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Northern Ireland to go into four-week partial lockdown



a person holding a sign: Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

Northern Ireland is to close schools, pubs and restaurants in a raft of new restrictions to try to contain exploding rates of Covid-19 infection.

Arlene Foster, the first minister, announced the partial lockdown on Wednesday at a special sitting of the Stormont assembly in response to what has become a pandemic hotspot.

The new rules start on Friday and are to last four weeks with the exception of schools, which will shut for two weeks.

The hospitality sector will close apart from deliveries and takeaways. Off-licences and supermarkets cannot sell alcohol after 8pm. There will be no indoor sport or organised contact sport involving mixing of households, other than at elite level.

Close-contact services, apart from essential health services, are to cease. Mobile hairdressers and make-up artists are banned from from working in homes. Gyms can remain open for individual training but no classes are permitted. Places of worship can stay open but people must wear face coverings when entering and exiting.



a person holding a sign: Richmond shopping centre in Derry. The city and the Strabane council area have a rate of 970 per 100,000 people.


© Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA
Richmond shopping centre in Derry. The city and the Strabane council area have a rate of 970 per 100,000 people.

Bubbling will be limited to 10 people, with no overnight stays unless people are in a bubble. Universities will be encouraged to use distance learning only.

“The executive has taken this decision because it is necessary,” Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist party, told the assembly. “We do not take this step lightly.” She said the measures did not amount to a lockdown and promised financial supports to cushion businesses. Some business leaders had lobbied against fresh restrictions, warning of bankruptcies and job losses.

Foster implored people and businesses to get “back to the basics” of social distancing, hand hygiene and other measures and hinted at further measures should infection rates continue to climb. “We will need to exit these arrangement most carefully.”

Northern Ireland’s cumulative seven-day rate of infections per 100,000 people is 334, one of the highest in Europe. Derry city and the Strabane council area have a rate of 970 per 100,000 people – far outstripping Liverpool, England’s worst hit city, with 634 cases per 100,000 people.

On Tuesday Northern Ireland’s department of health reported seven deaths and another 863 infections. Some 6,286 new cases of the virus have been recorded in the last seven days, raising the total since the pandemic began to 21,898.

The Belfast health trust cancelled 105 elective surgeries because of Covid-related pressure, saying it had reached a “trigger point” for admitting patients to intensive care.

Of 150 people being treated in hospital for coronavirus 23 are in intensive care and 15 are on a ventilator. At two hospitals run by the Northern health and social care trust more than 30 nurses are self-isolating because of a Covid-19 outbreak.

The new restrictions came amid intense behind-the-scenes wrangling in the power-sharing executive, with the DUP balking at demands from Sinn Féin and other parties for a sharper “circuit-breaker” lockdown,

Dutch PM Orders ‘Partial Lockdown’ To Halt Coronavirus Surge

The Netherlands will go into “partial lockdown” to curb one of Europe’s biggest coronavirus surges, with all bars, cafes and restaurants to close, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Tuesday.

The sale of alcohol and cannabis will also be banned after 8pm (1800 GMT) in a bid to reduce the social contacts that have led to the rise in Covid-19 cases, Rutte said of the steps.

After long refusing to make the wearing of masks compulsory, Rutte finally ordered that non-medical face coverings must also be worn in all indoor spaces by people aged over 13.

“We are going into a partial lockdown. It hurts but it’s the only way, we have to be stricter,” Rutte told a televised press conference.

“If we do all of this, we can quickly return to a more normal life.”

The rules will take effect at 10pm (2000 GMT) Wednesday and will last for an initial period of two weeks, when the government will review whether they have halted the spread of the virus.

The Dutch government for months opted for what Rutte called an “intelligent lockdown” policy that was far more relaxed than its European neighbours.

But it has scrambled to control the second wave of the disease.

The Netherlands currently has the third highest rate of new infections per 100,000 people in Europe over the last 14 days, behind only the Czech Republic and Belgium, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

After long refusing to make the wearing of masks compulsory, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte finally ordered that non-medical face coverings must also be worn in all indoor spaces by people aged over 13 After long refusing to make the wearing of masks compulsory, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte finally ordered that non-medical face coverings must also be worn in all indoor spaces by people aged over 13 Photo: ANP / Bart Maat

Dutch health authorities on Wednesday reported a daily record of 7,393 new coronavirus infections, with 43,903 new cases over the past week and 150 deaths.

