Three more deaths from Covid-19 were recorded in the UK today as Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the UK must do "everything in our power" to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 hospitalizations like this one which is common across Europe.
Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons for the first time since Parliament's summer recess, Mr Hancock said the country needs to remain vigilant on the coronavirus threat even as UK deaths fall.
He said the number of cases in France and Spain is increasing "exponentially" and that hospitals across the continent are seeing increasing numbers of patients again.
The number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the UK is now rising and is at its highest since mid-June after a break in July and early August.
Today 1,295 cases were diagnosed after 1,406 people yesterday. The average number of daily cases over seven days is now 1,339 – a 27 percent increase from last Tuesday and the highest since June 11.
The government is about to launch a new campaign to remind people that the virus continues to pose a threat, Hancock said, suggesting another slogan: "Hands, Face, Space and Test" to encourage the public To Remind yourself keep washing your hands, avoid touching their face, maintain social distance, and get tested for symptoms.
While in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock was targeted by MPs for the wriggling NHS Test and Trace system, which struggles to get in touch with thousands of people each week.
No more deaths have been recorded in Scotland or Northern Ireland as they approach a full week with no deaths.
In other coronavirus developments today;
- Millions of students in England are returning to school for the first time since March. Two new studies show that children are six times less likely to spread the coronavirus than adults and more likely to die in an accident than Covid-19.
- Most people enrolled in the free flu protection program won't get their bite until December, though the government is keen to expand the program to deal with pressure from the NHS this winter.
- The director of the World Health Organization Europe has warned of the reopening of schools and the flu season could mean that an increase in Covid-19 patients this winter will put pressure on hospitals.
- Boris Johnson warned today that "more is to come of this wretched Covid" when he called his cabinet and told ministers "bit by bit" that Britain was "getting back on its feet";
- AstraZeneca begins definitive trials of coronavirus vaccines from Oxford University, involving 50,000 people worldwide and 30,000 in the US, as the company signs a £ 15 million manufacturing contract.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today, although the UK death toll is low, "we must remain vigilant" and "do everything in our power to prevent a second wave" in the UK, much like Spain and France, while the NHS did protects winter. He's coming to a cabinet meeting today
Mr Hancock said today: "I said in July that a second wave is rolling across Europe and unfortunately we are now seeing an exponential increase in the number of cases in France and Spain." And there, too, the number of hospital stays is unfortunately increasing.
"We have to do everything in our power to protect ourselves from a second wave here in Britain."
France recently saw the largest daily increase in coronavirus infections since March. 7,379 new cases were diagnosed on August 28, compared to 7,578 on March 31 – amid the height of the pandemic in Europe.
In Spain there is still snowball with 23,500 new infections at the weekend. Between Friday and Monday, hospital admissions rose by more than 700 and deaths by 83.
In the UK, deaths are currently low, down from just two yesterday. The latest state coronavirus death toll in the UK is 41,504. It takes into account victims who died within 28 days of testing positive.
BORIS JOHNSON WARNET THERE IS "MORE COVID TO COME"
Boris Johnson warned today that "more of this wretched Covid will come" when he called his cabinet and told ministers "bit by bit" that Britain was "getting back on its feet".
The prime minister told his top team that "we know there will be more outbreaks" but he is "absolutely confident" that the government will be able to deal with them.
He also claimed that "a large number" of people are now returning to their offices, and "quite right too," fearing that Professor Chris Whitty will be lost to work from home over government pressure to persuade workers give up, could stop.
Mr Johnson met with his cabinet in the large Locarno suite in the Foreign Office – chosen because it offers more space than number 10 so that the ministers can distance themselves socially.
The opulent backdrop will be used for the meetings for the foreseeable future after Mr Johnson had to talk to ministers about Zoom for months.
The Prime Minister hopes that the meeting, which took place on the morning of Parliament's return from its summer recess, and when thousands of students eventually returned to schools across England, will set an example to workers across the country.
Mr Johnson is encouraging staff to return to their offices, but it was alleged today that ministers are holding back the drive because they fear the chief medical officer may resign.
