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Coronavirus - 23rd August


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Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 23 2020, 12:35

Summary for Sunday, 23rd August

  • Politicians in Germany are calling for a ban on private parties as daily new cases surge above 2,000 - highest since April
  • "A certain recklessness has spread" during the summer, senior politician in Angela Merkel's party says
  • Public Health England publishes study suggesting the risk of outbreaks in schools is low
  • Children are more likely to be harmed by not returning to school than if they catch Covid-19, the UK's chief medical adviser says
  • But Labour leader warns the government's commitment to reopen schools is at risk because of exams chaos
  • South Korea reports its highest single-day rise in infections since early March as strict new measures come into force
  • India, which has the highest number of new infections in the world, records a total of more than three million cases
  • The global coronavirus death toll stands at 800,000 people worldwide

Welcome to our live coverage

It’s Sunday morning here in London, and we’re going to be spending the rest of the day keeping you updated on the coronavirus pandemic.
A lot happened overnight while we were sleeping. To help you get up to date, here are a few of the main headlines.

  • More than 800,000 people have now died worldwide, according to the tally kept by US-based Johns Hopkins University
  • In the UK, Chief Medical Adviser Chris Whitty has warned that children would be more harmed by not returning to school than they would be if they caught coronavirus. He said that while “the chances of children dying from Covid-19 are incredibly small”, missing lessons “damages children in the long run”
  • In England, from Friday police will be able to fine people up to £10,000 for organising illegal gatherings of more than 30 people, such as raves
  • In India, the number of confirmed cases of the virus has exceeded three million. The country has the highest rate of new infections in the world, and the third-highest number of cases after the US and Brazil.
  • South Korea has reported its highest single-day rise in cases (397) since early March. It comes as stricter social distancing rules, previously in place just in the capital Seoul, come into force nationwide
  • The Irish parliament is going to be recalled early from its summer recess because of a growing scandal over a parliamentary Golf Society dinner held last week just hours after the government tightened coronavirus restrictions. The agriculture minister, who attended, has already resigned over it
  • US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has said that if elected in November, he would be willing to enforce a national lockdown in response to a second surge of the virus if scientists recommended doing so

South Korean restrictions come into force

Nationwide social distancing restrictions are now in place across South Korea as health officials warn of a rapidly worsening situation in a country that months ago seemed to have Covid-19 under tight control.
From today, there are restrictions on large gatherings such as religious services, and nightclubs, karaoke bars, internet cafes and beaches have been closed.
The measures previously only applied to the capital Seoul, but have been extended to the rest of the country because of a surge in new cases.
On Sunday, the country reported its highest single-day rise in cases since early March. As of midnight on Saturday there were 397 new infections, the latest rise in more than a week of three-digit daily increases. Most of these cases were in the greater Seoul region.

'I am scared to go out' - Cases in India hit three million

There have now been more than three million confirmed cases of coronavirus in India.
The country has the third-highest number of total cases recorded after the US and Brazil, but it is reporting the highest daily number of new infections.
Of course India has a huge population of more than 1.3 billion people so that needs to be kept in mind when comparing its figures to other countries. However there are concerns about the relatively low amount of tests it has been carrying out.
While the situation is easing in areas that were initially badly hit, such as the capital, Delhi, new hot spots are emerging in other areas - such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the north, and in southern Indian states.
In Bangalore, in the southern state of Karnataka, people have been telling the AFP news agency how the virus is impacting their lives.
"I am really scared," said a resident called Ramesh. "I am scared to go out, scared to go to the office. At home, my mother is a senior citizen aged about 67, my wife is pregnant, and we have a three-year-old child at home. I am really scared to go out."

England to punish illegal ravers with heavy fines

Organisers of illegal gatherings of more than 30 people could face fines of up to £10,000 under new powers given to police in England from Friday.
People who attend gatherings could be fined £100, doubling on each offence up to £3,200. This level of fine will also apply to those who those who flout the rules around face coverings where they are mandatory - such as on public transport or in shops and supermarkets.
It comes after police in the city of Birmingham said they attended more than 70 unlicensed street and house parties on Saturday night, while police in Huddersfield broke up an illegal rave involving about 300 people.
Meanwhile in London, the Metropolitan Police says it has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events since the end of June.
Read more on this story here.

