. “You have to have society function.”
US Vice-President Mike Pence has published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal saying that concern about the virus is "overblown".
President Donald Trump is expected to hold a public rally in Oklahoma this weekend, despite infections continuing to rise in the state.

Why you may not want to flush your loo with the lid up

Coronavirus - 17th June 37adc910

Flushing the toilet with the lid up creates a cloud of spray that can be breathed in and may spread infections such as coronavirus, say researchers.
Chinese scientists calculate that flushing can propel a plume of spray up and out of the toilet bowl, reaching head height and beyond.
Droplets can travel up to 3ft - or 91cm - from ground level, according to the computer model used by the scientists from Yangzhou University.
Shutting the lid would avoid this.
Coronavirus is spread through airborne droplets from coughs and sneezes, or objects that are contaminated with them.
People who are infected can also have traces of the virus in their faeces, although it is not yet clear whether this might be another way to pass the disease on to others.

Lagos suspends reopening of places of worship

The state government responsible for Nigeria's most crowded city, Lagos, has suspended indefinitely the planned reopening of mosques and churches this weekend as coronavirus cases rise.
Nigeria now has more than 16,600 cases, almost half of them in Lagos State.
The lockdown in the capital Abuja, Lagos State and Ogun State had been in effect since March but two weeks ago the authorities announced plans to reopen religious buildings and hotels.
Testing has increased to almost 100,000 samples in a population of about 195 million people.
The easing of restrictions is due to go ahead as planned in the rest of the country.
Read more about Nigeria's mega churches and how they're adapting to the outbreak

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 17 2020, 13:17

Seven US airlines may ban passengers who refuse to wear masks

Seven US airlines have announced plans to strictly enforce passengers' use of masks on flights.
In a statement , industry body Airlines for America (A4A) - which represents the group - said those who refused to wear masks on board could have their flying privileges revoked.
Companies pledging action are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. A4A said each carrier would determine appropriate consequences for individual cases.
Their decision is part of a larger drive by US airlines to improve safety following complaints that their mandatory mask requirements were not being enforced.
There are currently no US government requirements to wear masks on flights. Transport Secretary Elaine Chao has said the issue is best determined by airlines and unionised frontline workers. Susannah Carr - an industry union official and flight attendant with United Airlines - told a US congressional committee last week that mask use was "definitely an issue we need to address".

New 15-minute rule as Greek brothels reopen

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Sex work across Europe - including in Amsterdam's red light district - has been put on hold amid the pandemic

Greece has seen relatively few cases of coronavirus. According to Johns Hopkins University data, it has recorded 3,148 confirmed infections and 185 deaths, and the government has already allowed businesses to reopen and travel to restart across the country.
As of Monday, authorities have also allowed brothels to reopen - albeit under strict new guidelines.
Visits are limited to 15 minutes per customer, with masks recommended for workers and clients.
Doors and windows should be kept open to allow fresh air in, payment should only be by card and not by cash, and businesses should keep a list of clients - along with their names and phone numbers - in a sealed envelope for four weeks, in case authorities need to trace infections.
Other countries are considering allowing sex work again. The Dutch government plans to reopen brothels on 1 September, although there are calls for this to happen sooner.
Sex workers worldwide fear for their income amid the outbreak, and some have been forced to work throughout the pandemic to make ends meet. You can read more here

Why government U-turns matter

As we reported earlier, a highly personal campaign by the footballer Marcus Rashford prompted a UK government U-turn that will see parents claim food vouchers for about 1.3 million children in England during the summer holidays.
Policy U-turns matter, says BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, as doing the right thing because of a change of heart or new information is better than pursuing a policy that will cause harm. But too many U-turns, and it could chip away at a government's credibility , she warns.
The involvement of a young, well-liked, articulate and high-profile figure like Rashford made ministers' earlier defence of not extending the scheme less sustainable by the hour, she says.
Rashford's campaign win is just the beginning for the 22-year-old, who told BBC Breakfast he wanted to do more to help those who "are struggling all year around".
He says it is "becoming more normal" for his generation of footballers to campaign on social issues . Several footballers, most notably Manchester City's Raheem Sterling, have spoken out about racism following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matters protests.

Israeli scientists invent 'self-cleaning mask'

Israeli researchers say they have created a reusable face mask which cleans itself with heat.
The mask has a USB port which connects to a power source and heats its inner layer of carbon fibres by up to 70C - a temperature high enough to destroy coronavirus.
Users are advised not to wear the mask during the disinfection process, which takes roughly 30 minutes, Yair Ein-Eli told Reuters news agency.
Ein-Eli led the research at Israel's Technion University, spurred by widening disparities between global supply and demand for masks.
The researchers have filed a patent for the mask in the US, and plan to sell it commercially.

UK inflation rate at four-year low as fuel prices slump

A record fall in fuel prices, including petrol, pushed the UK's inflation rate down to 0.5% in May, the second full month of the coronavirus lockdown.
Fuel prices declined by 16.7% during the month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, dragging the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) to the lowest level since June 2016.
Clothing and footwear prices also fell.
Supermarkets were among the few shops allowed to open in May and food prices rose, the ONS said.
Read more about the economic situation here.

How exposed are Nigeria's health workers?