Prof. Whitty is said to hinder government efforts to get more workers back to work and physically return to work.
The Telegraph ministers, according to cabinet sources, fear that if they push too hard on the issue, Prof Whitty could step down on security concerns, leading to a wave of staff returning to the city.
Such a move would likely severely damage public confidence in the government.
The deaths announced daily by the Department of Health have fallen since the height of the UK's Covid-19 crisis. More than 1,000 patients were killed on a few days in April.
Health officials in Northern Ireland said there have been no new deaths from Covid-19 for the fifth straight day. The toll is 560.
No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in Scotland in the past 24 hours, latest figures from the Scottish Government show. This means that Scotland's death toll was 2,494 for six consecutive days.
Wales reported one death in all situations after a four-day streak with zero new deaths, while NHS England reported nine deaths. But not all were included in the Department of Health's release as the two agencies have different time limits.
Mr Hancock said while the UK death toll is low, "we need to remain vigilant," adding it was "important" that everyone played their role in defending against Covid-19, including social distancing, hand washing and contact tracing.
He said the best scenario is for a Covid-19 vaccine to be found before the end of this year after it was announced that Oxford, one of the global front runners, is entering the final stages of testing.
Until then, contact tracing is one of the most important lines of defense against the coronavirus. However, MPs criticized the failure of the NHS test and trace system and rewarded the private sector for renewing contracts.
Mr Hancock claimed the UK was in the "top tier" of test and trace systems around the world, despite official figures showing the decline in positive cases and tracing of their contacts, and defended relationships with private companies.
MPs asked the Minister of Health in the lower house today about the flaws in the critical NHS test and trace system. Ilford South MP Sam Terry asked if contracts with private companies, which include Serco, Sitel and Capita, with no track record of 'this instance' would continue.
An obviously irritated Mr. Hancock said, "I will defend for all purposes the teams working on our NHS test and trace system, the private sector companies without whom this would be impossible."
He stressed that the latest figures show that 84.3 percent of the close contacts of Covid-19 cases have been reached and should self-isolate, over the 80 percent recommended by scientists for successful contact tracing.
Since the start of Test and Trace, 80.6 percent of the close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 have been reached through the system and asked to self-isolate.
However, the latest data, released on Friday, shows that during the week of August 13-19, only 75.5 percent of close contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate.
Week-by-week data shows the system is deteriorating, with call handlers hitting a record low of just 72.6 percent of infected patients last week.
It is the fifth week in a row that the number of Covid-19 cases recorded has fallen, falling from its best of 82.8 percent in the week ended July 22nd.
Questioned the government track and trace numbers provided by Mr Hancock, Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth told the Commons, “I was listening to the numbers (Matt Hancock) but he did not tell the House what numbers were actually going into the system they have fallen in the past week – from 79 percent to 72 percent. This system is not yet the best in the world. & # 39;
Last week, Mr. Hancock admitted the system was “not quite there” and told LBC Radio on Thursday, “One of the challenges is that we want to get NHS Test and Trace on over 80 percent of the contacts so that they can match can isolate yourself. " We're at just over 75 percent, so we're almost there, but not quite there. & # 39;
Mr Hancock said the tests will be expanded with new rapid Covid-19 tests that can provide results on site in 90 minutes and do not need to be performed by a healthcare professional.
He told the Commons about the new "rapid test for coronaviruses and other winter viruses" that will help "break transmission chains quickly".
"These tests do not require trained healthcare professionals to be introduced in non-clinical settings," he said.
The Minister of Health also gave details of the “Pay to Isolate” scheme, which came after criticism that there was insufficient financial support for people who were asked to self-isolate for 14 days, which could potentially result in loss of wages.
He said, “Today we are also introducing our new wage system to isolate. We would like to support low-income people in areas with a high incidence of Covid-19, who need to self-isolate and are unable to work from home.
& # 39; The program will give people who test positive for the virus £ 130 for the 10 day period of staying home. Other contacts, including members of their own household who are self-isolating for 14 days, are eligible for a payment of £ 182. "
Also in today's Commons, Health Secretary Helen Whately said nursing homes caring for elderly residents can now access retests – but there are delays in obtaining those tests for staff.
