England Ready To Host More Euro 2020 Games – Johnson

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he holds a remote press conference to update the nation on the post-Brexit trade agreement, inside 10 Downing Street in central London on December 24, 2020. Photo by Paul GROVER / POOL / AFP)

 

Johnson told The Sun that his government’s ambitions went further in a joint United Kingdom and Ireland candidacy to host the 2030 World Cup.

The Euros are set to be played in 12 cities across the continent from June 11, after being postponed last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The tabloid said ministers are holding talks with European football’s governing body UEFA about hosting more games due to rising cases across the continent and the slow roll out of vaccines.

Britain has been one of the nations hardest-hit by the virus but has already vaccinated 20 million people with at least one dose and plans to finish the whole population by the end of July.

Johnson’s spokesman last week dismissed talk about England hosting the whole tournament but Johnson indicated the country could take on more than just the semi-finals and final at Wembley.

“Any other matches they want hosted, we are certainly on for that!” he said. We are hosting the Euros. We are hosting the semis and the final.

“If there’s, you know, if they want any other matches that they want hosted, we’re certainly on for that but at the moment that’s where we are with UEFA.”

The Sun said finance minister Finance Rishi Sunak will announce in his Budget on Wednesday funds of £2.8 million ($3.9 million) to promote the UK and Ireland’s bid for the 2030 World Cup.

England has hosted the tournament once before in 1966 — the only time they have won the trophy — and lost out for the hosting of the 2006 edition to Germany and the 2018 finals to Russia.

“We are very, very keen to bring football home in 2030,” said Johnson. “I do think it’s the right place.

“It’s the home of football, it’s the right time. It will be an absolutely wonderful thing for the country.”

An Irish government spokesman confirmed they were keen to be part of a joint bid, and an assessment would be made.

“We look forward to further extensive engagement and collaboration as we seek to refine our hosting proposals in the coming months,” said prime minister Micheal Martin’s spokesman.

 

England Launches Fines Crackdown On Lockdown-Breakers

Paramedics wheel a patient outside the Royal London Hospital in east London on January 21, 2021. – Britain’s coronavirus mortality rate has risen nearly 15 percent over the past week, as surging infection rates throughout December have now fed into increasing hospital admissions and deaths. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

Police in England will be able to issue bigger fines to those breaking coronavirus lockdown measures by partying, with penalties of up to £6,400 ($8,775, 7,200 euros), interior minister Priti Patel said Thursday.

The new fines regime, which comes into force next week, targets those attending house parties and other illegal gatherings, with penalties doubling for each offence.

People caught at parties of more than 15 will initially face £800 fines, and could then face a maximum of £6,400 for further breaches.

“The science is clear: such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health,” Patel said at a Downing Street press conference.

“We will not stand by while a small minority put others at risk.”

Current fines stand at £200, with police only able to hit the organisers of events comprising 30 or more people with the highest penalties of £10,000.

London’s Metropolitan Police said earlier this week it had issued more than 140 fines totalling £39,000 over two days.

READ ALSO: US Resumes WHO Support, Launches $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Plan

That included breaking up a 40-strong house party Friday in the east of the capital where attendees became hostile and three officers were injured.

The new crackdown comes with England weeks into its third national lockdown, with schools and non-essential shops closed for the foreseeable future.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed the fresh stay-at-home order after the emergence of a more contagious virus variant and the easing of restrictions in some parts of the nation over Christmas.

Similar rules are in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where devolved governments have responsibility for health policy.

Leaders in Belfast on Thursday announced its lockdown will be extended for a further four weeks to March 5 as transmission rates decrease there slowly.

Across the UK, the number of new cases has fallen nearly a quarter over the past seven days, after weeks of surging infections.

The increased case counts through December and earlier this month have led to dramatic spikes in hospitalisations and fatalities, with record-breaking daily death tolls this week.

After announcing another 1,290 deaths Thursday, Britain’s total mortality count stood at 94,580, while cases surpassed 3.5 million.

England Opens Mass Vaccination Sites As COVID-19 Spike Fears Spread

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to patients and staff at a mass vaccination centre at Ashton Gate stadium in Bristol, southwest England on January 11, 2021. (Photo by Eddie MULHOLLAND / POOL / AFP)

 

Seven mass coronavirus vaccination sites opened across England on Monday as the government raced to dose millions of people while a new strain of the disease runs rampant across the country.

