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Coronavirus epidemic in UK is likely, says chief medical officer | World news

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Coronavirus is likely to be spreading undetected in the UK already, with health officials on the brink of moving into the phase of “delaying” rather than trying to “contain” transmission, the chief medical officer has said.

Chris Whitty, who is helping to lead the government’s response, said it was “likely, not definite, that we will move on to onward transmission and an epidemic here in the UK”.

The World Health Organization is recommending that people take simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.

The UN agency advises people to:

  • Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap
  • Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough
  • Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers
  • Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting live markets in affected areas
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.

Despite a surge in sales of face masks in the aftermath of the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak, experts are divided over whether they can prevent transmission and infection. There is some evidence to suggest that masks can help prevent hand-to-mouth transmissions, given the large number of times people touch their faces. The consensus appears to be that wearing a mask can limit – but not eliminate – the risks, provided they are used correctly.

Justin McCurry

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Whitty said the UK was almost in the second phase of the government’s strategy of trying to contain, delay, research and mitigate the virus.

“When I was here previously, we were firmly in contain stage. Now I think we are on the borderline between containing and delaying. But many of the things you do to contain it also delay it.”

UK cases

Whitty was pressed on whether coronavirus was spreading freely in the UK, with patients contracting the virus from unidentified sources.

He said: “If someone has imported a case and they are isolated, that isn’t community transmission. Even if someone gets it who we know about having the disease and it happens to be passed on in the UK, that also isn’t. It’s when it’s going from person to person to person and we pick it up. That’s what we mean by community transmission. It is likely that will happen if not now then very soon … I think it is likely to be happening at the moment, not definite.”

Whitty gave his assessment as the government designated coronavirus a notifiable disease, which means some companies will be able to seek insurance compensation for coronavirus cancellations.

The move brings England into line with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland which have already added coronavirus to their lists of notifiable diseases.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “To mitigate the impact on businesses, we will register Covid-19 as a notifiable disease. This will help companies seek compensation through their insurance policies in the event of any cancellations they may have to make as a result of the spread of the virus.”

Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, has also suggested that small firms could get cash boosts to help stay afloat.

The government released its coronavirus action plan on Tuesday, showing that sweeping new measures may be necessary if an epidemic occurs.

The Guardian revealed that police investigations into some homicides could be halted and 999 response times extended under contingency plans to help forces cope with a severe coronavirus outbreak.


Schools may be closed, public events cancelled and some doctors called in out of retirement, the government also said.

As the number of confirmed UK cases reached 51, officials said the worst-case scenario was that up to a fifth of the workforce could be off sick during the peak of a potential epidemic.

On Tuesday evening, tests on thousands of patients in hospital intensive care units were ordered by NHS England amid concerns about the possible spread of the virus among people with respiratory problems.

Twelve more people across England tested positive for coronavirus – the second-highest single-day increase in cases to date – with all thought to have contracted it abroad. Eight had recently travelled from Italy, while the others came from Germany, Singapore, Japan and Iran.

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Halloween kids event goes ahead at White House despite pandemic – World News

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Halloween at White House

The Canadian Press – | Story: 314482

With a bit of rejiggering, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump played host Sunday to hundreds of superheroes, unicorns, skeletons and even a miniature version of themselves as part of a Halloween celebration at the White House.

In years past, the president and first lady personally handed out candy to the costume-clad kids. This year, the treats were provided separately as participants walked along a path on the South Lawn.

The kids still briefly met the president and first lady, who waved and offered words of encouragement from a safe distance about how much they liked the costumes. Trump and the first lady have both recently recovered from COVID-19.

Trump was particularly pleased with a young boy with a distinctly Trump head of hair and a partner who did her best Mrs. Trump impersonation. The president motioned for them to turn and pose for the cameras, and they happily agreed.

Another tot, a true princess it appeared, was so smitten with the cameras that she kept waving at them as she walked along, never noticing the VIPs behind her.

The spooky celebration was changed up a bit as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Guests older than 2 were required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. The same went for all White House personnel working the event, while any staff giving out candy also wore gloves.

The South Portico of the White House was decorated with bright-colored leaves in various shades of autumn, chrysanthemums and pumpkins, while a military band set the mood by playing songs such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

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Coronavirus live news: China confirms 137 local cases as Spain enters state of emergency | World news

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UK health secretary says tier 4 restrictions can’t be ruled out

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France may be experiencing 100,000 new Covid cases a day

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That’s it from me for today. Thanks for following along – Amy Walker will be with you for the next few hours of pandemic news.





The news was greeted with tears, cheers and, at the afternoon school pick-up, a spontaneous concert of parents honking car horns in celebration.

In Australia, as the state of Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, announced at 3.30pm on Monday that Melbourne’s months-long lockdown would (largely) come to an end, residents rejoiced.

Osman Faruqi
(@oz_f)

Everyone was at home Brigid https://t.co/RG4W6pGOId


October 26, 2020

From midnight on Tuesday cafes, restaurants, bars and beauty services will reopen, subject to patron limits, and people will be able to leave their home for any reason.

It was a moment of high anticipation.





With the US election just over a week away, millions of Americans have been heading to the polls this fall with healthcare and drug prices as their top voting issue.

The United States’ massive, largely private and very expensive health industry has ranked as a top voter concern for years, and helped drive Democrats to victory in the midterm elections of 2018, when the party took control of the House of Representatives.

While over the last six months of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 Americans, Covid-19 eclipsed healthcare as the top issue of the election, many health voters argue the two are inseparable:





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Australia’s lockdown prevented about 400 deaths from other illnesses – research paper

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The Green party won in Auckland by reaching beyond its own bubble | Green Party

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I was making toast in my tiny apartment kitchen four weeks ahead of election day. Not that I really had track of the days. They had melded into one ever-extending runway as Auckland went through its second Covid-19 lockdown and New Zealand’s election date was pushed back a month.

We were a few months into an insurgent campaign for an electorate seat at the centre of the country’s largest city. We’d built a team of hundreds of people – particularly young people, some so young they couldn’t even vote yet – who, despite their claims to the contrary, were all doing a lot more than the least they could do. They were about to make history.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, a “minor” party hasn’t won a general electorate seat in well over 20 years without the tacit or explicit endorsement of one of the two “major” parties. So, it confounded more than a few commentators when at around 11.50pm on Saturday 17 October, with 100% of the preliminary votes counted, it was confirmed that a Green party candidate had won Auckland Central. Especially because we ran a campaign on an unapologetically progressive platform of urgent climate action, guaranteed minimum income, and wealth tax to pay for it. We flew in the face of two major opinion polls, the “red tide” of the Labour party’s majority win, and conventional wisdom.

There are still half a million or so special votes (that is, overseas and on-the-day enrolments) to be counted, so the results cannot be taken for granted.

But what can be granted is that so-called convention in our politics is disappearing.

Convention is the echo of repetition to the point of predictability. Mainstream approaches to electoral politics have lost the right of convention. Mechanisms of conventional, incremental political change – literally the least we can, and know how to, do – have failed to rise to the challenges that the deeply entrenched and inextricable crises of climate change and social and economic inequality present.

Citizens are smart enough to recognise the need for an alternative. It’s in this alternative where we can continually redraw the boundaries of the possible, because possibility in politics is only ever defined by the willingness of those in power.

In these “unprecedented” times, the centre-left Labour party won a historic single-party majority, growing its nationwide vote to previously unimaginable heights under New Zealand’s proportional representation voting system. But so too has our Green party grown our own vote, shaking off the convention of give-and-take amongst the parties of the left bloc.

In Auckland, we flipped a seat Green, which had been held by centre-right National party politicians for 12 years.

We did it by bursting our own bubble.

In our bubble, we can’t fathom that working-class people would vote against their own self-interest for a strong-man built on strawman logic. It’s wild to reckon with how policies to fairly tax millionaires are warped through talkback radio to scare tradies and hospo workers into thinking their jobs are on the chopping block. In our bubble, it’s slanderous to question the orthodoxy of our university educations and how the vernacular they normalise may alienate the very people we say we want to help.

Chloe Swarbrick holds street corner meetings in Ponsonby.
Chloe Swarbrick holds street corner meetings in Ponsonby. Photograph: Emma McInnes

But we’ve graduated from the once-derided online “slacktivism” to regularly showing up at protests in solidarity, to shutting up when it’s obvious our lived experience isn’t the one requiring a platform, and to organising our way into mass-scale conversations with people we’d never share a Facebook feed algorithm with. We’ve still got a way to go in self-reflection, but more urgently, we’ve got to create a place in our movement where people – so many of whom already have the inkling that the status quo is not working – can belong.

Right until the end of the Auckland Central campaign, we kept expanding our community. That mess of human reality and social evolution, changing and challenging ideas cannot be delivered through a Twitter feed, but meets you at the doorstep. At the polls, we heard they were running out of on-the-day enrolment forms for people who had not planned to vote but decided to turn up.

You don’t grow a movement with perfection. You don’t spread an idea when only one person can articulate it. You don’t empower communities when they don’t have a place to belong.

Our local campaign was one small proof-of-concept microcosm of work that Indigenous organisers, climate activists, and justice advocates have been doing for decades. It’s based on a radical notion in increasingly individualised societies: grassroots organising, human connection and conversation changes our world.

What if we all did the least we could do? And what if we did it together?

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