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Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Oct 2020

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Sturgeon unveils five-level Covid lockdown rules for Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled a five-level system for restricting people’s movements and limiting physical contact as part of new measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. The system includes a top level that is tougher than the highest of England’s three tiers, which Sturgeon said would be closer to the lockdown imposed across the UK in late March. It would involve the closure of all non-essential shops, bars, restaurants and leisure venues; strict controls on travelling and using public transport; and potentially a “stay at home” message similar to that coming into force in Wales on Friday evening.
25th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Italy set to introduce its harshest pandemic restrictions since May

The governments of Italy and Spain, the European countries hardest hit by the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, announced sweeping measures on Sunday to combat a surge in the number of new cases. Italy said it would introduce the harshest public health restrictions since the end of its first national lockdown in May as new coronavirus cases hit a fresh daily record. Spain announced a nationwide curfew and triggered emergency powers after the country’s infection rate jumped by almost a third over the past week.
25th Oct 2020 - Financial Times

Spain's government to decree COVID-19 state of emergency, tighten controls: local media

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced a new state of emergency on Sunday in an effort to curb soaring coronavirus infections, imposing local nighttime curfews and banning travel between regions in some cases. The measures go into force from Sunday night and will require all regions except the Canary Islands to impose a nighttime curfew and limit the number of people allowed to meet to six. “We are living in an extreme situation ... it is the most serious health crisis in the last century,” he told a news conference following a cabinet meeting. Catalonia was one of the first regions on Sunday to use the new legislation to impose a curfew, which will take effect at 10 p.m. Establishments open to the public will have to close at 9 p.m.
25th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Europe suffers record case numbers as France's Macron warns crisis may last until summer

European countries are reporting record numbers of Covid-19 cases as the continent prepares for the pandemic to intensify through winter. Those affected include Europe's political class. Polish President Andrzej Duda tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday, according to a tweet from Presidential Minister Blazej Spychalski Saturday. Duda said that he was feeling well, was asymptomatic and would continue working in isolation. "As you can see, I am full of strength. I hope it will stay this way. However, the fact is that I must isolate. Together with my wife, we abide by the rules of isolation in an iron manner," he said in a video posted on Twitter on Saturday.
25th Oct 2020 - CNN

Brazil's health regulator allows the import of six million doses of a coronavirus vaccine from China

Brazil's health regulator has authorized the import from China of a potential vaccine against the coronavirus, just days after President Jair Bolsonaro insisted he wouldn't allow doses to be shipped from the Asian nation. The health regulator, Anvisa, said in a statement on Friday that Sao Paulo state's Butantan Institute can import 6 million doses of the CoronaVac shot that Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac is developing. The potential vaccine cannot be administered to Brazilians as it isn't yet approved locally, the statement said.
25th Oct 2020 - MercoPress

Peru rejects AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine purchase deal

The Peruvian government said on Thursday that it refused to sign a coronavirus vaccine purchase agreement with AstraZeneca PLC because it did not provide sufficient data from its studies and offered minimal amounts of inoculations. Prime Minister Walter Martos said in a news conference that the government had asked AstraZeneca for data from its vaccine studies, but that the firm had not sent the information.
25th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

5 takeaways from the FDA's closely watched coronavirus vaccine meeting

The U.S. government's most detailed airing of its plans for approval, production and distribution of coronavirus vaccines came Thursday at a marathon meeting of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee. Independent experts convened by the FDA debated whether the agency has set an appropriate bar for approving experimental shots, and how research should continue following any emergency clearance that might be granted in the coming months. Presentations by officials from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, meanwhile, shed important light on lingering questions about how mass immunization programs will be rolled out. Addressing distribution hurdles and likely vaccine hesitancy among certain groups were a particular focus.
25th Oct 2020 - BioPharma Dive

Malaysia’s king rejects PM’s push for COVID emergency rule

Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah has rejected a request by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for him to declare a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis, saying he did not see the need. The king’s move on Sunday is a significant setback for Muhyiddin, who is facing a leadership challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and infighting within his governing coalition.
25th Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Poland adopts nationwide 'red zone' lockdown

Poland's prime minister said on Friday that "red zone" measures including the partial closure of primary schools and restaurants would be adopted nationwide in the face of a record spike in coronavirus infections
24th Oct 2020 - Times of India

France passes 1 million coronavirus cases

The number of coronavirus infections in France has passed 1 million, making it the second European country after Spain to reach that figure as Europe battles a resurgence of the pandemic. The French health ministry announced on Friday that the daily tally of new infections was more than 42,000, bringing the country's cumulative total to over 1 million. The government introduced a night-time curfew in Paris and other parts of the country last week in response to the recent spike in cases. President Emmanuel Macron said the impact of the measures will begin to show next week. He said it's too early to say whether France will go into a second full lockdown.
24th Oct 2020 - NHK WORLD

U.S. sees daily record of nearly 80000 new COVID-19 cases

A record of nearly 80,000 new COVID-19 infections over the course of a day were reported in the United States on Friday, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Between 8:30 p.m. Thursday and the same time Friday, 79,963 infections were recorded, bringing the total number since the start of the pandemic to nearly 8.5 million in the country. The United States had already approached the bar of 80,000 daily cases in July, largely due to new infections in southern states such as Texas and Florida, where the virus was then spreading out of control. The worst current outbreaks are in the north and Midwest, and some 35 of the 50 states are seeing an increase in case numbers.
24th Oct 2020 - The Japan Times

Two-thirds of France in lockdown as coronavirus curfews extended

Around two-thirds of France’s population has been placed under lockdown as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic hits Europe. France’s prime minister, Jean Castex, announced last week that a curfew imposed on Paris and eight other cities would be extended to 38 more departments. It confines 46 million of the country’s 67 million people to their homes from 9pm to 6am. "A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is now under way in France and Europe. The situation is very serious," Mr Castex said at a news conference.
24th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Spain holds off on curfews, but struggles to contain COVID-19

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez exhorted Spaniards on Friday to further limit social contact to combat Europe’s worst COVID-19 hotspot, but he stopped short of announcing new measures amid political disputes over potential curfews. Quarrelling between the Socialist-led government and mostly conservative regions - and also among regions themselves - has hampered the response to the pandemic for months, exasperating citizens and fostering uncertainty. With total cases soaring this week to over a million, the health minister said the pandemic was out of control and recommended curfews, which several European countries with fewer COVID-19 cases have already implemented in the past days.
24th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Italy's Campania region set for COVID lockdown, urges national curbs

Italy’s Campania region, based on the southern city of Naples, said on Friday it was set to impose a lockdown to stamp out a surge in coronavirus and urged the national government to follow suit. Daily infections have risen six-fold across Italy since the start of the month, hitting a record 16,079 on Thursday, raising fears that the pandemic is racing out of control in a country which already has one of the highest death tolls in the world.
24th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Britain records 23,012 new COVID cases on Saturday, up from Friday

Britain recorded 23,012 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, up from 20,530 on Friday, government data showed. There were 174 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, down from 224 on Friday.
24th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Czech PM tells health minister to quit after lockdown violation

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis moved to sack his health minister on Friday for holding a meeting in a restaurant closed under government restrictions as the country combats Europe’s fastest spread of the novel coronavirus. Health Minister Roman Prymula rejected calls to resign, including from Babis and his junior coalition partner, and said the meeting with two other officials took place in a private room and no regulations were broken. The Blesk newspaper published pictures of Prymula leaving a restaurant late at night and entering a car without a face mask, apparent violations of rules that closed restaurants and require wearing masks in most places, including chaffered cars.
24th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Italy COVID cases hit new record, street protest in Naples over lockdown threat

Italy’s Campania region, based on the southern city of Naples, said on Friday it would impose a lockdown to tame the coronavirus and urged the whole country to follow suit as new infections hit a record high.
24th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

US COVID-19 deaths could hit 500,000 by February, researchers say

The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States could exceed 500,000 by February unless nearly all Americans wear face masks, researchers said on Friday, as the country set a new single-day record for new cases. The latest estimate by the widely cited University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflects concern that cold winter weather will drive Americans indoors, where the coronavirus spreads more easily, particularly in confined, poorly-ventilated spaces.
24th Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Brazil will import Chinese-produced coronavirus vaccine Sinovac for trials

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said last week China lacked the creditability to develop a cure for the coronavirus. Whoops. Now a Sao Paulo research centre, partnered with China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, was granted “exceptional” permission to bring six million doses fo the COVID-19 drug into the country for phase three trials.
24th Oct 2020 - ForexLive

As it hits one million coronavirus cases, Colombia prepares for vaccine

In a warehouse near Bogota’s airport, behind a heavy cold storage door, sit boxes upon boxes of lifesaving vaccines for everything from yellow fever to polio, awaiting transport to the furthest reaches of Colombia.The tall shelves, kept at a chill 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit), are half-empty - leaving plenty of room for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. Colombia surpassed 1 million infections on Saturday afternoon, becoming the eighth country globally to do so, tallying 1,007,711 confirmed infections and 30,000 deaths. As scientists around the world race to find a coronavirus inoculation, Colombia says it is ready to distribute any vaccine which proves effective.
24th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Vaccine developers call on FDA to offer clarity on COVID-19 trials

Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) have asked the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide clarity over retaining and attracting participants for COVID-19 vaccine trials after a vaccine becomes available to the public. The comments were made in letters sent before an FDA advisory committee met yesterday to discuss issues relating to the development and authorisation of potential COVID-19 vaccines. J&J urged the FDA committee to discuss the potential challenges of continuing trial enrolment in large-scale studies after the vaccines receive approval.
24th Oct 2020 - PMLiVE

HHS Release Redacted Moderna COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine Contract : Shots - Health News

Even as the companies enlisted by the government's Operation Warp Speed project to develop COVID-19 vaccines say they're making quick progress, details of their lucrative federal contracts have been slow to emerge. But late Friday the Department of Health and Human Services released its August contract with Moderna. When announcing the deal, HHS said it was worth $1.5 billion and would secure the first 100 million doses of the company's vaccine and the option to buy up to 400 million more. Overall, there is a lack of disclosure around the terms of the federal contracts with companies involved in the crash program to make COVID-19 vaccines. Most of the contracts haven't been released.
24th Oct 2020 - NPR

Trudeau announces $214M for Canadian coronavirus vaccine research

The federal government says it’s spending $214 million to support “made in Canada” coronavirus vaccine research. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that $173 million would go to Quebec-based Medicago, while Vancouver’s Precision NanoSystems would receive $18.2 million for development and testing. “This is about securing potential vaccines for Canadians while supporting good jobs in research,” he told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa.
23rd Oct 2020 - Global News

The Trump Administration Shut a Vaccine Safety Office Last Year. What’s the Plan Now?

As the first coronavirus vaccines arrive in the coming year, government researchers will face a monumental challenge: monitoring the health of hundreds of millions of Americans to ensure the vaccines don’t cause harm. Purely by chance, thousands of vaccinated people will have heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses shortly after the injections. Sorting out whether the vaccines had anything to do with their ailments will be a thorny problem, requiring a vast, coordinated effort by state and federal agencies, hospitals, drug makers and insurers to discern patterns in a flood of data. Findings will need to be clearly communicated to a distrustful public swamped with disinformation.
23rd Oct 2020 - The New York Times

WHO: Countries on ‘dangerous track’ in COVID-19 pandemic

Too many nations, particularly in the northern hemisphere, seeing an exponential increase in coronavirus cases, with hospitals and intensive care units running close to capacity, WHO chief says.
23rd Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Coronavirus vaccine may not be available until Spring next year, says top UK scientist

A lifesaving Covid-19 vaccine will not be available until Spring next year, according to the UK Government 's top scientist. Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that while there has been “remarkable” progress made around the world, vaccines will not be in widespread use until some time next year. He said it was too early to speculate about how effective a vaccine might be, but said the aim would be for a vaccine to allow the “release” of measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing. He said: “That’s got to be an aim that we would all wish for and that’s why so many companies around the world are working on vaccines and why there has been such remarkable progress.
22nd Oct 2020 - Daily Record


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd Oct 2020

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Czechs Enter 2nd Lockdown to Avoid Health System Collapse

But amid a record surge of coronavirus infections that's threatening the entire health system with collapse, the Czech Republic is adopting on Thursday exactly the same massive restrictions it slapped on citizens in the spring. Prime Minister Andrej Babis had repeatedly said these measures would never return. “We have no time to wait,” Babis explained Wednesday. “The surge is enormous.” Babis apologized for the huge impact the restrictions will have on everyday life but said if they were not taken “our health system would collapse between Nov 7-11.”
22nd Oct 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

Ireland goes back on lockdown: Residents must stay within 3 miles of home through November

Ireland is already focused on Christmas. It’s a major national priority. Unless the country can get the COVID-19 pandemic under control, there won’t be much Christmas cheer this year in Galway, Cork or Dublin. With infections on the rise, the government has imposed a tough new lockdown that began at midnight Wednesday, shutting down nonessential shops, limiting restaurants to takeout service and ordering people to stay within 3 miles of their homes for the next six weeks. The restrictions are among the toughest in Europe, and Prime Minister Micheal Martin said he imposed them in part to ensure Ireland can celebrate Christmas “in a meaningful way.”
22nd Oct 2020 - USA TODAY

Why Germany's coronavirus strategy might come back to haunt it

Germany’s coronavirus epidemic, and strategy to deal with the virus, has not been the same as its European counterparts. This might be a good thing, given that Germany has recorded 397,922 cases of the virus, far lower than Spain.The country has also differed from its European peers at a political level in that it has taken largely a decentralized approach to managing the virus response. But that approach could prove to be a double-edged sword when it comes to clear public guidance and messaging on the virus, however, according to Carsten Nickel, deputy director of research at Teneo Intelligence. “The question is whether Germany’s strength since the beginning of the pandemic – the not just local imposition but in fact locally-driven design of restrictive as well as support measures – will turn into an obstacle,” Nickel said.
22nd Oct 2020 - CNBC

Switzerland promises lockdown measures unless infections subside

Switzerland's president has promised the country would adopt additional lockdown measures unless skyrocketing new coronavirus case numbers slowed. Switzerland's coronavirus case numbers are now doubling from week to week. If the situation does not stabilise within days, the government is threatening to impose new measures to control the surge in registered infections, which began around the start of the month. "If the curve does not flatten out by next Wednesday, we will really make decisions that go further," President Simonetta Sommaruga told national broadcaster RTS. The southwest of the country has been particularly affected, with clusters breaking out in retirement homes. "We were all hoping we could go into winter without this new increase in the number of cases," said Sommaruga.
22nd Oct 2020 - The Local

Rome, Milan and Naples prepare for coronavirus curfews as Italy cases soar

Italy’s three largest cities face new curfews as regional authorities try to slow the spread of COVID-19 where it first struck hard in Europe, most of whose countries are now imposing, or mulling, new restrictions to cope with rapidly rising caseloads
22nd Oct 2020 - The Independent

More than seven million people in Spain now facing perimetral lockdowns

More than 7.2 million people in Spain live in municipalities or regions that are currently, or soon to be, subject to a perimetral lockdown, meaning residents cannot leave or enter the area unless it is for essential reasons, such as for work, to access care services or in the case of an emergency. This restriction – aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus – is already in place in 50 municipalities of greatly different sizes, from Madrid, with its 3.2 million inhabitants to Jerte in Extremadura, which is home to 1,266 residents. Over the past weeks and months, a series of measures has been introduced in the affected areas in a bid to slow contagion rates. But they have not worked.
22nd Oct 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Outcry in India as Modi's ruling party offers 'free vaccines' in election manifesto

India’s ruling party has sparked an outcry by including a pledge to offer “free vaccines” in its election manifesto for a crucial upcoming state election. Senior figures from Narendra Modi’s BJP are campaigning hard in the populous eastern state of Bihar, where voting will begin in less than a week, and where a loss for the party would be seen as a damning indictment on its handling of the Covid-19 crisis. National finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman released the party’s manifesto for the state polls on Thursday in Patna, Bihar’s largest city, but was accused of politicising the central government’s response to the pandemic by making the vaccine pledge.
22nd Oct 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

How New York's mis-steps let Covid-19 overwhelm the US

The US had seen coronavirus coming as it swept from China through Asia, Europe and Iran in early 2020. “We’re prepared and we’re doing a great job with it, and it will go away,” said Donald Trump, US president, on March 10. A week earlier, New York governor Andrew Cuomo declared: “Excuse our arrogance as New Yorkers . . . [but] we don't even think it's going to be as bad as it was in other countries.” As the National Guard responded to New Rochelle’s 108 recorded cases, Mr Cuomo observed reassuringly that New York City had just 36 and no deaths. But since then it has suffered more than 260,000 infections and buried 24,000 of its citizens, almost 10 times the number who died at the World Trade Center in 2001.
22nd Oct 2020 - Financial Times

China beats the virus, eclipses India in growth

To keep local transmission at negligible levels, China has been extensively tracking its population through their phones and going in for testing. Perhaps the most draconian step has been the imposition of lockdowns for weeks on end. India has also gone in for extensive lockdowns, but the results have not come remotely close to those in China. Economies across the world contracted sharply when the pandemic arrived but thereafter climbed out of the downturn. In this return to growth, China has shown the greatest robustness. Right now, it is significantly better off than where it was at this time last year. The reason for this is that despite being hit by the coronavirus first, it has been globally among the foremost in successfully tackling it.
22nd Oct 2020 - The Tribune India

Big spike in Sweden's coronavirus cases forces rethink on lockdown amid Europe's second wave

Ballooning coronavirus cases in Sweden have forced a major rethink of the country's controverisal no-lockdown policy. The Scandanivian nation, like most of Western Europe, is experiencing a second wave of infections. Sweden's per-capita death rate as of last week was 58.6 per 100,000 people, reports Time magazine. The nation's average daily cases figure rose by 173 per cent from early September to early October.
22nd Oct 2020 - 9News

Ardern urged to review New Zealand Covid measures after election landslide

Jacinda Ardern won New Zealand’s election with a commanding majority, in part attributed to her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in her country. But a veteran epidemiologist is exhorting the prime minister to use the political capital gained in her decisive victory to scrutinise the coronavirus response by her government and officials, and adopt strategies proposed by her opponents before Saturday’s vote. “New Zealand has shown it can be quite smart and flexible, but we can see we’ve got these blind spots and we need to have no blind spots,” said Nick Wilson, a University of Otago epidemiologist. “This is such an unforgiving disease and very few countries are doing it right so we need to smarten up our act quite substantially.”
22nd Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Jordan announces record daily new COVID-19 cases

Jordan on Wednesday reported 2,648 new COVID-19 cases, its highest daily number since the start of the pandemic as the country faces a major outbreak with a tripling of deaths in just the last two weeks. The surge in the last month has put Jordan’s infection numbers above those of most of its Middle East neighbours and reverses months of success in containing the outbreak. It also accompanies an alarming jump in daily deaths that now average around 30. Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh said although the country had entered a “difficult phase” after widespread community transmission, it would not reimpose a national lockdown.
22nd Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Europeans face more curfews, restrictions, as virus surges

Curfews were largely expanded Thursday across France, which registered some 41.600 new confirmed virus cases to approach a total of 1 million, while similar overnight restrictions were slapped on Italy’s three biggest cities — Rome, Naples and Milan — as rapidly rising caseloads across Europe prompted tighter limits on everyday ways of life. In Greece, people in the Athens area and other parts of the country with high infection rates were also ordered to stay off the streets from 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. “The aim is to reduce general movement and evening gatherings, which favor the transmission of the virus,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address. “With a little less fun, for a short period of time, we will have better health for a long time.”
22nd Oct 2020 - Associated Press

COVID-19 crisis to speed up depletion of Social Security

The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus will dramatically speed up the depletion of the United States’ Social Security programme, a bipartisan think-tank warned on Thursday, outlining how quickly retirement and disability trust funds could run dry depending on the depth and length of the pandemic-induced recession. The Bipartisan Policy Center modelled four scenarios for the current recession, ranging in severity from “50 percent worse than the Great Recession” to “surprisingly quick economic rebound”. What it found was that every scenario showed Social Security retirement fund reserves depleting earlier than predicted – between 2029 and 2033. The centre presented its findings in a brief entitled How Will COVID-19 Affect the Social Security Trust Funds? (PDF), which was published Thursday.
22nd Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Britain tightens COVID restrictions in more areas of England

Britain tightened COVID-19 restrictions in three more areas of England on Thursday, putting them in the “high” category of the UK’s three-tier system, meaning people will not be able to mix outside their households. “We’re seeing rising rates of infection in Stoke-on-Trent, in Coventry and in Slough. In all of these areas, there are over 100 positive cases per 100,000 people, cases are doubling around every fortnight and we’re seeing a concerning increase of cases among the over-60s,” health minister Matt Hancock told parliament. Several cities in northern England are in the top “very high” category, which requires the closure of hospitality.
22nd Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

France extends curfew as COVID second wave surges in Europe

France extended curfews to around two thirds of its population on Thursday and Belgium’s foreign minister was taken into intensive care with COVID-19, as the second wave of the pandemic surged across Europe. French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a curfew imposed last week on Paris and eight other cities would be extended to 38 more departments, confining 46 million out of the country’s 67 million population to their homes from 9 pm to 6 am. “A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is now under way in France and Europe. The situation is very serious,” Castex said at a news conference. Shortly after the measures were announced, French health authorities reported a record 41,622 new confirmed cases, bringing the cumulative total to 999,043.
22nd Oct 2020 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Oct 2020

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Greece reports new peak in COVID-19 cases

Greece on Wednesday reported 865 new cases of COVID-19, a new peak since an outbreak in late February, and authorities announced a regional lockdown of a northern district. Authorities declared the northern region of Kastoria on an elevated risk,
21st Oct 2020 - Yahoo! News

Brazil's Bolsonaro rejects Chinese vaccine against COVID-19

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro overruled his own health minister on Wednesday, rejecting the announced purchase of 46 million doses of CoronaVac, a potential vaccine against COVID-19 being tested in Sao Paulo state. Health minister Eduardo Pazuello announced the purchase on Tuesday alongside Sao Paulo’s Gov. João Doria, a foe of Bolsonaro’s whose state government is participating in the vaccine’s development. The cost of the acquisition was estimated at 2 billion Brazilian reals ($360 million). “The Brazilian people will not be anyone’s guinea pig,” Bolsonaro said on his social media channels, adding that the shot made by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac is yet to finish its testing phase — which is true of all potential vaccines. “My decision is to not purchase such a vaccine.”
21st Oct 2020 - The Independent

Senate to take up $500 billion COVID-19 stimulus package as relief talks continue

The Senate failed Wednesday to pass a $500 billion COVID-19 aid package as negotiations drag on less than two weeks before Election Day. The bill would have given a federal boost to weekly unemployment benefits, sent $100 billion to schools and allocated funding for testing and vaccine development. The vote was 51-44, short of the 60 votes required to allow the legislation to move forward. Nearly all Democrats opposed it over concerns that more money was needed to combat the virus and help Americans. The bill's $500 billion price tag was far less than the roughly $1.8 trillion package the White House offered and the $2.2 trillion package Democrats backed. The two parties have spent months attempting to find a bipartisan agreement for one last batch of coronavirus relief before the election.
21st Oct 2020 - USA Today

Sunak scraps three-year spending review to focus on Covid-19

Rishi Sunak has cancelled the UK government’s three-year spending review for the rest of parliament to allow Treasury ministers more time to focus on coping with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The chancellor said he would set out a one-year spending plan that would focus entirely on dealing with the budgeting needs of departments and the devolved governments during the pandemic. The move is a blow to Boris Johnson’s ambition to reclaim the economic agenda with an upbeat outlook for the UK and the government’s investment plans once the coronavirus has been brought under control.
21st Oct 2020 - The Guardian

'We'll see more local lockdowns in Germany': Experts warn of tough measures as Covid-19 cases rise

The first local lockdown in the autumn coronavirus resurgence was announced in southern Bavaria this week. Is it likely that more districts will follow? The popular alpine beauty spot of Berchtesgadener Land went into lockdown on Tuesday afternoon for two weeks after cases of coronavirus shot up. But politicians, health experts and district representatives believe that similar measures may be necessary elsewhere in Germany as Covid-19 numbers continue to go up. How tough the measures are depends on the incidence of infection and the ability of health authorities to contain it, said federal Health Minister Jens Spahn of the Christian Democrats (CDU) on broadcaster ZDF. If numbers spiral out of control, "this may indeed lead to appropriate measures in other areas at local and regional level," said Spahn.
21st Oct 2020 - The Local Germany

Is Italy Headed For Another Coronavirus Lockdown?

As Italy’s daily coronavirus cases continue to pass the 10,000 mark, the unwelcome prospect of another lockdown may be on the cards for some regions. The northern region of Lombardy is already leaning towards lockdown with an evening curfew while the southern region of Campania has closed schools until the end of the month. Other regions are also looking at heightening restrictions.
21st Oct 2020 - Forbes

Spanish government mulling curfews to tackle Covid-19 resurgence

The Spanish government announced that was considering fresh curfews to tackle a resurgence in the number of new curfews to tackle a resurgence in the number of new cases. Addressing the media here on Tuesday, Health Minister Salvador Illa said that imposing a curfew on Madrid, and in some other parts of the country, would require invoking a State of Emergency
21st Oct 2020 - Business Insider India

Czech government to impose lockdown

The Czech Republic will go into lockdown mode again to try and contain the coronavirus, the government announced Wednesday. "From October 22 at 6 a.m. [until November 3 at 11:59 p.m.], free movement of the population will be prohibited, with a few exceptions," it said on Twitter, adding that these include "travel necessary to work, to visit family, to purchase basic necessities, to see a doctor or the authorities." In addition, non-essential shops will have to close from Thursday, "with exceptions similar to those during the spring measures," such as grocery stores and pharmacies, the government said.
21st Oct 2020 - POLITICO.eu

Coronavirus: France considers extending COVID state of emergency until mid-February

France's government is considering extending its state of emergency until 16 February next year. Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal also said several more regions of the country will enter red-alert status, meaning they will see curfews imposed. The proposed new end date to the health state of emergency means 9pm to 6am curfews already in place in France's biggest cities could be extended.
21st Oct 2020 - Sky News

Pakistan coronavirus mortality rate increases by 140 per cent, govt warns new lockdown

Pakistan's top body, which oversees response to the coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday warned that strict measures, including lockdown, could be initiated to contain the infection if people don't stop violating government guidelines, as the country's COVID-19 mortality rate increased by 140 per cent compared to past few weeks. "The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) is closely monitoring the situation. If there is no improvement in SOPs compliance observed, NCOC will have no choice but to revert to strict measures leading to re-closures of services," the body said in a statement on Wednesday. During a special session of the NCOC to monitor an increase in cases, the body led by Minister for Planning Asad Umar was informed that there is a clear resurgence of the virus while deaths are also increasing. All chief secretaries were directed to "strictly implement" standard operating procedures (SOPs), Geo TV reported, citing the statement.
21st Oct 2020 - India TV News

India is facing a double health threat this winter: pollution and the pandemic

A familiar scene is taking place in northern India. Vast fields burn, flames engulfing bare stalks of already-harvested crops. Billowing smoke travels across state borders. In towns and cities, the air is thick with yellow haze. Stubble burning, the practice of intentionally setting fire to cultivated fields to prepare the land for its next crop, is one of the chief drivers of India's so-called annual pollution season, which begins each winter. It is especially bad in cities like the capital New Delhi, where smog from the burning crop fields, vehicular emissions, power plants, construction sites, and smoke from Diwali firecrackers combine to create a toxic cloud that lingers until spring.
21st Oct 2020 - CNN

What South Africans must do to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19 infections

South Africa’s stringent lockdown earlier this year may have saved lives by containing the spread of COVID-19. New COVID-19 infections have been declining and lockdown restrictions relaxed. But this has triggered fears of a new wave of infections. Several countries have experienced a spike in infections following the easing of harsh lockdown measures. These include South Korea, Canada, Spain and the UK. Health systems are once again becoming overwhelmed, and countries have resorted to stringent lockdown measures once again. The new round has been characterised by increases in cases – mostly driven by infections among younger groups – but not necessarily increased deaths.
21st Oct 2020 - The Conversation CA

Jacinda Ardern landslide is a vote for COVID-19 competence

For governments facing a growing wave of coronavirus cases as fall turns to winter, there’s a stark lesson in Saturday’s stunning election victory for New Zealand’s incumbent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: Voters really want their governments to suppress the pandemic. A landslide victory means Ardern could govern with the first outright majority since her country adopted proportional representation in the 1990s, with her Labour party on track to win the largest share of the vote in 70 years. “The argument is strong for countries adopting a so-called zero-COVID strategy” like that in New Zealand, a team of authors in Singapore, Hong Kong, the U.K. and Norway argued in medical journal The Lancet last month.
21st Oct 2020 - The Japan Times

Why is Ireland choosing a 'seesaw' approach to tackling Covid-19?

Taoiseach Micheal Martin on Monday night confirmed the entire country will move to Level 5 of Covid-19 restrictions for six weeks from Thursday onwards in a bid to tackle a spike in cases. He then stated that Ireland strategy’s will involve working to “suppress the virus when it is growing” and reopening “as much of our society and economy as possible when it is safe to do so”. “Until we have a safe vaccine, we must continue in that pattern. This is the reality in the rest of the world and it is unfortunately the reality here,” Martin said. Although not named as such by government, some people have been critical of this so-called ‘seesaw’ approach that has been signposted as Ireland’s path through the pandemic. Martin said it is “the core responsibility” of the government “to protect lives and to protect public health, while also protecting livelihoods and supporting the wider economy and society”.
21st Oct 2020 - TheJournal.ie

Coronavirus: Nicola Sturgeon reveals five levels of lockdown will be applied in Scotland over winter

Nicola Sturgeon has outlined what the system will be when the new strategy for tacking coronavirus takes effect in 12 days time. She confirmed there will be a five-tier system of different levels of intervention which could be applied across the country or in different health board or council areas. The First Minister said Scotland will have two more levels in addition to those in place in England.
21st Oct 2020 - Glasgow Times

What NZ can learn from Taiwan about pandemic preparedness

New Zealand’s approach to the Covid-19 pandemic won international acclaim after measures such as border closures, widespread testing and initiating a historic nationwide lockdown helped eliminate the deadly virus from within our midst. But it’s the proactive stance adopted by another island nation some 9000 kilometres away that has been singled out as the “most effective and least disruptive of any country” in the world. Taiwan’s pandemic response is lauded in a study involving Otago University researchers in Wellington published in The Lancet Regional Health: Western Pacific medical journal on Wednesday night.
21st Oct 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Turkey said to consider a return to some coronavirus curbs

Turkey is considering re-imposing some measures to stem rising coronavirus cases such as stay-home orders for younger and older people or even weekend lockdowns, but will avoid hurting the economic recovery, a senior official said. The official, who requested anonymity, said the total number of COVID-19 cases is about five times that reported in the government’s daily tally - echoing concerns by Turkey’s top medical association and opposition lawmakers. Health ministry officials were not immediately available to comment. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has warned about the uptick in numbers and urged Turks to abide by nationwide distancing and mask rules, which are subject to fines.
21st Oct 2020 - Reuters

More of northern England put into highest COVID-19 lockdown tier

South Yorkshire in northern England will move into the very high lockdown tier on Saturday to tackle rising levels of COVID-19 infections, the mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis said on Wednesday. The area has agreed a funding package worth 41 million pounds ($53.5 million) to support businesses that will have to close and for additional public health measures. Regions in the north of England have been most severely affected by the second wave of COVID-19. South Yorkshire will join Liverpool and Lancashire in the highest tier. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he would impose the same measures in Manchester after failing to agree a support package with local leaders.
21st Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Number of Covid deaths in Britain could have been HALVED by imposing lockdown earlier, report claims

Professor Andrew Harvey said lockdown on March 19 would have halved deaths This suggests between 21,900 and 29,400 deaths could have been avoided His calculations support those of Professor Neil Ferguson in June A lockdown on March 23 is considered a key failure of the Government They had been given predictions of 500,000 deaths nine days before lockdown
20th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Oct 2020

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Efficacy, politics influence public trust in COVID-19 vaccine

If an initial COVID-19 vaccine is about as effective as a flu shot, uptake by the American public may fall far short of the 70% level needed to achieve herd immunity, new Cornell research suggests. In surveys of nearly 2,000 American adults, barely half said they would be willing to take a hypothetical vaccine with an efficacy, or effectiveness, of 50% - the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's minimum threshold for a COVID-19 vaccine, and comparable to flu vaccines. Vaccine acceptance increased by 10 percentage points, to 61%, if its effectiveness increased to 90%, making efficacy among the most important factors in Americans' willingness to adopt a COVID-19 vaccine, the research found. "Our results suggest that 50% efficacy will lead to significant vaccine hesitancy," said Douglas Kriner, professor of government at Cornell. "We might not get enough people to take it at that level, even though it would be a valuable public health intervention."
20th Oct 2020 - EurekAlert!

NIH chief: Trump has not met with White House COVID-19 task force in 'quite some time'

NIH Director Francis Collins told NPR's "Morning Edition" that Trump instead gets his information from Vice President Pence and task force member Scott Atlas, neither of whom are infectious disease experts. "I think the president primarily is getting his information from the vice president, from Dr. Atlas," Collins said. Obviously, it's a bit of a chaotic time with the election. ... There's not a direct connection between the task force members and the president as there was a few months ago, but this seems to be a different time with different priorities."
20th Oct 2020 - The Hill

Boris Johnson plunges Greater Manchester into Tier Three lockdown

Ministers gave Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham until noon today to agree to enter Tier Three lockdown. Last-ditch haggling between PM and Mr Burnham on money failed with tough restrictions now being imposed. Boris Johnson said he had no choice but to impose new rules which will see pubs and restaurants told to close Mr Johnson had offered Mr Burnham £60m in extra business support but the mayor wanted at least £65m. Mr Burnham slammed PM's approach as he said ministers were condemning the region to lockdown 'poverty'
20th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Majority of Wales below UK coronavirus average as new lockdown looms

A new national lockdown was announced in Wales yesterday - but figures show that just ten of the country's local authorities have a higher coronavirus rate than the UK average. Only one of Gwent's five counties, Blaenau Gwent, is suffering from the coronavirus more than the average across the UK. A government map, detailing the impact of the coronavirus in each local authority across the UK, shows that Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Caerphilly all have lower incidence rates than the average in the UK.
20th Oct 2020 - South Wales Argus

COVID-19: Naples mayor sees Campania headed for lockdown

Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris said Tuesday that he expects Campania to go into lockdown soon because of a spike in COVID-19 cases and blasted the management of the coronavirus by the administration of regional Governor Vincenzo De Luca. "I think very serious mistakes were made by the region and that's not passing the buck," De Magistris told RAI radio. "The (contagion) numbers speak for themselves. "De Luca even banned the doctors from telling the truth."The problem is not young people (out socializing). "We are sure to go into lockdown in Campania. There are (just) 15 places (left) in intensive care". De Luca last week closed schools in Campania, which had been the last region in Italy to reopen them last month, until the end of October due to the pandemic, irking central government and parents. "Closing the schools just after they reopened is so sad," said De Magistris.
20th Oct 2020 - Agenzia ANSA

Navarre declares perimetral lockdown of entire region to contain coronavirus spread

The entire Navarre region in northern Spain will be confined from this Thursday onward for a 15-day period, in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. People will only be able to enter or leave the area if it is for work reasons, to access care services or in cases of emergency. The regional government also announced on Monday evening that the entire hostelry sector would be closed, as well as an obligatory 9pm closure for commercial, cultural and sporting activities. The regional premier, María Chivite of the Navarre Socialist Party, justified the measures on Monday due to the spread of the virus in the region, and the progressive rise in pressure on area hospitals. The 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants has reached 945, according to the latest report from the Spanish Health Ministry, which is way above the national average of 312.
20th Oct 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Ireland to impose 5km travel limit in strict new Covid lockdown

Ireland is to close much of its economy and society in a second Covid-19 lockdown that imposes some of the severest restrictions in Europe. Non-essential shops will close and people are asked to stay at home, with a 5km (3 mile) travel limit for exercise, to curb surging infection rates, the government announced on Monday evening. From midnight on Wednesday the country will move to its highest lockdown tier for six weeks. Visits to private homes or gardens will not be permitted and there are to be no gatherings except for tightly controlled weddings and funerals.
20th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Vietnam is fighting Covid without pitting economic growth against public health

To date, Vietnam (population: 95 million) has recorded 35 deaths from the novel coronavirus. Vietnam had all the ingredients for a Covid-19 disaster. It has a 1,300km (800-mile) border with China, with lots of informal trade via secret mountain trails, and an under-developed healthcare system (albeit a well functioning one). So, beyond contact-tracing, why has Vietnam been so good at dealing with the pandemic? The central reason is perhaps the way the government has depoliticised the pandemic, treating it purely as a health crisis, allowing for effective governance. There was no political motive for government officials to hide information, as they don’t face being reprimanded if there are positive cases in their authority area that are not due to their mistakes.
20th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

New COVID-19 outbreak rocks New Zealand as 11 new cases emerge - just days after Jacinda Ardern win

At least 11 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in New Zealand on Tuesday Fishermen quarantining at the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch tested positive Comes days after Jacinda Ardern was re-elected as New Zealand prime minister The Sudima Hotel, housing hundreds of workers, was placed into lockdown
20th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Spain considers curfews to fight new coronavirus wave

The Spanish government is considering new restrictions, including possible curfews, in hard-hit regions like Madrid to tackle a new wave of coronavirus contagion, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday. The country, which has Western Europe’s highest case load, is likely to surpass one million infections this week and several regions have toughened their coronavirus restrictions in the past few days. “We have very tough weeks ahead, winter is coming,” Illa told reporters. “The second wave is no longer a threat, it is a reality in all of Europe.”
20th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Belgium may need to return to full COVID lockdown: virologist

Belgium will need to postpone all non-essential hospital procedures to deal with a surge in COVID-19 infections, Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told lawmakers on Tuesday, days after warning of a COVID “tsunami” hitting the country. The nation of 11 million people had 816 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 residents over the past week, according to official figures, second only to the Czech Republic in Europe, and has lost 10,443 people to the disease, among the world’s highest per capita fatality rates.
20th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Part of Bavaria goes into first German lockdown since April

Residents of the Berchtesgadener Land district of Bavaria will not be able to leave their homes without a valid reason for two weeks from Tuesday, officials said on Monday, making it the first area in Germany to go back into lockdown since April. The decision, which takes effect from 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Tuesday, follows a spike in coronavirus cases in the district to 272.8 per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days.
20th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

As FDA sets the stage for the first Covid-19 vaccine EUAs, some big players are asking for a tweak of the guidelines

Setting the stage for an extraordinary one-day meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the FDA has cleared 2 experts of financial conflicts to help beef up the committee. And regulators went on to specify the safety, efficacy and CMC input they’re looking for on EUAs, before they move on to the full BLA approval process. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel recently outlined his new timeline, looking to nail down interim efficacy and safety data by the second half of next month that could allow them to hunt an EUA — provided the data work. And Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has just shifted his stance on their EUA timing to a point just after the looming election, underscoring how the scene has continued to change in light of a heated partisan debate between a president who has repeatedly promised a quick OK and his political opponent, who’s waiting for a thumbs up from experts like NIAID chief Anthony Fauci before offering his own support.
20th Oct 2020 - Endpoints News

The Government Tightening Its Belt with the North will Keep Us All in this COVID Chaos

Spurred by well-funded lockdown sceptics, there has been a bizarre rhetorical separation – in the UK at least – between saving lives and protecting the economy. Boris Johnson has rejected a second, nationwide lockdown, contrary to the advice of SAGE, as he says it would be “disastrous” for the economy. But there is no prospect of an economic revival until the virus has been suppressed and no evidence that this can be achieved without locking down, reducing cases to a manageable level, and implementing an effective test, trace and isolate regime. The alternative is a zombie economy; stubbornly avoiding death, yet with no prospect of ever being fully alive and healthy. Stopping the virus will save the economy; and saving the economy will stop the virus. Perhaps the Cabinet should turn this into a morning chant, to restore some financial generosity to some of its tight-fisted members.
19th Oct 2020 - Byline Times


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Oct 2020

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Covid cases rise by almost 19,000 in the UK as 80 more deaths are announced

A further 18,804 cases of coronavirus cases and 80 deaths have been announced in the UK. It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 741,212 and confirmed deaths to 43,726. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 58,500 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. The number of cases remains high as the government pushes for more areas of England to be put under Tier 3 lockdown while Wales has announced it is entering a 'circuit break' lockdown. The two-week lockdown in Wales will see many hospitality venues closed, secondary schools will only be open to years seven and eight and, people will be told to stay at home as much as possible.
19th Oct 2020 - ITV News

Analysis: Will Scotland follow Wales into 'firebreaker' lockdown?

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford briefed Nicola Sturgeon by phone this morning before he went public with a tranche of new restrictions. People have been ordered to stay at home, while pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops will shut down.
19th Oct 2020 - The Scotsman

Will Germany's effective Covid strategy work again as it enters a second wave?

