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Woman, 26, ‘coughed and spat at police who came to shut down house party’

A woman allegedly coughed and spat at police officers as they responded to reports of a house party on Saturday.

The 26-year-old will appear in court after being arrested and charged with assaulting an emergency worker after the incident.

Officers were called to reports of a gathering in Bridgwater shortly after 7pm on Sunday.

It was one of three similar incidents that officers from Avon and Somerset Police officers faced over the weekend.

In Bath, a 42-year-old woman was charged with two counts of assaulting an emergency worker – one relating to an officer being spat at – just after 7.30pm on Saturday.

A 36-year-old woman has also been charged with two counts of assaulting an emergency worker after officers were physically assaulted while attending a domestic-related incident in Bridgwater just before 8pm on Saturday.

Chief Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte said such incidents were particularly abhorrent amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Officers are simply trying to do their job to protect the public and keep our communities safe in these worrying times," she said.

"They do not deserve to be assaulted in any way, particularly being spat on and coughed at.

"Anyone who does this can expect to be arrested and as we have already seen elsewhere they could face a prison sentence as a result."

All three of the women arrested by Avon and Somerset Police on Saturday will appear before magistrates next month.

  • Coronavirus

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Halifax police seize vehicle, issue ticket to woman violating COVID-19 emergency order

Halifax Regional Police have seized a vehicle and issued a ticket after finding a person violating the province’s emergency measures act in Point Pleasant Park on Sunday.

Nova Scotia’s parks and beaches are closed to the public under the province’s emergency measures act in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Halifax Regional Police (HRP) say at 1:12 p.m., officers were patrolling Point Pleasant Park when they located an unoccupied Toyota Yaris the park.

At approximately 1:53 p.m., a police service dog and handler located a 44-year-old woman on the shoreline of the park.

The woman, who is the owner of the vehicle, was determined to be violating the emergency measures act.

The fine associated with the ticket is $697.50.

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HRP are reminding residents to educate themselves on the restrictions under the act and to be mindful of the “unprecedented COVID-19 crisis we are facing as a community.”

They say they thank the “vast majority” of citizens who are complying with the rules.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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Doctors fear coronavirus ‘apocalypse’ as medics face four-day wait for results

Furious medics are facing waits of up to four days to find out if they have contracted coronavirus, as insiders warn of an "apocalyptic" crisis facing the health service.

Today Cabinet minister Michael Gove said 10,000 tests are being carried out each day, but admitted that not all doctors and nurses are getting them.

It comes as the government comes under increased pressure to rollout tests to all NHS workers potentially exposed to the killer virus, which has claimed more than 1,200 lives in the UK.

But although testing has been stepped up, frontline staff are horrified about the amount of time it takes to find out if they have Covid-19.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that the turnaround time for results has been between three and four days in some parts of the NHS.

A senior consultant at Cambridge University Hospitals told the newspaper: "I have never seen colleagues so concerned.

“There is fear and real anger because they can see what is coming.

“People just don't get the apocalyptic nature of this situation."

Today it was announced that a further 207 people had died, bring the UK's death toll to 1,235.

  • Coronavirus-hit UK could take 'six months or longer' to get back to normal

This afternoon 55-year-old consultant Amged El-Hawrani was confirmed as the first confirmed hospital frontline worker to die from coronavirus.

Mr Gove announced that the Government had hit its initial 10,000-a-day target for testing.

However, the official figures later showed testing only reached 6,961 between 9am on Saturday and the same time on Sunday.

A total of 127,737 people have been tested, with 19,522 positive results.

Mr Gove refused to give a timeline for when all NHS and social care workers will be tested.

Despite increasing demands, he said that it is hoped to "be able to test as many frontline workers at the earliest possible stage".

Practising medic and Labour MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said she was "really disappointed" by the remarks.

"These are the people who are at the frontline, these are people who need to know whether or not they have the virus or not," she told Sky.

"It is absolutely urgent that NHS and care staff are tested and they have access to testing immediately," she said.

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Long-range weather forecast: How long will the sunshine last?

A blast of Arctic air is making its way across the country this week. With it come hail showers and snow in higher ground in Scotland and along eastern coasts and inland. Windchill from the Arctic weather system means parts of the UK are colder than Moscow with the mercury dropping to -8C in places.

How long will the sunshine last?

Once the Arctic blast blows over, the Met Office forecasts “unsettled conditions” from April 3 onwards, which will spread southwards from the north.

The worst of the weather will be felt in the northwest where heavy rain and strong winds will occur in between sunny spells and light showers.

On the southeast, the weather will “stay drier and brighter”.

READ MORE

  • London snow forecast: Hail showers fall but will it snow in London?

