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Coronavirus - 12th August

Kitkat
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covidaug Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 09:52

Summary for Wednesday, 12th August

  • The UK has officially fallen into recession for the first time in 11 years due to the impact of the pandemic
  • The 20.4% fall in the second quarter is the largest reported by any major economy so far
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak warns of a further wave of job losses, saying "hard times are here"
  • Fast rising case numbers are worrying governments in western Europe, who are warning people to take more precautions
  • France is reporting 2,000 new cases per day compared to 1,000 three weeks ago, the prime minister says
  • Spain, meanwhile, is in a "critical situation", with the worst infection rate in Europe, experts say
  • There are outbreaks of coronavirus, of differing sizes, in almost all parts of Germany, its health minister warns


UK plunges into recession for first time in 11 years

We kick off our live coverage this morning with some grim news that while long expected has finally been confirmed. The UK has crashed into recession for the first time in 11 years due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions imposed to control it.
The economy contracted by a record 20.4% between April and June, the Office for National Statistics said.
Officials said the economy bounced back in June as government restrictions on movement started to ease.

Europe fears resurgence as cases rise

A rash of new coronavirus outbreaks across Europe has prompted warnings against complacency, as officials in Spain, France, Germany and other countries fear a major resurgence of infections.
European countries are scrambling to curb coronavirus outbreaks that have sprung up since lockdown restrictions that damaged their economies were lifted.
In France, Prime Minister Jean Castex warned that the country had been going "the wrong way" for two weeks. The health ministry reported 1,397 new infections of Covid-19 on Tuesday, nearly double the previous day’s rise.
Meanwhile in Germany, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 1,226 to 218,519 on Wednesday, data showed. Health Minister Jens Spahn said “we must be very alert about the rise”.
Figures released by Spain's health ministry on Tuesday showed 326,612 infections have now been confirmed, an increase of 3,632. Most of those new cases were detected in Catalonia, Madrid and Aragón, where fresh lockdowns were imposed last month.

How could a recession affect you?

Ben King - Business reporter, BBC News
While economic figures may feel far removed from your day-to-day life, the announcement of the UK entering a recession has real consequences.
As we've been seeing already during the pandemic, in a recession many people can lose their jobs, or find it harder to get promotions, or a pay rise.
Graduates and school leavers could also find it harder to get a first job.
The pain of a recession is typically not felt equally across society, and inequality can increase.
For instance, many UK homeowners who kept their jobs during the last recession just over a decade ago did OK. Mortgage interest payments for many fell considerably, leaving them with more spending money.
Others, such as benefit recipients or public sector workers, were hit harder.
Read more here

Europe virus spikes, UK recession and other headlines

If you’re just joining us, hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. As usual, we’ll be bringing you the latest developments from the UK and around the world.
Here are the stories we are watching:

Analysis: UK economic hit set to be worst in G7

Faisal Islam - BBC Economics Editor
The UK economy shrank an unprecedented 20.4% in the second quarter of this year between April and June, confirming an official technical recession, as the economy shutdown during the first wave peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The first official GDP numbers for this period show over a fifth of the value of the economy lost since the beginning of the year, mainly driven by the severe shutdown in April.
The six-month fall is on course to be the worst in the G7 (the group of the world's seven largest so-called advanced economies). However, within Europe, the Spanish economy has so far fallen a little more.
The sheer extent and speed of the contraction, though not surprising, reflects an economic hit that has affected every high street and town and city in the country.
The economy is now growing again, but not all the lights that were dimmed in order to protect public health in the spring, will be turned back on.
Get all the latest details in our main story

Calls for New Zealand election to be delayed

The leader of New Zealand’s parliamentary opposition has called on the prime minister to delay September’s election after new coronavirus cases saw lockdown restrictions return.
Four new infections were found in Auckland on Tuesday, ending the country’s remarkable 102-day streak without a locally transmitted case .
A three-day lockdown has swiftly been imposed in the city and the country’s Covid-19 alert level has been raised.
On Wednesday National Party leader Judith Collins said it was not possible to hold a free and fair election in the circumstances.
"It's very hard to have any democratic vote if people can't vote, that is the problem,” she said, suggesting a delay until at least November.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she needed “time to fully consider” the impact of the new outbreak before making a decision about the election.