I believe that we benefited greatly from three factors in the first wave. The first was sheer luck, which enabled people to act early. With the disturbing and tragic images of outbreaks in northern Italy and in countries that were a few weeks ahead of us, the German population was already very alarmed by the time we registered a first significant increase in cases. The mood meant that the mobility of the population had already severely decreased before we even decided on and announced the initial political measures. Evaluations of mobility using phone data clearly prove this.
19th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Italy, Austria tighten coronavirus restrictions

Italy and Austria have introduced stricter measures to curb the rise in new coronavirus cases. Late Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced new restrictions on public life, including midnight closing times for bars and restaurants from Monday. Venues could also be forced to close at 9 p.m. in case of large crowds. Conte insisted that "the strategy is not and cannot be the same as in the spring," when Italy had one of Europe's highest death rates from COVID-19 while at the same time paying a high economic price due to the lockdown.
19th Oct 2020 - POLITICO

Coronavirus: Italy and Belgium toughen restrictions fearing a 'tsunami' of COVID-19 infections

Italy and Belgium have introduced new socialising rules amid fears there could be a "tsunami" in coronavirus cases. The new restrictions in Belgium came into force as a government minister admitted the country can "no longer control" the current rate of COVID-19 transmission. Bars and restaurants have been closed with only takeaways allowed up until 10pm, while groups of people are limited to four when together in public spaces. Close contact with just one person is allowed outside a household while the same four guests, changeable every two weeks, may visit a home if they follow social distancing rules. There is also a nightly curfew from midnight to 5am.
19th Oct 2020 - Sky News

Ireland Set for Tough Curbs as Europe Seeks to Control Virus

Ireland is poised to introduce some of Europe’s toughest measures to curb the coronavirus as countries across the region battle to overcome the pandemic. The Irish cabinet is due to meet on Monday to finalize the restrictions after health authorities recommended a move to the tightest lockdown tier. While the government may stop short of imposing a total shutdown, it has indicated that all non-essential stores, restaurants and bars could close. “There is a big hit to the economy, and that has to be paid for,” Europe Minister Thomas Byrne said in an interview with broadcaster RTE on Monday. “It is incumbent on the government to consider every single ramification of this.” Countries across Europe are toughening restrictions to fight the pandemic. Still, governments are grappling with the challenge of controlling the outbreak without inflicting lasting damage on their economies, prompting some to take different approaches.
19th Oct 2020 - BloombergQuint

Spain's regions tighten COVID-19 measures as one million case milestone looms

Several Spanish regions toughened their coronavirus restrictions on Monday, seeking to curb a second wave of contagion that looks set to drive the country with Western Europe’s highest case load above one million infections this week. Authorities in the northern region of Castile and Leon announced they would seal off the city of Burgos and nearby Aranda de Duero to all but essential travel from Tuesday night after infection rates in the area surpassed 500 cases per 100,000 people. “We are in circumstances similar to those of March or April,” Burgos Mayor Daniel de la Rosa told state broadcaster TVE, recalling the beginning of the pandemic, when many Spaniards were confined to their homes to stop the spread.
19th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Wales implementing two-week national lockdown to slow virus spread

Wales will impose a two-week national lockdown beginning Friday, officials announced Monday. Restaurants, pubs and nonessential businesses will be closed, and non-household members will be banned from both indoor and outdoor gatherings, according to the BBC. Houses of worship will reportedly only be open for funerals and weddings, and Halloween gatherings will also be barred. Observances will, however, be permitted for Remembrance Sunday, when Britain honors those who fought in the two world wars. Wales has a seven-day average of 130 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. The country recorded 4,127 total cases between Oct. 9-15.
19th Oct 2020 - The Hill

Global coronavirus cases hit 40 million as second wave gathers pace

The number of coronavirus cases around the world has hit 40 million on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The grim milestone reached on Monday comes as various parts of Europe and the U.S. struggle to deal with an alarming surge in cases.
19th Oct 2020 - CNBC

UK offers Manchester money to impose tougher lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government hopes to reach an agreement shortly with local leaders in Manchester to impose a stricter COVID-19 lockdown, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Monday. Jenrick said the government had offered Manchester more money. “This does now need to be brought to a conclusion,” he said. The devolved Welsh government is due on Monday to announce a possible ‘fire break’ set of additional measures to control the virus. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford is due to make a statement
19th Oct 2020 - Reuters India

California says it will independently review coronavirus vaccine

A California panel of experts will independently review the safety of new coronavirus vaccines and initial plans for distribution, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday. The 11-person panel specializing in topics such as epidemiology, biostatistics, and infectious disease will review any vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration before it is distributed to state residents, Newsom told a news conference. “These are top health experts that will independently review any FDA-approved vaccines,” he said. “We will do our own independently reviewed process with our world-class experts that just happen to live here in the state of California.”
19th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Indonesia's president says COVID vaccine must be halal

Indonesian President Joko Widodo warned his ministers Monday not to rush the launching of a novel coronavirus vaccine amid public concerns about whether it would be certified halal, or permissible under Islamic law. “We should consider public perception regarding the halal status of potential COVID-19 vaccines,” he said during a meeting. Controversy over whether vaccines adhere to Islamic principles has stymied public health responses before in Indonesia, including in 2018, when the Indonesian Ulema Council issued a fatwa or ruling declaring that a measles vaccine was haram, or forbidden under Islam. “Public communication regarding the halal status, price, quality and distribution must be well-prepared,” he added. Widodo said the next critical point is administering the vaccines to the public.
19th Oct 2020 - Anadolu Agency

Spain: Cases surge over weekend, Navarra to lock down

As Spain saw its highest-ever weekend surge of new coronavirus infections on Monday, officials in one northern region announced they will enforce Spain’s first region-wide semi-lockdown. As of Thursday, Navarra will limit all non-essential movement in and out of the entire region, close bars and restaurants, and make all other businesses close their doors to customers by 9 p.m. These are the toughest measures taken by a regional government in Spain to curb the pandemic since its first wave. All other restrictions on movement so far have been limited to particular cities, not regions. With nearly 950 contagions per 100,000 people in the last two weeks, Navarra has Spain’s highest rate of contagion – nearly double that of Madrid. Its capital city Pamplona is especially hard-hit.
19th Oct 2020 - Anadolu Agency

Canada's Economy Needs Tougher Shutdowns To Reopen: CIBC

If Canadians want to get back to eating in indoor restaurants and drinking in bars ― as others in some places in the world can do today ― the country will need tougher lockdowns in the short term first. That’s the prognosis from CIBC’s chief economist, Avery Shenfeld, in a report issued Friday that explored what lessons the pandemic-stricken parts of Canada can learn from places such as Japan, South Korea and Newfoundland, where authorities have been able to reopen the economy to a large extent without a major new outbreak. In Shenfeld’s analysis, the problem is pandemic-stricken areas are reopening bars, restaurants and similar establishments too soon, allowing caseloads to rise back up again.
18th Oct 2020 - HuffPost Canada

Israel takes first steps out of second virus lockdown

Israel started cautiously emerging from a second coronavirus lockdown Sunday after a month of tight restrictions, re-opening preschools, kindergartens, beaches and national parks, with numbers of new infections falling. Public radio said about a million young children would return to kindergartens and other facilities Sunday. Businesses not involving face-to-face contact with the public were allowed back to work, and a contentious ban on individuals moving more than one kilometre from their homes was lifted.
18th Oct 2020 - FRANCE 24


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th Oct 2020

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Ireland to impose nationwide COVID-19 curbs on Monday - minister

Ireland will bring in “decisive” nationwide COVID-19 restrictions on Monday but will stop short of reintroducing the kind of lockdown imposed earlier this year, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said on Sunday. The government rejected a recommendation by health chiefs two weeks ago to jump Level 5, the highest level of COVID-19 curbs, and instead tightened restrictions in a varied regional approach that Harris said was no longer sufficient. On Saturday, Ireland broke its record for the number of cases recorded in a single day for the fourth time in the space of a week, bringing cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days to 232, the 12th highest rate among the 31 countries monitored by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
18th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Fauci says COVID-19 numbers would have to 'get really, really bad' before another national lockdown

Fauci made the remarks in a 60 Minutes interview, set to air in full on Sunday The top doctor says public health measures, such as mask wearing and social distancing, should be kept up in order to avoid another lockdown. His comments come as the US records its highest number of daily infection numbers in more than two months. There are widespread fears a second national lockdown could be imminent as the weather cools and case numbers continue to rise. On Friday, America surpassed 8 million COVID-19 infections and 218,000 deaths
18th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Italy agrees on $4.7bn fund to compensate companies during COVID-19 pandemic

The Italian government has moved to approve a new stimulus package to support its economic rebound from the COVID-19-induced recession, it said on Sunday. Among other measures, the package is to include a €4bn ($4.7bn, £3.6bn) fund to help companies worst hit by lockdowns throughout the country. After late-night cabinet deliberations on Saturday, the ruling coalition agreed a preliminary deal for its 2021 budget, a source said. The Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte is on Sunday also expected to announce new measures to curb a second wave of the virus
18th Oct 2020 - Yahoo News

Italy to announce new COVID-19 restrictions as infections spike: PM's office

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will announce on Sunday another set of measures to counter the new wave of COVID-19 cases, his office said, after the country registered a new daily record in infections on Saturday. Conte’s office said the government is discussing new restrictions with local and health authorities, aiming to stem contagion while limiting the impact on individuals and businesses. Italy was the first major European country to be hit by COVID-19 and had managed to get the outbreak under control by the summer thanks to a rigid two-month lockdown on business and people’s movement. But infections have soared in recent weeks.
18th Oct 2020 - Reuters

The Spanish Ministry of Health Publishes Todays Coronavirus Figures

Spain’s Ministry of Health has reported 15,186 new cases, 6,591 diagnosed in the last 24 hours and 222 deaths from coronavirus, on the worst recorded day of the crisis this week. In Spain, there are now a total of 936,560 confirmed cases, with 33,775 deaths being reported, according to the latest official data. It is worth remembering though that 26.939.337 people have recovered since the epidemic in Spain began. The president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has written to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and asked that all airports in EU member states with international traffic be governed by a “single regulation ”On the control measures for COVID-19. These “homogeneous protocols” would serve “to prevent the spread of the pandemic across borders,” says Díaz Ayuso.
18th Oct 2020 - Euro Weekly News

Sweden to Introduce Local Lockdowns as Coronavirus Cases Rise

Swedish authorities want to bring in local lockdowns to stem the rapid spread of coronavirus in the country. The move marks a new approach in Sweden‘s handling of the virus as the country has kept bars and restaurants open while the rest of Europe shut down in March this year. “It’s more of a lockdown situation – but a local lockdown,” said Johan Nojd, who leads the infectious diseases department in Uppsala. It comes as several European nations put into effect new measures and restrictions in an effort to curb the second wave of the coronavirus rapidly spreading across the continent, with cases skyrocketing. Coronavirus cases in the country have been gradually increasing since the start of September, dashing Sweden’s hopes for immunity.
18th Oct 2020 - Euro Weekly News

Coronavirus in Poland: PM announces partial lockdown amid virus spike

Poland on Friday reported a new daily record of 132 coronavirus-related deaths and counted 7,705 new confirmed cases, amid fears the pandemic is testing the country's supply of hospital beds and ventilators.
18th Oct 2020 - FRANCE 24

Covid pandemic has peaked in India; can be controlled by end of Feb 2021: Govt-appointed panel

A government-appointed panel on Sunday said initial coronavirus-induced lockdown saved large number of lives and avoided creating widespread panic. The 'Covid-19 India National Supermodel' committee led by Professor M Vidyasagar (IIT Hyderabad) made the finding in its study titled 'Progression of the Covid-19 pandemic in India: Prognosis and Lockdown Impacts'. On 1 June, the Department of Science and Technology constituted a committee comprising of eminent scientists and academicians to evolve a national supermodel for Covid-19 progression.
18th Oct 2020 - Live Mint

Paris under curfew as Europe battles soaring virus caseload

Millions of Europeans on Saturday faced tough new coronavirus restrictions as governments try to combat spiralling infections. Paris and other French cities are under a nighttime curfew which will last for at least a month, while England is banning mixed household gatherings in the capital and other areas and Italy's most populous region is limiting bar openings and suspending sports events. Cases of the disease which has upended life across the globe and wreaked social and economic havoc have been soaring beyond levels seen in the first wave earlier this year, when many countries sought to stem the tide with lockdowns of varying degree. In the face of the surge, governments have been forced to embark on ever tighter measures to control the pandemic's spread, while trying to avoid full-on lockdowns.
18th Oct 2020 - Japan Today

New coronavirus restrictions come into effect across Europe as Angela Merkel warns of hard days ahead

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to come together like they did in the spring to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the country posted another daily record of new cases Saturday. "Difficult months are ahead of us," she said in her weekly video podcast. "How winter will be, how our Christmas will be, that will all be decided in these coming days and weeks, and it will be decided by our behaviour." Meanwhile, new restrictions went into effect in several other European nations in an effort to staunch the resurgence of the pandemic.
18th Oct 2020 - 9News

Johnson eyes more local lockdown measures as COVID cases rise

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday he would intervene with further localised restrictions to fight a rapidly growing second wave of the coronavirus pandemic after more of northwest England was put on the highest COVID alert level. Tougher restrictions were announced for Lancashire, but Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has resisted a move to put his area in the highest tier unless the government increases its financial support through the winter. "If agreement cannot be reached, I will need to intervene in order to protect Manchester's hospitals and save the lives of Manchester's residents," Johnson said at a news conference.
18th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

Australia's COVID-19 hotspot partially eases lockdown

Australia’s state of Victoria, the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, will see more freedom of movement as of Monday after months-long restrictions, but retailers and restaurants must wait longer, making some of the owners unhappy. After more than 100 days in a strict lockdown that allowed only for two hours of outdoor activity a day, the 5 million people living in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, will be able to spend as much time exercising outdoors as they wish. However, people must stay within 25 kilometres (15 miles) of their homes, Premier Daniel Andrews said. Public gatherings will remain tightly limited, and retailers and restaurants must operate only on take-away or delivery orders, with the state government eyeing their reopening by Nov. 1.
18th Oct 2020 - Reuters

New Zealand's Ardern wins 'historic' re-election for crushing COVID-19

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered the biggest election victory for her centre-left Labour Party in half a century on Saturday as voters rewarded her for a decisive response to COVID-19. National leaders were decimated in their strongholds by young Labour candidates who appealed to voters with progressive, democratic messages, and highlighted the party’s success in beating coronavirus. Life is back to normal in New Zealand, but its borders are still shut, its tourism sector is bleeding and economists predict a lasting recession after the harsh lockdowns
18th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Iran imposes new restrictions as COVID-19 deaths surpass 30,000

“The second time I was dealing with the virus, one night I was in so much pain that I said my prayers before going to sleep because I felt like I might not see another morning,” says Tehran resident Sadaf Samimi. The 29-year-old journalist told Al Jazeera she first tested positive for COVID-19 in July at her workplace and has since been working from home.
17th Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Oct 2020

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Finnish expert answers 7 questions about coronavirus vaccines

According to a survey by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) last spring, around 70 percent of respondents said they would take a vaccine if authorities recommended it. However, many still remember more than a decade ago the serious side effects of the H1N1 "swine flu" vaccine, Pandemrix, which was found to have multiplied the risk of narcolepsy, particularly among young people, a situation that damaged the public's confidence in vaccines as well as health authorities. The director of the Vaccine Research Center at Tampere University, Mika Rämet, said the centre advises decision makers about new vaccines, but does not participate in policy-making. He noted that the centre is not currently conducting its own coronavirus vaccine study.
16th Oct 2020 - Yle

Coronavirus: Boris Johnson losing grip on strategy as top medical adviser tells local leaders it will not work

Boris Johnson’s coronavirus strategy was unravelling after one of the prime minister’s top medical advisers told regional leaders it would not work and a national lockdown was needed. More than half of the population of England will soon be subjected to heightened restrictions under the prime minister’s three-tier regional system, after areas including London, Essex and York were told to move to “high” alert status from Saturday. But Mr Johnson was forced to back down on plans to put Greater Manchester and Lancashire into the toughest curbs alongside Merseyside after civic leaders demanded more financial support for the thousands of workers whose employers would be forced to shut down. And councils in the northeast united to say that they too would reject tier 3 status.
16th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Fauci says letting Covid-19 spread to achieve herd immunity is 'ridiculous'

Dr Anthony Fauci made the comments on GMA on Thursday when asked about the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration that was published earlier this week. He made the comments on Thursday when asked about the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration that was published earlier this week. The declaration, which was written by experts at Oxford, Harvard and Stanford, calls for the protection of people most at risk of dying from Covid-19. It argues that the rest of the population should be able to return to life as normal. Fauci said the declaration hides that fact that 30% of the population have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to Covid-19. It comes as the United States reached its highest number of daily Covid-19 infections in two months with more than 59,000 cases reported on Wednesday. Deaths, however, continue to trend downward nationally with an average of more than 700 Americans dying per day
15th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Ending Covid-19 via herd immunity is 'a dangerous fallacy'

The concept of ending the Covid pandemic through herd immunity is “a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence”, say 80 researchers in a warning letter published by a leading medical journal. The international signatories of the open letter in the Lancet say the interest in herd immunity comes from “widespread demoralisation and diminishing trust” as a result of restrictions being reimposed in many countries because of surging infections in a second wave. The suggestion that the way out is by protecting the vulnerable and allowing the virus to transmit among those less at risk is flawed, they say. “Uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant morbidity and mortality across the whole population. In addition to the human cost, this would impact the workforce as a whole and overwhelm the ability of healthcare systems to provide acute and routine care.”
14th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Early approval of a COVID-19 vaccine could stymie the hunt for better ones

Success in the push to find a COVID-19 vaccine at record-breaking speed could hand the world a new problem. The first vaccine to cross the finish line might be only marginally effective, yet it could become the enemy of the good—or even the great—candidates in the wings by disrupting ongoing studies. In all likelihood, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other regulators will issue the first COVID-19 vaccine approval or emergency use authorization (EUA) for one vaccine while many other candidates have clinical trials still underway or in the planning. At that point, ongoing studies of any vaccine—including that first one—could become unethical because half the participants would get a placebo, at a time a vaccine with established efficacy will be available. “It’s a very vexing issue,” says Christine Grady, who heads the bioethics department at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, which organized a “grand rounds” webinar on the challenges last week.
15th Oct 2020 - Science Magazine

Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected more than 35 million people globally, with more than 1 million deaths recorded by WHO as of Oct 12, 2020. As a second wave of COVID-19 affects Europe, and with winter approaching, we need clear communication about the risks posed by COVID-19 and effective strategies to combat them. Here, we share our view of the current evidence-based consensus on COVID-19.
15th Oct 2020 - The Lancet

Lockdown was not effective strategy against Covid-19 in South Africa, new evidence suggests

Given the age demographics in African countries, and the existing data on those the disease affects most (primarily the elderly), Africa’s population would be less susceptible to Covid-19 than its counterparts in Europe and the USA. A hard lockdown was ...
15th Oct 2020 - IOL News

'Time is running out,' EU warns, urging measures to avoid new lockdowns

The European Commission urged member nations on Thursday to step up preparations against the new surge of coronavirus infections and recommended common measures to roll out vaccines should they become available. With new cases hitting about 100,000 daily, Europe has by a wide margin overtaken the United States, where an average of more than 51,000 COVID-19 infections is reported every day. “Time is running out,” said EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, urging greater coordination in tracing infections. “Everyone’s first priority should be to do what it takes to avoid the devastating consequences of generalised lockdowns.”
15th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Germany announces tougher coronavirus restrictions

Germany late on Wednesday announced new restrictions on public life in an effort to combat a surge in coronavirus cases. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the premiers of the country's 16 federal states agreed on limiting private gatherings to 15 attendees and a curfew for bars and restaurants from 11 p.m. in areas with a weekly rate of more than 35 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
15th Oct 2020 - POLITICO

Coronavirus: France declares state of emergency as night-time lockdown imposed on Paris and eight other cities

A state of emergency has been declared in France, and President Emmanuel Macron has announced a curfew between 9pm and 6am for the areas worst-affected by coronavirus. Ile-de-France and eight metropolitan areas - including Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint Etienne and Toulouse - will face the curfews for four weeks, starting on Saturday. During the curfew hours, people will not be allowed to go to restaurants or visit friends - but there will be no restrictions on public transport or on people travelling within regions.
15th Oct 2020 - Sky News

Italy Posts Record Virus Cases as Europe Struggles With Pandemic

Italy is being removed from the UK’s travel corridor in a fresh blow to holidaymakers who will have to quarantine for a fortnight on their return from the country. In a move revealed earlier by the Guardian, Italy – which this week recorded its highest ever daily tally of Covid-19 cases – is being dropped from the dwindling list of locations that UK travellers can visit without facing quarantine when they come home. Italy last week imposed new requirements meaning visitors from the UK and some other nations must provide evidence of a negative Covid test taken 72 hours before travel – although some Italian airports have been providing tests on arrival.
15th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg

Spanish Health Ministry reports nearly 12,000 new coronavirus infections, adds 209 victims to the death toll

A total of 11,970 new coronavirus cases were reported by the Spanish Health Ministry on Wednesday, toward the higher scale of the numbers seen over recent weeks. On Tuesday new infections came in at 7,118, a figure that may have been artificially low due to underreporting over the long weekend (Monday was a national holiday in Spain). In total, there have been 908,056 confirmed coronavirus infections in the country since the pandemic took hold.
15th Oct 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Why complacency and lifting restrictions could be driving India's high COVID-19 numbers

On Tuesday, India added 55,342 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, bringing its total number of confirmed infections to 7.17 million, according to data from the country's Ministry of Health. These daily new infections may be off their recent peaks and were the lowest numbers in almost two months, but India is the second worst-affected country after the United States, and it is set to have the largest caseload in a matter of weeks. India's high number of new cases is being driven by the ongoing lifting of lockdown restrictions and complacency around following precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, epidemiologists say. Restrictions have been steadily eased in recent months in an effort to revive livelihoods, but they have yet to be completely lifted, and the economy remains sluggish.
15th Oct 2020 - CBC.ca

Trump Overstates W.H.O. Position on Lockdowns

This week, President Trump exaggerated a position taken by the World Health Organization, saying that the agency had vindicated his derision of lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic. “The World Health Organization just admitted that I was right,” the president tweeted. “Lockdowns are killing countries all over the world. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.” Mr. Trump’s message was rapidly shared by thousands online, including the commentator Lou Dobbs and Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, who echoed the president’s rallying cry to “open up” and described the closings as “pseudoscientific” and “tyrannical.” Since the early days of the pandemic, the president has dismissed lockdowns as unnecessary and harmful, even while the virus continued to blaze across the nation.
15th Oct 2020 - The New York Times

'Things will get worse': London goes into stricter lockdown

London, the world’s international financial capital, will enter a tighter COVID-19 lockdown from midnight on Friday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks to tackle a swiftly accelerating second coronavirus wave. The respiratory pandemic, which emerged in China last year and has killed over a million people worldwide, is spreading in most parts of Britain, whose official death toll of 43,155 is the highest in Europe. Anger, though, is rising over the economic, social and health costs of the biggest curtailment of freedoms since World War Two. One former government adviser warned some people would have trouble clothing their children soon.
15th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: New Zealand's 'go hard and go early' COVID-19 response 'unprecedented internationally' - study

On March 14, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand's strategy in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic would be to "go hard and go early". Despite claims from her opponents we didn't, new research has found not only that we did, but we went the hardest and earliest of anyone. "The speed and intensity of the national response to limit the epidemic is unprecedented internationally," a new study published this week in prestigious medical journal The Lancet said. "It is likely this early, intense response, which also enabled relatively rapid easing while maintaining strict border controls, prevented the burden of disease experienced in other high-income countries with slower lockdown implementation."
15th Oct 2020 - Newshub

Northen Ireland imposes strictest UK lockdown, Irish border curbs follow

Northern Ireland announced the strictest COVID-19 restrictions seen in the United Kingdom since early summer on Wednesday, closing schools for two weeks, restaurants for four weeks and leading Ireland to respond by tightening curbs in bordering counties. The British-ruled region of Northern Ireland has become one of Europe’s biggest COVID-19 hotspots in recent weeks. Its health minister described the situation last Friday as becoming graver by the hour. The health department reported a record amount of daily cases on Wednesday with 1,217 new infections bringing the number of cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days to 356. Four more deaths were also announced.
15th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Oct 2020

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Kids may not be recommended for COVID-19 vaccination initially, U.S. CDC says

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that COVID-19 vaccines may not be initially recommended for children, when they become available. Children, who rarely have severe COVID-19 symptoms, have not yet been tested for any experimental coronavirus vaccine. The CDC said so far early clinical trials have only included non-pregnant adults, noting the recommended groups could change in the future as clinical trials expand to recruit more people. Pfizer has said it will enroll children, who are capable of passing on the virus to high-risk groups, as young as 12 in its large, late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial, while AstraZeneca has said a sub-group of patients in a large trial will test children between five to 12.
14th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Will Zambia be first African nation to default during pandemic?

Zambia moved closer to becoming the first African nation to default on its dollar bonds since the onset of the coronavirus, making it a test case for nations worldwide battling to meet obligations to a range of lenders from bondholders to Chinese state banks. Holders of Zambia’s $3 billion of Eurobonds will vote next week on the country’s request for a six-month interest-payment holiday. A core croup of creditors have already rejected the proposal, prompting Zambia to say Tuesday it won’t be able to service its $3 billion of Eurobonds unless it gets the relief.
14th Oct 2020 - Aljazeera.com

Portugal imposes tougher COVID-19 measures as virus spreads

Tougher measures will be imposed in Portugal from Thursday onwards to contain record levels of coronavirus cases, including stricter limits on gatherings and heavier penalties for rule-breaking establishments. Prime Minister Antonio Costa will also submit a proposal to parliament to make face masks compulsory in crowded outdoor spaces, and use of the government’s tracing app compulsory for some workforces. “I know many people are tired of the restrictions,” Costa told a news conference on Wednesday.
14th Oct 2020 - Reuters

IMF urges governments to maintain Covid-19 support, as restrictions tighten - business live

International Monetary Fund says it’s too early to end government support scheme, as pandemic drives up to 90m people into extreme poverty - Britain’s economy faces a double risk to recovery from a disorderly Brexit as the coronavirus pandemic drags down growth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned. On the eve of a critical EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, the influential Paris-based thinktank said the Covid crisis would further complicate a disorderly Brexit as companies were less prepared for the end of the transition period, having diverted attention away from leaving the EU. It warned that failure to secure a free trade agreement before the UK leaves the Brexit transition period at the end of December would leave the economy 6.5% lower in the next few years than would have been the case if existing arrangements with the EU had been maintained.
14th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

White House Embraces Covid-19 ‘Herd Immunity’ Declaration

The White House has embraced a declaration by a group of scientists arguing that authorities should allow the coronavirus to spread among young healthy people while protecting the elderly and the vulnerable — an approach that would rely on arriving at “herd immunity” through infections rather than a vaccine. Many experts say “herd immunity” is still very far-off. Leading experts have concluded, using different scientific methods, that about 85 to 90 percent of the American population is still susceptible to the coronavirus. The declaration’s architects include Sunetra Gupta and Gabriela Gomes, two scientists who have proposed that societies may achieve herd immunity when 10 to 20 percent of their populations have been infected with the virus, a position most epidemiologists disagree with.
14th Oct 2020 - The New York Times

Scientists Are Slamming The Great Barrington Declaration’s Call For “Herd Immunity”

As the Trump administration signals a willingness to build “herd immunity” by purposely allowing the coronavirus to spread, major scientific organizations are denouncing a plan they say would be life-threatening and practically impossible. That plan, laid out by three scientists in a controversial document called the "Great Barrington Declaration," calls for only protecting “vulnerable” people and letting everyone else get infected with COVID-19. The authors discussed the strategy in a meeting with two top White House officials last week. This week, the head of the World Health Organization and more than a dozen groups representing thousands of infectious disease and public health experts fiercely pushed back in a series of formal denouncements. “Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic. It is scientifically and ethically problematic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.
14th Oct 2020 - BuzzFeed News

Two-week UK circuit-breaker lockdown ‘will be considered’ if strict tier system fails

The prime minister is reportedly considering a short ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown if his three-tier system fails, as pressure mounts on him to take drastic action over the half-term break. Sir Keir Starmer and experts are urging Boris Johnson to go further than his latest measures by introducing a fortnight of nationwide curbs, with scientists estimating the move could save around 7,800 lives by the end of the year. The temporary lockdown would see most businesses, including pubs and restaurants close, if the three-tier restrictions coming into effect today fail to bring down the spiralling infection rate, a Government source told The Telegraph.
14th Oct 2020 - Metro

Liverpool becomes first city to be placed under UK's tightest restrictions

The city of Liverpool in northern England is part of the first area to go under the UK's new strictest set of Covid-19 restrictions. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz reports
14th Oct 2020 - CNN

Coronavirus: Northern Ireland to go into four-week partial lockdown

Northern Ireland is to close schools, pubs and restaurants as part of new restrictions to try to contain exploding rates of Covid-19 infection. Arlene Foster, the first minister, announced the partial lockdown on Wednesday at a special sitting of the Stormont assembly in response to what has become a pandemic hotspot. The new rules take effect from Friday and are to last four weeks with the exception of schools, which will shut for two weeks. The hospitality sector will close apart from deliveries and takeaways. Off-licences and supermarkets cannot sell alcohol after 8pm. There will be no indoor sport or organised contact sport involving mixing of households, other than at elite level.
14th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Newly reported coronavirus cases in Germany reach April's level

The number of newly reported coronavirus cases in Germany has passed 5,000 for the first time since mid-April as officials weigh the possible rollout of new measures to contain the pandemic. The country’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, said on Wednesday that a further 5,132 infections and 43 deaths from Covid-19 were recorded over the past day. The development came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel was set to meet with the governors of the country's 16 states to discuss which measures to take in response to the growing case load.
14th Oct 2020 - Evening Standard

Russia, Poland and Iran each hit new coronavirus records

European nations are closing schools, cancelling operations and enlisting legions of student medics as overwhelmed authorities face the nightmare scenario of a COVID-19 resurgence at the onset of winter. With new cases hitting about 100,000 a day, Europe has by a wide margin overtaken the United States, where more than 51,000 COVID-19 infections are reported on average every day. Most European governments eased lockdowns over the summer to start reviving economies already battered by the pandemic's first wave, but the return of normal activity – from packed restaurants to new university terms – has fuelled a sharp spike in cases all over the continent. Bars and pubs were among the first to shut or face earlier closing in the new lockdowns, but now the surging infection rates are also testing governments' resolve to keep schools and non-COVID medical care going.
14th Oct 2020 - Sydney Morning Herald

Switzerland calls 'crisis summit' in bid to avoid second lockdown

The Swiss government will hold a ‘crisis summit’ on Thursday to discuss what steps can be taken to avoid a second lockdown. The Swiss government has called a ‘crisis meeting’ to determine how a second lockdown can be avoided. President Simonetta Sommaruga, Health Minister Alain Berset, Economics Minister Guy Parmelin, President of the Conference of the Cantonal Governments Christian Rathgeb, Lukas Engelberger and Christoph Brutschin, top health and economics directors, will attend the meeting. In calling for the 'crisis summit', Sommaruga is hoping to avoid an economically and socially destructive second lockdown, reports Swiss tabloid Blick.
14th Oct 2020 - The Local Switzerland

Covid-19: Health experts suggest Christmas lockdown as Italy reports record rise in new cases

Italy has reported over 7,000 new cases of coronavirus in a day for the first time ever, as scientific experts warned of pressure on hospitals and said a "circuit breaker" lockdown may be necessary by Christmas. Italy's health authorities on Wednesday reported 7,332 new cases within the past 24 hours, a figure that exceeds the record high of 6,557 seen on March 21st.
14th Oct 2020 - The Local Italy

COVID-19 lockdown in Israel extended till October 18

The period of the general quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Israel has been extended until October 18, the prime minister and the health minister said in a joint statement. Earlier, Israel imposed strict norms of nationwide quarantine until the end of the fall holidays - October 11, and then the period was extended until October 14. According to these norms, many workplaces are closed, with the exception of vital and continuous production lines, only grocery stores and pharmacies continue to work.
14th Oct 2020 - The New Indian Express

Netherlands goes into partial lockdown to contain coronavirus spread

The Netherlands returned to a "partial lockdown" on Wednesday (October 14, 2020) following Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's announcement on Tuesday evening to close bars and restaurants in order to control the coronavirus in one of Europe's major hotspots. "Today we are announcing new and sturdy measures and in fact we are going to a partial lockdown," Rutte said in a televised news conference. He said public gatherings of more than four people would be prohibited and alcohol sales in the evening would also be banned. Schools were to remain open and public transport would keep running, in contrast to measures imposed during a partial lockdown earlier this year.
14th Oct 2020 - Zee News

COVID 2nd wave drives more European countries back into lockdown

More European countries have decided to reimpose nationwide lockdown measures to counter fast-rising coronavirus infection rates. Northern Ireland announced Wednesday that it would become the first among the United Kingdom's four nations to try a so-called circuit breaker lockdown. The tactic will see pubs and restaurants closed for all but takeout service, all schools closed and many other businesses greatly restricted for a short, defined period to try and break the cycle of spiraling infections.
14th Oct 2020 - CBS News

Coronavirus: Which countries have tried circuit-breaker lockdowns and have they worked?

Sir Keir Starmer has called for a two- to three-week national lockdown, accusing the prime minister of "no longer following the scientific advice". The Labour leader's intervention came after it emerged Boris Johnson dismissed a recommendation for the measure from government scientists three weeks ago. Here’s a look at how other countries have attempted a so-called "circuit-breaker" in their fight against Covid-19.
14th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Here's how circuit breaker lockdowns worked in Israel, New Zealand and Singapore

Just 24 hours after Boris Johnson unveiled his latest plans to crub the spread of coronavirus, the Labour Party has called for 'circuit breaker' lockdown. Sir Keir Starmer called for a two to three-week national lockdown on Tuesday that, accusing the Prime Minister of "no longer following the scientific advice". His comments come after it emerged on Monday evening that scientists advising the government recommended the country be put into a two-week 'circuit break' lockdown three weeks ago. Documents released on Monday night - prior to the PM appearing from Downing Street for his press conference - show that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) were urging the Prime Minister to go further than the three-tiered system.
14th Oct 2020 - Manchester Evening News

Keir Starmer calls for 'circuit breaker' lockdown for England – video

Keir Starmer called for a two-to three-week national 'circuit breaker' lockdown across England to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed, urging Boris Johnson to act in a dramatic escalation of his criticism of the government’s approach. Starmer pushed the PM to heed the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) after it was revealed late on Monday that the government’s scientific advisers called for a fortnight-long lockdown as long ago as 21 September, warning that a failure to do so risked a 'very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences'
14th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus spikes in two Australian states; easing restrictions delayed

Several coronavirus clusters have emerged in Australia’s two most populous states, officials said on Wednesday, prompting the biggest, New South Wales (NSW), to delay easing some restrictions. The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was concerned the state was on the cusp of another major community transmission, after 11 new cases were locally acquired and a cluster appeared in the southwest Sydney suburb of Lakemba. She said the easing of some social restrictions involving restaurants and weddings would now be put on hold.
14th Oct 2020 - Reuters Australia

Dutch to impose social restrictions to curb COVID-19 surge

The Netherlands will return to a “partial lockdown” on Wednesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, closing bars and restaurants as it battles to control the coronavirus in one of Europe’s major hotspots. “Today we are announcing new and sturdy measures and in fact we are going to a partial lockdown,” Rutte said in a televised news conference. He said public gatherings of more than four people would be prohibited and alcohol sales in the evening would also be banned. Schools were to remain open and public transport would keep running, in contrast to measures imposed during a partial lockdown earlier this year.
14th Oct 2020 - Reuters

‘We have to act’: France’s Macron orders curfews to contain COVID

President Emmanuel Macron has ordered a nighttime curfew for Paris and eight other French cities to contain the rising spread of the coronavirus in the country. In a televised interview on Wednesday, Macron said residents of those cities would not be allowed outdoors between 9pm (19:00 GMT) and 6am (04:00 GMT) from Saturday, for at least four weeks, except for essential reasons.
14th Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

World Bank approves $12bn to increase COVID vaccine accessibility

The World Bank has approved $12bn in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests and treatments. The $12bn “envelope” is part of a wider World Bank Group package of up to $160bn to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank said in a statement late on Tuesday. Its implementation will be in support of efforts being led by the World Health Organization and COVAX, and will offer recipient countries a number of options with regards to acquiring and delivering vaccines. The World Bank said its new funding would help “signal to the research and pharmaceutical industry that citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines”.
14th Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

G20 agrees to additional 6-month debt suspension for poor nations

The Group of 20 nations, representing the world’s biggest economies, have agreed to extend the suspension of debt payments by an additional six months to support the most vulnerable countries in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The G-20 says the extension will provide ongoing relief for the $14bn in debt payments that would have come due at the end of the year otherwise. Wednesday’s decision gives developing nations until the end of June 2021 to focus spending on health care and emergency stimulus programs rather than debt repayments.
14th Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Oct 2020

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Coronavirus: Northern Ireland set to impose 'circuit breaker' lockdown for four weeks

Northern Ireland is set to become the first full region of the UK to impose a "circuit breaker" lockdown. Tighter restrictions will be in place for four weeks - with schools closing for two of them, Sky News understands. According to the PA news agency, the new measures will mean pubs and restaurants have to close, with the exception of takeaways. PA said closures of hospitality outlets would begin on Friday 16 October and other measures from Monday 19 October
14th Oct 2020 - Sky News

France launches flu vaccine campaign amid COVID-19 crisis

France launched a flu vaccine campaign Tuesday in an effort to avoid facing another epidemic peak as the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in the country. French health authorities have issued official recommendations to prevent potential shortages of flu vaccine, which they fear might happen amid increased demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
13th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Covid-19: Protests as Argentina's cases pass 900,000

Thousands have joined anti-government protests in Argentina as confirmed coronavirus infections continue to rise, passing 900,000 on Monday. Many Argentines are angry at the government's handling of the crisis and the economic effect of lockdowns, as well as issues such as corruption. A strict lockdown early in the pandemic meant that the number of cases grew slowly at first. But following an easing of restrictions cases have been rising steeply.
13th Oct 2020 - BBC News

COVID-19: Council adopts a recommendation to coordinate measures affecting free movement

Today the Council adopted a recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restrictions of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This recommendation aims to avoid fragmentation and disruption, and to increase transparency and predictability for citizens and businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our daily lives in many ways. Travel restrictions have made it difficult for some of our citizens to get to work, to university or to visit their loved ones. It is our common duty to ensure coordination on any measures which affect free movement and to give our citizens all the information they need when deciding on their travel.
13th Oct 2020 - EU News

Ukraine extends coronavirus lockdown to December 31

Ukraine’s government voted on Tuesday to extend until the end of the year a lockdown that Prime Minister Denys Shmygal told a televised cabinet meeting was aimed at containing a recent spike in coronavirus cases. The daily tally of new infections in Ukraine has climbed to record levels and 107 deaths were recorded in the 24 hours to Tuesday.
13th Oct 2020 - Metro US

UK Covid-19: Boris Johnson Clashes With Own Scientific Advisers

Boris Johnson clashed with his own government’s scientific advisers who wanted tougher action against the resurgent coronavirus outbreak in the U.K. in September. The British prime minister announced Monday that bars and pubs will be closed in the worst-hit parts of England to control the pandemic as he tried to restore clarity and credibility to his much-criticized strategy. He said he hoped to avoid another full national lockdown and that his plan would work if people followed the advice. Prime Minister Holds Virtual Briefing As UK Imposes New Covid-19 Rules. But England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned the new measures won’t be enough, and newly released papers showed the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) recommended national or regional restrictions to slow the spread of the virus last month.
13th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg

Painful but effective? UK can look to Israel for example of short lockdown

Days before UK ministers rejected advice to impose a shortened “circuit breaker” lockdown in late September, Israel made the opposite decision and enforced the unpopular and painful policy to stem the spiralling number of virus infections. The country of 9 million – less than 15% of the population of Britain – was shut down for a second time, with Israeli officials arguing it was essential to halt infections or risk overloading hospitals. As the UK and other countries consider implementing shorter lockdowns, Israel presents an example of their benefits and perils. While clearly stalling infections, the second lockdown has further pummelled the economy and infuriated much of the public, some of whom have defied the rules out of frustration and apathy.
13th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

EU waters down Covid-19 traffic-light travel zones concept

EU member states on Tuesday (13 October) will adopt common standards to coordinate coronavirus travel restrictions, including a 'traffic-light' system of affected areas - in a bid to prevent a recurrence of individual and unilateral measures, as seen during the first Covid-19 wave. Under the proposal of the German presidency, endorsed by EU ambassadors last Friday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will publish a map, updated weekly, that categories EU regions into green, orange and red zones (or grey, for insufficient data), according to Covid-19 infection rates. The map will be available in the coming days.
13th Oct 2020 - EUObserver

Germany's Merkel concerned by rising coronavirus cases across EU

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday she was concerned by rising coronavirus cases across Europe. “I am watching with great concern the renewed increase in infection numbers in almost every part of Europe. And I must say the situation continues to be serious,” Merkel said during a debate on the German presidency of the European Union at the bloc’s Committee of the Regions. “We mustn’t throw away what we achieved via restrictions over the past months. These restrictions haven’t been easy for any of us,” she added. “Many have lost their lives. And that makes it all the more important that we make sure that a further lockdown won’t be needed.”
13th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Europe Tightens Restrictions to Counter Record Virus Surge

European governments are adding new restrictions and calling on citizens to make sacrifices in a bid to contain a record increase in coronavirus cases, with the Czech Republic closing schools and the Netherlands shutting down virtually all nighttime activity. Saying measures needed to stop the virus “will hurt,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced what he called a “partial lockdown” on Tuesday evening, with sales of alcohol to be banned after 8 p.m. and bars, restaurants and coffee shops to be closed altogether. Citizens are being urged to avoid public transportation where possible.
13th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg

New measures serve to avert new lockdown - Di Maio

The government's new anti-COVID measures will serve to avert a fresh national lockdown, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Tuesday. This is despite acknowledgement that virus contagion rates are rising across the country, he said "Infection rates are high, that is true," Di Maio said on Facebook. "But by bringing in all the anti-COVID norms it is possible to stop the virus. "More stringent measures have been launched in Italy, because if we intervene now we can preserve citizens' health, the health of the country, and avert a new lockdown". Di Maio also said Italy should "act like a team" to get the EU's Recovery Fund funding as soon as possible. Premier Giuseppe Conte's government passed a decree overnight imposing new restrictions aimed at combatting the spread of COVID-19.
13th Oct 2020 - Agenzia ANSA

France considers local lockdowns as Covid-19 numbers soar

French President Emmanuel Macron met senior cabinet ministers on Tuesday to discuss possible further measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic following a surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations. The French president is set to deliver a televised address Wednesday on possible means to stem a second wave in the country. The meeting came a day after coronavirus intensive care treatments exceeded a May 27 peak as France, like neighbouring Spain and Britain, grapples with how to slow the virus's spread and ease pressure on a once-again strained healthcare system while keeping its 2.3 trillion euro ($2.71 trillion) economy open and protecting jobs.
13th Oct 2020 - France24

Russia's daily coronavirus cases, deaths rise to record highs

Russia on Tuesday reported record high daily coronavirus cases and deaths, pushing total infections to 1,326,178, but authorities said they do not plan to impose lockdowns across the vast country. Anna Popova, head of the consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said on Tuesday Russia saw no need to impose restrictions on economic activity in response to the spike in cases. “Despite a growing number of cases, today in Russia we are not talking about blocking the economy, suspending some business activities, some sectors of the economy, because we see no reason to do this,” Popova said in comments carried by Russian news agencies.
13th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

China considers giving students experimental COVID-19 vaccine

One of China’s leading vaccine developers is working on a plan to inoculate students going overseas with Covid-19 shots that are yet to get regulatory approval, according to people familiar with the matter, as the country pushes scientific boundaries in the race for a viable immunization. China National Biotec Group Co., or CNBG, a subsidiary of state-owned Sinopharm Group Co., is in talks with the Chinese government about giving students headed abroad to study its experimental vaccines, said the people, who asked not to be identified as they’re not authorized to speak publicly. Various government agencies are still working on the plan and no final decision has been made, the people said.
13th Oct 2020 - Aljazeera.com

'They refused to act': inside a chilling documentary on Trump's bungled Covid-19 response

A new documentary, 'Totally Under Control', recounts the early days of the pandemic in the US, revealing in clinical detail a disastrous federal response to a preventable crisis. It’s a damning list of mistakes, foreseeable crises and political squabbling splayed across a coherent timeline intended to be released just ahead of the presidential election, “so that people could render a judgment about how the federal response had been”, film-maker Alex Gibney says. The two-hour film focuses primarily on the early days of the pandemic: the missed opportunities from January through April which led to America’s spiraling coronavirus present, an unending “first wave”.
12th Oct 2020 - The Guardian


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Oct 2020

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Italy prepares new restrictions to fight spike in coronavirus cases

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Sunday (October 11) that Italy needed to add restrictions after having eased them for several weeks, as it aims to avoid a new national lockdown. Italy on Friday (October 9) topped 5,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day for the first time since March. Daily infections remained over 5,000 both on Saturday and Sunday. Deaths linked to COVID-19 are far fewer, however, than at the height of the pandemic in the country in March and April. Speranza said he proposed a ban on private parties, involving both children and adults, while Rome would also target hours for bars and restaurants to reduce people's contagion risks.
12th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

UK PM Johnson sets out three-tier system of lockdown measures

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out on Monday a three-tier system of local lockdown measures in England, including a ban on households mixing indoors in some areas, designed to curb the spread of coronavirus.
12th Oct 2020 - Reuters

