Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Jan 2021

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COVID-19: Ban on all arrivals from 15 South American countries and Portugal over Brazil variant

Travel to the UK from every country in South America, as well as Portugal, has been banned due to fears over the coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil. The government's COVID-19 operations committee met at lunchtime to discuss the issue - and the ban will come into effect from 4am on Friday.
14th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Germany's economy contracted by 5% in 2020 as coronavirus lockdowns hit growth

Coronavirus cases have prompted several lockdowns on public life and economic activity in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced last week that the latest lockdown would be extended until the end of the month.
14th Jan 2021 - CNBC

Italy’s government falls into chaos, further complicating the covid response

Italy now has a political crisis on top of a resurgent pandemic. A rickety truce in the country’s ruling coalition broke apart Wednesday when former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his small party’s support for the government, plunging the country into political chaos. Italy has long been used to fragile governments. Faced with a coronavirus emergency, the parties in this center-left coalition were willing to overlook their differences. But it is now clear the pandemic has outlasted the political goodwill. Italy is preparing to spend an unprecedented flow of European Union recovery money, and the argument over how to use it helped deepen personal enmity between Renzi and Conte, centrists who are competing for the same voters.
14th Jan 2021 - The Washington Post

Spain extends travel ban for Scots amid fears over mutant coronavirus strain

Scots have been banned from entering Spain for a further period of time amid concerns over the mutant strain of coronavirus. No one will be allowed to enter the country from Scotland via air or sea until 6pm on February 2 under the new restrictions.
14th Jan 2021 - Daily Record on MSN.com

Semi-lockdown to stave off third Covid wave, says Swiss health minister

In Switzerland, Health Minister Alain Berset has defended further Covid-19 restrictions as a preemptive attempt to prevent a third wave of the pandemic. Shops will be closed and gatherings further restricted from Monday. In addition, existing restrictions will be extended until the end of February. Speaking to Swiss public broadcaster SRF, Berset defended the move to enhance a semi-lockdown despite falling cases of infection in Switzerland. He said that the decision was informed by watching a devastating variant strain take hold in Britain and other countries.
14th Jan 2021 - swissinfo.ch

Lebanon enters full lockdown to stem virus uptick

A full lockdown started in Lebanon today, with residents barred even from grocery shopping and dependent on food deliveries, in a bid to slow a surge in novel coronavirus cases. The new restrictions were only loosely respected in some areas of the country, however, after mass protests in recent years against a political elite held responsible for a deepening economic crisis. The lockdown, ordered after some hospitals started to run out of intensive care beds, includes a 24-hour curfew until 25 January.
14th Jan 2021 - RTE.ie

Japan widens virus emergency to 7 more areas as cases surge

Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency to seven more prefectures Wednesday, affecting more than half the population amid a surge in infections across the country. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also said Japan will suspend fast-track entry exceptions for business visitors or others with residency permits, fully banning foreign visitors while the state of emergency is in place. Suga's announcement comes less than a week after he declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three nearby prefectures. The new declaration, which adds seven other prefectures in western and central Japan, takes effect Thursday and lasts until Feb. 7.
14th Jan 2021 - ABC News

WHO team arrives in China to investigate Covid origins as country sees new case spike

A team of World Health Organization (WHO) researchers have arrived in China to probe the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic - following months of political wrangling with President Xi Jinping’s government. A 10-member team has now landed in Wuhan to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into the origins of the pandemic, amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries. Scientists suspect the virus - that has killed 1.9 million people since late 2019 - jumped to humans from bats or other animals, most likely in China’s southwest.
14th Jan 2021 - ITV News

China reports first death in months; 22 million people placed under lockdown

China reported its first death from covid-19 after it recorded its biggest daily jump of Covid-19 cases in more than 8 months. The Chinese National Health Commission reported a total of 115 new confirmed cases on the mainland. China denied entry to two members of a WHO team investigating the origins of the novel coronavirus after both tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, the Wall Street Journal reported. More than 22 million people are under lockdown in the north of the country and one province has declared an emergency as daily Covid-19 numbers climb after months of reporting only a handful of daily cases. This is double the number affected in January 2020 when China's central government locked down Wuhan, where the virus was first reported.
14th Jan 2021 - Times Now

Malaysia, once praised by the WHO as 'united' against COVID, has gone back into lockdown

The Malaysian Government announced a renewed lockdown across much of the country, banning interstate travel, as daily coronavirus case numbers hit a new record. A day later, the country's King Al-Sultan Abdullah declared a months-long state of emergency as requested by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin — the first in half a century. "The Government can been said to [be prioritising] the nation's health security at the expense of democracy," Tengku Nur Qistina, a senior researcher at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, told the ABC.
14th Jan 2021 - ABC.Net.au

Denmark extends lockdown to combat more contagious coronavirus variant

Denmark on Wednesday extended hard lockdown measures by at least three weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, in particular a more transmissible variant of the virus that is spreading in the Nordic country. Denmark has so far registered 208 cases of the new variant dubbed cluster B 1.1.7., which was first registered in Britain and has spread across Europe. “It is the growth that is extremely worrying,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told a news conference late on Wednesday. “This means that we will see a situation with sharply increasing infection rates later in the winter, if the situation continues as it is now,” he said
14th Jan 2021 - Reuters

COVID: Turkey launches Chinese vaccine drive despite concerns

Turkish doctors and nurses rolled up their sleeves on Thursday as the nation of 83 million people launched a mass coronavirus vaccination drive with China’s Sinovac jab. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca received the first shot of CoronaVac live on television after formally approving the vaccine on Wednesday despite contradictory data about its efficacy rate. He was followed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who received the vaccine at a hospital in Ankara, according to state-owned Anadolu news agency. Preliminary studies involving more than 7,000 volunteers in Turkey showed CoronaVac to be 91.25 percent effective. The shot, however, came under scrutiny from regulators after the latest data from Brazil showed it to be just more than 50 percent effective – slightly above the benchmark that the World Health Organization fixed for a vaccine to be effective for general use.
14th Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Jan 2021

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Will poorer nations miss out on COVID-19 vaccine?

The WHO has urged countries to prioritise COVAX, an initiative to secure vaccines for low and middle-income nations. The global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines is widening the divide between the world’s rich and poor. The United Nations warns “vaccine nationalism” is on the rise, as Europe, the United States and many wealthier countries buy up millions of potential doses. The World Health Organization urged countries to prioritise COVAX, an initiative to secure vaccines for low and middle-income nations. So how can we ensure protection for everyone? Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoom
14th Jan 2021 - Aljazeera.com

Second shots of Covid vaccine could be delayed further in England

Second shots of coronavirus vaccine could be delayed even further amid growing evidence that spacing out the doses improves their effectiveness. The NHS vaccination programme aims to immunise about 14 million people at greatest risk of Covid by mid-February, with second doses to be given up to 12 weeks later. But Public Health England’s head of immunisation, Mary Ramsay, told MPs on Wednesday that if infection data showed vulnerable groups, such as the over-80s, were well protected by their first shot, then second doses could be delayed to get a first jab to younger people as well.
13th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Soaring COVID-19 cases in Spain prompt more regions to toughen response

The Spanish regions of Galicia, La Rioja and Cantabria became the latest to tighten coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday amid a spiralling national infection rate that officials have blamed on lax adherence to the rules over Christmas. After a lull in contagion in late November, cases skyrocketed through December and into early January, doubling the incidence of the virus as measured over the past 14 days in just three weeks, to 454 cases per 100,000 people. Unlike European countries such as Britain and the Netherlands, which have extended national lockdowns, the Spanish authorities have repeatedly said a return to confinement is not necessary. Instead it has delegated regional authorities to deploy a mixture of curfews, caps on group meetings and restrictions on business opening hours.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Japan expands state of emergency over coronavirus as infections climb

Japan will expand its state of emergency to seven more prefectures, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday. The country reported 4,527 new cases and 51 deaths Tuesday, bringing the national total to almost 300,000, with a death toll of 4,158. More than 61,500 patients are in hospitals across the country, which have been struggling to deal with a spike in cases brought on in part by freezing winter temperatures. Tokyo, previously among the worst hit areas, reported 970 new cases Tuesday, the first time the Japanese capital's daily tally has dropped below 1,000 in over a week. The total number of confirmed cases in Tokyo now stands at 77,133.
13th Jan 2021 - CNN

Facing New Outbreaks, China Places Over 22 Million on Lockdown

When a handful of new coronavirus cases materialized this month in a province surrounding Beijing — apparently spread at a village wedding party — the Chinese authorities bolted into action. They locked down two cities with more than 17 million people, Shijiazhuang and Xingtai. They ordered a crash testing regime of nearly every resident there, which was completed in a matter of days. They shut down transportation and canceled weddings, funerals and, most significantly, a provincial Communist Party conference. By this week the lockdowns expanded to include another city on the edge of Beijing, Langfang, as well as a county in Heilongjiang, a northeastern province. Districts in Beijing itself, the Chinese capital, also shut down.
13th Jan 2021 - New York Times

Tunisia to lock down for four days from Thursday

Tunisia will impose a four-day national lockdown from Thursday along with lesser measures lasting until Jan. 24 to combat a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, Health Minister Fouzi Mehdi said on Tuesday. “The situation is very critical and the vaccination will not come before February,” Mehdi said. Other measures will include rotating staffing in state jobs to reduce people in offices and transport, school closures, longer curfew hours and the removal of all chairs from cafes.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Germany will have COVID curbs beyond January - health minister

Germany will not be able to lift all coronavirus lockdown curbs at the beginning of February, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, stressing the need to further reduce contacts to fend off a more virulent variant of the virus. The German cabinet on Wednesday approved stricter controls on people entering the country after a national lockdown was last week tightened and extended to the end of January.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Denmark to extend lockdown measures by three weeks - media reports

Denmark on Wednesday extended hard lockdown measures by at least three weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, in particular a more transmissible variant of the virus that is spreading in the Nordic country. Denmark has so far registered 208 cases of the new variant dubbed cluster B 1.1.7., which was first registered in Britain and has spread across Europe. “It is the growth that is extremely worrying,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told a news conference late on Wednesday. “This means that we will see a situation with sharply increasing infection rates later in the winter, if the situation continues as it is now,” he said.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Swiss boost coronavirus restrictions, shy away from full lockdown

Switzerland on Wednesday tightened measures to tackle new variants of the COVID-19 virus spreading across the country while stopping short of the full lockdown neighbouring countries have adopted to choke off the pandemic. The wealthy Alpine country also eased rules for pandemic-hit businesses to apply for state aid, which will force the government to ask parliament to top up the latest 2.5 billion Swiss franc ($2.82 billion) pot of money for hardship cases. Governments across Europe have announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns over fears about a fast-spreading variant first detected in Britain, with vaccinations not expected to help much for another two to three months.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Lockdown starting to have an effect, says UK PM Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday tougher restrictions brought in last week were starting to have an effect on the spread of COVID in some parts of the country, cautioning that it was still early days. “What we are now seeing, and it’s very, very important to stress that these are early days, we are now seeing the beginnings of some signs that that is starting to have an effect in many parts of the country, but by no means everywhere and it is early days,” he told parliament. He also said he did not rule out bringing in even tougher restrictions to try to temper the spread of the coronavirus, which has largely been driven by a new variant.
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Jan 2021

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Trump will reverse plan to hold back second COVID-19 vaccine doses and urge states to give jabs to all over-65s in an effort to speed up rollout that has seen fewer than 3% of ...

US will ship previously withheld second doses to states, reversing its policy. Manufacturing has ramped up such that having too few doses to give booster shots to everyone who got a first shot is not a concern, HHS Secretary said. Just 9.27 million Americans have received a first dose and 29 million doses have been distributed. Doses went first to health care workers, many of whom refused the shots. Trump administration is now urging states to vaccinate anyone 65 or older Dr Anthony Fauci criticized original roll-out plans for being 'too rigid,' delaying the vaccination process. Mass vaccination sites are now opening up across the nation, including at Disneyland and Dodger Stadium in California and in New York
12th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Brussels probes member states’ compliance with EU Covid vaccine strategy

Brussels is to probe EU governments’ compliance with its centralised buying of coronavirus vaccines, as concerns grow that member states will seek to make their own deals to avoid possible supply shortages. The European Commission is to write to the bloc’s 27 countries to ask them to provide “all the necessary transparency” over any dealings with drug companies with which it has done deals or held talks. Tensions have grown over whether the commission has secured sufficient quantities of the vaccines made by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, the only two so far to have won approval from the EU medical regulator. Germany has already reportedly placed several bilateral orders, including 30m doses with BioNTech/Pfizer and 20m doses with CureVac, which — like BioNTech — is a German company. Cyprus has asked for extra jab supplies from its Mediterranean neighbour Israel, which has the highest vaccination rate in the world.
12th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Covid-19: All doctors should be offered first vaccine dose by mid-February, government says

The UK government has promised that every adult in the UK will be offered a covid-19 vaccination by the autumn as it set out plans to rapidly scale up its mass vaccination programme. The UK covid-19 vaccines delivery plan,1 published on Monday 11 January to coincide with the opening of seven new regional vaccination centres, said England will have capacity to vaccinate at least two million people per week by the end of January. This will be delivered across 206 hospital sites, 50 vaccination centres, and 1200 local vaccination sites run by primary and community care teams, it says. The expansion of capacity means that everyone will live within 10 miles of a vaccination centre, or, in the case of a small number of highly rural areas, have access to a mobile unit delivering vaccinations, the plan says.
12th Jan 2021 - The BMJ

Germany and Netherlands likely to extend Covid lockdowns

Germany’s tough anti-Covid measures are likely to last a further eight to 10 weeks, Angela Merkel has warned, while the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, has extended the Netherlands’ national lockdown into next month. As Europe struggles to stem the number of cases and deaths and concerns mount about the new, more contagious UK variant, the German chancellor said infections could rise 10-fold by Easter if the country did not succeed in containing the virus’s spread. Germany’s lockdown, under which schools and non-essential shops and services have closed, was due to last until 31 January, but Merkel reportedly told a working group of her Christian Democratic Union: “We still need eight to 10 weeks of hard measures.” The country has been recording record daily case numbers and deaths in the 900-1,000 range but the figures remain skewed due to under-reporting over the Christmas holiday and a true picture is not expected to be available until 17 January.
12th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Boris Johnson gathers Cabinet amid fears lockdown could get tighter

Boris Johnson is said to be considering tightening the coronavirus lockdown rules in England amid a surge in cases. Here are some of the options Mr Johnson could consider: Curbs on click and collect - At the moment non-essential shops are allowed to offer click and collect services but there are concerns that this still results in too much interaction between different households. The Government could opt to ban non-essential shops from offering click and collect services, restricting it to just supermarkets and other essential shops. Nicola Sturgeon said today she is considering such a move in Scotland. Takeaways - Restaurants are not allowed to physically open during lockdown but they are allowed to offer takeaway food. However, there are rising worries that picking up takeaway food is also leading to too many households mixing while they wait for food to be prepared. Rules could therefore be tightened to stop people waiting inside restaurants. Ms Sturgeon also said this is under consideration in Scotland. - Closing more work places
12th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Bubbles will be allowed if Covid lockdown tightens up

People living alone or with childcare needs would still be able to form a support bubble with one other household in a tougher lockdown, Matt Hancock has promised. However, the heath secretary said that exercising outside with another person from a separate household could be banned if people kept breaching the exemption. Mr Hancock and Boris Johnson said that the rules would be tightened if necessary. The prime minister warned yesterday against “false complacency”.
12th Jan 2021 - The Times

Lockdown leading to 'very difficult period' for UK economy, warns Bank governor

The UK economy is facing its “darkest hour” due the latest Covid-19 lockdown, which is likely to delay the recovery, the Bank of England governor has warned. In comments on Tuesday that echoed warnings from the chancellor, Rishi Sunak a day earlier that the economy “is going to get worse before it gets better”, Bailey said the UK would bounce back, but only after the lockdown had ended and concerns about the spread of the virus had receded. Referencing Winston Churchill’s use of the phrase in 1940 following the evacuation of Dunkirk, he said: “There’s an old saying about the darkest hour is the one before dawn.”
12th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

WHO experts to visit Wuhan in Covid-19 origins probe, says China

World Health Organisation experts will visit the city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019, at the start of their investigation into the origins of the pandemic, China has said. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the experts will arrive in Wuhan on Thursday. Other details of their schedule have not been announced and the central government's National Health Commission offered no further information. The visit has been expected for months. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed frustration last week that arrangements were taking so long to finalise.
12th Jan 2021 - The Irish News

Millions in China lockdown over new COVID-19 threat

China imposed new coronavirus curbs in areas near Beijing on Tuesday, putting 4.9 million people under lockdown as new infections raised worries about a second wave in a country that has mostly contained the disease. Lauren Anthony reports.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Australia clamps down in response to cases of UK coronavirus variant

Authorities in Australia have responded swiftly to contain potential outbreaks of the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19. On Thursday 7 January, a cleaner for a hotel quarantine facility in Brisbane tested positive for the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant, first sequenced in the UK in September, which has now reached at least 45 countries.The following morning, with no further positive cases, Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a short, citywide circuit-breaker lockdown affecting some 2 million residents. The city, where life has been normal for months, hadn’t locked down since the first wave in Australia in March. The lockdown began on Friday at 6pm Brisbane time, and ended on Monday 11 January at the same time. It included a strict mask mandate for anyone leaving their homes, including while driving and exercising.
12th Jan 2021 - New Scientist

US COVID-19 vaccine strategy pivots to target those 65 and up

Operation Warp Speed announced today a major pivot in the US COVID-19 vaccine strategy, one that will see the release of all current vaccines in the national stockpile and a new effort to vaccinate all those 65 and up as quickly as possible. The changes bring the total number of doses that have been made available for use in the United States to roughly 38 million. "We are now at an important juncture in the vaccine program where we're ready for a transition," said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar during an Operation Warp Speed press conference today.
12th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Jan 2021

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Malaysia's king declares state of emergency to curb spread of COVID-19

Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah declared a state of emergency across the country on Tuesday to curb the spread of COVID-19, after consenting to a request from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is facing a leadership challenge. An emergency would give the prime minister and his cabinet extraordinary powers, including allowing the government to introduce laws without the approval of parliament. It was not immediately clear how the emergency would impact day to day activities, but the constitution allows for parliament to be suspended during that period - which could for now put an end to political uncertainties faced by Muhyiddin.
12th Jan 2021 - Reuters

MEPs to view CureVac coronavirus vaccine contract on Tuesday

MEPs will be able to see the CureVac vaccine contract starting Tuesday, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides tweeted Monday. "Transparency & accountability are core EU values," she wrote, adding that she has been working with companies to make more information public: "More companies should follow this example." For months, the European Parliament has called for more transparency with the Commission's classified vaccine deals, while the Commission has countered it's up to the companies to release confidential information.
11th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Coronavirus: Germany's stricter lockdown starts nationwide

Harder coronavirus lockdown restrictions came into force across all of Germany's 16 federal states on Monday. Ten states, including the most populous, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Baden Württemberg, introduced the new rules as of Monday. A number of restrictions were introduced on December 16 in a bid to curb a second COVID-19 infection wave. These were originally slated to remain in place until at least January 10 but have had only a moderate impact on caseloads. Some of the measures that were already in place have been extended, while other restrictions have been tightened. Health Minister Jens Spahn appealed to the public to stay the course. "I know that these are once again particular difficulties, hardships for many," Spahn said on ZDF television. "Also social hardships, but at the moment that is the arena in which the virus is spreading above all others."
11th Jan 2021 - DW (English)

Over half a million under lockdown as Beijing outbreak spreads

More than half a million people were placed under lockdown in Beijing on Monday as the government imposed strict measures to stamp out a handful of Covid-19 cases. China has largely brought the virus under control, but is tackling a number of local infections with lockdowns and mass testing. Authorities are keen to stem any outbreak in the capital -- home to over 20 million people -- particularly ahead of a week-long national holiday next month.
11th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Sweden passes lockdown law to allow closures amid high death toll

Sweden has introduced a law that would allow the government to close restaurants, shops, and public transport to combat the spread of COVID-19. The new legislation signals a major shift away from the country's initial no-lockdown approach to the pandemic. A severe second wave of COVID-19 infections has prompted Sweden gradually to abandon the unique approach it first adopted towards the pandemic, when it relied on voluntary social distancing measures. Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden's initial no-lockdown response, said last week that the COVID-19 situation showed no signs of improvement in Sweden.
11th Jan 2021 - Business Insider

China's Efforts to Hide Covid Missteps in Wuhan

At a museum in Wuhan, China, a sprawling exhibition paints a stirring tale of how the city’s sacrifices in a brutal 76-day lockdown led to triumph over the coronavirus and, ultimately, rebirth. No costs appear to have been spared for the show, which features a hologram of medical staff members moving around a hospital room, heart-rending letters from frontline health workers and a replica of a mass quarantine site, complete with beds, miniature Chinese flags and toothbrush cups. But the exhibition is also striking for what is not included. There is no mention of the whistle-blowing role of Ai Fen, one of the first doctors to sound the alarm in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, or the decision by Zhang Yongzhen, a Shanghai doctor, to share its genome with the world against official orders.
11th Jan 2021 - The New York Times

UK on course for COVID-19 vaccination target as shots reach 200000 a day - Hancock

Britain is on course to have immunised its most vulnerable people against COVID-19 by mid-February and offering a shot to every adult by autumn, with some 2 million people having already received a first dose, its health secretary said on Sunday. “Over the last week we’ve vaccinated more people than in the entirety of December, so we’re accelerating the roll-out,” Matt Hancock told BBC TV. Britain is battling surging infections but is pinning its hopes on rapid immunisation to enable life to start returning to some degree of normality by the spring. Hancock said around 2 million people had already received a first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
11th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Malaysia to reimpose 2-week limited lockdown to stem virus spread

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday announced a fresh lockdown in the capital Kuala Lumpur and five states, as the Southeast Asian nation’s cumulative cases grew to over 135,000 as of Sunday. Muhyiddin said interstate travel will also be barred during the two-week lockdown, but assured that five essential sectors will be allowed to continue operating under strict regulations.
11th Jan 2021 - Reuters

JPM: BioNTech hikes COVID-19 vaccine output to 2B doses in 2021—and plans a bigger label, too

With its Pfizer-partnered COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the U.S., Europe, the U.K. and a slate of other countries, German mRNA specialist BioNTech is wasting no time scaling up its 2021 pandemic ambitions—namely, 2 billion shots by year-end, plus a slate of new approvals and a temperature-stable formulation, too. BioNTech set its sights on producing 2 billion doses of its pandemic vaccine, now dubbed Comirnaty, this year, up from a previous estimate of 1.3 billion, CEO Uğur Şahin said at the virtual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. That production boost will rely on six global manufacturing sites tapped in Pfizer and BioNTech’s alliance, including a facility in Marburg, Germany, that's expected to go live by the end of February, the company said. Besides tapping that site, which will have a 75 million-dose capacity, the company plans to call on new suppliers and CMOs, Sahin said.
11th Jan 2021 - FiercePharma

Japan emergency state to expand beyond Tokyo as COVID-19 cases climb: media

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a meeting of ruling party executives on Tuesday he would declare a state of emergency for the three western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo to stem the spread of COVID-19, Kyodo news reported. Responding to pressure from Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures in eastern Japan, Suga last week declared a one-month state of emergency for that region until Feb. 7. But the number of coronavirus cases has also climbed in the west, prompting the three prefectures to seek a state of emergency too. The government is finalising plans to declare an emergency there on Wednesday, and could also consider adding the central prefectures of Aichi - home to Toyota Motor Corp - and Gifu, Kyodo reported, citing government sources.
11th Jan 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Teachers to be considered for next vaccination wave

Teachers could be next in line for the second wave of COVID-19 jabs, a member of the group advising on the vaccine rollout has suggested. Professor Adam Finn told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that while no decisions had been taken on future prioritisation of the coronavirus injections, the "critical role" played by the profession would "figure in the discussions" of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol said committee members had been instructed to come up with a plan by the middle of February to determine the priority order of who should be vaccinated against COVID-19 next.
10th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 11th Jan 2021

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Jordan approves emergency use of China’s Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine

The country hopes to start its vaccination campaign in the coming days, with around 200,000 people having registered for inoculation. China’s Sinopharm says its vaccine is 79 per cent effective
9th Jan 2021 - South China Morning Post

Biden Plans Coronavirus Vaccination Blitz After Inauguration

In a sharp break with the Trump administration, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. intends to release nearly all available doses of the coronavirus vaccine soon after he is inaugurated, rather than hold back millions of vials to guarantee second doses will be available. The decision is part of an aggressive effort to “to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible,” the Biden transition team said on Friday. The vaccination plan, to be formally unveiled next week, also will include federally run vaccination sites in places like high school gyms and sports stadiums, and mobile units to reach high-risk populations.
9th Jan 2021 - The New York Times

COVID-19: UK approves use of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine and orders 10 million more doses

The Moderna vaccine has become the third coronavirus jab to be approved for use in the UK - with an additional 10 million doses ordered. The US-based company's vaccine was shown to have 94% efficacy against COVID-19 in final trials. Seven million doses had already been ordered by the UK government with a further 10 million expected to follow - but it will likely not become available until March.
9th Jan 2021 - Sky News

UPDATE 1-French city of Marseille gets tougher curfew as new COVID-19 variant discovered

France has imposed a stricter evening curfew in Marseille after authorities said the new variant of the COVID-19 virus initially found in the UK had been discovered in the Mediterranean city. Marseille joined other French cities such as Strasbourg and Dijon in having its curfew moved forward to 6 p.m. from 8 p.m., and running through to 6 a.m. the following morning. The stricter Marseille measures will start on Sunday evening. The move came as COVID-19 related deaths and cases increased in France, which has the world's seventh-highest death toll from the coronavirus. There were 20,177 new, confirmed COVID cases in the last 24 hours and roughly 170 more deaths.
9th Jan 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

WHO-led COVAX initiative secures contracts of 2 bln doses of COVID-19 vaccines: Tedros

COVAX, an international initiative for COVID-19 vaccines led by the World Health Organization (WHO), has secured contracts of 2 billion doses of vaccines, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.
9th Jan 2021 - The Star

Greece extends some COVID lockdown curbs until Jan. 18

Health authorities reported 721 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and 49 related deaths, bringing the respective totals since the first coronavirus case was detected in February last year to 143,494 and 5,195. Greece earlier extended restrictions on international travellers arriving in Greece by two weeks.
9th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Cyprus goes into new lockdown from January 10 as COVID surges

Cyprus will introduce a new lockdown to quell rising COVID-19 infections from Jan. 10, its health minister said on Friday, the country’s second since the start of the pandemic. Retail businesses such as hairdressers, beauty parlours and large department stores will shut until Jan. 31, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told a news conference. People will be allowed to leave home just twice a day for specific reasons such as buying groceries or medicines and taking exercise, while a current curfew banning movement from 2100 to 0500 daily will remain in force.
9th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Coronavirus digest: London declares major incident over soaring cases

In Britain, London mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a major incident, warning that hospitals across the capital could struggle to cope with new infections linked to a new strain. "The stark reality is that we will run out of beds for patients in the next couple of weeks unless the spread of the virus slows down drastically," Khan said in a statement, calling for more support and action from the central UK government. "We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point." The number of patients in the capital's hospitals has grown by 27% in the last week and the number on ventilators has increased by 42%. Britain on Friday reported 1,325 news deaths from the coronavirus — its highest daily tally since the pandemic began. The last record of 1,224 was reported in April.
9th Jan 2021 - DW (English)

China to provide COVID-19 vaccines free of charge

China will provide COVID-19 vaccines free of charge once they become available to the general public, government authorities said on Saturday. National Health Commission official Zheng Zhongwei said that while manufacturing and transport of vaccines have costs, the government can provide vaccines for free to individuals.
9th Jan 2021 - Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Minister advises people to be 'cautious' even after having Covid vaccine

The coronavirus vaccine roll-out is well under way right across the UK which offers a ‘brighter futuer’ for 2021. However the UK finds itself under lockdown rules, with First Minister Mark Drakeford extending restrictions in Wales for a further three-weeks. At the Welsh Government press conference on January 8, he told the nation that the vaccine roll-out is under way and he ‘shares’ the Prime Ministers ambitions of vaccinating the top four priority groups by mid-February. However stressed this is dependant on the programme and vaccine supplies.
9th Jan 2021 - LeaderLive

Cuba to collaborate with Iran on coronavirus vaccine

Communist-run Cuba said late on Friday it had signed an accord with Iran to transfer the technology for its most advanced coronavirus vaccine candidate and carry out last-stage clinical trials of the shot in the Islamic Republic. The allies are both under fierce U.S. sanctions that exempt medicine yet often put foreign pharmaceutical companies off trading with them and as such they seek to be self-reliant. Both are also strapped for cash. Iran launched human trials of its first domestic COVID-19 vaccine candidate late last month, while Cuba has four candidates currently in human trials. Once its most advanced candidate, Soberana (Sovereign) 2, has completed Phase II trials which started on Dec. 22, it will be tested in Phase III trials in around 150,000 people in Havana, officials have said.
9th Jan 2021 - Ottawa Sun

COVID-19: Brisbane in three-day lockdown over case of new variant first identified in UK

Brisbane has entered a three-day lockdown after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel was diagnosed with the COVID-19 variant first identified in the UK. Australia's third largest city - and its surrounding areas - will also see the introduction of compulsory face masks for the first time, the Queensland state government said. Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said: "We know that that strain is 70% more infectious and we know the extreme difficulty that the UK has had in controlling their outbreak due to that strain.
8th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Jan 2021

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English health chief says people will get COVID booster shots after guidance change

The head of England’s National Health Service reassured people that they would get their second COVID vaccinations after some appointments were cancelled in order to prioritise giving out more initial doses of the shot. “People will get their second jabs (shots), whether that’s Pfizer or AstraZeneca,” said Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS), when asked by Reuters at a news conference about the change in guidance which delays second shots for most people to up to 12 weeks after the first dose. He added that the reprioritisation of shots would mean that twice as many people would be offered first doses of the vaccine over the next several weeks.
8th Jan 2021 - Reuters

British health minister defends decision to space COVID-19 vaccine doses

Britain’s move to delay the second doses of COVID-19 vaccines will help save lives as more people will be able to get some initial protection, health minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday, defending a policy shift questioned by some scientists. The abrupt change of tack on Dec. 30 meant people who had been due to receive their second vaccine doses had their appointments cancelled in favour of scheduling more initial shots for others. Some scientists expressed doubts about the decision to alter proven dosing regimes. Hancock said partial protection for more people would do more good than full protection for a select few. “The justification is really clear and straightforward, which is that it saves more lives, and ultimately, that is the public health justification,” Hancock told lawmakers.
8th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: PM sets out Covid vaccine rollout plan

PM says he has "no doubt" there is enough supply to vaccinate the first four priority groups by 15 February. NHS CEO Sir Simon Stevens says there will be a "huge acceleration" in the vaccination programme over the coming weeks. Army logistics expert Brigadier Phil Prosser says his mission is to get vaccines "in arms not on shelves." A further 1,162 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is being rolled out to hundreds of GP-run vaccination centres in England. Nearly 1.5 million people across the UK have now had their first dose, Boris Johnson says. A weekly doorstep round of applause returns at 20:00 GMT - under the new name of Clap for Heroes
7th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Spain tightens virus curbs but rules out lockdown

Spain's regions stepped up virus restrictions this week but the government remained adamant it would not impose a lockdown despite an expected post-Christmas surge in infections, a minister said Thursday. Outgoing Health Minister Salvador Illa said the situation was causing "a great deal of concern", warning there were "complicated weeks ahead and people must remain on high alert".
7th Jan 2021 - Medical Xpress

Australia's vaccine rollout will now start next month. Here's what we'll need

Australia’s COVID vaccine rollout will now begin in mid- to late February. Vaccination will commence with workers dealing with international arrivals or quarantine facilities, frontline health workers and those living in aged care or with a disability. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government “optimistically” aims to vaccinate 80,000 Australians a week, and four million by the end of March. The first vaccine doses were initially planned for March, but the rollout has now been brought forward, pending the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, anticipated by the end of January.
7th Jan 2021 - The Conversation Australia

Canada’s Quebec imposes curfew, extends lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar

Canada’s Quebec province will impose a curfew starting on Saturday and extend an existing lockdown through Feb. 8, to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as it works to speed up a vaccination campaign to counter soaring cases of COVID-19. The new curfew will run from 8 pm to 5 am, even as non-essential businesses remain shut and home gatherings are prohibited as part of a “shock treatment” to save lives and the province’s health network, Premier François Legault said on Wednesday. Schools will remain open, he said. Quebec is wrestling with more than 2,500 COVID-19 cases a day, a surge that threatens to increase hospitalizations beyond their spring peak in the next few weeks.
7th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Jan 2021

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South African medical schemes to fund COVID-19 vaccines for 30% of adults

Millions of South Africans will have their COVID-19 vaccinations subsidised by medical schemes that pool health insurance premiums through an agreement with the government, a top medical scheme administrator said. Under the arrangement, medical schemes will pay above cost for doses for their members - roughly 7 million adults over the age of 15 - subsidising procurement for another 7 million adults who are without private medical cover, Ryan Noach, chief executive of the country’s largest medical scheme administrator, Discovery Health, said. In all, vaccines for around 30% of the country’s adult population would be financed by the agreement.
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Moderna vaccine approved by EU drugs regulator

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use by the EU's drug regulator. The decision by the European Medicines Agency came on the same day as the Netherland's began administering its first doses against coronavirus. EMA executive director Emer Cooke said: "This vaccine provides us with another tool to overcome the current emergency." The decision, which must be rubber stamped by the EU's executive commission, came hours after nurse Sanna Elkadiri, 39, became the first person in the Netherlands to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
6th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Merkel ‘open’ to producing Russian coronavirus vaccine in the EU

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that she is "open to the idea" of using European manufacturing capacities to increase the production of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, a German government spokesperson said on Wednesday. News of a Merkel-Putin call on Tuesday to discuss cooperation on vaccine production was first made public by the Kremlin that same day. Speaking at a German government press briefing Wednesday, deputy spokesperson Ulrike Demmer said that Merkel had told Putin "that she is open to the idea of bilateral cooperation for the purpose of tapping European production capacities [for the Russian vaccine]." Demmer added that this would only happen if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives its approval to the Sputnik V vaccine.
6th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

COVID-19: China blocks WHO team from entering country to study coronavirus origin

The head of the World Health Organisation has said he is "very disappointed" China has denied its experts access to investigating the origins of coronavirus. A ten-strong team of international scientists and virologists had been due to set off in early January as part of a long-awaited mission to probe early cases of coronavirus, first reported over a year ago in China's Wuhan province. But Chinese officials have not yet finalised the necessary permissions for the team to enter the country, despite the WHO having been talking with Chinese officials since July.
6th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Covid-19: Johnson warns England's lockdown won't end 'with a bang'

The end of England's lockdown will not happen with a "big bang" but will instead be a "gradual unwrapping", Boris Johnson has told MPs. The prime minister made the comments in the Commons ahead of a retrospective vote later on the lockdown measures. He said the legislation runs until 31 March to allow a "controlled" easing of restrictions back into local tiers. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the government's decisions "have led us to the position we're now in". Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there were now 30,074 patients with coronavirus in UK hospitals. All of the UK is now under strict virus curbs, with Wales, Northern Ireland and most of Scotland also in lockdown.
6th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Germany toughens lockdown as it struggles to control second wave

Germany is extending its lockdown until the end of January and banning non-essential travel in those areas worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, as it battles to control an upsurge in new infections. “We are appealing to people to reduce their contacts to an absolute minimum,” Angela Merkel told reporters after a videoconference with the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states. The chancellor said infection rates were still too high and many hospitals were reaching the limits of their capacity. Germany also had to be “particularly careful” in view of the new viral variant spreading from the UK that was much more infectious than previous forms of the coronavirus, she said.
6th Jan 2021 - The Financial Times

Ministers convene to approve full lockdown starting Friday

Netanyahu and Gantz said to agree on plan to shutter schools and most businesses; both appear to blame UK virus variant for recent steep rise in cases. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz have reached an agreement on tightening the current nationwide lockdown for 10 days, shuttering schools and nonessential businesses and closing supermarkets at 7 p.m., according to Hebrew media reports Tuesday, with the aim of reversing a steep spike in infections that have passed 8,000 a day.
6th Jan 2021 - The Times of Israel

Spain’s regions tighten restrictions as Covid-19 cases surge

Valencian authorities are confining 26 municipalities, Extremadura is closing bars and restaurants in its main cities, and La Rioja will limit all social gatherings to four people. After partially loosening restrictions during the Christmas holidays, Spanish regional governments are tightening their coronavirus measures again as cases continue to soar amid what experts are already describing as a third wave of the pandemic. The decisions come as Health Ministry data on Tuesday showed a 25% rise in reported cases over the last seven days. Nine Spanish territories now have an incidence rate categorized as “extreme risk” by health authorities.
6th Jan 2021 - EL PAÍS in English

Balkans feel abandoned as vaccinations kick off in Europe

When thousands of people across the European Union began rolling up their sleeves last month to get a coronavirus vaccination shot, one corner of the continent was left behind, feeling isolated and abandoned: the Balkans. Balkan nations have struggled to get access to COVID-19 vaccines from multiple companies and programs, but most of the nations on Europe’s southeastern periphery are still waiting for their first vaccines to arrive, with no firm timeline for the start of their national inoculation drives. What is already clear is that Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia — home to some 20 million people — will lag far behind the EU’s 27 nations and Britain in efforts to reach herd immunity by quickly vaccinating a large number of their people.
6th Jan 2021 - The Associated Press

China hits city of 11 million with tight restrictions as more than 100 COVID cases discovered

Travel has been restricted to a northern Chinese city of 11 million people and schools closed as authorities moved on Wednesday to snuff out a cluster of COVID-19 cases after more than 100 infections were confirmed. Ten major highways leading into the city of Shijiazhuang, around 200 miles south of Beijing, have been closed and a bus terminus was closed in an attempt to prevent the virus spreading beyond the city in Hebei province. China's state-run Global Times newspaper said all train ticket sales from neighboring Hebei province into the capital were halted and Shijiazhuang's long-distance bus station closed as officials declared Hebei in "wartime mode" against the virus.
6th Jan 2021 - CBS News

Covid-19: New details revealed in government's vaccine distribution plan

New details have emerged in the government’s hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine distributor – including the requirement to be able to move doses through roadblocks during another lockdown. The exacting requirements for prospective distributors have emerged in a Ministry of Health procurement document obtained by Stuff. They include the ability to distribute dangerously large quantities of dry ice and transport items at ultra-cold temperatures, down to minus 70 Celsius. Interested companies are also asked about contingency plans for delivering a vaccine in another Covid-19 lockdown scenario, including whether they could handle disruptions to their networks such as roadblocks.
6th Jan 2021 - Stuff.co.nz

Swiss plan to extend COVID-19 restrictions to end of February

Switzerland plans to extend its lockdown restrictions by five weeks to the end of February, including closing all restaurants, cultural and recreational sites, the government said on Wednesday. A formal decision is due next week after consultations with cantons. Exemptions for regions less severely hit by the coronavirus have been scrapped, the government said, with a country-wide approach now entering force. The extension of the so-called lockdown-light is needed because “it is already foreseeable that the number of cases will not decrease significantly and sustainably in the coming weeks,” the government said.
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Indonesia to impose more targeted restrictions to fight COVID-19

Indonesia will impose two weeks of increased coronavirus restrictions in parts of its most populous island of Java from Jan. 11 and in the resort island of Bali, to support hospitals and reduce fatality rates, a minister said on Wednesday. The chief economic minister, Airlangga Hartarto, said some of the measures include changes to opening hours for malls and limited capacity at restaurants and places of worship.
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 6th Jan 2021

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Indonesia to start mass COVID vaccination drive on January 13

Indonesia will begin its nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme on January 13, with President Joko Widodo set to be given the first jab, made by China’s Sinovac Biotech. The mass inoculation programme will begin in the capital, Jakarta, Indonesia’s Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin announced on Tuesday, while vaccinations in other regions will follow on January 14 and 15.
6th Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Italy to enter capital of ReiThera to support COVID vaccine development

Italy will invest in local biotech company ReiThera to support the development of its COVID-19 vaccine, a senior official said on Tuesday after the government called results of a Phase 1 trial encouraging. ReiThera is developing the vaccine with Germany’s Leukocare and Belgium’s Univercells and started talks with the European Union in September about supplying the bloc with doses. An initial trial involved 45 volunteers aged between 18 and 55. None of them showed serious side effects in the 28 days after the vaccination, said Giuseppe Ippolito, scientific director of Rome’s Lazzaro Spallanzani institute which conducted the tests.
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters India

Almost 14 million people to get a Covid vaccine jab by mid-February, vows minister

Almost 14 million people could receive a Covid vaccine by the middle of February, it has been announced. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tonight that officials were hoping for all people in the top four priority groups to have received a jab in the coming weeks. And speaking afterwards, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said the NHS “family will come together” to get 13.9 million doses administered by the middle of February. In a tweet tonight, he said: "We can do this. The NHS family will come together and we will do this." Speaking from Downing Street, Mr Johnson outlined the NHS’s “realistic expectations” for the vaccination programme in the weeks ahead. He said: “By the middle of February, if things go well and with a fair wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.”
5th Jan 2021 - Wales Online

Exclusive: Teachers Could Get Covid Vaccine From Mid-February, MPs Told

Deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries suggests frontline key workers could begin getting jabs once 13m most vulnerable are inoculated. In a briefing with MPs on Tuesday, England’s deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries suggested teachers and other frontline key workers could be included in the next stage of vaccinations, which will cover the next five priority groups including over 50s and those with risky underlying health conditions. Any decision to inoculate teachers and key workers that early in the vaccination programme would mark a significant acceleration.
5th Jan 2021 - HuffPost UK

FDA says changing coronavirus vaccine dosing could put 'public health at risk'

The Food and Drug Administration won't recommend altering the dose regimens of the two coronavirus vaccines currently authorized for emergency use in the U.S. without new clinical data, the agency said late Monday. In an unusual statement, commissioner Stephen Hahn and top agency official Peter Marks warned that changing the way the vaccines are used could put "public health at risk" because those immunized may falsely think they're protected from COVID-19. The vaccines from Moderna as well as partners Pfizer and BioNTech were proven to be 95% protective against symptomatic COVID-19 after two shots given a few weeks apart. Hahn and Marks' opposition comes after the leader of the White House's Operation Warp Speed effort, Moncef Slaoui, suggested using half-doses of Moderna's vaccine, citing study results indicating the immune response generated appeared equally strong in adults 18 to 55 years of age given doses half as strong as the one authorized.
5th Jan 2021 - BioPharma Dive

The EU’s coronavirus vaccine blame game. Why so slow?

