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Coronavirus around the globe

Started by thaiga, March 25, 2020, 12:51:08 PM

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UK and others look for lessons from Slovakia's Covid mass-testing project
Downing Street sent advisers before UK's large-scale testing programme in Liverpool

Authorities in Slovakia say they hope a nationwide programme in which two-thirds of the country's population were tested for Covid-19 in just two days last weekend will halve the number of cases of the virus in the country.

The Slovak testing programme has drawn interest from across Europe, as debates continue about whether or not blanket testing is the best way to fight coronavirus. A Downing Street team travelled to Slovakia last weekend to witness the testing, keen to draw lessons before a mass testing programme due to be launched in Liverpool this weekend.

Slovak officials said the team included two Downing Street advisers and two people responsible for arranging the UK's large-scale testing programme in Liverpool.

"They are interested in our lessons and in the details and results," said Slovakia's deputy defence minister, Marian Majer, who added that Slovakia has offered to send a planning team to London to help with UK preparations if required.

A No 10 spokesperson declined to comment on the visit except to say that "we are constantly seeking to evolve our testing system in order to control the spread of the virus and bring the R rate down".

In Slovakia, the army ran the logistics of the operation, which involved 5,000 eight-person teams working over the weekend, with a combination of military and civilian medics performing the tests. Army medics from Hungary and Austria also took part in the testing.

Tests were carried out on 3.6 million out of the country's 5.4 million population, making it the largest country to carry out a nationwide testing programme so far. A little over 1% of those tested, 38,359 people, tested positive. Rapid antigen tests made in South Korea were used, which give results within half an hour. PCR tests are more accurate but costlier and take longer to process in labs.

People were told to come to their local testing point at a particular time, depending on the alphabetical order of their surnames, though Majer admitted it had not always worked, and there were bottleneck periods with long queues. Children under 10 were not obliged to be tested, and people over 65 and those with serious medical conditions were also not recommended to take the test.

Testing was not obligatory, but those who declined to take it were required to quarantine for two weeks, along with those who tested positive. Those who took the test and did not have the virus were given a certificate allowing freedom of movement. The second phase of testing will take place this weekend in 45 of Slovakia's 79 counties where the infection rate was higher than 0.7%.

"We are expecting to cut in half the number of positive cases," said Majer.

Slovakia, like many countries in central Europe, had much lower case numbers than neighbours further west during spring, but has reported increasing numbers in recent weeks.

While many countries are considering the potential benefits of mass testing, given that track and trace programmes in many places are be floundering, not everyone is enthusiastic about testing the whole nation.

Richard Kollar, a mathematician from Comenius University in Bratislava, said there were two reasons why it was a waste of resources to test the whole country.

"The first reason is logistics. China can test a city of 9 million by bringing doctors from other parts of China. But when you try to organise testing the whole country, it's simply impossible to have enough qualified personnel to do it properly," he said.

He added that mass testing was only suitable in areas with a high prevalence of coronavirus. While the test is believed to give false positives in only 0.4% of cases, when it is used in low prevalence areas this can skew the results. Among the 38,000 positive cases in the Slovakia test, a 0.4% false positive rate means around 15,000 of them are likely to have been false, while there will have been many more people who do have the virus which the test did not detect.

Kollar said the plan to do targeted, repeated testing in Liverpool was a better idea, but positive results should be followed up with more accurate PCR tests. "Frequent, repeated testing in the biggest clusters is what the antigen tests are perfect for," he said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) demanded Republicans act immediately to address the spiraling coronavirus crisis — and drop their bogus claims that President Trump didn't lose the election.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Italy reports 37,978 daily coronavirus cases, 636 deaths

(Reuters) – Italy has registered 37,978 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday, up from 32,961 on Wednesday.

The ministry also reported 636 COVID-related deaths, up from 623 the day before and the highest figure since April 6.

Infections in Italy since the disease first came to light in February total 1.066 million, while 43,589 people have now died because of the coronavirus.

There were 234,672 coronavirus swabs carried out in the past day, the ministry said, against a previous 225,640.

The northern region of Lombardy, centred on Italy's financial capital Milan, remained the hardest hit area on Thursday, reporting 9,291 new cases, up from Wednesday's 8,180.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


COVID-19: UK records another 33,470 coronavirus cases - the highest daily figure to date
The number of deaths today have not yet been released.

Another 33,470 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours - the highest figure recorded since the pandemic began, according to government figures.

It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,290,195.

On Wednesday, 22,950 people tested positive, while the number of UK deaths since the start of the pandemic surpassed 50,000.

The number of deaths today have not yet been released.

Experts have previously warned that describing the daily figure as a record could be "misleading" as it is not clear how many people were actually infected during the height of the first wave, due to a lack of community testing at the time.

However, yesterday, a further 595 deaths were announced - the highest number since 12 May - bringing the country's total to 50,365.

full article news.sky.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


hospitals are at capacity and are so strained that the state will allow its doctors and nurses to continue working after they test positive for the coronavirus

'Catastrophic' lack of hospital beds in Upper Midwest as coronavirus cases surge
Covid's long, dark winter has already arrived in the Upper Midwest, as cases and deaths surge, snatching lives, overwhelming hospitals, exhausting health-care providers and raising fears that the region's medical system will be completely overwhelmed in the coming days.

As coronavirus cases grow across the United States — up 70 percent on average in the past two weeks, with an average of 130,000 cases per day nationally — the situation is particularly acute now in the Upper Midwest and Plains states, with North and South Dakota leading the nation in new cases and deaths per capita over the past week, according to Washington Post data.

Experts say that cases are surging in the region as the weather has turned colder and more people are forced inside — into more poorly ventilated indoor spaces where transmission thrives — with the virus arriving even in remote areas in largely conservative states where Republican leaders have resisted mask mandates or business closures, asking their residents to rely instead on personal responsibility.

