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We will prevail over the deadly coronavirus if we isolate like astronauts – The Sun


THERE’S a brave band of brothers and sisters who know exactly how fragile our planet really is.

They are the astronauts and cosmonauts who have looked down on the Earth from space and the surface of the moon.

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They all talk about that awe-inspiring sight, and especially the realisation there are no visible borders from space and that we are all in this together.

This week I spoke to US astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 520 days on the International Space Station.

The view from his tiny window was a stunning vision of our little planet suspended in the great blackness. The 56-year-old commander knows all too well what life is like on lockdown.

He spent a year and a half living in a tiny tin can in close proximity to his crew.

And he has some good tips for not going stir crazy.

Obviously the space station astronauts had a lot of work and experiments to do, but that did not take up all of their time. And like the rest of us, they needed to keep busy.

Scott has lots of common-sense advice for coping with being cooped up.

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First of all, we need to have a routine. We have to make sure we get up at the same time every morning and that we get washed and dressed and make our beds. We also need a regular bedtime.

Scott says you have to get outside at least once a day — we can do that on earth — while also folowing the rules.

You need to schedule times to talk to family and friends and have proper meal times.

Exercise is vital. Our very own spaceman, Tim Peake, trained and completed a marathon on a running machine when he was part of the crew on the Space Station.

Not all of us are fit enough to run 26-odd miles, but we can use this time to improve stamina and energy levels. I’m still doing my exercise classes with instructor Maxine Jones on her YouTube channel, and I will be starting virtual yoga with my daughter Rosie, who is in Singapore.

I was surprised to learn Scott took actual books, not ebooks, into space.

But he said holding a real book in his hands meant he could become completely absorbed, and concentration was not interrupted by messages pinging on his iPad.

One of the most interesting things he said was to keep a journal of these strange times.
Nasa has researched the effects of isolation and discovered that writing everything down has a positive effect.

It is more than just jotting down what you got up to that day. You need to go deeper and describe your hopes, fears and state of mind, and also what you hope to achieve when this is all over.

One of the things Scott valued most during his long stint in space was video calls with family and friends. And he says one of the silver linings of this crisis is time to reconnect with loved ones.


I know exactly what he means. I have been spending hours in WhatsApp chats with Rosie, my best friend Joyce, who is in lockdown in Spain, and my mum in East Kilbride.

We chat about everything (and everyone) and it lifts my spirits. Scott’s other sensible advice is to get your information from the experts — and he advises against relying on the internet.

He is right. Social media is stuffed with misinformed people and mad conspiracy ­theories.

I was shocked to realise how some teens don’t watch any news outlets or read newspapers. They get their “news” from Facebook.

They also think they are invincible, which is why we saw those packed beaches and parks this time last week.

This was partly because they were unaware of the need for “social distancing” but also because they think it won’t happen to them.

But Scott’s most important message to all of us is about working together.

“All people are inescapably connected and the more we can come together to solve our problems, the better off we will be.

“I’ve seen humans work together to prevail over the toughest challenges imaginable, and I know we can prevail over this one, if we all do our part and work together as a team.”

Well, I would urge you all to listen to Scott.

If we can put a man on the moon then we can beat this awful virus. It won’t be easy but I have faith in science.

And as long as we obey the rules, and make some sacrifices, we WILL overcome.

A bumpy time for Carrie too

NO matter what you think of him, it would be churlish not to wish Boris Johnson a speedy recovery.

But my sympathies are with Carrie Symonds, who is due to give birth in three months. She’s in isolation at a time when she needs his support.

My thoughts are with all expectant parents now, bringing babies into a world we barely recognise and unable to be together in the delivery room. It will be bittersweet for all of them.

Do the most to not get toasty

ONE part of the world untouched by Covid-19 is my spiritual homeland of Antarctica.

I visited the great white wilderness three years ago and cannot wait to return.

Aside from astronauts, the men and women who man the science bases in Antarctica – particularly the station at the South Pole – are well used to being in isolation while living on top of one another.

Which is exactly what most of us are doing right now.

Living space is limited at the Pole, and there’s no escaping the other 59 human beings holed up at the station for the full Antarctic winter.

It’s virtually pitch black for six months and you can’t really go outside apart from short bursts of vital scientific work.

Most are in danger of becoming “toasty”, which is their description of going stir-crazy.

RULES FROM A HARDY SURVIVOR

Being cramped, isolated and without proper personal boundaries and “me time” can make you cranky, short-tempered and irritated by the smallest things.

In order for us all to avoid toastiness during these strange times, I’d recommend a few rules, some of which were given to me by a hardy survivor of winter at the extreme south.

Have a sanctuary, even if it is just in the toilet reading your newspaper and doing the crossword.

If you are feeling at the end of your tether, don’t bottle it up.

Talk about your feelings and listen to what others in the house with you are saying.

You might very well be annoying them as much as they are driving you up the wall.

It’s early days, and this is a marathon and not a sprint.

Unlike those at the Pole, at least we can still go outside and enjoy the sunshine and the heat as well as the light.

Throne together

I’VE got a Star Trek version of Monopoly and I’m wondering if it is too soon to bring it out from the back of the cupboard.

I’ve never actually got to the end of a game of Monopoly and I reckon this might just be the only time that will ever happen.

I’m also going to start watching Game Of Thrones for the first time, which should keep me going for a couple of weeks. Any other suggestions for box sets gratefully received.

Hounds don't 'arf help

I’M sure all dog owners would agree that our fantastic, loyal, loveable pets are keeping us sane right now. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t take Angus for a walk once a day.

It’s not just a chance to get out in the fresh air and do some exercise, which is good for our physical and mental health, but it’s having something that takes your mind off the current state of the world.

When I’m playing with Angus I can almost forget those feelings of anxiety that creep up on all of us and simply enjoy his energy and enthusiasm.

He needs to be fed and watered and taken care of, and that gives me a much-needed sense of purpose.

It’s a proven fact that just having a dog in the house to cuddle boosts your well-being and cuts stress levels.

I don’t know what I would do without him.

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Storm over testing kits delay

Storm over testing kits delay: Experts admit coronavirus equipment will not be ready for at least THREE WEEKS… because no tests have so far been proven to work

  • Experts said rapid coronavirus tests have not yet been proven to be successful 
  • Hopes raised on Wednesday that an ‘antibody’ test could be available next week 
  • Matt Hancock said he had ordered 3.5 million such tests – with more to come
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

It will be weeks before rapid coronavirus tests are available to identify whether someone is safe to return to work, officials have admitted.

In a major blow to the Government, experts said no such tests had yet been proven to work and it could be some time until they go on sale.

Hopes were raised on Wednesday that a revolutionary ‘antibody’ test could be available as soon as next week. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he had ordered 3.5 million such tests – with more to come.

And Sharon Peacock, director of the national infection service at Public Health England, said the tests might be available to the public on Amazon or at Boots within days.

