The speed of the contact tracing system is essential to slowing the spread of the virus - Reuters
The speed of the contact tracing system is essential to slowing the spread of the virus – Reuters
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

Contact tracing cannot sufficiently reduce transmission of coronavirus if a person is not tested within three days of developing symptoms, a new study claims.

Researchers said that the R value, which is number of people that a single infected person will go on to infect, can be reduced from 1.2 to 0.8 through contact tracing in the “most optimistic scenario”.

But for that to work, at least 80 per cent of eligible people must be tested, there can be no delays in testing after the onset of symptoms, and at least 80 per cent of contacts must be identified on the same day as test results are received.The study – published in The Lancet Public Health journal – found that if testing is delayed by three days or more, even a system that is able to trace 100 per cent of contacts with no delays cannot bring the R value below 1.

The NHS is building a mobile tracing app based on a model developed by Apple and Google, but it is not expected to be ready before the winter.

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03:48 AM

‘In the fight of our lives’: Australia posts surge in new  cases

People walk along Princes Bridge in Melbourne, Australia, 17 July 2020 - EPA-EFE
People walk along Princes Bridge in Melbourne, Australia, 17 July 2020 – EPA-EFE

Australia’s Victoria state today reported a record daily increase in cases while neighbouring New South Wales said it was banning dancing, singing and mingling at weddings as authorities struggle to contain a new wave of infections.

Victoria, which has forced nearly 5 million people in the country’s second most populous state into a partial lockdown for more than a week, said it has found 428 new cases in the last 24 hours.

Such is the size of the Victoria outbreak, Australia posted its biggest one-day rise in new infections since late March even with several states still to report.

The findings stoked expectations Victoria will be forced to implement tougher restrictions on its residents, which in turn will damage Australia’s national economy.

“We are in the fight of our lives,” Victoria state’s Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos told reporters in Melbourne.

Australia has recorded just over 11,000 cases.

The death toll rose to 116 after the death of three people in Victoria on Friday, still well below many other countries.

03:15 AM

Philippines to allow some foreign nationals to enter the country 

The Philippines’ coronavirus task force has approved the entry of foreign nationals holding long-term visas starting from August, the presidential spokesman said today.

Foreigners with valid and existing visas would need to undergo quarantine upon arrival, said Harry Roque, spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Bureau of Immigration banned the entry of foreigners into the country in March to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. The Southeast Asian country has reported 61,266 cases of the virus and 1,643 related deaths.

02:38 AM

California man accused of gambling away Covid funds in Vegas

A California man was arrested yesterday for fraudulently obtaining  $9 million (£7.05 milion) in coronavirus relief funds and using some of the money to gamble in Las Vegas.

Andrew Marnell, 40, from Los Angeles, allegedly submitted a number of fraudulent loan applications in relation to the coronavirus pandemic and obtained millions in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds.

Prosecutors say he used some of the money to make risky stock market bets, and squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars in Las Vegas as recently as last weekend.

More on this story here

01:56 AM

Donald Trump exempts British students from travel restrictions

European students exempt from US coronavirus travel restrictions - Chris Ison/PA
European students exempt from US coronavirus travel restrictions – Chris Ison/PA

Foreign students coming from Europe are exempt from a travel ban the United States imposed because of the pandemic, the US State Department told congressional offices on Thursday.

The State Department also told lawmakers that it would offer exemptions for some au pairs and family members of visa holders in the United States, according to a memo sent to lawmakers and seen by Reuters.

The moves are part of a Trump administration effort to gradually reopen international travel following months of sweeping restrictions due to the pandemic. President Donald Trump banned travelers from most European countries in March as Covid-19 cases soared in the region before the disease took hold in the United States.

For more on this story, click here. 

01:31 AM

British Airways retires entire fleet of Boeing’s jumbo jets

A British Airways Boeing 747 at Heathrow Airport in west London - Toby Melville/Reuters
A British Airways Boeing 747 at Heathrow Airport in west London – Toby Melville/Reuters

British Airways, the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747, reports it is to retire its entire jumbo jet fleet with immediate effect due to the downturn in travel industry caused by the pandemic.

“It is unlikely our magnificent ‘queen of the skies’ will ever operate commercial services for British Airways again,” the company said in a statement.

