Connect with us

World

Hospital chiefs ‘increasingly frustrated’ with UK testing failures | World news

Published

on

Hospital leaders have launched a strident attack on the government’s coronavirus testing strategy, as it became clear that the target of 100,000 daily tests by 30 April would be comprehensively missed.

NHS Providers, which represents foundation trusts in England, rounded on ministers for “a series of frequent tactical announcements” to expand testing criteria, and dismissed the 100,000 target as a “red herring” that distracted from their failures.

Just 33,000 people were tested for Covid-19 in the latest 24-hour period – a record high for a single day – according to official figures. Dominic Raab, the first secretary of state, said that more than 52,000 tests were carried out, but this total is apparently bolstered by 19,000 retests.

Test capacity was now more than 73,000 a day, he said – still considerably below the target set by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, at the start of April.

Testing

Comprehensive testing – combined with tracing those who have come into contact with sufferers, and containing the spread through careful self-isolation – has been described as the route out of lockdown while avoiding a serious second peak. On Wednesday ministers confirmed that total UK coronavirus deaths had exceeded 26,000.

In recent days, testing has been expanded from hospital patients and NHS workers to key workers and, on Tuesday, to all symptomatic over-65s, those who need to go out to work, care home residents and staff. The swab tests can be booked online and carried out at drive-through test centres or using home kits.


NHS Providers said in a report released on Wednesday: “NHS trust leaders believe they have done all they can to support the national testing effort so far but are increasingly frustrated with the lack of clarity on how the testing regime will be developed for this next phase.

“At the moment they feel they are on the end of a series of frequent tactical announcements extending the testing criteria to new groups with no visibility on any longer term strategy, and are being expected at the drop of a hat to accommodate these changes with no advance notice or planning.”

Contact tracing is one of the most basic planks of public health responses to a pandemic like the coronavirus. It means literally tracking down anyone that somebody with an infection may have had contact with in the days before they became ill. It was – and always will be – central to the fight against Ebola, for instance. In west Africa in 2014/15, there were large teams of people who would trace relatives and knock on the doors of neighbours and friends to find anyone who might have become infected by touching the sick person.

Most people who get Covid-19 will be infected by their friends, neighbours, family or work colleagues, so they will be first on the list. It is not likely anyone will get infected by someone they do not know, passing on the street.

It is still assumed there has to be reasonable exposure – originally experts said people would need to be together for 15 minutes, less than 2 metres apart. So a contact tracer will want to know who the person testing positive met and talked to over the two or three days before they developed symptoms and went into isolation.

South Korea has large teams of contact tracers and notably chased down all the contacts of a religious group, many of whose members fell ill. That outbreak was efficiently stamped out by contact tracing and quarantine.

Singapore and Hong Kong have also espoused testing and contact tracing and so has Germany. All those countries have had relatively low death rates so far. The World Health Organization says it should be the “backbone of the response” in every country.

Sarah Boseley Health editor

Chris Hopson, its chief executive, added that the 100,000 target may have a “galvanising effect” but “what matters most is an updated strategy to take us through the exit from lockdown”.

He added: “Trusts stand ready to play their part in delivering that new testing regime, but they need to know a lot more, as quickly as possible, to play that part effectively.

“The NHS has achieved so much in confronting the challenges posed by coronavirus. However testing is one area where, despite all the work delivered by trusts and the NHS, the health and care system as a whole has struggled to develop an effective, coordinated approach.


Further criticism came from Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, who said the goal had been set and driven forward without local consultation. Burnham, a health secretary in Gordon Brown’s government, said the drive to hit the target had been done in a “haphazard way” without local consultation.

At a meeting of the region’s Covid-19 emergency committee on Wednesday, he welcomed the increase in testing capacity but warned a more strategic and co-ordinated approach was needed.

