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Tuesday, Aug 11, 2020

Coronavirus latest: UK puts brakes on easing curbs; US pledges billions for vaccine

Coronavirus latest: UK puts brakes on easing curbs; US pledges billions for vaccine

Dr Anthony Fauci’s testimony comes at a time when early progress on combating the virus seems to have been lost and uncertainty clouds the US’ path forward.
Britain on Friday “put the brakes on” easing lockdown measures and imposed new rules on millions of households in northern England, following concerns over a spike in coronavirus infections.

The reopening of high-risk activities such as casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks, which was meant to begin on Saturday, will be delayed until at least August 15, as will the reintroduction of indoor performances and pilot schemes of larger crowds at sporting events, Boris Johnson
announced.

“I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional.. that we would not hesitate to put the brakes on if required. Our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal,” the Prime Minister said in a Downing Street briefing.

Johnson, who earlier this week warned of a “second wave” of cases in Europe, added that Britain “cannot be complacent” about increasing infection numbers.

His announcement came hours after the government increased regional lockdown measures - under which people from different households are banned from meeting indoors - for some four million people across Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the restrictions were being brought in because people were “meeting and not abiding to social distancing”.

“We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of Covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe,” Hancock said on Twitter.

Government data released on Friday showed there was “some evidence that the incidence of new infections has increased in recent weeks” in England.

However, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said “I don’t think it is helpful” to talk yet of a second wave sweeping across Europe.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned her citizens against travelling to the affected areas.

“To... minimise risks of onward transmission here, @scotgov is STRONGLY advising against non essential travel between Scotland and these parts of the north of England,” she wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the US government’s top infectious disease expert will return to Capitol Hill on Friday to testify before a special House panel investigating the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Anthony Fauci’s testimony comes at a time when early progress on combating the virus seems to have been lost and uncertainty clouds the nation’s path forward.

He is testifying alongside Dr Robert Redfield, head of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and Admiral Brett Giroir, a Health and Human Services official and doctor serving as the “testing tsar”.

The panel, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, is divided about how to reopen schools and businesses, mirroring divisions among Americans.

A rebound of cases across the South and West has dashed hopes for a quick return to normal life. Problems with the availability and timeliness of testing continue to be reported. And the race for a vaccine, though progressing rapidly, has yet to deliver a breakthrough.

Fauci’s public message in recent days has been that Americans cannot afford a devil-may-care attitude towards Covid-19, and individuals need to double down on basic measures such as wearing masks in public, keeping their distance from others, and avoiding crowds and indoor spaces such as bars.
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