New lockdown will be 'very challenging' for furloughed staff, minister concedes

The UK culture secretary has conceded it will be “very challenging” for staff from hospitality businesses closed down under new lockdown rules to live on two-thirds of their wages, as leaders in Liverpool called for more generous support. Ahead of a Commons statement by Boris Johnson on Monday, where the prime minister will set out restrictions targeted particularly at parts of the north of England, Oliver Dowden defended the government’s new wage-support scheme for areas under new lockdown measures. Under plans unveiled by the Treasury on Friday, a replacement furlough scheme will pay two-thirds of workers’ wages in hospitality firms ordered to close their doors.
12th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Slovakia imposes new COVID-19 restrictions following surge in daily cases

Amid a huge surge in COVID-19 cases, Slovakia announced imposing new restrictions on Sunday, October 11. According to the reports, from Thursday, it will be mandatory to wear masks in the outdoors in all cities, towns, and villages. In addition, the Slovakia government has banned all public events including religious services in churches. Only weddings, funerals, and baptisms with a limited number of attendees have been exempted, as per reports.
12th Oct 2020 - Republic World

Coronavirus: Germany's confusing patchwork of restrictions

Residents from Germany's increasing number of high-infection areas are banned from staying in hotels in parts of the country — but not everywhere. The patchwork of regulations is leading to more and more confusion.
12th Oct 2020 - Deutsche Welle

Germany's BioNTech signs deal with New Zealand for 1.5 million vaccine doses

New Zealand is the latest country to pre-order bulk doses of the COVID-19 vaccine currently under development by Germany-based BioNTech (BNTX) and its partner Pfizer (PFE). The German biotech company, one of the frontrunners in the race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, has signed an agreement to supply New Zealand with 1.5 million doses of its vaccine, which should be available in the first quarter of 2021.
12th Oct 2020 - Yahoo Finance UK

Health Minister warns next days are 'crucial' as national lockdown for Wales is considered

The Wales Health Minister has warned that the next days are "crucial" as they look at whether to introduce a national lockdown. Vaughan Gething said that Welsh Government might have to "make a different decision to what we are doing" as coronavirus rates continue to rise. Latest figures released on Sunday, October 11, show there were 467 confirmed cases of coronavirus reported in the last 24 hours, and two more deaths. For the third day in a row the overall infection rate in Wales is above 100 cases per 100,000 population over a rolling seven-day period. Some areas are far higher than that, with Merthyr Tydfil having 220.5 new cases per 100,000. First Minister Mark Drakeford said on Sunday that Wales is close to a 'tipping point' with coronavirus as cases continue to rise.
12th Oct 2020 - Wales Online

France Must Avoid General Lockdown by All Means, Castex Says

France must avoid another general lockdown by all means possible in the face of a “very strong” resurgence of Covid-19, said Prime Minister Jean Castex. Speaking Monday on France Info radio, Castex urged the public to wear face coverings as much as possible, keep contacts to a minimum and take other basic sanitary measures to avoid infection. “I’m not asking anything revolutionary,” Castex said. It’s essential for companies to keep working, and children to keep going to school, he said. France has emphasized local measures to combat a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks after a two-month national lockdown in the spring devastated the economy. With new infections spiking to fresh highs, there’s little evidence the piecemeal approach is working.
12th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg

WHO doctor says lockdowns should not be main coronavirus defence

Recent commentary from the World Health Organization's (WHO) special envoy on COVID-19 has sparked questions about the legitimacy of lockdowns to stop the spread of coronavirus. "We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus." This statement from Dr David Nabarro has also prompted questions about whether the WHO has backflipped on its advice, months after the pandemic was declared. So, when should lockdowns be considered, what is the WHO's advice on them and how does this affect Australia?
12th Oct 2020 - ABC News

Victoria's premier says Melbourne roadmap out of Covid lockdown likely to be redrawn

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews concedes Melbourne’s roadmap out of lockdown will likely be redrawn, suggesting case numbers could reach a point where they are “as good as they are going to get”. Victoria recorded 15 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the latest in a stream of stubborn double-digit days. The state’s death toll remains at 810 and the national figure at 898. This brings Melbourne’s rolling 14-day average to 9.9, still significantly above the five daily cases average notionally required to lift restrictions on Sunday. This date was originally set at 26 October, but was brought forward when Melbourne was racing ahead of schedule in the battle to bring down case numbers.
12th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

New Zealand Signs Deal To Secure 1.5 Mn Doses Of Pfizer, BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

The New Zealand government has reportedly signed a deal with Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech to secure 1.5 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccine. Research, Science & Innovation Minister Megan Woods said in a statement that the government is in talks with other drug companies as well to ensure sufficient COVID-19 vaccines for the whole population. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, BNT162b2, is one of the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the race to get regulatory approval in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The UK government had announced on July 20 that it has signed a binding agreement with BioNTech/Pfizer to secure 30 million doses of vaccine. The vaccine candidate is based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology and supported by Pfizer’s global vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities. The vaccine candidate is being evaluated in a global Phase 3 study which is currently underway at more than 120 clinical sites worldwide. The trial has enrolled around 37,000 participants with more than 28,000 volunteers have received their second vaccination.
12th Oct 2020 - RepublicWorld

Covid-19: 'Near extinction' of influenza in NZ due to lockdown - epidemiologist

Mask wearing and social distancing for Covid-19 has all but cut influenza cases in New Zealand this year, with only six flu isolates detected in this country from April to August. Public health physician and epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker offered RNZ National’s Sunday Morning programme his analysis on the flu season numbers and why masks continue to be so important. He said there has been "near extinction of influenza in New Zealand following our very effective Covid-19 response", as numbers vanished from the two standard systems for surveillance - resulting in a 99.8 percent reduction in flu cases.
12th Oct 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Confidential data shows many Illinois coronavirus outbreaks have been undisclosed: report | TheHill

Outbreaks of coronavirus in schools, workplaces and other facilities are driving the surge of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois, some of which have not been publicly identified, according to a new study. The study from journalists at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published in USA Today indicates that individual clusters of coronavirus infections are primarily responsible for the latest wave of new COVID-19 cases vexing public health officials in the state, with several outbreaks occurring at correctional facilities and a major military base. The second-largest outbreak identified by the study, which until now has not been reported to news organizations, is occurring at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Lake County, Ill., where 228 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified over the past month according to confidential data recorded by Illinois officials and obtained by the study.
12th Oct 2020 - The Hill

Coronavirus will cost the US $16 TRILLION - 90% of the GDP - study predicts

Researchers predict that the coronavirus pandemic will cost the US an estimated $16 trillion, or about 90% of the annual GDP. About $4.4 trillion will be due to the economic cost of 625,000 premature deaths. An estimated $2.6 trillion will be spent treating those who survived COVID-19 but have long-term complications and damage. Mental health treatment, for those dealing with the loss of a loved one or feelings of isolation, will cost $1.6 trillion. The remaining $7.6 trillion will be due to the economic toll of lost jobs and those filing new unemployment claims
12th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus pandemic has exposed global leadership deficit, says report

Over 70 per cent of citizens around the globe say they are experiencing the lowest point in their nation's history, while nearly two-thirds say their leaders are out of touch
12th Oct 2020 - Business Standard

Czech Republic goes from model Covid-19 response to brink of second lockdown

The Czech Republic could be set for a second lockdown following a dramatic rise in Covid-19 infections that has transformed it into Europe’s fastest growing outbreak just months after being hailed as one of the continent’s success stories in managing the pandemic. A new peak of 8,618 cases was recorded on Friday in the country of 10.7 million, up more than 3,000 on the previous day and significantly more per capita than any other European state. Spain, with a population of just under 47 million and currently the second worst-affected country, documented 12,788 infections on the same day.
11th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Leo Varadkar says 'short, hard lockdown' may be needed 'to knock the virus on the head again'

Leo Varadkar says a “short, hard lockdown” or circuit break is being considered by the government in an attempt “to knock the virus on the head again”. The Tánaiste made the suggestion in an article for the Sunday Independent in which the Fine Gael leader insisted any and all options would be explored before a second lockdown was implemented. Varadkar’s comments come a week on from the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (NPHET) recommendation that Ireland go into a Level 5 lockdown – the strictest level of lockdown – to help curb Covid-19 case numbers. However, the government opted to implement Level 3 restrictions, with Varadkar later telling RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live he didn’t believe the recommendations had been “thought through”.
11th Oct 2020 - Irish Post

Spain's PM defends Covid emergency lockdown in Madrid

The Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has said he hopes to bring the coronavirus outbreak in the capital under control within the next two weeks, as he defended the government’s decision to declare a state of emergency to keep the Madrid region in partial lockdown. Sánchez’s Socialist-led coalition invoked emergency powers on Friday after the Madrid regional government failed to respond to an ultimatum and a court struck down the central government’s original lockdown order. “We have always put public health and saving lives above any other consideration and we’ve asked regional governments to do the same,” he told reporters during a visit to Portugal on Saturday.
11th Oct 2020 - The Guardian


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Oct 2020

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Britain is at a coronavirus tipping point, says deputy chief medical officer

Britain is at a “tipping point” in the coronavirus crisis and the country must act now to stop history repeating itself, the deputy chief medical officer for England said on Sunday, urging people to follow the rules. With the number of cases rapidly rising particularly in the north of England, ministers are readying a new set of rules to try to tackle the crisis that will include handing more power to local leaders to track the virus’ spread.
11th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

India's coronavirus infections cross 7 million ahead of festivals

India’s coronavirus caseload topped 7 million on Sunday when the health ministry reported 74,383 new infections in the previous 24 hours, with a rise in infections in southern states offsetting a drop in western regions. Deaths from COVID-19 rose by 918 in the last 24 hours to 108,334, the ministry said. India added a million cases in just 13 days, according to a Reuters tally of government data, and it has the second-highest number of infections, behind the United States which is approaching the 8 million mark.
11th Oct 2020 - Reuters

French daily COVID cases set new record at almost 27,000

The number of new coronavirus infections in France jumped over 26,000 in one day for the first time since the start of the epidemic, health ministry data showed on Saturday. The ministry reported 26,896 new infections, taking the cumulative total to 718,873 since the start of the year. The number of deaths from the virus increased by 54 to 32,684.
11th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Russia reports record single-day rise in coronavirus cases

Russia’s coronavirus cases rose by 12,846 on Saturday, a new daily record since the start of the outbreak early this year. The latest figures pushed the overall total number of infections in the country to 1,285,084. The previous record of 12,126 new cases was registered on Friday.
11th Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

NZ’s PM Ardern touts success in tackling pandemic in poll push

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday burnished her leadership credentials on the back of her successful response to the coronavirus pandemic at a campaign rally six days before the country’s election on October 17. Polls show Ardern’s Labour Party is expected to win the election with a wide lead over the conservative National Party, and could form government in a coalition with the Greens and New Zealand First.
11th Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Germany warns of ‘exponential’ rise in Covid infections

Angela Merkel has raised the prospect of far-reaching restrictions on public life in some of Germany’s biggest cities, as authorities grapple with an alarming rise in coronavirus infections across the country. Ms Merkel said Germany was facing a make-or-break moment, and what happened next would reflect “whether we can keep the pandemic under control . . . or whether that control will slip away from us”. The chancellor was speaking after a video conference with 11 German mayors where it was agreed a further round of regulations would be imposed in areas where new infections exceed a threshold of 50 cases per 100,000 population in a week.
10th Oct 2020 - Financial Times

Fauci warns the US could see 300-400K coronavirus deaths

Dr Anthony Fauci said that models suggest the US COVID-19 death toll could reach 300,000 or 400,000 during an American University webinar Tuesday. He warned that the US needs to brace for fall and winter with more mask-wearing and social distancing to slow the spread of the disease. Coronavirus has already killed more than 210,000 Americans since the pandemic began in January. He said that the White House outbreak 'could have been prevented' and is proof that coronavirus is 'not a hoax'
10th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Explained: When will we have a Covid-19 vaccine, and why does October hold the key?

When will an antidote against Covid-19 finally become widely available? The answer to this question may eventually be found this month as a handful of coronavirus vaccine candidates near the end of late stage clinical trials. At least two vaccine frontrunners — Pfizer and Moderna Inc — are set to release late-stage and Phase 2 results this month. While experts have said vaccines were likely to reach the general public in the March-April 2021, drugmakers have been more ambitious with their calculations, with some firms like Moderna Inc eyeing the emergency-use authorisation route to launch their shots by year end. In fact, Pfizer may also file for US FDA approval of its vaccine this month itself, Bloomberg reported.
10th Oct 2020 - The Indian Express

China, Indonesia to enhance COVID-19 vaccine cooperation

China and Indonesia have vowed to strengthen cooperation on COVID-19 vaccine during talks between Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesian President's special envoy and the country's Coordinator for Cooperation with China. The pair met Friday in southwest China's Yunnan Province. Saying that vaccine cooperation is the current focus of bilateral anti-epidemic cooperation, Wang said China is willing to work with Indonesia to comprehensively promote the research and development, production and use of the vaccine, and jointly contribute to the availability and affordability of vaccines in the region and the world.
10th Oct 2020 - CGTN

China Joins WHO Initiative to Distribute COVID Vaccine to Developing Countries

China said Friday it is joining a World Health Organization international initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to the developing world. China, Russia and the U.S. had said they were not joining the alliance to help two-thirds of world’s population receive the vaccines by 2022. China’s reversal makes it the largest country to participate in what is known as the COVAX deal. “We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support Covax,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
9th Oct 2020 - Voice of America

Brazil eagerly awaits China-developed COVID-19 vaccine as infections reach 5 million

A total of 9,000 volunteers in Brazil have participated in trials of China-developed COVID-19 vaccines as the country reports more than 5 million COVID-19 cases as of October 7, following the US and India. The trials involve a vaccine developed by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech LTD, which started in July in Brazil and are scheduled to be completed by October 15. According to Brazil media reports in early October, a primary report on the trials has been submitted to the Brazil national health authority. João Doria, governor of the Sao Paulo state, where part of the trials have taken place, had previously said that vaccinations on volunteers would involve 9,000 people and be completed on October 15, and the vaccine, if approved, would hopefully be available to the public on December 15.
10th Oct 2020 - Global Times

U.S., AstraZeneca strike deal for COVID-19 antibody treatment touted by Trump

The U.S. government has awarded $486 million (£372.7 million) to AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L to develop and secure supplies of up to 100,000 doses of COVID-19 antibody treatment, a similar class of drug that was used in treating President Donald Trump. The agreement, under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, is for developing a monoclonal antibody cocktail that can prevent COVID-19, especially in high-risk population like those over 80 years old, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said. The treatment has come under the spotlight after Trump was treated with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' REGN.O antibody drug last week. The president has also released a video on Twitter touting its benefits.
9th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: Spain imposes state of emergency on Madrid

The Spanish government has ordered a 15-day state of emergency to bring down Covid-19 infection rates in the capital, after a court overturned a partial lockdown imposed a week ago. Madrid and nearby cities will see restrictions enforced by 7,000 police. The capital has been at the centre of a political row, with the centre-right city authorities challenging the Socialist-led government's demands. Cases are down and a state of emergency is unjustified, say city officials. Madrid health minister Enrique Ruiz Escudero insisted that measures already in place were working and that the national government order was "a measure no Madrileño will understand".
9th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Brazil nears 5m Covid-19 cases, epidemiologist fears second wave

Brazil approached the mark of 5 million confirmed Covid-19 cases on Wednesday as it approached 150,000 deaths in the second most deathly coronavirus outbreak outside the United States. Though the number of cases has come down from a peak in July, public health experts warn that Brazil is ignoring social distancing precautions and faces the danger of a second wave by returning to normal everyday life too quickly. The Health Ministry reported on Tuesday 41,906 new cases, raising the total to 4,969,141, and 819 death, bringing the toll to 147,494 dead. The rolling daily average for last week was 658 deaths a day, down from 1,073 deaths per day in the last week of July. Average new cases were 26,140 day, almost half the rate of late July.
9th Oct 2020 - AOL.co.uk

China's successful control of COVID-19

According to a July survey by the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans believe that China has done a bad job dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is clearly not an opinion shared by WHO. In a press conference in September, Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, offered “deepest congratulations...to the front-line health workers in China and the population who worked together tirelessly to bring the disease to this very low level”.
8th Oct 2020 - The Lancet

Italy tops 4,000 daily coronavirus cases for first time since mid-April

Italy has registered 4,458 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday, the first time the country has exceeded 4,000 cases in a single day since mid-April. There were also 22 COVID-related deaths on Thursday against 31 the day before -- far fewer than at the height of the pandemic in Italy in March and April. They increased by around 1,000 on Wednesday, when there were more than 3,000 daily cases for the first time since April 24. Italy is still recording significantly fewer daily cases than several other large European countries, such as France, Spain and Britain. The last time Italy saw more than 4,000 cases in a day was on was April 12, with 4,092 infections reported around a month before the government allowed restaurants, bars and shops to reopen. On that same day, some 431 people died.
9th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Vaccine suppliers given indemnity for 'inevitable' side effects

The Morrison government has given the suppliers of two COVID-19 vaccines indemnity against liability for rare side effects that experts say are "inevitable" when a vaccine is rolled out. But the government will not set up a statutory compensation scheme, which the president of the Australian Medical Association, Omar Khorshid, said meant Australians who suffered "extremely rare" side effects from the vaccines would face a tough battle to seek compensation.
8th Oct 2020 - Sydney Morning Herald

South Africa is the continent's COVID epicenter. Here is how it is transitioning into recovery mode

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa looked appropriately dour, and sounded appropriately cautious, as he appeared on national television [recently] to warn of the dangers of a second wave of infections and to urge the public against relaxing their guard against the virus. And yet the president’s key message was a simple, optimistic and impressive truth. “We have succeeded in overcoming the worst phase of this epidemic,” he declared.
9th Oct 2020 - Genetic Literacy Project


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 9th Oct 2020

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Sweden tries to isolate COVID-19 cases without a lockdown as infections surge

Sweden, almost alone in Europe in rejecting a broad lockdown this northern spring, has introduced new guidelines to curb a surge in coronavirus infections but is sticking to its largely voluntary approach. The Nordic country, which only had minor restrictions throughout its epidemic, had until recently been spared by the second wave of COVID-19 cases currently sweeping Europe. Authorities’ hopes that this was the result of collective immunity built as the disease spread rapidly through communities earlier in the year were dashed in recent days when a surge in new cases put Stockholm on track to reach last northern spring’s infection record. The new measures, in force for less than a week, recommend that all members of a household should isolate for a week if one of them becomes infected. Those unable to work from home will be eligible for sick pay.
8th Oct 2020 - The Australian

Coronavirus: Government’s test and trace system has ‘concerning’ worst-ever week

The government’s contact-tracing programme failed to reach more than 30 per cent of close contacts of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in England, the latest figures show, in what is the worst week on record since the beginning of Test and Trace. Some 68.6 per cent of close contacts were reached through the system, once dubbed “world-beating” by prime minister Boris Johnson, in the week ending 30 September, according to data published by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). This is the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace began, and is down from 72.5 per cent in the previous week. Meanwhile, only two-thirds of positive Covid-19 cases were transferred to the system over the same time period.
8th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Jordan returns to weekend lockdown as COVID-19 cases mount

Jordan will enter a nationwide 48-hour lockdown on Friday for the first time in months as health officials worry a major spike in coronavirus infections could threaten its stretched healthcare system, officials said. The country has seen what officials say is an “exponential” rise, with around 10,000 cases confirmed in just over a week – a near-doubling of the total number of infections since the first cases in early March and a reversal what had been among the lowest infection and death rates in the Middle East. Senior officials are struggling to avoid a broader lockdown that the hard-hit economy can ill afford.
8th Oct 2020 - Metro US

Coronavirus: England expected to be split into three different lockdown tiers next week

England is expected to be carved into three different lockdown tiers next week, with millions of people facing tougher restrictions as the government tries to get a handle on rising coronavirus cases and hospital admissions. Pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities are expected to be closed in parts of the North put into the strictest tier, according to two sources who have seen blueprints of the current plans. Under the proposals, people living in the strictest tier - tier three - are also expected to be ordered not to have any social contact with anyone outside their household in any setting, according to one person familiar with the blueprints being drawn up by the government.
8th Oct 2020 - Sky News

Orthodox New Yorkers condemn Cuomo over new Covid shutdowns

New rules putting parts of New York City back into lockdown amid a rise in fresh coronavirus cases have been met with protests as Andrew Cuomo was accused of using “dangerous and divisive” language against Orthodox Jews. On Wednesday night groups of Orthodox people in Brooklyn and some of their community leaders gathered in the streets, some not wearing masks and some bearing pro-Donald Trump signs. An Orthodox journalist covering the events later said he was attacked by an angry mob.
8th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Germany’s health minister ‘very concerned’ at surge in Covid cases

Germany is seeing a sharp jump in new coronavirus infections, a development that is raising fears the pandemic is picking up pace in a country that so far has coped better than many of its European neighbors. The country's disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 4,058 new infections and 16 deaths over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 310,144, with 9,578 deaths. That death toll is one-fourth of Britain's and one-third of the confirmed virus toll in Italy. “I'm very concerned about this,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters in Berlin, which has become one of the hotspots for new cases. He urged Germans to respect social distancing and hygiene measures to avoid reaching a point “where we lose control.”
8th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Europe struggles to stem rapid resurgence of coronavirus

Several mainland European countries have recorded their highest daily number of Covid-19 infections since widespread testing began, as governments struggle to stem a rapid resurgence of the virus that risks overwhelming some healthcare systems. The figures came as the World Health Organization reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 338,779 in 24 hours. The previous record for new cases was 330,340 on 2 October. As a region, Europe is now reporting more cases than India, Brazil or the United States.
8th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Locking down early may help economies recover faster, says IMF

Strict, early lockdowns may be less economically damaging than voluntary measures because they reduce infection rates more quickly and pave the way for faster recoveries, the International Monetary Fund has said. By cross-referencing jobs and mobility data with health and economic figures for 128 countries, the fund showed that lockdowns caused more short-term harm than voluntary restrictions but may have “positive overall effects on the economy” by allowing a broader and quicker economic reopening. Central to the analysis was the discovery that “lockdowns and voluntary social distancing played a near comparable role in driving the economic recession”, particularly in advanced economies where people were able to work from home. “Addressing health risks appears to be a pre-condition to allow for a strong and sustained economic recovery."
8th Oct 2020 - The Times

Madrid High Court strikes down Heath Ministry’s coronavirus restrictions

The Madrid High Court ruled on Thursday that it would not ratify the coronavirus restrictions that were forced on the region by the central government, despite the opposition of the regional administration to implement them. The court reached its decision on the basis that the measures infringe on citizens’ fundamental rights. By midday on Thursday, the Madrid regional government had yet to comment on the ruling or announce what it would do next.
8th Oct 2020 - El Pais

France braces for wider Covid restrictions

France was preparing Thursday for tighter coronavirus restrictions in several major cities, two days after a maximum alert protocol went into force in Paris that included bar closures. "The virus has been spreading faster in recent weeks," President Emmanuel Macron said late Wednesday. "In places where it is spreading too fast, especially where it is spreading among the elderly who are most at risk, and where there are more and more intensive care beds being occupied, we must proceed to more restrictions," he said on French TV.
8th Oct 2020 - Medical Xpress

COVID-19: British government rejects global calls by scientists to end lockdown measures

The British government has rejected the calls of thousands of scientists and health experts urging authorities to put an end to lockdown measures. The controversial Great Barrington Declaration, which has been signed by roughly 7000 scientists and medics worldwide, is calling for a new strategy in response to the ongoing pandemic. The movement, which began in the United States, argues that young, healthy and low-risk people should be permitted to go about their lives as normal, while "focused protection" is offered to the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions - the groups most at risk from COVID-19.
8th Oct 2020 - Newshub

Coronavirus: World Bank supports lockdown

Up to 150 million people could slip into extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 a day, by late next year depending on how badly economies shrink during the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank said Wednesday in an outlook grimmer than before. Some 82 percent of the people entering extreme poverty are expected to be in middle-income countries such as India, Nigeria and Indonesia, the bank said. Many will be more educated urban residents, meaning cities will see an increase in the kind of poverty traditionally rooted in rural areas.
8th Oct 2020 - AlArabiya

New Zealand whole again as Auckland lockdown ends

New Zealand is again a country united in its response to coronavirus, with Auckland joining the rest of the nation on the lowest alert level. Auckland was freed from restrictions on gatherings and social distancing requirements in restaurants and bars at midnight on Wednesday. That day three new cases were announced, bringing the total of active cases to 37. Key to lowering the alert level was the absence of active cases in the community, meaning all current cases are in quarantine facilities or managed isolation at home. Twenty-five people have died of Covid-19 in New Zealand, including three since Auckland was put back into level 3 lockdown after a family of four tested positive for the virus on 11 August.
8th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Pelosi: Congress will discuss rules for Trump's removal under 25th amendment

Democrats in the US Congress have announced a plan to create a commission to review whether Donald Trump is capable of carrying out his presidential duties or should face removal from office. The office of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announced a Friday press conference about the bill after she expressed concern that Trump, who is under treatment for coronavirus at the White House, is suffering a “disassociation from reality”. The president has unleashed a barrage of erratic and self-contradictory tweets and declarations in recent days that have left staff scrambling and raised concerns over his stability. In a zigzagging interview on the Fox Business channel on Thursday, his first since being hospitalised, Trump, 74, boasted: “I’m back because I am a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young. And so I’m lucky in that way.”
9th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Justin Trudeau Says Coronavirus Vaccine Will Be Free For All Canadians

With a coronavirus vaccine hopefully being created in the not-so-distant future, Justin Trudeau has confirmed all Canadian’s will be able to access it for free. The Canadian PM discussed the matter yesterday, October 7, in Canada’s House of Commons after his opposition Jagmeet Singh asked him about it. Describing people as ‘worried’ and ‘deeply concerned’ about the ongoing health crisis and their access to a potential vaccine, Singh asked, ‘Once a vaccine is ready, will the Prime Minister commit clearly that that vaccine will be freely available to all Canadians?’
8th Oct 2020 - UNILAD

HHS Secretary Azar says U.S. could have enough coronavirus vaccine doses for every American by March

The Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine program Operation Warp Speed expects to have up to 100 million doses by the end of the year, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. Azar said the U.S. is currently manufacturing doses for all six potential vaccines backed by the U.S. government across more than 23 manufacturing facilities. U.S. health officials have been accelerating the development of vaccine candidates even though doing so could be for naught if the vaccine ends up not being effective or safe.
8th Oct 2020 - CNBC

Australia shuts itself off to visitors until the end of 2021 - or there's a coronavirus vaccine

Holidays and visits to Australia could be unlikely until the end of 2021. Since March 17, only citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to enter Australia with a few exceptions, with arrivals expected to pay for a two week hotel quarantine. Travel between and within some states and territories within Australia is also currently restricted. There is more information here. Australian Federal Budget has announced this week, that international travel will 'remain low' until the end of the year, or whenever a vaccine is widely available. Social distancing measures will also be kept in place until all Australian residents can be vaccinated. Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously said his government will secure almost 85 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine if two current trials they have invested in, prove successful.
8th Oct 2020 - Wales Online

EU agrees to buy 200 million doses of Leiden coronavirus vaccine

The European Commission has signed a contract with Leiden-based pharmaceuticals company Janssen for the supply of 200 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine. Of those, at least 7.8 million doses would be allocated to the Dutch market, as soon as the vaccine has approval, health minister Hugo de Jonge told MPs on Thursday. The vaccine, if successful, is likely to become available in the second quarter of 2021, De Jonge said on the second day of debate about the government’s coronavirus legislation. Janssen, part of the giant Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals group, has already begun trials of the vaccine in Belgium and the US, where it is quicker to get permission for human testing and recently launched more trials in the Netherlands, Spain and German. The vaccine will be partly produced in the Netherlands and partly elsewhere, broadcaster NOS said.
8th Oct 2020 - DutchNews.nl

Coronavirus vaccine set to be 'ready for Christmas with mass inoculation by Easter'

Jeremy Hunt is confident the UK will have a coronavirus vaccine by Christmas, with the majority of the population being inoculated by Easter. Mr Hunt, chair of the Health Select Committee today told Sky News that the UK has four candidates for a vaccine. He said: "Most people are confident that one of them will come through. "There is so much effort going into this all over the world. "If I was a betting man I'd say we'll have one by Christmas and it will have been received by the bulk of the population by Easter."
8th Oct 2020 - Liverpool Echo

Coronavirus Ireland: Christmas could be cancelled as Covid surges across nation and medics urge move to Level 4

The country faces a nationwide lockdown at Christmas unless stricter measures are introduced in the face of surging coronavirus cases, health experts have warned. Already there are warnings from some health experts over the situation at Christmas unless harder lockdowns are introduced now. The Level 3 restrictions introduced yesterday will not be enough to drive down the number of cases, Professor Anthony Staines, head of health systems at DCU, told the Irish Independent. "We need to go to Level 4 today," he said.
8th Oct 2020 - Independent.ie


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Oct 2020

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Argentina has world's highest COVID-19 positive rate

Argentina has the world’s highest rate of positive COVID-19 tests, according to Oxford-linked tracker Our World In Data, with nearly six out of 10 yielding an infection, a reflection of low testing levels and loose enforcement of lockdown rules. Argentina hit 809,728 confirmed cases on Monday, with an seven-day rolling average of around 12,500 new daily infections. The country, which started strongly against the virus, passed 20,000 fatalities last week. Medical professionals said low-levels of testing and lax restrictions had propelled the high positive rate, that climbed from around 40% in August to just shy of 60% in the last week, a Reuters calculation using health ministry data shows.
6th Oct 2020 - NBC News

Coronavirus digest: Germany sees new spike in daily cases

Germany set a new post-peak record for new daily coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 2,828 new cases. The number of people requiring treatment in intensive care and on ventilators also increased. In late March and early April, Germany was counting more than 6,000 new cases per day before they decreased. However, numbers began to slowly rise again since July. Lockdown rules have been gradually lifted since May, but the capital of Berlinannounced a partial curfew on Tuesday.
7th Oct 2020 - Deutsche Welle

Swiss report more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a day

The number of new coronavirus infections rose by 1,077 in a day, data here from Switzerland's public health agency showed on Wednesday, the first daily increase of more than 1,000 since early April. The agency reported a total of 57,709 confirmed cases, up from 56,632 on Tuesday. The death toll rose by two to 1,789.
7th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Poland reports new record of daily coronavirus-related deaths

Poland said it would enforce restrictions more strictly as it reported a daily record of 58 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, as well as sharp increases in the number of ventilators and hospital beds being used by COVID-19 patients. The country reported 2,236 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, close to Saturday’s record of 2,367. Poland, which has a population of 38 million, has reported 104,316 cases overall and 2,717 deaths, much lower than many other European countries. “Only those with a medical certificate from a doctor can choose not to wear a mask where it is mandatory ... any person who doesn’t wear a mask (and doesn’t have a certificate) will face the harshest of punishments,” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told a news conference.
7th Oct 2020 - Reuters

'We've squashed the virus': New Zealand celebrates as it officially eliminates COVID-19 for the SECOND time and Auckland lowers restrictions from midnight

Auckland has gone ten days without any new cases recorded in the community. NZ declared they were COVID-free in April before a second wave in August. Auckland will ease restrictions to alert level 1 as of midnight on Wednesday
7th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

PM Muhyiddin says Covid-19 cases will rise in Malaysia but no lockdown for now

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that he expects a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country in the short term as a record 691 new cases were reported on Tuesday (Oct 6). It was the second consecutive day of a record high number, after 432 cases were confirmed on Monday. Four new deaths were reported on Tuesday, including that of a one-year-old, the country’s first child fatality.
7th Oct 2020 - The Straits Times

Soaring coronavirus rate leaves Britain on lockdown alert

Surging coronavirus infection rates have put Britain on the brink of tougher lockdown measures, overshadowing Boris Johnson’s attempt yesterday to focus on life after the pandemic. The government’s scientific advisers called for “urgent and drastic action” after cases doubled in 11 days to 14,542 and deaths doubled to 76 in the same period.
7th Oct 2020 - The Times

UK Government’s Scientific Advisors Warn of Looming National Lockdown

SAGE experts say tighter lockdown ‘inevitable’ as coronavirus rates continue to soar in the UK. The government’s scientific advisors have warned that much tighter national lockdown rules are looming. Boris Johnson now faces an agonising choice over whether to bring in new restrictions for swathes of northern England, or even the whole country. The government’s advisors raised the alarm after the UK’s infection rate almost doubled in a week. There are now 125.7 cases per 100,000 people across the UK with 14,542 positive results confirmed yesterday – up more than 2,000 on the day before.
7th Oct 2020 - Euro Weekly News

Czech COVID-19 cases rising at fastest rate in Europe

New coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic reached a daily record of 4,457 on Tuesday, the health ministry said, as separate data showed the country now has the highest number of cases per 100,000 in Europe, surpassing Spain. Data published by the health ministry on Wednesday showed the rise in new cases during the previous 24 hours had exceeded the previous one-day record of 3,794, to bring the total number of cases in the country since March to 90,022.
7th Oct 2020 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Oct 2020

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COVID-19 vaccines: how to ensure Africa has access

Last month, a grand experiment was launched to speed up the development of COVID‑19 vaccines and make sure they are distributed equitably among higher- and lower-income countries. The COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) initiative is co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. As of 1 October, 167 countries have signed up, covering nearly two-thirds of the global population. Under this scheme, even poor nations should have enough vaccines to protect health-care workers and the most vulnerable 20% of their populations. Still, Africa has reasons to worry. Already, several high-income countries have signed their own contracts with individual companies to buy selected vaccines.
6th Oct 2020 - Nature

Malaysia to Impose Targeted Lockdowns to Halt Infections Surge

Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Tuesday said targeted lockdowns would be imposed in areas with high rates of coronavirus infections, as the country grapples with a sharp spike in cases over the past two weeks. The health ministry reported 691 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths on Tuesday, another new record in the wake of last month's election in the state of Sabah, from where many infections have been traced. "For now we are not thinking of imposing a total lockdown nationwide. If we do that again, it could bring down the country's economic and social systems," Muhyiddin said in an address on Facebook Live from his home, where he is undergoing quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus.
6th Oct 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

UK’s Covid-19 infection rate almost doubles in a week

The rate of Covid-19 infections across the UK has almost doubled in a week. The UK-wide seven-day rate currently stands at 125.7 cases per 100,000 people, up from 63.8 per 100,000 a week ago, analysis by the PA news agency shows. When it comes to daily figures, as of 9am on Tuesday, there were 14,542 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. These have trebled in a fortnight – on September 22, there were 4,926 cases recorded.
6th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

A Second National Lockdown Seems Inevitable. Here's What Stands In The Way

In England, what is stopping the PM from a full lockdown – and could a two-week “circuit-breaker” compromise be on the cards? Covid-19 has already ravaged the UK economy and the Bank of England warned last month that the resurgence of the virus will hit the country hard. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is thought to oppose a second lockdown “for any long period of time” amid fears job losses could soar and unemployment in 2021 could spiral out of control. One thorn in Johnson’s side should he move for a second shutdown is a grouping of backbench Tory MPs known informally as “the Brady bunch”. Notionally led by the chair of the powerful 1922 committee, Graham Brady, they oppose new restrictions by the state, both due to the limits on individual freedoms and the strain on business.
6th Oct 2020 - HuffPost UK

Why another 8.7 million people should now be under lockdown in the UK

On 30 July, after the weekly rate of Covid-19 cases in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire reached 66.6 per 100,000 people, local restrictions were imposed on the area with a few hours’ notice from central government. The situation was clearly seen as urgent. “We’re constantly vigilant and we’ve been looking at the data,” the Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained at the time, concluding: “We need to take action.”
6th Oct 2020 - New Statesman

Matt Hancock says changes to local and national lockdown rules coming

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that he is set to announce changes to the local and national lockdown rules in England. His confirmation comes amid speculation that current rules are to be replaced with a simpler three-tier system. That 'traffic light' system would impose a level of rules on an area - or the whole country - based on the coronavirus risks on a three-tier scale. New lockdown measures could include everything from a ban on households mixing to a ban on visiting care homes and even pubs being closed at the most serious level.
6th Oct 2020 - Cambridge News

COVID-19 here to stay? Italian govt wants to extend 'state of emergency' measures till January 2022

Italy's health minister says the government is examining a proposal to make masks mandatory outdoors as the country enters a difficult phase of living alongside COVID-19, with the number of infections growing steadily for the last nine weeks. Roberto Speranza told the lower house of parliament on Tuesday that as infections spread, it is necessary to return to restrictions that were gradually loosened over the spring and summer months after Italy's strict nearly three-month lockdown. ''We must raise our guard with the awareness that our county is better off than others,'' Speranza said.
6th Oct 2020 - The New Indian Express

Spain’s Emergency Wage Support May Be Extended Yet Again in 2021

Spain is prepared to extend its furlough program beyond January, Social Security Minister Jose Luis Escriva said, in the clearest statement yet on the future of the wage-support policy. “We stand ready to reevaluate the situation,” Escriva said in an interview, one week after the government agreed to prolong its previous aid measure through Jan. 31. “A lot will depend on a vaccine.” A further extension could protect hundreds of thousands of at-risk jobs in a country that already has one of the region’s highest rates of unemployment and which is also suffering one of its most dramatic coronavirus outbreaks.
6th Oct 2020 - Yahoo

Coronavirus: Europe struggles to contain surge of cases

Bars in Paris have been ordered to close for two weeks, Madrid residents may no longer leave their city and Ireland is set to introduce tighter national restrictions as governments struggle to contain a Europe-wide surge in Covid-19 cases. As infections in the Paris area rose to 270 for every 100,000 people – and as high as 500 for every 100,000 among 20- to 30-year-olds – with 36% of intensive care beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, the city’s police chief said bars must close from Tuesday. Outlining measures he described as a “balance between assuring the health of our fellow citizens and the reality and necessity of economic and social life”, Didier Lallement said the French capital and its surrounding Île-de-France region were necessary because “the epidemic is moving too fast”.
6th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

In Paris, we’re resigned to new Covid restrictions – and baffled by Boris Johnson's U-turns

It was all going so well – until suddenly it wasn’t. Following the super-strict lockdown in the spring, life in Paris had pretty much returned to normal. I mean, granted, face masks were now compulsory in public spaces – both indoors and out – and there was still little international tourism in the city. But, other than that, things felt reassuringly normal again. The brasseries were busy once more, the bars were positively bustling and business meetings had started to resume. People had even got used to abandoning ‘la bise’ – the famous kiss on both cheeks – for the awkward elbow shuffle. Some of us had secretly come to prefer that style of greeting. In short, there was no longer the feeling that we were living through an apocalypse.
6th Oct 2020 - iNews

China has responded best to the Covid-19 pandemic, study claims

US and Spanish researchers surveyed nearly 13,500 people from 19 countries People asked to grade their leaders' handling of number of issues during crisis Chinese people were most satisfied with how their Governments had responded
6th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

World Coronavirus Dispatch: China seeks to have its vaccine assessed by WHO

China is in talks to have its locally-produced Covid-19 vaccines assessed by the World Health Organization, as a step toward making them available for international use, a WHO official said on Tuesday. Hundreds of thousands of essential workers and other groups considered at high risk in China have been given locally-developed vaccines even as clinical trials had not been fully completed, raising safety concerns among experts.
6th Oct 2020 - Business Standard

Nepal staring at possible lockdown as cases overtake Chinas Covid tally

The coronavirus barometer of the Himalayan Nation has surged high in recent days with the number of cases reaching 86,823 on October 4. Nepal on Sunday overtook China in the number of infections which has reported 85,450 cases amid speculation that the toll could be higher. Nepal on Sunday alone logged 2,253 new cases with 1,329 cases of recoveries and seven deaths. Out of new cases, Kathmandu Valley alone contributed 1,373 new cases while Lalitpur registered 187 and Bhaktapur 39 new cases of coronavirus.
6th Oct 2020 - Business Standard

Cases rise in Australia's COVID-19 hotspot, but most linked to known outbreaks

Australia's coronavirus hotspot of Victoria state on Tuesday (Oct 6) reported a slight rise in new cases, but authorities sought to allay fears by saying they could link most of those infections to known outbreaks. Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, reported one death from the virus in the last 24 hours and 15 cases, its biggest daily rise in infections in five days. "They are, again, predominantly related to known cases, to outbreaks, and we have to get on top of these outbreaks to really drive these numbers down," state's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne. "I don't like to see a number that's in double figures and not in single figures, and no one obsesses over the daily numbers more than me or my team."
6th Oct 2020 - CNA

Two more Spanish cities announce lockdown orders as a second wave of cases spreads beyond the capital.

