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Coronavirus - 3rd September


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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 12:01

Summary for Thursday, 3rd September

  • The US Centers for Disease Control is asking states to get rid of red tape to allow distribution of a potential vaccine by 1 November
  • Under the scenario being planned for, a vaccine would be rolled out for certain groups days before the US election
  • India is coming closer to surpassing Brazil's total number of cases after another 83,883 were reported
  • England's testing system is struggling to keep up with demand as a growing number of people apply for swabs
  • Leading figures in UK aviation have expressed frustration that the government has still not backed testing at airports
  • Meanwhile, English holidaymakers wait to see which countries will be added to quarantine list later on Thursday
  • Globally, there have been more than 26m confirmed cases since the outbreak began and 863,000 deaths

Good morning

Hare are some of the stories that have broken in the latest few hours:

  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told health officials that a Covid-19 vaccine could be ready for distribution for certain groups by the start of November, according to media reports. This is an ambitious deadline leading to concern among some experts that the rush for a vaccine is being driven by the forthcoming presidential election rather than public health and safety
  • India has recorded another surge in daily infections, with 83,883 new cases. The total number now stands at 3.85 million, making it the world’s third most affected nation. The ministry said 1,043 people had died, taking the death toll to 67,376
  • A scathing report into the use of South Africa’s Covid-19 relief fund has revealed overpricing and potential fraud. Auditor General Kimi Makwetu called the findings “frightening”. In some cases, personal protective equipment was bought for five times more than the price advised by the national treasury
  • Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi has described as a “setup” her visit to a hair salon in breach of coronavirus rules. Ms Pelosi was pictured in the salon without a face covering, sparking accusations of hypocrisy as she has frequently criticised President Donald Trump for not wearing a mask

Testing system struggling and other UK news

Here is a round-up of the main UK stories this morning:

Australian 'anti-lockdown' arrest stirs controvery

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The arrest of a crying pregnant woman in Australia for promoting an anti-lockdown protest online has drawn criticism, after video of the incident went viral.
Footage shows officers handcuffing Zoe-Lee Buhler, 28, in her home in the state of Victoria on Wednesday in front of her partner and children.
She starts crying during the arrest, telling police: "I didn't realise I was doing anything wrong."
Authorities have defended the officers, saying they acted appropriately.
.Last week police in Victoria - which has been in lockdown since July - warned they would arrest people for organising protests in breach of the ban on gatherings.

Europe infections back to March levels - EU

The numbers of coronavirus infections are back to levels seen in March when the virus gripped the continent, according to the head of the European Union's public health agency.
"The virus has not been sleeping over the summer. It did not take vacation," Andrea Ammon said on Wednesday, according to Reuters news agency.
Across Europe there are 46 cases per 100,000 people, she explained. In March there were 40 cases per 100,000, reaching around 70 per 100,000 by the end of April.
New cases now mostly involve young people, but she says that re-opening of schools does not necessarily pose a risk.

Decision on adding Portugal to UK quarantine list due on Friday

A decision on whether travellers will need to quarantine for 14 days when arriving in the UK from Portugal will be made on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Amid speculation Portugal could be added to the list, he told Sky News: "The simpler answer is that we follow the data and we make these announcements in an organised way on a Friday lunchtime.
"We are going to publish a further decision tomorrow, having looked at the data and I'm not going to pre-judge that."
Mr Hancock also pleaded with the public to get coronavirus tests if they have symptoms.
Defending the testing system in an interview with BBC Breakfast, he said "the vast majority" of people get tests close to home, despite some being directed to centres more than 100 miles away.
"If you have symptoms, please come forward and get a test," he said.
"It is straightforward, it is easy and the vast majority of people get one close to their home."

US states told 'to be ready for November vaccine distribution'

A plan to roll out a vaccine to several groups in the US just days before the election has sparked concern.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told health officials in all 50 states to be ready to distribute a vaccine by 1 November.
Three documents, sent out on 27 August, set out detailed scenarios for distributing two unidentified vaccine candidates, the New York Times reports. The guidance notes priority for the vaccine would be given to health care professionals, the over-65s and communities known to be at greater risk of infection.
A number of possible vaccines are undergoing clinical trials, and some are in their final stage of testing. The US’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, had indicated that a vaccine might be made available before trials were completed if the results were overwhelmingly positive, but other scientists fear politics is driving the CDC’s announcement.
Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention epidemiologist in Arizona, told the New York Times: "This timeline… is deeply worrisome for the politicization of public health and the potential safety ramifications. It’s hard not to see this as a push for a pre-election vaccine.”

