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COVID-19: All the latest LIVE worldwide updates - today's updates are also on our Portal page, here)

Coronavirus - 10th March 2021

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 09:53

Summary for Wednesday, 10th March

  • MPs say NHS Test and Trace appears to have failed to achieve its stated aim of preventing lockdowns in England
  • The Public Accounts Committee said its £37bn budget was "unimaginable" and warned the taxpayer could not be treated like an "ATM machine"
  • But the government says the system is helping to reduce Covid-19 infection rates
  • A fresh row has broken out between the UK and the EU over exporting vaccines made in Great Britain
  • European Council President Charles Michel wrongly claimed the UK had an "outright ban" on exports of jabs
  • Health systems in most of Brazil's largest cities are close to collapse due to Covid-19 cases, a report warns
  • Globally, there have now been more than 117 million recorded cases of Covid-19, and 2.6 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University
  • A further 231 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, and there were 5,766 new infections recorded in the last 24 hours

Hello and welcome to our live coronavirus coverage today. We’ll be bringing you all the latest updates as they happen.

What's happening in the UK and around the world?

Thank you for joining us. Here's a look at what's happening around the world today:

  • A committee of MPs has criticised England’s coronavirus test-and-trace system for having “no clear impact” despite a £37bn budget
  • A fresh row has broken out between the UK and the EU after the bloc's most senior official wrongly claimed the UK had banned all Covid-19 vaccine exports
  • Health systems in most of Brazil's largest cities are close to collapse due to Covid-19 cases, a report by the country's Fiocruz institute warns
  • Global cases rose above 117 million with 2.6 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University
  • UK ministers asked to justify ‘staggering’ £20bn test and trace system cost . There is no evidence to show that the government’s £22bn test-and-trace programme to combat Covid-19 in England contributed to a reduction in coronavirus infection levels, parliament’s spending watchdog has concluded.
  • Overseas fans face ban from Tokyo Olympics, reports news agency . Japan’s government has decided to stage the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators because of fears among the population over the potential spread of Covid-19, the Kyodo news agency has reported, citing officials with knowledge of the matter.
  • Nancy Pelosi hailed a ‘historic’ Covid relief bill as House prepares to vote . The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi , has hailed the massive $1.9tn Covid relief bill as “historic” and “transformative” as the House stood poised to give the legislation final approval with a vote on Wednesday morning.
  • Big Indian state scaled down vaccinations, citing shortage. The Indian state of Rajasthan said on Tuesday it had started limiting Covid vaccinations to its major hospitals due to a shortage of doses, despite an assurance from the federal government that supplies were adequate.
  • Brazil suffered record deaths. Brazil registered 1,972 new Covid deaths in a single day on Tuesday, a national record, according to the health ministry. The country had 70,764 new cases of coronavirus, reaching a total of 11.12 million infections. Brazil had 168,370 coronavirus deaths.
  • Palestinian intensive care units at 100% capacity. Palestinian hospitals are overfull and intensive-care units operating at 100% capacity with coronavirus patients in some areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has said.
  • San Francisco Uber driver assaulted after passenger allegedly refuses to wear mask . An attack on a San Francisco Uber driver over the weekend by a passenger who allegedly refused to wear a face mask has drawn outrage after video of the incident emerged on Tuesday.
  • J&J ‘under stress’ to meet EU 2nd-quarter vaccine supply goal – Reuters source. Johnson & Johnson has told the European Union it is facing supply issues that may complicate plans to deliver 55m doses of its Covid vaccine to the bloc in the second quarter of the year, an EU official told Reuters.


