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Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advice

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 16, 2020 1:08 am

UK lockdown for
three more weeks


The Government is today set to extend the coronavirus lockdown for another three weeks amid fresh warnings it is too soon to start easing the restrictions

Ministers are expected to agree a further three weeks of social distancing controls, amid signs the Covid-19 epidemic in the UK is beginning to peak.

Downing Street has said the three-week review of the stay-at-home orders will go ahead as planned in line with the coronavirus legislation.

However, ministers and officials have repeatedly made clear that there is no prospect of any imminent relaxation.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party would back an extension, but called on ministers to set out an "exit strategy" explaining how they will eventually be lifted.

Speaking at Downing Street on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there could be no "let up" in the efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

"We cannot let go of the hard work that has been done so far,” he said.

“This shared sacrifice is starting to work but we will not lift these measures until it is safe to do so.”

Professor Chris Whitty says UK is reaching its coronavirus peak

And health minister Nadine Dorries suggested the stay-at-home orders may not be lifted until a vaccine is found, which experts say could take up to 18 months.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Boris Johnson as he continues to recuperate from the disease, will chair a meeting of the Cabinet on Thursday morning.

It is expected that ministers will be briefed on the latest situation by the Government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Mr Raab will then lead a meeting of the Cobra civil contingencies committee when it is expected that the extension of the lockdown will be formally approved.

The leaders of the devolved administrations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will take part by video link.

However, even before the meeting, the Stormont executive announced social distancing rules would continue in Northern Ireland at least until May.

The human cost of the epidemic was underlined with the disclosure that the latest victims of the disease included a pregnant nurse.

Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, 28, had worked on a general ward at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital for five years.

Her baby, a girl, was delivered successfully and was doing well, according to the hospital.

According to the latest figures, 12,868 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Tuesday, up by 761 from the previous day.

However, England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warned of a possible "bounce" in the numbers when the next set of figures are released due to delays in reporting deaths over the Easter weekend.

He said that while the UK was "probably" reaching the peak of the epidemic, the high numbers of deaths were expected to continue for a "short while" to come.

"We do all think that this has flattened out (but) sadly we do think that high numbers of deaths will continue for a short while on from where we are at the moment," he said.

"At the moment, we are not yet at the point where we can say confidently and safely this is now past the peak and we can start thinking very much about the next phases."

Despite insisting the restrictions must remain for now, ministers nevertheless are deeply conscious of the economic damage being wrought by the lockdown.

The Office for Budget Responsibility warned earlier this week unemployment could rise by two million, while the UK could be left with the biggest deficit as a proportion of GDP since the Second World War.

Meanwhile, Mr Raab is to take part in a "virtual summit" of G7 leaders hosted by Donald Trump.

The US President caused dismay in many capitals with his announcement that he was cutting American funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

He accused it of "mismanaging and covering up" the outbreak.

Downing Street made clear Britain would not be following the US example in cutting funding, saying WHO had "an important role to play in leading the global health response".

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that Mr Raab would be emphasising the need for countries to work together to combat the disease counter the effects of the economic fall out.

"Coronavirus is a global challenge and it's essential that countries work together to tackle this shared threat," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, a military veteran who is walking 100 lengths of his garden to generate cash for the NHS has been praised as "an inspiration to us all" as his fundraising campaign passed the £10 million mark.

Captain Tom Moore, 99, who lives with his family in Bedfordshire, is due to complete the last of the 25-metre laps on Thursday. BLESS HIM

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/ ... 15591.html

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:11 am

9 in 10 dying have existing illness

More than nine in 10 people dying with coronavirus have an underlying health condition, figures from the Office for National Statistics show

The ONS looked at nearly 4,000 deaths during March in England and Wales where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate.

In 91% of cases the individuals had other health problems

The most common was heart disease, followed by dementia and respiratory illness.

The average number of conditions those who were dying had was 2.7.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52308783
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:11 pm

VIRUS 20 TIMES TIMES LESS DEADLY

Danish study reveals that coronavirus may be almost 20 TIMES less deadly than WHO

Research on a group of blood donors in Denmark points to its Covid-19 mortality rate being well below one percent of the number of people infected with the disease, according to a team at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen.

Tests were carried out on 1,487 samples from Danish blood donors at the hospital showed a mortality rate of just 0.16 percent

The study also suggested that far more people than the figures currently shown to have caught the virus.

That puts the Danish scientists' estimates up to 20 times lower than those of the World Health Organization, which is putting deaths at anywhere between one percent and three percent of the number who contract Covid-19.

The test looked for antibodies formed during an infection and found that 22 donors out of the 1,487 were positive, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation reported.

However, medics have urged caution when reviewing the figures, saying they are “complex” while also pointing out that blood donors tend to be healthier than average members of the population.

The head of the Danish Health Authority said earlier there was “a lot of contagion in Denmark” adding that there was a “huge, somber amount” of undiagnosed Danes.

Denmark has so far recorded 6,879 cases of coronavirus and 309 deaths out of a population of 5.8 million.

Danes have been in a lockdown since mid-March but plans to relax the measures came in on Wednesday. As a first step, day care centres and schools for children in first to fifth grade reopened.

https://www.rt.com/news/486017-denmark- ... ity-study/
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:20 pm

NHS hospitals trying
Hydroxychloroquine


UK, NHS hospitals try treating Covid-19 with Hydroxychloroquine, anti-malaria drug hotly debated following Trump support

Coronavirus patients at two UK hospitals are reportedly now receiving hydroxychloroquine treatment. The drug, touted by US President Donald Trump as a “game changer,” quickly came under scrutiny from his political opponents.

According to a report published on Sunday in the Telegraph, Covid-19 patients at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital are being treated with hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug first developed in the 1950s.

“Barts Health NHS Trust has convened an expert clinical group to consider novel medications in the treatment of Covid-19,” a spokesman for the London hospital told the newspaper, adding that a select number of patients have been given hydroxychloroquine.

If the tests at Bart’s and Royal Devon are successful, the drug could then see widespread use at NHS hospitals across the UK.

Its effectiveness is hotly debated among scientists, and evidence for and against its effectiveness is thus far “anecdotal,” to quote President Trump’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Moreover, it is one of several existing medications – including HIV and Ebola drugs – currently showing potential in the treatment of Covid-19.

Trump’s support for the drug has made the hydroxychloroquine debate a political one. The National Institutes of Health began testing its effectiveness on Thursday, but Trump has long been an advocate for its use, describing it as a “game changer” after news media picked up on a promising study by French biologist Didier Raoult last month. French President Emmanuel Macron recently met with Raoult, in a three-hour private meeting Macron’s staff say was part of a wide consultation process.

Trump’s opponents have rounded on him for backing an unproven treatment. Though hydroxychloroquine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the most desperately ill patients, its prescription to outpatients has been banned by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D). Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) has meanwhile asked pharmacists not to prescribe it, in a bid to prevent hoarding.

Newspapers have talked up its potential side effects, and several jumped on the story of an Arizona couple who died after self-medicating with the drug, while neglecting to mention that the pair had consumed fish tank cleaner, and not actual medication.

Should the British trial find hydroxychloroquine effective, demand for the drug could soar. The drug’s patent has expired, and several manufacturers have ramped up production in recent days. Pharmaceutical firms Novartis, Mylan, Amneal and Teva have all pledged to deliver or donate tens of millions of tablets by the end of April.

India, where 70 percent of the world’s hydroxychloroquine supply is manufactured, slapped a ban on the drug’s export last month, before partially easing the restriction last week under pressure from Trump. A consignment of the medication then touched down in the US on Saturday.

No proven cure or vaccine exists yet for Covid-19. Globally, the virus has infected 1.8 million people and killed more than 112,000.

https://www.rt.com/uk/485621-hydroxychl ... tment-nhs/
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:28 pm

Veteran's NHS fundraiser hits £16m

Capt Tom Moore completes his 100th lap

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A 99-year-old war veteran has walked 100 laps of his garden to raise £16m and counting for the NHS.

Captain Tom Moore originally aimed to raise just £1,000 for NHS Charities Together by completing laps of his garden before his 100th birthday.

But he has smashed his target after nearly 800,000 people made donations to his fundraising page.

As he finished the challenge earlier, he said: "I feel fine, I hope you're all feeling fine too."

Capt Tom told the BBC the total amount raised so far was "an absolutely fantastic sum of money".

"I never dreamt I would be involved in such an occasion as this," he said at the end of his final lap.

Image

Capt Tom with grandson Benji, daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and granddaughter Georgia

At about 21:45 BST, Capt Tom's JustGiving page, which temporarily crashed after he finished the challenge, was showing donations of more than £16m.

The total includes an undisclosed donation from the Duke of Cambridge, who also wrote to the World War Two veteran.

Capt Tom's daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore said: "We are absolutely floored by what has been achieved but we're so happy, so humbled and so proud.

"He's a beacon of hope in dark times and I think we all need something like this to believe in and it's for such an amazing cause."

His granddaughter, Georgia, added she was "very proud" of him.

'Extraordinary'

Capt Tom began raising funds to thank the "magnificent" NHS staff who helped him with treatment for cancer and a broken hip.

With the aid of a walking frame, he completed 100 laps of the 25-metre (82ft) loop in his garden in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, in 10-lap chunks well before his birthday on 30 April.

Tributes and messages of congratulations have poured in from politicians, celebrities and NHS workers, while a petition for him to receive a knighthood has been signed by more than 300,000 people so far.

Downing Street said Prime Minister Boris Johnson would "certainly be looking at ways to recognise" him.

"It would be marvellous to have such an honour but I don't expect anything like that," Capt Tom said.

Image

The story of Captain Tom, the 99-year-old who raised more than £15m for the NHS

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said Capt Tom had "captured the heart of the nation with his heroic efforts" and raised an "incredible amount" of money.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said what he had done was "extraordinary" and "showed that the British spirit was as strong as it's ever been".

Brig Andrew Jackson, colonel of the Yorkshire Regiment, described Capt Tom as "an absolute legend" who came from "an exceptional generation that are still an inspiration for our Yorkshire soldiers today".

