Relaxed lockdown restrictions will be “impossible to police” and requiring officers to carry out further enforcement risks damaging their relationship with the public, police chiefs argue. Once the public are given greater freedoms, such as seeing more friends and returning to work, they should be relied upon to do the right thing, while officers refocus on crime, chief constables have said. One told The Times: “If people are allowed to meet up with a circle of up to ten people, we shouldn’t be asked to police that. How ridiculous is that? It would be impossible to police.
Boris Johnson will on Monday describe the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine as “the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes” as he urges countries not to see it as a competition. The Prime Minister will co-host a virtual Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Conference, aiming to raise £7 billion to develop vaccines, treatments and tests to help end the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Johnson is expected to say: “To win this battle, we must work together to build an impregnable shield around all our people, and that can only be achieved by developing and mass-producing a vaccine.
Only a mass-produced vaccine will defeat the coronavirus, Boris Johnson will say today as he delays a plan to ease the lockdown amid fears of moving too fast. The prime minister is to tell an international conference, which is being held via video link, that it is “humanity against the virus”. He will describe the hunt for a vaccine as the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes. Mr Johnson is now not expected to set out a “comprehensive plan” for reopening workplaces and schools until Sunday, giving himself more time to examine crucial data from a new study of how the virus is spreading.
A professor at Imperial College London claims there may never be a coronavirus vaccine and that governments will be left to respond to future outbreaks of the pathogen with regional or national lockdowns. Dr David Nabarro, a special envoy to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Covid-19, said no ‘absolute assumption’ can be made ‘that a vaccine will appear at all’. The global health professor argued that ‘high hopes’ are ‘dashed’ because scientists are ‘dealing with biological systems, we’re not dealing with mechanical systems’.
A leading professor has claimed a coronavirus vaccine may never be developed and regular lockdowns may become the new normal. Imperial College London’s Dr David Navarro, an envoy to the World Health Organisation on the coronavirus, said no “absolute assumption” can be made “that a vaccine will appear at all”. He added that hopes are “dashed” as scientists are “dealing with biological systems – not mechanical systems”.
A rival Sage committee will on Monday back the public use of facemasks in a live-streamed meeting designed to embarrass The Government for its alleged lack of transparency. Chaired by Professor Sir David King, the chief scientific advisor from 2000 to 2007, the group will stage a press conference to be broadcast on Youtube just before the daily Downing Street briefing, in which it will present the evidence for a quicker end to the lockdown. The committee has been established following criticism that the membership of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, and the advice it gives to ministers, is broadly secret.
Surgical masks recommended by Public Health England for NHS staff dealing with undiagnosed patients do not protect against coronavirus, experts say. A test of the standard surgical mask, known as Type IIR, found that it was not sealed sufficiently to protect wearers from particles that spread the virus. Unlike the FFP3 industrial mask, worn to treat patients who have tested positive, the surgical mask allows wearers to breathe in unfiltered air from the sides.
Foreign visitors to the UK could face time in quarantine as the Government ‘actively’ considers stronger anti-coronavirus measures at the borders, a senior minister revealed today. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that new arrivals could also be forced to download a new contract app onto their smartphone as a condition of entry. New restrictions would make the UK one of the last countries to introduce them, with the country very much an outlier in recent weeks by not halting inbound flights or insisting arrivals are checked.
The government is “actively looking at” quarantining people who arrive into the UK once lockdown begins to ease, a Cabinet minister confirmed today. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said he would need to ensure the UK is not “importing” coronavirus once the infection rate here begins to come down. Reports suggest people will be asked to isolate themselves for two weeks after arriving in the UK. Airline groups have sounded the alarm over the proposed rule which they say would “kill” international travel.
Matt Hancock has fanned a wave of confusion over the government’s instructions to elderly people during the coronavirus lockdown. The Health Secretary last night rubbished reports that healthy over-70s were among the ‘clinically vulnerable’ who had been told to shield for 12 weeks. But he later published a link to NHS guidance which puts all over-70s, regardless of medical condition, into the ‘clinically vulnerable’ category. His remarks were branded ‘contradictory’ and further drew accusations of ‘re-writing history’ because Boris Johnson said over-70s should brace for 12 weeks indoors.
The Health Secretary has sowed confusion about whether those aged over 70 should be self-isolating from coronavirus or not – after appearing to muddle up the government’s instructions to different groups. Matt Hancock took to social media to claim that “the clinically vulnerable, who are advised to stay in lockdown for 12 weeks, emphatically DO NOT include all over 70s”. The statement appears to contradict government advice that over-70s should minimise contact with the outside world, as well as Mr Hancock’s own prior statements.