When it comes to getting people vaccinated, the EU is trailing behind the U.K., the U.S. and Israel — and a growing number of critics blames the European Commission. Over the weekend, Markus Söder, leader of Germany's Christian Social Union, and BioNTech CEO Uğur Şahin criticized the Commission for not purchasing enough of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, the first to be approved by European regulators. The Commission fired back Monday, saying it had secured more than 2 billion doses of vaccines from seven producers with member states’ participation throughout the process.
5th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Coronavirus vaccine: China slams West's 'elderly first' policy

Hu Xijin of The Global Times praised China for prioritising people aged 18 to 59 He lauded Beijing for having a 'responsible attitude' in tackling the coronavirus The state-run paper warned the West against pinning its hope on the vaccines A commentary urged the West to learn from China and adopt a national system Comes as Beijing steps up its effort in shaping the narrative about the pandemic
5th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

India says it hasn't banned the export of COVID-19 vaccines

India s government had not banned the export of any vaccines for COVID-19 the health ministry said Tuesday, days after the head of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer said it got emergency authorization to produce the shots as long as it didn't send them overseas. Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of Serum Institute of India, told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday that the company got the green light for its version of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine on the condition that it not export shots to ensure that vulnerable populations in India are protected. AstraZeneca contracted Serum Institute of India to manufacture 1 billion doses for developing nations. That vaccine and another developed by Indian company Bharat Biotech were granted licenses for emergency use by Indian regulators Sunday.
5th Jan 2021 - The Independent

New York reports first case of new coronavirus variant as U.K. orders third national lockdown

New York on Monday reported its first case of a U.K. variant of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious and has been reported in more than 30 countries. The news came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a third national lockdown for England amid a surging outbreak driven by the variant.
5th Jan 2021 - The Washington Post

England Covid lockdown likely to be in place until March, Gove warns

The third national lockdown imposed in England to try to deal with the huge increase in Covid-19 cases is likely to remain in place into March at least, with some measures lasting even longer, the government has indicated. The Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, said he hoped the gradual lifting of restrictions could begin in mid-February, but that the time it took for the vaccines to take effect meant it was likely to be at least another couple of weeks before measures could start to be eased. “We can’t predict with certainty that we’ll be able to lift restrictions the week commencing the 15 to 22 [February], what we will be doing is everything we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated so that we can begin progressively to lift restrictions,” Gove told Sky News on Tuesday.
5th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Germany set to extend hard lockdown as daily deaths mount

Germany s disease control center on Tuesday reported 944 more COVID-19 deaths, fueling expectations that Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country s 16 state governors will extend the country s lockdown until the end of the month. Germany’s latest lockdown took effect Dec. 16 after a partial shutdown starting in early November failed to reduce the number of daily new coronavirus infections. It was initially set to expire Jan. 10. Merkel's meeting with the governors on Tuesday will decide how long the lockdown should go on and to what extent schools will reopen. Another topic high on the agenda will be addressing criticism of the country's vaccination program amid frustrations over its gradual start. Vaccinations in Germany and the rest of the 27-nation European Union started over a week ago. In Germany, a nation of 83 million, nearly 265,000 vaccinations had been reported by Monday, the Robert Koch Institute said.
5th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Japan weighs state of emergency in Tokyo area as COVID cases surge

Public health experts advising Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called on Tuesday for the swift imposition of a state of emergency in the Tokyo area as daily COVID-19 cases hit a record and some citizens accused the government of dragging its feet. The government’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, said a decision would likely come on Thursday on whether to impose the second state of emergency since the start of the pandemic. Japanese media said it would take effect by Friday and last about a month. The government is anxious about the economic impact of another state of emergency as it prepares to host the Olympics in the summer.
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Level 5 restrictions: 10 other lockdown measures that could be considered as Covid cases skyrocket

Ireland is in Level 5 lockdown as countries across Europe implement tough measures in an attempt to slow the rapid spread of Covid-19. As the number of Covid cases in this country hit record levels, we take a look at further restrictions which could be brought in to contain the virus.
5th Jan 2021 - Independent.ie

Lebanon orders three-week lockdown to fight virus spread

Lebanon announced a full lockdown for three weeks, including a night curfew, to stem a rise in COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals in a country already facing financial meltdown. Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan said the lockdown would start on Thursday and run until Feb. 1, with further details on Tuesday on which sectors would be exempt. The lockdown will include a curfew from 6 pm to 5 am. “It has become clear that the pandemic challenge has reached a stage that is seriously threatening Lebanese lives as hospitals are not capable of providing beds,” Hasan told reporters after a meeting of the ministerial committee on COVID-19.
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Germany heading towards extension of hard lockdown

The German government and the country’s 16 federal states have agreed to extend a strict lockdown until Jan. 31 in an effort to bring coronavirus infections under control, Bild newspaper reported on Monday, without providing a source. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state premiers are scheduled on Tuesday to discuss a possible extension of the lockdown beyond Jan. 10. Some, including Bavaria’s premier Markus Soeder, have already spoken in favour of an extension. Speaking after the Bild report, a government source told Reuters: “All but two federal states support (a lockdown extension until) Jan. 31. However, the formal decision will be made on Tuesday.”
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

UK offers lockdown-hit firms extra $6.2 billion of help

Britain offered a 4.6 billion pound ($6.2 billion) support package for businesses on Tuesday to soften an expected recession caused by a surge in COVID-19 cases that has triggered a third national lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown on Monday, saying a highly contagious coronavirus variant risked overwhelming the health service within 21 days. Most people must work from home and schools have closed for almost all pupils. Hospitality venues must stay shut, as well as non-essential shops. Britain’s economy looks likely to tip back into recession - shrinking in the final quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 - following a record 25% fall in output in the first two months of lockdown in 2020.
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Britons ordered to stay at home as third national lockdown begins

Britain began its third COVID-19 lockdown on Tuesday with citizens under orders to stay at home and the government calling for one last major national effort to contain the virus before mass vaccinations turn the tide. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown late on Monday saying the highly contagious new coronavirus variant first identified in Britain was spreading so fast it risked overwhelming the National Health Service (NHS) within 21 days. In England alone, some 27,000 people are in hospital with COVID, a number 40 percent higher than during the first peak of infections in April. “The weeks ahead will be the hardest yet but I really do believe that we are entering the last phase of the struggle, because with every jab that goes into our arms, we are tilting the odds against COVID and in favour of the British people,” said Johnson.
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Scotland to enter another effective national lockdown

Scotland will on Monday enter another effective national lockdown, likely to last until spring, The Times newspaper reported. Scottish government leader Nicola Sturgeon said earlier her cabinet would meet on Monday to discuss possible further steps to limit the spread of the virus, and ordered Scotland’s parliament to be recalled. It is expected the reopening of schools will be pushed back beyond Jan. 18, the newspaper reported
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

UK unveils $6.2 billion in extra lockdown support

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown late on Monday saying the highly contagious new coronavirus variant first identified in Britain was spreading so fast it risked overwhelming the health service. Britain announced on Tuesday 4.6 billion pounds ($6.2 billion) in new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs.
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

WHO's Tedros 'very disappointed' China hasn't granted entry to coronavirus experts

The head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday he was "very disappointed" that China has still not authorised the entry of a team of international experts to examine the origins of the coronavirus.
5th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Italy’s 5Star Movement learns to love coronavirus vaccines

Italy, the first European country to see its hospitals overflow with coronavirus cases, is rolling out vaccines that many hope will mark the beginning of the end of the crushing pandemic. But the country faces an uphill battle to immunize its population — one of the most vaccine-skeptical in Europe — especially given that one of its ruling parties has long expressed such doubts itself. The populist 5Star Movement, which governs with the center-left Democratic Party, voiced vaccine skepticism as far back as 1998, when Beppe Grillo, the movement's founder and its former leader, questioned the use of vaccines in a televised skit in front of a live audience.
5th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Brazil scrambles to secure COVID vaccine from India

Brazil made a diplomatic push on Monday to guarantee an Indian-made shipment of British drugmaker AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, hoping to avoid export restrictions that could delay immunisations during the world’s second-deadliest outbreak. In parallel, Brazil’s private clinics struck a preliminary deal for an alternative injection made by India’s Bharat Biotech despite a lack of public results from late-stage trials.
5th Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 5th Jan 2021

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New York to fine hospitals that fail to deploy COVID-19 vaccine within a week -governor

New York state will begin fining hospitals that do not administer allotted COVID-19 vaccines within a week of receiving their supplies and will decline to provide them with further doses, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a news conference on Monday. The U.S. federal government has distributed more than 13 million vaccine doses to states and territories around the country, but only around 4 million have actually been administered, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last updated on Saturday. New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker notified hospitals of the potential actions in a letter on Sunday, Cuomo told reporters.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Covaxin: Concern over 'rushed' approval for India Covid jab

Experts have raised concerns over India's emergency approval of a locally-produced coronavirus vaccine before the completion of trials. On Sunday, Delhi approved the vaccine - known as Covaxin - as well as the global AstraZeneca Oxford jab, which is also being manufactured in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi touted the approval as a "game changer". The head of Bharat Biotech, which makes Covaxin, defended the approval process, but health experts warn it was rushed. It said that there were "intense concerns arising from the absence of the efficacy data" as well a lack of transparency that would "raise more questions than answers and likely will not reinforce faith in our scientific decision making bodies". The statement came after India's Drugs Controller General, VG Somani, insisted Covaxin was "safe and provides a robust immune response". He added the vaccines had been approved for restricted use in "public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode, to have more options for vaccinations, especially in case of infection by mutant strains".
4th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Boris Johnson warns of tougher Covid-19 restrictions for England

Boris Johnson has put England on alert for tougher Covid-19 restrictions and possible further school closures as ministers raced to deploy a vaccine ahead of a chaotic return to the classroom. The UK prime minister’s plan to reopen most primary schools in England on Monday morning was in disarray, with unions and some councils calling for them to remain closed and some schools shutting their doors unilaterally. In an attempt to regain control of the pandemic response, ministers have now deployed more than 5,000 armed forces personnel to the UK-wide pandemic effort — Britain’s biggest ever homeland operation in peacetime.
4th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

As post-holiday infections surge, Lebanon gears for lockdown

Lebanon will begin a 25-day nationwide lockdown Thursday to battle a surge in coronavirus infections during the holiday season that has challenged the country’s already battered health care sector
4th Jan 2021 - ABC News

Catalonia imposes perimetral lockdown in municipalities in bid to slow coronavirus spread

The Catalan regional government on Monday approved new restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. The new plan will see a perimetral lockdown for municipalities, preventing movement between them, as well as the closure of shopping malls and other non-essential stores. The measures will come into force on Thursday, January 7 – the day after a national holiday for Kings’ Day.
4th Jan 2021 - EL PAÍS in English

Coronavirus pandemic: Scotland to impose lockdown for rest of January

Scotland is to impose a nationwide coronavirus lockdown for the rest of January because of a surge in cases, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Monday. FRANCE 24's International Affairs Editor Philip Turle tells us more.
4th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Japan PM says government will consider state of emergency for Tokyo area

Japan said on Monday it would consider declaring a state of emergency for the Greater Tokyo metropolitan area as coronavirus cases climb, casting fresh doubt over whether it can push ahead with the Olympics and keep economic damage to a minimum.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters

UK's Johnson to outline new restrictions to slow COVID-19

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday a new national lockdown for England until at least mid-February to combat a fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus, even as Britain ramped up its vaccination program by becoming the first nation to start using the shot developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca. Johnson said people must stay at home again, as they were ordered to do so in the first wave of the pandemic in March, this time because the new virus variant was spreading in a “frustrating and alarming” way. “As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic,” he said in a televised address.
4th Jan 2021 - The Associated Press

Covid-19: New UK virus variant reaches NZ as Government introduces tougher testing rules for travellers

The mutant coronavirus strain that sent large parts of England into a “tier 4" lockdown earlier this month has reached New Zealand. There were 19 new cases of Covid-19 within New Zealand since the New Year. Of the new cases announced on Sunday, one was historical and the rest were in managed isolation. However, six cases of the mutant UK strain have also been found in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health confirmed. The six cases, five of whom travelled from the United Kingdom and one who travelled from South Africa, arrived into New Zealand between December 13 and 25.
4th Jan 2021 - Stuff.co.nz

Why Indonesia is vaccinating its working population first, not elderly

As Indonesia prepares to begin mass inoculations against COVID-19, its plan to prioritise working age adults over the elderly, aiming to reach herd immunity fast and revive the economy, will be closely watched by other countries. Several countries such as the United States and Britain that have already begun vaccinations are giving priority to elderly people who are more vulnerable to the respiratory disease. The following are experts’ views on merits and risks of the Indonesian approach, under which working age adults will be vaccinated after frontline health workers and public servants.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Austria extends lockdown for another week until Jan. 24 - APA

Austria has scrapped plans to allow anyone with a negative coronavirus test to exit lockdown a week early, effectively extending strict measures and keeping restaurants and non-essential stores shut until Jan. 24, news agency APA reported on Monday. The decision came after Austria’s opposition parties blocked a draft law that would have allowed an early exit from lockdown for anyone producing a negative test for the coronavirus, APA cited Health Minister Rudolf Anschober as saying.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 4th Jan 2021

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'Overwhelmed' Zimbabwe tightens COVID-19 restrictions, orders most businesses closed

Zimbabwe extended a nationwide curfew, banned gatherings and ordered non-essential businesses closed for a month on Saturday in an effort to curb a surge in coronavirus infections. Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also health minister, said some of the tighter restrictions were effective immediately and included a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and a ban on inter-city travel. From Tuesday, non-essential businesses would also be suspended, he said. “People must stay at home save for buying food and medicines or transporting sick relatives,” Chiwenga told a news conference.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters India

Norway imposes new restrictions to prevent new wave, says PM

Norway will impose fresh restrictions to prevent a resurgence in the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Sunday, including a nationwide ban on serving alcohol in restaurants and bars and not inviting guests home. The Nordic country has seen a rise in cases over the past month and now estimates its R number - which represents the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to - stands at 1.3. “We see more signs of a new wave of infections,” Solberg told a news conference, citing Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations and the emergence of the more contagious variant of the virus first identified in Britain among the reasons.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Germany poised to extend coronavirus lockdown

Germany is likely to extend a national lockdown beyond Jan. 10 to curb coronavirus infection rates that are still running high and putting huge strains on hospitals and health workers, politicians said at the weekend. Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders are expected to agree to extend the restrictions when they convene on Tuesday. It is not yet clear how long the extension would last. “The numbers are still too high, so we will have to prolong the restrictions,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told RTL television
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Coronavirus: Medics complain of 'bureaucracy' in bid to join Covid vaccine effort

When dentist Andy Bates offered to help administer the coronavirus vaccine, he hadn't bargained for the "overload of bureaucracy" he says came his way. Dr Bates, from North Yorkshire, is one of a number of health staff to criticise the paperwork needed to gain NHS approval to give the jabs. Some medics have been asked for proof they are trained in areas such as preventing radicalisation. The PM said the health secretary would be "taking steps" to address the issue. Asked about reports potential volunteers were being deterred by the additional training and forms about "de-radicalisation measures" and "fire drills", Mr Johnson told the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday: "I think it's absurd and I know that the health secretary is taking steps to get rid of that pointless bureaucracy."
3rd Jan 2021 - BBC News

Timeline: India's coronavirus vaccine approved by drugs experts

India’s drugs regulator on Saturday recommended for emergency use a locally developed coronavirus vaccine called COVAXIN, which is expected to be a backup to the AstraZeneca/Oxford shot. Not much is known about the safety and efficacy of COVAXIN. The company says it has submitted all data to the drugs regulator. The head of India’s drugs regulator is expected to share details about it at a news conference on Sunday, when its formal approval is likely to be announced.
3rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Tokyo to request new emergency declaration as COVID-19 cases climb - media

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will ask the central government later on Saturday to declare a state of emergency following a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, local media reported. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike will make the request in a meeting with Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who coordinates government measures to fight the pandemic, the Nikkei newspaper said, citing multiple sources. Calls by Reuters to the governor’s office were not answered.
2nd Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

India tests vaccine delivery system with nationwide trial

India tested its COVID-19 vaccine delivery system with a nationwide trial on Saturday as it prepares to roll out an inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic. The trial included data entry into an online platform for monitoring vaccine delivery, along with testing of cold storage and transportation arrangements for the vaccine, the health ministry said in a statement. The massive exercise came a day after a government-appointed panel of experts held a meeting to review the applications of potential vaccine candidates, including front-runner Covishield, developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca. India’s vaccination drive is expected to start in a few days once the country's regulator approves a vaccine.
2nd Jan 2021 - The Independent

Australia's NSW tightens restrictions as virus cluster expands

Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales on Saturday made masks compulsory and imposed new restrictions as its coronavirus cluster expanded by seven, while neighbouring Victoria recorded 10 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian banned dancing and singing at night clubs while restricting numbers at gym classes, weddings, funerals and places of worship. However, the five-day Cricket test match between Australia and India, scheduled to begin on Thursday, will go ahead with attendance at 50% capacity.
2nd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19 in Scotland: All Scots over 50 will receive vaccine by the spring

All Scots over the age of 50 will receive the coronavirus vaccine by the spring, the health secretary has promised. The first doses of the Oxford University-Astrazeneca shot will be administered from Monday. Jeane Freeman said that initially the injections would be given in a supervised setting near hospitals but would then move to GP surgeries and community hubs
31st Dec 2020 - The Times

WHO lists Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization has listed Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, a critical step that the United Nations health agency said aims to make the vaccine more readily available in developing nations. In a statement on Thursday, WHO said its validation of the vaccine – the first since the start of the pandemic – “opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine”.
31st Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine rollout plan changed following approval

Millions of people across the UK at risk from Covid will be offered a single first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, with a booster jab within three months, in a bid to return the country to some normality by the spring, the prime minister has said. Rollout of the Oxford vaccine will begin on 4 January following its approval for emergency use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA). The government hopes the vaccine, of which it has ordered 100m doses, will transform prospects in the UK and check the spread of the rampaging coronavirus variant which has caused cases to surge. Pharmacies as well as GPs will be able to give the jabs to those at risk.
30th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Questions over Britain's decision to drop two-dose vaccine regimen

Pfizer warned today there is 'no data' to show a single dose of its coronavirus vaccine provides long-term protection, after the UK scrapped its original jab rollout plan. The UK medical regulator is now recommending Covid jabs are given in two doses three months apart, rather than over the intended four-week period, to allow millions more people to be immunised over a shorter time period. But Pfizer said there was 'no data' in its studies to show its vaccine protects against Covid when taken 12 weeks apart. In a thinly-veiled swipe at the UK, the US firm warned that any 'alternative' dosing regimens should be closely monitored by health authorities. 'Data from the phase three study demonstrated that, although partial protection from the vaccine appears to begin as early as 12 days after the first dose, two doses of the vaccine are required to provide the maximum protection against the disease, a vaccine efficacy of 95 per cent,' Pfizer said in a statement. 'There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days.'
30th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

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

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22 million vulnerable people to get Covid vaccine by spring

All vulnerable Brits, including everyone over the age of 50, could receive a coronavirus vaccine by the spring, the chief executive of the NHS has said. Sir Simon Stevens said 22 million people being vaccinated so soon was a ‘fresh chink of hope’, after a grim end to the year saw hospitalisations in England surpassing April’s peak. Roughly 200,000 people are being vaccinated every week at the moment, but this is set to rise to one million by mid-January, the Daily Telegraph reports. But a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine warns this must be doubled to two million if the UK is to avoid a third wave.
29th Dec 2020 - Metro.co.uk

Ireland is in ‘dark place’ on Covid-19 and full Level 5 lockdown may be imminent, Harris says

A Government Minister has said an exponential rise in hospital admissions with Covid-19, the presence of a new coronavirus variant in Ireland, and a tripling in the number of referrals for Covid-testing strongly suggest a return to a full Level 5 lockdown is imminent. Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said that the State – like many other countries – found itself in a “dark and worrying place” in relation to Covid-19 right now. He was speaking shortly after Ministers were notified a Cabinet meeting has been hastily arranged for Wednesday afternoon, to discuss the deteriorating situation as regards the Covid-19 pandemic.
29th Dec 2020 - The Irish Times

E.U. Starts Effort to Vaccinate 450 Million

From nursing homes in France to hospitals in Poland, older Europeans and the workers who care for them rolled up their sleeves on Sunday to receive coronavirus vaccine shots in a campaign to inoculate more than 450 million people across the European Union. The inoculations offered a rare respite as the continent struggles with one of its most precarious moments since the pandemic began. Despite national lockdowns, restrictions on movement, shuttering of restaurants and cancellations of Christmas gatherings, the virus has stalked Europe into the dark winter months. The spread of a more contagious variant of the virus in Britain has raised such alarm that much of continental Europe rushed to close its borders to travelers coming from the country, effectively plunging the nation as a whole into quarantine.
29th Dec 2020 - The New York Times

Spain to Create a Register of People Who Refuse Covid-19 Vaccine

European governments are planning to track the number of people getting Covid-19 vaccines to help chart a path out of the crisis. France will have a registry of people who get vaccinated, and Spain will track people who refuse to get inoculated against the disease, which has caused more than 400,000 deaths in Europe. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is considering legislation to ensure unvaccinated people are treated fairly as the economy begins to open up. More than 21,000 people in the country have already received the shot developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
29th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

France considers third national lockdown as Covid-19 cases rise

President Emmanuel Macron meets with France’s health council on Tuesday to consider whether to reimpose lockdown restrictions for a third time amid concern over a rise in Covid-19 cases. France eased restrictions imposed during a second lockdown on December 15 but the average number of daily coronavirus cases has not fallen below a key 5,000 threshold set by the government. Although the number of new infections appeared to have fallen over the Christmas holidays – only 2,960 new coronavirus infections were reported on Monday, down from 8,822 on Sunday and 3,093 on Saturday – officials fear the figures are misleading. Many of the country’s testing facilities closed over the holidays and the drop could simply be due to fewer people getting tested.
29th Dec 2020 - FRANCE 24 English

U.K. Virus Surge Surpasses Spring Peak as Lockdown Choices Loom

Facing record case and hospital numbers and a threatening variant strain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to shut schools and reimpose national restrictions, measures he once decried.
29th Dec 2020 - New York Times

Belarus first country after Russia to start Sputnik-V vaccination

Belarus has become the first country after Russia to begin vaccination of people with Sputnik-V against Covid-19, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Tuesday. "Belarus becomes the first country in the world after Russia to start vaccination of its people against COVID-19 with #SputnikV vaccine," a tweet from the official handle of Sputnik-V stated. The Sputnik-V vaccine has been developed and produced by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.
29th Dec 2020 - Business Standard

South Africa Imposes New Virus Measures As Vaccines Roll Out

South Africa banned alcohol sales and made masks mandatory in public from Tuesday, tightening restrictions after a surge in coronavirus cases as more countries joined in mass vaccination campaigns to beat the pandemic.
29th Dec 2020 - International Business Times

Punjab govt imposes smart lockdown in Lahore's coronavirus hotspot areas

The Punjab government has imposed a smart lockdown in district Lahore, controlling the entry and exit of people in certain areas of the city identified as "coronavirus hotspots" on Tuesday. "There has been a constant increase in positivity percentage and prevalence of COVID-19 in the Province of Punjab during last two weeks which poses a serious and imminent threat to public health," read a notification from the Primary and Secondary Health Department issued today.
29th Dec 2020 - Geo News

Denmark to extend lockdown measures until Jan. 17 - TV2

Denmark's government will extend a hard lockdown for two weeks until Jan. 17 to limit the spread of COVID-19, broadcaster TV2 reported on Tuesday citing unnamed sources. The extension will keep schools,
29th Dec 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

China's capital locks down part of district in coronavirus fight

Beijing has reported 16 infections and three asymptomatic cases since Dec. 18, when the first cases were found. Most of the cases were in Shunyi, which has banned couriers from entering residential compounds. Six villages, three buildings and one industrial zone were among the areas locked down, a Beijing municipal official told a news conference. While Beijing’s new cases are modest in number compared with June and July, municipal authorities have beefed up steps to rein in the coronavirus, which has surfaced in three districts, where hundreds of thousands of residents have been tested.
29th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Britain to place more parts of country in tier 4 of COVID curbs

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has approved placing more parts of the country into tier 4 restrictions, as the country battles a new variant of COVID-19 which scientists say can spread more rapidly, The Times reported. Ministers were considering imposing the toughest measures on parts of southwest England and Cumbria, where the variant appears to be gaining ground even though cases remain relatively low, said the report.
29th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

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

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EU's Borrell accuses Russia of spreading COVID-19 disinformation to sell its vaccine

The European Union’s top diplomat said on Monday that Russian public media had spread false information on European and American COVID-19 vaccines in countries where it wants to sell its own shot against the coronavirus. “Western vaccine developers are openly mocked on multi-lingual Russian state-controlled media, which has in some cases led to absurd claims that vaccines will turn people into monkeys,” Josep Borrell said in a blog post. “Such narratives are apparently directed at countries where Russia wants to sell its own vaccine, Sputnik V,” Borrell added, noting that these moves threatened public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
28th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Philippines troops, ministers get COVID-19 vaccine before approval

Some Philippine soldiers and cabinet ministers have already received COVID-19 vaccine injections, officials said on Monday, despite an absence of regulatory approval that the country's health ministry said was vital to ensure safety.
28th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Panama to extend lockdowns in effort to curb coronavirus

Panama will extend lockdowns in two provinces, including the capital, from Jan. 4 - 14 in an effort to contain a jump in coronavirus cases in the heavily populated areas, the health minister said on Sunday. With 231,357 registered COVID-19 cases and 3,840 deaths, Panama is the Central American nation that has accumulated the highest number of infections. Under the lockdown measures, which authorities last week said would go into effect nationwide from Dec. 31 - Jan. 4, residents may only leave their homes for essential services such as medical appointments and grocery shopping, Health Minister Luis Sucre said.
28th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Teachers and key workers 'will be added to priority list when Oxford vaccine is approved' but SAGE expert warns even a million jabs a week WON'T curb Covid crisis by February

Teachers and key workers will be added to the vaccine priority list when the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab is finally approved as the government bids to accelerate its roll-out plans, reports say. With approval for the Oxford Covid vaccine set to come as early as today, ministers are believed to be planning to overhaul the current order, which currently focuses on the elderly, vulnerable and care home employees as well as NHS staff. But Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust who advises Number 10's advisory panel SAGE, warned even if Britain hits one million coronavirus vaccinations a week, it will not curb the pandemic by February.
28th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

“Believe in science:” EU kicks off COVID-19 vaccine campaign

Doctors, nurses and the elderly rolled up their sleeves across the European Union to receive the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine Sunday in a symbolic show of unity and moment of hope for a continent confronting its worst health care crisis in a century. Weeks after the U.S., Canada and Britain began inoculations with the same vaccine, the 27-nation bloc staged a coordinated rollout aimed at projecting a unified message that the shot was safe and Europe’s best chance to emerge from the pandemic. For health care workers who have been battling the virus with only masks and shields to protect themselves, the vaccines represented an emotional relief as the virus continues to kill. But it was also a public chance for them to urge Europe’s 450 million people to get the shots amid continued vaccine and virus skepticism.
27th Dec 2020 - Associated Press

100million doses of Oxford coronavirus vaccine 'to be approved this week'

The groundbreaking Oxford vaccine is expected to be approved for use within days – giving Britain a massive New Year boost in the fight against coronavirus. There is growing optimism within the Government that the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will give the green light to roll out the vaccine before the end of this week. Britain has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the drug, which has been developed by Oxford University with the help of the pharma giant AstraZeneca.
27th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

In Hungary, politicization of vaccine hangs over immunization efforts

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has spent months boasting that Hungary was working harder than other EU countries to secure vaccines against the coronavirus, even jumping the gun to start vaccinating a day earlier than other member states. That move — disregarding the European Commission's plan for a coordinated bloc-wide rollout of the jab on December 27 — will likely be seen as an attempt to undermine the EU's vaccination strategy. It comes after Orbán complained that European regulators were taking too long to approve the vaccine and claimed that Hungary would be the first country in Europe to use Russian and Chinese shots. But months later, Hungary has no Russian or Chinese vaccine and Orbán's critics say he might have undermined confidence in getting vaccinated at all.
27th Dec 2020 - POLITICO.eu

Millions face eviction, poverty as unemployment benefits expire with COVID-19 relief bill in limbo

Jo Marie Hernandez doesn’t know how she and her 4-year-old daughter will survive after her unemployment aid lapsed this weekend. Hernandez, who lives in Olean, New York, is on the brink of losing her home in days after she lost her job as a customer service associate at a gas station in the spring. Enduring prolonged unemployment, she's struggled to make ends meet and has nothing left in savings to keep her afloat. “I only have $100 left to my name. My whole world is shattered,” says Hernandez, 32, who was forced to put her car up for sale. “We can’t wait a few weeks for help. We’re starving and will be out on the street soon.”
27th Dec 2020 - USA TODAY

NY health network faces criminal investigation over COVID-19 vaccine

New York State Health officials said on Saturday they are investigating a Brooklyn-based healthcare provider on suspicion it violated state guidelines for distribution of COVID-19 vaccine. ParCare Community Health Network “may have fraudulently obtained COVID-19 vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state in violation of state guidelines and diverted it to members of the public - contrary to the state’s plan to administer it first to frontline healthcare workers, as well as nursing home residents and staffers,” state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a statement.
27th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19 pandemic will not be the last: WHO chief

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was time to learn the lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic, The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1.75 million people and nearly 80 million cases have been recorded. The coronavirus crisis will not be the last pandemic, and attempts to improve human health are "doomed" without tackling climate change and animal welfare, the World Health Organization's chief said. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also condemned the "dangerously short-sighted" cycle of throwing cash at outbreaks but doing nothing to prepare for the next one, in a video message marking Sunday's first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness.
27th Dec 2020 - Mint

Philippines eyes more COVID curbs to halt new variants

The Philippines approved measures on Saturday to slow the spread of new, more infectious coronavirus variants, as President Rodrigo Duterte warned of a second lockdown should cases spike before the country gets its first vaccines in May. Countries around the world have in recent days closed their borders to flights from Britain and South Africa, where more infectious variants have been detected. Duterte extended an existing a ban on flights from Britain by two weeks to mid-January, and said the Philippines would impose travel curbs on countries with local community transmission of the UK variant.
27th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

UK imposes more lockdowns as mutated COVID variant causes record cases

The British government said huge swathes of England would be placed under its strictest COVID-19 restrictions as a highly infectious virus variant sweeps the country, pushing the number of cases to a record level. Britain reported almost 40,000 new infections as the mutated variant of the coronavirus, which could be up to 70% more transmissible than the original, causes the number of cases and hospital admissions to soar.
27th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Israel imposing third national COVID-19 lockdown

Israel will impose a third national lockdown to fight surging COVID-19 infections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, as the country pursues a vaccination campaign. The restrictions will come into effect on Sunday evening and last for 14 days, pending final cabinet approval, a statement from Netanyahu’s office said. They include the closure of shops, limited public transport, a partial shutdown of schools and a one-kilometre (two-thirds of a mile) restriction on travel from home, except for commuting to workplaces that remain open, and to purchase essential goods. Such measures will cost Israel’s economy about three billion shekels ($932.6 million) a week, the Finance Ministry said.
27th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Turkey Signs Accord With BioNTech for Coronavirus Vaccine

Turkey signed an agreement with Pfizer Inc. partner BioNTech SE for 4.5 million of doses their coronavirus vaccine, with an option to raise it to 30 million. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Friday that an initial 550,000 doses will arrive by the year end or in early January, state news agency Anadolu reported.
26th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

U.S. will require negative COVID-19 tests for all UK passengers - CDC

The U.S. government will require all airline passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure starting Monday amid concerns about a new coronavirus variant that may be more transmissible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement on Thursday that all airline passengers arriving from the UK must test negative in order to fly to the United States. The decision was a turnaround after the Trump administration told U.S. airlines on Tuesday it was not planning to require any testing for arriving UK passengers. The CDC said an order would be signed on Friday and is effective Monday.
25th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

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

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US California hospitals discuss rationing care as virus surges

With about 98 percent of intensive care beds full, California hospitals are making contingency treatment plans. On the West Coast of the United States, California’s overwhelmed hospitals are setting up makeshift extra beds for coronavirus patients, and a handful of facilities in hard-hit Los Angeles County are drawing up emergency plans in case they have to limit how many people receive life-saving care. The number of people hospitalised across California with confirmed COVID-19 infections is more than double the state’s previous peak, reached in July, and a state model forecasts the total could hit 75,000 patients by mid-January.
22nd Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

EU regulator meets to discuss approval of COVID-19 vaccine

The European Medicines Agency is meeting to consider approving a coronavirus vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer that would be the first to be authorized for use in the European Union
21st Dec 2020 - The Independent

Latin America nations suspend flights with the U.K. due to 'Super COVID-19 strain' fears

Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru and El Salvador are among the first nations in Latin America to ban flights from the United Kingdom. The decision comes after the U.K. announced a new COVID-19 strain that is 70% more transmissible than existing strains appeared to be driving the rapid spread. U.K. flights are still being allowed into Mexico, where 118,602 people have died of coronavirus Brazil, the epicenter of the pandemic in Latin America, has not announced any measures
21st Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: More than 40 countries ban UK arrivals

More than 40 countries have banned UK arrivals because of concerns about the spread of a new variant of coronavirus. Flights from the UK are being suspended to countries across the world including Spain, India and Hong Kong. France shut its border with the UK for 48 hours, meaning no lorries or ferries can leave from the port of Dover. Boris Johnson said he spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and both sides wanted to resolve "these problems as fast as possible". The prime minister told a Downing Street press conference: "We had a very good call and we both understand each other's positions."
21st Dec 2020 - BBC News

'Help is on the way': Covid relief bill deal agreed, says Mitch McConnell

Top congressional leaders have announced agreement on a $900bn coronavirus aid package after late-night discussions on Sunday. “We can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a very long time: more help is on the way,” said Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. “Moments ago, in consultation with our committees, the four leaders of the Senate and House finalised an agreement for another major rescue package for the American people.” McConnell said lawmakers needed to “promptly finalize text” and avoid any last-minute obstacles.
21st Dec 2020 - The Guardian

300 Scientists Reveal how Boris Johnson has Locked Britain into a Cycle of Draconian Lockdowns

Without a common European public health roadmap, Britain and other European nations face the prospect of another devastating third COVID-19 wave in early 2021 necessitating a cycle of repeated lockdowns, a statement published in the top British medical journal, the Lancet, signed by 300 European scientists, has warned. The statement is authored by 20 top European public health experts working at some of the most prestigious scientific institutions across Europe on solutions to the pandemic, and continues to receive new signatories from verified scientists. It confirms that, if the UK Government had followed the scientific consensus on public health responses to the pandemic, Boris Johnson could have avoided cancelling Christmas. But the statement also warns that, without a unified continental strategy, “further waves of infection are to be expected, with consequential damage to health, society, jobs, and businesses”.
21st Dec 2020 - Byline Times

Report accuses Spain of abandoning elderly during pandemic

An Amnesty International report accuses Spanish health authorities of effectively abandoning residents of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report says people have even been denied access to hospital care. DW's Jan-Philipp Scholz reports
21st Dec 2020 - Deutsche Welle

Canada's most populous province makes clear 'hard lock down' needed to fight COVID-19

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, on Monday announced a partial shutdown of some businesses starting Dec. 26 and banned most indoor gatherings as it struggles to control a second wave of COVID-19. Essential retailers, such as those selling food, will have to impose capacity limits while many other stores will only be allowed curbside pick-ups. Indoor dining is to be banned. “Thousands of lives are at stake,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters. “If we fail to take action right now the consequences will be catastrophic.” The measures appear to fall short of the immediate four-to-six-week “hard lockdown” that Ontario’s own expert medical panel had called for earlier on Monday.
21st Dec 2020 - Reuters

S.Korea's capital to ban gatherings larger than four as coronavirus deaths rise

South Korea’s capital Seoul and surrounding areas banned gatherings of more than four people over the Christmas and New Year holidays as the country recorded its highest daily death toll from the coronavirus on Monday. The national government has resisted calls to impose a strict national lockdown but the governments of Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon city ordered unprecedented restrictions on gatherings from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3. “We cannot overcome the current crisis without reducing cluster infections that are spreading through private gatherings with families, friends and colleagues,” Seoul acting mayor Seo Jung-hyup said at a briefing.
21st Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Covid: Australian states enforce travel bans amid Sydney outbreak

Australian states and territories have begun enforcing entry bans on Sydney residents amid a growing coronavirus outbreak in the nation's largest city. The border closures outside New South Wales (NSW) have dashed Christmas plans and family reunions for many people. Airlines cancelled several flights leaving Sydney Airport on Monday, following a midnight deadline. The city has recorded 83 cases so far in this outbreak, all linked to Sydney's Northern Beaches region. Speaking from Canberra on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "2020 is not done with us yet."
21st Dec 2020 - BBC News

New virus strain not out of control, says WHO as more nations ban UK travel

Roughly 30 countries have shut their borders to people coming from the UK or South Africa, where another variant has emerged. British PM Boris Johnson hopes to see border issues with France sorted out ‘within hours’ amid food shortage fears.
21st Dec 2020 - South China Morning Post

Britain faces isolation as world tightens borders to keep out new coronavirus strain

Countries across the globe shut their borders to Britain on Monday due to fears about a highly infectious new coronavirus strain, causing travel chaos and raising the prospect of food shortages days before Britain is set to leave the European Union. India, Pakistan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Jordan and Hong Kong suspended travel for Britons after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a mutated variant of the virus had been identified in the country. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman closed their borders completely. Several other nations blocked travel from Britain over the weekend, including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Canada - although experts said the strain may already be circulating in countries with less advanced detection methods than the United Kingdom.
21st Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

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

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European states ban travel from UK as new Covid strain takes hold

European countries have banned flights and ferries carrying passengers from the UK in a desperate attempt to suppress the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus that has plunged south-east England into a tier 4 lockdown. In the most dramatic development, France announced it was suspending passenger and human-handled freight transport from the UK for 48 hours from 11pm GMT. The Road Haulage Association warned the move would have a “devastating effect” on supply chains already disrupted by Brexit stockpiling and pandemic restrictions. The UK government said it expected “significant disruption in Kent” as a result of the French move and was “urging everybody – including all hauliers” to avoid travelling to ports in the county until further notice.
20th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Congress agrees to a Covid stimulus deal. Here’s who’s likely eligible for a $600 check and when you’ll get it

After months of failed negotiations, lawmakers have finally agreed to a new $900 billion coronavirus relief package. Congressional leaders have not yet released text of the more than $2 trillion legislation — which will include broader government spending measures — but the pandemic recovery bill was set to include direct payments of up to $600 to eligible adults, plus $600 per child dependent. While the adult benefit would be half the size of the first stimulus check, the amount earmarked for qualifying dependents was raised by $100.
20th Dec 2020 - CNBC