Reality Check
Doctors in Nigeria's public hospitals are on strike, complaining about a lack of protective equipment as well as pay.
More health workers have tested positive for coronavirus in Nigeria than in any other African country except South Africa. But they still represent only a small fraction of the overall number of Covid-19 cases in Nigeria.
Many countries in Africa have been struggling with a lack of resources for their healthcare systems.
We've been looking at the situation facing doctors in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa

England's Premier League is back - but not as you know it

Coronavirus - 17th June 88037610

It's a good day for football fans - England's top flight Premier League is back.
After a 100-day absence, Aston Villa v Sheffield United will kick off in the evening, the first of 92 league games that will be packed into a frantic 40 days before the season concludes on 26 July.
But what's changed?
Well, all matches are behind closed doors for starters with just 300 staff, players, coaches and journalists allowed inside the stadium.
Teams are now able to make five substitutions, rather than three, in each match and able to name nine substitutes instead of the usual seven.
And there won't be handshakes between players and post-match interviews will be pitchside rather than in the tunnel.
Read more from our colleagues at BBC Sport here

London mayor takes pay cut and calls for government help

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has revealed he has taken an immediate 10% pay cut to his £152,734 ($193,000) salary and frozen pay for senior City Hall appointments as he calls on the UK government to help councils facing funding shortfalls during the pandemic.
Like in many cities, he said, the capital's public finances faced "unprecedented challenges" which, unless ministers acted, could mean cuts across the Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade, Transport for London (TfL) and the Greater London Authority due to a shortfall of almost £500 million in funding.
He said TfL - which last month secured a £1.6bn bailout to keep Tube and bus services running - had seen a 90% drop in fares due to lockdown restrictions and income from business rates and council tax had "fallen off a cliff".
Khan called on the government to act on the promise by Prime Minister Boris Johnson - a former London mayor himself - that he would not "force another era of austerity on local and regional government" to balance the books after the pandemic.
Some of England's biggest councils could see "large-scale reductions" to services as they attempt to balance the books after the crisis, with 39 authorities facing a funding shortfall of £2.5bn according to a new report by the County Councils Network.

Kenya widens inquiry into missing donations

Emmanuel Igunza - BBC News, Nairobi
Kenyan investigators have told the BBC they are examining all donations and money given to the country to help fight coronavirus.
They believe that millions of dollars and equipment have been stolen even as the country continues to register a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.
Local media have exposed the disappearance of $2m (£1.6m) worth of personal protective equipment donated by the Chinese government.
Kenya has received donations from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, the International Monetary Fund and European countries but the government has faced questions about how it has used the funds, with health workers complaining of lack of protective gear.
So far 3,727 have been infected with Coronavirus with 104 fatalities.
The government says community infections are on the rise with the peak of the deadly disease expected in September.

How many infections have been reported in Africa?

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the spread of coronavirus was accelerating across Africa.
Fast forward to today and the number of confirmed cases across the continent has risen to more than a quarter of a million, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US.
Egypt remains the worst affected, with more than 76,000 cases, followed by South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana.
Combined, all African countries account for about 3% of the global tally of infections.
Dig deeper into the numbers with our Africa coronavirus tracker

UK health workers need tests 'twice a week'

National Health Service staff must be routinely tested for coronavirus up to twice a week, says Prof Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, as the service tries to get fully back up and running.
Speaking at a Health Select Committee meeting, he said it was vital to reassure patients but hospital trust bosses say they are still waiting for clarity on plans for regular testing.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was focusing on routine testing in care homes but had not committed to routinely testing NHS workers.
One study found that as many as 30% of infections could be missed by a single swab test, giving an infected person a negative result. Experts also fear asymptomatic staff who don't know they are infected may potentially spread the virus to others.
You can read more

Germany's virus warning app sees 6.5m downloads

Coronavirus - 17th June C31ab310

Just a day after its launch, Germany's coronavirus tracing app has already been downloaded more than 6.5 million times - that's by about 7% of the population.
Chief executive Christian Klein told reporters that the Corona Warn app's "big success" was a testament to the collaboration between SAP and Deutsche Telekom, which created it in six weeks.
"There are well over six million reasons why the coronavirus has fewer chances in the future," Health Minister Jens Spahn said.
Germany's downloads are far higher than other European countries like France with similar apps.
Corona Warn uses Bluetooth and alerts users if they've been within two metres of someone who's tested positive, and complements a tracing and tracking system Germany has had in place since February.
The app suffered initial setbacks to its development over concerns for data privacy. As a result, the released version only saves data on individual smartphones, not in a central database.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 17 2020, 17:45

Sweden's coronavirus death toll tops 5,000

The number of people with coronavirus who have died in Sweden has now reached 5,041, health officials have announced.
With a population of just over 10 million, Sweden has had a heavier toll compared to its neighbours and has been closely watched owing to its controversial decision not to impose a strict lockdown.
Early this month, the man behind the policy, Anders Tegnell, acknowledged that the approach had resulted in too many deaths.

Prosecutions urged after infections at party in Portugal

Alison Roberts - Portugal Correspondent, Lisbon
The mayor of Lagos, in Portugal's Algarve region, has called for the prosecution of the organisers of an illegal party on 7 June, after at least 16 people tested positive.
The party, in a sports hall in the village of Odiáxere, drew more than 100 people, according to local officials, so flouting the current legal limit of 20.
Some 100 tests have been done but tracing all who attended and their contacts has been difficult. Several businesses in Lagos, which is popular with tourists, have closed temporarily for deep cleaning after employees tested positive.
Portugal has 37,336 cases and 1,522 deaths.