The region's surge is a preview of what the rest of the United States can expect in the coming weeks as winter approaches, experts say.

The situation has become so acute that even some leaders who previously resisted restrictions have moved toward new strictures. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in Iowa, long an opponent of closures and mask-wearing as "feel-good" options, this week moved to prohibit maskless indoor gatherings of 25 or more and require those attending larger outdoor events to wear a mask.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz (D) has warned of more "nightmare" numbers to come, even as the state has instituted new restrictions on bars, restaurants and social gatherings in an attempt to stop the spread. On Friday, Minnesota will begin limiting social gatherings to 10 people or less and tightening restrictions on larger social receptions as the country heads into a holiday season when doctors fear multigenerational family gatherings could become superspreader events.

In North Dakota, where cases have increased 60 percent in the past month, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum said this week that the state's hospitals are at capacity and are so strained that the state will allow its doctors and nurses to continue working after they test positive for the coronavirus. His spokesman later qualified this is a potential short-term tool.

Even though he has continued to resist a statewide mask mandate, Burgum urged his fellow residents to take precautions as hospitals brimmed with patients.

full article washingtonpost.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


SeaDream 1: five passengers test positive for Covid-19 on Caribbean cruise ship
One of the first cruise ships to ply through Caribbean waters since the pandemic began ended its trip early after five passengers tested positive for Covid-19. The SeaDream is carrying 53 passengers and 66 crew, with the majority of passengers hailing from the US, according to Sue Bryant, a cruise ship reporter who is aboard the ship.

She told the Associated Press that one passenger became sick on Wednesday and forced the ship to turn back to Barbados, where it had departed from on Saturday. However, the ship had yet to dock in Barbados as local authorities tested those on board. The captain announced that at least five passengers had tested positive, Bryant said. 

full article theguardian.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Indonesia plans mass vaccination campaign as COVID-19 cases hit another daily record
Indonesia on Friday (Nov 13) said it has sought emergency authorisation to start a mass vaccination campaign by the end of the year, as the country's COVID-19 infections hit a new daily high.

In an interview with Reuters, President Joko Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi, said plans were already advanced to distribute the vaccine across the entire country.

If approval is granted by the country's food and drug agency, known by its Indonesian acronym BPOM, it will mean Indonesia - with 270 million people, the world's fourth most populous country - will be among the first in the world to roll out a coronavirus vaccine.

"We expect to start the vaccination process by the end of this year following a series of tests by BPOM," Jokowi said.

Indonesia has struggled to suppress the coronavirus for months. On Friday, Indonesia recorded 5,444 new COVID-19 infections, its biggest daily rise in cases.

The latest figures take Indonesia's total COVID-19 tally to 457,735. The country has Southeast Asia's largest coronavirus caseload although health experts warn those numbers are likely to be higher due to low testing rates.

There were also 104 more deaths reported on Friday, taking total fatalities to 15,037, the highest in Southeast Asia.

"We will put pressure on the cases so they can stay flat and then we will hit it with the vaccines," Jokowi told Reuters at the presidential palace.

Jokowi added that ensuring the safety of the vaccine was a priority, and that health workers, police and the military would be first in line when the vaccination campaign begins.

At a ministerial roundtable after the Jokowi interview, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said the government expects BPOM approval in the first week of December and for Indonesia to "begin vaccinating" two weeks later.

Vaccines produced by China's Sinovac and Sinopharm are slated to be used in the early stages of the campaign. This year, the companies will provide 18 million vaccines, including 15 million that will be manufactured by Indonesia's state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma.

All in, Indonesia has deals for more than 250 million doses until the end of 2021. This includes 30 million produced by the US company Novavax, Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Airlangga Hartarto told Reuters.

full article channelnewsasia.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Japan hits record coronavirus cases for 3rd straight day: NHK
Japan's daily coronavirus infection tally rose to record 1,731 on Saturday (Nov 14), hitting a new high for a third straight day, public broadcaster NHK said.
full article channelnewsasia.com

South Korea reports 205 new COVID-19 cases; above 200 for the first time since September
South Korea reported 205 new coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight, rising above 200 for the first time since September, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday (Nov 14).
full article channelnewsasia.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


US sees record 184,000 new daily Covid cases as Trump politicises vaccine effort
Deaths increase as states implement new social restrictions and president threatens not to deliver vaccines to New York

The US set yet another daily record for new coronavirus cases on Friday, topping 184,000, while Donald Trump promised imminent distribution of a vaccine – except to New York, which he threatened to leave out for political reasons – and the president-elect, Joe Biden, pleaded with Americans to follow basic mitigation measures.

According to Johns Hopkins University, 184,514 new cases were recorded on Friday, up from 153,496 on Thursday. More than 10.7 million cases have been recorded in total and more than 244,000 have died. Deaths are also increasing: 1,431 were reported on Friday, the highest toll in 10 days if more than a thousand less than the highest such toll, from April.

At the White House, in his first remarks since losing the election to Biden, Trump said he expected a vaccine developed by Pfizer to receive emergency use authorisation "extremely soon", and to be available to the general population by April.

He also said the federal government would not deliver the vaccine to New York, because its governor, Andrew Cuomo, "doesn't trust where the vaccine is coming from". Trump and Cuomo have clashed frequently during the pandemic.

Cuomo told MSNBC: "None of what he said is true, surprise surprise. We're all excited about the possibilities about a vaccine."

Trump also took a shot at Pfizer, saying its statement that it was not part of Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, was "an unfortunate misrepresentation". Pfizer did not receive support for research or manufacturing, but has agreed to sell its vaccine to the federal government. A spokeswoman said the company was proud to be part of Operation Warp Speed "as a supplier of a potential Covid-19 vaccine".

full article theguardian.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Another 462 people die with coronavirus as 26,860 new cases recorded
A further 462 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, while 26,860 new cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours.