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 12:10

French plan to create 160,000 jobs: Latest around Europe

French Prime Minister Jean Castex is launching a €100bn (£89bn) Covid recovery plan with the aim of creating 160,000 jobs in 2021. A key aim is to invest in "sectors of the future" and prevent job losses. There are three priorities: focusing on green transport and housing, making industry more competitive and promoting social and territorial cohesion. In other developments:

  • Police in the German city of Nuremberg had to close down a YouTube influencer's scooter event at a skatepark. Claudius Vertesi had attracted a crowd of 500 young people, but there were no masks and no social distancing
  • Spain has seen another 3,663 cases in 24 hours, with the Canary Islands being a particular cause for concern. The islands have recently seen a big influx of migrants and four outbreaks have been reported in reception centres. "There's no separation between the 43 people who've got the virus and 50 others in the same centre," one medic told Spanish radio
  • The Czech Republic has seen a new high of 650 cases, and Health Minister Adam Vojtech says restrictions may have to be reimposed in Prague
  • Dutch Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus has survived a no-confidence vote by MPs after pictures showed no social distancing at his wedding. "I got it all wrong," he admitted

'The Rock' and his family test positive

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American actor and former wrestler Dwayne Johnson and his family have all contracted for coronavirus despite being careful , he has posted on Instagram.
"We're on the other end of it and no longer contagious. Thank God, we're healthy," he said.
Johnson, his wife and their daughters aged four and two contracted the virus about two-and-a-half weeks ago.
They caught it from "very close family friends" who, in turn, had no idea how they had been infected.
"Testing positive for Covid-19 is much different than overcoming nasty injuries, or being evicted or even being broke, which I have been more than a few times," he added.

India reports more than 83,000 new cases

India confirmed 83,883 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, the BBC's Jill McGivering reports.
This brings India's total number of confirmed cases to more than 3.8m - just 100,000 behind Brazil, the country with the second-highest number of cases in the world.
Maharashtra, the worst hit state, saw a daily increase of more than 17,000 infections, its highest so far in one day.
However, analysts suggest India's real number is likely to be much higher because testing, although increased, is still relatively low.
India is continuing to ease restrictions as it struggles to address the economic damage caused by a stringent lockdown earlier in the year.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 12:14

New outbreak in Singapore's worker dormitories

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Foreign workers often live in cramped accommodation in Singapore

Singapore has detected a new outbreak of coronavirus in its crowded housing for foreign workers.
The dormitories have previously been hotspots for Covid-19 as workers, who support the construction and ship-building industries, live in cramped conditions.
On Wednesday, health authorities said clusters were found at three more sites.
Earlier this year Singapore introduced a two-month lockdown with strict quarantining for the dormitories.

Could poverty explain Africa's low infection rate?

Is there a link between poverty, crowded accommodation, and Africa's bafflingly low infection and death rates from the pandemic? This is the question posed by our Africa correspondent Andrew Harding.
Health experts have been braced for a major outbreak of Covid-19 across Africa ever since the virus was first identified earlier this year. But so far it has not happened.
Theories about why this is have ranged from the fact that Africa has a warmer climate to its much larger proportion of younger people, who are less likely to be affected badly by the coronavirus.
But some South African scientists now wonder whether Africa's overcrowded neighbourhoods, where colds and flus have long spread easily, have actually enabled its residents to build up a larger degree of immunity to Covid-19.
You can read more here.

Campaigners seek judicial review over care home visits in England

Campaigners are mounting a legal challenge to the government's guidance on visiting care homes in England, saying patients with severe dementia are still being denied frequent contact with their families.
The charity John's Campaign says the advice doesn't give enough weight to individual needs.
Dr Angela McIntyre, a retired doctor backing the campaign, has not seen her 92-year-old mother since March.
John's Campaign said Dr McIntyre has been told she will only be allowed to see her mother when she is dying.
The charity has instructed two legal firms which, it says, are "in the process of preparing a pre-action letter, the first stage of a legal challenge" against the government's advice.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government would sort the problem "in short order".
Read more

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 12:18

Analysis: As summer ends, UK must square up to Covid again

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
It is crunch time for coronavirus in the UK.
Children are returning to school and, with summer over, the return of colder weather and dark nights means more time will be spent indoors, giving the virus a better chance of spreading.
So how strong a position are we in to fight the virus?
Read more here

Mozambique's insurgency 'pushes thousands to virus hotspot'