Scotland sees further nine coronavirus deaths

A total of 2,462 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by nine from Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.
The figures are lower than the 4,070 deaths given earlier by the National Records of Scotland as they do not include suspected and probable coronavirus infections.
Speaking during First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon said a further 21 people had tested positive for Covid-19 compared with the previous day.

Some 400 workers at German abattoir test positive

Throughout the pandemic, we've seen significant outbreaks of coronavirus in confined workplaces including factories in the US and mines in Poland and South Africa .
Now 400 workers at a slaughterhouse in Gütersloh in western Germany have tested positive since Monday. More employees at the Toennies plant are awaiting test results.
Germany has had nearly 9,000 deaths from Covid-19, which is significantly less than some other western European countries, including the UK, France and Italy.
But it is still dealing with localised outbreaks. Several schools and playgrounds in Magdeburg have closed, as more than 180 people have tested positive, 60 of them since Friday.
And in Berlin at least 300 households in Neukölln are in quarantine after an outbreak in a block of flats.

'Use dexamethasone on NHS patients today'

The UK's chief medical officers say a steroid treatment shown in a trial to save the lives of some critically-ill Covid-19 patients should be used "with immediate effect".
Dexamethasone, which is cheap and widely available, was shown to reduce deaths among patients on ventilators and among patients needing oxygen.
In an urgent letter from the UK's four chief medical officers to NHS clinicians, they said dexamethasone had "a clear place in the management of hospitalised patients with Covid-19".
And according to the government there should be no issue with supplies of the medicine in the UK - it says it has 240,000 doses in stock or on order.
You can read more here .

Pence says fear of US second wave 'overblown'

US Vice-President Mike Pence has written an op-ed blaming the media for stoking fears of a second wave of the virus, which he calls “overblown”.
“The truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success," he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. "We’ve slowed the spread, we’ve cared for the most vulnerable, we’ve saved lives, and we’ve created a solid foundation.
“That’s a cause for celebration, not the media’s fear mongering."
Critics say that President Trump has focused on the pandemic’s effect on the US economy - seen as vital to his re-election prospects - rather than containing the spread of the virus.
Most experts say the US is still experiencing a first wave. Eastern states such as New York and New Jersey were hit hard and have been recovering but some southern states have just recorded their highest rates of new cases.
On Saturday, Trump and Pence will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for their first campaign rally since the pandemic hit. Cases in Tulsa are climbing. Despite warnings not to attend, supporters have already been waiting outside the 19,000-seat arena.
Dr Anthony Fauci, who frequently appeared at White House coronavirus taskforce briefings, told the Daily Beast he would not attend the rally as he was 79 and in a “high risk category”.
“Personally, I would not. Of course not,” he said, adding: “Outside is better than inside, no crowd is better than crowd” and “crowd is better than big crowd”.

Further 12 positive cases at English Football League clubs

As top-flight Premier League football returns in England today, lower leagues have announced a further 12 coronavirus cases.
The English Football League said eight confirmed cases came from six Championship clubs, with Brentford publicly confirming one.
The other four positive tests came at two League One clubs, from which only the four play-off entrants were involved in the testing process.
Read more from BBC Sport here

Experts see different symptoms in Beijing outbreak

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
Medical workers in Beijing are finding that new patients being treated for Covid-19 are experiencing “strange” symptoms, including joint and stomach discomfort.
They are also finding that “different weather, living habits and body types may result in symptoms varying in different regions”, according to the national Global Times newspaper. This is not the first time Chinese specialists have seen the virus "change". In mid-May,  specialists treating the virus in the north-east noticed different symptoms in patients - fatigue or a sore throat, as opposed to a fever or a persistent cough.
There are concerns that the fresh spate of cases in the Chinese capital could lead to a second wave of Covid-19 nationally.
So far, 137 cases have been reported since 11 June. China’s media say the newly confirmed cases are mild and mainly affect younger people.
People’s Daily has given a statistical breakdown of 106 patients confirmed between 11 and 15 June.
Most are aged 30-39, and the fewest patients are recorded in the 60 and above category (five men and six women). Nobody has tested positive under the age of 20.

Alarm as Prague deputy mayor tests positive

Members of Prague City Council are self-isolating after one of the deputy mayors tested positive for Covid-19.
The council had been holding virtual meetings, but it voted to return to in-person meetings. Now all 11 members will have to quarantine following Monday’s seven-hour council session, and several City Assembly members are also being tested.
The Czech Republic has had 10,112 confirmed cases and 332 deaths from coronavirus.

What is dexamethasone and how does it work?

We've been hearing a lot today about the tricky-to-pronounce dexamethasone - an anti-inflammatory drug that a UK trial has shown can be life-saving for critically ill Covid-19 patients and can be used in the NHS today.
But what is the drug and how does it work?
It works by dampening down the body's immune system, which can sometimes go into overdrive as it fights the virus, a reaction that can prove fatal.
The drug is only suitable for seriously ill hospital patients who are receiving oxygen or mechanical ventilation.
You can read more here

Texas governor blames young people for case surge

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said young people returning to bars and restaurants are to blame for the state's newest infections.
"The majority of people who tested positive since the beginning of June have been people under the age of 30," he said on Tuesday as the state broke its record for most new cases in a single day.
Last Friday, bars and restaurants were allowed to begin operating at 75% capacity, with almost all other businesses allowed to operate at 50%.
Water and amusement parks have also been allowed to reopen.
Meanwhile, the mayors of nine major Texas cities have written to the governor, appealing for permission to make the wearing of face masks mandatory in their districts. Abbott had previously overruled the cities when they tried to require masks.

