UK coronavirus LIVE: Croatia 'could be next on quarantine list' as deaths rise by three

Holidaymakers returning to the UK from Croatia could be next to face quarantine measures as the country suffers a surge in coronavirus cases.

The popular destination has seen the number of Covid-19 infections rise above 20 per 100,000 people over the past week – a key benchmark in determining which nations make the Government’s travel “red list”.

The warnings come after France, the Netherlands, Malta and three other countries were suddenly scrapped from the list of so-called “travel corridors”, sparking a transport frenzy as Britons rushed to get home or cancel pre-planned trips.

In other developments, a major U-turn has been carried out on the exam school grades fiasco as ministers agreed to issue teacher assessments for A-Levels, GCSEs and AS Levels, while the number of Covid deaths in the UK has risen by three overnight.

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2020-08-18T01:36:41.383Z

Former world leaders call for action to ensure a generation of young people are not “robbed of their education” due to Covid-19

The 275-strong group comprises of senior figures including former prime ministers Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Sir John Major, as well as economists and educationalists from across the globe.

In a letter addressed to G20 leaders, national governments and global financial institutions, the group has warned that as many as 30 million children may never return to school as a result of the pandemic, according to Unesco.

They have also raised concerns that the world’s poorest children have been “locked out of learning” and denied internet access. The former leaders also warned the G20 of the threat of rising child hunger with the loss of free school meals for pupils around the world.

In their letter, they wrote: “We write to call for urgent action to address the global education emergency triggered by Covid-19. With over 1 billion children still out of school because of the lockdown, there is now a real and present danger that the public health crisis will create a COVID generation who lose out on schooling and whose opportunities are permanently damaged.

An immediate concern, as we bring the lockdown to an end, is the fate of an estimated 30 million children who according to UNESCO may never return to school.

“For these, the world’s least advantaged children, education is often the only escape from poverty – a route that is in danger of closing”.

2020-08-18T01:00:00.000Z

Baroness Dido Harding to lead new public health body

Baroness Dido Harding is set to be appointed as the interim chief of the Government’s new Health Protection Institute.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will reportedly announce on Tuesday that Baroness Harding will head the Government’s new Institute for Health Protection, which will replace Public Health England.

Read more here…

2020-08-18T00:31:19.470Z

Coronavirus deaths surpass 108,000 in Brazil

Brazil’s health ministry reported 19,373 new cases of Covid-19 and 684 death in the past 24 hours on Monday.

This brings the country’s total death toll to 108,536 and the number of infections to 3,359,570.

Kayapo Indigenous wears masks as a precaution amid the new coronavirus during a protest near Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
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2020-08-17T23:33:35.406Z

Baroness Dido Harding set to take on another key role in the UK’s efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will reportedly announce on Tuesday that the Conservative peer will head the Government’s new Institute for Health Protection, which will replace Public Health England.

The former chief executive of TalkTalk was appointed in May to lead England’s contact tracing programme, which relies on identifying people who have been in contact with a positive coronavirus case and getting them to self-isolate.

Baroness Harding led telecoms giant TalkTalk when it suffered a massive cyber attack in October 2015 when hackers accessed 157,000 customers’ details, including bank account numbers.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined TalkTalk £400,000 over the breach, which ultimately cost the company an estimated £77 million.

The ICO issued TalkTalk with a record fine in 2016 for security failings that it said had allowed customers’ data including some 15,656 bank account numbers to be accessed “with ease”.

Baroness Harding is currently chairman of NHS Improvement and has held senior roles at Tesco and Sainsbury’s during her career.

2020-08-17T23:23:25.380Z

Future of Public Health to be revealed

The future of public health in England is set to be announced later by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Mr Hancock is due to deliver a speech at the think tank Policy Exchange titled The Future of Public Health.

It comes amid reports that Public Health England (PHE) is to be axed.

The Government has faced criticism over the prospect of breaking up the health body in the middle of a pandemic.

Ministers have also been accused of using PHE as a “scapegoat” for other failings in the crisis.

2020-08-17T22:40:00.000Z

Primary school pupil in Scotland tests positive for coronavirus with close contacts in the Paisley school now being traced

Renfrewshire Council confirmed the case at Todholm Primary School with parents and carers contacted by text to inform them of developments.

