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Coronavirus - 24th August


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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 10:30

Summary for Monday, 24th August

  • New Zealand extends lockdown measures in its largest city, Auckland, as the PM calls 2020 a "frankly terrible year"
  • The US Food and Drug Administration gives emergency authorisation for the use of plasma to treat coronavirus patients
  • South Korea tightens social distancing requirements as daily new cases continue to rise
  • France and Italy record their highest numbers of daily cases since May
  • UK PM Boris Johnson says it is "vitally important" children go back to school
  • The world has had 23 million confirmed cases and more than 800,000 related deaths, Johns Hopkins University says

Good morning and welcome back to the live page, where we'll be bringing you the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re just waking up in the UK:

The latest picture from around the world

Here are the main international headlines this Monday, to bring you up to speed.

  • We’ll start by telling you about coronavirus measures in New Zealand - which earlier in the pandemic went 102 days without a community transmission. Now, amid a resurgence in new cases, restrictions in Auckland are being extended until the end of the week
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also announced it will be compulsory to wear masks on public transport throughout New Zealand - bringing it in line with many other countries
  • The US Food and Drug Administration has given emergency authorisation for the use of blood plasma . The method, which uses antibody-rich plasma from those who have already recovered from the virus, has already been used on more than 70,000 patients in the US.
  • Officials in South Korea say the number of new cases is increasing in each of its 17 regions. Masks have to be worn in the capital, Seoul, in both indoor and outdoor public places, under new rules introduced today
  • In Europe, France reported 4,897 new infections in a 24-hour period on Sunday. It’s the highest daily level since May
  • There’s been a steady rise in Italy recently - with 1,210 new cases on Sunday and 1,071 on Saturday. But the government there says it’s not considering a new lockdown
  • And EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan has apologised for attending a dinner in the west of Ireland which more than 80 people attended. The Irish parliamentary golf society dinner breached coronavirus guidelines

2020 has been a 'frankly terrible year'

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Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her handling of the pandemic

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has echoed what many of us have probably been thinking, calling 2020 a "frankly terrible year".
She has extended lockdown measures in Auckland, the country's biggest city, until at least midnight on Sunday, adding that Covid-19 is "a hard reality to accept".
"We know it's been tough. I know there are many who've found it harder this time," she said, adding: "In a world where 2020 has frankly, been terrible, we are strong, we have been kind, and we are doing really well... if any one country knows how to bounce back, it is us."
New Zealand has had success containing coronavirus, and went 102 days without a community transmission before a new cluster was detected in Auckland earlier this month.
Everyone will also be required to wear masks on public transport. "If Covid can spread on a bus, and we know masks make a difference, let's wear masks," Ardern said.

France and Italy see record daily cases over the weekend

There have been fears of a resurgence of the coronavirus in Europe for a while now - and the latest figures from France and Italy over the weekend have left many worried.
France reported more than 4,800 new infections over the previous 24 hours on Sunday - the highest daily number since May.
The health minister, Olivier Véran said the virus was spreading four times faster among people under 40 - partly due to younger people attending parties where social distancing was not observed.
Meanwhile, Italy - once the epicentre of the pandemic - is also seeing its highest rise in cases since May, with 1,210 new cases on Sunday and 1,071 on Saturday.
The increased was closely linked to travel and summer entertainment for tourists, according to an official report.
However, the overall number of new cases in Italy is still lower than those seen in France and Spain.

Germany mulls party ban and a row grows in Italy

Gareth Evans - BBC News, Europe desk
If you're just joining our live coverage of the pandemic, welcome. Here are the latest headlines from around Europe:

  • Much of the continent is facing a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. France reported its highest daily figure since May on Sunday, and its health minister said the majority of these new cases were circulating among the under-40s
  • Germany, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic also recorded major daily increases over the weekend
  • In Germany, politicians are calling for a temporary ban on private parties to combat the rise. "Since the start of summer a certain recklessness has spread," Ralph Brinkhaus, the leader of the CDU/CSU conservative parliamentary bloc, said
  • And in Italy, Sicily's governor said he wanted to close migrant centres on the island. He alleged they were hotspots for Covid-19 transmission, but the Italian government in Rome said he did not have the authority to close them
  • Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has tested positive for the virus and is in a serious condition in hospital, a spokeswoman said. She served as PM twice and ran for president in 2010 and 2014

Does blood plasma treatment work?