Netweather’s forecast from April 6 onwards states: “There is somewhat more uncertainty over this week, but the most likely scenario is that pressure will fall in the North Atlantic Ocean.

“And so after a cold sunny frosty start to the week, southwesterly and westerly winds will feature frequently, resulting in above-average temperatures.

“It will temporarily turn unsettled, especially in the north-west of the UK, but by the end of the week, high pressure is expected to spread into most parts from the south and east.

“This will result in generally dry warm sunny weather for most regions, though cloudier near coasts facing the wind and in north-west Scotland.”

The Met Office predicts the weather may turn more changeable with a few days of rain and strong winds alternating with periods of sunshine and showers for much of the UK towards the middle of April.

Northern hills could see showers turn into a mix of sleet and snow.

Temperatures are likely to be around normal for the time of year.

During any more settled periods, mild days are likely to give way to cold nights.

Netweather says sunshine totals for the start and middle of April are expected to be mostly near or rather below normal in the west of Scotland and in Northern Ireland and above normal in most other areas.

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Further unsettled weather is likely from April 13 until April 27, though there will be “quieter interludes of dry and settled weather” according to the Met Office.

The forecaster said: “The unsettled periods could see showers turning wintry over the higher ground in the north.

“The settled periods should see plenty of clear spells and sunshine, with the driest conditions expected in the southeast of the UK.

“Temperatures should remain around normal but with cold night giving way to warmer days.”

Netweather says the sunnier weather will most likely come around the beginning of the week commencing on April 13.

The site predicts it will be “mostly warm and sunny” but there’s an increasing probability of colder air from the north or northeast towards the end of the week.

The forecast states: “There is potential for night frosts and slight potential for wintry showers, although confidence in this is low.

“Temperatures will probably be about 1C above the long-term normal in most regions, with the positive anomaly being reduced due to colder weather later in the period.

“Sunshine totals are expected to be generally above normal.”

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Telling the story of a shared global calamity

Everywhere, the world is facing one of the worst health, economic and political crises it has seen in decades. Sadly, this is a shared reality, a calamity that has hit, and unites, us all.

One-third of the world’s people are now in lockdown, isolated and confined to their homes.

In Singapore, a tiny city-state in Asia where I live, usually a busy aviation and transport hub, we feel this especially keenly, as we have once again become, literally, an island.

Across the globe, hospitals are being overwhelmed and death tolls are rising. Markets and economies are in freefall. Governments are rushing to roll out massive financial packages to jump-start businesses and industries, to try and keep people from losing their jobs.

Millions are engaged in the biggest work-from-home experiment, totally unplanned and unprepared for. The 1980s hit, Don’t Stand So Close To Me, by British rock band The Police, might well serve as the anthem of these times of social distancing, now enforced and policed to varying degrees from India to Italy.

Amid these days of fear and anxiety as the world fights the coronavirus, newsrooms have strived to keep going to continue to bring the latest developments to the communities they serve.

Some have had to do so despite sudden shutdowns when a member of staff is hit by the bug; many are working from home as a precaution, pulling the product together virtually, and arduously, determined to keep the presses running and the platforms updated, come what may.

The World Editors Forum (WEF) has been supporting our members, sharing information about the situation around the world, as well as advice and tips from fellow editors on how to manage our newsrooms under these trying circumstances, and enable our reporting teams to continue to do their jobs while staying safe.

Many of our newsrooms, including The Straits Times, have opted to make our coverage of the coronavirus freely available as a public service at this critical time.

We greatly appreciate the support of the community and thank all our loyal subscribers, supporters and advertisers, without whom we would not be able to continue to keep playing our part in this collective fight against Covid-19, as well as that other virus that threatens our societies and democracies – fake news.

Several of our WEF member newsrooms have come together in a collaborative editorial project to share their insights into how this battle is playing out in their parts of the world. We offer this to you in solidarity with all who are working tirelessly, everywhere, to help bring this devastating pandemic under control.

Stay safe, everyone.

Warren Fernandez

President

World Editors Forum

Have a question on the coronavirus outbreak? E-mail us at [email protected]

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Avoid coronavirus by disinfecting your credit card once a week, GP says

If you want to minimise your chances of getting coronavirus, you should be disinfecting your credit card once a week.

A GP has revealed how debit and credit cards can pass on microbes from all the other people who recently used the same card reader.

Former orthopaedic surgeon Dr Chike Emeagi, Medical Director of Hampstead Aesthetics Clinic and Dr Chike Clinics, told Daily Mail Online that Covid-19 could well be lurking on the flat surface of your card.

"I can certainly envisage a scenario where your card could be contaminated with microbes from those whom have used the exact same card reader previously," he said.

"Germs can hide in nooks and crannies in objects including watches, rings, credit cards, coins and bank notes – things we ordinarily would not worry about.