Europe latest: Czech MP dies and hospitals under pressure


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Some Czech patients are now being treated in neighbouring countries such as Poland


  • A paediatric neurosurgeon has become the first Czech MP to succumb to coronavirus in the Czech Republic. Jiri Ventruba, 71, set up a specialist centre at Brno children’s hospital after working in the US. The surge in cases has prompted the Czech Republic to ask hospitals in neighbouring countries to take in some of its patients.
  • The situation in Hungary is “very serious” according to surgeon general Cecilia Muller, who says hospitals there are coming under increasing strain because of coronavirus.
  • Greece has seen a big rise in cases and that’s affecting hospitals in the Attica area around Athens. Two private hospitals in the region will start taking patients from tomorrow.
  • Hospitals in parts of Italy have come under pressure too, with infection numbers almost reaching 20,000 in the past 24 hours. The mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, says the situation in the area’s hospitals is “very complicated”.
  • Germany’s infection rate is down slightly over the past week to 65.4 cases per 100,000 people. Vaccine take-up is still slow so now the head of Germany’s health insurance scheme Andreas Gassen wants the network of 100,000 family doctors’ practices to spearhead a national campaign. He believes five million doses a week could be given and everyone could have a first dose by mid-June.
  • The Bosnian capital Sarajevo will be locked down this weekend for the first time since last May. Almost all businesses will be closed and travel in and out of the region will be restricted. Sarajevo Canton will be restricted. Bosnia reported a record 48 Covid-related deaths yesterday.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 10:20

Hospitals in Brazilian cities 'close to collapse'

Health systems in most of Brazil's largest cities are close to collapse due to Covid-19 cases, a report by the country's Fiocruz institute warns.
The Rio de Janeiro-based institute said more than 80% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds are occupied in the capitals of 25 of Brazil's 27 states.
On Tuesday the country recorded 1,972 Covid deaths, a new daily record.
Brazil has recorded more than 266,000 deaths and 11 million cases since the pandemic began.

It's normal to feel a bit unwell after Covid vaccine, say medics

Some people will feel unwell after their Covid vaccine - but that is entirely normal and to be expected, doctors say.
More than one-in-10 people may feel after-effects, including having a headache, tiredness and tenderness where the injection was given.
But people must not be deterred from having the vaccine, which saves lives, the Royal College of GPs says.
Read more here .

Measures to ease lockdown are 'very big steps', scientist warns

Opening schools, then reopening shops and relaxing social rules are "very big steps" and "we don't really understand what impact they will have on transmission", a government science adviser has said.
Speaking in a personal capacity, Prof Andrew Haywood told Times Radio there are "very sizeable numbers of people" who are "vulnerable to ending up in hospital and dying".
He added: "And that's still going to be the case for a while. Although the vaccines clearly take the extreme out of that, and will stop us getting hundreds of thousands of cases, there's still possibilities for us to get tens of thousands of hospitalisations and very many deaths if we relax too quickly."
England's schools reopened to all pupils on Monday, while UK nations plan a gradual return in the coming weeks .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 10:27

Poland reports highest daily cases since November

Adam Easton - Warsaw Correspondent
Poland reported 17,260 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the highest since 22 November.
Health ministry officials say the third wave to hit the country is gathering momentum and expressed concern about the acceleration of both new cases and the number of people hospitalised.
A spokesman said that 1,500 additional hospital beds will be made available for Covid-19 patients in the coming days as temporary hospitals created during the second wave expand their bed capacity.
The ministry also reported 398 virus-related deaths on Wednesday. The number of new cases was up 10% from last Wednesday and the number of new deaths rose by 29%.
Shopping centres, hotels, cinemas and sporting facilities have been - or are being - closed in the two northern provinces with the highest rate of new cases.
Poland has reported a total of 1,828,313 cases and 45,997 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

Brazil sees record deaths

Brazil registered 1,972 new Covid deaths in a single day on Tuesday, a national record, according to the Health Ministry.
The country had 70,764 new cases of coronavirus, reaching a total of 11.12 million infections. Brazil had 168,370 coronavirus deaths.
Rio de Janeiro-based research institute Fiocruz said in a report on Tuesday that more than 80% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds are occupied in the capitals of 25 of Brazil’s 27 states. In 15 of Brazil’s largest cities, 90% of ICU beds occupied.
The institute said a growing number of cities risk a collapse of their health systems.

