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Belgium’s shops were shut ‘as a coronavirus shock tactic’ – The Times

Shutting shops at the end of October was a “psychological shock” tactic to bring home the need for restrictions to arrest the spread of the virus, the country’s health minister has admitted.

Non-essential retailers were forced to close at the end of October as infection rates reached the highest level in Europe and hospital admissions threatened to overwhelm intensive care units. Shops will reopen today after a decline in infections.

Frank Vandenbroucke told the broadcaster VRT that, with masks and social distancing, “shopping does not really involve any risk”.

https://web.archive.org/web/20201201112954/https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/belgiums-shops-were-shut-as-a-coronavirus-shock-tactic-2x9wklf7v

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Coronavirus in Scotland: More died in 1989 flu epidemic than coronavirus peak – The Times

More people died in Scotland during a flu epidemic at the turn of the 1990s than the first wave of coronavirus, official figures show.

Public health experts fear the consequences if flu breaks out alongside coronavirus this winter.

In 1989 the seven days to Christmas Eve was Scotland’s deadliest single week since records began in 1974, with 2,400 deaths, which was 1,092 more than the five-year average.

This is far more than the 1,978 people who died in the worst week of the coronavirus pandemic — the second week of April — which was 878 above the five-year average.

By the end of the eight-week cycle of excess deaths in the second week of January 1990 the death toll had reached 14,594 people, 4,122

https://web.archive.org/web/20201016022701/https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-in-scotland-more-died-in-1989-flu-epidemic-than-coronavirus-peak-wnk8p0fs6

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Top Belgian scientist calls for herd immunity coronavirus strategy – The Times

The resurgence of coronavirus is nothing to be feared and lockdown measures are doing more harm than the pandemic itself, a leading Belgian medical scientist has said.

Jean-Luc Gala, head of the prestigious Université Catholique de Louvain Saint-Luc clinic and a specialist in infectious diseases, has broken ranks with other scientists and tried to quell fears over the rise of the Belgian infection rate.

He said that it was not dangerous for the virus to circulate and the lack of a vaccine could help to bring about herd immunity in the population.

“Is the rise in infections worrying? No. It is completely normal. Is it dangerous for the virus to circulate? No, once again,” he told La Dernière Heure newspaper.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/top-belgian-scientist-calls-for-herd-immunity-coronavirus-strategy-gxwqj887m

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NHS data shows 15m on ‘hidden waiting list’ – The Times

The NHS has a “hidden waiting list” of 15.3 million patients who need follow-up appointments for health problems, according to the first analysis of its kind.

The official waiting list, which stands at 3.9 million, shows how many patients are yet to have their first hospital appointment after a GP referral.

However, the total number who are on hospital books in England and need appointments is not collated centrally. A new calculation, based on freedom of information requests to NHS trusts and seen by The Times, puts the figure at 15.3 million.

Although the official waiting list, after initial referral by a GP, has remained at a fairly stable level throughout the pandemic, this has been mainly driven by fewer patients joining it.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-nhs-data-shows-15m-on-hidden-waiting-list-w250vxvz6

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Care homes ‘ordered not to resuscitate’ as coronavirus pandemic took hold – The Times

Care homes were asked to introduce blanket “do not resuscitate” orders for all residents at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been claimed.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI), a charity promoting community nursing, found that one in ten care homes were ordered to introduce the measure without discussion with staff, family members or the residents. It was intended to help keep hospital beds free.

Half of staff members who said that they had been asked to change DNRs worked in homes for people with learning or cognitive disabilities. The other half worked in homes for the elderly.

Alison Leary, professor of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University and the author of the report, described the findings as worrying…

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/care-homes-ordered-not-to-resuscitate-as-coronavirus-pandemic-took-hold-3gsslg6jt

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Covid wards empty as virus death toll plunges – The Times

Fatalities are down 99% and some hospitals have no coronavirus patients, sparking hope that ‘herd immunity’ may be near

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has fallen 96% since the peak of the pandemic, official data reveals.

Hospital staff are now treating just 700 coronavirus patients a day in England, compared to about 17,000 a day during the middle of April, according to NHS England.

Last week, some hospitals did not have a single coronavirus patient on their wards, with one top doctor suggesting that Britain is “almost reaching herd immunity”.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/covid-wards-empty-as-virus-death-toll-plunges-bvm0mxl2n

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Coronavirus pandemic already in retreat before lockdown – Chris Whitty, The Times

The coronavirus pandemic was probably already in retreat before the full lockdown was imposed, the chief medical officer for England said as he insisted that there was no “huge delay” in government action.

Chris Whitty said that “many of the problems we had came out of lack of testing capacity”. He blamed a failure to build up public health infrastructure in previous years for leaving Britain unprepared.

Chris Whitty blames poor planning for lockdown in bad-tempered health committee – The Times, 22 July 2020

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/chris-whitty-blames-poor-planning-for-lockdown-in-bad-tempered-health-committee-d5kb3fmw2

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No known case of teacher catching coronavirus from pupils, says scientist – The Times

There has been no recorded case of a teacher catching the coronavirus from a pupil anywhere in the world, according to one of the government’s leading scientific advisers.

Mark Woolhouse, a leading epidemiologist and member of the government’s Sage committee, told The Times that it may have been a mistake to close schools in March given the limited role children play in spreading the virus.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/no-known-case-of-teacher-catching-coronavirus-from-pupils-says-scientist-3zk5g2x6z

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Two-metre coronavirus rule is just for guidance, says Jacob Rees-Mogg – The Times

The two-metre social distancing guidance is “not an absolute rule” and “can only remain in place as long as there is consent”, a cabinet minister has said.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, said the measure was “guidance rather than an absolute rule that will be enforced by a policeman”.

Speaking on his fortnightly Moggcast on the Conservative Home website, he added: “My view of all the restrictions is that they have happened by consent rather than compulsion.”

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/two-metre-coronavirus-rule-is-just-for-guidance-says-jacob-rees-mogg-pwmfbcnqh

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Coronavirus: 12,000 more than usual die at home – The Times

A total of 12,335 more people than usual have died at home during the coronavirus pandemic, raising fears about the knock-on effects of telling people not to go to hospital.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-death-toll-passes-40-000-and-excess-deaths-approach-60-000-rx3r29b2p

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Opinion

Set us free from lockdown, ministers, and stop covering your backs – Lord Sumption, The Times

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Coronavirus peak is past and now lockdown worse than virus, expert insists – The Times

Carl Heneghan, director of the centre for evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, said that the impact of the lockdown was “going to outweigh the damaging effect of coronavirus”.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-peak-is-past-and-now-lockdown-worse-than-virus-expert-insists-sq6dd0jdx