Italy has patient with new COVID strain, nations ban UK flights

Italy has found a patient with the new coronavirus strain, that was also found, in Britain, the health ministry announced on Sunday. Italy has found a patient with the new coronavirus strain, that was also found, in Britain, the health ministry announced on Sunday. Several European countries and others, such as Kuwait, have banned flights to and from the United Kingdom, in hopes of blocking the new strain which is sweeping across southern England from establishing a strong foothold on the continent.
20th Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

FDA authorizes Moderna coronavirus vaccine for emergency use across the US

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized a vaccine developed by Moderna and federal researchers, the second Covid-19 vaccine to receive such approval for emergency use across the US. The vaccine’s emergency authorization brings the second drug to prevent Covid-19 to the American public within a week, and millions of doses are expected to begin immediate distribution to health workers and long-term care residents. Moderna’s vaccine is 94% effective at preventing Covid-19, and is authorized in adults 18 and older. The authorization comes after it was recommended by an FDA advisory panel of independent experts.
19th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Pfizer/Biontech COVID-19 vaccine wins Swiss regulatory approval

Switzerland will start getting doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and partner BioNTech within days after its drugs regulator authorised use of the jabs in what officials called the world’s first approval under a standard procedure. Two months after receiving the application, Swissmedic allowed the vaccine for people aged 16 and older after a rolling review of documents being submitted. That cleared the way for an initial delivery of just over 100,000 doses, which the army will put into deep-freeze storage and send to cantons to start inoculations of vulnerable people, including the elderly and those with medical conditions.
19th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19: 'Constructive' North-South meeting on Covid-19

Discussions at Friday's North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meeting have been "constructive", Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin has said. Writing after the meeting, Mr Martin said the response to Covid-19 had been "high on the agenda", along with "the implications of Brexit". The meeting between representatives from both sides of the border was held virtually. The first and deputy first ministers took part in the meeting. They were joined by Irish government leaders. The NSMC is the main body for cross-border co-operation between the governments of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
19th Dec 2020 - BBC News

Tier 4 rules for London as Christmas cancelled by stay at home lockdown

Christmas bubbles have been axed for London and many surrounding areas as they were slammed into Tier 4 as a new fast-spreading variant of Covid-19 was blamed for a surge in cases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively cancelled Christmas gatherings for millions of families in London and the wider South East on Saturday as he sought to contain the spread of the mutant virus. The Christmas relaxation for the rest of the country was dramatically scaled back to three households being able to meet on Christmas Day alone rather than for five days in England.
19th Dec 2020 - Evening Standard

Virus surge causes Christmas lockdown in Germany | World

My five-year-old German nephew, Finn Gustav, was devastated last week to hear the news of a Christmas lockdown. There will be no markets to sample marzipan sweets and stollen. No merry-go-rounds or Ferris wheels. He lives in the central city of Weimar, home of the country’s enlightenment, but even the ice-skating rink set up every year in the main square around the bronze statues of Goethe and Schiller will be missing. “Alles wegen dem doofen corona” – “all because of that stupid coronavirus,” he says...
19th Dec 2020 - The Times

Switzerland adopts 'lockdown light', urges people to stay home

Switzerland headed for a second lockdown on Friday as the government ordered restaurants and sports and recreation centres closed for a month from Tuesday and urged people to stay home. Backing away from its “middle path” approach that had aimed to avoid business-crippling consequences, the government conceded immediate, strong action was vital to curb stubbornly high coronavirus infection rates that had prompted calls from scientists and medical professionals for tighter measures.
19th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

COVID-19: Moderna coronavirus vaccine approved for emergency use in the US

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine has become the second to be approved for emergency use in the US. The country's Food and Drug Administration announced the authorisation a day after the agency's panel of outside experts backed the vaccine. The FDA based its decision on results from a late-stage study of 30,000 volunteers which found that the vaccine was nearly 95% effective at preventing illness from COVID-19. The study also said there were no serious safety concerns resulting from the vaccine's use, although possible side effects include sore arms, fever, fatigue and muscle aches.
19th Dec 2020 - Sky News

Austria readies extra 1 bln euro aid for lockdown-hit business

Austria expects to pay out an extra nearly 1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) in support for companies hit by a new lockdown that the government imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said on Saturday. Austria will go into its third lockdown after Christmas and lift it earlier for people who get tested, the government said on Friday. The new lockdown comes 11 days after a second lockdown ended. Bluemel said companies in November and December had made more than 120,000 requests worth 2.2 billion euros in compensation for revenue lost as a result of the clampdown, of which around 1.8 billion euros had already been paid out.
19th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Breastfeeding mothers will not be offered Covid vaccine, say regulators

Women’s rights and breastfeeding organisations are challenging government and NHS guidance that the groups say forces mothers to choose between feeding their infants in the way that they choose and protecting themselves from Covid by being vaccinated. The NHS website advises lactating mothers to wait until they have stopped breastfeeding before having the Covid-19 vaccine. It adds: “There’s no evidence it’s unsafe if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. But more evidence is needed before you can be offered the vaccine.” The UK government website repeats the advice, saying it was “precautionary until additional evidence is available to support the use of this vaccine in pregnancy and breastfeeding”. There have been no trials of Covid vaccines on breastfeeding women.
19th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Oxford Covid-19 vaccine 'will be approved before new year'

The Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be approved before the new year with vaccination to begin from the second week in January, the Telegraph reports.
18th Dec 2020 - The Scotsman

Sweden bumps up COVID-19 measures, but stops short of lockdown as cases soar

Sweden has introduced its toughest measures yet in the face of soaring COVID-19 infections, including a recommendation to wear masks at peak hours on public transport. But the Government stopped short of ordering a general lockdown of society. Unlike many other European countries, Sweden has resisted imposing lockdowns, relying on voluntary measures focused on social distancing and good hygiene. It has left most schools, businesses and restaurants open throughout the pandemic. However, a severe second wave of infections, with record numbers of new cases almost every week for the past two months, has prompted the Government to do more.
18th Dec 2020 - ABC News

WA brings back hard border with NSW

Western Australia is reinstating its hard border with NSW as of midnight tonight in response to the growing COVID-19 cluster on Sydney's Northern Beaches. Premier Mark McGowan said NSW had moved to a "medium risk" state. After midnight tonight, arrivals from NSW without a legitimate exemption could well be turned back at the border or the airport, Mr McGowan said.
18th Dec 2020 - 9News

Wales to enter national lockdown from midnight, with rules relaxed on Christmas Day only

Wales will enter a national lockdown from midnight on Saturday, with festive bubbles cancelled for all but Christmas Day. Mark Drakeford, the first minister, announced the “stay at home” rules after hosting an emergency cabinet meeting amid concerns over a new strain of coronavirus, which he said is present “throughout Wales”. He detailed how the pattern of transmission in London and the southeast of England, which has been linked to the new variant, is “remarkably consistent with the rapid acceleration of transmission in Wales” and the high case rates seen in recent weeks.
18th Dec 2020 - The Independent

Nearly all of California under stay at home order as FDA authorizes second vaccine

Nearly all of California is under regional stay-at-home orders triggered by alarmingly low capacity in intensive care units. Statewide, a sliver of those critical beds were available: 2.1 percent. The news came as a second coronavirus vaccine received emergency authorization Friday, an unprecedented scientific feat that gives the United States two powerful tools to fight a pandemic that emerged almost exactly a year ago.
18th Dec 2020 - The Washington Post

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

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Iceland’s Herd Immunity Plan Likely Impacted by Vaccine Delay

Iceland’s plan to achieve herd immunity already by the end of March will likely be impacted by production delays at Covid-19 vaccine supplier Pfizer, the country’s chief epidemiologist warned Thursday. Earlier this month, the Health Ministry said it wanted to vaccinate 75% of Icelanders born in 2005 or earlier by the end of the first quarter. But according to Thorolfiur Gudnason, that target won’t be achieved until the end of next year. “We finally have a clear picture of the vaccine shipment from Pfizer,” Gudnason said. “Because of the producers’ shortage of raw materials, the production will be delayed, so it is clear we will get less than we anticipated,” he said during a briefing in Reykjavik.
17th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine set for roll-out in Germany this month

Germany is set to begin administering the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on 27 December, according to Reuters. The Berlin city government disclosed that priority for the vaccine will first be given to elderly individuals living in care homes.
17th Dec 2020 - PMLiVE

Commission closing in on deal for up to 200M doses of Novavax coronavirus vaccine

The Commission completed exploratory talks for coronavirus vaccines with Novavax, the Commission announced Thursday. The deal would secure 100 million doses of the U.S.-made vaccine, with the option of purchasing an additional 100 million doses. It would be the seventh deal struck by the Commission with drugmakers. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also announced Thursday that EU countries will begin vaccinating between December 27 and 29.
17th Dec 2020 - POLITICO

You can’t sue Pfizer or Moderna if you have severe Covid vaccine side effects. The government likely won't compensate you for damages either

Under the PREP Act, companies like Pfizer and Moderna have total immunity from liability if something unintentionally goes wrong with their vaccines. A little-known government program provides benefits to people who can prove they suffered serious injury from a vaccine. That program rarely pays, covering just 29 claims over the last decade.
17th Dec 2020 - CNBC

Uruguay to close its borders over holidays due to COVID-19

Uruguay will temporarily close its borders next week to non-commercial traffic, and urged citizens to limit holiday gatherings due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Borders will be closed from Dec. 21 to Jan. 10, except for cargo transportation, the government said late on Wednesday. Uruguay’s lockdown measures largely held the virus at bay during the first months of the pandemic. “The second wave to hit the world is our first wave,” President Luis Lacalle Pou said in an evening televised event. “We cannot compromise what has been achieved so far,” said Rafael Radi, coordinator of the government’s COVID-19 advisory group. He said the hardest hit areas are the capital Montevideo and surrounding areas.
17th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Greece tightens COVID-19 curbs in west Athens boroughs

Lockdown restrictions will tighten in parts of western Athens from Friday to contain a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, authorities said. Greece has seen a rapid rise in infections since October, forcing it to impose a second nationwide lockdown. But, despite those curbs, infections have shown no sign of abating in three western boroughs of Athens, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said in a televised briefing. In those areas, a curfew will be extended by four hours and run from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time from Friday, Hardalias said. Bookstores, hair salons and some of the few retailers that Greece allowed to re-open on Monday will also close for a week.
17th Dec 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Northern Ireland could be heading for a six week lockdown

The Executive has agreed to go into a six week lockdown that will begin on Boxing Day. Ministers met on Thursday amid growing concern about the rise of coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland. The Health minister said the restrictions will come into effect from midnight on Christmas Day, taking effect on the 26th. Robin Swann said: "The Executive has probably taken its hardest decision, its most deep decision, in regards to how we have had to combat Covid-19 collectively. "We will be looking to a six week lock down where the message will be work from home, stay at home."
17th Dec 2020 - ITV News

Italy Weighs Holiday Lockdown That Would Dash Hopes for Christmas Respite

Italy's government is debating a lockdown over the holiday period, something it promised Italians it would do its best to avoid. Some ministers are pushing for the closure of stores, restaurants and bars for a few days around Christmas and again over New Year, as well as tight restrictions on nonessential movement. Some in the government want to preserve freedom of movement for people who want to visit their close relatives. A decision could come as early as today. Italy has struggled to suppress its recent surge of coronavirus cases, despite imposing an array of social-distancing measures last month. Infections and deaths have peaked but are declining only slowly. Italy recorded around 17,500 new infections on Wednesday and 680 deaths.
17th Dec 2020 - Wall Street Journal

Spain ready to implement tougher measures as 'Christmas clock' is ticking

With the virus not going away ahead of the Christmas season, the Spanish government is ready to implement tougher measures, Spain’s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told parliament on Wednesday, EFE reports. The epidemiologic situation in Spain was kept relatively under control for a few weeks, but the latest reports are no bearers of good news: the incidence rate of the COVID-19 pandemic has risen for the fourth day in a row. There is a “worrying increase in infections,” Sánchez said in a speech before parliament (Congreso de los Diputados), where he informed MPs about the current health situation. “We cannot relax. We cannot lower our guard… We have fought hard this year, united, and we are facing the last effort”, Sánchez stressed.
17th Dec 2020 - EURACTIV

French President Macron Tests Positive for Covid-19

French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said Thursday, delivering a blow to a country that has been among Europe’s hardest hit by the pandemic. The 42-year-old was tested after showing symptoms of Covid-19, the Élysée Palace said, adding that he would isolate for seven days while continuing to work. Mr. Macron has a fever, a cough and is tired, a spokesman for the Elysée Palace said. Mr. Macron’s test result immediately rippled across Europe, affecting the activities of a number of leaders who have recently been in contact with him. The Élysée Palace said he received his test results on Thursday, but didn’t specify when the test was administered
17th Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

New Zealand economy bounces back with record growth as pandemic contained

New Zealand's economy grew a record 14% in the third quarter, bouncing back from a COVID-19 lockdown earlier in the year that shut businesses and brought activity to a standstill, official data showed on Thursday. Annual gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.4%, Statistics New Zealand said, with both figures beating expectations in a Reuters poll for quarterly growth of 13.5% and an annual contraction of 1.3%. The GDP numbers also topped the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's November forecast of quarterly and annual growth of 13.4% and minus 1.3% respectively.
17th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Germany to roll out BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 27

Germany will roll out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 on Dec. 27, with priority given to the elderly in care homes, Berlin city government said on Wednesday. The announcement came as Germany registered its highest daily death toll from COVID-19 and as it entered a strict lockdown in an attempt to bring down soaring infections. As a member of the European Union Germany must wait for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to approve the vaccine. It is expected to make an announcement on Dec. 21. A senior EU official said on Wednesday the bloc could give its final approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 23
17th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Denmark will shut down completely during Christmas, New Year - PM

Denmark will impose a hard lockdown over Christmas and the New Year to limit the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Wednesday. Shopping malls will close starting Thursday, and other stores, with the exception of supermarkets and food shops, will close from Dec. 25. Students still in school will be sent home as of Monday.
17th Dec 2020 - Reuters

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

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Biden to get COVID-19 vaccine next week, Pence to receive it Friday

President-elect Joe Biden will get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as next week, transition officials said on Wednesday, as U.S. authorities try to build public confidence in a measure that promises to stanch the deadly pandemic. Vice President Mike Pence will get the vaccine on Friday, the White House said. Both men will receive the shot publicly in an effort to boost confidence in the safety of the vaccine, which will become widely available to the public next year. “I don’t want to get ahead of the line but I want to make sure that we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take,” Biden said at an event earlier on Wednesday. Biden, 78, is in a high-risk category for the coronavirus because of his age.
17th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

EU could give final approval for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 23

The European Union could give final approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as early as Dec. 23, a senior Commission official said on Wednesday, only two days after a possible green light from the bloc’s regulator. Under EU rules, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommends the approval of new medicines and vaccines, but the final decision to allow them onto the market is made by the EU executive Commission after consultation with EU governments. The EMA said on Tuesday it could issue a recommendation on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 21..
16th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Indonesia pledges free COVID-19 vaccines, with president first in line

Indonesia will provide free coronavirus vaccines to its citizens when the world’s fourth most populous nation starts its inoculation programme, President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday, adding he would get the first shot to reassure people on safety.
16th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Wales imposes fresh Covid lockdown rules from Christmas Eve

Fresh lockdown measures are to be imposed in Wales beginning on Christmas Eve, while the law will be changed to limit Christmas mixing to two households, the first minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced. Amid surging cases, all non-essential shops, plus leisure and fitness centres and close-contact services, will shut at the end of trading on Thursday 24 December. Hospitality premises, including pubs and restaurants, will close from 6pm on Christmas Day. On 28 December, tighter restrictions for household mixing, staying at home, holiday accommodation and travel will apply. This new set of “level 4” restrictions will apply to the whole of Wales.
16th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Germany faces hard lockdown until Easter as deaths spiral

Germany’s Covid-19 death toll has risen by nearly 1,000 in a single day, leading to speculation that its lockdown could last until Easter. One of the country’s regional chief ministers has warned that the hospital system is for the first time “seriously on the brink of overload” as the infection rate continues to mount and spare intensive care capacity dwindles. This morning the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which compiles the government’s coronavirus statistics, reported 952 deaths within the previous 24 hours, well above the previous single-day record of 590, which was set on Friday.
16th Dec 2020 - The Times

'Lock down,' says Italy adviser, as deaths head for wartime levels

An adviser to Italy’s health ministry has called for coronavirus restrictions to be drastically tightened to avoid a “national tragedy” after the national statistics bureau ISTAT said deaths this year would be the highest since World War Two. “We are in a war situation, people don’t realise it but the last time we had this many deaths, bombs were dropping on our cities during the war,” public health professor Walter Ricciardi told the television channel la7 on Tuesday evening. Ricciardi, the adviser to Health Minister Roberto Speranza, said the government, which is considering tightening restrictions over the Christmas and New Year holidays, should lock down the main cities completely.
16th Dec 2020 - Reuters

New Zealand Says Harsh Lockdown Paying Off as Economy Rebounds

New Zealand’s government said the fiscal and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be less severe than first feared as its decision to impose one of the world’s strictest lockdowns pays off. Economic growth will recover more rapidly while budget deficits and net debt will be much lower than expected just three months ago, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said Wednesday in Wellington when presenting the half-year fiscal and economic update. Unemployment will now peak at 6.9% at the end of next year rather than the 7.8% predicted in September
16th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

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Britain to spend $5 billion on vaccines and bear liability, watchdog says

Britain has agreed to spend 3.7 billion pounds ($4.93 billion) on COVID-19 vaccines and in most cases will bear the liability if claims are made against the pharmaceutical firms involved, the National Audit Office (NAO) said on Wednesday. The government has agreed supply deals for 357 million doses of seven different candidate shots, but has not gone into detail about how much it has spent or indemnity agreements, citing commercial confidentiality around the contracts. The NAO said the business ministry had signed firm deals for five of the candidates, including the Pfizer/BioNTech shot which has already been approved and is being rolled out, as well as those developed by Oxford/AstraZeneca, France’s Valneva, Novavax and Moderna. Britain also has deals in principle for Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline’s shot as well as Johnson & Johnson’s candidate.
16th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

COVID-19 vaccine costs could reach £12bn, as drug companies demand immunity from potential legal cases

Up to 267 million doses of COVID vaccines were purchased by the government at a cost of £2.9 billion, according to the public spending watchdog. And the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the total cost of buying and deploying vaccines - and investing in global access schemes - could reach £11.7bn.
16th Dec 2020 - Sky News

Peru says negotiations to secure Sinopharm vaccine 'well advanced'

Negotiations between Peru and China’s Sinopharm to purchase COVID-19 vaccines are “well advanced,” the government said on Tuesday, as the hard-hit Andean nation scrambles to lock down supplies to combat the virus. The announcement comes just days after local authorities temporarily suspended a 12,000 participant trial for the Chinese firm´s vaccine after a volunteer fell ill. The case is still under investigation. “The negotiations with ... Sinopharm are well advanced, with {only} minor details to be verified,” Peruvian Foreign Minister Elizabeth Astete told a legislative commission.
16th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Lebanon to get first batch of COVID-19 vaccines in two months, minister says

Lebanon is expected to sign a deal this week for supplies of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine and is set to receive the first batch eight weeks after that, the caretaker health minister said. A surge in infections is straining Lebanon’s healthcare system which has been struggling amid a financial crisis and after a huge port explosion in August smashed up hospitals in Beirut. Despite the nation’s dire shortage of foreign exchange, the government expects to sign the $18 million deal for supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told Reuters
15th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Supreme Court continues to block state COVID-19 restrictions on religious gatherings

The Supreme Court continued its solicitude toward religious freedom in the face of a pandemic Tuesday by giving religious leaders in New Jersey and Colorado another chance to block strict limits on houses of worship. The action followed similar ones affecting religious institutions in New York and California. In all four cases, the high court indicated that states may not impose stricter standards on churches, synagogues and mosques than they do on most commercial establishments.
15th Dec 2020 - USA Today

Sweden’s Second Wave Offers Hard Reality Check

Every country has at one point dared to believe they’ve figured out how to beat SARS-CoV-2, until reality sets in. The U.K.’s misguided flirtation with a hands-off “herd immunity” strategy in March led quickly to a U-turn and tough restrictions. France and Spain promised they’d never repeat the draconian lockdowns they imposed early on — only to break their vow when test-and-trace systems failed to keep pace with summer vacation contagion. Israelis, who after a first lockdown were told to enjoy life and “have a beer,” are now facing a third one. Donald Trump recently claimed he’d ended the pandemic (he hadn’t).
15th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus pandemic: France imposes 8pm curfew after lifting lockdown

As Europe's surge eases off slightly, France is planning to lift a six-week lockdown from Tuesday but impose a curfew from 8pm, including on New Year's Eve.
15th Dec 2020 - FRANCE 24

Netherlands set for five-week coronavirus lockdown with schools, shops and gyms closing until mid January

The Netherlands is set to enter a tough second lockdown for at least five weeks, the country's prime minister has announced. The tough new nationwide measures mean schools, non-essential shops, museums and gyms will close at midnight until January 19. In a rare televised address, Mark Rutte told the nation: "We have to bite through this very sour apple before things get better.” As he spoke from his office in The Hague, protesters could be heard blowing whistles outside. "The reality is that this is is not an innocent flu as some people - like the demonstrators outside - think," he said. "But a virus that can hit everybody hard.”
15th Dec 2020 - London Evening Standard

Covid-19: New Zealand and Australia agree on quarantine-free travel bubble

New Zealand has agreed to a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia "in principle". The country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said trips under the agreement could begin early next year. However, the much-anticipated deal will depend on the Covid-19 situation in both counties remaining as it is now.
15th Dec 2020 - BBC News

Prepare for a short lockdown while on holiday, pack a 'Covid kit', Government warns

Holidaymakers in New Zealand are being asked to pack a “Covid kit” and stay put at their campgrounds if Covid-19 emerges during the summer break. The Government has assembled a Covid-19 resurgence plan aimed at giving the country an unrestricted holiday, as Britons arrange “Christmas bubbles”, the Netherlands and Germany enter lockdowns, and the pandemic death toll in the United States eclipses 300,000 people. The resurgence plan largely resembles the existing response, with loosely mapped out summer scenarios providing some guide to travellers about how to respond to Covid-19 cases. Holidaymakers may be asked to return home if an alert level change occurs, and events may be cancelled.
15th Dec 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

South Africa tightens restrictions further as COVID-19 infections rise

South Africa imposed further COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, closing down beaches on the eastern coast and limiting large public gatherings ahead of the festive season, as the country looks to slow a sharp rise in infections. South Africa, which has recorded 866,127 total coronavirus cases, has seen a sharp spike in infections since the start of December with reported cases hovering around 8,000 per day in last few days, from around 3,000 in November. The country’s reported daily cases in the first wave peaked at around 14,000 in July.
15th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Covid safety advice at Christmas ‘set to be significantly strengthened’

Guidance from the Government about how to safely celebrate Christmas across the UK is expected to be strengthened, it has been reported. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove held talks with leaders of the four devolved nations on Tuesday night about the plans to ease coronavirus restrictions over a four day period for Christmas. And following the discussions the Government’s advice on how to safely celebrate over the festive period will be “significantly strengthened” in the coming days, reports BBC News. However, the broadcaster added that plans to allow up to three households to form a bubble from December 23 to 27 is not expected to change.
15th Dec 2020 - Evening Standard

Singapore announces plans to allow entry to business travellers from all countries

Singapore is set to launch a new segregated travel lane for business travellers on short-term stays, Chan Chun Sing, the country's Minister for Trade and Industry announced on Tuesday via a post on his verified Facebook account. The special travel lane, called the Connect@Singapore initiative, "will be open to a limited number of business, official, and high economic value travelers from all countries who are coming to Singapore for short-term stays of up to 14 days," Chan said. The applications for this initiative will open in mid-January of 2021.
15th Dec 2020 - CTV News

Ex-FDA chief Gottlieb pushes for antibody manufacturing scale up as 2021 pandemic 'insurance policy'

Even as COVID-19 vaccines start to creep across the regulatory finish line, supplies will be limited for months at least. Meanwhile, antibody drugs, hailed as a crucial stopgap treatment since the pandemic's early days, are scarce, thanks to federal manufacturing missteps earlier this year. But the U.S. government has the power to ratchet up production of COVID-19 antibody therapies—a move it should pursue if it hopes to snare an “insurance policy” against the pandemic in 2021, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., wrote in The Wall Street Journal. The two antibodies sporting an emergency nod in the U.S.—Regeneron’s cocktail REGN-COV2 and Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab—aren’t that difficult to make, but supplies are tight because the government failed to lock down sufficient manufacturing space in the spring, Gottlieb said.
15th Dec 2020 - FiercePharma

Tourists in Turkey can roam freely, but locals are in lockdown

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. But when in Turkey, do whatever you please — but only if you are a tourist. According to some latest news reports, just like many other countries, Turkey has also been witnessing a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, and to bring things under control, the country’s capital Istanbul instituted a lockdown, which is in force on weekends only — between 9.00 pm on Fridays and 5.00 am on Mondays. But, this lockdown does not apply to international tourists — it is for local residents only. According to a New York Times report, most museums stayed open for visitors, and hotel restaurants were allowed to remain open, but only for guests. In fact, the lockdown was monitored by police, who checked IDs to make sure locals stayed home. Anyone found flouting the norm was fined.
15th Dec 2020 - Indian Express

Netherlands and Czech Republic to enforce strict Christmas lockdowns

The Netherlands and the Czech Republic have said they will follow Germany into strict second lockdowns over the holiday period, with Italy weighing similar measures to avoid a fresh surge in coronavirus infections over Christmas and new year. In a rare television address, the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, said non-essential shops and businesses, gyms, museums, cinemas and theatres would close for five weeks after the country’s seven-day new case average rose by more than 40% in the past week. Bars and restaurants in the Netherlands have been closed since mid-October but the partial lockdown has not slowed the spread of the virus enough, Rutte said, as anti-lockdown protesters booed and whistled outside his office.
14th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

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Health Minister Vaughan Gething refuses to rule out lockdown in Wales before Christmas

The health minister has refused to rule out introducing tougher restrictions before Christmas in the wake of rising coronavirus cases across Wales. Vaughan Gething said in his press conference on Monday afternoon that "every option was still available" to the Welsh Government and that discussions had taken place with partners to set out the best course of action. The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus passed the 100,000 mark over the weekend in Wales, and there are now more than 2,000 people with confirmed or suspected cases of the virus in our hospitals. When asked about whether there was still a chance restrictions could be tightened further before Christmas, Mr Gething said: "Every option is still available to us. I have had a meeting with local stakeholders across Wales about a range of challenges in different regions. Ministers in Cabinet will also meet today in our new virtual form.
14th Dec 2020 - Wales Online

London set to move to Tier 3 of lockdown restrictions

London is being moved into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions, after a surge in cases across the city.
14th Dec 2020 - Yahoo News UK

Nicola Sturgeon 'must rethink' Christmas lockdown rules

An SNP politician has urged Nicola Sturgeon to rethink the planned relaxation of lockdown rules over Christmas. Scots will be able to form a festive "bubble" with a maximum of three households over a five day period from December 23, meaning they can meet up indoors if social distancing rules are followed. But rising infection rates in other parts of the UK - with London on the brink of tighter lockdown - has led to some questioning whether now is the time to relax lockdown restrictions. The First Minister today insisted the Christmas guidance published earlier this month remains in place but urged Scots to be cautious if they do plan to meet with others.
14th Dec 2020 - Daily Record

Italy considers new COVID-19 restrictions for the holidays

Italy is considering more stringent nationwide coronavirus restrictions during the Christmas holidays, the health minister said on Monday, after scenes of big gatherings in many cities over the weekend raised worries of a new spike in infections. Italy, the first Western country hit by the pandemic, on Saturday passed Britain as the European nation with the worst official death toll, with more than 65,000 dying since the start of the outbreak in February. With pressure on hospitals easing and daily cases falling, the government relaxed some restrictions put in place last month. But scenes of crowded shopping districts in cities such as Milan and Rome have caused concern. Police were forced to close off popular sites such as Rome’s Trevi fountain due to large crowds.
14th Dec 2020 - Reuters

South Korea orders schools to shut as COVID-19 cases spike

South Korea ordered schools to close from Tuesday in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas as it battles its worst outbreak of novel coronavirus since the pandemic began, surpassing the previous peak in February. Schools in the capital region would move classes online until the end of the month, in the latest ratcheting up of social distancing measures which so far have failed to reverse the spike in infections. The school closure is a step towards the imposition of Phase 3 social distancing rules, a move that would essentially lock down Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
14th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Germany to close shops and schools in Covid Christmas lockdown

Germany will close most shops from Wednesday until 10 January and ban the sale of fireworks for New Year’s Eve, after Angela Merkel and state leaders agreed to impose a national lockdown in order to regain control of rising coronavirus infection rates before a “very difficult Christmas”. Non-essential shops, excluding food retailers, pharmacies and banks but including hairdressing salons and beauty parlours, will have to close their doors from 16 December. Schools and nurseries will also be required to offer only emergency care for essential workers for the last three days before the start of the scheduled Christmas holidays, with parents asked to look after their children at home “whenever possible”.
14th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Japan, South Korea fret as surging coronavirus undermines leaders' support

Japan and South Korea grappled with surging coronavirus cases and growing public frustration on Monday, with Japan suspending a contentious travel subsidy programme and South Korea closing some schools and considering its toughest curbs yet. Japan reported more than 3,000 new cases on Saturday, yet another record as winter set in, with infections worsening in Tokyo, the northern island of Hokkaido and the city of Osaka. But Japan, with a focus on the economic costs, has steered clear of tough lockdowns. It tackled its first wave of infections in the spring by asking people to refrain from going out and for businesses to close or curtail operating hours.
14th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Lithuania orders tougher lockdown, to last until January 3

Lithuania told citizens to stay at home for three weeks from Wednesday as it seeks to rein in a raging coronavirus spread that has seen the country jump from 18th to third worst-hit in the European Union in just six weeks. Leaving home will be permitted only for work, essential shopping, caring for the sick, funerals and for people to take walks in single household groups, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte announced. All non-essential shops will be closed and meetings between households banned. As of Sunday, Lithuania reported 1,178 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, three times more than the 340 cases per 100,000 when a lighter lockdown was announced on Nov. 4.
14th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Tough Christmas lockdown looming in Netherlands

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte held emergency meetings on Monday about the soaring rate of COVID-19 infections and was expected to announce tougher lockdown measures during a television address in the evening. Key members of the Dutch government were weighing stricter social curbs and Rutte took the unusual step of inviting the heads of all political parties in parliament for talks, the national news agency ANP reported. He was set to address the country from his office in a rare broadcast at 1900 local time
14th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

US officials plan to split $908bn COVID-19 package in two: Report

A $908bn bipartisan COVID-19 relief plan set to be introduced in the United States Congress as early as Monday will be split into two packages in a bid to win approval, a person briefed on the matter told the Reuters news agency. The plan’s highlights were made public on December 1, but the authors now plan to divide them into two proposals that could be voted on separately, the source said.
14th Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

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

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U.S. expects to have immunized 100 million against COVID-19 by the end of first-quarter 2021 - Slaoui

The United States expects to have immunized 100 million people with the coronavirus vaccine by the end of the first quarter of 2021, the chief U.S. adviser for efforts on COVID-19 vaccines said on Sunday. “We would have immunized 100 million people by the first quarter of 2021,” U.S. Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui said in an interview with Fox News Sunday. He said the United States hopes to have about 40 million doses of vaccine distributed by the end of December, and another 50 million to 80 million distributed in January, and the same number in February. The vaccine requires two shots per person
13th Dec 2020 - Reuters

South Korea's Moon warns of toughest COVID-19 curbs after two days of record cases

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in warned on Sunday that COVID-19 restrictions may be raised to the highest level after a second day of record increases in cases as the country battles a harsh third wave of infection. Presiding over an emergency meeting at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters for the first time since February, Moon urged vigilance and called for an all-out efforts to contain the virus. “Unless the outbreak can be contained now, it has come to the critical point of considering escalating social-distancing measures to the third level,” he said, referring to the tightest curbs under the country’s five-tier system.
13th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Bahrain approves Chinese COVID-19 vaccine for use

Bahrain said Sunday it approved the use of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine, following its earlier approval of a vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. Separately, Kuwait has granted emergency use for the Pfizer vaccine. Bahrain's state-run news agency said the Sinopharm vaccine would be available in the island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. It offered few details though on study results of the vaccine, in line with the United Arab Emirates, which last week announced the vaccine was 86% effective.
13th Dec 2020 - ABC News

Germany to close shops and schools in tightened Covid lockdown

Germany will close most shops from Wednesday until 10 January and ban the sale of fireworks for New Year’s Eve, after Angela Merkel and state leaders agreed to impose a national lockdown in order to regain control of rising coronavirus infection rates before a “very difficult Christmas”. Non-essential shops, excluding food retailers, pharmacies and banks but including hairdressing salons and beauty parlours, will have to close their doors from 16 December. Schools and nurseries will also be required to offer only emergency care for essential workers for the last three days before the start of the scheduled Christmas holidays, with parents asked to look after their children at home “whenever possible”.
13th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Up to 40 million Americans could lose their homes if Congress doesn't act: "It's life or death for me"

Ten months into the pandemic, renters owe an estimated $70 billion in back rent — and if the hold is not extended, 30 to 40 million Americans could lose their homes, CBS News' Nancy Cordes reports. The CDC had put a temporary hold on all evictions, to protect public health and prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, more coronavirus relief spending is again bogged down in Congress, and many Americans are already getting warnings that they will be tossed out if lawmakers don't act. In Houston, Texas, more than 17,000 evictions have been initiated since the pandemic began, and 300,000 or more could be coming if the federal moratorium is allowed to expire.
13th Dec 2020 - CBS News

Mexico approves emergency use of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine

The Mexican government’s medical safety commission approved the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine Friday, making Mexico the fourth country to do so. Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said Mexico's approval came after Britain, Canada and Bahrain. Mexico is set to receive 250,000 doses of the vaccine, enough for 125,000 people, because each person requires two shots. López-Gatell has said that front-line health workers will get the shots first.
12th Dec 2020 - The Independent

COVID-19 vaccine to be provided free of cost in Kerala, says CM Pinarayi Vijayan

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan today said that the COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free of cost in the state once it is available. Kerala on Saturday recorded 5,949 new COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths. The number of total cases in the state has jumped to 6.64 lakh and the death toll to 2,594, the Chief Minister said. “No one will be charged for the vaccine. This is the stand of the government,” the Kerala Chief Minister told reporters at Kannur.
12th Dec 2020 - The Financial Express

Coronavirus vaccine: Minority groups and the very ill given priority

GPs who run short of vaccine for patients aged over 80 have been told to prioritise elderly people from ethnic minorities and those who have severe underlying health conditions. The first vaccines are set to be given by GPs on Tuesday from about 280 sites. They have been told to start contacting patients, who can expect to hear about appointments today and tomorrow. However, there is concern that dozens of practices have opted out of the programme, citing a lack of resources and fears that other patient care might be affected by the focus on Covid-19. In NHS guidance, those not taking part have been told to co-operate with local health chiefs to ensure their patients still have access to the vaccine.
12th Dec 2020 - The Times

South Korea reports 1,030 new coronavirus case, record daily rise

South Korea reported 1,030 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, the second daily record in a row as a country that had initial success controlling COVID-19 now battles a harsh third wave. Of the new cases, 1,002 were locally transmitted. It brings the total to 42,766 infections with 580 deaths, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Saturday said further tightening social distancing restriction to the nation’s highest level would be inevitable if the spread continues, which would be practically a lockdown for the first time in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
12th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Africa's hurdles toward a COVID vaccine

Coronavirus vaccines are now being administered in Europe, while Africa hopes to start by mid-2021. Until then, the continent of 54 countries will need to put the necessary logistics, such as refrigeration, in place. On December 8, 2020, the United Kingdom became the first country to begin vaccinating its citizens with the new BioNTech-Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Canada and Bahrain have also greenlighted it. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will meet on December 29 and is expected to approve the vaccine. But European Union countries are already putting modalities in place to receive and distribute the vaccine. Africa's hopes of receiving the vaccine are pinned on the global COVAX initiative, which aims to buy and deliver vaccines for the world's poorest people.
11th Dec 2020 - Deutsche Welle

France to introduce night-time curfew in bid to slow spread of Covid-19

France is set to introduce a night-time curfew and delay the opening of cultural venues as the nation struggles to curb the spread of Covid-19. Jean Castex, the French Prime Minister, said on Thursday that infection rates were not falling as fast as was hoped following the country’s lockdown which began in late October. Its current lockdown will be lifted as planned on 15 December, which is when the daily 8pm to 6am curfew will begin.
11th Dec 2020 - Evening Standard

World Trade council fails to act on proposal to waive IP rights to Covid-19 drugs and vaccines

In a widely anticipated meeting, a World Trade Organization council failed to act on a controversial proposal to temporarily waive some provisions in a trade agreement governing intellectual property rights, which would make Covid-19 medical products more easily accessible, especially by low-income countries. During the closed-door session, which took place on Thursday, several wealthy nations reiterated arguments that patent rights do not create barriers to wider access and affordability. The U.S., for instance, suggested a more targeted approach in which a license could be granted to a generic manufacturer to make a specific product for distribution in certain countries.
11th Dec 2020 - STAT

F.D.A. Clears Pfizer Vaccine, and Millions of Doses Will Be Shipped Right Away

The Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday, clearing the way for millions of highly vulnerable people to begin receiving the vaccine within days. The authorization is a historic turning point in a pandemic that has taken more than 290,000 lives in the United States. With the decision, the United States becomes the sixth country — in addition to Britain, Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico — to clear the vaccine. Other authorizations, including by the European Union, are expected within weeks.
11th Dec 2020 - The New York Times

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 11th Dec 2020

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Brazil health regulator sets rules for COVID-19 vaccine emergency use

Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa decided on Thursday to allow temporary emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines and set rules for companies to apply for the option that did not exist in the country now facing the world’s third worst coronavirus outbreak. The decision will potentially allow emergency use of vaccines that are being tested in Brazil by AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen, and China’s Sinovac Biotech.
10th Dec 2020 - Reuters

U.S. FDA advisory panel meets on Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine

Pfizer Inc said on Thursday it planned to file for full U.S. approval of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by April next year, even as the vaccine awaits emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The remarks were made by Pfizer executive William Gruber at a meeting of independent U.S. FDA advisers that are weighing emergency authorization of the vaccine made by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE.
10th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Saudi registers Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for import, use - SPA

Health authorities in Saudi Arabia have registered the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for import and use in the country, state news agency SPA said on Thursday. Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drug Agency registered the vaccine. Procedures necessary for its import and use will begin, the statement said.
10th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Nigeria Plans to Approve Covid-19 Vaccine Early Next Year

Nigeria expects to license by April one of the vaccines under development globally for Covid-19, the West African nation’s drugs regulator said. “We are looking at the end of the first quarter of next year or the beginning of the second quarter” to approve a shot for use in Nigeria, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control Director-General Mojisola Adeyeye said in an interview on Wednesday.
10th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

Developing nations are first in line for China's Covid vaccines. Analysts question Beijing’s intent

As the vaccine race heats up, China has promised countries in Southeast Asia and Africa that they will be first in line when Beijing’s home-grown vaccines are ready to be distributed — a move that’s raised questions about China’s intent. From Malaysia and the Philippines to a number of African countries, China has granted some developing nations priority access to the coronavirus vaccines it’s currently developing. Chinese companies have also signed agreements with some of these developing nations to test and manufacture the vaccines. Experts say the moves could put pressure on some of these countries to support Beijing’s commercial and political interests.
10th Dec 2020 - CNBC

Europe can’t ignore Global South in coronavirus vaccine race

The news of ground-breaking vaccines that could spell the end of the global coronavirus pandemic was met with a collective sigh of relief in the West. But in the Global South, the overwhelming feeling was one of dread and anger at the new social chasm on the horizon: between the vaccine haves and have-nots. We know that vaccinating populations that are most at-risk will be key to meeting the challenges of the long year ahead and getting the pandemic under control. But under current vaccine distribution mechanisms such as the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, which are commendable, there simply will not be enough vaccine doses to go around by the end of 2021. This is not only a moral issue. Failure to provide equitable access to the vaccine will have dire and long-lasting consequences for human health and make it more difficult to end the pandemic. The virus may even have a chance to mutate and become vaccine resistant, raising the possibility of new waves of infection.
10th Dec 2020 - POLITICO.eu

EU regulator rejects need for emergency authorization of coronavirus vaccine

The head of the European Medicines Agency is standing by the EU's decision to wait for a conditional marketing authorization (CMA) before using coronavirus vaccines on the public. "While speed is of the essence, safety is our No. 1 priority," Emer Cooke, the agency's new executive director, told the European Parliament's health committee today. "These vaccines will be given to millions of people in the EU, and we are keenly aware of the huge responsibility we have to get these recommendations right to protect the European population." She noted the agency is "aware of" the decisions by the U.K. and Canada to approve the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine with the faster process of an emergency authorization. The U.S. could follow suit later today.
10th Dec 2020 - POLITICO.eu