Palestinian intensive care units at 100% capacity

Palestinian hospitals are overfull and intensive-care units operating at 100% capacity with coronavirus patients in some areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has said.
Reuters reports:
 :Left Quotes: Palestinian cities have introduced full lockdowns over the last two weeks to control soaring COVID-19 infections, even as neighbouring Israel has begun to lift restrictions as it proceeds with one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns.
“The percentage of hospital occupancy in some areas has reached more than 100%,” Shtayyeh said in Ramallah, one of the West Bank cities where his Palestinian Authority (PA) exercises limited self-rule. “The number of casualties is increasing and the number of deaths is increasing on a daily basis, forcing us to take strict, direct and unprecedented measures.”
The West Bank and Gaza, home to a combined 5.2 million Palestinians, have received around 34,700 vaccine doses to date. These came from small donations by Israel and Russia as well as 20,000 sent by the United Arab Emirates to Gaza. Meanwhile in Israel, restaurants reopened on Sunday as the country kept up a fast pace of mass vaccinations.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 10:35

San Francisco Uber driver assaulted after passenger allegedly refuses to wear mask

Abené Clayton - The Guardian
An attack on a San Francisco Uber driver over the weekend by a passenger who allegedly refused to wear a face mask has drawn outrage after video of the incident emerged on Tuesday.
The incident occurred on Sunday in the city after the driver, Subhakar Khadka, picked up three women. In a 43 second video clip shot by Khadka and posted to Twitter by local news outlets, an unmasked woman in the back of the car is seen coughing into Khadka’s face and screaming at him. Seconds later the woman snatches Khadka’s cell phone out of his hand and plucks his mask from his face. She and another passenger continue to yell at the driver and threaten to beat him up. Khadka claims he then got out of the car before being pepper sprayed by one of the passengers

Papua New Guinea forced to wait for vaccines as coronavirus crisis spirals out of control

Papua New Guinea will not get its first Covid-19 vaccines until next month at the earliest, despite an uncontrolled coronavirus outbreak spiralling across the country, hospitals shutting their doors to patients , and an already vulnerable healthcare system on the verge of collapse.
At Port Moresby’s general hospital, 40% of mothers admitted to the labour ward were reported to have tested positive for Covid-19, but could not be separated from other mothers because there is no isolation labour ward for them.
Read more here

Bulgaria reports highest Covid-19 rates in three months

Bulgaria has reported 3,502 new Covid-19 cases, its highest daily tally in three months, Reuters reports.
The government data shows the number of deaths also increased to 132.
The Balkan country, which has already banned non-urgent operations in hospitals in many cities, said regional health authorities could close schools, shopping malls and gyms and restaurants to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 10:45

Mauritius goes into lockdown

Mauritius has started a two-week nationwide lockdown following 14 local Covid cases, AFP reports.
The new lockdown is the second time the Indian Ocean archipelago nation has imposed coronavirus restrictions.
Prime minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth said:
:Left Quotes: We had no other choice but total containment in order to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the population.”
Only essential services will be operational from Wednesday, including the port, airport, hospital services and emergency relief. As of Thursday, supermarkets, bakeries, petrol stations and pharmacies will be accessible on an alphabetical rotation basis.

Russia reports 9,079 new cases

Russia has reported 9,079 new Covid-19 cases, including 1,116 in Moscow, taking the national infection tally to 4,351,553 since the pandemic began, Reuters reports
The government coronavirus taskforce said that 466 people had died in past 24 hours, pushing its death toll to 90,275.