Celebrity judge Judy Sheindlin described the 99-year-old as "remarkable" while former F1 champion Damon Hill congratulated him on the "brilliant idea and for pulling it off".

'It will all be right'

Nurses on Ward 4 at the Royal University Hospital said: "Thank you so much for all your efforts and how much money you've raised for the NHS."

Capt Tom also received a special message from actor and singer Michael Ball, who described the challenge as "an extraordinary achievement" and sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" to him live on BBC Breakfast.

Image

Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment formed a Guard of Honour for the final laps

Shortly after he finished the fundraiser, the retired soldier had words of advice for the nation about coping with the coronavirus lockdown.

"You've all got to remember that we will get through it in the end, it will all be right," he said.

"For all those people finding it difficult at the moment, the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away."

More than 700,000 people from around the world have donated money to the fundraising page since it was set up last week.

Capt Tom, who is originally from Keighley in West Yorkshire, trained as a civil engineer before enlisting in the Army for World War Two, rising to captain and serving in India and Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Image

The veteran said plans for his 100th birthday party in two weeks' time have been affected by the pandemic but that the national outpouring of love and support for him was "a party enough for me".

An online campaign by schoolgirl Reegan Davies to send him virtual cards started to gather pace this week and Marston Moretaine postmaster, Bill Chandi, said "hundreds of [birthday] cards are arriving already".

"I think there will be thousands but I will make room for Capt Tom's birthday cards somehow, that should be no problem.

"He is a regular visitor and has always got time and patience, he's a real gentleman."
Ward 4, Royal Liverpool University Hospital

Image

Nurses from Ward 4 at Royal Liverpool University Hospital sent a message of thanks to Capt Tom

NHS Charities Together, which support health service charities and will benefit from the funds, said it was "truly inspired and humbled" by his efforts.

Its chairman Ian Lush said about 150 charities would benefit from the money.

"It's extraordinary to see the amount of money and the outpouring of goodwill towards the NHS and towards all the NHS charities who will take good care with the money that he's raising," he said.

JustGiving confirmed it is the largest total ever raised in a single campaign on its site and it had itself donated £100,000 to Capt Tom's "amazing campaign".

"This is the largest donation JustGiving has ever made," a spokeswoman said.

"[The campaign is] the largest total raised on JustGiving, the fastest growing campaign on the platform and has attracted donations and media coverage from around the world."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-b ... s-52303859
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:13 pm

Police guidelines list
excuses for leaving home


Police have been told to stop people "home-working" in parks or sitting on a public bench for long periods of time

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Guidance to officers in England says neither activity is likely to be a "reasonable excuse" for someone to leave their home in the lockdown.

But the advice from police leaders and trainers says that people can move to a friend's address for a cooling-off period "following arguments at home".

It says such moves must be "genuine" and "measured in days, not hours".

The three-page document, entitled "what constitutes a reasonable excuse to leave the place where you live", is designed to help police enforce the emergency restrictions that came into effect three weeks ago and are set to be extended.

It has been produced by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing, and appears to be drawn from guidelines issued by the Crown Prosecution Service.

But it has not been made public before - and suggests that some police have been applying the rules in the wrong way.

The regulations say householders can go outside if there's a "reasonable excuse", such as shopping for essential items, providing medical help and for exercise.

The guidance spells out what is "likely to be reasonable" for each of the key categories.

It says buying food for several days, including "luxury items and alcohol", is likely to be reasonable.

"There is no need for all of a person's shopping to be basic food supplies; the purchase of snacks and luxuries is still permitted," it says.

Last week, Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley backtracked after threatening that his officers would start to look in people's shopping trolleys and baskets if they continued to flout the rules.

It also says people are not allowed to buy paint and brushes "simply to redecorate a kitchen" but can purchase tools and supplies to repair a fence "damaged in recent bad weather".

Exercise guidelines

On exercise, the guidance lists driving to the countryside for a walk as "reasonable" if "far more time" is spent walking than driving.

But it adds that driving for a "prolonged period with only brief exercise" is not reasonable.

That would appear to indicate that someone who drove for an hour to a beauty spot for a walk would not be contravening the rules.

Under the guidance, police are advised not to intervene if people stop to rest or eat lunch while on a long walk, but short walks to sit on a park bench are not allowed.

"A very short period of 'exercise' to excuse a long period of inactivity may mean that the person is not engaged in 'exercise' but in fact something else," the guidance says.

The document also clarifies that anyone can travel to work if it is not "reasonably possible" to work from home. However, it says it is not allowed for home-workers to "choose" to work in a park.

The College of Policing said the information was published for forces before the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

"It was designed to help officers remain consistent with criminal justice colleagues," a spokesman added.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-52312560
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:10 am

NHS staff forbidden
from speaking out publicly


Healthcare professionals are being silenced and threatened with disciplinary action for speaking out about their work during the coronavirus outbreak

Many NHS staff are increasingly concerned that their ability to share stories about their work is being restricted by a clampdown on speaking out publicly.

It follows reports of doctors and nurses being gagged by hospitals and other NHS bodies from speaking out about widespread shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE). Tactics have included threatening emails, the possibility of disciplinary action, and some people even being sent home from work.

While there could be some logic to hospitals wanting to stop scaremongering when communications departments are overloaded with work at a busy time, many staff feel they are being blocked from highlighting their work during the pandemic.

Workers who have spoken to the Guardian say they fear being disciplined. Several professionals said they worried about losing their jobs. Examples include an email signed by the chief executive of one NHS trust forbidding all staff from talking to the media, and incidents where staff suspect emails and social media accounts are being monitored. Requests by staff to communications departments to permit them to talk to the press have been turned down, leaving staff anxious and fearful for their jobs during the worst global public health crisis of this century.

One nurse who wanted to highlight the vital role of his profession received an email (later recalled) from his trust to all staff, which banned public communications. When he contacted the communications department, he was shocked to receive a response saying simply no media. The team did not say what action they might take to enforce the ban, he said, but the tone was threatening..

The nurse added: “As healthcare workers I think we feel generally quite secure – there’s always work for nurses. But in my correspondence with the communications department I felt quite powerless all of a sudden. It makes me so sad.” Ironically, he added, coronavirus has in fact led to the role of nurses being highlighted in a way they could never have otherwise dreamed of, including being featured on the front cover of glossy magazines.

Not all NHS trusts in England have imposed a blanket ban on staff speaking out and some are encouraging professionals who wish to talk about their work. A range of staff recently explained their behind-the-scene roles to the Guardian, but most of those speaking out tend to be doctors, often in secure positions where they are less likely to be challenged or threatened.

Kate Jarman, director of corporate affairs at Milton Keynes University hospital NHS foundation trust, believes staff should be supported to talk about what life is like in their roles. “There’s always a balance to be struck in how staff get messages across,” she said. “People should be mindful of patient confidentiality and the core messages of public information and safety but from what I’ve seen, they are doing that.”

The Guardian is aware of several cases where staff have been silenced. They include:

    A health professional who was left anxious for their job after their communications department found out they had spoken to a journalist about their work.

    Staff at one trust who faced disciplinary action for speaking out. A blanket email signed by one trust’s chief executive was sent, warning staff not to speak to media under any circumstances. Some staff believe social media accounts are being monitored.

    Healthcare workers from different trusts who volunteered to be interviewed about their job in times of coronavirus and were told they could not mention the trust or their work at the hospital.

    One hospital manager who said they had received guidance about press/media from the trust they worked for and would not be able to say anything for the foreseeable future.

    One mental health worker working on a secure psychiatric ward who said they were terrified of speaking out publicly because they have been reprimanded by senior management before for highlighting aspects of patient care.
Unions representing NHS staff have expressed their concerns. Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, national officer for health at the Unite union, which represents 100,000 health staff, said officials had been hearing that some NHS bosses may have been clamping down on staff wishing to expose failings in the system and improve the wellbeing of patients.

A spokesman from the Institute of Biomedical Science, a professional body for scientists, support staff and students, said members working for the NHS who wanted to talk about their vital role in the crisis were increasingly coming up against the same barriers. “Hospital trusts in England are silencing our requests for members to talk.”

The ramifications of such a clampdown at a time when NHS staff are risking their lives and being celebrated by the general public are chilling, but come as no surprise to some. Roger Kline, a research fellow at Middlesex University who has done a lot of work looking into whistleblowing, said: “Old habits die hard, and I’ve certainly been contacted by NHS and social care staff anxious about going public and nervous about challenging local managers.”

One mental health professional told the Guardian that the unspoken rule is that staff should keep their heads down, follow orders and say nothing. “When it comes to the day-to-day clinical issues and challenges we face, there is a definite power dynamic at play, and [we] are generally petrified to speak out,” they said.

Preventing people from speaking out about their work is not only happening in the UK. In the US, hospitals are threatening to fire healthcare workers who publicise their working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic – and have in some cases followed through.

https://web.archive.org/web/20200409101 ... oronavirus
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Apr 17, 2020 9:49 pm

Global death toll hits 150,000
Johns Hopkins tally


The global death toll of the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed 150,000 people as the virus rages on through the US and Europe. More than 2.2 million total cases have been confirmed

Some 150,948 people have died with the coronavirus as of Friday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, which also reported 2,214,861 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide.

The US remains the hardest-hit country, followed by Italy and Spain.

The epidemic has claimed 34,575 lives in the US as of Friday, and 22,745 people have died with the virus in Italy, while Spain has seen 19,613 deaths. France, the UK, and Belgium have reported the next highest casualty numbers.

The epidemic that erupted in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and quickly spread around the world has claimed lives in most countries and may have pushed the global economy into an unprecedented depression.

As some countries look toward lifting lockdown orders, others have extended their own precautionary measures, concerned repealing the restrictions too soon will send infection numbers skyrocketing.

Johns Hopkins
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Apr 17, 2020 10:08 pm

Trump legitimizes
conspiracy theory


As the Trump administration legitimizes Covid-19’s ‘China lab’ origins conspiracy theory, we must remember Iraqi ‘WMD’

By publicly entertaining theories linking the Covid-19 virus to Chinese research laboratories, US President Donald Trump and his administration are setting China up as the witch in a new political witch hunt.

