Coronavirus news – live: NHS test and trace call centres fail to reach 40% as global death toll reaches three-quarters of a millionBlau Medical News
The centralised test and trace system failed to reach nearly 40 per cent of people who came into contact with individuals infected with coronavirus, the latest weekly call centre figures show. Overall, including local public health teams brings the percentage traced to 74.2.
Separately, Germany’s health minister says he believes the world is certain to have a coronavirus vaccine in 2021. “Thanks to us all working together – researchers, scientists, the public – we will probably have a vaccine faster than ever before in the history of humanity,” Jens Spahn added.
Meanwhile, in Oldham, Greater Manchester, residents fear that if a second lockdown is imposed they will not have a town to come back to. One told The Independent: “There’s a lot of shops here that just about survived the first lockdown. They’ve scraped through. But a second one…”
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Residents fear threatened local lockdown would cripple Oldham for years
At the Tommyfield Market in Oldham – the Greater Manchester town now on the front line of the UK’s battle with coronavirus – on Wednesday morning, there was frustration and fear in equal measure.
Frustration because of an overnight council warning that, after weeks of increasing infection rates, the borough may be just “days away” from becoming the first place in England returned to lockdown. “How did they let it get to this?” asked one person.
But fear too. Fear most of all perhaps. Fear that if pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and non-essential businesses in this historic mill town really do have to shut again for a prolonged period, it could cripple the entire area – for years to come.
Northern Ireland to relax social distancing when schools reopen
Social distancing can be “relaxed” when schools reopen in Northern Ireland, the education minister confirmed.
Teachers’ unions said educators had not been given enough time to respond to new guidance issued on Thursday.
All pupils are due to return to their desks by the end of the month for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown in March.
Recommendations of two metres distancing must continue to be followed between adults within the education sector, the education department’s notice said.
Minister Peter Weir said: “Within school, in circumstances where strict social distancing between children cannot reasonably be applied, the use of ‘protective bubbles’, decreasing interaction and movement around the school must be followed.
“This additional mitigating measure has been applied successfully by other countries in their arrangements for reopening of schools.”
Nearly 300 staff test positive for coronavirus at M&S sandwich supplier
Nearly 300 people have tested positive for Covid-19 after an outbreak at a sandwich factory in Northampton.
Greencore, which supplies pre-packaged sandwiches to Marks & Spencer, said some of its staff are self-isolating after a significant number tested positive for coronavirus.
A spokeswoman for Northamptonshire County Council said 79 people returned positive NHS tests and a further 213 tested positive through Greencore’s private testing.
Indigenous people in Colombia at risk as virus forces children to go hungry
Coronavirus is making it more difficult for indigenous Wayuu people in Colombia to survive and putting children at risk of malnutrition, advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.
Even before coronavirus, food insecurity and malnutrition plagued Wayuu communities, exacerbated by mismanagement and corruption, migration from neighboring Venezuela and climate change, HRW said.
But limited state support afforded the Wayuu amid the pandemic creates a particularly dangerous situation, HRW’s Americas director Jose Miguel Vivanco said in a virtual media conference.
“This crisis is fundamentally due to state abandonment which has led to very limited access to drinking water, food, and basic health services,” Mr Vivanco said.
A government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Northern Ireland R rate rises to 1.6
Northern Ireland’s coronavirus reproductive rate has reached around 1.6, the health department said.
The seven-day average for new cases has more than doubled in the last week. This is partly due to increased testing, officials said.
“However community transmission has gone up and hospital admissions have also begun to rise, though remain at a low level”, the department added.
An additional eight people have tested positive, the health authorities said on Thursday.
Primary school closed over Covid-19 case
A primary school has been closed after a case of Covid-19 connected with the institution.
Aberdeenshire Council said a number of staff from Peterhead Central Primary School are self-isolating after a case was confirmed within the school team.
Pupils had not yet returned to the school, which was closed on Wednesday due to weather issues.
It will remain shut on Thursday and parents have been informed of the situation. NHS Grampian said it is working to trace close contacts.
France reports case loads on par with mid-April
France has reported more than 2,500 new Covid-19 infections for the second day in a row, levels last seen in mid-April when the country was in the middle of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.
Despite the rise in cases, which could prompt Britain to remove France from its list of safe travel destinations, the number of people hospitalised due to the disease continued to fall, having dipped below 5,000 for the first time since mid-March on Wednesday.
Experts say this is because more young people are being infected, who are less likely to need hospital care.
The total official tally of cases now stands at 209,365.
The seven-day moving average of new infections, which smooths out reporting irregularities, increased to 1,962, a total that has doubled over the last two weeks to levels not seen since the end of April.
Potential Merkel successor apologises after 900 people not told they were infected
The leader of the state of Bavaria, a possible successor to Angela Merkel as the conservative candidate for chancellor, has apologised for a coronavirus bungle that meant some 900 people who had tested positive were not told about it.
Problems with data entry meant that 44,000 travellers returning to Bavaria had been waiting for their test results for days. Around 900 of those were positive.
State health authorities said on Thursday they were now in the process of informing people, but were still having problems tracking some down.
The tests had been carried out up to two weeks ago at special centres, opened with great fanfare in the southern state.
“It is really extremely galling. We can only apologise,” state premier Markus Soeder told reporters, promising to fix the mistakes by adding extra staff.