60% of Ukrainians don't want to get vaccinated

Ukrainians are increasing opposed to receiving the Covid-19 vaccination despite infections rising sharply, Associated Press reports.
An opinion poll released earlier this month by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology found 60% of the country’s population don’t want to get vaccinated, up from 40% a month earlier. There is particular reluctance among medical workers.
:Left Quotes: The resistance appears to be rooted in longstanding suspicion of vaccines dating back to the Soviet era, amplified by politicians’ allegations about low-quality vaccines, corruption scandals and misinformation spread through social media.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 12:17

Kent variant up to twice as deadly as previous variants, study suggests

The coronavirus variant first discovered in Kent may be up to twice as deadly as previous variants, new research suggests.
The more infectious variant, which swept across the UK at the end of last year before spreading across the world, is between 30% and 100% more deadly, a new study has found.
Epidemiologists from the Universities of Exeter and Bristol said the data suggested the variant was associated with a significantly higher mortality rate among adults diagnosed in the community, compared with previously circulating variants.
Robert Challen, from the University of Exeter, lead author of the study, said: "In the community, death from Covid-19 is still a rare event, but the B117 variant raises the risk.
"Coupled with its ability to spread rapidly, this makes B117 a threat that should be taken seriously."
Researchers looked at death rates among people infected with the new variant and those infected with other variants.
When the discovery of the Kent variant was first announced in December last year, officials said there was no evidence to suggest it caused a higher mortality rate.
In January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to early research suggesting the variant was in fact associated with greater mortality - but this was then downplayed by scientists .

Pakistan launches Covid vaccination drive

Pakistan has launched a Covid vaccination for the general public, starting with older people, as it grapples with a high degree of vaccination hesitancy.
The drive will begin with a focus on the oldest people in the community, generally over the age of 80, health minister Faisal Sultan confirmed.
According to a survey last week, nearly half of healthcare staff had concerns over China’s Sinopharm vaccine - the only one available in the country of 220 million.
The poll of 555 medical workers found that meany healthcare staff would prefer other vaccines.
Pakistan distributed 504,400 Sinopharm vaccine doses to provincial authorities by 20 February, and 230,000 frontline health workers had received a shot by Friday, Sultan said.
Pakistan, which has recorded 595,239 Covid cases and more than 13,000 deaths, has not secured any supplies from vaccine manufacturers.
It is largely depending on the GAVI/WHO Covax initiative for poorer nations and donations from China, Reuters reports.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 15:27

Too early to book a foreign holiday, transport secretary says

It is still too early to book foreign summer holidays, the transport secretary has said, despite countries saying they hope to welcome vaccinated British tourists from May.
Grant Shapps says there are "lots of questions" to answer about "how safe it will be in June to travel".
People in England could be allowed to go on holiday abroad from 17 May at the earliest, according to current plans.
Greece, Cyprus and Portugal are among the countries keen to welcome UK visitors from May .
Shapps told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We have said it will remain illegal to travel internationally until at least 17 May - that's an at-the-earliest date."
He says people should look towards 12 April, when he will publish a global travel taskforce report, and says the government is weighing up the UK and other countries' vaccination rollout.
What are your rights if you book a summer holiday?

Results of review of restrictions in Wales to be set out on Friday

While PMQs has been under way in England, the Welsh government received an update on the pandemic from Health Minister Vaughan Gething.
Here are the main points from his briefing, and you can find more detail here.

  • The Welsh government is concerned about the Kent variant of coronavirus and will be “careful” about any relaxation of restrictions, Gething says
  • But the situation in Wales is continuing to improve and the first minister will set out the results of the current restrictions review on Friday
  • An extra £60m is being pumped into expanding the Covid contact tracing system in Wales which has been extended until September
  • The team of 2,000 contract tracers and advisers have reached 99.6% of people who have tested positive for coronavirus since June, Gething says
  • "They have also successfully reached 95% of their close contacts and advised them about self-isolating," he says.
  • Local testing will be taking place in areas of Wales which have had high rates of community transmission, starting in parts of Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 15:39

Thailand's PM sprays sanitiser on reporters

Thailand's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, surprised journalists at a recent news conference when he started spraying them with sanitiser to avoid answering questions about a cabinet reshuffle.
The retired army general has been in power since a 2014 military coup, and has a history of acting controversially at press events.
In the past he was caught on camera patting a reporter's head and tugging his ear , and once brought out a life-sized cardboard cut-out of himself to "answer" questions.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 15:42

What's happening in the UK today?