As the United States begins to grapple with the scope and scale of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the national economy, as well as the heavy human toll the disease has taken on its population (676,676 documented cases as of April 17, with 34,784 deaths), it was only a matter of time before politicians began looking for someone to blame.

Recently, President Trump has come under increasing scrutiny for what has been depicted as a delayed response to the threat posed by Covid-19, with many critics pointing out that his administration was virtually silent on the issue throughout the month of February, thereby losing precious time that could have been spent mitigating against the spread of the disease.

Purposeful non-denial

Rather than confront these allegations, the president and his national security team have instead sought to deflect blame from their shoulders onto China, and in doing so have breathed life into a baseless conspiracy theory that Covid-19 originated in a biological research laboratory located in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the global pandemic brought about by that disease.

When asked about reports of the virus escaping from the Wuhan lab, President Trump was somewhat circumspect. “More and more, we’re hearing the story, and we’ll see,” Trump said. “We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened.” Trump was also asked about his conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding the Wuhan laboratory’s role in spreading Covid-19. “I don’t want to discuss what I talked to him about the laboratory,” Trump responded. “I just don’t want to discuss, it’s inappropriate right now.”

Trump says US conducting ‘very thorough’ probe into Covid-19 origins, refuses to dismiss ‘sources’ pushing Chinese lab narrative

The president of the United States possesses the world’s most influential bully pulpit – when he speaks, the world listens. As the leader of the most militarily and economically powerful nation in the world, Trump’s words possess an inherent credibility, affixing an imprimatur that cannot be ignored.

In rapid succession, members of the president’s cabinet began to echo Trump’s “concern” about the Wuhan laboratory, thereby breathing life into the story. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that: “On the lab piece… it should be no surprise to you that we’ve taken a keen interest in that, and we’ve had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that.”

General Milley’s concerns were furthered by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “[We] know they have this lab,” Pompeo told the press. “We know that the virus itself did originate in Wuhan. So, all those things come together. There’s still a lot we don’t know, and this is what the president was talking about today. We need to know the answers to these things. The mere fact that we don’t know the answers – that China hasn’t shared the answers – I think is very, very telling.”

The statements made by General Milley and Secretary Pompeo should send a chill down the spine of anyone familiar with the history of what happens when American intelligence is used to promote a baseless theory about a weapon of mass destruction (Trump’s indirect allusions to China weaponizing Covid-19 would place the virus in this category) for political purposes.

Pompeo’s words harken back to statements made by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in December 2002 regarding Iraq. Like Colin Powell’s flawed case against Iraq, the conspiracy theory postulated by President Trump and subsequently echoed by General Milley, Secretary Pompeo and others is premised on a chimera – there simply is no factual link between the Wuhan laboratories in question and Covid-19.

Just enough truth to speculate

The conspiracy theory promulgated by Trump and his Cabinet contains just enough factual foundation to make it look legitimate in the eyes of those ignorant about reality. There are, in fact, two laboratories in Wuhan. One, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has no connection with any research activity into coronaviruses. It did, however, spearhead the investigation into the initial outbreak of Covid-19.

The other, the State Key Laboratory of Virology (sometimes referred to as the Wuhan Institute of Virology), is a biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory certified to handle the world’s most deadly pathogens, and is located approximately eight miles from Wuhan’s city center.

‘No evidence’ connecting Covid-19 to Wuhan lab – French official

The Wuhan Institute of Virology was, in fact, involved in studying the link between bats and coronaviruses in China, and in March 2019 published a peer-reviewed paper which warned that this link could serve as the origin for a future pandemic. “It is highly likely that future… coronavirus outbreaks will originate from bats, and there is an increased probability that this will occur in China,” the study noted. “Therefore, the investigation of bat coronaviruses becomes an urgent issue for the detection of early warning signs, which in turn minimizes the impact of such future outbreaks in China.”

So far, so good. But in January 2018, following a visit by US Embassy personnel to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, concerns were raised by the Americans about a shortage of appropriately trained specialists within the Wuhan Institute of Virology needed to operate the lab at the levels required of a BSL-4 facility capable of handling the most dangerous biological threats.

The US Embassy communicated these concerns back to the State Department as part of a request, made on behalf of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, for funding to support the hiring of additional specialists under an existing grant overseen by a US research institution (the request was denied).

Building the bonfire

These State Department cables have become the heart of the US case against China; the fact that China requested additional specialist support from the US to help operate a BSL-4 lab that was conducting publicly acknowledged research into the link between bat coronaviruses and humans has somehow been turned into a conspiracy theory predicated on Chinese malfeasance and secrecy.

In many ways, the US ‘investigation’ into the Wuhan laboratory resembles the famous witch inquisition undertaken in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’: a witch burns, so she is made of wood; wood floats, as does a duck. Conclusion: a duck is made of wood. This kind of stupefying enquiry would normally be beyond the remit of professional intelligence agencies.

However, the United States has a well-documented history of using intelligence to suit the political purposes of those in power. What is taking place today regarding the Wuhan Institute of Virology is little more than an old-fashioned witch hunt.

There is little difference between Monty Python’s skit and the US intelligence investigation into China – both seek to prove that a duck is made of wood. Both are little more than farce, but whereas Monty Python’s is intended to generate mirth, Trump’s witch hunt could have dire consequences for US-China relations going forward. At a time when the global community needs to be coming together to deal with the dire impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,

Trump’s political deflection is the last thing the world needs

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/486164-trump-covid-china-lab/
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Apr 17, 2020 10:36 pm

Are 'live-saving' ventilators
actually deathtraps?


His face contorted with worry, a young casualty doctor sends a desperate message to the world. He has watched over the beds of hundreds of coronavirus patients, and now believes they are dying because of the very treatment that is meant to save them

After being rushed into hospital, they are knocked out by sedatives delivered through a throat tube as a ventilator mechanically pumps their lungs to send oxygen into their bodies.

It is a standard treatment for the deadly lung infection pneumonia, and one that was first used for Covid-19 patients in China, then in Europe and now here in Britain.

Yet, in a frank YouTube video, the New York casualty doctor Cameron Kyle-Sidell has broken ranks with the medical establishment and warns it is wrong to use ventilators in this way.

He states emphatically: 'I fear this misguided treatment will lead to a tremendous amount of harm in a very short time. Covid-19 is not a pneumonia and should not be treated as one.'

His video, which has been viewed around the world, is heralding are-think concerning the treatment of severe cases of Covid-19. In particular, experts are now asking whether the best way of saving patients might be to saturate their blood with oxygen delivered through a mask without using a ventilator.

This is the approach reportedly used during Boris Johnson's fight for life against the virus at London's St Thomas' Hospital intensive care unit. Before the pandemic took hold, Kyle-Sidell's theory might have been dismissed as maverick.

Many of the most eminent medical specialists, governments and politicians were insisting in the early days that ventilators were a crucial life-saver. Britain scrambled to get them. Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised we would have 1,500 new ventilators by the end of last week, although the NHS received just a few hundred.

A worldwide shortage as every nation rushed to buy them has forced the Government to scale back on its long-term target of 30,000 of the invasive breathing machines being available during the crisis.

But as hospital virus deaths climb, a Daily Mail investigation has found that the New York casualty doctor's unorthodox views, far from being crazy, might be the very opposite — and the key to preventing deaths.

The death rate for those treated on ventilators is devastating. In one British study of 98 Covid-19 patients who were put on them or on similarly invasive breathing-support equipment, two-thirds died, according to a new report by our Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre.

80 per cent of ventilated patients failed to recover in New York

In New York, which has been hit particularly hard by the virus, 80 per cent of ventilated patients failed to recover. The loss of life in other countries for those on the machines is equally terrifying.

Dr David Farcy, the president of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, warns against using them indiscriminately. His patients have been treated successfully with fastflow oxygen delivered through a simple nasal tube or mask.

He also places patients on their left or right side, a process called proning that is simpler to perform on patients in masks than those on ventilators, which instantly raises oxygen levels in their blood.

'This has challenged everything we thought', he said. 'Six weeks ago everybody (in a hospital) would be running around getting ready to intubate you, put you on a machine'. But not any more.

So why the change of tune? The answer is that some doctors have a remarkable new thesis: that the virus's symptoms are more akin to highaltitude breathing difficulties (caused by a lack of oxygen at extreme heights) or even carbon monoxide poisoning (which snuffs out oxygen in the body's red blood cells).

In both instances, victims struggle for oxygen. But they do not have the ravaged lungs of pneumonia sufferers who are routinely put on ventilators. Dr Kyle-Sidell says of Covid-19 in his video: 'It appears to be some kind of viral-induced disease most resembling high-altitude sickness.

'It is as if tens of thousands of my fellow New Yorkers are flying on a plane at 30,000 ft and the cabin pressure is slowly being let out. These patients are slowly being starved of oxygen.

'The patients I am seeing are most like a person dropped off at the top of mount Everest without time to acclimatise. They look like patients on the brink of death (through lack of oxygen). They do not look like patients dying of pneumonia.'

For pneumonia cases, he explains, the ventilator 'does the work that patient's muscles can no longer do because they are too tired to do it'. But the muscles of Covid-19 patients are fine.

They are suffering from oxygen failure, not respiratory failure

His supporters include distinguished medics such as Dr Luciano Gattinoni of Germany's Medical University of Gottingen. In a letter to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Dr Gattinoni warns that the conventional use of ventilators may injure the lungs of Covid-19 victims.

At one European hospital where virus patients were ventilated in this way, 60 per cent of them died. Into the fray, too, has stepped Professor Sherif Sultan, the Ireland-based President of the International Society of Vascular Surgery.

He believes that invasive ventilation is not a solution for Covid-19 as it does not resemble pneumonia or a similar respiratory ailment. We need to stop treating patients for the wrong disease, he surmises in an analysis of medical research into the virus.

