Coronavirus UK update live: Latest news as Leeds could face lockdown and Tesco workers at huge distribution centre test positive for Covid | The Independent

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A pedestrian wears a facemask in the city centre of Leeds
A pedestrian wears a facemask in the city centre of Leeds(AFP via Getty Images)

Leeds has been added to Public Health England’s weekly watch list of “areas of concern” following a rise in Covid-19 cases over the previous weeks, the city council has said.

While this means there will not be any further restrictions on Leeds at this stage, it does mean increased monitoring of cases and potential additional steps in future if the city’s infection rates do not start to fall.

Meanwhile, travellers have been left confused after Portugal was added to the quarantine list for Wales and Scotland but not for England.

Under new rules that came into force on Friday, anyone returning to Wales from Portugal, Gibraltar and seven Greek islands will have to quarantine for 14 days, while travellers arriving back in Scotland from Portugal and French Polynesia from 4am on Saturday will have to self-isolate. Scotland also began requiring travellers from anywhere in Greece to enter quarantine from Thursday, sparking confusion as Portugal, Greece and French Polynesia remain on England’s and Northern Ireland’s lists of travel corridors.


Disease model suggests 1.9 million more deaths in 2020 unless governments act

A widely cited model predicts worsening outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere will lead to 1.9 million more coronavirus deaths in 2020 unless governments act.

Mask mandates and social distancing could save hundreds of thousands of lives, but there is “a tremendous amount of Covid fatigue” among the world’s government leaders because of economic downturns, said Dr Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Most of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere. Respiratory illnesses tend to peak in winter months, a seasonal effect expected to hold true for Covid-19, Mr Murray said. Disease models are based on assumptions about human behaviour, so there is a large amount of uncertainty.

Even if a vaccine proves safe and effective, there won’t be time to distribute enough vaccine to change the bleak forecast, Dr Murray said.

The IHME model projects the wave will peak globally in mid-December at 30,000 deaths per day and in the United States in early December at about 2,900 deaths per day. India, the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Japan will lead the world in total deaths by 1 January, according to the forecast.

Vincent Wood4 September 2020 21:08


Significant outbreaks linked to universities ‘highly likely’

Significant outbreaks of coronavirus linked to universities are “highly likely” and they risk amplifying the transmission of the virus across the country, Government scientific advisers have said.

Social interactions and accommodation are likely to be a “high-risk environment” for transmission to occur – and asymptomatic cases among students may make it harder to detect, they warned.

In a document published by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), scientists have suggested that wider-scale testing, combined with action places, may help control campus outbreaks.

Wearing face coverings in campus buildings and reducing in-person interactions may mitigate the transmission of Covid-19, the advice suggests.

It says: “Students who are residents in university accommodation should be segmented as far as possible to co-locate courses or year groups, to minimise networks between different parts of an institution.”

Vincent Wood4 September 2020 20:39


Leeds now area of concern as local lockdown restrictions loom

Leeds has been added to Public Health England’s weekly watch list of “areas of concern”, the city’s council has confirmed.

It follows an increase in the rate of infection for Covid-19 in the city, with the latest seven-day infection figures revealing a rate of 32.4 cases per 100,000 people and 3.5 per cent of those tested now coming back positive.

“The latest data suggests that a lot of the cases are in different areas of the city, meaning they may be linked to social interaction and leisure activities,” the council said in a statement.

Vincent Wood4 September 2020 20:18


Vaccine hopefully ready by mid-2021, World Health Organisation says

The World Health Organisation is hopeful that a novel coronavirus vaccine will be ready internationally by mid-2021, its chief scientist said on Friday.

“Certainly by the middle of 2021, we should start to see some vaccines moving into countries and populations” Soumya Swaminathan said at a news briefing in Geneva.

Samuel Osborne4 September 2020 19:58


UK test and trace system has failed because of privatisation ideology, public health experts warn

The poor performance of the UK’s national coronavirus test and trace system is down to the government’s “ideology” and obsession with using the private sector, a senior public health expert has warned.

Professor Anthony Costello, a former director of maternal and child health at the World Health Organisation and former director of UCL’s Institute for Global Health, said the system designed by the government had “failed” and that it was up to experts to raise the alarm.

“We are seven months into a pandemic,” Prof Costello told a briefing hosted by the Independent Sage group.

“We’ve got a fiasco; we’ve been presenting evidence for months about how contact tracing is failing, and how the national testing system is failing.