It's lunchtime in the UK, so let's look at some of the top stories we've been covering today:

  • MPs have criticised NHS Test and Trace, saying despite its £37bn budget, it appears to have failed to prevent lockdowns in England
  • But Boris Johnson says the programme helped to reopen schools
  • The PM has also defended the proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff, adding that the government had already boosted nurses' starting pay
  • Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged Johnson to give MPs a vote on NHS pay in England
  • The PM has "corrected" European Council President Charles Michel over his claim that the UK had imposed a "outright ban" on the export of Covid-19 vaccines
  • And the transport secretary says it is still to early to book foreign summer holiday, as there are still lots of questions around travel in June - despite countries saying they hope to welcome vaccinated British tourists from May


UK hasn't banned vaccine exports, PM says

Boris Johnson says he has "corrected" European Council President Charles Michel over claims the UK had imposed an "outright ban" on the export of Covid-19 vaccines.
The UK prime minister says he is against "vaccine nationalism in all its forms" and denies the country has blocked the sale of a "single vaccine or its components".
Michel says his claim is based on "facts", while an EU official has been summoned to the Foreign Office to explain the remarks.
It comes at a time when European leaders are under pressure over the slow distribution of jabs, while in the UK 22.5 million people have now received their first jab.

Which areas are being tested for new variants?

Mass testing is taking place in the UK to stop the spread of new, more infectious variants of Covid-19.
The Brazil and South Africa variants, along with a new mutation of the Kent variant, are those being targeted by surge testing.
This involves over-16s being asked to take tests whether or not they have symptoms within certain postcodes.
Parts of south Gloucestershire, London and Staffordshire are among the areas where testing is taking place.
For the full list of postcodes affected read our guide here .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 15:46

What's happening around the world today?

Here are some of the top coronavirus stories we've been covering from around the world today:

  • Brazil's hospitals are "close to collapse", with more than 80% of intensive care unit beds occupied in most state capitals, according to its leading health institute
  • In Central Europe, the number of patients in intensive care has reached a new high
  • The Czech Republic has had to start sending patients to Poland for treatment, because its facilities are struggling to cope
  • Poland has recorded its highest number of cases since late November, with 17,260 new infections
  • Hungary's current wave has surpassed it's previous peak in December. It has one of the highest recent fatality rates in the world
  • But China has not reported any symptomatic Covid-19 cases for more than two weeks, and has discharged all of its remaining asymptomatic patients. The only "silent carriers" now in quarantine are people who have arrived from overseas


Heathrow border queues at 'unacceptable level'

Heathrow Airport is regularly seeing queues of three hours and sometimes six hours at border control since the pandemic began, according to its chief operating officer.
Emma Gilthorpe told the home affairs select committee that pre-Covid, the queues for EU arrivals were supposed to be 25 minutes, and 45 minutes for non-EU arrivals.
While she says she expected the length of waiting to go up during the pandemic, Gilthorpe says the levels the airport is currently seeing were "unacceptable".
Earlier this month, passengers complained of waits up to seven hours.
Unions representing Border Force officials said part of the issue was caused by Covid restrictions requiring immigration officials to only work in a bubble of 10.
They said this prevents more staff being deployed if the border is particularly busy.
We've got the full story here.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 15:50

Mutations that make virus deadlier show danger ahead - scientist

Mutations that make coronavirus more transmissible and more deadly highlight "how dangerous this virus could potentially be" in the future, a leading data scientist has said.
Dr Leon Danon told BBC Radio 4's World at One new research suggested the virus variant first found in Kent was up to twice as deadly as the previous variants in circulation (see post at 11:44).
He cautioned that the overall risk of death for those who catch the virus remains relatively low - perhaps less than half a percent for those with the Kent variant.
But he said a central estimate suggested the Kent variant was 64% more deadly when cases were compared like-for-like with another common variant.
Danon said the effort now should be on reducing infections to avoid further mutations.
"The only way it is going to be able to mutate is if it is able to go between people," he said. "We really need to be working hard to keep the rate of infections low."