Virus outbreaks at reopened schools in Berlin

While UK health officials say coronavirus outbreaks in schools are rare, this hasn't been the case in some other countries.
In Germany's capital Berlin, just two weeks after the city's schools reopened, cases of Covid-19 have been reported in at least 41 of the city's 825 schools. According to reports, all age groups have been affected - elementary, secondary and vocational schools.
As a result of the outbreaks, education officials in Berlin say hundreds of pupils and teachers have had to go into quarantine.
Some states in the US have also reported clusters linked to reopened schools, as has Israel.
In France, which is planning to reopen its schools in just over a week after summer holidays, all pupils over the age of 11 will have to wear face masks at all times.

New rules in north-west England 'confusing'

Stricter new measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus in north-west England have been branded "confusing".
It comes as residents in Oldham and parts of Blackburn and Pendle have been told not to socialise with other households.
Local council leaders said it was "unclear" how the rule would be implemented and policed and urged the government to issue detailed guidance.
Workplaces, childcare facilities and businesses, including pubs and restaurants, will remain open.
Under the new rules, introduced on Saturday, residents are advised to only use public transport for essential travel.
Restaurants are advised to only cater for pre-booked customers, with a maximum of six people per table.
Residents can also attend the weddings, civil partnerships and funerals of members of their household and close family, with ceremonies limited to 20 people.
Find out more about the measures and where they are in place here

Stampede in Peruvian nightclub after Covid raid

At least 13 people have died in a stampede at a nightclub in the Peruvian capital, Lima, after it was raided by police for breaking coronavirus rules.
Officials said more than 120 people tried to squeeze through the only exit at Thomas Restobar, and were then trapped between the door and a staircase on the club's second floor.
A statement released by the Interior Ministry said police did not used weapons or tear gas when they stormed the club. More than 20 people were arrested.
Nightclubs and bars have been closed in Peru since March in an attempt to fight the virus there. Peru has had the second-highest number of infections in Latin America, after Brazil, with almost 600,000 total cases.

Anger grows at right-wing church at centre of S Korea outbreak

Laura Bicker - BBC News, Seoul
The local headlines are using words like “alarm” and talking about a “bigger, deadlier wave” of Covid-19 in South Korea.
Why? The country has recorded its highest number of daily cases since early March, fuelled by an outbreak at a right-wing church in Seoul called Sarang Jeil that has led to more than 800 infections alone.
South Korea has been here before. An outbreak in a church in February swept through the city of Daegu infecting, at its height, a thousand people a day.
But the difference this time is that the virus has spread through every province in the country except the island of Jeju, and health officials are warning this wave could prove far more devastating.
The problem at the centre of this latest Covid-19 crisis is political. Conservative churchgoers have always despised the current liberal President Moon Jae-in and accuse him of being a communist.
Sarang Jeil’s followers believe that the virus was planted in their church with the aim of closing down all opposition to the Moon government. Some have even accused North Korea of deliberately infecting them.
Health officials are desperately trying to persuade them that this is not a conspiracy and they simply need worshippers to be tested. But on Friday the police had to intervene to get a full list of church members for contact tracing purposes.
Meanwhile the entire country is facing new social distancing measures and public anger towards Sarang Jeil is growing.

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Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 23 2020, 12:58

Starmer: Back to school plans 'at risk'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is warning that the government's commitment to get all children back to school in England is at risk after a "week of chaos, confusion and incompetence" over exam results.
Speaking to The Observer, Mr Starmer said ministers had wasted time "clearing up a mess of the government's own making" instead of working on plans to reopen schools.
He said: "I want to see children back at school next month, and I expect the prime minister to deliver on that commitment.
"However, the commitment is now at serious risk."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this month that getting all children back to school full-time in September is the "right thing for everybody", insisting they are "safe" and "Covid secure".