In a major blow to the Government, experts said rapid coronavirus tests (pictured, a blood test) had not yet been proven to work and it could be some time until they go on sale 

But last night officials were forced to backtrack after manufacturers raised doubts over the timeline of delivering the tests. Government sources admitted orders had been made only ‘in principle’, and would be ‘subject to successful evaluation of the tests’, which may take some time.

Several different companies have been approached over contributing to the 3.5 million tests needed, but none is yet ready to supply them.

Manufacturers said they were working around the clock to develop the devices, which can tell someone within 15 minutes whether they are likely to be immune to further infection.

They said it will be three weeks at the earliest before tests are available.

Professor Yvonne Doyle, PHE medical director, predicted it would be a ‘couple of weeks’ at least and said all tests needed to undergo rigorous validation.

These blood tests work like a pregnancy test and a colour develops if the patient is positive

Chris Whitty, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, said NHS staff were likely to be prioritised for accessing the tests, so it will be some time before the public got them 

Chris Whitty, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, said NHS staff were likely to be prioritised for accessing the tests, so it will be some time before the public got them. 

Professor Whitty added: ‘I do not think this is something we will suddenly be ordering on the internet next week. The one thing that is worse than no test, is a bad test.’

Brigette Bard, chief executive of BioSure UK Ltd – one of the companies in talks with PHE – said there had been a huge degree of ‘miscommunication’ over the industry’s ability to rapidly create the tests.

She said: ‘I would say it would be hugely optimistic to be able to get these tests out in three weeks. Three to six weeks is more likely.’

Two other firms – SureScreen Diagnostics, of Derby, and Bedfordshire-based Mologic Ltd – said they had not been told to start mass-producing the tests.

Labour health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘An antibody test would be a welcome and significant development but a lot of confusion has arisen. 

‘It’s unclear how long it will take to get to the public and we don’t know if a test has even been validated yet.’ 

  • Latest coronavirus video news, views and expert advice at mailplus.co.uk/coronavirus

WHY HASN’T THE UK SCALED UP ITS CORONAVIRUS TESTING, AND WHY HAVEN’T HOME-SCREENING KITS BEEN ORDERED YET?

Aren’t home-testing kits already available?

Several British firms have made the home-testing kits, including Derby-based SureScreen.

It claims to have shipped its £6 finger prick tests to Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait and Oman.  

Mologic Ltd – which is based in Bedfordshire – has also produced an antibody test that takes just 10 minutes. 

But it says its diagnostic tool is still ‘five or six months’ away from being ready to be mass produced.

A number of US firms have also developed rapid finger prick tests which are being fast-tracked for use by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Why isn’t the Government using them? 

Health chiefs are concerned the tests are not accurate enough to be rolled out yet.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said the ‘one thing worse than no test is a bad test’.

The SureScreen finger prick device is currently being trialled at a Public Health England laboratory in Oxfordshire, but it could take weeks before it is deemed reliable enough to be distributed. 

How much would they cost?

SureScreen charges £6 for one of its tests.

Mologic’s kits cost less than £1 to make and the firm said it would sell the tests to the Government ‘at cost’, meaning without making any profit. 

Could the Government use home-testing kits one day?

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, told MPs the devices would be available ‘within days’.

Professor Peacock told the House of Commons Science and Health Committee that Britons would be able to pick them up in Boots or on Amazon.

But England’s CMO said it would be weeks before they were validated and deemed reliable enough for mass use. 

How many people can we test each day?

The UK has repeatedly been slammed for its lacklustre approach to testing. 

Currently tests are only routinely given to people so ill they have to go into hospital, or those who are already on wards – even NHS staff don’t get tested.

Only 5,000 tests are conducted each day.

This is because the crisis has escalated faster than the UK could manufacture tests.

PHE says it has increased its capacity and will be testing 25,000 people within weeks. 

But didn’t Boris Johnson say it would go up to 250,000?

The Government wants to screen a quarter of a million people a day to get on top of the outbreak. 

But Boris Johnson has admitted the country will need to source tests from private companies to fulfill its ambition. 

Test by test: The types of coronavirus kits from 10-minute finger-prick results to a mask which can diagnose instantly that the government could be using amid row over shortage – as PM brands impending antibody check a ‘game changer’

Boris Johnson yesterday announced that coronavirus testing was to be ramped up to 25,000 per day after the government was slammed for potentially allowing tens of thousands of infected people to walk the streets undiagnosed.

Only 5,000 were being swabbed for COVID-19 previously, a fraction of the number seen elsewhere. 

Mr Johnson said a new ‘game changing’ coronavirus test which analyses antibodies in the blood could detect asymptomatic patients and those who have already shrugged off the bug. 

The Prime Minister said this would allow people to know whether they had gained immunity and get back to their working and social lives as soon as possible.   

Public Health England previously said that only patients who meet certain criteria will be able to be tested for the bug and those who were being screened were having nasal swabs. 

The Prime Minister conceded that the NHS will continue to use nasal swab tests that take up to 48 hours to be analysed in a lab.  

Other countries around the world – including the US, China, South Korea, Japan and Italy – have been using testing kits that take just minutes to produce results. 

And in a further development, Oxford University researchers claimed that they have created a new test which analyses viral RNA to detect COVID-19 in just 30 minutes.

Here, MailOnline looks at the cutting-edge testing kits currently being rolled out in other counties and at private clinics in Britain: 

FINGER PRINT TEST

Name: COVID-19 IgM IgG Rapid Test

Manufacturers: BioMedomics

Diagnostic time: 15 minutes 

The blood test is not being used in the UK, despite health bodies in China, Italy and Japan diagnosing patients with it.

On March 5, BioMedomics claimed its ‘quick and easy’ test was ready and being used in South Korea, Japan, Italy, China and some countries in the Middle East. 

After the sample of blood is collected, a technician injects it into the analysis device – which is about the size of an Apple TV or Roku remote – along with some buffer, and waits 15 minutes.

One line means negative, two lines in a spread-out configuration means the sample contains antibodies that the body starts making shortly after infection.

A blood sample is collected, inserted into the reader, a buffer is combined, and results come back within 15 minutes, the company claims 

Two lines closer together mean the person is positive for the later-stage antibodies, and three lines mean the patient is positive for both types of antibodies.  

A small study showed the test produced a correct response 80 per cent of the time.

BOSCH DEVELOPS TEST THAT TAKES JUST 2.5 HOURS AND CAN CHURN OUT 4,000 RESULTS A DAY

Bosch has become the latest firm to develop a coronavirus test to help fight the outbreak.

The home appliances firm has created a test provides that gives results in less than two-and-a-half hours.

The sample is taken from the nose or throat of the patient using a swab and placed inside a ‘cartridge’.

The cartridge is then inserted into a machine, known as Vivalytic, which scours for genes of the virus.

Vivalytic is said to be ‘easy and intuitive’ to operate, according to Bosch.

The device is already used in hospitals and labs to identify a range of bacterial and viral diseases including the flu and pneumonia. 

