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Peter Andre wanted to stop kids from going back to school after clash with Emily but daughter was ‘desperate’ to return – The Sun

PETER Andre has admitted that he wanted to stop his children from returning to school yesterday, but daughter Amelia was "desperate" to return.

In Sunday's episode of The Sun's Life With The Andres, the 47-year-old star revealed that he had clashed with wife Emily about letting the kids go back.

And he has now opened up some more about their final decision to let six-year-old Millie go back.

The father-of-four explained: "Emily and I had different views on whether Millie should go back, but Emily's a doctor and if she thinks it's okay then I am going with that.

"If it was down to me I'd have them at home for a bit longer, but Mills is desperate to go back!"

Peter went on to explain in his new! magazine column: "The worry is that kids don't understand social distancing.

"We're the kind of parents who say to them: 'When you see people, give them a hug', now all of a sudden it's like: 'You can't'.

"So I understand why some parents will have chosen not to send their kids back to school yet."

Peter and Emily are also mum and dad to three-year-old Theo, and at the weekend they debated the government's controversial decision to reopen schools for some age groups this week.

In the latest episode of the family's reality series, exclusive to The Sun's YouTube channel, the couple disagreed over the choice.

Peter told viewers: "We very rarely have opposite views – but I don’t think they should go back tomorrow and Emily thinks they should.

"The only reason I’m going with what Emily says is because she’s a doctor.

"If it was up to me I’d say no."

Later, he said to his wife in their garden: "Me and you have different views on this… Even if there's one tiny bit of risk, why would I wanna put my kids in that position?

"I feel like we're putting them in a situation where they are the guinea pigs."

"I have got this fear of the unknown, and just think they've all been happy here, safe here."

Peter has been taking care of the kids while Emily goes to work on the NHS frontline.

He added: "The only reason I would do that is because you are a doctor and if you think it is safe then I believe you."

Emily, 30, reasoned: "There's a risk when you step outside your front door of anything…

"I understand for you it feels like this big fear that is outside of our control. The point is there is no right or wrong answer, it's on balance what you think is the right thing to do."

Viewers were also left divided and thanked the parents for being honest about their differing opinions.

  • Life With The Andres is on Wednesdays and Sundays from 7.30pm exclusively at youtube.com/thesun

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There's NOTHING to stop people lying to NHS coronavirus tracking app

‘Trolls could sow chaos’ with NHS coronavirus tracking app: Experts warn there’s NOTHING to stop people lying to program and say foreign spies could shut down entire cities with false reports

  • The NHSX contact-tracing app will first be given to NHS staff on Isle of Wight, then to the public on the island
  • If it works as an alert system for COVID-19 it will be used nationally in the UK as part of ‘test, track and trace’
  • NHS insists the app won’t collect personal identifying information but merely a log of Bluetooth connections
  • It asks users for the first half of their postcode and whether they have symptoms, but no name or address
  • Have you been given access to the new app? Email [email protected] or [email protected] 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The NHS’s new coronavirus track-and-trace app could be hijacked by trolls bent on ‘sowing chaos for malicious pleasure’ with people more likely to ignore warnings about self-isolating if ‘false alerts’ become widespread, experts warned today.

The UK app is currently the only one in the world that will allow an element of self reporting – letting users trigger alerts to other people by reporting they have symptoms.

In the early version of the app, if a member of the public becomes unwell with symptoms of Covid-19 they use the app to inform the NHS – and will trigger an anonymous ‘yellow’ alert to those other users with whom they came into significant contact over the previous few days. 

A so-called red alert will follow up to a week later if a medical test confirms that the original user is infected and telling them they should self-isolate. The original user will have to enter a PIN provided by the NHS to trigger the red alert.

Several experts have warned that the user-triggered yellow alerts could lead to a collapse in the public’s trust in the app if there is an outbreak of ‘crying wolf’.

Because the app does not identify users, there will be no way to punish people who trigger false alerts.  

Professor Michael Veale, a lecturer in Digital Rights and Regulation at UCL in London told MailOnline: ‘The UK is the only country I am aware of which is even considering allowing self-reporting in the app due to the risk of abuse. Small and medium-scale targeted attacks, say on your employer (to get the day off work), your parents (to get the day off school), a famous person or the like, are effectively impossible to stop through any method if you allow self-reporting.

‘You can’t distinguish them from a real risk, and of course, you can’t be too heavy-handed with your spam filter, else you’ll miss real infection chains. The worry I have is that self-reporting will create a lot of Boy Who Cried Wolf abuse’.

The NHS is rolling out its new coronavirus track-and-trace app today for testing across the Isle of Wight. This is how it will work

STEP ONE: DOWNLOAD THE APP

Britons will be able to download the app for free from the Department of Health website.

It is also available vi the Apple and Android app stores or via a link sent by email to NHS and public sector workers. 

It is being tested on the Isle of Wight before a potential roll-out across the country, probably one region at a time.

STEP TWO:  PROVIDE A PARTIAL POSTCODE

To register the person will be asked to provide the first half of their postcode, which shows the NHS the town or borough they live in – but not their name or their exact home address.

The user will be asked to allow the app to use the phone’s bluetooth to keep track of other phones it comes in to close to and for how long for. 

The NHS insists it will not be tracking location data – only phones

But while the Government has said ‘your postcode will not be used to track your location’ – it is less clear if they also mean your location will not be tracked at all.

STEP THREE: KEEP YOUR PHONE ON

The user will be told to keep their phone and Bluetooth switched on at all times and the app will run in the background without them doing anything.

The user will also be asked to allow ‘push notifications’ – which allows the NHS to send a person messages directly to their phones. 

When an individual goes out, the app will keep a log of every time it comes within Bluetooth range of another phone – but that person must also have the app. 

All IDs will be anonymous, with each app registered to a code rather than a person or address.

STEP FOUR: REPORT YOUR SYMPTOMS IF YOU BECOME ILL

If someone becomes ill they will be asked to log on to the app and input it. They will be asked if they have the common symptoms of coronavirus such as a high temperature and a continuous cough.

If no, nothing will happen. If yes, they will be told to order a coronavirus test.

STEP FIVE: APP SENDS YOUR DATA TO THE NHS SERVER FOR ANALYSIS BY EXPERTS

If it is a suspected coronavirus case these symptoms and the anonymous IDs of all the phones the user has come into contact with are automatically sent to an NHS server.

The NHS will analyse the data sent by the original sufferer using what it calls a ‘complex algorithm’. Although it is believed to be largely based on distance of between one and two metres, and the amount of time, probably around ten to 15 minutes.

STEP SIX: NHS SENDS A TAILORED YELLOW AND RED ALERTS TO CONTACTS 

It will then alert app users who have been in ‘significant contact’ with the original person with symptoms. For those who have been in contact with someone who has self reported symptoms, the app will send a yellow alert.

In early versions of the app, this warns the user that they have been in contact with someone who has reported symptoms.

If the original sufferer tests positive, everyone they have been in contact with will receive a stronger ‘red’ alert telling them to go into quarantine. The origInal sufferer triggers the red alert by entering a PIN issued by the NHS after they test positive. 

The Department of Health has not revealed exactly what the alerts will say. The Department of Health says: ‘The app will advise the public what action to take if a user has been close to someone who has become symptomatic. The advice on what people should do can be adapted as the context and approach evolves.’

The app will calculate how at risk a contact is by measuring their exposure to the person with symptoms. It will measure exposure by time and proximity. The NHS analysts will set the risk parameters that trigger alerts.

STEP SEVEN: ORIGINAL SUFFERER CONTACTED BY HUMAN NHS CONTACT TRACERS

The app will issue the original person with symptoms instructions on how to get a test using the software. 

One of around 10,000 UK human contact tracers may also get in contact on the phone and ask the app user how many people are in their household, where they have been and who they have been close to, that they know of, to find people who may not have been picked up by the bluetooth.

They will also try to contact these new contacts if required. 

STEP EIGHT: SUFFERER IS TESTED

Once the Covid-19 test arrives at the person’s home they will be expected to swab and then put it back in the post to an NHS testing centre. They may also be eligible for a home test by a health worker or visit one of the country’s test centres. The result should be available within 48 hours.

There are then two possible outcomes:

•  The person tests negative. In this case, your contacts are told via a message that it was a false notification.

• The person tests positive. In this case, your contacts are asked to isolate for 14 days, and get them into the clinical testing path. 

STEP NINE: HUMAN CONTACT TRACERS CONTACT AT-RISK CONTACTS OF ORIGINAL SUFFERER AND PLOT HOTSPOTS

The NHS’ army of human contact tracers will contact app users who have been in ‘significant contact’ with the original person with symptoms will be alerted through the app. They will provided with ‘health advice’ – which may include self isolation – based on the NHS’ assessment of their level of risk. Not everyone who has been in contact will be alerted based on the NHS algorithm. This advice will be constantly modified by doctors based on the current sutuation.