Analysis: Chief medical officers' message on schools

Hugh Pym - BBC News Health Editor
The UK's chief medical adviser said there were "no risk-free options" but that it was important for parents and teachers to understand both the risks and benefits as schools reopen.
Prof Chris Whitty was speaking officially on behalf of all the chief medical officers of the UK's nations.
But this rare interview reveals a lot more about his own views on how the virus is developing.
More parents going back to work with schools reopening will probably, he believes, increase virus transmission and that may require restrictions in other areas.
He says people need to accept that, with autumn and winter, the pressures will increase.
He refers to "an incredibly narrow path" to be walked to protect people from the virus without further damage to the economy, meaning there is "not very much room for manoeuvre".
If the virus picks up among younger adults, he argues, that can spread to older and more vulnerable age groups. His conclusion is that there is a really serious challenge for at least another nine months.
This is a chief medical officer who seems unlikely to back further easing of restrictions and to be ready to propose tightening if that is the price which has to be paid for the vitally important goal of getting children back to school.

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Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 23 2020, 14:11

Pakistan reports lowest cases since March

Pakistan has recorded its lowest number of daily deaths since March, the Associated Press news agency reports.
On Sunday, the country's National Command and Control Center said there had been four deaths and 591 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to more than 292,000, with 6,235 fatalities.
It's a big change from June, when health facilities in Pakistan's major cities appeared to be at risk of becoming overwhelmed.
Now, however, life appears to be returning to normal.
Read more from our correspondent Secunder Kermani .

Children and masks - what is the new WHO guidance?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued guidance on children and masks.
It admits little is known about how children transmit the virus but cites evidence that teenagers can infect others in the same way as adults.
Here is the advice:

  • Children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee a distance of at least one metre from others and there is widespread transmission in the area
  • For children aged between six and 11, the WHO advises taking into account how widespread the transmission of the virus is and whether the child is interacting with high-risk individuals such as the elderly. It also stresses the need for adult supervision to help children use, put on and take off masks safely
  • Children aged five and under should not, under normal circumstances, wear masks

Each of the UK's four nations have their own rules on face coverings. In England, children under the age of 11 do not have have to wear one .
The WHO guidance does not mention schools.
The official advice across the UK does not recommend that face coverings are worn in schools, with the Department for Education saying this is because sufficient controls are in place to reduce the risk of transmission.
But a number of UK schools have brought in their own face covering requirements and there are hints that there could be changes in Scotland and Northern Ireland in the future.

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Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 23 2020, 14:26

How the Covid vaccine became the new Space Race

Gordon Corera - Security correspondent, BBC News
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When Moscow announced on 11 August it had registered the first vaccine against Covid-19 and was naming it Sputnik V, the message was hard to miss. Back in 1957, the Soviet Union had launched the Sputnik satellite and won the race for space. Now, Russia was saying it was pushing the boundaries of medical science.
But critics claimed it was pushing too hard, and the scepticism with which the announcement was met is a reminder of intense international competition.
In this race, there have been accusations of short-cuts, espionage, unethical risk-taking and jealousy, amid talk of "vaccine nationalism".
There are currently about half a dozen leading vaccine candidates in late-stage trials according to the World Health Organization (WHO), including three in China; one in the UK; one in the US, and a German-US partnership.
"I have never seen the political stakes for a medical product being so intense," says Lawrence Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown University in the US. "The reason the Covid-19 vaccine has taken on such political symbolism is that the superpowers have seen the vaccine as projecting their scientific prowess, actually validating their political system as superior."
Read more on this here.

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Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 23 2020, 15:13

Government 'negligent' over Plan B for schools, says union

Schools, parents and pupils are being "sorely let down by the government" over the planned reopening of schools in England, according to the National Education Union.
The NEU's Kevin Courtney accused ministers of being "negligent", saying there was a "lack of a Plan B".
He said a report published by Public Health England, which suggests children who went to school during June were more likely to catch coronavirus at home, had its "limitations" - citing the "little" data on secondary schools and the smaller class sizes in the summer.
He said: "Schools and colleges need to know what should happen if an outbreak of the virus occurs in individual schools or more widely with either national, regional or local spikes."
He called on the government to employ more teachers and seek extra teaching spaces to allow education to continue in a Covid-secure manner if infections rise.