A bit more on the news from the US, that emergency authorisation has been given for blood plasma to be used to treat coronavirus patients.
President Donald Trump told reporters he had been "looking forward" to making such an announcement "for a long time".
He called for Americans to come forward to donate plasma if they've already recovered from Covid-19.
The US Food and Drug administration says it's a safe treatment - but more trials are needed to prove its effectiveness. Early research suggests it can decrease mortality rates as long as it's given within the first three days of hospitalisation.
Those under the age of 80, who were not on a respirator and received plasma containing high levels of antibodies, had benefited the most from the treatment, said the FDA. They had a 35% better survival rate a month after the treatment than those who had received plasma with a low level of antibodies.
Some experts - including Dr Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House's coronavirus task force - have expressed reservations about the robustness of studies so far, however.
In a statement, the Infectious Diseases Society of America said that while there were "some positive signals that convalescent plasma can be helpful in treating individuals with Covid-19.... we lack the randomised controlled trial data we need to better understand its utility in Covid-19 treatment".
The World Health Organization last month said that "Covid-19 convalescent plasma can be made available on an experimental basis through local production provided that ethical and safety criteria are met for its preparation and use".

Ten countries kept out Covid. But did they win?

Covid-19 has infected almost every country in the world – apart from 10.
The countries with no recorded cases are Palau, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga.
But the pandemic has still hit the economies of many of these countries hard. So what are they doing now?
You can read more in this feature from the BBC's Owen Amos here.
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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 10:42

South Korea implements new measures amid outbreak

Large gatherings are off limits again in South Korea as social distancing measures are implemented in an effort to curb an outbreak of the virus.
The 266 cases reported by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came on the back of three days of increases above 300. The majority of the cases were found in the capital, Seoul.
A ban has been announced on indoor gatherings of more than 50 people and outside gatherings of more than 100 people. Karaoke rooms, clubs and some cafes have been ordered to shut down.
People in the capital must also wear masks at all times in crowded public spaces, except when they are eating or drinking.
Many cases have been linked to the Sarang Jeil Church, whose members were reportedly reluctant to comply with Covid-19 measures.
The Seoul metropolitan government said that 21.7% of church followers tested were confirmed to have been infected with Covid-19.
South Korea had been touted as a success story in dealing with Covid-19, after recording low numbers earlier this year.
It successfully used aggressive tracing and widespread testing to contain its first outbreak, but has seen persistent outbreaks in recent weeks.

Illegal party in Peru ends in deadly crush - and positive tests

A birthday party at a nightclub in Peru over the weekend ended with tragic consequences.
The party in Lima, which was held in contravention of a ban on large gatherings, was raided by police - setting off a deadly rush for the exit in which 12 women and one man were asphyxiated.
Fifteen out of the 23 people arrested at the party have now tested positive for coronavirus, officials say.
Forensic tests suggest that 11 of those killed also had Covid-19, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
Police have denied using tear gas to disperse the 120 revellers who attended a birthday party at the Thomas Restobar Club in the capital's Los Olivos district.
An internal investigation has been launched to establish what exactly set off the deadly crush inside the club.
Read more about the deadly raid here

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 10:45

Boris Johnson says it is 'vitally important' children return to class

Back to school is very much on the agenda this week in the UK.
Boris Johnson has said it is "vitally important" children return , with the life chances of a generation at stake
As schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland prepare to reopen, the PM said the risk of contracting coronavirus in one was "very small".
He said "it is far more damaging for a child's development and their health... to be away from school any longer".
But his comments come as a study suggested that anxiety levels among young teenagers dropped during lockdown.
Thirteen to 14-year-olds were less anxious during lockdown than they had been last October, according to a University of Bristol survey.
They said the results were a "big surprise" and it raised questions about the impact of the school environment on teenagers' mental health.
In Scotland, schools have already reopened. Some pupils in Northern Ireland are returning to school on Monday, while term starts in England and Wales in September.

