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Coronavirus UK: SAGE TOLD government to enforce circuit breakers

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Ministers were told more than one circuit breaker would be needed in Britain to control the coronavirus, according to SAGE papers published today.

Scientific advisers claimed a single two-week lockdown, which they first pleaded with ministers to implement in September, would not be enough to stem infections for the whole of winter. 

It would probably need to be imposed twice over the space of a few months to keep the country ticking over until a vaccine is ready, researchers at University of Warwick told the Government.

This is because the effects of the intervention would start to fade after a month or two and infections would start to creep up again.   

The revelation emerged in SAGE papers presented to the Government this autumn to help steer ministers through the crisis. 

Other documents handed to Number 10 and released today revealed 90 per cent of Brits are now catching the coronavirus from strangers.

During the first wave of the epidemic, the vast majority of people were catching it from loved ones and household transmission was rife.

Among the other documents made public today: 

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We won’t need just one circuit breaker, but SEVERAL, SAGE said 

SAGE has been pleading with the Government to consider a two-week lockdown since mid-September, after cases began creeping up when lockdon was eased in August.

The experts first highlighted that an immediate ‘circuit breaker’ was the best way to control cases at a meeting on September 21. 

SAGE WARNED MORE MEASURES WERE NEEDED A MONTH BEFORE THEY CAME IN

The Government’s expert advisers said that coronavirus infections and hospital admissions were exceeding the worse case scenario planning levels at least a month before Boris Johnson announced the three-tier system of restrictions.

A document from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) summarising the SAGE meeting on September 17, SAGE said: ‘The current situation continues to reflect the Reasonable Worst-Case Scenario (RWCS).

‘Medium-term projections indicate a rapid increase in hospital admissions in the coming weeks, and in a scenario where there were no interventions, this would have the potential to overwhelm the NHS.’ 

Later in the SAGE meeting on October 8, scientists said incidence and prevalence across the UK continue to increase with data showing ‘clear increases’ in hospital and ICU admissions, particularly in the North of England.

The paper said projections indicate the number of deaths is ‘highly likely’ to exceed Reasonable Worst Case Scenario (RWCS) planning levels within the next two weeks.

‘Well over 100 new deaths per day are projected to occur within 2 weeks, even if strict new interventions are put in place immediately,’ the document said, adding: ‘In all scenarios the epidemic is still growing.’ 

Four days after the SAGE meeting, on October 12, the Prime Minister announced England would be placed into ‘medium’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’ alert levels – or Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 – under a new tier system of restrictions aimed at tackling the virus.

Since the three-tier system has been implemented, the number of deaths announced on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard has exceeded 100 on every day except two – and on a couple of days more than 300 deaths were announced.

At a Downing Street press conference that day alongside Mr Johnson, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty – a member of Sage – said he was ‘not confident’ that the ‘base case’ for Tier 3 proposals ‘would be enough to get on top of it’.

The newly published Sage document comes as the effectiveness of the three-tier system is more widely being called into doubt. 

The Government’s scientific advisers have called for the UK to follow in the footsteps of Germany and France and retreat back into a full national shutdown because they say the current three-tiered lockdown system is failing. But top experts say interventions take at least three weeks to take effect.

The tiered system only came into force on October 14, little over two weeks ago. 

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But today it emerged that SAGE subsequently warned that one circuit breaker would not be enough.

In the 59th meeting of the group, on September 24, SAGE said: ‘While a single circuit breaker has the potential to keep prevalence much lower than no intervention, it is not a long-term solution. 

‘Long-term control of the virus will likely require repeated circuit breaks, or for one to be followed by a longer-term period with measures in place to keep R at or below 1.’  

But the Prime Minister has been keen to avoid a blanket ban on social mixing, the closure of pubs, restaurants and gyms across England. 

Mr Johnson dismissed calls for the measure which he branded ‘miserable’ in the Commons on October 14, insisting his job was to balance the economic and wider interests of the country with the science.

