Coronavirus UK news – UK will NEVER get covid under control without herd immunity approach, top experts warn

THE UK will never get the coronavirus crisis under control until a herd immunity approach is adopted, top experts have warned.

Urging the Government to "toughen up", thousands of scientists signed a declaration calling for herd immunity to be the aim while protecting those most at risk of dying or developing serious complications.

Top scientists from the universities of Oxford, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Cambridge, Sussex and York – including SAGE adviser Professor John Edmunds, signed the so-called Great Barrington declaration.

It states: "The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk… We call this Focused Protection."

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  • Jon Lockett

    BRITS 'STILL POSITIVE' DESPITE LOCKDOWN FEARS

    Findings from the latest ING International Survey – with nearly 13,000 respondents from across Europe – indicate that despite the possibility of being ‘locked-down’ once more, the British public remain positive.

    The ING findings show…

    • 72% of Britons agree their home is suitable for spending extended amounts of time in, such as during lockdown, and 73% are happy with their current housing situation
    • 58% of people in the UK find it easy to pay their rent or mortgage each month, just 13% find it difficult
    • Nearly double (39%) of Britons are more worried about their health than their finances – just 20% are more worried about their finances
    • 59% of Brits think the Economic cost of lockdown is worth it to save lives

    YOUNG KIDS PLAY 'NO MAJOR ROLE' IN SPREADING VIRUS

    Professor Calum Semple, of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said evidence shows that primary school children do not play a major role in spreading the virus.

    “We're quite confident now that primary school children are probably a quarter to half as likely to become infected and are also much less likely to pass the infection on,” the professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

    “So there's growing evidence that primary school children are not amplifying this disease.

    “Then, in secondary school children, again it's less than adults, but it's a gradient of effects such that sixth-formers are probably about the same risk as adults, but that data is slightly less stable.”

    EUROPE'S 'FASTEST PACE' SPIKE

    The Czech Republic reported a record 4,457 new coronavirus cases in a single day and is now rising at Europe’s fastest pace.

    The daily rise in new COVID-19 cases, recorded on Tuesday, surpassed a previous record of 3,794 to bring the total number of cases recorded since March to 90,022 – a fourfold increase since Aug. 25, Reuters reports.

    Hospitalisations have soared tenfold in that period to add strain on the healthcare system.

    Over the past two weeks, the Czech Republic has reported 326.8 cases per 100,000, surpassing for the first time Spain, which has seen 302.4 cases per 100,000, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data collected by Oct. 6.

    STUDENTS SENT HOME FOR BREAKING RULES

    Several students have been kicked out of the University of Exeter for breaching Covid guidelines.

    University chiefs said 'a small handful' of students had been sent home.

    But it said it wont hesitate to take action against students who breach the rules.

    Deputy vice chancellor Prof Tim Quine said:”We never exclude anyone lightly, it is always with regret.”

    Exeter's infection rate has risen to 2.5 times the average for England and there have been 372 new cases in the last seven days.

    VIRUS RESTRICTIONS 'RIGHT'

    International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the coronavirus restrictions in place across England were “right” but that the Government would keep them under review as case numbers rise.

    She told BBC Breakfast: “We are working very carefully right across the country to make sure we've got the right measures in place to restrict the spread of the virus and of course we are keeping that constantly under review.

    “What's really important, though, is that we don't want to go back to a second lockdown where we end up having to close down the economy and the potential damage that has on people's livelihoods.

    “This is a moving situation, as you've mentioned we have seen a rise in some of those areas, so of course our advisers will be looking at that and telling us what is the appropriate step to take next.”

    RUSSIA'S DEATH TOLL UP AGAIN

    Russia this morning reported 11,115 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, pushing its nationwide tally to 1,248,619.

    The state's coronavirus crisis centre said 202 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the national death toll to 21,865.

    HOSPITAL STAFF SLAMMED

    Inspectors have criticised staff at an NHS hospital which saw a major outbreak of coronavirus on its wards after workers were seen not wearing masks properly and failing to use protective hand gel.

    East Kent Hospitals University Trust had almost twice the national rate of hospital acquired infections of Covid-19 between 30 June and 26 July.

    Watchdog the Care Quality Commission has taken enforcement action against the hospital after inspectors found a catalogue of errors that increased the risk of infection to patients.

    This came after the regulator had issued the trust with a warning notice at the start of August when it learned it did not have a named lead for infection prevention.

    Responding to the report, interim director of infection prevention and control at the trust, Dr Sara Mumford said: “This inspection took place two months ago and we took immediate action to make improvements.” 

    CHICKEN FACTORY CHECKS

    A chicken factory where more than 130 workers tested positive for coronavirus has installed disinfectant spraying booths at its entrances.