Britain faces “social unrest” if over 70s are forced to endure a longer lockdown than younger generations, Baroness Altmann has warned. The Conservative peer said that many older people would “risk going to prison rather than being forced to isolate at home” if the Government implemented such a policy. It has been reported that the over 70s could be forced to stay at home for another year under measures being drawn up by ministers to lift the lockdown. Under leaked proposals, people judged to be vulnerable could be shielded from normal life for up to 18 months, or until a vaccine is found.
Older people will “rebel and risk prison” if they are forced to remain in lockdown longer while restrictions are eased, a former Tory pensions minister has warned. Conservative peer Baroness Altmann argued such a requirement would be “age discrimination” and could cost lives as well as threaten social unrest. Her comments come amid growing concern the over-70s could be told to isolate for longer than the rest of the population when the rules to cope with COVID-19 start to be relaxed.
KEEPING over 70s in lockdown could lead to “social unrest” as many would be “willing to risk jail” to break out, a former minister has said. Baroness Ros Altmann said using age-based criteria to lift lockdown restrictions would be “age discrimination”. The former pensions minister said it would send a message that older people’s lives “don’t count in the same way as others”. Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said on Friday that officials are considering if stricter measures will still apply to the elderly when restrictions start to ease.
The government has been warned it faces “social unrest” and deaths if over-70s are told to remain under lockdown for longer than the young. Doctors’ leaders have piled pressure on Boris Johnson not to split people by age when he announces a “roadmap” out of lockdown this week. The Prime Minister is expected to announce on Thursday that lockdown will continue for at least three more weeks. However, he could announce some small changes.
The elderly could be stripped of free rush-hour travel as ministers suggest one-way systems on train platforms in the latest round of ideas to get London transport moving again. Insiders have suggested Freedom Pass holders in the capital could be prevented from travelling for free during rush-hour as Britain’s coronavirus lockdown is eased. Transport chiefs have also said train capacity could be limited by 15 to 20 per cent in order for two-metre social distancing measures to be upheld.
Being fat triggers a ‘troublesome’ immune response to COVID-19, scientists fear. Scientists advising Government ministers are exploring potential underlying mechanisms that could increase the risk of death for obese patients. According to data from intensive care units, people of a healthy weight make up a minority of critically ill COVID-19 patients. Almost three quarters are carrying extra weight. And NHS hospital data this week revealed obesity raises the risk of dying from coronavirus by nearly 40 per cent.
UK government scientists are urgently investigating whether people living with obesity may be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, after emerging data from intensive care units suggested a stronger link than previously thought, BuzzFeed News can reveal. Senior ministers have privately raised fears that Britain’s obesity rate, which is higher than most other developed countries, could be a factor in its comparatively higher death toll.
The official list of COVID symptoms has been branded ‘dodgy’ and ‘inadequate’ by a top scientific advisor. Dr Nick Summerton called for tiredness, breathlessness and loss of appetite to be included in key symptom list. Currently the NHS only notes a persistent cough and fever as the main signs, and says these are the only symptoms to warrant calling 111. But the World Health Organization lists 13 symptoms, and the CDC bumped its up to nine last week. Both acknowledge muscle pain, loss of taste and smell and headaches as typical signs of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
A first coronavirus antibody test could be approved by Public Health England (PHE) this week, with hundreds of thousands available each week if officials give the green light. Government scientists are currently evaluating the accuracy of a test made by Roche, which was cleared for use by the US Food and Drug Administration on Saturday. They are expected to report their findings by the end of the week, the Swiss manufacturer said last night.
Accurate antibody tests that are able to tell millions of Britons if they have had coronavirus are set to be rolled out across the UK within a fortnight. Testing giant Roche Diagnostics claims that it has created a kit that is accurate enough to be used at scale – and the firm says it has enough stock to provide hundreds of thousands to the NHS every week. It comes after weeks of disappointments regarding antibody tests, which are designed to tell someone if they have contracted the virus in the past and indicate whether they may now be immune.
A new “fast and accurate” coronavirus antibody test has been developed by scientists in Edinburgh, although the company fears the NHS could miss out amid interest in Europe for the machines. Researchers for blood-screening company Quotient have developed a new test for whether people are immune to Covid-19 by spotting whether a person has developed antibodies to the disease. Each serological screening machine has capacity for up to 3,000 tests a day and produces results in 35 minutes with 99.8% accuracy, the firm said.
An NHS coronavirus contact tracing app will be trialled on the Isle of Wight this week ahead of a nationwide roll-out later in May, transport secretary Grant Shapps said. The NHSX app, which will be ‘completely confidential’, will need to be downloaded by more than half of the UK population in a ‘huge national effort’, he added. The smartphone app would allow Britons to report any symptoms of coronavirus, with the data only seen by NHS staff. Those who have been in contact with someone who believes they have Covid-19 would then receive an alert through the app.
