Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the drug was the first designed specifically for treating Covid. “We are now working at pace with the NHS and expert clinicians to ensure this treatment can be rolled out to NHS patients as soon as possible.”
It comes as just two per cent of companies being investigated by the competition watchdog over the cost of PCR tests for travel have been removed from the government’s website.
08:09 , Leah Sinclair
Welcome to the Standard Coronavirus Live Blog on Friday, August 20.
Sydney lockdown extended until end of September
08:26 , Leah Sinclair
A lockdown in Australia’s largest city was extended until at least the end of September as tougher measures including a curfew and an outdoor mask mandate were imposed to slow the spread of Covid-19’s Delta variant.
New South Wales state, which includes Sydney, reported 642 locally acquired infections in the latest 24-hour period on Friday, the fourth consecutive day of tallies exceeding 600.
Since late June, Sydney has been locked down after the more contagious Delta variant was detected in a limousine driver who became infected while transporting a US cargo aircrew from Sydney Airport.
Since then, 65 people have died from Covid-19 in New South Wales, included four overnight.
The Sydney lockdown was to end on August 28, but the state government announced it will continue until September 30.
The entire state has been in lockdown since last week because the virus had spread from Sydney.
A curfew will apply from 9 pm to 5 pm from Monday in the worst-affected Sydney suburbs.
Emmys demands guests have negative Covid test and double vaccination
08:27 , Leah Sinclair
Vietnam's biggest city issues stay-home order as COVID-19 deaths soar
08:30 , Leah Sinclair
Vietnam’s business hub Ho Chi Minh City on Friday announced that its residents will be prohibited from leaving their homes, as the country’s biggest city turns to drastic measures to slow a spiralling rate of coronavirus deaths.
“We are asking people to stay where you are, not to go outside. Each home, company, factory should be an anti-virus fort,” Pham Duc Hai, deputy head of the city’s coronavirus authority, said on Friday.
The details of the order, which takes effect on Monday, have yet to be announced.
Hai said the curb on movement should reduce infections and give authorities a chance to focus on treating gravely ill patients.
Vietnam has been slow to procure vaccines and until late April had one of the world’s best containment records, having logged just 35 deaths and less than 3,000 cases as of May 1.
But that has since jumped to over 312,000 cases and 7,150 deaths, with about half of the infections and 80 per cent of fatalities in Ho Chi Minh City alone.
New Zealand extends national lockdown as cases of delta variant rise
08:30 , Leah Sinclair
UK’s regulator approves first drug designed specifically to tackle Covid-19
08:56 , Leah Sinclair
The medicines regulator has approved use of the first treatment in the UK using man-made antibodies to prevent and fight coronavirus.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said approval of the first drug designed specifically for Covid-19 in the country is “fantastic news” and he hoped it could be rolled out for patients on the NHS “as soon as possible”.
It is the first monoclonal antibody combination product approved for use in the prevention and treatment of acute infection from the virus for the UK.
Monoclonal antibodies are man-made proteins that act like natural human antibodies in the immune system.
The drug, developed by pharmaceutical firms Regeneron and Roche, is given either by injection or infusion and acts at the lining of the respiratory system where it binds tightly to the virus and prevents it from gaining access to the cells, the MHRA said.
India reports 36,571 new coronavirus cases
09:11 , Leah Sinclair
India reported 36,571 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the government said in a statement on Friday.
Philippines sees record 17,231 new coronavirus infections
09:22 , Leah Sinclair
The Philippine health ministry on Friday reported 17,231 new coronavirus cases, a record-high daily increase in cases.
It said total confirmed infections in the Philippines have increased to more than 1.8 million, while deaths have reached 31,198, after 317 fatalities were recorded on Friday.
Vietnam capital Hanoi to extend lockdown measures by 15 days
10:13 , Leah Sinclair
Vietnam will extend a coronavirus lockdown in its capital city Hanoi by 15 days to Sept. 6, state media reported on Friday.
