29 July 2020
A series of daily updates for CHO members regarding relevant updates pertaining to Coronavirus from home and abroad.
• As of 3:59pm on 27 July, there has been a total of 300,692 people in the UK who have tested positive for covid-19, with 581 testing positive for the virus yesterday. 45,878 have sadly died in the UK.
• England is poised to impose quarantine restrictions on arrivals from at least two more countries as what looks like a second wave of coronavirus spreads across Europe.According to the Times , travellers to Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as potentially Croatia, could all soon face quarantine measures on their return to England.
• There has also been a Covid-19 spike in Oldham, where more than 100 people have been found to have the virus. Some limited restrictions have been introduced in the town to combat the spike. Visits to other households are now banned, and there will be no relaxation of guidelines for care homes or people shielding.
• The UK has purchased yet another potential new vaccine in development – the fourth time it has done so. This one is being developed by GSK and Sanofi Pasteur, meaning that the UK has secured access to 250 million doses of as-yet unconfirmed vaccines. “Our scientists and researchers are racing to find a safe and effective vaccine at a speed and scale never seen before,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma said. “While this progress is truly remarkable, the fact remains that there are no guarantees. It is important we secure early access to a diverse range of promising vaccine candidates to increase our chances of finding one that works.”
• The Commons Public Accounts Committee has produced a scathing report on the Government’s “reckless” decision to discharge thousands of elderly people from hospitals into care homes without testing at the beginning of the pandemic. The report also criticised the lack of PPE and tests made available to care home staff.
• The Government has started advertising for the eye-catching position of becoming the face of the Government press conferences. With rumours of a six-figure salary on offer, it is expected that the position will be vital to future Government communications.
• The number of rail services operating in Scotland is to be increased from next week, ScotRail has said. From Monday 3 August, more than 90 percent of normal services will be operating, however many seats will need to stay empty to allow for social distancing. ScotRail added that passengers were still being urged to consider alternative travel options where possible.
• Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “increasingly concerned” about the risk from coronavirus after a “worrying resurgence” in several other countries. It comes as she was forced to U-turn just two days after opening Spain up to Scottish tourists, only to shut it down again immediately after.
• The death rate in Northern Ireland over the course of the coronavirus pandemic has been almost 20 percent higher than average, according to new figures. The data from statistics agency Nisra indicates that the death rate between 1 March and 30 June was 17.4% higher than what would have been expected. During that period, there were 885 excess deaths in Northern Ireland, 837 of which were Covid-related. The vast majority of excess deaths (78.4 percent) were in those aged 75 and over.
• In Wales, only just over a quarter of coronavirus tests at drive-through centres were processed within 24 hours last week. It is the worst performance for samples taken at the 11 regional centres since the pandemic began. The latest statistics show that 26.8 percent of the 5,252 tests at the centres came back within a day, while 86.3 percent were back within two days. The Welsh Government said it was putting measures in place to improve turnaround times.
• The Italian government plans to extend the country’s state of emergency, which allows it to rule by decree without needing parliamentary approval, despite fierce protests from opposition parties. “The government will take the decision to extend the state of emergency until October 31 only after a further passage in parliament,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is expected to come to parliament today to explain the move, for which he doesn’t require parliamentary approval.
• Muslim pilgrims have begun the annual hajj in the holy city of Mecca in a dramatically downsized version as the hosts, Saudi Arabia, try to prevent any outbreaks of coronavirus during the five-day pilgrimage. The hajj is usually one of the world’s largest religious gatherings as around 2.5 million people descend on the city from all over the world. But this year attendance is being limited to 10,000 people already residing in the kingdom as the authorities seek to control Covid-19.
• The Covid-19 pandemic is currently unfolding in “one big wave” with no evidence that it follows seasonal variations common to influenza and other coronaviruses, such as the common cold, the World Health Organization has warned. Amid continued debates over what constitutes a second wave, a resurgence or seasonal return of the disease, Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson, insisted that these discussions are not a helpful way to understand the spread of the disease. “People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and this one is behaving differently,” Harris told a virtual briefing in Geneva.
• Almost half of students say covid-19 has diminished their chances of finding a job, according to new research from the Sutton Trust. Polling of 895 students by YouthSightfound that 46 percent said the pandemic has had a negative impact on their ability to find a job. 18 percent said that they had had work experience placements cancelled or postponed, with 11 percent having interviews cancelled and 4 percent having a job offer withdrawn.
• Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Social Care Minister, responding to comments on Coronavirus and care homes in the latest Public Accounts Committee report, said:
“This report confirms what we have known for a long while – that the Government was too slow to act to protect older and disabled people, and that a series of mistakes were made despite clear warnings from what was happening in other countries and the experiences of those on the frontline.”