New figures released by The Department of Health and Social Care on Saturday show 51,766 people have now died within 28 days of a positive test. A total of 61,648 death certificates now mention Covid-19, while 1,344,356 people have tested positive since the pandemic hit. NHS England has registered 306 deaths in its hospitals over the past day, while Scottish hospitals have recorded 36 fatalities.

Wales reported 20 hospital deaths, while ten patients died in hospitals in Northern Ireland. It comes after the UK reported 27,301 new cases on Friday following a record 33,470 the previous day.

full article metro.co.uk
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Cases surge, world girds for grim winter: Virus update
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into isolation after a contact tested positive for the coronavirus, as a stay-at-home advisory came into effect for the United States' third-biggest city on Monday.

Global infections have soared past 54 million with more than 1.3 million deaths, and the worrying spikes have forced governments to reimpose deeply unpopular and economically devastating restrictions on movement and gatherings.

Europe has been hit particularly hard by a second wave of the pandemic, with curbs reimposed -- often in the face of protests -- from Greece to Britain, where PM and Covid-19 survivor Johnson went into self-isolation after coming into contact with an MP who later tested positive for the virus.

"He will carry on working from Downing Street," a spokesman said, adding that the prime minister, who spent three nights in intensive care during his April bout of Covid-19, did not have any symptoms.

Elsewhere on the continent, Germany warned that its anti-virus measures were likely to stay in place for several months.

In hard-hit France, health minister Olivier Veran warned that while strict containment measures had helped slow the virus, "we have not won against the virus yet".

Concerns of a resurgence also remain in parts of the world that have largely brought their caseloads under control, such as in Australia, where a new cluster suddenly emerged in a city that had gone seven months without a major outbreak.

And in Hong Kong, the government further tightened restrictions from Monday on the number of people in bars and restaurants, to guard against a spike.

- US reeling from surge -

The United States, the worst-hit nation in the world, surpassed 11 million cases on Sunday, adding one million new infections in less than a week.

The staggering spikes have forced cities and states across the vast nation to implement new curbs to try and stop the spread of the disease, with a stay-at-home advisory coming into force on Monday in Chicago -- the third-biggest US city.

New York City, the epicentre of the spring outbreak in the US, is also rushing to fend off a second wave with new restrictions on bars and restaurants.

President Donald Trump, already under fire for his pandemic response, has been blamed for further complicating efforts by refusing to concede and cooperate with Joe Biden's transition team, denying the President-elect vital briefings by outgoing officials.

They are not even allowed to consult with the top government immunologist Anthony Fauci.

"Of course, it would be better" if such talks could begin, Fauci told CNN on Sunday, noting that the virus could kill tens of thousands more Americans by the time Biden takes office on January 20.

- 'This winter will be hard' -

Hopes for an end to the pandemic were boosted by trial results of a vaccine candidate by pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, which showed it was 90% effective.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech's co-founder, told the BBC he was confident of a return to normal life next winter if uptake of the vaccine is strong.

"This winter will be hard" without any major impact from vaccinations, he predicted. But combined with a number of firms working to increase supply, "we could have a normal winter next (year)".

But Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine needs to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit), presenting a huge storage and distribution challenge even for the richest countries in the world.

Their rival Sanofi's vaccine, however, will not need such extreme temperatures, the French drugmaker's chief Olivier Bogillot said Sunday.

"Our vaccine will be like the 'flu vaccine," he told CNews. "You can keep it in your refrigerator."

Sanofi's vaccine candidate could begin Phase 3 trials soon, he added. Eleven candidates are already at that stage, and Bogillot said "one laboratory is not going to be able to supply the doses for the whole planet".

"We will need to have several winners at the end of this race."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Indonesia reports 3,535 new coronavirus infections, 85 deaths
(Reuters) - Indonesia reported 3,535 new coronavirus infections on Monday, taking the total number to 470,648, data from the country's health ministry website showed. The data showed 85 new deaths, bringing the total to 15,296.

Indonesia has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths from COVID-19 in Southeast Asia.


South Korea mulls stricter distancing as COVID-19 takes 'a very dangerous turn'
South Korea reported more than 200 new coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day on Monday (Nov 16), as the government mulls tightening social distancing to curb persistent outbreaks from offices, medical facilities and small gatherings.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) posted 223 cases as of midnight on Sunday, marking the ninth straight day of triple-digit increases and the highest since early September.

Health authorities warned of re-strengthening distancing curbs which were relaxed about a month ago to the lowest levels, as small cluster infections continue to break out while the pandemic is raging around the globe.

Tighter curbs would ban public gatherings of 100 people or more, limit religious services and audiences at sporting events to 30 per cent of capacity, and require high-risk facilities including clubs and karaoke bars to widen distance among guests.

"We are at a critical crossroads where we might have to readjust distancing," Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told a meeting.

"The current situation is taking a very dangerous turn considering the rising infections from daily lives and the unrelenting pace of the spread."

Of the new cases, 193 were locally transmitted and 30 imported, according to the KDCA. More than 66 per cent of the domestic infections were from the densely populated greater Seoul area, where outbreaks continue to emerge from nursing homes, medical facilities and small businesses.

The daily tally brought the country's total infections to 28,769, with 494 deaths.

The defence ministry held a meeting of senior commanders, notched up distancing for troops and officers for the next two weeks, and cut travel and entertainment events, after more than two dozen cases have recently been linked to a military welfare support facility and an air force unit.

The government also designated a special anti-virus period ahead of an annual national university entrance exam on Dec 3, to ensure all students including COVID-19 patients can take it.

Starting on Thursday, authorities will conduct stricter hygiene inspections on private academies and study cafes, while instructing in-person classes to be minimised from one week before the test.

