A 61-year-old man has died in the Gaza Strip after contracting the coronavirus, Palestinian authorities said on Wednesday as they clamped down on an outbreak in the enclave.
The man had suffered previous illnesses and had been on a respirator, the health ministry said. It was the first death among the general population since an infected woman died at a quarantine centre in March.
Health officials said nine more cases were discovered on Wednesday. Six of them were in the isolated Maghazi refugee camp where a first four cases had been confirmed on Monday, prompting Gaza’s Hamas authorities to impose a full lockdown.
The three other cases were in northern Gaza Strip, indicating the virus has begun to spread into different areas of the enclave of 2 million people.
The outbreak outside Maghazi remains slow but it cemented concerns by local and international health organisations over the territory’s potentially disastrous combination of poverty, densely populated refugee camps and limited hospital capacity.
With local authorities maintaining a lockdown in all cities, people were instructed to stay home at all times and to wear face masks if, in cases of extreme necessity, they had to go out.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which helps over half of Gaza’s population, said it was looking into alternative plans to continue health, education and food services to beneficiaries should the lockdown be extended.
Adnan Abu Hasna, UNRWA spokesman in Gaza, said clinics remained open but physical presence was prohibited, instead staffers were providing medical consultation over the phone and some medication was delivered to patients at home.
Abus Hasna said:
We are in constant consultation with the health ministry and we are also in discussion over the implementation of our own alternative plans in order to ensure the continuation of delivering services to refugees.
Monday’s cases were uncovered after a woman traveled to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where she tested positive, the Gaza health ministry said.
A ministry spokesman urged everyone who might have visited a supermarket outside a hospital in central Gaza to quarantine themselves and report to medics immediately.
The most obvious next priority is to secure the right and best future for all those other responsibilities of PHE that are not about health protection and I can assure everyone that there will be more on this to follow soon.
It has been the honour and privilege of my career over 41 years to lead PHE and I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues for the remarkable contribution each has made to protecting and improving the public’s health over our eight years together.
I have been immensely proud of what we do under intense public and political scrutiny, always with professionalism and dignity and with the values that matter the most: decency, kindness and respect.
I wish Baroness Harding as the chair of this new organisation and the transition every success, and I know everyone will be delighted to hear that Michael Brodie will be returning as the interim chief executive officer to PHE, from tomorrow pending the appointment of a new leadership team.
MEGHAN Markle’s five pals who gave an explosive interview to People magazine could be named TODAY in a High Court battle.
The Duchess of Sussex is suing Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, after a “private” letter she sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle was revealed.
⚠️ Read our Meghan and Harry blog for the latest news on the Royal couple.
But the publisher has argued that the existence of the letter had been discussed in an anonymous interview given by five of the former actress’ pals to People Magazine.
Meghan’s lawyers last week applied for the duchess’ friends to remain anonymous as part of the proceedings – something the paper’s legal team has opposed.
The 39-year-old says her friends gave the interview without her knowledge, and denies a claim made by ANL that she “caused or permitted” the People article to be published.
In the article published by People in February of last year, the friends spoke out against the bullying Meghan said she has faced, and have only been identified in confidential court documents.
In a written submission to the court, Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, said it would be “cruel irony” for the friends to be identified in the privacy case.
However, Antony White QC, acting for ANL, said the unnamed friends are “important potential witnesses on a key issue”.
“Reporting these matters without referring to names would be a heavy curtailment of the media’s and the defendant’s entitlement to report this case and the public’s right to know about it,” he said.
“No friend’s oral evidence could be fully and properly reported because full reporting might identify her, especially as there has already been media speculation as to their identities.”
Mr Justice Warby is due to deliver his ruling on the duchess’s application at 10.30am today.
ANL, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, won the first skirmish in the legal action on May 1, when Mr Justice Warby struck out parts of Meghan’s claim.
This included allegations that the publisher acted “dishonestly” by leaving out certain passages of the letter.
Court papers have since shown Meghan has agreed to pay ANL’s £67,888 costs for that hearing in full.
Meghan is suing ANL over five articles, two in the MoS and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019 and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her father in August 2018.
HELL ON EARTH
‘Welder sparked Beirut blast’ that killed 100 & was 5th the size of Hiroshima
Health and Social Care Minister Helen Whately was drawn into a fiery row with Question Time host Fiona Bruce over the ‘loopholes’ in the Government’s new track and trace system.
The low-tech test, track and trace system launched on Thursday and could see healthy Brits forced to self-isolate for two weeks at home if they have been in contact with a confirmed case.
Call handlers will interview those in England who have tested positive and ask for details of anyone they have recently been near.
