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What is a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, and how could it help curb rising Covid-19 cases?



Has it worked anywhere else?

The term ‘circuit breaker’ came to prominence in April to describe the steps taken by the Singaporean Government.

While the virus had been detected in the country in January, it took until spring for the state to implement a widespread lockdown measure, including restrictions on movement and gatherings, as well as the closure of schools and non-essential businesses.

The so-called circuit breaker was only supposed to last for roughly a month, but ultimately it lasted for almost three.

Although the measures were in place for longer than anticipated, Singapore’s response is hailed worldwide as a successful model.

On Oct 13, the country registered four new cases, all of which were imported. The term circuit breaker has come to mean different things in different countries.

As with Singapore, many countries have introduced what was intended to be a short, sharp lockdown only to extend it.

Not all circuit breakers involve widespread lockdowns.

Who has gone for the circuit-break option in the UK?

Pubs in central Scotland were ordered to close across several districts for 16 days. The new rules are enforce until October 26.

In Northern Ireland, a four-week circuit breaker is in place in an attempt to stall the rise in coronavirus infections.

Pubs and restaurants will have to shut unless they offer a takeaway service, but places of worship, shops and gyms can stay open.



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Labour Party: After MPs attacked PM’s Manchester lockdown, WHO praises Boris’ response | UK | News


At the end of July, health secretary Matt Hancock introduced new restriction measures for the Greater Manchester area after cases of the deadly pandemic began to soar. The decision was widely criticised by Labour MPs.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy, the Labour MP for Wigan, tweeted the news out and urged for more information on the new measures.

Ms Nandy said: “Told tonight this applies to homes AND gardens but you can still visit public spaces where social distancing measures are in place.

“People will have a lot of questions and we are pressing for more information quickly.

“It is really hard but please follow advice and stay safe.”

Lucy Powell, Labour MP for Manchester Central, said the news had led to “many questions”.

“My understanding is that this is a precautionary measure to stop people going to other households,” she said.

“It doesn’t affect other activities like travel, childcare, going to work, hairdressers etc.”

With Jim McMahon, Labour MP for Oldham West & Royton, tweeting: “On the face of it, for Oldham borough residents this is the same restriction announced already this week, replicated in further areas.

READ MORE: BBC News row breaks out over Labour mayor’s ‘political power grab’

Speaking at a media brief, Mr Ghebreyesus said: “Over the last few days, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson put areas of northern England under stay at home notifications, as clusters of cases were identified.

“In France, President Macron introduced compulsory masking in busy outdoor spaces of Paris in response to an increase in cases.

“Strong and precise measures like these, in combination with utilising every tool at our disposal are key to preventing any resurgence in disease and allowing societies to be reopened safely.

“Even in countries where transmission is intense, it can be brought under control by applying an all of government, all of society response.

“Chains of transmission have been broken by combination of rapid case identification, comprehensive contact tracing, adequate clinical care for patients, physical distancing, mask wearing, regular cleaning of hands and coughing away from others.

“Whether countries or regions have successfully eliminated the virus, suppressed transmission to a low level, or are still in the midst of a major outbreak; now is the time to do it all, invest in the basics of public health and we can save both lives and livelihoods.”

Mr Ghebreyesus went on to say there is a glimmer of hope and said it’s “never too late to turn the outbreak around”.

He said: “But I want to be clear, there are green shoots of hope and no matter where a country, a region, a city or a town is – it’s never too late to turn the outbreak around.

“There are two essential elements to addressing the pandemic effectively: Leaders must step up to take action and citizens need to embrace new measures.”

The UK has the highest death toll across the whole of Europe and yesterday recorded more than 1,000 new cases in a day for the first time since June.





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Coronavirus latest news: Leicester in the dark over local lockdown measures



Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that he was confident a coronavirus flare-up in Sydney, the country’s biggest city, was under control, but he acknowledged a larger spike in cases in Melbourne remained a challenge.

The state of Victoria, whose capital Melbourne is under a reimposed six-week lockdown, reported a record 723 new infections on Thursday followed by 627 on Friday.

The state now accounts for more than half of the country’s 190 deaths from the coronavirus and about 60 per cent of the nation’s 16,304 cases.

The majority of Victoria’s fresh cases are in Melbourne, Australia’s second biggest city.

“The level of community outbreak and community transmission in Victoria is the great challenge down there,” Mr Morrison said on 2GB radio. “And there’s still a lot of work to do and we’re not on top of it yet.”