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India coronavirus death toll overtakes UK’s to become fourth worst-affected country
India has now recorded more coronavirus deaths than the UK, making it the fourth worst-affected country in the world, as it set another daily record for new cases.
The nation’s death toll stands at 47,033, while the UK has seen 41,329 deaths, according to the Department of Health.
India saw another record jump in its surging coronavirus cases on Thursday, according to the health ministry, with 66,999 new infections being reported, leaving it behind only the US and Brazil.
Coronavirus outbreaks hit workers at Midlands food factories
Two food factories in the midlands – one employing 2,100 workers – have been hit by coronavirus outbreaks after staff members at both facilities tested positive.
A fruit distribution centre for Fyffes in Coventry and a Greencore factory in Northampton, which supplies pre-packaged sandwiches to Marks & Spencer, have seen several employees test positive for Covid-19.
A spokesperson for the Greencore, which employs 2,100 workers at the Northampton site, said that a number of staff were self-isolating after testing positive for the virus.
Spain sees sharp rise in cases
Spain has reported a sharp rise in new coronavirus infections as 2,935 cases were diagnosed in the past 24 hours, after 1,690 were reported the previous day, according to health ministry data.
The update brings the nation’s cumulative total to 337,334 cases.
The ministry also said 70 people had died over the past seven days, with the cumulative death toll reaching 28,605.
Venetians plan party to celebrate post-lockdown end to cruises
Locals in Venice are planning a party to celebrate the announcement that two cruise lines will not be stopping off in the city for the rest of 2020.
Italian lines MSC Crociere and Costa Crociere both confirmed they would drop Venice from their itineraries in favour of Trieste or Genoa when cruising restarts.
The two cities are thought to offer a safer alternative when it comes to managing passenger flow under the new coronavirus regulations.
UN report finds 43 per cent of schools have no access to soap and water
The United Nations estimates that 43 per cent of schools around the world don’t have access to water and soap for basic hand-washing.
The new report comes as countries wrestle with when and how to safely open schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report by the World Health Organization and UNICEF says more than one-third of the 818 million children around the globe who lacked basic hand-washing facilities at their schools last year are in sub-Saharan Africa.
The report says authorities must balance health concerns with economic and social ones in deciding on opening schools, and it notes the negative effects that long closures have on children.
The report also says one in three schools around the world have limited or no drinking water service.
No new England/UK case data today, PHE says
“Technical difficulties”, again, are behind a delay in publishing new coronavirus figures for England and the UK, Public Health England has announced.
Global deaths pass 750,000
The number of coronavirus deaths around the world has passed 750,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
US state of Georgia sees second death after ICE detention
A diabetic Costa Rican man in federal immigration custody has become the second detainee in Georgia to die from Covid-19 complications after being held at a detention centre that has reported more than 150 coronavirus cases.
Jose Guillen-Vega, 70, died Monday night at a Columbus hospital, according to a news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The preliminary cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest, secondary to complications of the coronavirus disease”, officials said Wednesday. He had been in hospital since 1 August.
County coroner Sybil Ammons said Mr Guillen-Vega also suffered from diabetes and hypertension, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
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New trial for contact-tracing app
An updated version of the government’s troubled coronavirus contact tracing app is to be piloted in England after changes to the way it will work, writes Shaun Lintern.
Thousands of NHS volunteer responders and people living on the Isle of Wight will be able to try out the app from Thursday while residents in the London borough of Newham will get the chance to download the app from next week.
No date has been set for when the contact tracing app will be rolled out nationally.
Burnham warns against ‘knee-jerk’ reactions
Andy Burnham has warned against “knee-jerk measures” on coronavirus as he said he did not want to see a return to full lockdown in Oldham.
However, the Greater Manchester mayor said that he and Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese had written to Matt Hancock to ask he not allow any further relaxation of lockdown in the region this weekend.
During a weekly briefing on Thursday, Mr Burnham said: “What worked in Leicester is not necessarily going to be right for Greater Manchester, given the interconnected nature of the city region, and I think we’re going to have to have a very considered approach to this rather than crude measures which become further divisive among different communities and different boroughs.
“We need to be proportionate, targeted and focus on measures that are going to work.
“That is the thrust of the letter we have sent to government today – no knee-jerk measures but work with us to get whatever interventions we do right and obviously make them as effective as possible.”
He said a full lockdown could cause “serious difficulties” for people living in the region.
Mr Burnham said he had asked Mr Hancock not to allow the reopening of businesses such as casinos and ice rinks, which had been due to take place this weekend, in Greater Manchester.
To read what’s it’s like on the ground in Oldham and how people feel about lockdown, you can read this feature by Colin Drury:
Cruise ships stalled by Covid-19 become Poole tourist attraction
“We’re supposed to be on the P&O Azura now, going around the Baltic,” mourns Craig Hanlon.
His wife, Tracey, is sanguine: “This is the next best thing.”
The couple, from Kenilworth in Warwickshire, married on a cruise a decade ago. They were hoping to celebrate their 10th anniversary afloat. But not like this.
13 more deaths in England
A further 13 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals to 29,444, NHS England said on Thursday.
The patients were aged between 49 and 90 and one patient, aged 86, had no known underlying health conditions.
Another four deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.