'Stay-local' rules likely to vary across Wales


Coronavirus - 10th March 2021 E6529210

Any guidance advising people in Wales to "stay-local" as lockdown is eased is likely to differ depending on where people live, the health minister has said.
Vaughan Gething suggested people living in rural areas might be able to travel further to access facilities easily available to people in urban areas.
He says there could be a "few weeks" of stay-local guidance.
Last year, a stay-local rule was in place as the strict lockdown was eased, with guidance - rather than law - that people should stay within five miles of home.
This led to some people arguing it discriminated against people living in rural areas who needed to travel further, for example to see family members.
Ministers have previously pointed to an opening of holiday accommodation for the Easter period, which Gething acknowledged would not be feasible if a stay-local policy was in place.
Here's more on the stay-local guidance.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 19:26

Breaking News

UK records a further 190 coronavirus deaths

A further 190 deaths of people who had tested positive for coronavirus within the previous 28 days have been recorded in the UK, the government's daily figures show.
This takes the total number of deaths using that measure to 124,987.
There were also 5,926 positive cases recorded in the last 24 hours.
This is down from last Wednesday when there were 315 deaths and 6,385 positive cases reported.

Covid wave intensifies in Central Europe

The number of patients in intensive care has reached a new high in the Czech Republic, as several Central European countries struggle with a new wave of the virus.
Czech authorities have started to send patients to Poland for treatment, as its facilities struggled to cope.
In Hungary the number of cases in the current wave has surpassed the previous peak in December and it has one of the highest recent fatality rates in the world.
Cases are also on the rise in Poland, where the government recorded the highest number of daily cases since late November on Wednesday, with 17,260 new infections.
The EU has been widely criticised for the slow pace of immunisations, and initial delays were partially blamed on Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca failing to supply doses to member states.
Read more here .

Government extends ban on evictions in England

Businesses struggling to pay rent as normal due to the pandemic have received a boost in support after the government extended a ban on commercial evictions in England until 30 June.
Affected premises, including hospitality venues that cannot trade fully until at least 17 May in England, will be given "breathing space" to prepare to reopen, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said.
Residential tenants facing hardship will see a ban on evictions in England extended until at least 31 May, the housing secretary said as part of the same announcement.
Robert Jenrick confirmed a requirement for landlords to provide six-month notice periods to tenants before they are evicted will also be extended until at least 31 May.
Residential evictions were banned in most circumstances at the start of the first pandemic lockdown last March until September when courts began to clear a backlog, beginning with the most serious cases.
Mr Jenrick called a so-called "Christmas truce", meaning bailiffs were not allowed to enforce possession orders between 11 December and 11 January, before a ban was re-introduced for the current lockdown.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 19:31

Covid in Brazil: What's happening?

Smitha Mundasad - Health reporter

Coronavirus - 10th March 2021 81189e10

Scientists are concerned that Brazil has almost become a "natural laboratory" - where people can see what happens when coronavirus goes relatively unchecked.
Some warn the country is now a breeding ground for new variants of the virus, unhindered by effective social distancing and fuelled by vaccine shortages.
That's because the longer a virus circulates in a country, the more chances it has to mutate - in this case giving rise to the P1 variant.
Scientists say it is partly the spread of P1 around Brazil that is behind the current devastating upsurge in infections.
Read more here .