“Lots of frustration [was] expressed at the meeting about arrangements for testing and what feels to people to be a confused picture across Greater Manchester with different capacity and overlapping schemes, and still capacity being put in without any reference to local authorities,” he told a press conference.

“It feels to us as though the government has been chasing the target on testing without fully thinking through the strategy at a local level and involving local leaders.”


Prof John Newton from Public Health England (PHE), who has been charged with increasing testing numbers, has said he is confident the 100,000 daily target will be met on time once numbers are finalised.

With just one day to go, there was evidence of a significant push to increase the numbers and hit the goal.

Hancock urged a wider range of people to apply for tests in an email sent out from Conservative central office. The over-65s or anyone who has to go out to work – or their families – could apply online for a test if they had symptoms. “This means construction workers to emergency plumbers, research scientists to those in manufacturing – can now be tested,” he said.

Matt Hancock



Matt Hancock, the health secretary, set the target at the beginning of April. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

On Twitter, the department gave locations of the mobile testing units. “If you’re eligible for a test and near one of these sites you can book in now,” it said.

A Guardian analysis of the data suggests that around 20% more tests are carried out each day than there are people tested. On Tuesday, that rose to a high of 37%. The reasons are unclear, but it is known that retests because of results that doctors disbelieve are not uncommon. In hospitals, that can be because doctors are convinced a patient has Covid-19 and do not believe a negative result, so get the test repeated.

Although the lab processing is very accurate, getting enough swab sample of the virus from the back of the mouth or nose can be difficult. PHE said that originally people with symptoms would have a swab test of the back of the mouth and another one of the nose, but now there is a move to obtaining just one sample. That might mean a greater likelihood of retesting.


The government is not keeping a record of the number of inconclusive tests but, according to a departmental spokesperson, these are rare.

As of 9am on 29 April 818,539 tests had been carried out on 632,794 individuals, meaning 23% of all tests carried out to that date were retests.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said that some people are tested more than once for clinical reasons. “The number of people tested is the number of new people tested each day,” he said. “The number of overall tests could include the same person tested multiple times, hence the widening gap.”

Source link

World

Coronavirus Updates: Trump Hosts July 4 Event at White House

Published

on

By

The pandemic has shuttered Broadway through the end of the year (at least), and the United States’ big regional theaters and major outdoor festivals have mostly pivoted to streaming. But many theaters are still finding ways to present live performances before live audiences.

Of course, there is social distancing. Also, in some places, masks. Temperature checks. Touchless ticketing. Intermissionless shows. Lots of disinfectant. And at the Footlights Theater, in Falmouth, Maine, actors will perform behind plexiglass.

But these precautions mean there is dinner theater in Florida, street theater in Chicago, and drive-in theater in Iowa.

“Our commitment is to do live theater — there’s a huge difference between that and seeing something on a computer screen,” said Susan Claassen, managing artistic director of Invisible Theater in Tucson, Ariz., a state that has emerged as a Covid-19 hot spot.

There are also financial reasons for continuing: Some theaters say they cannot survive a year without revenue.

“We’d rather go down creating good theater than die the slow death behind our desks,” said Bryan Fonseca, the producing director of Fonseca Theater Company in Indianapolis. The company plans to stage “Hype Man,” a three-character play by Idris Goodwin, outdoors, for 65 mask-wearing patrons.

“I am hopeful and also very cautious,” Fonseca said, “careful that I don’t create a problem.”

And in New York City, Food for Thought Productions, a company that presents staged readings of one-act plays, plans to restart in a private club on July 13, with attendees required to have taken coronavirus tests.

Source link

Continue Reading

World

England’s post-lockdown newlyweds toast ‘surreal day’ over Zoom | Coronavirus outbreak

Published

on

By

After three missed hen dos, one lost wedding dress and a guest list savagely trimmed by four fifths, Fiona Sharples and Chris Fisher tied the knot on Saturday in one of the UK’s first post-lockdown weddings.