"Because of limited knowledge of this virus and how it came about, extreme vigilance to hygiene is paramount."

He says touching a credit card presents the same risk of contamination as touching any other surface with which other people have had contact, such as doorknobs and stair rails.

"Any surface has potential to harbour germs, bacteria and viruses."

While the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently said the risk of being infected with coronavirus by touching objects like coins, banknotes or credit cards is "very low", studies have confirmed that the virus can remain in the air for up to three hours, on cardboard up to 24 hours and on plastic and stainless steel up to 72 hours.

"This suggests the virus could live on credit cards anything from hours to days," Dr Chike says.

"It important to note that the possibility of catching coronavirus through your card is low but theoretical.

"I would recommend using soap and water or just hot water for jewellery and disinfectant wipe for credit cards – especially the cards you use regularly.

"The frictional force of wiping is said to be sufficient to wipe away any virus, especially with soap or chloride-based cleaners."

Live updates on COVID-19 cases near you

England: 4,792

  • London: 2,433
  • Midlands: 808
  • South East: 590
  • North West: 496
  • North East and Yorkshire: 446
  • East of England: 452
  • South West: 278

Scotland: 499

Wales: 418

Northern Ireland: 149

If you're concerned about contamination you could also wear gloves when handling your credit or debit card.

"But the main consideration is to use caution," Dr Chike says.

"Wash your hands after handling anything that you think could be contaminated."

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Medical expert explains why coronavirus is more dangerous than SARS

The coronavirus pandemic has had a bigger impact on British society than any disease in living memory.

Schools and businesses are closed, there’s a sense of panic in the streets and healthcare services are close to breaking point.

So why is the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, so different to other coronaviruses like Sars and Mers that have spread around the world in recent years?

Medical expert Dr Anna Hemming explains that because the disease kills fewer victims, and takes longer to show its symptoms, it’s actually much more dangerous.

Victims have much more time to spread the disease before they realise they have it.

Dr Hemming explains: "Transmission rates are higher for Covid-19, however, SARS has a higher fatality rate at about 10%.

"This is currently 2% for Covid-19. In some countries this will rise, for example, Italy's [fatality rate will be] eight to 10% due to the ageing population.”

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She says this once-in-a-generation event will change the way we live for a long time to come, continuing: “The effect on global society has already been demonstrated and is huge."

Dr Hemming explains that while many have compared the virus to flu, there are only superficial similarities.

"In some ways, Covid-19 is similar to flu in that it spreads, causes people to feel unwell and cannot be easily treated", she said.

"However it has some very different features. Typically, a virus takes five days to cause symptoms."

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"Covid-19 takes up to 14 days for an infected person to develop symptoms."

More importantly, Covid-19 causes many more people to require hospital treatment than seasonal flu does, which is why healthcare systems around the world are overstretched.

Dr Hemming says the hospitalisation rate for seasonal flu is "around 2%", whereas for COVID-19 it’s more like 19%.

Life can’t return to normal until there’s a vaccination available, and until a reliable test is produced which can determine who has already had the disease, many vital medical staff are being kept on the sidelines.

Dr Hemming says: "Scientists worldwide are working really hard to create a vaccination, as well as antibody testing kits which we understand are in their final stages before launching."

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Coronavirus strain related to COVID-19 first spotted THREE YEARS AGO, scientists say

The disease first emerged in the city of Wuhan towards the end of last year – but much is yet to be discovered about the mechanism by which it did so. Last week a 57-year-old trader at Huanan seafood market was tentatively identified as the first person there to contract the illness, on December 10. However, she suggested she did so by using toilet facilities shared with wild meat sellers, meaning the search for Patient Zero – the first person infected after COVID-19 jumped species – continues.

The study, published in the scientific journal Nature, and co-authored by Yi Guan from the University of Hong Kong and Yan-Ling Hu from Guangxi Medical University in China, seeks to shed light on the mystery.

They write: “Although bats are likely reservoir hosts for SARS-CoV-2, the identity of any intermediate host that might have facilitated transfer to humans is unknown.”

Their research had identified COVID-19-related coronaviruses in Malayan pangolins (Manis javanica) which had been seized in anti-smuggling operations in southern China.

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Strikingly, a strain similar to the one which is now rampaging through the human population appears to have been present in five out of a total of 18 Malayan pangolins obtained from anti-smuggling operations in southern China between August 2017 and January 2018.

Additionally, they detected similar coronaviruses in three out of 12 additional animals seized in another Chinese province in 2018, and in another animal in a third province from which a sample was taken in 2019.

The viruses isolated have a sequence similarity of between 85 and 92 percent to SARS-CoV-2, the scientific name for the coronavirus which causes COVID-19.