President Moon Jae-in urged authorities and local governments on Saturday to step up supervision of safety measures, a day after revised guidelines took effect to allow fining people who fail to wear masks in public.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Pakistan bans public rallies after rise in COVID infections
(Reuters) – Pakistan on Monday banned public political rallies after recording its highest daily coronavirus infections since July for four days running. Several huge religious and anti-government public rallies have been held in major cities in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the ban, fearing hospitals will be overwhelmed as they were in June if people do not act responsibly.

full article metro.us

Asia at a crossroads in fight against coronavirus as cases surge
(Reuters) – Countries across the Asia-Pacific region reported record new coronavirus numbers and fresh outbreaks on Monday, with Japan facing mounting pressure to reimpose a state of emergency and South Korea warning it was at a "critical crossroads".

The resurgence of the virus in Asia comes as travel restrictions are gradually being eased in the region and it will dampen prospects for broader reopening that would boost the recovery underway in economies such as Japan.

New daily cases in Japan reached a record 1,722 on Saturday, with hot spots in the northern island of Hokkaido and the western prefectures of Hyogo and Osaka. In Tokyo, cases have neared 400 in recent days, levels not seen since early August.

Analysts expect rising infections to slow the recovery in the world's third-biggest economy, which grew at the fastest pace on record in the third quarter.

But the new cases failed to dampen stock markets, which have been bolstered by news of a potentially successful vaccine from Pfizer Inc <PFE.N>.

Japan's Nikkei <.N225> rose 2% to a 29-year high. South Korea's Kospi <.KS11> hit its highest since early 2018 and Australia's ASX 200 <.AXJO> hit an eight-month top, before jamming there when a glitch halted trade.

"Since we've got this vaccine news, as well as diminished risk around the U.S. elections ... everyone's thinking now that it's the cue to get in," said Kyle Rodda, analyst at IG Markets in Melbourne.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, desperate to maintain Japan's economic momentum, has said the new infections did not warrant the reimposition of a state of emergency, or a halt to the government's campaign to encourage domestic tourism.

Japan first adopted a state of emergency in April and lifted it the following month. Since then, Tokyo has eased restrictions to boost the economy and prepare for next year's postponed Olympic Games.

full article metro.us
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Are We Being Told the Truth About COVID-19? | Prof. Sucharit Bhakdi
interesting drawn out conversation about the Coronavirus - this guy wrote a book  corona false alarm  if you have an hour to spare  ::)
Professor Bhakdi is a Thai-German specialist in microbiology and co-author of Corona, False Alarm?: Facts and Figures.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


'Chaos': South Australia lockdown sparks panic buying with toilet paper stripped from shelves
Supermarkets will introduce purchasing limits in South Australia after a rush on essential supplies ahead of a hard six-day lockdown to stem a coronavirus outbreak from the state's hotel quarantine system.

Police are on standby at some stores, where toilet paper, eggs, meat and eggs were in high demand, to manage any tensions after South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced the "circuit-breaker" lockdown would take effect from midnight on Wednesday.

Grocery stores will remain open beyond Wednesday's midnight deadline. One person from each household will be permitted to buy groceries once a day.

Images and videos circulating on social media show long queues at supermarkets and shelves stripped bare of toilet rolls.

full article smh.com.au

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Police said they used water cannons on the protesters because they refused to wear masks and socially distance.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


U.S. Surpasses 250,000 Covid Deaths With Record Hospitalizations
Experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci urge a uniform approach to combating the coronavirus as more than half the nation implements a mix of new restrictions. Florida continues to reopen and South Dakota has no mask mandate.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


almost every second house has a case of the virus.

India's Coronavirus Cases Pass Nine Million As Delhi Struggles
India's coronavirus caseload passed nine million on Friday, as hospitals in the capital New Delhi came under increasing pressure and graveyards began to fill up.

The world's second-worst-hit country has now also registered more than 132,000 deaths from the disease, according to the latest official figures, which are widely seen as understating the true scale of infection.

India has seen a drop in daily cases over the past month but it is still registering about 45,000 new instances on average every day.

New Delhi, facing the dual scourge of winter pollution and coronavirus, has seen infections soar past half a million with a record rise in daily cases.

On Thursday, the megacity's government quadrupled fines for not wearing a mask in an effort to get a grip on the outbreak.

At one of Delhi's largest cemeteries, burial space is fast running out, gravedigger Mohammed Shamim told AFP.

"Initially when the virus broke (out), I thought I'll bury 100-200 people and it'll be done. But the current situation is beyond my wildest thoughts," Shamim said.

"I only have space left for about 50-60 burials. Then what? I have no idea."
Covid fatigue

India imposed a stringent lockdown in March but restrictions have been gradually eased as the government seeks to reboot the economy after the loss of millions of jobs.

Experts say this has helped spread the disease, as has a general reluctance to wear masks and maintain physical distancing.

But those restrictions are now coming back.

Authorities in the western city of Ahmedabad, have imposed a complete curfew over the weekend.

"During this period, only shops selling milk and medicines shall be permitted to remain open," local official Rajiv Kumar Gupta said.

"The increase in numbers of cases is a concern, primarily because it is driven by people not following the basic protocol of corona-appropriate behaviour," said Anand Krishnan, a community medicine professor at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

Hemant Shewade, a Bangalore-based community medicine expert, said it was likely cases outside major towns and cities were not being taken into account in the official numbers.

"My guess is that it is spreading slowly and silently in rural areas," Shewade told AFP.

In Delhi, the spectre of the virus wreaking havoc has come back to haunt its 20 million residents, as families scramble to arrange hospital beds.

Over 90 percent of intensive care beds with ventilators were occupied as of Thursday, a government mobile app showed.

"My father's oxygen saturation level dipped to 35 percent suddenly and we rushed to the nearby hospital but there were no beds available," Delhi resident Rajeev Nigam told AFP.

"We ran all night from one hospital to another but it was the same story everywhere," he said, blaming the Delhi government for being "unprepared" and "callous" in its approach.

Distraught families were making fervent pleas on social media, tagging Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for help in securing beds.

Under pressure to control the new wave, Kejriwal Thursday announced the addition of 1,400 intensive care beds.

