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Coronavirus - 23rd September


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:Covid-19: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 10:06

Summary for Wednesday, 23rd September

  • UK PM Boris Johnson has urged people to observe the new coronavirus restrictions announced on Tuesday
  • The measures in England and Wales include a 22:00 curfew for pubs and, in Scotland, a ban on households mixing
  • The PM warned that the government would go further if the measures were ignored
  • Hundreds of students in Dundee have been told to self-isolate following a suspected outbreak in a halls of residence
  • US President Donald Trump has described the 200,000 US deaths from coronavirus as “a shame”
  • Speaking at the UN General Assembly, President Trump blamed China for the spread of Covid-19
  • The latest figures collated by Johns Hopkins University show there have been at least 970,000 deaths from the virus worldwide

Hello and thanks for joining us as we bring you live updates of the latest coronavirus news from the UK and around the world.
Here’s a reminder of the top stories so far:

  • More than 200,000 people are known to have died from coronavirus in the US, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University – the highest death toll of any country. More than 6.8 million Americans have also been infected
  • US President Donald Trump said the deaths were a "shame", and accused China of "unleashing" the virus
  • New coronavirus restrictions have been announced in England and Wales, including earlier closing times for pubs and encouraging people to work from home wherever possible. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the measures were likely to remain in place for the next six months
  • Scotland has also introduced new measures, including a ban on meeting inside other people’s homes. Northern Ireland has already banned households from mixing indoors
  • The EU leaders’ summit – which was due to begin on Thursday - has been postponed until October after a security guard tested positive for Covid-19

UK morning summary

Here’s a more detailed look at this morning’s main headlines from around the UK to bring you up to speed:

Trump attacks China as US deaths pass 200,000

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As we’ve already reported, coronavirus deaths in the US passed 200,000 on Tuesday – the highest death toll in the world.
President Donald Trump said the new figure was a "horrible thing" and repeated his previous claims that China "should have stopped" the virus.
He also defended his record on the pandemic, claiming that had the US not taken action, "you could have two million, 2.5 or three million" dead.
But the president has faced strong criticism for his handling of the crisis.
"Due to Donald Trump's lies and incompetence in the past six months, [we] have seen one of the greatest losses of American life in history," Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said earlier this week.
“The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering, and in some respects, stunning," the US's top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, told CNN on Tuesday.

Latest around Europe

Austria’s VSV consumer association launches a class action lawsuit today on behalf of 6,000 ski tourists who say they caught Covid-19 at Ischgl and other Alpine resorts in late February and early March. Lawyer Alexander Klauser told the BBC that “had they been warned. they would not have come to Austria”. You can read more about the outbreak here .
In Germany, Bavarian Premier Markus Söder is warning of a potential “football Ischgl” ahead of tomorrow’s Uefa Super Cup final in Budapest between Bayern Munich and Sevilla. Although many of the two teams’ allocated 6,000 tickets aren’t being taken up, 20,000 fans are expected in the stadium, and Germany’s health watchdog sees the Hungarian capital as an area of risk.
Spain has reported 241 more deaths in 24 hours – the highest number since 6 May – and 10,799 new infections.
France has seen 10,008 new cases in the past 24 hours, and new measures are expected later for Paris in particular.
Eyes in Belgium are on this morning’s security council meeting where the country's unpopular five-person social bubble, in place since July, is likely to be relaxed. They’ve been looking at a colour-coded system for each province which would depend on hospital admissions.

Hundreds of students told to self-isolate

More now on the development in Scotland, where hundreds of students have been told to self-isolate after a suspected Covid-19 outbreak in a university hall of residence.
NHS Tayside is investigating a single positive case and a small number of suspected cases linked to Parker House in Dundee.
Close contacts of the positive case, who is a student of Abertay University, are being contacted.
All 500 residents at the accommodation have been asked to self-isolate until contact tracing has been completed.
Read more here .

Saudi Arabia to resume Umrah pilgrimages

Muslims will once again be able to visit the holy city of Mecca for the Umrah pilgrimage, Saudi authorities have announced, seven months after it was suspended because of the pandemic.
People living inside the kingdom will be able to undertake the pilgrimage from 4 October, the country's state news agency SPA reports.
Pilgrims from certain other countries will be allowed from 1 November, with the numbers of pilgrims allowed to take place each day rising from 6,000 to 20,000.
Full restrictions on numbers will only lifted after the threat from coronavirus has ended.
The Umrah is the lesser of two pilgrimages that exist in Islam and can be performed at any time of the year.
The annual Hajj pilgrimage, on the other hand, is a requirement of all Muslims who are physically and financially able to take part and normally attracts around two million people.
This year, only a very small number of pilgrims already residing in Saudi Arabia were allowed to attend due to the pandemic.

