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Coronavirus live: WHO experts to revive virus origins inquiry; Fiji prepares to welcome tourists after two years Coronavirus live: WHO experts to revive virus origins inquiry; UK Covid situation ‘quite stable’, says health secretary
(32 minutes later)
A team of expert scientists is set to revive the stalled inquiry into Covid-19’s origins; fully vaccinated travellers will be able to visit Fiji from next month Team of expert scientists is set to revive the stalled inquiry into Covid origins; Sajid Javid says UK Covid defences are working as cases hit 42,776
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has said the ambulance service in Wales is operating under “enormous pressure” as a result of the growing number of people needing the service, as well as the necessity for paramedics to work under Covid-compliant restrictions.
In an appearance on Sky News he said : “We’ve been able to secure some assistance from the armed forces and we’re really grateful for that.”
PA Media quote him saying: “We’ve had it throughout the pandemic. They (service personnel) won’t be responding to emergency calls but they will be helping with some of the more routine work that the ambulance service does, freeing up trained ambulance personnel to deal with the most urgent work that the service has to provide.”
The message somewhat contrasts with that earlier quote today from UK health minister Sajid Javid that “overall things feel quite stable at this point.”
A study by University College London researchers claims that Lateral flow tests (LFTs) are very good at detecting people most likely to spread Covid-19 and positive results should be trusted.
LFTs have long been criticised for being less accurate that PCR tests, where the results come after the material is analysed in a lab, rather than being generated at home.
Prof Irene Petersen, lead study author, said people who get a positive LFT result should continue to “trust them and stay at home”. Government guidelines say that following a positive LFT test, people should confirm the result with a PCR test.
In recent weeks there have been a growing number of cases where a positive LFT result has been followed by a negative PCR test result, which has undermined some confidence in the tests.
Yesterday, Dr Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk, told local media that she was aware of “sporadic cases” of this nationally, and heard about it anecdotally locally. She told the Eastern Daily Press:
The UCL study found that LFTs were more than 80% effective at detecting any level of Covid infection, and that they are more than 90% effective at detecting who is most infectious. These figures are higher than previous studies.
Another member of the study team, Prof Michael Mina, from Harvard School of Public Health, said that LFTs will catch nearly everyone who is posing a risk to public health.
“It is most likely that if someone’s LFT is negative but their PCR is positive, then this is because they are not at peak transmissible stage,” he said.
Doctors have also dominated the discussions that UK health secretary Sajid Javid has been having across the media this morning. He is pushing the government’s plan to increase face-to-face consultations with GPs. Before the pandemic about 80% of appointments were face-to-face. Since Covid hit, that number has dropped and now stands at around 58%.Doctors have also dominated the discussions that UK health secretary Sajid Javid has been having across the media this morning. He is pushing the government’s plan to increase face-to-face consultations with GPs. Before the pandemic about 80% of appointments were face-to-face. Since Covid hit, that number has dropped and now stands at around 58%.
The package he is announcing, he says, will give patients the choice to see GPs in they way they choose to see them.The package he is announcing, he says, will give patients the choice to see GPs in they way they choose to see them.
It is tangentially Covid-related clearly, as a lot of changes to the way GP practices in the UK worked were driven by Covid measures. What he did specifically say about coronavirus in his appearance on Times Radio was that he seemed to be happy with the way the virus was progressing. He told listeners:It is tangentially Covid-related clearly, as a lot of changes to the way GP practices in the UK worked were driven by Covid measures. What he did specifically say about coronavirus in his appearance on Times Radio was that he seemed to be happy with the way the virus was progressing. He told listeners:
The latest data by the way is that there were 42,776 new cases recorded yesterday. The height of the last peak in the UK was 60,764 daily cases on 15 July. The highest ever recorded number was 81,483 on 29 December 2020.The latest data by the way is that there were 42,776 new cases recorded yesterday. The height of the last peak in the UK was 60,764 daily cases on 15 July. The highest ever recorded number was 81,483 on 29 December 2020.
Romanian doctors sent an open letter yesterday titled “a cry of despair” as the country’s overwhelmed and deteriorated health care system struggles to cope with a record-setting surge of coronavirus infections and deaths.Romanian doctors sent an open letter yesterday titled “a cry of despair” as the country’s overwhelmed and deteriorated health care system struggles to cope with a record-setting surge of coronavirus infections and deaths.