Teacher-to-teacher transmission a 'risk factor' - Harries

England's deputy chief medical officer has said a Public Health England study published on Sunday should "reassure" teachers that transmission from students to teachers is rare, as children head back to school.
But Dr Jenny Harries added in an interview with BBC Breakfast that staff-to-staff transmission was a "risk factor" and teachers should "ensure that they maintain their social distancing, good hand hygiene, all those sorts of things" during coffee breaks.
In the event that a pupil tests positive for a virus, Dr Harries said the first action should be to inform the local director of public health.
What happens next "will depend on the local circumstances of that school, and the different connections that people have had", she said.
A single case is "most likely" to be from a family or an outside transmission and "it may not always be necessary" for a classroom to go into isolation, she added.

School safety measures 'very effective' - minister

Education minister for England Nick Gibb has said parents can be "reassured" that the safety measures in place in schools are "very effective".
"What the chief medical officers are saying now is that the risk of not being in school outweigh the very small risk of children being in school, particularly given all the control measures, the hygiene, the cleaning that's taking place in our schools," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Over the weekend, the World Health Organization issued guidance saying children over the age of 12 should wear masks, in line with recommended practice for adults in their country or area.
The guidance came as more schools in Scotland advised pupils and staff to wear face coverings, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying advice on masks could change for secondary school students in the "near future" .
Mr Gibb said: "What the current advice is, is that if a school puts in place the measures that are in the guidance... then masks are not necessary for staff or pupils."
And he stressed that closing schools will be "the last resort in terms of tackling a local increase in the infection rate".
"We will take swift action, advised by the local health protection teams when we identify a rise in the infection rate in local areas around the country. That's the only way we can sort of suffocate this virus," he said.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 12:05

UK tourists are still arriving in Croatia, despite the new quarantine rules

Guy Delauney - BBC News, Slovenia
The mayor of Dubrovnik says hundreds of British tourists arrived in the scenic coastal city at the weekend – despite the UK dropping Croatia from its “travel corridor” scheme.
Mato Frankovic says it is “encouraging” that British people are still travelling and speculates that “many [people] work from home, so they do not mind quarantine”.
Flights from the UK are still landing in the city – with three scheduled to arrive today from London and four from Birmingham, Gatwick and Heathrow tomorrow. More than 15,000 British holidaymakers remained in Croatia over the weekend, according to the country’s tourism ministry.
Mr Frankovic hopes to attract more visitors by offering to cover the cost of coronavirus tests, though he admits that depends on negotiating an agreement with the UK. He has also called on countries to treat Dubrovnik separately, as it is physically cut off from regions of Croatia with high numbers of Covid-19 cases. Germany has exempted Dubrovnik from its Croatian “red list”.
Slovenian holidaymakers are racing to return from Croatia today, before a quarantine deadline. Long queues are expected at border crossings. There are also tailbacks on Slovenia’s border with Austria.

Round up of coronavirus headlines from Africa

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People in Rwanda who did not respect measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic are forced to listen to speeches on virus prevention

  • Rwanda recorded 200 cases on Sunday - the highest number in a single day since it reported its first case in March. The country now has more than 3,000 cases of the virus, with almost 1,000 of them recorded in the last two weeks
  • South Africa's students in all grades resume classes today, after weeks of closure because of the pandemic. President Cyril Ramaphosa closed the schools in July after they were briefly reopened, following a public outcry on rising virus cases
  • Meanwhile, Ramaphosa said on Sunday that recent reports of corruption related to the government's Covid-19 aid was "an unforgivable betrayal to millions". Some people had exploited "a grave medical, social and economic crisis to wrongfully enrich themselves", he said
  • Nigeria's economy has shrunk by 6.1% in the second quarter of 2020, due to lockdowns decreasing business activity at home and abroad. The coronavirus death toll in the country has passed 1,000

You can catch more of our Africa coverage at our dedicated Africa live page , or read about the BBC's investigation into the treatment of patients in South Africa here .