The sites include football stadiums and a horse racing course, and are located in cities including Bristol, London, Newcastle and Manchester.

They are to vaccinate thousands per week and several more sites are expected to follow, according to the National Health Service (NHS) in England.

“I feel very relieved,” said Moira Edwards, 88, after receiving her first vaccination at Epsom Downs Racecourse, south of London, which is more famous for the Derby.

“I feel this is the way back. I can’t understand anybody not wanting to have it,” she added.

The mainly elderly recipients of the jab, some of whom used walkers, sticks or were pushed in wheelchairs to get to the centre, were given “I’ve had my Covid vaccination” stickers.

READ ALSO: Cyprus Leader Ready To Attend UN Meet On Ending Deadlock

Hospitals and pharmacies are set to begin offering the vaccine later this week, with the government hoping to have doses available for 12 million of England’s 56 million population by mid-February.

A further three million are being targeted by the same date in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Priority is being given to the elderly, care home residents and workers, the clinically extremely vulnerable, and health and social care staff.

Some 2.4 million people have already been vaccinated across the UK since the roll-out began of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab on December 8, according to vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.

Britain has since approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna jabs. The government has drafted in logistics experts from the army to help in the inoculation drive.

– ‘Worst weeks’ –

Britain is grappling with its worst outbreak of the disease since it hit the country early last year.

The record case rates and daily death toll are being blamed on a new, more transmissible strain, which has piled pressure on the NHS, leading to warnings of shortages of critical care beds.

The state-run NHS risks being overwhelmed and the country is in its third lockdown until at least mid-February, with predictions the restrictions could last even longer.

In Northern Ireland, health chiefs said the province’s hospitals were under intense pressure, and two health trusts had to draft in off-duty staff to alleviate pressure due the spike in cases.

“The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of numbers into the NHS,” England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty told BBC television on Monday.

“What we need to do, before the vaccines have had their effect… is we need to really double down” on observing lockdown measures, he added.

Britain on Saturday said it had recorded over three million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began last year.

On Friday, it reported a record 1,325 deaths over a 24-hour period of people who tested positive for the virus, with fears that the fatalities could remain consistently high for weeks.

The full death toll now stands at more than 80,000, the highest in Europe.

At Leatherhead, near Epsom, bodies were being stored in a temporary 1,400-capacity mortuary because there was no space at local hospitals.

The local council said 170 bodies, more than half of which had been Covid fatalities, were being held at the makeshift facility, but the county would be in “real difficulty” if numbers rose further.

Zahawi urged the public to follow the lockdown rules, which include school closures, that some have criticised for not being strict enough.

“In supermarkets, we need to make sure people actually wear masks and follow the one-way system rule,” he told Sky News.

“We don’t want to go any tougher because this is a pretty tough lockdown, but what we need is people to behave as if they’ve got the virus so we can bring this virus under control whilst we vaccinate.”

England Cricket Team Passes COVID-19 Tests

Graeme Robertson / AFP / POOL

 

The England cricket team all passed coronavirus tests after all-rounder Moeen Ali was found to have Covid-19 and have been cleared to start restricted training in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, a spokesman said.

Moeen was found to have the coronavirus shortly after the squad arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday and has been put in isolation in a hotel away from the other players.

The result was an early blow to preparations for the two Tests in Sri Lanka that start in Galle on January 14. But the plans in the secure bubble in Hambantota in the south of the island are now largely back on track.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records Highest Single-Day Record Of 1,354 Fresh COVID-19 Cases 

“Good news from the camp all PCR tests from yesterday are negative except for Moeen Ali, and we can start controlled training this afternoon,” said an England spokesman.

Chris Woakes, who had been a close contact of Moeen, tested negative but will continue to isolate in his room. The tourists must undergo a third test on Thursday.

Sri Lanka have just finished a tour in South Africa where they lost two Tests and are due to return home on Friday. They will also have to go into a biosecure bubble.

Joe Root and his players arrived on a charter flight as nearly all international flights to Sri Lanka are banned and flights from Britain have been halted following the discovery of a new, more infectious coronavirus strain.