If a hotspot of new cases emerges, the users will be advised to take more urgent action, such as staying at home or even seeking medical attention. The NHS team of contact tracers will then individually contact everyone who has been in contact with the sufferer, either through the app or by other means.  

 

Countries who have adopted the Apple-Google Covid-19 tracing app ‘not compatible’ with the NHS’ own software

Germany

Italy 

Switzerland

Austria

Estonia

Ireland 

– The United States of America is expected to use it – but no final decision has been made yet 

The Government claims it could easily spot ‘anomalous patterns of activity’ in the software being tested on the Isle of Wight today and says it will use ‘sophisticated risk analysis’ to halt false alerts.

But in France ministers have just rejected this idea, deciding instead to send a single alert via their app only when a test result confirms the app user is ill with coronavirus.

Professor Veale said: ‘Epidemiologists in the countries we work with ruled out self-reporting immediately, both because of the data quality in this asymptomatic disease, and the lack of trust in the instructions the false alerts would cause. The only way to make sure that people can be held to account for submitting false reports is to identify them, which takes you down a slippery slope.’

Health apps expert Dr Dimitra Petrakaki, from the University of Sussex Business School warned: Contact tracing apps rely on individual self-reporting. This means that there is no guarantee either that all individuals will systematically self-report or that the data reported will be true.

Experts have said that nations rolling out apps must weed out hoaxers or the system could be abused by the public, businesses, protest groups or even rogue states.

A paper published last month by the Brookings Institution in Washington written by three leading US academics in the fields of science, tech and law warned: ‘The issue of malicious use is paramount. Trolls could sow chaos for the malicious pleasure of it. Protesters could trigger panic as a form of civil disobedience. A foreign intelligence operation could shut down an entire city by falsely reporting COVID-19 infections in every neighborhood. There are a great many vulnerabilities underlying this platform that have still yet to be explored’.

The British app has been developed by NHSX, whose boss Martin Gould has said that self-reporting is one of its greatest strengths, meaning people will be warned earlier that they could have been exposed to coronavirus. He said that this is possible in the UK because NHSX can spot ‘anomalous patterns of activity’ including hacking attempts and if people were making malicious reports. 

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, part of the UK’s eavesdropping intelligence service GCHQ, admits that these apps can bring problems but said it would only work properly using self-reporting.

In a lengthy blog post yesterday, one of Britain’s most senior spies, Dr Ian Levy, said the app would bring ‘interesting security challenges’, adding: ‘One of the obvious ones is that an attacker can (for example) sit outside a hospital with some custom kit, and create fake but realistic looking proximity events for everyone in the hospital and then report myself as sick. Without some smarts, everyone would be told to self isolate. In our model, the risk modelling can catch this sort of attack and mitigate it. We can’t see how a similar mitigation can be done in some of the other decentralised models without removing self diagnosis’.

Australia’s COVIDSafe app users have been warned to ignore a new email scam that demands users pay a fine for leaving their home. The bogus email has been circulating under the guise of a My Gov account and demands reparation from users for unnecessarily breaching the COVID-19 restriction.  

Britain’s new app will be tested on the Isle of Wight from today onwards – but there are growing concerns about its privacy settings and why the Government shunned a Google-Apple alternative adopted by other countries.   

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has decided the first public tests on their contact tracing software would begin on the self-contained island of 140,000 people, with NHS and council staff the first to be given access –  and has insisted they would enjoy ‘high privacy’. 

But question marks have been raised after other nations, such as Germany, the Republic of Ireland and Switzerland have chosen to implement a decentralised system – where the data always remains on a person’s phone.

Their model, seen as more secure and immune from hacking by some experts due to spreading the collected information, is also backed by tech giants Apple and Google.

The UK has instead developed its own centralised app with data sent to the Government’s servers when someone registers coronavirus symptoms, allowing the NHS to send them a test in the post.  

Critics have argued that by not using the same app or framework as the Europeans the two systems are not compatible, meaning Brits travelling to those countries could be unnecessarily placed in quarantine for 14 days upon arrival once the lockdown is eased. The US is also expected to plump for the Apple – Google model.

Lawyers have also suggested that it may also breach human rights and data protection laws – and the NHS is now facing questions about the decision to develop an app when other countries are plumping for the more privacy-centric approach.      

Matthew Ryder, a QC at Matrix Chambers in London – who sits on the Guardian’s Scott Trust – has warned the app could be illegal and suggested it is ‘inevitable’ the nationwide rollout of the app could be challenged in the High Court.

Tory MP Damian Collins has also published ten questions about how the government will protects app users’ data.  

He told the BBC: ‘The government needs to justify why they are going for the system that has a greater interference than the one that should do the job with less interference.

‘If Germany, the US and Italy can all do the job that we want to do with a decentralised system that Apple and Google have facilitated, which is the least interference of privacy, we need to understand why the UK thinks it can’t do the job and needs a different system. 

‘What the Information Commissioner said that we agree with is that there needs to be a data impact assessment. So that the information commissioner and everyone else can understand what the data impact assessment is and why the NHS thinks they need these extra interferences with our privacy in order to be able to do the job. This is a really important thing and we need to protect rights’.

He added: ‘It’s almost inevitable that if the Government doesn’t take the approach that the information commissioner and others are suggesting, hopefully they will, then are going to be legal implications including the possibility of a legal challenge. ‘ 

After today’s tests all Isle of Wight residents will be able to download the software on to their smartphones from Thursday. 

If the tests are successful it could be rolled out across the country within weeks as ministers seek to shape a strategy to allow some economic activity to resume, with the long-awaited ‘roadmap’ for easing lockdown being published on Sunday. 

Users will input into the app when they have symptoms linked to Covid-19. Developed by NHSX, the health service’s tech innovation arm, the software will then use Bluetooth to anonymously monitor and log when app users come into contact with each other.

The software will alert people if they have been in close contact with someone who later fell ill with coronavirus, which has killed 28,734 in the UK so far, so they can self-isolate and be tested if necessary.  

Some MPs have raised concerns about privacy and the amount of data it will gather – but the NHS insists it is vital to stop further outbreaks of the virus and to prevent people from spreading the virus without realising they have it, as well as alerting authorities to local clusters of cases. 

Google and Apple have managed to develop software which serves the same function but in a way that contains all the necessary data inside someone’s phone and doesn’t need a server. Other countries including Germany and Switzerland are using this approach. 

Because no movement or tracking information is stored on a central server, it would be invisible to Google, Apple and the NHS and there would be nothing to hack.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a user’s phone will store anonymously the information about all the phones it has been within two metres of for more than 15 minutes in the previous few days.

He said one of the aspects being tested in the trial on the Isle of Wight is whether the best thing is for someone who gets a message saying they have been in contact with someone with symptoms should self-isolate ‘in case you develop the symptoms’.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘This is one of the reasons that we want to test it to ensure that we get the rules right around what we advise people to do as soon as the contact tracing pings you.’

Mr Hancock said the app would allow the Government to have a picture of where there might be virus hotspots.

He said: ‘The more people who have the app the better.’

He said human contact tracing is important alongside technology.

He said: ‘Of course we use the technology but we’re going to be using people too in this test, track and trace system.’  

Mr Hancock said it was being used on the Isle of Wight because the fact that the population is small and cut off from the mainland meant the experiment could be carried out in ‘proper scientifically-controlled conditions’.

Pressed on privacy and the use of data, Mr Hancock reiterated that information will be stored on a person’s phone until the point they need to get in contact with the NHS to get a test.

He said: ‘I think we can give very significant reassurances on the privacy aspect but what I can tell you is that if you download the app then you are doing your duty and you are helping to save lives, and you’re helping to control the spread of the virus, and that’s true as of this morning on the Isle of Wight amongst NHS staff, but it’ll be true increasingly across the country as we roll it out.’

Mr Hancock said the app is ‘a very, very positive step in terms of us all being able to get some of our liberty back’. 

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen has said the Government should look at decentralised app models – where contact-tracing data stays on a user’s device.

The organisation’s concerns that ‘the Government may be planning to route private data through a central database, opening the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement, with potentially discriminatory effects’ was put to the Health Secretary.

Mr Hancock responded: ‘That’s completely wrong.’

Asked why, he said: ‘Firstly because the data is stored on your phone until you need to get in contact with the NHS in order to get a test and secondly because the purposes of this are purely and simply to control the spread of the virus, which is really important.

‘Thirdly because we’ve all had to give up significant infringements on our liberty, for instance with the social distancing measures and the lockdown, and we want to release those, and this approach will help us to release them … I can reassure you that it’s completely untrue.’

If the island trial is successful the Government plans to roll out the app to everyone across the UK as a crucial element of its ‘test, track and trace’ plan for keeping the country out of lockdown in future as it adapts to life with the virus.

Deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said today: ‘It’s highly unlikely that the COVID-19 virus is going to go away… therefore, testing and contact tracing is going to have to become part of our daily lives for the future’. 