It will be available in Germany in April and sold in international markets, Bosch said. 

The test can churn out 4,000 results a day per machine, the company said. 

The system does not require any additionally trained personnel, so that even hospital or doctor’s practice staff without special laboratory experience can operate the machines, according to Bosch. 

PHE confirmed it was not using the advanced blood test because it was not accurate enough, and are hoping to develop their own. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also yet to approve it. 

A former PHE strategist said he was ‘not confident’ the test could produce correct results and is therefore unlikely to be rolled out. However, the method was desirable. 

NASAL SWAB

Name: TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit 

Manufacturers: ThermoFisher

Diagnostic time: Four hours 

The DIY test detects specific DNA given off by the coronavirus in the noses of infected patients.

Samples are then delivered to labs where they are analysed and results are produced within four hours.

The test was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration this week and 5million kits will be sent across America in the coming days.

It is hoped the UK will follow suit after representatives from ThermoFisher, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, were seen entering Downing Street last night carrying a box with the tests. 

It is understood ministers were giving a demonstration of how the test works.

FINGER PRICK TEST

Name: COVID-19 Rapid Test Cassette 

Manufacturers: SureScreen Diagnostics

Diagnostic time: Ten minutes 

The private firm, based in Derby, has created a test which can allegedly determine with 98 per cent certainty if a person is infected. 

It involves taking a blood sample via finger prick and then putting it into a screening device.

SureScreen Diagnostics says a prick of blood from the fingertip is sufficient to determine with more than 98 per cent accuracy

The private firm says its test has been validated and is already being used in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait and Oman. Currently, official swap-based methods take between 24 and 48 hours for results to come back

Results are displayed in a similar fashion to those of an at-home pregnancy test within minutes and could potentially save delays in diagnosis. 

SureScreen says its test has been validated and is already being used by private buyers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait and Oman. 

It is believed around 175,000 tests have been conducted with the SureScreen kit so far. The company claims it has had over two million orders for next month. 

Director David Campbell said: ‘We’ve been working hard to produce a coronavirus test (COVID19) that can be used at the patient side, with capillary blood, easily taken from someone’s fingertip and diagnose them within 10 minutes.

‘There is a big problem with the diagnosis of the disease currently because the standard method of screening is to send samples to the laboratory, which takes a lot of time. 

‘Meanwhile, someone could be spreading the virus without knowing, or having the issue of self-isolation.’  

FACE MASK TESTS

Manufacturers: University of Leicester

Diagnostic time: 12 hours

How it works: Breath test inserted in a mask

Scientists have started a trial of the pioneering £2 gadget, which tests have already proven can detect tuberculosis, a deadly lung infection. 

Scientists have started a trial of the pioneering £2 gadget (pictured), which tests have already proven can detect tuberculosis

The researchers at the University of Leicester and the University of Pretoria designed 3D printed strips of polyvinyl alcohol that are inserted into the mask (pictured)

The masks, which could cost pennies if manufactured on a wider scale, are fitted with strips that soak up droplets from the wearer’s breath, which may be carrying traces of bacterial or viral infection.

The strips can be tested in labs with results coming back within hours. Current tests for coronavirus can take up to 48 hours. 

University of Leicester researchers believe it will be at least two months before they can test the masks on actual COVID-19 patients.

But they are hopeful it will work because it is a respiratory disease, meaning it infects the lungs and can is present in the air people breathe out.  

After 30 minutes, the strips can be tested in a laboratory (pictured)

First, the team have to test the gadgets on dozens of patients with other lung infections to prove they can pick up bugs other than tuberculosis, which they were designed for.

Patients with infections such as flu and bronchitis will have the results from their mask tests compared to those from throat swabs, which are known to be accurate. 

Tests on tuberculosis patients, the only ones that have been done so far, show the masks can detect the killer disease almost 90 per cent of the time.

Leicester’s Professor Mike Barer and colleagues are hopeful they will be successful because the coronavirus infects the lungs in a similar way to tuberculosis.

BREATH TEST 

Manufacturers: Northumbria University, Newcastle

Diagnostic time: Almost instantly 

A breath sampling device that could rapidly identify patients with coronavirus has been developed by British scientists.

The technology, developed by a team at Northumbria University in Newcastle, is still in development and needs further testing.

But experts believe it could change the way the virus is spotted around the world.

A breath test that helps rapidly identify patients with coronavirus has been developed by British scientists (file)

Dr Sterghios Moschos, right, said the test could be used to produce results in minutes

The Northumbria team’s device collects breath samples which can then be tested separately for biological information – known as biomarkers.

These biomarkers, which include DNA, RNA, proteins and fat molecules can signal diseases of the lung and other parts of the body.

People simply breathe into the device, which collects a sample of the breath.

Dr Sterghios Moschos, associate professor at Northumbria University, said: ‘Our ambition is to reduce the need for bloodletting for diagnosis in its broadest sense.’

The device is currently being trialled.

PRIVATE HARLEY STREET CLINIC

Manufacturers: Private Harley Street Clinic

Diagnostic time: Three days

How it works: Nose and throat swab

Price: £375  

More than 2,000 people have ordered a £375 home testing kit from a Harley Street clinic in London after being turned down by the NHS, according to the Daily Telegraph.

In addition to individuals, some 60 firms including oil and telecoms companies, have bought them for their staff. 

On its website, the item can be easily ‘added to cart,’ much in the same way as conventional online products

Dr Mark Ali, director of the Private Harley Street Clinic on London’s world-renowned medical avenue, said his practice was offering a new kit for £375 each

The test is posted to the client’s home or preferred address, where the client takes swabs from both the nostrils and throat. 

The sample is then placed in the box provided and posted back as per the instructions. 

Dr Mark Ali, director of the Private Harley Street Clinic on London’s world-renowned medical avenue, said his practice was offering a new kit for £375 each.

On its website, the item can be easily ‘added to cart,’ much in the same way as conventional online products.

The practice says the test is ‘performed by a world renown UKAS accredited British laboratory and the test results are 100 per cent accurate and do not require further tests to confirm any diagnoses.’

The website hastens to add, that though it oversees the entire process, patients should not attempt to pick up their kits from Harley Street.

‘Please note under no circumstances can this test be done in our clinic or be collected from our clinic.’ The website states.

‘It is sent to your designated address by courier service within 48 hrs. Please refer to the details below and order through the link at the bottom of this page.’

Dr Ali told The Telegraph he has received countless requests from buyers.

‘People are worried sick. They want to get some clarity back in their lives,’ he told The Telegraph. 

‘We’ve got university students in England who want to go back to Nepal, but need to know if they have the disease so they can be let back into their own country.

‘We’ve got a businessman who owns a construction company employing 60 people. He needs to know the state of play, or he risks letting down his customers. So every single person in that company is being tested.’ 