Jeevendra Srivastava, an advertising professional, said Delhi was paying the price for overcrowding during the ongoing festive season.

"It's shocking how a few people still are not taking this deadly virus seriously," said Srivastava, 47.

"People are still going to crowded places without masks. It's because of this irresponsible behaviour that now almost every second house has a case of the virus."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


An emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is expected to be filed with the Food and Drug Administration Friday, U.S. health secretary Alex Azar and Vice President Mike Pence say during a press briefing in Washington.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Mexico becomes 4th country to hit 100,000 COVID-19 deaths
(AP) — Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in COVID-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico's director of epidemiology, said there were 100,104 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of Thursday. The milestone comes less than a week after Mexico said it had topped 1 million registered coronavirus cases, though officials agree the number is probably much higher because of low levels of testing.

Mexico's living are bearing the scars of the pandemic along with their lost friends and loved ones. Many surviving coronavirus victims say the psychosis caused by the pandemic is one of the most lasting effects.

Mexico resembles a divided country, where some people are so unconcerned they won't wear masks, while others are so scared they descend into abject terror at the first sign of shortness of breath.

With little testing being done and a general fear of hospitals, many in Mexico are left to home remedies and relatives' care. Such is the case in the poverty-stricken Ampliación Magdalena neighborhood on Mexico City's rough east side, where most people work off-the-books as day laborers at the city's sprawling produce market.

The busy market was the scene of one of the first big outbreaks in the greater metropolitan area, home to 21 million people, and so early on in the pandemic local undertakers were swamped with corpses.

The local funeral home "looked like a bakery, with people lined up, with hearses lined up," said community leader Daniel Alfredo López González. The owner of the funeral home told him some people waited to get bodies embalmed for burial while others were in the line to get their relatives' remains cremated.

The lack of testing — Mexico tests only people with severe symptoms and has performed only around 2.5 million tests in a country of 130 million — the lack of hospitals in many areas and the fear of the ones that do exist, has created a fertile breeding ground for ignorance, suspicion and fear.

López Gónzalez described getting the disease himself. Even though he recovered, the fear was crushing.

"It is a tremendous psychosis. In the end, sometimes the disease itself may not be so serious, but it is for a person's psyche," López Gónzalez said. "That is, knowing that you have a disease like this can kill you as bad as the disease itself."

Public health outreach worker Dulce María López González – Daniel Alfredo's sister – nursed four members of her family through COVID-19, relying on phone-in advice and medications from a doctor who was nursing his own relatives.

Her first brush with the pandemic's psychological effects were her own fears that her job as a health worker might have exposed her to it.

"I can't breath," she remembers thinking. "And I said to myself, no, it is a psychological question."

She forced herself to calm down, noting: "If I get worked up thinking I have the disease, that I am going to die, then I am going to have a heart attack."

Her second brush with its effects involved her relatives' decision to ride out the disease at home. She had to desperately search for ways to get scarce and expensive medical equipment.

"There came a point when I said no, I can't do it," López González said.

The final straw was when her husband, spared in the first round of infections, had what appeared to be a panic attack in a taxi, thinking he had been infected and couldn't breath.

"He started to enter a sort of state of psychosis in which he thought he had the disease, and it probably could have given him a heart attack," she said.

Still, they were terrified of government hospitals.

"It is really like a cycle of terror," she noted. "We were afraid to go to a hospital after everything you hear on social media. It was an enormous psychosis."

But López Gonzalez, whose job involves handing out free surgical masks to residents, has also seen the other side of the psychological maelstrom: those who don't care.

"I saw this person who I had given a mask to, and I told her she shouldn't be outside without it," she recalled. "She told me that no, nothing was going to happen to her. Two weeks later we found out she had died of COVID."

Mexico's pointman on the pandemic, Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell, bristled when asked about Mexico reaching the 100,000 deaths point.

He criticized the media for "being alarmist" in focusing on the figure, in the same way he has criticized those who suggest the government is undercounting the deaths, those who have questioned the country's low testing rate or the government's contradictory and weak advice on using face masks.

"The epidemic is terrible in itself, you don't have to add drama to it," said López-Gatell, suggesting some media outlets were focusing on the number of deaths to sell newspapers or spark "political confrontation."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Hundreds of flights cancelled as Shanghai tackles COVID-19 outbreak
Hundreds of flights at one of China's busiest airports were cancelled on Tuesday (Nov 24) as Shanghai raced to bring a local coronavirus outbreak under control.

Health officials have tested thousands of staff members at Pudong International Airport since a small clutch of COVID-19 cases in the city was linked to several cargo handlers.

China - where the virus first emerged late last year - has largely brought the pandemic under control through travel restrictions and lockdowns, but it is now battling a number of domestic outbreaks in different cities.

Shanghai has reported seven local infections linked to the airport this month, with most cases found in the past few days. One new case was reported on Tuesday.

The outbreak has sparked plans to give high-risk workers at the travel hub an experimental vaccine China has already been providing to state employees, international students and essential workers heading abroad since July.

On Tuesday, figures from data services firm VariFlight showed that more than 500 flights out of Pudong Airport had been called off - nearly half the day's scheduled flights.

Almost half of scheduled inbound flights were also cancelled.

More than 17,700 people had been swabbed by Monday morning in the drive to test airport cargo staff, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Nearly half of all scheduled flights were also cancelled at Tianjin international airport, a northern port city also testing around 2.6 million people to try and bring a local cluster under control.

Tianjin reported five local cases on Saturday and another on Tuesday.

China has been rolling out mass-screening campaigns in response to the emergence of local COVID-19 cases, in some cases collecting test samples from entire districts or cities.

