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Coronavirus - 31st October

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 11:02

Summary for Saturday, 31st October

The Guardian:-

Europe has passed a total of 10m cases, with nearly a quarter of a million cases being diagnosed each day, compared with around 15,000 at the start of July. France has begun a month-long lockdown, Belgium will adopt tighter restrictions from Monday, clashes in Barcelona erupted over Spanish Covid restrictions and England is expected to announce a national lockdown next week.
In Australia, Victoria – which this week emerged from one of the world’s longest lockdowns in the state’s capital, Melbourne – has recorded just one case and no new deaths. Neighbouring New South Wales has recorded four new cases, three of them in hotel quarantine. It comes amid an ongoing row over borders remaining shut in some states.
The other main developments include:

  • England is expected to go into national lockdown from early next week, with the prime minister, Boris Johnson, set to bow to pressure from his scientific advisers to impose tighter restrictions. On Friday the UK has reported 274 more deaths and 24,405 new cases.
  • The US has passed 9m coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker. The figure stands at 9,007,298, the highest in the world, followed by India with 8,088,851 and Brazil with 5,494,376.
  • France has reported 49,215 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, compared with 47,637 on Thursday. The total number of infections rose to 1,331,984 while the death tally went up by 256 over 24 hours to 36,565.
  • Coronavirus infections in Italy rose by 31,084 on Friday, a jump of over 4,000 in a day, while 199 more fatalities were recorded. Hospital admissions increased by over 1,000 in a day, bringing the total across the country to 16,994, of which 1,746 are in intensive care.
  • Canada needs to adopt a stronger response now to tackle a second wave of the coronavirus that has already killed more than 10,000 people and is growing worse, health authorities have said according to Reuters.
  • Australia’s political fight over border restrictions is continuing, with the state of Queensland under pressure for continuing to bar entry to people from Greater Sydney. The state of Victoria has recorded one new case, as Melbourne residents enjoy their first weekend since the end of one of the world’s longest lockdowns.
  • Belgium will impose tighter lockdown rules from Monday, closing non-essential businesses and restricting household visits. Households will only be allowed to receive one visitor, half-term holidays for schools will be extended to 15 November and those who can adapt their jobs to work from home will be asked to do so.
  • Germany has set a new record for new daily coronavirus cases, reporting 19,059 infections. This breaks Germany’s previous highest daily increase of 18,681, set the day before.
  • Anti-mask protesters were arrested in Melbourne on Saturday, as the state of Victoria - which has eased out of a more than 100 day lockdown in recent days - recorded no new Covid-19 cases. The state of New South Wales recorded four new cases of coronavirus, one of which was transmitted locally.
  • Ukraine also registered a daily Covid-19 record, recording 8,752 new cases, up from the 8,312 new cases announced on Friday.


National lockdown expected in England

The United Kingdom government is expected to announce a national lockdown across England next week.
The Guardian has been told the prime minister, Boris Johnson, has bowed to pressure from his scientific advisers for new national lockdown restrictions.
They are expected to be announced early next week.
Sir Patrick Vallance and Prof Chris Whitty, who head the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), are understood to have warned the prime minister that the time has come for national action across England.
Sage scientists presented Johnson with evidence at a meeting in Downing Street, where they explained that Covid-19 is spreading significantly faster than their worst-case scenarios.
Read the full story here .

Europe passes 10m cases

Europe has listed more than 10 million cases to date since the virus first appeared according to latest health authority data analysed by AFP.
In terms of cases, the continent lags Latin America and the Caribbean (11.2 million) and Asia (10.5 million).
In terms of deaths Europe’s tally of some 275,000 puts it second only to about 399,000 for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Australia's state borders slowly open up

Australia’s political fight over Covid-19 border closures is continuing despite moves from some states to ease their restrictions.
Facing pressure from other states and industry, the premiers of Western Australia and Queensland have now both announced they would relax tough border rules preventing residents of other states entering in the coming days.
But business and political leaders have hit out at Queensland’s decision to continue a hard border with the greater Sydney area, despite minimal community transmission in the city.
Alan Joyce, the chief executive of Qantas, labelled the decision “ridiculous”.
“Keeping the doors bolted to places you can’t reasonably call hotspots makes no sense from a health perspective and it’s doing a lot of social and economic damage as well,” he said.
All states continue to keep their borders closed to Victoria, where authorities have just confirmed one new case was recorded in the past 24 hours.
The 14-day rolling average in Melbourne, which just came out of one of the world’s longest lockdowns, is now 2.4. There are only two cases that haven’t been linked to a known outbreak over the past two weeks.
In New South Wales, education authorities will close Sydney’s Cabramatta High School after a student returned a positive test.
Queensland will reopen to regional NSW from Tuesday, while Western Australia has confirmed it will ease hard border restrictions for all states on 14 November.