Covid-19 could 'run out of control' over winter without caution, Sturgeon warns

The First Minister has come in for fierce criticism for keeping the city under Level 3 restrictions – the second toughest level available in Scotland’s five-tier system. She argued if the Scottish Government does not apply “real caution” when considering these issues there is a risk Covid-19 infections could rapidly spiral. Both Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie challenged the First Minister on the failure to move Edinburgh to Level 2 – something many had expected to happen this week. Ms Sturgeon warned going down a level and easing restrictions “gives the virus more opportunity to spread”.
10th Dec 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

More California Counties on Lockdown as COVID-19 Explodes

California's coronavirus surge has caused so many hospitalizations and deaths that the numbers brought usually stoic public health officers in major metropolitan areas to pleas — and even near to tears — as they urged people to heed safety rules. Los Angeles County, the nation's largest with 10 million residents, had a “devastating increase in deaths" from about a dozen a day in mid-November to an average of 43 a day this week, the county's health director, Barbara Ferrer, said Wednesday. “Over 8,000 people who were beloved members of their families are not coming back,” Ferrer said in a choked voice. She called the deaths “an incalculable loss to their friends and their family and the community.”
10th Dec 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

Berlin seeks tighter lockdown to rein in pandemic

Berlin wants to close shops and extend the school Christmas holidays to try to get the coronavirus pandemic under control, the mayor of the German capital said on Thursday as the country reported a new record number of cases of COVID-19. Berlin’s mayor Michael Mueller said he would seek the approval of the city’s parliament next Tuesday to close stores apart from supermarkets until Jan. 10, and also to extend the school break until that date or put lessons online for a week. Germany’s coronavirus cases rose by 23,679 on Thursday to 1,242,203, setting a new record daily rise, while the death toll increased by 440 to 20,372, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases (RKI).
10th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Compromise lockdown struggles to subdue Germany's Covid second wave

In the spring, Germany was praised as a pandemic role model for its Covid-19 crisis management: its low fatality and high testing rates and efficient hammering of the curve were the envy of much of the rest of the world. But this winter the virus is exposing the weaknesses as well as strengths of Germany’s consensus-based federal system, as its “compromise lockdown” struggles to subdue the second wave. While the German infection rate remains below the EU average, the numbers have taken a “worrying” turn for the worse, as Lothar Wieler, the head of the country’s disease control agency, warned on Thursday.
10th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Japanese medical community despairs at public's lack of concern for mounting virus wave

The air has shifted -- and many in the medical community are concerned by the changes in attitudes toward the coronavirus they're seeing in society at large. Compared to the first wave of infections, in which the whole country got in the mood to limit its activities, now people are more relaxed, with some shops even refusing to comply with requests to reduce their business hours. Disparities in the way ordinary people and medical professionals perceive the threat are widening.
10th Dec 2020 - The Mainichi

Covid-19 Surge Hits South Korea and Japan, After They Had Contained Virus

Some Asian countries that have been among the world’s most successful at containing Covid-19 are now struggling to beat back a winter resurgence, a sign of how elusive sustained progress can be until a vaccine gets rolled out widely. On Wednesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in convened an emergency meeting after the country saw a nine-month peak of 686 cases that has forced officials to use shipping containers to address a hospital-bed shortage. Japan on Wednesday recorded 2,810 new cases, the government said, its highest daily total yet. Vietnam reported community infections for the first time in around three months, prompting authorities to suspend all inbound commercial flights. Hong Kong, which had taken daily infections down to single digits, has seen cases surge past 100, requiring the reintroduction of limits on dine-in restaurant service and gym closures. Several regions of Malaysia went into lockdown after cases doubled within a month.
10th Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus: Ministers to meet before NI lockdown eases

Stormont ministers have appealed to people in NI not to "get caught up in the Christmas spirit" with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions set to be eased. A two-week lockdown ends at 23:59 GMT, meaning hairdressers, shops and some hospitality businesses can reopen. First Minister Arlene Foster urged people to be "sensible" about limiting their social contacts. She said the executive was "disappointed" that transmission of the virus had not reduced significantly. Another 14 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded by Northern Ireland's Department of Health on Thursday.
10th Dec 2020 - BBC

Denmark widens coronavirus lockdown after record infections

Denmark said on Thursday it will expand lockdown measures announced earlier this week to more cities, placing almost 80% of the population under the tight restrictions after registering its highest number of new daily infections yet. “There is widespread infection throughout society and incipient pressure on the hospital system,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told reporters, adding a further rise in infections in the coming days is expected.
10th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Ukraine will introduce tight lockdown restrictions in January

Ukraine will introduce tight lockdown restrictions in January, hoping to stop the rapid spread of coronavirus infection, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Wednesday. The measures, which include the closure of schools, cafes, restaurants, gyms and entertainment centres and a ban on mass gatherings, will be in force from Jan. 8 to 24, Shiygal told the televised government meeting. The government last month introduced a lockdown at weekends, closing or restricting most businesses except essential services such as grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and transport. It lifted the restrictions on Dec. 2
10th Dec 2020 - Reuters

ECB unleashes $600 billion in new stimulus to prop up Europe's economy

The European Central Bank is expanding its huge money-printing program by hundreds of billions of euros, an attempt to prop up the economy as another wave of coronavirus rips through the region and threatens to derail its fragile recovery. The central bank said in a statement on Thursday that it would increase its asset purchases by €500 billion ($605 billion), bringing the total stimulus program to €1.85 trillion ($2.24 trillion). It also plans to extend purchases to at least the end of March 2022 and grant more subsidized loans to banks to stimulate lending.
10th Dec 2020 - CNN

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Dec 2020

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Amnesty: rich countries have bought too many COVID-19 vaccines

Rich countries have secured enough coronavirus vaccines to protect their populations nearly three times over by the end of 2021, Amnesty International and other groups said on Wednesday, possibly depriving billions of people in poorer areas. Amnesty and other organisations including Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam, urged governments and the pharmaceutical industry to take action to ensure intellectual property of vaccines is shared widely. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also called on governments repeatedly this year to make a vaccine protecting against COVID-19 a “public good”.
9th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Iran says US sanctions hinder access to COVID-19 vaccines

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that U.S. sanctions are making it difficult for Iran to purchase medicine and health supplies from abroad, including COVID-19 vaccines needed to contain the worst outbreak in the Middle East. Last week, Iran said it is working on its own vaccine, with testing on human patients expected to begin next month. It plans to buy 20 million vaccine doses from abroad, for a population of more than 80 million people.
9th Dec 2020 - The Independent

U.S. House approves stopgap funding bill as haggling continues over coronavirus aid

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a one-week extension of federal government funding, giving lawmakers more time to haggle over a broader spending package with coronavirus relief. The move gives Congress seven more days to enact a broader, $1.4 trillion “omnibus” spending measure, to which congressional leaders hope to attach the long-awaited COVID-19 relief package.
9th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Brazil registers highest COVID-19 daily death toll in almost a month

Brazil reported 51,088 additional confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 842 fatalities from COVID-19, its Health Ministry said on Tuesday, marking the highest death toll since Nov. 14. The South American country has now registered 6,674,999 cases since the pandemic began, while its official death toll has risen to 178,159, according to ministry data. Brazil has the world’s third highest case count, after the United States and India, and second highest death toll. Easing quarantines in Brazilian cities have led to crowded bars and restaurants, giving some the impression that life has returned to normal. With the approaching holiday season, experts worry that COVID-19 will spread even faster.
9th Dec 2020 - NBC News

Canada Authorizes Covid-19 Vaccine From Pfizer and BioNTech

Canada became the third country to authorize use of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, racing ahead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Europe’s main regulator to approve shots for its most vulnerable citizens. Canada will now begin its immunization rollout as early as next week—a daunting challenge for a sparsely populated country with the world’s second-largest territory. The country is on schedule to begin inoculations next week, with a portfolio of vaccine candidates that it argues is among the most diverse among large economies.
9th Dec 2020 - Wall Street Journal

Germany coronavirus: Merkel backs tougher restrictions as Covid deaths hit record

German Chancellor Angela Merkel advocated tougher restrictions on public life and pleaded with her compatriots to cut down on socializing as the country reported its highest single-day death toll of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday. Germany is gradually moving toward a tighter lockdown, at least for a limited period after Christmas, as new virus cases remain stubbornly high — and are even beginning to creep higher — despite a partial shutdown that started on Nov. 2.
9th Dec 2020 - The Independent

France warns it could delay end of Covid lockdown if epidemic spread does not slow

France’s government said Wednesday it would not necessarily end the country’s second coronavirus confinement as planned on 15 December if epidemic indictors did not reach targets. The comments came ahead of a meeting of the health defence council that decides on restrictions. France had planned to lift travel and movement restrictions and reopen cinemas, theatres and museums on 15 December in the second of a three-part easing of lockdown if it met certain conditions were met. But with health officials warning the country was far off from a target of 5,000 new infections per day, President Emmanuel Macron was to meet with the senior ministers and officials comprising a special health defence council to discuss whether to change those plans.
9th Dec 2020 - RFI

Ukraine will introduce tight lockdown restrictions in January

Ukraine will introduce tight lockdown restrictions in January, hoping to stop the rapid spread of coronavirus infection, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Wednesday. The measures , which include the closure of schools, cafes, restaurants, gyms and entertainment centres and a ban on mass gatherings, will be in force from January 8-24, Shmygal told the tlevised government meeting.
9th Dec 2020 - Times of India

South Korea questions Pyongyang's claims to be virus-free

The sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lambasted South Korea’s foreign minister for casting doubt over Pyongyang’s claim that the country has no coronavirus cases. North Korea closed its borders in January to avoid a spread of the virus and has insisted that it has had no cases. Experts have suggested that this is unlikely since the virus first emerged in China and North Korea relies on its neighbour for trade. Kang Kyung-wha, South Korea’s foreign minister, said that it was “hard to believe” that the North had had no cases.
9th Dec 2020 - The Times

China's government-made coronavirus vaccine 'is 86% effective' and has been approved for use by the UAE after clinical trials - but scientists behind it have yet to publicly ...

Vaccine from state-owned company Sinophar is one of four made by China UAE officials today claim the phase three trials show it is 86% effective No data on the vaccine has yet been publicly released despite its approval Vaccine is a weakened form of virus and UAE has been running trials since July Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum received an unnamed jab and reports claim so too has North Korea leader Kim Jong Un
9th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Morocco to use Chinese vaccine to kick off mass vaccinations

Morocco is gearing up for an ambitious COVID-19 vaccination program, aiming to vaccinate 80% of its adults in an operation starting this month that’s relying initially on a Chinese vaccine that has not yet completed advanced trials to prove it is safe and effective. King Mohammed VI instructed the government to make the vaccine free, according to a Royal Palace statement. The first injections could come within days, a Health Ministry official told The Associated Press.
9th Dec 2020 - The Associated Press

Swedish govt to ask parliament for tougher powers to fight pandemic

Sweden’s government on Wednesday proposed new temporary legislation to expand its powers to fight the coronavirus pandemic, giving it greater leeway to implement and enforce lockdown measures such as closing shopping malls and gyms. The legislation, which will be submitted for review to relevant stakeholders before a vote in parliament, would come into force on March 15 next year and be valid for just over a year, the coalition said in a statement. Since summer and early autumn’s lull in the pandemic, a second wave of the virus has swept the Nordic country with infections hitting daily records, while hospitalisations and deaths have also shot up over the past two months.
9th Dec 2020 - Reuters India

Hackers steal Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine data in Europe, companies say

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said on Wednesday that documents related to development of their COVID-19 vaccine had been "unlawfully accessed" in a cyberattack on Europe's medicines regulator. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which assesses medicines and vaccines for the European Union, said hours earlier it had been targeted in a cyberattack. It gave no further details. Pfizer and BioNTech said they did not believe any personal data of trial participants had been compromised and EMA "has assured us that the cyber attack will have no impact on the timeline for its review."
9th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Mexico to launch COVID-19 vaccinations this month

Mexico plans to begin vaccinating its people against COVID-19 at the end of the third week of December, starting with health workers, the government announced. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the vaccines will be “universal and free” — and also voluntary — and he hopes the full population will be vaccinated by the end of 2021. Officials said that starting in February, those over 60 will receive vaccinations, followed by those over 50 in April and over 40 in May. They urged people with risk factors to get vaccinated first.
8th Dec 2020 - Yahoo.com

Mexico says could order 22 mln more vaccine doses from J&J

Mexico could order an additional 22 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson's Janssen unit under a memorandum of understanding signed this week, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said. Janssen has begun its coronavirus clinical trials in Mexico, and Lopez-Gatell said the memorandum his government signed on Monday gave it the option of ordering additional doses. "So there we could end up getting up to 22 million more vaccines from Janssen," Lopez-Gatell, the government's coronavirus czar, told a regular evening news conference
8th Dec 2020 - au.finance.yahoo.com

New powers allow Hong Kong government to lock down Covid-19 hotspots

Chief Executive Carrie Lam adopts powerful new tool to combat an escalating fourth wave of the virus and urges residents to stay home as much as possible Authorities tighten social-distancing restrictions, with restaurants to end dine-in service at 6pm and gyms to close, as 100 new cases confirmed
8th Dec 2020 - South China Morning Post

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

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Covid: Biden vows 100m vaccinations for US in first 100 days

US President-elect Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million Covid vaccinations in his first 100 days in office. He said his first months in office would not end the outbreak and gave few details on rollout strategy but he said he would change the course of Covid-19. Introducing his health team for when he takes office on 20 January, he urged Americans to "mask up for 100 days". On Tuesday, a report paved the way for a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be approved and rolled out for Americans. President Donald Trump meanwhile attended a summit at the White House of his Covid vaccination programme called Operation Warp Speed and hailed the expected approval of vaccines.
9th Dec 2020 - BBC News

Covid-19 lockdown restrictions to be eased for majority in Scotland

Covid restrictions will ease for the majority of Scots later this week, with cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers allowed to reopen from Friday and Saturday. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Tuesday that no area of Scotland will remain in Level 4 when changes come into force. A total of 11 Scottish council areas - including Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Stirling - have been under the toughest tier of restrictions in the country since November 20. They will now all move down to Level 3.
8th Dec 2020 - ITV News

Nicola Sturgeon announces level three lockdown for Glasgow to start on Friday

Level four lockdown will end in Glasgow on Friday. Nicola Sturgeon has just announced the city will shift to tier three, allowing all shops, restaurants and cafes to reopen. Hairdressers and gyms are also among the businesses permitted to start trading again, weeks after the Scottish Government imposed the strictest level of lockdown on 11 local authority areas in Scotland - including Glasgow City.
8th Dec 2020 - glasgowlive.co.uk

Germany inches towards stricter COVID-19 lockdown

Germany inched towards stricter measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus on Tuesday, as an eastern region said it would close schools and most businesses and the health minister warned a partial lockdown had not stopped the disease. Europe’s biggest economy is struggling to squash new infections in a second wave of COVID-19 that is both proving far more difficult to tame than the first one and extracting a heavier human toll as daily deaths hit record highs. The governor of the eastern state of Saxony, which has the highest seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 residents anywhere in Germany, said schools and non-essential businesses will be shut from Dec. 14 as hospitals struggle to take in patients.
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Japan announces $708bn in fresh stimulus as COVID-19 cases rise

Japan will compile a fresh economic stimulus package worth 73.6 trillion yen ($708bn), Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday, signalling his resolve to pull the country out of its coronavirus crisis-induced slump. The new stimulus package will include fiscal spending worth around 40 trillion yen ($384.2bn), Suga said in a meeting with ruling party executives. The government is set to finalise the stimulus package later on Tuesday, which would follow a combined $2.2 trillion from two previous packages that focused on dealing with the immediate strain on households and business. The new economic measures would help push “new economic growth,” Suga said at the meeting. The package is likely to include subsidies and incentives to prod companies to boost green investment and spending on digitalisation, an area Suga has laid out as his key policy priorities.
8th Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

No active coronavirus cases in South Australia as restrictions set to ease

South Australia has no known active coronavirus cases for the first time in more than two months, with health authorities announcing restrictions on social gatherings will again be eased from next Monday. The state today recorded no new COVID-19 cases for the 10th consecutive day. The maximum number of people allowed at home gatherings will rise, while patrons will be able to stand up while drinking at hospitality venues. From Monday, the limit on the number of people allowed at private functions at licensed venues will increase from 150 to 200.
8th Dec 2020 - ABC News

Azerbaijan to introduce lockdown in major cities from Dec. 14

Azerbaijan will impose a strict lockdown in all of its major cities for just over a month from Dec. 14 to limit the spread of COVID-19, the government’s emergency coronavirus department said on Tuesday. Azerbaijan already has a raft of restrictions in place but cases have roughly doubled in the past three to four weeks. Restaurants, cafes, beauty salons and shops are closed at weekends, with public transport not in operation.
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Germany speeds up disbursement of coronavirus aid in December

Germany is speeding up the disbursement of coronavirus aid for lockdown-affected firms this month by lifting the threshold of an initial payout which comes with less bureaucratic paperwork, government officials said on Tuesday. Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders have agreed to extend restrictive measures designed to stem a tide of new coronavirus infections until Jan. 10. The measures, which had been put in place since Nov. 2, have forced restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms and entertainment venues to close. But factories, shops and schools remain open.
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Amid resistance, California imposes strict stay-at-home orders

Most Californians faced heavy new restrictions on Monday aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, while New York’s governor threatened to ban indoor restaurant dining in New York City as the United States feared infections would continue skyrocketing. Restaurants in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and the state’s agricultural San Joaquin Valley shut for all but takeout and delivery. Playgrounds closed, stores reduced capacity and hair salons and barbershops shuttered. The moves affected about three-quarters of the nearly 40 million people in America’s most-populous state. California Governor Gavin Newsom’s order allowed some schools to continue to hold classes. But the Los Angeles Unified School District, the state’s largest, closed campuses that had been partially open to offer in-person services and tutoring, affecting many special-needs students.
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Biden, introducing health teams, vows 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in first 100 days

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday laid out his plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic during his first 100 days in office, saying his administration would vaccinate 100 million Americans, push to reopen schools and strengthen mask mandates.
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters

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

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Lawmakers say COVID-19 relief bill won't offer $1200 checks

With time running out, lawmakers on Sunday closed in on a proposed COVID-19 relief bill that would provide roughly $300 in extra federal weekly unemployment benefits but not another round of $1,200 in direct payments to most Americans, leaving that issue for President-elect Joe Biden to wrestle over with a new Congress next year. The $908 billion aid package to be released Monday would be attached to a larger year-end spending bill needed to avert a government shutdown this coming weekend.
7th Dec 2020 - The Associated Press

Wales considers new Covid lockdown amid rapid rise in infections

Another lockdown may be needed in Wales to stop the NHS being overwhelmed as the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital soared to a record high. There are now more than 1,800 people in Welsh hospitals with confirmed or suspected coronavirus – the highest number recorded and 400 more than the previous peak in April. Describing the situation as “incredibly serious”, the Welsh health minister, Vaughan Gething, accepted more restrictions might be needed, possibly even before Christmas. The figures come just a month after the end of a 17-day “firebreak” lockdown, which was believed at the time to have been successful and was expected to give the country a clear run up to the new year. But the Welsh government has since conceded that it might have been better to bring in other curbs when the firebreak was lifted.
7th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Greece extends key lockdown measures over Christmas holidays

Greece’s government said Monday it will maintain core lockdown measures through the Christmas holidays, acknowledging that monthlong restrictions have not reduced COVID-19 cases to the extent it had hoped for. Schools courts, and restaurants will remain closed through Jan. 7, government spokesman Stelios Petsas announced, while non-essential travel between Greece’s administrative regions will also be banned.
7th Dec 2020 - The Independent

France Set to Miss Goal for Lifting Lockdown as Progress Stalls

France is poised to miss a coronavirus goal set by President Emmanuel Macron as a condition for lifting the country’s lockdown next week, with daily new Covid-19 cases holding at more than twice the targeted level. The government is worried about the pandemic indicators, and is mulling alternatives to a planned end of stay-at-home measures on Dec. 15, Liberation reported on Monday, citing unidentified advisers in the Health Ministry. That could go as far as delaying the end of the lockdown should cases spike, according to the newspaper.
7th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

COVID-19 clusters break out in Japan's coldest city as winter closes in

The emergence of Japan’s coldest city as a COVID-19 hotspot has raised fears among health experts that it could be a sign of what the rest of the nation may face as winter sets in and more people stay indoors, raising airborne transmission risks. The city of Asahikawa, about 140 km (87 miles) north of Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido, is reeling from infection clusters at two hospitals and a care home. By Sunday, the number of cases recorded on the island was more than 10,000, and Asahikawa had accounted for 16% of the 256 deaths. It prompted the government to announce a plan on Monday to send nurses from Self Defense Forces to the region and western metropolis of Osaka to help fight the outbreak.
7th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Denmark tightens lockdown to curb COVID-19 spike

Denmark will implement further lockdown measures in parts of the country to curb a spike in coronavirus infections, the government announced on Monday. Restaurants, museums, cinemas and other cultural institutions will have to close on Dec. 9 in 38 of 98 municipalities, including Copenhagen, and students in upper primary school, high schools and universities will be sent home.
7th Dec 2020 - Reuters

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Long a Holdout From Covid-19 Restrictions, Sweden Ends Its Pandemic Experiment

After a late autumn surge in infections led to rising hospitalizations and deaths, Sweden has abandoned its attempt to combat the pandemic through voluntary measures.
6th Dec 2020 - Wall Street Journal

China begins huge COVID-19 vaccine rollout, with doses reportedly already administered to 1 million citizens

Health officials in China have begun giving at-risk citizens emergency access to vaccine doses, according to a report. More than a million healthcare workers and others in at-risk groups have already received vaccines, The Associated Press reported Sunday. It detailed millions of orders from the country's provinces. Health officials in world's most populous country, which is home to almost 1.4 billion people, haven't yet released a comprehensive plan. Chinese government researchers are testing several vaccines from about a dozen countries, with a domestic vaccine from China Pharmaceutical Group, or Sinopharm, nearing final approval
6th Dec 2020 - Business Insider

The first Covid-19 vaccine arrives in Scotland

The Scottish Government has announced that the first Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Scotland on Saturday. Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, welcomed the news. Ms Freeman said:“I am pleased to announce that the vaccine is now in Scotland and being stored safely in order for vaccinations to begin on Tuesday. Science has given us hope and we are starting on a journey which will eventually allow us to escape this terrible virus. Following clinical advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) we will begin with those groups which have been prioritised to address 99 per cent of preventable deaths associated with Covid-19. These include the elderly, care home residents and staff, and frontline health and social care workers.
6th Dec 2020 - The Edinburgh Reporter

California heads for Covid lockdown as US records 200,000 cases a day

As large parts of California went back into lockdown and healthcare systems in many states began to waver under the strain, new cases of Covid-19 in the US remained above 200,000 on Saturday, with more than 2,000 deaths. Members of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force heralded the imminence and efficacy of vaccines, but asked Americans to keep their guard up. Johns Hopkins University recorded 213,875 new cases, down from nearly 228,000 on Friday in a week of surging figures after a Thanksgiving lull in record-keeping. Amid figures worsened by holiday travel and gatherings whose full impact experts say is not yet apparent, there were 2,254 new deaths, making the full death toll 280,979 from nearly 14.6m cases.
6th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

First week of eased restrictions in SA as state records no new cases of COVID-19

Hospitality venues in South Australia are bracing for a busy weekend after restrictions were eased, allowing twice as many people to be seated in pubs, bars and restaurants. The state's top police officer, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, overruled health advice to increase the capacity in venues to one patron per two square metres, to help the state's economy during the Christmas trading period. The easing of restrictions come as SA records another day of zero cases of locally acquired COVID-19.
6th Dec 2020 - 9News.com.au

New Zealand Covid minister urges patience in wait for vaccine approval

New Zealand’s Covid-19 minister has called for patience in the country’s vaccine roll-out programme, saying he was unlikely to follow the UK in using emergency provisions to fast-track approval. Covid-19 minister Chris Hipkins said: “We are in a slightly different position to other countries who are using emergency provisions to approve the vaccine, and in many cases those countries are doing that because they are suffering hugely from Covid, with thousands of people dying every day.”
6th Dec 2020 - The Guardian on MSN.com

Most of California to be under stay-at-home orders as COVID-19 surges

California’s two most densely inhabited regions and its agricultural breadbasket will be under stay-at-home orders by Sunday night as the COVID-19 pandemic strains hospitals in the most populous U.S. state, officials said. Designed to kick in when intensive care units in any of five regions have little remaining capacity, the order affecting Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley will close bars, hair salons and barbershops, and allows restaurants to remain open only for takeout and delivery service. The shutdowns, which go into effect at 11:59 pm Sunday, are triggered by an order announced Wednesday by Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat.
6th Dec 2020 - Reuters

First COVID-19 vaccines may reach Poland in January: PM's top aide

The first coronavirus vaccines could reach Poland in January, the Polish prime minister’s top aide said on Friday, as emerging Europe’s biggest country prepares to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination programme. Poland has ordered 45 million COVID-19 vaccines, and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said the country intended to start vaccinating health workers, security forces and the elderly in February. “Similarly to other countries, it looks like the first batches of vaccine will reach Poland in January, because the approval process will take place in late December and early January,” the prime minister’s chief of staff Michal Dworczyk told public broadcaster Polskie Radio Program 1. Dworczyk added there may be around 8,000 vaccination points in Poland. “We want there to be a vaccination point in every community,” he said. As of Thursday, Poland had reported 1,028,610 cases of the coronavirus and 18,828 deaths.
5th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Covid: Argentina passes tax on wealthy to pay for virus measures

Argentina has passed a new tax on its wealthiest people to pay for medical supplies and relief measures amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Senators passed the one-off levy - dubbed the "millionaire's tax" - by 42 votes to 26 on Friday. Those with assets worth more than 200 million pesos ($2.5m; £1.8m) - some 12,000 people - will have to pay. Argentina has recorded close to 1.5 million infections and almost 40,000 deaths from the coronavirus. It has been hit hard by the pandemic, becoming the fifth country worldwide to report one million confirmed cases in October despite only having a population of about 45 million people - making it the smallest nation at the time to surpass that figure.
5th Dec 2020 - BBC News

`Biggest crisis`: South Korea tightens COVID-19 restrictions amid record high surge

After months of keeping the novel coronavirus spread under control, a new outbreak has scared the authorities of a threat bigger than the starting of the grim year. Following a sudden surge in the COVID-19 cases, South Korea has raised its coronavirus alert to the highest level in the capital city Seoul as the authorities believe this outbreak may take longer to be controlled. South Korea had been following the "trace, test and treat" approach for the past few months, and had managed to contain the spread of the deadly virus. Following a drop in cases, the country had reopened its economy, letting people step out to meet friends and go to work, and life was slowly returning back to normal.
5th Dec 2020 - WION

Germany's Bavaria region to tighten coronavirus lockdown

The southern German region of Bavaria, which has so far recorded the country’s highest coronavirus death toll, announced on Sunday that it will impose a tougher lockdown from Wednesday until Jan. 5. People in Bavaria will only be able to leave their homes with good reason, state premier Markus Soeder told a news conference, adding that there would be some relaxation in the rules for Christmas but not for New Year celebrations. While Germany brought the pandemic under control in March and April, it is now dealing with a more deadly second wave and imposed a “lockdown light” at the start of November, closing restaurants and bars and limiting public gatherings. While daily infections are no longer rising as sharply as before, case numbers have stagnated at a high level, and Germany reported its highest single-day coronavirus death toll on Wednesday.
5th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Norway to use three vaccines to stop COVID-19 from early 2021

Norway plans to use the three vaccines developed by Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech in its first push to inoculate its population against COVID-19, Norway’s health minister said on Friday. In the first quarter of 2021, Oslo expects to receive a total of 2.5 million doses, covering 1.25 million people - or 23% of the population, pending approval of the vaccines from European regulators. The doses would roughly cover the 1.3 million people in Norway who are considered in risk groups, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said, while the 340,000 health personnel in contact with patients would have to wait.
4th Dec 2020 - Reuters

WHO hopes to have 500 million vaccine doses via COVAX scheme in first quarter of 2021 - chief scientist

The World Health Organization hopes to have half a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution by the global COVAX initiative in the first quarter of 2021, its chief scientist said on Friday. To date 189 countries have joined the COVAX programme, which is backed by the WHO and seeks to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines. The United States is not among them, having secured bilateral deals. The initial COVAX plan is to vaccinate the 20% of populations at highest risk, including health workers and people aged over 65.
4th Dec 2020 - Reuters

British Government to compensate people who suffer extreme Covid-19 vaccine side effects with payments of up to £120,000 under existing scheme for common jabs

People 'severely disabled' by the Covid-19 vaccine will get a £120k payment The government added the jab to the 1979 Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme People suffering at least 60 per cent disability will receive a tax-free lump sum Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said he was confident about the safety of the vaccine
4th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 4th Dec 2020

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Turkey announces vaccination plan for Chinese CoronaVac

Turkey’s health minister has announced a plan to start using an experimental Chinese COVID-19 vaccine later this month amid a surge in infections and deaths. Fahrettin Koca had previously announced an agreement with China’s Sinovac Biotech for 50 million doses of CoronaVac, which is currently in late-stage trials. Koca said in a statement late on Wednesday the first shipment of the vaccine will arrive in Turkey after December 11. The minister said early use authorisation would be granted after Turkish labs confirm the shots are safe and after assessment of initial results from the latest trials. “If developments continue positively as we expect, Turkey would be among the first countries in the world to begin vaccinations in the early phase,” Koca said.
4th Dec 2020 - Aljazeera.com

How UK approved BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine ahead of EU

Since October, when the first data from the BioNTech/Pfizer trial became available, scientists and clinicians at the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, had “worked round the clock” to review more than 1,000 pages of information, according to June Raine, the agency’s chief executive. Normally each stage of a clinical trial must be completed before the next stage begins, but the BioNTech/Pfizer trial had been adapted by the companies to allow the different trial stages to “overlap”, Ms Raine said. The MHRA then undertook a rolling review of the data, she said, to allow for the assessment of the vaccine “in the shortest time possible”.
4th Dec 2020 - Financial Times

UK care home residents to miss out on first round of Covid vaccinations

In England, hundreds of thousands of care home residents will miss out on the first wave of Covid vaccinations when the rollout begins next week, the government has admitted. The fragility of the newly licensed Pfizer vaccine means it will first be delivered only to hospitals. The news came hours after the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), which advises ministers, said care home residents and staff should be prioritised. Boris Johnson described the distribution of the vaccine as “an immense logistical challenge” and said it would take months before all of the most vulnerable were protected.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Guardian

France's PM says COVID-19 vaccines will be free for all

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday it was “a matter of weeks” before the country will start rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations and that they will be free for all. Castex also told a news conference that the vaccinations would be deployed in three phases
3rd Dec 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19 Vaccines Are ‘Liquid Gold’ to Organized Crime, Interpol Says

Criminal gangs will likely attempt to get their hands on the new Covid-19 vaccines, international police organization Interpol warned, potentially disrupting supplies of the crucial shots as they become available. The agency issued a global orange notice—which it describes as a serious and imminent threat to public safety—to its 194 members, calling the vaccines “liquid gold.” It warned that counterfeit vaccines or fake coronavirus tests could become a growing problem as international travel gradually resumes in the months to come. “As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains,” Interpol Secretary-General Jürgen Stock said
3rd Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19 contracts: government refuses to say who benefited from political connections

The government has been accused of “completely unnecessary secrecy” after refusing to say which companies have been awarded multimillion-pound Covid-19 contracts after being processed in a high-priority channel for firms with political connections. A report by the National Audit Office last month stated that a government unit, set up to procure PPE, established the high-priority lane to deal with leads that came “from government officials, ministers’ offices, MPs and members of the House of Lords, senior NHS staff and other health professionals”. The 493 companies given high priority due to these connections secured contracts to supply PPE with 10 times the success rate of nearly 15,000 companies that were not given enhanced attention.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Positive coronavirus tests fall 28 per cent as England's lockdown makes its mark

Positive Covid cases dropped more than a quarter in England last week, according to the latest Test and Trace figures, as the country begins to feel the effects of the nationwide lockdown. Figures from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) found that just over 110,000 people in England tested positive for coronavirus in England in the week to 25 November, marking a 28 per cent slump on the previous week.
3rd Dec 2020 - City A.M.

Germany Extends Lockdown Again as Infections Remain High

Germany lengthened its coronavirus restrictions for the third time in the current wave of the pandemic, saying late Wednesday that the constraints would remain in place until at least Jan. 10, after a mild lockdown first introduced in November has failed to push infections lower.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Inside China's response to COVID

Since SARS-CoV-2 was first reported in China almost a year ago, policymakers have swung the weight of the state’s resources towards developing a vaccine. Their approach, alongside similar efforts in other countries, has thrown a spotlight on immunology, epidemiology and virology, bringing increased funding, prestige and public interest. Conversations with Chinese immunologists, policymakers and funders — including some who asked not to be named so they could speak more freely — reveal a complex picture of science mixed with international politics. Scientists, drug developers and research institutions are racing to tackle the virus. But some are concerned about the cost of rapid progress, and the incentives that have been created for companies and researchers to rush their work.
3rd Dec 2020 - Nature.com

Greece extends nationwide lockdown by a week, to Dec. 14

Greece has extended to Dec. 14 a nationwide lockdown imposed last month to contain a surge in new coronavirus cases, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Thursday. The lockdown, the country’s second since the pandemic began, was extended by a week. “There is a stabilisation or rather a decline in the (number of) cases but at a slower pace than expected,” Petsas told a televised briefing. Greece has registered a total of 109,655 COVID-19 cases and 2,186 deaths, with northern Greece hardest hit and hospitals operating at almost full capacity. The restrictions were initially expected to end on Nov. 30 but the government had already extended them to Dec. 7. Petsas said seasonal stores, selling Christmas items, would re-open next week.
3rd Dec 2020 - Reuters Africa

Incomplete data stalls Swiss authorisation of Covid-19 vaccines

Switzerland’s medical regulator Swissmedic says it lacks the necessary information to sign off on three different coronavirus vaccines ordered by the government. The regulator said important data on safety, efficacy and quality are still missing. It has reached out to the manufacturers, who provided data from their studies. “We lack data on the effectiveness of the clinical trials and on the important subgroups that participated in these large studies,” said Claus Bolte, head of the authorisation division at Swissmedic, at a press briefing on Tuesday organised by the Federal Office of Public Health. For example, Swissmedic wants to know about the pre-existing illnesses of the people who took part in these studies. According to the regulator, acceptance of such rapidly developed vaccines requires a high degree of trust in manufacturers and approving authorities. It is therefore important to examine very closely the effects on different groups of people.
3rd Dec 2020 - Swissinfo.ch

LA residents are ordered to stay in their homes: Mayor Garcetti tells 4million citizens to remain indoors, restricts travel, closes non-essential businesses and says it's 'time to cancel everything' as hospitalizations and cases surge

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered the city's 4 million residents to stay at home Wednesday night. The mayor told the public to 'cancel everything' and banned all travel, including walking and bicycling. Non-essential businesses were ordered to close and officials threatened to arrest those breaking the rules. There are, however, a long list of exemptions included in the Mayor's order. People can leaves their homes if they need to engage in a number of the exempt activities such as visiting certain businesses and exercise, including at beaches and on trails. Businesses that are exempt from the order include healthcare operations, supermarkets and convenience stores, liquor stores, gas stations, banks, hardware stores, handymen services and laundromats. Retail stores that follow the county's in-person shopping health protocols are allowed to remain open. Indoor capacity, however, must be limited to 20 percent and be closed between 10pm to 5am. Personal care establishments such as hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors and tanning salons must limit indoor capacity to 20 percent. Garcetti's order mirrors a directive put in place by Los Angeles County health officials last week. During a press conference, Garcetti said Los Angeles County saw increase of 5,987 new cases on Wednesday. 40 new deaths were reported, bringing county's toll to 7,740, which could hit 11,130 by end of the year. According to Garcetti, 2,572 Angelenos were hospitalized as of Wednesday; there are only 479 beds left across county and at current rate, health officials are predicting county will run out of beds in next 2-4 weeks.
3rd Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Italy bans Xmas midnight mass, movement between regions amid high COVID toll

Italians will not be able to attend midnight mass or move between regions over the Christmas period, a top health ministry official said on Wednesday, as the country battles high coronavirus infection rates and deaths. Italy has been reporting more daily COVID-19 fatalities than any other European nation in recent weeks and, while the increase in new cases and hospital admissions is slowing, the government is worried about gatherings over Christmas. Junior Health Minister Sandra Zampa said Christmas Eve mass must end by around 8:30 p.m. so that worshippers can return home before a 10 p.m. curfew, and people should not invite non-family members home for Christmas lunch or other celebrations.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 3rd Dec 2020

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Covid-19: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine judged safe for use in UK from next week

The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for mass vaccination. Britain's medicines regulator, the MHRA, says the jab, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe to be rolled out. The first doses are already on their way to the UK, with 800,000 due in the coming days, Pfizer said. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS will contact people about jabs. Elderly people in care homes and care home staff have been placed top of the priority list, followed by over-80s and health and care staff. But because hospitals already have the facilities to store the vaccine at -70C, as required, the very first vaccinations are likely to take place there - for care home staff, NHS staff and patients - so none of the vaccine is wasted. A further 648 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test were recorded in the UK on Wednesday, with another 16,170 cases reported.
2nd Dec 2020 - BBC News

PM Johnson says COVID-19 vaccines should be voluntary

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson might be persuaded to take a COVID-19 vaccination on television to show it is safe but he would not have one before those in greater need, his press secretary said on Wednesday. Johnson, 56, who spent time in intensive care earlier this year after contracting COVID-19, has hailed the UK approval of Pfizer Inc’s vaccine as a global win and ray of hope amid a pandemic that has hurt the economy and upended normal life.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters

Have countries led by women coped better with Covid-19?