Professor Sultan believes the vital clue that the coronavirus is different from pneumonia is in how it attacks the human body. It affects both lungs at the same time, which pneumonia rarely ever does.

One has to remember this is a very new disease, first seen in Western Europe just eight weeks ago, which doctors are desperately trying to understand. What baffles them is that many patients suffering from Covid-19 have extraordinarily low oxygen levels when they arrive at hospital.

Mysteriously, they don't feel uncomfortable, they behave normally, and are in a state of what doctors have nicknamed 'happy' hypoxia (oxygen deprivation), then they suddenly deteriorate and collapse. Medical researchers in India report they can be laughing one minute and at death's door the next. And now, it seems, that rushing them to a ventilator may only make things worse.

The machine takes over the breathing process of the patients who are heavily sedated so they cannot fight the sensation of not being able to breathe on their own. It pumps the lungs, but also sends oxygen to the vital organs, including the heart, brain and liver which need it to function.

Unlike pneumonia patients, kept on ventilators for a few days, Covid 19 sufferers are often left on them for weeks, even a month. One of the distinctive symptoms of Covid-19 is the way a yellowy mucous gunk clogs the millions of tiny air sacs lining the lungs.

This means however hard the ventilator pushes oxygen into the lungs, that oxygen cannot get through the mucous barrier and into the body. This, in turn, causes the patient to become calamitously starved of oxygen.

But if the medics try to fix the problem by turning up the pump volume, it leads to lung damage. Older patients who survive also risk permanent brain disorders from being heavily sedated for such a long period. This all helps explain why the death figures for ventilated virus cases remain so alarmingly high.

Researchers in China's Wuhan (where Covid-19 first emerged) report that of 37 critically ill patients put on mechanical ventilators, 30 died within a month. In a U.S. study of patients in Seattle, only one of the seven patients older than 70 put on a ventilator survived.

Of those under 70, just over a third made it. These are very poor odds. One person to analyse the tragically high fatality rates is Muriel Gillick, a geriatric and palliative care physician at Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts.

She said last week: 'Contrary to the impression that if extremely ill Covid-19 patients are treated with ventilators they will live, and if they are not they will die, it is not the reality.' She explains that the gummy yellow liquid in Covid-19 casualties 'limits oxygen transfer from the lungs to the blood' even when the machine is pumping.

She added: 'Are we using ventilators in a way that makes sense for other diseases, but not for this one?' Scott Weingart, a critical care doctor in New York, agrees that ventilators are a 'knee jerk response'.

He says: 'A high level of force, in a quest to restoring [the patient's] oxygen levels to normal, can damage the lungs. I would do everything in my power to avoid intubating [ventilating] patients'.

More and more doctors now believe Covid-19 patients should get breathing masks which deliver oxygen in non-invasive way. A simple machine called CPAP, standing for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, which is often used by people in their own homes to conquer sleep apnoea (snoring and interrupted breathing), can be an alternative to ventilators.

Dr Tom Lawton, an intensive care consultant at Bradford Royal Infirmary, has ordered 100 of the masks from a local Yorkshire manufacturer. His hospital was worried about getting enough ventilators in time to cope with the Covid-19 crisis.

The masks keep the user's airways open. According to BBC Radio 4's The NHS Front Line, which has put out a diary from the hospital, they are a game changer.

One doctor told the programme, albeit cautiously: 'If we use these early enough during a patient's stay, we prevent people deteriorating and needing to go on more complex ventilators. We have been testing them . . . and there's evidence from China and the U.S. that they seem effective.

They just help inflate the lungs and it seems to be beneficial.' This week, at its plant in Northamptonshire, car giant Mercedes has completed production of 10,000 CPAP breathing aids to fight Covid-19.

Early results on 40 patients, who would otherwise have gone on to a ventilator, found half were able to go home within 14 days of admission to hospital. Today, around 40 to 50 per cent of patients with pneumonia or similar respiratory ailments die on ventilators.

The reason for the dramatically higher rate among Covid-19 victims is not clear. The machines' supporters say it could be related to how sick they are when they're put on the machines.

Others believe the outcome depends on the patients' physical shape before catching the virus. The truth may be simpler — that ventilators should not be used as they are currently being on Covid19 sufferers.

Kyle-Sidell, the New York casualty doctor who recorded the YouTube video, says the machines are a tool in the medical armoury — but must be tuned to pump less aggressively and get more oxygen into patients.

However, he remarks ruefully that the medical world will not easily change direction in this emergency: 'It is hard to switch tracks when the train is going a million miles an hour.' With thousands of lives at stake on this perilous journey, let us hope the shortcomings of ventilators are taken on board.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... traps.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Apr 18, 2020 1:32 pm

Coronavirus may have
started in September


The coronavirus may have started spreading as early as mid-September and Wuhan may not have been where the pandemic started

A team of University of Cambridge researchers are trying to trace the source of the virus by mapping its genetic history to identify the first person who was infected.

Geneticist Dr Peter Forster and his team have also gathered data that the outbreak appears to have started at some point between September 13 and December 7.

The reserachers have been able to chart the spread of the virus, including genetic mutations, as it moved from China to Australia to Europe and the rest of the world.

They mapped the genetic history of the infection from December to March and found three distinct, but closely related, variants – A, B, and C.

Type A is believed to be the closest variant to that which was found in bats and is thought to be the original human virus genome.

This variant was found in both Chinese and American patients, though mutated versions of this strain was reported in Australia and the United States.

While Australian authorities are struggling to find a cure for the original virus which developed from animals, they're also battling a mutation known as strain C.

Type A is the most prevalent in Australia, however Type C has also been recorded in Sydney, according to the experts.

Image
Dr Peter Forster of the University of Cambridge found that coronavirus had three strands - Type A, Type B, and Type C

Analysis of the strains showed type A - the original virus that jumped to humans from bats via pangolins - was not China's most common.

Instead, the pandemic's ground-zero was mainly hit by type B, which was in circulation as far back as Christmas Eve.

Type B was also the dominant strain across large parts of the United Kingdom and Europe.

According to Forster, type B was also the variant that was found in most cases of infection reported in Wuhan.

Image
The genetic history of the coronavirus was mapped from December 24 to March 4, revealing three distinct, but closely related, variants. Scientists believe the virus may be constantly mutating to overcome differing levels of immune system resistance in different populations

Research suggests that there was a ‘founder event’ for type B in Wuhan.

In biology, a founder event is when a new population is established from a small number of individuals drawn from a large ancestral population.

According to Dr Forster, up until January 17, nearly all of the coronavirus variants found in Wuhan were type B.

The researchers found that in Guangdong, a province about 500 miles from Wuhan, seven of the 11 samples found in patients were type A.

Type C was an offshoot of type B, mutating from the secondary strain and spreading to Europe and Australia via Singapore.

Image

Scientists believe the virus - officially called SARS-CoV-2 - is constantly mutating to overcome immune system resistance in different populations.

The data gathered by Dr Forster and his team indicate that the coronavirus outbreak apparently started sometime between September 13 and December 7.

‘This assumes a constant mutation rate, which is admittedly unlikely to be the case, and the time estimate could therefore be wrong,’ Forster told Newsweek.

‘But it is the best assumption we can make at the moment, pending analysis of further patient samples stored in hospitals during 2019.’

A team of researchers at the University of Cambridge found evidence suggesting that the coronavirus may have started spreading as early as September. A woman in Maryland (above) tends to the body of a COVID-19 victim at a morgue in Montgomery County on Friday

The academics' published work - which has been scrutinised by fellow scientists - only traced the samples of 160 patients across the world, including many of the first cases in Europe and the US.

Methods used to trace the prehistoric migration of ancient humans were adapted to track the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

The team have now updated their analysis to include more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases up to the end of March to provide a clearer snapshot.

The smaller snapshot, published in the journal PNAS, initially suggested that type C was the most common in Europe.

Image

Animal viruses can mutate or combine with other viruses to create new strains capable of being passed to people.

Scientists say the new coronavirus originated in bats and then passed to humans, possibly via an intermediary animal species.

The broad scientific consensus holds SARS-CoV-2, the virus’ official name, originated in bats.

Scientists suspect, but have not proven, that the new coronavirus passed to humans from bats via pangolins, a small ant-eating mammal whose scales are highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine.

Image

Image

Some of the earliest infections were found in people who had exposure to Wuhan’s seafood market, where bats, snakes, civets and other wildlife were sold.

China temporarily shut down all such markets in January, warning that eating wild animals posed a threat to public health and safety.

The first known coronavirus case was reported on November 17, when a 55-year-old from Hubei province near Wuhan was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Experts, however, still do not know for certain where and how the virus made the leap from animals to humans.

China pushes back on Trump administration coronavirus theory that pathogen originated in Wuhan lab

China is pushing back against President Donald Trump and some of his officials, who’ve flirted in recent days with an outlier theory that the coronavirus was set loose by a Chinese lab that let it escape.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Friday accused the US administration of attempting to shift the focus from its own missteps in dealing with the pandemic by talking up a theory that it was started by a pathogen from a laboratory in Wuhan, the city where the global outbreak began.

But that spokesman, Zhao Lijian, has demonstrated that China, too, is not above sowing confusion in the face of the pandemic.

He tweeted in March the falsehood that the virus might have come from the US Army.

A scientific consensus is still evolving, but the leading theory is that infection among humans began at an animal market in Wuhan, probably from an animal that got the virus from a bat.

Without the weight of evidence, Trump and some administration officials are trying to blame China for sickness and death from COVID-19 in the United States.

Image

American officials have raised the possibility that the coronavirus originated inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan (above)

'More and more, we’re hearing the story,' Trump says. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo adds, 'The mere fact that we don’t know the answers — that China hasn’t shared the answers — I think is very, very telling.'

On Friday, Pompeo said the US is pressing China to let outside experts into the lab 'so that we can determine precisely where this virus began.'

Asked on Fox Business Network about whether China might have manipulated the virus for sinister purposes, he said, 'It is completely appropriate that the world ask the right questions,' then diverted to another subject.