1,189 Covid-19 deaths recorded in England
10:34 , Leah Sinclair
A total of 1,189 deaths occurred in England up to August 15 of people who were either confirmed or likely to have had the Delta variant of Covid-19 and who died within 28 days of a positive test, according to new figures from Public Health England.
Of this number, 113 were under the age of 50 and 1,076 were aged 50 or over.
Of the 1,076 deaths of people aged 50 or over, 318 (30 per cent) were unvaccinated, 93 (9 per cent) had received one dose of vaccine and 652 (61 per cent) had received both doses.
Of the 113 deaths of people under 50, 72 (64 per cent) were unvaccinated, 11 (10 per cent) had received one dose of vaccine and 27 (24 per cent) had received both doses.
England: 7,285 people admitted to hospital who were likely to have Delta variant
10:46 , Leah Sinclair
Some 7,285 people had been admitted to hospital in England up to August 15 who were either confirmed or likely to have the Delta variant of Covid-19, Public Health England also said.
Some 4,112 of the 7,285 people were under the age of 50 while 3,173 were 50 or over.
Of the 3,173 aged 50 or over, 989 (31 per cent) were unvaccinated, 318 (10 per cent) had received one dose of vaccine and 1,838 (58 per cent) had received both doses.
Of the 4,112 under 50, 3,044 (74 per cent) were unvaccinated, 631 (15 per cent) had received one dose of vaccine and 366 (9 per cent) had received both doses.
A small number of virus samples from people admitted to hospital could not be matched with vaccination records.
Sri Lanka announces lockdown as coronavirus cases surge
11:06 , Leah Sinclair
Sri Lanka announced a 10-day lockdown starting on Friday night in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as surging infections and deaths overwhelm the island’s health system.
The Indian Ocean nation recorded its highest single-day death toll of 187 and 3,793 cases on Wednesday.
“Nationwide Lockdown in effect from 10pm today (20/08) to Monday (30/08). All essential services will function as normal,” Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said on Twitter.
Daily infections have more than doubled in a month to an average of 3,897, according to the Reuters Global COVID tracker.
Most under-50s who have died with Delta variant not jabbed
11:52 , Leah Sinclair
Almost two thirds of people under 50 who died in England with the Delta variant were not vaccinated against the virus, the latest figures show.
New data from Public Health England (PHE) also shows that 74 per cent of this age group in hospital with the variant had not had a jab.
While the vast majority of deaths with the variant were in people aged 50 or over, the under-50s account for more when it comes to hospital admissions.
Of the 1,076 deaths of people aged 50 or over, 318 (30 per cent) were unvaccinated, 93 (9 per cent) had received one dose of vaccine and 652 (61 per cent) had received both.
Of the 113 deaths of people under 50, 72 (64 per cent) were unvaccinated, 11 (10 per cent) had received one jab and 27 (24 per cent) had received both.
Majority of adults likely to take up Covid booster jab, research finds
11:53 , Leah Sinclair
England: Around one in 80 people in private households had Covid-19 - ONS
12:16 , Leah Sinclair
Around one in 80 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to August 14 - down slightly from one in 75 in the previous week, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
One in 80 is the equivalent of about 698,100 people.
Wales: One in 130 people estimated to have had Covid-19
12:40 , Leah Sinclair
In Wales, about one in 130 people are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to August 14, up from one in 220 in the previous week and the highest level since the week to February 12.
Northern Ireland: One in 50 expected to have had Covid-19
12:41 , Leah Sinclair
In Northern Ireland, the ONS described the trend as “uncertain”, with the latest estimate of one in 50, up slightly from one in 55 in the previous week and the highest level since the week to January 23.
Scotland: One in 200 people had Covid - ONS
12:41 , Leah Sinclair
For Scotland, the ONS estimates that around one in 200 people had Covid-19 in the week to August 14, down slightly from one in 190 in the previous week.