He said New South Wales, home to Sydney, had contained the spread of the virus from outbreaks at pubs, restaurants and aged-care homes thanks to better contact tracing than in Victoria.

“The key difference is that in NSW … there are no cases that have an unknown source. None,” he said, noting that Victoria has had around 50 cases a day with no known source.





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Boris Johnson admits he is concerned by Leicester outbreak as lockdown looks set to remain in the city



There has been more than one million cases of Covid-19 in the 22 countries of the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean region, the WHO confirmed on Sunday.

As of 11:00 on Sunday, 1,025,478 cases and 23,461 deaths have been recorded from the region, which spans from Morocco to Pakistan.

While cases in Europe have been largely declining, several countries in the region have been seeing increases in the number of cases and deaths. Countries recently reporting increases in cases include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, occupied Palestinian territory and Oman.

The WHO said it is especially concerned about the spread of the virus in war-torn countries such as Syria, Yemen and Libya due to poor infrastructure and fragile health systems vastly weakened by conflict. In all countries, it said, there is still a clear need for expansion of testing and more accurate reporting of cases and deaths to inform targeted responses.

Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the WHO’s regional director for the region, said: “This is a very concerning milestone. As shops, restaurants, mosques, businesses, airports and other public places begin to open up, we need to be more vigilant and cautious than ever before. One million people have been infected, tens of thousands have died, and many more are still at risk in our region.

“We cannot relax our efforts. In fact, many countries lifting restrictions are seeing marked increases in cases, which signifies the need to accelerate public health response measures. Communities must remain vigilant and play a key role in keeping themselves and their countries safe.”





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Further easing of lockdown and two-metre social distancing rule to be reviewed – Channel 4 News


After thirteen weeks in lockdown could an easing of restrictions be on the horizon? If today’s newspaper reports are to be believed the Prime Minister is ready to end the ‘big national lockdown’.

That could mean pubs in England open their beer gardens and some restaurants and cafes could open their outside spaces too. There may also be a change to social distancing rules. But businesses say they’re still unclear about exactly how they can operate.



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Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick Face Sick Degrees Of Grossness In Coronavirus Lockdown



Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, one of Hollywood’s most enduring couples, are navigating the coronavirus lockdown with what they call “corona rules.” (See the video above.)

In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel Wednesday, Sedgwick said that one of the rules is to make the bed daily. Bacon hasn’t fully bought in, she added, but that may change after a disgusting incident just hours before their talk show appearance.

Sedgwick said the couple returned from walking the dog Wednesday morning to make the bed, “and there’s poop on the bed inside the sheets.”

Bacon immediately joked that it might have come from his wife after a Cinco de Mayo meal. But Sedgwick was all business after the discovery.

“I took a picture and sent it to the exterminator. It’s roof rat poop,” “The Closer” star said. “So those things are coming into the house onto the bed. So this is why we’ll never ever forget to make that bed for the rest of our lives.”

Right, Kevin?





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International Dawn Chorus Day celebrated amid lockdown – Channel 4 News


It has become a soundtrack to lockdown: not the wailing sirens or the helicopters overhead – but the melody of birdsong at sunrise, now sounding clearer than it has been for decades, in a world that has ground to a halt.

Today, the first Sunday in May, the height of spring – marks International Dawn Chorus Day – the sound of birdsong giving people around the world some distraction from the stress and anxiety of lockdown – and a reminder to many that life does and will go on.



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Netherlands McDonald’s tests social distancing-inspired redesign for post lockdown business


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This could be the fast-food restaurant of the future.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the service industry, some restaurants are trying to adapt to the virus. As one McDonald’s in the Netherlands shows, things could be a bit more spacious down the road.

Customers wait outside on social distancing markings at a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald's for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.

Customers wait outside on social distancing markings at a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald’s for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.
(REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw)

The fast-food chain is trialing a new design in the Dutch city of Arlem, Reuters reports. The location puts an emphasis on promoting social distancing, which will likely still be asked of customers even after lockdowns are lifted.

Images of the McDonald’s show clear markings on the floor to show customers where to stand in relation to other customers. One photo even shows markings placed on the sidewalk and into the road, telling customers where exactly to stand while waiting on line.

MCDONALD’S CANADA TO START USING IMPORTED BEEF DUE TO SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES

A customer cleans his hands before entering a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald's for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.

A customer cleans his hands before entering a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald’s for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.
(REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw)

Other photos show clear plastic barriers placed between tables, food being delivered on hand trolleys (the company may be implementing table service at some locations to limit interactions between customers and employees), and a handwashing and sanitizing station near the restaurant’s entrance.

