COVID-19 current figures
Today's COVID-19 headlines
Testing suggests 3% of NHS hospital staff may be unknowingly infected with coronavirus
Hospital staff may be carrying SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 disease, without realising they are infected, according to a study by researchers at the University of Cambridge.
Patients admitted to NHS hospitals are now routinely screened for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and isolated if necessary. But NHS workers, including patient-facing staff on the front line, such as doctors, nurses and physiotherapists, are tested and excluded from work only if they develop symptoms of the illness. Many of them, however, may show no symptoms at all even if infected, as a new study published in the journal eLife demonstrates.
The Cambridge team pro-actively swabbed and tested over 1,200 NHS staff at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, throughout April.
Of the more than 1,000 staff members reporting fit for duty during the study period, 3% nevertheless tested positive for the coronavirus. On closer questioning, around one in five reported no symptoms, two in five had very mild symptoms that they had dismissed as inconsequential, and a further two in five reported COVID-19 symptoms that had stopped more than a week previously.
People living longer and healthier lives but COVID-19 threatens to throw progress off track
All over the world, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing significant loss of life, disrupting livelihoods, and threatening the recent advances in health and progress towards global development goals highlighted in the 2020 World Health Statistics published by the World Health Organization today.
“The good news is that people around the world are living longer and healthier lives. The bad news is the rate of progress is too slow to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and will be further thrown off track by COVID-19,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“The pandemic highlights the urgent need for all countries to invest in strong health systems and primary health care, as the best defense against outbreaks like Covid-19, and against the many other health threats that people around the world face every day. Health systems and health security are two sides of the same coin.”
New partnership to sequence human genomes in fight against coronavirus
Thousands of patients severely ill with coronavirus will have their genetic code studied to help scientists understand whether a person’s genetics may influence their susceptibility to the virus.
A major new human whole genome sequencing study will take place across the NHS, involving up to 20,000 people currently or previously in an intensive care unit with coronavirus, as well as 15,000 individuals who have mild or moderate symptoms.
Genomics England, is partnering with the GenOMICC consortium, Illumina and the NHS to launch the research drive, which will reach patients in 170 intensive care units throughout the UK.
The project is backed by £28 million from Genomics England, UK Research and Innovation, the Department of Health and Social Care and the National Institute for Health Research. Illumina will sequence all 35,000 genomes and share some of the cost via an in-kind contribution.
Adequate and safe childcare provision is needed for UK doctors
Greater clarity on how childcare services can operate safely is needed so more doctors are able to go to work and provide patient care in the time of national crisis, according to the British Medical Association.
It says any introduction of more people back into the workplace needs to be gradual. It needs to be very carefully monitored to ensure it does not create a spike in infection rates. Childcare providers need to be confident they have the best guidance and resources to re-open safely and they need more financial support and security so that they can continue to operate with reduced numbers for months to come.
The uncertainty around childcare provision means ongoing problems and anxieties for thousands of healthcare workers.
Those who do find childcare are often paying much higher fees because of short-notice rota changes and longer shifts. In normal times it is challenging to get childcare last-minute and during unsocial hours, yet alone now. The later that parents receive their rotas, the more costly their childcare is likely to be or the less likely they will be able to work that shift.
Other news roundup
- WHO has urged “extreme vigilance” as countries begin to exit weeks-long lockdown
- Hong Kong reports its first two local coronavirus cases in three weeks
- The UK economy contracted by 2% in the first three months of the year, official figures show
- The European Commission has set out guidance for EU countries to resume travel and tourism from this summer onwards
- National Council for Voluntary Organisations said funds to support charities during the coronavirus crisis are “bedevilled by delay and a lack of transparency”