Covid antibody treatment lowered risk of symptomatic disease by 77% in trial
12:50 , Leah Sinclair
Percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 has decreased in East Midlands, north-east England and West Midlands
13:10 , Leah Sinclair
The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have decreased in the East Midlands, north-east England and the West Midlands, the ONS said.
Eastern England showed an increase, in London and south-east England there was a levelling off, while the trend for all other regions is uncertain.
Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest proportion of people of any region likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to August 14: around one in 55.
North-west England had the second highest estimate: around one in 65.
The West Midlands had the lowest estimate: around one in 120.
Prof Chris Whitty urges people to not delay getting a vaccine
13:20 , Leah Sinclair
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has urged people not to delay getting a vaccine, saying there are some “very sick” young adults in hospital with the virus.
He tweeted: “The great majority of adults have been vaccinated. Four weeks working on a Covid ward makes stark the reality that the majority of our hospitalised Covid patients are unvaccinated and regret delaying. Some are very sick including young adults. Please don’t delay your vaccine.”
Covid-19 infection rates increased among 35-45-year-olds
13:29 , Leah Sinclair
When modelling the level of Covid-19 infections among different age ranges in England, the ONS said rates have increased for those aged 35 to 49 but have decreased for those in school years seven to 11, for 25 to 34-year-olds and for people aged 70 and over.
The trend is uncertain for all other age groups.
Around one in 35 people from school year 12 to age 24 are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to August 14: the highest positivity rate for any age group.
Covid R number in England rises to between 0.9 and 1.2
13:52 , Laura Sharman
England’s coronavirus R number has risen to between 0.9 and 1.2, according to the latest government figures.
It means that on average, every 10 people with Covid will go on to infect between nine and 12 others.
Last week, the R number in England was between 0.8 to 1.
When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially but when it is below 1, it means the epidemic is shrinking.
Covid drug used by Donald Trump approved for use in UK
14:17 , Laura Sharman
The UK’s medicines regulator has approved the use of a drug given to former US president Donald Trump when he had coronavirus last year.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said approval of the first treatment designed specifically for Covid-19 in the UK is “fantastic news” and he hopes it can be rolled out for patients on the NHS “as soon as possible”.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the clinical trial data it assessed showed that Ronapreve can be used to prevent infection, treat symptoms of serious infection and cut the likelihood of being admitted to hospital.
Jamaica to have 7 days of ‘no movement’ to curb spread of coronavirus
14:34 , Leah Sinclair
Jamaica’s prime minister has said the country will have 7 days of no movement, spread over a period of three weekends to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Germany designates parts of Greece “high risk” Covid areas
15:19 , Leah Sinclair
Germany is designating parts of Greece as high-risk areas, meaning unvaccinated travellers from those regions would need to go into quarantine for five days.
Crete and islands in the southern Aegean Sea will be considered high-risk from Tuesday, the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious diseases said on Friday.
Travellers entering Germany from high-risk areas must go into quarantine for 10 days unless they have been fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19. Self-isolation can be ended after five days at the earliest with a negative test.
Kosovo, North Macedonia, and parts of Ireland are being upgraded to “high-risk” as of Sunday. At the same time, the government is downgrading some regions in Spain, including Catalonia, Valencia and the Canary Islands, which were previously designated high-risk areas.
114 Covid-related deaths in the UK
16:16 , Leah Sinclair
The Government has said a further 114 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the UK total to 131,487.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 156,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
As of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 37,314 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.
88.8 million Covid-19 jabs administered in the UK
16:29 , Leah Sinclair
Government data up to August 19 shows that of the 88,848,633 Covid jabs given in the UK, 47,516,505 were first doses, a rise of 55,979 on the previous day.
Some 41,332,128 were second doses, an increase of 175,059.
