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COVID-19 Weekly Update: 15th – 21st June 2020

Welcome to the COVID-19 weekly update. Every Monday we summarise the key events that have happened in the previous week in this pandemic. We will give you a rundown of what’s going on in the UK and the major events globally.

This week’s key statistics

What has happened in the UK this week?

The Isle of Man is the first place in the UK to completely end lockdown, as it has seen no new coronavirus cases since 20th May.

A leaked report has suggested that factors including racism and social inequality might have contributed to the increased infection and death rate for COVID-19 amongst BAME communities.

A major analysis shows that South Asian people are most likely to die of coronavirus in a hospital setting in Great Britain.

A UK trial has found that a widely available steroid, dexamethasone, reduces COVID-19 deaths amongst seriously ill patients; those who require oxygen or a ventilator.

Experts say it reduces the risk of death by a third for those on a ventilator and a fifth for those on oxygen.

It is also very low cost – treating 8 intensive care patients costs around £40 a day and can be expected to save the life of one in eight of those patients.

Community sport in the UK is to restart from July at the earliest, after some professional sport has already restarted this month.

The coronavirus tracing app will now move to a different model. The app was initially meant to be rolled out by mid-May but experienced numerous delays.

It will now move to a design by Apple and Google and is hoped to be rolled out in autumn. Data has shown that 1 in 4 people who test positive for coronavirus cannot be reached by the test and trace system.

Matt Hancock announced on Thursday that AstraZeneca has stuck a deal to produce the Oxford vaccine, if it is found to be effective. He also urged parents to make sure that their children are still receiving the regular vaccinations.

Extra money has been given to schools to expand summer programmes for children of key workers who will not be able to access their usual childcare over the holidays.

The government will provide 1.3 million children in England with free school meal vouchers over the summer holidays.

The Prime Minister pledged £1 billion to help school children. The money will be used to provide the most disadvantaged students with tutors and schools have been allocated money to pay for one to one or group tuition.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced on Friday that all pupils will go back to school in September.

The government is planning on relaxing quarantine restrictions from early July for some countries, with UK officials currently talking to France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

From Sunday, travellers from the UK will not have to quarantine upon arrival in Spain.

A review of the 2m social distancing rule will be completed within a few days. This is especially important to much of the hospitality industry which is set to reopen on 4th July.

The government will outline proposals for how to safely reduce the social-distancing rule this week.

This week the COVID-19 alert level was reduced from 4 to 3. At this level, the virus is considered to be in general circulation but there can be a gradual relaxation of restrictions.

New measures to protect businesses crucial to public health from foreign takeovers will be introduced on Monday. Changes to the Enterprise Act will allow the government to intervene if a business involved in the pandemic is the target of a takeover.

What has happened globally this week?

The WHO has warned this week that the pandemic is entering a new and dangerous phase.

A record number of new cases globally was reported on Thursday with more half of these 150,000 cases reported in the Americas. Many US states have also reported record new infections as they continue to ease lockdowns, with scientists warning that Florida may be the next epicentre.

The FDA, the authorisation agency for drugs in America, has withdrawn the emergency use authorisation for hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

There has been a spike of new coronavirus cases in Beijing, linked to a large food market. Genetic analysis of the virus has found that the strain did not match cases elsewhere in the country and that the origins may have been from Europe.

Schools are now closed and many residents in specific zones cannot leave the city.

After almost a month with no new infections, New Zealand reports two, both recent arrivals from the UK. This has prompted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s ordering of the military to oversee the quarantine and border operations.

The R number has jumped to 2.88 in Germany, following many local outbreaks including a major one at a meat-processing plant. The R number must be below 1 for infections to fall.

3 hopeful pieces of news

All of the news on COVID-19 can seem very doom and gloom, but there are good things happening amongst all of the pandemic chaos. Here are 3 snippets of good news from the last week:

This is a positive sign as transmission is no longer deemed to be high or exponentially rising, with new infections and deaths also falling.

The court voted 6-3 in favour of the 1964 civil rights law protecting LGBT+ people on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation.

In great news for green energy, the battery being produced near Manchester will use spare green energy to compress air into a liquid and store it. When demand increases, the air is released as a gas which is used to power a turbine and create electricity by this renewable method.

Words by Safiya Zaloum

Other articles to check out:

Three Big Changes To UCAT 2020

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