Labor shadow health minister Liz Kendall urged every nursing home to test its employees weekly for Covid-19, saying: "Ministers initially promised weekly tests for nursing home workers through July 6th. Then they gave up on that promise and said routine testing wouldn't happen until September 7th.
"With more than 15,000 deaths from Covid-19 in nursing homes and the coming winter and flu season, regular weekly testing of nursing homes is vital."
On health issues, Ms. Whately replied, “Our retesting of nursing homes has been delayed due to specific issues with some test kits.
& # 39; We are now able to offer retests to all nursing homes for the elderly, and we have been able to open the (testing) portal to people with adults of working age as residents, and we have started our second round of retests for the older Sector. & # 39;
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that "more of this wretched Covid will come" when he called his cabinet and "bit by bit" told ministers that Britain is "getting back on its feet". Pictured: a session of his cabinet this morning as Parliament returned from its summer recess
YOUNG PARTY WOMAN accused of being in the center of AYRSHIRE OUTBREAK
A young Scottish woman was accused of spreading the coronavirus by continuing to partake after a vacation with friends who were sick with symptoms.
The nameless "super spreader" reportedly went to pubs and "multiple parties" before testing positive.
A group of 22 cases have since emerged in Ayrshire, all of which medical officials have confirmed to be related to house parties.
A full contact tracing operation is underway to stop the virus snowballing in the area.
Disgruntled locals pointed a finger at a young woman believed to have ignored advice on self-isolation after returning from overseas on August 21 with two friends who were suffering from symptoms.
One parent told the Ayrshire Advertiser, “She's been to several parties, one of which was in Kilmarnock.
"She knew her other friends were isolating themselves, it's disgusting."
Another source told the newspaper the woman visited pubs in Ayr before testing positive for Covid-19 after testing on Aug 26.
NHS Ayrshire and the Arran Test and Protect Team are beginning to liaise with those associated with the house parties.
Dr. Crawford McGuffie, Medical Director, said: & # 39; The NHS Ayrshire & Arran health protection team is currently conducting a contact tracing exercise after a number of people test positive for coronavirus infection (COVID-19).
"These positive cases have been linked to a number of house parties."
Two employees at Sainsbury & # 39; s in Prestwick, South Ayrshire are self-isolating after testing positive.
Coronavirus is waning in Scotland and the country has only reported three deaths a month.
Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO's European chief, said he was "not surprised" if hospital admissions surge to the level of the worst days of the pandemic this November.
When speaking on Radio 4's Today program, he warned the UK against it "Three phenomena" in the colder months on top of coronavirus – including children picking up the disease in school, a surge in influenza cases and excessive deaths among the elderly.
It follows the epiphany that government documents say mMost people won't get the flu shot until December, though the government tried to vaccinate everyone to protect the NHS this winter.
Cases have already been shown to increase across the UK. Scotland has had record positive tests since May, with 154 detected in the last 24 hours.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that she has "a greater sense of fear" today than at any time "probably in recent months".
Although the number of coronavirus cases is rising again, there is no evidence that more people are ending up in hospital or dying, as feared.
Experts believe that cases are more common among younger people, who almost never die from the disease, and that hospitals can now treat Covid-19 better than they did when the pandemic began.
However, a member of SAGE said last week that there could be a delayed spike in hospital stays and deaths in the coming weeks as younger adults pass the virus on to older relatives.
At theop scientist today rpublished conversations about a second wave, saying that anyone who believed there was a resurgence misinterpreted the data.
Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, wrote in the Daily Mail: “Like so many people, don't be misled by the rise in infections at the national level.
& # 39; 1,715 people across the UK tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, the most since early June. It is easy to misinterpret this data and assume that we are in the grip of the dreaded "second wave".
& # 39; We are not. There is currently no second wave. What we are seeing is a sharp increase in the number of healthy people who carry the virus but show no symptoms.
& # 39; Almost all of them are young. They are discovered because – finally – there is a comprehensive system of national tests and tracings in place. & # 39;
"And while young people may have an infection, they look good, healthy and show no symptoms."