People will be asked to give the first half of their postcode so the NHS can collect vague, anonymised data – at town or village level – about where outbreaks of the coronavirus are appearing (pictured left). If someone has been close to a person who is later believed to be ill with COVID-19 they will receive an anonymous yellow alert that they are at risk (right). If the original sufferer tests positive for coronavirus, they will receive a red alert. 


People eligible for the app will be sent a download link when it is available for them to start using. It will rely on people accurately reporting whether they are ill or not, or have tested positive. Contacts will be advised to self-isolate while someone is tested

Experts say 60 per cent of the population or more will need to download the app for it to work well. Government figures have not put a target on uptake but will urge everybody who can to download the app when it becomes available, adopting the mantra ‘download the app, protect the NHS, save lives’.

The app will rely on people being honest about when they feel ill – data must be put into the app by the user. It is not clear what will constitute close enough contact for someone to be alerted that they are at risk. The World Health Organization’s rule is 15 minutes within six-and-a-half feet (2m), but the Department of Health said a ‘complex risk algorithm’ would dictate who would be warned. 

The programme on the Isle of Wight will carry on for around two weeks to check whether the system works and whether people actually download and use it properly. If successful, the app will start to be used on mainland Britain from mid-May, the Department of Health said, while continuing on the Isle of Wight. 

But there are concerns that the data the NHS app collects might be vulnerable because officials have elected to store it on a central database on NHS servers.

Some other countries including Switzerland and Germany are using technology which stores all data on someone’s own phone and never submits it to authorities. 

The CEO of NHSX, the digital arm of the health service, today said he could not confirm exactly who would have access to data collected by the NHS app, saying only that an organisation must have a valid public health reason to access it. He insisted that the app will never upload private, identifying information such as someone’s name or address.

The app has also failed the tests it must pass to be officially listed on the NHS app store, including cyber-security measures, according to claims made by an NHS official in the Health Service Journal.     

It is reported to be below the normal standards the NHS requires to officially publish an app for mobile users, and has not lived up to expectations set on cyber-security, performance and its ‘clinical safety’. Exactly how it failed those measures is unclear.

The Department of Health disputed the reports and called them ‘factually untrue’, insisting the app is being fast-tracked, has not failed any tests and will go through normal approval channels after it is rolled out on the Isle of Wight.

Downloading and using the app will be voluntary but officials hope huge numbers of people will be persuaded to take part in the hope of lifting movement restrictions.

HOW IS THE NHS TRACING APP DIFFERENT TO ONE MADE BY APPLE AND GOOGLE? 

The app technologies developed by Google/Apple and the NHS are based on the same principle – they keep a log of who someone has come into close contact with – but the way they store data is the main difference. The NHS’s keeps information in a centralised database, while the Google/Apple app is de-centralised.

NHS app: Lists on NHS servers 

The NHSX app will create an alert every time two app users come within Bluetooth range of one another and log this in the user’s phone.

Each person will essentially build up a list of everyone they have been in ‘contact’ with. This will be anonymised so the lists will actually just be numbers or codes, not lists of names or addresses. 

If someone is diagnosed with the coronavirus or reports that they have symptoms, all the app users they got close to during the time that they were considered infectious – this will vary from person to person – will receive an alert telling them they have been put at risk of COVID-19 – but it won’t name the person who was diagnosed. 

NHSX insists it will delete people’s data when they get rid of the app. 

Apple/Google: Contained on phones

In Apple and Google’s de-centralised approach, meanwhile, the server and list element of this process is removed and the entire log is contained in someone’s phone.

That app works by exchanging a digital ‘token’ with every phone someone comes within Bluetooth range of over a fixed period.

If one person develops symptoms of the coronavirus or tests positive, they will be able to enter this information into the app.

The phone will then send out a notification to all the devices they have exchanged tokens with during the infection window, to make people aware they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The server database will not be necessary because each phone will keep an individual log of the bluetooth profiles someone has come close to. These will then be linked anonymously to people’s NHS apps and alerts can be pushed through that even after the person is out of bluetooth range.

It is understood that if someone later deletes the Google/Apple app and closes their account their data would be erased. 

Will NHS benefit from central data?

If the NHS collects the data it may be able to use it as part of wider contact tracing efforts as well as being able to detect local outbreaks using location data.

In future, if someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, members of an army of 18,000 ‘contact tracers’ will be tasked with working out who else that patient has come into contact with and put at risk.

It is not clear how much access the human contact tracers will have to data collected through the app. 

NHS and council staff on the Isle of Wight will be sent a download link by email today, and residents on the island will receive letters in the post with instructions on how to get the app on Thursday. 

It is being trialled on the Isle of Wight because it is a small, self-contained community which is easier to control, Mr Hancock said. Initial testing was carried out on an even smaller self-contained community at RAF Leeming, an air base in North Yorkshire, and it is now being scaled up.

Mr Hancock  claimed that on the Isle of Wight it could be tested in ‘scientific’ conditions because people cannot come and go freely – there is no bridge or tunnel between the Isle and mainland Britain.

It will be easier for officials to get a clear idea of what proportion of the population has downloaded the app, and to get tests for large parts of communities quickly. 

But privacy concerns have been raised about the way the app works. 

Dr Michael Veale, a lecturer in digital rights at University College London, said on BBC Radio 4 this morning: ‘One thing people need to do is have deep trust that this data will not be misused or that the system will not turn slowly into something that starts to identify people more individually.’

The NHSX app focuses on a centralised approach in which any interactions between people are recorded by the phone and then, if someone is flagged as a coronavirus patient, sent back to a server run by the NHS. 

NHSX is on an offensive to assuage people’s concerns about privacy and insists that no personal information will be collected. People will be identified by codes which are not linked to their name or address.

Instead, the app will keep a log of Bluetooth connections between codes and, when one of the codes is upgraded to signify that the patient attached to it has tested positive or become ill (this will be done by the user via the app), other codes which had been in contact with that one will be alerted anonymously. 

All the connections – which will look to the human eye like a series of pairs of numbers, with one number in common – will then be uploaded to a central NHS database and stored.

NHSX chief executive, Matthew Gould, confirmed the app will collect no specific personal data from users such as their name or address.

He said: ‘The app is designed so you don’t have to give it your personal details to use it – it does ask for the first half of your postcode but only that. 

‘You can use it without giving any other personal details at all – it doesn’t know who you are, it doesn’t know who you’ve been near, it doesn’t know where you’ve been.’ 

But experts say this level of data collection – tracking the movements of one unchanging number and linking it to others – is fraught with hazards.

It is possible that if the data was hacked, one of the codes – each person’s identifying code remains the same over time –  could be linked to a person if the hacker could pinpoint the code and person in the same place. This could then be used to track them repeatedly as their Bluetooth checked in at other places.

The NHS is now facing questions as to why it needs to develop the app in this manner when other countries are plumping for the more privacy-centric approach.

Google and Apple have managed to develop software which serves the same function but in a way that contains all the necessary data inside someone’s phone and doesn’t need a server. Other countries including Germany and Switzerland are using this approach. 

Because no movement or tracking information is stored on a central server, it would be invisible to Google, Apple and the NHS and there would be nothing to hack.

That technology works by exchanging a digital ‘token’ with every phone someone comes within Bluetooth range of over a fixed period.

If one person develops symptoms of the coronavirus or tests positive, they will be able to enter this information into the app.

The phone will then send out a notification to all the devices they have exchanged tokens with during the infection window, to make people aware they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The process is confined to the individual’s handset and the scope of the information sent to the NHS is strictly limited. 

The UK now has more confirmed COVID-19 deaths – according to backdated statistics from the Office for National Statistics, National Records Scotland, and Northern Ireland’s NISRA – than any other country in Europe

Experts fear that the system could be used to label people as infected or at-risk in a way that other people would be able to see, meaning they could face discrimination.

Dr Veale said: ‘We’ve seen in China the traffic light system of red, yellow, green – ‘are you suitable to come into this building or come into work’ – and a centralised system is really just a few steps away from creating those kind of persistent identifiers that allow you to make that kind of approach.

‘Whereas a decentralised system really does proximity tracing and does not do more than that. People can trust that technically.’  

With the NHS’s approach, people will have to trust the health service and therefore the Government with their personal information.

Human rights group Amnesty International raised alarm about the prospect.

Scientists have said they are worried about ‘mission creep’ in which people are told the data will be used for one thing but then the people controlling the data decide to use it for something else.

Amnesty International UK director, Kate Allen, said the Government should be looking at decentralised app models where contact-tracing data stays on a user’s device. 

ISLE OF WIGHT FACTFILE

The Isle of Wight is an island off the south coast of England, linked by ferry to Portsmouth and Southampton.

The island has a population of around 141,000 people.

More than a quarter of all its residents (27.3 per cent) are older than 65, and the proportion is increasing. It is one of the most elderly communities in England & Wales. 

Its biggest town is Newport and has a population of just 18,700 people. Only three towns on the island have more than 10,000 residents.

One in six houses are occupied by someone older than 65 living on their own.