Two top Brazilian football clubs defy order to resume playing

Two top Brazilian football clubs have said they will defy orders to resume the state championship season in Rio de Janeiro over coronavirus concerns.
The Rio de Janiero state football federation (FERJ) has scheduled the first matches for Thursday, to be played behind closed doors. Players will also be tested before and after the matches.
But Botafogo and Fluminense say they will take legal action against the league, arguing that the matches would put the health of their players at risk.
Botafogo president Nelson Mufarrej called FERJ's order "disconnected from reality" and the club said it would play its two outstanding games in July at the earliest.
On average more than 1,000 people have died of Covid-19 every day in Brazil over the past week. Behind the US, it is currently the worst-affected country in the world, reporting at least 923,189 infections and 45,241 deaths.

Oregon surge linked to church that broke rules

An outbreak centred on a church in Oregon has helped push the state to its highest single-day infection rate, with 278 new statewide cases reported on Tuesday.
According to local media, the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Island City held services and events in April and May, despite the governor's order limiting large gatherings.
The Observer newspaper reports that the church also held a graduation ceremony and wedding that were each attended by more than 100 people.
All 365 of the church members have now been tested, and 236 came back positive, according to a state epidemiologist.
Governor Kate Brown says reopening plans are now on hold.

Further 184 UK virus deaths

A further 184 people have died with the coronavirus across all settings in the UK, taking the country's total death toll to 42,153.
The Department for Health and Social Care said an additional 1,115 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the 24 hours to 09:00 on Wednesday.
  tweet Department of Health and Social Care:
:Left Quotes:  As of 9am 17 June, there have been 7,121,976 tests, with 140,359 tests on 16 June.
299,251 people have tested positive.
As of 5pm on 16 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,153 have sadly died.

French Open dates confirmed for early autumn

The Roland Garros tennis tournament in France will be played 21 September to 11 October, organisers have announced. Players were orginally scheduled to compete in May but it was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile the US Open will go ahead from 31 August to 13 September in New York City.
But leading players, including world number one Novak Djokovic and world number two Simona Halep, have criticised the protocols put in place, Reuters news agency reports.
Djokovic called the measures "extreme" and said they would make it "impossible" to play. Halep says she currently does not plan to play in New York City. But US champion Serena Williams praised organisers' efforts and said she was "excited" to compete.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 17 2020, 17:54

UK briefing: What did we learn?

The daily Downing Street press conference has just finished. Here’s what happened:

  • Oliver Dowden said he hoped football clubs would be able to welcome “some fans” back to grounds by the start of next season
  • The culture secretary however appealed for fans not to congregate outside stadiums after the Premier League season resumes from this evening
  • He confirmed non-professional sport would not resume until the start of July “at the very earliest”
  • He said theatre figures and medical experts would meet over the next week to look at “innovative ideas” to permit socially-distanced live performances
  • But he said it would still be “immensely challenging” for theatres to reopen whilst social distancing rules are still in place

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 17 2020, 19:42

Petrol-buying Serbs self-isolate in thousands

More than 2,200 residents of Loznica, in western Serbia, were forced to spend nearly a month in self-isolation after they crossed the border to buy petrol in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to local outlet Balkan Insight.
Since March, Serbia has required all residents re-entering to undergo 14 or 28 days of self-isolation, depending on where they've come from.
It is common for residents of Loznica to travel across the Drina river to Bosnia, where petrol is cheaper to buy.
Residents said they had not been adequately informed of the rules.
According to data compiled by Balkan Insight, at the end of March Loznica had the second-highest number of people in Serbia who were living in self-isolation, behind the capital Belgrade.

Champions and Europa league formats decided

Coronavirus - 17th June 302daf10
Benfica's Estadio da Luz will host the Champions League final

This season's Champions League and Europa League competitions will be completed in August with "final eight" tournaments in Lisbon, Portugal, and in cities across Germany.
The Champions League will resume with the second-leg of the remaining last 16 games played on 7 and 8 August, before the single-game knockout competition starting on 12 August in Lisbon with the final on 23 August.
The Europa League will resume from 10 August. The remaining last 16 games will be played on 5 and 6 August. The knockout will be across Germany with the final on 21 August.
As it stands no fans will be allowed to watch in stadiums.
The Women's Champions League will also be a knockout tournament, in northern Spain between 21 and 30 August.
Read more:
Champions League & Europa League: Tournaments to be completed in 'final eight' format

UK unemployment claims continue steady rise

Benefits claims in the UK are continuing to rise steadily but remain relatively low when compared with other major economies, a new analysis of Department for Work and Pensions data suggests.
The Institute for Government (IfG) finds around 14% of the UK's labour force, or some 4.8m people, are claiming benefits through universal credit, which brings multiple support claims together into a single payment.
Close to a million of those are still in employment, the IfG says.
In the US, by comparison, around 25% of the workforce have made claims for unemployment support since mid-March.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the number of workers on UK payrolls dived more than 600,000 between March and May.
But overall unemployment remained steady due to the impact of the coronavirus job retention furlough scheme, the ONS said.