Officials have already planned a possible second wave in advance and organized the UK's largest flu vaccination program to date.
The government promised to reach 30 million people, including everyone over 50 and 11.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, who leads the Oxford team, is confident that by the end of the year the sting could be ready for the most vulnerable people in society
PORTUGAL'S COVID-19 CASES CONTINUE TO RISK TO 75,000 BRITONS AT QUARANTINE RISK
Portugal's Covid cases continue to increase – they are about to be quarantined, 75,000 Brits are still in the country – as BA boss Willie Walsh said that Great Britain has set a "closed sign" with 15 nations on the list.
In the seven days to date, there have been 22.3 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the country, up from 22.1 as of yesterday.
It came when Mr. Walsh, the CEO of BA owner International Airlines Group, accused the government of causing "further chaos and hardship" for travelers based on "arbitrary" statistics.
He wrote in The Times: “Another government U-turn to put Portugal on the quarantine list will create further chaos and trouble for travelers.
& # 39; The government is using arbitrary statistics to effectively ban 160 countries, destroying the economy in the process. The government must put in place a test regime to restore confidence. "
He added that the "ever-changing list" of countries requiring two weeks of quarantine means the UK has officially hung the "Closed" sign.
Ryanair flights from Portugal have jumped from £ 20 two weeks ago to £ 302 today as up to 75,000 Brits with the vacation hotspot were on the verge of being put back on the UK quarantine list.
A rate of 20 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people over a seven day period is the level ministers are looking at to trigger isolation rules.
It was planned to cover more risk groups so that fewer people would get seriously ill with seasonal flu. This will take the pressure off hospitals that are at risk of a recurrence of Covid-19 cases this winter.
However, leaked documents The Telegraph saw reveal that the services aim to "expand the vaccination program to the 50-64 age bracket in November and December".
It is recommended that you get the flu shot in the fall, before the flu starts circulating. As a result, millions are at risk of being caught before they can be vaccinated.
The documents say healthy patients aged 50 to 64 may not get a sting at all, despite Health Secretary Matt Hancock boasting that Britain had "the biggest flu protection program ever this fall".
The vaccinations could be offered after prioritizing other eligible groups and subject to vaccine supply.
Last year 15 million people in England were vaccinated but that was less than half of the eligible people. It suggests that there wouldn't be enough for extra people if everyone in these groups took their free push this year.
Increased flu shots are planned to ease pressure on the NHS this winter by preventing flu-like illnesses that can lead to hospitalization and even death.
A bad flu season with a second wave of coronavirus will cripple the NHS and wreak havoc in figuring out which patients have the flu and which have Covid-19 as the symptoms are similar.
But the world could get one step closer to a coronavirus bite after Oxford University vaccine candidate entered final testing phase in the US.
British drug giant AstraZeneca, which owns the rights to the vaccine, said it did so 30,000 American volunteers participated in the phase 3 clinical trial.
There are now 50,000 people around the world taking part in studies to determine whether the bite – known as AZD1222 – can actually prevent people from becoming infected with Covid-19.
In the UK, Brazil and South Africa, thousands of volunteers have already been injected with the experimental drug and are being monitored by scientists.
The studies had to be relocated abroad in the summer – to South Africa and Brazil, where Covid-19 is still widespread – in order to accelerate the studies.
In the UK, there are no longer enough people infected with the virus to reliably test whether the bite is working.
Oxford professor Sarah Gilbert, the minds behind the bump, said preliminary data from trials in these countries could be expected in the coming weeks.
Cambridge's AstraZeneca said further trials are planned in Japan, where there has been a fatal second wave, and in Russia, where there have been a million cases.
Scientists from AstraZeneca and Oxford have repeatedly promised to deliver the vaccine to the most vulnerable groups from Covid-19 by the end of the year.
AstraZeneca has also signed contracts with manufacturers in China, the US and across Europe to provide the Oxford Jab to the whole world.
Meanwhile, the UK drug maker today signed a contract with Oxford Biomedica to mass-produce the vaccine if it turns out to be effective.