Kissing outside St Kenelm church in Gloucestershire – unaccompanied by banned confetti – the happy couple said it had been a dream day. Albeit, said Sharples, if that dream was “surreal and exciting and set our heads spinning.”

While an estimated 75,000 UK weddings have been postponed in the last three months, dozens of couples across England decided to celebrate the end of lockdown with their nuptials. Ceremonies adhered to strict rules: no more than 30 attendees, including staff and the registrar, no food or drink unless it was essential for the ceremony and a soft ban on singing and instruments to limit the spread of the virus. Social distancing rather than tipsy flirting was the order of the day.

“We’ve winged it,” said Sharples over videocall, the night before the wedding. “All the things you thought were essentials have gone out of the window. Chris is getting married in jeans and Converse. I only just managed to buy my wedding shoes in Asda. Bridal underwear? Forget it.”

The couple, both 34, met on a dating site eight years ago and have two children together. Fisher, a chef, proposed to Sharples, who works as a community nurse, over a Chinese takeaway in Watchet Harbour, Somerset, last summer. When they originally decided on a 4 July wedding – a date sandwiched between their two birthdays – they had envisaged a big sunny party with around 150 people, a picnic, a disco and massive marquee. In the end, they had four days to throw the event together.

“We had cancelled because of Covid obviously and then, as the rules were relaxed, [the vicar] called us on Tuesday and asked if we wanted to go ahead anyway,” said Fisher. Parents, apart from Fisher’s mum, were not able to attend because they were shielding; livestreaming the event was not allowed in the church because it required extra permissions. Flowers and a cake were donated by friends, and matching rings were sourced by Sharples’ mum.

A wedding dress had been dispatched but did not arrive on time. Sharples was beaming nonetheless: “I’m happy with my old faithful dress”. The day had been “hectic but lovely”. The couple were looking forward to settling down to a wedding tea served by the local chippy and a bottle of prosecco drunk over Zoom while chatting to family.

“People have been really wonderful, we’re lucky to have lots of loved ones helping us,” she said. “I very nearly lost my life in March to Sepsis, and sent my friends off to have my hen do in this big house in Devon without me. We tried to rearrange two different things since then but they got waylaid too.” Sharples shrugged.

“Basically, life’s too short,” said Fisher. “We didn’t have time to think too much about whether we should do the wedding this weekend – it will be more intimate but it’s been taken out of our hands.”

In the longer term, wedding planner Alice Higgins predicts that the industry will be adapting at pace: excess and frippery were out, she says, and a focus on low-key simplicity will become a more established norm in ceremonies to come.

“Weddings are wonderful occasions but they can get overwhelming and that is not how it should be,” she said. “It’s easy for couples to get caught up in the wedding whirlwind, but the Covid situation has made people really focus on stripping back to what is important to them and remembering the wedding is only the start of it – the marriage is what really matters.”

As for Mr and Mrs Fisher, their planned honeymoon was cancelled but an unromantic weekend with their children, Albert, 4, and two-year-old Mallory, in CBeebies Land beckoned. “So instead of going on our cruise and having two weeks of child-free romance in Croatia and Italy, we’ve got two nights booked in an Octonaughts-themed room instead,” said Fiona. The couple giggled. “There will probably be a comedown from all this,” said Chris, “but I don’t think anything will really change.”

Source link

Continue Reading

World

Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Saturday

Published

on

By

The latest:

  • England’s pubs, restaurants and hair salons reopen as lockdown eases further.
  • U.K. scraps quarantine for arrivals from about 60 countries, excluding Canada, U.S.
  • With cases spiking across the U.S., there’s concern Fourth of July parties will help spread coronavirus.
  • Atlantic bubble opens, allowing travellers from within the four provinces to cross borders.
  • India records its highest single-day spike in new coronavirus cases.
  • Australian authorities lock down 9 public housing towers in Melbourne over outbreak.