Melbourne enjoys first post-lockdown weekend

Residents in the Australian city of Melbourne are easing in to their first weekend since the end of one of the world’s longest lockdowns.
Victoria recorded one new case over the past 24 hours, although authorities described the infection as a “low positive”.
Eased restrictions for the city of 5 million mean locals can now dine at cafes and restaurants, or grab a drink at bars and pubs.
However, strict patron limits remain in place and venues have been encouraged to seat customers outside.
Retailers are also open once again, and residents may now invite two adults from the same household into their homes.
The restrictions were eased on Wednesday, with some venues opening their doors to customers from just past the stroke of midnight .

France reports 49,000 cases

France reported 49,215 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours on Friday, compared with 47,637 on Thursday.
The total number of infections rose to 1,331,984. The death tally went up by 256 over 24 hours to 36,565.
Stricter lockdown rules come into effect at midnight. People will only be able to leave their own homes for certain essential purposes, as the country tries to put the brakes on a Covid-19 outbreak that the president, Emmanuel Macron, said risked accelerating out of control. More details here .

Belgium to tighten restrictions

Belgium will impose tighter lockdown rules from Monday, closing non-essential businesses and restricting household visits.
“These are last-chance measures if we want to get the figures down,” said prime pinister Alexander de Croo, warning that the new rules would stay in place for at least a month and a half.
Households will only be allowed to receive one visitor, half-term holidays for schools will be extended to 15 November and those who can adapt their jobs to work from home will be asked to do so.
“It’s a lockdown, but a lockdown that allows factories to operate, that will allow schools to open cautiously, and that will not plunge people into isolation,” said health minister Frank Vandenbroucke.
Belgium, with 11.5 million inhabitants, has the most Covid-19 cases per capita in the world and has as many hospital cases now as at the peak of the pandemic’s first wave in April.
There were 6,187 patients in hospital on Friday, 1,057 of them in intensive care. Over the last week Belgium has recorded more than 100,000 new infections – more than 15,000 per day on average.

Spain sees protests over Barcelona lockdown

Protesters in Spain who deny the existence of Covid-19 and object to restrictions to curb the pandemic’s spread clashed with police in Barcelona on Friday.
About 50 demonstrators threw bricks and fireworks at police and set fire to rubbish containers in the centre of Spain’s second largest city, police said, according to Reuters.
Police repelled the protesters with their batons but did not charge, a spokesman for the Mossos d’Escuadra, the Catalan regional police, said.
One person was injured after being hit on the head by a brick. Two people were arrested.
Earlier, about 700 people staged a peaceful demonstration through one of the city’s main streets.
It follows similar disturbances sparked by those who deny the existence of the pandemic in Bilbao, in Spain, on Thursday and in cities across Italy on Monday.
Spain, one of the hardest-hit countries by Covid-19, imposed a state of emergency this week to try halt the rise of coronavirus infections.
Like other European countries, Spain has resorted to increasingly drastic measures to curb infections, although less stringent than in Germany or France .

China reports 33 new cases

Mainland China reported 33 new Covid-19 cases on 30 October, up from 25 a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 27 were imported infections originating from overseas, reports Reuters.
The National Health Commission said in a statement that six local infections were reported in the western region of Xinjiang.
The commission also reported 38 new asymptomatic cases, down from 53 a day earlier. China does not count symptomless patients as confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Colombia records 10,000 new cases, 209 deaths

Colombia has recorded more than 10,000 new cases, as it surpassed more than 31,000 deaths.
The country reported 10,029 new cases and 209 deaths in the past 24 hours, according the country’s ministry of health.
It takes the death toll to 31,135, while there have now been 1,063,151 infections since the start of the pandemic.

US reports 94,000 cases as Trump downplays pandemic

The United States saw a record number of new coronavirus infections for the second day running Friday, with more than 94,000 cases reported just days before voters decide if Donald Trump should remain in the White House.
AFP reports that the skyrocketing caseload helped push the US tally past 9 million cases reported since the pandemic began, while Europe topped 10 million and France entered a new lockdown.
The increasingly resurgent pandemic is forcing other countries to consider following suit – but Trump has vowed the US will not be among them if he wins a second term on Tuesday.
The US set a daily record for new infections Friday, charting more than 94,000 in 24 hours according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University – just one day after the previous high of 91,000.
Hospitals across the country were bracing as cases soar in nearly every state and winter flu season looms.
But on the campaign trail Trump, who says the virus will “disappear”, remained defiant.
“We just want normal,” he told supporters – many of them unmasked – at an outdoor rally near Detroit as he pushed states to relax public health restrictions and resume daily life.
He again bucked his own administration’s health experts and dismissed the more than 229,000 Americans who have already died of Covid-19, saying: “If you get it, you’re going to get better, and then you’re going to be immune.”
Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who has sought to turn the 3 November election into a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, has accused his Republican rival of surrendering to the virus.
“It is as severe an indictment of a president’s record as one can possibly imagine, and it is utterly disqualifying,” he said in a statement Friday.
Virus fears have also hit Wall Street, which suffered its worst week and month since March on Friday with another losing session as markets gird for the election.