The Isle of Wight is off the coast of Portsmouth and Southampton

The vast majority of people on the island are white and British – 94.8 per cent, compared to 85.9 per cent in England. Just under two per cent are ‘other white’, while just over one per cent are Asian.

Bob Seely MBE is the MP for the island. He is a member of the Conservative Party and has held office since 2017. The Conservatives also hold a majority on the borough council.

However, officials says they are maintaining strict privacy rules while also gathering anonymous data about the numbers of coronavirus cases in certain areas, which could help hospitals to plan for outbreaks, for example.

Ms Allen said: ‘We’re extremely concerned that the Government may be planning to route private data through a central database, opening the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement, with potentially discriminatory effects. 

‘Ministers should instead be examining decentralised, privacy-preserving models such as those many European governments are pursuing. 

‘In these extraordinary times, contact-tracing apps and other technology could potentially be useful tools in responding to COVID-19, but our privacy and rights must not become another casualty of the virus.’

Dr Veale also promoted the benefits of the de-centralised model, adding: ‘In the Apple and Google approach… you don’t need to trust Apple and Google with your data because it never leaves your device.

‘It removes the need to have an identifiable central database of any sort whatsoever. This is being used in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Estonia and also in Ireland.’ 

The app will form a crucial part of the Government’s three-point ‘test, track and trace’ plan for helping the country to recover from its current crisis.

This will work by officials closely watching where and when new cases and outbreaks of the virus appear and isolating people to stamp them out.

First, anyone who is suspected of having the virus will be tested – there are still currently limits on who can get a test, but these are expected to be lifted by the time the country moves out of lockdown.

If someone tests positive, they will be told to self-isolate as long as they are otherwise healthy and don’t need hospital treatment.

Their households will have to isolate with them and then Government ‘contact tracers’ will work to establish a social network around the patient.

This will involve working out everyone who has come into close enough contact with the patient that they are at risk of having been infected with COVID-19.

All the people in that social network will then also be told to self-isolate until they can be sure they’re virus free, or until they are diagnosed with a test. If they test positive, the same contact tracing procedure will begin for them.

The app will be a vital part of this contact tracing effort, because it will be able to alert people who the patient may have put at risk without them knowing – at a shop or doctor’s surgery, for example. 

Cybersecurity experts and human rights experts are also concerned about ‘mission creep’ in which the app starts off with one purpose but then officials decide to use its data for something else.  

Professor Mark Ryan, a computer security lecturer at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘Everyone agrees that proximity tracing is a vital part of combating COVID and ending the lockdown. 

‘However, we have to be sure that proximity tracing technology does not lead to unfettered surveillance of people’s movements and activities. 

‘To this end, we call upon the government to publish open source code of the apps and server processes that will be used. 

‘Remember that, unlike the cases of surveillance to combat terrorism or other crime, there is no requirement of secrecy in what strategies and technologies are being used against COVID.’

Information collected by the app will also give the Government insight into where the virus is spreading.

As officials continue to track the virus in future, they will have to try to work out how many people who have had COVID-19 in the past and recovered.  

The roll-out of ‘immunity passports’ is being considered by ministers as part of the government’s attempts to get Britain back to work after the coronavirus lockdown is eased.

Ministers are believed to be in talks with tech firms about developing a form of digital identification which would verify who someone is and show whether they have been tested for the disease.

The passports could either be based on antigen testing which shows if someone currently has coronavirus or on antibody testing which shows if someone has had it.

The digital documents would show if someone has tested negative on an antigen test or if they have shown to have some resistance to coronavirus after an antibody test, demonstrating to an employer they are safe to re-enter the workplace.

Such a scheme could be a game-changer for ministers as they try to figure out how to kickstart the UK economy.

But the World Health Organization has warned against these immunity passports because scientists are not sure whether people actually become immune after illness.

In a statement the WHO said: ‘There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.’ 

Boris Johnson is expected to unveil his lockdown exit strategy in an address to the nation on Sunday, having delayed the announcement from Thursday as frantic work continues in Whitehall.

Today it emerged that reduced hot-desking, the closure of office lifts and canteens, and putting tape on the floor to mark where people should stand are all likely to be proposed by the government under plans to restore office working. 

How does the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app work? Will it track my every move? Will it drain your battery? And why has the government shunned Apple and Google’s system?

The NHS is rolling out its new coronavirus track-and-trace app today for testing across the Isle of Wight.

Health and council workers will be asked to download the software on to smartphones to see if it works – and if phones can accurately trace personal contacts via bluetooth.

But critics have questioned why the Government has chosen to collect the data of millions of people in one central system, rather than spreading the risk using a decentralised model adopted in Germany, backed by tech giants Apple and Google. 

This is how the NHS app works – and the key differences between the UK’s software and the Google-Apple app.


1. DOWNLOAD THE APP

Britons will be able to download the app for free from the Department of Health website.

It is also available via the Apple and Android app stores or via a link sent by email to NHS and public sector workers. 

It is being tested on the Isle of Wight before a potential roll-out across the country, probably one region at a time.

2. PROVIDE A PARTIAL POSTCODE

To register the person will be asked to provide the first half of their postcode, which shows the NHS the town or borough they live in – but not their name or their exact home address.

The user will be asked to allow the app to use the phone’s bluetooth to keep track of other phones it comes close to and how long for. 

The NHS insists it will not be tracking location data – only phones.

But while the Government has said ‘your postcode will not be used to track your location’ – it is less clear if they also mean your location will not be tracked at all.

3. KEEP YOUR PHONE ON


The user will be told to keep their phone and Bluetooth switched on at all times and the app will run in the background without them doing anything.

The user will also be asked to allow ‘push notifications’ – which allows the NHS to send a person messages directly to their phones. 

When an individual goes out, the app will keep a log of every time it comes within Bluetooth range of another phone – but that person must also have the app. 

All IDs will be anonymous, with each app registered to a code rather than a person or address.

4. REPORT YOUR SYMPTOMS IF YOU BECOME ILL

If someone becomes ill they will be asked to log on to the app and input it. They will be asked if they have the common symptoms of coronavirus such as a high temperature and a continuous cough.

If no, nothing will happen. If yes, they will be told to order a coronavirus test.

5 APP SENDS YOUR DATA TO THE NHS SERVER FOR ANALYSIS BY EXPERTS

If it is a suspected coronavirus case these symptoms and the anonymous IDs of all the phones the user has come into contact with are automatically sent to an NHS server.

The NHS will analyse the data sent by the original sufferer using what it calls a ‘complex algorithm’. Although it is believed to be largely based on distance of between one and two metres, and the amount of time, probably around ten to 15 minutes.


6 NHS SENDS A TAILORED ALERT TO CONTACTS  

It will then alert app users who have been in ‘significant contact’ with the original person with symptoms. For those who have been in contact with someone who has self reported symptoms, the app will send a yellow alert.

In early versions of the app, This warns the user that they have been in contact with someone who has reported symptoms.

If the original sufferer tests positive, everyone they have been in contact with will receive a stronger ‘red’ alert telling them to go into quarantine.

The Department of Health has not revealed exactly what the alerts will say. The Department of Health says: ‘The app will advise the public what action to take if a user has been close to someone who has become symptomatic. The advice on what people should do can be adapted as the context and approach evolves.’

The app will calculate how at risk a contact is by measuring their exposure to the person with symptoms. It will measure exposure by time and proximity. The NHS analysts will set the risk parameters that trigger alerts.

7. ORIGINAL SUFFERER CONTACTED BY HUMAN NHS CONTACT TRACERS

The app will issue the original person with symptoms instructions on how to get a test using the software. 

One of around 10,000 UK human contact tracers may also get in contact on the phone and ask the app user how many people are in their household, where they have been and who they have been close to, that they know of, to find people who may not have been picked up by the bluetooth.

They will also try to contact these new contacts if required. 

SUFFERER IS TESTED

Once the Covid-19 test arrives at the person’s home they will be expected to swab and then put it back in the post to an NHS testing centre. They may also be eligible for a home test by a health worker or visit one of the country’s test centres. The result should be available within 48 hours.

There are then two possible outcomes:

•  The person tests negative. In this case, your contacts are told via a message that it was a false notification.

• The person tests positive. In this case, your contacts are asked to isolate for 14 days, and get them into the clinical testing path. 

HUMAN CONTACT TRACERS CONTACT AT-RISK CONTACTS OF ORIGINAL SUFFERER AND PLOT HOTSPOTS

The NHS’ army of human contact tracers will contact app users who have been in ‘significant contact’ with the original person with symptoms will be alerted through the app. They will provided with ‘health advice’ – which may include self isolation – based on the NHS’ assessment of their level of risk. Not everyone who has been in contact will be alerted based on the NHS algorithm. This advice will be constantly modified by doctors based on the current sutuation.

If a hotspot of new cases emerges, the users will be advised to take more urgent action, such as staying at home or even seeking medical attention. The NHS team of contact tracers will then individually contact everyone who has been in contact with the sufferer, either through the app or by other means.  