Trump officials have largely been steering clear of baseless conspiracy theories in circulation that the virus was intentionally set loose by China, even as some give weight to the unsubstantiated idea the virus mistakenly spread from a negligent lab in Wuhan.

    Experts overwhelmingly say analysis of the new coronavirus’s genome rules out the possibility that it was engineered by humans, as some commentators have suggested

    Nor is it likely that the virus emerged from a negligent laboratory in Wuhan, they say

    'I would put it on a list of 1,000 different scenarios,' said Nathan Grubaugh of Yale University, who studies the epidemiology of microbial disease

Even so, Pompeo and others are pointing fingers at an institute that is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and has done groundbreaking research tracing the likely origins of the SARS virus, finding new bat viruses and discovering how they could jump to people.

'We know that there is the Wuhan Institute of Virology just a handful of miles away from where the wet market was,' Pompeo said.

The institute has an address 8 miles, or 13 kilometers, from the market.

US officials say the American Embassy in Beijing flagged concerns about potential safety issues at the lab in Wuhan in 2018, but stressed there’s no evidence the virus originated there nearly two years later.

The episode shows that both world powers — the country where the virus originally spread and the country with the most sickness and deaths from it — are willing to use shaky theories and propaganda to divert attention from problems in their pandemic response.

At a briefing Friday, Zhao asserted that suspicions about the lab were generated by the US 'simply to confuse the public, divert attention and shirk responsibility.'

President Trump has turned to blaming China and halting US contributions to the World Health Organization, accusing it of parroting misinformation from Beijing

He added: 'We have said many times that tracing of the virus’s origin is a serious scientific issue and requires scientific and professional assessment.'

Yet on March 12, he tweeted: 'It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!'

Lea Gabrielle, head of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, said in late March that China was heavily pushing the fabrication that the virus came from the US, especially to its online audiences in Africa.

China dropped the claim late that month because people weren’t buying it.

China and the US both wasted crucial time responding to the outbreak.

More than 3,000 people had been infected before China’s government told the public what it had concluded six days earlier — that a pandemic was probably coming.

Beijing muffled early warnings, such that the Chinese were assured the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission was low even as infected people entered hospitals across the country and the first case outside China was found, in Thailand.

The United States, also late to take the threat seriously, has lagged a number of other countries in the thick of the pandemic when it comes to its response.

Trump failed to live up to his early promises to have ample testing, a key factor in containing disease.

The US still struggles to supply hospitals, front-line workers and patients with necessities in a climate of confusion spilling into chaos.

More than 670,000 people in the US have been sickened with COVID-19, not counting large numbers whose illnesses are not being registered, and more than 33,000 have died, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Against that backdrop, the pressure for scapegoats is strong.

After weeks of elaborate praise of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s performance in the pandemic, Trump has turned to blaming China and halting US contributions to the World Health Organization, accusing it of parroting misinformation from Beijing.

In the US, claims that the virus was created in or released from a Chinese lab emerged just weeks after the outbreak began and quickly spread from fringe internet sites to the wider public.

The reality is more mundane, said Dr. Gregory Poland, head of vaccine research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

'This virus is a typical bat coronavirus that has developed the capacity to infect other mammals, and bats are mammals, too,' he said.

'What’s becoming evident is that the natural origin of this fits with the transmission dynamics and biology of it all.'

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... Wuhan.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Apr 18, 2020 3:01 pm

Bradford Kurdish Mosque sends
thousands in donation to NHS


A Bradford Kurdish Mosque and community centre has donated thousands of pounds worth of food, drink and PPE to NHS staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI), to assist in the coronavirus relief effort

Salahadin Mosque, which is run by the West Yorkshire Kurdish Community Association, made the charitable donation on Tuesday, donating snacks, hot and cold beverages and 2,000 face masks to staff at BRI.

Members of the Mosque, which is on Little Horton Lane, got in touch with BRI to ask if they could offer a helping hand, and after the hospital responded with a list of items in need, the Salahadin Mosque then spent around £3,000 on essentials, said one of its members, Hawker Hussain.

“The Kurdish community has been here in Bradford for a long time now, so we wanted to help the NHS and give something back”, Mr. Hussain said.

“Everyone in the community was really happy to come forward and donate, including some local Kurdish businesses. We all wanted to help the NHS.

“BRI sent us a list of things after I emailed them, with things like food, coffee, cleaning products, masks and shampoo.

“The 2,000 masks were kindly donated by a local Kurdish businessman and we also had a lot of help from members of the Mosque, including Yasen Karim and Awat Abdallah.

“We spent around £3,000 on the items, but we still have some money left - we would love to donate to the ambulance service or to care homes, so we welcome people to get in touch.

“Insha’Allah [‘God-willing’] our support isn’t going to end - we’re going to keep helping and working together as long as people need help.

The Salahadin Mosque, which Mr. Hussain says was established over ten years ago, is considered to be a vital hub for Bradford’s Kurdish community.

The number of Kurds in Bradford is difficult to estimate, given that Kurdish was not listed as an ethnic category in the most recent UK census, but Kurdish was revealed to be Bradford’s tenth most spoken language in the 2011 census, with over 1,200 speakers in the district.

This number is believed to have increased in the years since, with many Kurdish people arriving in Bradford as refugees and as economic migrants. Mr. Hussain estimates that there are “four to five thousand” Kurds living in Bradford.

Kurdish people hail from Kurdistan, a region in the Middle East spanning parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, which has its own distinct culture, language and national identity.

Many Kurds have had to flee their homeland due to persecution and human rights abuses, and have been described by some as the world’s largest ethnic group without a state.

Bradford Labour MP Naz Shah was at BRI on Tuesday, when the donations were handed over, and said, “It is really important that communities across the Bradford district step up and play their part during this crisis. Therefore, we are very grateful and thankful to the Kurdish community for their generous effort to support our NHS.

“Bradford Royal Infirmary has a huge significance in the Bradford district, so this is an amazing gesture which is very much appreciated, and shows the spirit of unity and communities coming together.

“The Kurdish community in Bradford are almost a minority within a minority, and the efforts they have made demonstrates that minority communities can play a huge role, which is what makes the fabric of Bradford and shows that diversity is a huge strength of our city.”

Inayah Sher, of Bradford4Better, who helped to co-ordinate with the Salahadin Mosque, said, “The members of the Salahadin Mosque are immensely charitable, as many of them are recent migrants who live on the poverty line. They are an example to us all, on how to be truly charitable.

“This is a gigantic donation and the actions of the Kurdish community here are truly inspiring.”

https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/ ... ation-nhs/
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:19 pm

UK traffic light system
to get out of lockdown


Schools, hairdressers and clothes shops could reopen from May 11 while over 70s face a 'red' signal for a YEAR - as ministers push Boris Johnson to let the NHS 'run hot' by using spare capacity to speed up exit

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Link to Full Article:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... weeks.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:36 pm

Coronavirus deaths rise 596 in UK
almost a third down on yesterday


A further 596 coronavirus deaths have today been announced in the UK, marking the lowest daily rise for two weeks

The number of fatalities climbed to 16,060 as Britons were told many parts of the country were past the peak of the epidemic.

But the glimmer of good news jarred with the third highest jump of cases to date as 5,850 people tested positive, bringing overall infections to 120,067.

Yesterday, 21,626 tests were carried out, up from 21,389 the day before, as ministers urgently try to hit their 100,000 target by the end of the month.

Attention in Whitehall has also turned to fleshing out an exit strategy from the lockdown to fire up the flagging economy.

Government officials are understood to have conjured up a three-step blueprint to ease restrictions, which starts with reopening schools as early as May 11.

Yet one of the scientists advising Downing Street today cautioned that relaxing the lockdown prematurely could see another wave of the disease in the future.

Sir Jeremy Farrah, director of the Wellcome Trust, believes much of he nation is over the worst, but warned of a 'rebound' if social distancing stops while infection rates are still high.

He was also optimistic that a vaccine could be developed, and even said one could be found by the end of the year.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove this morning tried to downplay speculation of a route out of shutdown despite coming under mounting pressure from political rivals to publish a 'road map' for the way ahead.

On another frantic day with tensions rising in the coronavirus battle:

    The government was accused by Labour of 'treating the public like children' by refusing to spell out how the exit strategy from lockdown might look, with leader Keir Starmer demanding a 'road map' out of the crisis;

    Michael Gove has defended Boris Johnson for skipping five Cobra crisis meetings in the weeks leading up to Britain's outbreak - but admitted the UK did send a shipment of desperately-needed personal protective gear to China. He stressed the Asian superpower had since sent back far more than it received;

    OECD chief Angel Gurria warned there will have to be 'stop-go' arrangements in place for 'social distancing' for a long time to come, urging governments to 'err on the side of caution' to avoid the worst possible outcomes for economies;

    The Irish health minister has suggested pubs might not be able to open until there is a coronavirus vaccine, which some believe will take more than a year;

    Infectious diseases expert Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government's own SAGE advisory group, has cautioned that the lockdown 'cannot go on much longer' as it is 'damaging all our lives' and could start to be eased within three or four weeks;

    A consignment of PPE, including desperately-needed gowns, that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick boasted would arrive today from Turkey is reported to have been delayed;

    The chairman of the British Medical Association council said it had warned the government 'weeks ago' about the risk of personal protective equipment shortages but hit a 'brick wall';

    One of the scientists leading efforts to make the breakthrough warned it is not 'completely certain' that a coronavirus vaccine can be produced, with Mr Gove admitting no-one should see it as a 'dead cert';
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This afternoon's flattened death rate was the lowest daily rise of cases since April 6, when 439 people lost their lives.

However, experts cautioned against excess optimism and pointed out Sunday usually sees smaller increases because of a reporting lag over the weekend.

Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institure, and University of Oxford, blasted the number of rising deaths while police continue to chastise people in the street and the economy plummets.

He said: 'On March 19 the UK had suffered a total 144 hospital deaths; today the total is over 16,000, in the same time we criminalised talking to two people in the street and almost halted a modern economy

'There is no more stark illustration of the scale and speed of problem we still face than these brutal facts. I believe we can do better in the future, to do so we have to learn from our experience and that of other countries and implement these changes in the UK response, all within weeks.