But the PM admitted he will ‘rule out nothing’ in the bid to stop coronavirus but stood by his tiered local lockdown approach in which areas with the highest infection rates face the toughest rules. 

He said the three-level local system, which could soon become four, ‘can drive down and will drive down the virus if it is properly implemented’.

But with Wales, Ireland, and other European countries like Germany and France going into lockdowns in the past two weeks, Mr Johnson is facing renewed pressure from his medical officers to impose a nation-wide shutdown.  

Senior figures are warning that the UK’s three-tier system is not enough to ‘get on top of the numbers’ before Christmas.  

A University of Warwick study, which was officially published by the Government today but widely reported two weeks ago, said a two-week circuit break would have no impact if restrictions were lifted again.  

The study, conducted in September, outlined how a short, planned lockdown could stop the UK’s spiralling outbreak in its tracks. 

It said that if the growth rate of the virus was five per cent (currently it is about 4 per cent)  the action of a two-week circuit breaker ‘is cancelled the following fortnight by two weeks of ‘normal’ behaviour’.

They suggested a ‘two-week on – two-week off strategy to maintain control’ but that this would need to be looked at in more detail.

The team’s findings, which came before October half term, said it was important to do it during a school holiday to minimise disruption to life.  

In the paper the experts suggested more than 100,000 British lives could be spared by January in the worst-case scenario if the country shut down over half-term. 

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick indicated this week the Government has not chosen to use a circuit breaker because it would lead to stop-start lockdowns.

On a round on media interviews on Thursday morning, Mr Jenrick said the Government’s ‘very firm view’ is that a short national ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown would be the wrong approach, saying ‘you can’t have a stop-start country’.   

Only 10 per cent of people know how they caught the coronavirus, suggesting most catch it off strangers

Around nine in ten people who get the coronavirus don’t know who they caught it from, according to a SAGE meeting on September 17.

The group noted data from the REACT study, led by Imperial College London, which tracks the outbreak using two waves of swabs from random people in England. 

The findings ‘indicate that currently only about 10 per cent of confirmed cases have a known history of exposure to another case, which suggests that much transmission may be through unrecognised contacts’, SAGE discussed in its 57th meeting.

It suggests the majority of transmission occurs in hospitality settings, such as pubs, bars and restaurants, the scientific experts speculated.

'Long-term control of the virus will likely require repeated circuit breaks, or for one to be followed by a longer-term period with measures in place to keep R at or below 1', SAGE said in September. However SAGE said today it currently sits at between 1.1 and 1.3 in the UK – representing the situation over the last few weeks

‘Long-term control of the virus will likely require repeated circuit breaks, or for one to be followed by a longer-term period with measures in place to keep R at or below 1’, SAGE said in September. However SAGE said today it currently sits at between 1.1 and 1.3 in the UK – representing the situation over the last few weeks

However, they also pointed to PHE data which shows ‘household transmission is currently the most commonly identified route’.

SAGE also said its likely most people don’t know how they got Covid-19 because they were infected by someone who was not showing symptoms, known as asymptomatic. 

Taken together, the Government advisors said interventions that limit indoor social mixing will have the greatest effect at stopping the outbreak from growing.

‘No evidence to date’ that BAME are more at risk of Covid-19 due to Vitamin D deficiency

SAGE dismissed rumours that BAME people may be more at risk from Covid-19 due to a deficiency of vitamin D.

At the 59th meeting on September 24, the advisory panel warned: ‘There was no evidence of an effect from vitamin D (on risk of infection) to date.’

There have been fears that a lack of the vitamin – which the body makes through exposure to sunlight – could be a risk factor for Covid-19.

Scientists have theorised this could be why BAME groups have higher odds of getting Covid-19 and have been investigating further. 

Officials estimate two in five Britons are deficient between October and April when sunlight levels outside are lower.

But the rate is up to 90 per cent in people with darker skin, such as BAME populations, because it is harder to obtain the vitamin from the sun.