The 18-man England squad, with seven reserves, are resuming a Sri Lanka tour halted by the pandemic in March. England’s tour of South Africa was also cut short last month over coronavirus fears.

Premier League Agrees To Concussion Substitutes

premier-league-fixtures-today
The Premier League was put on hold since mid-March due to COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

The Premier League said Thursday that it had agreed to permit permanent concussion substitutes from next month after football’s lawmakers authorised extensive trials using them.

However, in a meeting on Thursday club bosses in England’s top flight voted for a third time against increasing the number of allowed substitutes from three to five despite the International Football Association Board (IFAB) also extending that rule on Wednesday.

IFAB said the trials using concussion substitutes could begin in January, and the Premier League bosses decided they would be looking at a maximum of two per side per match.

“With player welfare the Premier League’s priority, clubs agreed in principle to introduce additional permanent concussion substitutions following approval of the trial by the International Football Association Board yesterday,” the Premier League said.

“The Premier League will look to implement protocols which will allow a maximum of two concussion substitutes to be used per team, with the opposition side able to use the equivalent number.

READ ALSO: US To Revise COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance After Allergic Reactions

“The additional concussion substitutions may be made regardless of the number of substitutions a team has made already.”

Concussion has become an increasingly hot issue in the sport — rugby union has used head injury replacements for a while — with increasing concern over the amount of former footballers who develop dementia later in life.

Although Premier League clubs once again repudiated moves to allow five substitutes they did agree to allow nine players on the bench as opposed to the present seven.

The measure will come into effect from this weekend’s round of games beginning on Saturday.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had been especially vociferous in his wanting five substitutes due to a lengthening injury list and concerns over the hectic fixture schedule.

Others such as Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder argued against it believing that it would only favour those teams with big squads.

AFP

Full List: France Drawn Against Ukraine, England To Face Poland In 2022 W/Cup Qualifiers

In this file photo taken on July 15, 2018 France’s goalkeeper Hugo Lloris holds the trophy as he celebrates with teammates during the trophy ceremony at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15, 2018. Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

 

Holders France were handed an awkward draw in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup on Monday, with Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina standing in their way on the road to the finals in Qatar, while England will face Poland in their group.

Gareth Southgate’s England, semi-finalists at the 2018 tournament in Russia, will also take on Hungary and Albania as well as two of the minnows of international football, Andorra and San Marino, in Group I.

France will also face Finland — who recently beat Les Bleus in a friendly in Paris — in Group D, with Kazakhstan completing the group that was drawn in a virtual ceremony at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

They are in a group of just five teams because they will be involved in the finals of the UEFA Nations League in Italy in October next year.

The European qualifying competition to reach the finals begins next March, with a total of 13 countries from the continent going through.

Only the winners of each of the 10 groups will qualify automatically for the finals, which are to take place in November and December of 2022.

The 10 runners-up will go into play-offs alongside the two best Nations League group winners who miss out on qualifying via the traditional path.

Those play-offs will produce three more qualifiers in total, with Europe having 13 spots out of the 32 at the finals.

Germany, whose coach Joachim Loew has been under severe pressure after a run of poor recent results for the 2014 World Cup winners, will be expected to come through a group in which Romania and Iceland appear their main threats.

UEFA World Cup 2022 Qualifying Groups 

Group A

Portugal

Serbia

Republic of Ireland

Luxembourg

Azerbaijan

Group B

Spain

Sweden

Greece

Georgia

Kosovo

Group C

Italy

Switzerland

Northern Ireland

Bulgaria

Lithuania

Group D

France

Ukraine

Finland

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Kazakhstan

Group E

Belgium

Wales

Czech Republic

Belarus

Estonia

Group F

Denmark

Austria

Scotland

Israel

Faroe Islands

Moldova

Group G

Netherlands

Turkey

Norway

Montenegro

Latvia

Gibraltar

Group H

Croatia

Slovakia

Russia

Slovenia

Cyprus

Malta

Group I

England

Poland

Hungary

Albania

Andorra

San Marino

Group J

Germany

Romania

Iceland

North Macedonia

Armenia

Liechtenstein

AFP

Johnson Announces Four-Week Lockdown In England As COVID-19 Cases Surge

 

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new four-week coronavirus lockdown in England, which will join several European countries in imposing the measure for a second time, as Slovakia took a different tack and began testing its entire population.

