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Coronavirus news – live: Australia commits to free vaccine for all citizens as data shows depression rates double in UK

Follow the latest updates

Kate Ng,Jane Dalton,Vincent Wood
Tuesday 18 August 2020 20:30 BST
Coronavirus in numbers

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the coronavirus is being spread largely by young people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who are unaware they have been infected.

Takeshi Kasai, regional director for WHO Western Pacific, told a virtual briefing on Tuesday that young people driving the spread pose a risk to more vulnerable groups.

Meanwhile, Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison has announced it will manufacture a coronavirus vaccine and give it to its citizens free.

AstraZeneca’s experimental jab is considered a leader in the global race for an effective vaccine.

A major state-owned Chinese pharmaceutical company has claimed its coronavirus vaccine will be commercially available by the end of the year.

SinoPharm has two vaccines in trial and an annual manufacturing capacity of 220 million doses, said its chairman, Liu Jingzhen.


New travel insurance partnership offers policies for countries not on quarantine exemption list

A new partnership between Holiday Extras and specialist insurance provider Battleface will offer travel insurance policies for countries that the Foreign Office (FCO) currently advises against travelling to.

The policies will cover customers if they fall ill and require medical or emergency assistance, including medical expenses due to Covid-19, as well as covering loss of baggage, personal money and passport and personal liability.

Find out more from reporter Helen Coffey:

Kate Ng18 August 2020 10:30

Fewest weekly deaths in England and Wales since lockdown began, latest figures show

England and Wales have recorded the lowest weekly number of deaths from coronavirus since lockdown was imposed in March, the latest figures show.

There were 152 fatalities from Covid-19 in the week up to 7 August, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Kate Ng18 August 2020 10:45

Prince Charles sends message of support to Australians amid second wave of coronavirus


The Prince of Wales has sent a message to encourage Australians battling a second wave of coronavirus in Victoria.

Charles said Australians are made of “tough stuff” and the second wave would have “heartbreaking consequences” for so many but the state would emerge stronger than ever.

“I just wanted to say, on behalf of my wife and myself, that you are so much in our special thoughts at what I can well imagine is a tremendously testing and frustrating time, and that we care deeply for what you are having to go through,” he said.

Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, has been in lockdown for over a month. The state still has more than 7,000 active cases of coronavirus and remains Australia’s worst concern.

“I’ve always felt a special fondness of Victoria, having spend six very happy months there at school 54 years ago and having had a chance to explore various parts of the state,” added Charles.

“From being able to live among you, and then to have the good fortune to revisit your marvellous state on many occasions, I know that Victorians, like all Australians, are tenacious, and resilient, or indeed, as you might say in Australia, made of tough stuff.”

Kate Ng18 August 2020 11:13

Less than a third of people who test positive reported Covid symptoms, data shows

New figures show that less than a third of people testing positive for coronavirus reported having symptoms of the disease.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), an analysis found only around 28 per cent of people testing positive for coronavirus reported any symptoms at the time of their swab test or at either the preceding or subsequent tests.

The remaining 72 per cent of positive cases either did not report having any specific or general symptoms on the day of their positive swab test, preceding or subsequent swab tests, or did not answer both questions, the ONS added.

“This suggests there is a potentially large number of asymptomatic cases, but it is important to note that symptoms were self-reported rather than professionally diagnosed,” said the ONS.

Respondents were asked to report symptoms including fever, muscle ache, fatigue, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, headache, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, loss of taste or loss of smell.

Kate Ng18 August 2020 11:30

One-person households twice as likely to test positive for Covid-19

Data from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey found that people in one-person households were estimated to be around twice as likely to test positive for coronavirus than those in two-person households.

The ONS said it will investigate why one-person households appear more likely to test positive. It added there was no evidence to suggest that those living in larger households than two people were at higher or lower risk of testing positive than those living in two-person households.

“There is some evidence to suggest that household size affects the percentage of individuals testing positive for Covid-19 on a swab test taken between 8 June and 2 August 2020,” said the ONS.

“Those in one-person households were estimated to be around 2.1 times more likely to test positive for Covid-19 on a swab test than those in two-person households.

“Recently, we have introduced new questions in the study about contacts, so we will investigate why those in one-person households might be more likely to test positive in a future article.”

Kate Ng18 August 2020 11:45

Surge in depression among British adults during pandemic

The proportion of people in Britain suffering with depression has almost doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic, official data showed on Tuesday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 19% of adults reported some form of depression during June, compared with 10 per cent in the nine months to March 2020. Stress and anxiety were the most common types of depression listed by people, it said.

In this graph, created for The Independent by Statista, data from the ONS shows 19.2 per cent of British adults reported depressive symptoms in June alone, compared to 9.7 per cent between July 2019 to March this year.


Kate Ng18 August 2020 12:00

World Health Organisation calls for end to ‘vaccine nationalism’


The pandemic is being worsened by countries prioritising their own supplies of a potential vaccine for coronavirus, warned WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He said on Tuesday that each country should be acting “strategically and globally” as “no one is safe until everyone is safe”.

Mr Ghrebreyesus told a virtual briefing he had sent a letter to all WHO members asking them to join the multilateral COVAX vaccine effort.

Kate Ng18 August 2020 12:20

London City Airport pauses £500m expansion due to pandemic

London City Airport is pressing pause on its £500m expansion plans at the end of the year because of coronavirus.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the aviation industry hard, and the airport said it will have to “re-evaluate the timing of the next phases of the development programme”.

Helen Coffey reports:

Kate Ng18 August 2020 12:40

France to make face coverings mandatory in work places

France will make wearing face masks mandatory in work places from 1 September, with some exceptions, the head of a leading union told BFM TV on Tuesday.

Yves Veyrier, leader of Force ouvriere, said the government “deems it necessary to wear a mask when you’re not alone (in the work place)”, adding the labour minister made it clear it was up to the companies concerned to pay for the masks.

France’s High Council for Public Health recommended that mask-wearing be made compulsory in all workplaces as the daily infection numbers surged past 3,000 for the first time since May.

According to French newspaper Journal du Dimanche, French labour minister Elisabeth Borne is laying out the new requirements today. Face masks could be required in collective spaces and during meetings, but could be taken off in private offices, it was reported.

Kate Ng18 August 2020 13:00

New National Institute for Health Protection announced

Matt Hancock has announced the formation of a new organisation, the National Institute for Health Protection, which will replace Public Health England.

He said the new organisation will protect “people from external threats to this country’s health”.

“To give ourselves the best chance of beating this virus and spotting and tackling other external health threats now and in the future, we need to bring together the science and the skill into one coherent whole.

“So today, I am announcing that we are forming a new organisation, the National Institute for Health Protection.

“The National Institute for Health Protection will have a single and relentless mission: protecting people from external threats to this country’s health. External threats like biological weapons, pandemics and, of course, infectious diseases of all kinds.”

Kate Ng18 August 2020 13:00

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