Indonesia reports 3,143 new cases
Indonesia reported 3,143 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, taking the country’s total to 410,088, according to the health ministry website.
There were also 87 new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 13,869, Reuters reports.
Indonesia has recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in south-east Asia, but infection rates are comparatively low at 1,494 cases per million people, according to a tally kept by the Worldometers website.

Fifth day of record infections in Poland

Poland reported a record number of coronavirus infections for the fifth consecutive day on Saturday, with 21,897 new cases, as major protests continued after an abortion ruling last week.
The health ministry said that as of Saturday, Covid-19 patients were occupying 16,144 hospital beds and using 1,305 ventilators, compared with 15,444 and 1,254 respectively a day earlier.
The country of 38 million has reported a total of 362,731 coronavirus infections - 9,588 per million people - and 5,631 deaths.
The latests figures come amid mass protests against a ruling by the constitutional tribunal last week that amounts to a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Catholic country Reuters reports.
The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has warned that the protests will lead to big jump in new coronavirus cases, but some immunologists say most protesters have been wearing face masks, keeping distance and were out in the open, which reduces the risk of infection.
“Perhaps the governmemt would focus on purchasing tests and stop shifting the blame for its incompetence,” Klementyna Suchanow, a Polish writer and activist from Strajk Kobiet or Women’s Strike, the organiser of the protests, said on Friday.

US breaks world record for daily new infections

The United States has set a new all-time, global high for coronavirus cases recorded in a single 24-hour period, with just over 100,000 new infections on Friday eclipsing its previous record of 91,000 the day before.
The daily caseload of 100,233 - according to a Reuters tally - is a world record for the global pandemic, surpassing the 97,894 cases reported by India on a single day in September.
Five times over past ten days, the United States has exceeded its previous single-day record of 77,299 cases registered in July. The number of daily infections reported during past two days indicates that the nation is now reporting more than one new case every second.
Despite its record breaking overall figure, the US has a rate of about 28,100 cases per million population, which places it about 14th in the world for prevalence.
The spike comes just four days ahead of the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 230,000 people in the United States, has dominated the final stretch of the campaign.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 11:54

Arrests in Florence, Italy amid anti-lockdown protest riots
About 20 people have been arrested in Florence, Italy, after protests against coronavirus lockdown measures descended into skirmishes with police.
According to the AFP news agency, riot police were deployed to stop about 200 people gathered in the city centre from entering the Piazza della Signorina.
Fighting broke out in neighbouring streets, with some people throwing molotov cocktails, bottles and stones at police, tipping over rubbish bins and destroying surveillance cameras.
The city’s mayor, Dario Nardella, condemned those taking part. In a Facebook post, he wrote: “We’ve lived a surreal, terrible and painful night in Florence.
“This is not how you protest your grievances, this is not how you voice your suffering. It’s only violence as an end in itself, gratuitous.
“Those who scar Florence must pay for what they have done.”

Coronavirus - 31st October 3072
Protesters in Piazza della Signorina, Florence, during an unauthorised anti-lockdown protest. Photograph: Claudio Giovannini/EPA

Coronavirus - 31st October 3072
Police face the demonstrators during clashes in Florence. Photograph: Claudio Giovannini/EPA

A few hundred people also protested in Bologna, most of them young men, including football hooligans and some who gave the fascist salute, La Repubblica daily reported. Video images showed the newspaper’s video journalist being harassed and chased away.
“Journalist, terrorist!” the crowd shouted.

Coronavirus - 31st October 3072
Demonstrators during a protest in Bologna. Photograph: Max Cavallari/EPA

Protesters have taken to the streets in the past week in various cities across Italy to criticise a new series of nationwide lockdown measures, including the closure of all cinemas, theatres, gyms and swimming pools and the closing of restaurants and bars at 6pm.
The new measures spurred a wave of demonstrations in Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin on Monday and Tuesday, marked by violence and vandalism, with riot police firing teargas at groups of young people hurling bottles and rocks.
The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has said he wants to give the latest measures two weeks to take effect before deciding whether a fuller lockdown is needed, as has been ordered in France .
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 12:33

Weddings and wakes banned in Tehran to curb virus spread

Weddings, wakes and conferences will be banned in Tehran until further notice, as Iran, the Middle East’s hardest-hit nation, battles a third wave of Covid-19, police said on Saturday.
The president, Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile announced new restrictions that will take effect on Wednesday in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces for 10 days, according to Reuters.
The new restrictions came as total Covid-19 deaths rose by 386 over the past 24 hours to reach 34,864, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV on Saturday, adding total cases rose by 7,820 to 612,772.
The official Islamic Republic News Agency said Tehran police had extended by one week the closure of businesses including beauty salons, teahouses, cinemas, libraries and fitness clubs.
Police will make unannounced visits to other high-risk businesses, and those that violate health protocols will be shut down, IRNA quoted police official Nader Moradi as saying.
The deputy health minister, Alireza Raisi, said in a televised press briefing that the new restrictions from next week in the 25 provinces and 89 counties will include include the closure of institutions such as schools, universities, libraries and mosques.
Rouhani said in televised remarks that strict health protocols should be observed when holding weddings and funerals in those provinces and counties.
Iranian authorities have blamed a sharp increase in cases on people failing to follow restrictions, and Rouhani said an operations headquarters will be set up to ensure compliance with the health protocols.