Clashes between Mozambican government forces and Islamist insurgents in the northern Cabo Delgado province have forced thousands of fleeing residents to a coronavirus hotspot, according to the International Red Cross Society (IRCS).
Many have sought refuge in Pemba where IRCS helped build a coronavirus treatment centre, the society said.
This has exposed them to the likelihood of contracting coronavirus, said IRCS head of operations in Pemba, Raoul Bittel.
The militants have been attacking remote villages across the province over the past two years.
The group – known locally as al-Shabab, or the youth – have an Islamist agenda, but they’re building on decades of local frustrations about unemployment, rigged elections, corruption and violence.
Read more:

Covid-related deaths appear to be easing in Brazil

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Some encouraging figures out of Brazil, the country with the second-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths after the United States.
Last week, the daily average of Covid-related deaths in the South American country dropped below 900, the lowest in three-and-a-half months.
But experts warn it is still too early to say that the worst is over - the most recent figures, from Wednesday, put a dampener on things when Brazil again registered more than 1,200 Covid-related deaths.
The country is expected to pass four million cases later on Thursday.
The president, Jair Bolsonaro, is among those who had Covid-19. Despite having been infected himself, he continues to be dismissive of the risks posed by the virus and has urged regional governors to drop lockdown measures.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 12:26

Covid whistleblower hotline used 739 times since launch last month

A whistleblowers' hotline to report businesses flouting Covid-19 restrictions in Birmingham has been used more than 700 times since launching last month.
The city's council said the service had been contacted 739 times between 11 and 31 August.
Birmingham was put on a Public Health England watch list of local authority areas under increased scrutiny in August because of a persistent rising infection rate, although this has since fallen.
After being put on the watch list, the city introduced measures including a legally-enforced crackdown on businesses flouting Covid-19 measures.
The city has avoided a local lockdown.
The region's Conservative mayor, Andy Street, called Birmingham's efforts "remarkable", while the Labour-led council's leader Ian Ward said the city was "going in the right direction".

Swedish parents kept children locked up during pandemic

Three children have been removed from their parents’ care in Sweden after they were kept locked away for four months over coronavirus fears.
The children, aged between 10 and 17, were confined to their own rooms, where they ate their meals, a court in southern Sweden heard. They were unable to see each other and the front door was nailed shut to prevent them from leaving the house.
A lawyer for the children, Mikael Svegfors, told the AFP that the parents came from “another part of the world” and did not speak Swedish fluently. They had been following the news from their home country, which had much stricter lockdown measures.
The court ruled that the parents' measures were still “excessively far-reaching” even in the "unsual" circumstances. The parents are planning to appeal against the ruling, local media report.
Unlike many other European countries, Sweden did not impose strict lockdown measures when the coronavirus first began to spread and kept schools open for children under-16s.

Will a vaccine produced by November be safe?

Richard Warry - Assistant editor, BBC Health
The pressure for the scientific community to develop an effective vaccine for Covid-19 is immense.
While social distancing can reduce spread of the virus, most experts believe a vaccine is the only way for the world to truly beat Covid.
However, many vaccines that show early promise fail to fulfil when tested on more people. Those so-called phase three trials are also vital, because that is when side effects often become apparent.
Vaccines work by triggering a response from the human immune system, mobilising it to attack and destroy the virus which causes disease.
But the immune system is a powerful weapon, and, triggered in the wrong way, can cause more problems than it solves. This is particularly relevant with Covid, as it appears that much of the damage caused to the body is as a result of an over-reaction by the immune system, rather than infection by the virus itself.
This is why there is an established, and carefully controlled protocol in place governing the conduct of vaccine trials, and why any attempt to circumvent the process carries dangers.
In the UK, there are plans to introduce new powers to allow for an unlicensed vaccine rapidly if one becomes available before the new year. But it has been stressed that strict safety standards must be met.
The dangers of not properly assessing a candidate vaccine were illustrated in 2009, when Pandemrix, rapidly-developed vaccine for H1N1 swine flu lead to people developing the chronic sleep disorder narcolepsy.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 12:29

GSK and Sanofi announce vaccine trials

More hopeful news for a coronavirus vaccine as drug firms GSK and Sanofi announce they are starting clinical trials in the coming weeks.
The two firms say they plan to test 440 adults at 11 sites in the US, with initial results by December, and if successful they will move on to further trials by the end of the year.
There are now around 20 pharmaceutical companies holding clinical trials in the race to find a vaccine.
As we mentioned earlier, the US government believes one may be ready for distribution by 1 November, although some scientists worry that politics - and a presidential election - not health and safety is behind the unexpected announcement by the Centers for Diseases Control.

