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Coronavirus - 21st September


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:Covid-19: Coronavirus - 21st September

Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 12:43

Summary for Monday, 21st September

  • The UK could be facing 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October, if the current infection rate is not halted
  • Prof Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific adviser issued the warning
  • Numbers are increasing among all age groups with the epidemic doubling roughly every seven days, they said at a briefing
  • Parts of the Spanish capital Madrid are going into a tough new lockdown - more than 800,000 residents have been asked to stay at home
  • India's Taj Mahal reopens after six months, its longest ever shutdown
  • New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern removes all coronavirus restrictions except in the largest city Auckland
  • The Emmy awards have been held virtually, with most winners dialling in to make speeches from home
  • There have been 31 million confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide, with more than 960,000 deaths

Good morning - or if it’s later where you are, good afternoon. Thank you for joining our rolling coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our team is reporting from London today.
Here are the main headlines this morning.

  • Tough new restrictions are coming into force in parts of Madrid, the capital of Spain, after a sharp rise in cases and deaths. More than 800,000 residents have been ordered to stay at home
  • In parts of the Netherlands, too, bars have been told to close early and new limits have been placed on gatherings. Meanwhile Germany’s health minister has said the infection dynamic in countries like the Netherlands, Austria and France is worrying
  • Things are more optimistic in New Zealand, which has just removed social distancing restrictions for all areas other than its most populous city Auckland. On Sunday, the country reported no new cases
  • The Taj Mahal, one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, has reopened its doors to visitors after six months - the longest it has ever been shut. The move comes as India continues to battle a surge in cases and deaths
  • The UN is going to hold its 75th anniversary commemoration event today - and because of the pandemic, national representatives will be celebrating virtually. The event will be live-streamed from 09:00 EDT (14:00 BST)
  • The Emmys was also held virtually - it was broadcast from a largely empty theatre in Los Angeles, in the US, and TV stars accepted their awards at home. Succession and Schitts Creek were the big winners of the night
  • There have now been more than 30.9 million cases of and almost 960,000 deaths with the virus worldwide, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University

Tough new restrictions in parts of Europe

We've reported that England could see tighter measures to contain the virus - but this is already happening in other parts of Europe. In the Spanish capital Madrid, strict new measures have come into force after a sharp rise in cases and deaths there.
Under the new restrictions, more than 800,000 residents have been ordered to stay at home, and are only being allowed out for essential reasons such as to travel to work or to go to the doctor.
The measures have proved contentious, with some residents protesting against what they see as discrimination against poorer areas.
At the same time, restrictions are being imposed in parts of the Netherlands, with bars being told to close early and tighter limits on gatherings.
In the past week new regulations have been announced in Iceland, Denmark and parts of France, too.

Latest from the UK this morning

Good morning to our audience in the UK – where our top story is on England’s chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty who is due to make a televised speech later this morning.
Prof Whitty – who was a familiar face during No 10’s lockdown updates – is likely to warn that the UK is “heading in the wrong direction” and we’re at a “critical point in the pandemic”. You can read more here ahead of his 11:00 BST speech.
In other UK coronavirus news this morning:

  • There’s another big speech, this time from Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds who is later set to accuse the government of mismanaging billions of pounds spent in response to the pandemic
  • Around one in 20 children in England are out of school due to issues linked to the pandemic and lockdown, the children’s commissioner has suggested. The actual number of schools who have sent pupils home because of Covid cases is small, she says, but many other children have not yet returned since lockdown
  • The pandemic is a “window of opportunity” to reset the economy to take further action on climate change, Prince Charles has said
  • More than 80,000 UK firms have voluntarily returned more than £215m to the government in furlough scheme payments they did not need or took in error

Coronavirus - 21st September Breaki23

Four more counties in Wales face lockdown

Local lockdowns will be introduced in four counties in south Wales after a rise in Covid-19 cases.
Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Blaenau Gwent will be placed under a local lockdown from 18:00 BST on Tuesday following an increase in coronavirus cases, the Welsh Government has announced .
Read more details here .

Evidence of virus spreading easily on long-haul flights

Research published by the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows coronavirus can spread easily among passengers on long-haul flights.
The report looks at the case of a woman who flew in business class from London to Vietnam in March. Although she passed a temperature check, she developed symptoms in the days following the flight and tested positive just five days later.
Contact tracers managed to link her to 15 of her fellow passengers who also later tested positive for the virus.
However, there is a caveat - at the time face coverings were not mandatory on flights, and so it is unlikely most of the passengers were wearing masks.