Letters are also to be sent by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) saying “there is currently no evidence to suggest that there is transmission occurring within the school itself”.

A statement on the council’s Facebook page said: “We can confirm a pupil at Todholm Primary School in Paisley has this afternoon tested positive for Covid-19. All parents and carers with a child at the school are being contacted via text message to make them aware of the situation.

“We are following the advice of NHSGGC, who have undertaken a careful risk assessment. They are advising there is no current evidence the virus has been transmitted inside the school and that it remains safe for pupils and staff to attend.

“The Test and Protect team are currently contacting any individuals who have been in close contact with the pupil and advising them to self-isolate at home.

“The health of our pupils and staff is our biggest priority and we will continue to follow the advice of our health service colleagues over how best to protect that.”

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2020-08-17T21:40:00.000Z

People must continue to maintain social distancing guidance, says director of Public Health at Nottinghamshire County Council following outbreak

Jonathan Gribbin, director of public health at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Bakkavor have been very co-operative and we hope that the testing of their employees will allow us to find out more about where people are acquiring the infection.

“However, we know that not all the cases in Newark are linked to Bakkavor so it is vital that people continue to follow the strict guidance to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 across the whole community.

“People should follow social distancing guidance in full, including guidelines about car sharing, washing hands regularly, wearing face coverings, self-isolating and quickly getting a test if symptoms develop.”

2020-08-17T21:17:00.540Z

The number of staff testing positive at dessert factory Bakkavor has risen to 72, said Nottinghamshire County Council

It was announced that all staff would be tested on August 7 after 39 cases among workers at the site in Newark.

The council said 701 people had now been tested and 33 more cases had taken the total to 72, although 33 “fully fit and healthy” staff had now returned to work after isolating.

Testing will continue until Wednesday to enable all 1,600 employees to be tested.

Shona Taylor, business director for desserts at Bakkavor, said: “We understand the importance of the testing and I have been immensely proud of the management team and all the efforts that have been made to ensure we could deliver this for our colleagues.

“The programme has been positively received, and colleagues have been supportive and reassured that every effort is being taken to ensure their safety.”

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2020-08-17T20:49:15.350Z

Northern Ireland health minister: fresh lockdown measures cannot be ruled out

Northern Ireland’s health minister said a new lockdown could be brought in if a current increase in cases is not brought under control.

Robin Swann said stepped-up testing and contact tracing was identifying more Covid-19 cases.

On Monday his department confirmed 39 more diagnoses. In the last seven days 302 people have tested positive.

Mr Swann said: “I think it’s a matter of looking now at the number of positive cases that we have and really emphasise to the people of Northern Ireland: this is in your hands.”

He told UTV it was important to break the chains of infection.

Social distancing restrictions have been significantly eased over recent weeks.

Mr Swann said they may have to be re-examined if the virus is not brought under control.

“That’s where we as an Executive have to look at stepping back some of the relaxations that we have made in the past number of months. And I think that is where we are coming to very, very quickly.”

2020-08-17T20:23:14.480Z

Health leaders continue to criticise reported plans to scrap Public Health England

Critics have slammed reported Government plans to get rid of Public Health England (PHE), saying if ministers are unhappy with PHE’s performance, they have only themselves to blame as it is directly under ministerial control.

Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said: “It is clear that Public Health England and its dedicated staff are being lined up to be the fall guy for continual bungling by Boris Johnson and his ministers since coronavirus emerged at the beginning of the year.

“The catalogue of errors ranges from the lateness to lock down in March to the failure to have a so-called ‘world beating’ test-and-trace system in place by June.

“In their desperation to find anyone or any organisation to blame for their own failings, Boris Johnson and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock are lining up PHE and its staff to be the fall guy.”

Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, said: “There have clearly been failings in handling the Covid pandemic, but scapegoating PHE is unfair and potentially dangerous.

“A range of people and agencies are accountable for the handling of the pandemic, not just PHE. This feels like a crude attempt to shift blame.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Public Health England have played an integral role in our national response to this unprecedented global pandemic.