Joe Biden: I would shut down US if I had to

US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has said that if he were elected in November he would be willing to shut down the country again to control the spread of the virus, if scientists recommended it.
Biden made the comments in an interview with US broadcaster ABC alongside his running mate Kamala Harris, which is airing tonight at 20:00 ET (01:00 BST).
"I would shut it down, I would listen to the scientists," he said, adding that he would "be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives, because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus".
President Donald Trump - his rival for the 3 November election - responded by tweeting that Biden "has no clue!"
Although the US never had a full nationwide lockdown of the kind seen in other countries, many states enforced tough coronavirus restrictions.

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Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 23 2020, 15:48

Scotland: 83 new Covid-19 cases in last 24 hours

The number of coronavirus cases in Scotland has risen by 83 in the last 24 hours.
A total of 19,811 people have now tested positive for Covid-19.
No deaths linked to the virus were registered since Saturday so the total remains at 2,492.
The biggest increase in cases by health board was 37 in NHS Tayside, according to official figures .
The latest rise there comes after it was revealed the number of cases linked to a food processing plant in Coupar Angus had now reached 90.
A total of 79 employees at the 2 Sisters factory have tested positive, plus 11 of their contacts.

Italian minister rejects idea of second lockdown

Italy's health minister has said there will be no second lockdown in the country, despite the number of new daily cases rising above 1,000 for the first time since restrictions were eased in May.
"We will not have a new lockdown," Roberto Speranza said in an interview with La Stampa newspaper published on Sunday.
The minister added that the healthcare system had become "much stronger" since the beginning of the pandemic.
With more than 35,000 fatalities, Italy has recorded one of Europe's highest death tolls. It was the first European country to be hit badly as the virus spread from Asia.
But while the country has experienced a resurgence in cases recently, it has so far avoided an increase on the scale of that seen in Spain and France.
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Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 23 2020, 17:25

German cases rise amid 'recklessness'

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Earlier this month, coronavirus deniers held an "End of the Pandemic" march in Berlin

Several politicians in Germany are calling for a temporary ban on private parties after the country saw its highest rise in new infections since late April.
On Saturday the Robert Koch Institute reported 2,034 new confirmed cases, taking the total up to 232,082.
"Unfortunately since the start of summer a certain recklessness has spread," Ralph Brinkhaus, leader of the CDU/CSU conservative parliamentary bloc, said.
Saskia Esken, co-leader of the Social Democrats, also told local media: "We must not risk that daycare centres and schools will close again and that children are forced to remain at home for weeks because we have accepted higher infection rates due to lax rules at family parties."
Ursula Nonnemacher, health minister of the state of Brandenburg, described private parties as "a great danger".

EU trade commissioner apologises for attending Irish golf dinner

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EU trade commissioner and former Irish minister Phil Hogan has apologised "fully and unreservedly" for attending a golf dinner in Ireland with more than 80 people.
Mr Hogan said he acknowledged his presence at the event in Galway, which was held a day after the government announced a tightening of lockdown restrictions, had "touched a nerve" with Irish people.
Ireland's Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary, who also attended the parliamentary golf society event, resigned on Friday.
The Irish government has agreed to recall the Dáil (Irish parliament) early amid the controversy. It was due to return on 15 September.
Police are also investigating whether the dinner breached Covid-19 regulations.