Lebanon fears another lockdown amid record cases

Lina Sinjab - BBC Middle East correspondent
In Lebanon 1,006 coronavirus cases have been reported in a single day, the highest number since the virus was detected in the country in February.
This raises the red flag in a country of nearly four million which houses another million refugees. Hospitals and medical facilities are overwhelmed with cases.
Many people here are concerned and are following protection rules to the letter, but it is hard to enforce the hygiene measures on everyone in public areas especially in poor, densely populated neighbourhoods.
Schools and universities have reopened virtually with mostly online classes and a few physical ones where the number of students is limited.
The country’s economy is collapsing and it hit rock bottom after the blast in August that destroyed many parts of the city and killed nearly 200. Another lockdown will be difficult for many people whose businesses have suffered a year-long economic collapse.

UK heading in wrong direction – Whitty

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Prof Chris Whitty appeared alongside the PM regularly during lockdown

England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty is due to make a statement on TV at 11:00 BST – after he spent Sunday with PM Boris Johnson and other ministers discussing possible coronavirus lockdown measures.
Prof Whitty – who is a household name now for his updates on the coronavirus – is expected to say that “the trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic.
"We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period," he is expected to say.
On Sunday, a further 3,899 daily cases and 18 deaths were reported in the UK, and the prime minister is understood to be considering a two-week mini lockdown in England.
Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, are expected to explain how the virus is spreading and the potential scenarios as the winter approaches.
Our political correspondent Iain Watson suggests that the fact Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick are speaking – two mainstays of the No 10 news conferences when the virus was at its peak – means “you can assume that their briefing on the latest data will not convey good news”.
Read more on the story here .

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 13:01

Restrictions lifted in most of New Zealand

Most of New Zealand, which recorded no new cases of the virus today, is being moved to the lowest alert setting today.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said everywhere except the most populous city Auckland would be downgraded to level one. Auckland's alert, meanwhile, will move down from 2.5 to two on Wednesday, meaning that the limit on gatherings will increase from 10 people to 100. It could join the rest of the country at level one after a review in two weeks.
New Zealand has recorded just 25 deaths in a population of five million, and earlier this year had 102 days without community transmission following a strict two-month lockdown.
The lifting of restrictions means that mass gatherings, such as the first Bledisloe Cup rugby test between the All Blacks and Australia in the capital Wellington on 11 October, can go ahead without any restrictions.

Full national lockdown 'not an option in No 10's view'

The UK is poised to hear from the UK government's chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty very shortly.
It comes after the prime minister and senior ministers held meetings over the weekend to discuss whether to introduce further lockdown rules in England.
(Remember - the UK government is just in charge of England's lockdown rules. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the power to introduce their own restrictions.)
According to the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg,
the view in No 10 is that doing nothing is not an option, but a full national lockdown is also not an option.
She says that despite hours of meetings on Sunday, decisions about precise options are not finalised.
She adds that whatever the exact plans end up being, it's possible that the measures "could be turned off and on over a period of months to get through the winter".
Prof Whitty and the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance will give a speech at 11:00 BST. We'll bring you live updates on what they say.

Main points from Whitty and Vallance briefing

Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance gave a live TV address about the spread of the virus - and what could happen over the next few months.
The key points:

  • The virus is now increasing across the majority of the country. "So this is not someone else's problem, this is all of our problem," said Prof Whitty
  • It's a "six-month problem that we have to deal with collectively," said Prof Whitty. He said the seasons are against us with autumn and winter benefiting viruses like Covid
  • The virus is not milder now than in April. Prof Whitty said some people have been saying this - but there's no evidence for it

The key stats:

  • If the infection continues at its current rate, without any action being taken, then by mid-October there could be 50,000 cases a day. That would lead to more than 200 deaths a day by mid-November
  • Around 70,000 people in the UK are estimated to currently have the disease - and about 6,000 per day are catching it. That's an estimate based on a study from the Office for National Statistics
  • Fewer than 8% of people have got antibodies to the virus, which suggest they've had it already

What about lockdown measures?