Among the new measures, team sports for over 18s are banned, while people are now limited to having three visitors at their home per day.

The new steps largely target the catering and entertainments industry where the government says the disease is spreading.

Restaurants and cafes will close for everything except takeaway, as will the Netherlands’ famous “coffee shops” that sell cannabis.

“No more alcohol or soft drugs will be sold or delivered between 8:00pm and 7:00am,” the government’s new regulations say, while public consumption of either is also banned during those hours.

The Netherlands has also lagged behind other European countries in ordering the wearing of masks, but Rutte said he wanted to “settle a lingering discussion once and for all”.

The Dutch government gave “urgent advice” to wear masks in its last set of measures two weeks ago, but “that did not provide sufficient clarity” and many people continued to go without them, said Rutte.

Rutte, who marks ten years in power on Wednesday, has faced growing criticism over the government’s failure to rein in coronavirus cases.

Populist opposition parties in particular have been using the Covid-19 crisis to push their

Glasgow dentist reports ten-fold increase in demand for implants after lockdown extractions

A LEADING dentist says he has seen a ten-fold increase in demand for implants amid fears that lockdown caused a spike in tooth extractions that might have been avoided.

Duncan Black, one of Scotland’s most experienced dental implantologists, said many patients are coming to him after having teeth – including front teeth – removed at emergency dental hubs which under normal circumstances dentists would have tried to save.

Mr Black, who is based at Halo Dental in Glasgow but treats patients from as far afield as Ayrshire and Lanarkshire and also runs an outreach clinic in Galashiels, said it is probably an inevitable consequence of lockdown.

He said: “People have not been able to access their usual dental care, that’s the crux of the matter.

“We were told by the Chief Dental Officer to leave the practices and not come back again, but no one thought it would be nearly three months before we came back.

“During that time we had to provide an emergency service.

“I don’t want to beat up on them [dental hubs] too much because it was scary times for everyone.

“Some people were in extreme pain.

“There was probably a lack of PPE available for normal dentistry to carry on so the hubs were the best solution, but yes, I think that due to Covid some people had teeth removed rather than, if they had been accessing normal care through their own dentist, attempts would have been made to save the tooth.

“I think that’s fair comment.”

CASE STUDY: Ayrshire man’s lockdown ordeal as rotten tooth has to be pulled out without anaesthetic

Mr Black’s practice, which is part of the Clyde Munro dental group, re-opened in mid-July and since then has seen ten times as many people requesting dental implants as they have in previous years, with most patients self-referring.

Implants are titanium screws which dentists attach directly to the jawbone, replacing the missing tooth root. A false tooth, such as a crown, can then be held securely in place.

Unlike dentures, which tend to last around five to 10 years, implants can last as long as natural teeth provided they are cared for properly.

However, they are more expensive. Mr Black said a single implant, without any other complications, will cost around £2000 in Glasgow.

The service is only available on a private basis, meaning NHS patients have to pay the full cost of the treatment.

Mr Black said: “Normally, if someone goes to their dentist and says ‘I have a problem with this tooth’ and the dentist takes and X-ray and concludes it’s unsalvageable, that they need an implant or whatever, they’d be sent along to us and we’d order everything for them so that they wouldn’t go without a front tooth.

“They’d have a temporary of some description.

“But because the dental labs weren’t open either during lockdown there wasn’t even a possibility for any sort of temporary provision to be made for people.

“So quite often they just had to

The Latest: Lebanon orders lockdown for 169 towns, villages

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Interior Ministry has ordered a lockdown in 169 villages and towns as well as ordering all nightclubs and pubs to close around the country amid a sharp increase of coronavirus cases.

The Ministry said Sunday that the lockdown will begin Monday morning and last until Oct. 19. Pubs and nightclubs will be closed until further notice, it said.

The new lockdown comes a week after the ministry ordered a lockdown in 111 villages and towns that ends Monday morning. Some of those towns are included under the new restrictions.

On Saturday, Lebanon’s Health Ministry registered 1,388 new cases of coronavirus, raising the country’s confirmed total to 52,558 infections and 455 deaths.