Eight months ago, the tooth fairy flitted into New Zealand politics. During a national address, the country’s premier Jacinda Ardern declared that, although she was placing the population into a tight lockdown to combat Covid-19, “We do consider both the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny to be essential workers.” The video of her speech went viral. Was this just a piece of political theatre? Perhaps. But the humour, care and humanity it showed raise an intriguing question: have female leaders been better at rallying their voters to combat the pandemic than men?
2nd Dec 2020 - The Financial Times

Within Hours of U.K., Putin Orders Start of Mass Covid-19 Shots

President Vladimir Putin said Russia should begin general vaccination of the population against Covid-19 next week, the same day the U.K. became the first western country to approve a vaccine for use. “Let’s take this first step,” Putin told officials Wednesday during a video conference on the opening of Covid-19 hospitals built by the Defense Ministry. More than 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine will be ready for use within the next few days and “this gives us the opportunity to start vaccination on a mass scale,” he said.
2nd Dec 2020 - MSN.com

Canada unveils largest economic relief package since WW2

Canada's federal government will spend C$100bn ($77bn, £58bn) to kick-start the country's post-pandemic economy. It is "the largest economic relief package for our country since the Second World War", Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said. The wide-ranging plan includes targeted relief for hard-hit business sectors, investments in long-term care homes and distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine.
2nd Dec 2020 - BBC News

C.D.C. Recommends That Nursing Homes and Health Workers Get Vaccines First

An independent panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Tuesday to recommend that residents and employees of nursing homes and similar facilities be the first people in the United States to receive coronavirus vaccines, along with health care workers who are especially at risk of being exposed to the virus. The panel, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, voted 13 to 1 during an emergency meeting to make the recommendation. The director of the C.D.C., Dr. Robert R. Redfield, is expected to decide by Wednesday whether to accept it as the agency’s formal guidance to states as they prepare to start giving people the shots as soon as two weeks from now.
2nd Dec 2020 - The New York Times

Germany to keep restaurants, hotels closed until January 10 - sources

Germany will extend restrictive measures designed to stem a tide of new COVID-19 infections until Jan. 10, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday after talks with German state leaders. The measures, which had been due to expire on Dec. 20, include keeping restaurants and hotels shut and limiting private gatherings to five people from two households. “The states will extend their measures from December 20 until January 10,” Merkel told a news conference, adding that another round of consultations would be held on Jan. 4. “In principle things will remain as they are.” While the daily rise in infection numbers has started to fall, Germany reported its highest single-day death toll on Wednesday since the start of the pandemic, and regions that had been spared the worst are seeing case numbers surge.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters

Italy's health minister hopes first COVID-19 vaccines can start in January

Italians will not be able to attend midnight mass or move between regions over the Christmas period, a top health ministry official said on Wednesday, as the country battles high coronavirus infection rates and deaths. Italy has been reporting more daily COVID-19 fatalities than any other European nation in recent weeks and, while the increase in new cases and hospital admissions is slowing, the government is worried about gatherings over Christmas. The existing restrictions, which have put much of the industrial north under partial lockdown and limited business activity, are due to expire on Thursday.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters

Italy tightens antivirus restrictions for Christmas

Italy will have to adopt strict restrictions over Christmas holidays to avoid a third wave of the pandemic next year, Health Minister Roberto Speranza told parliament on Wednesday. The new rules -- which will be effective from Dec. 4 -- will include an almost total ban on international movements and between Italian regions, aimed at avoiding the spread of the virus across the country and limiting huge get-togethers. The restriction will be even tougher on Dec. 25-26 and Jan. 1, when citizens would not be allowed to travel even between cities. A nationwide curfew at 10 p.m. will be maintained also on Christmas night and New Year’s Eve, likely obliging Italian churches to anticipate the traditional midnight mass. The government is still discussing a few exceptions to these limitations, possibly for students who plan to visit their families in a different region, or elderly parents and grandparents who live alone and would spend the holidays by themselves.
2nd Dec 2020 - Anadolu Agency

Coronavirus: France to impose border checks to stop skiing abroad

Random border checks will be imposed to stop French holidaymakers going to ski in neighbouring Switzerland, Prime Minister Jean Castex has said. France, in common with Germany and Italy, is shutting its ski lifts over Christmas to stop the spread of Covid-19, but Swiss slopes are already open. The ski season at Christmas and the New Year is a vital part of the economy for many European countries Mr Castex said it was his duty to protect fellow citizens. "The conclusion you need to make is that 'I'm not going to Switzerland'," he told BFMTV on Wednesday, adding that anyone who did go would face quarantine on their return.
2nd Dec 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus tier system comes into force as England’s national lockdown is lifted

A new tougher tier system of Covid-19 restrictions for England has come into force, as the national four-week lockdown is lifted. The measures, which came into force at midnight, were approved by MPs in the Commons on Tuesday with the support of 291 votes to 78. More than 55 million people in the country are being placed in the top two strictest tiers, with London in Tier 2. The rules are tougher than in the previous tier system England was face with before its second lockdown began in November.
2nd Dec 2020 - Evening Standard

Australia's economy powers out of Covid-19 recession

Australia has exited its first recession in almost three decades, with the economy growing by a better than expected 3.3 per cent in the September quarter, reflecting authorities’ adept handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. A boom in household spending drove the recovery as the easing of social distancing restrictions prompted a 7.9 per cent jump in spending on goods and services in the third quarter. However, the damage wrought by stringent lockdowns was expressed in the annual growth figure, which showed economic activity fell 3.8 per cent in the year to end September.
2nd Dec 2020 - Financial Times

Ukraine scraps weekend lockdowns against COVID pandemic: PM

Ukraine has lifted weekend lockdown restrictions in place to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic but is still considering whether to introduce a tighter lockdown at a later stage, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Wednesday. The government last month introduced a lockdown at weekends, closing or restricting most businesses except essential services such as grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and transport.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters India

Pfizer jab will be distributed at hospitals first, then GP surgeries and stadiums

Initial batches of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab are already heading to Britain after it was approved by UK regulators. Vaccine will be distributed at hospitals first, and then GPs and city hubs in stadiums and conference centres. The UK has ordered 40million doses in total, with 10m due by the end of 2020 and the rest coming next year
2nd Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

EU criticises 'hasty' UK approval of COVID-19 vaccine

The European Union criticised Britain’s rapid approval of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, saying its own procedure was more thorough, after Britain became the first western country to endorse a COVID-19 shot. The move to grant emergency authorisation to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been seen by many as a political coup for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has led his country out of the EU and faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic. The decision was made under an ultra-fast, emergency approval process, which allowed the British drugs regulator to temporarily authorise the vaccine only 10 days after it began examining data from large-scale trials.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters

Zimbabwe tightens gathering limits as COVID-19 cases rise

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said the increase “points to [a] notable failure in government’s COVID-19 response and also the mishandling of the opening up of the socioeconomic sector”. Mukundu cited the reopening of schools last month “without adequate precautionary measures” as one of the reasons behind what he described as a “ticking time bomb”. “The government’s response has largely been politicised,” Mukundu said, urging authorities “to go back to the drawing board”.
2nd Dec 2020 - Aljazeera.com

Florida becomes the third state to reach one million COVID-19 cases after Texas and California - and Governor DeSantis STILL refuses to order a lockdown

Florida Department of Health released new COVID-19 figures on Tuesday. Total statewide tally of COVID-19 cases has reached 1,008,166, DOH data shows. Of those, 18,679 Floridians have died of the disease caused by the coronavirus. Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has refused calls for strict lockdown. DeSantis slammed those who urged school closures, calling them 'flat-earthers.' Last week, he barred towns from fining people for violating mitigation measures
1st Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

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

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Austria set to bow to pressure on Covid risk with ski holiday ban

Austria’s government appears to have bowed to pressure from Germany, France and Italy and will ban skiing holidays over the Christmas break in an attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic, Austrian media is reporting. The decision, expected to be officially announced on Wednesday, follows heated disagreements between Berlin and Vienna. On Tuesday morning, Austria’s tourist minister accused the German government of interfering in its domestic affairs after Angela Merkel said she had wanted a ban on skiing holidays. The chancellor secured the backing of the Italian and French governments as well as the leaders of the 16 German states.
1st Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be the first to get coronavirus vaccines, CDC advisory group says

The first doses of a coronavirus vaccine should be given to an estimated 21 million health-care workers and 3 million residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, a federal advisory panel recommended Tuesday afternoon. These groups were deemed the highest priority by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, because the vaccine will initially be in extremely short supply after it is cleared by federal regulators. Health-care personnel are a top priority because of their exposure to the virus and their critical role of keeping the nation’s hospitals and clinics functioning. Residents and employees of long-term care facilities were prioritized because they account for nearly 40 percent of deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
2nd Dec 2020 - The Washington Post

EU Commission to authorise COVID-19 vaccines days after regulatory approval

The European Commission is likely to give the final authorisation for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines days after the EU drug regulator approves them, a spokesman for the EU executive said on Tuesday. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said earlier on Tuesday it planned to decide whether to approve the vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech by Dec 29, and by Jan. 12 on the shot being developed by Moderna. “It’s probably a matter of days. The goal is to do it rapidly,” the spokesman told a news conference, adding the exact date depended on the EMA’s possible authorisations.
1st Dec 2020 - Reuters

Lawmakers introduce bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal with uncertain future in Congress

In the U.S., negotiations restarted Tuesday and lawmakers introduced coronavirus relief proposals in the latest effort to break the logjam and reach a deal in the few remaining weeks a divided Congress has left in session. The day started with a bipartisan group of lawmakers introducing a roughly $908 billion proposal intended as a temporary package that would run until April. It ended with two additional proposals, one offered privately by Democratic leaders to Republicans and a third that Republicans have approved with the White House and could be voted on by the Senate.
1st Dec 2020 - USA Today

Bolivia's new government is encouraging people to take toxic bleach as a cure for COVID-19, a victory for a months-long disinformation campaign

Bolivia's new health minister, Edgar Pozo, at a press conference Sunday said consuming toxic bleach chlorine dioxide as a COVID-19 treatment is now permitted. It has no medical value and is potentially deadly if consumed, according to medical authorities including the FDA and WHO. Despite this, a determined campaign by advocates of the substance, also called Miracle Mineral Solution, persuaded many to take it. Business Insider previously reported how lawmakers in Bolivia embraced the substance despite warnings from the nation's own health ministry. But last month the old government lost power, allowing the newly-installed Pozo to effectively overturn that advice.
1st Dec 2020 - Business Insider

Top US politician refuses to bring in lockdown or other Covid rules saying he wants to leave people alone

One of America’s most powerful politicians has refused to enact fresh lockdown measures after saying he wants to leave people alone to make responsible choices. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis – who has the final say on the Sunshine State’s coronavirus rules – said Monday that he will not be enacting any lockdown measures, edicts which require people to wear masks in public, or school closures. DeSantis, one of President Trump’s staunchest allies, told a press conference: ‘No lockdowns, no fines, no school closures.’ He previously lifted all rules, including a 50% capacity limit in bars and restaurants, in September.
1st Dec 2020 - Metro.co.uk

UK leader touts local virus rules but pubs are in distress

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged lawmakers to vote Tuesday for a new set of coronavirus restrictions in England, saying the country must “hold our nerve” until vaccines are approved and distributed. England’s current four-week national lockdown ends at midnight, and the government plans to replace it starting Wednesday with a three-tier regional system based on the severity of the outbreak in different parts of the country.
1st Dec 2020 - The Independent

Ireland eases out of second lockdown

Some non-essential retail and other businesses are reopening to the public as Ireland eases out of its second lockdown. A Government decision to lift Level 5 restrictions will also see the hair and beauty industry and gyms and leisure centres open their doors after six weeks of closures. Restaurants and pubs that serve food will remain shut until Friday in line with the Government’s plans to reopen on a phased basis. As Covid-19 restrictions ease country-wide, health chiefs have issued warnings not to gather in crowded areas.
1st Dec 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

Tomelloso: Battered in first wave, Spanish town emerges scarred but safer

Although Spain was struggling with one of Europe's most deadly outbreaks, Tomelloso was particularly hard-hit, losing almost one percent of its 36,000 residents in the first wave. During the second wave, it has been a completely different story, with the figures significantly lower, although memories of the earlier nightmare remain all too fresh. "Around 300 people were buried in the local cemetery" in the first wave, Mayor Inmaculada Jimenez told AFP. Every day, they were burying 10, 11 or 12 people, it was incredibly hard." These days, as Spain and Europe grapple with a second wave, Tomelloso has stayed well out of the headlines, with just 13 deaths between May and September.
1st Dec 2020 - RTL Today

Spain appeals for Covid 'common sense' after shopping crowd scenes

The Spanish government has called on people to behave responsibly and use their “common sense” after pictures over the weekend showed the streets of Madrid and other big cities heaving with crowds despite the country’s ongoing struggle with the second wave of the coronavirus. Spain has been in a state of emergency since the end of October and is subject to an overnight curfew. The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has asked people to drastically curtail their social lives and limit their movements for the common good. However, a combination of Black Friday, seasonal shopping and the switching on of Christmas lights appears to have brought large numbers of people out on to the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Málaga over the weekend.
1st Dec 2020 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Boris Johnson says case for tier system is 'compelling' and promises £1,000 payment for 'wet pubs'

Boris Johnson has said there is a "compelling case" for further coronavirus restrictions - as he promised pubs which do not serve food a one-off payment of £1,000 in December. Pubs which only sell drinks, or "wet pubs", will be unable to open if they are in Tier 2 or Tier 3 areas under the new system of restrictions from tomorrow. The prime minister made the announcement after saying the hospitality sector has been hit disproportionately hard in the pandemic.
1st Dec 2020 - Sky News

Merkel urges Germans to be careful or risk third coronavirus wave

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that Germany could face a third wave of coronavirus infections if citizens are careless in the coming weeks. Germany’s number of new infections has stabilized at a high level since a partial lockdown was imposed on Nov 2. to contain a second wave of coronavirus infections. But officials have said that progress was still fragile. “We’ll have to be very, very careful during the winter,” Merkel said in a virtual panel discussion with police officers. “Otherwise we’ll end up directly in the next wave.”
1st Dec 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19 will increase humanitarian needs in 2021: UN

The coronavirus pandemic is pushing the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance to new highs, according to the United Nations, dramatically increasing the ranks of extreme poverty in just one year. One in 33 people will need aid to meet basic needs like food, water and sanitation in 2021, an increase of 40 percent from this year, the UN said on Tuesday in its Global Humanitarian Overview 2021. That translates to 235 million people worldwide, with concentrations in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, it said.
1st Dec 2020 - Aljazeera.com

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

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Swedish epidemiologist sidelined after country's no-lockdown rule leads to rise in number of deaths

Sweden "loses faith" with its Covid expert as deaths rise. An epidemiologist who led the no-lockdown strategy appears to have been sidelined by his government. The high-profile epidemiologist who led Sweden's no-lockdown strategy in the spring appears to be being sidelined by his country's government after his prediction that greater immunity would mean a lighter second wave proved badly wrong. Anders Tegnell's biweekly press conference was on Thursday pushed into the shade by an overlapping press conference fronted by Stefan Lofven, Sweden's prime minister, where scenarios prepared by the Public Health Agency were announced.
30th Nov 2020 - New Zealand Herald

Turkey tightens coronavirus curbs as death toll hits record high

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a new round of tight restrictions in a bid to stem a surge in coronavirus infections, extending curfews to weeknights and imposing a full lockdown during the weekend. After only reporting symptomatic cases for four months, Turkey last week resumed reporting all positive COVID-19 cases that saw logged daily infections jump to about 30,000. On Monday, the number of daily new cases reached a record high of 31,219, while the COVID-19 death toll hit a record high for an eighth consecutive day, with 188 fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to figures from the health ministry.
1st Dec 2020 - Al Jazeera English

COVID-19: Another national lockdown not ruled out as minister warns we may not 'get back to normal' until next summer

It is "too early to say" if another national lockdown will be needed after Christmas, according to a senior minister. George Eustice said "you can't rule anything out" when asked by Sky News if the "stay at home" measures could come back into force to keep coronavirus under control. The environment secretary also admitted it may be as late as "next summer" until "we can all start to get back to normal" - dependent on a vaccine.
30th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Pubs ordered to close by 6pm from Friday as Wales enters new lockdown

Wales will be placed back under harsh new coronavirus restrictions just three weeks after a ‘firebreak’ lockdown ended, the First Minister has confirmed. Mark Drakeford announced that there will be a total ban on alcohol sales, with pubs, bars and restaurants across the country told to shut by 6pm on Friday, following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. He said that without action, government modelling suggested 2,200 people could be in hospital by January 12, with 1,600 people also losing their lives over the winter period. Non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms and leisure centres will remain open but cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will be forced to shut in the run up to Christmas.
30th Nov 2020 - Metro

Covid-19 cases: UK infections have fallen by 30% in lockdown and R rate has dropped to 0.88, study says

Covid-19 cases have fallen by roughly a third in lockdown, a new study has found. Infections in some of the worst-hit areas dropped, and while experts confirm lockdown restrictions were a success, cases nationally remain high. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said while the drop in cases is “encouraging”, the public must stick to the rules in the coming weeks. The findings come just days before England ends its four-week lockdown, when the country will go into tiered restrictions with a review set for 16 December.
30th Nov 2020 - The i on MSN.com

Covid: PM calls for 'unity' as he agrees to publish data behind new tiers

Boris Johnson has agreed to publish the health, economic and social data behind England's new tier system later, as he seeks to avert a Commons rebellion. MPs will vote on the measures on Tuesday, and numerous Conservative MPs have demanded to see the evidence government is basing its new system on. Writing to a group of around 70 MPs - who are sceptical of the new rules - Mr Johnson called for "unity and resolve". Labour is expected to support the PM, but is yet to confirm its stance. If Labour does decide to get behind the new tier system, the government should easily win the vote - even if there is a sizeable revolt among Conservative MPs.
30th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Italy Green-lights New Anti-Covid Stimulus Package

Italy's government said Monday it had approved a new stimulus package to shore up businesses affected by the latest round of anti-coronavirus restrictions in the eurozone's third-largest economy. The aid package, the fourth since the pandemic gripped the country in March, is worth eight billion euros ($9.6 billion) and delays tax deadlines for companies in areas subject to harsh lockdown measures. It also offers a 1,000-euro lump sum to workers in tourism, the arts, sports and leisure -- as well as setting aside funds for the conventions sector and a boosted police presence to ensure anti-coronavirus measures are respected.
30th Nov 2020 - Barron's

Nationwide Lockdown on Cards? PM Modi to Hold All-party Meet on December 4 to Discuss COVID Situation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair an all-party meeting on Friday to discuss the COVID-19 situation. The second all-party meeting, which comes amid a sudden spurt in COVID-19 cases will be held virtually at 10.30 am. The meeting assumes significance as it is being held after the prime minister’s visit to Zydus Cadila, Bharat Biotech, and Serum Institute of India (SII) to personally review coronavirus vaccine development work there.
30th Nov 2020 - India.com

Gov. Phil Murphy ignores protesters and warns New Jersey state-wide lockdown is 'still on the table'

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy told Fox News Sunday that a state-wide lockdown is still 'on the table.' 'It's on the table in terms of a shutdown,' Murphy told Bret Baier on 'Fox News Sunday'. 'I don't anticipate it and I sure as heck don't want to go that route.' The comments came as anti-lockdown protesters swarmed the street where Murphy lives to voice their opposition to pandemic-related restrictions The Democratic governor was also verbally confronted and filmed while having dinner out with his wife and four kids at a New Jersey restaurant. They called him a 'real d***' and told one of his sons to 'go f*** yourself.' The confrontation where Murphy said nothing came after he urged New Jersey residents to limit their Thanksgiving celebrations to 10 people
30th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Kim Jong Un is cutting off his economic lifeline, China, to stave off Covid-19

Kim Jong Un appears to have kicked North Korea's pandemic prevention plan into overdrive, further tightening the country's nearly impassible borders, cutting off nearly all trade with China, and even allegedly executing a customs official for failing to handle imported goods appropriately. Beijing exported just $253,000 worth of goods to Pyongyang in October -- a drop of 99% from September to October, according to data published by China's customs administration. For context, that's less in terms of dollar value than China exported to Liechtenstein and Monaco during October.
30th Nov 2020 - CNN

South Australia now open to Victoria once again

As of midnight, South Australia is rolling out a list of changes to COVID-19 restrictions, after the state recorded zero new cases yesterday. Since 12.01am, the border with Victoria has finally been reopened, allowing travel between the two states. Victorians entering South Australia are still required to fill in an online permit form, to get pre-approval. Masks are also mandatory for people in allied health and residential care, and the state is rolling out its QR code mandatory check-in system for businesses and venues. But also, stand-up drinking is returning to pubs and weddings, and patron caps on businesses are now removed.
30th Nov 2020 - 9News.com.au

Covid-19 vaccines: Belfast Trust staff 'can decide to have jab'

Staff in the Belfast Health Trust are being asked whether or not they want to receive the Covid vaccine. The BBC has seen an email and questionnaire sent to all employees telling them workers will receive the Pfizer vaccine. Trade unions say they are encouraging front-line workers to get the vaccine but everyone should be given a choice. Another 10 Covid-related deaths and 290 new cases were reported by Stormont's Department of Health on Monday. It brings the department's death toll - which consists of deaths from any cause within 28 days of a positive test - to 996.
30th Nov 2020 - BBC News

COVID-19: People who refuse to get vaccine could be denied entry to venues, minister suggests

People could be refused entry to a host of venues if they decline a coronavirus vaccine, a minister has suggested. Nadhim Zahawi, who is responsible for the rollout of vaccines against COVID-19, said the jabs will not be compulsory.
30th Nov 2020 - Sky News

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

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Covid: PM agrees to publish data behind England's new tier system

Boris Johnson has agreed to publish the health, economic and social data behind England's new tier system later, as he seeks to avert a Commons rebellion. MPs will vote on the measures on Tuesday, and numerous Conservative MPs have demanded to see the data the government is basing its new system on. Writing to members of the Covid Research Group of MPs - who are sceptical of the new rules - Mr Johnson asked them to show "unity and resolve".
30th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Covid infections in England fall by 30% over lockdown - React study

Coronavirus infections in England have fallen by about a third over lockdown, according to a major study. Some of the worst-hit areas saw the biggest improvements - but, despite this progress, cases remained high across England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the data showed the country could not "take our foot off the pedal just yet". The findings by Imperial College London were based on swabbing more than 100,000 people between 13-24 November. The React-1 study is highly respected and gives us the most up-to-date picture of Covid-19 in the country.
30th Nov 2020 - BBC News

France must review COVID-19 crowd limits on church attendance

France’s State Council, the country’s highest court, on Sunday ordered the government to review a law limiting the number of people in churches during religious services to 30. The Council said in a statement that the measure was not proportionate to coronavirus infection risks. Last week, the government announced that a nationwide lockdown in place since Oct. 30 would be unwound in phases.
29th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Austrians to face further 'massive restrictions' after lockdown - Kurz

Austria should expect further heavy restrictions when its current lockdown measures expire in just over a week, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told Austrian paper Kleine Zeitung. Austria’s nationwide lockdown is due to be lifted on Dec. 7, but it is not yet clear what that will mean for the ski industry - cornerstone of a tourism sector which accounts for some 15% of economic output - or overall life in Austria. Speaking to Kleine Zeitung, Kurz said Austrians would need to contend with further restrictions for weeks and months, adding new measures to be announced on Wednesday depended on COVID-19 case developments.
29th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

UK secures two million more doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

Britain has secured two million doses of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, to be available in Europe as early as the spring, the government said on Sunday, in addition to the 5 million doses it secured from the U.S. company two weeks ago. The new deal came a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson named Nadhim Zahawi, a junior business minister, to be minister responsible for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines. Britain now has access to enough doses of Moderna’s vaccine candidate for around 3.5 million people. Overall, it has access to 357 million doses of vaccines from seven developers, according to government statement.
29th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Swedes question Covid-19 approach as second wave hits

Sweden’s centre-left government has long seemed happy to allow Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist, to be the public face of the country’s distinctive approach to handling the Covid-19 pandemic. But as the second wave has hit Sweden, which resisted a formal lockdown, much harder than its Nordic neighbours — contrary to predictions made by Mr Tegnell in the spring and summer — so the government in Stockholm has stirred into action. Stefan Lofven, the Swedish prime minister, announced two weeks ago what he called the most intrusive measures in “modern times” in banning public gatherings of more than eight people. That night, Mr Tegnell told Swedish radio that it was not his public health agency “putting our foot down”, and that the ban was less wide-ranging than the prime minister had suggested.
28th Nov 2020 - The Financial Times

UK regulator set to approve Covid-19 vaccine next week

The UK is poised to become the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, with the independent regulator set to grant approval within days. Deliveries of the vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer would begin within hours of the authorisation, according to government officials. The first injections could take place from December 7. The UK has ordered 40m doses of the two-shot product, which preliminary data found to be more than 95 per cent effective in preventing disease. Vaccines would normally be authorised by the European Medicines Agency until the end of the Brexit transition on December 31. However the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has the power to temporarily authorise products, in cases of urgent public need.
28th Nov 2020 - The Financial Times

Covid-19: Mass testing a 'distraction' from vaccine rollout - health leaders

Mass testing plans in England threaten to be a "distraction" from other priorities such as the rollout of a vaccine, health leaders have warned. The PM has said mass community testing, as seen in Liverpool, will be offered to all areas in tier three after lockdown ends. But experts have questioned whether this is possible due to the "enormous" resources it requires. The government said it will work with local authorities to support plans. In a joint statement, the Faculty of Public Health and the Association of Directors of Public Health said improving NHS Test and Trace must remain the top focus for testing.
28th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Germany hits 1 million COVID cases as lockdown rules are extended

More than 1 million people across Germany have been infected with coronavirus, officials revealed on Friday. The Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control center, said 22,806 cases were reported the previous day across the nation’s 16 states, bringing the total number of reported infections to 1,006,394. The grim milestone was announced the same day officials revealed Germany had recorded its second consecutive record daily death toll overnight.
28th Nov 2020 - New York Daily News on MSN.com

Italy loosens COVID restrictions in five regions, including Lombardy

The Italian government will ease anti-COVID restrictions in five regions from Sunday, including in the country’s richest and most populous region Lombardy, the Health Ministry said. Lombardy, Piedmont and Calabria will be downgraded from red to orange zones, while Sicily and Liguria will drop from the orange to the yellow zone, which has least restrictions. Friday’s decision follows a gradual decline in hospitalisations from coronavirus in much of Italy over the past week, with the number of new cases also retreating from highs seen earlier this month.
28th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Towns and villages could be ‘decoupled’ from nearby coronavirus hotspots

In England, the government is reportedly considering plans to allow towns and villages to be “decoupled” from nearby coronavirus hotspots. Rural areas with low levels of Covid-19 infections could be removed from the tier 2 and 3 restrictions they were placed under because of their proximity to cities with high numbers of cases, The Daily Telegraph reports. The tier system of restrictions is expected to remain in place for several months in an attempt to drive down the rate at which the virus is spreading throughout England.
28th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Lithuania extends lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge

Lithuania on Wednesday extended its coronavirus lockdown until Dec. 17, when the new government is expected to take over. The outgoing government said the lockdown had stabilised new infections at about 11,000 per week, twice as high as during the week of Nov. 4 when the three-week lockdown was announced. “The spread has slowed somewhat, but the situation remains really serious,” Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said during a televised cabinet session.
28th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Ireland to lift COVID-19 curbs ahead of many European countries

Ireland will allow shops, restaurants, gyms and pubs serving food to reopen next week, and permit travel between counties from Dec. 18, to facilitate a “different but special” Christmas, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Friday. Ireland became one of first European countries to reimpose tough COVID-19 constraints six weeks ago when the government shut non-essential retail and limited pubs and restaurants to takeaway service under its highest level of restrictions. From Tuesday, however, the economy will begin to be one of the most open across Europe after a sharp cut in the 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 people to below 100, behind only Finland and Iceland across the continent.
28th Nov 2020 - Reuters

U.S. vaccine plans take shape but no let-up on restrictions

U.S. health authorities will hold an emergency meeting next week to recommend that a coronavirus vaccine awaiting approval be given first to healthcare professionals and people in long-term care facilities. The meeting, announced on Friday by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) committee on immunizations, suggests that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be close to authorizing distribution of the long-awaited medication, at least to those considered most vulnerable.
28th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Maharashtra Covid-19: Existing lockdown restrictions extended till Dec 31

The Maharashtra government on Friday extended the lockdown on account of coronavirus in the state till the midnight of December 31, 2020, an official release said. In the last couple months, the government has eased several lockdown restrictions
27th Nov 2020 - The Times of India

Panicking Kim Jong Un has had two people executed and locked down Pyongyang as he tries to tackle coronavirus and its economic damage, South Korea claims

Kim Jong Un is taking 'irrational measures' against Covid-19, South Korea says North Korea executed a high-profile money changer in Pyongyang last month Key official was executed in August for bringing in goods from abroad, NIS says
27th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th Nov 2020

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Britain asks regulator to assess Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Britain on Friday asked its medicine regulator to assess Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate for temporary supply, a step towards beginning a roll-out before the end of the year. AstraZeneca expects 4 million doses to be available in Britain by the end of next month, and health minister Hancock is targeting the roll-out to begin before Christmas. “We have formally asked the regulator to assess the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, to understand the data and determine whether it meets rigorous safety standards,” Hancock said in a statement. “This letter is an important step towards deploying a vaccine as quickly as safely possible.”
27th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Covid tiers: large parts of England in tier 3 restrictions after lockdown

Significant sections of England including much of the north and Midlands have been placed in the top tier of new coronavirus restrictions, the government has announced, potentially putting ministers on a collision course with Conservative MPs. Only three areas – Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly – are in the lowest level of the new rules, which come into force when the England-wide lockdown ends on 2 December and are intended to stay in force to the spring. This means that, by population, almost 99% of England will be in the top two tiers.
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Pandemic weakening more in France than elsewhere in Europe, says PM

France has done a better job of flattening a second wave of COVID-19 infections that some of its European neighbours but it would be premature to talk about an end to the lockdown, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday. Castex said the 'R' rate that measures the spread was now at 0.65 countrywide, the same level France reached at the end of a three-month confinement in the spring, but that citizens must not lower their guard over the festive holidays.
26th Nov 2020 - MSN.com

French PM details plan to lift coronavirus lockdown

France aims to lift a nationwide lockdown on December 15, Prime Minister Castex said, with shops authorised to reopen as early as Saturday after weeks of closure.
26th Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24

No lockdown on weekends or border sealing: Minister

In Uttar Pradesh, State health minister Jai Pratap Singh ruled out night and weekend lockdowns or sealing of border areas in the state. Target and random sampling, he added, will continue in vulnerable areas. “There is no question of a night or weekend lockdown, or any steps towards sealing of borders. All rules of unlock will continue to apply. We will, however, continue with target sampling in designated areas, such as urban slums, jails, sweet shops, malls and (other) high-risk areas. Random testing at the borders will also continue,” Singh said.
26th Nov 2020 - Times of India

Greece extends nationwide coronavirus lockdown by a week

Greece will extend its nationwide lockdown by a week until Dec. 7 as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country, a government spokesman said on Thursday. An increase in infections since October has forced the government to impose Greece’s second national shutdown since the pandemic began. The country has registered a total of 97,288 COVID-19 cases and 1,902 deaths during the pandemic, with northern Greece hardest hit and hospitals operating at almost full capacity.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters India

Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol in 'very high' tier 3

Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol will fall under “very high” Tier 3 restrictions when England’s national lockdown ends in six days’ time, the government has announced. It follows Boris Johnson’s announcement earlier this week that while nationwide restrictions will expire on 2 December, a tougher version of the regional tiered system will be re-introduced. Other areas that will be placed under the highest levels of coronavirus restrictions are vast areas of the north-east, including Middlesbrough, Darlington, Newcastle upon Tyne and County Durham.
26th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Angela Merkel extends Germany’s Covid lockdown through Christmas

Germany’s national shutdown is likely to extend into New Year to dampen the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said. "Given the high number of infections, we assume that the restrictions which are in place before Christmas will continue to be valid until the start of January, certainly for most parts of Germany," Ms Merkel told parliament on Thursday. She added the increase in coronavirus cases was still much too high and the number of deaths a reason for concern. The country embarked on a so-called "wave-breaker" shutdown on November 2 - shutting restaurants, bars and, leisure facilities, but schools, hair salons and shops remained open.
26th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Most of England to enter two toughest tiers when lockdown is lifted

The majority of England will enter the two toughest tiers of Covid restrictions from next week, ministers are set to announce, amid signs of a growing parliamentary rebellion and fears that the measures could remain unchanged until spring. On Thursday Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is expected to say that most of the country will be placed into tiers 2 or 3, which imply significant restrictions on hospitality, after the national lockdown ends on 2 December. As ministers grappled with the backlash, a further 696 coronavirus deaths were announced on Wednesday – the highest UK daily total since 5 May. Lockdown-sceptic Tory MPs have seized on a newly published forecast from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which assumes months more of struggle to get to grips with the virus.
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Top US court blocks NY coronavirus limits on houses of worship

As coronavirus cases surge again nationwide, the United States Supreme Court has barred New York from enforcing certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. The justices split 5-4 for Wednesday’s vote, with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the majority. It was the conservative’s first publicly discernible vote as a justice. The court’s three liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts dissented.
26th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English

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

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Britain to detail post-lockdown restrictions in England

The British government on Thursday will set out which COVID-19 restrictions each local authority in England will face when a national lockdown ends next week allowing businesses to reopen in areas where infection rates are lower. Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England into a month-long lockdown in early November after coronavirus cases and deaths started to rise again, angering businesses and some of his own political party over the economic consequences. He set out new measures on Monday to replace the lockdown from Dec. 2, reinforcing a previous regional approach and warning that some areas would move into a higher alert level than the one they were in before.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Germany Merkel: Car rams into chancellery gate ahead of Covid decision

A car has been driven into the gates of Angela Merkel's Federal Chancellery building in Berlin, German police say. A 54-year-old man was detained but the background to the incident was unclear. The Volkswagen car had messages daubed in white on both sides. One called for an end to "globalisation politics" while another referred to "you damned killers of children and old people". The incident came hours before Mrs Merkel held talks with regional leaders on extending Covid safety measures.
25th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Pope Francis takes aim at anti-mask protesters: ‘They are incapable of moving outside of their own little world’

In his new book, “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future,” to be released Dec. 1, the head of the 1.3 billion–member Roman Catholic Church lambastes those who protest the health measures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19: “Some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions — as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom,” he writes.
25th Nov 2020 - MarketWatch

Covid lockdown in France: Macron’s sobering message to the nation

President Macron announced an easing of restrictions in France last night while preparing the nation for an unfamiliar festive season of sobriety, home-cooked meals and early nights. In a televised address Mr Macron, who placed France in lockdown on October 29, said that he planned to lift it on December 15 if daily new infections fell below 5,000 by that date.
25th Nov 2020 - The Times

France’s lockdown to ease as Macron says second peak has passed

President Emmanuel Macron has announced a three-step route out of lockdown for France ahead of the Christmas season, declaring the second coronavirus peak to be ‘over’. People will be able to visit non-essential shops and go to museums and cinemas by mid-December – but won’t be able to enjoy a meal in a restaurant or a gym workout until late January as the Government strives to keep infection rates down. It comes after a month of tight restrictions, with residents currently requiring a permission slip to leave their homes, although schools and some workplaces remain open.
25th Nov 2020 - Metro

French government pledges more support for businesses as lockdown measures eased

The French government is pledging an additional €1.6 billion to help businesses forced to remain shut, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions. Restaurants and gyms will remain closed until at least January 20, while no date has been given for the re-opening of bars or nightclubs. The extra funds will be used to expand a grant scheme to help firms cover their costs during the crisis. Meanwhile, business groups have welcomed news that all shops will be allowed to open from Saturday.
25th Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24

Night curfews allowed, lockdown needs Centre’s nod in new Covid protocol

In India, due to the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in various states, the Centre on Wednesday allowed states and union territories to impose local restrictions, such as night curfew, based on their assessment of the situation. However, they cannot impose any local lockdown outside the containment zones without prior consultation with the Centre. The MHA also said that state governments can consider implementing staggered office timings and other suitable measures in cities where the weekly case positivity rate is more than 10 percent so that the number of employees attending offices at the same time can be reduced.
25th Nov 2020 - Hindustan Times

Winter cold, young spreaders, small gatherings spur South Korea's Covid-19 third wave

Falling temperatures, young asymptomatic spreaders and small social gatherings where people tend to take off their masks. These are reasons cited by experts to explain South Korea's latest surge in coronavirus cases in what is viewed as the third major wave since February and possibly the biggest and toughest to curb. South Korea, which has prided itself on using massive testing and aggressive contact tracing to fight the coronavirus outbreak without resorting to lockdowns, is now struggling to contain Covid-19 ahead of an all-important college entrance exam due on Dec 3.
25th Nov 2020 - The Straits Times

How Australia succeeded in lowering COVID-19 cases to near-zero

Unlike other nations, including Canada, which have aimed to maintain new infections at a level that won't overwhelm the medical system, Australia set out to virtually eliminate the virus from its shores. When Australia was hit with a surge of COVID-19 cases in late July just weeks after declaring victory against the first wave, it prompted one of the world's longest lockdowns in Melbourne, for example, closing virtually everything that wasn't a grocery store or hospital for nearly four months. In many cities, roadblocks were established to ensure people stayed home. Even when restrictions were eased there was a nightly curfew, and in the initial lockdown people weren't allowed to be more than five kilometres away from home in certain regions. Break a rule, and you could face a fine of $1,300.
25th Nov 2020 - CBC.ca

How Iceland hammered COVID with science

Driving along Reykjavik’s windswept roads on a cold March morning, Kári Stefánsson turned up the radio. The World Health Organization had just announced that an estimated 3.4% of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 would die — a shockingly high fatality rate, some 30 times larger than that for seasonal influenza. There was a problem with that estimate, however: it was based on reported cases of COVID-19, rather than all cases, including mild and asymptomatic infections. “I couldn’t figure out how they could calculate it out without knowing the spread of the virus,” recalls Stefánsson, who is the founder and chief executive of deCODE genetics, a human-genomics company in Reykjavik. He became convinced that making sense of the epidemic, and protecting the people of Iceland from it, would require a sweeping scientific response.
25th Nov 2020 - Nature.com

Germany plans Christmas curbs as COVID-19 deaths hit record

Germany reported a record 410 COVID-19 deaths over 24 hours just before federal state leaders and Chancellor Angela Merkel were due to discuss an extension of pandemic-related restrictions into December and for the Christmas and New Year holidays. The 16 federal states are expected to decide on Wednesday to extend the “lockdown light” until Dec. 20. This will keep bars, restaurants and entertainment venues shut while schools and shops stay open.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

UK spent 849 million pounds on COVID dining subsidy

Britain’s government spent almost twice as much as expected on encouraging people to eat in restaurants, cafes and pubs during what proved to be a temporary lull in COVID-19 cases in August. Official figures released on Wednesday ahead of new spending plans from finance minister Rishi Sunak showed his Eat Out to Help Out scheme cost 849 million pounds, much more than an initial government estimate of 500 million pounds.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Lithuania extends lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge

Lithuania on Wednesday extended its coronavirus lockdown until Dec. 17, when the new government is expected to take over. The outgoing government said the lockdown had stabilised new infections at about 11,000 per week, twice as high as during the week of Nov. 4 when the three-week lockdown was announced. “The spread has slowed somewhat, but the situation remains really serious,” Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said during a televised cabinet session.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters India

Bulgaria imposes lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge

Bulgaria said on Wednesday it would close schools, restaurants, shopping malls and gyms until Dec. 21 as it struggles to contain a surge in new coronavirus infections. “Only one thing has been proven to have an impact on COVID-19 - decreasing social contacts or quarantine. To ease the pressure on hospitals that are on the brink, we are introducing measures for three weeks,” Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said. Like much of central and eastern Europe, Bulgaria weathered the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic relatively well in the spring, but cases have spiked across the region this autumn.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

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

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All Hail The Lockdown

In a five-part series, made in lockdown, Ali Rae explores the complexities of our global response to the Covid-19 pandemic
24th Nov 2020 - Aljazeera.com

Coronavirus: French lockdown to ease after second peak passes

France will begin to ease its strict coronavirus restrictions this weekend, allowing non-essential shops to reopen, President Emmanuel Macron has said. People will also be able to share "moments with the family" over the Christmas period, Mr Macron announced. But he said bars and restaurants would have to remain closed until 20 January. France has reported more than 2.2 million cases and more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
25th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Germany warns of Coronavirus vaccine race between rich and poor

Angela Merkel fears a global race between richer and poorer nations to access COVID-19 vaccines. She urged government leaders at an online meeting of the G20 to ensure a fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines among impoverished countries. "To halt the pandemic, every country needs to have access to and be able to afford the vaccine. The funds pledged so far are not yet enough to achieve this. I, therefore, appeal to you all of you to support this important initiative," she said. The chancellor made clear she would raise the issue with the global vaccine alliance GAVI. "This short-term assistance is in the interest of us all. And it is also in our interest to improve global pandemic preparedness in the long term. To this end, we need to sustainably strengthen the World Health Organization."
25th Nov 2020 - Vatican News

Italy seeking EU rules for Christmas skiing to limit COVID-19 risk

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has warned Italians not to ski during the Christmas holidays to help curb a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 people in Italy. He also called on other European countries to agree on common rules for the sector to prevent cases being imported from abroad if Italy keeps its slopes closed - although neighbouring Austria has already expressed its reservations about the idea. Italy’s ski resorts earn annual revenues of about 11 billion euros ($13.06 billion), a third of which comes from the days Italians usually spend in the Alps and Dolomites at Christmas and New Year.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Coronavirus: German states agree on Christmas rules

Tighten the screws in a bid to salvage some semblance of normalcy at Christmas: That seems to be the essence of a new COVID strategy for December reportedly developed by Germany's regional leaders.
24th Nov 2020 - DW (English)

Number 10 used apocalyptic Covid-19 graphs to 'frighten' public into lockdown, top statistician

Sir David Spiegelhalter suggested the Government tried to 'manipulate' Britons. Cherry-picked 'worst-case scenarios' to 'instill a certain emotional reaction.' No10 lambasted for its apocalyptic graphs and spurious data shown to public
24th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

'We must do everything to avoid a third wave and lockdown,' says Macron

France will begin easing its Covid-19 lockdown this weekend so that by Christmas, shops, theatres and cinemas will re-open and people will be able to spend the holiday with the rest of their family, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday. In a televised address to the nation, Macron said the worst of the second wave of the pandemic in France was over, but that restaurants, cafés and bars would have to stay shut until January. "We must do everything in our power to avoid a third wave and a third lockdown," the French president said.
24th Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24 English

Amid lockdown worries, PM Modi holds key meet with CMs on corona surge

As the major Indian cities battle with the sharp rise in the fresh Covid-19 infections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday held a virtual meeting with several Chief Ministers to formulate the strategy for the coming days. The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of Delhi, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. The brainstorming session gains importance as it is not only a stock-taking meeting but more centred on making urgent plans to tackle the corona surges, especially in urban areas. While nothing official has been communicated so far, there is a buzz that the state, as well as the Centre, maybe thinking on something akin to a ‘mini lockdown’.
24th Nov 2020 - The Financial Express

No lockdown in Maharashtra, state Cabinet decides

In India, putting speculations to rest, the Maharashtra government has decided against imposing any lockdown in the state amid rising cases of the novel coronavirus. The decision was taken at a key cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The cabinet also ruled out clamping of a night curfew in the state.
24th Nov 2020 - India TV News