Scotland warned not to "twist" new regulations
The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has urged her compatriots not to “twist” new coronavirus regulations when they come into force on Monday, warning that if people applied their own interpretation of the rules then they “simply won’t work”.
Sturgeon has already warned the country the new five-tier system of restrictions represents the best chance of avoiding another national lockdown. In a plea to “frustrated” Scots, she urged them to think about the impact their decisions would have on others at this “critical point in the pandemic”.
Sturgeon said:
:Left Quotes: I know that people are tired and frustrated, but at this critical point in the pandemic, I want to remind people that the decisions they make over the coming days and weeks have a real impact on not only themselves but others.
Right now, we rely more than ever on public willingness to adhere to the measures in place.
The new protection levels should enable communities to control outbreaks quickly and effectively and minimise transmission of the virus by following the guidance and supporting each other to comply. But, if we all put our own twist on the rules, they simply won’t work.

She continued:
:Left Quotes: We’ve seen how our collective efforts at the start of the pandemic helped to suppress the virus to levels where businesses could open, people could meet up with less restrictions, and we were able to restore some normality to our lives.

We all need to play our part to help protect lives, our mental health, the NHS, jobs and businesses. Stopping the spread starts with all of us.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 12:43

US breaks world record for daily new infections

The United States has set a new all-time, global high for coronavirus cases recorded in a single 24-hour period, with just over 100,000 new infections on Friday eclipsing its previous record of 91,000 the day before.
The daily caseload of 100,233 - according to a Reuters tally - is a world record for the global pandemic, surpassing the 97,894 cases reported by India on a single day in September.
Five times over past ten days, the United States has exceeded its previous single-day record of 77,299 cases registered in July. The number of daily infections reported during past two days indicates that the nation is now reporting more than one new case every second.
Despite its record breaking overall figure, the US has a rate of about 28,100 cases per million population, which places it about 14th in the world for prevalence.
The spike comes just four days ahead of the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 230,000 people in the United States, has dominated the final stretch of the campaign.

One month 'action plan' for Greece
A one-month ‘action plan’ doubling up on restrictions in Greece has just been announced by prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, writes Helena Smith, the Guardian’s Athens correspondent.
Addressing the nation, the centre right leader said as of Tuesday the country would be divided into two zones: a high-risk ‘red’ and ‘orange’ zone and a less endangered ‘yellow’ and ‘green’ zone.
Athens and Thessaloniki, already hard hit by an alarming rise in confirmed coronavirus cases, will be included in the first with restaurants, gyms, theatres, cinemas and museums all being closed as of 6 AM on November 3rd.
Nationwide, mask-wearing will be mandatory, in and outdoors, while 50 percent of the labour force in both the public and private sector will be required to work from home, up from 40 percent previously. A curfew will also be imposed between midnight and 5 AM country-wide.
“My address today is what I never wanted to have to do,” Mitsotakis said speaking from his office. “But it is impossible to close my eyes to the harsh reality. I am forced, once again, to place the health and security of Greeks over every other choice.”
Unlike the lockdown this spring, the industry sector and retail shops will not be affected by the new measures in an effort to keep the economy going. Schools will remain open and travel between regions will also be allowed.
Infections in Greece broke a fresh record on Friday with health authorities recording 1,690 new cases up from 1,211 on Thursday, bringing the total number to 37,1965.
Covid-19 fatalities rose to 620 after a further five deaths were registered by the National Organisation for Public Health (EODY). Friday’s infections marked the fourth straight day that confirmed cases have topped more than a 1,000, up from a caseload in the low hundreds only weeks ago.
Mitsotakis, like other leaders, is keen to avoid a general lockdown because of the eviscerating effects it will have on an economy that is already one of the weakest in the EU.
While Greece has fared comparatively better to other countries in Europe a surge in coronavirus cases has placed “the greatest ever” pressure on the health system and so needed to be addressed, the prime minister said earlier this week.
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 12:45

Slovakia to screen entire population for Coronavirus
Slovakia has begun a programme to screen its entire population for coronavirus, in what would be a global first, according to AFP.
Some 45,000 medical workers, army and police are being deployed to carry out the tests in the EU member state of 5.4 million people, collecting swabs at around 5,000 testing points.
Socially distanced queues could be seen forming in the streets of the capital Bratislava even before the points opened at 0600 GMT.
“The world will be watching,” the prime minister, Igor Matovic, said this week.
The programme will use antigen tests, which give quick results. But such tests are not seen as being as reliable as the PCR test for which nasal and throat swabs have to be sent to a lab for analysis.
Participation in the testing is not mandatory but anyone who is not able to produce a negative test certificate if stopped by police could get a heavy fine.
Anyone who tests positive has to go immediately into quarantine for 10 days.
Slovakia would be the first country of its size to undergo nationwide testing, although mass testing has taken place in entire Chinese cities and smaller European states such as Luxembourg and Monaco.
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 12:54

Covid-19: England national lockdown 'considered', and 'millions face hardship'


Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday. We'll have another update for you on Sunday.


