Coronavirus live: ‘no return to normal for foreseeable future,’ says WHO; Latin America deaths pass US and Canada

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Global coronavirus infections climb by 1m in five days, Reuters tally finds

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Only 12 of almost 2,000 schoolchildren and teachers tested in the German state of Saxony have shown antibodies to Covid-19, a study has found.

The research by the University hospital in Dresden, reported on Reuters, will add to the debate as how big a role schools play in spreading the virus.

Germany began reopening schools in May. Debate continues as to the role children may play in spreading the virus to vulnerable adults at home as well as to older teachers and school staff.

University hospital analysed blood samples from almost 1,500 children aged between 14 and 18 and 500 teachers from 13 schools in Dresden and the districts of Bautzen and Goerlitz in May and June.

Of the almost 2,000 samples, only 12 had antibodies, said Reinhard Berner from University hospital, adding the first results gave no evidence that schoolchildren play a role in spreading the virus particularly quickly.

“Children may even act as a brake on infection,” Berner told a news conference, saying infections in schools had not led to an outbreak, while the spread of the virus within households was also less dynamic than previously thought.

Saxony’s education minister, Christian Piwarz, said the study showed schools in the state could reopen as normal following the summer vacation at the end of August with some conditions, such as mask-wearing and social distancing where possible.

In the US, an unpublished Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document has reportedly warned that fully reopening schools and universities remains the “highest risk” for the spread of the coronavirus.

In England, the government’s scientific advisers have warned that fully reopening schools without substantial improvements in the performance of the test-and-trace system could risk sparking a resurgence of cases of Covid-19.

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From today it is mandatory to use face coverings on public transport in Ireland, with breaches punishable by fines of up to €2,500 and six months in prison.

Ireland has largely suppressed community transmission of Covid-19 but authorities fear a resurgence as the country emerges from lockdown.

Most bus, train and tram companies reported compliance rates ranging from 80% to 95%, though Go Ahead Ireland reported a lower rate of 60-70% on its city bus services.

Department of Health

From today, wearing a face covering on public transport is mandatory. This will protect staff and passengers alike.

It is important to note some are unable to wear face coverings for health reasons and should not be judged.

More #COVID19 guidance here:

July 13, 2020

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Hong Kong tightens social distancing again as coronavirus cases spike

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Greece intensifies infection control measures

Greece has announced it will be intensifying measures to keep coronavirus infections in check after an alarming spike in confirmed cases. Among a number of steps highlighted by the government on Monday was the decision to reduce the timeframe in which travellers will be required to complete passenger locator forms (PLFs) before entering the country.

Addressing reporters ahead of direct flights being resumed from the UK on Wednesday, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said the form would have to be submitted 24 hours prior to check in and not 48 hours as had previously been the case.

Greek health authorities have been applying algorithmic software to the electronic forms in a bid to detect people most at risk of carrying the virus. The new timeframe is aimed at improving the validity and freshness of data cited on the forms.

A public health worker collects a swab sample from a boy to test for Covid-19 at the Greek-Bulgarian border crossing in Promachonas on 10 July.

A public health worker collects a swab sample from a boy to test for Covid-19 at the Greek-Bulgarian border crossing in Promachonas on Friday. Photograph: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images

The abrupt rise in confirmed coronavirus cases – both “imported” by travellers entering the country and of unknown provenance domestically – has alarmed authorities in a country that until now had won plaudits for its successful handling of the pandemic.

To date, Greece has registered 3,803 cases and 193 Covid-19-related deaths. But since loosening restrictions on movement in early May and reopening borders on 1 July, infection rates have increased noticeably with some experts expressing the fear that the country could be in the midst of a “second wave”.

Petsas said “inspections of the application of health protocols across Greece” will also be stepped up. Since Thursday last, he noted, 590 inspections [of bars and restaurants] had taken place nationwide, resulting in 87 fines worth €51,000. “We ought to be aware that it would be wrong to become victims of our success,” he told reporters.

While epidemiologists have voiced anxiety over the number of “asymptomatic” cases among visitors, there is also mounting concern over lax observation of social distancing measures by Greeks, with Petsas saying the government is considering banning religious festivals that see hundreds gather in villages and islands nationwide.

Authorities will also be intensifying tests at the country’s northern border crossings following a surge in infection rates in neighbouring Balkan states, a prime source of tourism for resorts in northern Greece.

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