    Banham Poultry in Attleborough, Norfolk, was forced to partially close for around two weeks from late August.

    It has since re-opened with additional safety measures, including five disinfectant machines at entrances to its factories and offices.

    The walk-in booths are equipped with artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology to identify employees and check their body temperatures.

    LOCAL LOCKDOWNS

    Local lockdown restrictions are “not working”, confusing and even “counter-productive”, leaders of northern cities have warned as the rate of coronavirus cases almost doubled in a week.

    Leaders in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Leeds warned Health Secretary Matt Hancock that they would not support further “economic lockdowns” and called for new powers to tackle the resurgence.

    Professor John Edmunds, who is advising the Government's coronavirus response, joined the criticism of local measures on Tuesday and said new national restrictions were needed immediately.

    The calls came as the UK-wide seven-day rate increased to 125.7 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people from 63.8 a week ago, according to analysis by the PA news agency.

    VACCINE IN 'WEEKS'

    A coronavirus vaccine could be available in just weeks, says the head of the World Health Organisation.

    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, said: “There is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine.”

    He urged world leaders to commit to an “equitable distribution” of any successful vaccine — and for nations to show commitment in the fight against the coronavirus.

    Addressing the WHO executive board in a mask, he said: “Especially for the vaccines and other products which are in the pipeline, the most important tool is political commitment from our leaders.”

    COASTAL TOWNS SEE FEWER DEATHS

    Coastal towns in England and Wales have seen fewer deaths from the coronavirus, figures suggest.

    The news comes despite earlier fears that a rise in “staycations” would lead to a spike in cases in the areas surrounding Britain's beaches and holiday spots.

    Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that large coastal towns saw 63.0 deaths per 100,000 people, while large non-coastal towns saw 102.2 deaths per 100,000.

    The equivalent figures in small coastal and non-costal towns were 57.3 and 84.4 per 100,000 people.

    While older people are more vulnerable to the virus, experts believe the lower death tolls in coastal towns might be explained by their older populations, who tend to commute and socialise less than younger people, Yahoo News reported.

    TRUMP HAS 'NO COVID SYMPTOMS', SAYS DOCTOR

    Donald Trump is currently not experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus, his doctor has claimed.

    The president yesterday returned to the White House after spending a number of days at the Walter Reed Medical Center near Washington DC.

    White House physician Dr Sean Conley said Trump had had a “restful first night at home” and that his “vital signs and physical exam remain stable”.

    “Overall he continues to do extremely well,” he added.

    Conley was among a number of officials who previously gave conflicting reports on the president's condition.

    GOVERNMENT DELAYS CURFEW VOTE AMID BACK BENCH OPPOSITION

    The government has announced a delay to a parliamentary vote on the 10pm curfew amid opposition from its own back benches.

    The vote had been scheduled to happen tomorrow, but is now expected to take place next week.

    Up to 45 Tory MPs could be preparing to vote against the measure, City AM reported.

    One, Sir Christopher Chope, told The Telegraph that the government was “running scared” from holding the vote.

    A motion to approve the so-called “Rule of Six” was passed by the Commons today but saw 12 Tory MPs rebel.

    DAILY HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS JUMP BY ALMOST A QUARTER

    A total of 478 people were admitted to hospital with coronavirus on Sunday, the highest daily figure since the start of June.

    The number was up almost a quarter from Saturday, when 386 people were admitted.

    Of Sunday's admissions, 334 were in the North East, North West, or Yorkshire.

    Sixty-eight were in the Midlands, while 27 were in London.

    TWELVE TORY MPS REBEL ON RULE OF SIX VOTE

    A total of 12 back bench Tory MPs have rebelled against the government on a vote to approve “rule of six” restrictions.

    Current guidelines limit social gatherings to no more than six people.

    The motion to approve the measure passed by 287 votes to 17.

    Five DUP MPs were also among those voting against.

    The Labour Party and a number of Conservative MPs abstained.

    PM HAS 'FAILED TO LAY OUT STRATEGY', SAYS STARMER

    Boris Johnson's speech to the Conservative Party conference failed to lay out a strategy for how the pandemic would be handled in the coming months, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said.

    Speaking in a recorded message posted online following the event, Starmer said: “What I think the country was looking for was for the prime minister to frankly acknowledge the problems in the way the government's dealing with the pandemic.

    “Infection rates going up, local restrictions are in place but none of them are coming out of restrictions, and the testing regime has as good as collapsed.

    “And then light at the end of the tunnel that there is a road map, there is a strategy, that is going to get us from where we are to where we need to be when we get a vaccine.

    “We didn't have that, and millions of people I think will have looked at the prime minister's speech and not found the reassurance and the hope that they were looking for.”