What are the differences between the NHS’ ‘centralised’ app and the Apple-Google ‘decentralised app’?   

The app technologies developed by Google/Apple and the NHS are based on the same principle – they keep a log of who someone has come into close contact with.

But the way they store data is the main difference. 

Britain has decided to develop an app with a ‘centralised’ system where smartphone data is sent to them – in Europe countries have gone for a less complex ‘decentralised’ system where the data is largely kept on their phones

THE NHS APP IS CENTRALISED

It keeps information of users who report symptoms and who they have been in contact with on centralised database on government servers. This lets NHS analysts access the data, analyse trends and contact people who are at risk. The data does not identify users, however privacy experts fear they could be unmasked by hackers.

THE GOOGLE/APPLE APP IS DE-CENTRALISED

It also keeps a log of the users contacts, but this information is always held within the app and is not uploaded to a government server. If a user reports symptoms, they report it to the app database. Other phones search the app database for users who have symptoms and they have been in contact with. The app alerts the government when users report symptoms but not who they have been in contact with. The alerts issued by the app or generic to all users and have no input from health officials.

What are the differences in the way each app handles data?

NHS app: Patient data and ‘contacts’ are sent to the Government’s servers

The NHSX app will create an alert every time two app users come within Bluetooth range of one another and log this in the user’s phone.

Each person will essentially build up a list of everyone they have been in ‘contact’ with. This will be anonymised so the lists will actually just be numbers or codes, not lists of names or addresses.

If someone is diagnosed with the coronavirus or reports that they have symptoms, all the app users they got close to during the time that they were considered infectious – this will vary from person to person – will receive an alert telling them they have been put at risk of COVID-19 – but it won’t name the person who was diagnosed.

NHSX insists it will delete people’s data when they get rid of the app and that data is deleted every 14 days.

If the NHS collects the data it may be able to use it as part of wider contact tracing efforts as well as being able to detect local outbreaks using location data, also also send out warnings to people in specific areas.

In future, if someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, members of an army of 18,000 ‘contact tracers’ will be tasked with working out who else that patient has come into contact with and put at risk.

It is not clear how much access the human contact tracers will have to data collected through the app.

Apple/Google app: Most patient data is contained on phones

In Apple and Google’s de-centralised approach, meanwhile, the server and list element of this process is removed and the entire log is contained in someone’s phone.

That app works by exchanging a digital ‘token’ with every phone someone comes within Bluetooth range of over a fixed period.

If one person develops symptoms of the coronavirus or tests positive, they will be able to enter this information into the app.

The phone will then send out a notification to all the devices they have exchanged tokens with during the infection window, to make people aware they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The server database will not be necessary because each phone will keep an individual log of the bluetooth profiles someone has come close to. These will then be linked anonymously to people’s NHS apps and alerts can be pushed through that even after the person is out of bluetooth range.

It is understood that if someone later deletes the Google/Apple app and closes their account their data would be erased.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each app?

Advantages of the NHS centralised app: 

  • An ill user reports gives all their anonymous contacts to the NHS 
  • The NHS can use risk modelling to decide which contacts are most at risk, and then notify them 
  • The health authority can issue individually tailored health advice to contacts based on the strength of the user’s contact with someone with symptoms 
  • The NHS has anonymous data to help it understand how coronavirus is spreading 

Disadvantages of the NHS centralised app: 

  • Privacy fears of the public will be greater than with decentralised system 
  • Legal hurdles to clear data protection laws 
  • NHS’ app will not tie up with other countries’ meaning travel for Britons could be hit and people forced to go into quarantine. 

Advantages of Apple/Google de-centralised apps: 

  •  Fewer privacy fears among the public
  • No risk of legal challenge using data protection laws 
  • Backing of tech giants makes international compatibility likely 
  • Potentially higher take-up rate and simpler to use; 

Disadvantages of Apple/Google decentralised apps: 

  • People who contact a carrier get only a general warning and are not put in touch with NHS 
  • The NHS would have no contact data to help them understand how the virus is spreading 
  • The NHS cannot issue tailored alerts to people who are more or less at risk 
  • The NHS cannot analyse the contact data to identify hotspots and trends 

Could the NHS app be illegal?

Lawyers have also suggested that the NHS’ new app may breach the The Human Rights Act 1998 and the Data Protection Act 2018 – therefore making it unlawful.

Leading barrister Matthew Ryder, a QC at Matrix Chambers in London, has warned it could be illegal and suggested it is ‘inevitable’ the nationwide rollout of the app could be challenged in the High Court. 

Mr Ryder says the app needs a full Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) – a process to help identify and minimise the data protection risks of a project. A DPIA is only required for a project likely to result in a high risk to individuals. These are overseen by Britain’s data watchdog – the Information Commissioner’s Office.

He told the BBC: ‘The government needs to justify why they are going for the system that has a greater interference than the one that should do the job with less interference.

‘If Germany, the US and Italy can all do the job that we want to do with a decentralised system that Apple and Google have facilitated, which is the least interference of privacy, we need to understand why the UK thinks it can’t do the job and needs a different system. 

‘What the Information Commissioner said that we agree with is that there needs to be a data impact assessment. So that the information commissioner and everyone else can understand what the data impact assessment is and why the NHS thinks they need these extra interferences with our privacy in order to be able to do the job. This is a really important thing and we need to protect rights’.

He added: ‘It’s almost inevitable that if the Government doesn’t take the approach that the information commissioner and others are suggesting, hopefully they will, then are going to be legal implications including the possibility of a legal challenge. ‘   

Will the app drain my battery? 

Developers insist that shouldn’t empty a phone’s battery – and should only have the same impact as an Apple watch, which should only take a matter of minutes off the average battery life each day.

The app automatically searches for nearby phones that are using the same app by using Bluetooth Low Energy. This will only send information at around 200 kilobits per second. 

Whereas normal bluetooth used around three megabits per second, more than ten times as much.

What happens if someone fakes coronavirus as a prank? 

The system relies on honesty – but the NHS believes any foul play can be rooted out and set right.

The Government will be using thousands of human tracers who will contact people after they use the app to declare Covid-19 symptoms. If they continue the charade they will be asked to take a test – which will either be ignored or come back negative.

Health workers will have the means to send messages to potential contacts telling them it is a false alarm.The ploy will, however, waste time and money for the NHS as they try to identify genuine cases. 

 

HOW WILL CONTACT TRACING WORK? 

Contact tracing is seen as one of several possible remedies to help the UK out of lockdown and an app trial is now ready to go. Here’s out it will work:

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is a way of tracking social networks around people so that when one of them gets diagnosed with COVID-19 the rest of them can be alerted that they might be at risk.

This is intended to stop people passing on the virus without realising they might be infectious.

The British Government is working on an army of 18,000 human contact tracers who will question COVID-19 patients, as well as the app which will log connections in the background.

Why is the trial being done on the Isle of Wight? 

The app is being trialled on the Isle of Wight because it is a small, self-contained community which is easier to control, Mr Hancock said. 

He claimed it could be tested in ‘proper scientifically-controlled conditions’ there because people cannot come and go freely – there is no bridge or tunnel between the Isle and mainland Britain.

It will be easier for officials to get a clear idea of what proportion of the population has downloaded the app, and to get tests for large parts of communities quickly.  

How will the app work?

Once installed and set up, the app will run in the background, keeping a log of everyone you pass.

Users will need to provide the first part of their postcode and give the app permission to use Bluetooth, as well as its ability to receive notifications.

Bluetooth will need to be kept on.

When a person is feeling unwell, they need to send a report, stating whether they are experiencing a high temperature and a continuous cough, and when these symptoms started. If it appears they might have the virus, the person will be told to book a test.

The information is then uploaded, along with the last 28 days of proximity events, and fed into a complex at-risk algorithm which crunches data such as distance, duration and symptoms.

It will only notify those deemed at risk to isolate for 14 days and ask them monitor their symptoms.

If the person’s results come back as negative, those who came into contact with them will be told they are able to come out of isolation.

But should the result be positive, the person will be told to self-isolate for seven days, while those who came into contact with them continue self-isolating and book a test of their own if they have slightest symptom. 

What will constitute close enough contact for someone to be warned?  

The Department of Health said a ‘complex risk algorithm’ will be used to dictate who has been in close enough contact for them to be warned. It is not clear how this is calculated.

The World Health Organization’s rule is someone is at risk if they have spent 15 minutes within six-and-a-half feet (2m), but the level of contact may change this. For example, physical contact is likely to require less exposure time than car-sharing to produce the same risk.

Will the contract tracing app be effective and when will the rest of the UK get it?

The app was first tested on staff at RAF Leeming, and air base in North Yorkshire, where trials ‘went well’. Contact tracing is really dependent on several crucial factors – though NHSX boss Matthew Gould has warned it will not be a ‘silver bullet’.

‘The app is exciting, but it’s also not a silver bullet or a standalone solution, it’s part of this wider strategy… it has to be seen as part of this strategy alongside the expansion of testing and human contact tracing,’ he said.

