Overuse of antibiotics to prevent or treat coronavirus will lead to more deaths, WHO warns 


Overuse of antibiotics to prevent or treat coronavirus despite NO evidence they block the infection will lead to more deaths ‘during the pandemic and beyond,’ WHO warns

  • The World Health Organization said on Monday a ‘worrying number’ of bacterial infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics
  • They said using antibiotics to treat coronavirus will lead to higher bacterial resistance rates and, in turn, more deaths
  • New guidelines were issued asking doctors not to provide antibiotics as a treatment or a prophylactic for patients with mild to moderate illnesses
  • A 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that superbugs cause 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the US annually
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Overuse of antibiotics to treat patients infected with the novel coronavirus will lead to more deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday.

Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a ‘worrying number’ of bacterial infections are becoming resistant to the medications commonly used to treat them.

He said that he and his colleagues were concerned that inappropriately using antibiotics during the pandemic would only worsen the threat of resistance. 

‘The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased use of antibiotics, which ultimately will lead to higher bacterial resistance rates that will impact the burden of disease and deaths during the pandemic and beyond,’ Tedros said during a press conference. 

The World Health Organization warned on Monday that using antibiotics to treat coronavirus will lead to higher bacterial resistance rates and, in turn, more deaths. Pictured: WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference, February 28

New guidelines were issued asking doctors not to provide antibiotics as a treatment or a prophylactic for patients with mild to moderate illnesses if a bacterial infection is not suspected. Pictured: Nurse Paula Johnson administers a deep suction tube into the lungs of a COVID-19 patient, in the ICU of Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, April 22

New guidelines were issued asking doctors not to provide antibiotics as a treatment or a prophylactic for patients with mild to moderate illnesses if a bacterial infection is not suspected. Pictured: Nurse Paula Johnson administers a deep suction tube into the lungs of a COVID-19 patient, in the ICU of Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, April 22

 Antibiotics have been doled out unnecessarily by physicians and hospital staff for decades, turning once harmless bacteria into superbugs.

Bacteria can become drug resistant when people take incorrect doses of antibiotics or if they are given out unnecessarily. 

Superbugs cause 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the US every year, according to a 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Estimates show that superbugs will kill 10 million people each year by 2050, with most succumbing to bugs that were previously deemed insignificant.

The WHO has previously warned that  if nothing is done, the world is heading for a ‘post-antibiotic’ era.

‘It’s clear that the world is losing its ability to use critically important antimicrobial medicines,’ Tedros said on Monday. 

‘The threat of antimicrobial resistance is one of the most urgent challenges of our time.’ 

The WHO said only a small number of patients with COVID-19 need antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections.

Because of this, the UN health agency is issuing new guidelines, recommending that doctors not provide antibiotics as a treatment or a prophylactic for patients with mild to moderate illnesses without suspicion of a bacterial infection. 

Tedros said new models are need to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance.

‘On the supply side, there is essentially very little market incentive to developing new antibiotics and antimicrobial agents, which has led to multiple market failures of very promising tools in the past few years,’ he said. 

The WHO also released the results of a survey, which found that the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases had been disrupted since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in December.

Approximately 53 percent of countries said treatment services for hypertension had been partially or completely disrupted.

About 49 percent reported disruption for diabetes treatment and related complications, 42 percent  for cancer treatment, and 31 percent for cardiovascular emergencies.

Some of the most common reasons for little to no services included canceled planned treatment sessions and staff being reassigned to treat coronavirus patients. 

The future of flight: Blueprint to make flying safe for the Covid era


Air passengers face the biggest changes to travel since the 9/11 terror attacks – with everyone on board planes having to wear face masks, told not to queue up for toilets and facing limited duty-free sales in airports.

Masks, health checks and a limit to on-board movements made up part of the industry guidelines, which also said planes must be regularly disinfected and on-board food should be pre-packaged.

The blueprint, by the International Civil Aviation Organization and World Health Organization, suggests people carry ‘health certificates’ in countries where they are issued and go for pre and post-flight temperature checks.

Online check-in and other non-contact forms of technology, such as e-tickets, must be used in terminals as much as possible to reduce human contact, while travellers should take just one piece of small hand luggage.

Airlines should ban newspapers and magazines on-board, while duty-free sales in airports should be limited and masks and face coverings for passengers and crews should be mandatory inside aircraft and terminals.

Physical distancing of at least 3ft (1m) should be respected – and passengers on board planes should move as little as possible and not line up outside toilets. Travellers will also be assigned a specific on-board toilet.

The plans, intended as a ‘framework’ for keeping passengers and workers safe, also include advice for flight attendants to be given personal protective equipment, including visors, gloves and medical masks.

But the guidance by the ICAO, which is based in Canada, stops short of advising every other seat to be left vacant to maintain physical distancing – something the airline industry has warned would threaten profitability. 

Here, MailOnline looks at the new guidance and what it means for passengers and the airline industry:

CHECK-IN 

Terminal access may be restricted to workers, travellers and accompanying people for passengers with disabilities, reduced mobility or unaccompanied children – as long as it does not create crowds and queues.

Passengers are being urged to complete as much of the check-in process as possible before arriving at the airport, by using online check-in, mobile boarding passes, off airport baggage tagging and other initiatives.

Authorities are particular concerned about self-service options such as boarding pass and baggage tag kiosks and baggage drop because of the high levels of physical contact that increases the chances of contamination.

Airports are therefore being encouraged to keep these areas constantly disinfected. They will also provide signs, floor markings and announcements via public address systems to encourage physical distancing.

At the traditional check-in counters, there will be retractable stanchions and floor signage in the queuing area to encourage social distancing and possibly transparent barriers in front of staff at counters.

Contactless processes such as facial recognition are also encouraged at self-service bag drops, various queue access, boarding gates and retail and duty-free outlets, which will reduce the need for contact between people.

Social distancing will be imposed, with the target of reaching at least 3ft (1m) between people, with passengers told to wear face masks or coverings as long as this does not create shortages for healthcare workers.

Employees will be given personal protective equipment based on their role, and this could include gloves, medical masks, goggles, a face shield, gowns or aprons. There will also be a rota keeping them in steady teams and shifts. 

People check-in at Olbia Airport in Italy as passengers and service personnel wear protective masks as is now required

People check-in at Olbia Airport in Italy as passengers and service personnel wear protective masks as is now required

Travelers wait to check in at Rome's Fiumicino Airport today as airports and borders reopen for tourists across Italy

Travelers wait to check in at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport today as airports and borders reopen for tourists across Italy

Passengers putting on personal protective equipment at London Stansted Airport in Essex today

Passengers putting on personal protective equipment at London Stansted Airport in Essex today 

GOING THROUGH SECURITY

If health screening is required by regulations within the terminal, non-contact thermometers will be used in a designated area and procedures will be in place to respond to any passengers who show signs of illness.

Hand sanitizers and disinfection products will be available for passengers and staff before they reach screening access points. When there they should maintain social distancing and wear appropriate PPE.

Airports are considering rearranging security checkpoint access and layouts to reduce queues and crowding, with markings placed on the ground to indicate the proper distancing recommended by the country’s authorities.

Passengers should present boarding passes and other travel documents to security personnel while avoiding physical contact and in a way that minimises face-to-face interaction.

Travellers can use automatic boarding pass scanners at access points and mobile boarding pass scanners will be operated by security staff. Screening staff should wear gloves and change these after each manual search.