Two midsize Spanish cities, León and Palencia, were ordered on Monday by the regional authorities to apply lockdown restrictions similar to those that came into force in Madrid last weekend, underlining the extent to which a second wave of coronavirus infections is spreading beyond Spain’s capital region. The new restrictions mean that residents of León and Palencia, which are in the northwestern region of Castile and León, will not be able to leave their cities as of Tuesday. Both have reached an infection rate of more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents. Over the last seven days, Spain has reported 73,451 new cases, which works out to 157 cases per 100,000 residents, according to a Times database. As of Monday, almost 11,000 people were being treated in hospitals across the country for Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, including 1,580 people in intensive care units
6th Oct 2020 - The New York Times

Germany's Altmaier Vows to Avoid Another Shutdown of Industry

Germany must avoid another shutdown of industrial activity, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Monday as rising COVID-19 infections cloud the growth outlook for Europe's largest economy. The German economy contracted by a record 9.7% in the second quarter as measures to contain the spread of the pandemic brought public life and business activity to a near standstill from mid-March to late April.
6th Oct 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

COVID aid could bring years of austerity, charities warn IMF

Five hundred of the world’s leading charities and social groups have sent a letter to the International Monetary Fund warning that its support programmes, which have had to be ramped up to cope with COVID-19, were condemning many countries to years of austerity. The IMF has responded to an unprecedented number of calls for emergency financing as a result of this year’s pandemic and lockdown measures driving the global economy into a severe recession.
6th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Ireland resists lockdown call, tighten COVID-19 curbs instead

Ireland must act now to prevent a damaging return to lockdown, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Monday after rejecting a surprise recommendation by his health chiefs to shut down the economy immediately and opting instead to tighten COVID-19 restrictions.
6th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

U.S. FDA safety guidelines likely to push COVID-19 vaccine authorization past election

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration told coronavirus vaccine developers on Tuesday it wants at least two months of safety data before authorizing emergency use, a requirement that would likely push any U.S. vaccine availability past the Nov. 3 presidential election. A senior administration official confirmed the White House had approved the plan, which undercuts President Donald Trump’s hopes of getting a vaccine before voters go to polls. The FDA released the guidance laying out more stringent recommendations for drugmakers hoping to apply for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for their experimental vaccines.
6th Oct 2020 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 6th Oct 2020

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Covid-19 updates: One in 10 worldwide may have had virus, WHO says

One in 10 people around the world may have contracted Covid-19, the World Health Organization said, at a special meeting of WHO leaders. A top official said the estimate meant "the vast majority of the world remains at risk". Just over 35m people have been confirmed as being infected with coronavirus - the WHO's estimate puts the true figure at closer to 800m. The estimate that 10% of the world's population has contracted the virus came from Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme. "This varies depending on country, it varies from urban to rural, it varies between different groups," he said.
5th Oct 2020 - BBC

World Bank proposes a $12 billion fund for COVID vaccine dispersal to poor and developing countries

The World Bank is seeking approval from its board for a $12 billion fund that would help poor and developing countries get access to a COVID-19 vaccine in the future. “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio spoke with World Bank President David Malpass about how the fund would work and how the global financial institution is uniquely positioned to help facilitate a future international distribution plan for the COVID-19 vaccine. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
5th Oct 2020 - Marketplace

Rich countries are total vaccine hogs. Covid-19 must change that

When swine flu hit, poor countries missed out on vaccines. Public health experts are trying to stop that happening again with Covid-19. This time around, there’s another way to buy vaccines: the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, set up by the WHO and vaccine organisations including Gavi, the vaccine alliance started by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI). Wealthier countries can donate directly to COVAX to fund vaccines for less well off nations — and the UK has chucked in £500m — but they can also opt to buy vaccines themselves, giving COVAX the capital to make necessary deals.
5th Oct 2020 - Wired.co.uk

UK's Sunak warns of economic and social impact of lockdowns

British finance minister Rishi Sunak warned that a further lockdown would cripple both the economy and society, stating that lockdowns have a very strong economic and social impact. Sunak spoke about his dissatisfaction with the 10 pm curfew on pubs and restaurants saying that, “Of course it’s frustrating. I know it’s difficult and wish we didn’t have to do these things.” He added that ministers were divided on the issue but encouraged Brits to abide by the rules. He said that he would not remain silent in his fight against future lockdowns and implored his fellow ministers to strive for normality in the face of COVID-19
5th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

New three-tier lockdown planned for England: The Guardian

A new three-tier lockdown is being planned for England, The Guardian reported, citing leaked government documents which revealed tougher measures that could be implemented locally or nationally if the government fails to get COVID-19 cases under control. The new lockdown would potentially entail harsher restrictions including the closure of pubs and a ban on all social contact outside household groups, the newspaper said. According to the documents seen by The Guardian, the draft plan called the ‘COVID-19 Proposed Social Distancing Framework’ is designed to simplify the existing localized restrictions.
5th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

NYC mayor seeks to lockdown coronavirus hotspots

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday he is moving to shut non-essential businesses as well as schools in nine neighborhoods identified as coronavirus clusters, starting on Wednesday. This report produced by Yahaira Jacquez.
5th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: Pandemic 'will be bumpy through to Christmas and maybe beyond', Boris Johnson warns

The coronavirus pandemic "will be bumpy through to Christmas" and potentially beyond that, Boris Johnson has warned, as he said it is "too early to say" whether local lockdowns are working. The prime minister acknowledged there will be some members of the public who are "furious at me" and "furious at the government" amid the continuing COVID-19 restrictions. "I've got to tell you in all candour it's going to continue to be bumpy through to Christmas, it may even be bumpy beyond," he said in an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.
5th Oct 2020 - Sky News

Welsh Government 'actively considering' quarantine rule for people travelling from UK lockdown areas

The Welsh Government is "actively considering" imposing quarantine restrictions on people travelling into Wales from areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus. First Minister Mark Drakeford had previously called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce travel restrictions for people in areas of England under local lockdown. People living in parts of Wales subject to local restrictions must not enter or leave that area without a reasonable excuse - which does not include travelling for a holiday. Health minister Vaughan Gething told a press conference: "We're actively considering what we should do and I've discussed it this morning with the First Minister. "We have quarantine regulations for international travel.
5th Oct 2020 - ITV News

Covid in Scotland: Sturgeon to meet advisers over further restrictions

Further restrictions could be introduced "in the near future" to stop the spread of Covid-19 in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said. The first minister is to meet advisers and ministers on Monday and Tuesday to discuss fresh measures. She said it was "vital that we do everything we can" to slow the virus and that "not acting costs lives". Some advisers have backed the idea of a "circuit breaker" lockdown as "short, sharp shock" to the spread of Covid-19. National Clinical Director Jason Leitch told BBC Scotland that two weeks of heightened restrictions could push the course of the pandemic back by 28 days and "buy time" ahead of winter.
5th Oct 2020 - BBC News

Confusion but no chaos, as Madrid sees new coronavirus restrictions implemented in 10 cities

There was widespread confusion and doubts among the public in Madrid this weekend as new restrictions came into force on Friday night in 10 cities in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus in the region, which was described last week by the Health Minister Salvador Illa as being at the “community transmission” stage.
5th Oct 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Coronavirus: Jason Leitch says ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown could ‘buy Scotland time’

Professor Jason Leitch told BBC Scotland that a two-week-long lockdown would deliver a “short, sharp shock to the R number.” He said such a move was about "buying yourself more time", but added that officials were still weighing up whether the economic cost of a “circuit breaker” was a price “worth paying”.
5th Oct 2020 - The Scotsman

Japan might reopen its borders to all travellers early next year

Countries all over the world have come out of lockdown and reopened their borders over the summer. Now Japan has started to welcome back at least some international travellers too. The Japanese government announced last month that it will lower the travel warning level for around ten countries around the world from ‘3’ (meaning ‘avoid travelling for any reason’) to ‘2’ (‘avoid non-essential travel’). A two-week quarantine will still be required for anyone flying into Japan, but it is hoped the move will encourage these nations to allow Japanese travellers in too – paving the way, eventually, for mutual leisure travel arrangements.
5th Oct 2020 - Time Out

Coronavirus state border restrictions are easing but these Australians still have no idea when they'll see their loved ones

Across Australia, coronavirus measures are being wound back. Queensland on Friday announced it would reopen its border to New South Wales by next month, so long as there are 28 days of no community transmission, and last week relaxed measures to allow entry to people from the ACT. Tasmania is due to reopen its borders to most states and territories at the end of the month. But there are still plenty of border restrictions in place across the country. Western Australia has been clear it is in no rush to end its hard border, and that's just one example.
5th Oct 2020 - ABC News

New Zealand ‘Beat The Virus Again’ Prime Minister Declares, As Nation Lifts Second Wave Restrictions

New Zealand, the first country hit by Covid-19 to declare it was free of the virus before going into lockdown again, is set to declare that it has overcome a second wave of the illness, cementing its position as one of the countries with the most successful response to the virus. Most of the country, with a population of 4.8 million, is at an alert level of 1, the lowest level that indicates the virus is contained, while capital Auckland will move down from level 2 to level 1 by Wednesday. The changes mean that the 100-person cap on gatherings will be lifted, and social distancing will be done away with in bars and restaurants
5th Oct 2020 - Forbes

Italian government set to impose new curbs to tackle COVID-19 resurgence

The Italian government will likely impose new restrictions on the country in the coming week to try to beat back rising numbers of coronavirus cases, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Sunday. The cabinet is due to meet on Tuesday to decide how to respond to an increase in infections, with southern Italian regions for the first time looking vulnerable to the disease. “The battle isn’t over. We don’t have the numbers seen in other European countries ... but we are in a phase of significant growth and I hope the country finds a spirit of unity,” Speranza told state broadcaster RAI. The measures under review include making the wearing of masks obligatory outdoors across the whole country and re-introducing curbs on social gatherings.
5th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Moscow authorities consider return to tough COVID- 19 lockdown - Vedomosti

Moscow authorities are considering imposing a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the new coronavirus and are looking at several possible scenarios, the Vedomosti newspaper reported on Monday, citing sources. * “It’s particularly important to understand how to take steps that don’t finish off businesses,” one Vedomosti source said. * Russia reported 10,499 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest number of daily infections since May 15, when the outbreak was at its peak and lockdowns were in place.
5th Oct 2020 - Reuters

The race inside Russia's coronavirus vaccine laboratory

Russia powered through with developing a coronavirus vaccine to give people hope and not because of political pressure, the nation's top virologist told CNN in a rare interview. All other work at the Gamaleya Institute was suspended and scientists and researchers were tasked with developing an effective vaccine, said the institute's director, Alexander Gintsburg. Promising results led to the vaccine being approved even before widespread human testing, Gintsburg insisted. That's testing that experts say is required before any vaccine is widely used. "It gave people a choice to either protect themselves or play roulette with a pathogen -- will you get infected or not, will you die or not?" he said. Critics across the globe say the breakneck speed of the vaccine development points to political pressure from the Kremlin, which is keen to portray Russia as a global scientific force. It was President Vladimir Putin himself who announced the approval of the vaccine amid much fanfare on Russian state television.
5th Oct 2020 - CNN

'Don’t be afraid' of virus, Trump says as he prepares to leave hospital

President Donald Trump said he will leave a military hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19 later on Monday, and urged people not to be afraid of the disease, which has killed more than a million people worldwide and wreaked economic havoc. Even if discharged, he will need to continue treatment as he is still undergoing a five-day course of an intravenous antiviral drug, remdesivir. The normal quarantine period for anyone testing positive for the novel coronavirus is 14 days. Trump has frequently downplayed the threat of the pandemic which has infected 7.4 million Americans. In recent days, he released a series of videos to reassure the public he is recovering from the disease caused by the virus.
5th Oct 2020 - Reuters

White House Blocks New Coronavirus Vaccine Guidelines

Top White House officials are blocking strict new federal guidelines for the emergency release of a coronavirus vaccine, objecting to a provision that would almost certainly guarantee that no vaccine could be authorized before the election on Nov. 3, according to people familiar with the approval process. Facing a White House blockade, the Food and Drug Administration is seeking other avenues to ensure that vaccines meet the guidelines. That includes sharing the standards with an outside advisory committee of experts — perhaps as soon as this week — that is supposed to meet publicly before any vaccine is authorized for emergency use. The hope is that the committee will enforce the guidelines, regardless of the White House’s reaction.
5th Oct 2020 - The New York Times

Coronavirus: The entire nation is going to Level 3 - here's what that means

Taoiseach Michael Martin has announced that the whole country is to go under Level 3 restrictions as cases of Covid-19 continue to increase. Despite a recommendation from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to move the country into Level 5, the Government rejected the advice today and instead opted to bring the rest of the counties in line with Donegal and Dublin. Martin said it is “important to understand that we are in a very different situation to last March”. “The virus is spreading because people are allowing it to spread,” he said.
5th Oct 2020 - thejournal.ie

Israel's Lockdown Feels Pretty Different the Second Time Around

When Israel imposed a coronavirus lockdown in March, I walked home after raiding the supermarket and was able to hear the birds chirping on Dizengoff Street, one of the busiest arteries here. The next day I spoke to my father in Jerusalem, where the country’s first death from coronavirus had just been recorded. We both danced around the fact that, since his age made him more susceptible to complications from the virus, it would probably be a long time before we could see each other. Movement was restricted to within 100 meters (about 330 feet) from one’s home. I taped to our fridge a “schedule” for my children, who were 3½ and 1½, which included assembling puzzles in the living room, coloring on our tiny porch and tent-building in their room. Five days later, I scrapped the “schedule” because every unfilled task felt like a personal failure. When my husband got off work (our dining table became his home office), I would lock myself on the porch with the shutters down to write.
4th Oct 2020 - The New York Times


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 5th Oct 2020

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After avoiding the worst in spring, Italy’s south sounds alarm over Covid

In a characteristically stern but satirical video message last week, Vincenzo De Luca, the president of Campania, warned citizens in the southern Italian region that if the coronavirus infection rate continued to rise there would be another lockdown. He struck a more serious tone on Saturday after Italy’s most densely populated region, and one of its poorest, registered the highest daily tally of new infections in the country. After showing images of a crowd without masks outside a college and revellers in a bar where there was an outbreak, he said: “We must return to the strict behaviour of February, March and April, otherwise we get sick.”
4th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

'Circuit-breaker' lockdown looms for Scotland as Covid cases rise

Four more coronavirus deaths were reported in Scotland, as the number of cases of the virus increased by 764. Figures released by the Scottish Government also show 191 people were in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, including 23 in intensive care. The 764 cases represent 12.4% of newly tested individuals and a fall of 11 on the previous day’s total. A warning was issued that a so-called “circuit breaker” lockdown remains a possibility for Scotland. Doctors’ leaders have said that the NHS is set to experience its most difficult winter since it was founded in 1948, due to the pressure caused by coronavirus.
4th Oct 2020 - Glasgow Times

Northern Ireland reports double previous daily record of COVID-19 cases

Northern Ireland reported 934 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, more than double the previous record daily total registered two days ago in the British-run region. Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer had earlier described the surge in cases in the last two weeks as extremely worrying and advised the public to prepare for a potential second, shorter lockdown. “This is an extremely and deeply worrying time, we’re seeing a rapidly deteriorating situation in terms of the number of new cases, but also the number of admissions to hospital and intensive care units,” Michael McBride told BBC radio.
4th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

China rolls out experimental Covid vaccine as it eyes global market

Beijing is set to expand a programme that administers experimental coronavirus vaccines as Chinese developers chart a risky path to dominating global supplies. In a surprise announcement last month, a representative from state-owned China National Biotec Group, or Sinopharm, revealed that hundreds of thousands of Chinese had already taken the company’s two leading experimental Covid-19 vaccines. The drugs were dispensed as part of a limited use programme that began with little fanfare by the Chinese government in July. The vaccines were administered even though final stage, or phase 3, trials designed to confirm overall effectiveness had not been completed. Details of the programme’s scope remain unclear, but government statements suggest use was originally restricted to frontline health workers and state employees travelling overseas to high-risk areas, including to work on projects along China’s Belt and Road infrastructure investment scheme.
4th Oct 2020 - Financial Times

In race for coronavirus vaccine, Russia ramps up rhetoric to defend Sputnik V

The investment fund’s head, Kirill Dmitriev, has taken aim at other labs seeking a vaccine using adenoviruses from monkeys or messenger RNA. After Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca resumed their coronavirus vaccine trial following a week-long pause because of an unexplained illness in a trial participant, Dmitriev issued a comment that he was “delighted” trials resumed. Unlike Sputnik V, their vaccine uses a cold virus from a monkey rather than a human. “At the same time, the suspension of trials clearly showed the fallacy of the approach, when entire countries exclusively rely on novel and untested platforms when choosing a vaccine for widespread use,” Dmitriev’s statement continued.
4th Oct 2020 - The Washington Post

Here's what is known about President Trump's COVID-19 treatment

This afternoon, the White House announced that President Donald Trump received an experimental antibody treatment after a test revealed he's infected with SARS-CoV-2. He reportedly has mild COVID-19 symptoms, including fever and congestion, and he was transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Later, the president's medical team confirmed he had started a course of remdesivir, an antiviral drug shown to modestly help hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
3rd Oct 2020 - Science Magazine

Germany makes people returning from Wales quarantine but not England

The German government has said that people travelling from Wales to Germany have to isolate for 14 days but travellers from England do not. In the advice given to travellers entering Germany, the German government said: "The United Kingdom has been strongly affected by Covid-19. In Wales and Northern Ireland there have been more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, which is why the German government has classified these regions as high risk areas. "Passengers travelling from Wales and Northern Ireland must therefore undergo a 14-day quarantine upon entering Germany. Those who can provide a negative Covid-19 test will not have to undergo quarantine."
3rd Oct 2020 - Wales Online

Paris at risk of total lockdown as Europe cases rise

Paris is in danger of going back into lockdown next week after the French government said the coronavirus pandemic was worsening in the capital. "Since yesterday, in the last 24 hours, Paris has passed the threshold that would put it in the maximum alert category," French minister of Health Olivier Véran said Thursday evening. France's "maximum alert" threshold is reached when the incidence rate reaches 250 per 100,000 people, at least 30% of intensive care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, and the rate among the elderly passes 100 per 100,000. The Paris region had already fulfilled the last two criteria.
3rd Oct 2020 - CNN

Kerala, India’s ‘model state’ in COVID-19 fight, suffers setback

The southern Indian state of Kerala is set to ban gatherings of more than five people amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases, a setback for the state hailed by experts as a model in the fight against the pandemic. Indian media reports on Friday said the imposition of Section 144 of India’s penal code will be effective in Kerala for a month starting on Saturday, thereby banning any social or political gathering in the state. The measure was announced after Kerala reported 8,135 fresh cases on Thursday. It currently has more than 72,000 active COVID-19 cases, the third highest among Indian states, according to the reports.
3rd Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Colombia's capital will see second, smaller coronavirus outbreak, mayor says

Bogota, the Colombian capital, will see a second outbreak of coronavirus cases, possibly between November and December, which will hopefully be less severe than the first wave, Bogota’s mayor, Claudia Lopez, said on Friday. “Most probably towards the end of the year, in November or December, we could have a second wave much smaller than the first,” Lopez said in a meeting with foreign press. The Andean country began more than five months of lockdown in March. It entered a much-looser “selective” quarantine phase - allowing dining at restaurants and international flights - at the start of September. On Monday the government extended the selective quarantine until the end of October.
3rd Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Madrid regional authorities to lock down city in coming hours, source says

Madrid’s regional authorities will in the coming hours publish a decree to put the Spanish capital and nine nearby towns under partial lockdown, with immediate effect, a source from Madrid’s regional government told Reuters on Friday. By publishing the decree, the conservative-led regional government will reluctantly comply with an order from the central government to ban non-essential travel to and from the city to fight a steep surge in COVID-19 cases
3rd Oct 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19 still likely to be spreading exponentially, UK says

British government scientists said on Friday it was still likely that a resurgence in the COVID-19 epidemic was spreading exponentially despite survey data that suggested a small levelling off in a recent sharp rise of cases. The Office for National Statistics had said there was some evidence that the steep increases in new COVID-19 cases, seen in recent weeks in England, was slowing down. But government scientists urged caution as they published a reproduction “R” number that had risen slightly to 1.3-1.6 from 1.2-1.5, meaning that on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 13 and 16 other people.
2nd Oct 2020 - Reuters

UK seeks to avoid national lockdown to stop unemployment in millions, minister says

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is seeking to avoid a full national lockdown to prevent unemployment soaring into the millions, Environment Secretary George Eustice said. “I’ve not seen any projections of 4 million but certainly we know that there are some 700,000 extra people that are already unemployed as a result of this, and yes you know the projections are, that there are going to be economic impacts,” Eustice told Sky. “It’s for precisely that reason that we are trying to avoid full lockdown,” he said.
2nd Oct 2020 - EU Reporter

'The land that time forgot': months of lockdown grate in northern England

While much of England has enjoyed a return to some semblance of normality this summer, with the strictest coronavirus restrictions lifted, swathes of northern England have had just a few weeks’ respite from curbs. These northern boroughs and towns came out of lockdown with the rest of the country on 4 July, but just weeks later had local measures introduced preventing them from – to differing degrees – seeing family, opening businesses and visiting pubs or restaurants. There is an overwhelming feeling in these areas of having been forgotten, of “lockdown prejudice”, being left under restrictions when others have enjoyed the little freedom the country may experience this year.
2nd Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Germany sees highest daily rise in coronavirus cases since April

Germany has once again reached a new record in the rise of coronavirus infections over a one-day period, as concerns grow that the country might lose its grip on the pandemic as the colder months approach. The Robert Koch Institute, the national agency for disease control, said 2,673 more cases had been confirmed on Friday, the highest daily rise seen since the second half of April. Eight more people died after catching the virus, bringing the death toll to 9,503.
2nd Oct 2020 - Daily Sabah

Covid-19: What’s behind India’s coronavirus deaths?

India has confirmed more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus - a grim toll that ranks it third in the world behind only the US and Brazil. September was the nation's worst month on record: on average 1,100 Indians died every day from the virus. Regional anomalies continue as some states report far higher deaths than others - a sign, experts say, that the pandemic is still working its way through the country.
2nd Oct 2020 - BBC

Another lockdown in Karnataka could be suicidal, say experts

In Karnataka, experts have frowned on medical education minister K Sudhakar’s warning that the government will have no choice but to enforce another lockdown if people fail to take precautions to check the spread of the pandemic and help curb rapidly rising Covid-19 infections in the state. Experts say a lockdown would be suicidal as the costs far outweigh limited gains since it will help reduce infections only temporarily.
2nd Oct 2020 - Times of India

'The beers are cold': Australia to open up to New Zealanders after COVID border shutdown

New Zealanders will soon be able to travel to Australia without having to self-quarantine as COVID-19 infections slow and Canberra seeks to revive its ailing economy, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Friday. New Zealand citizens and residents would be allowed to travel to Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales and its remote Northern Territory (NT) from Oct. 16, without having to undergo the two-week quarantine required of Australians returning from other nations, McCormack said.
2nd Oct 2020 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 2nd Oct 2020

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Cuba lifts Havana lockdown as coronavirus cases fall

Cuba said on Wednesday it was lifting a curfew and partial lockdown in Havana, in place since Sept. 1. to contain a second wave of the new coronavirus. The governor of Havana Reinaldo García Zapata said cases had dropped to an average of 21 per day over the last week for an infection rate of 0.87 in justifying the decision. Most of the Caribbean nation began returning to a new normal months ago, though there have been minor and quickly contained outbreaks of the virus in a few provinces and a new surge is still to be contained in central Ciego de Avila province.
2nd Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Italy to extend COVID state of emergency to end of Jan - PM

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday he would ask parliament to extend the country’s COVID-19 state of emergency to the end of January, as the government tries to avoid the surge in cases seen in other European countries. The state of emergency, due to expire in mid-October, gives greater powers to central government, making it easier for officials to bypass the bureaucracy that smothers much decision-making in Italy. “We will propose to parliament to extend the state of emergency, probably to the end of January 2021,” Conte told reporters during a visit to Caserta, in southern Italy.
1st Oct 2020 - Reuters

Europe's worst infection hotspot Madrid heads for lockdown

Madrid will become the first European capital to go back into lockdown in coming days after the region’s leader reluctantly agreed on Thursday to obey a central government order to ban non-essential travel to and from the Spanish capital. In order to fight a steep surge in COVID-19 cases, Madrid and nine nearby municipalities will see borders closed to outsiders for non-essential visits, with only travel for work, school, doctors’ visits or shopping allowed. A curfew for bars and restaurants moved to 11 p.m. from 1 a.m. However, regional chief Isabel Diaz Aysuo said she will appeal against the lockdown in the courts, meaning the uncertainty and fierce political squabbling that has exasperated the residents of Madrid is far from over. “We are victims of improvisation,” architect Jean-Pierre Moncardo complained, saying politicians had wasted time fighting each other instead of giving medics the funding they needed to fight the pandemic.
1st Oct 2020 - Reuters

Why a second national lockdown in France can't be ruled out

New coronavirus cases hit a record 16,000 in 24 hours, the French Prime Minister has said, so a second national lockdown in France cannot be totally ruled out. Defending stronger measures being imposed, Jean Castex said: “If we do not act, we could find ourselves in a situation like that of spring. That could mean reconfinement, and we must avoid it.” President Macron had earlier said a new confinement would not happen. Health Minister Olivier Véran, however, ruled out a suggestion by two Nobel economics prizewinners that a “preventative” lockdown is needed from December 1-20 to allow people to gather safely with families at Christmas. Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee raised the idea in Le Monde, saying without it there was likely to be a spike in the winter due to a drop in temperatures and an increase in social and family events. Mr Véran said that new travel restrictions during the Toussaint holiday period may be introduced dependent on “what we do in the coming days and weeks”.
1st Oct 2020 - The Connexion

Unlock 5.0 guidelines live: International flights to remain suspended till October 31

India's Covid tally raced past 62 lakh on Wednesday with 80,472 infections being reported in last 24 hours. While the number of recoveries surged to 51,87,825 pushing the recovery rate to 83.33 per cent, according to the Union health ministry data.
1st Oct 2020 - Times of India

India's coronavirus infections rise to 6.31 million

India’s coronavirus case tally increased by 86,821 in the last 24 hours to 6.31 million by Thursday morning, data from the health ministry showed, as the country eased more restrictions to combat the economic hit from the pandemic. Deaths from coronavirus infections rose by 1,181 to 98,678, the ministry said. The South Asian nation on Wednesday permitted states to open schools and movie theatres. The country’s richest state Maharashtra, home to financial hub Mumbai, said it would also allow bars and restaurants to operate fully.
1st Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Maharashtra extends Covid-19 lockdown till October 31, Mumbai local to allow dabbawalas

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday said that the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disease has been extended till October 31. However, hotels, food courts, restaurants and bars will be allowed to operate from October 5 with 50% capacity, the state government added.
1st Oct 2020 - Hindustan Times

Matt Hancock announces tighter local lockdown restrictions for Merseyside

Matt Hancock has announced a ban on mixing with other households in the Liverpool City Region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough after a spike in coronavirus infections. The new rules will restrict social mixing for almost two million people. The health secretary said indoor mixing between households will be illegal, and guidance will advise people not to mix with others in outdoor public spaces such as parks. The measures mirror those introduced in the North East on Monday to tackle the spread of COVID-19. Downing Street said they would come into force on Saturday morning at one minute past midnight.
1st Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

Jordan reports 1,767 COVID-19 cases in its highest daily tally

Jordan warned on Wednesday it could be forced to return to a full lockdown, potentially devastating its fragile economy, after recording 1,767 new cases of COVID-19, its highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak. The country’s total number of confirmed infections now stands at 11,816, with 61 deaths since the first case surfaced in early March, Health Minister Saad Jaber said in a statement. Jordan, which had some of the lowest numbers of infections in the region in the first few months of the pandemics’ spread, has seen daily numbers rise alarmingly this month, with health officials saying the country now faced a community spread.
1st Oct 2020 - Reuters India

COVID-19: UN calls for more support for ‘people’s vaccine’ plan

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, has again called for a “quantum leap in support” for a global vaccine plan to contain the coronavirus pandemic, as the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Sweden promised nearly $1bn in funds to support developing nations secure access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its COVAX facility – led by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance – has received $3bn, but needs a further $35bn, of which $15bn is required by the end of the year.
1st Oct 2020 - Al Jazeera English

New York worries over 20 coronavirus hot spots, Wisconsin sees troubling trends

Wisconsin, where U.S. President Donald Trump will hold rallies over the weekend, registered a record increase in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, while New York state reported a worrisome uptick of positive coronavirus tests in 20 ‘hot spots.’ The 3,000 new infections reported in Wisconsin fanned fears that the sheer number of new patients could overwhelm hospitals. Florida, which has four times as many people as Wisconsin, reported 2,628 new cases on Thursday. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an emergency order easing licensing rules in a bid to bolster the number of healthcare workers able to deal with the mounting crisis.
1st Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Brazil reports another 728 coronavirus deaths on Thursday

Brazil registered 728 additional coronavirus deaths and 36,157 new cases over the last 24 hours, the nation’s health ministry said on Thursday evening. The South American country has now registered 144,680 total coronavirus deaths and 4,847,092 total confirmed cases. Brazil has the second worst coronavirus death toll in the world outside the United States. Daily deaths and cases have declined significantly in recent weeks, however health professionals are monitoring certain cities for potential second waves.
1st Oct 2020 - Reuters UK


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Oct 2020

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Madrid coronavirus: Spain orders lockdown amid rise in cases

The Spanish government has ordered a lockdown in the capital Madrid and surrounding areas badly affected by coronavirus after a rise in cases. Under the new restrictions, residents will not be allowed to leave the area unless they have to make an essential journey. However, Madrid's regional government says the lockdown is not legally valid. Greater Madrid accounts for more than a third of the 133,604 cases diagnosed in Spain over the past two weeks. On Wednesday, a majority of Spain's regional governments, who are in charge of healthcare, voted in favour of imposing restrictions in areas with more than 100,000 residents if they met three benchmarks - 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, 35% Covid patient occupancy in intensive care units and positive results in 10% of tests. Madrid, which has a rate of 780 infections per 100,000, already meets the criteria. However, it is not yet clear when the restrictions will be introduced.
1st Oct 2020 - BBC News

Operation Warp Speed Has Over $6 Billion In Secret Covid-19 Vaccine Contracts Evading Scrutiny

Billions of dollars’ worth of coronavirus vaccine contracts have avoided usual mechanisms of transparency and regulatory oversight with Operation Warp Speed - the Trump administration’s project to develop a Covid-19 vaccine - which is funneling money through a nongovernmental intermediary, a move that is likely to reignite worries over the project’s opaque nature.
30th Sep 2020 - Forbes

UK reports record daily figure of 7,143 COVID-19 cases

Britain reported 7,143 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, the highest single figure to date, and 71 deaths, the biggest toll since July. Lockdown measures are being imposed across the country as the government tries to limit the spread of the virus. The 71 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test is the highest level since 97 fatalities were recorded on July 1.
29th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

MPs Will Vote On Any New National Lockdown, Matt Hancock Announces

MPs will be able to vote on any national coronavirus lockdown measures before they come into force, Matt Hancock has announced in a concession to backbench Tory rebels. The health secretary said that for “significant national measures” that affect all of England or the whole UK, MPs will be able to vote on them in advance “wherever possible”.
30th Sep 2020 - Huffington Post UK

First 'circuit break' lockdown set to be imposed by government in UK city as coronavirus cases soar

The first local ‘circuit break’ lockdown could be just hours away, according to reports. Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a raft of new measures across the country last week, with a statement from No 10 Downing Street and is set to hold a press conference today. Mr Johnson unveiled pub curfews and curbs on households gathering and meeting as part of the nationwide restrictions. But localised lockdown rules are also in place across the country as the rate of Covid-19 cases continues to soar and soar this week. In Birmingham, households are banned from gathering indoors and in gardens, with similar measures in Sandwell and Wolverhampton.
30th Sep 2020 - Birmingham Live

Merseyside leaders 'favour circuit breaker lockdown'

Merseyside leaders would favour a "circuit breaker" lockdown if companies are provided with financial support, Knowsley's council leader has said. Graham Morgan said a two-week mini lockdown "might disrupt the spread of the virus" to help regain control. Merseyside has recorded a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, according to the latest Public Health England data. Mr Morgan said council leaders agreed in principle to the "circuit breaker" to halt the spread of the virus. It follows a meeting with the government's chief medical officer Chris Whitty on Monday to discuss the next steps.
30th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Covid-19: Government 'must explain new lockdown rules better'

New local lockdown restrictions need to be "communicated better" by the government, a police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said. Households in the north-east of England are now banned from mixing indoors, including in pubs. But councils were not given advance warning of the announcement, according to Northumbria's PCC Kim McGuinness. And she said the prime minister had added to confusion by not being able to accurately explain the new rules. "Locally the communications methods weren't stood up to be able to back up what was happening through government," Ms McGuiness told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
30th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Will there be a second national lockdown in the UK?

Boris Johnson is set to deliver an update to the public today, and some are wondering if there could be another big announcement on the way. The latest press conference comes after the number of coronavirus cases yesterday reached its highest level since the start of the pandemic, with the worldwide Covid-19 death toll now surpassing 1 million. The Government has been busy implementing tighter restrictions, both locally and nationally, and at least 16.6 million people are currently in local lockdowns – about one in four Brits. But is it time to plunge the entire UK into a nationwide lockdown again? Here’s what we know.
30th Sep 2020 - Metro.co.uk

Angela Merkel limits public gatherings to 50 people in covid hotspots but says a national shutdown will be avoided 'at all costs' to preserve Germany's economy

Merkel told state leaders 'more difficult times lie ahead in autumn and winter' Compared to other European countries Germany has a low infection rate But the Chancellor said cases could soar to 19,200 per day if trends continue Germany had 2,000 cases Tuesday, compared to 8,000 in France, 7,000 in UK
30th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Germany's Merkel vows to avoid full national lockdown in pandemic

Germany wants to avoid a full national lockdown at all costs by quickly tracking infection chains and shutting down local outbreaks, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday. “We want to act regionally, specifically and purposefully, rather than shutting down the whole country again - this must be prevented at all costs,” Merkel told a news conference following a video-conference with the premiers of the federal states.
29th Sep 2020 - Reuters.com

Israel’s second lockdown could last a while, Netanyahu says.

Israel’s second national lockdown is likely to last at least a month and perhaps much longer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, as the country’s soaring infection rate of around 8,000 confirmed new cases a day remained among the highest in the world. “In my opinion, it won’t be less than a month, and it could take much more time,” Mr. Netanyahu said during a Facebook Live video session. The lockdown came into effect this month, on the eve of the Jewish New Year holiday, and was tightened on Friday after Mr. Netanyahu warned that without immediate measures, Israel would “reach the edge of the abyss.” Israelis must remain within 1,000 meters of their homes unless they are going to authorized places of work or seeking essential supplies or services, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 20 people.
30th Sep 2020 - The New York Times

Spain's Ibiza under partial lockdown after contagion spreads

The Balearic Islands’ regional authorities decided on Wednesday to impose new restrictions on the tourism hotspot city of Ibiza after the coronavirus contagion spread quickly there over the past weeks. The restrictions on residents’ activities will last 15 days. The measures include a ban on parties of more than five people, the shutdown of playgrounds and the closure of bars and restaurants at 10 pm, regional authorities said in a statement. They also recommended that people stay home for all but indispensable activities, without making that a mandatory confinement.
30th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Lockdown impact on COVID-19 epidemics in regions across metropolitan France

Lockdowns have been used by most European countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In France, a national lockdown was implemented on March 17, 2020. Some have questioned the need for a nationwide implementation given that most hospital admissions were concentrated in two of 13 regions; others have even questioned the impact of the lockdown on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spread, arguing that the natural epidemic peak was about to be reached. Here we discuss the impact of lockdown on COVID-19 epidemics in regions across metropolitan France.
30th Sep 2020 - The Lancet

Tamil Nadu Govt Extends Lockdown Till October 31, Withdraws Decision to Reopen Schools

The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday extended the ongoing lockdown till October 31 with more relaxations and put on hold its earlier order permitting students from class X to XII to voluntarily seek their teachers' guidance from October 1 by going to schools. The government's decision to defer plans on allowing students to go to schools on voluntary basis to clear doubts from their teachers followed opposition from parents who had declined to send their wards to the educational institutions.
30th Sep 2020 - News18

Why some states handled lockdown better than others

Australians are among the best in the world when it comes to behaviour during pandemic lockdowns, researchers have found, and some parts of Australia are better than others. The research, led by the Queensland University of Technology, analysed Google Mobility data as well as nation-level personality data across 36 countries, taken before and after the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic on March 11.
30th Sep 2020 - Brisbane Times

Another 500,000 people plunged into lockdown as Wales gets new local restrictions

More than half a million residents in North Wales will be put into local lockdown following a surge in coronavirus cases, the health minister has announced. New restrictions will be introduced in Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham from 6pm on Thursday. People will no longer be permitted to enter or leave these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education. They will also be banned from mixing indoors with other households but can meet outdoors for the time being. The recent spike in transmission has largely been blamed on people socialising indoors.
30th Sep 2020 - Metro

Nigeria Develops Own Kit to Test for Covid-19

In order to improve its testing capacity for COVID-19, the Nigerian government has developed a molecular test kit named the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA). The minister of state for health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, made this known at the bi-weekly Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday. Mr Mamora said the test kit developed by the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) can produce results in less than 40 minutes. This is faster as compared to the Reverse Transcription- Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) which is currently the main source of testing in the country. This method of testing takes several hours to produce results.
30th Sep 2020 - AllAfrica - Top Africa News


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th Sep 2020

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Covid-19: End of term isolation will ensure students can go home for Christmas, Williamson announces

Two weeks of self-isolation at the end of term will allow university students to go home at Christmas, the education secretary has announced. Gavin Williamson told MPs that in-person classes could be cancelled at the end of term and replaced with online learning, so that students can carry out a two week quarantine before heading home. With thousands currently in self-isolation at education centres around the country, there have been huge concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could force some students to spend the festive period alone at their university residence. Mr Williamson, acknowledging "anxiety" about the impact of coronavirus restrictions on the Christmas holidays, said the government will work with universities to make sure all students are supported to return home if they choose to do so.
29th Sep 2020 - ITV News

COVID-19: The Most Complicated Vaccine Campaign Ever

On the day that a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, a vast logistics operation will need to awaken. Millions of doses must travel hundreds of miles from manufacturers to hospitals, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies, which in turn must store, track, and eventually get the vaccines to people all across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with state and local health departments, coordinates this process. These agencies distributed flu vaccines during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic this way, and they manage childhood vaccines every day. But the COVID-19 vaccine will be a whole new challenge.
29th Sep 2020 - The Atlantic

Ireland should prepare itself for subsequent waves of Covid-19, HSE chief warns

Ireland will be dealing with Covid-19 for a long time even if a vaccine is developed, the country’s health chief has said. Paul Reid warned that the country should plan for subsequent waves of the pandemic. “Even with a vaccine, the reality is that we will be dealing with Covid-19 for a long time yet,” he said. “We must all adapt our way of life through a combination of behavioural, societal, and healthcare delivery changes.” The chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE) made the comments as he appeared before the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response on Tuesday.
29th Sep 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

NYC warns several neighborhoods could be put on strict lockdown TODAY amid 'troubling' COVID surge

Eight neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens have been identified as potential targets for new lockdowns - The average positivity rate across all eight neighborhoods - which have large Orthodox Jewish communities - is 3.3 percent higher than the city's overall rate - Officials said they could announce new restrictions for specific zip codes as of early Tuesday morning - It comes as New York state recorded a positivity rate of 1.5 percent on Sunday - the highest since mid-July - Gov Andrew Cuomo on Monday said spikes in the Big Apple are a 'big contributor' in the state's climbing rate
29th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Talk of a scientific rift is a dangerous distraction in the fight against Covid-19

The cardinal rule of coronavirus policy is that you must follow “the science”. Or, at the very least, you must say that you are. After the US’s disastrous response to the pandemic, Donald Trump still insists he is “guided by science”. In the UK, Boris Johnson and his ministers always claimed that our own bumbling response was either “led by the science” or “following the science”, even as Britain’s infection rate soared above other countries that were also, in their own words, following the science. Sometimes it is easy for us to separate out false claims about science from real ones. Early in the crisis, the majority of mainstream scientists, and institutions such as the World Health Organization, supported swift lockdown measures. Trump resisted this approach, instead putting his faith in quack cures that his closest scientific advisers clearly opposed. Johnson has tended to drag his heels, taking the right scientific advice too late, as with lockdown, or making a mess of the execution, as with testing and tracing. Their departures from the sanctified path of science are obvious.
29th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Lockdown tightened in north-east England as Covid-19 infections rise

Nearly 2 million people in north-east England face being fined up to £6,400 if they mix with other households indoors in a significant extension of the government’s lockdown powers. For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, it will be illegal for people in parts of the UK to meet people they do not live with in pubs, bars or restaurants. The measure comes into force on Wednesday in Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland. Previously, people in these areas were only advised not to meet others indoors. Breaches of the new regulation, which is yet to be laid down in law, will result in a £200 fine for a first offence, doubling each time up to a maximum of £6,400.
29th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Germany May Limit Gatherings to Fight Coronavirus Spread

Germany may join other European nations in limiting the number of people at private and public gatherings in areas with high coronavirus infection rates, as officials across the continent labor to reverse a recent uptick in cases. Chancellor Angela Merkel will recommend restricting private meetings to 25 people and public gatherings to 50 people when she holds talks with regional premiers via video conference on Tuesday, according to a draft proposal obtained by Bloomberg News. The rules would apply to areas with more than 35 infections per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days, according to the paper. While the infection rate since late July was initially fueled by returning vacationers, individuals disregarding distancing rules are now the main concern. “Given the dropping temperatures, the increased time spent indoors during the fall and winter, and the pending flu season, we must now be particularly careful,” the paper says.
29th Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

Cases are rising in Ontario. Will another lockdown follow? Stay tuned to the Doug Ford plan

Ford acknowledged on Monday that the second wave of COVID-19 is here. But he said he isn’t ready to shut anything down. Not yet, anyway
29th Sep 2020 - National Post

Rule of six and other COVID-19 measures announced for Spain’s Andalucia

Andalucia has revealed a series of measures for the towns most affected by COVID-19. Only one town, Casariche, in Sevilla, will be closed down after registering a coronavirus incidence rate of 4,582.1 over the past two weeks.
29th Sep 2020 - Olive Press

Spain Ends Furlough Uncertainty With Last-Minute Extension

The Spanish government reached a last-minute deal to extend its furlough program after weeks of negotiations that left businesses and workers on edge in a country suffering one of Europe’s deepest economic shocks this year. The Spanish government reached a last-minute deal to extend its furlough program after weeks of negotiations that left businesses and workers on edge in a country suffering one of Europe’s deepest economic shocks this year. The program is extended until Jan. 31, Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz said on Tuesday.
29th Sep 2020 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus lockdown in Spain's capital affects about a million people

About a million people in the Spanish capital of Madrid are under a coronavirus lockdown enforced by police checkpoints. The country's health minster said even stricter measures might be needed.
29th Sep 2020 - CBS News

Millions in Chile capital emerge from lockdown

Chile on Monday lifted strict coronavirus lockdown measures for millions of people in the capital Santiago, a month ahead of a key referendum to amend the dictatorship-era constitution. Most of the capital's seven million population moved to phase three of a five-step deconfinement plan, allowing the reopening of bars and restaurants as well as regional transport links. However, fears are widespread that a new outbreak in infections could drive parts of the capital back into confinement.
29th Sep 2020 - FRANCE 24

Is Paris heading towards new lockdown? The figures say that it is

Surging coronavirus numbers in Paris are fuelling speculation the French capital may headed for “maximum alert” – following in the footsteps of Marseille and Aix-en-Provence with total bar and restaurant closures. Covid-19 infections in Paris are already two and a half times the national average and exceed the government’s own maximum alert threshold of more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. While the incidence rate in the Île-de-France suburban region surrounding Paris as now 156.8 cases per 100,000, that number skyrockets to 254 cases once inside the Paris postcode. Covid-19 patients in Paris hospitals now account for more than 30 percent of intensive care beds – another threshold the government says qualifies an area for maximum alert.
29th Sep 2020 - RFI English

Coronavirus: New rules in Netherlands to cope with virus surge

Many residents in the Netherlands will, for the first time, be advised to wear a face mask in shops as the country introduces a range of measures to control a second coronavirus wave. Compared to its neighbours, the Netherlands had largely avoided strict restrictions until now. This week nearly 3,000 infections daily are being recorded in the nation of 17 million people. The new measures will start on Tuesday and last for at least three weeks. "We are doing our best, but the virus is doing better," Health Minister Hugo de Jong admitted on Monday.
29th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus second wave: Will there be another lockdown in India

Several countries have allayed fears of a second wave of coronavirus. On Saturday, Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray expressed apprehensions of a "second wave" of coronavirus transmission as more people are moving out for work, and called for stricter compliance with norms. Speaking at a virtual meeting with ministers and officials of Marathwada and Nashik divisions on the COVID-19 situation, the CM expressed concerns over asymptomatic patients, allowed to remain at home, stepping out without proper precautions and infecting others.
29th Sep 2020 - Oneindia

Israel minister says ‘no way’ virus lockdown will end soon

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Tuesday that there was “no way” the country’s second nationwide coronavirus lockdown would be lifted after three weeks as originally planned. “There’s no way that in 10 days we’ll be lifting all the restrictions and saying it’s all over, everything is fine,” he told public broadcaster Kan. Israel imposed its second lockdown on September 18 after the coronavirus infection rate soared. It was originally scheduled to end on October 10.
29th Sep 2020 - Manila Bulletin