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 12:09

Overseas students fear losing university places

Overseas students who enrolled on University of Hertfordshire courses last September must settle their debts on Monday or risk being suspended.
An email to a student, sent last week and seen by BBC News, gives a deadline of 24 August for 100% payment.
The university says it has already extended its payment deadlines.
Hundreds of overseas students from several universities have been relying on food banks since the pandemic disrupted studies across higher education in the UK.
Covid-19 means many have lost part-time jobs, while those with families in countries that have their own outbreaks can struggle to send money. International students have no recourse to public funds in the UK.
Newham Community Project, in east London, has been providing food parcels for about 600 students during the pandemic, most in their early 20s and from India.
The charity's Laqab Mohammed said: "Covid 19 has really brutally hit them in the sense that they have come to a foreign country with hopes and aspirations, to further their education and their careers, but it's derailed their plans effectively."
Read the full story here.

Boost for Algarve after Portugal added to UK safe travel list

Alison Roberts - Portugal Correspondent, Lisbon
The UK's decision to put Portugal on its safe travel list has already led to a major boost in bookings in the Algarve, with the region's tourist board saying its impact has already exceeded expectations.
Since the change came into effect on Saturday, hotel reservations in the Algarve climbed by 13%, the Portuguese Hotels Association (AHP) reported - reaching 63% of last year's level.
Several British holidaymakers arriving at Faro airport at the weekend told local media that they had originally planned to travel to Croatia, which was removed from the list.
This summer has been a disastrous one for Portugal's tourism sector and most of the impact of the UK's decision is not expected to come until September and October - the high season for golfing holidays in the Algarve.
On Sunday, Portugal reported 145 new confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 55,597. It reported two more deaths associated with Covid-19, bringing its death toll to 1,796.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 12:12

Mexico has more than 60,000 deaths - but says pandemic 'waning'

Mexico has the third highest number of Covid-related deaths after the United States and Brazil.
But President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Sunday that the coronavirus pandemic was "waning", after the weekly Covid-related death toll for week 33 continued on a downward trend.
"It's already losing strength, there are fewer infections and most importantly, fewer deaths," he said in a video published on social media.
The president made the announcement a day after the total death toll in Mexico surpassed the 60,000 mark.
Local media pointed out that 60,000 dead was the figure which Mexico's coronavirus tsar, Hugo López-Gatell, had given as a worst case scenario at the beginning of June, a figure which Mr López-Gatell had described as a "catastrophic" outcome at the time.

Bailiffs return to chase pre-lockdown unpaid debts

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Bailiffs are resuming operations in England and Wales from today, chasing unpaid council tax bills and parking fines after a five-month suspension owing to coronavirus.
Debt charities have warned of a surge in cases, prompting financial and health risks.
But a trade body for the sector said vital public services would be affected if councils were unable to collect money that has been owed for months.
The debts now being chased would have been unpaid before the coronavirus lockdown.
About half of councils have approved agents to be sent out again, under the stricter guidance required owing to social distancing.
They are being told not to enter homes to take items except in exceptional circumstances and where it is safe. The policy will be reviewed in line with government and public health guidance
Read the full story here.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 13:15

Three Super League players penalised for Covid breaches

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Three players have been penalised for breaching the English Rugby Football League's Covid-19 protocols.
Wigan's Jackson Hastings, Huddersfield's James Gavet and Warrington's Riley Dean have been fined and received 14-day bans - although Hastings's suspension has already elapsed.
The bans, which are in line with the recommended self-isolation period, run from the date of the transgression.
The RFL did not specify the nature of the offences but said breaches could have "serious repercussions" including an impact on public health or disruption to fixtures.
Read more

Concern over Covid-19 cases at nudist resort

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The resort is in Cap d’Agde in the Herault region

There are reports of an outbreak of Covid-19 at a nudist resort in France.
Officials have called the cases at the Cap d’Agde resort in the Herault region "very worrying".
A total of 95 people tested positive last week, the regional health authority said.
Authorities have urges visitors to the resort to wear facemasks.
The resort saw infections around four times higher than in the actual village, it said.
A further 50 people are reported to have tested positive upon returning home.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 13:19

Scotland looking at face covering rules for secondary schools

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Dutch teenagers wear masks as they move between classes

Students and teachers at secondary schools in Scotland may soon have to wear face coverings in corridors and communal areas.
In her daily coronavirus briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish education secretary was "in the final stages" of consultation with teachers and unions, after the World Health Organization changed its guidance to recommend the use of masks by children over the age of 12 .
She said "crowding and and increased contact” in corridors and communal areas was more likely, as well as raised voices, increasing the risk of transmission.
The use of face coverings in schools is currently voluntary, although some have started telling staff and pupils to wear them .
Read more .