“The whole thing is public health malpractice and it’s being designed [and] led by government ideology. They wanted a private system; it has failed, and we need to keep saying that.”

Samuel Osborne4 September 2020 19:35


Leeds, South Tyneside, Corby, Middlesbrough and Kettering added to watchlist

Leeds, South Tyneside, Corby, Middlesbrough and Kettering have been added to the Watchlist as areas of concern, Matt Hancock confirmed.

Norfolk, Rossendale and Northampton will be added as “areas of enhanced support”, meaning the Government will work with local authorities to provide additional resources – such as testing or contact tracing – to help bring the numbers of infections down.

The health secretary said: “I’m very glad we’ve been able to make this change, working with local councils, because local lockdowns are working to control the virus. We are seeing improvements in the rates of infection thanks to the huge efforts made by local communities and authorities working alongside our effective Test and Trace system.

“We must stay alert and I continue to encourage everyone to play their part by following local rules, self-isolating and requesting a free test as soon as they get any symptoms.”

He said the changes would mean that in Greater Manchester, apart from Bolton, Lancashire, and West Yorkshire socially distanced indoor performances will also be able to resume from Tuesday, and remaining restrictions on certain close contact services (treatments on the face, such as eyebrow threading or make-up application) will be lifted.

“The rates of infection remain too high in Bolton for these easements to be applied and further work is now under way with local leaders.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to the hard work of residents, local communities and local authorities who have all worked to bring down the rates of infection. To maintain this good progress, it is important local residents continue to wear face coverings where necessary, practise good hygiene and adhere to national social distancing rules.

“The rate of infection is still too high in Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire to allow lifting restrictions on gatherings.”

Samuel Osborne4 September 2020 19:05


Restrictions to be eased in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire

Coronavirus restrictions are to be eased in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, the health minister, Matt Hancock, has said.

Pools, gyms and sports facilities will be allowed to open from Tuesday in the remaining areas of Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford and Leicester.

And casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres, and indoor play areas will be able to lawfully reopen from Tuesday throughout Greater Manchester – apart from Bolton, where these restrictions will remain in place – Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

Newark and Sherwood, Slough and Wakefield will be removed from “areas of concern”.

Samuel Osborne4 September 2020 18:38


France reports record number of new daily infections

French health authorities reported 8,975 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, setting an all-time high of daily additional infections since the disease started to spread in the country at the end of the winter.

The number of people hospitalised for the disease, while still well below its 14 April peak of 32,292, has gone up for the sixth day running, at 4,671.

The number of people in France who have died from Covid-19 infections stood at 30,686 and the cumulative number of cases now totals 309,156.

Samuel Osborne4 September 2020 18:07


Alpaca antibodies could prevent coronavirus infection in humans, study suggests

Particular antibodies found in camelids – the group of animals including camels, llamas and alpacas – could block the virus which causes Covid-19 from entering human cells, scientists have said.

The Swedish research team behind the new study believe this neutralising antibody, or “nanobody” has the potential to be developed as an antiviral treatment and used to fight the pandemic, which has killed over 800,000 people around the world.

The search for effective nanobodies – which are fragments of antibodies that occur naturally in camelids and can be adapted for humans – began in February when a 12-year-old alpaca named Tyson was injected with the coronavirus’ spike protein by scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

After 60 days, blood samples from the alpaca showed a strong immune response against the spike protein.

In June the team reported they had isolated the nanobodies from Tyson’s blood that bind to the same part of the virus as human antibodies, and could block the infection.

Samuel Osborne4 September 2020 17:23


US coronavirus deaths predicted to more than double by end of year

US deaths from the coronavirus will reach 410,000 by the end of the year, more than double the current death toll, and deaths could soar to 3,000 per day in December, the University of Washington’s health institute forecast on Friday.

Deaths could be reduced by 30 per cent if more Americans wore face masks as epidemiologists have advised, but mask-wearing is declining, the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said.

The US death rate projected by the IHME model, which has been cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, would more than triple the current death rate of some 850 per day.

“We expect the daily death rate in the United States, because of seasonality and declining vigilance of the public, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December,” the institute, which bills itself as an independent research center, said in an update of its periodic forecasts.

“Cumulative deaths expected by 1 January are 410,000; this is 225,000 deaths from now until the end of the year,” the institute said.

Samuel Osborne4 September 2020 17:04

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