Global infections are fast approaching 46 million, with close to 1.2 million deaths, and Europe is experiencing a dizzying spike in Covid-19 cases.

Under-pressure governments on the continent are scrambling to contain the outbreaks, with the reimposition of restrictions sparking widespread exasperation and sometimes violent protests.

“Now is the time to take action because there’s no alternative,” Johnson said. “We have got to be humble in the face of nature. In this country, alas, as in much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers.”

Under the new lockdown, planned to start on Thursday and end on December 2, England’s population must stay at home except when exemptions apply, such as for work, education or exercise, while all but essential shops will close.

The devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already imposed partial lockdowns.

Britain’s infections surged past one million on Saturday.

Just minutes after Johnson, Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced a partial lockdown with 70 percent of the population going back under restrictions.

Also on Saturday, Austria brought in a second lockdown of its own, while Greece declared a partial one. The new measures came just a day after France started its second lockdown and Belgium said it would tighten its measures.

Italy has also already reintroduced some restrictions.

This time around in Europe, there have been sometimes-violent protests against the measures.

“This city will go bust. There will be nothing left of it,” Roger Stenson, a 73-year-old pensioner in Nottingham, said ahead of Britain’s lockdown announcement, echoing widespread concerns about the economic impact.

“You know, closed shops… There will just be nothing left of it, that’s the problem.”

– ‘I cannot vote for this man’ –

The United States remains the worst-hit country in the world, with 9.1 million infections, more than 230,000 deaths and fresh spikes in many parts of the vast nation.

Covid-19 has been one of the dominant campaign issues ahead of the presidential election on November 3, with millions of jobs lost and Donald Trump facing intense criticism over his handling of the pandemic.

Trump himself got Covid-19, as did members of his family and staff, but he has been critical of lockdown measures over their economic impact, belittled mask-wearing by his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, and organised rallies with thousands of supporters despite warnings about the risk of transmission.

The president has accused the media of overplaying the threat of the virus, but with tens of millions of Americans suffering because of the pandemic, some voters appear to be seeking an alternative.

They include Kimberly McLemore, a 56-year-old from Florida who did not see Trump taking the pandemic seriously.

“In good conscience, I cannot vote for this man,” the lifelong Republican told AFP, adding that both her parents, who are in their eighties, also voted for Biden — the first time they had voted for a Democrat.

– ‘End our misery’ –

With no vaccine yet available, governments have limited tools at their disposal to counter the spread of the virus.

In Slovakia, the government has decided to take a different approach to other European countries and test its entire population of 5.4 million, with Prime Minister Igor Matovic describing the strategy as the EU nation’s “road to freedom”.

But in the lesser privileged parts of the world with little or no infrastructure and resources, there are fewer options.

In northwestern Syria, where around 1.5 million people displaced by war live in overcrowded camps or shelters with poor access to running water, some feel they do not stand a chance.

“We’re scared of the disease but we don’t dare leave,” said 80-year-old Ghatwa al-Mohommad.

“We’re so confused about what we should do. If only God would have us die and end our misery.”

AFP

Millions More Face COVID-19 Restrictions In Northern England

A woman walks past a digital display in Nottingham, central England warning pedestrians that the County is moving into coronavirus Tier 3 restrictions on October 29, 2020.
Darren Staples / AFP

 

Millions of people in northern England face stricter coronavirus rules next week, the government said Friday as it perseveres with a localised response to surging case rates.

From Monday, nearly 2.4 million residents in five districts of West Yorkshire, including in the city of Leeds, will be barred from socialising with other households indoors.

Pubs and bars not serving “substantial meals” must close, alongside casinos, betting shops, soft play facilities, and adult gaming centres.

The public has also been told to avoid unnecessary travel.

The Department of Health said the measures were needed as infection rates in West Yorkshire were “among the highest in the country” and rising rapidly.

The move means more than 11 million people or about a fifth of England’s population will be under the tightest restrictions from next week.

Most of the areas in the “very high” category of the government’s three-tier Covid alert system are in northern and central parts of the country.

Nottingham became the latest city to enter the highest tier Friday.

On Thursday night, young people took to the streets in fancy dress and drank alcohol in large groups before a ban on alcohol sales in shops came into force at 2100 GMT.