“We have always been clear that we must learn the right lessons from this crisis to ensure that we are in the strongest possible position, both as we continue to deal with Covid-19 and to respond to any future public health threat.”

2020-08-17T19:40:19.286Z

Scottish care homes coronavirus revelations must be urgently investigated, say opposition parties

Scottish Labour has called on the Lord Advocate to urgently investigate confirmed Covid-19 cases being discharged into Scotland’s care homes.

In a letter to James Wolffe QC, the party’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon urged him to look into the issue after it emerged in The Sunday Post that at least 37 people were moved from hospital to a care home after a positive test for the virus.

A unit set up in May is already investigating the number of deaths in Scotland’s care homes as a result of the pandemic and Ms Lennon has asked the Lord Advocate if the group will be looking into these revelations.

The Scottish Tories have now also called for an urgent inquiry into the matter, which they say should start this week.

Ms Lennon said: “Care homes deaths during the pandemic have been the crisis within a crisis.

“Tragically, thousands of older people have died and there must be accountability for decisions that led to the virus infiltrating care homes in the first place.

“It will be extremely distressing to impacted families to learn that Covid-19 positive patients were knowingly discharged from hospital to care homes, and the least they deserve is a commitment that this will be thoroughly investigated.”

She added: “That’s why I’m asking the Lord Advocate and Police Scotland to confirm what plans are in place to examine how this happened and whether any legal action needs to be taken.”

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2020-08-17T19:22:36.310Z

Ireland to review Covid-19 testing as system comes under pressure

A review of the Covid-19 test turnaround time is to be carried out as the system comes under huge strain from the surge in confirmed cases.

Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the review is part of the Government’s plan to tackle the growing number of coronavirus cases.

Mr Donnelly said the turnaround time has been strained following the spate of outbreaks in Kildare, Offaly and Laois which have been linked to meat plants.

It came as health experts are considering renewed coronavirus restrictions amid surging case numbers.

Members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) met on Monday to discuss the outbreaks after 266 cases were reported over the weekend.

Mr Donnelly also said that serial Covid-19 testing will begin soon in Direct Provision Centres, nursing homes and meat processing plants across the country.

“Tomorrow we’re launching the Nursing Home Expert report – there’s 86 recommendations in that,” Mr Donnelly told RTE Morning Ireland.

“All of that is aimed at keeping people safe in nursing homes who we know tragically are most susceptible to this virus.”

2020-08-17T18:36:34.290Z

Coronavirus outbreaks in Scotland are linked, say officials

Health officials investigating a number of clusters in Scotland’s central belt have confirmed cases in Glasgow and Lanarkshire are linked.

Pupils are self-isolating in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) and NHS Lanarkshire areas as health officials work to contain a number of coronavirus clusters across Scotland.

An additional coronavirus case was confirmed in a pupil at Bannerman High School in Baillieston, Glasgow, after the Test and Protect service identified a cluster of positive cases in the north-east of the city.

Later on Monday, NHSGGC confirmed a total of 14 positive cases were in the cluster, a number of which are pupils.

The health board’s Dr Iain Kennedy said: “We can confirm there are links between this cluster and cases within Lanarkshire Health Board.

“We work closely on cross-board issues on a regular basis, including the current clusters, where investigations are ongoing.”

2020-08-17T17:54:30.396Z

Scottish health secretary to meet NHS pay rise campaigners

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman will meet trade union representatives who are campaigning for NHS pay talks to be reopened.

The meeting with Unison members will take place after a series of demonstrations on Tuesday in support of the union’s “pay up now” campaign.

Unison said workers have incurred extra costs as a result of the pandemic and need a pay rise.

Its campaign is calling for the three-year NHS pay deal to be renegotiated.

The union plans to hold a series of socially distanced demonstrations around Scotland on Tuesday.

Tam Waterson, chairman of Unison’s health committee, said: “We’re glad the Cabinet Secretary for Health has agreed to meet with our members, to listen to their concerns and hear why the Scottish Government must reopen the three-year pay deal.

“Our dedicated NHS staff have suffered real-term pay cuts over the last decade with significant extra costs over this pandemic.”