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Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 23 2020, 17:31

Guests test positive after wedding in Germany

Thirty-three people have tested positive for coronavirus after attending wedding celebrations in the German state of Hesse, local authorities say.
Dozens of people attended the wedding in the Gross-Gerau district earlier this month.
But as the celebrations were held over two separate days - with 100 guests on 7 August, and 160 others on 14 August - they did not have to be registered, local media report.
Most of the 160 guests have already been tested, although not all have received their results, the district said on Sunday.
The news comes as a number of German politicians have called for private gatherings to be banned in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
Just a day earlier, however, scientists held three pop concerts in a single day as part of a study to investigate the risks posed by mass indoor events during the pandemic.
On Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to hold a meeting with the heads of the country's federal states to discuss a unified approach to the pandemic, Reuters news agency reports.

Six further UK deaths recorded

The latest UK figures have just been released. A further six people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the previous 28 days.
Department of Health and Social Care figures also show 1,041 more people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, down from 1,288 new infections reported on Saturday.
Eighteen new deaths were reported on Saturday.
The total number of cases in the UK now stands at 326,086, with 41,429 deaths.
You can check the number of confirmed cases in your area here.

What are the risks of opening schools?

The release of a Public Health England study suggesting the risk of outbreaks in schools is low supports the findings of other research.
However, experts have also pointed out that schools do not just bring children together - teachers, parents at school gates and other knock-on effects like more people on public transport or working parents returning to offices could also influence the spread of the virus.
And with winter and fears of a resurgence of the virus approaching, there are worries that schools could play a role in spreading coronavirus.
Our health correspondent Rachel Schraer has examined the risks.

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Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 23 2020, 17:54

Elderly US veterans to mark end of World War Two

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Japan's official surrender came two weeks after Emperor Hirohito announced an end to the fighting on 15 August 1945

Throughout the pandemic, health experts have warned of the serious health risk that Covid-19 poses to the elderly in particular.
But that won't stop dozens of US veterans from gathering in Hawaii next month to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, according to the Associated Press.
The former soldiers, who are now in their 90s or older, will gather aboard the USS Missouri, where Japan's official surrender was signed on 2 September 1945 in Tokyo Bay and which is now docked in Pearl Harbour.
They will board specially chartered flights and be isolated in hotels when not attending the events, which will mostly be held outdoors and not be open to the public. The commemoration was meant to involve thousands of people and veterans have been looking forward to it for years.
“I want to go back because that day, as much as I remember it - what happened, why we were there, the fact that it was the end of the realities of war and killing and all - it was the first day that I had to start answering, ‘What am I going to do with the rest of my life?’” 95-year-old Jerry Pedersen, who witnessed the surrender in 1945, told the AP.

Situation in France 'risky', health minister says

France is in a "risky situation" as coronavirus cases rise again, the country's health minister has said.
In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, Olivier Véran said the higher numbers were not only due to increased testing.
The outbreak in France "never stopped", he said, adding: "It was only controlled during the lockdown and the progressive easing of lockdown measures."
"It's not a French exception, it's the European dynamic," he told the newspaper.
He went on to explain that the virus is spreading four times more among those under the age of 40 as the over 65s, but warned that this situation could change if younger people spread the virus to elderly and more vulnerable people.
On Saturday, 3,602 new daily cases were reported in France following two days with more than 4,000 new infections. The country has reported more than 30,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

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Post by Kitkat on Sun Aug 23 2020, 18:20

Thanks for joining us

As we wrap up our live coverage, here's a reminder of Sunday's main developments:

  • The World Health Organization has recommended that children aged 12 and over wear a mask under the same conditions as adults
  • In Germany, a number of politicians are calling for a temporary ban on private parties after the highest rise in infections since late April
  • The UK's chief medical adviser has said children are more likely to be harmed by not returning to school than by catching coronavirus
  • India, which has the highest number of new infections in the world, has become the third country in the world to pass three million cases, after the US and Brazil
  • At least 13 people have died in Peru after trying to escape a police raid on a party at a nightclub that violated lockdown rules
  • US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has said he would be willing to shut down the country to control the spread of the virus if elected president and if scientists recommended it
  • There have been more than 23m cases and 805,000 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University

Today's page was brought to you by Ashitha Nagesh, Shamaan Freeman-Powell and Victoria Bisset, and was edited by Kevin Ponniah and Alex Kleiderman.

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