  • Prof Whitty acknowledged it's a "difficult balance" for ministers. If we do too little in terms of lockdown rules, the virus will go out of control, but if we go too far the other way we can damage the economy which will have its own long-term health effects, he said
  • He said one key way to control the virus is to "break unnecessary links between households because that is the way this virus is transmitted". But he said we have to do it "in the least damaging way", adding: "If we don't do enough the virus will take off, and that is the path we are clearly on, and if we don't change course, then we're going to find ourselves in a very difficult problem."

Read our latest story here.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 21st September

Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 13:06

We've heard from the advisers, what about those who decide?

Chris Mason - Political Correspondent
We've had the briefing from Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.
But remember, they are advisers, not decision-makers.
It is up to political leaders - in the government at Westminster and around the UK - to decide what to do next.
Downing Street say that Boris Johnson will speak by phone to the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales later, and the First and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.
Political reporters at Westminster, me included, are about to dial into the daily briefing with the Prime Minister's official spokesman.
When it's finished, I'll pop back up here with a digest of what we've learnt.

Sturgeon: Additional restrictions 'almost certain' within days in Scotland

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that additional measures are "almost certain" to be introduced in Scotland in the next "couple of days".
At her press conference she said she would be speaking to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson shortly and hoped the increased measures would be brought in with a "four nations approach".
The First Minister said that "doing nothing in the face of this rapid spread is not an option" and said she backed the advice given by Sir Patrick Vallance and Prof Chris Whitty at their Downing Street conference earlier.
There were no new deaths confirmed in Scotland but cases increased by 255 in the past 24 hours, Ms Sturgeon said.
Read more here .

'Difficult but necessary' decision on Welsh restrictions

Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent and Newport will have the same restrictions as Rhondda Cynon Taf.
People will not be able to enter or leave the areas concerned without a reasonable excuse, including to work if you cannot do so from home.
Licensed premises like pubs will need to shut by 23:00 every night, with that rule also extended to Caerphilly.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said some of the outbreaks could be traced back to a large employer, pubs and a house party which had taken place in August in Newport.
"Initially most cases were in younger age groups but we are now seeing infections in all age groups," he said.
Mr Gething said the government had made the "difficult but necessary decision" to protect people's health.
Coronavirus - 21st September 23b36c10

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 13:26

'This is the beginning of the second wave in Ireland', professor warns
Rachael O'Connor - Irish Post

One of Ireland's top professors has warned we are seeing the start of the second wave of the coronavirus crisis.
Infectious Disease Specialist Professor Sam McConkey, head of  the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine, wrote in The Irish Times  that it was "inevitable" that deaths and cases would continue to rise across the country.
"Admissions to hospital began to rise about 21 days ago and last week we saw admissions to ICU begin again," he wrote.
"It is now inevitable, in my view, that sadly within the next week or two we will see rising numbers of deaths."
"This is the beginning of the second wave in Ireland."
The Professor also wrote, however, that he is "confident that the death rate in this second wave is likely [to] be lower than the first" thanks to the larger testing capacity and the benefit of six months' experience in how to treat patients with the disease.

The current trend of younger people contracting the virus will also lower the death rate, but Prof McConkey warned that if the trend continues, "it will, without question, also spread to the older people in the community.
"We will see chaotic and frightening outbreaks in crowded hostels and in nursing homes," he predicted.
Pleading with the public to continue to adhere to public health advice, Prof McConkey acknowledged that Ireland "made extraordinary sacrifices to control our first wave ... we must now decide how we choose to deal with this second wave."
All five million people in the Republic of Ireland, from Government leaders and health experts to the general public must do their part "to suppress and prevent the transmission of the virus here".
"At present in Ireland, however, it is as if we are driving the national motor vehicle towards a large tree," he wrote.
"We have not yet changed direction enough to avoid it and we are heading towards a crash."
Yesterday evening, the National Public Health Emergency Team announced a further 396 cases had been identified in Ireland within a 24 hour period, bringing the total to 32,993.
241 of those cases were in Dublin, which is currently in a regional lockdown to suppress the surge in cases.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said:
"The cases we are reporting today were seeded in the last week.
"This virus spreads from person to person. We now have a collective task across the country to break the chains of transmission and stop this virus from spreading further.
"Plan to see half the number of people this week that you saw last week. When you do meet, do so safely – keep your distance, wear a face covering if appropriate and wash your hands.
"Every individual action we take to interrupt the transmission of this disease keeps ourselves and our families safe."

Mass outbreak at South African school

Nomsa Maseko - BBC News, Johannesburg
Five hundred children have been quarantined after a Covid-19 outbreak at their school in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. Government officials say the mass outbreak could have dire consequences for the community, as pupils who tested positive have been in contact with their friends and families.
Ninety-eight students tested positive for Covid-19 in one school, after what authorities say was a failure to practice social distancing or wear masks.
They say two students at Ethembeni secondary school failed to inform the school after a positive test. They then mingled with classmates during lunch breaks, without social distancing. More than 600 teachers and students have now been tested and 500 quarantined to try to prevent any further spread into the community.
South Africa eased lockdown regulations to level 1 on Monday, to allow greater movement of people and to reopen more sectors of the economy after six months of a hard lockdown. But Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has warned that the Covid-19 battle is far from over.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 13:36

Coronavirus - 21st September Breaki24

Boris Johnson to make statement on Covid tomorrow

The prime minister will make a statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday about the coronavirus pandemic.
The leader of the Commons confirmed the news in a tweet.
Tweet  Leader of the House of Commons:
:Left Quotes:  Tomorrow in the @HouseofCommons there will be an oral statement on Covid-19 from @10DowningStreet @BorisJohnson
Coronavirus - 21st September Eicbnf10

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 13:39

'Curbs should not only be in Madrid's poor neighbourhoods'

Guy Hedgecoe - Madrid, Spain
Madrid’s new localised restrictions, which came into force on Monday, are not yet being backed up with sanctions. At the moment, the police are refraining from handing out fines to those who violate the measures, instead reminding them of the rules.
Vista Alegre, a normally bustling working-class area of southern Madrid, was much quieter than normal on Monday morning. Children’s parks were taped off, bars and cafes were open but quiet and police patrolled the streets.
The Galician restaurant Botafumeiro is just inside the area which has been included in the new measures. Maria Dolores Ocaña, a waitress who works there, said the restaurant expects to lose a lot of custom.
“People who live in another district, who often come here to eat, aren’t able to come here and eat for the next two weeks,” she said.
Ocaña and many others are critical of the new rules, which they say should be applied across the Madrid region, instead of singling out certain areas.
“These restrictions should not only be in poor neighbourhoods like this one, they should be all over Madrid,” said Luis Miguel de la Fuente, who lives in Vista Alegre but works for an NGO in another area of the capital. “Why should a bar here have restrictions and another one 100m away doesn’t?”

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 21st September

Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 16:40

Stark warning over 50,000 cases - but what to do next?

Nick Triggle - Health correspondent
The government’s most senior science and medical advisers are clearly concerned about the rise in cases that have been seen in recent weeks.
The warning about 50,000 cases a day by mid-October is stark. We don’t know for sure how many cases there were at the peak in spring (as there was very limited testing in place) although some estimates put it at 100,000.
However, they were also at pains to point out it was not a prediction.
Even among the government’s own advisers there is disagreement over whether what we are seeing is the start of an exponential rise or just a gradual increase in cases, which is what you would expect at this time of year as respiratory viruses tend to circulate more coupled with the reopening of society.
Instead, what was quite telling was the clear social messaging. Even those who are not at high risk of complications should, they say, play their part in curbing the spread of the virus because if it spreads then difficult decisions will be needed that have profound societal consequences.
But the big unanswered question is what ministers will do next. There is talk of further restrictions being introduced, but that is far from certain.
A couple of things are in our favour that were not in the spring. Better treatments for those who get very sick are now available, while the government is in a better position to protect the vulnerable groups.
Should ministers wait and see what happens? Or should they crack down early, knowing that will have a negative impact in other ways?