Britain has already been the worst-hit in Europe by the pandemic, as more than 45,000 people have died within 28 days after testing positive.

Case rates are spiralling again after a lull, tracking the situation elsewhere in Europe.

Cases are doubling every nine days and rising in all age groups and regions, according to the ongoing study by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI.

– ‘Targeted’ –

Britain’s European neighbours and the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reimposed partial lockdowns to try to cut infection rates.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resisted his top scientists’ advice to follow suit in England, where the UK government sets health policy.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Friday the government would continue its “targeted and focused” strategy of local restrictions in virus hotspots.

“It is the right thing to do to target the virus where it is the greatest threat… and the science backs that up,” he told BBC radio.

“The arbitrariness of a blanket approach would be far worse than the effects of trying to be as targeted as possible.”

Meanwhile, a new study reported Friday that a Covid-19 variant originating in Spanish farm workers has spread rapidly throughout Europe in recent months and now accounts for most cases in Britain.

The variant — called 20A.EU1 — is thought to have been spread from northeastern Spain by people returning from holidays there, according to the study, which is awaiting peer review in a medical journal.

There is currently no evidence that the strain spreads faster or impacts illness severity and immunity.

“We are in the process of working with labs to more closely inspect the mutations, but we actually think that it’s really behaviour here that was the key point,” University of Basel researcher Emma Hodcroft, the study’s lead author, told BBC radio.

AFP

Arsenal’s Saka Makes England Debut As Three Lions Wallop Wales

Wales’ defender Connor Roberts (L) tackles England’s defender Bukayo Saka during the international friendly football match between England and Wales at Wembley stadium in north London on October 8, 2020. Nick Potts / POOL / AFP

 

In-form Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored on his England debut as Gareth Southgate’s experimental side beat Wales 3-0 in Thursday’s friendly.

Calvert-Lewin opened the scoring at Wembley with his 10th goal this season after netting nine times in six games for Everton.

The 23-year-old’s first-half strike was followed by another maiden England goal as Wolves defender Conor Coady struck after the interval.

On his first England start, Southampton striker Danny Ings got the third goal — his first for his country — with a fine overhead kick.

With Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho missing following their Covid-19 breach and a squad packed with players who have already featured heavily for their clubs, Southgate turned to his understudies before England’s Nations League matches against Belgium on Sunday and Denmark on Wednesday.

 

England’s defender Conor Coady (R) scores their second goal during the international friendly football match between England and Wales at Wembley stadium in north London on October 8, 2020.  England won the game 3-0.  Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP

 

It was an encouraging display for the England manager as the least experienced Three Lions team in 44 years, with a total of 54 caps, gave him some food for thought.

Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish provided the assist for Calvert-Lewin’s goal and was a lively presence in his first England start.

Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka lined up at left wing-back and the debutant gradually grew into the game, while Nick Pope replaced error-prone Jordan Pickford in goal and produced a composed display.

Wales, without Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, were beaten for the first time in nine games dating back to June 2019.

They remain without a win over England since 1984, but boss Ryan Giggs had one eye on their Nations League games against the Republic of Ireland and Bulgaria.

– Phoney war –
In their first meeting since England beat Wales at Euro 2016, the visitors should have taken an early lead when Saka’s weak headed clearance fell to Kieffer Moore, who scuffed his shot wide from 12 yards.

It was England’s first game at Wembley in 11 months because of the coronavirus pandemic and the sterile behind closed doors atmosphere meant the ‘Battle of Britain’ felt more like a phoney war at times.

Calvert-Lewin raised the tempo when he got behind the Wales defence and rounded keeper Wayne Hennessey, only to see his shot cleared.

It was a warning that Wales failed to heed and Calvert-Lewin extended his hot streak in the 26th minute.

Grealish cleverly worked a yard of space to loft a fine cross into the six-yard box, where Calvert-Lewin timed his run to evade the flat-footed Chris Mepham and head past Hennessey.

Moore had a chance to equalise when he barged his way through England’s defence, but Nick Pope charged off his line to save at the Wales striker’s feet.

Set up by Southgate with three centre-back and two holding midfielders in Kalvin Phillips and Harry Winks, England were too conservative in the first half — a criticism that was labelled at them in their goalless draw with Denmark in September.

They were much improved after the break and Wales couldn’t cope.