Philippines placing southern city in lockdown

One southern Philippine province and its war-battered capital will be placed under a mild lockdown next month and the rest of the country will be under more relaxed restrictions to boost the battered economy of the country counting the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia. President Rodrigo Duterte announced the quarantine restrictions for October in televised remarks Monday night. Lanao del Sur province and its capital, Marawi city, will fall under a lockdown starting Thursday due to infection spikes in recent weeks.
29th Sep 2020 - BusinessMirror

UK eyes tougher COVID-19 restrictions for England as outbreak spreads

The British government is mulling tougher restrictions in England to tackle a swiftly accelerating second wave of the novel coronavirus outbreak, possibly outlawing more inter-household socialising, a junior health minister said on Monday. “We don’t want to bring on new restrictions but of course we keep a constant eye on what is going on with the COVID rate,” Junior Health Minister Helen Whately told Sky News. “We were looking at what we might be able to do.”
29th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Canada expects to approve new COVID-19 tests soon, government official says

Canada’s federal authorities and its two biggest provinces on Tuesday promised new measures to combat a second COVID-19 wave that is notching up as many cases as during the pandemic’s peak in April. Canada reported new 2,176 infections on Monday, taking the total to 155,301. The death toll rose by 10 to 9,278. Government minister Dominic LeBlanc, who chairs the cabinet’s coronavirus committee, called the surge “very worrying”. Ontario, the most populous of the 10 provinces, said it would limit visitors to long-term care homes for the elderly in areas with high community spread. Most deaths in Canada have taken place in homes for seniors.
29th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Scientist behind Sputnik V vaccine defends Russian strategy

Russia plans to share preliminary results of its COVID-19 vaccine trial based on the first six weeks of monitoring participants, raising the tempo in an already frenzied global race to end the pandemic. Alexander Gintsburg, head of the Gamaleya Institute that produced the Sputnik V vaccine, told Reuters that the pace of its development was necessary under the “wartime” conditions of a pandemic but no corners were being cut. Russia has pushed ahead with its potential COVID-19 vaccine at top speed, with mass public vaccinations alongside the main human trial, raising concerns among some observers that it was prioritising national prestige over solid science and safety. “People are dying just like during a war,” said Gintsburg, holding a crystal model of a coronavirus in his hand. “But this fast-tracked pace is not synonymous, as some media have suggested, with corners being cut. No way.” Sitting in his wood-panelled office at the institute in Moscow, Gintsburg said his team had been set a tight deadline to produce a vaccine but that all guidelines for testing Sputnik V’s safety and efficacy had been followed. The plan to publish interim results based on the first 42 days of monitoring volunteers means Russia has a high chance of becoming the first worldwide to announce any data from a final-stage, or phase-three, trial.
29th Sep 2020 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 29th Sep 2020

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Global coronavirus death toll passes one million

The global death toll from the new coronavirus, which emerged less than a year ago in China and has swept across the world, passed one million on Sunday. The pandemic has ravaged the global economy, inflamed geopolitical tensions and upended lives, from Indian slums and Brazil's jungles to America's biggest city New York. World sports, live entertainment and international travel ground to a halt as fans, audiences and tourists were forced to stay at home, kept inside by strict measures imposed to curb the virus spread. Drastic controls that put half of humanity -- more than four billion people -- under some form of lockdown by April at first slowed its pace, but since restrictions were eased cases have soared again. On Sunday at 10:30 p.m. (GMT), the disease had claimed 1,000,009 victims from 33,018,877 recorded infections, according to an AFP tally using official sources. The United States has the highest death toll with more than 200,000 fatalities followed by Brazil, India, Mexico and Britain.
28th Sep 2020 - Japan Today

Christian Drosten, Germany's Dr. Fauci, Worries About Second Wave of Covid

As Germany cleared away spent fireworks and slept off its hangovers on New Year’s Day, Christian Drosten got a sobering wake-up call: A member of his team—he heads the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital—reported that a strange pneumonia was spreading in the Chinese city of Wuhan. For Drosten, a leading developer of tests for emerging viruses, there was an element of déjà vu. As a doctoral student in Hamburg in 2003, he’d discovered that the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, then terrifying Asia was caused by a coronavirus. Although it was unclear whether a coronavirus was responsible for the Wuhan outbreak, Drosten fully understood the danger. While the viruses are common pathogens known to cause colds, some discovered in recent decades are highly lethal.
28th Sep 2020 - Bloomberg

Positive COVID-19 test rates top 25 percent in some Midwest states

The number of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 is topping 25 percent in several states in the US Midwest as cases and hospitalizations also surge in the region, according to a Reuters analysis. North Dakota’s positive test rate has averaged 30 percent over the past seven days compared with 6 percent the prior week. The positivity rate has risen to 26 percent in South Dakota, up from 17 percent the previous week, according to the analysis using testing data from The COVID Tracking Project.
28th Sep 2020 - New York Post

Russian businesses prepare for fresh lockdowns as Covid-19 cases soar

Russian businesses are braced for a reimposition of lockdown measures after a surge in new coronavirus cases over the past week dashed hopes that the country had successfully contained the pandemic. Russia has the world’s fourth-highest number of Covid-19 infections but government data had shown a steady decrease in new cases since they peaked in mid-May. That decline had encouraged the Kremlin to lift almost all quarantine measures imposed in March in an effort to limit the damage to the country’s already struggling economy, but a sharp increase in new infections over the past fortnight has raised fears that a new lockdown will be necessary.
28th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Russia's COVID-19 infections to rise until reaching plateau in October: RIA cites scientist

The number of new coronavirus infections in Russia will reach a plateau at the beginning of October before a small decline, the RIA news agency cited a scientific adviser to consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor as saying on Monday. The number of COVID-19 infections has been steadily rising in recent weeks and surged past 8,000 on Monday, the highest daily increase since June 16. Russia exited lockdown in early June. “I think that infections are going to rise now and we will approach a plateau, and then a gradual decline will begin, there is unlikely to be a peak,” said Victor Maleev from the Russian Academy of Sciences. “The plateau will probably be at the start of October.”
28th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

PM scrapped second UK lockdown 'over fears Rishi Sunak would quit'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson abandoned plans for a second national lockdown over fears Rishi Sunak might quit, a senior MP has said. Mr Sunak reportedly warned that a second national lockdown would be a disaster for the economy and make his job near impossible. Despite medical and scientific experts calling for tougher restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus, he argued that Britain must be kept open to protect millions of jobs and businesses, The Sun reported. A senior MP told the publication: ‘Rishi simply wouldn’t wear it. His stance was so firm. There were even fears he would find it difficult to carry on if he was ignored.’
27th Sep 2020 - Metro.co.uk

Britain will seek coronavirus ‘herd immunity’ covertly or by default - thanks to the failure of lockdown

The dynamics of epidemics, their lethal ebbs and flows, are unpredictable and complicated involving more than a fixed proportion of people getting the illness. Yet six months from “herd immunity” being pilloried worldwide as the equivalent of poisoning the wells, Britain may covertly or by default may be adopting just such a policy. The reason for this creeping volte-face is that while “herd immunity” may or may not be achievable, the alternative policy of lockdown looks more and more like a bad bargain, bringing economic devastation in return for a temporary retreat of the epidemic. It only really works in countries where the state and society are so organised, China or Germany being prime examples, so that they can largely return to normality while at the same time suppressing new outbreaks. It helps if they are islands like New Zealand and Taiwan, but this advantage wanes as soon as full travel links are re-established.
26th Sep 2020 - The Independent

Covid: Cardiff and Swansea go into local lockdown

Wales' two biggest cities have gone into lockdown, which started at 18:00. The changed status of Swansea and Cardiff took the number of Welsh local authority areas under heightened Covid restrictions to eight. It follows the first localised lockdown in Wales, in the town of Llanelli in Carmarthenshire, which came into force on Saturday evening. It means 1.5 million people - about half of Wales' population -are now under lockdown. Earlier on Sunday, it was confirmed that three other council areas - Neath Port Talbot, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan - will face the same measures from 18:00 BST on Monday. The restrictions are the same as those affecting people living in Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly, which were already in lockdown.
27th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Wales lockdown: Businesses affected by Covid offered grants

Businesses in Wales hit by coronavirus will be offered £140m in grants, Economy Minister Ken Skates has said. Nearly two-thirds of Wales' population are now living under lockdown after new measures were brought in at 18:00 BST. Neath Port Talbot (NPT), Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan have joined eight other areas in lockdown, affecting almost two million people in total. The country's two biggest cities - Cardiff and Swansea - had restrictions applied on Sunday evening. The new rules mean no travel outside council boundaries other than for work, education or medical emergencies, with no indoor mixing allowed and no alcohol sales after 22:00. Conwy, Denbighshire, Wrexham, Flintshire, Anglesey and Carmarthenshire are being "closely monitored" by Public Health Wales, meaning if cases continue to rise they could also face lockdowns.
28th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Merkel worried Germany could face significant case surge

Chancellor Angela Merkel is deeply worried about sharply rising coronavirus infections in Germany, her spokesman said Monday. "The development of infection numbers is of great concern to us," Steffen Seibert said. "We should not permit the virus to spread exponentially in certain places," he added. Merkel warned top officials from her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) during a video meeting earlier on Monday that daily new infection numbers could reach 19,200 if the trend for rising cases continues, reported news agency AFP and German daily national newspaper Bild, citing unnamed party sources. Infections have been rising across Europe for weeks, with France and Spain reporting the sharpest increases of over 10,000 a day.
28th Sep 2020 - DW (English)

Italy's government showed the world how to take responsibility in a pandemic

If there ever was an unlikely country to be designated a model of collective civility, that’s Italy. My native land is usually depicted as a beautiful place whose abundance of natural and cultural treasures is entrusted, alas, to its disorganised, corrupt, unruly inhabitants. And yet everybody these days seems to be lavishing praise on us: the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal are all describing as exemplary the way in which we Italians have clawed ourselves out of the tragic pit we were in this spring, as coronavirus raged and convoys of military trucks had to be deployed to carry the coffins – they were so many.
28th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

London faces emergency two-week lockdown as coronavirus cases spike

Ministers are drawing up plans to enforce sweeping lockdown measures across the country including a ban on household mixing in London, as new coronavirus infections continue to rise. Pubs, restaurants and bars may be forced to shutter for two weeks in both the North of England and in London, marking a return to so-called circuit breaker plans which were abandoned last week, the Times today reported.
28th Sep 2020 - City A.M.

France’s Covid epidemic worsens as new restrictive measures take effect

Health agency figures showed France’s Covid-19 epidemic continued to accelerate as new restrictive measures were to come into effect in large cities including Paris on Monday. Government ministers said the priority was to avoid a new general lockdown. With Covid-19 cases, infection rates and hospital admissions continuing an upward trend in France on Monday, public officials expressed hope a new slate of restrictive measures would keep the epidemic from reaching first-wave levels. “We are doing everything we can to prevent a new general confinement,” even though “with this virus, we are ruling nothing out,” Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne said Monday. Official figures posted Sunday reported 11,123 new cases within the previous 24 hours, slightly down from the previous day’s number but consistant with a trend that has seen the average number of new Covid cases per day climb from 10,000 to more than 12,000 in a week.
28th Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

France has no plan to order a new coronavirus lockdown: minister

France’s government has no plan to order a new nationwide lockdown to contain a resurgence in coronavirus cases in the country, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday. Le Maire was speaking at a news conference after a cabinet meeting.
28th Sep 2020 - Reuters

India's confirmed coronavirus tally reaches 6 million cases

India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reached 6 million on Monday, keeping the country second to the United States in number of reported cases. The Health Ministry reported 82,170 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, driving the overall total to 6,074,703. At least 1,039 deaths were recorded in the same period, taking total fatalities up to 95,542. New infections in India are currently being reported faster than anywhere else in the world. The world’s second-most populous country is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country in coming weeks, surpassing the U.S., where more than 7.1 million infections have been reported.
28th Sep 2020 - The Associated Press

Ontario in grip of second Covid-19 wave that will be 'worse than first', officials say

Ontario has set a new record for daily coronavirus cases, as the province officially entered its second wave of Covid-19, and officials warned that it will be “worse than the first”. Ontario logged 700 new Covid-19 infections on Monday – well above the previous highest daily total of 640 on 24 April – as the premier, Doug Ford, warned residents to expect a “more complex” and “more complicated” surge of the virus in the coming weeks. “We know it will be worse than the first wave, but we don’t know how bad the second wave will be,” said Ford. “Our collective actions will determine if we face a wave or a tsunami.”
28th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Madrid in standoff with government over Covid-19 lockdown

The Spanish government and authorities in Madrid are locked in a standoff over how to tackle the second wave of Covid-19 in and around the capital, where more than a third of the country’s 716,481 cases have been diagnosed. As the number of infections continues to surge in Spain – by far the worst hit western European country – Madrid is at the centre of a medical, political and economic row. The conservative regional government has placed 45 areas into a partial lockdown that affects just over a million people in Madrid, but it has rejected calls from Spain’s socialist-led coalition government for the whole of the capital to be placed in limited confinement. On Saturday, the national health minister, Salvador Illa, issued another call for a city-wide lockdown and urged the Madrid authorities to “listen to the science” and put aside politics.
27th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

British ministers prepare for social lockdown in northern Britain, London: The Times

The British government is planning to enforce a total social lockdown across a majority of northern Britain and potentially London, to combat a second wave of COVID-19, The Times reported late on Sunday. Under the new lockdown measures being considered, all pubs, restaurants and bars would be ordered to shut for two weeks initially, the report said. Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said any new national lockdown would threaten jobs, livelihoods and human contact. The report added that households would also be banned indefinitely from meeting each other in any indoor location where they were not already under the order.
27th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Chile's president launches $2 billion plan to bring back jobs lost during pandemic

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Sunday the launch of $2 billion in subsidies aimed at creating new jobs or recovering those lost during months of lockdown aimed at stemming the coronavirus pandemic in the globe’s top copper producer. Pinera said the government would pay private businesses up to 50%, or as much as $317 of the salaries of any newly hired employee for the next six months. A similar program will cover up to around $200 of the salaries of employees who return to work after a furlough period during the coronavirus crisis.
27th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Modi offers India’s COVID-19 vaccine capacity to ‘all humanity’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged at the United Nations that his country’s vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the coronavirus crisis. “As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today,” Modi said in a prerecorded speech to the UN General Assembly.
27th Sep 2020 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Sep 2020

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China says WHO gave blessing for coronavirus vaccine emergency use programme

The World Health Organization supported China's campaign to vaccinate certain people against coronavirus in July while clinical trials were still under way, a Chinese health official said on Friday, although some experts have expressed concern about the move.
26th Sep 2020 - Reuters

It may take several tries to find right COVID-19 vaccine, PAHO director says

It may take several tries to find the right vaccine for COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization's (PAHO) director Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday, as she urged countries to begin preparing vaccination plans. Global reported infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, are climbing toward 32 million, according to a Reuters tally, while deaths approach 1 million. Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are reporting about a million new infections every two weeks. "We hope scientists do uncover an effective vaccine that offers lasting protection against COVID but it may take a few tries before we find the right one," Etienne said during PAHO's weekly virtual press conference. "Early vaccines may only provide partial protection or may not work for everyone. We don't yet know which vaccine will be found safe and effective and how it will work," she said.
26th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

'It's going to end' — Dr Anthony Fauci tells Ireland a Covid vaccine could arrive in 2020

Donald Trump’s top coronavirus expert still believes there is a chance a Covid-19 vaccine could arrive this year. Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, offered the positive assessment during an appear on The Late Late Show in Ireland. Speaking to host Ryan Tubridy, urged people to “hang in there” just a little longer. “This is going to end,” he told the RTE presenter. “We should know by the end of this calendar year – let’s say November, December – whether we have a safe and effective vaccine that can then be started to be deployed," he added. “Once we get vaccines distributed in the population – we won’t be completely avoiding and not adhering to public health measures – but clearly, they will be much less restrictive.
26th Sep 2020 - Irish Post

Coronavirus: Boris Johnson urges world to unite against COVID-19 and stop comparing death rates

Boris Johnson has urged the world to unite against coronavirus, suggesting it had made nations seem "selfish" and apparently warning against the comparison of countries' death rates. In a pre-recorded speech to the United Nations General Assembly, the prime minister said "the very notion of the international community looks tattered" nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic. "Unless we unite and turn our fire against our common foe, we know that everyone will lose," he said. "The inevitable outcome will be to prolong this calamity and increase the risk of another."
26th Sep 2020 - Sky News

Experts are warning of a coming surge of Covid-19 cases in US

The US could see an explosion of Covid-19 cases as fall and winter set in, one expert says, joining a chorus of health officials who have warned about the challenges of the coming months. Two things will likely help drive that expected winter surge, according to Dr. Chris Murray, director of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
26th Sep 2020 - CNN

Coronavirus: Israel tightens second lockdown amid acrimony

Israel has tightened restrictions on its population in the fight against coronavirus, one week after a second lockdown came into effect. From Friday afternoon, businesses not officially considered essential were ordered closed, and travel restricted to 1km (0.6 miles) from people's homes. Other planned rules which would affect protesters and synagogue-goers have not yet been approved amid acrimony. Covid-19 cases in Israel have continued to rise despite the latest lockdown. A new record of more than 8,000 infections for a single day were recorded on Thursday in Israel, which has one of the highest rates of infections per capita in the world.
26th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: More than a quarter of UK under stricter rules

More than a quarter of the UK population is set to be under stricter coronavirus rules, as new measures come into force this weekend. From Saturday in England, households in Leeds, Wigan, Stockport and Blackpool are banned from mixing in each other's homes or gardens. In Wales, Llanelli became subject to new rules at 18:00 BST, with Cardiff and Swansea to follow 24 hours later. It comes as the rate at which the virus is spreading appears to be speeding up. There have been 6,042 new coronavirus infections in the UK over the past 24 hours, according to the latest government figures - and 34 deaths among those who tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 28 days. It marks the fourth consecutive day that new infections across the UK have topped 6,000.
26th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Italy avoids Europe's dramatic Covid-19 surge but for how long?

The first Western country to be struck by the devastating coronavirus pandemic, Italy is today an outlier in Europe with limited new cases compared with neighbours. The question is why, and will it last. While France reported a record 16,096 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday and Spain over 10,000, Italy's number has for weeks remained below 2,000. It has carried out fewer tests -- some 120,000 per day, versus France's 180,000 -- but not enough to explain the sharp difference in new infections. Experts largely point to the success of a severe and lengthy lockdown, combined with a collective trauma. Horrific memories of coffins stacked up as cemeteries in the north overflowed and intensive-care beds ran out appear to have ensured Italians stick diligently to the rules, many even wearing masks in situations where it is not obligatory.
26th Sep 2020 - The Local Italy

Uruguay is winning against covid-19. This is how

Uruguay is Latin America’s positive outlier in a region ravaged by the pandemic. Luke Taylor explains how simple measures and following the science has put it head and shoulders above richer countries in fighting the novel coronavirus. Latin America continues to suffer some of the worst tolls of covid-19, with over seven million recorded infections1 accounting for nearly half of all daily deaths.2 But in the region's Southern Cone there is a clear outlier wedged between Brazil to the west, with over 3.5 million confirmed cases, and Argentina to the east, with half a million. Somehow, Uruguay has a lid on the pandemic. Its relatively small population of 3.5 million made controlling the transmission of covid-19 easier but never guaranteed its success—Panama, home to four million in Central America, has recorded over 100 000 cases and 2000 related deaths.
26th Sep 2020 - The BMJ

Spain’s Covid response is plunged into chaos

Spain’s response to the worst resurgence of coronavirus in Europe was plunged into chaos on Friday as Madrid regional authorities defied a national government call to put the whole capital city under new restrictions. The dispute highlights the governance crisis that has accompanied the pandemic in Spain and the lack of political consensus over how to handle it. It signals a more difficult phase of managing coronavirus around the world as winter looms and infections accelerate, with efforts to build up locally differentiated responses and people more reluctant to comply with harsh restrictions on public life and business activity.
26th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Sanofi/Glaxo to Supply 70M Coronavirus Vaccine Doses in Canada

Sanofi SNY and its partner GlaxoSmithKline GSK announced an agreement with the government of Canada to supply up to 72 million doses of the adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine that the companies are developing together, if approved. The vaccine will be produced at Glaxo and Sanofi’s manufacturing sites in Canada. Sanofi’s recombinant protein-based technology is being combined with Glaxo’s pandemic adjuvant technology to develop an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine.
25th Sep 2020 - Yahoo! News

Covid-19: What do scientists think of the PM's plan?

After dangling the possibility of a mini-lockdown to break coronavirus's chain of transmission, Boris Johnson has opted for a much softer strategy. The new Covid restrictions for England - which allow pubs and restaurants to remain open and households to continue mixing - have been met by scientists with responses ranging from praise to despair. Dame Anne Johnson, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, said it was essential to act quickly to stop the growth in the epidemic. She is "pleased" to see the government acting now, and says the change in messaging may be enough to change the virus's course.
25th Sep 2020 - BBC News

History Will Be "Severe Judge": Australia PM On Not Sharing Covid Vaccine

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday insisted that any nation that develops a Covid-19 vaccine share it universally, warning that history will be a "severe judge" if not. Morrison made the strongly worded appeal at the United Nations as the United States, a historic ally of Australia, resists global efforts to collaborate on a vaccine. "When it comes to a vaccine, Australia's view is very clear -- whoever finds the vaccine must share it," Morrison said in a message to the virtual UN General Assembly recorded in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House. "This is a global responsibility and it's a moral responsibility for a vaccine to be shared far and wide," he said.
25th Sep 2020 - NDTV

AstraZeneca Signs Deal With Canada to Provide 20 Million Coronavirus Vaccine Doses

AstraZeneca signed a large coronavirus vaccine-delivery deal with Canada on Friday. The big pharmaceutical company will deliver up to 20 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, AZD1222. This isn't the first time AstraZeneca has signed a commitment to deliver enormous quantities of its coronavirus vaccine candidate before it's had a chance to prove itself safe and effective in a phase 3 clinical trial. In June, the company agreed to supply Europe with up to 400 million doses of AZD1222 with deliveries beginning by the end of the year. The company also has a deal with Brazil to provide around 30 million finished doses of the vaccine by December.
25th Sep 2020 - The Motley Fool

Pope wants Covid-19 vaccine preferential treatment for the poor and weakest

The poor and weakest members of society should get preferential treatment when a vaccine for the coronavirus is ready, Pope Francis told the United Nations on Friday. Speaking from the Vatican in a video address to the UN General Assembly, Francis said the worldwide pandemic had highlighted the urgent need to promote public health and ensure access to vaccines. “If anyone should be given preference, let it be the poorest, the most vulnerable, those who so often experience discrimination because they have neither power nor economic resources,” he said. Francis has said rich countries should not hoard a coronavirus vaccine and the World Health Organization has warned against “vaccine nationalism”, urging countries to join a global pact to share vaccine hopefuls with developing countries.
25th Sep 2020 - Uruguay News

Covid: Coronavirus cases in England up 60% in a week

The rate at which the Covid-19 virus is spreading appears to be speeding up. The R number, indicating how fast the coronavirus epidemic is growing, has risen from 1.1-1.4 to 1.2-1.5. An Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey estimated there were 9,600 new cases a day in England in the week to 19 September - up from 6,000 the week before and three times that being picked up by general testing. It comes as more restrictions come into effect in parts of England and Wales. On Friday, the daily number of positive cases in the UK picked up by coronavirus testing rose to a new high of 6,874, government figures show. A further 34 deaths were announced, although figures were not available for Scotland because of a power cut at the National Records of Scotland.
25th Sep 2020 - BBC News

India’s coronavirus infections surge to 5.82 million

India’s coronavirus case tally surged to 5.82 million after it recorded 86,052 new infections in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed on Friday. A total of 1,141 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the ministry said, taking mortalities to 92,290, which is a relatively low 1.6% of all cases. Globally, India has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases, behind the United States where infections crossed 7 million on Thursday.
25th Sep 2020 - The Gulf Today

Coronavirus: Two million deaths 'very likely' even with vaccine, WHO warns

The global coronavirus death toll could hit two million before an effective vaccine is widely used, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. Dr Mike Ryan, the WHO's emergencies head, said the figure could be higher without concerted international action. Almost one million people have died with Covid-19 worldwide since the disease first emerged in China late last year. Virus infections continue to rise, with 32 million cases confirmed globally. The start of a second surge of coronavirus infections has been seen in many countries in the northern hemisphere as winter approaches.
25th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Whitty and Vallance faced 'herd immunity' backlash, emails show

As the UK introduces fresh restrictions on social contact to curb the spread of coronavirus, controversy continues to rage about whether the government had initially considered trying a very different approach. At the start of the pandemic, the government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, spoke about "herd immunity" - the idea that once enough of a population had been exposed to the virus, they would build up natural immunity to it. Sir Patrick and the government have both insisted this was never official policy. The government also denies there was any delay in locking down the country, as some critics have suggested. Emails obtained by the BBC reveal the alarm among the government's top scientific advisers at the reaction to Sir Patrick's words. In one email from March, Sir Patrick asks for help to "calm down" academics who have expressed anger at his repeated references to herd immunity and the delays in announcing a lockdown.
25th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Canada secures supply of COVID-19 drug remdesivir, more vaccine doses

Canada will see a dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 cases unless people limit contact with others in coming days, the country's chief public health officer warns. Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday the public has a vital role to play in helping health agencies limit the spread of the virus. “The challenge we face now is to stay the course no matter how weary we may feel,” Tam told a news briefing in Ottawa. She made a special appeal to young Canadians, saying COVID-19 levels won't return to a slow burn without their help, given the incidence has been highest among people age 20 to 39 since late June..
22nd Sep 2020 - bnnbloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Sep 2020

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Covid-19 in Scotland: Quarantine checks made on 'under 5%' of travellers

Covid-19 contact tracers have contacted fewer than one in 20 Scots who were required to quarantine after travelling abroad since June, figures show. The National Contact Tracing Centre also failed to reach 1,129 travellers it tried to contact to check they were complying with self-isolation rules. The centre was unable to contact more than 250 travellers last week, according to Public Health Scotland. The Scottish government said emails were sent to all requiring quarantine. A spokesperson said the National Contact Tracing Centre made follow-up contact with about 600 returning passengers a week, and £1m was being invested to recruit 25 additional staff.
24th Sep 2020 - BBC News

COVID-19: Woman to stand trial in Bahrain for violating quarantine

A woman in Bahrain will stand trial for having violated rules of domestic quarantine ordered to contain the spread of the coronavirus, and exposing others to infection, a prosecution official has said. The woman will be tried at the Minor Criminal Court in hearings beginning on September 29, prosecution chief Adnan Al Wadai added. The woman had been earlier ordered to undergo precautionary domestic isolation, but she left her house during the quarantine period and joined a family gathering at a relative’s house, the Bahraini news agency BNA reported.
24th Sep 2020 - Gulf News on MSN.com

Senior pharmacist appointed to COVID-19 clinical trial team

Oxford University has recruited Professor Mahendra Patel as national black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community and pharmacy lead for its Principle COVID-19 clinical trial. Principle – platform randomised trial of interventions against COVID-19 in older people – is a UK-wide clinical trial run by Oxford University that aims to find medicines those aged over 50 can take at home to help ease COVID-19 symptoms, reducing the need for hospital admissions. Professor Patel – a pharmacist and member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English pharmacy board and C+D’s clinical advisory board – has been appointed as the trial’s national BAME community and pharmacy lead, it was announced last week (September 18) His role will involve increasing participation from these groups into the study.
24th Sep 2020 - Chemist+Druggist

How Is Italy Avoiding a Second Pandemic Wave?

Italy was a symbol of the first wave of the pandemic. It was the first country in the world to go into a national lockdown, as its hospitals — especially in cities such as Bergamo and Cremona in the north — struggled to cope with the spike of cases and there was a sharp increase in deaths. As fear of a second wave grips Europe, Italy appears to be coping much better than other countries such as France, Spain and the U.K. This is hardly a time for complacency; as Britain can attest, this virus can return with a vengeance. But over the last two weeks, Italy recorded slightly fewer than 35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants — compared to nearly 315 in Spain, almost 200 in France and 76.5 in the U.K. The number of average deaths stood at 0.3 per 100,000, a third of the French rate and nearly a tenth of Spain’s. Italy’s figures are only marginally worse than Germany’s, which has been praised as a model of sound pandemic management.
24th Sep 2020 - Bloomberg

The British government tightens covid-19 restrictions

The churchillian rhetoric is back. “Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour,” Boris Johnson, the prime minister, warns. So are new nationwide restrictions. From September 24th, bars and restaurants will have to close at 10pm. More people will be required to wear masks; working from home will be encouraged. All rules will be strictly enforced. Barring a vaccine or testing breakthrough, Mr Johnson said, these new restrictions will last for six months. Merry Christmas indeed.
24th Sep 2020 - The Economist

Trump says safety checks for coronavirus vaccine will cost lives

President Trump has attacked a plan to impose tough new standards on approval of a coronavirus vaccine, saying it “sounds like a political move”. Mr Trump, who has repeatedly raised hopes that a vaccine might be approved before election day on November 3, said he had “tremendous trust in these massive companies” developing vaccines, and said they were best-placed to decide when they were ready, rather than regulators. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is introducing higher hurdles than usual for emergency authorisation of a vaccine, which would allow it to be released to the public rapidly.
25th Sep 2020 - The Times

Hancock refuses to rule out Christmas student lockdown

Matt Hancock has refused to rule out banning students from returning home at Christmas, to limit the spread of coronavirus outbreaks. The health secretary was responding to a question about concerns that students could be spreading Covid-19, amid numerous university-based outbreaks. At Glasgow University 120 students have tested positive for Covid-19 and are among 600 self-isolating there. Academics had warned against the mass movement of the UK's million students. The University and College Union had called for students to be taught wholly online, from home until Christmas, ahead of the start of term, but ministers advised some face-to-face learning was key to students' mental health.
24th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: London could go into lockdown as UK COVID-19 cases soar

London could be placed under lockdown if measures which Boris Johnson introduced this week do not prove effective in curbing the rapid rise of coronavirus infections in the capital. Health officials recorded 6,178 new Covid-19 cases across the UK on Wednesday, up by 1,252 on Tuesday's figures. Scientists who advise the government on their coronavirus response have warned that new measures introduced by Boris Johnson this week will not be enough to contain the virus. One London council leader present at a meeting with government health officials this week said: “Our epidemic is as developed as the north. There’s a consensus a lockdown [in London] is coming.”
24th Sep 2020 - Business Insider

Sweden shifts towards lockdown measures: Chief scientist says he is now considering short 'chain-breaking' localised restrictions, amid spike of cases in Stockholm

Anders Tegnell said he's thinking of 'fairly short restrictions' to break up spread. Architect of Sweden's 'herd immunity' strategy signalled shift in policy this week. It comes after a spike in cases in Stockholm - but the overall rate remains low Tegnell said that any restrictions would be 'extremely local' for a matter of weeks
24th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: Israel heads into 'hermetic' lockdown after infection figures surge

Israel's government has voted to tighten a week-old national lockdown as figures reveal the extraordinary extent of the country's coronavirus challenge. The cabinet met late into Wednesday night and concluded, not without huge disagreement, that a "hermetic" lockdown must be implemented by Friday. The country's infection rate is by far the highest among known rates globally.
24th Sep 2020 - Sky News

Coronavirus: Why Scotland's new 'lockdown lite' might struggle to deliver the same results

If you experienced a strange sense of déjà vu on Tuesday, you probably weren't alone. Nearly six months to the day since Boris Johnson took to our screens to tell Britain to "stay at home", we find ourselves once again facing tightened restrictions - albeit this time couched in terms of avoiding a second lockdown.
24th Sep 2020 - HeraldScotland

Spain 'deserves' to go back into full national lockdown after relaxing measures caused a second wave of Covid, leading epidemiologist says

Spain has seen coronavirus infections soar in recent weeks to over 11,000 a day Deaths are also increasing, though are nowhere near those seen in first wave Parts of Madrid and Ibiza have been hit by local lockdowns to contain spread But state epidemiologist says the country 'deserves' another national lockdown
24th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Europe tries Lockdown Lite

Trump says White House could veto FDA’s vaccine rules. China’s retail recovery still rests on the richest consumers. U.K. to spend more to protect jobs, businesses amid outbreak
24th Sep 2020 - Bloomberg

France tightens virus measures, unveils new 'danger zones' map

France’s health minister unveiled a map of coronavirus “danger zones” around the country on Wednesday and gave the hardest-hit local authorities, including that of Marseille, days to tighten restrictions or risk having a state of health emergency declared there. Olivier Veran told a news conference the country would be divided into zones by alert level with Marseille, the second-largest city, and the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe for now the only two areas put on the “maximum” alert level. Paris and its suburbs but also the northern city of Lille, the southwestern town of Toulouse and six other cities were declared “reinforced danger zones”, Veran added.
24th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Chinese Vaccine Maker to Offer Shots First to Testing Nations

Chinese vaccine developer Sinovac Biotech Ltd. said that countries running its final-stage clinical trials like Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey will get its coronavirus shots at the same time as China, underscoring how vaccine supply agreements could cement diplomatic ties in the Covid-19 era. One of three Chinese companies with vaccines in the last stages of testing, Beijing-based Sinovac will prioritize nations conducting its Phase III trials, and then offer doses to regions hard hit by the coronavirus, Chief Executive Officer Yin Weidong said during a government-organized media tour of the company’s facilities on Thursday.
24th Sep 2020 - Bloomberg

Pfizer partner BioNTech sees no role for its vaccine in UK challenge trial

Pfizer's German development partner BioNTech on Thursday joined other leading COVID-19 vaccine developers in ruling out participation in British plans to test experimental inoculations by deliberately infecting trial volunteers. "BioNTech's vaccine candidate is not part of this study," a spokeswoman said. Britain is planning to host so-called "challenge trials", the Financial Times cited people involved in the project as saying. Britain said it was working with partners on the potential for human challenge trials without commenting on a specific plan.
24th Sep 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Spain tops 700,000 coronavirus cases, Madrid surge in spotlight

Spain’s cumulative tally of confirmed coronavirus infections passed 700,000 on Thursday and authorities warned of tougher times ahead in the densely-populated virus hotspot region of Madrid, which accounts for over a third of hospital admissions. The number of confirmed cases has spiked since the end of a nationwide lockdown in late June, adding 200,000 in less than a month, and now stands at 704,209, the highest in Western Europe. The total number of COVID-19 fatalities rose by 84 to 31,118, including 13 deaths registered in the past 24 hours. Daily deaths are now around their highest levels since early May, but below the late March record of nearly 900.
24th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Cardiff is 'on the verge of coronavirus restrictions' warns council leader Huw Thomas as infection rates soar

Cardiff is on the verge of entering the Welsh Government's coronavirus "red zone", the city's council leader has warned. The number of cases per 100,000 population now stands at 38.2, while 3.8 per cent of tests are positive. Hospital emergency department attendance has also risen sharply in the last week. Evidence from contact tracers suggests the virus in Cardiff is mostly spreading within households - where family bubble rules are being breached and where people are mixing inside homes. Huw Thomas, leader of Cardiff council, said: “As we have seen over the past week, the situation can change quickly. “If case numbers continue to rise over the weekend there is a very real possibility that Cardiff will enter into the Welsh Government's ‘red zone.'
24th Sep 2020 - Wales Online

Iran anticipates ‘third wave’ as COVID-19 deaths pass 25,000

The death toll from COVID-19 in Iran has surpassed 25,000, the highest total in the Middle East, as cases continue to surge. The healthy ministry reported 175 deaths on Thursday and 3,521 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total confirmed cases to 436,319. In the past 30 days, 5,000 people infected with the coronavirus have died and 80,000 new infections have been registered, resulting in a total of 25,015 deaths and 436,319 recorded cases, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Lari told state television. The ministry said it was only a matter of time before a “third wave” of infections would hit Iran, which according to health experts could be worse than the first two, with bottlenecks in medical care for those infected. Iran has been battling a resurgence of COVID-19, with figures showing a rise in new infections and deaths since a two-month low in May.
24th Sep 2020 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Sep 2020

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U.S. FDA head tells Senate hearing COVID-19 vaccine safety comes first

A top U.S. health official told a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday that he expects COVID-19 vaccinations to take place over many months and that most Americans could be vaccinated by July of 2021 at the latest. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Robert Redfield said he expects there to be about 700 million doses of vaccines available by late March or April, enough for 350 million people. “I think that’s going to take us April, May, June, you know, possibly July, to get the entire American public completely vaccinated,” Redfield told the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
23rd Sep 2020 - Reuters

Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of losing control of Covid crisis

Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of “pretending there isn’t a problem” with the test-and-trace system, as he claimed the prime minister had lost control of the coronavirus crisis. In a clash focused entirely on the government’s response to Covid, the Labour leader posed a series of sometimes detailed queries on the testing system. Johnson generally ignored these, instead accusing Starmer of trying to “create political opportunity” out of the pandemic. One of the more confusing exchanges during prime minister’s questions came when Starmer quizzed Johnson on his insistence in the Commons on Tuesday that the performance of test and trace had no bearing on the coronavirus rate, contrasting this with Johnson’s previous insistence that the system would be “a real game-changer”.
23rd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Covid: UK governments 'took eye off ball' on pandemic

Successive governments across the UK "took their eye off the ball" and failed to prepare for a global pandemic, despite being warned for years of the risks. That is the view of Wales' ex-chief medical officer, who led a review into the UK response to 2009's flu epidemic. Dame Deirdre Hine said there was of a "real danger" of a damaging second wave of coronavirus. Her warning comes six months after the first UK-wide lockdown was introduced. Cases are now rising again and new UK-wide restrictions are being considered, while the prospect of more local lockdowns in Wales is looming.
23rd Sep 2020 - BBC News

Covid: Scotland records highest number of new virus cases

Scotland recorded 486 new positive coronavirus tests which represented the biggest single day's number since mass testing began. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the figures were concerning, and underlined why new restrictions had been imposed. But she acknowledged many more people were being tested now than at the peak of the outbreak in mid-April. Ms Sturgeon said 224 of the new cases were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, with 107 in Lanarkshire and 57 in Lothian. The number of positive tests was 103 higher than the figure recorded on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in Scotland to 25,495.
23rd Sep 2020 - BBC News

Covid-19: Daily reported UK cases rise by a quarter

The number of daily reported Covid-19 cases has risen by a quarter, according to the latest UK government figures. There have been 6,178 coronavirus cases in the UK in the last 24 hours, up 1,252 since Tuesday, and 37 deaths. Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England's medical director, said it was "essential" the public followed the new measures brought in to curb the spread. Tighter restrictions were announced across the UK on Tuesday, including a 22:00 closing time for pubs in England. People are being told to work from home if they can, rules on face coverings have been expanded and the number of people allowed at weddings in England has been halved.
23rd Sep 2020 - BBC News

England's new Covid rules 'too little, too late' for the second time

Scientific advisers to the government have warned that pub curfews and other new measures in England will fail to stop the exponential spread of Covid-19, as sources confirmed that ministers have departed from their “follow the science” mantra. A member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), who did not wish to be named, told the Guardian that “the scientific advice is that stronger restrictions should apply overall”, but said a “delicate balance” had to be struck between tighter measures and achieving good compliance. The new rules, announced by Boris Johnson on Tuesday, urge people to work from home if they can, while pubs and restaurants will close at 10pm, weddings will be limited to 15 people and shop and hospitality staff will be required to wear face masks. While Scotland and Northern Ireland have banned different households from meeting indoors, England’s restrictions are more relaxed, banning only groups of more than six.
23rd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus Victoria: CNN vindicates Dan Andrews’ controversial lockdown

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has been heckled near and far as “Dictator Dan” and mocked in editorial cartoons for turning his state into a “gulag”. But vindication for imposing some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in the world is beginning to flow as new case numbers remain low and steady, while new polling reveals a groundswell of support for the Labor leader. And the world is beginning to notice as a CNN report declared Mr Andrews’ strict shutdown the blueprint to containing the deadly coronavirus.
23rd Sep 2020 - NEWS.com.au

Germany set to declare Dublin 'at risk' due to virus

The "region of Dublin" has now been designated a "risk area" by Germany, due to the recent increase in Covid-19 infections. This designation means passengers from Dublin landing at any German airport will be required to be tested for Covid-19 and isolate until the result is known. The risk assessment is based on seven day incidences, with an infection rate above 50 per 100,000 of population triggering a testing requirement. Ireland's 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 per 100,000 of the population has increased to 70.7.
23rd Sep 2020 - RTE.ie

Coronavirus UK: Wages could be 'topped up' when furlough ends

Rishi Sunak is reportedly considering replacing the furlough scheme with German-style wage subsidies to help businesses in the UK. As the furlough scheme is set to end on October 31, there are concerns companies may start cutting jobs as the country prepares for a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The chancellor was set to announce an extension of Government-backed loan schemes for those struggling – but according to sources he decided to delay it at the last minute. The sources say he is using the delay to draw up a wider support package after Boris Johnson announced tougher new lockdown measures yesterday.
23rd Sep 2020 - Metro.co.uk

France's defense chief misled nation on troops' virus safety

France’s defense minister has admitted to misleading the nation about virus protections for air force personnel who evacuated French citizens from the hard-hit Chinese city of Wuhan in January
23rd Sep 2020 - ABC News

Covid-19 New Zealand: Mask rules eased as cases drop

Face masks are no longer mandatory on public transport in most of New Zealand as Covid-19 cases continue to drop. From midnight on Wednesday, they are required only in Auckland, the heart of a recent outbreak, and on planes. The rest of New Zealand lifted all pandemic restrictions on Monday. New Zealand was widely praised for its swift response to Covid-19 and everyday life largely went back to normal in June, but the virus reappeared in Auckland in August. 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.
23rd Sep 2020 - BBC News

Belgium eases mask rules, cuts quarantine despite rising cases

Belgium is ending a requirement to wear masks outdoors and reducing the time people have to self-isolate, in a slight easing of coronavirus restrictions announced on Wednesday despite sharply rising numbers of COVID-19 infections. Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes told a news conference that, from Oct. 1, people who have had contact with an infected person would only have to quarantine for seven days. Masks would no longer be mandatory everywhere outside, as currently the case in the capital Brussels and some other cities, she said. Masks will still have to worn in shops, cinemas, on public transport and in crowded streets.
23rd Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Ukraine expects COVID-19 to peak in winter with up to 5000 new daily cases

Ukraine can expect its domestic COVID-19 epidemic to peak in winter with up to 5,000 new COVID-19 cases registered daily, Oleh Ruban, the head of State Consumer Protection Service, said in an interview with the RBK-Ukraine news site. One of the roles of the State Consumer Protection Service is to enforce sanitary rules.
23rd Sep 2020 - Kyiv Post

Israel reports highest ever daily spike in coronavirus infections

Several days after the start of a second nationwide lockdown in Israel, the number of coronavirus infections has reached a new record high with nearly 7,000 cases. According to the health ministry’s statement on Wednesday, 6,923 new patients were recorded the day before. The previous record was reached last week, when 5,533 new cases were confirmed on a single day.
23rd Sep 2020 - Aljazeera.com


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd Sep 2020

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People infected with both flu and Covid-19 have serious and increased risk of death, experts warn

Those infected with both flu and Covid-19 have a serious increased risk of death, new research has found. Public Health England (PHE) warned that both illnesses could be circulating at the same time as they urged people who are eligible to get vaccinated.
22nd Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Coronavirus: Boris Johnson reveals new COVID-19 rules on face masks, fines, pubs and working from home

Face masks will become compulsory for bar staff, shop workers, waiters and taxi passengers in an effort to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England, the prime minister has announced. Fines for failing to wear a face mask will rise to £200 and will be extended to customers when they are not seated at a table, Boris Johnson told MPs.
22nd Sep 2020 - Sky News

Covid UK: scientists at loggerheads over approach to new restrictions

Rival groups of scientists are at loggerheads over how government should handle the Covid pandemic, with one advising that only over-65s and the vulnerable should be shielded, while the other backs nationwide measures. The conflicting advice to the UK government and chief medical officers (CMOs) came in two open letters issued on Monday by the rival camps. It came as Prof Chris Whitty, England’s CMO, and the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance made a national TV broadcast to set out the risk of the virus spreading exponentially, with a corresponding increase in cases and deaths, if public behaviour does not change. Thirty-two scientists signed one letter warning the government is heading down the wrong road and must reconsider its policy to suppress the virus, adopting a targeted approach instead.
22nd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

UK recession expected to continue until spring amid Covid-19 surge

Britain’s economy is heading for a prolonged recession lasting until next spring as the number of coronavirus infections climbs and tougher restrictions are introduced to contain the virus. As a Covid-19 second wave spreads and the government launches fresh measures to restrict business and social life, City economists warned that the fightback from the deepest recession in history begun this summer was running out of steam. Dashing hopes that the Covid recession could be among the shortest downturns in history, analysts from Bank of America said growth in gross domestic product (GDP) would probably stall in the fourth quarter and the first three months of 2021.
22nd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

New coronavirus restrictions - will Nicola Sturgeon go further than Boris Johnson with 'Lockdown II'?