A mountain of studies have suggested the vitamin could help protect people against the worst impacts of the virus.

One study, published last month by Boston University, found Covid-19 patients were 52 per cent less likely to die than when they got enough of the vitamin.

The scientists took blood samples from 235 patients admitted to hospitals in Tehran for Covid-19. Overall, 67 per cent had vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL.

There isn’t a clear marker for the ideal level of vitamin D, but 30 ng/mL is considered as sufficient.

SAGE instead suggested that other factors could be contributing to higher death rates among minority groups, other than vitamin D. 

The group said in the most recently released minutes: ‘Ethnic groups may be at greater risk of infection after having come in contact with the virus, for example due to differences in immune response and nutritional status, which in itself could be related to stress or environmental conditions such as air pollution (differential susceptibility to infection).’ 

Evidence highlights some minority ethnic groups are overrepresented in health and social care and other key public sector jobs, where they may come into more contact with infected coronavirus people. 

Care home residents may be more at risk of catching the virus from staff than patients discharged from hospital 

Transmission from care home staff to residents could be a more significant route of coronavirus infection than when residents are discharged from hospital, documents suggests. 

SAGE said that for every resident who tests positive for the virus, there were approximately four positive cases among care home staff.

Transmission from care home staff to residents could be a more significant route of coronavirus infection than when residents are discharged from hospital

Transmission from care home staff to residents could be a more significant route of coronavirus infection than when residents are discharged from hospital

Minutes from a meeting, dated September 24, also acknowledged the ‘growing evidence’ of the negative mental health and wellbeing impacts of isolation on care home residents and their families.

Experts also warned that cases and outbreaks in care homes were beginning to increase again across the UK.

‘The concurrent ratio of positive tests in care staff to residents was approximately 4:1 (high confidence) suggesting potential staff to resident transmission,’ the document said.

‘Current evidence suggests discharge from hospitals may be less significant, and transmission from staff may be more significant, but quantification is difficult without better data linkage.’

The document said there was evidence of multiple routes of infection into care homes, including direct admission of residents, through staff and through visitors.

‘Understanding the different routes of transmission and their relative impact is critical,’ it added.

The document urged policymakers to balance the negative mental health and wellbeing impacts of isolation on care home residents and their families against the transmission risk.

Testing technology in the future may enable visitors to be rapidly tested for Covid-19 prior to visits, it adds.

In April, it was announced that coronavirus tests will be extended to all residents and staff in care homes – regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Staffing is one of several factors thought to have played a part in the spread of Covid-19 within care homes during the first wave of the pandemic, with employees often working between different sites.

Other factors were said to include the rapid discharge of thousands of hospital patients and struggles to access personal protective equipment (PPE) and regular tests. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Moment alleged attacker brandishes golf club as boy, 13, left critical after being hit on head

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This is the moment a man brandishing a golf club allegedly chased schoolchildren along a London street in a frenzied attack that left a 13-year-old boy with a fractured skull.

Enraged and shouting, the man struck out at pupils and staff from the Dunraven secondary School in Streatham, south London.

The incident, shortly after 3pm on Wednesday when children were leaving the school, was captured by bewildered onlookers on their mobile phones.

Teachers herded students back into the school as reports of that a man targeting children a metal pole emerged.

Police were called to the scene and a 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing GBH.

The 13-year-old boy was treated at the scene for a head injury before being rushed to hospital for emergency treatment. It is understood he suffered a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain.

This is the moment a man brandishing a golfclub allegedly chased schoolchildren along a London street in a frenzied attack that left a 13-year-old boy with a fractured skull

This is the moment a man brandishing a golfclub allegedly chased schoolchildren along a London street in a frenzied attack that left a 13-year-old boy with a fractured skull

This is the moment a man brandishing a golfclub allegedly chased schoolchildren along a London street in a frenzied attack that left a 13-year-old boy with a fractured skull

Other videos posted on social media earlier show a man involved in a row with several people in Streatham, south London, at 3.23pm on Wednesday

Other videos posted on social media earlier show a man involved in a row with several people in Streatham, south London, at 3.23pm on Wednesday

Other videos posted on social media earlier show a man involved in a row with several people in Streatham, south London, at 3.23pm on Wednesday

A resident who lives close to Dunraven School described seeing blood on the ground and a schoolboy lying unconscious following the assault.