One sample showed strong similarities in a region which encodes the “spike” of the virus, thereby facilitating entry into host cells.

None of the pangolin coronaviruses identified so far have a specific alternation in their sequences which is seen in human SARS-VoV-2, meaning the role the animals have playing in the transmission of the illness to humans remains unclear.

Nevertheless, the study authors highlight pangolins as the only mammals other than bats to date which have been found to be infected with a SARS-CoV-2-related coronavirus, suggesting they play an important role in the “ecology of coronaviruses”.

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Their report concludes: “The discovery of multiple lineages of pangolin coronavirus and their similarity to SARS-CoV-2 suggests that pangolins should be considered as possible hosts in the emergence of novel coronaviruses and should be removed from wet markets to prevent zoonotic transmission.”

Co-researcher Prof Edward Holmes of the University of Sydney added: “The role that pangolins play in the emergence of Sars-CoV-2 is still unclear.

“However, it is striking that the pangolin viruses contain some genomic regions that are very closely related to the human virus.

“The most important of these is the receptor-binding domain that dictates how the virus is able to attach and infect human cells.”

The pangolin is heavily hunted in China, both for its meat, and its skin and scales, which are used in traditional medicine.

Epidemiologists are keen to identify Patient Zero, the discovery of whom would offer vital clues about the origins of the outbreak and the way in which it has spread.

While the World Health Organization’s first press release about the subject, issued on January 5, indicated it first became aware of the illness on December 30, leaked Chinese Government data has suggested the first case was identified on November 17 at the latest, and possibly significantly earlier.

The study’s findings, specifically the confirmation that a strain closely related to SARS-CoV-2 was spotted in 2017, raises the possibility of the illness being in circulation significantly longer than previously believed.

Johns Hopkins University in the US put the total number of COVID-19 cases worldwide at 678,720 as of 12.50pm this afternoon, with 31,700 deaths.

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Stay at home, Russia's Orthodox Church head tells worshippers

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The head of Russia’s Orthodox Church exhorted believers on Sunday to pray from their homes in the latest call from religious leaders around the world to avoid gatherings that could help the coronavirus’ spread.

Russia has been relatively lightly hit so far, with nine deaths and 1,534 cases, but it recorded 270 new infections in the last day and is stepping up containment measures.

“Refrain from visiting churches,” Russian news agency RIA cited Patriarch Kirill as saying on Sunday, even though Orthodox services went ahead, including one led by him.

He urged people to adhere strictly to authorities’ instructions “before someone dies in our families.”

About 60% of Russia’s 144 million people consider themselves Orthodox Christians, but fewer were worshipping in churches on Sunday and some were wearing masks, according to media reports.

Russia has halted international flights, closed borders, announced a non-working week from this weekend, and closed shops and entertainment venues in Moscow and some other regions.

But Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Sunday many Muscovites were still going out even though the majority of infections, more than 1,000, were in the capital.

At least 52,000 people took walks in city parks on Saturday, and many elderly people made long trips on public transport, Sobyanin said on his website.

“The situation with the spread of coronavirus has entered a new phase,” Sobyanin wrote. “An example of miserable Italian and Spanish cities, even New York, where tens and hundreds of people die every day, is in front of everyone’s eyes.”

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Britain orders 10,000 ventilators in fight against coronavirus: source

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has placed an order for 10,000 ventilators to be made by a consortium of companies including Ford (F.N), Airbus (AIR.PA) and Rolls-Royce (RR.L) as part of efforts to fight the coronavirus, an industry source told Reuters.

Governments around the world are trying to boost the number of ventilators – mechanical breathing devices that can blow air and oxygen into the lungs – available to their health services.

The equipment is crucial for the care of people who suffer lung failure, which can be one of the complications suffered by patients with severe COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. But they do not necessarily save people.

An announcement is due on Monday, the source said.

British media previously reported the news. A spokeswoman at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office declined to offer an immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

Britain’s publicly funded National Health Service has a little more than 8,000 ventilators at its disposal, senior government minister Michael Gove said on Sunday.

The government is boosting capacity through agreements made with the private sector and overseas suppliers as well as domestic production.

“We’ve done a deal with (vacuum cleaner company) Dyson, which means that – provided all the appropriate tests are passed – we can have an additional 10,000 ventilators,” Gove said.

“There are other companies, from McLaren to Rolls-Royce and others, who are changing the way in which they manufacture in order to join in the national effort to increase the ventilator capacity available.”

McLaren said its Formula One car-making, data and electronics operations are fulfilling a number of tasks to help with the crisis, including making components.

“McLaren Automotive is facilitating duplicating and expanding the production of existing devices to meet demand …(and) is designing bespoke trolleys on which the ventilators are fixed for use in clinical settings.”

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