There is also provision for larger quantities of health-related liquids, aerosols and gels than prescribed by applicable regulations, such as hand disinfectants, if the appropriate authority for aviation security permits.

Passengers in face masks wait at the check-in desk at Rome's Fiumicino Airport today for a flight to Dusseldorf in Germany

Passengers in face masks wait at the check-in desk at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport today for a flight to Dusseldorf in Germany

A passenger sanitises her hands before walking further through the departures area at Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport today

A passenger sanitises her hands before walking further through the departures area at Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport today

DEPARTURE LOUNGE AND BOARDING

Airports are considering floor markings and physical installations to impose social distancing in departures areas and VIP lounges while giving passengers access to retail, duty-free concessions and food and drink outlets.

Certain areas may need to close or their layout changed, such as self-service buffet food, café seating, smoking areas and children’s play areas – while hand sanitiser stations will be available throughout the lounges.

Airports should also install touch-free equipment in toilet facilities, such as an automatic toilet flushing system, taps and soap or hand sanitiser dispensers and automated hand towel dispensers.

To ensure socially distancing during the boarding process, airports may need to redesign gate areas and bring in an increased use of automation such as self-scanning and biometrics – especially as passenger numbers rise.

Passengers will be limited in what carry-on baggage they can take that would require use of the overhead bins, while sitting areas will only be allowed to open at limited capacity to accommodate the need for social distancing.

Airlines are also being asked to considering changing their boarding process to improve social distancing and reduce the chances of passengers passing near each other while queuing to get onto the plane. 

Passengers sit in socially-distanced seats today in the departures terminal at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand

Passengers sit in socially-distanced seats today in the departures terminal at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand

Service staff wear protective masks and gloves at a bar in the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport in Italy which reopened today

Service staff wear protective masks and gloves at a bar in the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport in Italy which reopened today

ON BOARD 

Airlines have been urged to assign seats for adequate distancing between passengers – and allow for separated seating arrangements when occupancy allows it.

However the guidance has not advised every other seat to be left vacant to maintain physical distancing – something the airline industry has warned would threaten profitability.

Passengers will be encouraged to travel as lightly as possible with check-in of all luggage except small hand luggage that fits under the seat. They will also be asked to stay in their assigned seat as much as possible.

On-board newspapers and magazines will be removed, while the size and quantity of duty-free sales may also be temporarily limited. Food and drink likely to be only provided in sealed and pre-packaged containers.

One toilet should be designated for crew use only, provided sufficient others remain available for passenger use without resulting in congregation by passengers waiting to use one.

Passengers will also be required to use a designated toilet based on their seat assignment to limit passenger movement in flight, which reduces exposure to other passengers.

Crew will be banned from sharing safety equipment used for demonstrations, while airlines are also looking at installing plastic curtains or panels during the boarding process, which are then removed once this is completed.

Passengers on board a plane in Thailand following a domestic Thai Smile Airways flight at Chiang Mai Airport today

Passengers on board a plane in Thailand following a domestic Thai Smile Airways flight at Chiang Mai Airport today

SECURITY AFTER LANDING 

Airports have been warned border control and customs processes for arrivals may need to be revised to increase social distancing, with a focus on automatic equipment, digital passenger identification and thermal screening.

Some governments are also looking at the idea of a health declaration to be provided by arriving passengers before departure or on arrival as an initial screening measure, which can then be vetted by officials.

Governments are also being urged to consider electronic options for declarations to minimise human-to-human contact, and green or red lanes customs self-declarations are recommended.

Smart thermal cameras could be installed to scan the temperature of multiple passengers rapidly. This could be conducted prior to the customs hall, but individual health assessments should be avoided to reduce queuing.

For those transferring flights, authorities could develop ‘one-stop’ health screening where passengers and property are not rescreened at transfer locations based on mutual recognition of security measures.

Passengers arrive at Cagliari-Elmas Airport in Italy today from different destinations after the reopening of regional borders

Passengers arrive at Cagliari-Elmas Airport in Italy today from different destinations after the reopening of regional borders

BAGGAGE CLAIM

Airports will also be urged to provide a speedy baggage claim process to ensure crowds to do not build up in the area, and encouraged to maximise use of the available arrival carousels to limit the gathering of passengers.

Governments should ensure that the customs clearance process is as speedy as possible, and align cleaning schedule based on flight schedules to ensure a more frequent and in-depth disinfection of the areas.

Airports should also allow for self-service kiosk or online options for passengers needing to report lost or damaged luggage, while using retractable stanchions and floor markings to encourage social distancing.

Airline agents at lost luggage counters will be provided with a protective transparent separator when possible, while airports will encourage the use of baggage delivery services so bags can be sent straight to a hotel or home.

Passengers wearing protective face masks stand with their luggage at Rome Fiumicino Airport in Italy this morning

Passengers wearing protective face masks stand with their luggage at Rome Fiumicino Airport in Italy this morning

TERMINAL CLEANING

Airports have been urged to ensure there is an ‘enhanced cleaning and disinfection’ operation in place for terminal buildings with its frequency increased as passenger numbers build up when restrictions are eased.

Areas that will be regularly cleaned will be those that are often touched and most likely to be contaminated, such as airport information desks and areas for passengers with reduced mobility.

Other areas with enhanced cleaning will include check-in areas, immigration and customs desks, security screening areas, escalators and lifts, handrails and toilets and baby changing areas.

Luggage trolleys and collection points will be cleaned with dispensable wet wipes or disinfectants, while disposal bins will be made available. Seating areas and parking shuttle buses will also be regularly cleaned.

Airports will increase the use of air conditioning and filtration systems to keep the air in terminal buildings clean, reduce re-circulation and increase the fresh-air ratio, while limiting horizontal airflows. 

A cleaning worker pushes a cart across a terminal at Rome's Fiumicino Airport today as airports in Italy reopen for tourists

A cleaning worker pushes a cart across a terminal at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport today as airports in Italy reopen for tourists

The future of flight: Blueprint to make flying safe for the Covid era


Air passengers face the biggest changes to travel since the 9/11 terror attacks – with everyone on board planes having to wear face masks, told not to queue up for toilets and facing limited duty-free sales in airports.

Masks, health checks and a limit to on-board movements made up part of the industry guidelines, which also said planes must be regularly disinfected and on-board food should be pre-packaged.

The blueprint, by the International Civil Aviation Organization and World Health Organization, suggests people carry ‘health certificates’ in countries where they are issued and go for pre and post-flight temperature checks.

Online check-in and other non-contact forms of technology, such as e-tickets, must be used in terminals as much as possible to reduce human contact, while travellers should take just one piece of small hand luggage.

Airlines should ban newspapers and magazines on-board, while duty-free sales in airports should be limited and masks and face coverings for passengers and crews should be mandatory inside aircraft and terminals.

Physical distancing of at least 3ft (1m) should be respected – and passengers on board planes should move as little as possible and not line up outside toilets. Travellers will also be assigned a specific on-board toilet.

The plans, intended as a ‘framework’ for keeping passengers and workers safe, also include advice for flight attendants to be given personal protective equipment, including visors, gloves and medical masks.

But the guidance by the ICAO, which is based in Canada, stops short of advising every other seat to be left vacant to maintain physical distancing – something the airline industry has warned would threaten profitability. 

Here, MailOnline looks at the new guidance and what it means for passengers and the airline industry:

CHECK-IN 

Terminal access may be restricted to workers, travellers and accompanying people for passengers with disabilities, reduced mobility or unaccompanied children – as long as it does not create crowds and queues.