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A woman uses a touch screen at a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald's for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.

A woman uses a touch screen at a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald’s for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.
(REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw)

“We have tried to figure out how to keep our customers and employees safe while maintaining a restaurant atmosphere,” Eunice Koekkoek, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s Netherlands, told Reuters. “These are drastic changes, but we hope to make them in a way that customers don’t notice them too much.”

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While it’s unclear if these changes will come to McDonald’s locations in the United States, a spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is moving “thoughtfully and judiciously to make changes to our operations in collaboration with our franchisees.”



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Newspaper headlines: Coronavirus ‘care homes catastrophe’ and ‘stick with lockdown’


Front page of the Daily Mail

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A coronavirus “care home catastrophe” has been “dramatically laid bare” by the UK government’s chief medical officer, the Daily Mail says. Prof Chris Whitty told the daily Downing Street briefing 92 care homes in the UK had detected an outbreak of the virus in the past day alone. The Mail says “terrified” staff members are refusing to work in the face of the “grave threat”.

Front page of the Metro

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The Metro leads with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s plea for the public to stick to coronavirus lockdown rules as “we’ve sacrificed too much to ease up now”.

Front page of the i

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The i also leads on what Mr Raab said at the Downing Street briefing. It focuses on his assertion that it would be too soon for the government to lift the lockdown, or reveal its “exit strategy”, for fear of risking a second wave of infections.

Front page of the Times

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Stringent measures to curb the spread of the virus in the UK will be extended until at least 7 May, the Times reports. It says Mr Raab will announce the decision on Thursday. In brighter news, the paper’s colourful splash image shows a smiling baby, Amanda. Her mother praised NHS staff as the five-month-old was discharged from hospital after treatment for the virus, the Times says.

Front page of the Daily Telegraph

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The Daily Telegraph claims the government has been “so successful” in convincing people of the need to stay at home that it might be tricky to persuade them it is safe to return to work when the lockdown is lifted. The paper also draws attention to one of Mr Raab’s more positive messages – that there are signs the UK is “starting to win this struggle” with the virus.

Front page of the Sun

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Also opting for an up-beat approach to coronavirus coverage, the Sun’s front page carries a “thank you” message from England’s chief nursing officer. Ruth May says families who stayed at home during the Easter weekend “made a real difference” in helping to save lives. The tabloid points out the UK has seen, for the third day in a row, a drop in the daily death toll.

Front page of the Daily Mirror

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In a campaign calling for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health and care workers, the Daily Mirror’s bleak front page shows some of the faces of those who have died with coronavirus. “No more”, the headline pleads. As workers have given their lives, the government must give their colleagues the kit they need to stay safe while treating patients, the paper says.

Front page of the Guardian

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Also focusing on PPE, the Guardian claims the UK missed three chances to join an EU scheme to bulk-buy kit – and is not part of “key talks about future purchases” either. The EU joint procurement scheme has led some countries to have excess equipment, the paper says. The UK government has previously said it did not receive an invitation to the scheme, the paper adds.

Front page of the Daily Express

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The Daily Express urges the prime minister to follow advice to rest up and “stay put” as he recovers from coronavirus. The paper claims Boris Johnson, who is recovering at Chequers after being discharged from hospital, has been told he cannot yet return to his duties.

Front page of the Financial Times

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Meanwhile a “rare” international effort to support the oil market has fallen “flat”, the Financial Times reports. The Opec oil cartel won the backing of the US and other G20 nations to prop up the market – where demand has fallen. The plan failed, the paper says, because traders are “still nursing doubts” that supportive measures would be enough to “counter the blow” of coronavirus.

Front page of the Daily Star

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And fears of a national beer shortage make the front page of the Daily Star. “Dreams of a messy post-lockdown party at the pub” are “under threat”, the tabloid claims – adding some 50 million stale pints have “gone down the drain”.

On a day when millions of people would normally be returning to work after the Easter break, the Daily Express tells us “we must all stay put” as the battle rages to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Lockdown for three more weeks,” is the headline in the Times. The paper says senior ministers are split, however, over the “stay at home” message, as evidence of the economic, social and health costs of the restrictions mounts.

The Daily Telegraph claims the cabinet has been banned from talk of an “exit strategy”, as ministers try to ease public fears about an eventual end to the lockdown by moving towards a “gradual unwinding of social distancing rules”.