The company claims it will receive £ 15m as a capacity reservation fee and up to £ 35m to make multiple large batches of the vaccine if it works.
Gene and cell therapy company Oxford Biomedica will be the only manufacturer of the vaccine in the UK for 18 months.
Early studies have shown promising results. Tests have shown that the vaccine is safe to use in humans and elicits an immune response. However, data to show it is protecting people is not expected until later this year.
In order to prove beyond a doubt that it protects people from infection, vaccines have to go through rigorous phase three studies.
In these tests, the vaccine will be given to tens of thousands of people in real-world settings to see if it is preventing them from catching Covid-19 in the community.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock says frontline health and care workers and those at increased risk of serious illness, including residents of nursing homes, will come first to get access to a vaccine.
According to Hancock, who said health bosses are also considering quick access for people with a BAME background who are disproportionately affected by Covid-19, it will be the turn of those over 50 and those with heart and kidney disease.
It's more likely that the average person will get their hands on a Covid-19 sometime in early 2021, according to British Vaccination Czar Kate Bingham.
However, mass production is already under way so that the vaccine can be made as soon as possible.
AstraZeneca claims to be able to produce two billion cans by summer 2021. The US has already ordered 300 million cans and the UK has pre-purchased 100 million.
Today, millions of students in England are returning to school for the first time in almost six months but are faced with tough new rules to control the spread of the coronavirus
Thousands of school children have returned to the Northern Ireland classroom following the lockdown. Elementary 7 and 6th grade students returned last week, but the entire school population was back on Tuesday. Pictured: 11th grade students at Hazelwood Integrated College, Belfast
Millions of students in England are now returning to school for the first time in nearly six months, but are faced with tough new rules to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Two studies published today should reassure parents that their child is safe from the virus after months of heated debates between ministers and teachers' unions.
One study found that children under the age of 10 in the UK are almost 20 times more likely to die from accidental injuries than Covid-19.
Newcastle University scientists also found that children under the age of 10 are twice as likely to die from the flu than from the coronavirus.
When looking at the risk of Covid-19 deaths between the ages of 10 and 19, it was three times lower than the risk of dying from an injury.
However, the study found that Covid-19 deaths in this group were four times higher than the flu. This showed that people should not completely ignore the coronavirus and still be careful, the researchers said.
A small number of Covid-19 deaths have been recorded among children in the UK – 12 in the 10-19 age group and three in the under 10 age group.
Most of these children would have had underlying health conditions, research has shown that make them more prone to serious illness.
Another study today found that children are six times less likely to spread coronavirus than adults.
The study tracked how the coronavirus spread to a group of 1,900 people, mostly children, who spent five weeks in summer camps in Spain.
They mingled in similar situations to schools, but spent most of their time outdoors rather than in classrooms, the Barcelona researchers said.
Daily swab tests showed that 30 infected children passed the virus on to only 12 others, even though there were more than 250 close contacts in their "bladder".
The children's R-rate – the number of people an infected person transmits the virus to – was 0.3. In comparison, the R-rate in the region was 1.7 to 2, which means the children were six times less infectious than the general population.
Professor Heneghan today called on the government to state clearly and concisely that the schools are very safe and criticized them "Alarmist" view that schools could be breeding grounds for the virus in the absence of evidence.
He said, “We need to reassure parents that it is safe for children to return to school this week.
“School-age students are the least likely to show symptoms of Covid-19, and it will be a tragedy when unfounded fears prevent them from resuming their education.
“We need our children to be smarter than we are to make sure we don't repeat the mistakes of our current generation – we need them to be in class.
“The alarmists will say that such asymptomatic people are just as likely to spread the coronavirus – and maybe even more dangerous because they don't know they have it. This fear is simply not confirmed by the experience of the past six months. & # 39;
“School-age students are the least likely to show symptoms of Covid-19, and it will be a tragedy when unfounded fears prevent them from resuming their education.
"We need our children to be smarter than we are to make sure we don't repeat the mistakes of our current generation – we need them to be in class."
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