The pints are being poured and the unkempt hairdos are being cut and styled as England embarks on its biggest lockdown easing yet this weekend.

In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector on Saturday, including pubs and restaurants, for the first time in more than three months, couples can tie the knot and people can go see a movie at the cinema.

Museums and libraries have also reopened, but gyms, swimming pools and nail bars remain shut. Restrictions on travel and social contact have been eased — people from different households can now go into each other’s homes, for example.

And many of those despairing at what they see in the mirror can finally get their hair trimmed. In all cases, physical distancing rules have to be followed.

Stephanie Headley, the 35-year-old owner of a barber shop in Blaby in central England, was relieved to be back in business for the fist time since the full lockdown was announced on March 23.

Headley said she was a “little bit anxious” and that she has been inundated with booking appointments after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the latest easing of the lockdown last week.

“I can’t wait to see all the dodgy haircuts that have come out of quarantine,” she said.

WATCH | Pandemic creates loss for LGBTQ community:

With gay bars closing in several Canadian cities, many members of the LGBTQ community worry that they’ll lose the only safe spaces they have. 1:59

Globally, the total number of coronavirus cases has now exceeded 11 million, with more than 525,491 deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus. Besides the United States, with 2.7 million confirmed cases and more than 129,000 deaths, the world’s current hot spots include Brazil, Russia and India.

On Friday, Florida reported 9,488 new confirmed cases and 67 deaths, a day after setting a new daily record with more than 10,000 cases.

Ten Democratic legislators urged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday to require Floridians to wear masks. They want the governor to make masks mandatory in public spaces, indoors and outdoors, when physical distancing isn’t possible. The Republican governor has resisted those calls.

Beaches throughout South Florida, including this one in the South Beach neighbourhod of Miami Beach, are closed for the busy Fourth of July weekend to avoid further spread of the novel coronavirus. (Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press)

The U.S. headed into the holiday weekend with many parades cancelled, beaches and bars closed and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans’ self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.

With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, some governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.

WATCH | U.S. records biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases:

The U.S. has recorded its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, and there are fears the July 4 weekend will make things worse. 2:01

Beaches that had been open for the traditional start of summer over Memorial Day weekend will be off-limits in many places this time, including South Florida, Southern California and the Texas Gulf Coast.

The U.S. set another record on Friday with 52,300 newly reported coronavirus cases, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have been hit especially hard.

Arizona has reached new peaks in hospitalizations and emergency room visits, indicating the state is intensifying as a coronavirus hot spot. State health officials say the capacity of intensive care units is at an all-time high of 91 per cent. The state reported Friday 4,433 new confirmed cases and 31 deaths. Its total during the pandemic stands at 91,858 cases and 1,788 deaths.

(CBC)

In California, the holiday beach closures began Friday from Los Angeles County northward through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. To the south in Orange County, hugely popular beaches such as Huntington and Newport were to close Saturday and Sunday, while San Diego did not plan any shutdowns. Many beaches in Northern California were open but parking was closed at some to reduce the potential for crowding. 

In South Dakota, there were fireworks and a speech to supporters by President Donald Trump with Mount Rushmore as the backdrop. The U.S. president flew across the country to gather a big crowd of supporters, most of them maskless and all of them flouting public health guidelines that recommend not gathering in large groups.

Back in Washington, D.C., Americans were invited to see a fireworks display over the National Mall to mark Independence Day on Saturday. Up to 300,000 face masks will be given away, but people won’t be required to wear them.

The big party will go on over the objections of Washington’s mayor.

“Ask yourself, do you need to be there? Ask yourself, can you anticipate or know who all is going to be around you? If you go downtown, do you know if you’re going to be able to socially distance?” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.


What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada

As of 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 105,091 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 68,694 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,712. 

The Atlantic bubble started Friday, allowing travellers from within the four provinces to cross borders without having to self-isolate for 14 days. Each province has its own set of rules for visitors.

