Covid news live: Latest updates as Patient Zero may have been Wuhan lab worker

The first person to be infected with Covid-19 may have been a Wuhan laboratory employee, a World Health Organisation official has claimed.

Dr Peter Embarek, the epidemiologist who led the WHO’s four-week investigation into the origins of the virus has said that a probably hypothesis is that a lab employee was infected while taking samples from bats in the field.

“This is where the virus jumps directly from a bat to a human,” he told Danish TV2, “in that case, it would then be a laboratory worker instead of a random villager or other person who has regular contact with bats.”

He added however, that the WHO had found no direct evidence that the coronavirus outbreak was linked to the bat research conducted in Wuhan’s laboratories.

Meanwhile, new research has found that those pinged by the NHS app in England and Wales are four times more likely to have Covid-19 than someone who has not been pinged.

A survey of more than 750,000 found that people who were alerted by the app and told to self-isolate were between 3.7 to 4.0 times more likely to have the virus. It also found that younger groups who were told to self-isolate were more likely to be positive compared with older age groups.


UK donates millions of vaccines through COVAX

The UK is donating millions of coronavirus vaccines through the COVAX initiative to help countries around the world tackle the pandemic.

The current shipment will contain around three million AstraZeneca doses and will be delivered to Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and the DRC in the coming days.

The shipment is part of a broader UK pledge to share 100 million jabs with the rest of the world, 80 per cent of which will be through COVAX. To date, the government has already donated around 5 million jabs to the global initiative.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “The UK is proud to be a major supporter of COVAX and the crucial work it does in getting vaccines to countries that need them most … it’s fantastic that from today the doses will be making a difference to millions of lives”.

“I am hugely grateful to the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca for producing this vaccine at cost – after all, we are not safe from Covid-19 until the whole world is safe,” he added.

Celine Wadhera13 August 2021 11:49


Thailand projects 45,000 Covid cases per day by early September

Thailand could see coronavirus cases double to around 45,000 per day by early September, even if current lockdown measures remain in place, the country’s Covid-19 taskforce said on Friday.

The south-east Asian country has been struggling with its worst outbreak of the virus to date, with an average of 20,000 new infections per day and 180 deaths in the past week.

On Friday, a record of 23,418 cases were recorded, taking overall case numbers to some 863,189. The country’s capital, Bangkok, also witnessed record figures on Friday, reporting 5,140 new infections.

Taskforce spokesperson Taweesin Wisanuyothin said: “The lockdown has been 20 per cent effective but the infections continue to rise, projected to reach about 45,000 cases per day by the start of or mid September”.

The Thai prime minister is set to meet with the Covid taskforce on Monday when adjustments could be made to current measures in order to combat the virus.

Celine Wadhera13 August 2021 11:30


Children born during pandemic have lower IQs, study finds

More specifically, the study determined that children born during the pandemic had significantly reduced verbal, motor and overall cognitive performance compared with children born before the pandemic, due to a lack of stimulation.

Researchers examined children’s cognitive scores in 2020 and 2021 and compared them with scores from the preceding decade. They found that while the mean IQ score for standardised tests for children aged three months to three years was around 100 between 2011 and 2019, it fell to 78 for children born during the pandemic.

Celine Wadhera13 August 2021 11:11


Russia reports record number of Covid-related deaths

Russia reported record number of coronavirus-related deaths on Friday evening – 815 Covid-related deaths were reported within the last 24 hours, alongside 22,277 new cases, 2,529 of which were in Moscow.

But Moscow’s mayor has said that hospitalisations from the disease had halved over the past month and a half. As a result, he said that the city would no longer require 30 per cent of staff at all businesses to work from home, but added that the measure was still encouraged.

Throughout the pandemic, Russia has recorded 6,557,068 Covid infections and 168,864 deaths.

While reported cases have been gradually declining from a peak in July, the infectious Delta variant is largely thought to be responsible for the uptick in deaths, particularly when paired with the country’s low vaccination rate.

Our World in Data estimates that 19.8 per cent of the population, or 28.7 million Russians are fully vaccinated.

Celine Wadhera13 August 2021 10:52


ONS: More adults are now meeting up indoors

More adults are now meeting up indoors, the Office of National Statistics has reported.

Nearly two thirds of adults – 64 per cent – met up with someone not within their household indoors over the past seven days, the latest data reveal. This figure is up from 62 per cent a week ago, and continues along a trend witnessed since Covid restrictions were eased in July.

Between 14 and 18 July, just 47 per cent of adults reported meeting up indoors.

More than a quarter of adults (27 per cent) feel that it will take more than a year for life to return to normal, but support remains for measures that aim to slow the spread of the virus.

Nearly nine in 10 adults (88 per cent) said that it was important or very important to wear face coverings while shopping, and 86 per cent felt that socially distancing from those not in their household was important or very important.

Celine Wadhera13 August 2021 10:33


Government failing to take advantage of ‘world class vaccination programme’ says Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Airport has warned that the government is failing to take advantage of the country’s “world class vaccination programme”.

While the airport has remained open throughout the pandemic, it has said that a collapse in passenger demand and government travel restrictions had hit its business hard.

The airport is currently in talks with banks to avoid defaulting on its loans, as it witnessed a pre-tax loss of £204mn in the first six months of 2021 – which is about 40 per cent lower than the first six months of 2020 when the pandemic was at its worst.

Gatwick chief executive Steward Wingate said: “I remain certain that Gatwick will recover and as a business we are financially and operationally well placed for that.

In the UK we are all emerging to enjoy more freedoms due to our world class vaccination programme – however we are in danger of squandering the advantage that vaccination programme has afforded us for international travel.

“Our government needs to act now and remove unnecessary and costly PCR testing requirements for passengers, particularly for those double vaccinated.

“UK travel recovery should not be allowed to lag behind US and Europe.

“Passengers need the travel rules simplified so they can choose to travel more freely and enjoy much needed breaks and reunions with family and friends which are currently much more attainable to those in Europe and the US.”

Celine Wadhera13 August 2021 10:14


One in 10 patients caught Covid in hospital during first wave, UK study shows

Poor infection prevention measures and limited testing at the beginning of the UK’s coronavirus outbreak were largely responsible to exposing patients admitted to hospital to the virus in the first wave of the pandemic, new research has found.

Science correspondent Samuel Lovett reports on the new Lancet study below.

Celine Wadhera13 August 2021 09:55


One in 10 patients infected with Covid-19 in hospital during first wave of pandemic

New research suggests that one in 10 patients in the UK were infected with Covid-19 during the first wave of the pandemic while being treated in hospital for another reason.

The study of more than 72,000 patients across 314 hospitals in the UK found that at least 11.1 per cent of patients were infected with the virus after being admitted to hospital.

Researchers said: “We estimate between 5,699 and 11,862 patients admitted in the first wave were infected during their stay in hospital”.

“This is, unfortunately, likely to be an underestimate, as we did not include patients who may have been infected but discharged before they could be diagnosed.”

Rates of hospital acquired Covid were even higher among residential community care and mental health hospitals where 61.9 per cent and 67.5 per cent of infections, respectively, were acquired within the facility.

Calum Semple, one of the authors of the study, and professor in child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, said: “The reasons for the variation between settings that provide the same type of care requires urgent investigation to identify and promote best infection control practice.

“Research has now been commissioned to find out what was done well and what lessons need to be learned to improve patient safety.”

He added that rates of hospital acquired infections were now at “much lower levels” somewhere in the range of 2 to 5 per cent.

Celine Wadhera13 August 2021 09:40


Sydney, Australia breaks daily record for new infections

Authorities in Sydney have reported the biggest daily rise in Covid-19 infections to date, with 390 new locally acquired cases recorded on Friday.

Daily covid cases have been above 300 for the past four days, and hundreds of defence personnel are expected to deploy next week to help enforce the city’s home-quarantine lockdown, which is set to last at least until 28 August.

More than 500 unarmed army personnel have already been helping police in Sydney to monitor compliance activities at hotels and airports.

In the photo below, police officers can be seen patrolling Sydney’s Central Station during the city’s ongoing lockdown.


Throughout the pandemic Australia has reported just over 38,100 cases and 948 deaths, significantly lower than many other western countries.

Celine Wadhera13 August 2021 09:21


Sage adviser ‘passionately believes’ health workers should be required to be vaccinated

A scientific adviser who sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) committee has said that he “passionately believes” that health and social care workers should be contractually required to be vaccinated.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Calum Semple, a professor in child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, said: “I do passionately believe that people working in health and social care should be vaccinated as part of their contract of employment.”

Celine Wadhera13 August 2021 09:02

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