UK coronavirus LIVE: Croatia 'facing axe from quarantine exemption list' as Corbyn claims Government had 'herd immunity' strategy at start of lockdow

Croatia is set to be axed from the UK Government’s quarantine exemption list on Thursday following a spike in coronavirus cases in the Balkan holiday spot, according to reports.

Earlier this week, the Government refused to deny that tourists returning from Croatia and Greece could face quarantine measures after the number of cases per 100,000 people in Croatia reportedly rose above 20, seen as a key benchmark.

Responding to reports, Downing Street said the Government “continue to keep these rules under review” and that “protecting public health” remains the main priority. Pushed on the limited time between new quarantine measures being announced and their implementation, Downing Street said “it is important that when we make changes to the exemptions list, we do so in a swift way”.

Meanwhile, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has claimed that he was told at a Cabinet briefing at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis that the government’s strategy was to achieve herd immunity. The meeting was held under Privy Council rules which means participants are not meant to discuss what was said in them.

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Holidaymakers urged to ‘keep an eye out’ for changes to travel quarantine list

The Government has urged holidaymakers to “keep an eye out” for changes to the travel quarantine list, amid increasing speculation Croatia could be included after a rise in coronavirus cases.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said an announcement could be made this week about changes to the UK’s list of safe travel corridors, with people returning from countries not included required to self-isolate for 14 days.

A significant increase in Covid-19 infections across Croatia in recent days means it may follow France in being removed from the safe travel list.

The number of cases per 100,000 people in Croatia has reportedly risen above 20, which is seen as a key benchmark.

A DfT spokesman declined to comment on Croatia, but said travellers should be aware the safe travel list could change this week.


Scotland to remain in phase three

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed Scotland would remain in phase three of her four-part plan for easing lockdown restrictions.

The First Minister told MSPs: “I am not able to indicate, today, a move from phase three of our route map out of lockdown to phase four.

“We will remain, for now, in phase three and I must give notice today that this may well be the case beyond the next review point too.”

For Scotland to move into phase four she said ministers would have to be satisfied that “the virus is no longer considered a significant threat to public health”.

And she said the latest figures showed that “this is definitely not the case”.


Scotland records highest Covid-19 cases in 3 months

Scotland has recorded the highest number of daily coronavirus cases in almost three months, Nicola Sturgeon said.

Speaking during the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, the First Minister said 19,534 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 77 from 19,457 the day before.

No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, she said.

A total of 2,492 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for Covid-19.

There are 249 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, an increase of one in 24 hours.

Of these patients, two were in intensive care, no change from the previous day.



Japan signs deal with Deloitte to manage Covid-19 payout

The Japanese government has signed a contract with a Deloitte-linked consulting group to distribute coronavirus relief payouts following public anger over a previous deal involving advertising giant Dentsu.

Lawmakers and other critics questioned how taxpayers’ money was spent under the previous subcontracting scheme, and whether a small non-profit organisation was a front that would protect Dentsu from public scrutiny.

The contract for the second round of payouts was awarded to Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory on Friday for about 42.8 billion yen ($404 million), according to a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) document seen by Reuters on Thursday.

The first round was contracted to the non-profit Service Design Engineering Council, co-founded by Dentsu, under a $718 million contract. Service Design took a less than 1% cut of the awarded funds before passing on the rest to Dentsu, which in turn subcontracted the work to over 60 companies, Reuters previously reported.


Mark Hix has turned to running a food truck after losing his Hix restaurant chain due to the pandemic

Red more here:

Mark Hix on losing his restaurant empire – and starting a food truck

Evening StandardSince I left school at 16 I’ve never been without a job. But when the news from my partner broke over a phone call that his senior board wanted to put Hix restaurants group into administration in April, that was it. We’d been trundling along with our day-to-day business, and had almost got the sale of Hix Soho through following landlords doubling the rent amid sky-high business rates, but then the virus hit and we were all locked down.


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Croatia could be added to the red list next



Young people should not feel invincible, WHO says

Younger people should not feel “invincible” as coronavirus restrictions are lifted, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official has said.
Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, told a press briefing he is “very concerned” that under-24s are regularly appearing among new cases.

He said: “Young people are at the forefront of the Covid-19 response and they have a very powerful message to convey through their behaviour and their communication.”

Dr Kluge added: “Low risk does not mean no risk, no one is invincible and if you do not die from Covid it may stick to your body like a tornado with a long tail.

“While young people are less likely to die than older people they can still be very seriously affected, this virus affects organs throughout the body.”