1. PM 'considering national lockdown next week'

The prime minister is considering a month-long lockdown across England in the hope that measures could be eased before Christmas . A new "stay at home" order could be announced on Monday, with schools, colleges and universities exempt. One of the models suggests deaths could reach more than 4,000 a day. So, when will it all be over? And how are restrictions changing around the UK?

2. 'Millions face hardship' as government support ends

Mortgage holidays and job furloughs are set to end on Saturday, potentially leaving millions of people facing hardship, think tanks and political groups have warned. The Treasury said it has put in place several schemes, but some organisations said there are gaps in the support that need filling.

3. UK-wide Christmas rules meeting 'expected'

Boris Johnson intends to hold a meeting to discuss a UK-wide approach to Covid rules at Christmas , the Welsh first minister has said. Mark Drakeford said the prime minister had told him to expect an invitation to talks on a "common approach". The environment secretary previously warned it is "too early to say" what rules will be in place for the festive season.

4. Can digital tourism get people travelling again?

Airlines are carrying only about 10% of normal levels and Covid-caused disruptions have put more than 41 million jobs at risk across the travel and tourism sector, experts estimate. In lieu of travellers, tourism boards, hotels and destinations are turning to virtual reality to keep people interested.

5. Lockdown means witches' coven 'can't meet'

The pandemic has meant all kinds of sports, social and religious groups cannot meet - but what about witches' covens? Karin Rainbird, a pagan prison chaplain, recently helped start a seven-strong Wiccan coven in Pontypridd, south Wales. But the other new witches need face-to-face training. "Wicca is not really something you can do online," she said.
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 14:04

PM to hold news conference as lockdown considered

Boris Johnson will hold a news conference later as the government considers a new month-long lockdown across England.
The hope is that stricter measures could then be eased by Christmas.
It comes as documents seen by the BBC suggest the UK is on course for a much higher death toll than during the first wave unless further restrictions are introduced.
Deaths could reach more than 4,000 a day, one of the models suggests.
This figure is based on no policies being brought in to slow the spread of the disease, but most of the models peak at about 2,000 a day.

The prime minister will be joined by England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance for the briefing, following a cabinet meeting to discuss the government's coronavirus response.
The news conference was originally scheduled for 16:00 GMT but is now due to take place an hour later at 17:00.
It is expected schools, colleges and universities would stay open under any new "stay at home" order.
Mr Johnson has so far resisted pressure to introduce nationwide restrictions, opting instead for a three-tiered system targeting local areas in England.
Elsewhere in the UK, Wales remains under a 17-day "firebreak" lockdown until 9 November, and Scotland's new tiered system of restrictions will come into force at 06:00 on Monday.
In Northern Ireland, pubs and restaurants were closed for four weeks on 16 October with the exception of takeaways and deliveries. Schools were closed for two weeks.
Infection rates are also soaring across much of Europe, prompting new forms of lockdown in Belgium, France and Germany .
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 14:21

Ireland one of only four countries in Europe where Covid-19 incidence rate is down

Jack Beresford - Irish Post
Ireland is outperforming all but a handful of countries in Europe when it comes to controlling the spread of Covid-19
According to the World Health Organization, Ireland is one of only four countries on the continent to record a decrease in the seven-day coronavirus incidence rate compared to figures from last week. 
The data released by the WHO shows the seven-day rate has decreased by 36% in Ireland. 
By contrast, 24 other European nations have recorded a rise in the seven-day rate, with increases ranging from 2% to 59%. 
Ireland is 20th out of 28 European countries in terms of the seven-day rate. 
Only eight other countries have recorded a lower seven-day incidence of the virus. 
Despite the positive data, there was a note of caution regarding the new figures, with incidence rates increasing among older cohorts just as they have declined among younger age groups. 
According to the latest data, the incidence in the 75-84 age group has risen from 70 per 100,000 of population to 184 over the past few weeks. 
Ireland did report an overall decline in case numbers, however, with the reproduction or ‘R’ number now standing at somewhere around one. 
Hospital admissions and the numbers being taken into intensive care are also rising more slowly than in the period prior to Ireland’s lockdown. 
As of today, 322 people with Covid-19 are being treated in Irish hospitals – an increase of just 10 on the previous day. 
There were 32 new admissions in the past 24 hours with 26 people discharged. 
There are 41 Covid-19 patients in intensive care, with 26 on ventilators.  
That leaves 47 critical care beds available while there have been no Covid-19 related deaths among healthcare workers in Ireland since July. 
Speaking at a press conference in the Department of Health, Professor Philip Nolan warned against complacency. 
“This is the first time in three months that I’ve been able to report positive indications that we are starting to suppress transmission of the virus,” he said, 
“When we achieve this sort of suppression, the important thing is to make it last."
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 15:21

Scots told to avoid England

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has urged Scots not to travel to England.
Writing on Twitter she said: “People should not travel to or from level 3 areas in Scotland and for now, we are asking people not to travel to or from England at all, except for essential purposes.”
Tweet  Nicola Sturgeon:
:Left Quotes: Amongst other factors, this consideration will have to include whether any financial support will be available now as a result of steps in England, which would not be guaranteed to Scotland later.
Most importantly, we urge everyone to comply with current restrictions, including on travel. People should not travel to or from level 3 areas in Scotland and for now, we are asking people not to travel to or from England at all, except for essential purposes.