Many more will lose jobs - UK chancellor

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been commenting on this morning's figures showing the record economic slump in the UK wrought by the coronavirus and lockdown measures.
"I've said before that hard times were ahead, and today's figures confirm that hard times are here," he said.
"Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months many more will.
"But while there are difficult choices to be made ahead, we will get through this, and I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity."
Giving her reaction, Labour's shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said a downturn was "inevitable after lockdown" but added: "[Boris] Johnson's jobs crisis wasn't.
"We've already got the worst excess death rate in Europe - now we're on course for the worst recession too," she said. "That's a tragedy for our country and it's happening on the PM's watch."

France's virus situation 'deteriorating'

As we reported earlier, France is among the European countries reporting recent spikes in new coronavirus infections, fuelling fears of larger outbreaks.
On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex appeared to be acutely aware of the resurgence of Covid-19 in the country.
"The epidemiological situation, which we are following very closely, is deteriorating: 2,000 new cases per day compared to 1,000 three weeks ago," Mr Castex said at a news conference in Montpellier.
On Tuesday, 1,397 new infections and 14 deaths were reported in France.
Those increases brought France’s total infections to 239,355 and deaths to 30,328, both among the highest figures in the world.
Like other countries, France is tightening hygiene regulations in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus, but officials do not want to bring back the full lockdowns that unleashed so much economic pain.
Read more: Cases surge as France goes 'wrong way'

Australia records a new deadliest day

Australia has seen its deadliest day of the pandemic yet with 21 new deaths linked to Covid-19 reported on Wednesday. It's a sobering moment for a country once hailed as a pandemic success story.
The new deaths were all recorded in the state of Victoria, where a state of disaster was declared earlier this month after a spike in new infections.
The previous highest daily death toll was 19, recorded a day earlier. On Wednesday, a further 410 cases of coronavirus were recorded by health authorities in Victoria.
Despite Wednesday’s rise, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said there were signs that new infections were starting to level off.
"If you look at the average over the last seven days we are seeing the line come down," he said.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 11:16

What a recession really means

The UK has reported a record economic recession this morning. And although it has taken a particularly bad economic hit, it's not alone.
Many, many countries around the world are also seeing their economies shrink.
But what causes recessions? And how do they affect normal people? Watch this video for all you need to know.



Spain's outbreak at ‘critical moment’

Spain - one of the worst-affected countries in Europe - is once again in the grip of a worrying coronavirus outbreak.
Analysis of official figures by the AFP news agency showed the country reported an average of 4,923 new daily Covid-19 cases during the last seven days.
The average daily caseload for that period was higher than that of Britain, France, Germany and Italy combined.
"It's a critical moment, we are right at a point where things can get better or worse," said Salvador Macip, an expert in health sciences at Catalonia's Open University.
Read more: What are the quarantine rules for Spain and its islands?
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 11:22

Last minute exam results change 'panicked and chaotic'

Sean Coughlan - BBC News, education correspondent
It's A-level results day tomorrow in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and head teachers have attacked a last-minute change to the way some exam grades will be calculated as "panicked and chaotic".
The government has now said students in England and Northern Ireland can accept their estimated grade, take a written exam in the autumn or take their mark gained in a mock exam earlier this year.
The results are a huge deal for many students as they play a major part in determining which universities they can get into.
Students in England are now being promised their final grades will be no lower than their mock exams.
But head teachers' leader Geoff Barton said the marking of mock exams was not consistent enough between schools to be used to decide A-level results.
The decision came after fierce criticism of the way Scotland determined its students grades, which saw accusations that high-achieving pupils in low-performing schools would be unfairly marked down.
Get all the details here.