Cases in Lebanon have been rising since early July when the country eased a nationwide lockdown and opened its only international airport. The numbers increased dramatically following an Aug. 4 blast in Beirut that killed and wounded many, as people gathered at hospitals, funerals and anti-government protests.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— The White House doctor says President Donald Trump is no longer at risk of transmitting the coronavirus but did not say whether Trump had tested negative. Some medical experts are skeptical that Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting the virus so early.

— Trump makes speech from White House balcony, 1st appearance since return to residence

— India’s coronavirus cases top 7 million, a re on track to surpass the United States

— As a second wave of coronavirus infections hit, European nations seem not to have learned their lessons from the first surge

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismisses the latest White House offer in COVID-19 aid talks but remains hopeful progress can be made toward a deal.

— Queen Elizabeth II honors the work of doctors, nurses, delivery drivers, fundraisers and volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic.

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— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

LONDON — One of the main medical advisers to the British government has warned that the country is at a “tipping point” in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, a day before Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce fresh lockdown restrictions for virus hot spots in the north of England.

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said in a statement that the country is at a “tipping point similar to where we were in March.”

The U.K. has experienced Europe’s deadliest outbreak with more than 42,750 deaths.

Van-Tam laid out his hope that history won’t repeat itself in light of better testing and treatments, as well as greater knowledge of the virus itself.

Johnson is on Monday expected to impose additional restrictions in areas where the virus has been spreading fastest in recent weeks. Pubs and restaurants in northern cities like Liverpool or Manchester are expected to be closed.

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NEW DELHI — India’s confirmed coronavirus toll has crossed 7 million with a number of

Govt Considers Tighter Lockdown Restrictions for England



These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

New Lockdown Measures

New measures to tackle the rise in COVID-19 cases in England have been predicted, with at least one report today claiming the plan has already been approved by Number 10.

A three-tier system of local lockdowns has been touted as the most likely response as the Government tries to balance health measures and the fragile economy.

Under the system, different regions of England would be placed in different categories depending on infection rates from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The strategy was trailed yesterday by the Scottish Government which introduced more stringent rules, including curbs on pub and restaurant opening hours in the central belt, which includes Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, confirmed to the BBC earlier that the Government was “currently considering what steps to take”.

It was widely reported today that pubs and restaurants could be closed for a time in some of the worst affected areas in England.

The Times asserted that the strategy had already been signed off by the Prime Minister, and would be accompanied by extra financial support for affected businesses.

The timing of any extra measures remained unclear, although some commentators suggested they could be introduced next week.

Daily Data

In today’s daily data another 17,540 UK positive tests were reported and 77 deaths.

There are 3412 COVID-19 patients in hospital and 442 ventilator beds are in use.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director for Public Health England, commented: “We are seeing a definite and sustained increase in cases and admissions to hospital. The trend is clear, and it is very concerning.”

Extra Funding to Back Coronavirus Enforcement Rules

Police forces and local councils in England have been told they will receive an extra £60 million to boost patrols enforcing coronavirus rules.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said: “This extra funding will strengthen the police’s role in enforcing the law and make sure that those who jeopardise public health face the consequences.”

The Government said that police would also be asked to provide more support to local authorities and NHS Test & Trace to enforce self-isolation regulations.

COVID-19 Mortality Exceeds Flu and Pneumonia

More than three times as many people have died from COVID-19 in England and Wales this year than from pneumonia and influenza, official figures showed.

Between the beginning of January and the end of August, there were 48,168 deaths due to COVID-19 compared with 13,619 deaths due to pneumonia and 394 deaths due to flu.

The Office for National Statistics said the trend was particularly evident between March and June.

Deaths attributed to COVID-19 were 23.7% higher in males than females, figures showed.

The proportion of deaths occurring in care homes due to COVID-19 up until the end of August was 30.0%, compared with 15.2% for pneumonia and flu, statisticians reported.

Asymptomatic Patients

A study led by University College London found that more than three quarters of people who tested positive for COVID-19 during lockdown

No symptoms for 86% of lockdown COVID cases, UK study says

LONDON (Reuters) – People who were asymptomatic accounted for 86% of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 in a UK sample population during lockdown, a study showed on Thursday, meaning the current policy of testing people with symptoms might miss many cases.

In England, people are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 only if they have symptoms of a persistent cough, fever, or loss of taste or smell, with suspected contacts of positive cases told to self-isolate in the first instance.