The paper says the government has been “so successful” in convincing people of the need to stay at home that there are concerns it could prove difficult to persuade them to return to work once the decision is taken to relax current restrictions.

The Daily Mail says the scale of the coronavirus “catastrophe” unfolding in Britain’s care homes has been “dramatically laid bare”, after it was revealed more than 13% of them have now had outbreaks.

In its editorial, the Mail backs calls for a minister to be appointed with responsibility for the welfare of residents in nursing homes. It believes the mounting death toll in the UK’s care sector – and the lack of protection given to staff – is shaping up to be the great hidden tragedy of the Covid-19 crisis.

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Getty Images

Alongside the headline, “no more”, the front of the Daily Mirror is filled with the faces of 35 health and social care workers who have died with the virus.

They gave their lives, the paper says, now the government must give all health and care workers the protective kit they need to be safe.

The Times calls for a great national effort to ensure that health and social care workers have the necessary protective kit to fight the virus. The truth is the health service is not “unconquerable”, the paper says – and the ability of the NHS to win the battle depends on staff having access to appropriate equipment.

The Guardian, in its lead story, describes how Britain missed three chances to join an EU scheme to bulk-buy masks, gowns and gloves and has been absent from key talks about future purchases.

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Getty Images

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Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes masks, gloves and other clothing to stop the spread of coronavirus

The paper quotes a European Commission spokesman as saying the EU’s swift work has led to offers of medical equipment in excess of the number requested.

“Stick with the lockdown,” is the headline in the Metro. But, despite all the warnings, the paper says there are still a few people who “simply don’t get it”.

Robert Shrimsley writes in the Financial Times that he believes the prime minister’s illness has made him politically stronger.

He points out that since the Brexit campaign, Boris Johnson has made himself an ally of the NHS.

Now, with his heartfelt praise for the organisation which “saved his life”, a Tory leader has made himself high priest of the institution, described as the UK’s national religion.

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The Financial Times reports that none of the new mechanical ventilators developed for treating coronavirus patients has obtained UK regulatory approval, a month after the government issued a rallying cry for British industry to help plug a shortage of the devices.

The FT says the delays appear to be linked to the changing clinical understanding of how to best treat the disease – amid disagreements within the medical profession about when to deploy invasive ventilation for patients.

The Sun, meanwhile, demands an end to the pensions triple-lock to help meet the spiralling cost of the pandemic. It believes thousands of beneficiaries are middle-class millionaires who do not have mortgages to pay – and that it is only right they chip in to the eye-watering coronavirus bill.

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REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

The Times reports that roads in built-up areas may be converted into car-free zones to create extra space for cyclists and joggers during the lockdown. It says councils in cities including London, Manchester and Brighton were among the first to draw up proposals to convert roads into temporary bike lanes, following similar measures in other countries.

The Daily Telegraph says police are advising the public to confront people guilty of “one-off” breaches of lockdown rules – rather than report them.

The paper says the move follows claims that some forces have been inundated with calls about people flouting the restrictions, with many involving minor breaches such as neighbours going on two runs in a day.

The Sun describes how police in Hull allowed a street party to continue because everyone was obeying social distancing guidelines. Pictures from the scene show residents enjoying a drink in their front gardens while the man who organised the party played dance music from turntables outside his home.



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Coronavirus: South African bride and groom arrested over lockdown wedding


The bride getting into a police vehicleImage copyright
IamMzilikazi/Twitter

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This is not how the couple had hoped their day would end

Married life got off to an unexpected start for a pair of newlyweds in South Africa when police showed up to the party.

They had received a tip-off that the wedding in KwaZulu-Natal was happening on Sunday despite a nationwide ban on all public gatherings because of coronavirus.

All 40 wedding guests, the pastor who conducted the ceremony, and the newlyweds themselves were promptly arrested and taken to a police station outside Richards Bay.

The whole group is to be charged in court on Monday.

Widely circulated videos show the moment the besuited groom helps his wife into the back of a police van in her white wedding dress, complete with train and veil:

The couple have not yet been named by police or local media.

South Africa, which has 1,655 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 11 deaths, is now in the second week of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns.

It has seen mobile testing units as well as drive-through testing centres being rolled out. Soon the country will be able to test 30,000 people every day.

Nothing but essential movement is permitted, and there is even a ban on buying alcohol and cigarettes.

Correspondents say South Africa’s response to the pandemic has been ruthlessly efficient.

The lockdown has been imposed for an initial period of three weeks.



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