'The virus does not afford us the luxury of delay, nor is there an off the peg solution.'

He added that despite the number of deaths lowering, the figures are 'volatile' and could snap back at any moment.

A police officer talks to two sunbathers with bicycles on Primrose Hill in London as they force steps up measures to enforce social distancing

A volunteer walks past coffins stacked next to refrigeration units inside the temporary mortuary set up in the car park of Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Birmingham

'That the announced total of deaths has decreased is of course welcome,' he said.

'However, the UK figures are highly volatile, particularly with delays in reporting over the weekend so today's number must be regarded with caution.

'We are still to fully count deaths in care homes or the community which are sadly certain to be significant.'

Today's figures were released by the Department of Health after individual tallies were published by the four nations - whose numbers slightly differ owing to varying time-frames.

England announced a further 482 people lost their lives, the youngest of which was 34 and the eldest who was 104, both with underlying health conditions.

Six patients, aged between 52 and 92, had no underlying health problems. Of all the regions in England, the Midlands suffered the brunt of the deaths, recording 92.

The North East and Yorkshire recorded 83 deaths, the North West also 83, London reported 82, the East of England 66, the South East 54 and the South West 22.

Public Health Wales announced another 41 deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed fatalities to 575.

There have been a total of 7,270 confirmed cases in Wales, a rise of 334, while 25,170 tests have been carried out on 21,717 individuals, officials said.

A total of 903 people who tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland have died, a rise of 10 on Saturday's figure, according to the Scottish Government.

Across the nation, 39,612 people have now been tested for Covid-19, with 8,187 testing positive. As of Saturday night, 1,797 patients were in hospital with either confirmed or suspected coronavirus, an increase of four.

Of those, 174 were being treated in intensive care units, down eight from the previous tally.

One person in Northern Ireland died with coronavirus in the past day, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths to 194.

People flocked to Hove seafront today as another 596 coronavirus deaths were announced in the UK, marking the lowest daily rise for two weeks

Coronavirus testing continues at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham, today

Government advisor says UK is 'probably past first peak' of virus

Sir Jeremy, a government scientific adviser, today offered encouraging news to Britons in lockdown as he said the country is over the peak - yet warned of future waves if social distancing falls by the wayside.

He told Sky's Sophy Ridge: 'I think the probability and what we must be planning for is that there will be further waves of this in the future but for this first wave I think the number of new infections stabilised about a week or two ago and the number of hospitalisations maybe a week or so ago and yes, tragically, there are still far too many people dying but the number of people dying in this country and actually in many countries in the world, is now either stabilising or starting to come down.

That is good news, we are probably just past the peak in many parts of this country as is true in many parts of the world and we'll come off that and numbers will reduce but that has only happened because of the public's respect for and following the advice around the social distancing and lockdowns.

'If we were to release those lockdowns too soon, whilst the infection rates are still high and there are still people in the community who have got infected, then the epidemic will come back again, it will come back very quickly.

'It would rebound within a few weeks or a couple of months so it is critical that people are - and they are, the public is really respecting the advice and it is that which has led to the change in numbers.

'These things don't happen by chance, they happen because of what we're all doing and the public deserves great thanks and respect for that.'

The death toll climbed as the conversation turned to the country's exit from lockdown, with schools mooted to return within three weeks under a 'traffic light' plan being pushed by senior ministers to ease lockdown misery - amid Cabinet splits over whether the government should risk more deaths from the disease to save the plunging economy.

Michael Gove refuses to be drawn on lockdown exit strategy

The fledgling 'exit strategy' would see the country get back up in running in stages after May 11, with primary, GCSE pupils, and nurseries potentially going back part-time.

Meanwhile, clothes shops and garden centres could be among the 'non-essential' stores given a 'green light' to reopen with precautions to protect customers. Rail services would be brought up to normal levels, with commuters probably urged to wear facemasks, and the NHS would resume carrying out non-urgent procedures.

A second 'amber' stage later in the summer would see more of the economy revived, with all employees told to go back to work and some social gatherings allowed.

However, it might not be until later in the year that pubs and restaurants can reopen and sporting events get up and running. And over-70s face a 'red light' for many months more, potentially having to wait for a vaccine before going back to normal life.

The proposals are gaining traction amid a mounting backlash at the lack of a clear plan. Senior ministers are divided between those who want to 'run hot', using apparent spare capacity in the NHS to relax social distancing soon, and those who fear acting too early will allow the disease to run rampant, according to the Sunday Times.

After concerns about drift at the heart of power, Boris Johnson is gearing up to take back the reins of government, making calls to ministers from Chequers where he is recuperating from his own health scare with the disease.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove tried to dampen down frenzied speculation over loosening of restrictions this morning, saying while it was 'entirely understandable' people want to know the way out it was too early to make such decisions.

Asked if the 'traffic light' system was the government's 'exit strategy', Mr Gove told Sky News: 'No it's not. It is the case that we are looking at all the evidence. But we have set some tests that must be passed before we can even think about easing the lockdown.'

Although he stressed no decisions had been taken, Mr Gove did hint at the shape of an easing, suggesting pubs and other parts of the hospitality industry will be 'among the last' to come back.

A 'traffic light' plan for easing the crippling lockdown curbs is being pushed by some ministers - although Downing Street is flatly denying it has a fixed plan yet

Boris Johnson, who is currently recovering from coronavirus at the country retreat, has told Downing Street aides that he could return as early as next week

Cabinet minister MIchael Gove tried to dampen down rampant speculation over loosening of restrictions this morning, saying while it was 'entirely understandable' people want to know the way out it was too early to make such decisions

Gove defends PM for 'skipping' crisis meetings on coronavirus - and admits PPE stocks were sent to China

Michael Gove has defended Boris Johnson for skipping five Cobra crisis meetings in the weeks leading up to Britain's outbreak - but admitted the UK did send a shipment of desperately-needed personal protective gear to China.

The Prime Minister has been accused of failing to take charge of the response to the crisis early enough, despite mounting concern from scientists over the accelerating health emergency in Wuhan.

This lack of urgency was underscored by him delegating leadership and holidaying in the country, a senior Downing Street adviser told a bombshell Sunday Times investigation.

It also alleged that Whitehall's attention was fixed on Brexit, and long-term crisis preparations fell by the wayside as key staff were diverted from pandemic contingencies to thrash out no-deal planning.

Mr Gove, who is part of the so-called 'quad' of ministers steering the government's response while the PM recovers from his own battle with the disease, branded the criticism 'off-beam' this morning.

He said it was 'grotesque' to claim Mr Johnson had 'skipped' meetings, saying Cobra sessions were routinely chaired by other ministers when they focused on specific responsibilities.

Mr Gove confirmed the government shipped 260,000 items of personal protective equipment to China despite warning sirens from doctors that the UK was woefully under-prepared to cope with a pandemic.

But he claimed the PPE had not come from the UK's pandemic stockpile, and Beijing had since sent back 'far more' than was dispatched to them.

NHS medics on the frontline have raised alarm at shortages of PPE, stocks of which insiders say were allowed to dwindle in number over the last few years.

Mr Gove's remarks were scorned by Labour's Jon Ashworth as 'possibly the weakest rebuttal of a detailed expose in British political history.'

Meanwhile, Mr Gove raised hopes of a quick return for Mr Johnson.

He said the premier was already 'absolutely on top of things' as he recuperates at Chequers after his coronavirus scare.

Sources told MailOnline last week that Mr Johnson is keen to return to Downing Street this week, as Parliament returns from Easter recess, but pregnant fiancee Carrie Symond and doctors are concerned that will be too soon.

However, he has been issuing orders to First Secretary of State Dominic Raab, who is deputising for him.

Mr Johnson also had a three-hour meeting with the Foreign Secretary on Friday along with Chief Adviser Dominic Cummings and Communication Director Lee Cain.

'The Prime Minister is recovering well,' Mr Gove told Sky News.

'And, he had the opportunity to talk to Dominic Raab, his deputy, the First Secretary of State, on Friday.

'And the Prime Minister's instructions to the rest of us in Government were communicated by the First Secretary of State when we had a conference call yesterday morning.'

Anger has been rising at the sense of drift in government with the PM recuperating at Chequers.

It emerged on Friday that Cabinet has asked scientists and medical experts to present options for lifting the lockdown in a fortnight's time - suggesting there will be no formal plan unveiled before then.

But some senior Tories, along with Labour leader Keir Starmer, have been demanding quicker decisions amid mounting accusations that handling of the pandemic has been bungled. Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth today accused ministers of 'treating people like children' by refusing to set out options.

Insiders pointed out that despite the strain on the NHS there were 2,700 critical care beds empty last week, and scientists now believe the reproduction rate - the 'R' number - for the virus has dropped below one in the community, meaning its prevalence is shrinking.

Ministers such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak are increasingly alarmed at the hit to the economy, with the OBR watchdog warning GDP could plummet by a third with millions of jobs lost.

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is believed to be among the senior figures anxious about releasing the handbrake before the government is certain there will not be a devastating second peak in cases.

'The debate is now between people who think we should suppress the virus completely and those who think we should run things quite hot, use the spare capacity in the NHS and aim to keep the R number just below one,' one official told the Sunday Times.

Another senior insider said: 'You have to be clear. Running hot means more people are likely to die. That's the decision the prime minister will have to take.'

Mr Gove said this morning that while coronavirus cases seemed to have 'flattened out' scientists were not yet confident the peak was past and it was safe to make changes. 'It is entirely understandable, of course, that there should be a public debate about how we approach these difficult choices,' he said.

'But the most important thing to do is to make sure that we proceed in a way that is guided by science.'

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tweeted that 'no decision has been made on when we will reopen schools'.

'I can reassure schools and parents that they will only reopen when the scientific advice indicates it is the right time to do so,' he added.

There have been estimates that the economic hit from the lockdown, and the austerity that will follow the government's huge bailouts for business and workers, could cause tens of thousands of deaths and leave more than a million people with long-term health conditions.

