People could be refusing to get tested for coronavirus in a bid to avoid having to self-isolate, a UK government adviser said.
Professor Robert West, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), which advises ministers, said it could be a factor in the difference between the high infection rate in the UK and the decrease in daily positive cases. The latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that Covid infections are up to their highest level since January in England, and the highest since February in Wales. Prof West told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “One of the things that is a concern is that people may not be coming forward as they used to do for testing.
One of the reasons for that may be that the messaging from the Government in a way has sort of given a bit of a green light to people to say, ‘well, it is not so bad if you get the infection’.
“(But) if you get tested you’re going to have to self-isolate, at least at the moment, and that’s going to be very disruptive. I suspect that may be a factor.”
France has reported 34 new deaths in hospital from coronavirus, bringing the total to 85,355.
It has also recorded an increase of 27 people in intensive care with the virus, bringing the total to 1,099, Reuters reports.
China is trying to contain its worst coronavirus outbreak in months, as health officials blamed the highly infectious Delta variant for a surge in infections spanning 14 provinces.
It reported 328 symptomatic infections in July, almost equal to the total number of local cases from February to June, AFP reports.
“The main strain circulating at present is the Delta variant … which poses an even greater challenge to virus prevention and control work,” said Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission.
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Italy reported 16 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday, down from 18 the day before, the health ministry said.
The daily tally of new infections fell to 6,513 compared to 6,619 on Friday, Reuters reports.
Italy has registered 128,063 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year.
The country has reported 4.35 million cases to date.
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There are no plans to bring in vaccine passports for university students in England, the Department for Education (DfE) said, as a row continues over their use.
In interviews this week, ministers – including the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab – had not ruled out using them, with students set to return to campuses in September.
Raab had said students would get “advance warning” if they were to be required, but the DfE said on Saturday it was not planning for proof of vaccine status to be required to attend lectures or stay in halls of residence.
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UK death toll rises by 71
The UK has recorded 26,144 new Covid cases and a further 71 deaths in the latest 24-hour period, government figures show.
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Key developments in coronavirus-related news in the UK and around the world on Saturday include:
- England’s top midwife urged pregnant women to book themselves for coronavirus vaccines. Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent said she was calling on pregnant women to “protect themselves and their babies”, after a study found the Delta variant appeared to increase their risk of severe symptoms.
- The Walt Disney Company has become the latest US company to announce that it will require all its staff to take coronavirus vaccines. “Employees who aren’t already vaccinated and are working on-site will have 60 days from today to complete their protocols,” the company said in a statement.
- Police in France faced more protests against vaccine passports, with officers taking up positions along the Champs-Élysées in Paris. About 3,000 police officers were being deployed around the French capital for a third Saturday of protests against a virus bill requiring a pass in most places as of 9 August.
- Anti-lockdown protests planned to take place in Berlin, Germany, were banned by the city’s administrative court. Some protests had been organised by Germany’s Querdenker (lateral thinker) anti-lockdown movement, while several others had been organised in support of Berlin’s nightclubs.
- There are no plans to bring in vaccine passports for university students in England, the Department for Education has said. In interviews this week, ministers – including the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab – had not ruled out using them, with students set to return to campuses in September.
- The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, has said that plans to impose vaccine passports for domestic use were “unworkable, expensive and divisive”. Davey called for the recall of parliament to debate changes to the NHS app which allows it to be used as proof of vaccine status.
That’s it from me, Damien Gayle for the day.
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Some nationwide lockdown restrictions are to be eased in Uganda after a decline in daily cases of coronavirus in the east African country.
Forty-two days after the country reimposed it’s lockdown, the president, Yoweri Museveni, on Friday said that public transport would reopen at 50% capacity, and private transport would also reopen but with no more than three occupants in a car, including the driver, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
Shopping malls and business centres will also reopen, but they must adhere to operating procedures to prevent virus transmission.
However, many other curbs remain in place. Public gatherings including places of worship remain closed over the next 60 days, while weddings and funerals may only take place with a maximum 20 guests.
A night-time curfew of 7pm to 5.30am remains in place.
“Indoor games, music concerts and comedy shows remain closed for another 42 days. The artists are encouraged to hold their concerts online,” Museveni was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
“Gaming and sports betting bars remain closed and violators including revellers and bar owners [are] to be arrested,” he added.
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There are no plans to bring in vaccine passports for university students in England, the Department for Education has said, as a row continues over their use, writes Harry Taylor for the Guardian.
In interviews this week ministers – including the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab – had not ruled out using them, with students set to return to campuses in September.
Raab had said students would get “advance warning” if they were to be required, but the Department for Education (DfE) said on Saturday it was not planning for proof of vaccine status to be required to attend lectures or stay in halls of residence.
A DfE spokesperson said: “Vaccinations are important in helping to keep higher education settings safe for when students return in the autumn term and we strongly encourage all students to take up the offer of both vaccine doses.
“The government currently has no plans to require the use of the NHS Covid pass for access to learning however universities and FE [further education] colleges are encouraged to promote the offer of the vaccine and should continue to conduct risk assessments for their particular circumstances.”
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Iran reported 286 more deaths from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours on Saturday, bringing the country’s total toll from the pandemic to 90,630.
According to the latest update from the country’s health ministry, 19,846 new cases were detected in the same period, 2,620 of whom were hospitalised. There were 5,455 Covid-19 patients currently in critical condition in intensive care units.
So far 3,367,272 patients, out of a total of 3,871,008 infected people, have recovered or been discharged from hospitals.
The ministry also said that 9,552,526 Iranians have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 2,687,311 people have so far received their second dose.
People wait outside a coronavirus testing centre in Tehran. Photograph: Wana News Agency/Reuters
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Eight more deaths of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 have been reported in Northern Ireland, the PA news agency reports.
The Department of Health said there had also been 1,117 new confirmed cases of the virus in the last 24-hour reporting period.
Even as the White House highlighted what it considered alarmism in reporting of the surge in cases of the Delta coronavirus variant across the US, reports in the same national media suggested vaccinations were increasing in hotspot areas, writes Edward Helmore for the Guardian US.
On Friday, an unnamed senior Biden administration official told CNN the press was reporting misleadingly on federal data indicating the Delta variant spread among vaccinated as well as unvaccinated people.
The official said a focus on “breakthrough infections” might lead to people being more hesitant to get vaccinated, and said the White House had asked news organisations to tone down coverage.
“The media’s coverage doesn’t match the moment,” the official was quoted as saying. “It has been hyperbolic and frankly irresponsible in a way that hardens vaccine hesitancy. The biggest problem we have is unvaccinated people getting and spreading the virus.”
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The heads of the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank have issued a collective call for Covid vaccine makers to prioritise doses for poorer countries.
In a joint statement they said countries which have progressed far in vaccinating against the disease should release doses rapidly in favour of less fortunate nations, French news agency AFP reports. They said:
We reiterate the urgency of providing access to Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments to people throughout the developing world.
In the area of vaccines, a key constraint is the acute and alarming shortage in the supply of doses to low and low-middle income countries, especially for the rest of 2021.
We call on countries with advanced Covid-19 vaccination programmes to release as soon as possible as much of their contracted vaccine doses and options as possible to Covax, AVAT (the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust), and low and low-middle income countries.
The four international agencies have set up a combined task force on Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for developing countries in order to identify and resolve impediments to production.
More than four billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have now been administered globally, according to an AFP count. In countries categorised as high income by the World Bank, 98.2 doses per 100 people have been injected. That figure drops to 1.6 per 100 in the 29 lowest-income countries.
Source by www.theguardian.com