Latest developments from the UK

If you're just joining us from the UK, here's the latest stories to catch up on over lunch:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is "vitally important" children go back to school , arguing that the risk of catching coronavirus in the classroom is "very small" and it is "far more damaging" for children's health and development to be away any longer
  • Meanwhile, anxiety levels among young teenagers have dropped during the pandemic, a study has suggested
  • Supermarket chain Tesco will create 16,000 news jobs, after lockdown led to "exceptional growth" in its online businesses
  • The UK travel industry has reached a "critical point" and needs more support to stem further job losses, according to industry body Abta
  • However, the decision to allow people to travel to Portugal without self-isolating on their return has led to a boost in hotel bookings for the Algarve region. And in Croatia, the mayor of Dubrovnik said hundreds of British tourists arrived at the weekend - despite the UK introducing quarantine measures for arrivals from the country

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 13:22

South Korea on brink of nationwide virus outbreak, officials warn

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The latest outbreak in South Korea is linked to a church

South Korea, a country held up as a model for its response to Covid-19, is on the brink of a new nationwide outbreak, according to officials.
The latest outbreak of coronavirus cases centred around a right-wing Presbyterian church has spread to all 17 provinces throughout the country for the first time, our Seoul correspondent Laura Bicker reports.
Each day brings a new three digit virus total.
The majority of new cases are all close to Seoul, the heavily populated capital city which is home to more than 10 million people.
One of the biggest concerns is that many of the far-right worshippers who are potentially infected believe the virus was planted as part of a conspiracy to close it down.
Many are refusing to be contacted, let alone tested.
And there is also one other major risk factor. Infected members of the Shincheonji church were mostly young - in their 20s. But the current outbreak is affecting a much older age group.
Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 16:23

PM 'sorry for distress' over exam results - No 10

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Downing Street says UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "sorry for any distress" caused to pupils because of the confusion over exam results in England.
The apology comes a week after a government U-turn meant A-level and GCSE students in England were given grades estimated by their teachers, rather than being moderated by an algorithm. Examinations in UK schools were scrapped this year due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Boris Johnson's official spokesman said the government’s focus is on ensuring students can move onto the next phase and that schools in England can return next week.
The spokesman said the government had been working closely with schools and local authorities to ensure they can open safely and had been clear that schools should open full time and provide the full syllabus.
Teachers would be expected to provide a remote education for any pupils unable to attend.
Asked whether parents would be fined if they didn’t send their children to school, he said that would be a "last resort" and head teachers and parents should speak if there are concerns.
It comes after Mr Johnson said it is "vitally important" children go back to school , with the life chances of a generation at stake.

How is the pandemic affecting the Republican National Convention?

The Republican Party's National Convention starts on Monday in the US and we now have a better idea of what will be happening.
Conventions of years past have been glitzy affairs, bringing together thousands of delegates, party leaders, activists and celebrities for receptions, speeches and a general hyping-up of the presidential candidate.
But the pandemic has upended all that.
Unlike its Democratic Party counterpart, the Republican Convention still plans on hosting some in-person business.
But those attending will need to wear masks and social distance and will also be given a self-swab Covid-19 test before travelling and entering their hotels.
President Donald Trump will accept the party's nomination as its candidate for November's general election in a "real speech on Thursday" live from the White House.
This hasn't been entirely well-received - with critics arguing using federal property for a campaign speech is unethical.
The Democratic National Convention was a different affair, with organisers opting instead for a virtual set-piece of mostly pre-recorded speeches crunched into two hours of highly produced programming for two nights.
Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 16:29

France to impose tit-for-tat quarantine on UK arrivals

France will soon impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from the UK, to mirror the restrictions imposed by the British government earlier this month on people arriving from France, the country's junior minister for European affairs told French TV (in French).
"We will have a reciprocal measure so that the British do not close the border in one direction. There will no doubt be restrictive measures for travellers returning from the United Kingdom," Clément Beaune said on Monday morning.
The measures would be decided in the next few days, he added.
Currently, travellers arriving in France from the UK are asked to declare they do not have any coronavirus symptoms or have not been in contact with a confirmed case 14 days prior to travelling.