Showdown in US Congress on mask-wearing

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, has asked congressional committee chairmen and women to bar entry to lawmakers who refuse to wear masks during meetings.
Some Republican lawmakers have refused to do so in the Capitol building. On Monday, South Carolina Congressman Tom Rice, who was seen not wearing a mask in Congress on 28 May, announced that he and his family had tested positive.
On Tuesday, Capitol physician Dr Brian Monahan issued a memo requiring masks for lawmakers meeting "in a limited enclosed space, such as a committee hearing room, for greater than 15 minutes".
An aide to Pelosi told US media the Sergeant at Arms would be tasked with removing disobedient lawmakers, who will be permitted to participate via teleconferencing from nearby offices.
Several mask holdouts, including Congressmen Jim Jordan, Louie Gohmert and Andy Biggs are due to meet in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Wearing face coverings has become a political issue, with President Donald Trump refusing to don one on official events.

How will the Premier League work under testing?

Reality Check
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been talking about the return of Premier League football this evening.
He described it as an “important step forward” on the path to normality.
Premier League players are being tested for coronavirus twice a week and only those who have had a negative test in the past five days will be allowed onto the pitch or into the changing rooms.
They will have a clinical passport - a bar code either printed out or on their mobile phones - which they will have to show before they are allowed into the stadium.
Anyone testing positive will have to self-isolate for seven days and their households would have to isolate for 14 days.
The Premier League says that in line with advice from Public Health England, other players would only have to self-isolate if they have been in sustained contact with the infected person for more than 15 minutes.
The Premier League’s research found that during the course of a normal game, 98% of players are in close contact for less than five minutes.
To get into other parts of the stadium, such as the stands or interview areas, people have to complete a medical questionnaire and have their temperature taken on arrival.

Russian 'fined for spreading fake Covid news'

BBC Monitoring - The world through its media
A woman in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg has been fined for writing on Facebook that her local hospital was avoiding diagnosing patients with coronavirus, according to Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
"The hospital is packed, people are dying in their masses, everyone is being diagnosed with 'pneumonia'. They put him in a corridor," Tatiana Znak wrote, describing the death of a family friend.
The court found she has misrepresented the situation and insisted that no-one had died of the disease there.
Znak was fined 15,000 roubles (about $200). Her lawyer says she will appeal against the decision, saying "we will go to the European Court of Human Rights if need be".
Russia has the third-highest number of cases in the world (552,549) and 7,468 deaths, according to official figures.

What’s happening to public toilets?

Reality Check
Earlier, at the UK government briefing, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden was asked about when more public toilets will reopen, to avoid parks and streets turning into “cesspits”.
Management of public toilets is a council issue, meaning local government will decide when the 4,500 plus council-run toilets in the UK can reopen to the public.
Additionally, public toilets run by private companies in places like shopping centres will reopen when those companies think it is safe to do so.
The government has “strongly encouraged” the reopening of toilets with appropriate social distancing measures such as a bigger gap between urinals and electric hand dryers.
A number of popular destinations have already reopened all or some of their toilets including Brighton, North Norfolk, Cornwall and Blackpool. The National Trust and Royal Parks have also reopened some of their toilets.
If you are visiting somewhere and are concerned about access to toilets, local council websites are supplying information on which ones have now reopened.

Eiffel Tower to reopen next week

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, one of France’s most visited landmarks, will reopen to visitors next week.
Tourism officials plan to start by limiting the number of visitors to the tower, following its longest closure since World War Two.
Only the first and second floors will be accessible to visitors, and lifts will remain closed in the first stage of reopening.
All surfaces in well-travelled areas will be cleaned every two hours, and all visitors over the age of 11 will be required to wear masks. A full reopening is expected by 25 June.
The tower normally receives around seven million visitors per year, but France's tourism industry has been hit hard after a lockdown was imposed in March.

Pet theft law change urged as cases go 'through the roof' in lockdown

Campaigners have called on the government to make pet theft a specific offence after instances of the crime "went through the roof" in lockdown.
Beverley Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today magazine, told MPs dog prices "went up and up" during lockdown and cases of theft increased.
She joined others to tell MPs tougher penalties were needed to deter thieves.
The government has said it is already an offence under the Theft Act 1968, with a maximum penalty of seven years.
But campaigners complain those who steal animals can currently be punished in the same way as someone who steals a mobile phone or a laptop, as pets are classed simply as "property" under the act.
Read more here

WHO cautious on life-saving drug

We reported yesterday on dexamethasone, the cheap and widely available drug that can help save the lives of patients seriously ill with coronavirus .
Today, the World Health Organization issued some cautions, stressing that the steroid should only be used under medical supervision and that it should be reserved for exceptionally ill patients.
It also cautions there is no evidence it could prevent infection, or treat milder illness.
The head of the WHO's emergencies programme, Mike Ryan, said: "It is exceptionally important in this case, that the drug is reserved for use in severely ill and critical patients who can benefit from this drug clearly."
Some doctors also want to see more data, citing possible side-effects.
A major trial in the UK showed the drug cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth.