Shoppers descend on supermarkets as Auckland locks down

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Queues were snaking around supermarket car parks in Auckland on Wednesday

Shoppers have flocked to supermarkets in New Zealand's largest city after four new coronavirus cases prompted the return of strict lockdown measures.
Local media said police were called to reports of disorder at supermarkets across the city on Tuesday night, as people rushed to stock up before restrictions came into effect.
Police visited a number of supermarkets but no arrests were made.
Coronavirus - 12th August D9584e10

Announcing the lockdown on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged people to remain calm, saying there was no need for panic buying as shops would remain open.
But large crowds of shoppers defied her pleas.
A three-day lockdown started in Auckland at midday on Wednesday, after the small number of new Covid-19 infections ended New Zealand’s 102-day run without a locally-transmitted case .
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 14:45

The picture improves in South Africa

Nomsa Maseko - BBC News, Johannesburg
Coronavirus infections appear to be stabilising in South Africa.
The country's coronavirus recovery rate (the proportion of confirmed cases that have recovered) has also increased to 75% - its highest level to date and well above the global average of 62%.
New Covid-19 cases have declined from a peak of around 15,000 daily infections to just over 2,500 in the past 24 hours.
There’s also been a decrease in the number of daily coronavirus-related fatalities.
The province of Kwa-Zulu Natal has become the latest hotspot, and now has the second-highest number of cases in the country.
Close to 200 students and staff have tested positive for Covid-19 in different universities in the province.
Lobbyists have called on the government to ease lockdown restrictions as businesses and jobs have come under pressure.
The ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products has also been the subject of numerous legal challenges - as both industries want the ban to be lifted.

France toughens warnings as cases mount

Lucy Williamson - Paris correspondent, BBC News
As the figures have swelled over the past few weeks here in France, the warnings have hardened.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said the situation was going “in the wrong direction” and warned that the epidemic could become harder to control.
New daily cases have risen from a few hundred per day last month to an average of 1,600 now. The number of new clusters each day has risen five-fold.
And as cases mount, so too does the response. The prime minister is now pushing local authorities to extend “as much as possible” the mandatory wearing of face masks on busy streets.
More than 300 places including Paris have already put these restrictions in place.
He’s also promised more policing of social-distancing rules and a ban on large gatherings has been extended.
The government is desperate to avoid another lockdown, which would place unimaginable pressure on France’s economy.
It is already reeling from the impact of the last one. But as restrictions tighten and anxiety mounts, it’s a shadow that looms over France’s new prime minister. “No one,” he said, “wants to live through that again”.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 14:54

New Zealand will eliminate virus again, says expert

New Zealand will succeed in ridding the country of the coronavirus once again, a top health expert has told the BBC.
The country put its largest city, Auckland, back into lockdown on Wednesday, after recording four new Covid-19 cases.
Prof Michael Baker, the epidemiologist behind New Zealand's virus elimination strategy, said it was "a shock" but insisted that "one thing you have to plan for is setbacks".
Watch his interview with BBC Newsnight.



Germany's spike in cases driven by small outbreaks

Jenny Hill - BBC Berlin correspondent
For most Germans, the most pressing concern right now is keeping cool during a heatwave that continues to drive the temperature well above 30C.
But, as people crowd to the shady shores of country lakes or queue outside city ice cream shops, scientists and politicians are worrying about a significant rise in the number of new Covid-19 cases.
In the last 24 hours, 1,226 cases were recorded - the highest number since early May.
Germany’s health minister says he’s concerned but insists the situation remains manageable - for now.
What worries the authorities is that, unlike previous spikes caused by large but isolated outbreaks, the rise in recent weeks has been driven by lots of small outbreaks which may be harder to contain.
There’s anxiety as children return to school, with some states insisting that students and teachers wear masks.
And there are wider concerns about general behaviour. In one district of Berlin, authorities inspected 13 bars and found that only one complied with coronavirus safety measures.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 14:58

How do rising UK infections compare with the rest of Europe?

