Here is a round-up of the latest news in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, May 15.
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Confirmed worldwide cases: 4,526,934
Confirmed deaths: 303,407
Confirmed recoveries/discharges: 1,705,678.
In Wales, ten more deaths linked with Covid-19 have been reported to take the total to 1,164.
Public Health Wales also announced the number of people testing positive for the virus has now reached 11,834 following an increase of 128.
Lockdown exit plan for Wales
More details of the plan to exit lockdown in Wales will be published later today.
First Minister Mark Drakeford will be explaining more about his ‘traffic light’ roadmap that will emphasis the need for caution.
Previously, he said the Welsh Government has set seven tests that will have to be met before it will ease the lock down restrictions.
He has described the process of lifting lockdown as being like a “traffic light in reverse”. The red phase would see only “the most careful and controlled lifting of restrictions”, amber would see more restrictions lifted and if the virus does not re-emerge, Wales could move to the green zone.
Today, Mr Drakeford will explain how restrictions on day-to-day life, schools and businesses could begin to be eased.
(Image: Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency)
But, like in Northern Ireland earlier this week, the Welsh Government is not expected to give any dates.
It is essential “that we recognise this is not a short-term crisis”, the first minister will say.
At the daily briefing he is expected to warn that until vaccines or effective treatments are available “we will have to live with the disease in our society, and to try to control its spread and mitigate its effects”.
It is likely to differ from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap for lockdown in England.
Last week, Mr Drakeford made some minor changes to the lockdown rules in Wales with people now able to exercise more than once a day provided they stay local to their area and the go-ahead was given for libraries, household waste recycling centres and garden centres to start re-opening.
One in 400 people has coronavirus in England right now
One in 400 people in England is infected with coronavirus, a survey of 11,000 people in households by the Office for National Statistics suggests.
The study was carried out over two weeks at the start of May and will now be repeated in all four nations of the UK.
Just 33 – in 30 households – of the 11,000 people tested were positive in the snapshot survey.
The survey did not include hospital patients or people living in care homes, where rates of Covid-19 are likely to be much higher.
Deaths in Italy could be far higher than reported
Official reports of Covid-19 deaths in some Italian regions could be a “substantial underestimation” of the actual number of people to die from the disease, a study has suggested.
Researchers examined the change over time in the total number of deaths – known as all cause mortality – in Nembro, a city of around 11,500 people in Lombardy.
The region in northern Italy has been one of the areas most severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Researchers found more Nembro residents died in March 2020 than in the entire previous year or in any single year since 2012.
But they also discovered that only about half of the deaths occurring during the recent coronavirus outbreak were reported as confirmed Covid-19 deaths.
The authors added: “Our findings imply that the reporting of confirmed Covid-19 specific deaths represents – at least for some Italian regions – a substantial underestimation of the actual number of deaths from the disease.”
Schools should be allowed to make their own decisions
The Local Government Association (LGA) in England has said schools should be allowed to make their own decisions about reopening, especially in areas where there is a higher proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic residents.
Councillor Judith Blake, chairwoman of the LGA’s children and young people board, said parents were “anxious” about sending their children back to school and said more needed to be done to reassure families.
(Image: Tim Goode/PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, when announcing his plans for taking England out of lockdown, said Reception, Y1 and Y6 pupils could go back as soon as next month.
And England’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson this week said medical and scientific advice was “saying it’s the right time to start bringing schools back in a phased and controlled manner”.
But the LGA is calling for some schools, in consultation with councils, to be given greater flexibility locally over reopening as they argue that some communities are at higher risk.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said a “wider opening of schools, too early, poses a lot of unanswered questions about the risks in poor communities”.
More details of antibody test are expected
Further updates are expected in the coming days on how the forthcoming antibody test will work.
Public Health England has approved a new test from the pharmaceutical giant Roche after experts at its Porton Down facility gave it the green light.
Though the test has not yet been given the green light in Wales, NHS Wales’ chief executive said it’s a “very positive development” for the Welsh Government’s test, trace and protect strategy announced on Wednesday.
Speaking at a Welsh Government coronavirus briefing on Thursday, Dr Andrew Goodall said the accuracy of the testing regime needs to be validated and then a commercial arrangement would need to be sorted before the test became available.
He said officials in Wales will be involved in discussions and will make an announcement in due course.