Passengers are being urged to complete as much of the check-in process as possible before arriving at the airport, by using online check-in, mobile boarding passes, off airport baggage tagging and other initiatives.

Authorities are particular concerned about self-service options such as boarding pass and baggage tag kiosks and baggage drop because of the high levels of physical contact that increases the chances of contamination.

Airports are therefore being encouraged to keep these areas constantly disinfected. They will also provide signs, floor markings and announcements via public address systems to encourage physical distancing.

At the traditional check-in counters, there will be retractable stanchions and floor signage in the queuing area to encourage social distancing and possibly transparent barriers in front of staff at counters.

Contactless processes such as facial recognition are also encouraged at self-service bag drops, various queue access, boarding gates and retail and duty-free outlets, which will reduce the need for contact between people.

Social distancing will be imposed, with the target of reaching at least 3ft (1m) between people, with passengers told to wear face masks or coverings as long as this does not create shortages for healthcare workers.

Employees will be given personal protective equipment based on their role, and this could include gloves, medical masks, goggles, a face shield, gowns or aprons. There will also be a rota keeping them in steady teams and shifts. 

People check-in at Olbia Airport in Italy as passengers and service personnel wear protective masks as is now required

People check-in at Olbia Airport in Italy as passengers and service personnel wear protective masks as is now required

Travelers wait to check in at Rome's Fiumicino Airport today as airports and borders reopen for tourists across Italy

Travelers wait to check in at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport today as airports and borders reopen for tourists across Italy

Passengers putting on personal protective equipment at London Stansted Airport in Essex today

Passengers putting on personal protective equipment at London Stansted Airport in Essex today 

GOING THROUGH SECURITY

If health screening is required by regulations within the terminal, non-contact thermometers will be used in a designated area and procedures will be in place to respond to any passengers who show signs of illness.

Hand sanitizers and disinfection products will be available for passengers and staff before they reach screening access points. When there they should maintain social distancing and wear appropriate PPE.

Airports are considering rearranging security checkpoint access and layouts to reduce queues and crowding, with markings placed on the ground to indicate the proper distancing recommended by the country’s authorities.

Passengers should present boarding passes and other travel documents to security personnel while avoiding physical contact and in a way that minimises face-to-face interaction.

Travellers can use automatic boarding pass scanners at access points and mobile boarding pass scanners will be operated by security staff. Screening staff should wear gloves and change these after each manual search.

There is also provision for larger quantities of health-related liquids, aerosols and gels than prescribed by applicable regulations, such as hand disinfectants, if the appropriate authority for aviation security permits.

Passengers in face masks wait at the check-in desk at Rome's Fiumicino Airport today for a flight to Dusseldorf in Germany

Passengers in face masks wait at the check-in desk at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport today for a flight to Dusseldorf in Germany

A passenger sanitises her hands before walking further through the departures area at Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport today

A passenger sanitises her hands before walking further through the departures area at Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport today

DEPARTURE LOUNGE AND BOARDING

Airports are considering floor markings and physical installations to impose social distancing in departures areas and VIP lounges while giving passengers access to retail, duty-free concessions and food and drink outlets.

Certain areas may need to close or their layout changed, such as self-service buffet food, café seating, smoking areas and children’s play areas – while hand sanitiser stations will be available throughout the lounges.

Airports should also install touch-free equipment in toilet facilities, such as an automatic toilet flushing system, taps and soap or hand sanitiser dispensers and automated hand towel dispensers.

To ensure socially distancing during the boarding process, airports may need to redesign gate areas and bring in an increased use of automation such as self-scanning and biometrics – especially as passenger numbers rise.

Passengers will be limited in what carry-on baggage they can take that would require use of the overhead bins, while sitting areas will only be allowed to open at limited capacity to accommodate the need for social distancing.

Airlines are also being asked to considering changing their boarding process to improve social distancing and reduce the chances of passengers passing near each other while queuing to get onto the plane. 

Passengers sit in socially-distanced seats today in the departures terminal at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand

Passengers sit in socially-distanced seats today in the departures terminal at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand

Service staff wear protective masks and gloves at a bar in the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport in Italy which reopened today

Service staff wear protective masks and gloves at a bar in the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport in Italy which reopened today

ON BOARD 

Airlines have been urged to assign seats for adequate distancing between passengers – and allow for separated seating arrangements when occupancy allows it.

However the guidance has not advised every other seat to be left vacant to maintain physical distancing – something the airline industry has warned would threaten profitability.

Passengers will be encouraged to travel as lightly as possible with check-in of all luggage except small hand luggage that fits under the seat. They will also be asked to stay in their assigned seat as much as possible.

On-board newspapers and magazines will be removed, while the size and quantity of duty-free sales may also be temporarily limited. Food and drink likely to be only provided in sealed and pre-packaged containers.

One toilet should be designated for crew use only, provided sufficient others remain available for passenger use without resulting in congregation by passengers waiting to use one.

Passengers will also be required to use a designated toilet based on their seat assignment to limit passenger movement in flight, which reduces exposure to other passengers.

Crew will be banned from sharing safety equipment used for demonstrations, while airlines are also looking at installing plastic curtains or panels during the boarding process, which are then removed once this is completed.

Passengers on board a plane in Thailand following a domestic Thai Smile Airways flight at Chiang Mai Airport today

Passengers on board a plane in Thailand following a domestic Thai Smile Airways flight at Chiang Mai Airport today

SECURITY AFTER LANDING 

Airports have been warned border control and customs processes for arrivals may need to be revised to increase social distancing, with a focus on automatic equipment, digital passenger identification and thermal screening.

Some governments are also looking at the idea of a health declaration to be provided by arriving passengers before departure or on arrival as an initial screening measure, which can then be vetted by officials.

Governments are also being urged to consider electronic options for declarations to minimise human-to-human contact, and green or red lanes customs self-declarations are recommended.

Smart thermal cameras could be installed to scan the temperature of multiple passengers rapidly. This could be conducted prior to the customs hall, but individual health assessments should be avoided to reduce queuing.

For those transferring flights, authorities could develop ‘one-stop’ health screening where passengers and property are not rescreened at transfer locations based on mutual recognition of security measures.

Passengers arrive at Cagliari-Elmas Airport in Italy today from different destinations after the reopening of regional borders

Passengers arrive at Cagliari-Elmas Airport in Italy today from different destinations after the reopening of regional borders

BAGGAGE CLAIM

Airports will also be urged to provide a speedy baggage claim process to ensure crowds to do not build up in the area, and encouraged to maximise use of the available arrival carousels to limit the gathering of passengers.

Governments should ensure that the customs clearance process is as speedy as possible, and align cleaning schedule based on flight schedules to ensure a more frequent and in-depth disinfection of the areas.

Airports should also allow for self-service kiosk or online options for passengers needing to report lost or damaged luggage, while using retractable stanchions and floor markings to encourage social distancing.

Airline agents at lost luggage counters will be provided with a protective transparent separator when possible, while airports will encourage the use of baggage delivery services so bags can be sent straight to a hotel or home.

Passengers wearing protective face masks stand with their luggage at Rome Fiumicino Airport in Italy this morning

Passengers wearing protective face masks stand with their luggage at Rome Fiumicino Airport in Italy this morning

TERMINAL CLEANING

Airports have been urged to ensure there is an ‘enhanced cleaning and disinfection’ operation in place for terminal buildings with its frequency increased as passenger numbers build up when restrictions are eased.