The app is also voluntary, so its effectiveness will rely on the amount of people actually using it.

If it proves to be usable and uptake is good in the Isle of Wight trial, it is expected to roll out to the rest of the UK in mid-May, the Department of Health said.

What if people don’t record when they develop a cough?

The app will rely on people being honest about when they think they have symptoms of the coronavirus, and what their test result is. These must be logged on the app by the user because the NHS will not link the app to patient records or even to someone’s name. People who are dishonest about their health risk putting others at risk of COVID-19.

Source: Press Association

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World News

Doctors threaten to stop treating patients over PPE failures

Doctors threaten to stop treating patients because of PPE failures as NHS England’s Jenny Harries risks wrath of NHS workers by calling for ‘an adult conversation’ as she defends orders to reuse equipment

  • NHS Confederation, BMA, and Royal Colleges have all agreed to back frontline staff due to PPE failures
  • Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries called for ‘a more adult conversation’ as Government is criticised
  • Prof Neil Mortensen said the RCS is ‘deeply disturbed by this latest change to personal protective equipment’ 
  • BMA chief Dr Chaand Nagpul said there are ‘limits to the level of risk staff can expose themselves to’
  • It comes as Britain recorded 596 coronavirus-related deaths today, bringing the national death toll to 16,060 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

The NHS Confederation is backing doctors who refuse to treat coronavirus patients with inadequate PPE as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer held up crisis Britain as an ‘international exemplar in preparedness’.

Dr Jenny Harries told an ITV reporter that ‘we could perhaps have a more adult, and more detailed conversation about PPE supplies’ as the Government comes under fire for its disastrous PPE policy.

She refused to be drawn on the decision of the NHS Confederation to back medical professionals who refuse to endanger their own health if forced to re-use supplies including gowns, masks, and goggles.

The Confederation joins the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Nurses and Midwives, and the British Medical Association in supporting thousands on the frontline who are risking their own wellbeing.

It comes as Britain recorded 596 coronavirus-related deaths today, bringing the national death toll to 16,060.

Dr Harries said: ‘I think we have had, if I might say from my own professional perspective, we could perhaps have a more adult, and more detailed conversation about PPE supplies.

‘For example, quite rightly, the conversation at the moment is very much focused on gown supplies. Earlier, in earlier weeks, I’m very aware of consideration of eye-wear for example, in goggles and masks.’ 

The Government has come under fire for its disastrous PPE policy, as Matt Hancock appointed a ‘personal protective tsar’ to take on the shortage of supplies across NHS trusts in the UK. 

On another frantic day with tensions rising in the coronavirus battle: 

  • Britain recorded 596 more deaths today, taking the official national death toll to 16,060 to date; 
  • The Government was accused by Labour of ‘treating the public like children’ by refusing to spell out how the exit strategy from lockdown might look, with Keir Starmer demanding a ‘road map’ out of the crisis; 
  • OECD chief Angel Gurria warned there will have to be ‘stop-go’ arrangements in place for ‘social distancing’ for a long time to come, urging governments to ‘err on the side of caution’; 
  • The Irish health minister has suggested that pubs might not be able to open until there is a coronavirus vaccine, which some believe will take more than a year; 
  • Infectious diseases expert Sir Jeremy Farar, a member of the SAGE advisory group, has cautioned that the lockdown ‘cannot go on much longer’ as it is ‘damaging all our lives’; 
  • A consignment of PPE, including desperately-needed gowns, that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick boasted would arrive today from Turkey is reportedly delayed;
  • The chairman of the British Medical Association council said it had warned the Government ‘weeks ago’ about the risk of personal protective equipment shortages but hit a ‘brick wall’;
  • Michael Gove said the UK had sent PPE equipment to China early in the outbreak, but insisted it was not part of the UK’s pandemic stocks and stressed the Asian superpower had since sent back more; 
  • One of the scientists leading efforts to make the breakthrough warned it is not ‘completely certain’ that a coronavirus vaccine can be produced, with Mr Gove admitting no-one should see it as a ‘dead cert’.

Dr Jenny Harries (pictured) told an ITV reporter that ‘we could perhaps have a more adult, and more detailed conversation about PPE supplies’ as the Government comes under fire for its disastrous PPE policy (April 5, 2019)

An ambulance crew pictured wearing PPE as they deal with a patient at Royal London Hospital in London (April 19, 2020)

Britain recorded another 596 coronavirus-related deaths today, bringing the national death toll to 16,060

Gavin Williamson dodges calls to spell out coronavirus ‘exit strategy’ despite claims ministers want schools to reopen after May 11 in ‘traffic light’ system to stop lockdown destroying economy 

Gavin Williamson tonight dismissed calls to spell out an ‘exit strategy’ from coronavirus lockdown – despite claims ministers want schools to reopen after May 11. 

The Education Secretary defied a growing clamour for clarity, insisting he could not ‘give a date’ for pupils to get back to the classroom. 

The comments came amid the first signs a blueprint is being hatched within Government to ease lockdown misery, although the Cabinet appears split over whether to risk more deaths from the disease to save the plunging economy.

Mr Williamson told the daily Downing Street briefing he was sorry that children were having to suffer through the crisis and have their education interrupted. But he said the UK had not yet met five tests – including NHS capacity being high enough, widespread testing being in place, and the threat of a second peak reduced.

‘I can’t give you a date. Because before we do that we need to meet five tests,’ he said. 

The fledgling plan would see the country get back up in running in stages after May 11, with primary, GCSE pupils, and nurseries potentially going back part-time.  

Prof Neil Mortensen from the Royal College of Surgeons told his colleagues not to risk their health if good PPE could not be used when treating coronavirus patients.  

He said: ‘We are deeply disturbed by this latest change to personal protective equipment guidance, which was issued without consulting medical bodies. 

‘After weeks of working with PHE and our sister medical royal colleges to get PPE guidance right, this risks confusion and variation in practice across the country.’ 

The BMA said last night it will support doctors who refuse to work without adequate PPE.

Dr Chaand Nagpul, BMA council chair, said: ‘There are limits to the level of risk staff can be expected to expose themselves and their patients to. In the most extreme circumstances, if adequate protective measures are not in place, doctors can refuse to put themselves at risk of becoming infected, and inform their management to make alternative arrangements’.   

Dr Harries called the pandemic a ‘huge pull on services which we have never seen before’. She continued: ‘We have managed actually despite signalling many potential shortfalls to continue to supply going forward, and even as I stand here, I know with the gown position, for example, that even though when orders go in overseas, supplies may be very different what is received to what we think we’re going to get.  

‘We perhaps need to, rather than lumping all of the PPE together, which is not a homogeneous mix at all, we just need to think carefully through what has been achieved and the challenges which are acknowledged ahead.’

When asked why the Government has not responded to manufacturers willing to produce PPE, Gavin Williamson said that they will be contacted in the next 24 hours.

The Education Secretary said that a billion extra PPE have been brought into the country while the Government was doing ‘immense work’ in trying to find British suppliers. He encouraged those suppliers who have been in contact with the Government and have ‘slipped through the net’ to get in touch again. 

He added: ‘We recognise this is a national endeavour and we are so incredibly grateful for so many people who are willing to step forward to make a real difference, and we certainly don’t want to miss out on those opportunities.’

The press conference comes amid intensifying fears that underfunding during a prolonged period of austerity has left the NHS inadequately prepared in terms of PPE for a pandemic.

Mr Hancock appointed Lord Deighton, chief planner from the London 2012 Olympics, as ‘PPE tsar’ after the Government issued guidance stating that medics would have to re-use PPE supplies.  

Lord Deighton, 64, who is personally known to Boris Johnson from the Olympics, will be charged of the ‘end-to-end process of design through to manufacture’ including streamlining approvals’, sources claim.    



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Dr Jenny Harries (left) and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (right) fielded questions at today’s No10 conference


Health Secretary Matt Hancock (left) has appointed Lord Paul Deighton (right) to help curb the chronic shortage of PPE 

Paramedics wearing PPE  help a patient from an ambulance into The Royal London Hospital in east London (April 18, 2020)

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TV and Movies

Disney+ Really Needs to Stop Disrespecting the Muppets

Kermit the Frog was a recurring fixture on Sesame Street back in the day. But the Muppets didn’t truly come into their own until 1975. That’s when The Muppet Show debuted in prime time, launching what has since become a decades-long franchise.

The characters went on to star in several TV series, countless specials and movies, and eight theatrical releases. But ownership of the franchise has changed hands over the years. In 2004, Disney acquired the Muppets in a similar way to its purchase of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm throughout the subsequent decade.

But how is the House of Mouse handling the Muppets these days? Not great, according to the streaming options over in the Disney+ library.

Disney hasn’t properly developed the Muppet brand

Prior to Disney’s acquisition, the company had established a long-running relationship with Jim Henson’s signature creations. Those projects included The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island, released in 1993 and 1996, respectively. Following the deal’s finalization, Disney eventually revived the franchise with 2011 hit The Muppets. However, that resurgence didn’t last long.