No review of face coverings in England's schools - No 10

Vicki Young - Chief Political Correspondent
Downing Street says there is no review of advice on pupils wearing face coverings in schools in England.
A spokesman said government guidance does not recommend wearing face coverings because pupils and staff will be mixing in consistent groups and masks could obstruct communication.
He added that teachers in England can make local decisions.
It comes after Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the advice on face coverings could change for secondary school students there in the "near future" .
Scotland's Education Secretary John Swinney is consulting with teachers and councils on the possibility of bringing in guidance on masks there.

What are the UK's back to school rules?

The autumn term starts in England and Wales next week and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged parents to send their children back to school.
Almost all pupils will be expected to go in, unless a close contact develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus.
If a school experiences an outbreak, a group of pupils might be asked to self-isolate. But closing a whole school will ''not generally be necessary'', the government says.
Read the full story here

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 16:32

Is Hong Kong re-infection case a surprise?

Philippa Roxby - Health reporter, BBC News
Hong Kong University scientists have reported the case of an apparently young, healthy patient being re-infected with Covid-19, four-and-a-half months after the first infection.
Using genome sequencing, they discovered that the second bout or virus was “clearly different” from the first infection rather than just a continuation or re-emergence of the original one.
Scientists know that people infected by coronavirus develop an immune response as their bodies fight off the virus, and this helps to protect them against it returning. But it is not clear how strong this protection is or how long it lasts.
If people can catch the virus more than once, then a vaccine may be required to protect many more people - although those who are most seriously ill have a greater immune response than those with mild symptoms.
Other coronaviruses, such as the common cold, do re-infect people so it’s not surprising that Sars-CoV-2 – the virus which causes Covid-19 – could do the same.
But the World Health Organization says it’s important not to jump to any conclusions based on the experience of one patient out of 23 million around the world.
The full research paper has not yet been published so some aspects of this case are not yet clear.
It appears that when this person was infected for the second time they had no symptoms – and the infection was picked up by airport screening tests, suggesting the patient wasn’t unwell. More population-based studies are needed before any firm conclusions on re-infection can be made.

WHO cautious over plasma treatment approved in US

Earlier, we reported on the fact that the US had given emergency authorisation for the use of plasma to treat coronavirus patients .
When asked about the treatment later on Monday, World Health Organization (WHO) officials were cautious, describing it as "still an experimental treatment". The risks and side effects associated with convalescent plasma must also be considered, they said, adding these could range from mild to severe.
"There are a number of clinical trials going on around the world looking at convalescent plasma compared to the standard of care," Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, said. "Only a few of them have actually reported interim results... and at the moment, it's still very low-quality evidence."
Many countries are using plasma as a coronavirus therapy, but it's not yet clear how effective the treatment is, says BBC Health Editor Michelle Roberts.
Patients whose own immune systems are struggling to fight off the virus might get protection from a transfusion of antibody-rich plasma from someone who has recovered from Covid-19.
Convalescent plasma has been used to successfully treat other diseases, including Ebola.
But a recent UK analysis said it remained "very uncertain" whether plasma was beneficial for people admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 16:39

'My son died in a freezing South African hospital tent'

Andrew Harding - BBC News, Johannesburg
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Jeanette Mlombo says corruption and carelessness are responsible for her son's death

Suspected Covid-19 patients were routinely left for hours in an open tent, in sub-zero temperatures, outside a South African hospital during the mid-winter peak of the pandemic, leading to "many" people dying of suspected hypothermia, according to an exclusive investigation by BBC News.
The revelations have emerged as South Africa's government has acknowledged and condemned widespread corruption and mismanagement during its response to the pandemic.
"It was freezing in that tent. As soon as night falls it's horrible, you can see the patients declining. Hypothermia is one of the major causes of death here. Especially in that tent," said a doctor at Sebokeng Hospital - a whistleblower who spoke to us on condition of anonymity.
You can read more about the investigation here .