They said: ‘There’s always a bit of commotion when the kids come out so when I heard shouting and screaming I didn’t pay any attention.

‘But I came out of my house shortly after and there were kids and teachers running around in panic.

‘There was blood on the ground, a golf club nearby and one of the kids out cold. It was a very ghastly scene.’

Today, the schoolboy victim was described as popular and ‘cheeky’ by parents with children in the same year as him.

One said: ‘He’s a well-known kid who has a lot of friends.

‘Like any 13-year-old he can be a bit mouthy but he’s not a troublemaker and is very likeable.’

Another added: ‘It’s very shocking because he’s a lovely boy. He’s a character, bit of a cheekie chappie who’s always smiling and joking around.

‘We’re all devastated by this because it was a very horrific attack.’

One pupil said: ‘He’s got a sister in year 10 but likes going home with his pals.

‘They like to hang around after school and have a laugh and are well known as a bunch of jokers.’

A 35-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of GBH following an attack on a 13-year-old boy yesterday afternoon in Streatham, south London. The victim was rushed to hospital by London ambulance service where his injuries are described as 'life-threatening'

A 35-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of GBH following an attack on a 13-year-old boy yesterday afternoon in Streatham, south London. The victim was rushed to hospital by London ambulance service where his injuries are described as 'life-threatening'

A 35-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of GBH following an attack on a 13-year-old boy yesterday afternoon in Streatham, south London. The victim was rushed to hospital by London ambulance service where his injuries are described as ‘life-threatening’

Today, the schoolboy victim (not pictured) was described as popular and ‘cheeky’ by parents with children in the same year as him. One said: ‘He’s a well-known kid who has a lot of friends'

Today, the schoolboy victim (not pictured) was described as popular and ‘cheeky’ by parents with children in the same year as him. One said: ‘He’s a well-known kid who has a lot of friends'

Today, the schoolboy victim (not pictured) was described as popular and ‘cheeky’ by parents with children in the same year as him. One said: ‘He’s a well-known kid who has a lot of friends’ 

The mother of one pupil has told how her daughter was locked into the school after a man began attacking students in the street.

One mother told MailOnline: ‘I was on my way home last night when my partner called me to say our daughter had told him there was an incident at the school

‘I rang her straight back. She told all of the children had been locked up in the school.

‘She said there was a man in the street hitting out at kids and teachers with a golf club.

‘He slapped a blonde woman and he was going for the male teachers who had surrounded him.

‘So the teachers pushed all the children back into the school and locked them in.

‘I was really worried about my daughter. We went down there and she was allowed out. She is alright. She doesn’t know who the boy is, only that he is in Year Nine.’

The mother claimed that the attacker was well known in the area.

She said: ‘The man is known to the school children.

‘He lives two doors away from the school. Some of the children make fun of him and call him names. It’s not right what he did but he is not all there.’

The 35-year-old man remains in custody.

Met Police Superintendent Ian Howells described the daylight attack as ‘shocking’.

He said: ‘This was a shocking incident and has caused alarm and distress among the local community.

‘We are supporting the family of the boy who was injured and have a number of officers in the area speaking with residents and also pupils from the school nearby who witnessed what happened.

‘We would like to reassure the public that this was an isolated and contained incident.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Russia tests new missile capable of destroying Western satellites

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Russia has successfully tested a new missile capable of destroying Western satellites, followed by another weapon ‘to be used on US cities in the event of a nuclear war’.

The US warned that the first missile tested will be capable of destroying Western satellites in low earth orbit. 