University to make Covid jabs mandatory for all students living on campus
17:04 , Tom Ambrose
A specialist agricultural and veterinary nursing college has banned unvaccinated students from living on site, and warned they may have limited access to social events and clubs if they do not get a jab.
First reported in the Telegraph, Hartpury University and College in Gloucester is thought to be the first higher education institution in England to make vaccination mandatory for applicants.
Hartpury, which runs a number of equestrian courses, has also imposed the requirement on anyone wishing to keep a horse in its stables.
In a statement published on its website about Covid-19 measures in the 2021-2022 academic year, it said: “Our expectation is that all eligible students will engage and take up their vaccinations as soon as they are given the opportunity.
“In order to benefit from the most effective protection against Covid-19, it’s a mandatory requirement that all eligible students in on-site residential accommodation will engage in the Covid-19 vaccination programme and have both doses of the vaccine when made available to them.”
Covid-19 figures deeply concerning, says health minister
17:51 , Tom Ambrose
Northern Ireland’s health minister expressed concern as the region recorded its highest number of Covid-19 cases in a day since the start of the pandemic.
Some 2,397 confirmed cases of the virus were notified on Friday, along with nine deaths of patients who had previously tested positive
On the same day, there were 388 Covid-positive patients in hospital, with 47 in intensive care.
The region is in another wave of the virus, and Wednesday saw the highest number of Covid-19 related deaths since February.
Mr Swann said: “The latest figures on our Covid-19 dashboard are deeply concerning, both in terms of deaths and new cases
“The Delta variant is taking its toll on Northern Ireland and it is vital that as many of our citizens as possible are vaccinated.”
Vaccination centres to be retained for potential booster campaign – HSE
19:01 , Tom Ambrose
The HSE hopes to retain its vaccination infrastructure until at least the end of 2021, to facilitate a potential booster campaign, chief executive Paul Reid has said.
About 5,000 staff are employed to work in more than 40 vaccination centres nationwide, delivering more than 6.5 million Covid-19 jabs to date.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is currently considering whether booster vaccines will need to be administered in the autumn, to provide extra immunity.
HSE boss Paul Reid said the “most likely scenario” is that they will be given first to those with underlying conditions and then to “prioritised groups”, which could include the elderly and healthcare workers.
Scrums will not return in 2021, says RFL
19:27 , Tom Ambrose
Scrums will not be re-introduced into the domestic game in 2021, the Rugby Football League has announced.
Scrums were suspended from the restart of the 2020 season last August after officials took advice from medical and scientific experts on ways to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
They remained suspended at the start of the 2021 season but it was hoped they would be re-introduced later in the year and certainly in time for the World Cup.
Canada's Big Five banks to require staff entering premises to be vaccinated
20:09 , Tom Ambrose
Canada's five biggest banks are mandating that employees working from their offices must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall, taking a firmer stance than some of their U.S. counterparts and some other Canadian companies.
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) will all require staff to show proof of vaccination to enter their premises, they said in internal memos seen by Reuters.
RBC, TD, BMO and CIBC require employees to be fully vaccinated by the end of October, the banks told employees on Thursday and Friday.
Scotiabank has not set a date yet, but it is "moving in the direction of making vaccinations mandatory" for all employees and contractors based in Canada later in the fall, according to an internal note sent to employees on Friday.
Florida orders school boards to relax mask rules or risk pay
20:48 , Tom Ambrose
Florida officials are threatening to withhold funds equal to the salaries of school board members if school districts in two counties don’t immediately do away with strict mask mandates as the state continues to battle through high hospitalization rates.
School boards in Broward and Alachua counties received a warning Friday from the State Board of Education giving them 48 hours to walk back their decisions to require masks for all students, only exempting kids that have a doctor’s note.
“We cannot have government officials pick and choose what laws they want to follow,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran in an emailed statement.
“These are the initial consequences to their intentional refusal to follow state law and state rule to purposefully and willingly violate the rights of parents. This is simply unacceptable behavior.”