Four more coronavirus deaths in the UK

Four more coronavirus deaths have been reported in the UK, taking the total number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus to 41,433.
A further 853 new cases have also been recorded, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 17:10

Pastor who thought virus was a hoax dies

Marianna Spring - Disinformation and social media reporter
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Brian and Erin at a party before the pandemic

A Florida taxi driver, who did not follow health advice after believing Covid-19 was a hoax, has now lost his wife to the disease.
Brian Lee Hitchens and his wife Erin believed online conspiracy theories suggesting coronavirus was a hoax, linked to 5G or just like the flu.
The couple didn’t follow health guidance or seek help sooner when they fell ill.
They contracted coronavirus in May and were both hospitalised in Florida but while Brian recovered, his 46-year-old wife (who had asthma and a sleeping disorder) remained critically ill.
Erin, who was a pastor, died from heart problems related to the virus this month.
Brian told BBC News that he “wished [he’d] listened from the beginning” and hoped his wife would forgive him.
“This is a real virus that affects people differently. I can't change the past I can only live in today and make better choices for the future,” Brian explained.
Brian originally featured in this investigation into the human cost of viral misinformation .

Latest coronavirus-related developments in the UK

Here are the latest developments in the UK at 17:00 BST on Monday:

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 18:51

Dutch royals sorry over breaking distancing rules

The Dutch king and queen have apologised after being pictured breaking social distancing rules while on holiday in Greece.
A photograph published online showed King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima standing close to a man said to be a restaurant owner on the island of Mykonos.
In a statement published on Twitter , the king acknowledged that he and his wife had kept "too little distance".
"In the spontaneity of the moment, we did not pay attention to that. Of course, we should have. Because compliance with corona rules is also essential when on holiday to combat the virus."
The person who took the photo, quoted anonymously by Dutch broadcaster RTL Nieuws, said it was taken privately and that the failure to respect social distancing was a "mistake", the AFP news agency reports.

Why do vaccines get caught up in politics?

Vaccines are meant to be about science - but they seem inseparable from politics too.
In fact, just today, there are three different vaccine stories making the rounds:

  • The Trump administration has considered giving emergency approval to the UK Covid-19 vaccine currently being developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University ahead of November's US presidential elections, according to the Financial Times and New York Times. If true, this could spark safety concerns - but Trump officials and AstraZeneca have denied the reports.
  • Meanwhile, a new US poll published in Axios suggests 66% of Americans believe any vaccine developed in the US should only be shared with the rest of the world after all US orders have been filled.
  • China says it has been using experimental coronavirus vaccines on key workers in recent weeks. But not everyone has confidence in China's vaccine trials - last week Papua New Guinea denied entry to 180 Chinese nationals who had apparently been "immunised" with a trial vaccine.

And of course, earlier this month, Russia announced it had registered the first vaccine against Covid-19 - but was met with scepticism.
A Covid-19 vaccine is one of the most valuable and eagerly sought-after medical prizes in modern times, says the BBC's security correspondent, Gordon Corera . This is not just because of the life-saving benefits, but also the promise of ending disruption, and the glory and validation for those who succeed

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 18:57

Police 'can't win' after breaking up child's birthday party

Police criticised for breaking up a child's 10th birthday party say they "can't win" when enforcing enhanced coronavirus restrictions.
Greater Manchester Police's chief constable has revealed that the force attended 126 incidents over the weekend .
Officers were criticised by some for breaking up the child's party in Manchester and issuing a fine, but Ian Hopkins said it was not a "jelly and ice cream" event and saw "mostly adults celebrating".
"We can't win. If we don't deal with them, people are saying it isn't fair and when we do deal with it people are saying it is heavy-handed," he said.
Greater Manchester has faced extra restrictions following a rise in cases, with gatherings of separate households banned in most circumstances.
Elsewhere, West Midlands Police say they broke up 96 parties and illegal gatherings over the weekend . Birmingham is on a government watch list due to a spike in Covid-19 cases.