German ban on large gatherings extended to October

Germany has extended a ban on large gatherings until at least the end of October, Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced.
The number of new coronavirus infections has stabilised at a low level, she said, but people should continue social distancing and wear masks, report German media.
The ban could affect events including the Frankfurt book fair, which attracts around 300,000 visitors and which organisers had said until now was going ahead, plus of course large sports events.
Rules on gathering size vary across Germany's states. Before the new announcement was made, for example, Berlin's rules allowed up to 200 people to gather for outdoor events until 16 June, increasing to 500 from 16 June and to 1,000 from 30 June.
Schools will also return to normal after the summer holidays, Merkel added, after speaking with the leaders of Germany's 16 states in Berlin on Wednesday.

Players take a knee in first game after lockdown

Coronavirus - 17th June F04d1510

The return to Premier League football is having a poignant start. When the game began at Villa, players, officials and staff took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
When referee Michael Oliver blew the whistle for kick-off, he and his officials joined all the players in kneeling for around 10 seconds to protest against racial injustice and to stand in support of others after the death of George Floyd in the US.
All players warmed up in Black Lives Matters t-shirts, with their names on the back of the match shirts replaced with the same message.
Games are being played behind closed doors because of the pandemic, with few journalists, officials and ground staff spaced out in the quiet stadium.
Instead of crowd noise there is just the chat and commotion of the players, managers and officials.
At the UK government daily briefing earlier, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warned fans to watch the game at home, rather than meet up and spread the virus.
Coronavirus - 17th June Bb13b810
Even the goalposts were disinfected before the match

Strict lockdown in Santiago as Chile cases soar

Chile has announced a stricter lockdown in its capital after Covid-19 infections nationwide soared past 200,000.
Chile is one of the worst affected nations in South America and Santiago has been badly hit.
Residents of Santiago now face what has been termed "maximum" restrictions on movement.
The infection rate nationwide rose to 220,628, the health ministry said, after 31,412 previously unconfirmed cases were added to 4,757 new ones.
Chile has also recorded 3,383 deaths.
In a joint ministerial briefing, officials said residents of Santiago would be granted permission to leave their homes just twice a week instead of five times.
This is despite lockdowns lasting three months having already been in place in some parts of the capital.

Beer fear: '2.8m' old pints haunt Welsh pubs and clubs

Around 2.8 million pints of out-of-date beer will need to be disposed of from Wales's shut pubs and clubs, the Campaign for Real Ale has estimated.
But "highly polluting" beer "poses a significant environmental risk" according to Natural Resources Wales.
Welsh Water says it will work with businesses "to agree how and when the drinks can be disposed of".
But an opposition politician warned that the company was not used to dealing with such a volume of old beer.
Wales's 3,500 pubs and clubs - along with cafes and restaurants - have been closed since 20 March.
Read more here

Why the UK's pension 'triple lock' is back in the spotlight

Financial pressure on the UK government due to the coronavirus outbreak has prompted more speculation over the level of future rises in the state pension.
At the moment, pensioners are guaranteed rising payments through a so-called "triple lock". Pensions rise each year by a rate of inflation, the increase in average wages or 2.5% - whichever is highest.
But with the coronavirus furlough scheme picking up 80% of millions of wages until it ends in October, next year's average wage rise will be as high as 18%.
Will the government scrap the triple lock, will it postpone it, or are pensioners in line for a bumper increase?
Read more here

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 17 2020, 21:31

UK tracing app roll-out date now 'before winter'

Coronavirus - 17th June Fcb4f010

UK health says the country's coronavirus contact tracing app will be now ready "before the winter".
Lord Bethell, the minister for innovation at the Department of Health and Social Care, said he was unable to give a date for its launch - adding that the application was "not a priority".
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the comments appeared to contradict statements made by ministers in the recent past .
Read more here .

Doctors call for clear plan for schools return

More than 1,500 UK paediatricians have signed a letter to the prime minister calling for clear plans for getting children back into school.
They say the absence of millions of children from schools "risks scarring the life chances of a generation of young people".
Their concerns centre on the mental and physical health of children who have missed many months of education.
Plans for schools reopening have been published in Scotland and Wales.
The letter from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health calls on the UK government and the Northern Ireland Executive to follow suit.
Read about what they have to say here .

Thousands self-isolate over German abattoir outbreak

Coronavirus - 17th June 2b2fdf10
Outbreaks of infection have been recorded at a number of slaughterhouses in Germany and worldwide

Earlier we reported that 400 workers at a slaughterhouse in Gütersloh in western Germany had tested positive since Monday.
Now some 7,000 people have been told to go into quarantine.
Employees' families will have to isolate themselves and schools and nurseries in the area have been closed. The abattoir has also been temporarily shut.
A number of abattoirs in Germany and elsewhere in Europe have been hit by Covid-19. They often rely on migrant labour. Some face allegations that poor working conditions and cramped accommodation facilitate the spread of the virus.
Germany has had nearly 9,000 deaths from Covid-19, which is significantly less than some other western European countries, including the UK, France and Italy.