The College of Physicians of Bucharest, a nongovernmental organization representing doctors in Romania’s capital, said in a letter addressed to Romanians that the medical system has “reached the limit” and that low vaccination rates reveal a “failure of trust” between doctors and the population.The College of Physicians of Bucharest, a nongovernmental organization representing doctors in Romania’s capital, said in a letter addressed to Romanians that the medical system has “reached the limit” and that low vaccination rates reveal a “failure of trust” between doctors and the population.
“We are desperate because every day we lose hundreds of patients who die in Romanian hospitals,” the letter reads. “We are desperate, because, unfortunately, we have heard too many times: I can’t breathe. I’m not vaccinated.”“We are desperate because every day we lose hundreds of patients who die in Romanian hospitals,” the letter reads. “We are desperate, because, unfortunately, we have heard too many times: I can’t breathe. I’m not vaccinated.”
On Tuesday, Romania reported daily pandemic records of nearly 17,000 new confirmed cases and 442 deaths. Data from health authorities indicate that more than 90% of coronavirus patients who died last week were unvaccinated.On Tuesday, Romania reported daily pandemic records of nearly 17,000 new confirmed cases and 442 deaths. Data from health authorities indicate that more than 90% of coronavirus patients who died last week were unvaccinated.
“Every day we witness tragedies: dying patients, suffering families, doctors who have reached the end of their powers,” the letter from Bucharest’s doctors reads.“Every day we witness tragedies: dying patients, suffering families, doctors who have reached the end of their powers,” the letter from Bucharest’s doctors reads.
Associated Press report that the pressure on hospitals prompted Romanian officials last week to suspend nonemergency medical procedures for 30 days.Associated Press report that the pressure on hospitals prompted Romanian officials last week to suspend nonemergency medical procedures for 30 days.
Scientists have urged eligible people to have Covid booster shots after a major survey in England found evidence of “breakthrough infections” more than three months after full vaccination.Scientists have urged eligible people to have Covid booster shots after a major survey in England found evidence of “breakthrough infections” more than three months after full vaccination.
Researchers at Imperial College London analysed more than 100,000 swabs from a random sample of the population and found that Covid infection rates were three to four times higher among unvaccinated people than those who had received two shots.Researchers at Imperial College London analysed more than 100,000 swabs from a random sample of the population and found that Covid infection rates were three to four times higher among unvaccinated people than those who had received two shots.
But while full vaccination drove infection rates down substantially, from 1.76% in the unvaccinated to 0.35% in the three months after the second dose, infection rates rose again to 0.55% three to six months after the second shot.But while full vaccination drove infection rates down substantially, from 1.76% in the unvaccinated to 0.35% in the three months after the second dose, infection rates rose again to 0.55% three to six months after the second shot.
The finding suggests that protection against infection, with or without symptoms, starts to wane several months after full vaccination, though other studies show that vaccine protection against hospitalisation and death is far more robust.The finding suggests that protection against infection, with or without symptoms, starts to wane several months after full vaccination, though other studies show that vaccine protection against hospitalisation and death is far more robust.
“The possible increase of breakthrough infections over time reinforces the need for a booster programme,” said Paul Elliott, head of the React study and professor in epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial. “It’s an incentive for people to get their booster dose when it becomes available to them,” added Prof Christl Donnelly, a statistical epidemiologist on the study. The results came as new Covid cases in the UK rose to 42,776, the highest recorded since late July.“The possible increase of breakthrough infections over time reinforces the need for a booster programme,” said Paul Elliott, head of the React study and professor in epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial. “It’s an incentive for people to get their booster dose when it becomes available to them,” added Prof Christl Donnelly, a statistical epidemiologist on the study. The results came as new Covid cases in the UK rose to 42,776, the highest recorded since late July.
Read more of science editor Ian Sample’s report here: Covid booster shots important to stop infection, finds English studyRead more of science editor Ian Sample’s report here: Covid booster shots important to stop infection, finds English study
The US government says it will ship 2.4m doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan today, bringing the total number of doses sent to the country to about 18.3m, more than any other country.The US government says it will ship 2.4m doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan today, bringing the total number of doses sent to the country to about 18.3m, more than any other country.