New York museums, bowling alleys and aquariums to reopen

People will be able to tour the museums of New York again as of Monday.
The Statue of Liberty Museum and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration are reopening on Monday morning.
The Met and MoMA are due to reopen later this week.
New York state's bowling alleys will also be reopening, along with aquariums.
However, there will be strict social distancing rules in place including staggered entry times, mandatory face masks and time limits on visits.
Museums, aquariums and other cultural institutions will be able to hold visitors at 25% capacity, while bowling alleys will be at 50%.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 19:02

Illegal rave brought 'bit of normality' to my life

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Thousands of people attended an illegal rave in Greater Manchester in June

Police are now able to fine organisers of illegal raves up to £10,000 while those who attend can be fined £100.
The government and police say such gatherings put people's health at risk. But some people who have been going to them, and organisers, insist they are safe - and are even doing them good.
"Throughout lockdown, my mental health was getting pretty low," Taylor, who's been to a rave during lockdown, tells BBC Newsbeat.
This year, his relationship ended and his 21st birthday plans were cancelled because of coronavirus so his friend suggested going to an illegal party.
"There were a couple of hundred people but everyone was fairly spaced out, people were wearing masks, being careful and it was a quite a big area of woodland," he says.
"It was really nice to get a bit of normality back in my life and a bit of happiness."
Read more .

Czechs to shorten Covid self-isolation

Rob Cameron - BBC Prague Correspondent
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New restrictions are coming into effect on 1 September, after restrictions were eased in June

The Czech Republic's health ministry has confirmed that the country's 14-day quarantine period will be shortened to 10 days from 1 September.
A negative test will no longer be required to formally end the period of self-isolation/quarantine for those who have tested positive, or those who have come into contact with people who have tested positive.
The person will automatically be deemed "recovered" after 10 days (as long as they are not in hospital/experiencing symptoms).
Those people who test positive and experience symptoms will remain in self-isolation for three to four days after the last symptoms disappear.
The move was originally meant to happen on Monday, but has been put back a week to coincide with new restrictions, coming into effect on 1 September, which include wearing masks on public transport and in official buildings, etc...
In terms of statistics, this will presumably speed up the process of putting "infected" people into the "recovered" category, as it will to all intents and purposes be automatic.
The latest figures in the country are 22,056 (+135) infections and, 415 deaths (out of 845,528 tests carried out).

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 20:16

Santas trained for a Covid-safe Christmas

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It may be four months until Christmas but training is already under way to teach Santas how to keep their grottos safe - while still maintaining the festive spirit.
The Ministry of Fun Santa School, which ran the session at London's Southwark Cathedral, claims to be the only professional Santa training school in Britain.
The curriculum included grotto layout management, social distancing, queue management and the use of masks and visors.
"Now more than ever, everyone needs a bit of magic in their life - and that's what the great man can still bring us all with some special measures in place to allow social distancing," said the school's director, James Lovell.
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Government considering measures for English schools in case of local outbreaks

Branwen Jeffreys - Education Editor
The BBC understands the government is considering a range of measures that could see secondary schools operating on a rota in parts of England where there are Covid-19 outbreaks.
It is part of discussions underway on four different levels of schools operating.
They aim to keep primary schools operating as normal wherever possible, with localised restrictions on secondary schools where needed to bring the R number down.
Updated guidelines for schools on coping with local outbreaks are expected within weeks
The government is facing calls from teaching unions to have a Plan B to deal with any sudden increase in cases.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Aug 24 2020, 20:20

World round-up for the day so far

It's been another day of good news and not-so-good news in the pandemic world. Here's a round-up of the main international headlines of the day.

  • Hong Kong scientists reported the first confirmed case of an apparently healthy patient being re-infected with Covid-19 , four months after the first infection
  • New Zealand extended lockdown measures in its largest city, Auckland, as PM Jacinda Ardern called 2020 a "frankly terrible year"
  • In the US, the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorisation for plasma treatment to be used for coronavirus patients
  • In New York, people are again able to tour the city's museums, including the Statue of Liberty museum and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, as well as go to bowling alleys and aquariums

Main UK headlines on Monday

We'll be closing today's live page shortly so here's a quick recap of the main UK stories:

That's it for today, thanks for reading

Thanks for joining our live coverage. We'll be back again on Tuesday with all the latest coronavirus stories from around the world.

Today's page was edited by Helier Cheung and Rob Corp and written by George Wright, Alexandra Fouché, Hazel Shearing and Becky Morton.

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 03:39