Authorities have in recent days shifted their focus to imported frozen food and other inbound shipments, which have been blamed for a resurgence of local infections.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


US cases surge, vaccination apps coming: Virus world update
The latest on the novel coronavirus:
Mobile apps, vaccination to ease international travel

Global aviation body IATA, which represents many of the world's major airlines, is developing a set of mobile apps to help passengers to navigate Covid-19 travel restrictions and securely share test and vaccine certificates with airlines and governments, it said on Monday. IATA plans to pilot the Travel Pass platform by year-end and deploy it for Android and Apple iOS phones in the first half of next year.

Passenger health and other data are not stored centrally but authenticated with blockchain, leaving consumers in control of what they share, IATA said. A new "Contactless Travel" app will combine passport information with test and vaccination certificates received from participating labs. It will also draw on global registries of health requirements and testing and vaccination centres.

Separately, Australia's flagcarrier Qantas said it will insist in future that international travellers have a Covid-19 vaccination before they fly, describing the move as "a necessity".

As cases soar, Americans head home for holidays

Millions of Americans appeared to be disregarding public health warnings and travelling ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, likely fuelling an alarming surge in coronavirus infections before a series of promising new vaccines are expected to become widely available. Here are some holidays tips in the time of Covid-19.

Some 1 million passengers passed through airport security gates on Sunday, the highest number since March. It was the second time in three days US air travel screenings surpassed 1 million, though the numbers are down nearly 60% from the same time last year, the US Transportation Security Administration said.

At the same time, rates of coronavirus infections, deaths and hospitalizations are soaring. The seven-day rolling average number of US Covid-19 deaths climbed for a 12th straight day, reaching 1,500 as of Monday, according to a Reuters tally of official data, and coronavirus hospitalisations nationally have surged nearly 50% over the past two weeks.
Delirium may signal Covid-19 in elderly

Delirium is common among older patients with Covid-19 and may be their only symptom, US researchers warned on Thursday in JAMA Network Open. Among more than 800 Covid-19 patients over age 65 who showed up at emergency departments around the country, nearly 30% had delirium, they found.

Delirium is not on any official list of Covid-19 signs and symptoms, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should add it, said coauthor Dr. Maura Kennedy of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

"Sometimes delirium is the chief complaint when these patients arrive at the emergency department," Kennedy said. "But there can be a number of reasons they come, including falls that occurred because of the delirium. They may present without what we consider typical Covid-19 symptoms, such as fever, shortness of breath and cough."
Workers test positive at world's top latex glove maker

Shares in Top Glove Corp plunged on Tuesday after Malaysia said it would close some factories of the world's biggest rubber glove maker as more than 2,000 of its workers had tested positive for Covid-19.

The company, which commands a quarter of the global latex glove market, has racked up record profits this year on sky-rocketing demand for its products and protective gear, thanks to the pandemic.

Last week, the government ordered 14-day curbs through Nov 30 in parts of a district about 40kms west of the capital Kuala Lumpur, where Top Glove factories and dormitories are located.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Germany plans Christmas curbs as COVID-19 deaths hit record
(Reuters) - Germany reported a record 410 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, before the 16 federal state leaders and Chancellor Angela Merkel were due to meet on Wednesday to discuss restrictions for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 18,633 to 961,320, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed, 5,015 less than the record increase reported on Friday.

However, the death toll jumped 410 to 14,771, up from 305 a week ago, and just 49 on Nov. 2, the day Germany introduced a partial lockdown.

Saxony's premier Michael Kretschmer warned of a collapse of medical care in the coming weeks.

"The situation in the hospitals is worrying... We cannot guarantee medical care at this high level (of infections)," he told MDR radio.

The federal states are expected to decide on Wednesday to extend the "lockdown light" until Dec. 20. This will keep bars, restaurants and entertainment venues shut while schools and shops stay open.

They also plan to reduce the number of people allowed to meet to five from Dec. 1, but allow gatherings of up to 10 people over Christmas and New Year to let families and friends celebrate together, a draft proposal showed on Tuesday.

The state chiefs will also discuss whether to split school classes into smaller units and teach them at varying times, as well as a possible earlier start of Christmas school holidays.

The government plans to extend financial aid for firms hit by the restrictions, which, according to sources, could add up to 20 billion euros ($23.81 billion) in December to an estimated 10-15 billion euros bill in November.

Conservative parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus urged the federal states to take over part of the costs for the coronavirus measures. "It is now time for the states to take on financial responsibility," he told the RTL/ntv broadcaster.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Test and trace fails to contact 110,000 in English Covid hot spots
Exclusive: Private firms reach 58% of close contacts in 20 worst-hit areas in second wave

The government's £22bn test-and-trace system has failed to reach more than 100,000 people exposed to coronavirus in England's worst-hit areas since the second wave began, official figures show, with four in 10 not asked to self-isolate.

A Guardian analysis found that the privately run arm of the test-and-trace programme had reached 58% of the close contacts of infected people in the country's 20 worst-hit areas since 9 September, having barely improved since its launch.

Boris Johnson defended the value of the struggling system in a Downing Street briefing on Monday after it received a further £7bn in funding, taking its cost to £22bn this year. This amounts to nearly a fifth of the NHS budget and about the same as the Department for Transport's.
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The health secretary, Matt Hancock, told MPs on Tuesday that test and trace "was functioning to reduce transmission enormously" and had "broken the chains of transmission hundreds of thousands of times" before England's second national lockdown on 5 November.

However, official figures suggest its performance has waned as demand has increased. The proportion of close contacts being reached across England fell to its lowest level in October, to just over 60%.

In the areas with the highest infection rates, the private firms Serco and Sitel have reached 58% of exposed people since the start of the second wave, meaning the programme has barely improved on its 55% success rate in its first 11 weeks.

The government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said that 80% of an infected person's close contacts must be contacted and told to self-isolate within 48 to 72 hours for the national programme to be effective.

In total, 109,903 people in the worst-hit areas were not contacted when they should have been in the 11 weeks to 4 November, the Guardian has found, leaving them at risk of spreading the disease further.