Welsh Cabinet to meet on Sunday

The Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford has that his cabinet will meet on Sunday “discuss any potential border issues for Wales in light of any announcement by No 10”. He also confirmed the firebreak lockdown in Wales would end on 9 November as planned.
Tweet  Mark Drakeford:
:Left Quotes:  Any announcement by @10DowningStreet will relate to England. The Welsh firebreak will end on Monday, November 9. Our cabinet will meet tomorrow to discuss any potential border issues for Wales in light of any announcement by No 10.

Austria to announce new curfew measures

Austria is preparing to announce new measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus amid fears of hospitals being stretched beyond capacity.
Data released by the government on Saturday showed another 5,349 confirmed cases after daily cases hit a record of 5,627 on Friday. The peak of the first wave in March was 1,050.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who has said hospitals would be stretched beyond capacity at about 6,000 daily infections, has said an economically damaging second lockdown would be a last resort, but Austrian media reported tough measures were in the works.
“The dramatically rising infection numbers in Austria and many European countries will require restrictions on public life and also affect the domestic economy,” the finance ministry said in a statement on Friday, adding that it was working on additional economic aid measures to save jobs and keep companies afloat.
Austria’s current anti-coronavirus measures are relatively loose, with bars, restaurants and theatres remaining open.
There were unconfirmed reports on Friday evening suggesting that a curfew from 8pm to 6am was planned, albeit with exceptions allowed for those going to work or simply exercising outdoors.
Restaurants would no longer be allowed to serve guests but could provide take-away service outside curfew hours, theatres and cinemas would have to close and hotels could only accept new guests travelling for work or training, national broadcaster ORF said, citing a draft of the planned government decree.
The influential tabloid Kronen Zeitung said ski lifts would only be open to top athletes and in exceptional cases such as rescues.
Shops and schools would, however, remain open, several media reported, with shops having to limit the number of customers allowed in at one time to one person per 10 sq metres of floorspace.
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 15:37

Northern Ireland records a further 649 postitive covid cases in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, a further 649 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and a further 11 deaths have been recorded.
This takes the county’s death toll to 708.

Brazil's Health Minister admitted to hospital with covid

Brazil’s health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, has been admitted to hospital just over a week after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
Pazuello, 57, is the latest in a string of senior politicians to be infected with coronavirus in Brazil, including its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. Twelve ministers in Bolsonaro’s government have now been confirmed to have contracted the illness.
Brazil has suffered the second highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the world (160,000) since the epidemic began in February.
Pazuello was reportedly taken to a private hospital in the capital, Brasília, on Friday night suffering from dehydration. Health ministry officials have played down the severity of his condition.
The minister has been self-isolating in a hotel after announcing his diagnosis on 21 October. One day later Pazuello was pictured with president Bolsonaro , with neither man wearing a face mask. Pazuello has said he is taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat his illness, despite the biggest and best-designed trial of the drug concluding that it did not work.

Latest events around the UK

A further 208 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 32,855, NHS England has said.
Patients were aged between 26 and 101. All except eight, aged between 47 and 101 years old, had known underlying health conditions. The deaths were between October 21 and October 30. Six other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
In Scotland, a further 1,101 new infections and another 24 deaths have been reported. The daily number of cases is down from the 1,281 infections announced on Friday.
Northern Ireland has reported a further 649 infections, down from its record rise of more than 1,000 announced earlier this month. A further 11 deaths were also reported.
Wales, which is a week into its “fire break” lockdown, has reported another 1,301 new infections. This is down from a record high of 1,414 announced on Wednesday.
Public Health Wales also announced that another 13 people had died from the virus, taking the death toll in Wales to 1,872.
It comes as the prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to set out plans for a month-long lockdown in England.
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 19:29

Summary from the BBC:

  • Boris Johnson announces a new four-week lockdown across England, starting from Thursday
  • Bars and restaurants will close, but takeaways can continue to operate - as in the spring lockdown
  • He was joined at a Downing Street news conference by the UK's chief medical adviser Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance
  • Schools and universities will be kept open throughout this period, unlike in the lockdown earlier this year
  • The current surge in the virus has seen the UK's total number of positive cases pass the one million mark - it now stands at 1,011,660
  • One model, seen by the government, forecasts up to 4,000 deaths a day during the winter months no action is taken
  • Over the past seven days, the UK has averaged almost 23,000 new cases a day, and 237 deaths with coronavirus


What's happening in Europe?