08.30am - Boris Johnson chairs UK cabinet to sign off new lockdown measures which could be a mild as making pubs close at 10pm in England from Thursday and limiting pubs to table service only. 09.00am - Keir Starmer makes a speech in Doncaster to the online Labour conference, before rushing back to the Commons. The Labour leader’s speech is likely to be overshadowed on a big political day. 10.00am - Cobra crisis meeting with relevant cabinet members, experts and leaders of the devolved parliaments. It will be the first Cobra for four months and Nicola Sturgeon and other leaders have demanded a session in light of the rising numbers of infections. Having spoken to the First Ministers by telephone yesterday the PM will hope for a smoother session. However, London mayor Sadiq Khan has not been asked to attend which will cause fury in the capital. Neither have any regional English mayors, adding to the impression that Whitehall doesn’t get how devolution is changing the UK.
22nd Sep 2020 - Daily Record

‘More masks, less alcohol’: German state that led first lockdown to re-impose rules as cases surge

The southern German state of Bavaria was the first one to announce a complete shutdown of public life in March, after people failed to heed warnings to stay home and practice social distancing. On Tuesday, Bavarian state premier Markus Söder and his cabinet approved a number of new restrictions aimed at curbing a recent surge in coronavirus infections. Söder said in a press conference that returning holiday makers are a key reason for the spike in the numbers, as well as general carelessness, especially among young people. The tighter regulations, which Söder described as the basic principle of “more masks, less alcohol” will come into force later this week for areas, municipalities and communities with a high instance of new infections — areas reporting more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week.
22nd Sep 2020 - Yahoo Finance UK

Covid-19 incidence exceeds 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 16 areas of Madrid with no new restrictions

The coronavirus pandemic continues to rapidly expand across Madrid. According to data published on Tuesday by the regional government, 16 health areas in the region have a Covid-19 incidence rate above 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Despite this, these hotspots are not subject to the new restrictions on mobility that came into effect in 37 basic health areas on Monday. A basic health area is much smaller than a city district and can include several primary healthcare centers. There are around 286 basic health areas in the Madrid region, according to the regional health department.
22nd Sep 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Spanish army to enforce lockdown in Madrid

Spain deploys army to Madrid to help enforce lockdownTelegraph.co.ukLockdown measures and rising anger in Madrid as Covid-19 takes hold againThe GuardianProtests in Madrid over coronavirus lockdown measuresThe GuardianSpain ready to take further action to fight Madrid's second Covid waveFinancial TimesView Full coverage on Google News
22nd Sep 2020 - The Independent

Get serious! Careless French public riles COVID medics

David Fleyrat had almost cleared his Marseille hospital’s intensive care ward of COVID-19 patients during the summer lull in new cases. Now the private unit is filling fast again and Fleyrat can barely conceal his frustration. “It’s not doing our job that is tiring. What’s tiring is a second wave because people do not respect social distancing,” Fleyrat, who is managing director of the private Clinique Bouchard-Elsan told Reuters. Marseille is at the epicenter of a resurgence in novel coronavirus cases throughout France. Intensive care wards in the Mediterranean city’s public hospitals are full and so hospitals like Fleyrat’s are handling the spillover.
22nd Sep 2020 - Reuters

Chhattisgarh enforces strict lockdown in 10 districts after coronavirus cases, deaths spike

Ten districts in Chhattisgarh went into a strict lockdown for a week that is ending on September 28 after the state witnessed a spike in coronavirus cases and deaths. State capital Raipur has been declared a containment zone to facilitate the lockown after the Union home ministry announced in Unlock 4 lockdowns would not be possible without consulting the Centre.
22nd Sep 2020 - India Today

Czech PM regrets early lifting of Covid-19 measures

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has admitted that his government had made a mistake when it eased restrictions aimed at containing Covid-19 over the summer. His comments came as governments across Europe struggle with a second wave of Covid-19 infections following the holiday months in which the number of cases began rising sharply. "Even I got carried away by the coming summer and the general mood. That was a mistake I don't want to make again," the billionaire populist said in a televised speech.
22nd Sep 2020 - RTE.ie

Large parts of Wales to go into lockdown

Large parts of Wales will go into lockdown from 1700 GMT on Tuesday as the novel coronavirus spreads. Coronavirus laws are being tightened in four Welsh authorities – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport – following a sharp rise in cases, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said. People will not be allowed to enter or leave these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education, and people will only be able to meet others they don’t live with outdoors for the time being.
22nd Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

FDA poised to announce tougher standards for a covid-19 vaccine that make it unlikely one will be cleared by Election Day

The guidance is part of an effort to boost transparency and public trust as polls show many are skeptical a vaccine will be safe and effective.
22nd Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Russia offers UN staff free coronavirus vaccines

What do you do when Vladimir Putin offers you Russia’s new coronavirus vaccine for free? United Nations staff in New York and around the world are now facing that choice, after the Russian president offered Tuesday to provide them the Sputnik-V vaccine in a speech to this year’s General Assembly marking the body’s 75th birthday. Only results from small early studies on Russian vaccine have been published, raising concerns among some scientists that the vaccine isn’t ready yet for widespread use -- and prompting worldwide memes about potential bizarre side effects. “Any one of us could face this dangerous virus. The virus has not spared the staff of the United Nations, its headquarters and regional entities,” Putin said in a prerecorded speech from Moscow. The coronavirus pandemic means this year’s General Assembly is a work-from-home production, for the first time in its history.
22nd Sep 2020 - The Independent

COVID-19: US reaches ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll

The US death toll from the coronavirus topped 200,000 on Tuesday, a figure unimaginable eight months ago when the scourge first reached the world’s richest nation with its sparkling laboratories, top-flight scientists and stockpiles of medicines and emergency supplies. “It is completely unfathomable that we’ve reached this point,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher.
22nd Sep 2020 - Aljazeera.com


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Sep 2020

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'Landmark moment': 156 countries agree to Covid vaccine allocation deal

A coalition of 156 countries has agreed a “landmark” deal to enable the rapid and equitable global distribution of any new coronavirus vaccines to 3% of participating countries’ populations, to protect vulnerable healthcare systems, frontline health workers and those in social care settings. The Covid-19 vaccine allocation plan – co-led by the World Health Organization and known as Covax – has been set up to ensure that the research, purchase and distribution of any new vaccine is shared equally between the world’s richest countries and those in the developing world. Sixty-four higher income economies have already joined Covax, which includes commitments from 35 economies as well as the European commission, which will procure doses on behalf of the 27 EU member states plus Norway and Iceland, with 38 more expected to join in the coming days.
21st Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Germany’s top virologist doesn't envisage a second national lockdown

Another Germany-wide coronavirus lockdown is unlikely to happen, according to country’s most prominent virologist. Christian Drosten, the professor who spearheaded coronavirus-test development at Berlin’s Charité Hospital, told the German Press Agency even if the coronavirus situation in Germany worsens, another lockdown like the strict one in spring this year is not inevitable. "You don't always need a Germany-wide or regional lockdown because we already know some things better," said Drosten. However, he believes that some areas of work and personal life could face new restrictions, adding that Germany should not think it will escape a rise in infections like other EU countries.
21st Sep 2020 - Yahoo Finance UK

China keeps guard up with travel warning

China is keeping its guard up ahead of the biggest holiday season since it largely brought the coronavirus outbreak under control. China has asked its 1.4 billion residents to avoid unnecessary travel abroad during the week-long national holiday starting on Oct 1, which will be a major test of the country's ability to prevent a renewed outbreak of Covid-19. Large parts of the country went into lockdown during the Lunar New Year holiday, but weak domestic consumption is expected to rebound during the so-called Golden Week, usually the peak season for tourism and entertainment industries.
21st Sep 2020 - Bangkok Post

Covid-19: UK could face 50,000 cases a day by October without action - Vallance

The UK could see 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October without further action, the government's chief scientific adviser has warned. Sir Patrick Vallance said that would be expected to lead to about "200-plus deaths per day" a month after that. It comes as the PM prepares to chair a Cobra emergency committee meeting on Tuesday morning, then make a statement in the House of Commons. On Monday, a further 4,368 daily cases were reported in the UK, up from 3,899. A further 11 people have also died within 28 days of a positive test, although these figures tend to be lower over the weekend and on Mondays due to reporting delays. Speaking at Downing Street alongside chief medical adviser, Prof Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick stressed the figures given were not a prediction, but added: "At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.
21st Sep 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus restrictions are extended across NI

Covid-19 restrictions are to be extended to all of Northern Ireland from 18:00 BST on Tuesday, the Stormont Executive has announced. There will be no mixing of households indoors with some exceptions, and no more than six people from two households can meet in a garden. The move followed an urgent meeting of the Executive on Monday afternoon. In the last seven days, more than 1,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland. First Minister Arlene Foster said "this is not a return to lockdown", but "doing nothing is not an option". She added: "The restrictions are limited and we are in a better place than at the height of the pandemic."
21st Sep 2020 - BBC News

UK in 'last chance saloon' to avoid second lockdown amid warning coronavirus restrictions 'may last up to six months'

The UK is said to be in the "last chance saloon" to avoid new coronavirus lockdown restrictions amid warnings the measures could last up to six months. Boris Johnson is expected to give the UK one final chance to prove it can follow the existing rules and avoid a second lockdown, the Telegraph reports. The Prime Minister is expected to set out new measures in a press conference as early as Tuesday after a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases across the UK.
21st Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Covid lockdown for Newport, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent

Four more counties in south Wales will go into lockdown from 18:00 BST on Tuesday, meaning more than a quarter of the Welsh population will be under tighter restrictions. Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent and Newport follow Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly county into lockdown. People will not be able to enter or leave those areas except for a limited number of exemptions, such as work. Licensed premises such as pubs and bars will need to shut by 23:00 every night. People will only be able to mix with those not in their own household outdoors - meeting people from their extended households indoors will be banned in the four areas.
21st Sep 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Demonstrations in Madrid ahead of Monday's tough new lockdown measures

Protesters have taken to the streets of Madrid to demonstrate against strict new lockdown measures which have come into force. Thousands of men, women and children rallied in the southern districts of the Spanish capital.
21st Sep 2020 - Sky News

Unlock 4: Fresh Covid-19 restrictions imposed in these cities

Several state and local administrations have reimposed restrictions in the view of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases even as the country is in the last leg on Unlock 4, which began from September 1. Here is a complete list of cities/districts which are under restrictions in September. Some restrictions have been freshly imposed while some have been just extended.
21st Sep 2020 - Hindustan Times

Parts of South Wales put under local lockdown after surge in coronavirus cases

Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Blaenau Gwent will be placed under a local lockdown from 6pm on Tuesday following an increase in coronavirus cases, the Welsh Government has announced. Wales' health minister Vaughan Gething said many of the coronavirus cases had been linked to people socialising indoors without physical distancing.
21st Sep 2020 - Evening Standard on MSN.com

Universities are braced for a new wave of coronavirus in the absence of a credible action plan

Government must establish reliable mass testing, ensure all students can learn remotely, and protect the financial future of Britain’s universities In a matter of weeks, more than two million students will take up their place at university. Many will travel the length of the country to do so, while local students will begin a daily commute between their home and place of study. This happens every year, and the Government will have known the challenges it presented months in advance, yet it has repeatedly failed to create a credible plan to allow staff and students to return to university safely.
21st Sep 2020 - PoliticsHome

'Double billing' loophole makes virtual school even harder for special-needs families

A number of families with special-needs students are caught in a government loophole and can't get in-home help as they try to navigate online-only learning with their children. In normal times, their children are in school, getting intensely personal help in small classrooms. But with many school systems across North Carolina, including the largest ones in the Triangle, holding online-only classes, that's happening through a computer screen now. In normal times, the families can get federally funded waivers to hire in-home help when their children aren't at school. But virtual learning counts as school, prohibiting parents from getting that help during school hours. Schools get federal funding for special-needs education, and in the U.S. government's eyes, spending tax dollars on in-home help during the school day counts as double dipping.
21st Sep 2020 - WRAL.com

New Zealand ends all pandemic restrictions outside main city of Auckland

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday lifted all coronavirus restrictions across the country, except in second-wave hotspot Auckland, as the number of new infections slowed to a trickle. Some restrictions were also eased in Auckland to allow gatherings of up to 100 people, but the country’s biggest city needed more time before all curbs could be lifted, Ardern said. “Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control,” she told reporters in Auckland. “This was the centre of the outbreak and that’s why that caution is needed here.”
21st Sep 2020 - Reuters

Vallance: Covid vaccine doses may be available for some by end of year

A few doses of an effective Covid vaccine may be available for use before the end of the year, Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser has said – but it is far more likely that any such breakthrough will happen during the first six months of 2021. Vallance, charged with delivering the good news at the end of the dire warnings from himself and Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said the UK was in a good position, with orders for vaccines from a range of companies. Whichever approach to a vaccine succeeds – there are four main technologies being employed in prototypes around the world – the government will be able to access one that works. But he was not able to say which one it would be or exactly when. “There is good progress being made,” Vallance said. “Many vaccines now have shown they generate an immune response of a type that ought to be protective, and several vaccines are in very late stage clinical testing, aiming to show that they are both effective and safe.
21st Sep 2020 - The Guardian


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Sep 2020

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The World Is Losing the Vaccine Race

Immunization to COVID-19 is supposed to solve our problems—but it's starting to trigger even bigger ones.
19th Sep 2020 - Foreign Policy

A hostile Covid-19 vaccine race and testing shambles won’t keep the world safe

Some Australians could be forced to wait longer for a COVID-19 vaccine jab Federal Government has locked in deal to receive vaccine as early as January Though only 3.8million doses will be available in the first two months next year Experts have warned the limited supply will lead to priority distribution system
20th Sep 2020 - South China Morning Post on MSN.com

Trump health official says ‘biology independent of politics’ as US nears 200,000 Covid deaths

As the US closed in on 200,000 deaths from Covid-19, Donald Trump’s health secretary and a key member of the White House coronavirus taskforce defended the administration’s handling of the pandemic and insisted the president and a senior public health aide were both correct when they made contradictory statements about the imminency of an effective vaccine.
20th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Russia Strikes Deals to Sell Its Coronavirus Vaccine Internationally

Russia has struck preliminary agreements to sell its Covid-19 vaccine to more than 10 countries in Asia, South America and the Middle East, a development that could give Moscow valuable economic and political leverage internationally. Russian officials say they have secured preliminary deals for the vaccine to be delivered to countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and India. In addition, Russia says it is in various stages of talks with roughly 10 other countries to buy the vaccine. All told, it has received requests or expressions of interest in the vaccine for a total of 1.2 billion doses. The vaccines will be manufactured abroad and distributed world-wide from there as soon as November. The shot will require local regulatory approval before being distributed, officials say.
20th Sep 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

London should face new coronavirus lockdown by Monday, says mayor Sadiq Khan

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has reportedly warned Boris Johnson that the capital needs new coronavirus restrictions as soon as possible to curb the spread of Covid-19. The Mayor is also said to be preparing to urge people to work from home if possible, despite the government's push to get people back to their offices.
20th Sep 2020 - The Mirror

Russia pushes COVID-19 vaccine in Egypt

Russian diplomats have been busy in Cairo, meeting with Egyptian officials and the local media to promote the so-called Sputnik V, a vaccine developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute — even though clinical trials have not been completed on the drug, and the Chinese seem to be spreadheing the race for an greement with Egypt. Following only two months of testing, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin approved the drug in mid-August and the country began to market the medication as “Sputnik V, the first registered vaccine against COVID-19.”
20th Sep 2020 - Al-Monitor

Czech government could declare coronavirus state of emergency, says minister

The Czech government could declare a state of emergency if a recent spike in coronavirus cases continues in the coming days, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said. The Czech Republic’s daily count of new coronavirus cases has reached record highs in recent days and the country of 10.7 million had reported a total of 48,306 cases as of Saturday, Health Ministry data showed. “Should we need to have some deeper measures (against the epidemic), then the emergency state will be necessary,” Vojtech said in a televised debate on Sunday. The government should debate this step on Monday, Vojtech said, added that he would not yet propose declaration of a state of emergency.
20th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Scotland enters race for coronavirus vaccine with £1.4 billion contract

An 'old school' coronavirus vaccine to be manufactured in a small plant in Scotland could offer “better, longer and broader protection levels” to high risk groups compared to its high tech rivals. The research team behind the jab, which is to be made in a plant just outside Edinburgh, signed a £1.4 billion contract with the government this week to provide 60 million doses of its Covid-19 shot by the end of next year, if it proves successful in trials.
19th Sep 2020 - The Daily Telegraph

Why UK is hurtling toward 'circuit break' second coronavirus lockdown

Britain is hurtling towards a second all-out lockdown as ­figures show the coronavirus epidemic now DOUBLING in size week on week. The Government’s scientific advisers claim the national R rate could now be 1.4 – meaning on average every 10 people infected are infecting 14 others. Nationally, there were a further 4,422 confirmed UK cases of coronavirus recorded on Saturday and 27 deaths – up from 4,322 confirmed cases on Friday, the first time the daily total of positive tests had exceeded 4,000 since May 8. The Government’s original lockdown architect, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, warned tougher restrictions were needed “sooner rather than later”. The epidemiologist – who resigned from government scientific advisory group Sage in May for flouting his own lockdown rules – said: “Right now we’re at about the levels of infections we were seeing in late February. If we leave it at another two to four weeks we will be back at levels we were seeing more like mid-March.
19th Sep 2020 - Mirror Online

Brazil reports 33,057 new coronavirus cases, 739 deaths

Brazil recorded 33,057 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 739 deaths from the disease, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. South America's largest country has registered more than 4.5 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, according to ministry data, ranking it as the third worst outbreak in the world after the United States and India. More than 136,000 people have died of the disease in Brazil, which ranks second after the United States in coronavirus deaths.
19th Sep 2020 - Yahoo News

Coronavirus: Israel marks Jewish New Year with second lockdown

Israel is entering a second nationwide lockdown to curb surging coronavirus cases, just as people begin to mark the start of Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah is traditionally a time for big, family get-togethers. But under the new three-week lockdown, Israelis must stay within 1km (0.6 miles) of their homes, with exceptions, and the number of people allowed in synagogues has been greatly reduced. Israel currently has one of the highest Covid-19 infection rates in the world. In the past week, new cases have reached daily highs of more than 6,000, and the country's leaders have apologised for their failure to contain the pandemic. Israel has seen 1,169 deaths from Covid-19 and nearly 177,000 confirmed infections, according to a global tally kept by US university Johns Hopkins.
19th Sep 2020 - BBC News

EU to finance 88M coronavirus vaccine doses for poor countries

The EU is willing to invest in some 88 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for poor countries as part of its participation in a global effort to secure and equitably distribute immunizations, the Commission said Friday. The Commission and the EU 27, under the banner of “Team Europe,” will contribute to the COVAX Facility with an initial €230 million in cash through a loan from the European Investment Bank. That sum amounts to reserves or options to buy 88 million doses, and the EU “would transfer these” to eligible low-and middle income countries, a press release said.
19th Sep 2020 - POLITICO

Coronavirus vaccine could be ready by March but we will feel impact of pandemic throughout 2021 - Taoiseach

A vaccine for coronavirus could be ready by March or April next year, but the impact of the virus will be felt throughout all of 2021, according to the Taoiseach. Micheál Martin also said that a “huge economic issue” surrounding the pandemic cannot be ignored. Speaking with Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ Radio One this morning, Mr Martin said that the “full impacts” of the virus will be felt throughout next year even if a vaccine is found. “There is a huge economic issue here as well that we can’t ignore. We have a deficit of 8pc, we have €24bn maybe at the end of the year necessary. I think we’re looking at something similar right throughout 2021
19th Sep 2020 - Independent.ie

Latin American nations plan to join COVAX vaccine facility after deadline

Brazil and Argentina, Latin American nations seeking more time to commit to the global COVID-19 vaccine facility known as COVAX, said they intend to so as soon as possible after missing Friday's deadline. Peru's foreign ministry said on Saturday it managed to sign the binding agreement on Friday and will get access to 12 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, a scheme for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual vaccines. Argentina asked for more time to prepare the required paperwork but expects to sign on Wednesday its commitment to the vaccine mechanism led by the World Health Organization, a health ministry official told Reuters. The Brazilian government said in a statement late on Friday that it will sign up for COVAX after negotiations with the GAVI Alliance, which is the COVAX secretariat.
19th Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

Coronavirus: Two-week national lockdown in October proposed by top scientists - report

The UK's top scientists have proposed a two-week national lockdown in October to stem the recent increase in coronavirus cases, according to a newspaper report. A second lockdown would coincide with the October half-term to create minimal disruption to schools, experts on the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-m) have proposed. One SAGE scientist said that if the R number continues at the same rate, it would "break the NHS", the Financial Times reports.
18th Sep 2020 - Sky News

Coronavirus vaccine: Emergency powers to allow rollout of unlicensed vaccine being considered by Government

The Government is considering using emergency powers to allow the rollout of a vaccine to the public, even if it is unlicensed. In an open consultation document, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has floated the possibility of authorising the supply of an unlicensed vaccine if there is "sufficient evidence to demonstrate the safety, quality and efficacy of the vaccine". The DHSC adds that "unlicensed" does not mean "untested", and that any unlicensed vaccine will have gone through several safety trials before being used by the general public. The document, first reported in the I newspaper, says that the "preferred route" of deployment of a Covid-19 vaccine is through the "usual marketing authorisation (product licensing) process".
19th Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Boris Johnson unveils £10,000 fines for those breaking self-isolation rules in strict new restrictions as coronavirus infections soar and battle rages among Ministers over a ...

People suffering with coronavirus could be fined £10,000 if they fail to self-isolate when told to do so. The Prime Minister announced he was creating a new legal duty for people to self-isolate if they test positive. Plans will offer £500 to up to four million people on low incomes who cannot work from home if self-isolating The news comes as the number of daily cases reached 4,422, the highest level since early May. But large crowds were still seen around markets and bars on Saturday, signalling little care for the rules
19th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Global report: Covid cases pass 30m worldwide as Biden offers vaccine reality check

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide passed 30 million on Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, as the World Health Organization said daily case numbers were growing at an “alarming rate” in Europe. The global death toll stands at 943,203 people and is expected to pass 1 million by 1 October. The US accounts for than 22% of global cases, at 6.67m, and nearly 200,000 fatalities. The Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, again criticised the President Trump’s handling of the pandemic as “close to criminal”, in particular Trump’s supposedly intentional downplaying of the severity of the virus.
18th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

China and Russia are ahead in the global coronavirus vaccine race, bending long-standing rules as they go

China and Russia have begun a mass rollout of their coronavirus vaccines before clinical tests are complete, in what is emerging as an unexpectedly complex geopolitical challenge for the United States. China's Sinopharm announced this week that it would provide emergency doses of one of its two trial vaccines to the United Arab Emirates, prioritizing the U.S. ally over the vast majority of Chinese. China is now the sole supplier of coronavirus vaccine to the Middle East. Meanwhile, Russia's sovereign wealth fund signed a deal this week to supply India with 100 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine.
18th Sep 2020 - The Washington Post

UK joins initiative for Covid-19 vaccine discovery, manufacture and distribution

The UK has joined Covax, the international initiative to support discovery, manufacture and fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines for one billion people by the end of 2021. Covax is the vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global collaboration to speed up the development, production, and equitable access to coronavirus tests, treatments, and vaccines. It is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Covax is looking to invest six billion US dollars (£4.56 billion) to secure access to a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates.
18th Sep 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

Chinese hackers accused of stealing information from Spanish centers working on Covid-19 vaccine

Chinese hackers have stolen information from Spanish research centers working on a Covid-19 vaccine, according to sources familiar with the situation. The cyberattacks were conducted against Spain and several other countries competing to develop a coronavirus vaccine, said Paz Esteban, the head of Spain’s National Intelligence Center (CNI). The CNI director said that “sensitive sectors such as health and pharmaceutics” had been targeted, and that there has been “a particularly virulent campaign, and not just in Spain, against laboratories working on a vaccine for Covid-19.”
18th Sep 2020 - EL PAÍS in English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Sep 2020

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Further funds announced to control Covid-19 infections in care homes

An emergency support fund to help limit the spread of Covid-19 in care homes in England is being topped up with an additional £546m ahead of the winter. A key purpose of the Infection Control Fund is to help the care sector restrict the movement of people in and out of the home
17th Sep 2020 - Nursing Times

Under lockdown, Israel faces bitter start of Jewish New Year

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has imposed a three-week lockdown, beginning on Friday afternoon — just hours before Rosh Hashana starts. Israel's first lockdown, in March and April, put a damper on Passover, the Jewish spring holiday marking the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Now, the Jewish High Holidays look to be similarly subdued. Israel has seen new daily cases of COVID-19 skyrocket in recent weeks, climbing to more than 5,000 on Wednesday — one of the highest per capita infection rates in the world. Since the pandemic began this year, it has recorded more than 169,000 cases, including 1,163 deaths, as of Wednesday, according to Health Ministry figures.
17th Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

Tighten UK Covid restrictions or risk a national lockdown, warn scientists

Scientists have warned the government must act fast to contain the spread of coronavirus, including further restrictions on public mixing, though ministers have denied they are considering a full England lockdown. Prof Susan Michie, the director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London and a member of the scientific pandemic influenza group on behavioural science, a government advisory group, said that with cases doubling every eight days in England, urgent action was needed. “If more restrictions aren’t done very soon then I think we risk being back into the situation where a national lockdown may be necessary,” she said. “Business as usual isn’t an option.”
17th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Madrid lockdown targets poor areas

Tighter restrictions will be introduced in Madrid this weekend as Spain struggles with Europe’s highest number of coronavirus infections. The curbs on movement will most likely be imposed on the city’s southern working-class districts, where infection rates are highest. Madrid, home to 6.6 million people, is by far Spain’s worst-affected region at present, with an infection rate of 651 per 100,000 people in the past 14 days.
17th Sep 2020 - The Times

Spain’s Andalucia records deadliest COVID-19 figures since end of lockdown

Andalucia has recorded its blackest COVID-19 figures since the end of lockdown with 25 deaths and 1,389 detected cases in the past 24 hours. The figures, released by the Junta, represent the deadliest day since the beginning of summer and the highest ever daily increase in cases.
17th Sep 2020 - Olive Press

COVID-19 Has Crushed Everybody's Economy—Except for South Korea's

As the United States struggles with a stubbornly persistent pandemic and a stubbornly slow return to economic growth, South Korea seems to have found the recipe to succeed on both fronts—if it can survive a late-year uptick in new coronavirus cases. In the latest economic projections by the OECD, South Korea is looking at a mere 1 percent GDP contraction for 2020, the second-best performer among major economies behind only China. In contrast, the euro area is expected to shrink by around 8 percent, and the United States could see full-year contraction on the order of almost 4 percent of GDP.
17th Sep 2020 - Foreign Policy

Rich nations grab coronavirus vaccine stocks in global race

Rich nations representing a fraction of the global population have already bought up over half the promised COVID-19 vaccine stocks, a study showed, as U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to begin inoculating Americans within weeks. Big Pharma is racing to produce an effective vaccine to counter a virus that has now killed more than 935,000 people around the world and infected almost 30 million. European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday warned against “vaccine nationalism” that she said could put lives at risk by depriving the most vulnerable in poorer nations of immunity. But a study released by Oxfam showed a group of wealthy countries representing just 13 percent of the world population has already secured the lion’s share of doses. “Access to a life-saving vaccine shouldn’t depend on where you live or how much money you have,” said Robert Silverman of Oxfam America.
17th Sep 2020 - The Japan Times

Why Indonesia Became a Testing Ground for a Chinese Covid-19 Vaccine

On a scorching August day in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, two dozen volunteers arrive at a small community clinic inside a narrow alley to take part in the last stage of one of the world’s fastest-moving trials for a coronavirus vaccine. There, surrounded by cramped homes and kids playing outdoors without masks, they prepare to take an experimental shot developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., which many in Indonesia hope will bring an end to the destruction wreaked by the virus. With about a quarter-million infections, Indonesia’s outbreak is the second-worst in Southeast Asia after the Philippines, its daily case count hitting records every week since the end of August.
17th Sep 2020 - BloombergQuint

Global report: China locks down border city in response to two Covid cases

China has locked down a city on its border with Myanmar and launched a campaign to test the city’s entire population of more than 200,000 people. Officials in Ruili in Yunnan province said the city had entered a state of “wartime” defences against Covid-19 after two new cases emerged among travellers from Myanmar. Residents have been ordered to stay at home and authorities have set up checkpoints to prevent anyone entering or leaving Ruili and restricting access to border areas nearby. Most businesses have been closed. On Thursday, more than 360 testing sites were set up and almost 1,200 people deployed to conduct testing around the clock. Ruan Chengfa, deputy secretary of Yunnan’s party committee, said in a meeting on Wednesday that local authorities were implementing a strict policy of “complete inspection, strict quarantine. No entry and no exit.” As of Tuesday evening, 60,000 people had been tested.
17th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Melbourne’s lockdown set to surpass Wuhan’s

Residents in Melbourne’s original 10 hot spots have already been through 78 days of lockdown, beating the 77 days faced by residents of Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus was first detected. Those living in other parts of Melbourne will surpass Wuhan’s lockdown next week. The Chinese city, which went into lockdown on January 23 and came out of it on April 8, had about coronavirus 70,000 cases. As of Thursday, Victoria has 19,970.
17th Sep 2020 - NEWS.com.au

New Zealand in Covid recession after worst quarterly GDP fall on record

New Zealand has entered a recession with the economy contracting 12.2% in the June quarter – the largest drop since such records began in 1987. Paul Pascoe at Stats NZ said the GDP fall was “by far the largest on record in New Zealand” and reflected months spent in lockdown. Industries such as retail, accommodation, restaurants and transport saw significant declines; as did construction and manufacturing at 25.8% and 13% respectively. Household domestic spending dropped by 12%.
17th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Huge area of England goes back into lockdown with 2,000,000 under curfew

Residents in the north-east of England will no longer be allowed to meet up with friends and hospitality venues will be placed under a curfew in a matter of hours. From midnight tonight, around 2 million residents will be banned from mixing with other households, announced the health secretary on Thursday morning. Pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises will also be forced to close their doors to the public between 10pm and 5am and move to table service only.
17th Sep 2020 - Metro

France to implement extra COVID measures in two new cities

France is to implement extra measures to curb the COVID-19 epidemic in the cities of Lyon and Nice, the health minister said, adding to the three other regions deemed as virus “red zones” where additional measures are already in place. The minister, Olivier Veran, did not say what those measures would be, but that local officials in Lyon and Nice would have until the weekend to submit their plans for extra measures to the government in Paris. France has this month seen a resurgence in the number of virus cases, surpassing the daily record reached earlier this year. Numbers in hospital and intensive care with COVID-19 are climbing too, though they are still a long way short of the peak reached in the spring.
17th Sep 2020 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Sep 2020

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Covid-19 has set global health progress back 25 years, says Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic have halted and reversed global health progress, setting it back 25 years and exposing millions to the risk of deadly disease and poverty, a report by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation warned on Tuesday (Sept 15). Because of Covid-19, extreme poverty has increased by 7 per cent, and routine vaccine coverage - a good proxy measure for how health systems are functioning - is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, the report said. "It's a huge setback," Mr Bill Gates, co-chairman of the foundation and a leading philanthropic funder of global health and development, told a media briefing on the report's findings.
16th Sep 2020 - Asia One

UK coronavirus LIVE: Boris Johnson admits there is not enough testing capacity as London 'could see curfews' to curb Covid spread

Boris Johnson has admitted there was not enough coronavirus testing capacity. The Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Committee: “We don’t have enough testing capacity now because, in an ideal world, I would like to test absolutely everybody that wants a test immediately.” Meanwhile, Londoners could see curfews imposed to help curb a second wave of coronavirus, a public health chief has said. Director of Public Health England, Professor Kevin Fenton, told the Standard that more restrictions may be imposed, including some possibly across the capital, to avoid a more stringent lockdown.
17th Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Coronavirus: Restrictions expected in North East of England

Almost two million people in north-east England are expected to face local restrictions as coronavirus cases rise. Areas including Newcastle, Sunderland and County Durham are due to be subject to new measures. These are expected to include restrictions on households mixing and pubs being ordered to close earlier. Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said it was hoped the temporary measures would prevent a "full lockdown". BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt said MPs from the area had met Health Minister Nadine Dorries earlier.
16th Sep 2020 - BBC News

South Korea to secure coronavirus vaccines for 60% of population: PM Chung

South Korea said on Tuesday it plans to spend $146 million to procure coronavirus vaccines, initially aiming to secure a supply for 30 million people, or 60% of its population, as it battles persistent outbreaks of new cases. The population target is higher than a World Health Organization (WHO) goal for the early purchase of supplies for 20% of the world's most vulnerable people, and at least 40% agreed by European Union nations, Britain and EU partners for their populations. While South Korean authorities would like to inoculate the entire population of 52 million, uncertainty around any vaccine's safety, efficacy and development was limiting investment, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a cabinet meeting.
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Japan commits $165 mln to WHO's global coronavirus vaccine programme

Japan said on Tuesday it has committed 17.2 billion yen ($165 million) in funds for its participation in the World Health Organization's COVID-19 vaccine programme. The programme, known as COVAX, is aimed at helping buy and fairly distribute vaccination shots against the novel coronavirus around the world. But some countries which have secured their own supplies through bilateral deals, including the United States, have said they will not join. The funds are part of a 1.64 trillion yen reserve intended to bolster the government's response to the virus, a government document showed. Japan has also pursued independent arrangements with global pharmaceutical companies to secure vaccines, with the government pledging to have enough supply for the whole population by the first half of 2021.
16th Sep 2020 - Nasdaq

India hits FIVE MILLION coronavirus cases: Country sees an extra million in just 11 days - the fastest any country has seen

India recorded 90,123 new coronavirus cases and 1,290 fatalities on Wednesday Takes the total to five million, with 997,180 of those infections in the last 11 days Despite the large numbers, India's authorities have ruled out a second lockdown The fatality rate is 1.6%, similar to the 1.5% in the UK and far lower than 3% in US
16th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

US government will offer Covid-19 vaccine free to all Americans – and they’ll need two shots of it

Every American will be offered a free coronavirus vaccine from January 2021 – and most people who take up the offer will need two injections of it. A report given to the US Congress Wednesday says the vaccination campaign may begin by the end of the year, and is likely to be in full-swing by January. Anyone who takes up the offer of a free shot will be given two doses 21 to 28 days apart, with each patient being given both shots from the same vaccine manufacturer. Multiple US pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Moderna are racing to develop their own shots, with results from ongoing final-phase testing expected as early as October. Other manufacturers around the world are developing their own shots, with scientists saying most vaccines tested appear to offer protection from Covid-19.
16th Sep 2020 - Metro

Britain records nearly 4,000 new Covid-19 cases in highest daily total since MAY

The seven-day average is now 3,286 compared with 2,358 last Wednesday - a 40 per cent rise. Infections have soared in the past fortnight after schools and workplaces began to return to normality. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the failing coronavirus testing system today. He said it is trying to meet a 'colossal spike' in demand as official draw up testing priority plans. It comes as official data shows cases among people in their 40s and 50s have risen by 90% since August. Public Health England data reveals 23.4 cases are now diagnosed for every 100,000 people aged 40 to 49. In comparison, the Covid-19 infection rate for the same age group in England was 12.4 at the end of August. Fears of a second wave are growing as number of daily cases has topped 3,000 for the first time since May
16th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: New local lockdown in Wales

Health Minister Vaughan Gething announces a local lockdown for Rhondda Cynon Taf from 18:00 BST on Thursday to tackle a "rapid" rise in cases. This will include a 23:00 BST curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants - going further than the lockdown in Caerphilly. Earlier, Mr Gething said up to five extra mobile testing units would be deployed to Covid-19 hotspots in Wales this week. People seeking tests have spoken of their frustration over the time it takes to book, distance to travel, and long waits on arrival
16th Sep 2020 - BBC

Chaos in Madrid, as regional government denies health chief’s announcement of new lockdowns

Sources close to the Madrid regional premier, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, backtracked on Wednesday after her deputy health chief, Antonio Zapatero, announced that stricter coronavirus measures would be introduced in parts of the region this coming weekend in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Speaking this morning, Zapatero told reporters that “action is needed as soon as possible,” adding that new decisions are being taken to “restrict mobility and the concentration of people.” The health chief added that “more drastic” measures were needed, “in line with what people could understand as selective lockdowns according to basic healthcare areas or healthcare areas with higher infection rates,” he said, referring both to the capital city and the Madrid region as a whole.
16th Sep 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Lockdowns: Should They Continue?

A new article though, seeks to address the lockdown in India, as public health officials from the Indian Public Health Association, the Indian Association of Epidemiologists, and the Indian Association of Social and Preventive Medicine, all joined for a joint statement to push the government to end the lockdowns. Moreover, this group emphasized that these restrictions should be replaced with widespread testing efforts. In their call to action, the joint statement noted that the nationwide lockdown, which began in March, has been disjointed as it was relaxed but still upheld in several cities. Moreover, the country is focusing testing strategies on tracking and testing contacts of 80% of new COVID cases. Recently, this was 76,000 per day. This approach was widely criticized by public health leaders as both impractical, but also limited in its approach. With over 3.76 million cases recorded in India and nearly one million people currently under medical care for the disease, the seriousness of the outbreak in India is painfully obvious.
16th Sep 2020 - Contagionlive.com

Ibiza follows Spain’s Palma de Mallorca in enforcing partial ‘lockdown’ to halt COVID-19 infections

In Ibiza, the centre of San Antonio and Ibiza Town will face similar restrictions that were laid down in Mallorca from Friday. This includes a complete control over mobility, impacting some 22,700 residents. The Balearic Ministry of Health said San Antonio and Ibiza are now labelled as hot zones due to the highest number of Covid-19 infections in the region
16th Sep 2020 - Olive Press

Sweden records its lowest number of covid cases since March with just 108 after country did not impose lockdown

Sweden's seven-day average for coronavirus was 108 as of Tuesday. The figure is its lowest since March 13 when it decided not to impose lockdown. France, Spain, the UK and the Czech Republic all have higher case numbers.
16th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

India coronavirus infections top five million mark

India's confirmed Covid-19 cases has surpassed five million as the soaring numbers continue to test the country's health care system. Officials reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the nation's confirmed total to 5,020,359, about 0.35 per cent of its nearly 1.4 billion population. They said 1,290 more people died in the past day, for a total of 82,066. The country’s total coronavirus caseload is closing in on the United States' highest tally of more than 6.6 million cases, and expected to surpass it within weeks.
16th Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Melbourne on track for easing lockdown, but anyone trying to leave city faces hefty fine

Australia's Victoria state on Wednesday said the daily rise in infections in its coronavirus hot spot of Melbourne has eased further, putting it on course to relax an extended hard lockdown in the city by the end of the month. However, a new law that goes into effect from midnight Wednesday will punish anyone caught trying to leave Melbourne for rural areas, where restrictions are less severe, with fines of up to $5,000. Average cases over the last two weeks in Melbourne, the state's largest city, fell below 50, health authorities said, the benchmark the state set to start easing curbs. Construction sites, manufacturing plants, warehouses and childcare facilities can reopen, allowing more than 100,000 workers to return to their jobs, if the 14-day rolling average is under 50 cases as of Sept 28. However, people will still be limited to moving around in a 5-kilometer radius around home and only allowed outside for two hours a day for exercise, with a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. "We have to see this through. We absolutely do.
16th Sep 2020 - Japan Today

Israel curbs contagion zones, health chiefs self-isolate

Israel on Tuesday began a week-long campaign of night curfews and school closures in dozens of towns and neighbourhoods with high coronavirus counts, hoping to stem a spike in cases as its public-health chiefs were quarantined for exposure. Most of the 40 zones subject to the partial lockdowns are identified with Israeli Arabs or ultra-Orthodox Jews, minorities where crowding has helped spread the pandemic. Israel, with a population of 9 million, has recorded 135,288 cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,031 deaths. The discovery that a worker at a Health Ministry project for combating the virus had contracted it prompted senior staff who had been exposed to him to self-isolate as a precaution.
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Canada not ruling out lockdown amid COVID-19 surge but eyes 'surgical approach'

Canada’s health minister on Tuesday said she could not rule out another full lockdown if needed amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases, but added Ottawa was significantly more prepared to manage the virus than during the first wave. Patty Hajdu’s comments followed a pledge she made late Monday to take a “surgical approach” to tackling outbreaks. Canada reported 1,351 new cases on Sept. 14, the highest single daily addition since May 1, amid school reopenings and flare-ups tied to group gatherings. “We see those numbers rising, but a full economic shutdown would be very difficult for this country. Not to rule it out, because ... listen we will protect the health of Canadians and we will do what it takes,” Hajdu told reporters on Tuesday.
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters


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'A chaotic mess': The UK's Covid-19 testing programme is falling apart

“I’m feeling worse,” says Ryan Gladwell, a barman at a pub in Derbyshire who is currently off work with Covid-19 symptoms. “I’ve still been unable to get a test. Day five of trying now.” That’s day five of heading to the government’s website to book a test only to be told that none are available – either at drive-in satellite testing centres or via at-home testing kits. Gladwell has also called 119 several times to no avail. He’s worried about his own health but also that of his young son, who has a serious heart condition.
15th Sep 2020 - Wired.co.uk

Ireland’s COVID-19 plan to limit social events and Dublin pub reopenings

Ireland introduced new coronavirus measures Tuesday including special restrictions on social gatherings and pub reopenings in Dublin as part of a national "Plan for living with COVID-19." The plan, which comes into effect at midnight, aims to provide a flexible framework for reducing infection risk over the next six months. It details five risk levels with the lowest corresponding to minimal restrictions and level five equating to a return to full lockdown. Currently the country as a whole is at level two, meaning that most parts of the economy and society — such as schools, restaurants, pubs and gyms — are open.
15th Sep 2020 - POLITICO

Germany grants BioNTech, CureVac $745 million to speed up COVID-19 vaccine work

Germany awarded $745 million (577.79 million pounds) in funding to biotech firms BioNTech and CureVac on Tuesday to speed up work on COVID-19 vaccines and expand German production capacity. In a warning against political pressure to rush the process, Research Minister Anja Karliczek stressed that safety should remain the utmost priority to ensure vaccines will be accepted by the broader population. “Even when the world is waiting for a vaccine - we won’t take risky short-cuts here,” she told a news conference in Berlin. Concerns have grown that safety and efficacy standards might slip in the race to find a vaccine against the virus which has so far infected more than 29 million people and claimed over 926,000 lives globally.
15th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Rise in COVID-19 cases 'very well might be' start of second wave, doctor says

Rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in multiple provinces are stoking fears of a potential second wave, and one infectious disease expert says this surge in infections might 'very well' be the start of that next phase in the pandemic. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says that current upward trends in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec may be fuelling Canada’s second wave of coronavirus infections. "It might be, it very well might be. We're certainly seeing these cases rumble up in the wrong direction, and quite frankly what happens over the next few weeks and then over the next month or two ahead really depends on us. If we let our guard down as citizens, if we let our guard down for example as businesses and organizations, then we'll see a spike in cases," Bogoch told CTV's Your Morning on Tuesday.
15th Sep 2020 - CTV News

Irish Government announces blueprint for living with Covid-19

The Irish Government has unveiled its blueprint for living with Covid-19. The Cabinet signed off on the medium-term plan for living with coronavirus, which includes different levels of restrictions, ranging from one to five. Tighter restrictions have also been announced for Dublin, which has seen a continuous rise of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.
15th Sep 2020 - Helensburgh Advertiser

France and Spain Fail the Coronavirus Test

If Europe has a strategy to stop the spread of Covid-19, it’s keeping it well hidden. France’s President Emmanuel Macron has vowed not to go back to the dark days of national lockdown, preferring instead to “live” with the coronavirus disease, but his government is struggling to halt a jump in cases. France reported more than 10,000 new cases in 24 hours over the weekend, a grim postscript to its decision to cut the required quarantine for positive cases in half to seven days. It’s a similar story in Spain, the country with the most cases in Europe and the first to cross the barrier of more than half a million in total. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has also ruled out national lockdowns, but messy public-health disagreements between Madrid and regions such as Catalonia — and an initially lax approach to nightlife — have worsened a post-lockdown surge in cases. Taking population into account, the seven-day average rate of new cases in France and Spain is above the U.S.’s.
15th Sep 2020 - Washington Post

Chinese city bordering Myanmar enters coronavirus 'wartime mode' as official impose strict lockdown

Chinese authorities have locked down a city on the border with Myanmar and declared entering ‘wartime mode’ after detecting two cases imported from the neighbouring country. Ruili, a city with over 200,000 residents in southwestern Chinese province Yunnan, Monday reported the new COVID-19 infections, two Myanmar nationals who were said to have illegally crossed the land border. All residents of the city will be tested for the coronavirus as authorities pledge to crack down on the area's notorious cross-border smuggling trade.
15th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Australia’s coronavirus ‘dictator’ enforces a drastic lockdown. He’s still popular.