New restrictions likely - but not countrywide lockdown

Laura Kuenssberg - Political editor
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Boris Johnson will make a statement in the Commons on Tuesday

It is not a question of "if".
Downing Street will have to introduce extra restrictions to try to slow down the dramatic resurgence of coronavirus.
You would only have to have dipped into a minute or two of the sober briefing from the government's most senior doctor and scientist this morning, which you can read about here , to see why.
A second wave of the disease is here and - unchecked - it could result in many, many thousands more deaths, with potentially around 50,000 cases every day in a few weeks' time.
What is not yet settled, however, is exactly what, exactly when, and indeed, exactly where these restrictions will be.
Here's what it is important to know:
The government is not considering a new lockdown across the country right now.
The prime minister is not about to tell everyone to stay at home as he did from the Downing Street desk in March.
Ministers have no intention at all to close schools again.
Nor, right now, are they planning to tell every business, other than the non-essential, to close again.
What is likely is some kind of extra limits on our huge hospitality sector.
This could, as we reported on Friday, be a 'circuit break' - where pubs, restaurants and other places where people spend leisure time, and money, close completely for a couple of weeks.
Read more from Laura here.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 17:00

Hundreds of migrants on Lesbos test positive

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All migrants are being tested for Covid-19 upon entry to the Kara Tepe camp

A total of 243 migrants displaced by a huge fire at the Moria camp in Greece have tested positive for coronavirus, health authorities say.
Officials said they had conducted a total of 7,064 tests as migrants were moved to a temporary new camp at Kara Tepe near Mytilene on the island of Lesbos.
The average age of those tested was 24 years old, and most showed no symptoms, officials said. All police and camp staff tested negative.
More than 12,000 migrants were made homeless after the fire ripped through the Moria camp nearly two weeks ago. The authorities say the blaze broke out after 35 people tested positive for Covid-19 and some objected to being quarantined after months of lockdown.

Ten more Covid-related deaths in England

A further 10 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died, NHS England has said, taking the total who have died in hospitals to 29,757.
The dates of the deaths ranged from 17 to 20 September.
The start of the week often sees lower figures due to delays in reporting over the weekend.
UK-wide figures will be published later in the day and can differ due to different reporting periods.

Wales cases up by 234 but no deaths reported

Public Health Wales says the number of cases of Covid-19 has increased by 234 as of Sunday.
No more deaths have been reported in Wales, meaning the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic remains at 1,603.
Earlier the Welsh government announced further lockdowns in south Wales after local outbreaks.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 17:07

Irish Republic's 'wet pubs' to reopen

Pubs in the Republic of Ireland that serve drinks but not food - known as "wet pubs" - are going to reopen for the first time since mid-March, with the exception of those in Dublin.
The reopened pubs will have to follow strict social distancing guidelines, with mandatory table service, enhanced cleaning protocols and rules that require visitors to provide their contact details.
But pubs and restaurants in Dublin that cannot provide takeaway food or outdoor food service will remain closed.
Special measures were first imposed in Dublin because of the spread of the virus in the Irish capital.
On Sunday, the Republic of Ireland reported 396 new infections - the highest figure in months - but no new deaths.

The latest from across the UK

If you've just joined us, it's been a busy day so far in the UK as the government's top two scientific advisers addressed the nation directly about the virus.
And shortly, at around 15:30 BST, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to make a statement in the Commons.
Here's a recap:

  • The UK should be braced for a tough winter, Prof Chris Whitty has warned. It will be a "six-month problem that we have to deal with collectively" he said. Meanwhile, the UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said if the infection continued at its current rate, without any action being taken, then by mid-October there could be 50,000 cases a day
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make a statement about Covid in Parliament on Tuesday, it was confirmed earlier
  • In Scotland, additional lockdown restrictions will "almost certainly" be put in place in the next couple of days, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said . She said "hopefully it will be with four-nations alignment" (since each of the UK's four nations is in charge of its own rules)
  • Four more counties in Wales have been put under local lockdown rules. People will not be able to enter or leave Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent or Newport except for some reasons, like work, and pubs will shut earlier
  • And in Northern Ireland, an unscheduled meeting of the Stormont Executive has been called to discuss the rising cases and whether NI-wide restrictions are needed
  • The government has agreed new emergency deals with train companies, meaning that for another 18 months taxpayers will continue to cover losses on the railways caused by low passenger numbers
  • Parliament should be able to directly approve any new coronavirus lockdown restrictions, senior MP Sir Graham Brady has said . Sir Graham - who represents bachbench MPs - said the government had got used to "ruling by decree".

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 17:20

Increase of 4,368 virus cases across UK

There has been an increase of 4,638 cases of coronavirus across the UK with 11 further deaths within 28 days of a positive test reported.
It takes the total number of deaths of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the country to 41,788.
The number of deaths reported at the start of the week tends to be lower due to a lag in reporting.

What's the latest from the US?

It's the afternoon here in London, but if you're joining us from the US - good morning.
A lot has happened. To help you catch up, here's a summary of the latest US headlines.

  • The death toll in the US is nearing 200,000, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The US still has the highest death toll and total number of infections in the world
  • President Donald Trump gave his pandemic response "an A+" in a conversation with veteran journalist Bob Woodward, according to recordings obtained by US broadcaster CNN. "We’ve done a phenomenal job - not just a good job, a phenomenal job," he said
  • Black Americans are being encouraged to take part in vaccine trials, by a group called the Covid-19 Prevention Network, set up by a US public health body. The event, which will be held virtually, is expected to be repeated every month. Vaccine trials have struggled to recruit ethnic minorities
  • At the same time, a group of black doctors has created a panel to independently vet regulators' decisions about Covid-19 drugs and vaccines, as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Public health body the CDC has updated its guidance to say the virus is airborne, and that it can spread "through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols". These are produced even when people breathe
  • Other research from the CDC shows that coronavirus can spread easily among passengers on long-haul flights. A report from the body looks at the case of a woman who flew business class from London to Vietnam in March, and passed the virus on to 15 other people

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 17:23

Northern Ireland extends Covid-19 restrictions

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster says that restrictions announced for certain local postcodes last week will now apply across NI as a whole from 18:00 BST on Tuesday.
It means that people from different households cannot mix indoors unless they are in a social bubble. More than six people cannot meet outdoors.
Mrs Foster says doing nothing was not an option but neither was returning to a full lockdown.
Read more here

France relaxes rules on Covid cases in schools

Lucy Williamson - BBC News, Paris
France’s education ministry is changing the rules around coronavirus cases in nurseries and primary schools in an attempt to keep more of them open. From Tuesday, classes will only be cancelled if three or more children test positive for Covid-19.
Until now, if even one child in a class tested positive for coronavirus, all his or her classmates would have to self-isolate. That meant almost 2,000 classrooms standing empty across France at the start of this week, and 81 primary schools completely closed.
Under the rule changes, classes with one case of coronavirus will continue as normal with the rest of their pupils unless three children from different households all test positive.
France’s Public Health Council said last week that transmissions were mainly occurring within families or at social gatherings outside school premises.
Teachers are obliged to wear masks, and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said that the risk of transmission between children was low.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 17:43

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UK Covid-19 alert level being increased

The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended that the Covid-19 alert level for the UK should be increased to Level 4, meaning that transmission of the virus is "high or rising exponentially", the UK's chief medical officers have said.
The move comes as the number of cases of coronavirus continues to rise, with experts warning that the UK could see 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October without further action.
In a joint statement, the chief medical officers of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland confirmed that all four nations of the UK should move to Level 4.
The statement said: "After a period of lower Covid cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations.
"If we are to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS and other health services over the autumn and winter everyone has to follow the social distancing guidance, wear face coverings correctly and wash their hands regularly.
"We know this will be concerning news for many people; please follow the rules, look after each other and together we will get through this."
Read more here .

African Americans to get 'trusted messenger' on vaccines

A group of African American physicians are setting up an expert panel to independently vet regulators' decisions about drugs and vaccines for Covid-19, Stat News reports .
The panel is being set up through the National Medical Association , which calls itself the collective voice of African American physicians and the leading force for parity and justice in medicine and the elimination of disparities in health.
Its president, Leon McDougle, was quoted by Stat News as saying: “It’s necessary to provide a trusted messenger of vetted information to the African American community. There is a concern that some of the recent decisions by the Food and Drug Administration have been unduly influenced by politicians.”
He also hopes their reassurance will persuade more African Americans - who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus - to take part in vaccine trials.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 21st September

Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 19:00

Analysis: Ministers clearly want to act early this time

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
The move to level 4 should not come as a surprise given the warning from the UK's two most senior pandemic advisers this morning.
Infections are rising - although some experts question whether the situation is as dire as Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance set out when they raised the prospect of 50,000 cases a day by mid-October.
Cases were always expected to increase at this time of year when respiratory viruses tend to circulate more coupled with the continued re-opening of society.
Certainly the trajectory of countries like France and Spain is not as sharp as the worst-case scenario put forward.
But it is clear the government wants to act early this time - one of the big criticisms is that they were slow to introduce lockdown in March, which resulted in more deaths.
Level 4 paves the way for extra restrictions to be introduced with an announcement expected on Tuesday.
Officials are very aware a fine balance needs to be navigated, which is why a full lockdown is not on the cards.
Schools will certainly be protected.
But any restrictions have a cost to society. Go too far and the risk is the cure becomes worse than the disease.

