Coronavirus crisis: Boris attacked over two-week lockdown plan to halt infection spike

Ministers are thought to be considering a two-week “circuit break” in a bid to slow transmission of the virus. The Prime Minister continues to insist a second national lockdown is the “last thing anybody wants” but has admitted the current coronavirus measures would need to be kept “under review”. He has however warned the UK is facing a second wave of coronavirus.

On Saturday, it was revealed the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in the UK had jumped by 4,422 over the past 24 hours – the highest in over four months.

This is 100 more than were confirmed on Friday. An additional 27 people have died from COVID-19, taking the death toll up to 41,759.

The latest Express.co.uk poll of 10,591 readers shows they are against a two-week lockdown being introduced to curb the recent spike in coronavirus infections.

The poll, which ran from 11am until 10pm on Saturday, September 19, asked: “Should there be a two-week lockdown to halt the COVID spike?”

Just over half (52 percent or 5,535 readers) didn’t agree such a measure should be introduced, but 47 percent (4,869) believe it is needed.

The remaining three percent who voted (187 readers) were undecided.

One reader said: “At present, more people are going to die from other illness like cancer due to cancelled appointments and missed check-ups, than die from COVID19. It is time people realised that.

“Oh and the people suffering won’t be already at death’s door, they will be of all ages and many have a chance of a much longer life.

READ MORE: Coronavirus map LIVE: UK cases rocket by 4k in highest rise since May

A third reader wrote: “Lock down the places where there is a problem and leave the rest of us alone.

“It’s always the same areas with high income populations that fail to behave and I’m sick and tired of having to suffer for them.

“Let’s have some honesty instead of skirting round it. We all know where the problem is but even on here we aren’t allowed to ‘go anywhere near it’.”

Speaking during a visit to the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre construction site near Oxford on Friday, Mr Johnson said: “On Monday we brought in the measures that we did, the ‘rule of six’, to really try and restrict what people are doing and to bring in a new buffer – and to make it absolutely clear, the ‘rule of six’: indoors six maximum, six outdoors maximum.

“But the crucial thing is at the same time to observe the basic rules on social distancing – hands, face, space – that is what everybody has got to do if we want to continue to beat this thing.

“But as we look at this particular curve and what is happening now, clearly we are going to keep everything under review. I don’t want to get into a second national lockdown at all, it is the last thing anybody wants.

“I don’t want to go into bigger lockdown measures at all, we want to keep schools open and it is fantastic the schools have gone back in the way they have. We want to keep the economy open as far as we possibly can, we want to keep businesses going.

“The only way we can do that is obviously if people follow the guidance.”

He also warned the UK is facing a second wave of coronavirus, adding: “There’s no question, as I’ve said for several weeks now, that we could expect (and) are now seeing a second wave coming in.

“We are seeing it in France, in Spain, across Europe – it has been absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable we were going to see it in this country.”



'Wake up!' WHO criticises UK coronavirus strategy and warns infection rate is 'alarming'

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it would not reduce its two-week recommendations for self-isolation after several European nations slashed the amount of time individuals are required to quarantine for. In the UK anyone who has come into contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 must cut themselves off from the outside world for 10 days.

The WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, said science has shown people need to hide away for a fortnight to be certain they do not have the virus.

She said: “Our quarantine recommendation of 14 days has been based on our understanding of the incubation period and transmission of the disease.

“We would only revise that on the basis of a change of our understanding of the science.”

People in France who have had contact with a person suffering from coronavirus are required to self-isolate for seven days.

The WHO’S European director Dr Hans Kluge warned of a “very serious” situation as case rates skyrocket in several parts of the continent.

He said more than half of European countries had recorded a rise in cases greater than 10 percent over the past two weeks.

He warned “even a slight reduction in the length of the quarantine” would be a step in the wrong direction.

Dr Kluge said: “Knowing the immense individual and societal impact even a slight reduction in the length of quarantine can have.

“I encourage countries of the region to make scientific due process with their experts and explore safe reduction options.”

READ MORE: Quarantine: Thailand and Singapore added to travel corridor list

“The September case numbers, however, should serve as a wake-up call for all of us.”

On Thursday the French health minister, Olivier Veran, said the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care was increasing at a worrying rate.

He said five in 100 people tested for the disease get back a positive result.

He said this compared to just one in 100 at the beginning of the summer.

Mr Veran said gatherings of family and friends were a major source of coronavirus contaminations in France.

The UK is grappling with its own surge in cases.

The head of the test and trace system in England has said Britain will need more than the current target of 500,000 daily tests after October.

Boris Johnson on Wednesday said his Government was working hard to increase testing capacity to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, saying he aimed to be able to do 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.

But earlier today Dido Harding, interim chair of the new National Institute for Health Protection, told MPs: “I am certain that we will need more as we go beyond the end of October.

“We have plans to go beyond the 500,000 a day target.”

The UK recorded 3,395 further infections on Thursday, bringing the overall total to 381,614.

And a further 21 deaths were recorded, taking the total tally to 41,705.



COVID update: Are your symptoms caused by a cold or coronavirus? Signs of infection

Coronavirus is an infectious disease that has been confirmed in more than 30 million people across the world. You could be at risk of the deadly infection if you develop any number of symptoms that may be easily confused for a common cold.

The UK has seen a steady rise in the number of coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.

Almost 10 million people across the country have been put into local lockdowns, in a bid to stop the rising spread of the infection.

If you think that you may have coronavirus symptoms, you should get tested straight away, and self-isolate at home.

But, how can you tell whether your symptoms are caused by the virus, or by a common cold?

READ MORE: Coronavirus update – the best protection against the virus

“Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses,” said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.

“Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms [of COVID-19].

“Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.”

Both coronavirus and flu could cause headaches, muscle pains or sore throats.

But, you should only apply for a COVID test if you develop a fever, a cough, or a loss of sense of smell or taste.

Most people with coronavirus will develop at least one of these symptoms.

So, while you may have a headache, which could be caused by coronavirus, you don’t need to get a test.

Anybody that feels hot to the touch on their chest or back could be showing early coronavirus symptoms.

Similarly, anyone that’s been coughing more than usual for longer than a one-hour period, or if they’ve had at least three coughing episodes every 24 hours, should self-isolate.

Some patients have also reported a sore throat, headaches, and even hiccups, on top of the more common signs.

More than 46,000 people have died from coronavirus in the UK.



Coronavirus symptoms update: New bizarre warning sign of a possible COVID-19 infection

The study noted: “A case report of 138 COVID-19 positive patients in Wuhan, China described fever, fatigue, and dry cough as the most common presenting symptoms, although a wide array of presenting complaints have been identified, including but not limited to myalgia, headache, haemoptysis, and isolated gastrointestinal symptoms among others.

“Here we describe a case report of a male patient who presented with persistent hiccups as his chief complaint and was found to be COVID with ground glass opacities on computed tomography (CT) of his chest. “

A 62-year-old male with a past medical history of diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease presented to the Emergency Department (ED) with a chief complaint of weight loss and hiccups.

READ MORE: Coronavirus symptoms update: If your eyes turn this colour you may have COVID-19



Coronavirus symptoms: Full list of 11 warning signs – are you at risk of COVID infection?

In the UK, you’re required to self-isolate if you develop a fever, a new cough, or a loss of taste or smell.

If you are self isolating, you shouldn’t leave your home at all, as you may have COVID.

You should also apply for a coronavirus test straight away, as the sooner you receive the results, the more accurate it is.

Self-isolating should last at least 10 days if you live by yourself, and 14 days if you live with other people.



Coronavirus map LIVE: Infection rate trebles in Redditch – 17 new areas fear lockdowns

Seventeen areas of England, the vast majority in the Midlands and the south, have seen cases jump in the seven days to Sunday. Public Health England figures showed Oxford, Redditch, Kettering, Hackney and Dacorum are among the places to have been hit by sharp increases of cases of the invisible killer disease.

The current rate of COVID-19 in Mid Devon is ten times higher than it was in the previous week.

While Kettering, in Northamptonshire, has seen its number of infections nearly double in just a week.

While Oxford has been warned it is at risk of local lockdown measures after its rate increased from 19.7 cases per 100,000 to 30.2.

The 17 areas that have seen coronavirus rates per 100,000 of the population sharply increase:

Rochdale – 41.8, up from 35.5

Oxford – 30.2, up from 19.7

Redditch – 27.0, up from 8.2

Kettering – 26.5, up from 13.8

Hackney and City of London – 25.4, up from 13.1

Windsor and Maidenhead – 25.1, up from 8.6

Blaby – 22.7, up from 10.8

Dacorum – 22.0, up from 4.5

Newcastle-under-Lyme – 19.3, up from 5.4

Ealing – 19.0, up from 11.4

South Bucks – 18.6, up from 10.0

Wandsworth – 17.6, up from 10.9

Southwark – 16.0, up from 11.6

Bath and North East Somerset – 15.0, up from 5.2

Folkestone and Hythe – 14.2, up from 7.1

Mid Devon – 13.4, up from 1.2

South Tyneside – 12.6, up from 2.6

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Coronavirus update: Why men are more susceptible to a severe COVID-19 infection

Coronavirus deaths around the world have now reached a staggering figure of 822,000. A huge 15.6 million have made a full recovery, however a large percentage of the deaths from COVID-19 are men. Scientists have discovered why men are more prevalent to severe infections and possibly even death as opposed to women.

Globally, men account for around 60 percent of deaths due to COVID-19 with individual countries reporting similar outcomes.

In the UK, researchers studying 17 million adults found that men could possibly face nearly twice the risk of death from COVID-19 than their female counterparts.

Data out of China also showed that at least two-thirds of patients who died were male.

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In a study published in the Frontiers in Public Health, gender differences in patients with COVID-19 relating to severity and mortality was investigated.

The study noted: “We extracted the data from a case series of 43 hospitalized patients we treated, a public data set of the first 37 cases of patients who died of COVID-19 and 1,019 patients who survived in China, and data of 524 patients with SARS, including 139 deaths, from Beijing in early 2003.

“In the case series men’s cases tended to be more serious than women’s”

The study concluded that while men and women have the same prevalence, men with COVID-19 are more at risk for worse outcomes and death, independent of age. 

Studies have reported that men have higher concentrations of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in their blood compared to women.

Since ACE2 enables the coronavirus to infect healthy cells, this may help to explain why men are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than women, researchers reported.

Men’s immune system and genetics may also be factors.

Women have an extra X chromosome aiding in a stronger immune system compared to men.

Therefore, women are able to better respond to infections than men.



Coronavirus: Is a repeat COVID-19 infection possible?

In several instances, doctors reported possible reinfections during the pandemic. Mostly, however, they could not rule out that the second infection was not due to faulty testing procedures, false-negative test results or virus residues from the first infection.

But now, new infections have occurred in Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Belgium. In these cases, the patients who had already recovered from previous COVID-19 infections have been reinfected months later with an apparently mutated variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Different cases, similar courses

A 33-year-old man from Hong Kong had mild COVID-19 symptoms in mid-March and tested positive for SARS CoV-2 on March 26. He remained in hospital until he was released on April 14 after two negative PCR tests.

Health authorities believe the man was infected a second time while on a business trip to Spain. A test conducted at Hong Kong airport on August 15 turned out positive. As a precaution, the man was taken to hospital again, although he showed no symptoms.

Genetic analyses showed he had contracted a mutated variant of the virus.

“The analyses showed that the first viral genome belonged to a different strain of SARS-CoV-2 than the second,” said Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To,  a clinical associate professor from the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). According to the study, both virus variants differed in 24 nucleotides, the building blocks of the genetic material.

People in Hong Kong wearing face masks

Hong Kong is relaxing its coronavirus measures and has lifted requirements for wearing masks outside

Scientists are aware that SARS-CoV-2 has mutated several times  during the pandemic, repeatedly changing parts of its protein structure, as is common with viruses.

For the researchers, this case is clearly a new infection. Even after surviving COVID-19, it is still possible to become infected with a SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. Such reinfections also occur more frequently with other seasonal cold viruses such as coronaviruses 229E, OC43, NL63 and HKUI24, according to the Hong Kong researchers.

Two cases in Europe

According to Marion Koopmans,  a virologist and adviser to the Dutch government, the genetic code of the second infection is also significantly different from that of the first, in the case of the patient in the Netherlands. It was an older man with a weak immune system. This speaks against a resurgence of the first infection, she added.

An artist's impression of the Coronavirus

Mutations are likely the cause of the new infections.

Koopmans said it was not surprising that new infections were turning up among people who recovered from COVID-19.

“We know from other respiratory tract infections that one is not protected for life, and we do not expect this from COVID-19,” the virologist said on Dutch radio.

However, it must now be clarified whether such repeat infections actually occur more frequently or whether they are isolated cases.

In Belgium, one patient took ill again after three months. A gene sequence analysis also revealed that the virus had 11 mutations in the second case. “This is not good news,” said virologist Marc Van Ranst  on the Belgian channel VTM.

Many open questions

The apparent reinfections add to indications that immunity to SARS-CoV-2 is short-lived. Even after surviving the COVID-19 disease, at least some patients have only partial protection. Not all of them seem to develop protective antibodies.

However, even eight months after the outbreak of the pandemic, many questions remain unanswered, and it is difficult for researchers to gain an overview of the details of global infections as research is conducted worldwide with many results published quickly and without the necessary peer review.

Detailed studies on the cases in the Netherlands and Belgium are not yet available. There are also only excerpts from a specialist article on the documented repeat infection in Hong Kong that a reporter from the South China Morning Post posted on Twitter. These results have not yet been subject to peer review.

What does this mean for a vaccine?

More than 150 vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are currently being developed worldwide. Recently, Russia has approved the vaccine “Sputnik V,”  and seven other vaccine candidates are in the decisive clinical Phase III tests.

If reinfections are indeed confirmed, SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to disappear due to effective herd immunity. It is also possible that vaccines currently in development may not provide lifelong protection against the aggressive coronavirus.

Until Phase III clinical trials are completed and meaningful long-term studies are available, it is not possible to make reliable statements about how effective these vaccines are, whether they will protect against viral mutations or how long the protection will last.



Coronavirus symptoms update: Warning symptom preceding a fever indicating an infection

The researchers found that most symptomatic patients start with a fever, followed by a cough.

After that, those infected may experience a sore throat, headache, or muscle aches and pains, followed by nausea or vomiting, then, finally, diarrhoea.

“This report suggests that diarrhoea as an early symptom indicates a more aggressive disease, because each patient in this dataset that initially experienced diarrhoea had pneumonia or respiratory failure eventually,” the researchers wrote.