However, the app is not yet ready and a number of issues surround the scheme including what people will do about work and child care.
This sparked a heated exchange during which Ms Whately began tripping over her words as Ms Bruce said: “Follow the guidance, unless you can’t?” in relation to looking after a child if you have to suddenly self-isolate.
For updates on coronavirus, follow our live blog HERE.
The panelists and the 12 virtual audience members from Glasgow – taking part via video link – had been debating the lack of clarity in the latest proposals and whether Brits will continue to be so compliant in light of the Dominic Cummings scandal.
The test and track system is reliant on people being honest about who they have been in contact with, for example – which some on the show felt the Government can no longer necessarily expect.
While audience member Ginette, a cleaning firm owner, said the new system “could close me down every single week” because her self-employed staff may have to isolate repeatedly or look after children during working hours.
“Who’s going to pick up the pieces?” she added, with it also being pointed out the Government’s furlough support for the self employed runs out in a matter of days.
Ms Whatley said: “What we’ve seen so far is people consciously following the guidance and in fact the guidance has included recognising some situations will be more difficult, for instance, if you are looking after someone who is particularly vulnerable or a childcare situation.”
Ms Bruce said: “Just to be clear, if you have a childcare situation then, Helen, since you mentioned it – if you have a problem with childcare and you have to be identified as one of the people who has to stay at home for two weeks, you may not necessarily have to stay home?”
The minister responded: “You clearly have to ensure your child is safe as any parent should do so…”
But Ms Bruce cut in: “So if you have to leave home to do that, even if you have been told to self isolate, you can do that?”
Ms Whatley said: “If you are contacted because you are a contact of somebody who’s got symptoms and told to isolate at home, you should be able to do so with your child. Everyone will have their scenarios.”
Ms Bruce said: “But just to be clear, because it’s important, because we’re all going to have to adjust to this now, this new system – if you are told to self-isolate at home for two weeks either because you have symptoms or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has symptoms but you have problems with that – you find that difficult because of child care issues – you can behave otherwise?”
Ms Whately responded: “You should follow the guidance – I don’t think anyone is suggesting you should have a child in an unsafe situation…”
“So follow the guidance, unless you can’t?” Ms Bruce cut in.
The minister, who had began tripping over her words, said: “No, that’s not what I’m saying, actually, at all.
“You should absolutely follow the guidance and that’s been the case all the way through.”
“But you’re saying unless…” the host began to say.
But Ms Whately composed herself to add: “The guidance has always said that safety would be a factor, and you should clearly be a responsible parent.
“But I think what’s really important is that people follow the guidance.
“And through doing that, that’s how we manage to keep the infection rate under control and so life can get back to normal or closer to normal – which would be so much better for everybody.”
As part of the new scheme, call handlers will interview those in England who have tested positive and ask for details of anyone they have recently been near.
Recent contacts who do not have symptoms will be called and asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
Close contact is defined as being closer than 2metres to someone with symptoms for more than 15 minutes.
Data will be analysed to decide whether workplaces, schools, housing estates or blocks of flats need to be locked down to quell local outbreaks.
As the NHS test and trace app is not ready yet, all tracing will be performed manually.
During Thursday’s Question Time, Ms Bruce also brought up the apparent absurdity in the guidelines surrounding No10 allowing Brits to have BBQs with members of a different household.
Those in attendance must remain two metres apart and outside – leading the host to poke fun at the idea only people with huge gardens could comply – while those in England can have six attendees but Scots can have eight.
Medical workers in Indonesia are complaining of persistent delays to an increase in coronavirus testing promised by their president, Joko Widodo, Reuters reports.
The south east Asian nation, the world’s fourth most populous, has the highest coronavirus death toll in east Asia outside China, and one of the lowest global testing rates.
Indonesia reported 568 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the total to 16,006, with 1,043 deaths. It has so far conducted around 50 tests per 100,000 people, compared with 2,500 per 100,000 in neighbouring Singapore.
Widodo promised in April that 10,000 tests would be performed each day, but the goal is yet to be reached, with testing rates on average hovering at less than half that figure. Health experts have urged Jakarta to rapidly increase its testing rate to determine the true spread of the virus across the Indonesian archipelago, saying that without sufficient data the full extent of the outbreak will remain unknown.
“We can’t even get the results after two weeks,” Meneldi Rasmin, a consulting doctor at Persahabatan Hospital in Jakarta, told Reuters.
“So we cannot determine whether it’s COVID-19 or not. We can only judge them (the patients) from clinical symptoms,” he said, attributing the delay to limited equipment capacity.