Middle school classes resume in Pakistan

M Ilyas Khan - BBC News, Islamabad
Middle school students in three of Pakistan's four provinces have returned to their classes this morning, kicking in the second phase of the government's planned three-phase reopening of educational institutions that have remained closed for over six months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If all goes well, nursery and primary school classes will reopen on 30 September. Sindh province has meanwhile decided to delay the reopening of middle schools until 28 September.
Officials in the federal capital, Islamabad, said yesterday that middle schools were allowed to resume as the reopening of the higher classes on 15 September did not lead to any uptick in new infections.
During the first phase, safety precautions were enforced and more than 20 educational institutions were closed for various durations when some of their students or staff members tested positive for Covid-19.
Officials say such monitoring will continue in the second phase as well. Pakistan's decision to reopen educational institutions has come amid a steep decline in new infections since June.

UK 'about to repeat' the mistakes of March - scientist

Prof John Edmunds, a member of the UK's Sage scientific advisory group but speaking to BBC Radio 4 in a personal capacity, said "we haven’t learned from our mistake" in delaying action in March and "we’re unfortunately about to repeat it".
The scientist from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene told the Today programme: "I don’t think the measures have gone anywhere near far enough."
"I suspect we will see very stringent measures coming in place throughout the UK at some point, but it will be too late again," he said.
He said that we will have let the epidemic "double and double and double again" before stricter measures are introduced, which will mean "the worst of both worlds" because it will mean "putting the brakes on the epidemic for a very long time, very hard".

Health chief hails African leadership in Covid-19 fight

The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has praised African leaders for supporting a joint continental strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
John Nkengasong told the BBC's Newsday programme that public health initiatives on the continent, including increased testing, contact tracing and wearing of face masks, had led to a drop in new coronavirus cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) previously said the Covid-19 outbreak in Africa may have passed its peak. On Monday it released fresh data that indicated Africa had reported a 12% drop in new virus cases.
Dr Nkengasong said:
:Left Quotes:  Our numbers reflect the public health efforts and leadership as the continent has rallied around a joint continental effort scaling up testing and following up contact tracing and very importantly masking.
Our numbers reflect the public health efforts and leadership as the continent has rallied around a joint continental effort scaling up testing and following up contact tracing and very importantly masking.
He said the continent's experience with diseases like Ebola had helped countries to develop contact tracing measures that have helped in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the early interventions put in place by different countries also helped in containing the virus.

  :Left Quotes: This virus is in the community and without a strong community response and engagement there's no chance that we can fight and that is what we are doing.
This virus is in the community and without a strong community response and engagement there's no chance that we can fight and that is what we are doing.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 10:14

Can UK coffee shops and fast food restaurants stay open?

The measures announced by Boris Johnson yesterday mean all hospitality businesses will have to offer table service. That's prompted concern from fast food restaurants such as McDonald's - where customers usually get up to order from touchscreens - and coffee shops with counter service.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “My understanding is that you need to be able to order from the tables.”
He said the aim was to avoid "the milling around and the social interaction" but said the government guidance would make it clear for businesses.
Responding on Twitter , coffee shop industry group United Baristas said well-organised queueing involves less contact than table service, but welcomed the promise of clarification.

Scotland is 'at a tipping point', says Sturgeon

Scotland is at "a tipping point" in tackling coronavirus and is taking "tough action" now to avoid a longer period of restrictions later, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
“I’m looking at data that alarms me, frankly, and if we don’t act now, urgently and decisively, then we might find Covid running out of control again," she told ITV's Good Morning Britain.
Scotland has introduced a similar 22:00 curfew on bars and restaurants to the rest of the UK, starting on Friday, but is also telling people not to visit other households indoors from today .
Ms Sturgeon said: "We’ve got to be prepared at moments like this, people like me, to take tough decisions, and to be prepared to do things even if they’re unpopular, for the greater good.”
Earlier, Prof John Edmunds, a member of the UK government's Sage scientific advisory group, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he suspects the bans on household mixing in Scotland and Northern Ireland "will not be enough", however.

Is UK policy 'moving towards Sweden'?

An Oxford University epidemiologist and practising GP has said he believes yesterday's announcements show the UK is making a "move towards Sweden" in its pandemic policy.
Prof Carl Heneghan told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there was a "slow shift" towards trying to control the spread of the virus rather than suppressing it, while minimising social disruption. Sweden provoked much debate about its pandemic approach in March when it rejected a strict lockdown and kept shops and restaurants open.
He said he hoped it would mean an end to "the changes almost daily that are becoming utterly confusing for the public".
Many people still do not understand what social distancing means and about half do not understand what the symptoms of coronavirus are, Prof Heneghan said. "If you don't have this clear message now right through the winter we will have confusion reign," he said.
He said the UK should not "panic" at the "inevitable rise in cases" during winter and reinforce the messaging by building trust, not using a "mantra of fear" and punitive measures.
But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he did not "accept the characterisation" of UK policy, and Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet medical journal, said it would be "dangerous and wrong"

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 10:19

Air industry calls for rapid passenger testing

It has been more than six months since the World Health Organization confirmed coronavirus as a pandemic, leading to a disastrous year for the air industry.
While many governments have tried to develop their own ways to make international travel safer, with passengers required to quarantine or show proof of a negative test on arrival, there has so far been no universal solution and rules vary by country.
Now, the body representing the aviation industry across the world has called for rapid testing to encourage people to start flying again.
"The key to restoring the freedom of mobility across borders is systematic Covid-19 testing of all travellers before departure," the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, said in a statement on Tuesday.
"This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without complicated risk models that see constant changes in the rules imposed on travel."
Current testing takes several hours or days in a laboratory, but the IATA wants governments to develop and adopt quicker antigen tests, which could give results in around 15 minutes.