Serco and Sitel were paid an initial £192m for the first three months of the programme, with the value of the contract reaching £730m over 12 months.

Alice Wiseman, the director of public health at Gateshead council, said she was concerned that the national system was failing to reach four in 10 potentially infectious people in the town. "It means there are more than 3,400 people out there potentially spreading the virus without knowing. It's critical we get test and trace into a brilliant position for when we come out of lockdown," she said.

Another director of public health said ...

full article theguardian.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Most of England to enter two toughest tiers when lockdown is lifted

Closing down signs in Oldham. The mayor of Greater Manchester said he expected his region to be placed in tier 3. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Signs of growing parliamentary rebellion amid fears measures could stay in place until spring

The majority of England will enter the two toughest tiers of Covid restrictions from next week, ministers are set to announce, amid signs of a growing parliamentary rebellion and fears that the measures could remain unchanged until spring.

On Thursday Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is expected to say that most of the country will be placed into tiers 2 or 3, which imply significant restrictions on hospitality, after the national lockdown ends on 2 December.

As ministers grappled with the backlash, a further 696 coronavirus deaths were announced on Wednesday – the highest UK daily total since 5 May.

Lockdown-sceptic Tory MPs have seized on a newly published forecast from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which assumes months more of struggle to get to grips with the virus.
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Explaining its projections, the OBR said: "In our central forecast, a higher infection rate at the end of the lockdown and a less effective test, trace and isolate system necessitate keeping a more stringent set of public health restrictions in place over the winter." This would be "broadly the same" as tier 3 "until the spring".

An "upside" scenario, in which test and trace works effectively and the restrictions are looser, gives a less grim economic outlook, with the unemployment rate peaking at 5.1%, according to the OBR, instead of the 7.5% highlighted by Rishi Sunak in the spending review.

Mark Harper, who chairs the Covid Recovery Group of backbenchers, said MPs felt they were being misled by the government about what was intended.

"This basically tells you that the government's expecting pretty much the whole country to be in tiers 2 and 3 tomorrow," he said, "and frankly stay in tiers 2 and 3 pretty much until we have a vaccine, which it doesn't expect until the middle of next year."

"Our argument is, if you got [test and trace] working, and you had lower restrictions, and you did actually get the vaccine out by Easter, you would save 2.4% on the unemployment rate. That's 200,000 people [who] wouldn't lose their jobs, and there would be no scarring of GDP long-term, rather than a 3% hit."

MPs had been urged on WhatApp groups to bring up the OBR figures at the 1922 Committee meeting of backbenchers, addressed by Boris Johnson on Wednesday evening. Johnson told MPs the UK would use mass testing and the vaccine "to steadily come out of the measures we are going to go into".

He compared it to "steadily starting to insert graphite rods into a nuclear reactor".

MPs believe a vote on the measures next week may be their last chance to meaningfully affect the restrictions before spring, with some predicting a rebellion of up to 100 MPs depending on the scale of tier 3 measures announced.

There is widespread expectation among MPs and local leaders that almost no regions will be in tier 1, and the main battle is over avoiding tier 3, under which pubs, restaurants and hospitality businesses can only operate as takeaways, and almost all household mixing is barred.

One key area of dispute is the size of the geographic areas allocated to different tiers. MPs, particularly in north-west and south-east England, who had been fiercely lobbying for regions to be decided in smaller geographical areas, said ministers had "gone quiet" over the course of Wednesday afternoon.

In a virtual meeting with the health minister Nadine Dorries, south-east MPs pleaded to keep restrictions locally targeted, with cases soaring in parts of Kent.

Seven Kent Conservative MPs, including the former cabinet ministers Greg Clark and Damian Green, wrote to Hancock on Wednesday lobbying for restrictions to be imposed on a more localised borough or district level.

Leaders of northern English cities where restrictions have been in place far longer, and where cases are now falling more significantly than in the south, have been lobbying hard to enter tier 2.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said it was "more likely than not" that the region of 2.8 million people would be placed in tier 3. Most of the area has been under some strict curbs on social contact since 31 July. Burnham said case rates had fallen but other key metrics – including the over-60s' infection rate – remained high.

full article  theguardian.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Interesting vid with some info and hope for all, from Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group Professor Andrew Pollard with Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid
on Good Morning Britain 'When Can We Get Back to Normality?' Oxford Vaccine Director Says Things Will Move 'Rapidly'

Nov 23, 2020
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


'A Christmas not like others': Europe wrestles with festive Covid rules
Shops due to reopen in France but Germany has tightened its restrictions on gatherings

It will have to be, Emmanuel Macron said this week, "a Christmas not like others". Across Europe, governments are grappling with the same question: how to allow a little much-needed seasonal celebration without further fuelling the pandemic?

Some countries have yet to announce their plans, but several have already said tight restrictions can be eased for a short time over the festive period – providing people are responsible, and prepared to put up with tight measures before and after.

In France, which has succeeded in cutting infections to an average of about 13,000 a day from more than 55,000 at the start of its month-long lockdown, non-essential shops are due to reopen on Saturday, allowing Christmas shopping to get under way.

Providing daily new cases have fallen further and intensive care unit occupancy has been brought below a set threshold, lockdown will end on 15 December, with people allowed to leave their homes and travel without proving a need to do so.

But a 9pm to 7am curfew kicks in at that point, and restaurants and bars will stay shut until late January, so – with the exception of Christmas and New Year's Eve, when the curfew will not apply – gatherings with friends or family will not be straightforward.

The prime minister, Jean Castex, said on Thursday that "we will not be able to celebrate as in previous years ... Festive and friendly gatherings are especially risky." Precise guidelines on guest numbers would be announced before the holiday, he said.

Germany, however, whose daily infection curve is falling more slowly, has extended its "lockdown lite" until 23 December and is tightening its restrictions on gatherings in order to curb the spread of the virus further before the holidays start.