Spain to carry on furlough scheme 'indefinitely'

Spain's employment minister Yolanda Diaz has said the country's furlough scheme will be extended for "as long as is necessary".
She told IB3 radio "it does not make much sense to put dates" on the end of the scheme, but added that: "As long as there is no vaccine, there is no certainty."
Her comments came ahead of a meeting to discuss extending the scheme which is due to end on 30 September. The current arrangement provides 70% of a worker's base salary for the first six months before dropping to 50% after that. Ms Diaz indicated this would continue.
Spain has been experiencing a second wave of the virus in recent weeks following one of Europe's most draconian lockdowns earlier in the year.

Amazon to create 7,000 UK jobs after lockdown boom

Online retail giant Amazon is to create 7,000 further UK jobs this year after seeing sales rise during the lockdown.
Amazon said it had already added 3,000 roles so far in 2020, and so by the end of the year it will have created a total of 10,000 new jobs - taking its total permanent UK workforce to more than 40,000.
The business, which has said the new jobs will pay a minimum of £9.50 an hour, is also recruiting 20,000 seasonal posts for the festive period.
The company has faced criticism in the past from unions over the way it treats staff and health and safety .
While many high street businesses were closed during the early months of the pandemic, internet shopping increased, benefiting companies such as Amazon.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 17:02

What you need to know so far on Thursday

Case numbers are rising alarmingly in some parts of the world say officials, while international division over the fairest and safest way to produce a Covid-19 vaccine continues. Here is the latest:

  • In the US, a plan to roll out a vaccine to several groups days before the election has sparked concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told health officials in all 50 states to be ready to distribute a vaccine by 1 November
  • India has recorded another surge in daily infections, with 83,883 new cases. The total number now stands at 3.85 million, making it the world’s third most affected nation
  • Coronavirus infections in Europe are back to levels seen in March when the virus gripped the continent, according to the head of the European Union's public health agency
  • But in Brazil, the number of people dying appears to be dropping
  • American actor and former wrestler Dwayne Johnson 'The Rock' and his family have all tested positive for coronavirus despite taking precautions
  • And in Italy, the Venice Film Festival enters its second day - the first major film festival to run during the pandemic.

Britons in Portugal await UK quarantine decision

Britons in Portugal say they are anxiously awaiting a decision by the UK government on whether to reintroduce 14-day quarantine for arrivals.
In Portugal, the seven-day infection rate has increased in the past week from 15.3 to 23 per 100,000 people.
A seven-day rate of 20 is the threshold above which the UK government considers triggering quarantine conditions.
Laura McDonald, 26, who is with her fiancé Jake Robson, 27, in the Algarve, told BBC News it would cost them £450 to get home early - despite originally paying just £230 in total for their return flights.
"It's just not feasible. What we would pay is half of what we lose in wages each," she said.
"We were on the beach yesterday and there were a lot of British people there talking about it and reading the news," she added.
The infection rate is 14.7 in the UK, while in Ireland it is 15.3.
In Greece, the rate has fallen over the past week from 14.9 to 13.8.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a decision based on data - including case numbers - would be taken later.
Read more

Eight passengers on flight from Crete test positive for Covid-19

Health authorities are trying to track down passengers who were on a flight from Crete to London Luton Airport, after eight people on board tested positive for coronavirus.
Wizz Air said it had not known the passengers on its flight from the Greek island - on 25 August - had Covid-19.
The airline said it had notified health authorities in England, who are responsible for contacting the other 204 passengers on the plane.
"Wizz Air operates all flights in compliance with local travel regulations, and the safety of passengers and staff is the number one priority," a spokesman said.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said it was aware of the situation and was advising those affected to self-isolate.
It comes as ministers are to decide on whether Greece and Portugal are to be added to the UK's quarantine list. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a decision would be made on Friday.
For the full story read more here .

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 17:14

R number may be as high as 1.4 in Scotland - Sturgeon

The reproduction rate of coronavirus - or R number - is probably above one in Scotland and may now be as high as 1.4, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Speaking at her daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon said the R number had increased in the last week.
A number above one means the virus will spread, rather than decline, in the population.
But Ms Sturgeon said the number was of slightly less concern than earlier in the year because the overall prevalence of the virus is low in Scotland right now.
Nevertheless, this is a further reminder of the need to take this seriously and do all the right things, she says.
A further 101 people have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of positive cases in Scotland to 20,889.
Ms Sturgeon also confirmed one more person has died following a positive test - but this was in August and took some time to confirm.
The total number of deaths by this measure is 2,496.

'To be so close, but so far away, was torture,

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BBC Radio 5 Live has been hearing from listeners who are still unable to regularly see family members in care homes. A dementia charity is seeking a judicial review of the government guidance on care home visits.
Rachel called 5 Live to talk about her family’s experiences of trying to see her mum, Jennifer, on the Isle of Skye.
Jennifer has advanced dementia and is non-verbal. Every interaction usually involves touching – which of course hasn’t been able to happen since the start of the pandemic.
“My mum has got no quality of life, very little, she’s completely immobile," Rachel said, "she can’t speak. We had months of not being able to see her, they did offer us Facetime… it’s pointless.”
There was a coronavirus outbreak at Jennifer's care home, which led to the deaths of 10 people. She also tested positive, but was asymptomatic.
When the situation improved they were offered window visits. Rachel says she was initially excited, but said they proved to be “torture”.
“It’s actually worse... you can see her but you can’t touch her. My mum was inside, two or three metres away from the window, the window was open and we were standing outside.
"My dad’s 78, he’s got arthritic knees. There was a bench put there but I don’t know whether you’ve heard how wet it is on the Isle of Skye”
Rachel wants families to be given key worker status: "Quality of life to me is more important than length of life. I would accept one family member being able to go in and see my mum in full PPE. That would be amazing.”
Click here to listen back to this morning's Your Call programme on BBC Sounds.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 17:19

What's driving India's high daily cases?

Krutika Pathi - BBC News, Delhi
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We reported earlier that India breached its previous record of daily infections after confirming 83,883 new cases on Thursday. The spike comes just after August in India was shown to be the worst month anywhere in the world for cases since the pandemic began.
Currently, with just over 3.8 million cases, India is just 100,000 behind Brazil, which trails the US for second place.
The hike in daily cases may be down to increased testing as states across the country have ramped up their rates. But testing is still on the lower end of the global spectrum, at about 30,000 per million. Experts also fear that the infection has started to steadily spread from cities - where it first began - to rural parts of the country.
But India is facing other problems as well. The pandemic and the strict lockdown imposed to curb its spread devastated the Indian economy, which contracted by 23.9% in the three months to the end of June .
Yet it's not all bad news. Even though it seems like daily cases are on the rise, India's recovery rate remains encouraging - out of every 100 confirmed cases, nearly 77 have recovered so far . The number of deaths also continues to be low - for every 100 confirmed cases, just under two have died from the virus.

Costa puts 1,650 jobs at risk 'in response' to Covid-19

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Costa Coffee has warned 1,650 jobs are at risk as it restructures its business in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
It says there are still "high levels of uncertainty" as to when trade will regain pre-pandemic levels.
The High Street chain said it would look to find people with jobs at risk alternative roles where possible.
Neil Lake, managing director for Costa Coffee UK and Ireland said: "Today’s announcement to our store teams was an extremely difficult decision to make. Our baristas are the heart of the Costa business and I am truly sorry that many now face uncertainty following today’s news."

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 17:21

Countries should unite to find a vaccine - Africa disease chief

Countries should unite in the effort to find and distribute a vaccine for Covid-19, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said.
It comes as the US Centers for Disease Control asked states to get rid of red tape to allow distribution of a potential vaccine by 1 November, days before the presidential election. That's raising concerns that a virus could be rushed through with safety compromised.
However, the US is refusing to join a World Health Organisation-led plan which has seen 76 rich nations commit to a global vaccine plan which aims to help buy and fairly distribute a drug.

Concerns in the US over pre-election vaccine

Democrats and health experts have expressed concerns over political interference in the presidential election after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised states to be prepared for a vaccine roll-out as early as 1 November - two days before voters go to the polls.
It's customary for a so-called "October surprise" to occur late in the campaign cycle, upending the final days of any presidential campaign. In 2016, it was the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump boasted of groping women and the FBI director's announcement that he was re-examining Hillary Clinton's private email server.
But some say the chances of a pre-election vaccine - which the Trump team refer to as the "holy grail" according to the New York Times - are much lower than the CDC claims, and accuse the agency of allowing itself to become politicised under the Trump White House.
“It’s hard not to see this as a push for a pre-election vaccine,” Arizona epidemiologist Saskia Popescu told the Times.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer accused the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (which may authorise a relatively untested vaccine under an "emergency use authorisation") of allowed themselves to be subjected to "political interference from the Trump Administration [which] as impacted the agencies’ work in response to Covid-19".
Several state health officials have begun telling residents to "ignore" CDC guidance, after they last week said that asymptomatic people do not need to be tested. Experts say widespread testing, especially among those that do not display signs of infection, is necessary to stop the pandemic.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 17:24

Fifteen more deaths related to coronavirus in England

There have been a further 15 deaths registered which are linked to coronavirus in hospitals in England as of Thursday, according to NHS England figures.
It brings the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 29,585.
The dates of death range from 27 March to 2 September, with the majority before Monday.
In each of Northern Ireland and Scotland a further death has been registered while in Wales there were no deaths reported.
The full UK figures, which differ to the nations' statistics due to discrepancies in reporting period and other criteria, are due to be published later today.

Thailand reports first local infection in months

Thailand has reported its first locally transmitted coronavirus infection for more than 100 days.
Health officials said a Bangkok prison inmate - recently convicted and with no recent foreign travel history - had tested positive during routine checks.
All those who had been in contact with the 37-year-old man in the past two weeks were being contacted and told to isolate. They include people at three places where he had worked and the court where he was convicted.
"We may go further back but we will examine this first," said Walailak Chaifu, head of the country's epidemiology department.
Thailand has largely managed to contain the coronavirus, reporting just 3,427 cases and 58 deaths in total. All of its cases since late May have been people in quarantine after returning from overseas.

Australia extends overseas travel ban

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Flights in and out of Australia have been heavily restricted by pandemic counter-measures

Australia is extending its ban on overseas travel for another three months as it battles a second wave of infections.
The government said it would extend the "human biosecurity emergency period" - which has been in place since 18 March - until 17 December.
The measure allows the government to restrict the entry and exit of flights and cruise ships. Australian citizens and permanent residents are not allowed to leave the country unless they have a government-approved exemption.
All travellers arriving in Australia are subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the extension followed advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the group of medical experts advising the government.
"AHPPC has advised that the international and domestic Covid-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk," Mr Hunt said.
The state of Victoria has been in lockdown since July to curb a surge in new cases that has fuelled Australia's latest outbreak.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 17:29

Sick child offered Covid-19 test 200 miles from home

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Two-year-old Grace tested negative for coronavirus after attending a centre in Cardiff

A father says he was asked to travel more than 200 miles to get a Covid-19 test for his unwell toddler.
TV presenter Will Millard used the UK government website on 27 August after his daughter, Grace, two, developed a high temperature.
Mr Millard, from Sully, Vale of Glamorgan, was offered a test in Blackburn, Lancashire, before his health board booked a test in Cardiff.
It comes as the UK coronavirus testing system struggles to cope with a rise in demand.
Government sources have told the BBC testing labs have been "maxed out" after a rise in people asking for tests in recent weeks.
The government said testing was being prioritised for high-risk areas, including care homes.
But public health experts have warned the issue could lead to new spikes being missed.
Read more here

London Marathon to take place on circuit around St James's Park

This year's London Marathon will take place on a closed-loop circuit around St James's Park on 4 October.
The event, moved from April because of the coronavirus pandemic, is restricted to elite athletes , who will be in a bio-secure bubble during race week.
The finish line will be in its traditional place on The Mall, with no spectator access to the course.
"We are confident we have created the safest environment for everyone," said event director Hugh Brasher.
Read more here.

Police investigate after 300 people attend house party in Scotland

Police are investigating after more than 300 people attended a house party in Midlothian, Scotland.
Officers were called to the party , which was run as a commercial event in a rented property, at 00:20 BST on Sunday.
They said organisers showed a "blatant disregard" for coronavirus rules which limit indoor gatherings to no more than eight people from three households.
A 29-year-old man issued with a fixed penalty and police are investigating culpable and reckless conduct charges against the organisers of the party.
It comes as the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned coronavirus is spreading again in Scotland .
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland a County Fermanagh man has been £1,000 for breaching quarantine rules - the first person to be punished this way in the nation.
It is understood he went out socialising on Sunday after returning from holiday in Spain, before later testing positive for the virus.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 17:33

World lost 7,000 healthcare workers to Covid-19: Amnesty

At least 7,000 health workers around the world have died from the coronavirus, with the highest country toll in Mexico, Amnesty International reports .
New analysis from the human rights group found that at least 1,320 health workers were confirmed to have died in Mexico, followed by the US with 1,077, the UK with 649 and Brazil with 634.
There are "alarming" rises in South Africa, with 240 deaths, and India, at 573, Amnesty notes.
"For over seven thousand people to die while trying to save others is a crisis on a staggering scale," said Steve Cockburn, head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnety International.
"Every health worker has the right to be safe at work, and it is a scandal that so many are paying the ultimate price."

UK records another 1,735 cases

The latest figures from the UK government show there were 1,735 Covid-19 infections recorded over the past 24 hours - up from 1,508 a day earlier.
There were 13 additional deaths, the government said on Thursday.
The number of new cases is the highest since 4 June.