The latest shipments of the vaccine made by Pfizer/BioNTech are due to arrive on Saturday via the Covax distribution program, an official told Reuters.The latest shipments of the vaccine made by Pfizer/BioNTech are due to arrive on Saturday via the Covax distribution program, an official told Reuters.
Their data suggests that Pakistan has administered at least 93.6m doses of vaccine so far, out of a population of 220m.Their data suggests that Pakistan has administered at least 93.6m doses of vaccine so far, out of a population of 220m.
Good morning from London, it is Martin Belam here taking over from my colleague Samantha Lock. The UK government minister facing the media this morning is health secretary Sajid Javid – I’ll have any key Covid lines from his first appearances shortly, he’s pushing government plans for an “access package” to GPs.Good morning from London, it is Martin Belam here taking over from my colleague Samantha Lock. The UK government minister facing the media this morning is health secretary Sajid Javid – I’ll have any key Covid lines from his first appearances shortly, he’s pushing government plans for an “access package” to GPs.
Hi, I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be giving you a rundown of the latest coronavirus updates as they happen.Hi, I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be giving you a rundown of the latest coronavirus updates as they happen.
Here’s a rundown of any highlights you might have missed.Here’s a rundown of any highlights you might have missed.
In good news for those seeking a sea-side break, Fiji says it is already experiencing a boom in demand after announcing this week that it would open up quarantine-free travel to visitors from select countries, almost two years after closing its borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic.In good news for those seeking a sea-side break, Fiji says it is already experiencing a boom in demand after announcing this week that it would open up quarantine-free travel to visitors from select countries, almost two years after closing its borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, a group of 26 experts will be tasked with examining new pathogens and how to prevent future pandemics after the World Health Organization unveiled a team to revive the inquiry into Covid-19’s origins.Meanwhile, a group of 26 experts will be tasked with examining new pathogens and how to prevent future pandemics after the World Health Organization unveiled a team to revive the inquiry into Covid-19’s origins.
Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies director, said it may be the “last chance to understand the origins of this virus” in a collegiate manner.Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies director, said it may be the “last chance to understand the origins of this virus” in a collegiate manner.
Malfunctioning NHS app for Covid vaccine status causes travel delays. Travellers have been blocked from boarding flights and ferries for trips abroad after a four-hour outage of England’s NHS app left people unable to access a Covid pass to prove their vaccine status.Malfunctioning NHS app for Covid vaccine status causes travel delays. Travellers have been blocked from boarding flights and ferries for trips abroad after a four-hour outage of England’s NHS app left people unable to access a Covid pass to prove their vaccine status.
Scientists abused and threatened for discussing Covid, global survey finds. Scientists around the world have received threats of death and sexual assault after speaking to the media about Covid-19, a survey by Nature magazine revealed.Scientists abused and threatened for discussing Covid, global survey finds. Scientists around the world have received threats of death and sexual assault after speaking to the media about Covid-19, a survey by Nature magazine revealed.
The UK records 136 deaths and 42,776 new Covid-19 cases.The UK records 136 deaths and 42,776 new Covid-19 cases.
Oliver Dowden, the chair of the Conservative party, said he was “very sorry” and admitted “we didn’t get everything right” regarding the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.Oliver Dowden, the chair of the Conservative party, said he was “very sorry” and admitted “we didn’t get everything right” regarding the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Russia has set a record for the number of Covid deaths in a 24-hour period for the second day running. Wednesday’s official toll of 984 is slightly higher than yesterday’s then-record 973 deaths.Russia has set a record for the number of Covid deaths in a 24-hour period for the second day running. Wednesday’s official toll of 984 is slightly higher than yesterday’s then-record 973 deaths.
A landmark report found the UK government’s management of the outbreak was one of the worst public health failures in British history.A landmark report found the UK government’s management of the outbreak was one of the worst public health failures in British history.
After a 19-month travel ban, the US announced it will reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico for non-essential travel. It’s a huge relief for families who have been separated since the beginning of the pandemic and comes after multiple countries pressed the US for months to ease restrictions.After a 19-month travel ban, the US announced it will reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico for non-essential travel. It’s a huge relief for families who have been separated since the beginning of the pandemic and comes after multiple countries pressed the US for months to ease restrictions.