While private meetings were restricted to 10 individuals from two different households for much of November, they are now limited to five people from two households until 23 December – when they will be eased again to allow up to 10 individuals from any number of different households to meet until 1 January.

"We have two messages for the people: firstly, thank you, but secondly, restrictions will not be lifted altogether," the chancellor, Angela Merkel, said this week, adding that measures would probably continue into the new year. "The exponential rise in infections is broken, but daily cases are still far too high."

Government officials in Italy, meanwhile, where the contagion rate in some regions seems to be falling, are expected to complete the country's Christmas plans this weekend.

"It will be a different kind of Christmas," the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said on Thursday. "Sacrifices are still necessary in order not to expose ourselves to a third wave in January with a high number of deaths."

While the government is not expected to set a legal limit on how many people may attend family Christmas dinner, Italian media reports suggest it will continue to recommend people avoid any kind of gathering at home outside the immediate family, respecting the country's existing "rule of six".

Churches will probably remain open, but there is no guarantee Italy's nationwide 10pm curfew will be lifted to allow the traditional Catholic midnight mass. "Holding mass two hours earlier is not heresy," one minister, Francesco Boccia, said this week. "Heresy is not noticing the sick, doctors' difficulties, suffering people."

Again according to media reports, shops should be allowed to reopen for at least the middle two weeks of December, but travel restrictions between the country's regions may only be lifted if all are classified yellow, or medium risk, and gatherings in public squares or streets will not be permitted.

"These Christmas holidays will be properly regulated and, unlike during the summer, there will be no exceptions," said the health secretary, Sandra Zampa. "We cannot risk a third wave."

In Spain, the regional government of Madrid is proposing to allow groups of up to 10 people to gather on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and the feast of the Epiphany (6 January), with the number of different households allowed to mix capped at three.

Under the plans, which have been submitted to the central government, the current midnight to 6am curfew would be replaced on those days by one running from 1.30am to 6am. At all other times over the festive period, gatherings would be limited to six people and the 12am to 6am curfew would remain in force.

Christmas mass would be allowed – but without hymns. Central government is consulting with Spain's 17 autonomous regions over Christmas plans, but has already suggested it would like a Christmas and New Year's Eve curfew of 1am to 6am, and gatherings not to exceed six people.

"We are working on a specific plan for a Christmas that will be different but safe," the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said this week. "This year, we will need to stay at a distance from our loved ones, instead of embracing them."

In Austria, where a strict lockdown is due to last until 6 December, the government has taken a different approach, announcing a programme of mass testing over the next few weeks, partly to allow more families to reunite over the festive period.

"We know it's something close to many people's hearts to be able to celebrate in a half decent way with at least a small number of their loved ones," said the chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.

"We want to deploy mass tests at the end of the lockdown in order to enable a safe reopening in schools and other areas ... and also to make it possible for people to enjoy Christmas in a close family circle."

In Belgium, which appears to have brought a dramatic second wave of infections under control, officials were meeting on Friday to discuss Christmas measures and were more cautious. "The last thing we want is a Christmas wave," the prime minister, Alexander De Croo, said. "If we are careless over Christmas, we will all suffer the consequences later."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Tougher new Tiers unveiled for millions of people in England
The vast majority of people in England will be in Tier 2 when the current national lockdown ends on 2nd December.  That means mixing between households will be banned indoors and hospitality will be closed unless venues serve a "substantial meal".

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


November 28, 2020
Britain records 15,871 new coronavirus cases, 479 deaths

(Reuters) - Britain recorded 15,871 new coronavirus cases on Saturday and 479 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for the virus, according to official data.

Friday's data had shown 16,022 new coronavirus infections and 521 deaths.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Covid infections in England down by nearly a third since second lockdown
R number now stands below 1 after 30% drop in cases across country over almost a fortnight

Coronavirus infections in England have fallen by nearly a third since the country entered its second lockdown, swab tests on 105,000 volunteers have shown.

There was a 30% drop in cases across the country over almost a fortnight this month, with 96 people infected per 10,000 between 13-24 November, down from 132 per 10,000 between 26 October and 2 November.

The R number, which shows the level of transmission, is now 0.88. Any figure above 1 means the virus is growing exponentially.

The findings, from the government-funded React mass surveillance study, have been welcomed as proof that both the England-wide lockdown that began on 5 November, and the system of different tiered restrictions that preceded it, succeeded in reducing transmission of the virus.

The proportion of people infected in the English areas worst affected in the pandemic's second wave – the north-west, north-east, and Yorkshire and the Humber – have fallen dramatically.

The study found the percentage of the population infected has more than halved in both the north-west – down from 2.53% to 1.08% – and in the north-east, down from 1.88% to 0.72%. In Yorkshire and the Humber, it fell from 1.8% to 1.17%.

The study, undertaken by Imperial College London and polling experts Ipsos Mori, has produced regular reports during the pandemic on infection rates in England.

"Our robust data offers encouraging signs for England's epidemic, where we're seeing a fall in infections at the national level and in particular across regions that were previously worst affected," said Prof Paul Elliott, the director of the real-time assessment of community transmission programme at Imperial.

"These trends suggest that the tiered approach helped to curb infections in these areas and that lockdown has added to this effect."

Infections remain high in the Midlands, however. The West Midlands has the highest proportion of infections of any region in England, at 1.55% – down just 0.01 percentage points since the previous React study.

The fall in the east Midlands was also small, from 1.31% to just 1.27%. That means 155 people and 127 people respectively per 10,000 of population are infected in those regions.

On 29 October, the React study underlined the extent of the second wave then unfolding when its results showed infections were rising in every part of England and that 96,000 people a day were getting the virus.

Responding to the latest findings, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said: "Thanks to the huge efforts of the public over the last few weeks, we have been able to get the virus more under control.

"This latest data shows we must keep our resolve and we cannot take our foot off the pedal just yet, despite the encouraging fall in cases and progress on vaccines."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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