The expected lockdown comes as a number of European countries impose new measures to tackle a resurgence of the virus.

  • Austria announced today it will enforce a curfew and shutdown of services. Shops, schools and kindergartens will remain open but universities and high schools will move to distance learning.A curfew between 20:00 and 06:00 will come into force and no meetings will be allowed between people from more than two households
  • France imposed a nationwide lockdown on Thursday. People have been ordered to stay at home except for essential work or medical reasons. President Emmanuel Macron said the country risked being “overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first”
  • Belgium has ordered non-essential shops and businesses offering personal services such has hair salons to close until the middle of December. Any gatherings in public places must be limited to a maximum of four people. Supermarkets can only sell essential goods and households are allowed just one visitor. Autumn school holidays have been extended until 15 November
  • Germany has also imposed new measures but they are not as strict as other neighbouring countries. The measures which come into force on Monday include the closure of restaurants, bars, gyms and theatres
  • Italy, which was at the epicentre of the first wave of the virus, has introduced new restrictions which will be in place for a month. All bars and restaurants across the country will have to close by 18:00 although they can provide takeaways later. Gyms, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas have to close but museums can remain open
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 19:42

A summary now of the main points from today's Press Conference at Downing Street:


'Stay at home' from Thursday, says Johnson

"Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative," the PM says.
He says from Thursday people in England "must stay at home".

'Significant rate of increase' in cases - Whitty

England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty says "virtually across the entire country now" there is a "significant rate of increase" in virus cases.
He says the prevalence of Covid has been going up "extremely rapidly" over the last few weeks" - having been "very flat" due to social distancing measures in the spring and summer.

Virus 'not constrained to one age group' - Whitty

Prof Whitty says we have "very little headroom" when it comes to the spread of the virus.
He says the virus doesn't remain constrained to one age group, and it is spreading into older age groups - people over the age of 60.
He adds there is a rise in the number of hospital admissions in England in "virtually every age group in older adults".

'If we do nothing, hospital numbers will exceed spring peak'

Speaking about people in hospital with Covid, Prof Whitty says: "If we do nothing, the inevitable result will be that these numbers will go up and they will eventually exceed the peak we saw in spring of this year."

Second wave could be twice as bad as first – Vallance

Sir Patrick Vallance is speaking now and says some of the measures have eased the rate of growth but infections continue to rise.
He said experts created scenarios on the assumption the R rate stays at one over the course of the winter.
“What is clear from all the scenarios is the potential for this to be twice as bad or more compared to the first wave."

'No one wants to impose these measures' - PM

It's Boris Johnson's turn to speak now and he says "no responsible prime minister can ignore the message of those figures".
He says: "No one wants to be imposing these kind of measures anywhere."
He says he'd hoped that with "strong local action" the government could get the rate of infection down in targeted areas.

The government's hand has been forced

Nick Eardley - Political correspondent
Remember the government desperately wanted to avoid a national lockdown. The PM has been highly critical of Labour for suggesting one. A number of Mr Johnson’s backbenchers are strongly against national measures.
But it seems the Government’s hand has now been forced by the spread of the virus.

Overrunning the NHS would be a 'moral disaster' - PM

The prime minister says the overrunning of the NHS would be a "moral disaster".
Doctors and nurses would be "forced to choose which patients to treat... who would live and who would die," he says.

Measures to last until start of December

Johnson outlines the measures that he says will last until the start of December.
And he lists some of the exceptions for which people can leave their homes, including:

  • for education
  • for work, if you cannot work from home
  • for exercise and recreation outdoors
  • for medical reasons
  • to shop for food and essentials
  • to care for others


Pubs and restaurants to close

Takeaways will be allowed to stay open but pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close, says the PM.
Essential shops will remain open so "there's no need to stock up", he insists, adding that workplaces should stay open where people cannot work from home.
Support bubbles will still be allowed and children will be able to move homes if their parents are separated.
He says the government will not ask people to shield again "in the same way" as last time.

Measures will end on 2 December

Johnson confirms the measures will end on 2 December.
He says, at that point: "We'll seek to ease restrictions, going back into the tiered system on a local and a regional basis according to the latest data and trends."

Johnson extends furlough scheme

The PM says he is under "no illusions" about how difficult it will be for businesses - he says he is "truly sorry" for that.
He is extending the furlough scheme through November, he says.

'Christmas will be 'different' - PM

Christmas will be "perhaps very different" this year, Johnson says.
"But it's my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now, we can allow families across the country to be together," he adds.

Schools, colleges and universities to remain open

Unlike the first national lockdown, schools, colleges and universities will be allowed to stay open.
"We cannot let this virus damage our children's futures even more than it has already," says Johnson.
He urges parents to continue sending their children to school.