Areas that will be regularly cleaned will be those that are often touched and most likely to be contaminated, such as airport information desks and areas for passengers with reduced mobility.

Other areas with enhanced cleaning will include check-in areas, immigration and customs desks, security screening areas, escalators and lifts, handrails and toilets and baby changing areas.

Luggage trolleys and collection points will be cleaned with dispensable wet wipes or disinfectants, while disposal bins will be made available. Seating areas and parking shuttle buses will also be regularly cleaned.

Airports will increase the use of air conditioning and filtration systems to keep the air in terminal buildings clean, reduce re-circulation and increase the fresh-air ratio, while limiting horizontal airflows. 

A cleaning worker pushes a cart across a terminal at Rome's Fiumicino Airport today as airports in Italy reopen for tourists

A cleaning worker pushes a cart across a terminal at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport today as airports in Italy reopen for tourists

Coronavirus UK: 2m rule STAYS despite calls for it to be halved


Britain’s two-metre social distancing rule is remaining in place, Number 10 said today – despite growing pressure on ministers to reduce it. 

MPs have called for the distance to be loosened in line with other countries such as Germany, to save jobs and allow more businesses to reopen. 

If pubs, theatres and other hospitality venues have to abide by the two-metre rule, it would severely restrict how many could enter and businesses could go bust. 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the matter is ‘under review’ but added: ‘The current guidance is the two-metre rule should remain in place.’ 

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), which represents workers, today argued it is vital the two-metre rule stayed in place to protect staff.

It comes after a major study last night keeping one metre apart can slash the risk of catching coronavirus by 80 per cent.

The World Health Organization-funded review revealed there is a roughly 1.3 per cent chance of contracting the virus when two metres from an infected patient. But halving this gap raised the risk to only 2.6 per cent. 

Guidance from WHO stipulates one-metre social distancing – and Britain is one of only a handful of countries going farther. 

France, Sweden, and Austria all follow the UN agency’s advice. Germany, Australia and the Netherlands have opted for 1.5 metres.   

Researchers found there was roughly a 1.3 per cent chance of contracting the virus when two metres from an infected patient. But halving this gap raised the risk to only 2.6 per cent. This means the disease would spread to fewer than three in 100 people, against 13 in 100 without any social distancing at all. That equates to an 80 per cent reduction in risk

Researchers found there was roughly a 1.3 per cent chance of contracting the virus when two metres from an infected patient. But halving this gap raised the risk to only 2.6 per cent. This means the disease would spread to fewer than three in 100 people, against 13 in 100 without any social distancing at all. That equates to an 80 per cent reduction in risk

Politicians and business leaders have claimed the small increased risk from relaxing the two-metre restriction would be worth the economic benefits. 

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers called for the distance to be reduced in line with some other countries’ rules to save jobs and help the hospitality sector reopen. 

Miss Villiers told BBC Radio 4: ‘I think we should take comfort from the World Health Organization that one to two metres is safe.

‘And the fact many other countries have taken the approach of one or 1.5 metres, that demonstrates that can be managed safely.’

She added: ‘Unless we ease the two metre rule, the hospitality sector is likely to stay closed.’

Former chancellor Norman Lamont said halving the rule to one metre was ‘the single most important measure we must take’ to avoid ‘devastating mass unemployment’. 

Commons Science Committee Greg Clark revealed he had written a letter to Boris Johnson urging the Prime Minister to relax the two metre rule.

Mr Clark said: ‘The difference between 2m and 1.5m may seem small but it can be the difference between people being able to go to work and losing their jobs.’

However, on Tuesday Number 10 said the Government believes the two-metre rule should remain in place. 

What is the science behind two-metre social distancing rule? 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a one metre distance between two people from separate households.

The reason for this, as stated on its website, is that: ‘When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.’

But other countries have taken advice from their own health experts and social distancing varies from two metres (in the UK) down to one metre (in France)

The two metre rule can be traced back to research in the 1930s that showed droplets of liquid from coughs or sneezes would land within a one-two metre range.

Social distancing varies between different countries:

TWO METRES: UK, Switzerland, US, Spain, Italy

1.5 METRES: Germany, Poland, Netherlands

ONE METRE: Austria, Norway, Sweden, Finland

SO, WHAT HAVE THE STUDIES SHOWN?

ONE METRE

Number 10’s chief scientific adviser – Sir Patrick Vallance – has said that the one metre rule is up to 30 times more risky than the two metre rule.

He told MPs earlier this month the risk of spending a minute next to a Covid-19 patient for two minutes was ‘about the same’ as being within a metre of a Covid-19 case for six seconds.

The latest evidence, published in The Lancet, found there was roughly a 2.6 per cent chance of catching the virus when one metre from a Covid patient. But doubling the gap cut the risk to only 1.3 per cent.

TWO METRE

One of the top scientific advisers to the British Government said the two metre social distancing rule is based on ‘very fragile’ evidence.

Professor Robert Dingwall, a member of Nervtag, referred to it as a ‘rule of thumb’ rather than a scientifically proven measure.

Other experts have said the distance may be a non-scientific estimate that just caught on in countries around the world.

IS TWO METRES ENOUGH?

The UK’s coronavirus social distancing limit is four times too short and the gap should be 26 feet, said experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in March.

They found viral droplets expelled in coughs and sneezes can travel in a moist, warm atmosphere at speeds of between 33 and 100ft per second.

This creates a cloud in the atmosphere that can span approximately 23ft to 27ft (seven metres to eight metres) to neighbouring people, the team said.

Another study by scientists in Cyprus, published a fortnight ago, added to the evidence when it found the two-metre rule may not be far enough.

Researchers found even in winds of two miles per hour (mph) – the speed needed for smoke to drift – saliva can travel 18 feet in just five seconds.

And scientists from the universities of California Santa Barbara and Stanford last week said the two metre rule may have to be trebled when winter strikes.

They found droplets that carry SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 – can travel up to 20feet (six metres) in cold and humid areas.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also urged Scots to continue to adhere to the current guidance of two metres. 

Ms Sturgeon said today: ‘You might be reading or hearing in the media today some voices saying that one metre is sufficient, so I want to take the opportunity today to stress that the clear and the strong advice from the Scottish Government is to stay two metres apart from those in other households.’

It comes after a new study suggested physical distancing of two metres only reduced the risk of coronavirus transmission by a small amount compared to one metre. 

The WHO found there was roughly a 1.3 per cent chance of contracting the virus when two metres from an infected patient. But halving this gap raised the risk to only 2.6 per cent.

This means the disease would spread to fewer than three in 100 people, against 13 in 100 without any social distancing at all. That equates to an 80 per cent reduction in risk.

The study showed nothing could provide complete protection, although face masks have a strong shielding effect – reducing the risk of catching the virus by up to 85 per cent.

The research, published in medical journal The Lancet, added to the clamour for Britain’s two-metre rule social distancing rule to be relaxed.

Previously scientists have said the two-metre rule lacks any validity.

Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on the government’s scientific advisory body New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, which feeds into SAGE, said the two metre rule ‘has never had much of an evidence base’, suggesting it is safe to stand closer to someone. 

Following the Lancet publication, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) stressed the ‘vital’ importance of the two-metre distance as more businesses prepare to open.

The professional body, which represents those who work in environmental health roles such as in the food, housing and transport industries, urged the Government to maintain the two-metre guidance especially as ‘riskier’ businesses including pubs prepare to open.