In between his rounds at Persahabatan Hospital where medical staff move about in white protective gear, Rasmin called for testing capacities to be scaled up not only in the capital, but across the sprawling country.
“Early detection by rapid testing should take place in every small district. Local clinics should take control, instead of (centralized) rapid testing,” he said. “It should be organized at the community level, working together with the district authority.”
The number of coronavirus deaths has risen by 917 to 9,875 across the UK in 24 hours, as NHS medics beg the public to stay home and save lives.
The youngest victim was an 11-year-old child, Public Health England said.
There were 823 deaths in England and 47 in Scotland.
NHS England said the patients who died were aged between 11 and 102 years old.
They said 33 of the 823 patients, aged between 29 and 94 years old, had no known underlying health condition.
The tragic figure rose from yesterday’s UK-wide figure of 8,958.
Earlier today it was announced that nineteen NHS workers have died during the coronavirus outbreak.
Brits were urged to resist the temptation to go out as temperatures soared in order to prevent the killer bug spreading still further.
Medics have voiced their frustration as people defy calls to stay home.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has today come under fire after suggesting NHS staff are “overusing” protective equipment, leading to shortages.
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Unions have blasted Mr Hancock, while Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has labeled the claim “insulting”.
Britons yearning for a return to normal life may have to wait until a vaccine is ready as government advisers have said social distancing measures may need to stay in place “indefinitely” to prevent new waves of infections.
British scientists are hopeful that a vaccine could be ready as soon as September, with Oxford University Professor Sarah Gilbert saying she is “80% confident” a jab developed by her team will be proved effective by the autumn.
NHS staff on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19 still don’t have the personal protective gear they need when treating infected patients as exclusive pictures obtained by the Mirror show desperate medics cutting up hospital curtains to make gowns and using bits of plastic as makeshift masks due to kit shortages.
France has suggested extending a two-week lockdown to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus as the interior minister blasted “idiots” who flout home confinement rules and put others at risk, AFP reports.
President Emmanuel Macron has ordered French residents to stay at home except for essential excursions such as going to the doctor, walking the dog, or going for a solitary run, and banned any gatherings.
For a two-week period that began Tuesday, people can go to work only if their employer cannot make tele-commuting possible.
But news reports have shown groups of friends and families strolling in parks despite the clampdown, prompting calls from some officials for even stricter limits.
Many have been observed ignoring the one-metre (three feet) safe inter-personal distance in queues at the essential businesses that were allowed to stay open.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said people ignoring the measures were “idiots”.
“There are people who underestimate the risk… There are people who think they are modern-day heroes by breaking the rules while they are in fact idiots,” he told Europe 1 radio.
Macron on Thursday urged companies and workers to continue their activities “in compliance with the health safety rules”.
Genevieve Chene, who heads France’s public health agency, said between two and four weeks are needed for the outbreak to be adequately contained.
“Within two to three weeks we should be able to observe a slightly different dynamic” to the outbreak’s momentum, she told Franceinfo radio, and “a significant braking” within two to four weeks.
“It is likely that it is indeed necessary to extend (the containment measures) in order for the braking to be sufficient,” Chene said.
Meanwhile, the French government has started requisitioning hotel rooms for homeless people to occupy during the confinement period, Housing Minister Julien Denormandie announced.
More than 170 rooms will be made available in Paris by the end of the week, and the government has identified 80 sites elsewhere across the country to accomodate the country’s estimated 250,000 homeless people.
Cabinet received an update from the health secretary and the prime minister on the coronavirus outbreak. The PM wished Nadine Dorries a speedy recovery, noting that she was following official advice to self-isolate.
The chancellor set out the measures being taken to manage the impact of coronavirus, laying out details of his economic action plan that will be announced at budget.
He outlined how this plan – combined with the measures announced by the governor of the Bank of England this morning – will make the UK one of the best placed economies in the world to manage the potential impact of the virus. The chancellor added the budget will ensure businesses, the public and those in public services working on the front line against the virus get the support they need.
He said despite the impacts of the outbreak being uncertain, we have the economic tools to overcome the disruption caused by the virus and move the country forwards.
The chancellor also said that despite coronavirus being “front and centre in our minds”, the budget will implement the manifesto on which the government had been elected. He said it was vital that people know this is a budget that delivers on the promises made to the British people – investing in public services and cutting taxes for millions of hardworking people – and that there could be no delay in laying the foundations for a decade of growth where opportunity was spread equally across the UK.
The PM said that this budget starts to tackle head on the challenges facing our economy and country – addressing productivity and regional imbalances – and showing that the government is responding to the public’s desire for change. It will set the path for further action through the year.