In the absence of the rested Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier was serving as the ninth different England captain under Southgate and the Atletico Madrid defender celebrated the honour by setting up the second goal in the 53rd minute.

Trippier swung his free-kick to the far post and Coady arrived to guide a half-volley past Hennessey from close-range.

Ings put the result beyond doubt in the 63rd minute, meeting Tyrone Mings’ header with a superb overhead kick from six yards.

Grealish was denied a goal by two saves from Hennessey, but England’s new-boys had already made their mark.

AFP

Britain To Impose New Coronavirus Curbs As US Nears 200,000 Deaths

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic.(Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)

 

The British government will announce fresh steps Tuesday to try and stop a coronavirus surge in England, while the United States was on the verge of 200,000 COVID-19 deaths.

The pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down — more than 31.2 million infections have been detected worldwide, with 964,000 deaths — and nations are scrambling to contain new outbreaks.

The ramped-up response in Britain follows warnings that the country could see up to 50,000 cases a day by mid-October, and a month later exceed 200 deaths every day.

France and Spain are battling similar surges.

“If we don’t do enough, the virus will take off and at the moment that is the path that we are clearly on,” said Chris Whitty, the British government’s chief medical officer.

“And if we do not change course, then we are going to find ourselves in a very difficult problem.”

Under new rules to come into force on Thursday, English pubs, bars and other hospitality venues will be required to close at 10 pm. Food and drink outlets will also be restricted to table service only.

Many nations in Europe were easing restrictions after largely overcoming initial outbreaks, but the resurgence of the virus has forced them to tighten curbs again.

In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Andrej Babis admitted Monday that the government had loosened restrictions too quickly.

“Even I got carried away by the coming summer and the general mood,” he said.

“That was a mistake I don’t want to make again.”

– ‘Lies and incompetence’ –
The number of deaths in the United States was close to 200,000 on Tuesday, with infections in the worst-hit nation in the world approaching seven million.

Overall, the US accounts for four percent of the world’s population and 20 percent of its coronavirus deaths.

President Donald Trump has faced intense criticism of his handling of the crisis ahead of the November election.

“Due to Donald Trump’s lies and incompetence in the past six months, (we) have seen one of the gravest losses of American life in history,” his Democratic rival Joe Biden charged on Monday.

“With this crisis, a real crisis, a crisis that required serious presidential leadership, he just wasn’t up to it. He froze. He failed to act. He panicked. And America has paid the worst price of any nation in the world.”

Trump insisted Monday that the United States was “rounding the corner with or without a vaccine”.

But US Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell will warn Tuesday in testimony before a Congressional committee that a full recovery in the world’s biggest economy “is likely to come only when people are confident that it is safe to reengage in a broad range of activities”, according to prepared remarks.

– ‘I’ll never return’ –
A vaccine is considered crucial to ending the pandemic — with multiple development efforts underway around the world — but there are concerns that the poorest nations may not be able to access it.

More than 60 wealthy nations — but not China and the United States — have joined a programmed backed by the World Health Organization to facilitate poor countries’ access to vaccines, according to a list published Monday.

Until one is available, the options for treatment available to the less privileged are limited.

In Mexico, where more than 73,000 people have died, many are choosing to stay at home when they fall ill instead of seeking treatment at creaking public hospitals.

Jessica Castillo in Hidalgo state said she suffered for a week at home, and even had suicidal thoughts.

“I felt that the air I was breathing wasn’t entering my lungs,” said 43-year-old pastry chef, whose coronavirus recovery took more than a month.

“But I said: ‘If I go to hospital, I’ll never return’.”

UK Warned COVID-19 Test Shortages Harming Health System

(FILES) In this file photo Dr. Rhonda Flores looks at protein samples at Novavax labs in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 20, 2020, one of the labs developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, COVID-19. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

 

Healthcare services are being jeopardised by lack of access to coronavirus testing, hospital bosses in England warned on Tuesday.

NHS Providers, which represents the heads of hospital trusts in the state-run National Health Service, said there were “current capacity problems with the testing regime”.

Its chief executive Chris Hopson said the government should prioritise health workers, as shortages of tests had caused a slew of staff absences in major cities.

Patients were also struggling to get tests, compounding delays within the NHS that have worsened since the outbreak began.