BA, which is owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group, added that it will operate more flights on modern, fuel-efficient aircraft such as its new A350s and 787s and expects such aircraft to help in achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Boeing Co’s 747, a plane that democratized global air travel in the 1970s but fell behind modern twin-engine aircraft, marked its 50-year flying anniversary in February 2019.

The US-based aerospace company and its suppliers signalled the end of the plane when they set the final number of parts it would need for the 747 jumbo jet program at least a year ago.

However, the decision was left in limbo for years amid falling orders and pricing pressure.

01:12 AM

US notches a record 68,428 new cases in 24 hours

The United States yesterday set yet another record for new cases with 68,428 infections recorded in 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

In that period the death toll also climbed by 974 people, the university’s tracker showed at 00:30.

That brought the total death toll in the country since the pandemic began to 138,201, and the total number of cases to 3,560,364.

The US remains the hardest-hit country in the world in absolute terms.

Experts believe it never emerged from its first wave of infections, and cases have been surging again in recent weeks, particularly across the south and west in states that pushed to lift lockdown restrictions early.

Florida has emerged as the epicentre of the US outbreak, reporting a record 156 deaths on Thursday and nearly 14,000 new infections.

The total number of virus cases in the “Sunshine State” has now surpassed 315,000, and there have been 4,782 deaths, according to Florida Department of Health figures.

Florida is now reporting more cases daily than any other state in the country. California and Texas are next, with about 10,000 new cases a day each.

Guests wave to Mr. Incredible at Walt Disney World in Florida, the state at the epicentre of the US outbreak - Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel
Guests wave to Mr. Incredible at Walt Disney World in Florida, the state at the epicentre of the US outbreak – Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel

12:19 AM

UN relaunches huge appeal to support developing countries

The United Nations has urged wealthy countries to “step up now or pay the price later”, warning that the coronavirus crisis will “wreak havoc” in developing countries. 

Mark Lowcock, UN under-secretary for humanitarian affairs, said on Thursday that the pandemic is set to trigger “a series of human tragedies more brutal and destructive than any of the direct health impacts of the virus” in low and middle income countries. 

“Inaction will leave the virus free to circle the globe, it will undo decades of development and it will create a generation worth of tragic and exportable problems,” he said during a press briefing.

His stark message came as the UN launched the third phase of its Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP), appealing for $10.3 billion (roughly £8.2bn) to support 63 vulnerable countries this year. 

Global health security reporter Sarah Newey has more on this report here.

12:00 AM

A new kitemark set to assess quality of masks

A new kitemark to launch for safety of facemasks - AP
A new kitemark to launch for safety of facemasks – AP

A new Kitemark is being launched to verify the quality of face coverings as the coronavirus pandemic makes them increasingly required in public life.

Business improvement company BSI said the scheme will assess face coverings to a technical specification requiring 70 per cent particle filtration and “breathability” tests.

It will also provide “independent approval” of the quality of fitting and the instructions provided to a wearer on how to use the covering to reduce the chances of transmitting infection.

The announcement comes ahead of it being mandatory to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets in England from July 24 to help tackle the spread of coronavirus.

By law they must also already be worn by passengers in England using public transport.

It is expected that the first face coverings with the Kitemark will be available from late July.

Face coverings must already be worn in shops and on public transport in Scotland.

They are also compulsory on public transport in Northern Ireland.

In Wales, face coverings will only become mandatory for public transport when new rules come into force on July 27.

11:17 PM

Fauci implores young people to stay vigilant on virus risk

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Reuters
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Reuters

The leading US expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has implored younger people to continue social distancing and other measures to curtail spread of the novel coronavirus, which continues to surge in some parts of the States.

“Please assume the societal responsibility of being part of the solution, not part of the problem,” he said in a live interview with Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.

Social media platforms including Facebook, which in April removed “pseudoscience” as an option for advertisers, have been criticized for allowing the spread of misinformation about the pandemic, from bogus cures to wide-ranging conspiracy theories.

New US cases of Covid-19  have climbed to over 60,000 a day from daily totals under 20,000 in May. The median age of those infected has fallen by about 15 years as younger people, many of whom may show few symptoms of illness, are being infected, Fauci said.

He cautioned that even asymptomatic people can spread the coronavirus to others, increasing the likelihood that the virus could infect a more vulnerable person.

11:10 PM

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