French professor faces ethics complaint over hydroxychloroquine claims

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A controversial French professor, who had defended the use of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus, faces an ethics complaint that could see him sanctioned or barred from practising.
Didier Raoult, head of the infectious diseases department of La Timone hospital in Marseille, is accused by medical peers of spreading false information about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine.
The drug has been promoted by some, including US President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro, but there is currently no proof it works against coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against misuse of the drug because of serious side-effects.
In March, Prof Raoult said his study of 80 patients showed "favourable" outcomes for four in five of those who received hydroxychloroquine. But in the complaint, seen by French newspaper Le Figaro, his critics say he promoted the drug "without any real scientific evidence on the subject, and against the health authorities' recommendations".
According to Le Figaro, a group representing 500 specialists of France's Infectious Diseases Society filed the complaint against Prof Raoult. They accuse him of breaking nine rules of the doctors' code of ethics.
Read more about hydroxychloroquine:

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 17:37

No countries added to England quarantine list today

There will be no changes to England's quarantine list on Thursday, the transport secretary has said, amid speculation Portugal and Greece were about to be added.
Grant Shapps tweeted that the list was always under review and the government wouldn't hesitate to make changes if needed.
The decision covers England and other parts of the UK may make individual decisions.
People arriving from Greece to Scotland have to quarantine for 14 days as of 04:00 BST on Thursday , while anyone arriving into Wales from the Greek island of Zakynthos will also have to self-isolate.
tweet  Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP:
:Left Quotes:  We continue to keep the Travel Corridor list under constant review & won't hesitate to remove countries if needed. However, there are no English additions or removals today. Nonetheless, holidaymakers are reminded - 14-day quarantine countries can & do change at very short notice

Apology after UK testing system struggles to meet demand

The head of England's NHS Test and Trace system has apologised after it emerged UK labs were struggling to keep up with demand - with some being asked to travel hundreds of miles for a test.
UK labs were described as "maxed out" after a rise in demand - 170,000 tests a day are being processed, up from 100,000 in mid June.
Baroness Dido Harding, head of NHS Test and Trace in England, said she was "very sorry" for the situation .
But she also insisted that the "vast majority" of people could still secure appointments nearby.
The booking website is now prioritising high risk areas, including towns and cities with high infection rates and care homes, for testing.
It means there are restricted home testing kits and few booking slots at local testing centres for people in low-risk areas, the government said.
Officials said by Friday no-one should be asked to travel more than 75 miles to get a test.

Travellers to Wales from Portugal and Greek islands face quarantine

Travellers to Wales from Portugal and six Greek islands will have to self-isolate for 14 days from 04:00 BST on Friday, the Welsh government has announced .
Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Paros, Antiparos and Crete are among the islands affected.
Gibraltar and French Polynesia will also be removed from the list of countries exempt from the quarantine restrictions.
It is the first time that Wales has applied its own quarantine rules.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 18:57

Azores and Madeira exempt from Welsh rule change

A bit more now on the Welsh government's move to put Portugal and six Greek islands on its list of places that come under quarantine regulations from early Friday morning.
Although travellers returning from Portugal face self-isolation if they come back after 0400 BST on Friday, the Azores and Madeira will remain exempt, Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething said.
The Greek islands of Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos and Crete have also been added to the quarantine list, along with Gibraltar and French Polynesia.

Portugal to be added to Scottish quarantine list, sources say

Portugal will be added to Scotland's quarantine list from this weekend, senior Scottish government sources have told BBC Scotland.
Read more here .

Isle of Man to allow seven-day self-isolation

In contrast to Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, residents returning to the Isle of Man - a crown dependency - can now self-isolate for seven days if they pay for a Covid-19 test and the result is negative, the chief minister there has said.
Currently, anyone arriving on the Isle of Man must self-isolate for 14 days.
From Monday, returning residents can pay £50 to be tested for coronavirus after a week and will be allowed to leave their home, under certain restrictions, if it is negative.

French cases top 7,000 for second day in row

France has registered more than 7,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row.
The health ministry said on Thursday there were 7,157 new infections, a slight increase on the previous day's figure of 7,017 but shy of the 7,578 record set on 31 March.
The ministry said the cumulative number of confirmed cases was now 300,181. There were 20 more virus-linked deaths, taking the total to 30,706.
France is one of several European countries battling a resurgence of infections. The head of the European Union's public health agency says numbers of cases are back to levels seen in March, when the virus first gripped the continent.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 19:49