Infectious disease expert Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the lockdown 'can't go on for much longer' as it was 'damaging all of our lives'.

He suggested measures could begin to be lifted within around three or four weeks' time if the numbers of infections and hospital patients drop 'dramatically'.

The director of the Wellcome Trust told Sky News: 'I would hope they will get there in three-four weeks time because it's clear that the lockdown can't go on for much longer.

'The damage it's doing to all of our health and wellbeing, our mental health... the lockdown is damaging business and ultimately that's damaging all of our lives.

'So the lockdowns cannot go on forever, we must lift them as soon as we can but we can't lift them too soon and we can't just make arbitrary dates.

'It has to be driven, I'm afraid, by the data.'

Sir Jeremy added that he thought that the UK was past the peak of the 'first wave' of the virus - but warned it will come back.

'We should not see this as a discrete episode. I think the probability of what we must be planning for is that there would be further waves of this in the future.

'But for this first wave I think the number of new infections stabilised maybe a week or two ago, the number of hospitalisations maybe a week or so ago... we're probably just past the peak in many parts of this country, as is true in many parts of the world.'

Angel Gurria, head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, told the Marr show that the damage to the economy was likely to be short term, and government were doing the right thing by taking drastic action to control outbreaks.

He warned that easing of the lockdown would be 'trial and error'. 'What I see also is perhaps a stop and go process, where you have stable numbers on the contagion and hospital admissions and even deaths and the you start to open gradually and then there may be a return to higher numbers and then you stop again,' he said.

'This is not a science. It's going to be mainly trial and error.

'It's perfectly legitimate that people want to re-open, of course we all want to go out, we all want to work, we all want to do what we do every day. However, the cost can be very high if you get it wrong, so let's err on the side of prudence.'

Sources told MailOnline last week that Mr Johnson is keen to return to Downing Street this week, as Parliament returns from Easter recess, but pregnant fiancee Carrie Symond and doctors are concerned that will be too soon.

He has been issuing orders to First Secretary of State Dominic Raab, who is deputising for him.

Mr Johnson also had a three-hour meeting with the Foreign Secretary on Friday along with Chief Adviser Dominic Cummings and Communication Director Lee Cain, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

Mr Gove fuelled hopes of an early return for the PM, saying he is in 'cheerful spirits' and 'absolutely on top of things'. 'The Prime Minister is recovering well,' Mr Gove said. 'And, he had the opportunity to talk to Dominic Raab, his deputy, the First Secretary of State, on Friday.

'And the Prime Minister's instructions to the rest of us in Government were communicated by the First Secretary of State when we had a conference call yesterday morning.'

It comes after a further 888 coronavirus deaths were announced in the UK yesterday, bringing the total to 15,464.

It is not yet known when the Prime Minister will return fully to his duties but a source told the Sun: 'It wouldn't surprise me if he was back before the end of next week. Everyone knows he is the key to selling the end of the lockdown to voters.

'This is the biggest decision he will ever take and he knows the implications are vast for millions of families. There is no way he will be on the sidelines.'
No 'certainty' that a coronavirus vaccine can be produced, warns top scientist

It is not 'completely certain' that a coronavirus vaccine can be produced, one of the scientists leading efforts to make the breakthrough warned today.

The note of caution from Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University, came as Cabinet minister Michael Gove said people should not assume such treatments were a 'dead cert'.

Prof Gilbert told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: 'That's why we have to do trials to find out. The prospects are very good, but it is clearly not completely certain.'

Prof Gilbert said that her team has not immunised anyone yet, but they hope to start clinical trials towards the end of next week.

'We are waiting for the final safety tests to be done on the vaccine and the final approvals to be given.'

In the meantime, permission has been given to recruit volunteers, take blood tests, explain the process and check their health status, she said.

'By the time we have all the approvals for the vaccine ready, we should have a good pool of volunteers to draw from and we should be able to get going quite quickly.'

Speaking on the same programme, Mr Gove pointed out that vaccines had never been developed for a number of diseases.

'I don't think it's the case that anyone should automatically assume a vaccine is a dead cert to come soon,' he said.

A spokesman for Number 10 said: 'The Prime Minister has been at the helm of the response to this, providing leadership during this hugely challenging period for the whole nation.'

However, Mr Johnson will return to a rising backlash about his handling of the initial stages of the crisis.

He personally is facing criticism for failing to attend five Cobra meetings on the disease, with claims the Government missed a series of opportunities to try and lessen the impact in February and March.

An adviser to Downing Street told the Sunday Times: 'There's no way you're at war if your PM isn't there.

'And what you learn about Boris was he didn't chair any meetings. He liked his country breaks. He didn't work weekends.

'It was like working for an old-fashioned chief executive in a local authority 20 years ago. There was a real sense that he didn't do urgent crisis planning. It was exactly like people feared he would be.'

The accusations drew a sharp reaction from Mr Gove, who branded the allegations that the PM neglected the dangers 'grotesque'.

He admitted that the UK had sent a consignment of PPE to China early in the crisis, but insisted it had not been from the core pandemic stockpile and far more had been received back.

'The PPE wasn't from our pandemic stock,' he told the BBC's Andrew Marr show. 'We've received far more from China than we have given.'

In a fresh embarrassment, it has emerged that a shipment of PPE from Turkey will not arrive today, as Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick boasted last night.

Mr Jenrick revealed the 'very large consignment' - crucially including 400,000 gowns - was on its way after fury that NHS staff are being told to reuse protective equipment.

However, the 84-tonne load is not expected to be here today, with logistical problems on the Turkish side being blamed.

A No10 spokesman said: 'The Government has been working day and night to battle against coronavirus, delivering a strategy designed at all times to protect our NHS and save lives.

'Guided by medical and scientific expertise, we have implemented specific measures to reduce the spread of the virus at the time they will be most effective.

'Our response has ensured that the NHS has been given all the support in needs to ensure everyone requiring treatment has received it, as well as providing protection to businesses and reassurance to workers.'

However, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association council, underlined fears that the speed of the reaction has left NHS staff lacking PPE.

He told Sky News the BMA had written to the Government two weeks ago calling for a massive ramping up of the manufacturing of protective equipment.

Gove savaged as he refuses to answer question on PPE sent to China

He said large numbers of contacts were willing to produce equipment and names of around 70 of them were passed on to the Government.

But Dr Nagpaul said the contacts 'hit a brick wall' after they weren't followed up.

He told Sky News: 'We made it clear weeks ago that we need to do something about the likelihood of a lack of protective equipment.

He added: 'Even more stressful now is that doctors and other healthcare workers are treating their own colleagues in intensive care on ventilators and tragically see some of them not survive.

'This is extremely emotionally taxing and it's showing its toll on the healthcare workforce.'

As ministers scramble to get a grip, former Olympics Chief Lord Deighton has been drafted in to lead a task force to produce the necessary PPE for distribution around the country.

The PM previously described Lord Deighton as being a 'superb' executive after he helped deliver the 2012 Olympics while Mr Johnson was London mayor.

Speaking about his appointment, Lord Deighton said: 'Countries around the world face unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment and this necessitates an equally unprecedented domestic manufacturing response.

'This effort calls for exceptional teamwork and I am confident that we, together, will rise to this challenge.'

Michael Gove is also in the process of setting up a new unit to advise senior ministers on the widespread economic and social impacts of lockdown to help guide an eventual exit strategy.

It comes after a grand coalition of the country's most senior political and business figures called on the Government to lift the shutters from Britain's deserted high streets and map a route out of the crippling Covid-19 lockdown.

Former Cabinet Ministers David Davis and Iain Duncan Smith have joined forces with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and City bosses to warn the lack of a clear exit strategy could wreak lasting damage on the UK economy.

Officials are currently drawing up a three-stage 'traffic light' plan which would see some businesses such as DIY stores and garden centres reopen, and some children return to school, as early as the week beginning May 11.

There had been growing concern that Boris Johnson's absence from Downing Street was hampering exit plans despite signs that the outbreak is passing its peak.

In response to claims of a power vacuum, No 10 said that a 'quad' of key ministers – Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove – met every weekday at 6pm to decide strategy.

Yesterday, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told the daily press conference that the Prime Minister Mr Johnson was 'resting and recuperating at Chequers' and 'taking his doctor's advice'.

Mr Jenrick added: 'He has had some contact with ministers but mostly with his private office here at Downing Street.'

The deaths of a further 888 people were announced in the UK yesterday, bringing the total to 15,464, but the number of hospital patients with the virus fell by 952 to 17,759, raising hopes that infection rates have reached a plateau.

Under the first, 'red', phase of the 'traffic light' plan, businesses such as garden centres and hairdressers could reopen, subject to strict social distancing arrangements.

Around a fifth of children would also go back to school as part of a phased return, although officials are divided over whether to give priority based on year groups, the occupation of parents or by region.

The 'amber' phase – probably in June or July – would see restaurants open on condition that tables were far enough apart. Most children and office workers would also leave isolation.

The timing of the 'green' phase – a full return to normality including pubs opening and large events – would depend on the development of widespread testing for Covid-19 and consistently low levels of infections and deaths.

The elderly and vulnerable would remain 'shielded' until a vaccine is available, possibly for up to 18 months from now.

Gove: 'Grotesque' to suggest Prime Minister skipped key meetings

Labour leader Sir Starmer and his wife Victoria take part in the national 'Clap our Carers' campaign to show thanks for the work of Britain's NHS workers and frontline medical staff around the country as they battle the coronavirus pandemic

Keir Starmer says planning for exit strategy needs to be revealed

But to the frustration of 'hawks' led by Mr Sunak, Cabinet 'doves' headed by Mr Hancock are reluctant to signal an end to lockdown while infection rates are still high.

Writing in The Mail on Sunday today, former Brexit Secretary Mr Davis says it is 'now essential we take the brakes off the economy'.

His remarks follow dire predictions that the UK economy could contract by as much as a third if the full lockdown lasts three months, leading to soaring unemployment and bankruptcies. Mr Davis's views were echoed by ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith who urged Ministers to stop 'patronising' the public and explain their plans to restart the economy and that 'there is life after lockdown.'