The test – which the PM has previously called a “game-changer” – picks up cases where somebody has had coronavirus in the past, and can be used on people who experienced no symptoms.
Professor Van-Tam said it was clear that people who had Covid-19 generated an antibody response, but it would “take time” to understand whether in all cases people developed immunity against coronavirus.
Number 10 said the new antibody test would “certainly” be available on the NHS, but commercial discussions with Roche are ongoing.
Roche said it could supply hundreds of thousands of the tests each week.
The pharmaceutical firm said it would prioritise tests for distribution via the NHS before looking at how they may be sold to individuals.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the idea of an “immunity certificate” was also still under consideration if science showed that people developed immunity to Covid-19.
Continued working from home needed after lockdown
Maintaining social distancing at work after the lockdown eases will need substantial changes to commuting patterns and allowing people to continue to work from home, a new study suggests.
Re-opening the hospitality sector will create a particular challenge as many workers cannot work from home and were relatively heavy users of public transport, said an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
Compared to other forms of commuting, public transport use is concentrated at particular times so the IFS has said that encouraging people to work different shifts or make use of other forms of transport will be particularly important in urban areas.
(Image: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)
Younger workers are most reliant on public transport to get to work, with almost a fifth of those aged 16-24 using it compared to just 9% of workers aged 55 and over.
Workers in industries such as finance are more able to work from home and more likely to have taken public transport to work in normal times, so getting workers in these sectors to continue to work from home will be important, said the report.
Alex Davenport, a research economist at the IFS, said: “Returning to their work, while maintaining social distancing, will clearly be difficult for those who commute using public transport.
“Fortunately, many who previously used public transport are able to work from home, such as those working in finance.
“If social distancing on public transport is to be achieved then getting these workers to continue to work from home will be very important.”
Amazon recruits thousands who have lost jobs
Online giant Amazon has recruited thousands of staff as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, including workers who have lost their jobs in recent weeks in sectors ranging from education to travel and tourism.
More than 15,000 full and part-time positions have been filled across Amazon’s fulfilment and logistics network.
New recruits range from an arborist, architect, beautician and lifeguard to a pilot, scientists, a singer and tattooists.
Professional speedway rider Ricky Wells, who grew up in California, is working at Amazon’s site in Doncaster.
He said: “Due to Covid-19, speedway throughout Europe was cancelled in late March along with most other professional sports.
“The closing of the competition has resulted in my sponsors withdrawing from the sport, as well as losing my performance-based wages which were gained through race finishing positions.
“I’ve never worked in a warehouse before but I like it because it’s always busy.”
Laws need to control app information
Pressure for new laws to protect the privacy of personal information gathered by coronavirus tracing apps has been stepped up by a Parliamentary committee.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights wants a Bill it has drafted to be put before Parliament to ensure information gathered is not misused.
The Covid-19 contact tracing app is being trialled on the Isle of Wight ahead of a national rollout.
It is seen by ministers as a key part of the Government’s “test, track and trace” strategy.
(Image: (Image: PA))
Using Bluetooth, the app keeps an anonymised log of other people also using the app who have been in close contact with the user.
If someone shows symptoms, they can inform the app, which will instruct anyone who has been near them to self-isolate.
However, MPs and peers are concerned about how the information could be used.
The provisions of the draft legislation put forward by the committee include setting out who can access the data and who cannot.
It would also legally prohibit the information being used for any other purposes than coronavirus tracing.
The Bill also calls for creating the role of an independent contact tracing app privacy supremo to monitor the situation and deal with complaints.
Long queues at Starbucks starts to re-open
Starbucks has re-opened several stores across Wales, prompting plenty of queues at drive-thrus where eager customers waited to get their coffee.
Coffee fans are once again be able to grab a cup to-go at one of the sites from yesterday.
The drive-thru in Cardiff Bay proved popular
(Image: WalesOnline/ Rob Browne)
The popular chain had closed its stores in March following the coronavirus lockdown, with 150 stores due to re-open, starting from Thursday.
Long queues were spotted at stores in Cardiff on Thursday morning as people waited to get their first Starbucks in weeks
Prime Minister joins clap for carers
New parents Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds led the clap for carers and keyworkers this week.
The nation took to the doorstep for the eighth week in a row to clap for NHS carers and key workers who have put their lives at risk fighting Covid-19.
The Prime Minister and his fiancee were seen together for the first time since the birth of their son, Wilfred, at the end of April.