Meanwhile, Russia today claimed a successful test launch of its new-age 6,000 mph hypersonic Zircon missile. 

The devastating weapon has been identified by Moscow’s state-controlled TV as Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s weapon of choice to wipe out American cities in the event of nuclear war.

He has called the Mach 8 Zircon – or Tsirkon – ‘truly unparalleled … in the world’.

Russia has said it successfully tested a new missile that the US has warned could destroy Western low-earth orbit satellites. Pictured: A photo shared by Russia's Ministry of Defence of the test launch

Russia has said it successfully tested a new missile that the US has warned could destroy Western low-earth orbit satellites. Pictured: A photo shared by Russia's Ministry of Defence of the test launch

Russia has said it successfully tested a new missile that the US has warned could destroy Western low-earth orbit satellites. Pictured: A photo shared by Russia’s Ministry of Defence of the test launch

Pictured: A Russian frigate launches a new-age 6,000 mph hypersonic Zircon missile, said to be Putin's weapon of choice in the event of a nuclear war against the US

Pictured: A Russian frigate launches a new-age 6,000 mph hypersonic Zircon missile, said to be Putin's weapon of choice in the event of a nuclear war against the US

Pictured: A Russian frigate launches a new-age 6,000 mph hypersonic Zircon missile, said to be Putin’s weapon of choice in the event of a nuclear war against the US

Of the first test, new video has been released of the potential satellite destroyer by the Russian Defence Ministry showing the first missile which ‘is designed to protect against air and space attacks’, according to state media.

The launch was conducted at the Sary-Shagan testing range in Kazakhstan.

‘The new missile … has reliably confirmed its characteristics in a series of tests,’ claimed Andrey Dyomin, commander of the 1st air and missile defence army of Russian aerospace forces.

However, no detail was given about the missile’s precise performance in the test, or the target, and the weapon remains shrouded in considerable secrecy.

Commander of the United States Space Command John Raymond said in April that such Russian extraterrestrial interceptor missiles pose a challenge to U.S. interests in near space.

Raymond claimed that this Russian system is capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit.

‘The threats to US space systems and [their] allies are real, serious and increasing,’ he warned. 

Russia is known to be developing a mobile long-range extraterrestrial interceptor missile named 14Ts033 Nudol (pictured being tested)

Russia is known to be developing a mobile long-range extraterrestrial interceptor missile named 14Ts033 Nudol (pictured being tested)

Russia is known to be developing a mobile long-range extraterrestrial interceptor missile named 14Ts033 Nudol (pictured being tested)

The two-stage 14Ts033 may be used on the new A-235 missile defence system, which is being developed to protect Moscow's airspace

The two-stage 14Ts033 may be used on the new A-235 missile defence system, which is being developed to protect Moscow's airspace

The two-stage 14Ts033 may be used on the new A-235 missile defence system, which is being developed to protect Moscow’s airspace

Pictured: The missile is lowered into a missile silo in preparation for the launch test

Pictured: The missile is lowered into a missile silo in preparation for the launch test

Pictured: The missile is lowered into a missile silo in preparation for the launch test 

Russia is known to be developing a mobile long-range extraterrestrial interceptor missile named 14Ts033 Nudol.

The two-stage 14Ts033 may be used on the new A-235 missile defence system, which is being developed to protect Moscow’s airspace.

The A-234 can reach Mach 12, with a 620 mile range, say experts.

The missile is intended to destroy the warheads of intercontinental ballistic missiles and spacecraft in low Earth orbits.

Speaking about the Nudol system, Gen. Raymond said: ‘The United States is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the nation, our allies, and US interests from hostile acts in space.’

Meanwhile, the Zircon missile was launched from the White Sea and ‘successfully’ hit a target in the Barents Sea after a 279 miles flight, said the Russian defence ministry.

Footage shows how the Zircon was fired from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate in darkness.