Boots pausing new flu vaccinations for under-65s

Michelle Roberts - Health editor, BBC News online
The high street pharmacy chain Boots says it is pausing taking any new bookings for flu vaccinations for people under 65 – both the free NHS jabs and privately paid for ones.
It says it’s seen unprecedented demand for the vaccine in recent weeks and is temporarily limiting existing stocks to those at highest risk – people 65 and over.
NHS England confirmed there is no nationwide shortage of flu jabs, but that those eligible for the free vaccine would be immunised in phases, with the highest risk groups receiving it first.
Some 30 million people - more than ever before - will get invites from the NHS programme this winter as the population faces the dual threat of flu and coronavirus. For the first time, people over 50 in England will be eligible as well as secondary school pupils in year 7.

Anger at 'crowded cheap seats' halts Madrid opera

Madrid’s famous opera house Teatro Real was forced to cancel a performance on Sunday night after some people in the “cheap seats” complained they were not socially-distanced enough.
There were shouts and jeers of “suspension” even as the performance of Verdi’s aptly-named A Masked Ball began.
Video circulating of the event showed full rows of people in the upper sections where seats are cheaper, and empty seats in the more expensive ground-level area.
The theatre defended itself saying a “minority” of the audience loudly objected despite being offered the chance to relocate to different seats or have their tickets reimbursed. Spokesman Gregorio Maranon said the theatre had met, and in some cases exceeded, all official health and safety requirements needed to open safely.
Parts of Madrid are facing new lockdown restrictions from Monday as cases of the coronavirus surge in the Spanish capital.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 21st September

Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 19:20

Students contract coronavirus after freshers' party

Coronavirus - 21st September 26ab4610

Four St Andrews University students have contracted coronavirus after a freshers' week party .
More than 40 people are now self-isolating following the gathering in a hall of residence, which broke national coronavirus restrictions.
Sally Mapstone, principal of the Scottish university, said: "The ripples from this single incident have consequences for all of us."
More generally, Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, told her daily briefing on Tuesday that additional lockdown restrictions will "almost certainly" be put in place in coming days across the country.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 21st September

Post by Kitkat on Mon Sep 21 2020, 20:55

What has been happening today?

Here are some of the headlines from today:

  • Two of the UK's top scientists came together to deliver a stark warning about the risks of a second wave of coronavirus with Sir Patrick Vallance warning there could 50,000 cases a day by October if nothing was done to prevent it. It comes as chief medical officers have announced an upgrading of the UK's coronavirus alert level from 3 to 4
  • UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the country was at a tipping point as he unveiled a £500 payment to help low-income workers to self-isolate and an exemption for childcare to local virus restrictions
  • In Northern Ireland, restrictions will be extended to cover the entire nation at 18:00 BST on Tuesday with limits introduced on social gatherings and mixing of households. In Wales four more counties have had restrictions put in place
  • Away from the UK the World Health Organisation has said a joint approach on Covid-19 vaccines makes sense with 156 countries having signed up to its joint facility
  • Hundreds of people have tested positive for the virus after a fire at a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos . More than 240 people have returned a positive result
  • Localised restrictions have come into force in Madrid but are not yet being backed by sanctions in the Spanish capital. An opera performance in the city had to be cancelled after people in the cheaper seats said they were not able to socially distance
  • There has been a mass outbreak in a South African school, in the country's Eastern Cape province. Five hundred children have been quarantined after 98 pupils tested positive for the virus

That's all from us for today

We are pausing our live coverage for now. Today's live page has been edited by Robert Greenall and Paul Gribben and written by Penny Spiller, Francesca Gillett, Ashita Nagesh and Doug Faulkner.
Thank you for joining us and we will be back again on Tuesday.

    Current date/time is Sun Oct 25 2020, 08:31