Proof of residency screening — showing a driver’s licence or health card — will be maintained at points of entry.

Visitors from other Canadian provinces and territories must adhere to the local entry requirements in place in each of the four jurisdictions. Other Canadian visitors to the Maritime provinces who have self-isolated for 14 days may travel within the region, but not to Newfoundland and Labrador, said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.

As of Friday, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are the only Atlantic provinces with active cases, both currently having three, with N.S. recording two new cases this week.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

In the U.K., the easing of a lot more lockdown rules will only apply to England as the devolved nations in the United Kingdom — Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland — have been setting their own timetables for easing lockdown restrictions.

WATCH | Prince William visits pub as U.K. eases COVID-19 measures:

Pub staff chatted about physical distancing and other measures being taken to protect patrons moving forward. 1:30

Pub-goers will find the atmosphere rather different from the usual Saturday night. Numbers will be limited, no one will be allowed to stand at the bar and there will be no live music. Patrons will also have to give their details to allow tracers to identify them if anyone later tests positive. Bars will also have to keep a record of customers in case of a local outbreak.

In another relaxation of lockdown rules, two households can now meet indoors as long as social distancing is maintained, and overnight stays are allowed. 

Neither Canada nor the United States is on a newly released U.K. government list of countries whose residents won’t have to self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive in Britain.

The U.K. government unveiled the list on Friday. It includes almost 60 countries deemed “lower risk” for the coronavirus, including France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

Travellers won’t have to go into isolation if they didn’t visit any other country or territory in the preceding two weeks before they arrive in Britain.The quarantine exemptions will start on July 10.

While Canada is not on the list, the U.K. said that beginning July 4, Canada will be exempt from its Foreign Office advice against all non-essential international travel. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks, the U.K. government said on its travel advisory website.

In Germany, animal rights activists on Saturday attempted to block access to a slaughterhouse at the centre of a large coronavirus outbreak.

The slaughterhouse, owned by the Tonnies Group, has been linked to more than 1,000 coronavirus cases in the region, triggering a partial lockdown of two counties.

Police confirmed that about 20 people were protesting outside the entrance to the site. Animal rights activists and labour unions have criticized conditions for animals and workers at the plant, one of the country’s biggest.

Russia on Saturday reported 6,632 new cases of coronavirus, raising the nationwide tally of infections to 674,515.

Authorities say 168 people have died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 10,027.

Indonesia reported 1,447 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said, taking the Southeast Asian nation’s tally to 62,142, while 53 more deaths took its toll to 3,089. 

Convicts have their blood samples taken by health workers during rapid testing for coronavirus at the prosecutor’s office in Denpasar, on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali, on July 2. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP via Getty Images)

India on Saturday recorded its highest single-day spike in new coronavirus cases, with 22,771 people testing positive in the past 24 hours.

The country has now confirmed 648,315 cases — fourth in the world behind the U.S., Brazil and Russia. It also has reported 18,655 deaths from the virus. Of the 442 deaths in the past 24 hours, 198 were in Maharashtra state.

Australia’s Victoria state recorded 108 new coronavirus cases Saturday, forcing authorities to lock down nine public housing towers and three more Melbourne suburbs.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said 3,000 people in the housing towers would go into “hard lockdown,” meaning “there will be no one allowed in … and no one allowed out.”

Police on Saturday speak to a resident living at the housing commission flats in the Melbourne suburb of Flemington, where a coronavirus outbreak has been recorded. (Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Residents in the Flemington and Kensington housing units will receive deliveries of food and medicine, along with alcohol support.

The suburbs of Kensington, Flemington and North Melbourne will join 36 others in being subject to Stage 3 coronavirus restrictions. Residents can only leave their homes for food or essential supplies, medical care or care-giving, exercise or for work or education.

After a recent flareup, Victoria has 509 active cases of coronavirus with 25 people hospitalized, including three in intensive care.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending