Students at Birmingham City University arrive for the start of term, as thousands prepare to study in socially distanced surroundings.

NHS staff are being forced to stay off work because of coronavirus testing shortages, hospital bosses have warned.  

Workers are having to self-isolate rather than work because tests are not available for either them or their family members, taking valuable staff away from the frontline, NHS Providers has warned. 

Meanwhile, John Apter, national chairman of the National Police Federation of England and Wales, has called for more guidance over enforcement of the rule of six amid claims people were being asked to “snitch on their neighbours”. 

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Average distance to test site now 5.8 miles, says Hancock

Health secretary Matt Hancock has told MPs the average distance travelled to a test site is now 5.8 miles, PA reports.

He told the Commons: “Everyone in this House knows that we’re doing more testing per head of population than almost any other major nation and I can update the House that we have now carried out over 20 million tests for coronavirus in this country.

“As we expand capacity further, we’re working around the clock to make sure everyone who needs a test can get a test.

“The vast majority of people who use our testing service get a test that is close to home and the average distance travelled to a test site is now just 5.8 miles, down from 6.4 miles last week.”

Chiara Giordano15 September 2020 12:55


First approval for Covid-19 vaccine could be granted by end of 2020, says Germany

The head of Germany’s vaccine regulator has said the first approvals for a Covid-19 vaccine could be granted at the end of 2020 or in early 2021.

Klaus Cichutek, head of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, said regulators would not be less thorough than usual when evaluating applications for approval for COVID-19 vaccines. 

Germany has said it is providing up to 750 million euros to support three domestic pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines against the new coronavirus.

Science minister Anja Karliczek said the government had already agreed to provide BioNTech and CureVac with 375 million euros and 230-million euros respectively to develop their mRNA-based vaccines.

Chiara Giordano15 September 2020 12:45


Almost 90 per cent of state school pupils back in class

Government figures show almost nine in 10 pupils have attended schools in England since their full reopening this month.

About 88 per cent of state school students were back in class on 10 September – and around 92 per cent of schools were fully open on the same day, according to the Department for Education (DfE) statistics.

Schools are considered not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils on roll for the whole school day and they have asked a group of pupils to self-isolate.

For most schools that reported they were not fully open, this was due to non-Covid-19 related reasons, the DfE release suggests.

Of all schools that responded, 1 per cent said they were not fully open due to suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Chiara Giordano15 September 2020 12:35


First UK coronavirus may have occurred in January

The first death involving coronavirus in England and Wales occurred months earlier than previously thought after a coroner said a patient died with Covid-19 in January.

A man aged in his early 80s, from Medway in Kent, died in hospital in the week ending January 31, according to the Office of National Statistics.

His death suggests the virus was circulating much earlier than the date of the first confirmed UK case of coronavirus, on 31 January.

Our health correspondent Shaun Lintern explains more:

Chiara Giordano15 September 2020 12:19


Domino’s Pizza to create 5,000 new jobs amid rise in demand

Domino’s Pizza is to create 5,000 new jobs including chefs, drivers and customer service staff as it continues to benefit from rising demand for food deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK’s largest pizza delivery chain said it would also support more than 1,000 placements under the government’s Kickstart scheme for under-25’s.

Chiara Giordano15 September 2020 12:05


Labour leader only able to access coronavirus test because wife works for NHS

Sir Keir Starmer has said his family was only able to access a coronavirus test on Monday because his wife works in the NHS, political editor Andrew Woodcock reports.

The Labour leader is self-isolating after a member of his family showed symptoms of Covid-19 yesterday morning.

But the symptoms appeared amid shortages of tests across the country, with reports that at times on Monday no tests of any kind were available in the 10 areas with the highest infection rates.

Chiara Giordano15 September 2020 11:46


Doctor who died after contracting coronavirus receives posthumous fellowship

A “very special” doctor who died after contracting coronavirus is to receive what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind posthumous fellowship, PA reports.

Dr Peter Tun was an associate specialist in neurological rehabilitation at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading for more than 21 years, and died in April after contracting Covid-19.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said it would honour him with a fellowship reserved for “some of the most inspiring and innovative physicians in the world”.

Dr Peter Tun, an associate specialist in neurological rehabilitation at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading for more than 21 years, who died in April 2020 after contracting Covid-19. (Family handout/PA)

Dr Tun, who died aged 62, first moved to the UK in 1994, having studied and worked as a GP in Myanmar.

He lived first in West Yorkshire before moving to London and later Reading, where he settled with his family.

After his death, his sons said: “Our family is immensely proud of our superhero dad.

“He used to say ‘Treat all your patients like they are your own family’, and this speaks to the type of character that he had.

“To us, he was simply the best human we know and we will miss him every day.”

RCP registrar, Professor Donal O’Donoghue, said it was believed to be the first time someone who died actively in service had been posthumously nominated for the fellowship award.

Chiara Giordano15 September 2020 11:30


Hong Kong relaxes restrictions

Hong Kong will reopen bars, swimming pools and theme parks from Friday as it relaxes coronavirus restrictions after the testing of nearly two million people in a programme organised by the Chinese government found 42 cases.

The announcement by the city’s health secretary, Sophia Chan, comes days after the Chinese special administrative region reopened gyms and entertainment venues and increased the number of people allowed to gather to four.

The ban on gatherings of more than four people remains in place as does a ban on people visiting public beaches as authorities called for vigilance.

Ms Chan appealed to the public “to not be complacent and let down their guard”.

Hong Kong has detected 4,976 cases of the virus that emerged in central China late last year with 101 deaths.

The loosening of curbs comes after a mainland China-led mass testing programme screened 1.8 million people – almost a quarter of Hong Kong’s population – with 42 infections found, including five cases through contact tracing.

New daily cases have dropped to low single or double digits from triple digits in July. No new local cases were reported on Tuesday.

Chiara Giordano15 September 2020 11:11


‘Wrong’ to say coronavirus tests aren’t available

Home secretary Priti Patel has dismissed concerns about the shortage of coronavirus tests in parts of the UK struggling with the recent rise in infections.  

The minister said the government was “surging capacity” in areas under local lockdown restrictions – despite reports no tests were available in England’s ten worst-hit hotspots on Monday.

The minister said it was “wrong to say” that there were no tests available in areas under lockdown after she was quizzed about the long delays in trying to book a test in Bolton – the area with England’s single-highest infection rate.

Adam Forrest has more on this below:

Chiara Giordano15 September 2020 10:50


Rome Fiumicino Airport awarded five star Covid safety rating

Rome Fiumicino Airport has become the first airport in the world to be given a five star rating for its Covid-19 protocol by the air transport rating agency Skytrax, Joanna Whitehead reports.

Skytrax praised Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for its effective signage and information systems, as well as its in-house Bio-Safety Team of 40 staff who facilitate social distancing and ensure compliance with face covering usage in high movement areas.

In the wake of coronavirus, Rome Airport has reorganised operations so that check-in and arrivals are assigned to Terminal 3, while Concourse Gates E is dedicated to departure and transfer flights.

Chiara Giordano15 September 2020 10:48

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