“We have now got cases where patients who should be being treated, we can’t treat them because they can’t get access to a test,” he told Sky News television in an interview.

“So, for them that’s a real problem.”

Hopson spoke after LBC radio reported on Monday that no coronavirus tests were available in any of the 10 worst hotspots in England.

The revelation followed weekend reports of a backlog of 185,000 swab tests, and that the system was so stretched samples were being sent to labs in Italy and Germany.

The UK government has blamed surging demand for the situation and promised increased capacity while urging people only to get tested if they are showing symptoms.

Interior minister Priti Patel denied claims of acute shortages in England’s hotspots, saying mobile testing units were boosting capacity in areas under local lockdowns.

“Clearly there is much more work that needs to be undertaken with Public Health England and the actual public health bodies in those particular local areas,” she told BBC radio on Tuesday.

Britain, which has been the worst-hit country in Europe registering nearly 42,000 deaths, has seen a resurgence in the virus in recent weeks.

The country recorded more than 3,000 new cases on three consecutive days over the weekend, for the first time since May.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged to have a “world-beating” testing and tracing operation in place by June.

But alongside the faltering testing regime, the tracing system is still failing to reach the required number of people to work effectively.

Meanwhile, a much-touted smartphone app to help trace people is yet to launch in England.

Scotland, which runs health from the devolved administration in Edinburgh, launched an app last week using technology developed by Apple and Google.

AFP

Tighter Socialising Rules In England After COVID-19 Spike

Workers wear NHS-branded Test and Trace high-vis jackets as they work at an NHS COVID-19 walk-in testing centre in Bolton, northern England on September 9, 2020, as local lockdown restrictions are put in place due to a spike in cases of the novel coronavirus in the city. – The UK government, which controls health policy in England, imposed tougher restrictions on Bolton, near the northwest city of Manchester, after a “very significant rise” in cases. Bolton was found to have 120 cases per 100,000 people — the highest in the country. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

 

The UK government on Wednesday sets out tighter rules on social gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with concern mounting at rising infection rates among the young.

The law in England will change from next week to reduce the number of people who can gather socially from 30 to six, with some exemptions.

A new public information campaign was also launched to emphasise the importance of hand washing, the use of face coverings and maintaining social distancing.

“We need to act now to stop the virus spreading,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in comments before an expected news conference later Wednesday.

More than 41,500 people confirmed to have coronavirus have died in Britain, the worst toll in Europe.

The death rate has now fallen to its lowest level since mid-March.

But as in other parts of Europe, cases are increasing, with almost 3,000 daily infections reported in recent days, and concern the outbreak is slipping out of control.

Johnson’s office said medical and scientific advisers had agreed that “urgent action is needed”, while police had also asked for the rules to be simplified.

Current guidelines stipulate that people must not socialise outside in a group of more than six people from different households.

But the law actually puts that limit at 30 in private spaces.

From Monday, this will be reduced to six, except for large families, weddings, funerals, organised team sports, workplaces and educational settings.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News television in an interview: “Abiding by these rules is absolutely vital to protect life.

“We’ve seen the increase in the number of cases, sadly, in the last few days. We’ve seen that across Europe, there’s a second wave that many countries have experienced.”

– Targeted action –

The UK government, which controls health policy in England, imposed tougher restrictions on Bolton, near the northwest city of Manchester, after a “very significant rise” in cases.

Bolton was found to have 120 cases per 100,000 people — the highest in the country.

Hancock told parliament on Tuesday contact tracing data had shown this was “partly due to socialising by people in their 20s and 30s”.

A number of pubs were identified as hotspots, and curbs were put on opening hours of hospitality venues, and locals were banned from socialising with people outside their household.

The latest targeted local restrictions follow similar action in Caerphilly, south Wales, and East Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire, in the west of Scotland.

The developments come as the UK government is trying to get the economy moving again after nearly three months of lockdown imposed in late March.

It has encouraged people to go back to work and use a government-subsidised restaurant scheme to boost revenues for eateries hit hard by the shutdown.

Critics say such measures have only exacerbated infection rates as young people in particular head out to pubs with scant regard for social distancing.

Hancock warned that although younger people were less likely to develop serious forms of Covid-19, they could easily pass it to those more vulnerable, particularly the elderly.

AFP