But epidemiologists at University College London found that such an approach might miss the vast majority of cases, complicating Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempts to clamp down on a second wave of the virus.

UCL scientists used the Office for National Statistics Infection Survey, which looks at the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community and not only those who get a test because they have symptoms.

The pilot study sampled 36,061 people living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who were tested between April 26 and June 27.

Of the 115 with a positive result, only 16 reported symptoms, with 99 not reporting any specific symptoms on the day of the test. Moreover, 142 people who reported symptoms on the day of the test did not test positive for COVID-19, vastly outnumbering those who tested positive.

“The fact that so many people who tested positive were asymptomatic on the day of a positive test result calls for a change to future testing strategies,” said Irene Petersen of UCL Epidemiology & Health Care.

“More widespread testing will help to capture ‘silent’ transmission and potentially prevent future outbreaks.”

The authors noted that other studies showed different results, with one in China suggesting just 5% of cases were asymptomatic, and a study in Iceland suggesting 43 cases out of 100 had no symptoms. They added that the sampling used in any study was likely to be a factor in its findings.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Michael Holden)

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As lockdown eases, Kenyan doctors warn Covid still lurking

Kenya is reporting a decline in coronavirus cases, and hospital admissions for Covid-19 have fallen sharply, but some frontline health workers say infections are going undetected and could even be rising.

For several weeks, the health ministry has been recording between about 50 and 250 new infections every day, a sudden and considerable slump from highs approaching 900 in just late July.

The government has responded by easing some of the strictest measures imposed to contain the pandemic. 

This week, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the reopening of bars, increased capacity for weddings, funerals and religious services, and relaxed an evening curfew in force since March.

In Nairobi, which has recorded more than half of Kenya’s nearly 39,000 official cases, intensive care units bracing for the worst just weeks ago are operating below capacity.

Elijah Ongeri, director of nursing at the private Metropolitan Hospital, said the isolation unit was “almost closed” and the ICU had just two patients.

“From the first week of August, it went down sharply. Everyone experienced the same (thing), it was so sudden. July was so sharp, and suddenly people were not showing up,” he told AFP.

Demand for tests has also plunged, said Ahmed Kalebi, director of one of Nairobi’s main private laboratories, Lancet.

“At the peak, at the beginning of July, we had 1,700 requests per day. Today it’s between 200 and 400,” he said.

– Less testing –

Doctors and frontline health workers interviewed by AFP said the rate of transmission could very well be slowing, reflected in less cases and hospital admissions — but warned that other factors could be at play.

The government no longer requires positive patients to be hospitalised but instead encourages them to stay at home. It also stopped covering treatment costs for lower-income families, discouraging many from going to hospital. 

A pervasive stigma, too, around Covid-19 dissuades many from getting tested or requesting medical assistance, health professionals say.

“People have realised you don’t die, so are not coming out if (they have) symptoms. They prefer to stay home until it’s a severe case,” says Jeremy Gitau, who coordinates the response team at Covid-19 at Kenyatta Hospital. 

“(The) number of infections are high, but people requiring admission? No.”

Kenya has recorded about 700 deaths from Covid-19, and only a small number of positive cases have evolved into a severe form of the disease.

The overwhelming majority of cases in Kenya — 93 percent, according to the health ministry in August — are asymptomatic. 

The 50-million strong population is also young: just 2.4 percent of Kenyans are aged above 65, according to World Bank data from 2019.

The total number of tests has also plummeted from around 8,000 per day in July to around 3,000 today. 

Joanne Hassan, a microbiologist from the state-run Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), said they tested as few as 200 per day now compared to highs of 3000 in July-August.

The government has also abandoned mass testing, focusing instead on symptomatic people and

Virtual fitness classes allow this community battling addiction to gain strength during lockdown

The Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone — but for the nearly 21 million Americans battling addiction, it can be especially harmful.



Scott Strode sitting in front of a laptop computer: Scott Strode's nonprofit is helping people in recovery stay connected and supported during the pandemic.


© Provided by CNN
Scott Strode’s nonprofit is helping people in recovery stay connected and supported during the pandemic.

“For somebody in recovery, social isolation is a really slippery slope,” said Scott Strode, a 2012 CNN Hero. “It can often lead to the relapse.”