Three years later, Muppets Most Wanted earned less than half of The Muppets‘ worldwide box office total. Disney seemingly tabled the film side, choosing to focus on a short-lived sitcom inspired by The Office. A rebooted Muppet Babies — based on the 1980s children’s show — has been the only major project since 2015.

Disney+ is missing a great deal of the Muppet library

We can’t necessarily blame Disney for not pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the franchise. After all, as beloved as these characters are, they have rarely inspired monstrous mainstream turnout. Rather, the Muppets work best when they’re operating on a smaller scale. But Disney definitely hasn’t made the franchise super accessible to interested fans.

A recent Vanity Fair article explored Disney’s mishandling of Henson’s characters, specifically on Disney+. The streaming service features tons of “channels” and “collections” for brands like Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and even National Geographic. But the characters have no way of reining in users. Moreover, the library is shockingly short of the franchise’s content.

Of the franchise’s eight theatrical films, six of them are accounted for, as is most of the recent Disney content. But the five-season run of The Muppet Show, the original Muppet Babies, and many other programs are still nowhere to be found. Perhaps licensing complications are behind it, but even if that’s the case, Disney+ is doing Kermit no favors.

What does the future hold for Kermit, Miss Piggy, and friends?

Thankfully, as the Vanity Fair piece points out, fans could have reason to hope for something better around the corner. In February 2020, Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, announced he was stepping down. Iger inherited the Muppet acquisition from his predecessor Michael Eisner and never made the franchise much of a priority.

A lot of prospective projects have fallen by the wayside over the past 15 years. But as of now, the franchise’s only upcoming project is Muppets Now, a Disney+ series due for summer 2020. Perhaps a change of executive leadership means Disney could “light the lights” on other projects, such as the nixed Muppets Live Another Day co-written by Disney regular Josh Gad.

Even if Kermit and company will never be as huge as the Avengers, Henson’s legacy deserves better. Generations of fans will turn out for more Muppet goodness if Disney produces it. We can only hope Chapek sees the potential profitability in Kermit the Frog and his motley group of lovable misfits.

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Lifestyle

‘You can’t stop people from living’: Beachgoers defiant as NSW government shuts down Bondi Beach

On a warm autumn day, as waves gently wash over the sand, there are few better places in the world than Bondi Beach.

But the large crowds of sunbathers, swimmers and surfers flocking to the popular beach in the past few days have been criticised for ignoring health advice about social distancing and restrictions on public gatherings implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Beachgoers are seen at Bondi Beach on Friday despite the threat of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Sydney.Credit:AAP

In response, the NSW government announced on Saturday it would shut down the beach.

Earlier, Waverley mayor Paula Masselos had urged beachgoers to follow the guidelines about social distancing.

"I am frustrated that people continue to ignore health advice about social distancing as observed yesterday at Bondi Beach," she said.

There were less beachgoers on Saturday morning as Keith McNaughton prepared to swim in the ocean with his friend Mary.

There were less beachgoers on Saturday morning st Bondi Beach before the government announced plans to shut the area down.Credit:Steven Siewert

Mr McNaughton said he was visiting the beach to maintain his physical and mental health.

"I’m trying to apply some reasonable risk management," he said. "But for me it’s important for my mental health to keep doing exercise."

However, Mr McNaughton said he had adjusted his regular routine to avoid crowds: "It’s pretty busy down here but we’re going to have a swim out the back."

"So am I worried about it? I’m trying to keep away from people and isolate per the government guidelines."

Keith McNaughton after his Saturday morning swim.Credit:Steven Siewert

Mr McNaughton said he had taken his children to Clovelly on Friday, but had left when it became too busy.

But he said: "It’s important they allow the community to still go out and get exercise appropriately."

Sam Sirianni, who regularly runs and swims at Bondi Beach, said he was "not really" worried about visiting the beach.

"I keep my distance from people," he said. "As you can see, I’m laying by myself."

Mr Sirianni, from Double Bay, said the crowds at the beach were a problem but added: "You can’t stop people from living. That’s the way I look at it. If it’s a nice day and I want to have a run and a swim, well I’m gonna go do it."

However, Mr Sirianni said he would accept a lockdown if it was imposed: "But at the moment, if they’re telling us to keep 1.5 [metres] away from people, well, let’s go by that."

Other beachgoers interviewed by The Sun-Herald expressed similar sentiments, although they declined to give their surnames.



Diego, from Chile, said he had come to the beach for "just a quick walk" after avoiding it last week.

"We’ve been trying to keep ourselves in our houses for a while but I think that getting some fresh air during the morning is a good thing," he said.

Belinda, from North Bondi, said she had arrived at the beach early when there were few people around.

"I went for a swim where there was no one near me and then I lay on the beach where there was no one near me," she said.

A regular beachgoer, Belinda said she was concerned by the large numbers of people at the beach who did not appear to take the pandemic seriously.

"Did you see yesterday?" she said. "It was outrageous."

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World News

Young people, stop going to pubs, UK's chief scientific adviser warns

Young people, stop going to pubs! Britain’s chief scientific adviser warns ‘mixing’ at bars and restaurants ‘needs to stop’ because it is allowing coronavirus to spread rapidly

  • Sir Patrick Vallance criticised young people’s complacency about coronavirus
  • Said mixing in bars and restaurants had to stop as it was helping the virus spread
  • His plea came after Britons partied into early hours in packed venues this week
  • So far coronavirus has killed  at least 137 people in the UK and infected 2,695
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Britain’s chief scientific adviser has begged young people to stop going to the pub and claims the UK won’t beat coronavirus if they keep flouting home confinement rules.  

Sir Patrick Vallance slammed young people’s complacency about the virus and said ‘mixing’ in bars and restaurants ‘needs to stop’ because it is allowing the disease run rampant.

He warned a coronavirus vaccine was still at least six months away and said the only way the outbreak could be delayed until then was if everyone stuck to the Government’s tough new social restrictions.

His plea came after Britons were filmed partying into the early hours in packed pubs and nightclubs around the country this week, defying ministers.

On Monday, Boris Johnson ordered the country to avoid socialising, going to work or using public transport indefinitely in a desperate bid to contain the escalating crisis.

So far the highly contagious coronavirus has officially killed at least 137 people in the UK and infected 2,695. Experts estimate the true number of infections to be over 80,000. 

Sir Patrick Vallance slammed young people’s complacency about the virus and said ‘mixing’ in bars and restaurants ‘needs to stop’ because it is allowing the disease run rampant


People were not worried about coronavirus at Cirque Le Soir in Soho on Monday night

Speaking at a press conference in London today, Sir Patrick and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned: 

  • A vaccine is unlikely to ‘come to the rescue’ in six months and the coronavirus is now ‘here to stay’
  • It will be weeks, if not months, until the NHS switches to new speedier testing kits. It currently takes 24 to 28 hours to find out if a person has the virus 
  • The Government is looking at ‘easy to use’ home testing kits so people can send swabs to labs while quarantining at home 
  • Normal public health responses to a disease, like those used to isolate ebola in West Africa, were no longer effective in the UK because of the scale of the crisis
  • Contact tracing is becoming ineffective because the rate of infection is soaring exponentially  

Sir Patrick told the briefing organised by the respected Science Media Centre: ‘It’s really important… unless everybody looks at the measures that have been introduced by the Government on trying to encourage social distancing, unless everybody does that, it doesn’t have the effect. 

‘What we absolutely shouldn’t encourage is the idea that young people can somehow ignore it [social distancing] because they’re going to be fine [if they catch it]. 

‘The mixing in pubs and restaurants is really part of allowing the disease to spread. It needs to stop among young people – as well as older people.’ 

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty admitted today a vaccine would not ‘come to the rescue’ in six months as he admitted the coronavirus was now here to stay.

 He told the SMC briefing in London: ‘However much we would like there to be a vaccine riding to the rescue in six months time. 

‘Currently, we think that’s improbable. So now we’ve got to work on a different theoretical framework for actually managing this epidemic.’

Professor Whitty added that eradicating the disease in a matter of months war near-impossible.

He said: ‘It is our judgement, and it is my judgement certainly, if you look around the world, the idea that we’re going to put this virus back to going away and completely whilst not theoretically impossible, seems so improbable that based on scientific theory that is something we are trying to do. Seems to me a mistake.’

Professor Whitty said normal public health responses to a disease, like those used to isolate ebola in West Africa were no longer likely to be effective against what was now a global pandemic virus.

He said those tools such as containing and isolating infected people might work for some countries but the stage of the epidemic in the UK had gone beyond that position.  

At the same press briefing, Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, also urged young people not to get complacent about catching the virus.

He admitted it was mostly older people and those with chronic conditions, but pointed to a small number of young people who’ve ended up in intensive care.

Professor Whitty said: ‘It is clear that children get this disease much less strongly than adults, I think the data on that is pretty strong now, and it certainly is the case that the majority of those that end up dying sadly are people who tend to be either in the later part of their lives, usually quite elderly, or those with pre-existing health conditions.