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2020-08-17T17:18:41.266Z

 Scotland to boost coronavirus testing to 65,000 a day – Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon said she wants Scotland to be able to carry out 65,000 coronavirus tests a day as the Scottish Government revealed an updated testing strategy.

Currently about 40,000 tests for the virus can be carried out each weekday, with work now being done to increase this, in part to cope with greater demand in autumn and winter.

Appearing alongside the First Minister at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Monday, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said testing is being used to “actively hunt down the virus”.

Close contacts of those confirmed as having Covid-19 have now been identified as a priority group for testing.

Ms Sturgeon said the revised strategy “seeks to give a concise and clear explanation of who we are seeking to test, why we are doing so and what our plans in the near future are”.

She said this “sets our intention to further increase testing capacity in Scotland”, which she said “will be increasingly important as we move into the autumn and winter…

“Current weekday capacity in Scotland is for just over 40,000 tests every day but we want to and are working to increase that to 65,000 tests a day.”

2020-08-17T16:48:50.123Z

UK Covid-19 survivors urged to join blood plasma trial after ‘promising’ US results

British Covid-19 survivors have been urged to donate plasma for a major trial after research in the US showed “promising” results.

A large study in the US indicated that patients treated early – within three days of diagnosis – with convalescent plasma which has high levels of antibodies had an improved chance of survival.

The study, led by the Mayo Clinic, assessed more than 35,000 patients who were given convalescent plasma, included a high number who were critically ill.

NHS officials collecting plasma for a major trial in the UK said the findings “support the need for people to donate convalescent plasma” in Britain.

Professor Dave Roberts, associate director for blood donation at NHSBT, and one of the investigators for the UK convalescent plasma trials, said: “These are promising results that support the need for people to donate convalescent plasma in the UK. 

“The results indicate a preliminary and encouraging significant reduction in mortality for people with Covid-19 treated with convalescent plasma.

“However, the research is not conclusive and cannot be easily correlated to our work or other trials. The results are also observational and not the fair comparison we would see using a randomised control trial. 

“We need people who have recovered from Covid-19, especially men, to offer to donate at nhsbt.nhs.uk. Men are particularly important donors because they are more likely to have the higher antibody levels which are observed to show more effect.”

2020-08-17T16:09:56.063Z

The Government said 41,369 people have died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, as of 5pm on Sunday, an increase of three on the day before.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 56,800 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The Government also said that as of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 713 lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Overall, a total of 319,197 cases have been confirmed.

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2020-08-17T15:47:43.303Z

Fresh outbreak linked to working men’s club in Durham

Eight people with links to a working men’s club have tested positive for coronavirus, a local authority has said.

People who visited Stanley Empire Club in County Durham on August 9, 10 and 11 have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their visit.

They have been asked to ensure other people in their household also self-isolate for the two weeks.

The club has shut and others in Stanley have also closed following the outbreak.

Durham County Council staff have been working with Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace since the first suspected cases came to light.

Amanda Healy, director of public health for County Durham, said: “It is really important that anyone who visited the Stanley Empire Club on 9, 10 and 11 August self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their visit, along with the rest of their household, to reduce the risk of onward transmission.

“We are also encouraging anyone who visited the club who has symptoms to book a coronavirus test as well. 

“However it is crucial that even if they get a negative result they continue to self-isolate for 14 days along with the rest of their household as symptoms can take up to 14 days to develop.”

2020-08-17T15:19:59.143Z

Boss ‘sorry beyond words’ after details on Public Health England’s future leaked

The head of Public Health England (PHE) has apologised to staff that news of the demise of the organisation was leaked.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said he is “sorry beyond words” the future of the body was briefed to the media before his staff were told.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that the Covid-19 response work of PHE is to be merged with NHS Test and Trace to form a new body designed specifically to deal with pandemics.

Other aspects of its operations, such as tackling obesity, could be handed over to councils and family doctors, the newspaper said.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, a new Institute for Health Protection will become “effective” from next month, although the merger will take until next spring to complete.

Mr Selbie said that no organisation could get “everything right” and he praised staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

The note to staff, seen by the HSJ, states: “I am sorry beyond words at the way that decisions about our future have been briefed to the media before I have had the chance to explain them.”

Evening Standard – News