6.2% of NHS staff in England were sick in April

The overall NHS sickness absence rate for England was 6.2% during the peak period of coronavirus in April – the highest monthly rate since April 2009.

New data from NHS Digital, published on Thursday, shows that London reported the highest sickness absence rate at 7.2% while the South West reported the lowest at 4.5%.

The figures show that every region of England except the South West reported their highest sickness absence rates since April 2009.

Ambulance trusts had the highest sickness absence rate at 7.3% followed by acute trusts, which provide services such as A&E departments, at 6.5%.


Cycling soars in Scotland

Cycling in Scotland increased for the fourth month in a row as the country entered phase three of its route map out of lockdown, according to new figures.

Data from automatic cycle counters reviewed by Cycling Scotland suggests in July there was a 44% rise in the number of people on bikes compared with the same month in 2019.

Scotland entered phase three in the plan to recover from the coronavirus pandemic on Friday July 10.

Ten of the organisation’s 46 locations recorded increases of well over 100% during that month, including counters in Irvine (182%) and Lenzie (140%).

July’s increase follows rises of 68% in April, 77% in May and 63% in June compared with the same months last year.



Read more about the affects of Covid-19 on children here:

Children may carry more Covid-19 in systems than previously thought

Evening StandardChildren may carry much more coronavirus in their system than previously thought, a new study has revealed. Infected children were shown to have a significantly higher level of virus in their airways than hospitalised adults in ICUs for Covid-19 treatment, researchers say.


Russia’s death toll passes 16,000

Russia’s death toll from Covid-19 passed 16,000 on Thursday, as the country reported 110 new deaths in the past 24 hours.

The country’s Covid-19 crisis response centre registered 4,785 new cases, bringing its nationwide tally of infections to 942,106, the world’s fourth highest caseload.

The death toll now stands at 16,099.


Children who contract Covid-19 at risk of systemic infection that can lead to heart failure 

The researchers also studied immune response in MIS-C, a multi-organ, systemic infection that can develop in children with the virus several weeks after infection.

Complications from the accelerated immune response seen in MIS-C can include severe cardiac problems, shock and acute heart failure.

Dr Fasano said: “This is a severe complication as a result of the immune response to Covid-19 infection, and the number of these patients is growing.

“And, as in adults with these very serious systemic complications, the heart seems to be the favourite organ targeted by post-Covid-19 immune response.”

The researchers say that when schools reopen it would be ineffective to rely on just symptoms or temperature monitoring.

They emphasise infection control measures, including social distancing, universal mask use (when implementable), effective hand-washing protocols and a combination of remote and in-person learning.

They consider routine and continued screening of all students for Sars-CoV-2 infection with timely reporting of the results an imperative part of a safe return-to-school policy.

However, the study only looked at symptomatic children, and did not measure transmission itself.



Children ‘are not protected against the virus’

Even when children exhibit Covid-19 symptoms like fever and cough, they often overlap with common childhood illnesses, including flu and the common cold.

Dr Yonker says this confounds an accurate diagnosis of Covid-19.

As well as viral load, researchers examined expression of the viral receptor and antibody response in healthy children, children with acute Sars-CoV-2 infection and a smaller number of children with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).

Alessio Fasano, director of the mucosal immunology and biology research centre at MGH and senior author of the study, said: “Kids are not immune from this infection, and their symptoms don’t correlate with exposure and infection.

“During this Covid-19 pandemic, we have mainly screened symptomatic subjects, so we have reached the erroneous conclusion that the vast majority of people infected are adults.

“However, our results show that kids are not protected against this virus. We should not discount children as potential spreaders for this virus.”


Children may play a larger role in the community spread of Covid-19 than previously thought

Children may carry much more coronavirus in their system than previously thought, a new study suggests.
Infected children were shown to have a significantly higher level of virus in their airways than hospitalised adults in ICUs for Covid-19 treatment, researchers say.
As schools plan to reopen, understanding the potential role children play in the spread of the disease and the factors that drive severe illness in children is critical, experts say.
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Mass General Hospital for Children (MGHfC) in the US, suggest their findings indicate may children play a larger role in the community spread of the virus than previously thought.
In a study of 192 children aged 0-22, 49 children tested positive for coronavirus, and an additional 18 had late-onset, Covid-19-related illness.
Lael Yonker, director of the MGH Cystic Fibrosis Centre, and lead author of the study, said: “I was surprised by the high levels of virus we found in children of all ages, especially in the first two days of infection.
“I was not expecting the viral load to be so high.
“You think of a hospital, and of all of the precautions taken to treat severely ill adults, but the viral loads of these hospitalised patients are significantly lower than a ‘healthy child’ who is walking around with a high Sars-CoV-2 viral load.”


