- UK adds new localized lockdowns; 100s of bars to close across northern England
- Brussels pushes uniform travel restriction rules
- China uncovers largest cluster in more than two months
- the US and India see new cases decline
- AstraZeneca antibody trial enters final stage
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Despite this weekend’s unprecedented flip flop by the WHO, which, after months of urging compliance, turned around and urged world leaders to stop using lockdowns, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly planning to unveil tough new regional lockdown measures that will force hundreds of pubs in northwestern England to close for at least 4 weeks, beginning at 1700 local time on Wednesday.
BoJo expects to expand restrictions by signaling that six boroughs in Liverpool, with a population of 1.6 million people, could be the first to be placed on the highest level of new restrictions. In adition to pubs, gyms, casinos, bookmakers and social clubs will be shut for at least a month, but perhaps for up to 6 months, as BoJo outlined HMG’s post-lockdown COVID-19 policy during a press briefing where he also threatened massive fines for social distancing scofflaws.
Locals leaders aren’t exactly thrilled with the government’s plans. Manchester faces similar restrictions to Liverpool, but was resisting on Sunday night as council leaders threatened legal action unless the Government increased its financial aid. Liverpool council chiefs were also demanding more money. Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool, accused the government of giving support “on the cheap”, arguing that the measures would be more generous if they affected London, according to the Telegraph.
Source: The Telegraph
BoJo is expected to use a briefing from the Commons to lay out the UK’s new three-tier “local COVID alert levels”, dividing hte country into medium, high, and very high-risk categories.
As public health officials focus on ramping up testing and contact tracing, the Army logistics corps has been called up to help with COVID-19 testing and contact tracing in the region through mobile centers staffed by soldiers, and HMG has provided additional money to pay for officials to help enforce the new rules.
Those in the “high risk” tier will continue with pub curfews until 10pm but will be expected to introduce restrictions barring households from mixing indoors, dubbed the “GOBI” approach – Good Outside, Bad Indoors – by officials. The restrictions in the medium tier remain the “rule of six” and 10pm curfews.
Elsewhere in Europe, countries are adopting more travel restrictions, prompting Brussels to propose a common criteria and threshold for deciding on the restrictions which would help EU citizens better understand the rules and how they differ between member states, according to WSJ.
Brussels wants EU members to use a common criteria when deciding whether to open or close their borders. The criteria include the cumulative number of new infections per 100,000 people in a 14-day period and the percentage of positive tests in a seven-day period.
Europe’s attempt to save its tourism season was partly successful, but the cost has been a surge in infections across Italy, France, the UK and Spain, which are logging as many new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations – sometimes more – as they did during the first wave back in the spring. Since peaking in mid-August, air travel around the Continent has dropped sharply as numbers have rebounded.
Here’s some more news from overnight and Monday morning.
The recent spike in Covid-19 infections in Germany shouldn’t be compared to the spring’s level as testing is now more readily available, the Munich-based ifo institute said on Monday (Source: Bloomberg).
The Czech Republic plans to further tighten social-distancing rules to stem the European Union’s worst coronavirus surge — without repeating the economic paralysis from this spring. The government will on Monday decide on more steps to limit human contacts after it already banned cultural and sports events, closed some schools and ordered bars and restaurants to close at 8 p.m (Source: Bloomberg).
AstraZeneca said its antibody medicine, similar to products from Regeneron and Eli Lilly, is advancing into its final stage of clinical tests, and will be administered to more than 6,000 people starting in the next few weeks. The drug will be evaluated for its ability to prevent infections for up to a year in some people and as a preemptive medicine once patients have been exposed to the virus in others. Other trials will test its potential as a treatment once patients develop symptoms (Source: Bloomberg).
Belgium’s 14-day average rate rose to 387 cases per 100,000 inhabitants from 349 the previous day. That makes it currently the second-hardest hit country in Europe, behind the Czech Republic. In the capital, where bars were recently shuttered, the 14-day incidence rate surged to 758 per 100,000. More than 10% of tests performed in the past week came back positive, the highest positivity rate since late April (Source: Bloomberg).
India reported 66,732 new cases on Monday, bringing total infections to 7.12 million, while the daily rate of cases appears to be slowing, India is expected to surpass the US as the world’s worst hit country as soon as early next month. India’s death toll rose to 109,150 (Source: Bloomberg).
The US reported just 44,614 new cases on Sunday, snapping a four-day streak of 50k+ new cases.
China reported a new cluster of cases in the eastern port city of Qingdao, snapping a 2-month streak without local transmission, underscoring the risk of resurgence in countries that have achieved near-eradication of the pathogen. The city in Shandong province said on Sunday that it found three asymptomatic cases linked to a hospital which treats COVID-19 patients coming from abroad.
Expanded testing of hospital patients and staff then found another nine infections. Half of the 12 cases in the cluster were “asymptomatic”. The city will likely assume a “warlike” posture as mass testing and shutdowns are imposed until the outbreak has been definitively stamped out (Source: Bloomberg).