Nurse-turned-patient leaves hospital after 75 days

Coronavirus - 17th June 799d7710

An NHS nurse who spent 75 days as a coronavirus patient at the hospital where he works has recovered and left amid clapping from colleagues.
Felix Khor, 68, spent 45 days in the intensive care ward at Southend Hospital in Essex, where he has worked for 15 years, and was put on a ventilator.
He then spent several weeks on a different ward.
He was admitted to hospital in early April and was discharged on Monday.
Read his story here

No goals but plenty of tributes at Villa Park

The Premier League has finally returned.There were no fans. But then there were no goals either.
Aston Villa and Sheffield United drew 0-0 at Villa Park after a 100-day hiatus.
There was a moment's silence observed to remember all those who have died in the coronavirus outbreak, including the father of Villa manager Dean Smith.
The players and match officials also all took a knee to mark the death of African American George Floyd in the US, and the players' names were replaced with the words Black Lives Matter.
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Honduras leader in hospital with pneumonia

We reported earlier that Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez had announced he and his wife had tested positive for Covid-19.
The president was later taken to hospital and is now being treated for pneumonia, Reuters quotes Francis Contreras, a spokesman for Honduran health agency Sinager, as saying.
He said the president was on an intravenous drip but was generally in good heath.
Mr Hernandez tweeted that he felt good and appreciated all the support he had received.
The Latin American nation has registered just under 10,000 Covid-19 infections and 330 deaths.

I want to meet five friends. How to stay safe

The US opens up
Coronavirus - 17th June Ae152910

After two months at home - two months of virtual happy hours, socially distanced hangouts, and learning when to unmute yourself on Zoom - all 50 US states and the District of Columbia have begun the process of reopening.
For some, that means the first face-to-face interactions with friends and family outside of their household in weeks.
But how do you navigate the risks? Is sharing snacks okay? And is the briefest of hugs acceptable? Find out here

Your wrap-up of today's world events

We will shortly be pausing our live coverage. Today there were signs of the pandemic worsening in Latin America, and localised infections are causing concern in some countries where the virus is largely considered to be under control. The top stories on Wednesday:

  • In Latin America the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández is in hospital with pneumonia after testing positive for the virus. Hard-hit Brazil reported almost 35,000 new cases - its highest daily figure. Meanwhile Chile introduced a tighter lockdown that permits citizens of Santiago to leave their homes just twice a week - cases there have soared past 200,000 nationally
  • There have been 8.1m confirmed cases across the world since the outbreak began, and 441,000 deaths
  • A spike in infections in Beijing , China continues as people in 27 neighbourhoods are forbidden from leaving the city
  • In Germany, 7,000 people have been told to go into quarantine after hundreds of workers tested positive at a slaughterhouse in Gütersloh

  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered the military to oversee the country's quarantine and border operations after two infected people arrived from the UK
  • In Russia, any visitors for President Vladimir Putin must pass through a special disinfection tunnel
  • And finally, living through a pandemic has caused many people to struggle with their mental health. Our colleague has taken a look at how our brains are responding to the pandemic. Watch her video here .

Your catch-up on today in the UK

And as we wind down our live page, here’s a round-up of some of the biggest stories in the UK:

  • Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urged people to stay at home to watch the return of England's Premier League. The first game between Aston Villa and Sheffield United ended in a 0-0 draw at Villa Park
  • Health Minister Lord Bethell said the UK's contact tracing app will now be ready "before the winter" appearing to contradict recent promises it would be launched this month
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to state that schools are safe to reopen across England
  • Life-saving coronavirus treatment dexamethasone went into use across the UK
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock was seen slapping a colleague on the back in the House of Commons, despite social distancing measures in place to curb the spread of coronavirus
  • And the country's death toll rose by 184 to 42,153 - there were a further 1,115 confirmed coronavirus cases

That's it for now

So that's the end of our live page coverage for Wednesday. Thanks for joining us.

Here are the people who contributed to the page today.
Saira Asher, Yvette Tan, Krutika Pathi, Josh Cheetham, Mary O'Connor, Paulin Kola, Patrick Jackson, Gavin Stamp. Paul Seddon, Claire Heald, Gary Kitchener, Georgina Rannard, Martha Buckley, Max Matza and George Bowden
Be sure to join us again tomorrow.

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Coronavirus - 17th June Empty Dublin resident shares horrifying video of fox dragging giant rat onto to doorstep before devouring it

Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 17 2020, 22:18

Dublin resident shares horrifying video of fox dragging giant rat onto to doorstep before devouring it
From: The Irish Post
17 June 2020

A DUBLIN man has shared alarming footage of a wild fox carrying a giant dead rat through a residential area of the city. 

In the clip, filmed in an estate near Aungier Street, the fox can be seen struggling to pick the large rodent up before eventually bringing it across the road to the nearby York Street flats. 
The footage was filmed by local resident Ryan Mooney who send the disturbing video to Newstalk
Speaking over the clip, Mooney can be heard saying "Here you can see the fox, strutting out of the flats and across the road with a rat in its mouth that it's after killing. 
An audible gasp can be heard coming from a fellow onlooker before Mooney continues: "And what's even better, he's bringing the dead rat into my flats to eat him." 
The alarming video comes amid growing calls from Dublin locals for help in dealing with a rapidly escalating rat infestation across the city.