Coronavirus has cost Australian carrier Qantas £2.1 billion in revenue with the airline warning international travel will not resume until mid-2021

The company reported an underlying profit before tax of 124 million Australian dollars (£68 million) for the fiscal year that ended on June, a 90.6 per cent decline from profit posted a year before.

The carrier’s statutory net loss for the latest year was 1.96 billion dollars (£1.07 billion).

Chief executive Alan Joyce said international routes would not reopen until the middle of next year and US services might depend on a Covid-19 vaccine becoming widely available.

Routes would be reopened country by country depending on virus spread, he added.

He said: “New Zealand is an obvious example that should potentially open up relatively fast compared to the other countries around the world.

“The US, with the level of prevalence there, is probably going to take some time. It’s probably going to need a vaccine before we could see that happening.



A school in Dundee is to close for the rest of the week after a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in adults who are connected with the school

Dundee City Council and NHS Tayside announced the decision to close Kingspark School on Wednesday evening with six people identified as Covid-19 cases.

The school will undergo a deep clean as a precaution with families being informed by the head teacher that the school will not open to pupils on Thursday and Friday.

A decision on whether it will reopen on Monday will also be taken by the council and health board, which are investigating the cases.

Paul Clancy, Dundee City Council executive director, said: “Officers of the council and public health officials agree that the best way forward following identification of more cases is to close the school for the next two days for a deep clean to be completed.

“There are robust hygiene measures and other mitigations in place throughout Kingspark School, however given the vulnerabilities and complex needs of the pupils, we cannot take any risks.

“This has been a difficult decision to reach, but it is one I hope that families can understand and appreciate.

“Safety has to be paramount.”


Almost three quarters of a group of patients admitted to a hospital with coronavirus were still suffering ongoing symptoms three months later, says study

Researchers found that 81 out of 110 patients discharged from Southmead Hospital in Bristol were still experiencing symptoms such as breathlessness, excessive fatigue and muscle aches when invited back to clinic.

Many were also suffering from poor quality of life compared to the rest of the population – struggling to carry out daily tasks such as washing, dressing or going back to work.

Most of the patients did report improvements in their initial symptoms of fever, cough and loss of sense of smell.

Most patients had no evidence of lung scarring or reductions in lung function.

The findings are part of the preliminary results of the North Bristol NHS Trust’s Discover project, which is studying the longer-term effects of coronavirus, so-called Long Covid.

Dr Rebecca Smith, deputy director of research and innovation at North Bristol NHS Trust, said: “There’s still so much we don’t know about the long-term effects of coronavirus, but this study has given us vital new insight into what challenges patients may face in their recovery and will help us prepare for those needs.

“We’re pleased that researchers at Southmead Hospital are leading the way and hope our findings can help patients and their GPs understand the course of post-Covid illness and the role of routine tests.”


Nicola Sturgeon to give latest review of lockdown restrictions

Nicola Sturgeon is not expected to make any major changes to coronavirus restrictions in Scotland when she announces the outcome of the latest review of lockdown.

With the Scottish Government required to formally review the measures every three weeks, the First Minister will give a statement to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

But with Scotland currently dealing with a number of coronavirus clusters, and with schools having reopened to pupils last week, it is not expected she will make any significant changes to the current arrangements.

When she gave her last review on July 30, Ms Sturgeon warned Scotland may have to stay in phase three of her four-part plan for lifting lockdown restrictions beyond this point.

And as a move to phase four can only happen if ministers are satisfied that coronavirus is no longer considered a significant threat to public health, this is not likely to happen yet.

Ms Sturgeon, however, could give an update on indicative dates she has already announced for when some sectors could reopen.



Mexico eager to have Russia’s coronavirus vaccine

Mexico has told Moscow it is eager to have Russia’s coronavirus vaccine once phase 3 testing for the product is complete, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Wednesday.

After a meeting with Russia’s ambassador to Mexico, Viktor Koronelli, Ebrard said on Twitter that he had communicated Mexico’s interest that phase 3 should be carried out “so as to have the vaccine as soon as possible in Mexico.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said earlier this week he would volunteer to be among the first to try the Russian vaccine if it proved effective.

Evening Standard – News