Parliament will debate latest measures on Wednesday

Parliament will debate and vote on these measures on Wednesday.
Johnson says the government in Westminster has updated the devolved administrations, and ministers "stand ready to work with them on plans for Christmas and beyond".
He says "we are not alone in what we're going through" - pointing to European countries that have introduced lockdown measures

'Immediate prospect' of rapid Covid tests

The PM says: "I am optimistic that this will feel very different and better by the spring."
He says this is because of the "immediate prospect" of rapid turnaround coronavirus tests.
"Over the next few days and weeks we plan a steady but massive expansion in the deployment of these quick turnaround tests," he says.
They could be used to test "whole towns and even whole cities", says the PM, adding that the programme will "begin in a matter of days" and will be assisted by the military.

'This is a constant struggle', says Johnson

The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg asks Johnson about the timing of the decision.
“This is a constant struggle and balance that any government has to make between lives and livelihoods and lives must come first but we have to be mindful of the scarring, the long term economic impact of the measures," he says.
"If we could have got the R down in the local areas in the way we wanted to get it below 1, that would have been a great way forward, in common with other parts of Europe, we’ve seen an overall growth rate in the second wave and made it vital to act now and protect the NHS and save lives."
He says it's true the course of the pandemic has changed and insists it's right the government should "modulate its response in accordance and I make no apologies for that".

Scientists 'optimistic' about medium and long-term

The PM says while scientists are "gloomy" they are "unanimously optimistic about the medium and the long-term future".
"We're not going back to the full-scale lockdown of March and April," he says.
"But I'm afraid from Thursday the basic message is the same: stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives."

'We're seeing consistent surge' in virus, says PM

The PM is asked whether he should have followed the scientific advice more closely and whether he has any regrets.
He says: "We have to balance that scientific advice with the consequences for people's lives, for people's mental health, people's livelihoods that comes from lockdown measures."
He stresses that schools are being kept open, and he wants to keep construction and manufacturing open.
"I'm not going to pretend to you that these judgements aren't incredibly difficult," he says.
"We have to change with the changing pattern of the virus. And, alas, what we're seeing now is a pretty consistent surge."
He adds: "We have to deal with it."

'All the solutions are bad' - Whitty

Prof Whitty says "the idea that there is some perfect time to act is a complete misapprehension".
He says "all the solutions are bad" and the government is trying to go with "the least bad set of solutions".
He adds: "Let us see how this goes over the next few weeks."


Reality Check

What’s the risk of spreading coronavirus at university?

Unlike the March lockdown, universities will not be required to close during this new period of tougher restrictions.
On 21 September, government advisory group Sage recommended that all university teaching should be moved online unless absolutely essential. The group has suggested closing universities would have a “moderate impact” on transmission, as the high level of close contact students have at university – through shared halls, socialising and during lectures – makes outbreaks very likely.
This has proved to be the case; within weeks of students returning to university, about 40 universities had reports of coronavirus, with thousands of students having to self-isolate. Many universities have been switching tuition online.
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 19:46

'Want to avoid downsides' of shielding - Whitty

Prof Whitty says those who were shielding - just over two million people - still need to take extra precautions.
However, he explains that the government does not want to "reproduce" the shielding programme from the spring.
"There were both some practical problems and there was also the issue of people having significant problems with loneliness and feeling completely cut off from society," he says.
He says the government wants to "avoid those downsides".

Premier League to continue under lockdown

Asked about the Premier League, the prime minister says football will continue.
Giving a big thumbs up, Mr Johnson says: "Yes to the Premier League".
Matches are currently taking place but with strict rules for players and no live audiences.
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 19:52

Analysis: The light-touch approach has not worked

Pallab Ghosh - Science correspondent, BBC News
The government was advised to bring in a form of lockdown in England by its scientific advisory group on 21 September.
Instead, it opted first for 22:00 GMT closing of pubs and restaurants. This was followed a few weeks later by its tier system where the greatest restrictions would be placed in the worst-hit areas.
Purely from a public health point of view, bringing in a lockdown when the experts advised it would have been the sensible thing to do. It would have been shorter, brought cases down more quickly and given the test-and-trace system a chance to catch up with the rise in cases.
But minsters had to consider the economic impact as well as the politics. They had hoped their light-touch approach might have been enough to control the spread of the virus while preserving jobs and businesses.
Many scientists on the scientific advisory group were deeply sceptical at the time that this would work. All of them appreciate the difficult decisions ministers are faced with and none of them take any satisfaction from having been proved right.
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Post by Kitkat on Sat Oct 31 2020, 21:58

Furlough extended weeks after Manchester stand-off

Reality Check
Hours before it was due to end, the furlough scheme has been extended.
About 10 million jobs have already been subsidised by the scheme - which pays up to 80% of the wages of people who can’t work due to coronavirus.
It was about to be replaced by the Job Support Scheme (JSS), which offered varying levels of support depending on whether businesses could still stay open.
The government faced a stand-off with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham over the introduction of tier three “very high” coronavirus measures in the city, rejecting his demands for a return to the 80% furlough payment.
Just weeks later, the scheme has been extended across the whole of the country.
In recent months, employers have had to pay toward the scheme but will now only pay pension and national insurance contributions.

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 03:47