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The government’s test and trace coronavirus programme will launch in England today, with 25,000 contact tracers working to try and control local flare-ups of the virus.
According to the latest figures published by the Department of Health and Social Care, 37,460 people have died in the UK after contracting coronavirus and more than 267,000 have tested positive.
Here’s what you need to know:
Coronavirus contact tracing programme launched in England
People who come into close contact with someone with Covid-19 will be told to self-isolate for two weeks as the government launches its coronavirus tracing system in England.
Under the NHS Test and Trace programme, a team of 25,000 contact tracers will work out who those infected with coronavirus have been in contact with in a bid to control local flare-ups.
Everyone who tests positive for the virus will be asked to share details about who they have seen and where they have been with the tracers.
This person’s close contacts will then receive an email or a text, telling them they must stay at home for 14 days – even if they don’t have any symptoms – to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms should still self-isolate at home, along with their household, and get tested for Covid-19.
However the shadow health secretary warned the scheme could be undermined by continued government support for Dominic Cummings,
Jonathan Ashworth said health secretary Matt Hancock’s support for Boris Johnson’s chief adviser could “undermine” public co-operation with the scheme.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Ashworth said: “We need everybody to co-operate with this because it’s in all of our interests that this works, and I’m sorry, I’ve got to say it, it’s why I think Matt Hancock’s support of Dominic Cummings is really irresponsible.
“My worry is some people will think ‘Why should I stay at home for two weeks on my own when I feel fine, while this guy who’s Boris Johnson’s big pal in Downing Street can get away with travelling across the country to Durham?’”
BAME nurses ‘less protected’ as PPE shortages continue
Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) nurses are more likely to have problems accessing vital protective equipment, a new poll has revealed.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said there was a “stark and deeply worrying” contrast over PPE provision for staff from different backgrounds.
It found that 56% of BAME nurses felt pressured to care for confirmed or possible Covid-19 patients without adequate PPE, compared to 29% of white British nurses.
Meanwhile, less than half (43%) of BAME nurses said they had enough eye protection, compared with 66% of white British nurses.
The union said it is “unacceptable” that BAME nurses “are less protected than other nursing staff”.
Data has emerged suggesting that people from BAME backgrounds are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19, with a significant number of NHS workers who have died after contracting the virus having BAME heritage.
The RCN polled more than 5,000 nurses about the provision of personal protective equipment, including more than 700 from BAME backgrounds.
The union said that although there were some improvements from April, “there are still shortages of essential PPE in all settings, and health and care staff are still reliant on PPE items being donated or home-made in some cases”.
Its report states that it is “unacceptable for health and care staff to be exposed to avoidable risk to their own safety”.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the government has made “significant progress” on PPE issues and that it was now in a position to replenish stockpiles.
But he also announced that there are still 98 NHS workers in hospital who have tested positive for coronavirus, including some who are “seriously ill”.
US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000
More than 100,000 people have now died in the US after contracting Covid-19, according to a tally by John Hopkins University.
Calculations by newswire Reuters suggest that around 1,400 Americans have died from coronavirus each day in May, down from a peak of 2,000 in April.
It means that in about three months, more Americans have died from Covid-19 than during the Korean War, Vietnam War and the US conflict in Iraq from 2003-2011 combined.
The new respiratory disease has also killed more people than the AIDS epidemic did from 1981 through 1989, and it is far deadlier than the seasonal flu has been in decades.
The last time the flu killed as many people in the United States was in the 1957-1958 season, when 116,000 died, Reuters reported.
Single parents furious about Dominic Cumming’s ‘arrogance’ over lockdown rules
Mum Kerry Mead, who was bedridden with coronavirus while looking after her two young children, said: “My children were just left to their own devices and had to fend for themselves as I had no choice.”
The 43-year-old said she feels “insulted and angry” by the actions and excuses of Boris Johnson’s special advisor Cummings, who drove his wife and child from London to Durham during lockdown after his wife developed Covid-19 symptoms.
“To try and get around it by saying he was just trying to be a good dad is insulting and a kick in the teeth,” Mead said.
“It is offensive to other parents up and down the country who stuck to the rules and he is insulting our intelligence with his blatant lies.”
Cummings and the government “are rewriting history and using parenthood as an excuse”, she said.
“They are basically saying that all the thousands of people who weren’t there for their loved ones as they were abiding by the rules should have used their ‘common sense’ and done it anyway.”
Asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 could be more common than previously thought, study suggests
Coronavirus infection without symptoms might be more common than previously thought, according to a study of people isolated on a cruise ship during the pandemic.
More than 80% of the passengers and crew on the unnamed cruise ship who tested positive for Covid-19 were asymptomatic, PA Media reported.
The prevalence of the virus on affected cruise ships is therefore likely to be “significantly underestimated”, a study published in the journal Thorax concluded.
“Strategies are needed to assess and monitor all passengers to prevent community transmission after disembarkation,” the Australia-based researchers said.
Of the 217 passengers and crew on board, 128 tested positive for the virus and of those, 104 patients – 81% – did not have symptoms.
Professor Alan Smyth, joint editor in chief of the journal, said the study’s results could have implications for the easing of lockdown restrictions if more people than previously thought have already had the virus.
He said: “It is difficult to find a reliable estimate of the number of Covid positive patients who have no symptoms.
“In early March, WHO suggested the figure might be only 1%, very different from the 81% figure found on the cruise ship.
“As countries progress out of lockdown, a high proportion of infected but asymptomatic individuals may mean that a much higher percentage of the population than expected may have been infected with Covid.”
However, it remains unclear what level of immunity people develop once they have had Covid-19.
Infographic supplied by Statista
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.