Watch the video here

Dublin’s rodent population has been positively thriving in lockdown with the usual efforts of pest control teams significantly curtailed, giving vermin free rein to roam central Dublin and even further afield with reports of sightings across the suburbs of the Irish capital.  
The recent spate of warm weather, coupled with an increase in the amount of illegal dumping going on in the city has only added to the problem.  
While the HSE would usually be relied up to control the rat population, stricter regulations on poison use coupled with the fact exterminators have been unable to enter homes during the pandemic have proven problematic.  
These are no ordinary rats either, with one Dublin City Council source telling the Irish Times  that the rats being seen at present are big enough to “put a saddle on”.  
This new, giant species of rat is capable of some extraordinary things too, including eating their way through brickwork and circumventing traps.

Infestations have been reported in homes, gardens and even cars in Dublin.  
The council confirmed to the Irish Times  that it has witnessed “a large increase in the number of rats coming up from the pipe networks and onto the streets.”  
“We had instances where rats had eaten through brickwork in manholes and somehow managed to get by trap gullies on the roadways,” they added.  
“During the Covid-19 crisis, the HSE did not carry out pest control in our flat complexes, as they did prior to the pandemic. In the absence of the HSE, Dublin City Council continued to provide this service, which placed additional strain on our resources,” the council added.  
Thankfully, the decreasing number of new cases of Covid-19 in Dublin means normal service is set to resume soon enough, with exterminators given the go-ahead to enter properties from today.

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Coronavirus - 17th June Empty Star-studded line-up announced for The Irish Post's Virtual Irish Country & Folk Festival

Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 17 2020, 22:19

Star-studded line-up announced for The Irish Post's Virtual Irish Country & Folk Festival
From: The Irish Post - 17 June 2020

ONE THING lockdown has undoubtedly done is help bring us closer together, with citizens looking out for one another and everyone doing their bit to protect each other.
But the world changing so suddenly, and all the restrictions and isolation that came with it, means that a lot of people have suffered with their mental health, and there have been multiple campaigns to help people cope until life returns to normal.
To help do our part, The Irish Post has organised for a whole host of talented Irish performers to come together for a virtual Irish Country & Folk Festival in aid of charity Mental Health Ireland.

Coronavirus - 17th June 83261410

Some fantastic Irish performers and personalities have come together to support Mental Health Ireland during such a difficult time. Join us for this event on Sunday June 21st at 7pm BST on our Facebook page.
Aslan Daniel O'Donnell Ash Lisa Canny The O'Neill Sisters Derek Ryan Music The Byrne Brothers Megan O'Neill All Folk'd Up Cliona Hagan Malachi Cush Official Owen Mac Dan McCabe Musician Rory Best Michael Flatley Sir Stevo Timothy David Geaney Fusion Fighters Gardiner Brothers

Join us on The Irish Post Facebook page (here) this Sunday, 21 June at 7pm BST for a night of comedy, ceol agus craic from our star-studded line-up, which will include performances by:
Aslan, Daniel O'Donnell, Ash, Rory Best, Michael Flatley, Lisa Canny, The O'Neill Sisters, Sharon Shannon, Dublin City Today, Derek Ryan, The Byrne Brothers, Megan O'Neill, All Folk'd Up, Cliona Hagan, Malachi Cush, Owen Mac, Dan McCabe, David Geaney, Sir Stevo Timothy, Fusion Fighters and the Gardiner Brothers-- with even more acts to be announced this week.

The virtual summer festival will be broadcast live from our Facebook page with the aim of raising awareness and funds for the essential charity while also having a bit of classic Irish craic-- so mark it in your calendar because this is one virtual concert you won't want to miss!
For more information on Mental Health Ireland and the essential work they do, or to donate, you can visit the website here .
Until then, we'll see you all on Sunday!

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Coronavirus - 17th June Empty Sixteen friends test positive for coronavirus after night out at Irish pub in the US

Post by Kitkat on Wed Jun 17 2020, 22:21

Sixteen friends test positive for coronavirus after night out at Irish pub in the US

A GROUP of 16 friends who went on a night out to an Irish pub in the US to celebrate the end of lockdown have all tested positive for Covid-19.
In a cautionary tale for anyone planning on heading straight to the pub once restrictions are lifted, healthcare worker Erica Crisp described to 4Jax News how she and her friends had marked the occasion by heading out to Lynch’s Irish pub in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 6.
Erica had spent the previous few months regularly washing her hands, social distancing and, as she describes it, “doing everything the right way”.
However, within a few days of the party at Lynch’s Irish Pub, she began to feel unwell.
It wasn’t long before her friends began to experience a similar sickness.
Now every single person in the group, along with seven members of staff at the pub, have tested positive for Covid-19.
After so many months of being careful, Erica believes she and her friends only have themselves to blame, having mistakenly assumed it would be safe to go out like it was before.
“I think we were careless and we went out into a public place when we should not have,” she told 4Jax News .
“We were not wearing masks, I think we had a whole ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality.
“The state opens back up and said everybody was fine, so we took advantage of that.”

Coronavirus - 17th June Lynchs-pub-irish-post

She only hopes that her experience is a lesson to anyone considering similar plans.
“We should be wearing masks. We should be social distancing,” Erica said.
“It was too soon to open everything back up.”
The incident has ending up hitting Lynch’s Irish Pub pretty hard too.
While only seven of the bar’s 49 full time employees tested positive for the virus, the pub had to be shut down.
General manager Keith Doherty estimates that the closure, coupled with the deep cleaning of the venue has cost him $30,000.

    Current date/time is Sat Nov 28 2020, 08:32