Strode knows firsthand the reality of being in recovery. He was able to overcome his addiction to drugs and alcohol through sports and exercise. Encouraged by his success, in 2007 Strode started his non-profit, The Phoenix, to help others deal with their own addiction.

The organization has provided free athletic activities and a sober support community to more than 36,000 people across the United States.

When Covid-19 hit, the organization had to close its gyms and practice social distancing. But the non-profit found a new way to keep those connections — and quickly pivoted to virtual programming.

Now, clients can log on to free virtual classes offered throughout the day — everything from yoga and strength training to meditation and recovery meetings.

“We hadn’t done virtual programming before, but we pretty quickly learned that it allowed the Phoenix to offer programs to rural communities that we historically couldn’t reach,” Strode said.

The group now has people in recovery joining classes from all across the US, and four other countries. They’ve also been able to bring their programming into prisons nationwide by recording content that is then distributed to inmates.

“I don’t think we’re going to find some magic solution that’s going to fix addiction in all of our communities,” Strode said. “I think we have to do it as a community and be there for each other — letting people step into the pride and strength in their recovery can get us out of this.”

CNN’s Phil Mattingly recently joined a Phoenix class and spoke with Strode about his work. Below is an edited version of their conversation.

Phil Mattingly: What is it about these classes that you feel really resonates with people who are generally going through a pretty tough time?

Scott Strode: I always say that people come to the Phoenix for the workout, but they really stay for the friendships. When we face that greater adversity of that workout together, we build a bond. And in that bond, we find a place where we can support each other in our recovery journey. Often times we keep our struggles in the shadows, in this dark place of shame. There’s something really special about finding a community where you can just be open about all the challenges you’ve faced.

I think we’re all in recovery from something. For me, it just happens to be a substance use disorder. And when I find a community that accepts me and loves me for who I am, it just allows me to build different kinds of friendships.

Mattingly: There’s no silver lining or bright

Virtual fitness classes allow this community battling addiction to gain strength during lockdown | Live Well

Mattingly: There’s no silver lining or bright spots for many people over the last several months. Do you feel that whenever we get back to normal, this will end up almost being beneficial for the reach you were able to achieve?

Strode: I do. The idea that people can find recovery support through Phoenix now, really almost anytime, anywhere in the world is really exciting. It’ll just allow it to reach so many more people because of this virtual platform. I didn’t realize how much that was limiting our ability to get our programs to people who really needed it.

It just always lifts my heart to log into a Phoenix virtual class and meet somebody in recovery who’s doing the workout in their basement somewhere in Tennessee, where we don’t even have in-person programs, but they can come to the Phoenix anyway.

Mattingly: For somebody who’s isolated at home right now, and either they’re in recovery or they have a loved one that’s going through it right now, what would be your message to them?

Strode: If you’re at home and you’re either in recovery or you’re even struggling with your addiction right now, just log into a Phoenix class. You just go to thephoenix.org, you pick a virtual class, you drop in. You can turn your camera off. You don’t even have to talk if you don’t want to. But check one out. And what you’ll realize is that there’s individuals just like you that have either overcome their addiction or are trying to overcome it maybe the same way you are.

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Virtual fitness classes allow this community battling addiction to gain strength during lockdown | Health

Mattingly: There’s no silver lining or bright spots for many people over the last several months. Do you feel that whenever we get back to normal, this will end up almost being beneficial for the reach you were able to achieve?

Strode: I do. The idea that people can find recovery support through Phoenix now, really almost anytime, anywhere in the world is really exciting. It’ll just allow it to reach so many more people because of this virtual platform. I didn’t realize how much that was limiting our ability to get our programs to people who really needed it.

It just always lifts my heart to log into a Phoenix virtual class and meet somebody in recovery who’s doing the workout in their basement somewhere in Tennessee, where we don’t even have in-person programs, but they can come to the Phoenix anyway.

Mattingly: For somebody who’s isolated at home right now, and either they’re in recovery or they have a loved one that’s going through it right now, what would be your message to them?

Strode: If you’re at home and you’re either in recovery or you’re even struggling with your addiction right now, just log into a Phoenix class. You just go to thephoenix.org, you pick a virtual class, you drop in. You can turn your camera off. You don’t even have to talk if you don’t want to. But check one out. And what you’ll realize is that there’s individuals just like you that have either overcome their addiction or are trying to overcome it maybe the same way you are.

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