Banned Nepalese festival ends in police clash

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The cancellation of much-loved festivals and events have been frustrating for many around the world during the pandemic. But in one Nepalese city it resulted in clashes with the police and tear gas.
Hundreds of residents in Lalitpur, near Kathmandu, defied a ban on mass gatherings to hold their time-honoured tradition of a chariot procession to the rain god Rato Machhindranath.
As more and more people gathered in the streets, police said they were unable to control the numbers. "We charged (with) water cannon and tear gas to stop the rally," police official Tek Prasad Rai told Reuters news agency. Rocks were thrown in retaliation and a police motorcycle was set on fire.
It is not known how many people were injured but at least one wounded person was carried away by police, witnesses told Reuters.
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Questions will continue to be asked on UK testing

Hugh Pym - BBC News Health Editor
We've been hearing about the long journeys people have been asked to take to access a coronavirus test in the UK.
After BBC revelations that some people have been required to drive long distances, there has been renewed debate about whether there is sufficient capacity.
There has apparently been an increase of more than 60% in demand for tests since June and it appears that laboratories have struggled to keep up in some parts of the country.
There has been an apology to those who were told to go a hundred miles or more for a test.
Officials acknowledge that resources are stretched and have to be targeted at areas with local outbreaks.
But they point out that a new mega lab is set to come on stream in the East Midlands soon.
They argue that trials of new rapid testing techniques will be expanded, which could prove to be game-changers.
For now though, the system is stretched, even though the official numbers suggest capacity is running ahead of demand.
Questions will continue to be asked about whether the system can cope with the challenges ahead as schools return and winter approaches.

Scotland confirms Portugal quarantine

The Scottish government has confirmed that travellers from Portugal and French Polynesia will have to self-isolate for 14 days from 04:00 BST on Saturday.
Scotland's Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf also said Gibraltar is "high up on our watch list" and would be monitored closely.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 19:58

Quarantine: What changes have the UK nations made?

If you are just joining us, you might be confused about which countries you can travel from without having to quarantine in your home UK country on your return.
Here is what has changed today:

  • In Scotland, it has been confirmed that from Saturday at 04:00 BST travellers from Portugal and French Polynesia will have to quarantine; those coming from Greece already have to do so
  • Wales has added Portugal, Gibraltar, French Polynesia and six Greek islands to the list of places from which arrivals must self-isolate for two weeks. The islands are Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos and Crete and the changes come in at 04:00 tomorrow
  • In England, there has been no change to the list today despite speculation that Greece and Portugal may be added
  • Northern Ireland has also made no changes today

Why has England not changed rules on Portugal travel?

Tom Burridge - Transport correspondent
Ministerial decisions around adding or removing countries from the list take into account a range of factors, including virus incidence rates, information on a country's testing capacity, an assessment of the quality of data available, the effectiveness of the measures being deployed by a country to tackle the virus, and an estimate of the proportion of the population that is currently infectious in each country.
The Department for Transport says the reason for not putting Portugal on the list of countries from which returning travellers to England must quarantine is that: "Portugal has drastically increased its testing capacity, as well as taking measures to control the spread of the virus.
"We will closely monitor this situation, and as the Secretary of State for Transport has made clear, we are prepared to act at pace to remove a country from our Travel Corridor list in order to protect public health."
So from that you could read that Portugal increasing testing and taking strong steps to tackle coronavirus cancels out the case rate being slightly above 20.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 03 2020, 20:26

Join us again tomorrow

That's all for our live coverage today. Thanks for joining us. Here's a recap of the main stories from the UK and around the world related to the pandemic:

  • Policy on which visited countries returning travellers to the UK have to quarantine from has diverged. Scotland and Wales have put Portugal, and other areas, on their quarantine list. England and Northern Ireland have made no changes today. Read the lowdown here
  • The US Centers for Disease Control is asking states to prepare for a potential vaccine being rolled out by 1 November. Democrats and health experts have raised concerns that President Trump is rushing to begin distributing a vaccine before the 3 November election
  • The head of England's testing system has apologised after some people were asked to travel hundreds of miles for a test. Some labs are struggling to keep up with demand
  • Police in Scotland are investigating after more than 300 people attended a house party . The party was run as a commercial event in a rented property in Midlothian
  • India has come closer to surpassing Brazil's total number of infections after another 83,883 were reported. India has confirmed 3.85 million cases, just 100,000 behind Brazil, the world's second most affected nation
  • At least 7,000 health workers around the world have died from coronavirus, with the highest country toll in Mexico, according to a report by Amnesty International
  • Spain's furlough scheme will be extended for "as long as is necessary", employment minister Yolanda Diaz has said. Spain has been experiencing a second wave of the virus in recent weeks

Today's coverage has been brought to you by Claire Heald, Flora Drury, Penny Spiller, Paul Kirby, Alex Therrien, Georgina Rannard, Vanessa Buschschluter, Krutika Pathi, Max Matza, David Walker and Doug Faulkner.

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 04:43