CIEH Wales director Kate Thompson said: ‘The World Health Organisation advice for distances of at least one metre to be maintained, to prevent the spread of coronavirus, has led to strong pressure from certain industries to reduce social distancing between individuals from the current two metres.

‘However, this advice was only ever an absolute minimum, rather than a safe distance, and new evidence published today supports this longer distance.

‘Protecting public health and avoiding the possibility of a second peak of infections should be key. It is, therefore, vital that the two-metre rule is not reduced due to pressure from industry.’ 

The WHO study reviewed data from 172 existing studies on the spread of Covid-19, SARS and MERS.

It concluded: ‘Keeping a distance of over one metre from other people was associated with a much lower risk of infection compared with less than one metre.

‘However, the modelling suggests for every extra metre further away up to three metres, the risk of infection or transmission may halve.’

The study also adds to evidence that face masks should be worn on public transport and in busy areas, and highlights the importance of PPE for healthcare workers.

It found that the risk of catching the virus when wearing a mask was just three per cent, compared to 17 per cent when not wearing a mask.

Co-author Dr Derek Chu, from McMaster University, said: ‘We believe that solutions should be found for making face masks available to the general public. However, people must be clear that wearing a mask is not an alternative to physical distancing, eye protection or basic measures such as hand hygiene, but might add an extra layer of protection.’

Former ministers Mr Lamont and Miss Villiers had pointed to the smaller social distancing recommendations in other countries.

Figures from the British Beer and Pub Association figures show that, with the current two metre rule, only 20 to 30 per cent of premises will be able to open at a sustainable level.

However, if the rule was reduced to one metre, 70 per cent would be able to open.

Mr Lamont said: ‘The onus is on the (Government’s) advisers to explain why it is that, while Britons must stay two metres apart, the World Health Organisation recommends one metre – as do many other European countries, acting on their scientists’ advice.’ 

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated his support for the two metre rule, saying: ‘I must stress that to control the virus, everyone needs to stay alert, act responsibly, strictly observe social distancing rules, and stay two metres apart from those who you do not live with.’ 

SCRAP THE TWO METRE RULE TO SAVE OUR PUBS: SENIOR TORIES DEMAND BORIS REDUCES SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURE – OR SEE APOCALYPTIC JOB LOSSES IN THE HOSPITALITY SECTOR

Senior Tory MPs have urged Boris Johnson to reduce the UK’s two metre social distancing rule as they warned failure to do so could risk a wave of redundancies in the hospitality sector.

There is a growing campaign for the existing restriction to be eased to one and a half metres or even just one metre.

This would give pubs, bars, restaurants and theatres much more room for manoeuvre when they are allowed to reopen and significantly increase the number of patrons allowed in a specific premises.

That could in turn boost the financial health of businesses and stop them from having to make staff redundant because of lower revenues.  

Tory MPs, including former business secretary Greg Clark and former Brexit secretary David Davis, are seeking an urgent commitment from the PM to change the rules.

Meanwhile, Tory former chancellor Lord Lamont said reducing the rule is ‘urgently important’ because it is the one ‘single measure’ which could save many firms.

Pub chiefs have warned that if the two metre rule remains in place then two thirds are likely to remain shut.

But if it is reduced to one metre then three quarters could reopen immediately.

Polling has also suggested that 40 per cent of pubs would not be able to survive until September if they have to remain closed.

Experts admit it was possible Covid-19 was in the UK in DECEMBER


Coronavirus could have been circulating in the UK in early December – almost two months before the first British case was diagnosed, experts have admitted.

China’s official submission to the World Health Organization (WHO) claims the first coronavirus cases occurred on December 8.

But leaked Government data, seen by the South China Morning Post, suggests the first case was observed almost a month earlier, on November 17.

The first cases on British soil were only identified on January 31, when two Chinese nationals in York tested positive for Covid-19.

But, with knowledge of the disease’s distinctive symptoms, scores of Britons now suspect themselves or loved ones were infected well before then.

King’s College London academics say hundreds of Brits using their symptom tracker app have reported suffering from tell-tale symptoms of the virus at Christmas time.

Catherine Mayer, the widow of Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill, fears her husband was an early victim of the disease when he died of pneumonia in early January.

The musician, 64, had returned from a band trip to China in late November and was struck down with a mystery respiratory illness in December.

His condition quickly deteriorated and he was hospitalised in St Thomas’ hospital in London with low oxygen levels, a known complication of Covid-19. 

He died from organ failure after a two-week hospital battle with pneumonia. At around the same time, Gill’s 26-year-old tour manager was taken to hospital in Leeds with a severe lung infection. 

Dr Stephen Baker, from Cambridge University’s Infectious Diseases Institute, said it was ‘completely possible’ that the virus was imported into the UK in December, if China was obscuring the true date of the first infection.

Catherine Mayer, the widow of Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill, fears her husband was an early victim of the disease when he died of pneumonia in early January (pictured together

The musician, 64, had returned from a band trip to China in late November and was struck down with a mystery respiratory illness in December

The musician, 64, had returned from a band trip to China in late November and was struck down with a mystery respiratory illness in December

In a blog post written last month, first seen by the Guardian, Mrs Mayer said she emailed Gill’s doctor to ask whether it could have been the viral disease that killed her husband of 30 years. 

‘His response winded me,’ she wrote. The consultant said: ‘It seemed to me at the time of Andy’s illness that we had not fully understood why he deteriorated as he did. 

‘Once we learned more about Covid-19, I thought there was a real possibility that Andy had been infected by Sars-Cov-2.’ 

IT consultant Daren Bland, 50, from East Sussex, believes he was one of the first Britons to fall ill with the viral disease in mid-January.

Mr Bland visited the Ischgl ski resort in Austria from January 15 to 19, which has now been identified as a breeding ground for the virus after being linked to hundreds of cases identified in Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Austria and Germany. 

IT consultant Daren Bland, 50, from East Sussex, believes he was one of the first Britons to fall ill with the viral disease in mid-January after visiting the Ischgl ski resort in Austria from January 15 to 19

IT consultant Daren Bland, 50, from East Sussex, believes he was one of the first Britons to fall ill with the viral disease in mid-January after visiting the Ischgl ski resort in Austria from January 15 to 19

Andrew Soppitt, a retired hospital consultant from West Sussex, is also adamant that he had Covid-19 after a similar skiing trip to Austria in late January

Andrew Soppitt, a retired hospital consultant from West Sussex, is also adamant that he had Covid-19 after a similar skiing trip to Austria in late January

COVID-19 WAS SPREADING IN UK WELL BEFORE FIRST CASE WAS DIAGNOSED, ANOTHER STUDY FINDS 

The coronavirus started spreading in Britain before health chiefs managed to find the first two patients in York in January, a study has claimed.

Researchers in Brazil and Uruguay studied COVID-19 outbreaks in countries around the world to try and work out their true start dates.

The first two people to be diagnosed with the disease in the UK were a University of York student and his mother, who was visiting from China at the time. Their positive test results were publicly announced on January 30.

But the study has suggested the virus started spreading between members of the public on January 29, meaning the two patients had either spread it to other people before falling ill, or they caught it from somebody else who brought the virus into the country.

The study suggests Britain caught on to its outbreak quickly, however – countries including the US, Italy and the Netherlands had a gap of two weeks between the start and the first positive test.

In Brazil, meanwhile, the virus appears to have been spreading for weeks before the Rio Carnival, which was attended by millions of people in late February, but the first case was only officially recorded on February 26 – the week after.