The Zircon missile (pictured) was launched from the White Sea and 'successfully' hit a target in the Barents Sea after a 279 miles flight, said the Russian defence ministry

The Zircon missile (pictured) was launched from the White Sea and 'successfully' hit a target in the Barents Sea after a 279 miles flight, said the Russian defence ministry

The Zircon missile (pictured) was launched from the White Sea and ‘successfully’ hit a target in the Barents Sea after a 279 miles flight, said the Russian defence ministry

A previous test launch of the missile was staged in early October and seen as a 68th birthday present for Putin.

A radiation leak during a military accident which killed two and wounded six last year was seen as involving a testing on the missile .

Radiation levels temporarily soared 20 times above the normal level in Severodvinsk, a city lying some 18 miles from the weapons testing site at Nyonoksa (Nenoksa), according to Greenpeace citing the Russian Emergencies Ministry.

Putin was today visiting a plant in closed town Sarov where the victims were from.

The hypersonic cruise missile is designed to be used against ships or land-based targets, and to enter production in 2021, commencing service the following year.

Pictured: The The Admiral Gorshkov frigate, from which the Zircon test missile was launched

Pictured: The The Admiral Gorshkov frigate, from which the Zircon test missile was launched

Pictured: The The Admiral Gorshkov frigate, from which the Zircon test missile was launched

Last year, Dmitry Kiselyov (pictured) presenter of Russia's main weekly TV news show Vesti Nedeli, showed on screen a map of the US identifying targets he claimed Moscow would want to hit in a nuclear war

Last year, Dmitry Kiselyov (pictured) presenter of Russia's main weekly TV news show Vesti Nedeli, showed on screen a map of the US identifying targets he claimed Moscow would want to hit in a nuclear war

Last year, Dmitry Kiselyov (pictured) presenter of Russia’s main weekly TV news show Vesti Nedeli, showed on screen a map of the US identifying targets he claimed Moscow would want to hit in a nuclear war

Dmitry Kiselyov, presenter of Russia’s main weekly TV news show Vesti Nedeli, last year showed on screen a map of the US identifying targets he claimed Moscow would want to hit in a nuclear war.

Kiselyov, seen as a top Putin propagandist, said the Zircon missile could hit the targets in less than five minutes.

Putin warned this year that the West is seeking to steal secrets relating to Zircon and other state-of-the-art Russian weapons such as the Avangard.  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Burkina Faso incumbent Kabore wins presidential election

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Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore has won a second term after gaining an outright majority in the first round of elections, the country’s electoral board announced Thursday.

“Mr Kabore… with 57.87 per cent of the vote, is provisionally elected president of (Burkina) Faso in the first round,” said Newton Ahmed Barry, head of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Eddie Komboigo, the candidate of a once-ruling party, came second in Sunday’s vote with 15.48 per cent of the ballot, followed by Zephirin Diabre, considered by pundits to be the best-placed opposition hopeful, with 12.46 per cent.

Kabore, 63, has been under fire for his response to a five-year-old jihadist insurgency that has rolled in from Mali.

But he was the favourite and by winning an overall majority in the first round he avoids a runoff vote in which he would have had to stand against a single candidate backed by a united opposition.

The elections on Sunday were for Burkina’s legislature as well as its presidency, where executive power in the former French colony is concentrated.

The paramount court, the Constitutional Council, has a week in which to confirm the outcome.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso is struggling with a jihadist campaign that has claimed at least 1,200 lives since 2015 and forced around a million people to flee their homes.

Opposition parties say the vote was marked by fraud and flawed procedures, threatening to reject “results stained by irregularities.”

Their complaints include polling stations that either did not open or opened late, insecure handling of ballot boxes and arbitrary changes to voting areas.

Because of the unrest, the election was not held across at least one-fifth of the territory, denying up to 350,000 people the right to vote, according to CENI’s figures.

Pro-Kabore parties on Tuesday argued that all candidates were equally affected by the problems and that in any case these were not on a scale to have any major impact on the result.

 

(AFP)

 

 

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