A new NHS app to help trace those who have come into contact with coronavirus will be rolled out later this month, the government has said. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Sunday morning that the software will “go into testing this week on the Isle of Wight”. He also said the government was looking at staggering work start times as part of measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 when the lockdown is lifted. The app is being developed by NHSX, the digital arm of the health service.
An NHS contact-tracing app aimed at limiting the future spread of coronavirus will be trialled on the Isle of Wight this week, a cabinet minister has told Sky News. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed the island in the English Channel will be the first place in the UK where the new, “exciting” NHS smartphone app will be used. It has previously been suggested that areas that trial the contact-tracing app could also have coronavirus lockdown measures eased, in an experiment to see how the entire UK could exit stringent social distancing rules.
One of the five temporary Nightingale hospitals could be mothballed within days under plans ministers will consider this week. The health centre was built in nine days to expand the NHS’s intensive care capacity to handle an expected surge in coronavirus cases. The facility at the ExCel Centre in east London, which opened on April 3, has the capacity for 4,000 beds. But it faces closure after remaining largely empty, with just 51 patients treated in its first three weeks. Staff at the hospital were told at a meeting on Friday that a decision on its future was expected to be made early this week.
Union chiefs have today hit out at reports that the government could look to re-open primary schools in England as early as June 1 and warned decision makers they face losing the confidence of head teachers and staff if plans are rushed. Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Education Union, the largest teachers’ trade union for England and Wales, says talks about a June re-opening are ‘very premature’. It comes as reports suggest Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hoping to put teachers on three weeks’ notice to re-open the country’s primary schools, which have been closed to most pupils since March following the outbreak of coronavirus.
From one-way systems through corridors to meals on playing fields, schools across Britain are trying to plan ahead to help them reopen. Yet as they prepare for a phased return of pupils, many are still wrestling with the most basic practicalities. “I would struggle to get a third of the school back,” said Robin Bevan, headteacher at Southend High School for Boys, having made some rough calculations about how the current social distancing rules would work in his 1,300-pupil secondary.
A quarter of A-level students preparing to go to university are not being given any work to do by their schools, research shows. Tens of thousands of pupils whose final exams were cancelled because of the coronavirus are not receiving any assignments from their teachers. This is despite the fact that they will have the option to sit exams in the autumn if they are unhappy with the A-level grades allocated to them by teachers, who will use prior attainment to reach their judgments.
One in five children will be urged to return to the classroom from next week as part of a gradual reopening of schools. More than 1.7million pupils who are vulnerable or whose parents are key workers will be asked to go back. Students in year six will be first full classes through the doors – potentially from June 1 – to help them prepare for the transition to high school.
Students will have to pay full tuition fees of £9,250 this autumn even if universities cannot open and courses are taught online, ministers have said. The government has rejected calls for a financial bailout from vice-chancellors to help them to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Universities had asked for £2.2 billion extra in research funding to make up for the predicted fall in overseas students in the next academic year.
A charity fearing a puppy crisis is urging the public to remember that “a dog is for life, not just for lockdown”. Dogs Trust is asking people to weigh up if they are ready for the responsibilities of dog ownership, with online searches about getting a puppy surging by 120%. The dog welfare charity is concerned there may be a spike in people giving up their dog when normality resumes, adding this is the reality that often follows Christmas when people also get dogs on a whim.
More than 300,000 Britons have quit smoking during the coronavirus crisis as evidence mounts that the habit leaves them more vulnerable to Covid-19, a survey suggests. A further 550,000 Britons have tried to quit, while 2.4 million have cut down, according to the joint study by the UK arm of YouGov’s international Covid-19 tracker in conjunction with anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). The survey, of 1,004 people, suggested 2% of smokers had now quit due to Covid-19 concerns.
Ministers were made “fully aware” by intelligence agencies that China had covered up the true scale of the Covid-19 outbreak, it was claimed on Sunday night, raising questions over Britain’s decision to delay the lockdown. The Government in Westminster was told “not to believe Beijing’s claims” from the outset and to treat the information coming out of China with scepticism, The Telegraph understands. A senior, former MI6 official said the intelligence agencies knew what was “really happening” in China and passed that information to ministers.
CHINA deliberately hid or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak leading to tens of thousands of deaths around the world, a damning intelligence report has claimed. The 15-page dossier, apparently compiled by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service for “Five Eyes” partners the US, UK, New Zealand and Canada, may bolster calls for billions of pounds worth of reparations against Beijing.