The father-of-two thinks he infected his wife Sarah and daughters – with his youngest off school for two weeks – who then spread the disease through their neighbourhood ahead of half term. 

However, it has not yet been confirmed whether or not Mr Bland and his family contracted coronavirus because they have not been tested for antibodies – the only way to tell if someone has had the virus in the past.   

Mr Bland told the Telegraph: ‘We visited the Kitzloch [bar] and it was rammed, with people singing and dancing on the tables. People were hot and sweaty from skiing and waiters were delivering shots to tables in their hundreds.

‘You couldn’t have a better home for a virus. I was ill for 10 days. It was like wading through treacle. I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t work, it knocked me for six. I was breathless.’ 

Andrew Soppitt, a retired hospital consultant from West Sussex, is also adamant that he had Covid-19 after a similar skiing trip to Austria in late January. 

The St Anton and Bad Hofgastein resorts that he visited after New Year have also been linked to scores of infections in Europe. 

He said he fell so ill he could not get out of bed and completely lost his sense of taste and smell – a now distinctive symptom of the virus.

The former anaesthetist, who is in his mid-50s, tested positive for antibodies after purchasing a private test – which are not 100 per cent accurate.

He said he was certain that it confirms he had the virus weeks before the first person was officially diagnosed in the UK. 

Cambridge’s Dr Baker, told the Guardian: ‘People are on heightened awareness about any sort of respiratory infection and it is easy to retrofit stories to things.

‘Colds, influenza and even pneumonia are, after all, common in the winter months. Let’s say it was kicking off fairly substantially in Wuhan and people weren’t being informed: could there have been people travelling to and from China at that point who may have been infected by coronavirus? 

‘That is completely possible. Is it then possible that they transmitted the virus to other people when they were in the UK? Yes, of course that’s possible.’ 

It comes after the COVID Symptom tracker, designed by scientists at King’s College London suggested the disease arrived in the UK in January.

The app asks its 2.6million users to report their symptoms daily, even if they are well, in order to map the disease’s spread.

Tim Spector, professor genetic epidemiology and one of the brains behind the app, said hundreds of contributors have admitted to suffering from Covid-like symptoms at around New Year. 

Although the cases are untested, the reports suggest the virus gained a foothold in the UK long before the first case was identified on British soil on January 31.

There were differences in how long it took countries to record their first cases of the coronavirus but the researchers predicted that community outbreaks begun in most affected Western countries between mid-January and early February

There were differences in how long it took countries to record their first cases of the coronavirus but the researchers predicted that community outbreaks begun in most affected Western countries between mid-January and early February

WHEN COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION OF COVID-19 STARTED IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, ACCORDING TO A STUDY BY RESEARCHERS IN URUGUAY AND BRAZIL WHO STUDIED OUTBREAKS ACROSS THE WORLD
Country Community
transmission started
First confirmed case First confirmed death
China 06-Dec 31-Dec 09-Jan
New York 06-Feb 01-Mar 14-Mar
Italy 15-Jan 30-Jan 21-Feb
Spain 28-Jan 31-Jan 13-Feb
France 22-Jan 24-Jan 15-Feb
UK 29-Jan 30-Jan 05-Mar
Belgium 02-Feb 02-Feb 11-Mar
Germany 30-Jan 27-Jan 09-Mar
Netherlands 29-Jan 27-Feb 06-Mar
Brazil 04-Feb 26-Feb 17-Mar

TIMELINE OF THE START OF BRITAIN’S COVID-19 OUTBREAK

January 31: First two people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the UK and admitted to hospital in Newcastle. Believed to have been a University of York student and a relative visiting from China.

February 6: A third, unconnected person was diagnosed with COVID-19. 

February 9: Fourth person diagnosed.

February 10: Four more people were diagnosed, taking the total to eight – these were contacts of one of the earlier cases, in Brighton, and had been on holiday with him in France. 

February 13: A ninth person was diagnosed. All nine of these people would go on to recover and no-one else was diagnosed with the virus for more than 10 days. 

February 25: The number of cases rose by four to 13. Cluster unconnected to any of the previous cases. This marked the start of a noticeable increase.

March 3: One week after the second wave of cases began the number of people diagnosed had risen to 51.

March 5: The first death from COVID-19 was announced, in an elderly woman at a hospital in Reading. 

March 5: The chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, admitted it was ‘highly likely’ the virus was now spreading uncontrollably among the public in Britain. 

March 12: A week after Professor Whitty’s admission, he said the UK would no longer test everyone suspected of having COVID-19, only people who were in hospitals. By this time 596 people had been diagnosed and nine people were dead. 

March 16: 1,543 people had been diagnosed and 65 were dead. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the start of social distancing, urging people to avoid unnecessary contact with others and to work from home if they could. 

March 23: Britain went into total lockdown as 6,650 people had tested positive and 359 were dead. The true scale of the outbreak was completely unknown.

Coronavirus US: Trump ‘terminates relationship’ with WHO


President Donald Trump announced on Friday that the United States was terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization as he laid down the gauntlet against China.

‘We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and directing those funds to worldwide and deserving, urgent global public health needs,’ he said during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

He blamed the move on China not being transparent enough about the ‘Wuhan’ virus, which is what he has called the coronavirus, and slammed Beijing’s over reach in Hong Kong.

Trump did not take questions at the Friday afternoon event, which the White House billed at a news conference. His less than 10 minutes of remarks were focused exclusively on the WHO, China and Hong Kong. 

He ignored the other major news of the day: the death of George Floyd, the black Minnesota man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. Trump’s tweets on the matter were muzzled by Twitter, which said they violated the company’s policy against ‘inciting violence.’ Trump had warned the ‘thugs’ protesting in Minneapolis he would send in the National Guard, adding that ‘looting leads to shooting.’

Trump tried to explain his words in another round of tweets shortly before his event – where reporters were expected to quiz him on it – by saying he was simply stating a fact and not making a threat. 

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that the United States was terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu has defended his agency's work and called for the world to come together to battle the coronavirus

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu has defended his agency’s work and called for the world to come together to battle the coronavirus

He kept his event focused on China, but held back on announcing tough new sanctions on launching a full-scale trade war, keeping his punishment focused on the WHO.

‘China has total control over the World Health Organization, despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year. We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act,’ Trump said.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu has defended his agency’s work and called for the world to come together to battle the coronavirus. 

Trump has targeted China since he took office, starting a trade war with Beijing. 

The president also has been a frequent critic of the WHO’s relationship with China, complaining the group didn’t do enough to push that country to release information about the coroanvirus, which was first detected in Wuhan. 

‘China’s cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives,’ he said.

Trump also announced Hong Kong’s role as a global financial center is at risk after China insisted on imposing a strict political crackdown of the territory.

‘I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment,’ he said. 

‘We will be revising the state departments’ travel advisory for Hong Kong to reflect the increased danger of surveillance and punishment by the Chinese state security apparatus. We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China,’ he added.

 The World Health Organization became a target of President Trump in his blame game as he points the finger for the devastating effects of the coronavirus – an economic down turn and over 100,000 American deaths – at everyone but his administration. Also feeling Trump’s fury has been China, the states, governors and the Democrats.

The president has called it ‘China-centric’ and complained they ‘missed the call’ when it came to the coronavirus. 

Trump’s main beef with the United Nations health group is that leadership there said it wasn’t necessary to ban travelers coming in from China as the coronavirus started spreading beyond Wuhan, where it originated.

The president has bragged that his early ban of some travelers from China kept it from being a greater threat to the U.S.  

Trump has followed the lead of prominent conservatives in complaining that the WHO has been too friendly to China during the coronavirus crisis.

The WHO is funded in two ways – through assessed contributions and voluntary contributions.  The U.S. is its largest contributor. 

The assessed contributions, which are like dues to the organization, are calculated by looking at a country’s wealth and population. 

In its February budget proposal, the Trump administration called for slashing the U.S. contribution to the WHO in half from the previous fiscal year – from $122.6 million to $57.9 million. 

Medical staff work in the isolated intensive care unit in a hospital in Wuhan, China

Medical staff work in the isolated intensive care unit in a hospital in Wuhan, China

President Donald Trump was surrounded by his officials at the news conference but did not take questions from the media

President Donald Trump was surrounded by his officials at the news conference but did not take questions from the media

While the U.S. pays the most in assessed contributions, that full pot of money has only accounted for less than 25 per cent of WHO’s haul over the past few years. 

However, Americans NGOs and charity organizations, along with taxpayer dollars, do make up the biggest chunk of the WHO’s funding.   

On January 31, the Trump administration announced travel restrictions on people coming from China due to the outbreak.

But WHO said such bans were not needed, noting that ‘travel bans to affected areas or denial of entry to passengers coming from affected areas are usually not effective in preventing the importation’ of coronavirus cases, but may instead ‘have a significant economic and social impact.’

And the group noted that ‘restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions.’ 

‘Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on,’ Trump tweeted in early April when he first began to target the WHO.

‘Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?’ the president asked. 

Donald Trump ‘terminates relationship’ with the World Health Organization


President Donald Trump announced on Friday that the United States was terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization as he laid down the gauntlet against China.

‘We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and directing those funds to worldwide and deserving, urgent global public health needs,’ he said during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

He blamed the move on China not being transparent enough about the ‘Wuhan’ virus, which is what he has called the coronavirus and slammed Beijing’s over reach in Hong Kong.

Trump did not take questions at the Friday afternoon event, which the White House billed at a news conference. His less than 10 minutes of remarks were focused exclusively on the WHO, China and Hong Kong. 

He ignored the other major news of the day: the death of George Floyd, the black Minnesota man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. Trump’s tweets on the matter were muzzled by Twitter, which said they violated the company’s policy against ‘inciting violence.’ Trump had warned the ‘thugs’ protesting in Minneapolis he would send in the National Guard, adding that ‘looting leads to shooting.’

Trump tried to explain his words in another round of tweets shortly before his event – where reporters were expected to quiz him on it – by saying he was simply stating a fact and not making a threat. 

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that the United States was terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu has defended his agency's work and called for the world to come together to battle the coronavirus

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu has defended his agency’s work and called for the world to come together to battle the coronavirus

He kept his event focused on China, but held back on announcing tough new sanctions on launching a full-scale trade war, keeping his punishment focused on the WHO.

‘China has total control over the World Health Organization, despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year. We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act,’ Trump said.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu has defended his agency’s work and called for the world to come together to battle the coronavirus. 

Trump has targeted China since he took office, starting a trade war with Beijing. 

The president also has been a frequent critic of the WHO’s relationship with China, complaining the group didn’t do enough to push that country to release information about the coroanvirus, which was first detected in Wuhan. 

‘China’s cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost more than 100,000 American lives,’ he said.

Trump also announced Hong Kong’s role as a global financial center is at risk after China insisted on imposing a strict political crackdown of the territory.

‘I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment,’ he said. 

‘We will be revising the state departments’ travel advisory for Hong Kong to reflect the increased danger of surveillance and punishment by the Chinese state security apparatus. We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China,’ he added.

 The World Health Organization became a target of President Trump in his blame game as he points the finger for the devastating effects of the coronavirus – an economic down turn and over 100,000 American deaths – at everyone but his administration. Also feeling Trump’s fury has been China, the states, governors and the Democrats.

The president has called it ‘China-centric’ and complained they ‘missed the call’ when it came to the coronavirus. 

Trump’s main beef with the United Nations health group is that leadership there said it wasn’t necessary to ban travelers coming in from China as the coronavirus started spreading beyond Wuhan, where it originated.

The president has bragged that his early ban of some travelers from China kept it from being a greater threat to the U.S.  

Trump has followed the lead of prominent conservatives in complaining that the WHO has been too friendly to China during the coronavirus crisis.

The WHO is funded in two ways – through assessed contributions and voluntary contributions.  The U.S. is its largest contributor. 

The assessed contributions, which are like dues to the organization, are calculated by looking at a country’s wealth and population. 

In its February budget proposal, the Trump administration called for slashing the U.S. contribution to the WHO in half from the previous fiscal year – from $122.6 million to $57.9 million. 

Medical staff work in the isolated intensive care unit in a hospital in Wuhan, China

Medical staff work in the isolated intensive care unit in a hospital in Wuhan, China

President Donald Trump was surrounded by his officials at the news conference but did not take questions from the media

President Donald Trump was surrounded by his officials at the news conference but did not take questions from the media

While the U.S. pays the most in assessed contributions, that full pot of money has only accounted for less than 25 per cent of WHO’s haul over the past few years. 

However, Americans NGOs and charity organizations, along with taxpayer dollars, do make up the biggest chunk of the WHO’s funding.   

On January 31, the Trump administration announced travel restrictions on people coming from China due to the outbreak.

But WHO said such bans were not needed, noting that ‘travel bans to affected areas or denial of entry to passengers coming from affected areas are usually not effective in preventing the importation’ of coronavirus cases, but may instead ‘have a significant economic and social impact.’

And the group noted that ‘restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions.’ 

‘Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on,’ Trump tweeted in early April when he first began to target the WHO.

‘Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?’ the president asked. 

Coronavirus: UK could be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August


The UK could be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August says ex-WHO chief who correctly predicted that lockdown would be eased mid-May

  • Professor Karol Sikora believes life will be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August
  • The former WHO chief previously predicted lockdown would be eased mid-May 
  • He has attracted a huge following for his positive updates during the pandemic 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The UK could be ‘back to normal’ by August, a former World Health Organisation chief has claimed, after previously correctly predicting that lockdown would be eased mid-May.  

Former Director of the WHO Cancer Programme Professor Karol Sikora, who has garnered a cult following during the crisis, believes that life will be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August, or perhaps even sooner. 

However, he added that ‘we should prepare for the worst but hope for the best’. 

Professor Sikora, who has a PhD in immunology, has become a beacon of hope for some, with thousands following his comments amid Britain’s battle with coronavirus. 

He tweeted today: ‘I think by August things will be virtually back to normal, perhaps sooner. We should still prepare for the worst, but hope for the best!’

He added: ‘Some laughed at my prediction at the end of March that we would start edging back to normality around the second week in May – it was right!’

Former Director of the WHO Cancer Programme Professor Karol Sikora believes that life will be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August

The professor compared the UK’s battle with coronavirus to other European countries devastated by the pandemic, pointing out that several had now managed to ease lockdown restrictions. 

He said: ‘I’ve always been hopeful that by the summer our situation would have dramatically improved.

‘Our European friends have shown us the way – easing lockdown can be done safely.

‘March & April were awful, May is better, I’m hopeful that in June things will improve significantly.’

The ex-WHO expert previously suggested that the spread of the virus would slow in May, with the first easing of restrictions in the middle of the month. 

Boris Johnson announced the first relaxation of lockdown rules on May 10. 

It comes as it was revealed that the UK’s coronavirus contact tracing programme will finally launch tomorrow as Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted it will rely on people doing their ‘civic duty’ and voluntarily self-isolating for it to succeed.

The NHS Test and Trace system for England will see anyone who develops symptoms told to self-isolate and get tested, with the close contacts of those who are found to be positive for the disease then told to quarantine for 14 days even if they test negative and are not sick.

Closed pubs in Cambridge as lockdown and social distancing measures in the UK continue

Closed pubs in Cambridge as lockdown and social distancing measures in the UK continue

The ex-WHO expert previously suggested that the spread of the virus would slow in May, with the first easing of restrictions in the middle of the month

The ex-WHO expert previously suggested that the spread of the virus would slow in May, with the first easing of restrictions in the middle of the month

The system is being launched without its NHS contact tracing app centrepiece prompting concerns that without the new technology the Government could struggle to tackle the spread of the disease.

Experts immediately said the complexity of the programme meant there could be ‘several points of failure’ while the Government’s political opponents said ministers should never have largely ditched contact tracing in the first place.

Mr Hancock said that adhering to self-isolation would be ‘voluntary at first’ but that he could ‘quickly make it mandatory if that is what it takes’.

He told the daily Downing Street press conference: ‘If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace instructing you to isolate, you must. It is your civic duty, so you avoid unknowingly spreading the virus and you help to break the chain of transmission.’

Coronavirus: UK could be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August


The UK could be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August says ex-WHO chief who correctly predicted that lockdown would be eased mid-May

  • Professor Karol Sikora believes life will be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August
  • The former WHO chief previously predicted lockdown would be eased mid-May 
  • He has attracted a huge following for his positive updates during the pandemic 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The UK could be ‘back to normal’ by August, a former World Health Organisation chief has claimed, after previously correctly predicting that lockdown would be eased mid-May.  

Former Director of the WHO Cancer Programme Professor Karol Sikora, who has garnered a cult following during the crisis, believes that life will be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August, or perhaps even sooner. 

However, he added that ‘we should prepare for the worst but hope for the best’. 

Professor Sikora, who has a PhD in immunology, has become a beacon of hope for some, with thousands following his comments amid Britain’s battle with coronavirus. 

He tweeted today: ‘I think by August things will be virtually back to normal, perhaps sooner. We should still prepare for the worst, but hope for the best!’

He added: ‘Some laughed at my prediction at the end of March that we would start edging back to normality around the second week in May – it was right!’

Former Director of the WHO Cancer Programme Professor Karol Sikora believes that life will be ‘virtually back to normal’ by August

The professor compared the UK’s battle with coronavirus to other European countries devastated by the pandemic, pointing out that several had now managed to ease lockdown restrictions. 

He said: ‘I’ve always been hopeful that by the summer our situation would have dramatically improved.

‘Our European friends have shown us the way – easing lockdown can be done safely.

‘March & April were awful, May is better, I’m hopeful that in June things will improve significantly.’

The ex-WHO expert previously suggested that the spread of the virus would slow in May, with the first easing of restrictions in the middle of the month. 

Boris Johnson announced the first relaxation of lockdown rules on May 10. 

It comes as it was revealed that the UK’s coronavirus contact tracing programme will finally launch tomorrow as Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted it will rely on people doing their ‘civic duty’ and voluntarily self-isolating for it to succeed.

The NHS Test and Trace system for England will see anyone who develops symptoms told to self-isolate and get tested, with the close contacts of those who are found to be positive for the disease then told to quarantine for 14 days even if they test negative and are not sick.

Closed pubs in Cambridge as lockdown and social distancing measures in the UK continue

Closed pubs in Cambridge as lockdown and social distancing measures in the UK continue

The ex-WHO expert previously suggested that the spread of the virus would slow in May, with the first easing of restrictions in the middle of the month

The ex-WHO expert previously suggested that the spread of the virus would slow in May, with the first easing of restrictions in the middle of the month

The system is being launched without its NHS contact tracing app centrepiece prompting concerns that without the new technology the Government could struggle to tackle the spread of the disease.

Experts immediately said the complexity of the programme meant there could be ‘several points of failure’ while the Government’s political opponents said ministers should never have largely ditched contact tracing in the first place.

Mr Hancock said that adhering to self-isolation would be ‘voluntary at first’ but that he could ‘quickly make it mandatory if that is what it takes’.

He told the daily Downing Street press conference: ‘If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace instructing you to isolate, you must. It is your civic duty, so you avoid unknowingly spreading the virus and you help to break the chain of transmission.’

Boris Johnson wants two-metre social distancing rule to be EASED to help shops and pubs reopen


Boris Johnson wants two-metre social distancing rule to be EASED to help shops and pubs reopen and says he has already asked Sage experts to look into it

  • UK has one of the strictest contact gap rules in the world to counter coronavirus 
  • It is  double one metre gap recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • That is the distance permitted in Hong Kong, Singapore, France and China
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Boris Johnson has asked top Government scientists to review the two-metre social distancing rule in the ‘hope’ that it can be reduced, he told MPs today.

The UK has one of the strictest contact gap rules in the world to counter coronavirus transmission, double the one metre gap recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

That is the distance permitted in Hong Kong, Singapore, France and China, while Australia, Germany and the Netherlands recommend 1.5 metres.

Schools and shop in the UK are due to open in the next few weeks with strict measures already being planned to keep children and shoppers two metres from each other as much as possible in both settings. 

Facing senior MPs on the Liaison Committee this afternoon Mr Johnson was asked about the two metre rule by Science Committee chairman Greg Clark.  

The PM replied that the Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) advice was that there was a ‘considerable reduction in risk at that distance, compared to a smaller gap. 

‘My own hope is that as we make progress in getting the virus down … we will be able to reduce that distance which I think will be particularly valuable on (public) transport and in the hospitality sector,’ he added.

Boris Johnson has asked top Government scientists to review the two-metre social distancing rule in the ‘hope’ that it can be reduced, he told MPs today

The UK has one of the the widest physical contact gaps in the world to counter coronavirus transmission, double the one metre gap recommended by the World Health Organisatio

The UK has one of the the widest physical contact gaps in the world to counter coronavirus transmission, double the one metre gap recommended by the World Health Organisatio

Facing senior MPs on the Liaison Committee this afternoon Mr Johnson was asked about the two metre rule by Science Committee chairman Greg Clark

Facing senior MPs on the Liaison Committee this afternoon Mr Johnson was asked about the two metre rule by Science Committee chairman Greg Clark

‘Their answer is that that is what they feel is the right interval for us. We rely and have done throughout on the guidance we get from our advisers and that is what they think is appropriate at the moment but … that may evolve. 

‘As you know Sage has changed its advice, for example on face coverings.’

Mr Clark asked if he would ask Sage to reconsider the advice ‘in good time for shops and other places to consider their practice’, adding: This has a massive impact on whether many workplaces can open.’

The Prime minister replied: ‘Ii have already done just that.

Last week pub owners warned that the two-metre distancing rule could keep 80 per cent of pubs from opening because of a lack of space.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said on 20 per cent of pubs would be able to reopen with two-metre distancing, but a one-metre gap between punters would bring the majority back. 

A senior scientist, Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on a Sage sub-committee, has also said the distance is based on ‘very fragile’ evidence. 

The World Health Organisation recommends a one metre distance between two people from separate households. 

The reason for this, as stated on its website, is that: ‘When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus.

‘If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.’