Stricter COVID-19 measures take effect in South Korea amid rise in cases

A stricter level of physical distancing restrictions went into effect in the greater Seoul area on Tuesday as health officials scrambled to contain what they have described as a third wave of COVID-19. The government raised its distancing level on its five-tier scale, from Level 1.5 to Level 2, as new cases continue to linger at the highest levels since August. South Korea saw more than 300 cases on Tuesday, most in the Seoul metropolitan region, where roughly half of the country's 52 million people live.
24th Nov 2020 - UPI.com

Melbourne's brutal coronavirus lockdown does job

It was a grim, lifeless mid-winter in shuttered Melbourne — Australia’s second largest city and the nation’s cultural and gastronomic capital. As a second coronavirus outbreak took hold, triggered by lapses in the city’s mandatory hotel quarantine system for returning overseas travellers, the southern state of Victoria and its capital entered another lockdown, one of the West’s harshest.
24th Nov 2020 - The Times

England gets new set of restrictions for end of COVID-19 lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new measures on Monday to replace a COVID-19 lockdown in England from Dec. 2, reinforcing a previous regional approach to try to reopen businesses in areas where infection rates are lower. Just over two weeks after Johnson introduced a national lockdown in England to try to tame a spiralling increase in new coronavirus cases, he said the measures had reduced COVID infection rates and would be eased on Dec. 2 as promised. Johnson has been under pressure to scrap the lockdown from lawmakers in his Conservative Party, where many have threatened to vote against any new restrictions without more evidence of their effect in stemming infections.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters

UK's four nations will relax COVID restrictions to save Christmas

The four nations of the United Kingdom have agreed to relax COVID-19 restrictions for Christmas to allow up to three households to meet at home for five days. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have taken differing approaches to handling the pandemic so far but the leaders of the devolved nations reached agreement with London on Tuesday on rules governing the festive period. Three households will be able to form a “Christmas bubble”, allowing them to meet up at home, places of worship and in outdoor public places but not at indoor hospitality or entertainment venues from Dec. 23 until Dec. 27 under the plans.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

U.S. officials plan to release 6.4 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses in first distribution

U.S. officials said on Tuesday they plan to release 6.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses nationwide in an initial distribution after the first one is cleared by regulators for emergency use. Officials from the government’s Operation Warp Speed program told reporters that states and other jurisdictions had been informed on Friday of their estimated vaccine allocations in the first shipments so they can begin planning for how to best distribute it to their high-risk populations. The officials had previously said they anticipate 40 million doses will be distributed by year end, a number they reiterated on Tuesday.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters

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

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Hong Kong Will Close More Indoor Entertainment Venues, Lam Says

Hong Kong will shutter more indoor entertainment venues, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, amid a surge of Covid-19 cases in the city. “The direction is to cover this kind of premises because according to the WHO, we have to avoid three things: Avoid closed areas, avoid crowds -- the ‘three C’s’ -- and avoid close contacts,” Lam told a weekly briefing Tuesday, the day before she was set to deliver her delayed annual policy address. There will be an announcement later Tuesday on the new virus-related directives, Lam said, without specifying a time, or giving further details about what the closures would encompass. Hong Kong reported 63 new local coronavirus cases on Monday, the most since early August. Concerns are rising about a new wave of infections in a city that had seen initial success in stamping out the outbreak. “Unfortunately we see a rebound, so we need to do our best to keep it under control,” she said. Still, “we have to look at it globally because this is a global pandemic,” she said. “Hong Kong is not doing bad at all.”
24th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak orders statewide 'pause' for three weeks with restaurants, bars and casinos being forced to reduce capacity as COVID-19 cases surge

Nevada Gov Steve Sisolak has ordered a statewide 'pause' for three weeks Under Sisolak's latest public health orders, restaurants and bars must reduce operations from 50% to 25% of capacity. There are also additional social-distancing requirements, including prohibitions on service without advance reservations, according to the governor. Casinos, which reopened in June after being ordered closed for more than two months following COVID-19 outbreak, will likewise be capped at 25% capacity. Nevada has set daily records for hospitalizations in the last week alone. On Friday, the state reported the most hospitalizations since the pandemic hit the US in March with 1,288; on Sunday, the state reported 1,273 hospitalizations
23rd Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19 pandemic: Merkel 'worried' about vaccines for poor countries

Germany's chancellor has raised concerns about the world's poorest securing access to Covid-19 vaccines. Angela Merkel was speaking at a G20 summit which saw leaders promise a fair distribution of jabs. But Mrs Merkel warned progress was slow, saying she would raise the matter with global vaccine alliance GAVI. "We will now speak with GAVI about when these negotiations will begin because I am somewhat worried that nothing has been done on that yet," she said.
23rd Nov 2020 - BBC News

Bulgaria Plans Lockdown to Contain Coronavirus Infection Surge

Bulgaria plans to close schools, restaurants and shops and ban all sports events, private celebrations and excursions as it struggles to contain a coronavirus case surge. The Balkan country's health minister Kostadin Angelov said on Monday that the measures, to be debated by the centre-right government on Wednesday, were aimed at preventing a struggling health system from being overwhelmed. New coronavirus cases have doubled in the past week to 23,569, Bulgarian health ministry data showed, bringing the total number to 121,820 in the country of 7 million.
23rd Nov 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

UK PM Johnson sets out new measures to replace COVID lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new measures on Monday to replace a COVID-19 lockdown in England from Dec. 2, reinforcing a previous regional approach to try to reopen businesses in areas where infection rates are lower. Just over two weeks after Johnson introduced a national lockdown in England to try to tame a spiralling increase in new coronavirus cases, he said the measures had reduced COVID infection rates and would be eased on Dec. 2 as promised. Johnson has been under pressure to scrap the lockdown from lawmakers in his Conservative Party, where many have threatened to vote against any new restrictions without more evidence of their effect in stemming infections.
23rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Germany Moves Toward Tightening Partial Lockdown Until Dec. 20

A Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc prevented a majority of people from getting the disease but fell short of the bar set by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. The virus is forecast to claim another 30,000 American lives by mid-December. New York state will reopen an emergency facility on Staten Island, where hospital capacity is strained. New York City will be in “dire, dire shape” without federal aid, its mayor said. And in neighboring New Jersey, the number of patients in intensive care jumped 13% in one day.
23rd Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

'Lockdown is working', says Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on COVID-19 plan

As Europe is battling the second wave of the novel coronavirus and has initiated a second lockdown, Spain is one country where the government is satisfied with the 'plan'. Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, on Saturday, appreciated the progress the country has made in the last few weeks and said the plan of containing the virus through lockdown "is working".
23rd Nov 2020 - WION on MSN.com

France set to continue coronavirus lockdown while easing some restrictions

French President Emmanuel Macron could announce a slight easing of lockdown measures on Tuesday when he addresses the nation in a primetime speech to update on the country's COVID-19 situation. The president is expected to announce an adaptation of restrictions which have been in place since the end of October. Many expect that non-essential commerces may be able to reopen in the month of December. The government has pushed Black Friday back to December 4, the economy minister announced, in order to allow shops to "reopen in the near future", for instance. "To be clear: the lockdown will continue and so there will continue to be limits on travel," said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal in an interview with the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. There will be three steps of relaxing restrictions, starting in the beginning of December, then before the Christmas holidays, and finally in January 2021, Attal specified.
23rd Nov 2020 - Euronews

Maharashtra considering another lockdown to cap Covid-19 surge

The Maharashtra government will decide in the next eight days whether to impose curbs or a complete lockdown depending on the surge in Covid-19 cases, Vijay Wadettiwar relief and rehabilitation minister said Monday. He said that such measures will have to be taken if lives are to be saved. “If needed, in the next eight days, after careful study we will decide whether there is a need for a complete lockdown or imposition of some curbs or add new conditions. Such measures will have to be taken because ultimately lives are important,” the minister said.
23rd Nov 2020 - Hindustan Times

South Korea's capital Seoul announces new coronavirus controls

Authorities in the South Korean capital on Monday announced a tightening of social distancing regulations, including shutting nightclubs, limiting service hours at restaurants and reducing public transportation. The measures going into effect on Tuesday also include a ban on public rallies or demonstrations of more than 10 people. Restaurants can provide only take out and delivery after 9 p.m., and public transportation will be limited after 10 p.m. Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyup told reporters one-third of city employees will work from home. He recommended that churches convert to online worship services only.
23rd Nov 2020 - Arab News

Covid: Australia state reopens border after Covid cases plummet

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has reopened its border with neighbouring Victoria for the first time since July after coronavirus cases there fell to zero. Victoria, which imposed a tough lockdown after a surge in cases, has reported no new infections since the beginning of November. The state is also relaxing its rules on wearing face masks. Australia has recorded about 900 deaths and 28,000 infections in total.
23rd Nov 2020 - BBC News

Johnson says there will be no compulsory COVID vaccination

Britain’s government will not force people to have vaccinations against COVID-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday. “There will be no compulsory vaccination. That’s not the way we do things in this country,” Johnson told a news conference. “We think it (vaccination) is a good idea, and you know I totally reject the propaganda of the anti-vaxxers, they are wrong,” he said. “Everybody should get a vaccine as soon as it is available.
23rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

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

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First Americans could get COVID-19 vaccine by December 11, top health official says

The first Americans could receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as 24 hours after the FDA grants approval, which would kick off the largest inoculation campaign in U.S. history starting in mid-December. "Within 24 hours from the approval, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state will have told us where they want the vaccine doses," Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for the government's "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine program, told NBC's "Meet the Press."
22nd Nov 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Covid rampages across US, unifying a splintered nation as cases surge

The virus is on the rise so uniformly across the vast landmass of the US, that records are being shattered daily. Chris McGreal in Kansas City, Kenya Evelyn in Milwaukee, Vivian Ho in Oakland and Adam Gabbatt and Ed Pilkington in New York. The Disunited States of America are united once more. After a brutal election that exacerbated bitter partisan divisions and left the country feeling as though it had been torn in two, it has at last been thrown back together. For all the wrong reasons. The great leveler is coronavirus. Covid-19 is rampaging across the US as though it were on a personal mission to unify the splintered nation in an unfolding catastrophe. Of the 50 states of the Union, all but one – isolated Hawaii – is seeing alarming surges in new cases. The virus is on the rise so uniformly across the vast landmass of the US, that records are being shattered daily.
22nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 vaccine not to be compulsory, says Health Secretary

The Scottish Government has outlined its distribution plan for an inoculation to the virus, with hopes it could be available in the first week of December. However, Ms Freeman told the BBC there would be a public information campaign put in place to dispel any concerns held about the vaccine rather than making them mandatory.
22nd Nov 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

South Australia emerges carefully from COVID-19 outbreak

South Australia was on track on Saturday to end its hard COVID-19 lockdown three days early, recording only one new infection, while other states marked weeks of no new cases or deaths related to the novel coronavirus. The lockdown, which kept people in South Australia at home and the majority of businesses shut, was imposed earlier this week after false information provided to contact tracers by a man who tested positive raised fears of mass infections. The lockdown, planned for six days, was to be lifted as of Sunday, although a range of measures were to remain to limit big crowds
22nd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Portugal to ban domestic travel, close schools around national holidays

Portugal is to ban domestic travel and close schools around two upcoming holidays in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus ahead of Christmas, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Saturday. Travel between municipalities will be banned from 11 p.m. on Nov. 27 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 2, and then again from 11 p.m. on Dec. 4 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 9, to prevent movement around national holidays on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8. Schools will close on the Mondays before both holidays, while businesses must close early. Employers are being encouraged to give workers the day off in order to minimise travel activity. “We continue to have a very high number of cases which is a threat to our health,” Costa told a press conference. “We must persist to not only halt that growth rate but invert it.”
22nd Nov 2020 - Reuters

France to start easing lockdown rules in three steps, government spokesman says

France will start easing coronavirus lockdown rules in coming weeks, carrying out the process in three stages so as to avoid a new flareup in the pandemic, the government said on Sunday. On Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron will give a speech to the nation about the virus situation and may announce a partial relaxation of restrictions which have been in place since Oct. 30. “Emmanuel Macron will give prospects over several weeks, especially on how we adjust our strategy. What is at stake is adapting lockdown rules as the health situation improves while avoiding a new flare up in the epidemic,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told Le Journal Du Dimanche. “There will be three steps to (lockdown) easing in view of the health situation and of risks tied to some businesses: a first step around Dec. 1, then before the year-end holidays, and then from January 2021,” Attal added.
22nd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Germany braces for extension of lockdown month into December

Germany will have to extend its measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic until Dec. 20, according to senior politicians and a draft proposal obtained by Reuters on Sunday. Germany imposed a month-long “lockdown-lite” from Nov. 2 to contain a second wave of the virus that is sweeping much of Europe, but infection numbers have not declined. “Everything points to the fact that the current restrictions must be extended for some time beyond Nov. 30,” Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told Bild am Sonntag (BamS). Bars and restaurants are closed, but schools and shops remain open. Private gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households and the draft proposal says that number would be reduced to five.
22nd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

California enacts nighttime curfew as COVID-19 cases spike

California enacts a nighttime curfew Saturday as spiking coronavirus cases threaten to swamp health care systems and the state's largest county warned that an even more drastic lockdown could be imminent. The newest restrictions require people not on essential errands to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Dec. 21, with a possible extension if rapidly worsening trends don’t improve. People will be allowed to shop for groceries, pick up food and even walk their dogs. Authorities say the focus is on keeping people from social mixing and drinking — the kinds of activities that are blamed for causing COVID-19 infections to soar after dipping only a few months ago. Dr. Mark Cullen, an infectious disease expert who recently retired from Stanford University, said the underlying goal is based on a reasonable interpretation of data.
21st Nov 2020 - The Independent

Covid-19: Hong Kong-Singapore travel corridor postponed

The launch of a travel corridor between Hong Kong and Singapore has been postponed for two weeks amid a surge of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. The deal was due to kick in on Sunday, allowing passengers to fly both ways without the need to self-isolate. The decision is a blow to attempts by the two financial hubs to revive their battered travel sectors. Hong Kong reported 43 new infections on Saturday, the highest daily toll in nearly three months. The number includes 13 cases with unknown transmission sources, raising fears the local outbreak could get out of control.
21st Nov 2020 - BBC News

Iran tightens COVID-19 restrictions, but some streets still busy

Iran introduced tougher restrictions on Saturday to stem a third wave of coronavirus infections, including closing non-essential businesses and travel curbs, but state media reported widespread flouting of the rules. “Tehran streets are crowded despite the restrictions,” state TV said on Saturday morning. It said some non-essential businesses were open, but later showed mostly empty streets and shuttered shops. The semi-official ISNA news agency posted photos of crammed metro trains with the hashtag “Coronavirus kills.” Other media sites posted photos of packed buses.
21st Nov 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19: Sweden now has a higher infection rate than France or UK

Sweden today recorded some 393 daily cases of Covid-19 per million people This far surpasses 337 per million seen in Britain and 324 per million in France Nation has seen hospital admissions for Covid-19 patients double each week
21st Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid restrictions: Doctors call for Rule of Six to be scrapped after lockdown ends in England

Doctors have called for the Rule of Six to be scrapped when the England-wide lockdown is lifted in December, and instead replaced with older restrictions that allow only two households to meet. The British Medical Association (BMA) said the previous tiered system was “inconsistent” and did not contain the spread of the virus, and warned the rules must be revised before the national lockdown ends.
21st Nov 2020 - iNews

Italy approves latest stimulus package to help pandemic-hit business

Italy’s government has approved a new package worth around 10 billion euros ($11.9 billion) to support businesses hit by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the measures approved late on Friday, Rome will immediately offer 1.95 billion euros in grants to coronavirus-hit businesses and food aid for the poor. The government is also preparing an additional 8 billion euros to beef up aid schemes already in place. On Friday, the health ministry reported 37,242 new coronavirus infections and 699 deaths, as the country struggles to curb a resurgence of cases and fatalities which are stretching its health service to breaking point.
21st Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

South Australia says man's 'lie' caused coronavirus lockdown as harsh curbs eased

South Australia’s drastic six-day coronavirus lockdown was triggered by a “lie” to contact tracers from a man who tested positive and restrictions across the state are set to be lifted much sooner than first planned, authorities said on Friday.
21st Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

NHS to start giving Covid-19 vaccine to under-50s by end of January, leaked papers say

The NHS is planning to roll out the coronavirus vaccine to under 50s by the end of January, it has been reported. Under the plan every adult in England who wants to would have been vaccinated by early April. Two Covid vaccines have already been proven to be effective but still need to pass safety tests before they are rolled out to the public. And a third, produced by Oxford/AstraZeneca, this week reported good news about its effectiveness among the elderly. As healthcare is devolved the NHS services in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be creating their own plans.
20th Nov 2020 - Mirror Online

Bristol professor says coronavirus vaccine roll-out should not just focus on age

The roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine should not solely prioritise people by age, a Bristol expert has argued. Gabriel Scally says there needs to be "more discussion" before the government finalises the priority list, outlining who should be at the front of the queue once a COVID-19 vaccine is ready. Speaking in a virtual meeting of the Independent SAGE committee of scientists this afternoon (Friday, November 20), he suggested people's professions and the prevalence of coronavirus in their neighbourhoods should also be considered.
20th Nov 2020 - Bristol Live

Dr Fauci allays Covid vaccine development speed concerns, reiterates public health measures – video

Dr Anthony Fauci speaks at the coronavirus task force press briefing, marking his first appearance at the White House podium in months. The infectious disease expert has moved to allay concerns about the speed with which the coronavirus vaccine has been developed, and implored Americans to continue basic public health measures until it is rolled out
20th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus vaccines: Will any countries get left out?

Early results indicate that at least two vaccines are highly effective, several others have reached late-stage trials, and many more are at some stage of development. None of these vaccines have been approved yet, but that hasn't stopped countries purchasing doses in advance. A key research centre in the US - Duke University in North Carolina - is trying to keep tabs on all the deals being done. It estimates that 6.4 billion doses of potential vaccines have already been bought, and another 3.2 billion are either under negotiation or reserved as "optional expansions of existing deals". The process of advance purchasing is well established in the pharmaceutical industry, as it can help to incentivise the development of products and fund trials, according to Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics.
20th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Covid-19: Gulf emerging between government and health officials over ending lockdown

Cabinet members have expressed their annoyance at their own public health officials over the “stalling” in the progress in reducing the cases of Covid-19. A fresh gulf is emerging between political leaders and medics over the road out of lockdown in two weeks’ time with ministers expressing annoyance at the lack of progress. Ministers have said that the basis of introducing the level 5 lockdown for six weeks was to get the daily cases of the virus below 100, and that is being undermined by the stubborn refusal of the numbers to drop. The Department of Health was notified of 429 confirmed cases of the coronavirus last night.
20th Nov 2020 - Irish Examiner

India’s coronavirus cases top nine million mark

India’s total number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began crossed the nine million mark on Friday. Nevertheless, the country’s new daily cases have seen a steady decline for weeks now and the total number of cases represents 0.6% of India’s 1.3 billion population. The health ministry reported 45,882 new infections and 584 fatalities in the past 24 hours on Friday. The death toll since the pandemic began is more than 132,000.
20th Nov 2020 - Irish Examiner

Coronavirus: Northern Ireland to enter tougher two-week lockdown as hospitals face being ‘overwhelmed within weeks’

Northern Ireland will shut non-essential retail, pubs and restaurants for two weeks from November 27 to save the health service from becoming swamped. The country was poised to emerge from a limited circuit-breaker lockdown until the number of infections rose to worrying levels. Close-contact services and cafes can open this Friday as planned but will have to close again next Friday, while other hospitality sectors like pubs and licensed restaurants will remain closed throughout, Stormont ministers said.
21st Nov 2020 - The Independent

EU regulator ‘hopeful’ about coronavirus vaccine approval by year-end

Amid rising cases and second-wave lockdowns, Europe might have a coronavirus vaccine authorized to use before the end of 2020. Speaking during POLITICO’s Health Care Summit Wednesday, the head of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Emer Cooke, said she’s “hopeful” that the agency will have an opinion about whether to authorize a coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech by the end of the year. Cooke’s comments followed breaking news that the companies found their vaccine to be 95 percent effective after completing a full review of their ongoing large-scale Phase 3 clinical trial.
20th Nov 2020 - POLITICO.eu

Covid-19 news: NHS drafts plan to vaccinate adults in England by April

A draft of NHS England’s plan for the roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine aims for widespread vaccination of all willing adults in England by early April, if sufficient doses and other crucial supplies are available. Under NHS England’s draft covid-19 vaccine deployment programme, which was outlined in a leaked document dated 13 November seen by HSJ, most doses of the potential vaccine would be administered between early January and mid-March, at a rate of between 4 and 5 million each week.
20th Nov 2020 - New Scientist

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

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California orders nightly COVID-19 curfew on gatherings, non-essential activities

California’s governor on Thursday ordered a curfew placed on all indoor social gatherings and non-essential activities outside the home across most of the state in a major escalation of measures to curb an alarming surge in coronavirus infections. The limited stay-at-home restrictions will go into effect from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. each day, starting Saturday night and ending the morning of Dec. 21, covering 41 counties representing over 94% of the state’s population, Governor Gavin Newsom said. “The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic, and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge,” Newsom said in a statement announcing the measure.
20th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Stop talking about a ‘national lockdown.' It won’t happen, and it is a distraction.

A national lockdown is not going to happen in the United States. Every time it’s brought up, it distracts attention from practical public health measures that can work to control covid-19. I understand that a “shutdown” or “lockdown” is a convenient shorthand to describe restrictions that states have recently put into place. This week, Washington state closed bars and restaurants for indoor dining and prohibited indoor social gatherings for people in different households. Michigan closed casinos and movie theaters and ended in-person classes for colleges and high schools. And as of Thursday, New York City’s public schools are returning to all-remote instruction. But let’s get our terminology right: These restrictions are not lockdowns. A lockdown is what the Chinese government imposed in February, forcing people to remain in their homes and preventing 780 million people from traveling city to city. A broader definition of lockdown could also include the stay-at-home orders most states instituted in March.
19th Nov 2020 - The Washington Post

Christmas Covid relaxation to be the same UK-wide

The Scottish Government is working with other UK administrations on a "four nations approach" to easing restrictions to allow families to meet up over the festive period, the First Minister told MSPs.
19th Nov 2020 - The Scotsman

Optimism in Germany over Covid-19 trends

US president-elect Joe Biden has said he will not order a nationwide shutdown to fight the Covid-19 pandemic despite a surge in cases. States and cities across the United States have been imposing their own restrictions, including home confinement, the closure of indoor dining and a limit on gatherings as infections soar across the country. "There's no circumstance which I can see that would require total national shutdown. I think that would be counterproductive," Mr Biden, who takes office on 20 January, told reporters.
19th Nov 2020 - RTE.ie

French PM says lockdown to be eased gradually, after ‘mistakes’ of first wave

France's second lockdown is to be eased progressively, according to Prime Minister Jean Castex, who says the first Covid-19 confinement measures were lifted too quickly in May. In order to avoid more "stop and go" measures, the next phase in getting France back in business will involve continued restrictions and closures in some sectors. President Emmanuel Macron is due to address the nation next week about easing the lockdown. The format and date of the presidential address have yet to be decided. While several statistical indicators suggest grounds for optimism, with even Health Minister Olivier Véran saying the peak of the second wave of infections has passed, many government members have stressed that the second lockdown will have to be brought to an end gradually.
19th Nov 2020 - RFI English

The year of the pandemic: a view from South Korea

In the global coronavirus pandemic, South Koreans should be dropping like flies. But they aren’t. Perched on the edge of China, the country is small, about the size of Indiana, though given that 70% of the land is uninhabitable, the realistic comparison is West Virginia. Packed into that space are 51 million people, the populations of Texas and Florida combined. The country should have been decimated after the first infected passenger off the three-hour flight from Wuhan, China, sneezed.
19th Nov 2020 - STAT News

China expands its arsenal in COVID battle

Stringent monitoring of cold-chain food imports and the fine-tuning of lockdown and testing strategies are China's latest weapons in the battle against COVID-19 as the country braces for possible outbreaks this winter. While local transmission of the novel coronavirus has been under control for months, public health experts in China have highlighted the risk of new outbreaks linked to the virus hitching a ride on imports of frozen foods. As domestic life and production return to normal, experts have hailed local governments' efforts to replace blanket lockdowns and citywide tests with more targeted and economical measures to reduce disruption to socioeconomic development.
19th Nov 2020 - China Daily

Coronavirus vaccines: China's Sinopharm claims it has given vaccine to nearly one million people

Sinopharm's chairman said there were no reports of 'serious adverse reactions' He said doses had been given out through China's emergency-use programme He boasted his firm 'is leading the world in all aspects' of coronavirus vaccines Comes after jabs from Pfizer and Moderna were revealed to be 95% effective Oxford University's jab is also found to be 'safe' in people of all ages by a study
19th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Strict, six-day coronavirus lockdown begins in Australian state

One of Australia’s strictest lockdowns began on Thursday with outdoor gatherings, weddings, funerals, takeaway food all coming to a standstill as authorities try to stifle the latest flare-up of the novel coronavirus. Images on social media showed empty streets in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia state, on day one of the state-wide lockdown. Residents flocked to supermarkets to load up with supplies until late on Wednesday.The state, home to about 1.8 million people, has recorded 23 cases from the latest cluster. There were no new infections to report on Thursday while 3,200 close contacts of the infected were in quarantine, the state’s chief public health officer, Nicola Spurrier, said
19th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Ukraine faces 'severe' coronavirus winter but no new lockdown measures, minister says

Ukraine faces a “very severe” period of COVID-19 cases but will not tighten lockdown restrictions because measures taken last week should stabilise the situation, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov told Reuters. The government on Saturday introduced a lockdown at weekends, closing or restricting most businesses except essential services such as grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and transport. A member of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s administration resigned over the decision, some mayors refused to comply with the government’s order and some business owners held protests.
19th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Greece tightens lockdown in northern Greece as cases climb

Greece will shut one border crossing with Albania and conduct rapid COVID-19 tests on all visitors at its land borders, its government spokesman said on Thursday, as cases in northern Greece continue to rise unabated. Greece has seen a rapid rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks which forced it to impose a nationwide lockdown, its second this year. Its northern regions, including the city of Thessaloniki, have been hit the most. Visitors entering from land borders are already required to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test conducted at least 72 hours prior travel. Upon arrival, they will be re-tested by Greek authorities. The latest measures will come into effect on Friday morning at 0400 GMT, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said, urging residents to also implement restrictions on movement.
19th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Brussels warns Hungary on Russian Covid jab

Brussels has warned that Hungary would risk undermining public confidence in coronavirus vaccinations should it bypass the EU medicines regulator and roll out the Russian jab Budapest plans to trial. The European Commission said on Thursday mass Covid-19 inoculation would become “much harder” if citizens began to question a vaccine because it had not been approved as safe and effective. The comments highlight tensions over Budapest’s decision to run clinical trials next month of the Russian Sputnik V drug, which has not yet been assessed by the European Medicines Agency. While the Brussels statement did not mention Hungary or Sputnik V by name, no other EU member state has announced plans for such a radical move outside the bloc-wide vaccination programme overseen by the commission.
19th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

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

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Putin admits he is ‘alarmed’ by Russia’s spike in Covid-19 deaths and says officials ‘cannot pretend all is fine’

Putin said the rising death rate was 'alarming' after record 456 fatalities today Russia has stopped short of imposing strict new measures like much of Europe In a further blow, smoke was seen billowing from a major hospital in Russia today
18th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

COVID-19: 'High priority' procurement for firms recommended by MPs and advisers

Companies recommended by MPs, peers and advisers were given priority to win government contracts as it scrambled to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, the public spending watchdog has found. A National Audit Office (NAO) investigation into pandemic procurement concludes that normal standards of transparency were waived as departments awarded 8,600 contracts worth £18bn to tackle COVID-19. Deals worth £10.5bn were granted without competitive tender.
18th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Covid-19 vaccine: who are countries prioritising for first doses?

Hope that the first effective vaccines against Covid-19 could begin being distributed late this year or early in 2021 has led countries, including the UK, to announce who will be vaccinated first. While the World Health Organization has set out general guidelines for vaccination priority, different countries have set their own criteria. That includes the United States, where the Centers for Disease Control’s Vaccination Program interim playbook, issued at the end of last month, identified minority ethnic groups – who have been shown to be more susceptible as a potential “critical population” – for priority consideration along with care homes, prisons and psychiatric facilities residents and workers, health workers and the over-65s and those with pre-existing conditions.
18th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott won’t order lockdown as coronavirus cases rise

The last time case numbers were this high, Abbott closed bars and urged Texans to avoid summer holiday gatherings. This time, he's staying the course, relying on a 2-month-old blueprint to claw back reopenings regionally based on hospitalizations.
18th Nov 2020 - The Texas Tribune

Ban household-mixing and travel between tiers after lockdown, BMA urges

Mixing between more than two households and travel between tiers should be banned in England until a vaccine is rolled out to prevent the NHS being swamped after lockdown, the main doctors’ organisation has warned. With ministers due to announce next week a return to regional tiers of coronavirus restrictions from 2 December, the British Medical Association (BMA) said that without tough action, hospitals and GPs will become overwhelmed. A BMA report argues that robust measures will be needed until an effective vaccine is widely available, and that ministers must learn from what it called the over-lax exit from the last lockdown.
18th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Poor areas of England face 'permanent' lockdown, says public health chief

Some of England’s poorest areas face being trapped in coronavirus restrictions “permanently” unless the government tackles deep-rooted inequalities that are driving high transmission, according to a public health chief. Prof Dominic Harrison, the director of public health at Blackburn with Darwen council, said the government’s “pointlessly punishing” approach would keep areas such as his under strict measures up to next summer. He told the Guardian: “We do need the restrictions, but what we need is something that is going to be more effective, more helpful, less pointlessly punishing than continued controls that aren’t going to be effective, or that are unlikely to be effective in the medium term and cause continued and further economic damage.”
18th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Covid: Plaid Cymru calls for extra support for infection hotspots

People self-isolating in Covid hotspots should be given a "topped-up" grant of £800, Plaid Cymru has said. It wants a package of extra support for ex-industrial areas with high infection rates, such as Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent and Rhondda Cynon Taf. These areas, the party said, should be prioritised for mass testing, with more resources for test and trace teams. Ministers said they had put national support measures in place and provided an extra £15.7m for contact tracing. Anyone in Wales is able to claim £500 if they have to stay off work due to coronavirus.
18th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Tokyo to raise alert as Japan sets daily record with 2000-plus COVID-19 cases

Japan set a daily record with more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases — including a new high of 493 in the capital — on Wednesday, following reports Tokyo was expected to raise its virus alert to the highest level Thursday amid an ongoing surge of infections. Prior to Wednesday, record nationwide tallies had been reported for three consecutive days through Saturday, with the figure hitting 1,737 on that day. While the final figure for Wednesday was yet to be confirmed, local media tallies showed the figure had risen above the 2,000 threshold. But much of the focus has been on the capital and the surge in cases there. While raising the virus alert level, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government may also call on businesses to close early, according to local media reports.
18th Nov 2020 - The Japan Times

‘Hope for easing of lockdown over Christmas ‘as ministers plan brief relaxation of Covid restrictions’

In England, families may be able to mix in “bubbles” at Christmas under plans for a brief relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over the festive period, according to reports. Britons could get up to five days of loosened measures starting from December 24 under the new proposals reportedly being considered by ministers. Government chiefs are also considering allowing families made up of up to two or three households to meet for Christmas. It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to “ensure people can spend time with close family over Christmas”.
18th Nov 2020 - Evening Standard

South Australia introduces 6-day lockdown as COVID-19 'circuit-breaker'

The South Australian government has announced comprehensive restrictions under a six-day lockdown as it fights to stamp out a coronavirus cluster. Universities, pubs, cafes and food courts will be at a standstill, and schools will be closed to everyone but vulnerable children and children of essential workers as of midnight Wednesday, local time.
18th Nov 2020 - SBS News

Ireland has only one way to avoid entering third lockdown

The whole of Europe is in a disastrous second wave of Covid-19 and a second lockdown. On past experience, it is likely to head into a third wave and third lockdown in January, which will bring further and unimaginable damage to us all, and a collapse of confidence in our medical advisers and governments. Vaccines and anti-virals will not arrive in time to avoid this catastrophe, and any talk of significant relaxation of guidelines for Christmas is highly irresponsible. We must go further and face the fact that the European policy of living with Covid-19 is wrong.
18th Nov 2020 - The Irish Times

Turkey says additional coronavirus measures will take effect from Nov. 20

Turkey said on Wednesday new coronavirus measures limiting the working hours of restaurants and cafes and introducing a partial lockdown on weekends will take effect from the evening of Nov. 20, according to an interior ministry statement. Restaurants, cafes, shopping malls and hairdressers will only be allowed to operate from 0700 GMT to 1700 GMT, the statement said, while restaurants and cafes will only be open for takeaway and delivery services. Under the new curbs, which will take effect from 1700 GMT on Friday, cinemas will be closed for the rest of the year. The government said on Tuesday it would impose tighter coronavirus measures as cases surged in recent weeks. Ankara reported 3,819 new symptomatic cases on Tuesday and 103 COVID-19 deaths in the country, taking the total death toll to 11,704.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters

French government spokesman says: unwinding lockdown not for now

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday that the unwinding of lockdown was not for the near future. Attal also told reporters that President Emmanuel Macron would address the nation next week regarding the coronavirus situation in France.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Dutch PM Rutte: coronavirus lockdown to continue into December

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday said most of the country’s current coronavirus lockdown measures must remain in place through mid-December, despite a recent decline in the number of new cases. “It’s nice what we’ve achieved together,” Rutte said at a press conference after health officials reported that new cases had declined 15 percent in the past week. “But if you look around in Europe, the picture is pretty sombre”, he said, with most countries strengthening rather than loosening measures. Earlier on Tuesday the National Institute for Health (RIVM) said in its weekly update there were 37,706 new cases in the week to Nov. 17, the smallest number since early October.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

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

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Covid: States clamp down as US cases pass 11 million mark

Michigan, Washington and California are the latest US states to bring in strict measures to try to curb the spread of Covid-19, as cases top 11 million. High schools and colleges are to halt on-site teaching while restaurants are prohibited from offering indoor dining in Michigan from Wednesday. Indoor restaurant dining is also banned in Washington State, and gyms, cinemas, theatres and museums will close. And much of California will return to its most severe restriction level. On average, more than 1,000 people a day are dying with the virus, and the overall death toll is close to 250,000. Hospital admissions have also reached record levels with nearly 150,000 new cases across the US on Monday.
17th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Lockdown U-turn in Sweden as COVID-19 cases soar and herd immunity hopes falter

Sweden, whose unorthodox pandemic strategy garnered global attention, has registered 15,084 new coronavirus cases since Friday, Health Agency statistics showed on Tuesday. The number comes after Sweden hit a new daily record of 5,990 new cases last Friday, with the number of people testing positive rising by about 50 per cent a week.
17th Nov 2020 - National Post

Spain reports 38,273 new coronavirus cases and adds 484 victims since Friday

The coronavirus data sent by Spain’s regions to the central Health Ministry showed a clear improvement on Monday, according to the daily report that is published each weekday. Compared with the data released on Friday, all Spanish territories apart from Asturias and Cantabria have registered a fall in the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the key indicators being used to track the progress of the epidemic.
17th Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Europe's second wave shows signs of slowing after new lockdowns

New lockdowns and tough social restrictions were reintroduced across numerous European countries in October in an effort to contain the second wave. The latest numbers suggest these steps seem to be working. Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that the restrictions were causing case numbers to stabilize “somewhat, but too slowly.”
17th Nov 2020 - CNBC

France regaining control over coronavirus but caution still needed: minister

France’s health minister Olivier Veran said on Tuesday the country was regaining control over the coronavirus but was not ready to ease the second national lockdown imposed to rein in the disease. After curfew measures applied in major French cities in mid-October failed to produce the results the government had hoped for, it enforced a one-month lockdown on Oct. 30, though it was less strict than the one that ran from March 17 to May 11. “If we let up our efforts too early, if we are less compliant with the lockdown, we might be subject to a new epidemic surge that would undo all the hard work done by the French people for several weeks,” Veran told BFM TV.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Austria returns to lockdown to limit rise in Covid-19 cases

Austria will introduce a national lockdown on Tuesday in a bid to bring its soaring coronavirus infections under control, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Saturday, confirming an earlier Reuters report based on a draft government decree.
17th Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24

Australia scrambles to contain new COVID-19 cluster

Australian authorities conducted mass tests on Tuesday and about 4,000 people were confined to quarantine in the hope of stifling a new cluster of cases of the novel coronavirus after hopes it had been largely eradicated. The state of South Australia reimposed social distancing restrictions on Monday after detecting 21 cases of the coronavirus, most of which were acquired locally. The cases were the first local transmissions of the virus in Australia in nine days. South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said testing had identified five new cases in the past 24 hours, while 14 people were suspected to be infected and were awaiting test results.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters

The government must admit its errors and reset the strategy – it is time to go for ‘Zero Covid’

‘Zero Covid’, which seeks to lock down cases rather than whole countries, has been used across East Asian and Pacific nations and has – to a large degree – succeeded in eliminating the virus
17th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Canada's remote Nunavut to impose COVID-19 lockdown after community outbreak

Canada’s remote Arctic territory of Nunavut is suffering its first community outbreak of COVID-19 and will close all non-essential services, as well as schools, for at least two weeks, officials said on Monday. “This is an outbreak,” Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, told a news conference streamed online from the territory’s capital, Iqaluit. “There has been community transmission occurring in Arviat in the last little while.” COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada’s northern territories are particularly concerning because healthcare services are limited and because there are often numerous people living under the same roof, which facilitates the spread of the virus.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Dutch PM to keep coronavirus lockdown measures as cases ease

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday said most of the country’s current coronavirus lockdown measures must remain in place through mid-December, despite a recent decline in the number of new cases. “It’s nice what we’ve achieved together,” Rutte said at a press conference after health officials reported that new cases had declined 15 percent in the past week. “But if you look around in Europe, the picture is pretty sombre”, he said, with most countries strengthening rather than loosening measures. Earlier on Tuesday the National Institute for Health (RIVM) said in its weekly update there were 37,706 new cases in the week to Nov. 17, the smallest number since early October.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters.com

Questions arise over dramatic increase in PPE costs paid by government during pandemic

This programme has seen exclusive evidence of the dramatic increase in the price of PPE being paid by the government when the pandemic crisis first hit in April and May.
17th Nov 2020 - Channel4.com

Tokyo to raise coronavirus alert level to highest of four levels: Nikkei

Tokyo is preparing to raise its coronavirus alert level to the highest of four levels as the number of positive cases in the Japanese capital creeps up, the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday. As part of the move, the metropolitan government is considering asking some businesses to shorten their hours again, the paper said, citing multiple unnamed sources. The announcement will be made on Thursday, the Nikkei said. Tokyo authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Facing a ‘crisis’, South Korea moves to tighten COVID-19 curbs

South Korea will tighten physical distancing rules for Seoul and its surrounding areas from Thursday, the government saying its anti-coronavirus efforts are “facing a crisis” as it works to contain increases in new cases in and around the capital. The tougher measures – including limits on public gatherings of 100 or more people as well as the numbers able to attend religious services and sporting events – will come into force on Thursday, Yonhap news agency reported.
17th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English

People living in Scotland's toughest tiers could be arrested if they try to leave: Nicola Sturgeon makes it illegal to travel outside of Level 3 and 4 lockdown areas

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon today announced parts of Scotland that are home to millions of people will be moved into its toughest coronavirus level at the end of the week as she warned infection rates remain 'stubbornly high'. The First Minister said 11 council areas, which include the city of Glasgow, will be subject to Level Four restrictions from 6pm on Friday. The areas have a combined population of approximately 2.3million people. People living in Level Four areas are banned from meeting with other households indoors while all non-essential shops must close.
17th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

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

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COVID-19 vaccine: UK orders five million doses of new Moderna jab by spring next year

Five million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine have been ordered by the UK, the health secretary has announced. Matt Hancock said preliminary trials showing it to be 94.5% effective were "excellent news" and that, if it proves safe, the jabs can start to be rolled out across the country by spring 2021. "We can see the candle of hope," he declared, but cautioned that people must keep following COVID-19 restrictions.
17th Nov 2020 - Sky News

'More people may die,' Biden says, if Trump goes on blocking pandemic cooperation

President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday “more people may die” if outgoing President Donald Trump continues blocking a U.S. transition of power as the coronavirus pandemic worsens, and he urged Congress to pass new relief legislation. Biden said business and labor leaders had signaled willingness to work together to bolster the pandemic-battered U.S. economy but stressed COVID-19 first must be brought under control. The Democratic president-elect delivered a speech and took questions from reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, after consulting jointly with the CEOs of top U.S. companies and labor leaders on Monday. He welcomed further progress in COVID-19 vaccine development.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Covid-19: Boris Johnson and six Tory MPs self-isolating after No 10 meeting

Boris Johnson, six Tory MPs and two political aides are self-isolating after a breakfast meeting inside Downing Street last Thursday. One of the MPs, Lee Anderson, later tested positive for Covid-19, and on Sunday the prime minister was told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. In a video from No 10, Mr Johnson urged others to "follow the rules" if contacted by the system. The PM's official spokesman insisted that Downing Street is "Covid-secure". He said "social distancing did happen" but factors such as the length of the meeting were considered by Test and Trace. Mr Johnson, who was admitted to intensive care with coronavirus seven months ago, spent about 35 minutes with Mr Anderson - who lost his sense of taste the day after the meeting.
16th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: US rules out lockdown as daily cases near 200000

America’s top infectious diseases experts have ruled out a national lockdown against the coronavirus even as the country heads for a record of 200,000 new cases a day. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that it would fall to local and regional leaders to instigate mitigation measures even after Joe Biden, the president-elect, assumes power, and called on President Trump to stop stonewalling efforts by the new administration to get a plan in place. “We’re not going to get a national lockdown. I think that’s very clear,” Dr Fauci said.
16th Nov 2020 - The Times

Covid: Michigan and Washington State clamp down as US cases pass 11 million mark

Michigan, Washington and California are the latest US states to bring in strict measures to try to curb the spread of Covid-19, as cases top 11 million. High schools and colleges are to halt on-site teaching while restaurants are prohibited from offering indoor dining in Michigan from Wednesday. Indoor restaurant dining is also banned in Washington State, and gyms, cinemas, theatres and museums will close. And much of California will return to its most severe restriction level. On average, more than 1,000 people a day are dying with the virus, and the overall death toll is close to 250,000. Hospital admissions have also reached record levels.
16th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland's lockdown could get even TOUGHER to save Christmas as she warns coronavirus hot-spots they could be plunged into top Level 4 in a bid to rescue ...