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – also writing in this newspaper – says: 'Now is not the time to lift restrictions. But we do need to have clarity about what is going to happen next.' The politicians were joined by retail bosses including Julian Dunkerton, the founder of clothing label Superdry, and economist Gerard Lyons, who said: 'After the current three-week extension, there should be a gradual unlocking of the economy'.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: 'At all times we have been guided by scientific advice. The current advice is that relaxing any measures could risk damage to public health, our economy, and the sacrifices we have all made. Only when the evidence suggests it is safe to do so will we adjust these measures.'

Long queues at a B&Q store in Nottingham despite lockdown

Traffic light system to get out of lockdown: Schools, hairdressers and clothes shops could reopen from May 11 while over 70s face a 'red' signal for a YEAR - as ministers push Boris Johnson to let the NHS 'run hot' by using spare capacity to speed up exit

by James Tapsfield, Political Editor for MailOnline

Schools could start returning within three weeks under a 'traffic light' plan being pushed by senior ministers to ease lockdown misery - amid Cabinet splits over whether the government should risk more deaths from the disease to save the plunging economy.

The fledgling 'exit strategy' would see the country get back up in running in stages after May 11, with primary, GCSE pupils, and nurseries potentially going back part-time.

Meanwhile, clothes shops and garden centres could be among the 'non-essential' stores given a 'green light' to reopen with precautions to protect customers. Rail services would be brought up to normal levels, with commuters probably urged to wear facemasks, and the NHS would resume carrying out non-urgent procedures.

A second 'amber' stage later in the summer would see more of the economy revived, with all employees told to go back to work and some social gatherings allowed.

However, it might not be until later in the year that pubs and restaurants can reopen and sporting events get up and running. And over-70s face a 'red light' for many months more, potentially having to wait for a vaccine before going back to normal life.

The proposals are gaining traction amid a mounting backlash at the lack of a clear plan - and as another 596 UK coronavirus deaths were announced, with the grim tally marking the lowest daily rise for two weeks. The overall number of fatalities now stands at 16,060, and cases were up by 5,850 to 120,067.

Senior ministers are divided between those who want to 'run hot', using apparent spare capacity in the NHS to relax social distancing soon, and those who fear acting too early will allow the disease to run rampant, according to the Sunday Times.

After concerns about drift at the heart of power, Boris Johnson is gearing up to take back the reins of government, making calls to ministers from Chequers where he is recuperating from his own health scare with the disease.

Cabinet minister MIchael Gove tried to dampen down frenzied speculation over loosening of restrictions this morning, saying while it was 'entirely understandable' people want to know the way out it was too early to make such decisions.

Asked if the 'traffic light' system was the government's 'exit strategy', Mr Gove told Sky News: 'No it's not. It is the case that we are looking at all the evidence. But we have set some tests that must be passed before we can even think about easing the lockdown.'

Although he stressed no decisions had been taken, Mr Gove did hint at the shape of an easing, suggesting pubs and other parts of the hospitality industry will be 'among the last' to come back.
When this is over, we must give our most vulnerable the dignity they deserve - AND reward the heroes who give them such devoted care

By Sir Keir Starmer for the Mail on Sunday

Two weeks ago, when I was elected Labour leader, I made a promise to the British people that under my leadership my party will act in the national interest, help steer us through these difficult times and strive for the good of our country. I meant it.

The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest challenge we have faced in a generation. It is a health crisis, an economic crisis and – for many – a personal crisis. Behind every death is a family that has been shaken to its core.

At this time of national crisis, Labour's duty – my duty – is to support the national effort to save lives and protect livelihoods.

That's why I supported the Government's decision to introduce the lockdown and why I backed last week's decision to extend it for another three weeks.

The lockdown is extremely difficult for all of us. There is no doubt about that. But it is necessary to defeat the coronavirus and the Government can be assured of my support on that.

Equally, my duty is to call the Government out when I believe mistakes are being made, when decisions are being taken too slowly or when the most vulnerable are not being heard. The purpose of this challenge is not to score party political points but to ensure mistakes are rectified and progress is speeded up.

In that spirit, we all have to accept mistakes have been made. I fully accept that any government would find this situation challenging. But the Government was too slow to enter the lockdown. It has been too slow to increase the number of people being tested. It has been too slow in getting NHS staff the critical equipment they need to keep them safe.

We need to make sure these mistakes are not repeated.

And this week has exposed how the Government has been too slow to respond to the growing emergency in our social care services.

We have all heard the harrowing stories of the virus spreading through care homes, relatives unable to say their last goodbyes and staff poorly paid, equipped and protected to provide essential care. Ministers have promised action – that is welcome – but it needs to go further and faster.

First, our carers need to be kept safe. We have all been struck by the extraordinary service and dedication of our key workers during this pandemic. They are the best of us. These are people who are quite literally putting their lives on the line to care for our loved ones. But too many of them are being left exposed because of shortages of personal protection equipment (PPE).

The Government says it is doing everything it can to supply equipment. I do not doubt its sincerity. However, there is a mismatch between the statements coming out of Downing Street and the realities for staff on the ground. That needs to come to an end, and fast.

Second, we need more information. The crisis in our care homes has gone unheard for too long, in part because we do not know the full scale of the problem. That is why we urgently need Ministers to publish daily figures on the number of deaths in care homes. That is the only way we are going to know who has fallen victim to the virus, how fast it is spreading and the scale of response that is needed.

Third, testing, testing and more testing. Matt Hancock's announcement that all care home residents and staff with symptoms would be tested is welcome.

But many of us will be asking why on earth was this not done sooner? A council leader I spoke to last week told me that of its 5,000 social care workers, only ten had been tested. That is astonishing.

As other countries have proven, testing is a vital weapon in our armoury to contain the infection and it will be central to any strategy to lift the lockdown.

Ministers promised 25,000 tests a day by mid-April, but that target was missed. Now they are promising 100,000 by the end of the month. They are unlikely to meet that target.

Many care homes are feeling overwhelmed, particularly those with an outbreak of the virus. I have spoken to care workers who are concerned about looking after coronavirus patients who have been discharged from hospital, because of the infection risk. The Government should ensure that where there is capacity at the new NHS Nightingale hospitals, it is made available for those who need it most, including care home residents.

Finally, we need a clear plan for what comes next.

The lockdown has been extended and I support that. But we need to have clarity about what is going to happen next.

Other countries have begun to set out a roadmap to lift restrictions in certain sectors of the economy and for certain services, especially social care, when the time is right. This of course must be done in a careful, considered way with public health, scientific evidence and the safety of workers and families at its heart. But the UK Government should be doing likewise.

We also need to make the case for a better, fairer society. Every week, we stand at our doorsteps to clap for our carers. We do so with pride, gratitude and a deep sense of national unity and purpose.

But, when we get through this – and we will get through this – we cannot return to business as usual. For too long, social care has been neglected. Our care workers left underpaid and undervalued. Our relatives denied the dignity they deserve at the end of their life.

We need a new settlement for social care. We can't have another decade of this being thought 'too difficult' for politicians to solve.

We must go forward with the ambition and determination for a better society that puts dignity and respect at the heart of how we care for the most vulnerable – and how we properly reward our key workers and those who work in our public services.

That is how we can repay the debt we owe to all of those who have sacrificed so much during this crisis. That is how we can rebuild the better society the British people deserve. That is what I am determined to deliver.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... unday.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:06 am

South Korea puts world
to shame on coronavirus


South Korea puts world to shame on coronavirus: East Asian nation reports just EIGHT new cases after two-month lockdown resulted in 234 deaths so far

    South Korea has confirmed 10,661 cases of the virus amid 234 deaths in nation

    Some 8,042 further patients have recovered and been released from quarantine

    Officials have warned of a potential 'quiet spread' despite its downward trend
South Korea today reported just eight new cases of coronavirus as the country's daily increase dropped to single figures for the first time in two months.

The East Asian nation has now confirmed 10,661 cases of the virus, which has killed 234 people in South Korea throughout the global pandemic.

A further 8,042 patients have recovered and been released from quarantine, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, while 12,243 others were today undergoing testing for Covid-19.

'We must not loosen our guard until the last confirmed patient is recovered,' South Korea President Moon Jae-in said.

South Korea's confirmed cases have fallen in recent weeks, after the nation recorded hundreds of new cases each day between February and March.

But despite this rapid downward trend, South Korean officials have warned about the possibility of a broader 'quiet spread' when people ease up on social distancing.

President Moon has also urged nationals to support the government in saving jobs and revitalising the economy.

'Government efforts alone aren't enough amid a grave world economic crisis. Public solidarity and cooperation is also needed to revive our economy,' he said.

South Korea's rapid fall in cases comes as Japan today confirmed a further 568 Covid-19 patients.

Members of Seoul City Church in the eastern Seoul ward of Jungnang took part in a drive-in Sunday service in a parking lot

South Korea's rapid fall in cases comes as Japan today confirmed a further 568 Covid-19 patients

The nation's total number of cases now stands at 11,073, with 174 deaths confirmed.

Japan's infection total is, however, believed to be much higher as the nation has only just begun to expand its testing capabilities with additional centres in Tokyo and beyond.

Doctors across Japan will now be able to send suspected patients directly to these testing sites.

Japan's Health Ministry has also received reports that some of the cloth face masks it has distributed to households are dirty. Reports from 80 municipalities claim the masks came with stains, dust and other contamination.

People walk in Tokyo after the government expanded a state of emergency to include the entire country last week following the coronavirus outbreak

The nation's total number of cases now stands at 11,073, with 174 deaths confirmed

The dirty masks were among half a million that the government started sending to pregnant women as a priority last week.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a plan to send two cloth masks to 50 million households in Japan amid dire shortage of surgical masks on April 1.

The Health Ministry urged mask makers to fix the contamination problem and municipal officials to visually inspect the masks before mailing them.

Schools in South Korea are thoroughly disinfected amid coronavirus

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... virus.html
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