The UK government has raised concerns over rising case numbers in European countries, such as Spain, Belgium and Andorra – with reports that France is also being monitored closely.
But how much are infections rising in the UK itself?
Yesterday's figures show 1,148 new cases - not far off the 1,397 recorded in France on the same day.
But the average over recent days is much lower: 928 in the UK, compared to 1,600 in France.
When the UK imposed quarantine restrictions on travellers from Belgium last week, case rates there had reached 49.2 per 100,000 people, compared to 14.3 per 100,000 people in the UK.
A survey by the Office of National statistics, which involved taking swabs from almost 120,000 people, suggested last week that a rise in UK infections in July may have levelled off.
But there is still cause for concern - Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the government has had to "squeeze that brake pedal" and halt plans to relax coronavirus measures further.
The Joint Biosecurity Centre - a new body set up by the government to offer advice on how to set the coronavirus threat level across the UK - has suggested that 1,000 cases a day should be considered the limit of "acceptable incidence". The UK exceeded that twice this week.

Aberdeen lockdown to remain in place

The local lockdown imposed in Aberdeen a week ago after a spike in coronavirus cases is to stay in place.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the number of new cases in the city had fallen in recent days - but was still "much higher" than in other areas.
She said it was therefore too early to lift any of the restrictions. This means pubs and restaurants will remain closed, with restrictions on travel and visiting other households still in place.
Sturgeon said a total of 177 cases had now been linked to the outbreak - 12 more than yesterday.
Read more here

UK in 'double whammy' of worst deaths and worst recession - Labour leader

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says "serious questions" must be asked about the government’s economic strategy in the wake of today's GDP figures.
After officials confirmed the UK was going through its biggest economic slump on record, Starmer says the country "should not be in this position".
"Nobody can avoid the fact that there was going to be an economic crisis as a result of the pandemic. We knew that. But we now find ourselves in a double whammy," he said.
"We've got one of the worst death rates across Europe and now we're going to have one of the worst recessions."
Starmer reiterates his call for the furlough scheme to have "more flexibility" to support businesses and sectors struggling more than others.
“The government has been far too slow. We were slow into lockdown, slow on protective equipment, slow on testing... all of this has contributed to the situation we find ourselves in today, and the government needs to accept responsibility and start answering questions," he said.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 15:08

Barcelona among Spanish teams to see infections

Barcelona have become the latest Spanish football team to confirm a positive case of Covid-19 within its squad.
The player was one of nine reporting for pre-season training, showed no symptoms and has been quarantined at his home, the team said .
Barcelona said he has not been in contact with any senior players, who travel to Lisbon on Thursday to prepare for a Champions League quarter-final.
Valencia confirmed two cases of Covid-19 this week, while Atletico Madrid reported two positive tests before their Champions League quarter-final.
Athletico’s women’s team have also been affected. Their training was suspended following four more positive tests for coronavirus among their squad and coaching staff.

'I could be responsible for people's deaths without knowing'

Care home worker Alison Taylor did not realise she had Covid-19
The spread of coronavirus among the 400,000 people living in England's care homes has been identified as one reason the UK has the highest virus death toll in Europe.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised that all staff and residents would be tested by early June - but the introduction of regular tests was delayed.
For Alison Taylor, a care home worker in Sheffield, that means she discovered too late that she had contracted the virus unknowingly , without developing symptoms.
"I find it really hard to think that I might have passed it to care homes, to residents, to my family," said Alison.
Employed by an agency, she worked at four different homes before regular testing was introduced. An antibody test last week confirmed she had been infected at some time in the past.
"I could be responsible for other people's deaths without knowing," she said.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 15:11

UK headlines

If you're just joining us, here's a quick recap of the main headlines related to the pandemic today:


Why has the UK economy suffered worse than others?

The UK has plummeted into recession, with its economy shrinking an unprecedented 20.4% in the latest three-month measure. To put that into context, the biggest quarterly contraction at the height of the 2008 financial crisis was 2.1%.
Taking a look at the first six months of 2020, the UK economy shrank by 22.1% - compared with a fall of 10.6% in the US and a decline of 11.9% in Germany.
Spain fared slightly worse than the UK as its economy shrank by 22.7%.
Liz Martins, UK economist at HSBC, thinks there are three main reasons for the UK's performance.
"Compared to Europe, we locked down a bit later, so we spent more of the second quarter locked down as other economies were unlocking," she says.
Secondly, the UK is extremely dependent on the services sector - which means a lot of work can't be done from home. The sector, which includes restaurants, retail, entertainment and accommodation, ground to a halt during the strictest parts of lockdown.
Lastly, Martins says, the UK "arguably" took longer to bring the virus under control which affected confidence.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 15:17

Human cost of Covid-19 ‘infodemic’ revealed

Alistair Coleman - BBC anti-disinformation unit
At least 800 people died worldwide as a result of coronavirus-related misinformation in the first three months of this year, a study has found.
A further 5,800 people were admitted to hospital after being exposed to false information on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and chat apps, the study said .
The study’s authors echoed statements from the World Health Organization (WHO), which warned the Covid-19 “infodemic” spread just as quickly as the virus itself.
Most of the deaths and hospital admissions were the result of people drinking methanol and alcohol-based cleaning products, wrongly believing them to be a cure for coronavirus.
But following advice that resembles credible medical information - such as ingesting large quantities of vitamins - can also have “potentially serious implications”, the authors say.
The paper concludes that it’s down to international agencies, governments and social media platforms to fight back against this “infodemic”.
A BBC investigation, which can be read here , found links between virus misinformation and assaults, arson and deaths.

The travellers waiting months for refunds on cancelled flights

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David Hanson and Jemima Rodwell say they have waited five months with no refund

A couple who booked a "dream trip" to New Zealand are among those struggling months later to get refunds for flights cancelled during the pandemic.
David Hanson and girlfriend Jemima Rodwell were due to fly out in March and travel around in a campervan before attending a wedding. The Emirates flight was cancelled with three days' notice, but five months on they still have not been repaid the £1,742 cost of the tickets.
"I'm extremely frustrated, really angry just how they can get away with it in terms of being so long," said David, from Manchester.
The experience of chasing the booking agency, airline and insurer for "months and months" had been demoralising. "You end up just feel really powerless," he said.
Consumer group Which? says "time after time" airlines have broken the law on refunds during the pandemic . Now it is calling for the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, to be given new powers.
Pupil support worker Kirsty Ness from Edinburgh was due to fly to Gdansk in Poland with her boyfriend in early April but Ryanair cancelled their flight.
Despite asking for a cash refund, Kirsty says she was initially sent a voucher to rebook. After five phone calls and dozens of emails, she says she finally received her money this week.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 15:19

China reports success in containing Xinjiang outbreak

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
China has reported only nine new cases of Covid-19 in the north-west region of Xinjiang, the area of the mainland with the largest current outbreak.
This is in stark contrast to two weeks ago. At the end of July more than 100 new cases were being reported each day in the region.
There were local lockdowns across the capital city of Urumqi – the area hardest hit - during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
This affected a significant proportion of the city’s population, given that 20% of Urumqi’s population is made up of Uighur (12%) and Hui (8%) Muslims.
The Urumqi outbreak began on 15 July. In total, more than 19,000 people were placed under medical observation.
Communities were swiftly locked down while medical staff sent from 10 different regions carried out mass testing on the city’s population of 3.5 million.
There were never any major concerns that the Xinjiang outbreak might lead to a second wave. The Chinese government watches Xinjiang's citizens very closely, more so than in other regions of the country. It is the area where China has been internationally criticised for detaining huge numbers of Muslims in re-education camps.

Five more deaths in Wales, zero in Scotland and N Ireland

Another five people in Wales who tested positive for coronavirus have died, bringing the death toll there to 1,586.
Public Health Wales said eight more cases of the virus had been confirmed in lab tests in the last 24 hours.
Both Scotland and Northern Ireland reported no new Covid-19 deaths, leaving the total number of deaths in those nations at 2,491 and 557 respectively.
Northern Ireland said it had recorded another 29 positive tests and Scotland said it had seen an additional 47 cases - 24 of which were in the NHS Grampian area that includes Aberdeen, currently subject to a local lockdown.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 15:23

Florida sheriff bans face masks at work

Mask-wearing is a divisive issue in the US and remains optional in many parts of the country.
In Marion county, Florida, one sheriff has told his staff they are not allowed to wear one at work. And it doesn't stop there, visitors to the sheriff's office cannot wear one either.
"My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn," Sheriff Billy Woods wrote in an email reported by ABC news.
The city of Ocala, Florida also advises officers not to wear masks, saying it will help make communication with people they encounter easier.
Florida has been badly-hit by the pandemic, with more than half a million cases reported so far. The number of new daily cases remains high but has started to decrease in recent weeks.

How ghost cruise ships became a summer tourist attraction

Hazel Shearing - BBC News
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One of the more unusual sights of the coronavirus pandemic has been that of cruise ships drifting around in the English Channel, apparently abandoned at sea. But why are they there? And how did they become a holiday attraction?
The cruise industry was hit early in the pandemic, when the virus first swept the Diamond Princess, in Japan and then the Grand Princess, in the US.
Holidays were cancelled and empty boats had to go somewhere. Ships have to pay fees to berth, meaning an already crippled industry would be losing even more money if they docked in ports.
The arrival of the UK's "ghost ships", as one Twitter user called them, has transformed the view from the coast and fascinated locals and tourists alike. They have now become a tourist attraction in their own right, with people paying to see them up close.
The captain of one of the cruise ships parked off the Dorset coast has even started to wave back at those on tours using what he describes as a six-foot-long hand made of plywood.
Read the full story here .
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 18:03

Disaster-hit Lebanon 'must remain vigilant on Covid-19'

Coronavirus - 12th August C399e410
Many people wore masks at a vigil on Tuesday for the victims of the explosion

The World Health Organization has urged Lebanon to stay vigilant about the threat of Covid-19 as the country struggles to recover from last week’s devastating explosion in Beirut.
There was already an upward trend in the daily number of cases before the disaster, and on Tuesday the Lebanese health ministry reported a record 309 new infections.
“While we have to still continue to respond to the consequences of the blast, we also need to stay vigilant with respect to Covid,” the WHO’s regional emergency director in the Eastern Mediterranean, Dr Richard Brennan, told a virtual briefing.
He said a priority was to restore all of Beirut’s primary healthcare facilities. Just over 50% of those in areas affected by the blast are not functioning, including three major hospitals, he said.
“Lebanon does have a very strong track record to date against Covid. If we can step up our response again, I think we will be able to get on top of this recent acceleration in cases.”
The WHO is also distributing about 25 tonnes of protective equipment that has been brought in over the last couple of days.

Six more deaths in England

Another six people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, says NHS England.
It brings the total number of confirmed deaths in England to 29,431.
Two more deaths were reported where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate but there was no positive test result.
UK-wide figures are expected to be reported later, but may differ from the totals from the four nations as they are calculated on a different time frame and include deaths in care homes and the community, as well as in hospital.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 18:07

Germany battles rise in infections, and other headlines

If you’re just tuning in, here’s a quick recap of some of the main developments from around the world on Wednesday:


NatWest announces 550 job losses

On the day that the UK officially slumped into recession due to the pandemic, NatWest has become the latest company to announce job losses.
The bank says the 550 job cuts, to be made through voluntary redundancies, are part of a cost-cutting drive as more people bank online.
It says the trend has been accelerated by the lockdown although the cuts had been planned before the pandemic. No branches are closing as a result of the changes, however.
"We have to respond to changing customer behaviour and the rising customer demand for digital banking services," a spokesperson said.

UK reports another 77 deaths

Another 77 people have died in the UK following a positive coronavirus test, bringing the total confirmed Covid-19 deaths in UK hospitals, care homes and in the community to 46,706.
There were also another 1,009 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the third time in a week that cases in the UK have risen by the more than 1,000.
UK-wide death figures may not match the totals for the four nations, as they cover a different time scale and cover deaths in all settings.
The statistics are also under review after Health Secretary Matt Hancock raised concerns that the figures for England may include people who died months after testing positive for the virus.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 18:10

Switzerland virus situation 'fragile'

Imogen Foulkes - BBC News, Geneva
Switzerland has delayed its planned resumption of big sporting and entertainment events of 1,000 or more people. Instead of being allowed to go ahead on 1st September, the date has been delayed by one month. Large events were first banned at the end of February.
On Wednesday health minister Alain Berset described the situation in Switzerland as "fragile", amid rising cases (274 in the latest 24-hour period). He said that a further month to monitor the situation would be helpful.
The Swiss approach to the virus is clearly control rather than eradicate. Berset said people would have to "learn to live with it", adding that for now the situation, despite rising case numbers, was under control.
When big events are permitted again, organisers will have to apply for special permission from authorities, and submit a health and safety plan. Cantons (districts of the country) must also guarantee their test, trace and isolate systems have the capacity to deal with possible outbreaks around big events.

Russia calls vaccine concerns 'groundless'

As you've probably heard, Russia has approved a coronavirus vaccine which its leader, Vladimir Putin, says is safe for use.
But internationally, experts have expressed scepticism. The World Health Organization said it had not seen enough information and was in talks with Russia about assessing it.
The US's top virus expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, meanwhile told National Geographic: "I hope that the Russians have actually definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective. I seriously doubt that they've done that."
Now Russia has dismissed these concerns as "absolutely groundless". It plans to produce five million doses a month by 2021, according to the Russian news agency Tass.
"It seems our foreign colleagues are sensing the specific competitive advantages of the Russian drug and are trying to express opinions that... are absolutely groundless," Russia's Health Minister Mikhail Murashko told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday.
Meanwhile in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte offered himself as a human test subject for the Russian vaccine.
Read more about the international reaction to the drug.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 18:13

Texas cases top half a million

The US state of Texas reported over 8,900 new virus cases on Tuesday, pushing the state's total over 500,000 since the start of the pandemic.
The state's average number of new daily cases is now higher than it was last week, which saw about 6,900 new cases each day.
The positive case rate - the proportion of those tested for coronavirus that are actually positive - is another indicator of the spread. It is currently at 24% in Texas. For context, the World Health Organization advised governments to avoid reopening societies until positivity rates were at 5% or lower for at least 14 days.
Critics said Texan leaders allowed the state to reopen too soon, which led to the spike earlier this summer. Officials say the numbers are now better than what they were but they are urging residents to practise social distancing and mask-wearing.
Many of the US's county-level hotspots remain in hard-hit Texas and Florida, though Florida is overall seeing a decline in its new cases. California, the most populous state, continues to grapple with rising Covid-19 cases - with 12,500 reported on Tuesday.

No partying after results, police warn students

Greater Manchester Police has warned students getting their A-level results tomorrow not to hold any parties , saying fines could be issued for breaching coronavirus restrictions.
"We do not want to spoil what should be a joyous occasion by issuing fixed penalty notices at any house parties or illegal gatherings," said Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey.
Manchester is part of a swathe of northern England that was placed under enhanced coronavirus restrictions on 31 July after a spike in cases.
Police said that house parties, some of which involved 17- and 18-year-olds, had played a part in the rise. And last weekend, there were 1,106 reports of lockdown breaches, 540 of which were house parties, they said.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 20:18

Apology to 'every single child' over virus disruption

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has apologised to "every single child" for the disruption they have faced because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with the BBC, he said the "best thing" was for every child in England to be back in school in September.
A-levels results will be revealed on Thursday morning, with results based on estimates after exams were cancelled.
On Tuesday, the Department for Education announced a last-minute "triple lock" - which could raise replacement grades for exams cancelled in the pandemic. It means pupils could have whichever result is highest from estimated grades, mocks or exams in the autumn.
"It's a robust system, it's a fair system, it's making sure that young people get the grades that they've worked so hard towards," Williamson said.
Williamson defended the last-minute change ahead of Thursday's results, saying: "I'm not going to hesitate in terms of actually making changes if I can get the system as fair as possible for every single child."
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer earlier accused the government of causing "widespread chaos" following the 11th-hour changes, adding the situation was "shambolic".
Read more here

Dementia deaths 'staggering', say families

Coronavirus has had a devastating effect on dementia patients throughout the UK, with half of all people who died in care homes with the virus having the condition.
In Wales, where a fifth of all Covid-19 deaths were of people with dementia, families said the impact was "staggering" and called for a task force to be established in case of a second wave.
Ceri Higgins, whose 82-year-old father David Williams died in April, said she felt "our lives were out of control" because they could not have any contact with him in his last days.
She said she has grown increasingly concerned that not enough has been done to investigate why dementia patients were so badly affected.
The Welsh government said it was prioritising the implementation of its dementia action plan in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But her concerns are echoed elsewhere in the UK: in Liverpool, Anne Byrne said her 90-year-old mother, Annie Cartwright, has suffered a "shocking decline" as a result of restrictions on visits .
"People living in the home don't understand the pandemic - they think their families have abandoned them," she said.
Charles Musselwhite, associate professor in gerontology at Swansea University, said dementia patients had been forgotten in the pandemic. "This is one group that we knew were vulnerable and they haven't been protected in any serious sense."
The Department for Health and Social Care said its priority was to protect residents and staff from the virus.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 20:21

England's new contact tracing app to begin trials

Leo Kelion - Technology desk editor
England's revamped coronavirus contact-tracing app is set to begin public trials tomorrow .
The software will be based on Apple and Google's privacy-centric method of one smartphone detecting another - which matches contacts on the phones themselves rather than sending potentially sensitive information to a centralised computer.
Engineers are still trying to reduce how often the Bluetooth-based tech wrongly flags people as being within 2m (6.6ft) of each other.
Officials are concerned about people going into quarantine as a consequence.
The Isle of Wight will be involved again, along with one other area and a volunteer group. The government intends to launch the experiment without much fanfare, because it is still not clear when a formal national rollout will occur.
The idea behind the app is to use people's phones to log when they have been close to another person for so long that there is a high risk of contagion.
If one user is later diagnosed with the disease, the other person can be alerted to the fact before they begin exhibiting symptoms.
In addition, users will also be asked to scan a QR barcode when they enter a property, to provide a means to later alert them to the fact that they visited a location linked to multiple infections.

Top Kenyan health official dies

A top health official in Kenya has died from coronavirus as the country deals with rising infections.
Kamau Mugenda was second in charge at the Kenya Medical Research Institute which oversees Covid-19 testing and vaccine trials programme.
More than 450 workers in the health ministry have been infected, and at least three frontline health workers have died, the BBC's Emmanuel Igunza reports from Nairobi.
Despite imposing strict measures to deal with the virus, cases have more than doubled over the past days.
Meanwhile, authorities in Kenya are investigating the disappearance of equipment and monies donated to help stop the spread of Covid-19, our correspondent adds.
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covidaug Re: Coronavirus - 12th August

Post by Kitkat on Wed Aug 12 2020, 20:25

World news headlines

We'll soon be pausing our live coverage following a day when Europe upped its efforts to control new outbreaks of coronavirus and Russia hit back against scepticism about its vaccine.
Here are the main world stories on Wednesday:

  • Russia says international concerns about the safety of a vaccine it has developed are "groundless" and that it plans to produce five million doses monthly by 2021
  • Germany recorded its highest daily rate of infections in three months, and France had 2,524 new cases in 24 hours, the highest daily rise since its lockdown was lifted in May
  • Half of hospitals in Beirut, Lebanon, are described as "non-functional" by the World Health Organization, days after an explosion significantly damaged the city and infections rates rise
  • The US state of Texas passed the 500,000 cases mark as it remains at the epicentre of the country's outbreak. Critics say officials allowed the state to reopen too soon
  • China has reported success in controlling an outbreak in the north-west region of Xinjiang, recording only nine new cases of Covid-19
  • Mexican-American singer and Dirty Dozen actor Trini Lopez has died aged 83 after falling ill with Covid-19


UK news headlines

And here's a recap of the main UK stories related to the pandemic:


We're pausing our coverage now

That's all for our live coverage today. Join us again tomorrow for more of the latest news on coronavirus as it happens.

Contributors were: Sarah Collerton, Kevin Ponniah, Joseph Lee, Georgina Rannard, Dulcie Lee, and Joshua Nevett.

    Current date/time is Tue Sep 29 2020, 18:10