    TOP US GENERAL AND OTHER MILITARY CHIEFS QUARANTINING

    The most senior military officer in the US Army is among a number of top military officials to have entered quarantine.

    Mark Milley serves as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the body of leaders who directly advise the president on military matters.

    It comes after Admiral Charles Ray, the second in command in the US Coast Guard, tested positive for the virus.

    Ray reportedly attended a meeting of military officials at the Pentagon last week.

    Several other military chiefs are reported to have entered quarantine.

    PANDEMIC WILL BE A 'TRIGGER FOR CHANGE', SAYS PM

    The coronavirus pandemic will be a 'trigger' for positive change, Boris Johnson has said.

    Addressing the Conservative Party's virtual conference, the prime minister said: “History teaches us that events of this magnitude – wars, famines, plagues – events that effect the vast bulk of humanity, as this virus has, they don't just come and go.

    “They are more often than not the trigger for an acceleration of social and economic change.

    “And that's why this government will build back better.”

    BRAZIL NEARS FIVE MILLION CASES

    The total number of people tested positive for the coronavirus in Brazil is nearing five million.

    The figure currently stands at 4,946,913, and is increasing by around 27,000 a day.

    The country has the third-worst outbreak in the world, behind only India and the US.

    Between them, the three countries account for just over half of all cases globally.

    RAYNER ACCUSES GOVERNMENT OF 'BLUFF AND BLUSTER'

    Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has accused the government of “bluff and bluster” in its plans to tackle the coronavirus over winter.

    The comments came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's virtual speech to the Conservative Party conference.

    Taking to twitter, Rayner wrote: “The British people needed to hear the PM set out how he will get a grip of the crisis.

    “Instead we got the usual bluff and bluster and no plan for the months ahead.

    “We end this Conservative conference as we started it: with a shambolic testing system, millions of jobs at risk and an incompetent government that has lost control of this virus and is holding Britain back.”

    14,542 CASES RECORDED

    A further 14,542 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the UK, more than double the 7,143 seen last Tuesday.

    The announcement comes after it emerged that thousands of cases had not been included in official tallies in recent weeks following an administrative error.

    The new cases bring the UK's overall tally since the start of the pandemic to 530,113.

    Data today also included 76 deaths of people within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.

    VIRUS SPREADING 'QUICKLY AND WIDELY' IN LONDON, SAYS MAYOR KHAN

    The coronavirus is currently spreading “quickly and widely” in London, Mayor Sadiq Khan has said.

    The warning came after a rise in people hospitalised with the virus in the capital over recent weeks.

    Taking to twitter, Khan said: “Coronavirus is spreading quickly & widely across London, with the number of people hospitalised for the disease tripling in the past month.

    “We can slow the spread of this virus if we don't take risks.

    “Follow the rules: wear a face mask, wash your hands & stick to the rule of six.”

    FREELANCE MUSICIANS CALL FOR AID WITH PARLIAMENT SQUARE GIG

    Some 400 freelance musicians have performed in Parliament Square to demand more targeted support for self-employed performers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    The socially distanced protest, called Let Music Live, featured a rendition of Mars from Holst's The Planets before the group held a two-minute silence.

    Among the attendees were violinists Tasmin Little and Nicola Benedetti, conductor David Hill, cellist Raphael Wallfisch and clarinettist Emma Johnson.

    A second performance took place concurrently in Birmingham's Centenary Square.

    The Government has launched a £1.57 billion fund for the creative industries, much of which will go to venues and organisations, but organisers say more financial help is needed within the freelance community.

    MANCHESTER UNIS ONLY TEACHING ONLINE AS 4,000 STUDENTS TEST POSITIVE IN UK

    The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University will detail the move to staff and pupils later on..

    The decision was made alongside the city's public health department and Public Health England and will be in effect until at least October 30.

    It comes as nearly 4,000 students at more than 50 universities across the UK have tested positive for coronaviru.

    'EXTREMELY LAX' FAMILIES BLAMED FOR RULE OF SIX

    Health minister Lord Bethell defended the introduction of the measures and said parents were using children's birthday parties to “flout the rules and create events where infections were happening”.

    He said: “As a father of four children — three under 12 — I completely hear the point on children and there are many parents and grandparents here who feel it very harshly.

    “But the research from the front line was crystal clear. That people were using children's birthdays, drop-offs, congregations around children to flout the rules and create events where infection was happening.

    “The story that was being told in mid-September is that the public had miscued, that they had during the summer massively relaxed the way in which they were behaving.

    “And the key form of transmission, the trigger to a huge amount of infection, were families taking an extremely lax interpretation of what kind of social mixing they could do.”

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