She said areas where cases remain 'stubbornly high' could be placed in Level 4 Told press conference step would be a short, sharp hit to get cases decreasing The First Minister said her Cabinet will make decisions tomorrow morning
16th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

New restrictions less damaging to UK economy than spring lockdown, data show

The latest Covid-19 restrictions across the UK are affecting the economy less severely than the nationwide lockdown in the spring, unofficial data suggest. A new lockdown in England, firebreak restrictions in Wales and travel curbs in Scotland and Northern Ireland resulted in sharp contractions across many measures of consumer services activity in early November. However, so-called high-frequency indicators of the broader economy, including volumes of people travelling to workplaces and heavy goods vehicle traffic, remained largely unchanged compared with before the restrictions were imposed, reflecting that most factories and building sites remained open.
16th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Coronavirus: ‘Too early’ to say if lockdown can be lifted in England on 2 December, says Matt Hancock

Current lockdown measures in England could continue beyond their planned end date of 2 December, health secretary Matt Hancock has suggested. Mr Hancock said it was “too early” to determine whether the restrictions, including the closure of pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops, can be lifted on the planned date. His comments were far more pessimistic than projections made by Boris Johnson, who has previously told MPs that he has “no doubt” that the restrictions will be eased after the planned four-week second lockdown
16th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Germany postpones decision on further lockdown measures until next week

German federal and state leaders agreed to postpone until November 25 a decision on further lockdown measures to slow a second wave of coronavirus infections, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday. Merkel said a majority of state leaders did not want to see a tightening of restrictions before next week, but, she added: “I could have imagined imposing further contact restrictions today, but there was no majority for that.”
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Sweden limits public gatherings to eight people amid Covid surge

Sweden has cut its limit on attendance at public gatherings to eight people, as its light-touch approach to the coronavirus pandemic continues to be tested by a surge in new infections and hospitalisations. Public gatherings have until now had to adhere to limits of between 50 and 300 people depending on the type of event. The prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said the stricter limit would come into force from 24 November. “This is the new norm for the entire society,” Lofven said, adding that Swedes were not observing coronavirus recommendations as well they had in the spring. “Don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners. Cancel,” he said.
16th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Most Spaniards support a second home lockdown, according to new poll

The majority of Spaniards (six in 10) would support a second home lockdown if it was needed to contain the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a survey by pollster 40dB commissioned by EL PAÍS. During the first wave of the pandemic, the Spanish government introduced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, with residents confined to their homes and only allowed out for essential business. In the past few weeks, with infections rising in some territories, several regional authorities called on the central government to authorize home lockdowns in areas with dangerously high incidence rates of the virus
16th Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Covid figures suggest France has passed peak of second wave: health minister

With more tests being carried out and fewer people admitted to intensive care, French Health Minister Olivier Véran says there is every reason to believe the country has passed the peak of the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic. But the battle is a long way from over, the minister warned. Health Minister Véran said the epidemic is being brought under control. "Thanks to the lockdown, just as in March, the virus is spreading less quickly," Véran told journalists from a group of regional newspapers at the weekend.
16th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

Mongolia imposes national lockdown after first Covid case reported

The Mongolian government on Sunday extended a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic by two weeks until December 1. Mongolia imposed a national lockdown effective from 6 a.m. on Thursday after the country confirmed its first Covid-19 case of local transmission, involving a woman who is the wife of a 29-year-old infected Mongolian transport driver, the Xinhua news agency reported. The driver returned home from Russia via Altanbulag border point and tested positive for the virus four days after he was released from the 21-day mandatory isolation on November 6. The extension is part of the efforts to identify all people who have had contact with cases of locally transmitted Covid-19 infection, Yangu Sodbaatar, the country’s deputy prime minister, said at a press conference.
16th Nov 2020 - India New England

"Delhi Has Crossed Peak Of Third Covid Wave, No Lockdown": Minister

Delhi will not be put under another lockdown in the wake of the third wave of COVID-19 since it has already peaked out, state Health Minister Satyendar Jain said today, dismissing all speculation. "There is no chance of a lockdown," Health Minister Satyendar Jain said today. "I can tell you today that the peak of Delhi's third wave is gone," Mr Jain said. When asked about markets being shut down, he said, "It has not even been considered. The festival is over, the crowds will get thinner now on." However, he said people ought to be cautious and wear masks. "The lockdown was a learning exercise...What we learnt was that the gains from a lockdown were the same as those from wearing masks." Delhi on Sunday recorded 3,235 new COVID-19 cases and 95 deaths due to coronavirus, state government data shows.
16th Nov 2020 - NDTV

Japan looks to avert Covid-19 lockdowns and keep economy open

Japan can make it through the winter without lockdowns or mass screening for Covid-19 but the public will have to socialise — and drink — with care, according to the doctor leading the country’s response. Dr Shigeru Omi, chair of the government’s expert committee on the virus, told the Financial Times in an interview that Japan was determined to keep the economy open even as case numbers were rising. Japan has been relatively successful in living with the virus — rather than seeking near elimination as has been pursued in Australia, New Zealand, China and Taiwan — making it a potential model for Europe and the US.
16th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Australia back on outbreak alert as state virus infections spike

South Australia reported 14 new coronavirus cases on Monday, a rapid spike in the state’s first outbreak since April, prompting officials to impose social distancing restrictions. The cluster also prompted some other Australian states to reimpose strict quarantine measures on anybody arriving from South Australia - just days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he expected all internal borders to be open by Christmas. South Australia authorities first reported three locally-acquired COVID-19 cases on Sunday, saying the outbreak was caused by a worker from a quarantine hotel infecting family members. By Monday, case numbers had jumped to 17.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Merkel, German states consider tougher pre-Christmas COVID curbs

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday leaders of the country’s 16 federal states were resisting her efforts to agree stricter measures to fight a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, two weeks into a partial nationwide lockdown. Merkel had pushed for tougher measures at a meeting in Berlin, but state leaders wanted to wait and see the effects of current restrictions, she told a news conference. “The majority of states declined to change legal measures roughly one week ahead of the next meeting... I could have imagined imposing further contact restrictions today,” she said.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters

France records 27,228 new COVID-19 cases, 302 more deaths

France has registered 27,228 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a further 302 deaths from the disease in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Sunday, although there were signs of a fall in the rate of new cases. France has now recorded 1,981,827 confirmed COVID-19 cases in all, while 44,548 people have died from the virus - the seventh-highest death toll in the world. Nevertheless, the data marked a slight decrease compared with the previous day’s COVID-19 figures in terms of new confirmed cases and deaths.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Israel economy strikes back in third-quarter after first lockdown lifted

Israel’s economy put on a blistering burst of growth in the third quarter, expanding an annualised 37.9% as consumer spending, exports and investment took off after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of the year. The preliminary gross domestic product (GDP) growth figure for July-September over the previous three months issued by the Central Bureau of Statistics was well above the 24% consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of economists. “The Israeli economy has been resilient due to strong hi-tech sectors and lack of flights, which pushed private spending up sharply,” said Leader Capital Markets Chief Economist Jonathan Katz, who expects a return to contraction in the fourth quarter.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Biden says he ‘wouldn’t hesitate’ to get Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines

President-elect Joe Biden said he “wouldn’t hesitate to get the vaccine” during a press conference on Monday while demanding cooperation from President Donald Trump’s White House in coordinating Covid-19 recovery efforts. “I wouldn't hesitate to get the vaccine,” Mr Biden told reporters, saying: “If Fauci, Moderna and Pfizer conclude it's safe and able to be done.” He added: "The only reason people question the vaccine now is because of Donald Trump." The president-elect also said “it’s going to take a while … for the vaccine to get to people” while condemning the “irresponsible” behavior of the Trump administration not to comply with transitional recovery efforts.
16th Nov 2020 - The Independent

UK plans temporary aid cut to pay for coronavirus crisis - The Times

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a temporary cut to the aid spending to help the country's Covid-ravaged public finances, The Times reported. Ministers have drawn up plans to reduce the proportion of Britain's gross national income spent on aid from 0.7% to 0.5%, saving billions, the report published in the newspaper said. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is pushing for the cut to be announced in next week's comprehensive spending review, the report said, adding Johnson insisted that the spending should return to the 0.7% total as soon as 2022. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab opposed the move amid concerns about the impact on Britain's global standing, according to the report.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

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

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Johnson & Johnson, U.S. government expand pact to support next phase of COVID-19 vaccine R&D

Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have expanded an agreement to support the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine candidate research and development, the company said on Saturday. Under the agreement the company will commit approximately $604 million and the HHS Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will commit about $454 million to support the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial evaluating Janssen’s investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate as a single dose in up to 60,000 volunteers worldwide, the company said in a statement
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Irish health chief concerned by unexpected rise in COVID-19 cases

An unexpected 10% rise in the five-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases in Ireland threatens to reverse a recent sharp drop in the incidence rate of the disease to the third-lowest level in Europe, the country’s chief medical officer said on Saturday. Ireland was among the first European countries to reimpose tough nationwide measures last month to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, with restrictions on travel and the closure of non-essential retail more than halving the 14-day infection rate to 130 cases per 100,000 people.
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Dame Sally Davies: obesity scourge led to 50000 Covid death toll

Thousands of coronavirus deaths could have been avoided if ministers had tackled the obesity crisis, England’s former chief medical officer says today. Professor Dame Sally Davies blames the country’s high death toll on “a structural environment” that enabled junk food makers to encourage consumption. The UK has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world and the second highest in Europe, with nearly one in three adults obese. Obesity, defined as a body mass index greater than 30, raises the risk of dying of Covid-19 by 48%. Last week Britain became the first country in Europe to pass a grim milestone, reaching more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus on official figures.
15th Nov 2020 - The Times

Covid-19: politicisation, “corruption,” and suppression of science

Politicians and governments are suppressing science. They do so in the public interest, they say, to accelerate availability of diagnostics and treatments. They do so to support innovation, to bring products to market at unprecedented speed. Both of these reasons are partly plausible; the greatest deceptions are founded in a grain of truth. But the underlying behaviour is troubling. Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health.1 Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science. The UK’s pandemic response provides at least four examples of suppression of science or scientists. First, the membership, research, and deliberations of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) were initially secret until a press leak forced transparency.2 The leak revealed inappropriate involvement of government advisers in SAGE, while exposing under-representation from public health, clinical care, women, and ethnic minorities. Indeed, the government was also recently ordered to release a 2016 report on deficiencies in pandemic preparedness, Operation Cygnus, following a verdict from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
15th Nov 2020 - The BMJ

Restrictions will be needed beyond lockdown and over Christmas to keep coronavirus at bay

England will need ongoing restrictions to normal life after lockdown, with measures likely to last into December and over Christmas in order to keep the coronavirus under control, government scientists have warned. In a new analysis released by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on Friday, scientists said the virus was now so widespread that without further controls lasting beyond the end of the current lockdown, infections would rise again to levels recorded at the start of the month.
14th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Germany dampens hopes for swift end to winter lockdown

German government officials dampened hopes on Friday that an economically painful partial lockdown would be lifted promptly at the end of November, since infection rates were continuing to surge. The number of new daily coronavirus cases in Germany hit a record of 23,542 on Friday, around 1,700 more than on Thursday, bringing the total to 751,095, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported. “As things stand now we can’t expect any measures to be relaxed on Monday,” government spokesman Stefan Seibert told a regular news conference. National and regional leaders are due to meet on Monday to discuss whether November’s closure of all gyms and entertainment venues has slowed the disease’s spread.
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Governors issue stringent new measures as US reports a staggering Covid-19 record of more than 184,000 daily cases

Coronavirus cases in the US will spike after Thanksgiving, further stressing health care systems and prompting new restrictions, an emergency physician said Saturday, as states continued to report soaring numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital, told CNN's Erica Hill he is "terrified" about what's going to happen this holiday season. "We're going to see an unprecedented surge of cases following Thanksgiving this year, and if people don't learn from Thanksgiving, we're going to see it after Christmas as well," Phillips said.
14th Nov 2020 - CNN

Italy extends partial lockdown as Naples hospitals struggle

Confirmed cases hit a daily pandemic high of nearly 41,000 and 550 people died of the virus in 24 hours, bringing the country's known death toll to 44,139. Italy has reported a total of more than 1.1. million virus cases.
14th Nov 2020 - The Indian Express

Madrid Removes Lockdown For 10 Areas That Reduced Their COVID Rates by More Than Half

The Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid has made the decision decided this Friday to lift the restrictions across 10 areas in which the epidemiological situation has improved considerably in recent weeks and a downward trend is observed. The lifting of mobility and activity limitations will be effective from 00:00 next Monday, ‘they will remain in effect throughout this weekend,’ said a spokesperson . The areas where the restrictions are lifted are: Brújula and Las Fronteras in Torrejón de Ardoz; El Espinillo, San Andrés and San Cristóbal, in Villaverde; Guadarrama, in the town of Guadarrama; Rafael Alberti and Peña Pietra, in Puente de Vallecas; San Blas, in Parla; and Vinateros-Torito, in the district of Moratalaz.
14th Nov 2020 - Euro Weekly News

Jean Castex extends coronavirus lockdown in France till December

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced that the nationwide stay-at-home regime will remain in effect amid still disturbing indicators of the COVID-19 virus' evolution in the country. "Together with the President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron], we decided this morning in the Council of defense and national security to keep unchanged, at least for the next fifteen days, the rules of lockdown intended to fight against # COVID19," Castex tweeted late on Thursday.
14th Nov 2020 - The New Indian Express

South Korea reports 205 coronavirus cases, above 200 for first time since September

South Korea reported 205 new coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight, rising above 200 for the first time since September, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday. Of the new cases, 166 were domestically transmitted and 39 imported. More than 65% of the locally transmitted cases were from Seoul and Gyeonggi province, a densely populated region near the capital.
14th Nov 2020 - Kontan

Australia may see first week of no local COVID-19 transmissions

Australia’s three most populous states on Saturday recorded at least a week with no local transmissions of the new coronavirus, boding well for the country’s recovery from the pandemic after a flare-up marred an impressive early response. Victoria, the epicentre of the resurgence of the virus in recent months, recorded its 15th consecutive day of no new infections and no related deaths, two weeks after the state emerged from one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns. The second-most populous state’s deputy chief health officer, Allen Cheng, told a news conference that the run of zero cases was “about as good as it can get”.
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Second wave, same strategy: Swedish COVID-19 czar defiant despite surge

Sweden remains steadfast in its strategy of voluntary measures and no lockdowns, the architect of its unorthodox COVID-19 response said on Friday, as the country battles a growing second wave of a disease that has now killed more than 6,000 Swedes. The Nordic nation of 10 million people, whose soft-touch approach to combating the virus has drawn worldwide attention - and harsh domestic criticism from some - has seen a surge in the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths in recent weeks. At 5,990, the number of new cases reported on Friday was the highest since the start of the pandemic. A further 42 deaths were also recorded, the most for around three months.
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters India

Austria announces strict lockdown as virus cases soar

Austria’s government has ordered one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, with chancellor Sebastian Kurz telling the public to “meet nobody” as the country battles a surge in coronavirus infections. “One contact is one contact too many,” Mr Kurz said on Saturday, as he unveiled a raft of restrictive measures that will put much of public and economic life in the alpine country on hold. An “around-the-clock” curfew will apply from Tuesday, with people only allowed to leave their homes to buy groceries, travel to essential work or provide urgent care.
14th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Istanbul mayor wants lockdown to restrain second virus wave

Istanbul’s mayor called on Saturday for a lockdown of at least two weeks to contain an “out of control” rise in coronavirus cases, and said virus-related deaths in the city alone outstrip reported nationwide figures. Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a leading politician in Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the country’s largest city must act fast and provide a clear picture of how the pandemic’s second wave is emerging. “This job is not like it was in the March-April-May period (during the first wave). The circle is getting narrower,” he said at the opening of a water treatment plant.
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Biden coronavirus advisers nix national U.S. lockdown

The head of Democratic U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board said on Friday there was no plan to shut the country down and that the new administration’s approach will be targeted at specific areas. Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general tapped to lead the board, said doctors have learned a lot about how the virus spreads and what steps to reduce risk are effective. “We’re not in a place where we’re saying shut the whole country down. We got to be more targeted,” Murthy said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters India

New coronavirus cases drop sharply in France's second week of lockdown

New coronavirus infections and hospital admissions for COVID-19 dropped sharply at the end of the second week of a new nationwide confinement in France, health ministry data showed on Friday. The ministry reported 23,794 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from 33,172 on Thursday and compared to 60,486 last Friday. The number of people going into hospital with the virus plunged to 24 from 737 on Thursday and the number of people going into intensive care dropped to just four from 96 on Thursday and more than 100 per day every weekday last week. The number of coronavirus deaths in hospitals increased slightly to 456 from 425 on Thursday. France also reported 476 deaths in retirement homes over the past three days, for a total of 932 deaths reported on Friday.
13th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Ending lockdown in December hinges on next two weeks, Sage expert warns

The next fortnight will be “absolutely crucial” in ensuring England’s coronavirus lockdown ends as planned on December 2, a Government scientific adviser has warned. Professor Susan Michie, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), called on the public to resist breaking current rules if they want to spend the festive period with loved ones. The announcement of a potential Covid-19 vaccine could spark complacency over restrictions, she said, stressing that the jab will make “no difference” to the current wave. It comes after documents released by Sage on Friday warned that a return to the tiered system of coronavirus restrictions will see infections rise again.
13th Nov 2020 - Evening Standard on MSN.com

As Covid cases shoot up, Greece braces for tougher lockdown

Greece comes under tougher lockdown restrictions on Friday, a day after the country’s health authorities reported its worst performance since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Starting on Friday, a curfew is being imposed nationwide from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next day in a bid to slow the virus’ transmission by preventing the public from engaging in non-essential activity outside the home, which has been much higher since the lockdown began last Saturday, compared to the spring.
12th Nov 2020 - Ekathimerini

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

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South Korea in final talks over COVID-19 vaccines, seeks supplies for 60% population

South Korea is in final talks with global drugmakers including Pfizer Inc over potential coronavirus vaccines as it seeks to secure supplies to cover 60% of its population this year, health authorities said on Thursday. The government has allotted 172 billion won (116.57 million pounds) to purchase an initial 60 million doses to fend off persistent COVID-19 outbreaks that have pummelled Asia’s fourth-largest economy and upended daily life for its 52 million people. This week, Pfizer said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective amid a hastened global race to contain the pandemic which has killed more than 1 million people since it emerged in China late last year.
12th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19 restrictions in NI extended for one more week

Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland will be extended for one more week with a partial reopening of some sectors next Friday, in a compromise reached by the executive. A proposal from DUP Economy Minister Diane Dodds was supported by the Ulster Unionists and Alliance. Sinn Féin voted against the move and the SDLP abstained. It means close contact services and unlicensed premises can reopen on Friday, 20 November.
12th Nov 2020 - BBC News

A national coronavirus lockdown would be 'the absolute last resort,' Democratic senator says

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Dr. Michael Osterholm, a member of President-Elect Joe Biden’s 12-person coronavirus task force, floated the idea of a four- to six-week lockdown to bring the coronavirus to heel. The virus that has killed around 250,000 people in the U.S. is on track to hit 150,000 new cases per day by the end of the week. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), in a separate interview with Yahoo Finance, said a lockdown would be “the absolute last resort” and suggested an array of priorities to fight the pandemic.
12th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

Coronavirus UK: Now 70 rebel Tory MPs oppose lockdown extension

Covid Recovery Group has formed to oppose a third national lockdown after current one ends in December. The group initially formed with 50 Tory MPs, but is said to have grown to 70, with 25 more considering joining. It comes amid fears Britons could face more confusion when current lockdown comes to an end in December. Government is now looking again at Tier system and treating regions together rather than cities individually. New tougher Tier 4 for some regions that struggle to manage infection rates has been mooted for weeks
12th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

German health minister says it’s too early to tell if its partial Covid lockdown will be extended

It is “too early to say” whether Germany will extend its four-week partial lockdown, according to health minister Jens Spahn. “We need patience, actually, because the numbers of today actually are the infections that have taken place one week or more days ago,” Spahn told CNBC. “It will be the end of this week that we might see the results of the new lockdown light we have now,” he added.
12th Nov 2020 - CNBC

Two weeks into new lockdown, France faces further restrictions as cases surge

French Prime Minister, Jean Castex will hold a press conference on Thursday evening, looking at the Covid-19 situation, two weeks after the latest lockdown regulations. With the number of infections continuing to rise, few commentators are optimistic that there'll be any relaxation of restrictions. Paris centrist newspaper Le Monde has asked the prime minister what he'll say at Thursday's press conference. "We'll see if we're in a position to relax or reinforce the current regulations,on the basis of the latest statistics" Castex said. But, while admitting that there was evidence of a slight slowdown in the number of French infections, he added that "this is certainly not the moment to lower our guard".
12th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

Is India heading towards another lockdown from December 1? PIB clarifies

As coronavirus cases are continuing to spike significantly in the country, there are a lot of rumours doing the rounds that the government might impose another lockdown in the country in December. It is to be noted that Britain has also announced Lockdown-2 after France to control the outbreak which is overwhelming the public health system. In fact, the second wave also started in India. Recently, AIIMS Delhi director Randeep Guleria warned that the second wave of coronavirus in India has begun. People should not leave the house unless absolutely necessary, he added. Guleria's statement came at a time when the number of corona patients is increasing significantly across the country
12th Nov 2020 - DNA India

Bolsonaro's clash with Sao Paulo governor over the Chinese vaccine tainted with politics

Brazil’s national health regulator allowed clinical trials of a Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine to resume on Wednesday, two days after suspending them in what critics called a decision tainted by politics. The regulatory agency, Anvisa, said it had now received more details on the nature of the adverse “incident” that led it to halt final stage trials of the CoronaVac vaccine, and had “sufficient information to allow vaccination to resume.” Public health officials had said the incident that led to the suspension – a volunteer recipient’s death, which police are investigating as a suicide – had no connection with the vaccine.
12th Nov 2020 - MercoPress

Biden COVID-19 adviser floats plan to pay for national lockdown lasting up to six weeks

A top health adviser to President-elect Joe Biden suggested that the nation is well-positioned financially to withstand a lockdown of more than a month in an effort to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. "When you look at the personal savings rate in this country, it's now gone from about 8 percent to over 22 percent. We have a big pool of money out there that we could borrow. The historic low interest rates by the federal government, we could pay for a package right now to cover all of the wages, lost wages for individual workers, for our losses to small companies to medium sized companies, for city states, county governments. We could do all of that," said Michael Osterholm during a live event this week with Yahoo News.
12th Nov 2020 - The Hill on MSN.com

Victoria zeroes in on last step out of lockdown

Victoria has again recorded no new cases of coronavirus and no further deaths, for the 13th day in a row. There are three active cases in the state and there were more than 20,000 tests processed in the last day, Health Minister Martin Foley said. "This extraordinary figure of over 20,000 shows Victorians want to stay safe and stay open by coming forward in such extraordinary numbers even with the slightest of symptoms. I would urge all Victorians to continue to do so." Mr Foley said.
12th Nov 2020 - The Age

New Zealand partially shuts central Auckland over mystery Covid case

Health authorities in New Zealand are partially shutting down the central city of Auckland on Friday, asking workers in the city to stay home as they try to trace how a student became infected with Covid-19. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are asking people who work in downtown Auckland to work from home tomorrow where possible,” Covid-19 minister Chris Hipkins said. The number of workers in Auckland central business district instructed to stay home on Friday is 100,000. “If you must go into this area, please use masks and social distancing while health authorities continue work to trace the source of this infection.”
12th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

German minister sees COVID-19 restrictions through winter

Germany’s health minister said on Thursday he expects restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic will continue through winter, with life unlikely to get back to normal in December or January even if infections fall. “I don’t see events with more than 10 or 15 people happening this winter,” Jens Spahn told RBB broadcaster. Germany reported 21,866 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 727,553 and jumping back above 20,000 after four days below that figure, while the death toll rose by 215 to 11,982, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s states are due to meet on Monday to review whether partial lockdown measures imposed on Nov. 2 have been enough to slow a steep rise in new infections that risks overwhelming hospitals.
12th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

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

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US states resume lockdowns as COVID-19 hospitalisations skyrocket

Several US states on Tuesday imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus as people admitted to hospitals soared, straining the facilities and medical resources across much of the country. The number of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in California has risen by 32 percent over the past two weeks and intensive-care admissions have spiked by 30 percent, Dr Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary told reporters.
11th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English

What Joe Biden Has Said About a Nationwide Lockdown If U.S. COVID Cases Continue to Spiral

President-elect Joe Biden has said he will do "everything possible to get COVID-19 under control" in what he describes as "the worst wave yet in this pandemic," following his first coronavirus briefing this week. Biden expressed similar sentiments in August, saying he would do "whatever it takes to save lives," including a national lockdown, if COVID-19 infections surged in January, exacerbated by the flu season. "I would shut it [the country] down; I would listen to the scientists," Biden told ABC News anchor David Muir.
11th Nov 2020 - Newsweek

Italy Virus Cases Pass 1 Million With Second Lockdowns Under Way

Italy led the way in fighting the early wave of Europe’s pandemic back in March, imposing a strict three-month lockdown that halted the contagion but almost crippled its economy. Now, with cases topping 1 million, a second round of shutdowns has made Italians anxious about the economic impact and weary of the return to restrictions on daily life. The government’s wavering response hasn’t helped.
11th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

Japan's surge in COVID-19 cases reignites debate over tougher virus law

As flu season approaches and new cases of the novel coronavirus remain consistently high or surge again in several cities, fears of a twofold crisis have led many to call for laws to be revised to distribute power concentrated in the central government and appease municipal leaders demanding teeth in the fight against COVID-19. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga maintains that legal revision is an arduous political process that should be shelved until after the coronavirus is contained. But experts say doing so is an immediate necessity, one that could be achieved within months if not for complacency and bipartisan politics. “It’s better to have a tool and not use it, than to not have it and suffer the consequences,” said Shuya Nomura, a professor at the Chuo University Graduate School of Law. “It’s true that the country has avoided heavy casualties without imposing citywide lockdowns or strict measures, but we don’t know why we got lucky or if those methods will continue to work.”
11th Nov 2020 - The Japan Times

Anti-lockdown MPs add to pressure on Boris Johnson

The Treasury’s top civil servant has agreed to consider releasing part of the advice by officials on the economics of England’s second lockdown, as the government’s preferred measure of deaths across the UK during the coronavirus pandemic rose above 50,000. While Tom Scholar, the Treasury’s permanent secretary, and Clare Lombardelli, its chief economist, denied there was “a separate forecast” of the impact of the second lockdown, as suggested in the minutes of the government’s scientific advice, they agreed on Wednesday to consult on whether the Treasury could release a selection of “ongoing” policy advice to ministers. The commitment came amid testy exchanges at the Treasury committee in the House of Commons in which MPs sought with difficulty to get Treasury officials to outline the thinking on the costs and benefits of the second lockdown.
11th Nov 2020 - The Financial Times

Ukraine approves lockdown restrictions at weekends to fight COVID spread

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's cabinet voted on Wednesday to impose a national lockdown at weekends to strengthen steps to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said the weekend lockdown would be in force from Nov. 14-30. The decision will mean closing or restricting the activity of most businesses at weekends with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals and transport. The cabinet also stepped up restrictions on operations of restaurants, cinemas, gyms, and public events.
11th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!News

Hungary's COVID-19 deaths near record on eve of partial lockdown

Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday granted Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government a special 90-day mandate to rule by decree in an effort to curb a spiking coronavirus pandemic, and they approved new restrictions amounting to a partial lockdown. Hungary’s government reported 103 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, making it the third hardest hit country in Europe in terms of deaths per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, behind the Czech Republic and Belgium, European Union data showed. Orban, signalling a shift away from his policy of avoiding tough restrictions in order to protect the economy, announced a limited lockdown from 12:01 a.m. (2301 GMT) on Wednesday to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters India

Lebanon orders full lockdown to combat COVID-19, boost hospital beds

Lebanon ordered a full lockdown for around two weeks to stem a rise in COVID-19 infections and allow a badly strained health sector to bolster capacity as the country buckled under a financial meltdown.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Putting pressure on Johnson, UK Conservatives set up COVID group

Conservative lawmakers have set up a new group to fight what they call a cycle of lockdowns to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, yet another sign of discontent in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s governing party. While most Conservatives backed the government last week in supporting a second lockdown in England to try to bring down rising cases of COVID-19, more than 30 of the party’s lawmakers broke ranks, seeing the measures as draconian. The new internal group, called the Covid Recovery Group, is the latest to be formed by Conservative lawmakers, part of wider efforts to apply pressure on a government which many feel is not listening to the party’s concerns.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Europe to pay less than U.S. for Pfizer vaccine under initial deal - source

The European Union has struck a deal to initially pay less for Pfizer's PFE.N COVID-19 vaccine candidate than the United States, an EU official told Reuters as the bloc announced on Wednesday it had secured an agreement for up to 300 million doses. The experimental drug, developed in conjunction with Germany's BioNTech 22UAy.DE, is the frontrunner in a global race to produce a vaccine, with interim data released on Monday showing it was more than 90% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 in a large-scale clinical trial.. Under the EU deal, 27 European countries could buy 200 million doses, and have an option to purchase another 100 million. The bloc will pay less than $19.50 per shot, a senior EU official involved in talks with vaccine makers told Reuters, adding that partly reflected the financial support given by the EU and Germany for the drug’s development.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Merkel warns of winter long haul as German COVID deaths soar

Chancellor Angela Merkel warned against reading too much into a moderate drop in new coronavirus infections almost two weeks into an emergency lockdown in Germany, which reported the biggest rise in COVID deaths on Wednesday since April. Europe’s biggest economy, in a partial lockdown since Nov. 2 designed to tame a second wave of the coronavirus, recorded 18,487 new infections and 261 deaths in a day, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said. “As it was the case with the Spanish flu, we now also have to expect that the second wave will be more severe,” Merkel said during a video conference with the government’s council of economic advisers. The government says the emergency month-long lockdown that includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres was necessary to reverse a spike in coronavirus cases that risks overwhelming hospitals.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Bill de Blasio says lockdown restrictions are 'on table' as the NYC infection rate jumps to 2.34%

Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his daily coronavirus press briefing earlier today that the city will ‘have to do something quickly’ to prevent a second wave. He said the city's latest figures are 'very worrisome' and a 'warning sign if I've ever seen one' during his daily coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday. On Monday, NYC’s daily positive test rate for the coronavirus was 2.88 percent – the highest single-day figure since at least early August. De Blasio added that the city’s seven-day rolling average of new cases has now hit 2.34 percent, with NYC recording an average of 795 new cases of per-day
10th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 11th Nov 2020

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EU to approve Pfizer vaccine contract tomorrow

The European Commission will approve a contract for the supply of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech tomorrow, its President Ursula von der Leyen said. The two companies said their experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective, in what could be a major victory in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Protection in patients was achieved seven days after the second of two doses, and 28 days after the first, according to preliminary findings on the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. "Tomorrow we will authorise a contract for up to 300 million doses of the vaccine developed by German company BioNTech and Pfizer," Ms von der Leyen said in a statement.
10th Nov 2020 - RTE.ie

Covid-19: Vaccine could be rolled out from December and student testing

A vaccine could be rolled out by the NHS from 1 December if it gets approval, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told MPs. Mr Hancock updated the Commons on the government's vaccination plans after early results released on Monday showed a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19. However, Mr Hancock cautioned that there were still no guarantees it would be approved and questions remained over the impact it would have on the transmission of the virus.
10th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Nicola Sturgeon lockdown update RECAP as Glasgow and Central Belt remain in coronavirus level three

Glasgow and the surrounding areas of the Central Belt will continue to fall under level three of the Scottish Government’s five-tier system. Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that there will be no easing of restrictions for the next week, stating: “While we are seeing a levelling off, we have not yet seen a sustained fall in cases. A plateauing rate of infection is not a stable condition. “It would clearly not be prudent to ease restrictions this week.” She added that no local authority will move to level four this week, but that “there are some giving us cause for concern and we will be monitoring them closely in the coming weeks”.
10th Nov 2020 - Glasgow Live

Coronavirus: Russia resists lockdown and pins hopes on vaccine

The ticket booths at Krylatskoye ice palace are shuttered, but the rink is full: not of speed skaters and hockey players, but rows of coronavirus patients. It's one of five facilities in Moscow transformed into giant temporary hospitals that are now swinging into action as the number of new Covid cases reaches daily record highs. The Kremlin describes the rate of infection as "worrying" - close to 21,000 new cases were announced across Russia on Tuesday - and it admits that healthcare facilities in some regions are "overloaded".
10th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Hungary's COVID-19 deaths near record on eve of partial lockdown

Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday granted Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government a special 90-day mandate to rule by decree in an effort to curb a spiking coronavirus pandemic, and they approved new restrictions amounting to a partial lockdown. Hungary’s government reported 103 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, making it the third hardest hit country in Europe in terms of deaths per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, behind the Czech Republic and Belgium, European Union data showed. Orban, signalling a shift away from his policy of avoiding tough restrictions in order to protect the economy, announced a limited lockdown from 12:01 a.m. (2301 GMT) on Wednesday to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters

20 Million Doses Of Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Headed To Spain In Early 2021

Spain’s health minister has said the country is in line to receive 20 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s new Covid-19 vaccine early next year, which early results indicate could be 90% effective at preventing the disease with no serious safety concerns, a welcome announcement after parts of the country were rocked by violent anti-lockdown protests after the government declared a state of emergency over rising Covid-19 cases.
10th Nov 2020 - Forbes

Lebanon orders full lockdown to combat COVID-19, boost hospital beds

Lebanon ordered a full lockdown for around two weeks to stem a rise in COVID-19 infections and allow a badly strained health sector to bolster capacity as the country buckled under a financial meltdown. The Supreme Defence Council said in a statement on Tuesday the lockdown starting Saturday would be in place until Nov. 30, with vital sectors and food delivery exempt. The airport and borders will remain open. “We have reached a very dangerous stage as public and private hospitals can no longer admit critical cases because all beds are occupied,” Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said, warning the shutdown may be extended if people do not comply.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Brazil suspends trials of China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, citing 'serious adverse event'

A "serious adverse event" that led Brazil's health authorities to halt clinical trials of a Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine was not related to the vaccine trial itself, the director of Brazil's Butantan biomedical institute said on Tuesday. Brazil's National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) suspended the trial on Monday after an incident on October 29. A note from Anvisa said the trial had been paused in order to better evaluate the data and assess the risk. But Dimas Covas, the institute's director, told reporters at a news conference in Sao Paulo that the incident was in no way linked to the vaccine trial.
10th Nov 2020 - CNN

Why is Spain taking longer to respond to the coronavirus pandemic than its European neighbors?

El Pais speaks to experts about why Spanish authorities continue to drag their feet when it comes to introducing measures that have already been applied in several nations with much lower incidence rates
9th Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Nov 2020

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PM Johnson says still too early to rely on COVID-19 vaccine

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was ready to roll out a mass COVID-19 vaccination programme but it was too early to rely on a vaccine as a solution to the coronavirus pandemic. “I must stress that these are very, very early days, and we’ve talked for a long time, right about the distant bugle of the scientific cavalry coming over the brow of the hill,” Johnson told a media conference after Pfizer said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective. “I can tell you that tonight that today that toot, that bugle is louder, but it’s still some way off. We absolutely cannot rely on this news, as a solution.”
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

UK expects to get 10 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this year

Britain expects to have 10 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s candidate COVID-19 vaccine available by the end of the year, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday said there were several hurdles to go after its positive clinical trial results.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Israel asks for U.S. help in getting potential Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Israel said it asked the U.S. government on Monday to help it get access to Pfizer's potential COVID-19 vaccine. Earlier in the day, Pfizer Inc said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective, a major victory in the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than a million people, battered the world’s economy and upended daily life. Israel’s finance minister Israel Katz said he had discussed the vaccine during talks with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. “I asked Mnuchin for help in supplying the vaccine to Israel in parallel with its supply to the United States, as part of an agreement signed between the U.S. administration and the company for the immediate delivery of 600 million doses,” Katz said in a statement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it an important day in the fight against the pandemic and said “the end is in site”. “My goal at the moment is to do one thing - to bring vaccines to you citizens of Israel, and we will do so,” he said.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters

UK vaccines taskforce chair to step down - FT

UK vaccines taskforce chair Kate Bingham is to step down from her post at the end of the year amid criticism that she spent 670,000 pounds ($881,000) on public relations consultants, the Financial Times reported on Monday. Bingham’s use of a private sector company to oversee communications for her task force has caused concern in the government, and on Monday, government officials said she was not expected to continue in the job into 2021, the newspaper reported. The FT said, citing a Sunday Times report, that Bingham had used eight full-time consultants from London PR agency Admiral Associates to oversee her media strategy, and has contracted them until the end of the year. Under Bingham’s vaccine taskforce, Britain has secured supply deals for more than 350 million doses of six different COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Covid in Scotland: Easing of restrictions 'highly unlikely'

Scotland's Covid-19 restrictions are "highly unlikely" to be eased when they are reviewed on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon has said. Tuesday will mark the first review of local measures under Scotland's new five-level alert system. The first minister said the curbs currently in place had undoubtedly had an impact on the spread of the virus. However, she said it was important for this to translate into a "significant and sustained reduction in cases". Ms Sturgeon said she "would not expect areas to go down a level", and that "careful judgement" would be given to whether any councils had to move up a level.
9th Nov 2020 - BBC News

From lockdowns to Dr. Fauci: Here's how President-elect Joe Biden plans to fight the coronavirus pandemic

The U.S. can expect increased Covid-19 testing, a national mask mandate and the possibility of nationwide lockdowns once President-elect Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20. Biden has also said he plans to repair the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization. The transition team wasted no time, naming its own Covid-19 advisory board on Monday.
9th Nov 2020 - CNBC

UK must 'plan a path' to Christmas says Welsh First Minister

According to the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford, the UK must plan a path to Christmas amid the coronavirus pandemic and he called on the UK Government – specifically cabinet minister Michael Gove – to make good on the promised meeting of the four nations to discuss a single approach.His comments come as Wales prepares to come out of a 17-day firebreak lockdown on Monday, while England continues in its month-long lockdown which ends at the start of December.“I really hope that meeting materialises," said Mr Drakeford. “The restrictions people have had to live with are incredibly difficult and demanding, and everybody is tried and fatigued of coronavirus.
9th Nov 2020 - The Scotsman

Andalusia confines its municipalities and suspends all non-essential business activity from 6pm

The 8.4 million inhabitants of Spain’s Andalusia region will be confined to their municipalities from Tuesday, November 10 until November 23, as the regional government toughens its coronavirus restrictions. The hospitality sector and all non-essential activity will have to close at 6pm, apart from in the province of Granada, where the high rates of infection – currently at 1,194 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days – have prompted the authorities to implement a total shutdown. The nighttime curfew will be brought forward to 10pm and will last until 7am. Growing pressure on the region’s hospitals due to coronavirus cases has prompted the Andalusian government to take this action, which also includes obligatory online classes for university students. The plan was announced on Sunday by the regional premier, Juan Manuel Romero of the conservative Popular Party (PP), who explained that over this week a plan will be approved that will help to compensate the losses from the hostelry and retail sector, but did not go into detail about the assistance.
9th Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Coronavirus: Hungary and Portugal in partial lockdown

Hungary and Portugal are introducing new coronavirus restrictions to stem the second wave of infection now affecting most of Europe. Hungary's partial lockdown will include starting the current night curfew earlier, so it runs from 20:00 to 05:00 local time (19:00 to 04:00 GMT). Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the month-long curbs would include limits on public gatherings and closure of schools, restaurants and universities. Portugal has imposed a night curfew. Its state of emergency has started and is set to last at least two weeks. The curfew covers 70% of the population, including Lisbon and Porto. On weekdays it runs from 23:00 to 05:00 local time, but at weekends it will run from 13:00 to 05:00. Hungary's state of emergency is expected to get parliamentary approval on Tuesday, as Mr Orban's supporters have a majority.
9th Nov 2020 - BBC News

How Biden plans to change the US pandemic response

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris say they will move the US Covid-19 pandemic response in a dramatically different direction. "The pandemic is getting significantly more worrisome all across the country," Biden said on Friday. "I want everyone to know on day one, we're going to put our plan to control this virus into action." There were dauntingly high new case numbers last week, and by the time Biden takes office January 20, the influential University of Washington Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation model projects there will be more than 372,000 Covid-19 deaths -- that's 135,000 more than the current total.
9th Nov 2020 - CNN

Wales sees 'early positive signs' as it comes out of firebreak lockdown, first minister says

Wales has seen “early positive signs” in its fight against coronavirus as it comes out of its firebreak lockdown, its first minister has said. In a press conference on Monday, Mark Drakeford said there had already been signs that COVID-19 cases were “beginning to fall”. The country’s short 17-day coronavirus lockdown ended on Monday and was replaced with a new set of national measures. Groups of up to four people can now meet up in cafes, pubs and restaurants, while shops, gyms, hairdressers and places of worship will also reopen.
9th Nov 2020 - Yahoo News Australia

Coronavirus: Should New Zealand copy Taiwan's leading COVID-19 response?