Detractors call him "Dictator Dan." Supporters declare, on social media, #IStandWithAndrews. To residents of Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, he is Daniel Andrews, the premier, or governor, of Victoria state and the politician responsible for inflicting upon them some of the most stringent pandemic control measures on Earth. The city named repeatedly over recent years as the “world’s most livable” has been locked down since July 9. A week ago, Andrews declared that a citywide curfew will not be lifted until Oct. 26 — and then only if the coronavirus is almost eliminated.
15th Sep 2020 - The Washington Post

New Zealand faces another week of Covid restrictions as Ardern defends cautious approach

New Zealand will remain at its current level of Covid-19 restrictions for another week, the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said on Monday as she urged the public to stay the course on the county’s “cautious” approach to quashing the virus. “New Zealand has followed a plan that has worked,” she said, referring to her government’s strict, early lockdown of the country in March as New Zealand’s coronavirus cases started to rise. “This has both saved lives, but also meant our economy has been able to be more open in a more sustained way than nearly any other country in the world.”
15th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Singapore grapples with coronavirus in migrant workers' dormitories

Singapore is battling new clusters of coronavirus infections in migrant dormitories that had won the all-clear from authorities, highlighting the difficulty of stamping out the disease, even in a closely monitored population. As the wealthy city-state tumbled into recession, officials facing intense pressure to revive the economy are opting for limited isolation measures rather than the wide clampdowns earlier, but most low-wage workers are still penned in. “There is little choice,” said Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases expert at the city’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital. “We need to be realistic. We need the economy to go on.” The dormitories, home to more than 300,000 workers in industries such as construction and shipbuilding, with several allocated to a room, contribute nearly 95% of Singapore’s tally of more than 57,000 infections.
15th Sep 2020 - Reuters Africa

First vaccine approval could come at end of 2020: German vaccine regulator

The first approvals for a vaccine against COVID-19 could be granted at the end of 2020 or in early 2021, the head of Germany's vaccine regulator said on Tuesday. Klaus Cichutek, head of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, said regulators would not be less thorough than usual when evaluating applications for approval for COVID-19 vaccines
15th Sep 2020 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

Greece tightens restrictions in Athens as COVID-19 spreads

Greek authorities on Tuesday tightened restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the greater Athens area, saying the pandemic was showing “worrying signs of resilience”. Health authorities reported 310 new confirmed COVID-19 infections on Tuesday and three deaths, bringing the total number since the first coronavirus case was detected on Feb. 25 to 13,730 and deaths to 313. “The prefecture of Attica is now between a moderate to high epidemiological risk. There is an increase in the occupancy of intensive care beds,” Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias told reporters
15th Sep 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com


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Coronavirus: vaccine scandals haunt China’s winter flu shot drive

Yi has never had a flu jab before – even though her company pays for it – but this year she has called several clinics to make an appointment. “I’m always too busy. But this year is different. I must get a jab,” Yi said. The rush is on to get inoculated before a possible winter revival of the coronavirus pandemic, which could overwhelm the health system. China is ramping up production of the shots in anticipation of much higher domestic demand but even if all the doses are used, only a small proportion of people will be vaccinated, with many deterred by cost, lack of access and fresh memories of pharmaceutical scandals.
15th Sep 2020 - South China Morning Post

China says no need to vaccinate entire population against Covid-19 at this stage, only frontline workers

Not everyone in China will need to get vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the country's top medical official, as Beijing looks to prioritize frontline workers and high-risk populations in a move that underscores rising confidence among policy-makers of their ability to contain the virus. "Since the first wave of Covid-19 appeared in Wuhan, China has already survived the impact of Covid-19 several times," Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said at a vaccine summit in the city of Shenzhen on Saturday, according to state-run news agency China News Service.
15th Sep 2020 - CNN

A COVID-19 Vaccine May Be Only 50% Effective. Is That Good Enough?

As we get closer to a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s exciting to imagine a day when the virus is gone. But a vaccine will not be a magic bullet. In fact, it may be only about 50% effective. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief of the National Institute of Health and Infectious Disease, has tried to set realistic expectations when discussing the importance of a vaccine. “We don’t know yet what the efficacy might be. We don’t know if it will be 50% or 60%,” Fauci said during a Brown University event in August. “I’d like it to be 75% or more,” Fauci said, but he acknowledged that may not be realistic. The Food and Drug Administration has said that once a vaccine is shown to be safe and at least 50% effective, it could be approved for use in the U.S.
14th Sep 2020 - WBEZ

UK's autumn Covid-19 redundancies could exceed 700,000

Close to half a million redundancies are likely to be announced in the autumn, although the number could end up exceeding 700,000, according to a study that lays bare the scale of the Covid-19 jobs crisis facing the UK. These job cuts are on top of 240,000 redundancies officially recorded by the government up until June. That means the total redundancy figure for 2020 could top one million.
14th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Chief scientist 'told off' for lockdown plea

The government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said he was rebuked for arguing strongly in favour of imposing Covid lockdown restrictions earlier this year, it has emerged. In an email uncovered by a BBC Freedom of Information request, Sir Patrick reveals he was given a "telling off" from other senior officials. Some scientists argue lives could have been saved had a lockdown been introduced earlier. The government insists there was "no delay". In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said government policy had been "guided by the advice of world-renowned scientists".
14th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Sweden’s Covid-19 experiment holds a worldwide warning

Only a fool would draw strong conclusions from sketchy data. The biggest fools this year were those who prematurely declared the spike in Swedish infections from April until June as evidence that the Swedish decision not to lock down their economy was wrong. I recall many armchair epidemiologists hyperventilating about Sweden’s obstinate refusal to follow the rest of the world. Over the summer, Sweden took other steps to control the virus, including local lockdowns, and cases started to rise again in other parts of Europe. Now, Sweden’s new infection statistics look better than much of the EU. But we shouldn’t draw any conclusions yet. It was wrong two months ago to condemn the Swedish strategy based on that data, and it would be equally wrong to draw the opposite conclusion now.
14th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

‘We’ve learned how we need to act’: Spain braces for second wave of Covid

An hour or so before lunch on Thursday, Ángela Falcón stepped out of the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and on to the hot and busy streets of Parla. “I’m scared and I very seldom come out but when I do, I stop by the church to pray,” said the 71-year-old. Like many in Parla, a satellite city of 130,000 people a half hour’s drive southwest of Madrid, Falcón is taking no chances with the coronavirus and its second wave.
14th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

France's Bordeaux imposes stricter measures to curb coronavirus spread

Marseille and Bordeaux, two of France’s biggest cities, faced stricter rules on Monday for beach gatherings, visiting the elderly in care homes and attendance at outdoor public events as part of efforts to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases. In the past few weeks, France has seen one of the sharpest accelerations in the number of new cases in western Europe. Daily confirmed cases hit record levels last week. “We will reach the point where cases are doubling every eight days,” Philippe de Mester, president of the regional health authority covering the southern city of Marseille, told a news conference. At the peak of the first wave in the spring, new cases doubled every 3.5 days. Even so, doctors say intensive care wards in Marseille are close to full capacity.
14th Sep 2020 - Reuters

CNN lauds Taiwan's healthcare system for defeating coronavirus

CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria on Sunday (Sept. 13) praised Taiwan for its extraordinary handling of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) and suggested that its universal healthcare system played in an important role. In a program titled "On GPS: Learning from Taiwan's Covid-19 response," Zakaria pointed out that Taiwan is almost always at the top of any list of countries that have handled the pandemic extremely well, with less than 500 cases and only seven deaths. Zakaria observed that the U.S., in contrast, has had 2,000 times the number of deaths and 1,000 times the number of infections as Taiwan per capita.
14th Sep 2020 - Taiwan News

India considers emergency authorisation of vaccine as COVID-19 cases surge

India said on Sunday it was considering granting an emergency authorisation for a COVID-19 vaccine, particularly for the elderly and people in high-risk workplaces, as the country’s number of reported infections passed 4.75 million. India, which has consistently reported over 1,000 COVID-19 deaths daily this month, has now recorded 78,586 fatalities from the disease. It lags only the United States globally in overall number of infections, but it has been adding more daily cases than the United States since mid-August. “India is considering emergency authorisation of a COVID-19 vaccination,” said Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. “If there is a consensus we may go ahead with it, especially in the case of senior citizens and people working in high-risk settings.”
14th Sep 2020 - Reuters


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Leaked figures reveal scale of coronavirus test shortage

A huge backlog has forced Britain to send swabs abroad, casting doubt on its capacity to test as many people as it claimed. The government’s “world-beating” testing programme has a backlog of 185,000 swabs and is so overstretched that it is sending tests to laboratories in Italy and Germany, according to leaked documents. A Department of Health and Social Care report marked “Official: sensitive” also confirms that most British laboratories are clearing fewer tests than their stated capacity, as they are hit by “chaos” in supply chains. The government claims that it has capacity for 375,000 tests a day. However, the actual number of people being tested for the coronavirus stalled to just 437,000 people a week at the start of the month — equivalent to just 62,000 a day.
13th Sep 2020 - The Times

Rohingya refugees struggle with fear, stigma amid coronavirus

Some refugees living in cramped camps are afraid to seek medical help due to misconceptions about Covid-19. Experts worry the spread of the virus among this community may be more serious than figures reveal, and warn that a spike could have devastating consequences.
13th Sep 2020 - South China Morning Post

India considers emergency authorisation of vaccine as COVID-19 cases surge

India said on Sunday (Sep 13) it was considering granting an emergency authorisation for a COVID-19 vaccine, particularly for the elderly and people in high-risk workplaces, as the country's number of reported infections passed 4.75 million. India, which has consistently reported over 1,000 COVID-19 deaths daily this month, has now recorded 78,586 fatalities from the disease. It lags only the United States globally in overall number of infections, but it has been adding more daily cases than the United States since mid-August. "India is considering emergency authorisation of a COVID-19 vaccination," said Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. "If there is a consensus we may go ahead with it, especially in the case of senior citizens and people working in high-risk settings." Vardhan said the timeline on Phase III trials could be shortened by giving emergency authorisation, but stressed no corners would be cut in clinical trials and that a vaccine would only be made available when the government could ensure its safety and efficacy.
14th Sep 2020 - Channel NewsAsia Singapore

Could there be a second lockdown? If restrictions in England could tighten again as coronavirus cases continue to rise

As rules on social gatherings in the UK are tightened, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned about the need to act now in order to avoid a second lockdown. Rules limiting gatherings to just six people were introduced this week and mark the first significant reverse step in the Westminster Government’s move out of lockdown since restrictions began easing in May. The rules came as cases across the country began to rise steeply, with the UK recording close to 3,000 new positive cases on September 10.
13th Sep 2020 - The Scotsman

Israel to impose a three-week nationwide lockdown - media reports

Israel will enter a three-week nationwide lockdown starting on Friday to contain the spread of the coronavirus after a second- wave surge of new cases, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. During the lockdown, which comes during the Jewish high-holiday season, Israelis will have to stay within 500 metres of their houses, but can travel to workplaces that will be allowed to operate on a limited basis. Schools and shopping malls will be closed but supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open. The public sector will operate with fewer staff, but non-governmental offices and businesses will not have to close, as long as they do not accept customers.
13th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Austria experiencing second virus wave, says chancellor

Austria is experiencing the start of a second wave of coronavirus infections, its chancellor said, as cases spike upwards in line with other EU countries. From Friday to Saturday, the Alpine nation of nearly nine million people reported 869 new cases - more than half of those in the capital Vienna. "What we are experiencing is the beginning of the second wave," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a statement, appealing to the population to stick to anti-virus measures and reduce social contacts. He warned that the mark of 1,000 cases per day would be reached soon.
13th Sep 2020 - RTE.ie

Countries brace for coronavirus resurgence

Amid fears of a second wave, countries around the world are implementing new restrictions aimed at curtailing a global resurgence of COVID-19 cases. This has caused concern for many as schools and businesses beginning to open their doors again for the first time in months, as previous restrictions began to ease. But experts warn that even with new restrictions, the novel coronavirus is here to stay. “Even countries throughout Europe that have done a really great job of reducing spread haven't eliminated the virus entirely,” Christine Blackburn, Deputy Director, Pandemic & Biosecurity Policy Program at Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University, told Al Arabiya English.
12th Sep 2020 - alarabiya.net

Indonesia Adds 3800 Covid-19 Cases as Sumatra Provinces See Resurgence

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Indonesia reached the second-highest rise on Saturday with more provinces on Sumatra Island reporting a three-digit daily total and new transmissions in Jakarta spiraling beyond control. Indonesia has recorded 3,806 new cases of the virus in the last 24 hours to take the country’s total to 214,746. The highest one-day rise was 3,861 cases only two days ago. It also reported 106 more deaths from the disease, bringing the total death toll to 8,650 or 4 percent of total cases.
12th Sep 2020 - Jakarta Globe

Coronavirus: France reports highest number of daily COVID cases since pandemic began

More than 10,000 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in France in a single day - the country's highest daily number since the pandemic began. A total of 10,561 new COVID-19 infections were recorded on Saturday, the first time they have topped 10,000 over 24 hours in France. The total surpasses the previous record of 9,843 new cases reported on Thursday.
12th Sep 2020 - Sky News

French PM: no new lockdown over COVID-19 resurgence

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Friday his government was not planning a new, nationwide lockdown to contain a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, but would instead implement a raft of less radical measures. France has the world’s seventh highest COVID death toll, and President Emmanuel Macron’s government is trying to curb the virus while ensuring that economic and social activities, such as schoolchildren’s education, can continue as much as possible. Castex said new measures would include fast-tracked testing for priority cases to reduce time spent waiting for results, and targeted restrictions in areas hit especially hard. “The virus is with us for several more months and we must manage to live with it without letting ourselves get drawn once again into a narrative of nationwide lockdown,” Castex said in a televised address.
12th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

The Brazilian state of Bahia signs deal for Russia's vaccine against Covid-19

The Brazilian state of Bahia has signed an agreement to conduct Phase III clinical trials of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 and plans to buy 50 million doses to market in Brazil, officials have said. The Russian vaccine is being developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Research Institute and marketed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which last month also entered an agreement with the Brazilian state of Paraná to test and produce the vaccine. Russia will sell up to 50 million doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine to Bahia state, RDIF said in a statement.
12th Sep 2020 - Uruguay News

DCGI orders suspension of Serum's India trials of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine - ANI

India's drug regulator has asked Serum Institute of India to suspend recruitment in its clinical trials of AstraZeneca Plc's potential COVID-19 vaccine in the country until further orders, Reuters partner ANI reported on Friday. V.G. Somani, the drugs controller general of India, has also asked for increased safety monitoring of those already vaccinated with the experimental vaccine, ANI reported, citing an order issued by the regulator. The move places further restrictions on the trials, which have already been put on hold by Serum on Thursday after the DCGI had asked the vaccine maker for details on the suspension of trials overseas, in a show-cause notice that was reviewed by Reuters. Friday's order has been issued after Serum responded to the show-cause notice, according to ANI.
12th Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

$4bn to produce coronavirus vaccine in Africa

The Egyptian government has said it is necessary to unite African efforts to confront the coronavirus and limit its health, social and economic effects on the continent’s people. Mohamed Maait, the Egyptian Minister of Finance and chairman of the General Assembly of the African Export-Import Bank, backed the bank’s view on the need for African countries to cooperate in financing a coronavirus vaccine — at an estimated cost of $4 billion in Egypt and South Africa. During his meeting with Benedict Oramah, chairman of the board of directors of the African Export-Import Bank, and his accompanying delegation, the minister affirmed the Egyptian government’s keenness to enhance economic cooperation with African countries. This included African integration as the main pillar for maximizing capabilities and supporting development efforts to meet the aspirations of the African people and revitalize intra-African trade.
12th Sep 2020 - Arab News

Egypt to test coronavirus vaccine

Zayed warned that Egypt remains in the first wave of the outbreak, but can adapt to the virus through successful vaccine trials. The minister said that from Saturday volunteers will be invited for testing: Egypt will test two vaccines
12th Sep 2020 - Arab News

China's coronavirus vaccine shows military's growing role in research

The largest armed force in the world, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), is not known for its cutting edge medical research. But since 2015, it has ramped up recruitment of scientists, and investment in the field as part of its strategy to modernize its military. Now, the coronavirus pandemic is showcasing the PLA's growing expertise in medical research, including a major role in developing the coronavirus vaccine that was the first in the world to be approved for restricted use.
12th Sep 2020 - Nature.com

Coronavirus: 'UK at a turning point' as sharp COVID rise sees eight million Britons facing tougher lockdown

Nearly eight million people in Britain will be living under stricter lockdown rules, including a large part of the West Midlands, ahead of a widespread ban on gatherings of more than six people. From Monday, social gatherings of more than six people will be banned across England, Wales and Scotland. Households will be banned from meeting each other in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull from Tuesday after a rise in coronavirus cases
12th Sep 2020 - Sky News

'It’s world-leadingly bad, is what it is': the week Covid surged again in UK

The warning lights had been flashing in Downing Street, too, triggering an abrupt reversal of policy that coincided with a Brexit crisis of the government’s own making, leaving ministers fighting Conservative rebellions on two fronts. All talk of the country tentatively heading towards some kind of normality began to evaporate last weekend as the reality of a Covid resurgence began to bite. With the UK recording nearly 3,000 Covid cases on Sunday, the highest daily total since May, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, concluded that he had to act.
11th Sep 2020 - The Guardian


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UK epidemiologist warns of virus uptick, wants lockdown re-imposed

The epidemiologist whose modelling heavily influenced the British government to impose a lockdown in March has warned that fresh restrictions may have to be re-imposed in coming weeks to deal with a rise in new coronavirus cases. Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London said he was encouraged that the government is banning social gatherings of more than six people from Monday, noting that one of the mistakes in the early days of the pandemic this year was an overly cautious approach. Still, he told BBC radio that all the analysis suggested there would be an uptick in deaths in the coming weeks, so now is the time to respond. The UK has seen Europe's deadliest virus outbreak, with around 41,600 deaths. Ferguson added that if the transmission rates don't fall markedly so the epidemic starts shrinking again, then we may need to clamp down in other areas.
10th Sep 2020 - Business Standard

Nicola Sturgeon announces new lockdown restrictions on numbers of people allowed to meet socially

Nicola Sturgeon has announced new lockdown restrictions across Scotland as the number of people testing positive for coronavirus continues to rise. The First Minister told MSPs the country must remain in phase 3 of lockdown for now and would likely remain so "for some time to come". The SNP leader also revealed a range of new restrictions on social gatherings aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. From Monday, there will be a new limit of six people from two households allowed to meet socially - a rule that covers meetings in homes as well as in pubs and restaurants.
10th Sep 2020 - Daily Record

Paging Dr. Hamblin: Why Didn’t America’s Shutdowns Work?

I’m an American living in Germany, and I’ve been following how some people in the United States have opposed lockdowns due to fears about “shutting down the economy.” It seems to me that even to those who believe the economy is what matters most, having a complete national lockdown for a few weeks is economically better than what the U.S. is going through now. Should the U.S. have done that? And is it too late?
10th Sep 2020 - The Atlantic

Madrid brings in fresh virus restrictions as Spain hits 500,000 cases

Madrid has brought in new restrictions on social gatherings, restaurants and bars as Spain tries to curb a spike in coronavirus cases while millions of pupils return to school this week. A ban on outdoor meetings of more than 10 people was extended indoors because most recent outbreaks of Covid-19 were linked to family meetings or mass drinking sessions organised by young people called botellones.
10th Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Covid: why Spain is hit worse than the rest of Europe

The problem is that the crisis has been hugely complicated by Spain’s political polarisation and its decentralised model of governance. Pedro Sánchez, prime minister, insists handling the pandemic is now primarily the responsibility of the country’s regions, whose collective health budget is more than 10 times that of his administration. The regions respond that the central government must provide more leadership. The upshot is that while controls were rapidly dropped in June — with plans for a step-by-step phase out being discarded — reintroducing such curbs has been halting and sometimes halfhearted. Some epidemiologists identify this as the central error in the handling of the crisis. Regions were able to scrap lockdown measures without demonstrating they were increasing track or trace staff or preparing more adequately for a new rise in cases.
10th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Boss of biotech company tasked with making coronavirus vaccine slams Dan Andrews' lockdown strategy

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews under fire from CSL chairman Brian McNamee. Melbourne businessman described roadmap out of lockdown as 'map of misery' CSL is one of the companies to manufacture a coronavirus vaccine in Australia. But its boss Dr McNamee has issued a dire warning to not bank on a vaccine
10th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus Australia: Mistake in COVID modelling that informed lockdown

A major error has been uncovered in the COVID-19 modelling used by the Federal Government to inform Australia’s tough lockdown restrictions. Modelling released by Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute earlier this year showed grim predictions of the impact the coronavirus pandemic would have on Australia if no measures were taken to suppress it. But The Daily Telegraph has revealed an error in the modelling meant the number of people that would need ICU beds was dramatically over-estimated, making the potential impacts of the pandemic appear much worse. When the modelling was released, chief medical officer Brendan Murphy branded it a “horrendous scenario”. “A daily demand for new intensive care beds of 35,000 plus,” he said. Professor Murphy warned Australians this ICU capacity was “completely beyond the realm of any country to create”.
10th Sep 2020 - News.com.au

Austria reports 664 new coronavirus cases in a day, highest since March

Austria eported 664 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the biggest daily increase since late March, when an initial spike in infections was rapidly fading due to a struct lockdown. Of those new cases, 387 were in Vienna, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
10th Sep 2020 - Reuters

France cannot rule out local lockdowns - advisor

The French government will discuss on Friday whether to impose new, local lockdowns to try and tackle rising Covid-19 cases, while keeping economic activities going. Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said on Thursday that nothing will be ruled out at Friday's cabinet meeting, with President Macron saying he hoped any new measures would bot be too restrictive.
10th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

COVID-19 vaccine doses could arrive in Canada early in 2021: minister

Canada is "aggressively negotiating" with drugmakers on delivery schedules for potential Covid-19 vaccines and shipments would begin early in 2020 under existing deals, Canada's minister of public services and procurement told Reuters on Thursday.
10th Sep 2020 - Reuters

UAE sounds warning after virus cases jump five-fold

The United Arab Emirates said Thursday that daily coronavirus cases had jumped five-fold compared with a month ago, and warned residents and citizens to abide by measures designed to curb the disease. The daily tally of cases hit 930 on Thursday, said Farida al-Hosani, spokeswoman for the Emirates' health sector, compared with 179 on August 10. "This is the highest number recorded in four months," she said during a televised conference. "Those who violate the preventive measures in place, whether an individual, shops, or restaurants, will be held accountable." Hosani said 12 percent of cases were among residents or citizens returning to the UAE from abroad, even though they received negative tests from their destination countries -- which are a requirement for entry.
10th Sep 2020 - The Daily Star


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Iowa refuses to close bars and require masks as Covid-19 cases surge in cities

Amid warnings that the failure to enforce masks and social distancing was likely to cost hundreds of additional lives in the coming months, the White House taskforce said in a report on 31 August that bars “must be closed” in 61 of Iowa’s 99 counties and seating in restaurants should be limited. It also recommended restrictions on the size of gatherings in the worst hit counties along with the closure of gyms. “Community transmission continues to be high in rural and urban counties across Iowa, with increasing transmission in the major university towns,” the report warned. “Mask mandates across the state must be in place to decrease transmission.”
9th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

All the new lockdown rules coming into effect across England from Monday - and who is exempt

Gatherings will be slashed from 30 people to 6 as UK battles a soaring coronavirus rate, the government has announced. In an announcement at around 10.30pm last night, the government announced a series of new restrictions for Brits to abide by. The rules change from Monday in England, with Birmingham facing a crisis of its own, as its rate of Covid-19 cases rises to around 70 per 100,000. Birmingham is beyond only two other parts of the country - and the rate in Solihull is causing, alarm, too, with around 50 cases per 100k.
9th Sep 2020 - Birmingham Live

Spain to negotiate travel corridors to its islands with Britain, Germany

Spain, whose tourism industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, is insisting on the creation of safe travel corridors even as the list of global restrictions affecting the country continues to grow. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya announced that Spain will negotiate with Britain, Germany and Scandinavian countries to open up travel corridors to the Spanish islands (the Balearics and the Canaries) exempting visitors from the need to self-isolate upon their return. Although summer travel has ended in much of Spain, the Canary Islands, located off the western coast of Africa, are now entering their own high season.
9th Sep 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Covid Cases In Spain Increase By 8964 In The Last 24 Hours

Daily Covid figures published by the Ministry of Health have increased by 8,964 cases in the last 24 hours, of which 3,168 have been diagnosed in the last 24 hours, compared to 2,440 on Monday. In total, 554,513 people have been diagnosed with Covid-1 in Spain since the pandemic began.
9th Sep 2020 - Murcia Today

Coronavirus UK: Meetings of more than six BANNED from Monday

The PM is announcing a change in the law after the number of daily Covid cases rose to almost 3,000. The ban will only apply to social gatherings, with those coming together for work or education still allowed. Gatherings of more than six people also allowed where household or support bubbles larger than half a dozen Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick Vallance and the Government all agreed that urgent action was needed. Failure to comply could result in a £100 fine, which will then double on each repeat offence up to £3,200
9th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Why ‘herd immunity’ is a distraction

Sweden’s many successes in curbing coronavirus have been overshadowed by its one spectacular failure: namely protecting the elderly. Goodman’s assessment of Sweden’s approach as “an unorthodox, open-air experiment” is not alone; the headline of a Washington Post article by Professor Gina Gustavsson in May termed it an experiment in “blind patriotism.” According to a more recent report in The Washington Post by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey, one of Donald Trump’s chief health advisers, Scott Atlas, “is urging the White House to embrace a controversial ‘herd immunity’ strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus.” The article goes on to suggest that Dr Atlas is advocating an embrace of the so-called “Swedish model.”
9th Sep 2020 - Asia Times

Czech coronavirus cases top 1,000 in a day for first time

Czech authorities ordered people to wear face masks inside buildings from Thursday as the daily count of new coronavirus cases topped 1,000 for the first time.
9th Sep 2020 - Reuters India

Positive Covid tests in no-lockdown Sweden hit lowest rate since pandemic began

Sweden carried out a record number of new coronavirus tests last week with only 1.2% coming back positive, the health agency said on Tuesday, the lowest rate since the pandemic began at a time when countries across Europe are seeing surges in infections.
9th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Over 22,000 people in Spain’s Palma de Mallorca put on partial lockdown as COVID-19 infections rise – new rules here

The government of the Balearic Islands has today enforced a partial return to lockdown in several districts of Palma de Mallorca. The move, actioned by the Ministry of Health, serves to reduce the number of coronavirus infections in areas where it is the most prevalent. It is also supported by epidemiological research which has shown that there is high community transmission in the region.
9th Sep 2020 - Olive Press

Sweden's low positive test rate 'vindicates coronavirus strategy'

Sweden registered its lowest rate of positive coronavirus tests yet even as its testing regime has been expanded to record levels, in what some experts regard as a vindication of its comparatively unintrusive Covid-19 strategy. Over the past week the country carried out more than 120,000 tests, of which only 1.3 per cent identified the disease. At the height of the pandemic the proportion was 19 per cent. ohan Carlson, an epidemiologist and the director of the Swedish public health agency, said that Swedes seemed to be benefiting from widespread immunity because of the decision not to impose a full lockdown during the first wave. “Our strategy was consistent and sustainable,” Professor Carlson said.
9th Sep 2020 - The Times

Trump knew coronavirus was 'deadly', downplayed it: Woodward book

US President Donald Trump knew the coronavirus was "deadly" and worse than the flu even as he intentionally misled the US public in February and March about the risks, according to a forthcoming book by American journalist Bob Woodward.
9th Sep 2020 - Al Jazeera English


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Social gatherings of more than six people to be banned in England

Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday as the Government seeks to curb the rise in coronavirus cases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use a press conference on Wednesday to announce the change in the law after the number of daily positive Covid-19 cases in the UK rose to almost 3,000. The legal limit on social gatherings will be reduced from 30 people to six. It will apply to gatherings indoors and outdoors – including private homes, as well as parks, pubs and restaurants.
8th Sep 2020 - ITV News

Covid-19 in Britain: a summer of mixed messages

Public trust in the government’s ability to handle the coronavirus crisis has been tested by a summer of mixed messages, during which advice on the precautions people should be taking to prevent the spread of Covid-19, as well as forecasts on the outlook for the UK, have often been contradictory.
8th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Skyrocketing Indian Virus Cases Could Eclipse U.S. Outbreak

Six months after the start of the pandemic—as the developed world tries to restore some semblance of normalcy—the virus is arriving with a vengeance in India’s vast hinterland, where 70% of its more than 1.3 billion citizens live. The country is now adding more than 80,000 confirmed infections per day, with about 71,000 deaths so far, numbers experts say are likely being under-counted. On Monday it galloped past Brazil to become the world’s second-biggest outbreak, a sobering preview of what could happen once the coronavirus spreads in earnest across other poor, densely populated places from Nigeria to Myanmar. With such a vast reservoir of potential hosts and minimal ability to contain infections, it seems inevitable that India will at some point overtake the U.S. to have the most cases
8th Sep 2020 - BloombergQuint

Spain passes 500,000 coronavirus cases in Western European first

Spain became the first country in western Europe to register 500,000 infections on Monday, after a second surge in cases that coincided with schools reopening. Health Ministry data showed a total of 525,549 cases, up from 498,989 on Friday and a further 2,440 infections registered in the last 24 hours.
8th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Fauci says a coronavirus vaccine is 'unlikely' by U.S. election

The CDC has asked states to ready facilities to distribute a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 1. Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a health conference that it’s more likely a vaccine will be ready by “the end of the year.” Drug companies Moderna and Pfizer are racing to complete patient enrollment for their late-stage vaccine trials by the end of September.
8th Sep 2020 - CNBC

Israel announces partial lockdown on 40 cities, communities amid coronavirus surge | English.news.cn

Israel announced on Tuesday a partial lockdown on dozens of cities and communities to battle a surge in coronavirus infections. The new restrictions, which have been approved by a special ministerial committee, will be imposed on 40 cities and neighborhoods across Israel, according to a joint statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office and the Health Ministry. The seven-day lockdown will start on Tuesday evening, including a curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. and closure of all schools and kindergartens. The communities involved are the mostly Arab and ultra-Orthodox ones hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, including nine large Jewish and Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem, the settlements of Beitar Illit and Emanuel, and the Arab cities of Umm al-Fahm and Nazareth in northern Israel.
8th Sep 2020 - Xinhua


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How much did the Covid-19 lockdown really cost the UK?

Cancer treatments cancelled. Children deprived of schooling. More cases of domestic abuse. Continued restrictions on personal freedom. Over and above the direct damage caused to the economy, the collateral damage from the Covid-19 pandemic has been colossal. And the crisis is not over by any means. Travel restrictions come and go with mind-boggling frequency. Local quarantining has replaced national lockdowns. Every leading policymaker in the UK, from the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, downwards, knows that the job losses to come threaten to leave permanent scars. An obvious question, therefore, is was it worth it? Have the costs of shutting down a great chunk of Britain for three months and leaving many restrictions in place after six months been outweighed by the benefits?
7th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus latest: UK to shift to regional quarantine system

Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England, echoed Mr Hancock’s warnings to young people, saying that “the vast majority” of new cases were in people in their late teens and early 20s. “What we don’t want to see is a continuing increase of cases in this age group because it could lead to them infecting their parents and grandparents who are much more at risk of poor outcomes from the virus,” added Dr Doyle. Separately, Mr Hancock said the “best-case scenario” for a Covid-19 vaccine to be approved in the UK was later this year, but it was most likely to happen in the “first few months of next year”.
7th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

France expects more severe COVID cases in next 15 days

France must stay vigilant as more people will be hospitalised in intensive care units in the next two weeks, reflecting a flare-up in COVID-19 infections in recent days, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Saturday.
7th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus spikes in Spain, France and U.K. raise specter of second wave

Cases of the coronavirus are spiking in France, Spain and the United Kingdom even as social distancing restrictions ease, stoking concerns among doctors and policymakers about a “second wave” in countries still reeling from the pandemic’s first wave. France set a record Friday after health authorities reported 8,975 new cases, far higher than the previous record of 7,578, which the was set March 31 at the height of the pandemic. In the U.K., new infections soared to nearly 3,000 in one day — the country’s biggest jump since May. And Spain had nearly 9,000 new cases Thursday.
7th Sep 2020 - NBC News


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World Health Organisation says it does not expect immunisation against COVID-19 until mid-2021

India has become the third country to pass four million coronavirus infections, setting a new record daily surge in cases on Saturday as the pandemic showed no sign of peaking. The new cases took India to 4,023,179 infections, third behind the United States which has more than 6.3 million and just trailing Brazil on 4.1 million. The growing caseload comes after the World Health Organisation said it did not expect widespread immunisation against COVID-19 until mid-2021. The WHO also ruled out endorsing a vaccine that has not been proven safe and effective, over concerns around the rush to develop a jab for the virus.
7th Sep 2020 - Jordan Times

China and India vie for clout in Bangladesh with COVID vaccines

China and India are competing to deliver coronavirus vaccines to Bangladesh in a diplomatic offensive carefully choreographed to expand their influence in the densely populated South Asian nation. Last month, Bangladesh cleared the way for privately owned Chinese company Sinovac Biotech to conduct a stage three clinical trial of its CoronaVac vaccine. Dhaka-based clinical research institute icddr,b will conduct the trial and said Wednesday that a conditional deal is in place for the vaccine to be produced locally. "If the CoronaVac vaccine is successful, it has been agreed with Sinovac that a local competent vaccine manufacturer in Bangladesh will be selected and enabled through a license from Sinovac to manufacture the vaccine in Bangladesh," they told the Nikkei Asian Review in a written response to questions.
5th Sep 2020 - Nikkei Asian Review

Coronavirus India highlights: Centre to deploy medical teams in DR Congo, South Sudan to help combat Covid-19

With over 80,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths for yet another day, the Covid-19 tally in India on Friday rose to 3,936,747 with 68.472 fatalities, latest data by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare showed.
5th Sep 2020 - The Indian Express

India to Make Covid-19 Vaccine Available to Friendly Neighbors

Indian pharmaceutical companies will be among the largest producers of a coronavirus vaccine once it is available and will ensure supplies to friendly nations in the neighborhood, said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla. India’s relations with Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have never been better “contrary to impressions,” Shringla said Friday at a foreign policy seminar in New Delhi. The South Asian nation, which is engaged in a border confrontation with China since early May, continues to remain open to dialog with Beijing, he said.
5th Sep 2020 - Bloomberg

Brazil uses less than a third of available coronavirus tests, newspaper says

Seven months after Brazil declared a state of emergency because of the new coronavirus pandemic, the country's Health Ministry has distributed less than a third of the 22.9 million available RT-PCR test kits, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported on Friday.
5th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

COVID-19: Singapore to prioritise vaccination of higher-risk groups, those more likely exposed to virus

Once COVID-19 vaccines become available, Singapore's approach will be to protect those at higher risk or people who may be more likely to be exposed to infection, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday (Sep 4). He was responding to a question from Member of Parliament Murali Pillai on what the Government's strategy is for vaccinating Singaporeans and residents. MP Ang Wei Neng had also asked what the country's COVID-19 vaccine plans are. In his written reply, Mr Gan said: "Our vaccination approach aims to protect individuals who are more vulnerable or at higher risk from the disease, as well as those who may be more likely exposed to infection, while progressively expanding the coverage of vaccination to our population." Mr Gan noted that the vaccination strategy and schedule would depend on several factors, including the suitability of different vaccines for different groups, as well as the quantity of vaccines available.
5th Sep 2020 - CNA

The bleak Covid winter? America still not on course to beat back the virus

The US is closed for many outside its borders, and many within are too scared to fly as Covid continues its deadly sweep across the country. The rate of infection has eased in Florida and elsewhere and Pesquera, president of the marketing group Discover the Palm Beaches, is hopeful business is improving. But it comes in a year of catastrophic collapse for Florida’s tourism. “Nobody has seen anything like this in a couple of generations,” said Pesquera. As the US enters its first coronavirus winter, economists and epidemiologists see a pivotal moment – a hinge whose swing will determine the direction of the economy and the course of the disease into 2021 and for years – potentially generations – to come
5th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Lack of staff, funds and tools: health officials worry the US isn’t ready for Covid vaccines

“We haven’t gotten a lot of information about how this is going to roll out,” said Umair Shah, executive director of Texas’ Harris county public health department, which includes Houston. In a four-page memo this summer, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told health departments across the country to draft vaccination plans by 1 October “to coincide with the earliest possible release of Covid-19 vaccine”.
5th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

U.S. CDC reports 186,173 deaths from coronavirus

The CDC on Friday said the number of deaths die to the cornoavirus has risen by 1,081 to 186, 173 and there were 6,132, 074 reported cases, an increase of 44,671 cases from the previous count.
5th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK


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Dr. Fauci says he has 'confidence and some faith' the coronavirus vaccine approval won't be political

The Food and Drug Administration has been “very explicit” that it is going to make a decision based on data from clinical trials, Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “We can have some confidence and some faith in what the FDA is saying,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.
3rd Sep 2020 - CNBC

CDC warns daily COVID-19 cases are rising in some states

The United States, which has now surpassed 6.1 million infections, has been averaging about 41,000 new COVID-19 cases per day for the past week. Cases are now plateauing following an initial sharp decline in late July after surges in Sunbelt states saw average daily rates of 66,000. Deaths have slowly been declining and are currently averaging at about 860 fatalities per day - the lowest since late July. More than 185,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19 Despite cases continuing to decline across the country, the CDC warned on Tuesday that daily infections were starting to rise in some states, particularly in the Midwest and South. States where COVID-19 cases are currently rising include Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and Minnesota
3rd Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

India logs record 83,883 Covid-19 cases in day

India reported a record daily rise of 83,883 coronavirus infections on Thursday, taking its total to 3.85 million cases, just as the country pushed ahead with attempting a return to normality and kickstarting its economy. India now has the fastest growing Covid-19 infection rate in the world, and is only 100,000 cases behind Brazil, the second worst-affected country in the world. Experts are predicting that the south Asian nation will soon overtake Brazil (4 million) and then the US (6.1 million) to hold the dubious title of having the highest number of cases globally. Shahid Jameel, a virologist and CEO of the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance, said that the situation in India did “not look pretty”, adding: “Of the three top countries only India is showing a rising curve. This is a matter of grave concern and there is an urgent need to reverse the trend.”
3rd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

UK records highest weekly number of new coronavirus cases in three months

The Health Secretary has claimed the Government’s coronavirus testing system is working ‘well’, as the UK recorded its highest number of new cases since the week to June 3. Matt Hancock’s hopes that the country could be able to hug by Christmas comes despite reports that people are being directed to centres more than 100 miles away. A total of 6,732 new people tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week to August 26 – a 6% rise on the previous week.
3rd Sep 2020 - Metro

Slammed by virus, France unveils huge economic rescue plan

Facing resurgent virus infections, France’s government unveiled a 100 billion-euro ($118 billion) recovery plan Thursday aimed at creating jobs, saving struggling businesses and yanking the country out of its worst economic slump since World War II. The massive plan includes money to bring back manufacturing of medical supplies to French factories, develop hydrogen energy, help museums and the cinema industry, train young people for 21st century jobs and hire more staff at unemployment offices. “It’s an important step for our strategy in the fight against the economic and social consequences of the crisis that hit France,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said.
3rd Sep 2020 - ABC News

UK concern at rising Covid-19 hospital cases in France

The British government is “worried” about a rise in Covid-19 hospital admissions in France and Spain, concerned that young people could be infecting the more vulnerable. However, health secretary Matt Hancock argued that the implementation of a “package” of protective measures such as social distancing could prevent a similar surge in cases from occurring in the UK. “We are very worried about it,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday. “But what I am also saying to you is that we have the lines of defence in this country. Everyone has a part to play: the first line of defence, social distancing, the next line of defence test and trace and then if we have to, going into local lockdowns. And we have the quarantine which is working.”
3rd Sep 2020 - Financial Times

COVID-19 cases spike in India as economy falters

India currently posting over 70,000 new COVID-19 cases daily. Already India has third highest caseload after the US and Brazil. GDP growth shrank by 24 per cent during lockdown period.
3rd Sep 2020 - SciDev