'Think very carefully' before visiting Wales - first minister

As part of its latest measures to reduce the spread of the virus, Wales is asking people not to travel unless necessary. First Minister Mark Drakeford said that meant visitors from England should avoid travel to Wales unless it was for work or "other important purposes".
"If it’s not an essential journey, I’d ask people to think very carefully about not making it," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
He said it was "a difficult balancing act" as tourists from England were an important part of the economy, but they needed to take into account the public health needs too.
"Unnecessary journeys should be avoided. Journeys for work and journeys for other important purposes can still go ahead in Wales.”

Israel hits new high in daily cases

Tom Bateman - BBC Middle East correspondent
Israel recorded 6,861 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday - another record high in the country.
Amid reports that health centres are under increasing strain, the head of a major paramedic service said less seriously ill coronavirus patients have been turned away en route to some hospitals, who said they had no room.
A second national lockdown began on Friday but the government is considering tightening restrictions even further.
A nine-hour session of the cabinet broke up on Tuesday without reaching a decision though - religious parties are resisting calls to close synagogues ahead of Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, and say ongoing anti-government protests should also face restrictions.
Israel has one of the highest infection rates in the world, with more than 2,000 cases per 100,000 people, according to WHO figures.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 10:22

First Covid cases in Isles of Scilly

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An evacuation procedure has been set up to take visitors who test positive safely back to the mainland

The Isles of Scilly have had their first positive Covid-19 test results.
The islands, 28 miles (45km) off Cornwall, had not recorded any cases before Tuesday. The Council of the Isles of Scilly said it had been "informed by public health of positive test results" but it is not known how many cases there have been.
It was also not known if the infected persons were residents or visitors, or which of the five inhabited islands they were on.
Read more here .

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 10:44

Emails reveal UK science advisers' alarm over 'herd immunity' backlash

Coronavirus - 23rd September B76d7e10

Emails obtained by the BBC reveal the alarm among the UK's chief science advisers at the reaction to interviews suggesting building "herd immunity" was an aim in the country's pandemic policy.
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told BBC Radio 4's Today programme in March that the aim was to "try and reduce the peak - not suppress it completely, also because most people get a mild illness, to build up some degree of herd immunity whilst protecting the most vulnerable".
Herd immunity can be reached within a population when a large proportion have been exposed to a virus and built up antibodies, or vaccinated, preventing its further spread. But, in the absence of a vaccine against the new coronavirus, there were fears that many people would die before it was achieved.
In an email later that month, Sir Patrick asks for help to "calm down" academics who have expressed anger at his references to herd immunity and the delays in announcing a lockdown.
After 500 scientists published a joint letter criticising the apparent "herd immunity" approach, Sir Patrick said in an email that the response should be "herd immunity is not the strategy. The strategy is to flatten the curve… and to shield the elderly… As we do this we will see immunity in the community grow".
Prof Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, said in an April email that herd immunity had been discussed in the context of "questions put to me by ministers", but he did not think it was a "sensible aim of policy".
Read more

A history of herd immunity
As many countries around the world recognised the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, 2020, some seemed to put their faith in herd immunity. UK pandemic adviser Graham Medley, for example, said that “We are going to have to generate what we call herd immunity”, which would require “a nice big epidemic”. When the idea received furious criticism, British officials denied that herd immunity had ever been part of their plan. A run at herd immunity in Sweden prompted mathematician Marcus Carlsson to object: “we are being herded like a flock of sheep toward disaster”. In August, WHO's Michael Ryan warned journalists “we are nowhere close to the levels of immunity required to stop this disease transmitting. We need to focus on what we can actually do now to suppress transmission and not live in hope of herd immunity being our salvation.” That did not end the debate.


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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 10:49

Kenya relaxes burial restrictions for Covid-19 victims

Rhoda Odhiambo - BBC Africa Health, Nairobi
Coronavirus - 23rd September F4cffc10
Strict burial restrictions had been condemned in the country

Kenyan families will now be able to play active roles in the burial of loved ones who have died from Covid-19 after the authorities relaxed restrictions.
Previously families watched from a distance as health officials in full protective gear took over burials.
Health officials are now less worried about bodies of Covid-19 victims potentially transmitting the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Africa CDC have not stated whether a corpse can transmit Covid-19, but have updated burial protocols to allow families to give their loved ones a decent send-off.
Under Kenya's revised measures, health officials will only be present at burials to guide the process and ensure safety.
"They will also allow any safe burial rites as may be dictated by the religion and or culture of the deceased person," Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi told journalists on Tuesday.
The government admitted last month that previous burial restrictions were extreme.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 11:25

Brazil says football fans can return to stadiums

With 4.5 million cases and more than 138,000 fatalities from Covid-19, Brazil is the second worst-hit country in the world in terms of deaths. On Tuesday it recorded 33,536 infections and 836 deaths.
Despite this Brazil's government has said football stadiums can open their doors to fans - at 30% capacity at first but that could increase. In Rio de Janeiro's Maracanã stadium that would mean 25,000 people in the stands.
City authorities can veto the decision - Belo Horizonte has already said it won't be bringing fans back in yet, according to Brazilian media reports.
And clubs are struggling to keep their players virus-free. One league match last month was cancelled minutes before kick-off when members of one team tested positive. And on Tuesday Flamengo were due to play in a Copa Libertadores tie, but seven players and two staff tested positive before the match.

UK table service rule 'only for licensed premises'

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Counter service will still be allowed at venues that do not serve alcohol

Earlier we reported concern among coffee shops and fast food restaurants about new rules for the hospitality industry requiring all customers to be served at the table.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government would clarify the requirement for venues that relied on counter service.
BBC presenter Nick Robinson says he has received that clarification, having been told the rule will apply to "licensed premises only" - meaning those that serve alcohol.
So, McDonald's, Pret A Manger and many coffee shops will be able to offer customers seating without table service.

Labour's Starmer to give televised address tonight

Coronavirus - 23rd September A93d1410
Sir Keir Starmer said the country needs "clear leadership" in the crisis

A day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation about new coronavirus measures to avoid a second national lockdown, the leader of the opposition will have a chance to respond.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will give his "right of reply" at 20:00 BST on BBC One tonight.
He has previously said he supports restrictions to control the spread of the virus, but criticised the government for lacking a strategy and said the country needs "clear leadership" at a time of national crisis.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 12:50

Analysis: Debate over restrictions will get more heated

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
Cases are rising – and most experts agree the steps taken by the government, certainly in England, are only going to having a minimum effect on curbing a rise in infection rates.
What no-one knows is how quickly cases will go up – and what impact that will have on hospital admissions and deaths.
If the government is determined to suppress the virus – to get the R below one – more draconian measures will surely follow.
But if it was definitely going for this approach, it would surely have gone further with the restrictions it announced on Tuesday. Lockdown-style measures have a greater impact when they are taken earlier.
It has prompted suggestions the government may be moving towards adopting the “Swedish model” and accepting some spread of the virus.
The UK is now in a better position to protect the vulnerable and treat the sick, enabling ministers to balance the risk to our health vs the risk to the economy.
What happens to hospital cases and deaths next will be crucial to any future decisions.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 16:49

What's happening around the world?

With more than 970,000 deaths and 31 million cases confirmed worldwide, here are the top coronavirus headlines from around the world:

  • The US death toll in the pandemic has passed 200,000, the highest of any country in the world. President Donald Trump has claimed China "should have stopped" the virus
  • Brazil, the country with the second-highest number of deaths in the world, is allowing football fans to return to stadiums. Capacity will be limited initially, but numbers may increase
  • Israel has recorded its highest number of daily cases, as the government considers introducing even tighter restrictions during the three-week nation-wide lockdown
  • The Austrian government is being sued over the spread of coronavirus at a number of ski resorts early this year. One resort, Ischgl, was linked to cases in 45 countries after skiers brought home the virus with them
  • The body representing the air travel industry has called for rapid testing of passengers to help encourage people to start travelling again. The International Air Transport Association said air travel was down 92% on last year's figures

Analysis: Challenges still facing the government

Ellie Price - Political correspondent
Today's PMQs really highlighted the challenge facing the UK government with its handling of the country’s health versus its wealth.
Boris Johnson was asked repeatedly by Labour and SNP MPs about whether the government would consider extending the job retention scheme.
But he was asked too by some of his own MPs about whether the government would be able to do anything to help football clubs, the performing arts, and freelancers.
The list, of course, goes on for sectors that will be affected by six more months of tighter restrictions.
And their voices will only get louder.
We won’t have any idea if these new measures are working to reduce transmission rates for weeks to come.

More UK schools sending pupils home after positive tests

Schools across the UK continue to send pupils home in response to confirmed cases of coronavirus. 
North Fawdon Primary School in Newcastle upon Tyne, north-east England and Arden Academy in Knowle in the West Midlands have both closed for two weeks as they face rising numbers of infections.
Five primary schools in Cardiff sent dozens of pupils and staff home after some of them tested positive.
And Holy Cross College in Strabane, Northern Ireland, closed after two more pupils tested positive – days after it notified parents of two earlier cases.
The latest figures for England, published yesterday, suggested that more than a million pupils were off school last Thursday, due to coronavirus or other reasons.
The number of incidents of pupils being sent home due to Covid-19 had quadrupled in a week, the figures showed.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 16:58

Scotland records highest number of new virus cases

Scotland has recorded 486 new positive cases of coronavirus - the highest daily total since the outbreak began.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the figures were concerning, and underlined why new restrictions had been imposed.
But she said it was important to remember that many more people are being tested now than at the peak of the outbreak earlier in the year.
Ms Sturgeon said 224 of the new cases were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, including a "significant" outbreak at Glasgow University.
People across Scotland have been banned from visiting other people's homes from today, with Ms Sturgeon warning that the virus risks "spiralling out of control" unless urgent action was taken.

'Clear upward curve' in Wales infection rate

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the coronavirus infection rate in Wales is now 46.8 cases per 100,000 people and there is a "clear upward curve".
Mr Drakeford warned the public to "think carefully about where you go and who you are meeting".
He said the Welsh Government had considered whether to go back to "stay local" regulations previously enforced but decided it was "not proportionate".
However he urged the public to use "common sense" when it came to making unnecessary journeys outside their local area.
From Thursday, bars and restaurants in Wales have to stop serving alcohol from 22:00, but Mr Drakeford said customers would be given a "sensible interval" to finish any drinks.
He added that if evidence was presented suggesting weddings had prompted a spike in virus cases, "we will have to act" to reduce party numbers.
The number of people able to attend weddings still stands at 30 in Wales, but has been reduced to 15 in England. It is 20 in Scotland and venue-dependent in Northern Ireland.

Belgium measures offer 'mixed lessons' for UK

Natalie Higgins - BBC News, Brussels
Coronavirus - 23rd September 53e45b10
Bars and restaurants reopened in Belgium in June, as lockdown restrictions were eased

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the government “looked very carefully at what Belgium has done” before imposing the new 22:00 closing time for bars and restaurants.
But Belgium hasn’t opted for early closures across the country.
At the end of July, a local spike in the Antwerp area led the provincial authorities to introduce a 23:00 closing time for the hospitality industry.
This only lasted for just over two weeks – far from the six months Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested. And it was accompanied by other measures, such as home curfew for the whole population between 23:30 and 06:00 (with exemptions for essential journeys), a ban on events and wedding parties in the worst-affected areas, and no team sports for over-18s.
The number of cases in the area did go down, but have crept back up since the measures ended.
Infection rates for Belgium as a whole are increasing – with an average of 1107 new cases a day currently – so it's worth noting that its lessons for the UK are mixed.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 17:03

How the pandemic is spreading globally

Coronavirus - 23rd September 2a97c310

It's six months since coronavirus was declared a pandemic, and many countries around the world are seeing a spike in cases.
There have now been 31 million confirmed infections in 188 countries, with the total number of deaths approaching one million.
While increased testing is one factor for the recent rise in cases, the WHO last week warned of "alarming rates of transmission" in Europe.
Infections are also rising in Asia, with India driving the peak in numbers.
Read our full guide here .
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 17:09

Foreign workers to be allowed to return to China

Stephen McDonell - BBC News, China correspondent
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, given the relative success of coronavirus prevention and control measures here, entry requirements to the country have been eased.
From 28 September, those with valid foreign worker residence permits - as well as people in the family reunion category - will again be allowed into China without any extra permissions.
Earlier this year, as the health emergency spread, entry to China was stopped for all foreigners without special clearance.
However, now the virus situation has stabilised in the country which saw the first clusters.
The announcement also says that foreign workers whose visas have expired in recent months can apply for new ones at Chinese embassies and consulates.
For the moment, quarantine remains necessary upon arrival.

How China views the latest UK developments

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
It’s been big news in Chinese state media that the UK has “seen the highest daily rise in new coronavirus cases since early May” , but that hasn’t discouraged students from flying to the UK to study.
The China Daily newspaper says over the next couple of months, tens of thousands of students will fly to the UK to begin or continue their studies.
At present, there are around 220,000 Chinese students in the country, and “they contribute around 4 billion pounds ($5.17bn) to the UK’s economy annually” , the paper says.
However, there have been concerns in China over the UK’s handling of the coronavirus situation. State newspapers have consistently criticised the UK , claiming the country has been “flippant and ill-prepared” during its handling of the virus.
Consequently, thousands of social media users on the popular Sina Weibo are talking about the new restrictions announced on Tuesday. Users have been mocking the idea that “the virus will not come out after 10pm”, now that restaurants and pubs are to close from that time .

Coronavirus medical heroes 'inspire' Chinese youth

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
Before Covid-19, it was common in China to hear stories of attacks on medical practitioners. There was even debate in early January about installing metal detectors at hospitals across the country because attacks over dissatisfaction with medical care were becoming so common.
However, China’s handling of the virus has drastically changed things and today China’s top disease specialist, Zhong Nanshan, has been appearing at a university in southern Guangdong province to speak about how the virus has made people come to appreciate the true value of doctors.
State media have long showered praise on medical workers. However, the everyday fragility of China’s leading medical specialists has really turned people like Dr Zhong into household names.
Dr Zhong is 83 years old, and images of him sleeping in a train carriage in the early stages of China’s outbreak went viral as he “raced” to the front line.
Another senior Chinese doctor, Zhang Dingyu, who heads one of Wuhan’s main hospitals, has found fame for working on Covid-19 while living with motor neurone disease .
Both have reportedly been inspiring young Chinese to believe that nothing should stand in their way if they want to make a difference.

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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 23rd September

Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 17:18

Indonesia sees record daily spike

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Indonesia has seen its highest daily rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases, as hospitals in the capital Jakarta warn they are running at full capacity.
Health officials said almost 4,500 people tested positive.
A day earlier the country recorded 160 virus-related deaths - the highest number over 24 hours.
Indonesia's Covid-19 task force is now warning that the healthcare system is at risk of collapse if citizens continue to ignore virus restrictions.
The South-East Asian country has reported more than 257,000 confirmed infections since the outbreak began, with nearly 10,000 deaths.

8 people were ordered to dig graves after allegedly refusing to wear face masks

Stephanie Pagones - Fox News
Eight people who allegedly were caught not wearing masks in Indonesia must dig graves meant for people who died from novel as punishment, a local official reportedly ruled.
The offenders were caught without masks in a village in the Cerme District in the East Java province of Indonesia and were ordered by a local leader named Suyono, whom the outlet identifies as the “Cerme sub-district head,” to dig the graves for COVID-19 victims at the Ngabetan Village Public Cemetery, according to a translation of .
The Asian country is seeing a surge in COVID-19 transmissions. As of Monday morning, Indonesia had reported at least 248,852 positive COVID-19 cases and 9,677 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.
“There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them,” Suyono told Tribun News, according to a translation by USA Today. “Hopefully, this can create a deterrent effect against violations.”
USA Today’s translation further describes how two people were assigned to each plot – with one person responsible for digging the grave and the other tasked with installing wooden planks.
They were barred from touching the victims’ bodies and partaking in any ceremonies.

Austria sued over ski resort's outbreak

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The outbreak in Ischgl ski village was linked to cases in 45 different countries

An Austrian consumer rights group has filed four civil lawsuits against the country's government over Covid-19 outbreaks at a ski resort in the western Tyrol region earlier this year.
The Consumer Protection Association (VSV) said the cases were being brought on behalf of individuals and were all related to Ischgl ski village. They are seeking damages of up to €100,000 (£92,000; $117,000).
Ischgl was linked to cases in 45 countries after skiers brought the virus home with them.
The first case was reported on 7 March, but Austria's public health agency has since said it believes there were cases at the resort as early as 5 February.
Read our full story here .

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 18:02

London police to increase enforcement of virus rules

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The Met said Londoners could expect to see more officers in busy public spaces

The Metropolitan Police has said it will be increasing its enforcement of coronavirus regulations after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new rules for England.
Police said they will be patrolling busy public spaces and each London borough will also have officers responsible for responding quickly to reports of serious breaches.
Fines, which are rising to £200 for a first offence, will be used as a "last resort".
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said officers will help people understand and follow the regulations but "they will also be firm and take appropriate action against those that simply refuse to follow the law and who are deliberately placing communities at risk".

Asda to hire 1,000 'safety marshals' to enforce face mask rules

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Face coverings are now compulsory for shoppers and retail staff in England

Supermarket chain Asda is to create 1,000 new "safety marshal" jobs to help enforce rules on face coverings in its 639 UK shops.
Customers who do not have anything to cover their face with when they enter a store will be offered a pack of disposable masks that they can pay for at the end of their trip.
"We know that safety remains a key priority for our customers," said Anthony Hemmerdinger, Asda's chief operating officer.
Face coverings must be worn by customers in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres around the UK.
Those who fail to do so can be fined by the police - up to £100 in England (soon to rise to £200), or £60 in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 18:06

New Zealand eases mask rule as Covid cases drop

Face masks are no longer mandatory in most of New Zealand as Covid-19 cases continue to drop.
From midnight on Wednesday, masks ceased to be compulsory in Auckland, the heart of a recent outbreak. except on public transport and planes.
The rest of New Zealand lifted all pandemic restrictions on Monday after recording no new cases for a week.
Auckland still faces curbs but it has also eased rules to allow gatherings of up to 100 people.
New Zealand was widely praised for its swift response to Covid-19 and everyday life was largely back to normal after the nation briefly declared itself virus-free in June.
But a second-wave hit Auckland in August and the country's biggest city went back into lockdown, temporarily, as other curbs were re-imposed elsewhere.
New Zealand has now recorded 1,468 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 25 deaths.
Read our full story here .

Germany's Maas quarantines after bodyguard tests positive

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Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is in quarantine after a member of his security team tested positive for coronavirus.
An initial test on Mr Maas was negative for the virus, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, but added that he would remain in isolation as a precaution.
A spokeswoman said anyone who may have had contact with the person who tested positive would also be contacted.
The news came the same day as the German government called on the public to upload their results to the country's contact-tracing app if they test positive for coronavirus.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said the app, which was launched 100 days ago, was not intended to be just downloaded, but that it was important people informed their contacts if they tested positive.
He added that the app "is not a panacea, but an important tool among many. It complements the work of health officials, doctors' practices and hospitals."
Germany has recorded more than 9,300 deaths and almost 275,000 infections since the pandemic began.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 18:12

Pret founder says PM 'spouting Churchillian nonsense'

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The founder of Pret a Manger and boss of Itsu has said six months of enhanced coronavirus restrictions will be "devastating" to the hospitality industry and criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson for "spouting Churchillian nonsense".
Julian Metcalfe told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "The repercussions of these six months, it's going to be devastating to so many people to local councils, to industry, to people all over our country - just devastating.
"We've just not begun to touch the seriousness of it."
He said "thousands upon thousands" of jobs in hospitality were already being lost. "How long can this continue this, this vague work from home?"
After Boris Johnson's TV address to the nation last night, Mr Metcalfe said the country needs leadership from the prime minister, who he said was "sitting down with his Union Jack talking utter nonsense".
"To turn to an entire nation and say, stay at home for six months, and then to spout off some Churchillian nonsense that we'll make it through, it's terribly unhelpful."

US trials of Oxford vaccine remain on hold

Trials involving 30,000 people in the US for the vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca remain on hold while the US Food and Drug Administration conducts its own investigation into a reported side effect in a UK patient.
The illness in a volunteer temporarily brought a halt to all the trials of the vaccine worldwide – which also involve thousands of people in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
Oxford said at the time that it was "expected" that in large-scale trials some people would become ill, but after an investigation into whether the illness was linked to the vaccine it was deemed safe to continue . The vaccine is seen as a likely contender to be first to market.
Meanwhile, Johnson and Johnson has become the fourth pharmaceutical company to begin the final large-scale trials of a Covid-19 vaccine.
The company said the trials will involve 60,000 people, across the Americas and in South Africa.

False claims about testing spreading online

Marianna Spring - Specialist disinformation and social media reporter
A message, which has been copied and pasted across Facebook, falsely claims that people should “just stop getting tested” to prevent a second lockdown - and that stopping testing would make the pandemic disappear.
The text was originally shared at the beginning of September, but it has resurfaced on a number of local Facebook groups in recent days after announcements about new coronavirus restrictions in the UK - and evolved.
The message is now being attributed to “a nurse who works at Southend hospital”. At the beginning of the pandemic, we often saw posts attributed to vague sources like an unnamed NHS worker or a friend’s neighbour.
The text - which has been shared thousands of times on Facebook and less widely on Twitter - expresses legitimate concerns about the impact of future restrictions during winter months, but it also makes dubious claims about needing to mix with one another “to get germs to thrive”.
At the end, it asks users to “copy, paste and share”, whilst other versions finish with “turn off your TV, ignore the propaganda, THINK FOR YOURSELVES”.
It's a reminder to pause before sharing and to turn to reliable sources for information and updates about the pandemic, rather than just your Facebook feed.
Your Facebook friend's best mate probably knows less about Covid-19 than scientists, doctors and virologists.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 18:20

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New daily Covid cases rise above 6,000 in the UK

There have been 6,178 new coronavirus infections recorded in the past 24 hours across the UK - a significant rise on yesterday's figures of 4,926.
In addition there were, of those who tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 28 days, a further 37 deaths..
It comes as the UK goverment - and those in the devolved administrations - announced a fresh tranche of measures in a bid to curb the rising number of infections.
There are currently 211 patients with coronavirus on ventilators in hospital.

Analysis: UK entering crucial point in fight against virus

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
We should be very careful about reading too much into a single day’s rise – the jump of more than 1,000 is rapid and if repeated would mean daily case numbers doubling in less than a week.
But figures can fluctuate from day to day. Nonetheless, the UK has been warned it should be prepared for cases to continue growing.
The figure for new cases is well below what was seen at the peak, which was estimated at 100,000 cases a day - although we don’t know for sure as a lack of testing meant the system was only picking up the tip of the iceberg then.
Clearly we are not picking up all the cases now. The evidence from last week’s surveillance report suggested perhaps only half were being identified by the testing programme.
What matters now is whether this scale of rise is repeated in the coming days and weeks – and how that translates into hospitalisations and deaths, both of which are going up too.
The data from Spain and France, both of which started seeing rises before the UK, suggests that sharp rises can slow, and upward trends in admissions to hospital can be reversed.
But make no mistake, the UK is entering a crucial point in the battle against the virus.

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UK government scraps Autumn Budget

The UK government has scrapped plans for an Autumn Budget this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is an annual statement made by the chancellor to announce the government's tax and spending plans for the year ahead.
A Treasury statement said: "As we heard this week, now is not the right time to outline long-term plans - people want to see us focused on the here and now.
"So we are confirming today that there will be no Budget this autumn."

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 18:23

No 10 seeks to clarify latest Covid measures

Downing Street has sought to clarify a number of the measures announced on Tuesday, as part of package to prevent rising infections across England.

  • The PM's official spokesman said ministers had so far ruled out a nationwide ban on mixing households, but added: "There are very significant parts of England where two households aren't able to meet indoors and it's a policy we may well decide we need to apply in other localised parts of England."
  • Chauffeur-driven cars will be exempt from the laws enforcing passengers to wear masks in taxis. The spokesman said the two were "not comparable", stressing that a private driver typically chauffeurs a single individual but the driver of licensed vehicle carries - and risks infection from - a range of customers and should be afforded protection.
  • The PM took advice from "a wide range of scientists" on his latest measures - but the spokesman would not confirm whether the effectiveness of a 22:00 hospitality curfew had been modelled by government scientists: "What has been brought forward is a suite of different measures which, taken in their entirety, we believe will have a significant impact on reducing the rate of infection."