The Detail is a daily news podcast produced for RNZ by Newsroom and is published on Newshub with permission. Click on this link to subscribe to the podcast. Taiwan is held up as best in class when it comes to controlling coronavirus and calls are getting louder for New Zealand to follow its lead and end the disruptive lockdowns that are so damaging to the economy. Today The Detail's Sharon Brettkelly looks at how this country of nearly 24 million people on an island a third the size of the South Island, tops the world with around 568 cases and just seven deaths compared with New Zealand's 1973-odd cases and 25 deaths. Taiwan-based New Zealander Ron Hanson talks to Sharon Brettkelly about the similarities and differences between the two countries' strategies
9th Nov 2020 - Newshub

Hungary announces lockdown measures to curb coronavirus infections -PM Orban

Hungary will close secondary schools, universities and restaurants and will impose an extended night-time curfew as of midnight on Tuesday to curb a fast rise in coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced on Monday on his Facebook page. Orban said sports events will be held behind closed doors, and all gatherings will be banned. He said the new lockdown measures were needed because “if coronavirus infections rise at the current pace... Hungarian hospitals will not be able to cope with the burden.”
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters India

Ukraine considers lockdown at weekends - President Zelenskiy

Ukraine may introduce a lockdown at weekends in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus and such a move would not have a serious negative impact on the economy, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday. “A temporary lockdown at weekends, for about a few weeks, can help us to avoid a harder lockdown,” presidential press service quoted Zelenskiy as saying.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

COVID-19 cases top 10 million in US as Biden sets up task force

President-elect Biden set to announce a 12-member task force to deal with pandemic as US becomes first country to cross 10 million cases. The development on Sunday came as global coronavirus cases exceeded 50 million.
9th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English

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

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Latvia to enter COVID-19 lockdown on Monday

Latvia’s government on Friday declared a four-week lockdown starting on Nov. 9 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has accelerated in recent weeks in the Baltic nation. Latvia reported 367 new cases on Friday, bringing the total number to 7,119 with 87 deaths. It had only 2,086 total cases on Oct. 1. Under the new rules, social contact is discouraged and a maximum of 10 people from no more than two households will be allowed to gather inside. Restaurants can serve only takeaway food and shops will limit the number of people inside.
8th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Greek PM orders nationwide lockdown to curb COVID cases surge

Greece’s conservative government on Thursday ordered a nationwide lockdown for three weeks to help contain a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the new restrictions will come into effect on Saturday, November 7.
8th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

UK's coronavirus vaccine taskforce chief faces questions over biotech fund

The head of the government’s vaccine taskforce faces fresh questions after it emerged she hailed the launch of a biotechnology investment fund in her capacity as managing director of a venture capital firm despite having “stepped away” from the role. Kate Bingham, a venture capitalist married to the Conservative minister Jesse Norman, came under scrutiny this week when Labour asked the cabinet secretary to “undertake an urgent and swift investigation” after it was claimed she showed US financiers government documents at a $200-a-head conference. She has garnered further attention after the Times reported that, although Bingham voluntarily declared that SV Health Investors “does not invest in companies related to work on the Covid-19 vaccine”, it has shareholdings in companies named Alchemab and Adimab, which have been involved in the race to develop antibody cocktails.
8th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

How Biden navigated pandemic politics to win the White House

Joe Biden was fresh off winning the Michigan primary and effectively capturing the Democratic presidential nomination, a prize he’d sought for the better part of three decades. Instead of plotting a strategy to build momentum, he was contemplating an abrupt halt. He gathered his senior team in a conference room on the 19th floor of his campaign’s Philadelphia headquarters, the type of in-person meeting that would soon be deemed a public health risk. A former surgeon general and Food and Drug Administration commissioner joined on speakerphone.
8th Nov 2020 - The Associated Press

COVID-19 surge creates new headache for beleaguered PM Muhyiddin

As Malaysia celebrated its national day at the end of August, it appeared to have brought COVID-19 to heel. But two months later, the Southeast Asian nation of 30 million people finds itself confronted with a brutal resurgence of the virus centred mostly on Sabah on the Malaysian part of Borneo
8th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Vaccine diplomacy and the US-China rivalry in Africa

Earlier this year, the China-United States global rivalry escalated, as both countries deployed their diplomatic arsenals to try to sway the competition for 5G contracts. The US managed to get the United Kingdom to rescind a deal with China’s Huawei to set up the country’s 5G network, which was seen as a major win for Washington. This rivalry extended into Africa, with both superpowers trying to recruit client African states to their side. The US has tried to put pressure on Kenya and South Africa, among other African countries, to reconsider Huawei’s involvement in the set-up of 5G systems. China, for its part, has put its weight behind the tech giant.
8th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English

NHS England suspends one-to-one nursing for critically ill Covid patients

Nurses will be allowed to look after two critically ill Covid-19 patients at the same time after NHS bosses relaxed the rule requiring one-to-one treatment in intensive care as hospitals come under intense strain. NHS England has decided to temporarily suspend the 1:1 rule as the number of people who are in hospital very sick with Covid has soared to 11,514, of whom 986 are on a ventilator. The move comes amid concern that intensive care units, which went into the pandemic already short of nurses, are being hit by staff being off sick or isolating as a result of Covid. It follows a warning last week by Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, that the Covid resurgence could overwhelm the NHS.
8th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

No10 admits mistake in coronavirus forecasts used to justify England's lockdown

Downing Street has admitted there were mistakes in coronavirus forecasts used by Boris Johnson to justify England's new lockdown. Alarming slides shown at the No10 press conference on Saturday by Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance predicting Covid deaths could hit 1,400 a day by early December have now been revised downwards. The graph, based on forecasts by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, projected a top-end range of more than 1,400 deaths a day by December 8 - well above the first-wave peak of almost 1,000. But on Tuesday, the slide was quietly reissued with the top-end range revised down to just over 1,000 deaths a day. Another slide forecasting hospital admissions would reach nearly 9,000 at the top end has also been changed to just over 6,000 a day.
7th Nov 2020 - Mirror Online

Coronavirus: Italy imposes regional lockdown as Europe battles surges

Much of Italy is now in lockdown, including the densely populated northern Lombardy region, after the Covid-19 death toll for 24 hours hit 445 - a six-month record. Italy is now split into three zones: red for high risk, then orange and yellow. The red areas are Lombardy, Piedmont and Aosta Valley in the north and Calabria in the south. The whole country has a night curfew. In neighbouring Slovenia police clashed with violent anti-lockdown protesters. Riot police used water cannon and teargas to disperse the crowd of several hundred outside parliament in the capital Ljubljana. Some demonstrators threw bottles, stones and smoke bombs at officers.
7th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Light coronavirus lockdown causes confusion across France

Oil for cooking is essential but the sale of essential oils is banned. Their statuses reflect the farcical side of a week-old second lockdown that scarcely resembles the harsh first round in the spring. Stumbling by President Macron’s government has compounded confusion over “le confinement, saison 2”, in which schools and public services remain open and much of the workforce troops to the office under pressure from the boss.
7th Nov 2020 - The Times

Exclusive: India-made COVID-19 vaccine could be launched as early as February - government scientist

An Indian government-backed COVID-19 vaccine could be launched as early as February - months earlier than expected - as last-stage trials begin this month and studies have so far showed it is safe and effective, a senior government scientist told Reuters. Bharat Biotech, a private company that is developing COVAXIN with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), had earlier hoped to launch it only in the second quarter of next year. “The vaccine has shown good efficacy,” senior ICMR scientist Rajni Kant, who is also a member of its COVID-19 task-force, said at the research body’s New Delhi headquarters on Thursday. “It is expected that by the beginning of next year, February or March, something would be available.”
7th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19: How a 'warm vaccine' could help India tackle coronavirus

India expects to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines and plans to inoculate some 250 million people between January and July next year. They will be mainly distributed through the country's 42-year-old immunisation programme,
7th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus vaccine taskforce chief Kate Bingham manages investments for drug firms

The head of the government’s vaccine taskforce has failed to publicly declare that she manages private investments in two companies involved in the race to develop coronavirus drugs. Kate Bingham is a managing partner at SV Health Investors, a venture capital firm. Two months after she was appointed by Boris Johnson, she said it was the “perfect time” to launch a fund that invested in a company researching coronavirus antibody cocktails, The Times can reveal.
7th Nov 2020 - The Times

Wales will be given 'appropriate' share of coronavirus vaccines by UK, says health minister

Wales will be given a "proportionate" share of a future coronavirus vaccine by the UK Government, the Welsh health minister has said. Vaughan Gething also said plans to deploy the treatment to those most in need were already in place if it became available before the end of this year. Mr Gething was responding to concerns expressed by Plaid Cymru's shadow health minister Rhun ap Iorwerth that the Welsh Government's policy was "to leave things largely to the UK Government when it comes to vaccination"
7th Nov 2020 - LeaderLive

Biden presidency may mean smoother coronavirus vaccine rollout, fewer cases

President-elect Joe Biden will inherit the world's biggest coronavirus outbreak when he takes office in January. But public-health experts think the process of distributing a vaccine will likely be smoother under Biden's administration than it would have been under Trump's. Experts also expect Biden to institute lockdowns in coronavirus hotspots. These measures, combined with Biden's championing of masks and social distancing, could prompt a decline in cases.
7th Nov 2020 - Business Insider

Chinese COVID vaccine finds few volunteers in Pakistani trial

Pakistan, one of China's closest allies, has been struggling to find volunteers for its part of a multicountry Phase 3 clinical trial of a Chinese vaccine against the new coronavirus. "Hospitals ... have been facing difficulties in recruiting volunteers for the trials because of the flood of misinformation, mainly on social media," a senior official at the National Institute of Health (NIH), a government-run research body, told Nikkei Asia on condition of anonymity. In September, Pakistan approved the final phase of clinical trials for the single-dose vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV, codeveloped by CanSino Biologics, a Tianjin-based Chinese vaccine company, and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, a Chinese military-backed research arm. In return, China will supply COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan as priority. For the Ad5-nCoV Phase 3 trial, slated to conclude in January 2022, nearly 40,000 volunteers are expected to participate from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Pakistan.
7th Nov 2020 - Nikkei Asian Review

Spain’s Prime Minister Claims Coronavirus Vaccine Will be Ready For May 2021

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez confirmed on Thursday in Valencia that the vaccination campaign in Spain against COVID-19 “could be ready” for May 2021. The date given coincides the end of the state of alarm approved by the Central Executive two weeks ago. “The new vaccines could be ready by that time, accompanying the change of season, and that will help us progressively recover that new normal,” said the Chief Executive, who has asked the rest of the political parties to agree on the General State Budgets before the end of the year. “If Spain agrees, Spain wins,” he stressed.
7th Nov 2020 - Euro Weekly News

New Zealand Inc reaps benefit of hard and fast Covid lockdown

When Covid-19 struck New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern’s government quickly closed the nation’s borders and imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in a bid to eliminate the spread of the virus. The decision in late March plunged businesses into crisis, with many forced to implement radical strategic changes to survive. Air New Zealand was an early casualty, requiring a NZ$900m ($610.4m) bailout from Wellington. But with most restrictions now removed and the virus apparently under control, business confidence is coming back. Many corporate leaders — in industries from tourism to agriculture — hope that Wellington’s decision to prioritise health over keeping its economy open will prove fruitful in the long term.
6th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Covid-19: Nichola Mallon says extending lockdown could help save Christmas

Image caption Restrictions on the hospitality industry should be extended for two weeks to rescue the Christmas period, the infrastructure minister has said. Nichola Mallon said she had come to the conclusion following evidence to the Northern Ireland Executive.
6th Nov 2020 - BBC News

Australia orders more COVID-19 vaccines for total of 135 million doses

The Australian government has agreed to purchase two more COVID-19 vaccines in development, beefing up the country's prospective arsenal against the pandemic to 135 million doses as it aims to complete a mass inoculation programme within months. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday the government will buy 40 million vaccine doses from Novavax, and 10 million from Pfizer and BioNTech. That adds to the 85 million doses Australia has already committed to buy from AstraZeneca and CSL Ltd should trials prove successful, taking the country's total anticipated outlay to A$3.2 billion ($2.3 billion). "We aren't putting all our eggs in one basket," Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
5th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

First COVID-19 Vaccine Doses To Go To Health Workers, Say CDC Advisers

Health care workers will almost certainly get the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. when one is approved, according to Dr. José Romero, head of the committee that develops evidence-based immunization guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's a decision based on the science of what will quell the pandemic fastest. "It's not just the doctors and nurses that are interacting with patients, but also the support personnel that help," Romero said in an interview Thursday with NPR. "It could include those persons that are delivering food, or maintenance people that could come in contact with them," so they can protect themselves and patients from the virus, and stay healthy to keep the U.S. health care system running. Romero chairs the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, a longstanding CDC advisory group that includes 15 voting members, plus other vaccination experts who weigh in.
5th Nov 2020 - NPR

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

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Greece orders nationwide lockdown to curb COVID-19 surge

Greece ordered a nationwide lockdown for three weeks on Thursday, its second this year, to help contain a resurgence of COVID-19 after a sharp increase in infections this week. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was forced to act after a spike in cases in the past five days, saying that without a lockdown pressure on the healthcare system would be “unbearable”. “I’ve chosen to take drastic measures sooner rather than later,” said Mitsotakis, who had previously said a nationwide lockdown was a last option. Officials said that in the past week alone, there was a 20% increase in confirmed infections. From next Monday, people arriving by air will require proof of a negative coronavirus test, taken within 48 hours of travel.
5th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Germany adopts loose lockdown despite record-breaking Covid-19 cases

Germany began its second lockdown on Monday but the bustling shopping streets in Berlin suggest locals in the capital are taking a liberal approach – as infections reach a new high. The so-called “lockdown lite” has forced the closure of pubs and restaurants, except for takeaway, as well as gyms, cinemas and all cultural events. Unlike in the spring, however, schools, childcare and hairdressers have remained open. Shops are still trading, with a new rule of one customer per 10 sq m floor space. “We’ve got 6,000 square metres of floor space so no capacity problems,” said a security man in an electronics store as 10 people waited to pay, none 1.5m apart. “It’s slightly quieter than usual now, but not much, and in two hours it’ll be very busy.”
5th Nov 2020 - The Irish Times

Germany says to distribute November lockdown aid to firms fast

Germany will ensure financial aid gets to firms and individuals hit by a partial coronavirus lockdown in November quickly, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Thursday, outlining further details of the 10 billion euro (9.03 billion pounds) programme. Europe’s biggest economy closed bars, restaurants, gyms, cinemas, theatres and domestic tourism on Monday for a month. The government has said small and medium-sized firms will be able to claim compensation worth 75% of their revenues from November 2019, up to 1 million euros. Aid of more than 1 million euros has to be agreed by the European Union.
5th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Anger as Italy's new 'red zones' prepare for lockdown

taly's newly-designated coronavirus "red zones" braced Thursday for a fresh lockdown as anger rose against the government, accused of penalising some regions while being too lax towards others. At the Scala in Milan, gloom reigned after the prestigious opera house was forced to cancel its opening night next month, and non-essential shops served their last customers before a lockdown Friday set to affect over 16 million people.
5th Nov 2020 - The Peninsula

Europe's Second Lockdown Wave Risks Double-Dip Recessions

It’s 5:45 p.m., and a small square close to Rome’s Spanish Steps is full of the sounds of alfresco diners and children playing. Twenty minutes later, all that can be heard is the scraping of metal chairs on cobblestones as waiters close up for the night, the piazza darkening as they turn off the lights. To curb the resurgent coronavirus, Italy has locked down a few at-risk regions including Milan, while mandating milder rules for Rome and the rest of the country, including early closing hours for bars and restaurants. It’s not a lockdown—yet—but for Romans it might as well be. It “feels like 2 a.m., not 6 p.m.,” complains Angela Dimauro, pulling her jacket closed and her mask higher as she leaves the square.
5th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

Spanish government to wait ‘two or three weeks’ before taking tougher coronavirus measures

The Spanish Health Ministry remains hopeful that the restrictions introduced by regional governments under the state of alarm will be able to curb the spread of the coronavirus. This would avoid the need for a home lockdown like the one seen during the first wave of the pandemic, when millions of Spaniards were confined to their homes. The government wants to avoid this at all costs in order to prevent further damage to the Spanish economy, which lost around one million jobs in March and April due to the strict lockdown. Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Wednesday that “two or three weeks” are needed to see if the current measures have been able to reduce transmission rates.
5th Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Muddled messaging fuels backlash against lockdown in France

When he announced a new coronavirus lockdown in France, President Emmanuel Macron said the government had learned lessons from the first wave. But a series of unforced errors from his government is making it a tough sell. Some 73 percent of French people say they find communications over the second lockdown incoherent, according to a YouGov poll published Wednesday. Only 29 percent said they trusted the government to handle the second wave. Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced on Tuesday a curfew in Paris that was contradicted within an hour by the prime minister’s office, among other communication blunders.
5th Nov 2020 - POLITICO.eu

Rishi Sunak set to unveil new economic boost as England goes into second lockdown

A new economic boost for the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic is later expected to be unveiled by the Chancellor. Rishi Sunak and the Bank of England will announce the measures as England goes into a second lockdown for four weeks, according to reports. Mr Sunak is set to confirm employees on furlough will receive 80 per cent per cent of their salaries if their employers have been made to shut down. The furlough scheme will be expanded after the scheduled end of the lockdown on December 2, the Telegraph reported.
5th Nov 2020 - London Evening Standard

New South Wales to open border to Victoria, New Zealand

After months of remaining closed to Victorian residents, NSW will drop its border restrictions in just three weeks. On Wednesday NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed the border would open on November 23. That is about a month after her Victorian counterpart Daniel Andrews put an end to Melbourne’s tough stage 4 lockdown. The southern state has since recorded five consecutive days of zero cases while NSW announced three new local cases on Wednesday. “As long as a state can demonstrate it can get on top of cases, we are OK with that,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters. “I’m confident other states will have that capacity … they’ve certainly had enough time to prepare for this.”
5th Nov 2020 - Newstalk ZB

Australia has almost eliminated the coronavirus — by putting faith in science

The Sydney Opera House has reopened. Almost 40,000 spectators attended the city's rugby league grand final. Workers are being urged to return to their offices. Australia has become a pandemic success story. The nation of 26 million is close to eliminating community transmission of the coronavirus, having defeated a second wave just as infections surge again in Europe and the United States. No new cases were reported on the island continent Thursday, and only seven since Saturday, besides travelers in hotel quarantine. Eighteen patients are hospitalized with covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. One is in an intensive care unit. Melbourne, the main hotbed of Australia's outbreak that recently emerged from lockdown, has not reported a case since Oct. 30.
5th Nov 2020 - The Washington Post

Bank of England pumps extra £150,000,000,000 into economy as lockdown begins

The Bank of England has injected another £150 billion into the economy amid fears the second lockdown will send GDP plummeting and wipe out thousands of jobs. Tighter coronavirus restrictions, including the national shutdown beginning in England today, are expected to push the UK into another downturn. Experts fear it could plunge the UK into a double-dip recession, but the Bank’s latest forecasts suggests the economy will narrowly avoid this as activity recovers at the start of next year. It said gross domestic product (GDP) will pick up in the first quarter of 2021, but warned that activity will still remain ‘materially lower’ than before the coronavirus crisis
5th Nov 2020 - Metro

Coronavirus France: Paris to see even tighter lockdown restrictions

Paris will be placed under more restrictions on top of France’s second national lockdown, the city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo told BFM TV early on Thursday. More shops will have to shut earlier in the evening in a bid to curb the worsening of the deadly second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the city, Hidalgo said. In addition to the shops that have closed or must shut early under France’s second national lockdown, the new measures will force certain shops selling takeaway food and drink to shut at 10 pm local time. “When you get people who are not playing by the rules of the game and are therefore putting at risk the health of a large number of people, that is when you need to put in place new restrictions,” Hidalgo said.
5th Nov 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

Denmark to lock down regions after mutated coronavirus traced to minks

Parts of Denmark will face new, tougher lockdown measures after health authorities discovered a mutated coronavirus strain in minks and people in the country’s northern regions. The government said on Wednesday it would cull all minks in the Nordic country to prevent human contagion with a mutated coronavirus, which authorities said could be more resistant against future vaccines for people. The move to cull up to 17 million animals, which could cost the state more than $800 million, has prompted some lawmakers to demand to see the evidence behind the decision.
5th Nov 2020 - Reuters

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

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UK parliament approves month-long COVID-19 lockdown for England

British politicians approved a month-long lockdown in England, voting in favour of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to try to prevent COVID-19 running out of control and overwhelming health services. Johnson insisted that the looming new coronavirus lockdown would end “automatically” in four weeks, as he tried to placate party critics over the spiralling economic fallout.
5th Nov 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Greek government prepares more curbs to contain COVID-19 spread

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to announce new restrictions to curb a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, government officials said on Wednesday. Greece has reported fewer cases than most European countries but the number of infections has been gradually increasing since early October, prompting it to reimpose restrictions.
4th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19: Scott Morrison buys 50 million doses of two more vaccines

The federal government has previously signed deals to buy two Covid vaccines Now Scott Morrison has signed two more agreements with vaccine companies Deals are for 40m doses from Novavax and 10million from Pfizer/BioNTec The government hopes to roll out a vaccine around Australia early next year
4th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

NI can access furlough scheme if lockdown needed, says PM

Northern Ireland can access the Government’s furlough scheme if it has to introduce lockdown measures at a different time from England, Boris Johnson said. The Prime Minister told MPs the NHS faced an “existential threat” from Covid-19. The South Eastern Health Trust, which includes the Ulster Hospital, said it had the highest number of Covid positive patients to date and was operating at 111% capacity.
4th Nov 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

Italy opts for ‘flexible’ lockdown to stem coronavirus

Rome announced late Tuesday night new restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but stopped short of a full lockdown, according to the news agency ANSA. The measures include a national curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., as well as piecemeal regional lockdowns based on the local epidemiological situation. While Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had already made public the broad outlines of the new health measures at the start of the week, the government has now officially signed the full text of the new law.
4th Nov 2020 - POLITICO.eu

Spain under pressure to impose virus lockdown

With coronavirus infections rising, Spain's central government was under pressure Wednesday to follow the example of other European nations and impose a new national shutdown. The country has the second-highest caseload in the European Union after France. It has recorded more than 1.2 million cases so far and 36,495 deaths, including 18,669 new infections and 238 new deaths reported by the health ministry on Tuesday. More worryingly, pressure on hospitals is increasing with nearly a third of all hospital intensive care unit beds, 29 percent, occupied by Covid-19 patients.
4th Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24

India's Covid-19 crisis likely under control by early 2021, say experts

India has passed the peak number of Covid-19 infections and, if current trends continue, should see a dramatic decrease in cases by February 2021, according to a panel of experts. The coronavirus epidemic in India may already have peaked and, if the use of masks and physical distancing measures continue to be effective at the current level, the epidemic will most likely have run its course by February next year, a government-appointed committee of scientists has said. These are the findings of a study carried out by a seven-member expert panel on the future course of the pandemic, research commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology. “Without a lockdown, the number of deaths in India would have overwhelmed the system within a very short timeframe, and would have eventually passed 2.6 million,” said M. Vidyasagar of the Indian Institute of Technology, chairman of the committee.
4th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

After shunning lockdowns, Sweden now says its coronavirus situation is 'very serious'

Sweden says a maximum of eight people will now be allowed to dine together at restaurants or cafes, as the country faces a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and deaths. "We see that the situation is heading in the wrong direction - the situation is very serious," Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a press conference on Tuesday. He added that more patients were being treated in intensive care units for severe cases of COVID-19, and it was likely that fatalities would rise. One in five patients receiving intensive care was a COVID-19 patient, added Lena Hallengren, Sweden's minister of health and social affairs.
4th Nov 2020 - SBS News

Lithuania to enter three-week COVID lockdown on Saturday

Lithuania’s government on Wednesday declared a three-week lockdown starting on Nov.7, to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus which has accelerated in recent weeks in the Baltic nation. Lithuania, which imposed a two-month lockdown in March, reported 639 new cases on Wednesday, three times more than the 205 daily cases reported on Oct. 20, bringing the total number of cases to 18,092 with 182 deaths. Europe has seen a second wave of COVID-19 infections with many countries, including France, Britain and Germany opting for new lockdowns.
4th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Netherlands poised to tighten curbs to slow second COVID-19 wave

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday ordered extra lockdown measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Netherlands, and said the government is also considering curfews and school closures. The new measures, which include a ban on public meetings of more than two people not in the same family, were imposed amidsigns the epidemic had reached a second peak. Rutte said the government was strongly recommending that people not travel abroad for holidays until mid-January. “The number of new cases is falling, but not quickly enough,” Rutte said in a televised press conference. The new measures go into effect on Wednesday for two weeks.
4th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Denmark plans to cull its mink population after coronavirus mutation spreads to humans

Denmark will cull its mink population of up to 17 million after a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals spread to humans, the prime minister said on Wednesday. Health authorities found virus strains in humans and in mink which showed decreased sensitivity against antibodies, potentially lowering the efficacy of future vaccines, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. “We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well,” Frederiksen told a news conference.
4th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 4th Nov 2020

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Costa Rica re-opens borders with no Covid-19 tests or quarantine for tourists

Costa Rica has re-opened its borders to foreign visitors, and no longer requires international arrivals to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test. Arrivals will also no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in the country. The country officially welcomed back international travellers from the 1st November 2020, from any country around the world - provided they are arriving by air'. Although travellers won't need to take a Covid-19 test before they head to Costa Rica, there are still some entry requirements in place for those hoping to visit. For a start, tourists will need to buy travel insurance which covers the likes of accommodation costs and medical expenses related to Covid-19
4th Nov 2020 - Mirror Online

Argentina's Fernandez says 'horizon' in sight as COVID-19 cases appear to slow

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez said on Tuesday the “horizon” was starting to come into sight as the country battles against the coronavirus pandemic, with some signs the peak in cases may be over after rising since the outbreak began. The South American country imposed a strict lockdown in March, which initially slowed the spread of COVID-19 infections, but as restrictions were eased cases climbed rapidly above 1 million with one of highest testing positive rates in the world. However, a rolling seven-day average of new cases has dipped significantly since hitting a high on Oct. 21, raising hopes the peak may finally be over for the country, which has 1.18 million confirmed cases and 31,623 deaths.
3rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Birx warns US entering ‘deadly phase’ of Covid, contradicting Trump’s message

White House scientific adviser Dr Deborah Birx warned the United States is entering a new “deadly phase” of the coronavirus pandemic, and urged an “aggressive” approach to containing its spread. Birx gave the warning in a written memo delivered to top administration officials Monday. It is a direct contradiction of one of Donald Trump’s central, and false, closing campaign messages – that the US is “rounding the corner” on the pandemic. “We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic,” Birx wrote in the memo, first reported by the Washington Post. She continued: “Cases are rapidly rising in nearly 30% of all USA counties, the highest number of county hotspots we have seen with this pandemic. Half of the United States is in the red or orange zone for cases despite flat or declining testing.”
3rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Covid: Group of four rule for Wales' pubs after lockdown

Groups of four people from different households will be allowed to meet indoors at pubs, cafes and restaurants after Wales' firebreak lockdown ends. The sale of alcohol after 22:00 GMT will still be banned when new regulations come in on 9 November. Pubs and restaurants will reopen at the end of the lockdown, but the terms for their operation had been unclear. Larger groups of people who all live in the same house will be allowed to eat and drink out together. First Minister Mark Drakeford asked people visit such places in the smallest groups possible.
3rd Nov 2020 - BBC News

England lockdown will end on 2 December, Boris Johnson insists

Boris Johnson has told the cabinet that England’s lockdown restrictions will come to an end on 2 December, saying that was a hard deadline to develop a new solution to contain the spread of the virus. In a tacit admission that the current NHS test and trace system had not been enough to contain the virus, Johnson heralded a mass testing operation beginning in Liverpool, the start of an ambitious programme “Operation Moonshot” which would involve the entire population tested on a regular basis. The prime minister also appeared to affirm the government expected the four-week national lockdown in England would be enough to get the virus’s reproduction R number below one – raising questions as to whether the lockdown would be extended should that not occur.
3rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Protest exemption set to be removed from England lockdown rules

Protections for protesters are set to be removed from the coronavirus rules under the second national lockdown, it has emerged, provoking anger from human rights groups and campaigners. An exemption that permits demonstrations to take place with additional conditions designed to mitigate the spread of the virus is expected to be omitted from fresh regulations being drawn up for the lockdown that will commence from this Thursday. There have been a series of a high-profile protests since the pandemic erupted in the UK including rallies for racial equality led by the Black Lives Matter movement, racist counter-demonstrations and marches against lockdown measures directed by conspiracy theorists and extremists.
3rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Is Germany's €10 billion enough for second lockdown?

Germany entered a second partial lockdown on November 2 to try to stem the soaring cases of coronavirus ripping through the country. Dubbed lockdown-lite, the measures aren't as severe as the virtual shutdown of the economy that took place in March and April. The impact on many businesses is still set to be wide reaching, particularly in the entertainment and leisure sector, as well as for self-employed workers. Many companies were tipped perilously close to bankruptcy by the pandemic's first wave. Announcing the partial shutdown on Wednesday the previous week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised an additional €10 billion ($11.6 billion) in support for affected businesses. Firms with up to 50 workers, and the self-employed, can have up to 75% of their previous year's November turnover reimbursed by the government.
3rd Nov 2020 - DW (English)

Italy prepares new coronavirus curbs as deaths surge

Italy on Tuesday reported 353 COVID-related deaths, the highest daily figure since May 6 and up from 233 on Monday, the health ministry said, as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte prepares new curbs to tame the surge in infections and deaths. Some 28,244 new coronavirus infections were recorded over the past 24 hours, up from 22,253 on Monday. A total of 39,412 people have now died in Italy because of the disease, while 759,829 cases have been registered to date. Tougher measures will include a nationwide nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and the closure of museums and exhibitions, a draft decree seen by Reuters shows.
3rd Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

Spanish experts and authorities remain divided on home lockdown

The Asturias region believes the measure will ease the pressure on hospitals, but epidemiologists and the Health Ministry argue it is better to wait and assess the impact of the current coronavirus restrictions
3rd Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Scientists hail Israel's 'successful' second lockdown

Israel is emerging from a second lockdown that has surprised scientists with its effectiveness in reducing infection rates. As FRANCE 24 correspondent Irris Makler reports, the country re-entered confinement in September when its infection rate was the highest in the world. The rate has since decreased from 9000 per day, to less than 900. Even so, one-third of Israelis still believe a third lockdown is inevitable.
3rd Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24

Covid-19: The country's response to community cases hasn't relaxed, the system is just 'more sophisticated'

The official response to new Covid-19 community cases might appear more relaxed than previous outbreaks. But the lack of intensity is simply a reflection of the strides made to improve the public health system, one expert says. Two new community cases – both workers stationed at the Sudima Hotel isolation facility in Christchurch – have not prompted localised lockdowns, as happened in Auckland after the August cluster emerged. “This is another example of the system working well to protect our border,” Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said at Tuesday’s Covid-19 update.
3rd Nov 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

How much second lockdown will cost UK economy

Thousands of businesses are braced for a "truly devastating" blow from Boris Johnson's second lockdown amid fears that the economy will collapse 12 per cent this month. Britain is teetering on the brink of a dreaded double-dip recession following the Prime Minister's ban on household mixing and non-essential travel coupled with mass pub and restaurant closures, experts at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (Niesr) warned. It is thought that the new measures to contain the spread of Covid will cost taxpayers billions of pounds, destroy swathes of companies and put millions of jobs at risk.
3rd Nov 2020 - New Zealand Herald

UK's Johnson defends lockdown to avoid 'medical and moral disaster'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday defended a second COVID lockdown in England from critics who said it was unnecessary and others who said it was too late, arguing now was the time to prevent a “medical and moral disaster”. After rejecting calls last month for a new national lockdown, Johnson U-turned on Saturday, announcing new restrictions across England would begin at 0001 GMT on Thursday and last until Dec. 2. Britain, which has the highest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe, is grappling with more than 20,000 new cases a day. Scientists have warned a worst-case scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded this winter.
3rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

France considers new Paris curfew as lockdown rules are flouted

France could reimpose a night curfew on Paris and possibly the surrounding region amid government frustration that too many people are ignoring lockdown rules as COVID-19 infections soar. France dramatically slowed the spread of the coronavirus in the spring with one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns. But 10 months into the epidemic and with winter drawing in, many are reluctant to endure another period of confinement. “It’s unbearable for those who respect the rules to see other French people flouting them,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told BFM TV. “We need to take all the steps needed to fight the epidemic.” A final decision on a curfew had not been taken, the office of Prime Minister Jean Castex said. It will be discussed at a meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and senior cabinet ministers on Wednesday, a government source said.
3rd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Swedish PM warns pandemic respite over as deaths start rising

COVID-19 cases are increasing fast in Sweden, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Tuesday as he announced stricter recommendations for another three regions amid signs the resurgence was beginning to lift deaths from the disease.
3rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

UK in talks with Palantir over COVID-19 test-and-trace program: FT

The British government is in talks with U.S. data analytics company Palantir Technologies Inc in an attempt to strengthen its test-and-trace program for COVID-19, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. Officials have been in talks with the tech company about using its Foundry software to manage sensitive contact tracing data, the FT reported on citing people familiar with the matter.
3rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Europe is locking down a second time. But what is its long-term plan?

Shortly before 11 p.m. yesterday, a waitress passed out paper cups to the customers crowded around the tables outside Luzia, a bar in the lively Kreuzberg district here. “I’m sorry, but you all have to leave,” she said. “God, in 2 minutes it’s going to be lockdown,” a woman at one table said, as guests poured the remainder of their cocktails into the cups. The fun was over: For the second time this year, Luzia had to close on the German government’s orders. All restaurants, bars, gyms, and theaters in Europe’s largest economy will remain shut until at least the end of the month in a new bid to halt the spread of COVID-19. Hotels are no longer allowed to host tourists. Residents have been asked to meet people from only one other household. Florent, the manager at Luzia, took some hope from the fact that Germany was locking down while cases were still lower than in neighboring countries. “Hopefully we’ll reopen in a month,” he said.
2nd Nov 2020 - Science Magazine

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 3rd Nov 2020

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Cuomo halts indoor dining at 25% capacity citing a spike in COVID-19 cases

Indoor dining with 50% capacity was supposed to resume in NYC November 1. The deadline came and went with no information from the government. On Monday, Cuomo said he the situation was 'fluid' and he was looking at 'data.' He said there had been an increase in cases which was leading him to delay it. The infection rate in Manhattan is 2.5 percent - almost half of what it is in Queens, Brooklyn and parts of Staten Island. It is also lower than in the Hamptons and Westchester, where indoor dining is allowed at 50 percent. Nationally, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases but deaths remain steady
3rd Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Britain extends payment freeze to coronavirus-hit borrowers

Britain’s financial watchdog said on Monday it would extend payment holidays on credit cards, car finance, personal loans and pawned goods before tougher coronavirus restrictions come into effect this week. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also extended until January the availability of deferrals for mortgage payments after Britain announced a one-month lockdown across England would start on Thursday to contain a second wave of the pandemic. Consumers who have not yet had a credit payment deferral under guidance issued in July can request one that lasts for up to six months, the FCA said in a statement. Borrowers who have already had one deferral would be able to apply for a second, the FCA said. “Borrowers should only take up this support if they need it,” the statement added.
3rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

The world could learn a lot from how Africa is handling Covid-19

To date, the continent has recorded 1.7 million infections. The number, as is the case across the world, is likely much higher. One study conducted by researchers at the University of Cape Town collected 2,700 samples during the city’s pandemic peak in late July and early August. A startling 40 per cent of the people tested had Covid-19 antibodies.
2nd Nov 2020 - Wired.co.uk

Scottish Government 'cannot rule out' Scotland lockdown amid calls for furlough clarity

John Swinney said he was not surprised by Boris Johnson’s move to put England into lockdown from Thursday and said he could not categorically rule out the Scottish government abandoning their new levels system introduced today at 6am. The new measures will see different parts of Scotland subject to a differing severity of restrictions depending on the prevalence of Covid-19. Much of the central belt will be in Level Three, with other areas in Level Two and parts of the Highlands and islands in Level One.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Scotsman

Scotland will have access to furlough scheme for any future lockdown

Scotland will have access to the furlough scheme if Holyrood brings in another lockdown, Boris Johnson has confirmed.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Scotsman

Trump Suggests He May Fire Fauci ‘After the Election’

President Donald Trump suggested to a Florida crowd he may fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after the election, escalating his feud with the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases and providing a window into a potential post-November 3 administration purge. Speaking after midnight following a full day of campaigning, the President was complaining about news media coverage of Covid-19 when the crowd broke out into a "Fire Fauci" chant.
2nd Nov 2020 - CNN

Rishi Sunak refuses to rule out extended lockdown in England

Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out the new coronavirus lockdown lasting longer than its intended four weeks, as one of the scientists advising the government said delays in imposing tougher restrictions were likely to have cost thousands of lives. Asked whether he could guarantee the lockdown across England, which begins on Thursday, would be lifted as planned on 2 December, the UK chancellor was less definitive. “Our expectation and firm hope, on the basis of everything we know today, is the measures we have put in place for the time they will be in place for, will be sufficient to do the job we need, and we will seek to exit these restrictions back into a tiered approach at the end of the four-week period,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Lockdown: PM warns of Covid-19 deaths 'twice as bad' as spring

Covid-19 deaths could be twice as high over the winter as they were in the first wave of the pandemic, PM Boris Johnson has told MPs. In a Commons statement he said there was "no alternative", as he seeks to win support for a planned four-week lockdown in England from Thursday. But Mr Johnson explained he was "right to try every possible option" before ordering people to stay at home. Labour has said it will back the lockdown but criticised the delay. Mr Johnson announced at a Downing Street news conference on Saturday that strict measures will include closing pubs, restaurants, gyms, non-essential shops and places of worship.
2nd Nov 2020 - BBC News

Germany imposes four week partial lockdown

Watch "Germany imposes four week partial lockdown; Chancellor Merkel says restrictions necessary to avoid an acute German national health emergency
2nd Nov 2020 - CBS News

Merkel says if lockdown works, Germany will have bearable December

Germany will have a bearable December if new lockdown measures introduced on Monday works, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday, adding that much of the success of the measures depends on the participation and understanding of citizens. Merkel told a news conference that if people respected the restrictions over the next four weeks “to curb the spread of the virus, then we will be able to have the conditions for a tolerable December.”
2nd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Italy faces new coronavirus curbs, but no national lockdown - PM

The Italian government is going to tighten restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but is holding back from re-introducing a blanket, nationwide lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Monday. Addressing parliament, Conte said more stringent measures, including curbing travel been the worst-hit regions and introducing a nighttime curfew, were now needed given the recent resurgence of the virus. He said the country would be divided into three areas depending on the risk level. He warned that intensive care units would be overwhelmed in 15 of Italy’s 20 regions by next month unless action was taken, and said certain places faced tougher restrictions than others.
2nd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK