UK extends emergency coronavirus powers by 6 months
A runner crosses the Millennium Bridge as the coronavirus lockdown continues in London, Thursday, March 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)LONDON – British lawmakers agreed Thursday to prolong coronavirus emergency measures for six months, allowing the Conservative government to keep its unprecedented powers to restrict U.K. citizens’ everyday lives. The House of Commons voted to extend the powers until September, and approved the government's road map for gradually easing Britain's strict coronavirus lockdown over the next three months. Simon Stevens, chief executive of the National Health Service in England, said Thursday that English hospitals were treating about 4,000 coronavirus patients, down from 34,000 in mid-January. Ad“We must restore the freedoms that we all cherish, but in a way that doesn’t put the (National Health Service) at risk,” he said.
UK faces vaccine shortfall, could delay shots for under 50s
Pharmacy Technician Katrina Bonwick draws a does of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine ready for use at the Wheatfield surgery in Luton, England, Thursday, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)LONDON – Britain is facing a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine supplies that may delay the start of shots for people under 50 after deliveries from two suppliers were curtailed due to production and testing issues. Johnson’s comments came a day after the National Health Service told doctors that vaccine supplies would be “significantly constrained” beginning March 29. AdThe nation’s medicines regulator on Thursday recommended that people continue to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite concerns about blood clots raised in some European countries. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said a “rigorous review” of all the data available found no evidence that the AstraZeneca vaccine caused clots in veins.
The Latest: First US J&J vaccine doses shipping Sunday night
FILE - This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. The White House said the entire stockpile of the newly approved single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will go out immediately. AdJ&J plans to ship several million vaccine doses to states in the coming week, delivering a total of 20 million shots by the end of March. They are part of the government’s plan that has so far secured 2 million doses from Sinovac and 61 million doses from AstraZeneca. The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two.
UK speeds up vaccinations: All adults get 1st jab by July 31
The British government says it aims to give every adult in the country a first dose of coronavirus vaccine by July 31, a month earlier than its previous target. The previous aim was for all adults to get a jab by September. But U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that “we now think that we have the supplies” to speed up the vaccination campaign. More than 17.5 million people, a third of U.K. adults, have had at lease one vaccine shot since inoculations began on Dec. 8. AdWhiley said her sister had finally been offered a shot of vaccine — but it came too late.
Lying on arrival could mean 10 years in prison in England
Individuals not abiding by the rules, including those arriving from a red list country without a hotel booked, also could be subject to a series of fines, he said. AdAt present, there are 33 countries, including South Africa, Portugal and all of South America, from where travel to England is effectively banned largely because of concerns over new variants of the coronavirus. However, British and Irish citizens, as well as all other U.K. residents, are permitted to enter provided they self-isolate for 10 days after their arrival. The “enhanced testing” regime, which is in addition to already-mandated pre-departure tests, will be a requirement for everyone arriving in England and anyone failing to do so will be fined. Scotland is tightening its rules on international travel further than England, confirming it will require people arriving on all direct international flights to enter quarantine hotels.
Bank of England upbeat on UK recovery after vaccine rollout
(Yui Mok/PA via AP)LONDON – The Bank of England says the U.K.'s rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines means the British economy should recover much of the ground lost during the pandemic by the end of the year. The bank expects the British economy to contract by a further 4% in the first quarter of 2021 as a result of the lockdown. That contraction is far milder than the 20% or so decline the British economy endured in the second quarter last year during the first lockdown. That would see the British economy grow 5% over the course of 2021 despite the first quarter fall. As of Wednesday, more than 10 million people in the U.K. have received their first vaccine doses, nearly a fifth of the adult population.
UK says new study vindicates delaying 2nd virus vaccine shot
But the Oxford research was greeted with excitement by U.K. officials under pressure to justify their decision to delay the second dose. Britain has Europe's deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with more than 108,000 deaths, and is in its third national lockdown as authorities try to contain a new, more transmissible virus variant first identified in southeast England. So far 105 cases of the variant have been identified in the U.K., 11 of them in people with no links to overseas travel. Scientists say there's no evidence the South African variant is more serious than the original virus but it may be more contagious. AdThat is a worry as the U.K. races to vaccinate its own population against the virus.
UK tests house-to-house in hunt for new COVID-19 variant
(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)LONDON – England has begun house-by-house COVID-19 testing in some communities as authorities try to snuff out a new variant of the coronavirus before it spreads widely and undermines a nationwide vaccination program. Public health officials are concerned about the variant first identified in South Africa because it contains a mutation of the virus’ characteristic spike protein that existing vaccines target. No conclusive evidence has emerged to show the Kent variant causes more serious COVID-19 cases or deaths. In recent weeks, scientists also identified new, more contagious variants in South Africa and Brazil, both of which contained the spike protein mutation. AdIn hopes of preventing those variants from becoming widespread in Britain, the government has barred travel from South Africa, South America and Portugal, a popular European transit point for travelers from South America.
UK vaccination drive expands as virus toll nears 100,000
People sit and relax after receiving their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination at Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, England, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Salisbury Cathedral opened its doors for the second time as a venue for the Sarum South Primary Care Network COVID-19 Local Vaccination Service. Almost 5.9 million doses of vaccine had been administered by Saturday. It is giving them at doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies and vaccination centers set up in conference halls, sports stadiums and other large venues. The U.K. has recorded 97,329 deaths among people who tested positive, including 1,348 new deaths reported Saturday.
The Latest: Hong Kong ends lockdown in Kowloon neighborhood
The district has been at the center of a worsening coronavirus outbreak, with over 160 cases reported over the first three weeks in January. As of Sunday, Hong Kong has reported 10,086 cases of the coronavirus, with 169 deaths recorded. The nation of 26 million people has reported fewer than 30,000 virus cases and a little over 900 deaths. There have been 373,090 total virus cases and a death toll of 3,279 since the pandemic began, according to the health department. The U.S. accounts for roughly one of every four cases reported worldwide and one of every five deaths.
The Latest: Hawaii says scarcity hinders vaccination efforts
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)HONOLULU — Hawaii’s leaders say limited supply is the main thing constraining distribution of the coronavirus vaccine in the state. He said the sites have set the vaccine doses aside and will receive replacement doses on Tuesday and Wednesday. ___TORONTO — Canadian officials say the country won’t be getting any Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine next week and 50% less than expected over the next month. U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer confirmed last week it would temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe and Canada of its COVID-19 vaccine while it upgrades production capacity. ___JERUSALEM — Israel’s Cabinet on Tuesday extended an existing nationwide lockdown through the end of January as the country contends with a runaway surge in coronavirus cases.
UK to vaccinate out of pandemic by looking to local GPs
GPs like Dr. Ammara Hughes are crucial to the National Health Service’s plan to expand vaccinations from hospitals and clinics to doctors' offices around the country. But can the NHS deliver an average of more than 2 million shots a week for the next six weeks? The U.K. has recorded nearly 80,000 deaths linked to COVID-19, the deadliest outbreak in Europe and the fifth-highest in the world. David Halley, 83, was overjoyed to get his vaccine at his local GP this week. “I don’t want to get sick and I’ve got family and grandchildren and so on, so it’s important,'' he said.
Most of England to greet 2021 under strictest virus measures
A mask on the pavement near the entrance of a hospital on Westminster Bridge in London, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. The move will severely curtail New Year's Eve celebrations in parts of England that are home to 44 million people, or 78% of the population. The U.K. also reported Wednesday that another 981 people with the coronavirus had died. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said secondary schools in England would not resume in-person teaching until Jan. 11. Most primary schools will welcome students back on Monday as planned, although not the ones in some virus hotspots, including a big chunk of London.
The Latest: South Korea enforces tough measures in prisons
The others are the lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, insurance commissioner and Kansas Supreme Court chief justice and four Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature. The legislative leaders and the state’s Republican attorney general passed, for now, because not all health care workers and nursing home residents have received theirs. The governor also said Wednesday that “hundreds” of other, non-elected state officials have been made eligible for early vaccines by their agencies. The others are the lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, insurance commissioner and Kansas Supreme Court chief justice and four Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature. Most of those Republicans said they didn’t want to jump in line ahead of health care workers, nursing home residents or other vulnerable Kansans.
UK hospitals struggle; tougher rules eyed to fight variant
(Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)LONDON – British officials are considering tougher coronavirus restrictions as the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients surpasses the first peak of the outbreak in the spring. Authorities are blaming a new, more transmissible variant of the virus, first identified in southeast England, for the soaring infection rates. Hospitals in the worst-hit areas of London and southern England are becoming increasingly overstretched, with ambulances unable to unload patients at some hospitals because all beds are full. England had 20,426 coronavirus patients in hospitals as of Monday morning — the last day for which figures are available — compared to its previous high of 18,974 on April 12. Officials and medics hope U.K. regulators will soon authorize a second coronavirus vaccine for use in Britain.
The Latest: Brazil is latest to ban flights from Britain
A demonstrator wears a face shield with a red handprint, mimicking blood, to protest Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the deadly coronavirus pandemic in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. ___NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dozens of Tennessee hospitals have stopped taking transfer patients because they are overwhelmed during one of the nation’s worst recent outbreaks of COVID-19 cases. ___DENVER — Colorado has started vaccinating correctional workers as the state sees a surge of coronavirus cases in its prisons. ___BOSTON — Help is on the way for Massachusetts small businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, with Gov. COVID-19 cases have been declining in New Mexico, but the economic fallout from the pandemic continues.
Cut off: Britain hit with travel bans over new virus strain
From Canada to India, one nation after another banned flights from Britain, while France barred the entry of trucks from Britain for 48 hours while the strain is assessed. Macron said earlier that France was looking at establishing systematic testing of people for the virus on arrival. Around 10,000 trucks pass through the port of Dover every day, accounting for about 20% of the country’s trade in goods. The virus is blamed for 1.7 million deaths worldwide, including about 68,000 in Britain, the second-highest death toll in Europe, behind Italy's 69,000. Also, some drivers or their employers might decide against entering Britain for fear they won't be able to get back home.
London placed under toughest coronavirus restrictions
LONDON – London and surrounding areas will be placed under the highest level of coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday as infections rise rapidly in the capital, the British government said Monday. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government must take swift action after seeing “very sharp, exponential rises” in Greater London. Under Tier 3 restrictions, the toughest level in England’s three-tier system, people can't socialize indoors and bars, pubs and restaurants must close except for takeout. In November, London was among areas with the lowest regional infection rates in England. But some areas in and around London have now become virus hotspots.
The Latest: Taiwan sets 60% of population vaccination goal
(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan has set a goal to vaccinate 60% of its population with a COVID-19 vaccine, or 15 million people, a health official said Tuesday. Many other governors are waiting for health care workers, patients and emergency responders first. However, the actual numbers of COVID-19 cases, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher, in part due to limited testing. The officials spoke Monday at a George Washington University Hospital event Monday to launch the vaccination of health care workers in the nation’s capital. Andrew Cuomo called the first shot given in the state’s campaign to vaccinate front line health care workers.
UK gears up for huge vaccination plan watched by the world
Last week, the U.K. became the first country to authorize the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine for emergency use. Governments and health agencies around the world will be monitoring the British vaccination program, which will take months, to note its successes and failures and adjust their own plans accordingly. The U.K. has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which can cover 20 million people. Since the British government will only immunize people over 16, around 55 million people in the U.K. will be eligible. Public Health England has secured 58 special Twin Guard ultra-low temperature freezers that provide sufficient storage for approximately five million doses.
Who, when and how? A look at the UK's vaccination rollout
U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Wednesday thanked scientists from Pfizer and BioNTech after the approval of their COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use by the country's drugs regulator. Here's a look at what is known about Britain's vaccination plan:___HOW MUCH OF THE VACCINE DOES THE U.K. HAVE? The plan is to start a phased rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine early next week across the U.K., including from 50 “hospital hubs” in England. The National Health Service will take the lead in the rollout of the vaccine, which eventually will expand to pharmacies and specially built vaccination centers. The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which advises the British government, said those most at risk of dying from COVID-19 should be top of the priority list.
Britain OKs Pfizer vaccine and will begin shots within days
In giving the go-ahead for emergency use of the vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, Britain vaulted past the United States by at least a week. Other countries aren’t far behind: Regulators in not only the U.S. but the European Union and Canada also are vetting the Pfizer vaccine along with a shot made by Moderna. Hancock said Britain will begin receiving the first shipment of 800,000 doses from Belgium within days, and people will start getting the shots as soon as it arrives. Still to be determined is whether the Pfizer-BioNTech shots prevent people from spreading the virus when they have no symptoms. ___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.
The Latest: Young S. Koreans taking crucial university exam
The Education Ministry says about 493,430 students began taking the one-day test at about 1,380 test sites across South Korea on Thursday. The university from which a South Korean graduates significantly affects job prospects, social standings and even marriage partners. Health care workers, citizens above 65 and people living in care homes will be the first groups to be vaccinated. Redfield says earlier surges in COVID-19 illnesses were concentrated in one area of the country or another, and health care workers and equipment could be shifted from one place to another to deal with it. ___TORONTO — Canada’s health minister says health officials will soon complete a review of the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Virus quarantine complicates a big week for Boris Johnson
FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2020 file photo British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London. "He will carry on working from Downing Street, including on leading the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic," a statement from his office said. Johnson spent a week in the hospital with the virus in April, including three nights in intensive care. Officials say Downing Street is now a “COVID-secure workplace,” with staff observing social distancing and some working from home. Chief adviser Dominic Cummings and communications director Lee Cain quit last week amid reports of power struggles inside Downing Street.
The Latest: Iowa's governor orders statewide mask mandate
Kim Reynolds has dropped her opposition to a statewide mandate for mask use to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The mandate applies only when people are within six feet of others for 15 minutes and they aren’t members of their households. ______NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Johnson & Johnson has begun a new late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, this time on a two-dose regimen. Gavin Newsom said he was pulling the “emergency brake” Monday on the state’s efforts to reopen its economy as coronavirus cases surge more dramatically than during a summer spike. ___BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the number of new coronavirus cases is flattening following two weeks of new restrictions, but it’s too early to tell whether more will be necessary.
London faces new restrictions as city sees higher virus risk
The government is negotiating with the leaders of Manchester, Lancashire and other communities in northern England about moving into the top risk tier, which would require the closure of many businesses. The opposition Labour Party’s spokesman on health issues, Jonathan Ashworth, described the measures as inadequate to stem the exponential growth of the virus. Hancock said discussions were continuing with Greater Manchester and Lancashire about moving those communities into the government’s highest risk tier. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham once again rejected government pressure to accept the higher risk rating without further financial support. “They are willing to sacrifice jobs and businesses here to try and save them elsewhere,″ a visibly furious Burnham said.
The Latest: COVID-19 spike stretches Montana's health system
Connecticut has seen an uptick in virus cases in communities across the state over the past few weeks. There were 3,747 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases reported Thursday, breaking the record of 3,279 set on Tuesday. Mississippi’s state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Monday that six hospitals have no beds available in their intensive care units. The state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard showed other alarming numbers, too: 1,875 new confirmed cases and 22 deaths. ___WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation health officials are reporting 40 new confirmed coronavirus cases but no deaths.
England to have 3-tier lockdown system amid 'tipping point'
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on Monday expected to back a new three-tier local lockdown system, which could see pubs and restaurants in coronavirus hotspots in England being temporarily closed. In response to the virus’ resurgence, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce in Parliament on Monday a three-tier local lockdown system, formally known as "Local COVID Alert Levels," for England, his office said. Under the new system, the country will be placed into “medium,” “high” and “very high” alert levels. The new lockdown system, which is intended to simplify the process by which local restrictions are imposed, has been widely anticipated for a couple of weeks following a sharp increase in new cases. England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, warned that the U.K. is at a “tipping point" akin to where the country was in March.
UK hit by new virus test failing, finds 16,000 extra cases
Britain has Europes highest coronavirus death toll, at more than 42,000, and Johnsons Conservative government is facing criticism from all sides. “Now it is critical we work together to put it right and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”Hancock's appearance at the House of Commons came after the weekend disclosure that 15,841 virus cases weren’t tabulated from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2. The unreported cases were added to the government’s daily new infections total over the weekend, boosting Saturday’s number to 12,872 cases and Sunday’s to 22,961. The number of new cases reported Monday fell to 12,594, but given the adjustments related to the missing cases, it was impossible to figure out a trend. The confusion over the daily testing numbers only adds to the uncertainty over whether the restrictions are working in suppressing the virus.
New rules for Liverpool as virus cases in England quadruple
The number of new hospitalizations for COVID-19 and virus deaths in Britain are rising again, although both remain far below their springtime peak. Dr. David Strain of the British Medical Association urged caution, as infection rates remain high among certain groups. Their study noted that rates of infection are increasing among all age groups in England, with the highest prevalence among 18 to 24-year-olds. Meanwhile, authorities tightened restrictions on people arriving in England from Turkey and Poland, ordering them to quarantine for 14 days because of a rise in coronavirus infection rates in those countries. Britain requires people to self-isolate for two weeks if arriving from anywhere except a list of “travel corridor” nations that have low infection rates.
The Latest: COVID-19 outbreak on ship off Australia's coast
(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)PERTH, Australia — Authorities are concerned by a COVID-19 outbreak aboard a cargo ship off Australia's northwest coast that has infected most of the crew. The Bluegrass State had nearly 5,000 coronavirus cases last week — the most in a single week since the pandemic began, Gov. In recent weeks, Kentucky has repeatedly set record highs for weekly virus cases. New York has reported just over 11,500 new coronavirus infections over the past two weeks. Italy added 1,494 coronavirus infections and 16 deaths to its confirmed COVID toll Monday, in line with its daily increase for the past few weeks.
UK announces new plan to help workers hit by pandemic
(Victoria Jones/PA via AP)LONDON – Britain’s treasury chief announced a new income support program Thursday for workers hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, as the government races to prevent widespread layoffs when earlier employer subsidies end next month. Businesses and labor unions had pressed the government to step in with more direct support for people in precarious work situations. Under a furloughed worker program that expires next month, the government pays 80% of the wages of workers placed on leave. To underscore that his proposals have wide support, Sunak appeared outside his office before delivering his speech, holding a copy of the plan and flanked by representatives of the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress. We’ve already lost 700,000 jobs.”In addition to the wage support program, Sunak said the government will help businesses by extending loan repayment deadlines and loan guarantees provided earlier this year.
The Latest: China lifts pandemic bar on entry by foreigners
Officials announced seven new coronavirus cases Thursday, all of them imported, marking 39 days since China has reported a case of domestic transmission. Neighboring Slovakia had 338 cases Tuesday for a confirmed total of 7, 269 cases and 41 deaths since the start of the pandemic. ___LONDON — Scotland has recorded 486 positive coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the highest number of daily cases in a single day. She says there were two recorded deaths in the past day, bringing the total confirmed toll to 2,508. Spain recorded 241 more virus-related deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed death toll to 30,904.
'This is a big moment:' UK virus restrictions escalating
People queue up outside a coronavirus testing centre offering walk-in appointments in north London, Friday Sept. 18, 2020. Johnson's comments came amid mounting speculation that the government will announce fresh curbs on the hospitality sector, such as pubs and restaurants, potentially involving curfews — something already in place in areas facing extra lockdown restrictions. The spike, which has been largely seen among young adults, has already led to lockdown restrictions being reimposed. The other nations of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have announced similar clampdowns on meetings. There are also more targeted restrictions across the U.K. in areas seeing acute spikes.
Some UK bars to close early amid rising COVID-19 infections
A staff member waits at empty lanes of a Covid-19 drive thru testing facility at Twickenham stadium in London, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. The comments came after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that authorities will have to impose tougher measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 and “protect’’ the Christmas holidays. Dido Harding, who is in charge of the virus testing program, told a parliamentary committee that constraints in the system were due to processing in laboratories. While younger and stronger individuals are usually more resilient to the effects of COVID-19, the demographic group is now spreading the virus to older people. Local leaders are also demanding the government increase testing capacity to stave off a second wave of infections.
English warned limits on gatherings may last til Christmas
(Yui Mok/PA via AP)LONDON New limits on social gatherings in England to six people are set to stay in place for the foreseeable future, potentially until or even through Christmas, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Wednesday. The other nations of the U.K. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not introduced any limits yet. Hancock said the new limitations on gatherings will be complemented by tighter rules for the hospitality sector. The U.K. has Europes worst death toll from the virus, with nearly 41,600 deaths within 28 days of testing positive. The spike in U.K. cases follows big daily case increases in Spain and France, both of whom have seen rising numbers of COVID-19 patients being hospitalized.
Young adults blamed as UK sees sharp spike in virus cases
The spike in U.K. cases follows big daily case increases in Spain and France, both of whom have seen the number of COVID-19 patients being hospitalized rise over the summer. The worry is that the U.K. will also start seeing a big increase in those virus patients being hospitalized and dying. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative government has faced strong criticism for its mixed messages since it started easing the coronavirus lockdown in late spring. Still, the U.K. is testing tens of thousands more people than it did in the early months of the pandemic. Hancock also announced new lockdown restrictions for the northwest England city of Bolton, which has the highest number of per capita coronavirus cases in the U.K.
UK slaps quarantines on Greek island travelers as cases rise
Hundreds of thousands of British schoolchildren are heading back to classrooms, with the country watching nervously to see if reopening schools brings a surge in coronavirus infections. Lesbos, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos have been added to the U.K. quarantine list. Britain has Europe's worst death toll from the virus, recording more than 41,500 deaths within 28 days of testing positive. Spains Balearic and Canary Islands remain on the U.K. governments quarantine list. Shapps said the government is working actively on the practicalities of using testing to release people from quarantine earlier than 14 days."
Britain aims for virus testing success after a wobbly start
Britain lacked mass testing capacity when its virus outbreak began and in March abandoned efforts to track and test the contacts of all people with confirmed cases, a decision authorities now say they regret. The U.K. has hugely expanded its testing capacity since then. The government says it has the capacity to perform almost 350,000 tests each day, though only about 180,000 a day are getting processed. It's goal is to reach the capacity for 500,000 tests a day by the end of October. A phone app once touted by the government as a key contact-tracing tool is still in the testing stage.
'Let's roll': London's Heathrow urges testing at UK airports
People queue in line to check-in for a British Airways flight to Heathrow airport, Friday Aug.14, 2020 at Nice airport, southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)LONDON London's Heathrow Airport, the U.K.'s busiest, unveiled a new coronavirus testing facility Wednesday that it says could halve the length of time people have to stay at home after arriving from countries on the British governments quarantine list. Over the past few weeks, British tourists have faced travel chaos after the government took countries off its safe list at very short notice. The new facility has been set up by aviation services company Collinson and logistics firm Swissport at Heathrows Terminal 2. The statistics agency will increase the number of people it tests under the survey from 28,000 every two weeks to 150,000 by October.
UK scraps public health body amid criticized virus response
LONDON The British government announced Tuesday it is scrapping a public health agency that has taken blame for the countrys uneven response to the coronavirus. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the work of Public Health England will become part of a new body, the National Institute for Health Protection, which will guard against infectious diseases and biosecurity threats. Hancock said it would learn from public health agencies in South Korea and Germany, which have been praised for their strong response to the pandemic. Public Health England has been criticized for taking an overly centralized approach to testing and contact-tracing, and of abandoning widespread testing for the virus in mid-March because it lacked the diagnostic capacity. Its defenders argue that Britains Conservative governments have been cutting public health budgets for years, leaving the country ill-prepared to deal with the pandemic.
UK demands the public wear face coverings in shops
(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)LONDON Britains government will demand people wear face coverings in shops as it seeks to clarify its message after weeks of prevarication amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The order comes into effect on July 24, giving shops and the police time to prepare. Environment Secretary George Eustice also did not rule out the possibility that mandatory face coverings would become compulsory in offices and other workplaces in the future. Scotland has already made masks mandatory in stores. A growing body of evidence suggests wearing face coverings brings some benefit in preventing the spread of the virus.
Perfect storm: Mass gatherings in England stoke concerns
Liverpool supporters celebrate as they gather outside of Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England, Thursday, June 25, 2020 after Liverpool clinched the English Premier League title. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that authorities have the power to close beaches and other public spaces in England amid mounting concerns over the publics adherence to social-distancing rules. That's particularly true in Bournemouth, a coastal town in southern England that witnessed huge crowds of sun-seekers on its beaches in the past couple of days. Under lockdown restrictions in England, groups are limited to six people and people are advised to avoid public transport whenever possible. In Liverpool, the scenes were far more jubilant as the Reds ended a three-decade wait to be champions of England again.
Analysis: Attempt to shame Premier League players backfired
(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)MANCHESTER A Premier League shutdown that began with the British government trying to shame stars over their wealth ended with admiration for a player's determination to ensure children won't starve. Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford received an unprecedented outpouring of congratulatory messages ahead of Wednesday's resumption of the world's most followed soccer league. It was at the same podium three months ago, early in the coronavirus pandemic, that the government tried to shame stars of the worlds richest league. I think well look back on the last three months with some pride at the way football as an industry has responded to some of the challenge, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said. And alongside fellow players, Sterling launched a #TimeForChange campaign video that ended with him saying: I will never tire of being black.The league is more reticent to say how it can create a more inclusive environment.
UK study finds minorities at higher risk of COVID-19 death
LONDON People from ethnic minorities have died from COVID-19 in larger relative numbers in England than their white compatriots, according to a study published by health authorities Tuesday. The study, commissioned by the government in April at the height of the U.K. outbreak, found that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had about twice the risk of death from the virus as white Britons. It said people of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other black backgrounds also had a higher risk of death than white Britons of between 10% and 50%. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was inarguable that being black or from a minority ethnic background is a major risk factor" in the pandemic. The study did not take account of factors such as obesity which increases the risk of death from the coronavirus or the occupations of those who have died.
UK eases lockdown restrictions but many flout guidelines
(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)LONDON The U.K. eased more lockdown restrictions Monday despite warnings from some health officials of another spike in coronavirus infections, especially if Britons persisted in flouting the new guidelines. She said police in Scotland dispersed 797 groups on Saturday alone for not abiding by the guidelines, five times higher than the previous Saturday. The four nations that make up the U.K. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are moving at different speeds out of the lockdown that began March 23. He also said the U.K. recorded 111 new coronavirus-related deaths, the lowest daily total since the lockdown was put in place on March 23. Schools have remained open to vulnerable and key worker children throughout the lockdown period, and as the lockdown eases, it is likely this will lead to greater demand for places, he said.
2nd UK Cabinet member joins Johnson in having virus symptoms
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2019 file photo, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, and Health Minister Matt Hancock visit Bassetlaw District General Hospital on their General Election campaign in Worksop, England. Matt Hancock has tested positive for the new coronavirus, Friday March 27, 2020, the same day as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was confirmed to have COVID-19. (Christopher Furlong/Pool via AP, File)LONDON – Another member of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet has developed symptoms of COVID-19, as the number of people with the coronovrius to die in the U.K. passed the 1,000 mark Saturday. “He continues to lead the government's effort in combating Covid-19,'' Sharma told reporters, "This morning he held a video conference call and he will continue to lead right from the front on this. The medical officer, Dr. Chris Whitty, has been advising the prime minister during the virus pandemic and not said if he was tested.