ANTIGEN TEST

Manufacturers: Mologic

Diagnostic time: Ten minutes 

British firm Mologic is working on an antigen test after receiving £1million from the UK Government. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken on a tour of the Bedford laboratory of Mologic earlier this month

The firm hopes it will take just 10 minutes to produce a result, like that of the antibody test. 

Antigens are parts of a virus that trigger the immune system’s response to fight the infection, and can show up in blood before antibodies are made. 

SALIVA TEST

Manufacturer: myLAB Box

US-based firm myLAB Box is mass producing a home test that requires a saliva swab to be sent away to an overnight lab to be analysed

Diagnostic time: One day  

US-based firm myLAB Box announced this week that it has opened pre-sales of its COVID-19 home test for health professionals, doctors surgeries and pharmacies. 

They require suspected patients to self-collect a saliva swab sample. These samples are sent away to a CLIA-certified lab to be analysed overnight.

myLAB Box also said that free telephone consultations will be made available to those who test positive for the virus.

It is planning to process up to 20,000 tests per day once it is approved by the FDA. It is currently under review. 

FINGER PRICK TEST 

Manufacturer: Scanwell 

Diagnostic time: 15 minutes 

American startup Scanwell has produced a finger prick coronavirus test that takes just 15 minutes to complete at home.

It is posted to users via next-day delivery and is used alongside the Scanwell Health App. 

American startup Scanwell has produced a finger prick coronavirus test that takes just 15 minutes to complete at home. It will work in conjunction with a health app (similar to its UTI test)

The test can be completed and uploaded through the app within 15 minutes, according to the company  

The test is being fast-tracked for approval by the FDA but isn’t expected to hit the US market for another six to eight weeks.

Scanwell is best known for its smartphone-based urinary tract infection screening platform. 

NASAL/THROAT SWABS

Manufacturers: Brunel University London, Lancaster University and University of Surrey

Diagnostic time: Half an hour

Researchers at Brunel University London, Lancaster University and University of Surrey have developed a device to detect COVID-19 in 30 minutes using a smartphone application.

The batter-operated and hand-held costs £100. It works by taking nasal or throat swabs, which are put into the device. 

Researchers at Brunel University London, Lancaster University and University of Surrey have developed a device to detect COVID-19 in 30 minutes using a smartphone application (file) 

 

Then in 30 minutes, it can determine if someone has CoVID-19 using artificial intelligence.

The samples don’t need to go to a laboratory and the same device can test six people at once at a cost of around £4 per person.

The science behind the device has been tested in the Philippines to check chickens for viral infections.

The team has adapted it to detect COVID-19 in humans and is talking with backers to get it urgently mass-produced.

Scientists behind the device say the current system is capable to perform diagnostics at any location with very minimal training.

The researchers believe that the device would be operated by ambulatory care professionals, nurses, and biomedical scientists.

It would also let people self-isolating test themselves and health care workers test patients to help slow the spread of the pandemic and ease the burden on the NHS.

The Xpert Xpress test was developed by the company Cepheid which plans to have it on sale in the US by the end of March

ORAL SWAB 

Manufacturer: Cepheid 

Diagnostic time: 45 minutes 

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorised the first ‘point-of-care’ coronavirus test which can be used in hospitals and emergency rooms, delivering test results in 45 minutes.

The new test was developed by the company Cepheid which plans to have it on sale in the US by the end of March. 

The test will importantly deliver results onsite in 45 minutes at the hospital or emergency room where it is taken, cutting out the time-consuming step of sending the test to a lab. 

A swab is inserted into a screening device, known as GeneXpert Systems, which scours for COVID-19 genes and takes less than an hour to deliver a result.There are 5,000 of these machines located around the U.S. and 23,000 around the world. 

THROAT/NASAL SWAB 

Manufacturer: Bosch

Diagnostic time: Two-and-a-half hours 

The home appliances firm has created a test provides that gives results in less than two-and-a-half hours.

The sample is taken from the nose or throat of the patient using a swab and placed inside a ‘cartridge’ and inserted into a device which scours for genes of the virus.


The home appliances firm has created a test provides that gives results in less than two-and-a-half hours. The sample is taken from the nose or throat of the patient using a swab and placed inside a ‘cartridge’ and inserted into a device which scours for genes of the virus

Vivalytic is said to be ‘easy and intuitive’ to operate, according to Bosch.

The system does not require any additionally trained personnel, so that even hospital or doctor’s practice staff without special laboratory experience can operate the machines.

SALIVA/THROAT SWABS 

Manufacturer: Everlywell

Diagnostic time: Up to one day 

Users collect their own saliva, throat swabs or deep nasal swabs at home and send the samples to labs to be tested for the virus. 

The US-firm, based in Austin, Texas, has sold around 30,000 COVID-19 at-home testing kits across the US to healthcare companies who have used them to test their medics on the front lines of the outbreak. 

But the tests have not been approved by the FDA and the public being advised against using them. The agency says the accuracy of such home testing kits ‘has yet to be clearly determined.’

Everlywell has sold around 30,000 COVID-19 at-home testing kits across the US to healthcare companies

CT SCANS

Who came up with the idea? Mount Sinai Health System, New York

Diagnostic time: 1 hour 30 minutes

How it works: Detects lung damage  

Doctors from The Mount Sinai Health System in New York say CT scans may be faster than nasal and throat swabs at diagnosing coronavirus patients. 

The team were the first in the US to analyze lung scans of patients in China with the highly contagious disease.   

They said they were able to identify specific patterns in the lungs as markers of the virus, also known as COVID-19, as it developed over the course of about two weeks>

Patients who received scans zero to two days after symptoms first appeared had little to no evidence of lung disease in their results like this 19-year-old male who had a CT scan one day after symptoms first appeared

The team said the pattern in the lung of coronavirus patients are similar to scans of patients with SARS and very different from diseases such as bacterial pneumonia (pictured)

The researchers say these quicker diagnoses could help keep patients isolated in early stages of the disease, perhaps even before symptoms appear and when it may not show up on other scans such as chest X-rays. 

‘CT scans are an extremely powerful diagnostic tool, because you can seen the inner organs in a three-dimensional way,’ lead author Dr Adam Bernheim, an assistant professor of diagnostic, molecular and interventional radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told DailyMail.com.

‘And you can see the manifestation of many diseases.’ 

For the study, published in the journal Radiology, the team analyzed scans of 94 patients at four medical centers in four Chinese provinces.

The patients had been admitted between January 18 and February 2, and all had either recently traveled to Wuhan – the epicenter of an outbreak – or had come into contact with an infected person.

Radiologists reviewed the scan and took notes based on when symptoms first appeared and when the CT scan was performed.

Thirty-six patients received scans zero to two days after reporting symptoms and more than half showed no evidence of lung disease.

The team says this is important because it suggests that CT scans cannot reliably detect coronavirus in its very earliest stages.

Nasal and throat swabs test can identify patients even before patients become symptomatic, although some may still have the virus if they first test negative. 

Its results, however, may take days to get back from the agency’s labs.

But 33 patients who received scans three to five days after symptoms developed had patterns of ‘ground glass opacities,’ or haziness in the lungs. 

‘The lung abnormalities are very round in shape and affect the perimeter of the lung,’ co-author Dr Michael Chung, an assistant professor of diagnostic, molecular and interventional radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told DailyMail.com.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS?

What is the coronavirus? 

A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.

The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.

Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.

The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.

Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals. 

‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses). 

‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’ 

The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.

By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.

The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000. 

Where does the virus come from?

According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.

The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.

Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat. 

A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a coronavirus they found in bats.

However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.

Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.

‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’  

So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it? 

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.

It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.

Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.

Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.

‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’

If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die. 

‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.

‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’

How does the virus spread?

The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.

It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. It can also live on surfaces, such as plastic and steel, for up to 72 hours, meaning people can catch it by touching contaminated surfaces.

Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person. 

What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?

Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.

If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.

In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.

Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why. 

What have genetic tests revealed about the virus? 

Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world. 

This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.   

Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.

However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.

This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.   

More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.

How dangerous is the virus?  

The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.

Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.

However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.

Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.

Can the virus be cured? 

The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.

No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.

The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.

Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.

People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).

However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.

Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?   

The outbreak was declared a pandemic on March 11. A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’. 

Previously, the UN agency said most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.

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World News

Aldi row over ‘social distancing’ in queue boils over as woman ‘coughs in shopper’s face deliberately’ – The Sun

AN ALDI customer claims a fellow shopper deliberately coughed in his face in a row over social distancing at a checkout queue.

Paul Sexton was packing his shopping at a store in Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, when the alleged row broke out last Wednesday.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates


The 48-year-old said the woman approached his till to speak to the cashier, leaning past him and flouting coronavirus social distancing advice.

Paul says he repeatedly asked her to move back to give him some personal space before she lunged towards him and coughed in his face.

Furious that she could have exposed him during the coronavirus pandemic, Paul branded the woman a 'vile pig' as he shamed her on social media for her actions.

Although a manager was apologetic, Paul claims the woman went on to stick up her middle finger to him through the shop window.

Project manager Paul, of Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, said: “I don’t usually shop in ALDI but I picked up a couple of small things as it’s a bit more local.

“The cashier was running my things through the scanner and I’m bagging them up.

“This woman came and leant on the space directly in front of the cashier and tried speaking to him.

“I explained to her that I was being served and said ‘give me a bit of space – there’s no need to be this close’.

“It wasn’t a tit for tat verbal argument – she was just ignoring me and carried on talking to the guy.

“I then said ‘no, you need to step back because you’re encroaching on my space and you’re right in front of the guy who’s trying to serve.’

“Then I got more firm with her and said ‘look, stay the f**ck away’.

“She lunged herself towards me – and coughed in my face.

“Afterwards [the cashier] said ‘why on earth did you just cough in his face’."

Paul was ‘shocked’ and questioned why on earth the woman thought that ‘would be ok or a justifiable thing to do’ – particularly during a pandemic.

He said: “That woman should now be banned from shopping in that store ever again because that is a vile thing to do.”

The confrontation comes amid growing tensions over social distancing rules and supermarkets swamped by panic buyers.

Earlier this week, three teenagers were arrested after allegedly coughing in the faces of an elderly couple in Hertfordshire.

Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has said criminals who deliberately cough at police officers while claiming to have coronavirus could face up to two years in jail.

Some supermarkets have introduced perspex screens at checkouts and special social distancing measures in queues to allow customers to shop safely during the pandemic.

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An Aldi spokesperson said: “The overwhelming majority of our customers have been very patient and understanding as we do our best to serve them at this time.

"However, we will not tolerate any threatening or violent behaviour.

"Anyone who is aggressive in any way to our colleagues will be asked to leave immediately.”




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World News

Hotel evicts staff over coronavirus, owner claims admin error

Hotel sacks and evicts its staff over coronavirus before owner Britannia Hotels – voted worst chain in the country for seven years running with a boss worth £280million – claims admin error

  • Coylumbridge Hotel, Aviemore, workers were sacked and immediately evicted
  • Owned by Britannia Hotel, ranked as the worst UK hotel chain for seven years  
  • The hotel claims move was an ‘administrative error’ after facing criticism
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

A Scottish hotel that left staff homeless after sacking them with immediate eviction from their accommodation has claimed the move was an ‘administrative error’.

Workers at the Coylumbridge Hotel, Aviemore, in the Scottish Highlands were sent a letter terminating their employment and ordering them to leave their accommodation immediately, it emerged Thursday.

The hotel is owned by Britannia Hotel, a chain ranked as the worst UK hotel chain for seven years running in an annual survey by Which?. 

Its decision to let the staff go amid the coronavirus outbreak, attracted criticism from first minister Nicola Sturgeon who condemned the move after calling on businesses to support staff.

Workers at the Coylumbridge Hotel, Aviemore, in the Scottish Highlands were sent a letter terminating their employment and ordering them to leave their accommodation immediately

Speaking at a coronavirus briefing yesterday Sturgeon said: ‘I would unreservedly condemn the approach that was taken in the Aviemore case: that is not how we want employers to operate.

‘I won’t underestimate and don’t want to downplay the difficulty that businesses and employers are in, but we’ve seen so many good examples, like Macdonald Hotels stepping in to offer accommodation to all affected by that. 

‘We want to be doing everything we can to support businesses, but in turn we need employers to support their workforce too.’

Britannia’s spokeswoman told The Liverpool Echo: ‘Unfortunately, the communication sent to these employees was an administrative error. All affected employees are being immediately contacted. We apologise for any upset caused.’

(left to right) Alvaro Garcia, Carlos Ramero-Martinez and Normunds Varshavans who were sacked from their jobs at the Coylumbridge Hotel and told to leave the staff accommodation

The letter sent to employees at the Coylumbridge Hotel, owned by Britannia Hotel, a chain ranked as the worst UK hotel chain for seven years running in an annual survey by Which?

However it is not known if those staff will be reinstated to their positions.

On Friday chancellor Rishi Sunak effectively signed a blank cheque as he unveiled a huge new coronavirus bailout to cover the wages of millions of people and stop firms going bankrupt.

He said the government will cover 80 per cent of salaries up to a ceiling £2,500 a month – equivalent to the UK average wage of £30,000 a year – as long as employers keep workers on their books, and there will be no limit on the total cost.

Founder Alex Langsam, 82, has amassed an estimated £240 million fortune since he founded the company 33 years ago 

Langsam lives in a sprawling ten-bedroom former hotel worth £3.4 million in a leafy suburb of Cheshire

The Britannia group, which as 61 hotels across the UK, has previously made headlines after its Fawlty Towers-esque running style saw guests complain of dirty rooms, broken toilets, and stained bedclothes and towels.

Despite being dubbed the worst hotel chain in Britain by consumer magazine Which? the chain has seen its operating profits soar over the last five years to nearly £20 million.

Founder Alex Langsam, 82, has amassed an estimated £240 million fortune since he founded the company 33 years ago. He lives in a sprawling ten-bedroom former hotel worth £3.4 million in a leafy suburb of Cheshire.

The company’s remarkable financial performance comes despite damning reviews by Britannia guests on ratings website TripAdvisor – and now despite its heavily criticised treatment of workers.     

Alvaro Garcia (pictured with his possessions) was sacked from his job at the Coylumbridge Hotel and told to leave immediately

The company’s remarkable financial performance comes despite damning reviews by Britannia guests on ratings website TripAdvisor

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Celebrities

Fans Have Mixed Feelings Over Online Celebrity Performances Amid Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected us all. The fast-spreading virus has made many ill, very rapidly. With mandatory lockdown in place within some states, celebrities have taken to the internet to provide some much-needed levity. Some fans are fans, but others think there’s something else Hollywood elite should do with all their quarantined time.

The coronavirus pandemic prompted celebrities to perform online for fans

Many celebrities are taking to the web to perform sing, such as John Legend and Chris Martin of Coldplay, to entertain everyone stuck indoors. Some, like Jennifer Garner, have read books, while others, like Jimmy Fallon, continue working from the confines of his home.

The intent behind the performances is fair. Just like the rest of us, celebrities are also following the protocol of social distancing and staying home.

However, despite some enjoying the various performances from the likes of comedian Jim Gaffigan and his family dinners, or world-renown cellist, Yo Yo Ma, offering a calming symphony, some think there’s something else celebrities should be doing instead.

Some fans say the performances are ‘way off base’

Tensions have been building since the first announcements of the coronavirus pandemic which is probably why actress Gal Gadot’s latest offering didn’t exactly gain her any new fans.

In a star-studded rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Gadot and many other celebrities sing the tune over the course of the song.

Natalie Portman, Mark Ruffalo, Amy Adams, Kristen Wiig, Jamie Dornan, and Zoe Kravitz are among some of those heard in the 2-minute clip. Fans have called it “cringeworthy” and “privileged” for failing to recognize the irony of Hollywood elite — with their money and expansive comforts while quarantined — condescendingly.

Many called for the stars to donate money to causes that might help fix the problem. With many “average” Americans struggling to provide necessities, losing jobs, and maybe failing to get better if suffering from the virus itself, something such as this performance only serves as a stark reminder of how much easier life is when you have money and access to options.

“Singing “imagine no possessions” from my multimillion-dollar palace while people are struggling to pay rent,” this person pointed out.

That said, some are taking the performances as they are: entertainment to pass the time and remind us, we’re not alone.

“Jimmy you are awesome – thank you for being laughs and smiles during such a difficult time,” one fan tweeted in response to Jimmy Fallon’s “show” from home.

Regardless of which side you’re on, there’s one celebrity who we can count on to stay on-brand through it all.

Jared Leto didn’t know about the coronavirus at all

The pandemic has affected all of us in some way or another — unless you’re Jared Leto. The actor revealed via Twitter he’d gone away for “silent meditation in the desert.” He had no phones or communication with the outside world, and “no idea what was happening outside the facility.”

Being “totally isolated” means Leto didn’t hear news of the fast-spreading virus or how many it’s affected.

“Hope you and yours are ok. Sending positive energy to all. Stay inside. Stay safe,” he added in a follow-up tweet.

Some joked that the star’s tweet was very “Jared Leto,” adding it’s an “incredibly lengthy way of saying ‘I’m super-rich and I’m definitely going to be fine. Good luck, peasants!’” as one person pointed out.

All the quarantining — whether government ordered or not — is clearly getting to everyone. In the words of Leto, “stay inside; stay safe.”

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World News

Pensioner, 79, arrested over murder of Dr Brenda Page, 32, found battered to death in Aberdeen in 1978 – The Sun

A PENSIONER has been arrested over the brutal murder of a talented scientist found battered to death at her home in 1978.

The 79-year-old suspect is being quizzed over 32-year-old Dr Brenda Page's death in Aberdeen.

Geneticist Brenda, who had a second job as an escort, was last seen alive leaving the Treetops Hotel on July 14, 1978, where she had been entertaining two clients.

Her colleague later found her battered to death at her home when she failed to show up for work at the University of Aberdeen.

She had been bludgeoned almost 30 times on the head and face in a frenzied attack.

Detective Inspector Gary Winter of Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team said: “I would like to appeal to anyone who believes they may have information relevant to the inquiry and has not previously come forward or been seen by the police.

“I would also urge any previous witnesses from 1978, or from the subsequent review from 2014 onwards who have changed contact address or telephone numbers to get in touch and update us."

Anyone with information should call police on 101 quoting reference number 479 of March 17 or by emailing [email protected]

More to follow…

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World News

Passengers sue over coronavirus-hit Grand Princess cruise ship

Florida couple aboard the coronavirus-hit Grand Princess sues cruise ship’s owner for $1million for ‘failing to properly screen passengers’ for the pathogen

  • Ronald, 75, and Eva Weissberger, 69, of Broward County, Florida, were on board 
  • They came aboard the Grand Princess ship in San Francisco on February 21 
  • Couple says cruise continued on voyage knowing passengers were exposed 
  • They want $1million from Princess Cruise Lines, claiming they were negligent
  • First passengers were evacuated from the Grand Princess at Port of Oakland 

A Florida couple who were passengers on the Grand Princess ocean liner linked to the coronavirus outbreak have sued the ship’s owner for more than $1million for putting the couple’s health at risk, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday.

Ronald and Eva Weissberger of Broward County, Florida sued Princess Cruise Lines Ltd, a unit of Carnival Corp, alleging the company has caused them emotional distress and trauma as they fear they will develop the COVID-19 disease.

The Weissbergers, who boarded the Grand Princess in San Francisco on February 21, claim that the company knew that one of its passengers from a previous voyage was infected with coronavirus.

Ronald (right) and Eva Weissberger (left) of Broward County, Florida, are suing the parent company of the Grand Princess cruise ship


The couple says the company was negligent in failing to properly screen passengers for the coronavirus

The Grand Princess is seen above after docking at the Port of Oakland on Monday

Despite that knowledge, the cruise ship decided to continue sailing on the voyage that started after the couple boarded on February 21, according to the lawsuit.  

The lawsuit also says that the company left the Weissbergers exposed to coronavirus because 62 passengers who were on board with them during their voyage were exposed to passengers from a previous voyage that were confirmed to be infected. 

The couple says that the ‘it would only stand to reason’ that the company would take all necessary precautions to make sure the ship’s passengers are free of coronavirus in light of the outbreak that took place on the Diamond Princess.

The Diamond Princess, which like the Grand Princess is owned by Princess Cruise Lines, is the luxury liner that was quarantined in Tokyo Bay last month for two weeks after an onboard outbreak of coronavirus killed seven passengers.

Hundreds of others, including several Americans, were infected. 

Princess Cruise Lines is accused of failing to properly screen passengers for possible coronavirus infection.

The lawsuit states that the passengers ‘were simply asked to fill out a piece of paper confirming they were not sick.’

‘Incredibly, not one of those 62 passengers or crew members who were mixing and mingling with the infected prior passengers were ever examined during the instant voyage until being tested for the virus on Thursday, March 5, 2020, two weeks after the ship sailed,’ the lawsuit states. 

The lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Los Angeles.

The Grand Princess docked in Oakland, California, on Monday so its 2,400 passengers could disembark and be taken to quarantine. 

The ship has been linked to 12 coronavirus cases from an earlier voyage to Mexico.

Carnival did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.

The company told Bloomberg News: ‘Our response throughout this process has focused on well-being of our guests and crew within the parameters mandated on us by the government agencies involved and the evolving medical understanding of this new illness.’

According to his Facebook page, Ronald Weissberger, 75, and his wife, 69-year-old Eva, are natives of Montreal who relocated to Fort Lauderdale.

Ronald Weissberger is the former CEO at Intelcan Technosystems, a Canadian company that specializes in air traffic management and surveillance.


According to his Facebook page, Ronald Weissberger, 75, and his wife, 69-year-old Eva, are natives of Montreal who relocated to Fort Lauderdale. Ronald Weissberger is the former CEO at Intelcan Technosystems, a Canadian company that specializes in air traffic management and surveillance

The first passengers were taken ashore from the Grand Princess that docked at California’s port of Oakland Monday, with the infected ‘being dealt with in proper isolation,’ said Vice President Mike Pence.

The Grand Princess arrived in the San Francisco Bay after days stranded at sea with 21 confirmed coronavirus infections among more than 3,500 passengers and crew, KGO-TV reported.

Emergency workers equipped with gowns, gloves, respirators and face shields loaded those requiring immediate treatment into ambulances, while all port employees and residents were cleared from the fenced-off landing site.

‘We hope before the end of today to begin to disembark California residents,’ said Pence, who was appointed to lead the US response to the virus. 

More than 900 passengers from the state were on board.

All 25 children on board were healthy, added Pence.

‘Individuals will be led off the ship in smaller groups,’ and ‘anyone who is symptomatic… will be fitted with a surgical mask and disembarked via a separate gangway’ to avoid disease spread, said a statement from Governor Gavin Newsom’s office.

The ship had been idling off the San Francisco coast since Wednesday.

Passengers gathered on balconies were ‘whooping and waving at dock workers onshore’ as the ship drew into port, said Carolyn Wright, 63, of New Mexico, from on board the vessel.

Tents were set up on the Oakland quayside, with the surrounding floor doused in what appeared to be disinfectant, she added.

Buses and flights were lined up to transport passengers.

After initial screening, those who don’t require acute care will be quarantined for 14 days at US military bases in California, Texas and Georgia – or flown to their home countries, in the case of foreign residents.

The first two passengers to get off the cruise ship were an older man and woman clutching red and white tote bags

The first two passengers aboard the quarantined Grand Princess cruise ship disembarked the liner on Monday afternoon, with one man seen being placed into a stretcher

The man agreed to sit in the stretcher where he calmly clasped his hands in his lap and both passengers were placed inside the ambulance

The male patient pictured being loaded into an ambulance after being removed from the Grand Princess Cruise ship

Those at US bases will be given private single rooms with access to private bathrooms, said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.

Passengers will be fully tested at their onward destination to avoid delays.

‘The crew itself will push off from the dock, and they will be quarantined and observed and treated shipboard,’ said Pence.

The entire site will be decontaminated by pressure washing with a bleach solution once the operation is complete.

Wright earlier Monday said the mood had been lifted on board by the prospect of finally reaching land, and guests were briefly allowed to leave their cabins.

Some couples danced on deck as others walked laps around the huge ship.

“It really feels wonderful to have gotten out and stretched our legs,” Wright told AFP. “I feel kind of energized and happy. It just makes you feel like, OK, things are happening and things are now moving.”

She added: “Hopefully things will be smooth from here on.”

Newsom said Sunday the whole operation to bring passengers ashore was expected to be a “two, three day process,” but warned it could take longer.

Princess Cruise Lines, the parent company of the Grand Princess, is also the owner of the Diamond Princess, the luxury liner that was quarantined in Tokyo Bay for two weeks last month after a coronavirus outbreak on board. The Diamond Princess is seen above on February 10

“We are still working out the enormity of complexity of making sure we prepare the site and… prepare for a quick turnaround,” he said.

On Monday, Princess Cruises announced full refunds, scrapped onboard charges and offered free future cruises to affected passengers on the Grand Princess.

But Canada — which had 240 citizens on the ship — became the latest country to warn people to avoid taking cruises, after the US issued a similar warning to vulnerable Americans Sunday.

The US has recorded at least 26 deaths from the coronavirus and 684 confirmed cases across 35 states, according to a Johns Hopkins tally.  

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Lifestyle

ANDREW PIERCE: Patel gets overwhelming support from Conservative Voice

ANDREW PIERCE: Priti Patel gets overwhelming support from Thatcherite Conservative Voice group amid bullying allegations

Following a flurry of accusations of bullying, Home Secretary Priti Patel was defended last week in a statement by 100 allies, including election guru Sir Lynton Crosby and William Shawcross, former chief of the Charity Commission.

Patel faces a Cabinet Office investigation into the allegations (which she denies) after Sir Philip Rutnam, the Home Office’s most senior civil servant, quit last month and vowed to sue the Government for constructive dismissal.

But while her critics continue to simmer with rage, I can reveal that she’s set to receive another impassioned cry of support — this time from Conservative Voice, a group which was set up to campaign for Thatcherite values. 

Patel (pictured) faces a Cabinet Office investigation into the allegations (which she denies) after Sir Philip Rutnam, the Home Office’s most senior civil servant, quit last month and vowed to sue the Government for constructive dismissal

It follows a recent survey of 875 Conservative Voice members, in which an overwhelming 96 per cent backed her.

It was a ringing endorsement, and some of the replies to the survey, which has been sent to Boris Johnson, don’t hold back.

One member wrote: ‘Priti Patel is the only Home Secretary in recent years who is in tune with what the people want. Because of this, she is being harassed by an out of control Civil Service.’

Another said: ‘Boris must support her. It would look incredibly weak to allow her to be bullied out of office.’

But my favourite has to be: ‘We didn’t leave the EU to be governed by our own unelected technocrats.

‘This is especially true in the Home Office which is not fit for purpose.’

Over to you, PM.

Theresa May revealed her favourite character: Elizabeth Bennet, heroine of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice

Did May’s Pride come before a fall?

At a literature festival in her Maidenhead constituency, Theresa May revealed her favourite character: Elizabeth Bennet, heroine of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice. 

Mrs May said: ‘Elizabeth is a feisty young woman able to match Mr Darcy linguistically and stand her own ground.’ 

If only Mrs May had followed suit and stood ‘her own ground’ when she was leading Brexit negotiations, she might still be Prime Minister…

Labour MP Charlotte Nichols recently received an unexpected missive in her Commons pigeon hole: a letter addressed to Cardinal Nichols at Westminster Cathedral. 

The Warrington North MP said: ‘While I’m very flattered this turned up in my post, I can confirm that I’m not Cardinal Nichols.’

With the mess Labour is in, the party could certainly use some divine intervention.

Labour MP Charlotte Nichols recently received an unexpected missive in her Commons pigeon hole: a letter addressed to Cardinal Nichols at Westminster Cathedral

Times are so tough in the Labour-controlled London borough of Brent that the council is dimming street lights at night to save money.

Still, things can’t be all that bad. After agreeing spending cuts of £7.4 million, councillors rewarded themselves with a two per cent rise in their allowances.

The Trades Union Congress has issued a four-point plan for coping with the coronavirus outbreak, one of which states: ‘Join your union so you and your workmates can collectively bargain for full sick pay.’ 

Talk about cashing in . . .

It seems Sir Keir Starmer has a new ally in his camp to win over voters in the Labour leadership election next month.

He has just won the backing of Vicar of Dibley star, comedian Dawn French — but not because of his policies.

‘This is the chap for me,’ she tweets. 

‘Dignified and experienced. Heart in right place. Capable. Good hair.’

Quote of the week

Tory Ben Houchen, whose election as the Tees Valley mayor in 2017 was a precursor to the crumbling of the Red Wall in the North at the recent election, tells The Spectator: ‘I’ve told Boris and No 10 there is nowhere left to hide. It’s a strong Tory government, loads of Tory MPs in the region, so there’s no one left to blame. We either deliver something different in the next four years or people will go back to voting for other parties.’ 

Boris would do well to take note. 

Tory Ben Houchen, whose election as the Tees Valley mayor in 2017 was a precursor to the crumbling of the Red Wall in the North at the recent election, tells The Spectator: ‘I’ve told Boris and No 10 there is nowhere left to hide’

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World News

As NYC dithers over BQE fix, the highway is getting closer to falling down

What will happen to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway?

The city has ambitious plans to fix the falling-down roadway — so many plans that the BQE may collapse as everyone figures out what to do.

The BQE is a Robert Moses-era creation, and it is a success and a disaster, depending on how you look at it. The “success” is that it’s a link for 15,000 trucks a day, supporting industry in Brooklyn and Queens. New York has 70,000 factory jobs, and they can’t move goods on trains. The bridge also carries 135,000 cars each day, including those carrying Staten Islanders who have no good way to get to around on public transportation.

The “disaster” part is that it’s a nuisance for the people who live and work around it, even with the Brooklyn Promenade on top of its two levels as it nears Brooklyn Heights. And the drivers who ­depend on it hardly enjoy the ­experience. Designed before the feds mandated standards for highways, it has six narrow lanes (split on two levels) and no shoulders. In January, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo rescued a truck driver from a crash, it was on the BQE.

For whatever reason you hate the BQE, it could soon be a moot point, as the thing is falling apart. It will be “unsafe … within five years,” a city panel of experts warns. The BQE is a series of 1950s bridges, ­underpinned by aging steel buried within. It “lacks redundancy in its supporting structure.”

But the city — and the state, before Cuomo decided to make it the city’s problem in 2011 — has been trying to fix it for 14 years.

Any fix will annoy people, cost a lot of money, take a lot of time, not work as a permanent ­solution — or all four.

Consider what the de Blasio administration proposed two years ago: $3.6 billion to build a temporary six-lane highway to close down the BQE, take it apart and put it back together. Or, $4 billion to ­rebuild lane-by-lane, meaning chronic disruptions for years. The people who live around Brooklyn Heights didn’t like these ideas.

Because Brooklyn Heights has voting power in a close Democratic primary, what to build, or not, is an issue in the mayoral race.

A year ago, Comptroller Scott Stringer, a likely contender, proposed his plan: shrink the BQE’s triple deck into a two-lane, one-level highway for trucks and buses only, and cap it with a “linear park” deep into Brooklyn. This would preserve New York’s industry, but on a constrained roadway; a truck crash would create back-ups. And it would create a problem for cars — one Stringer says he would solve with better buses.

Now, Council Speaker Corey Johnson has invited consultants to present more choices: a two-level “bypass tunnel,” at a cost of $11 billion, with a small surface road to replace the BQE through Brooklyn Heights. Or, a four-lane “capped highway,” with a park on top, for about $3.2 billion.

Between the extremes of a massively expensive “Big Dig” car tunnel or no cars at all, there is a core of reasonability in the middle. New York is highly unlikely to build a vehicle tunnel through Brooklyn, whose cost, in the real world, would likely be closer to $20 billion than $11 billion, sucking up money from things like better bus service. Nor is it likely to force all cars off.

What it should do is split the difference: a four-lane highway mostly for trucks and more room for green space. The city could then divert much of the car traffic on cheaper express buses from Staten Island, as well as better bus service — and maybe, someday, rail service, and even freight rail — within Queens and Brooklyn. Congestion pricing, too, will discourage drivers from using the BQE to get to a “free” bridge rather than using the tolled Brooklyn-Battery tunnel.

Building anything will be hard; think of all the subway lines, sewers and electrical infrastructure that surround the existing BQE.

But first, we have to get through a mayoral election, and then, find the money. There is a chance the governor may want to get re-involved. Plus, eventual federal approval.

Meanwhile, hidden steel deteriorates. Back in 1973, absent a clear decision, a portion of the elevated highway on Manhattan’s West Side fell down, and the current West Side Highway, a boulevard with a park, was born. Doing nothing, too, is an option.

Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor of City Journal. Twitter: @NicoleGelinas

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Lifestyle

Arsenal in talks over £23m transfer switch for Orkun Kokcu as Arteta fights for Feyenoord midfielder – The Sun

ARSENAL are reportedly in talks over a summer move for highly-rated Feyenoord midfielder Orkun Kokcu.

With many tipping the 19-year-old as a breakout star during Turkey's upcoming Euro 2020 campaign, the Gunners are looking to jump in before a bidding war can escalate.

According to Daily Mail, initial enquiries have been made by Arsenal with the player rated at £23million.

A serious bid would reportedly entice Feyenoord to consider a sale, with the Dutch club lacking the financial clout to hold off a top continental rival.

Arsenal have long been linked with the Dutch-born teenager and are thought to have been scouting Kokcu for well over a year.

In that time, the midfielder has broken into Feyenoord's Eredivisie squad and has made 33 appearances this season, scoring three and assisting six goals.

Last April, the Rotterdam club tied him down to a new contract that expires in 2023 and they are reportedly keen to seal another renewal.

Kokcu has featured in central areas in both a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 setup this season, pushing into an advanced position in the latter formation.

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