Belgium to reduce quarantine period

Gavin Lee - BBC Europe reporter
Belgium is to reduce the quarantine period for people with Coronavirus symptoms from 14 days to seven.
It’s one of a number of new measures for the country announced by the Belgian prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, on Wednesday afternoon.
The new quarantine rule will apply from October.
The prime minister said: "An isolation period of 14 days is often difficult to keep up. As a result we asked experts to look again at this."
A spokesperson for Belgium’s Crisis Committee told the BBC that the new rules are based on latest scientific advice on the adequate length of time needed for self-isolation.
People with coronavirus symptoms can take a test on the fifth day of quarantine and, if it is negative, they can end their isolation when the week is up. If it’s positive, they must complete a two-week isolation period then take another test.
The prime minister also announced that it will no longer be compulsory to wear a face mask outside from October, with the exception of heavily crowded areas.
Sophie Wilmès stated that rules on social contact will continue to be monitored. At the moment groups of up to 10 people can meet together at the same time, providing social-distancing rules are applied. The so called "bubble" rule will also continue. It means that people can chose five others to be in close contact with.
Sophie Wilmès defined close contact as “being physically close for more than 15 minutes, without socially distancing or wearing a mask.” Each person can choose to be in that bubble with five others for a month, before changing members of the group, if required.
Meanwhile, figures show that there has been an average of 1,374 coronavirus cases a day in Belgium for the past week. That’s a 60% increase on cases recorded compared to the week before.

Fear in Czech Republic's as tourism slumps

Rob Cameron - BBC Prague Correspondent
The head of the Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism, Tomas Prouza, has warned that a recent spike in infections has destroyed the country's reputation as a safe destination, and says he fears tourists will not come back.
Mr Prouza, a former Europe minister, told the iDNES website he believed tourists would largely stay away for up to two years.
More and more countries are reintroducing restrictions on travel to and from the Czech Republic, the latest being Germany.
Winning back the country's reputation as a safe destination would be extremely difficult, Mr Prouza added.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 18:28

New cases in Wales rise by 389

There have, over the past 24 hours, been a further 389 cases of coronavirus reported in Wales, up from 281 on Tuesday.
It is the highest number of cases reported in a single day since April.
The number of people who have died with Covid-19 has gone up by two to 1,605, Public Health Wales said.
Wales has this week announced new measures, including table service for pubs, cafes and restaurants and limiting alcohol sales, in an effort to tackle the rise in cases.

Covid 'gaining momentum' in NI - health minister

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Coronavirus is "gaining momentum" again in Northern Ireland and there is a “narrow window” to suppress it, the health minister has said.
Robin Swann told a news conference that the 14-day incidence rate for new cases had risen from 64 per 100,000 to 85.9.
New restrictions banning household visits took effect on Tuesday evening, but Northern Ireland's chief medical officer, Dr Michael McBride, said the country could see 500 new cases per day by next month if people do not follow the rules.
“I ask for six months’ more commitment from you, as if your life depends on it – because your life, and the lives of others, do depend on it," he added.

Pub curfew sees Liverpool vs Arsenal brought forward

Liverpool's Premier League home match with Arsenal has been brought forward by 15 minutes to finish before the new UK pub curfew.
On Tuesday, the UK prime minister announced that all hospitality venues in England must have a 22:00 closing time from Thursday, to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
Liverpool's game on Monday will now kick off at 20:00 BST.
All future midweek Premier League games will now finish before 22:00.

Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) have sent out a warning to the public about the danger of spilling hand sanitiser.

Harry Brent - Irish Post
They released a video which appears to show how the sanitiser can burn 'invisibly'.
The alarming clip shows regular footage of a small section of carpet which doesn't appear to be on fire, alongside thermal footage of the same spot, which shows a small flame burning.
"We set up an experiment with Merchant's Quay 61st scouts to demonstrate how a spillage of hand sanitiser can burn invisibly and unnoticed," the DFB wrote in a tweet.
"A small quantity of sanitiser was spilled on carpet and set alight. The fire is clearly visible on the thermal image camera."
As per the fire brigade's advice, all hand sanitiser dispensers should be equipped with drip-trays and any spillages should be cleaned immediately.
They also stress that dispensers should never be placed above or on a carpet.
A DFB spokesperson said: "It's because of the alcohol content. Alcohol/ethanol burns with an almost invisible flame."
"Dispensers should have an integrated drip tray, or tray underneath to catch spillages. Any spillages should be cleaned up immediately. Never install a dispenser above carpet," the spokesperson added.
"Hand sanitiser has a flash point as low as 23 degrees Celsius."

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 23 2020, 19:09

NHS Covid-19 app set to launch

Leo Kelion - Technology desk editor
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It has been a long time coming but England and Wales' Covid-19 app will launch on Thursday.
It follows in the footsteps of Scotland and Northern Ireland's own efforts but has more features.
Apple and Google's automated contact-tracing technology will be used to tell people to self-isolate if their phone detects they were near someone later determined to have the virus.But there's more, including:

  • a venue check-in barcode scanner
  • a postcode-based risk-level checker
  • a symptoms-reporter tool
  • the means to order a coronavirus test and receive its results
  • a countdown timer to keep track of how long to stay in self-isolation
  • a guide to the latest advice on local restrictions, financial support and other related information

Read more about the new app here.

That's all from us today

Thanks for joining us. Here's a round-up of some of the key stories of the day:

    Current date/time is Sun Oct 25 2020, 08:30