Train turned into Covid testing station for rail staff


Coronavirus - 10th March 2021 Deccfe10
Team leader Jeremy Moss carries out a swab test on himself

A passenger train has been converted into a rapid lateral flow Covid-19 testing station for railway staff.
The Southern Class 313 Coastway train stationed at platform 8 of Brighton station will be used with two other bases to test up to 1,250 workers for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which operates Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express.
Mark Whitley, GTR head of safety and health, says: "It will help prevent workplace outbreaks and, along with regular sanitising, give our staff and passengers added reassurance."
Brad Lade, an onboard supervisor with Southern who has volunteered as one of the team of 15 testers, says: "I wanted to do something which will benefit people, to give them and my family peace of mind that my colleagues and I are Covid-free."
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 19:35

Daily calls to check on those in home quarantine

People quarantining at home after travelling into the UK could face daily calls to check they are following the rules, MPs were told.
They're currently phoned up to three times over a three-day period until they answer the phone and confirm they understand the 10-day isolation rules and are abiding by them.
Sitel UK carries out the checks on those isolating at home, not those in hotel quarantine after visiting from a "red list" country.
The company's director of businesses development, Ian Conduit, told the Commons Home Affairs Committee he was in discussions with the government "about contacting everybody for every day of their isolation and we are just waiting for that policy to be defined so, effectively, if it is agreed, (we can) roll that out".
Conduit says the firm deals on average with up to 20,000 contacts a day and this could be expanded if needed.
If someone fails to answer after three attempts, or there is concern they may not be sticking to the rules, the details are passed to Public Health England and the Home Office for further investigation, while cases are "immediately escalated" if someone says they are not following the rules.

South Africa variant: London borough to get extra testing

Extra testing will be carried out in parts of Wandsworth, south-west London, after cases of a coronavirus variant of concern were identified.
The variant first identified in South Africa - like the one found in Brazil - is not considered to be more dangerous than other strains.
However, there are concerns it could spread more easily and be more resistant to the vaccine.

Additional testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed within the SW11 and SW15 postcodes to help stop the spread of cases of the South Africa variant, the Department of Health said.
Enhanced contact tracing will be used for anyone who is found to have the variant.
Everyone living in the targeted areas are being strongly encouraged to take a Covid test when offered, whether or not they are showing symptoms.
Surge testing for the South African variant was first rolled out at the beginning of February, after cases with no links to travel were detected.
At that stage, about 80,000 people in parts of Surrey, London, Kent, Hertfordshire, Southport and Walsall were asked to take tests, regardless of symptoms.
Although our explainer doesn't reflect the latest news on Wandsworth, it does show you the other areas in the UK that are getting surge testing at the moment, and why.
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Mar 10 2021, 19:39

What happened today?

We will soon be bringing our coronavirus live page to a pause for the day, but before we do here's a look at some of the stories we've been talking about:

  • MPs have criticised NHS Test and Trace, saying despite its £37bn budget, it appears to have failed to prevent lockdowns in England
  • But Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the programme, saying it was enabling the economy to reopen and was allowing people to "restart their lives"
  • Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer called for MPs to have a vote on NHS pay in England after the PM defended a proposed 1% rise
  • The PM "corrected" European Council President Charles Michel over his claim that the UK had imposed a "outright ban" on the export of Covid-19 vaccines
  • The transport secretary said it was still to early to book foreign summer holidays.  Meanwhile, those quarantining at home after arriving in the UK could face daily calls to check they're sticking to the rules
  • And hours of border control queues at Heathrow Airport caused by Covid restrictions are unacceptable , says its chief operating officer
  • In Central Europe the number of patients in intensive care has reached a new high
  • And in Brazil, hospitals are "close to collapse", with more than 80% of intensive care unit beds occupied in most state capitals, according to its leading health institute


That's it from us for today

That's all from the coronavirus live page for today - we will be back with more updates tomorrow.

The writers were Alice Evans, Doug Faulkner, George Bowden and Jennifer Meierhans.
The page was edited by Lauren Turner and Alex Therrien.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 13:58