Vic lockdown will last longer than China, Italy lockdowns if extended

If Victoria extends its lockdown for another two weeks it will have lasted 82 days which is longer than both China and Italy’s lockdowns, according to Sky News host Paul Murray. Italy has had 35,497 deaths with lockdown running for 58 days, China has had 4,634 deaths with lockdown running for 77 days whilst Victoria has had 576 deaths with lockdown due to end on September 13 having run for 68 days. A recent leak revealed the Victorian government may be planning to extend Victoria’s lockdown for a further two weeks, which would end Victoria’s lockdown after 82 days, a longer period than both Italy and China. “This bloke has failed, he failed to have a system that meant that the virus didn’t get out of hotel quarantine, and he has failed to stop it the second time around,” Mr Murray said.
3rd Sep 2020 - Sky News Australia

U.S. CDC Tells States to Prep for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution as Soon as Late October

U.S. public health officials and Pfizer Inc said a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for distribution as soon as late October, just ahead of the November election in which the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be a major factor among voters deciding whether President Donald Trump wins a second term. Even though the stakes are high for Republican Trump, who is squaring off against former Vice President Joe Biden on Nov. 3, there is no political pressure on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve a vaccine, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Thursday. "No one is pressuring the FDA to do anything," McEnany told a press briefing.
3rd Sep 2020 - The New York Times

Israel announces partial national lockdown after coronavirus surge

Israel will impose a partial national lockdown next week to battle a coronavirus infection surge, the head of its pandemic task force said on Thursday, shouting his exasperation in an emotional television address, reported Reuters. The health official, Ronni Gamzu, said Israel was facing a “pivotal moment” in trying to contain the spread of COVID-19, with some 3,000 new cases now reported daily in a population of nine million. He put much of the blame on what he called apathy among the Arab minority to social distancing rules and high infection rates in close-knit ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. Other health experts have said political in-fighting among members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government has led to a slow response to a second wave of cases after a national lockdown flattened the infection curve in May
3rd Sep 2020 - Middle East Monitor

WHO aiming for 20% of Africa to get initial COVID jabs from access plan

“Testing vaccines on the continent ensures that sufficient data is generated on the safety and efficacy of the most promising vaccine candidates for the African population so they can be confidently rolled out in Africa,” he said. John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told an online news conference that talks with COVAX would supplement other negotiations with nations such as China, Canada and the United States over securing access to shots.
3rd Sep 2020 - Devdiscourse


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Coronavirus: The countries bolstering restrictions or re-entering lockdown

Auckland re-emerged from lockdown this week, but the new cluster in the city was a reminder that globally, the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. Many countries who were apparently progressing well have been hit by second waves of Covid-19. In parts of Europe, surging infections numbers are placing pressure on governments, with some opting for localised lockdowns, mandated masks and even border closures to try and get on top of the virus.
2nd Sep 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Covid-19: Ireland now in ‘most challenging phase’, says Government

The current surge of Covid-19 can be successfully suppressed through people slightly reducing their daily contacts, public health officials have said. Getting the R number below 1 is “absolutely realistic”, through a “marginal reduction” in the number of contacts people have each day, according to Prof Philip Nolan of the National Public Health Emergency Team. The R figure represents the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average. “It is a modest amount of extra effort that we have to do,” he said on Wednesday evening. The reproduction number stands at 1 to 1.2, according to Prof Nolan, who is chairman of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group.
2nd Sep 2020 - The Irish Times

Government reapplies northern lockdown after 24 hours in latest U-turn

The UK faces a permanent £33bn annual hit to the economy as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey told MPs on Wednesday. Structural changes in the economy as people change their behaviours in response to the pandemic could cause long-term “scarring” to growth and employment, Mr Bailey warned. The Bank predicts that behavioural shifts, such as more working from home and people being more cautious about going out, will reduce gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.5 per cent every year below where it had been expected to be.
2nd Sep 2020 - The Independent

Cuba puts Havana into lockdown to stamp out spread of coronavirus

Cuban authorities have ordered a strict 15-day lockdown of Havana in an effort to stamp out the low-level but persistent spread of the coronavirus in the capital. Aggressive anti-virus measures, including closing down air travel, have virtually eliminated COVID-19 in Cuba with the exception of Havana, where cases have surged from a handful a day to dozens daily over the last month. A daily curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. was instituted Tuesday. Most stores are barred from selling to shoppers from outside the immediate neighborhood in order to discourage people from moving around the city. Some Havana residents complained that the measures were complicating the already difficult task of buying food in a city hit by constant shortages and endless lines for a limited supply of basic goods.
2nd Sep 2020 - Los Angeles Times

‘Russian Roulette’: Inside Putin’s Race to Develop a Covid-19 Vaccine Before the West

In April, as Covid-19 cases surged across Russia, President Vladimir Putin called a meeting of the country’s top scientists and health officials over video link to deliver an urgent directive: Do whatever you need to create a national vaccine as soon as possible. Four weeks later, Alexander Gintsburg, director of the state-run Gamaleya Institute for Epidemiology and Microbiology, told state television that his researchers had developed one. They were so sure it was safe, he said, the researchers had tested it on themselves. Last month, Mr. Putin, with great fanfare, said Russia had approved Gamaleya’s vaccine, making it the first country to sign off on one amid a global race to curb the spread of Covid-19.
2nd Sep 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19 ends Australia’s 28-year run without a recession

Australia has entered its first recession in almost three decades after Covid-19 battered the economy, which shrank a record 7 per cent in the June quarter. The decline in gross domestic product follows a fall of 0.3 per cent in the March quarter, marking two consecutive quarters of contraction — the technical definition of recession — according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. “The global pandemic and associated containment policies led to a 7 per cent fall in GDP for the June quarter. This is, by a wide margin, the largest fall in quarterly GDP since records began in 1959,” said Michael Smedes, ABS head of national accounts. The economic contraction was worse than expected, with economists forecasting a 6 per cent fall in the second quarter and a decline of just over 5 per cent on an annual basis. The ABS figures revealed that GDP fell 6.3 per cent in the 12 months to the end of June.
2nd Sep 2020 - The Financial Times

Hungary exempts some visitors from border lockdown, riles EU

Hungary has decided to exempt tourists visiting from three neighbouring states from a lockdown of its borders that took effect on Tuesday, provided they test negative for COVID-19 beforehand, prompting a rebuke from the European Commission. The EU executive said Hungary’s move to admit visitors from the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia but not from other EU member states amounted to discrimination and was illegal. Hungary said last week it would close its borders to foreigners from Tuesday to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. Returning Hungarian citizens can leave a 14-day quarantine only if they provide two negative COVID tests.
2nd Sep 2020 - Reuters

Turkey seeing second peak of COVID-19 outbreak, health minister says

Turkey is seeing the second peak of the coronavirus outbreak due to “carelessness” at weddings and other social gatherings, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday, amid a rapid rise in the number of daily cases and deaths. Speaking after a meeting of his coronavirus science team, Koca said the capital Ankara had seen the most rapid rise in the number of cases lately. He added that 29,865 healthcare workers had contracted the virus so far, with 52 of them dying. “The outbreak is increasingly continuing. The virus is spreading to more people each day. Our test numbers are rising every day, our new patient numbers are not falling.,” Koca said.
2nd Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

German health institute designates Canary Islands as coronavirus-risk region

Germany’s national institute for infectious diseases on Wednesday added the Canary Islands to its list of risk regions, citing a high rate of new coronavirus infections in the Spanish autonomous region. The Robert Koch Institute said the whole of Spain, mainland and islands, was a risk region. The institute’s update is usually followed by a travel warning to the designated regions by the Foreign Ministry.
2nd Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

US refuses to join international effort to develop Covid-19 vaccine

The US government has said that it will not participate in a global initiative to develop, manufacture and equitably distribute a vaccine for Covid-19 because the effort is co-led by the World Health Organization. The Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (Covax) is a plan developed by the WHO, along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and is meant to accelerate the development and testing of a vaccine and work toward distributing it equally. The WHO announced last month that more than 170 countries were in talks to participate in Covax.
1st Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: UK considers putting Portugal back on quarantine list

Ministers are considering reimposing quarantine measures for those arriving in the UK from Portugal as coronavirus cases rise, sources have told the BBC. The country has recorded more than 20 cases per 100,000 people in the past week. Normally when a country surpasses that mark the UK government imposes 14 days of self-isolation on returning travellers. Ministers are expected to reach a decision on the measures by Thursday.
1st Sep 2020 - BBC News


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Cuba imposes Havana lockdown as coronavirus spreads

Aggressive anti-virus measures including closing down air travel, have virtually eliminated COVID-19 in Cuba with the exception of Havana, where cases have surged from a handful a day to dozens daily over the last month. Starting on Tuesday, Havana was placed under a 7pm to 5am curfew. Most stores are barred from selling to shoppers from outside the immediate neighbourhood in order to discourage people from moving around the city. Some Havana residents complained that the measures were complicating the already difficult task of buying food in a city stricken by constant shortages and long lines for a limited supply of basic goods.
2nd Sep 2020 - Al Jazeera English

BVI Introduces Two-week Curfew to Help Stem Spread of COVID

British Virgin Islands Governor Augustus Jaspert on Tuesday said that the British Virgin Islands (BVI) does not intend to introduce a full 24-hour lockdown of the British Overseas Territory (BOT) as it seeks to further curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has infected 38 people here. In a statement, Jaspert said that a two-week curfew would instead come into effect as of Wednesday. He said while the 24-hour lockdown is an option, it comes with significant cost, economically, socially, and mentally. “Therefore, we want to avoid this if at all possible, so not to put additional hardship on individuals who are already facing a very challenging time,” he said.
2nd Sep 2020 - caribbeannationalweekly.com

WHO warns hospitals to brace for surge in coronavirus patients this autumn

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned European hospitals they should be braced for a surge in Covid-19 patient numbers this autumn. Hans Kluge, WHO Europe regional director, said a potential increase in Covid-19 cases will be down to a host of factors, including flu season and children returning to school. He urged governments across the continent to use local lockdowns to target small outbreaks of the virus as winter approaches.
1st Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

EU seeks to improve cross-border co-ordination as Covid-19 spikes

EU member states are exploring how to better co-ordinate the identification of Covid-19 hotspots and the management of cross-border travel as the continent grapples with a surge in infections. European governments are on high alert after a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases in some areas in recent weeks, and are keen to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes early in the pandemic, when multiple capitals pursued their own approach to border closures within the Schengen travel area. A briefing paper for an EU ambassadors’ meeting in Brussels on Wednesday identifies five possible areas for improved cross-border co-ordination, including the development of common quarantine rules, the use of agreed data sources and better mapping practices.
1st Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Lockdown in Co Kildare lifted following weeks of restrictions

The lockdown in Co Kildare has been lifted with immediate effect, the Government has confirmed. The Government introduced public health measures in the county on August 7 following outbreaks of Covid-19 cases. In a statement, the Government said that public health measures in the county will be aligned with those introduced nationally on August 18.
1st Sep 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

India eases virus restrictions as cases near 3.7 million

Experts say India, the world’s third most affected country, is fast becoming the new coronavirus epicenter and its case total is likely to soon pass Brazil and ultimately the United States. Most of India’s cases are in western Maharashtra state and the four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, but new surges are being recorded in the country’s vast hinterlands, overwhelming the poorly equipped healthcare system. In poorer states, the federal government has deployed special teams to monitor the situation. “This was to be expected,” said Dr. Gagandeep Kang, an infectious diseases expert at the Christian Medical College at Vellore in southern India. “It was inevitable that the numbers would climb.”
1st Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

Coronavirus: India sees nearly two million cases in August

India has reported nearly two million Covid-19 cases in August, the highest monthly tally in the world since the pandemic began. August was also the worst month for fatalities with 28,000 virus deaths. With 3.6 million confirmed cases, India has the third-highest caseload in the world, after the US and Brazil. The government continues to lift restrictions to try to boost an economy that lost millions of jobs because of a strict lockdown which began in March. In August, India saw an average of 64,000 cases per day - an 84% hike from average daily cases in July, according to official data. This number is the highest in the world - for example, the US, which has the most number of cases, saw 47,000 daily cases on average last month.
1st Sep 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: South Korea returns to lockdown and pleads with citizens to adhere to social distancing guidelines

South Korea has implemented a second nationwide lockdown to fend off a new wave of coronavirus and pleaded with its citizens to again adhere to social distancing rules. “Government officials and administrative orders alone cannot stop the daily activities of citizens,” said Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement on Sunday. “We urge the public to practice complete social distancing over the next week.”
1st Sep 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

Auckland Exits Lockdown as New Zealand Again Eyes Elimination

New Zealand’s largest city has exited lockdown after the government said a Covid-19 outbreak there has been brought under control and it remains on track to again eliminate the virus from the community.
1st Sep 2020 - Bloomberg on MSN.com

Ukraine PM predicts new increase in coronavirus cases

The number of new coronavirus cases in Ukraine will continue to rise in September and could reach 3,000 a day by the end of this month, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Tuesday. Ukraine reported 2,088 cases on Tuesday and 2,141 on Monday. Last week the daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to a record 2,481. The increase comes after Ukraine last week imposed a temporary ban on most foreigners from entering the country until Sept. 28 and extended lockdown measures until the end of October to contain a recent spike in cases. The country has reported a total of 123,303 infections and 2,605 deaths from the virus.
1st Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

As lockdown begins, Hungary reopens borders to some eastern neighbours

Hungary has decided to exempt tourists visiting from three neighbouring states from a lockdown of its borders that took effect on Tuesday, provided they test negative for COVID-19 beforehand, prompting a rebuke from the European Commission. The EU executive said Hungary’s move to admit visitors from the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia but not from other EU member states amounted to discrimination and was illegal. Hungary said last week it would close its borders to foreigners from Tuesday to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. Returning Hungarian citizens can leave a 14-day quarantine only if they provide two negative COVID tests.
1st Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Colombia expands reopening as coronavirus cases stabilize

Airports, bus terminals, restaurants and gyms reopened in most of Colombia on Tuesday as the South American nation attempts to reignite its economy following months of restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic. The step expanded previous moves that allowed shops, construction sites, shopping malls and factories to resume operations in June in most of the country’s cities. Hospital occupancy rates and deaths from the new coronavirus have stabilized across much of Colombia over the past 10 days, prompting the national government to lift more of the emergency measures that had been in place for five months, including a ban on most people from traveling within the country.
1st Sep 2020 - Washington Post

Bhutan to gradually lift coronavirus lockdown

Bhutan, the remote Himalayan kingdom famous for measuring gross national happiness, on Tuesday took the first steps to lift its coronavirus lockdown, saying there was limited community transmission. The country of 750,000 people between India and China -- one of the few nations in the world that have yet to register a virus death -- has so far recorded 225 infections. "Experiences in many countries reveal a surge in Covid-19 cases, mostly detected in the second week of post-lockdown," Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, a doctor who continues to practise on weekends, said in a television address late Monday.
1st Sep 2020 - FRANCE 24

Algeria approves more measures to ease coronavirus lockdown

Algerian authorities said on Monday they will carry out further measures to ease a coronavirus lockdown from Sept. 1, including lifting a ban on some cultural activities such as reopening museums and libraries. Nurseries would also be reopened with 50% of their capacity but prohibit the use of air conditioners and access to children by family members. The new steps will also end a paid leave for pregnant women and those with children under 14 years. Algeria has already eased restrictions linked to the novel coronavirus, including reopening some businesses, mosques, leisure venues and beaches. It has so far reported 44,494 infections and 1,510 deaths.
31st Aug 2020 - Reuters


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Canada to buy millions of doses of Novavax and Johnson & Johnson's potential Covid-19 vaccines

Canada reached an agreement in principle on Monday (Aug 31) with both Novavax and Johnson & Johnson for millions of doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccines, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. Canada's two agreements follow separate deals with Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc announced weeks ago, and are the latest example of countries rushing to secure access to vaccines. Last week, Canada's National Research Council said it had ended its partnership on a coronavirus vaccine with China's CanSino Biologics because the company lacked the authority to ship the vaccine. Novavax said it expects to finalize an advance purchase agreement to supply doses of the vaccine, beginning as early as the second quarter of next year. Novavax has agreed to supply up to 76 million doses of its experimental vaccine, while Johnson & Johnson will supply up to 38 million doses of its vaccine candidate. Both agreements are subject to the vaccines obtaining licenses from Health Canada, the companies said
31st Aug 2020 - The Straits Times

Opening up without control of COVID-19 is recipe for disaster, says WHO

Countries with significant active spread of coronavirus must prevent amplifying events, as opening up without the virus being under control would be a “recipe for disaster”, the World Health Organization said on Monday. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recognised that many people are getting tired of restrictions and want to return to normality eight months into the pandemic. The WHO fully supported efforts to reopen economies and societies, he told a news conference, adding: “We want to see children returning to school and people returning to workplaces, but we want to see it done safely.” “No country can just pretend the pandemic is over,” he said. “The reality is this virus spreads easily. Opening up without control is a recipe for disaster.”
31st Aug 2020 - Reuters

Australian diplomatic cables from China detail early confused weeks of coronavirus emergency

Previously unseen diplomatic correspondence has given new insights into how little Australian officials knew of the COVID-19 emergency as it unfolded in China's Hubei province at the beginning of the year. The partly redacted cables suggest Australia's missions in China did not begin sending detailed situational reports back to Canberra until late January, with the updates largely based on local official statements.
31st Aug 2020 - ABC News

FDA head says he is willing to fast-track Covid-19 vaccine

The head of the US Food and Drug Administration has said he is willing to bypass the normal approval process to authorise a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible — but has insisted he will not do so to please President Donald Trump. In an interview with the Financial Times, Stephen Hahn said his agency was prepared to authorise a vaccine before Phase Three clinical trials were complete, as long as officials believed the benefits outweighed the risks. But he defended his embattled organisation against accusations that it was rushing the process to boost Mr Trump’s re-election prospects. “It is up to the sponsor [vaccine developer] to apply for authorisation or approval, and we make an adjudication of their application,” Dr Hahn said. “If they do that before the end of Phase Three, we may find that appropriate. We may find that inappropriate, we will make a determination.”
30th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

Canada confirms Chinese vaccine trial has been scrapped

CanSino Covid-19 vaccine candidate doses to Canada and as CanSino has now completed phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials elsewhere, this specific opportunity is over and the NRC is focusing its team and facilities on other Covid-19 priorities.”
29th Aug 2020 - South China Morning Post

UK to fast-track Covid-19 vaccine approval if sought before end of Brexit transition

UK health officials suggested that, should a vaccine’s developers be ready to seek approval before the end of the year, the MHRA might be able to give a faster verdict than its European counterpart. The health department said: “If a vaccine is discovered before 2021, the proposals will bolster existing powers that allow the MHRA to consider approving its use, before a full product licence is granted, provided it is proven to be safe and effective during robust and extensive clinical trials.” The measures were necessary because during the transition period, a new potential Covid-19 vaccine must be granted a licence by the EMA, it said.
28th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

Here's how the U.S. could release a COVID-19 vaccine before the election—and why that scares some

Peter Marks, who runs the FDA division that oversees vaccine approval, has vowed that he would resign if the Trump administration pushed through a vaccine that was not clearly safe and effective. And he insists that FDA will consult with the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), which Offit sits on, to publicly discuss data related to any approval request. “Approval should be something that we can make transparent, and to do anything less than that is really a disservice to people,” Marks says. VRBPAC’s next meeting is scheduled for 22 October, 12 days before the presidential and congressional elections. Science spoke with a range of researchers and regulators about how a COVID-19 vaccine approval might be accelerated and the potential consequences.
28th Aug 2020 - Science Magazine

Merkel Calls on Germans to Avoid Virus-Hit Areas Like U.S.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Germans to refrain from non-essential travel to areas with severe coronavirus outbreaks, including the U.S. Merkel’s warning to people in Europe’s biggest economy reflects growing concern among European leaders faced with a summer surge of Covid-19. Paris is expanding its mask-wearing mandate to public spaces citywide, Spain reported the most new infections since late April and Italy had the most since early May.
27th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus: Vaccine front-runner China already inoculating workers

Earlier this month, the head of a well-known, privately-owned Chinese conglomerate told his staff that a vaccine for Covid-19 was expected to come to market by November. The boss, whose firm has a healthcare division, said that he saw it as a portent of economic recovery; a chance for his firms to sell more, according to a person privy to the comments. Within a few weeks the Chinese government was forced to go public with its apparent progress. The novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 originated in humans in China, before it spread ceaselessly across the world. Now China is using its global footprint in a relentless effort to win the race to develop and deploy an effective vaccine. Last week one of the developmental vaccines was pictured in state-run media; a small branded box was shown, held up by a smiling woman in a lab. Sinopharm said it hopes to have it ready to go on sale by December. It even named a price, equivalent to about $140 (£106).
27th Aug 2020 - BBC News

France coronavirus rates quadruple as authorities urged: 'Act quickly'

France’s coronavirus cases are surging, with the government declaring that the country’s rate of infection has quadrupled in a month. On Wednesday, France recorded 5,429 new cases of coronavirus, the country’s highest daily total since March and third-largest since the pandemic began. The nation’s R rate has also risen to 1.4, which is higher than the rate of 1 required to keep the curve of infection constant. Prime Minister Jean Castex has now changed Paris’ guidance on face coverings, with masks to become mandatory in the city from Friday morning. He warned that regional lockdowns could be on the horizon if the infection rates continue to climb.
27th Aug 2020 - Metro.co.uk


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France, Germany join nations tightening controls to halt virus surge

Germany and France drew up tougher rules on Thursday in line with a growing number of countries battling a resurgence in coronavirus infections with Paris making masks obligatory in all public places in a bid to curb a rise of new cases in the city.
27th Aug 2020 - YAHOO!

Germany extends its furlough scheme until the end of NEXT YEAR at a likely cost of £27billion

German economy saw GDP fall by 11.7 per cent over first six months of the year More than 10.1 million workers were on furlough at the peak of the lockdown It is thought that the economy will not get back on its feet until the end of 2021
27th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Xinjiang starts to ease Covid-19 lockdown after surge in social media anger

China has relaxed some Covid-19 lockdown measures on the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang following a surge of complaints about their severity on Chinese social media. The city of 3.5 million people, which has been in strict lockdown since mid-July, has reported no new cases of the disease since August 16. Xinjiang residents flooded social media platform Weibo with complaints about the restrictions which had kept them trapped at home for more than a month. There have also been claims people were forced to take traditional Chinese medicine, which has not been proven to alleviate Covid-19 symptoms.
27th Aug 2020 - South China Morning Post

Argentina daily COVID-19 cases top 10,000 for first time

Argentina posted a record daily rise of 10,550 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the health ministry said, taking the total caseload to 370,188 as the country struggles to rein in the spread of infections while trying to ease open its crisis-hit economy. The grains producer, which imposed a strict lockdown in March that initially helped slow the spread of the virus, is now fast catching up with other hard-hit countries in the region, including neighbor Chile where new infections have slowed. Latin America has become the epicenter of the global pandemic, with the highest number of infections and deaths, while the region’s economy is set to plunge sharply this year pushing millions of people into poverty. The nightly report showed there had been 276 new COVID-19 fatalities in the 24-hour period since the previous evening’s count, taking the total to 7,839.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters

South Korea sees its highest number of coronavirus infections for months

The 441 cases recorded on Thursday was the highest daily increase since the 483 reported on March 7. More than 300 of the cases were reported in Seoul, home to more than half of the 51m population.
27th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Libya's Tripoli government imposes COVID-19 curfew after protests escalate

Libya’s Tripoli-based government has announced a 24-hour curfew to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus as it struggles to contain protests over deteriorating living conditions and corruption. The curfew, which took effect on Wednesday night, was imposed by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) three days after protests in the capital and the nearby town of Zawiya began to escalate. The decision exempts people who need to go out for essential food or medicine at nearby shops, but it angered protest supporters who posted messages online saying it was designed to prevent further demonstrations.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Coronavirus: UK reports highest number of coronavirus cases since 12 June with 1,522 infections

The UK has reported its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases since 12 June. A total of 1,522 people received a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 test on Thursday, despite infection rates remaining well below those in Spain, France and other parts of Europe suffering a resurgence of the disease. The latest daily new case total figure is up from 1,048 on Wednesday. It is the highest daily new case total since before non-essential shops reopened to the public in England on 15 June, and restaurants and pubs resumed operations on 4 July.
27th Aug 2020 - Sky News

Poorest countries face lost decade due to Covid-19, says IMF

The shock waves from Covid-19 will lead to a lost decade for the world’s poorest countries unless they get concerted and urgent help, the International Monetary Fund has said. The Washington-based IMF said low-income developing countries (LIDCs) entered the pandemic in a vulnerable position and faced the prospect of their progress in poverty reduction over the past seven to 10 years being wiped out. In a blog, IMF economists called on the international community to adopt a seven-point plan so that poor countries could cope with Covid-19 and recover quickly. Growth, which averaged 5% in 2019, was likely to come to a standstill this year, the IMF said, adding that previous pandemics had left permanent scars. It backed a recent call from the World Bank president, David Malpass, for a more ambitious programme of debt relief that would move beyond repayment holidays to a reduction in the stock of debt.
27th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Gaza coronavirus lockdown extended by 72 hours after infections spread

Gaza will remain in lockdown at least until Sunday, health officials said on Wednesday after reporting two deaths and 26 COVID-19 cases in the first public outbreak of the coronavirus in the blockaded Palestinian enclave. As of two days ago, when the first four cases were discovered in a refugee camp in the 360 square-kilometre (140 square-mile) territory, and a 48-hour lockdown was imposed, there had been no infections outside border quarantine facilities for new arrivals. But by late on Wednesday, health officials said 26 people in several locations had tested positive for COVID-19 and two patients had died - a sign the world pandemic had penetrated Gaza’s forced isolation
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Aug 2020

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Ottawa giving $82.5M for Indigenous mental health support during COVID-19

The federal government is pledging $82.5 million to improve access and address growing demand for mental health services in Indigenous communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
25th Aug 2020 - Pique Newsmagazine

Coronavirus: Government considering ‘rota system’ for secondary schools hit by local lockdowns

Boris Johnson’s government is considering a plan to advise secondary schools to operate a “rota system” to reduce the number of pupils in classes if a local spike in Covid-19 infections leads to renewed lockdown restrictions, The Independent understands. One option under discussion would be for some secondary year groups to attend school on certain weeks, before switching with other year groups. Primary schools would be expected to remain fully open in the event of a local lockdown, since transmission rates are lower in younger children. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) union, said he was “frustrated” it has taken so long to begin discussing the possibilities with the Department of Education (DfE) given the “imminent” reopening of schools.
26th Aug 2020 - The Independent

South Korea Closes Schools, Imposes Mask Mandate Amid ‘Severe Emergency’

South Korea, a country hailed throughout the pandemic for its response to Covid-19, imposed new social distancing measures Monday and warned a stricter lockdown could be coming, as a new outbreak tied to a far-right church has spurred what President Moon Jae-in called Monday a “severe emergency.” “We are facing a new crisis. It's a much more severe emergency than the Shincheonji situation in the early days of the Covid-19 crisis,” Moon said Monday, referring to a previous church-linked outbreak that infected more than 5,000 people. “Seoul and the metropolitan area have become the centers of spread, and nowhere else in the country is safe.”
25th Aug 2020 - Forbes

Spain ready to send in troops to trace resurging coronavirus

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday that troops would be made available to help regions overcome a resurgence of the coronavirus, following Spain’s worst week for infections since the epidemic’s peak in late March. He also said regional administrations could make decisions themselves on how to handle the fight against the epidemic rather than have the central government take charge. The government would support requests by regional leaders to declare localized states of emergency, Sanchez said. “The pandemic data curve is worrying and has to be contained. We have to be calm and vigilant,” Sanchez said after the first cabinet meeting following the summer recess.
25th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Spanish PM Rejects New Lockdown Amid Surge in Virus Cases

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez rejected a new national lockdown, putting pressure instead on regional authorities to come up with a response to the nation’s resurgent coronavirus outbreak. In his first public comments in three weeks, Sanchez said Tuesday that the central government will provide whatever support required by the regions -- which oversee health policy -- and that they will be authorized to declare a local state of emergency if necessary.
25th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Gaza in lockdown to try to contain its first COVID-19 outbreak

Gaza was in lockdown on Tuesday after the first cases of COVID-19 in the general population of the Palestinian enclave, whose restricted borders until now had helped spare it from an outbreak. Health authorities in the Hamas-controlled territory are concerned over the potentially disastrous combination of poverty, densely populated refugee camps and limited hospital facilities in dealing with an outbreak. A government spokesman said the four cases were uncovered after a woman travelled to the West Bank, where she tested positive. Four members of her family then tested positive in Gaza, the first cases outside quarantined border facilities. Interior Ministry spokesman Eyad al-Bozom said the family had been in contact with many other people in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, and that the camp was now isolated from the rest of the 360 sq. km. territory.
25th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK


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Coronavirus: Gaza in lockdown as community COVID-19 cases emerge

Gaza reported its first cases of COVID-19 in the general population on Monday, as authorities confirmed four infections at a refugee camp and security forces declared a full lockdown for 48 hours. The four cases were from a single family, according to a government statement. The closure would affect the entire Gaza Strip, according to an official from Hamas. Until Monday the 360 square-kilometre coastal strip, which is home to two million Palestinians living in densely packed cities, towns and refugee camps, had reported no infections outside quarantine centres set up for people returning home from abroad.
24th Aug 2020 - Gulf News

US braced for political row over who gets first Covid-19 vaccines

Poor and minority communities must be among the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine once it is approved for use in the US, the head of the national vaccine distribution committee has said, ahead of what public health experts warn could become a politicised fight over who gets vaccinated. US president Donald Trump is keen to make a vaccine available before the election in November and is considering bypassing normal regulatory standards to fast-track an experimental shot, the Financial Times has reported. Mr Trump has faced widespread criticism over his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 170,000 Americans, and an active vaccination programme could help him claim to voters that he has turned the tide on the virus. But even if a vaccine were approved for use, there would not be enough doses immediately available for a national campaign, meaning certain groups would have to be selected to receive them first.
24th Aug 2020 - The Financial Times

Local virus outbreak in Myanmar sparks fears for Rohingya camps

Rohingya in Myanmar's conflict-wracked Rakhine state expressed fears Sunday of a coronavirus outbreak reaching their overcrowded camps, after a spate of infections sent the state capital into lockdown. Nearly 130,000 Rohingya Muslims live in what Amnesty International describes as "apartheid" conditions in camps around Sittwe. The city has recorded 48 cases in the past week, making up more than 10 percent of the about 400 cases so far registered in Myanmar. "We are extremely worried about the virus because we are living in limbo and it won't be easy to control," said Rohingya Kyaw Kyaw. Authorities visited the Thae Chaung camp this week to talk about social distancing — an impossibility as 10 families typically squeeze into a single house — and gave out hand sanitizer and face masks.
24th Aug 2020 - The Japan Times

Gran Canaria goes into voluntary lockdown with some events cancelled amidst coronavirus fears

New regions of Spain, including tourists destinations, are going into new "auto confinements" as coronavirus outbreaks continue to escalate across the country and in the holiday islands. Tielmes in Madrid, La Barquilla in Cáceres and Valleseco in Las Palmas on Gran Canaria are all back on voluntary lockdown and, within the next few hours, major new measures are to be announced for Catalonia. The tourist resort of Valleseco in Gran Canaria has only seen THREE positive cases of coronavirus but the local mayor says he doesn't want to take any chance given the high number of positives elsewhere on the island. He has asked 4,000 residents to confine themselves on a voluntary basis and not to leave their homes if possible to avoid outbreaks of coronavirus. Gran Canaria has registered the most coronavirus outbreaks of all the Canary Islands, mainly connected to nightlife
24th Aug 2020 - Mirror Online

Weekend lockdown observed in many cities across India to control COVID-19 spread

In view of rising coronavirus cases, several state governments have imposed a weekend lockdown in cities. Weekend lockdown is being observed in Assam’s Guwahati on August 23. Fancy Bazaar was deserted as all shops were shut. Lockdown is also being observed in Chennai to control the spread of COVID-19. Restrictions are in place in Lucknow. Total cases in India surpassed 30-lakh mark today.
23rd Aug 2020 - Economic Times


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Greed and Destruction: COVID-19 Isn't Slowing the Demolition of the Amazon

The Coronavirus pandemic has been used as an opportunity to further strip away protections for the Amazon and the rights of its indigenous people. Bolsonaro’s administration has encouraged the cutting down of forests on private properties and public lands – in defiance of Brazil’s ‘Forest Code’ law and the ‘Soy Moratorium Agreement’, which bans the clearing of forests for soy production. “The Government has also dismantled a series of environmental protections meant to stop illegal deforestation in conservation areas and indigenous peoples’ lands who are staunch protectors of the country’s forests,” observed the Federal University of Minas Gerais in July.
22nd Aug 2020 - Byline Times

Revealed: Emergency plans to protect UK if second coronavirus spike coincides with no-deal Brexit

Emergency plans drawn up by the government to protect the UK if a second coronavirus spike coincides with a no-deal Brexit have been revealed. A Cabinet Office "reasonable worst-case scenario" document, dated July 2020, has been leaked to The Sun newspaper. A government spokeswoman said it "reflects a responsible government ensuring we are ready for all eventualities".
23rd Aug 2020 - Sky News

Trump administration classifies teachers essential workers during pandemic

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday classified teachers as essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic as the Trump administration presses schools nationwide to bring students back to class. The move comes as a Reuters tally showed that new COVID-19 infections have fallen for four weeks in a row in Texas and Florida. The Homeland Security department’s guidance on teachers marks the latest salvo in a political dispute over the best way to educate America’s schoolchildren until a vaccine can be found for COVID-19. The teachers’ unions have threatened to strike or sue if members are told to go back to class.
23rd Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Russia to roll out COVID-19 vaccine in global tests, including Saudi Arabia

Kirill Dmitriev, the Russian businessman who has led the development of the vaccine, said that the Kingdom would be one of the nations to trial the treatment The Sputnik V vaccine has already been administered to a number of Russians, including the daughter of President Vladimir Putin
23rd Aug 2020 - Arab News

The Latest: S Korea orders nationwide pandemic restrictions

South Korea is banning large gatherings, shutting nightspots and churches and removing fans from professional sports nationwide in an attempt to slow a resurgence of coronavirus infections
22nd Aug 2020 - ABC News


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Aug 2020

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World Bank chief warns extreme poverty could surge by 100 million - The Jakarta Post

David Malpass, the president of the World Bank, warned that the coronavirus pandemic may drive as many as 100 million people back into extreme poverty. The Washington-based development lender previously estimated that 60 million people would fall into extreme poverty due to COVID-19, but the new estimate puts the deterioration at 70 to 100 million, and Malpass told the AFP news agency "that number could go higher" if the pandemic worsens or drags on. The situation makes it "imperative" that creditors reduce the amount of debt held by poor countries at risk, going beyond the commitment to suspend debt payments, he added.
21st Aug 2020 - Jakarta Post

Morocco may reimpose full lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge: King

Morocco could return to a complete coronavirus lockdown as cases continue to spike, Moroccan King Mohammed VI said on Thursday, warning of severe economic repercussions. The warning came as a jump in infections in the once bustling tourist hub of Marrakech strained health services and led to protests by medical staff in recent days. New cases nationally have surged to more than 1,000 a day since Morocco lifted a strict three-month long lockdown in late June and hit a record high of 1,766 on Aug. 15. “If figures continue to increase, the COVID-19 Scientific Committee may recommend another lockdown, perhaps with even tighter restrictions,” the King said in a speech. The deterioration of the health situation “does not leave much room for optimism,” he said.
21st Aug 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: PSNI to focus enforcement 'in hotspot areas'

The PSNI will focus enforcement action in so-called "hotspot areas" to curb the spread of coronavirus, Robin Swann has said. Stormont's health minister made the announcement as he outlined new restrictions in response to a rise in cases. From next week, indoor gatherings will drop from 10 to six people and outdoor meetings from 30 to 15. Fifty-one new cases were reported on Thursday, with NI's total now at 6,556. No further deaths have been recorded by the department, meaning its death toll remains at 559. Meanwhile, two medics who work in the Respiratory Emergency Department (ED) at Craigavon Area Hospital have tested positive for Covid-19.
21st Aug 2020 - BBC News

Feds OK COVID-19 tests without FDA approval

Yesterday, the US Department Health and Human Services rescinded guidance that mandated that COVID-19 tests gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before use, under an executive order from President Donald Trump. "As part of HHS's ongoing department-wide review of regulatory flexibilities enacted since the start of COVID-19, the department has determined that the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") will not require premarket review of laboratory developed tests ("LDT") absent notice-and-comment rule making," HHS said in a document posted to its website yesterday. The decision will allow private and commercial laboratories to manufacture and administer tests, including labs controlled by Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp. According to Politico, most COVID-19 tests currently used in the United States are made by device manufacturers and thus subject to FDA review.
21st Aug 2020 - CIDRAP

Turkey in talks with Germany, China, Russia on vaccine trials

Turkey is in talks with Russia, Germany and China about conducting Phase 3 trials for coronavirus vaccines developed in those countries, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday. Germany and China have applied to conduct the Phase 3 trials in Turkey and have presented pre-clinical trial results, while Ankara wants to see pre-clinical results from Russia before the trials, Koca said. Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, he said there were 13 vaccines being developed in Turkey, three of which have gone beyond the animal testing phase.
20th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Merkel, Macron Convene With Europe’s Virus Battle Unraveling

French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss the escalating coronavirus crisis with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a medieval island fortress Thursday as Europe struggles with a resurgence of the disease that threatens its recovery. With Spain’s government appearing rudderless during the latest uptick in infections, Merkel and Macron will face pressure to craft a convincing response to the public-health crisis, while not delivering another blow to economies decimated by lockdown measures. France on Wednesday reported 3,776 new infections, the largest daily increase in three months, while Spain -- which has re-emerged as an epicenter of the pandemic on the continent -- recorded 3,715 new cases, the most since April 23. German infections increased by more than 1,000 for a third straight day on Thursday
20th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus deaths reported by Spain’s Health Ministry beginning to rise

The number of Covid-19 victims in the last week stands at 131, a figure 11 times higher than that reported just a month ago and twice the number reported on Tuesday
20th Aug 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Covid-19 Data Will Once Again Be Collected by CDC, in Policy Reversal

Hospitals will return to reporting new cases to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump administration says, after shift to Health and Human Services led to delays and data problems
20th Aug 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

New guidance: Teachers could stay in classroom if exposed to COVID-19

New guidance from President Donald Trump’s administration that declares teachers to be “critical infrastructure workers” could give the green light to exempting teachers from quarantine requirements after being exposed to COVID-19 and instead send them back into the classroom. Keeping teachers without symptoms in the classroom, as a handful of school districts in Tennessee and Georgia have already said they may do, raises the risk that they will spread the respiratory illness to students and fellow employees. Multiple teachers can be required by public health agencies to quarantine for 14 days during an outbreak, which can stretch a district's ability to keep providing in-person instruction. South Carolina health officials also describe teachers as critical infrastructure workers, although it’s unclear if any district there is asking teachers to return before 14 days. Among the first districts to name teachers as critical infrastructure workers was eastern Tennessee's Greene County, where the school board gave the designation to teachers July 13.
20th Aug 2020 - WHSV


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Aug 2020

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Access to Work scheme extended to help disabled people working remotely

Disabled people can now benefit from financial support to work from home following an extension to the Access to Work scheme. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable can get new applications for grant funding fast-tracked. Funding can now cover taxi fares and public transport costs, if a health condition prevents you from travelling on public transport during the pandemic.
19th Aug 2020 - Access and Mobility Professional

Oldham feared to be on brink of 'catastrophic' coronavirus lockdown

Oldham in Greater Manchester is 48 hours away from potentially being ordered into a “catastrophic” and “premature” local lockdown, its council leader has warned. Ministers are expected to decide on Thursday whether to order the closure of the town’s bars, restaurants and gyms in the first local lockdown in England since hospitality businesses reopened last month. The town has the highest coronavirus infection rate in England despite restrictions on social visits imposed three weeks ago. However, figures due to be released on Wednesday show the number of new cases is declining. Sean Fielding, the council leader, said that being “pushed” into a full Leicester-style lockdown would be disastrous for Oldham’s already struggling economy and would not be “based on evidence”.
19th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Angela Merkel to back plans extending Germany's furlough scheme to 24 months

German chancellor Angela Merkel is said to back a proposal that would extend the country’s furlough scheme to 24 months. Roughly 10.1 million workers have signed up to Kurzarbeit, or “short-work” in English, since companies were forced to close in late March during a nationwide lockdown over the coronavirus.
19th Aug 2020 - The New European

WHO: Coronavirus herd immunity requires effective vaccine

The World Health Organization says the planet is nowhere near the amount of coronavirus immunity needed to induce herd immunity, where enough of the population would have antibodies to stop the spread. Herd immunity is typically achieved with vaccination and most scientists estimate at least 70% of the population must have antibodies to prevent an outbreak. But some experts have suggested that even if half the population had immunity, there might be a protective effect. WHO's emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan largely dismissed that theory at a press briefing on Tuesday, saying we should not live "in hope" of achieving herd immunity.
19th Aug 2020 - newschannel10.com

Coronavirus: Boris Johnson told to 'get a grip' by Heathrow Airport boss as testing facility unveiled

Boris Johnson has been told to "get a grip" of his coronavirus quarantine policy as Heathrow Airport pushes for the 14-day isolation period to be shortened. The travel hub's chief executive told Sky News the prime minister needs to act swiftly to stop "holding back the recovery of the UK economy" due to the restrictions on many travellers arriving in the country. The airport has revealed plans for a new testing facility which it hopes will lead to the end of the two-week mandatory quarantine for those returning from countries removed from the UK's safe list.
19th Aug 2020 - Sky News

England axes health agency criticised for COVID-19 response

England will scrap the government agency responsible for responding to public health emergencies after the country has suffered the highest death rate in Europe from the coronavirus pandemic. Public Health England, a cornerstone of the state-run health system with responsibility for managing infectious disease outbreaks, will have many of its functions merged with the government’s contact tracing service into a new body to be known as the National Institute for Health Protection. “The National Institute for Health Protection will have a single and relentless mission, protecting people from external threats to this country’s health; external threats like biological weapons, pandemics, and of course, infectious diseases,” said Matt Hancock, Britain’s health minister. Dido Harding, the former chief executive of internet provider TalkTalk and the current head of the contact tracing service, will run the new institute.
19th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Virus Rages in South America With Governments Grasping for Clues

From mask rules that are a hodgepodge to inconsistent social distancing, South America’s response to the novel coronavirus has been all over the map. While the actual scope of the disease is unknown because of overall low testing, there are clear losers and a few early winners in a region that was already in bad shape heading into the crisis.
19th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Ireland ramps up COVID-19 restrictions again as cases surge

Ireland significantly tightened its nationwide coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday to try to rein in a surge in cases, urging everyone to restrict visitors to their homes, avoid public transport and older people to limit their contacts. A spike in cases over the last three weeks, after Ireland had one of Europe’s lowest infection rates for several weeks, pushed its 14-day cumulative cases per 100,000 of population to 26, and led to the first local lockdown last week. The 190 new cases on Tuesday, the second highest daily rise since early May, took the rate of growth in the last two weeks to the fourth highest in Europe and meant infections would inevitably spread to the most vulnerable if it continued, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said.
19th Aug 2020 - Reuters