‘But there are also some young people who have ended up in intensive care or who have ended up with severe disease around the world. 

‘I think it’s important that we don’t give the impression that every single person who is young and healthy is just going to breeze through this.’

He added the ‘great majority’ of people will suffer no symptoms or mild to moderate symptoms, but a very small proportion of young people ‘will have severe disease even though they are young and healthy’.

Professor Whitty continued: ‘It’s important we’re clear in not trying to say ‘really, really worry’, but we also need to be clear in saying this is not a trivial infection for everybody, even if they are a young adult.’

The CMO admitted there were ‘significant health and social downsides’ to strict social distancing measures, which discouraged the Government from implementing them sooner. 

Ministers’ original ‘contain and delay’ strategy was given the green light because the downsides of social restrictions did not outweigh the upsides, he added.

But Professor Whitty said that the crisis had now escalated so much that the consensus had changed. 

When asked about long-term strategy he added: ‘Clearly a vaccine is one way out of this but we don’t expect that to happen quickly. Globally… science will help us over time.’  

The statue of former British PM Winston Churchill was spotted wearing a face mask in his old constituency of Woodford Green in London on Wednesday morning

In the centre of the capital streets are largely empty as people stay away amid the spread of coronavirus. Pictured is Parliament Square

Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick agreed that a vaccine would not ‘come to the rescue’ in six months, and it was likely to take far longer.  

Professor Whitty said: ‘However much we would like there to be a vaccine riding to the rescue in six months time. 

‘Currently, we think that’s improbable. So now we’ve got to work on a different theoretical framework for actually managing this epidemic.’ 

In a bid to delay the peak until then, ministers are mulling a decision to put London into total lockdown within days. 

Some 20,000 troops were put on standby overnight and the Prime Minister refused to rule out the possibility of ‘further and faster measures’ to control the spread of the virus on the busy streets of the capital, where the epidemic is running ahead of the rest of the country. 

Mr Johnson said ‘ruthless’ enforcement of so-called social distancing measures – such as working from home and avoiding social gatherings in pubs, cinemas and restaurants – was needed. 

Professor Whitty added that eradicating the disease in a matter of months war near-impossible.

He said: ‘It is our judgement, and it is my judgement certainly, if you look around the world, the idea that we’re going to put this virus back to going away and completely whilst not theoretically impossible, seems so improbable that based on scientific theory that is something we are trying to do. Seems to me a mistake.’

Professor Whitty said normal public health responses to a disease, like those used to isolate ebola in West Africa were no longer likely to be effective against what was now a global pandemic virus.

He said those tools such as containing and isolating infected people might work for some countries but the stage of the epidemic in the UK had gone beyond that position.   

The normally bustling Circle Line on the London Underground was deserted this morning after people were warned to avoid public transport at all costs

A commuter wears a protective face mask at London Bridge Underground Station this morning

When asked about different strains of the virus, Professor Whitty said ‘with a strong caveat of scientific speculation’ that it was expected to mutate.

He said there was a chance that the virus could mutate ‘around the vaccine’, but that some mutations could be ‘actually useful’.

‘Smaller mutations… help to track family trees of the virus,’ said Prof Whitty, adding that this would help scientists to understand and tackle the disease.

Sir Patrick added that the UK was ‘absolutely world-class’ in addressing viral mutations.

Professor Whitty also warned that Britons will die both directly and indirectly during the epidemic.

He said: ‘People die in these epidemics… for two reasons. They die directly of the infection, unavoidably, best medical care, sadly this is still going to happen for some people.

‘But also they can die because the health service they are in is overwhelmed and therefore there’s an indirect death because there’s a difference between what could happen with health and what we were able to provide in this situation.’

On reducing the peak of the infection, he added: ‘It has an additional advantage, if you let an epidemic run its full course you get what’s called overshoot where more people get infected than you would need if it were to run at a lower peak.

‘Actually by lowering the peak you reduce the overall number of people who will get the infection.’

Brits hit the pubs and clubs as they defy Boris Johnson’s ‘social distancing’ warnings to party through the night despite coronavirus fears

By Amie Gordon for MailOnline

Brits defied the government’s warnings as they hit pubs and nightclubs this week amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Revellers hit nightclubs across London, Newcastle and Manchester on Monday night, despite scientists warning that ‘social distancing’ was necessary in a bid to quell the number of Covid-19 fatalities. 

Popworld in Essex told customers it would remain open on Fridays and Saturdays as normal, while Walkabout in Chelmsford assured part goers it would be business as usual, albeit with different opening hours. 

Drinkers were also seen in full swing at Cirque Le Soir in Soho, London and Walkabout Chelmsford, Essex. 


People enjoying an evening at a JD Wetherspoon in The Mile Castle, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

American actor William Shatner also held an audience with fans at the Hammersmith Apollo yesterday evening, after Boris Johnson addressed the nation. 

Hours earlier, the government issued a stark warning to Britons, urging them to avoid social situations unless absolutely necessary.   

In a report, scientists warned that around 250,000 people would die in Britain as a result of the coronavirus outbreak unless more draconian measures are adopted to protect the population.

The Imperial College Covid-19 response team – which has been advising ministers – said that even with the ‘social distancing’ plans set out by the Government, the health system will be ‘overwhelmed many times over’.

In its latest report, it said the only ‘viable strategy’ was a Chinese-style policy of ‘suppression’ involving the social distancing of the entire population. 

In response, some of the Capital’s top clubs told customers they would close temporarily to protect public health. 

Ministry of Sound nightclub in the Capital last night announced it would temporarily close, as did Egg London and Fabric London.    

 

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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Lifestyle

Mum's snack baskets stop kids eating when they are bored during school closures

Schools will close across the UK this Friday due to the coronavirus pandemic and parents are preparing to have their kids at home.

Without the structure of the school day, it can be hard to keep kids busy and with many parents still working from home, they might end up a little bored.

Sometimes they confuse that boredom for hunger and are constantly looking for snacks, but parents say it is expensive and means that they are less likely to eat everything at mealtimes.

Tired of finding her kids snacking, Jennifer Hallstrom came up with a simple solution.

The mum laid out three different coloured baskets – one for each kid – and filled them with a range of healthy snacks.

She also added a cup for each of them to drink from.

She explained to her children that they could eat what they wanted from the baskets, but once they were finished, she wouldn’t add any more.

The children obviously still had their breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the day but the baskets focus on snacks.

Jennifer said: ‘I keep seeing these posts about kiddos wanting to eat all day while they are home. This was my solution! Each child has their own colored basket.

‘In the morning I put their snacks in it for the day, when those snacks are gone they don’t get any more.

‘It makes them stop and think do I really need a snack? I also put their cup for the day in there because I’m not washing 50 cups a day! Hahaha!’

The post quickly went viral with over 290,000 shares and 189,000 likes.

Lots of other parents commented to say they loved the idea.

One said: ‘Love this! I HATE that I have let the kids fall into the habit of getting their own snacks throughout the day. Might give this a shot while I am at home!’

Another added: ‘I need to do this because my boy would snack all day out of boredom and then not want to eat meals it drives me nuts.’

Jennifer did receive a few negative comments and she edited the post to clarify that there was still plenty to stop her kids going hungry but she was just keep for them to think about whether they actually needed something to eat.

She added: ‘I didn’t think I had to say this but my children eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are well fed and I don’t starve them. Sad I even have to say that. Also in no way shape or form am I fat shaming my children. 

‘I just don’t have the luxury of spending $400 on just snacks for a week .’

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Celebrities

Kailyn Lowry to Fans: Stop Harrassing Me About My Baby’s Name!

As you’ve likely heard by now, Kailyn Lowry is pregnant with her fourth child.

There’s been a good deal of controversy surrounding the news, especially since it seems that Lowry got pregnant by Chris Lopez around the time that she filed for a restraining order against him.

And so, Kail has been on the receiving end of even more online harassment than usual lately.

In fact, pretty much everything she does these days is a source of controversy.

If Lowry poses nude while pregnant, she gets hate for it.

If she travels to Iceland, her followers chastise her for neglecting her kids.

Considering all the crap Kail has been forced to put up with, it’s surprising that she continues to share details of her pregnancy with fans.

And it seems the issue of what name Kail chooses for her fourth son is a particularly sensitive one.

“Did you figure out a name yet?” one fan asked.

“No,” Lowry promptly replied.

“Everyone suggests names 12 other kids I know have.”

Obviously, Kail likes to choose unique monikers for her children.

After all, you don’t land on the name Lux by browsing baby names on Pinterest.

It sounds like the process is ongoing, and while we’re sure she welcomes feedback, it sounds like Kail would prefer that her followers mostly keep their opinions to themselves.

Of course, the name game is downright tame compared to some of the treatment she’s endured in recent weeks.

Take this interaction, for example:

“You’re so f–king pathetic!! Quit chasing d–k [and] men that don’t want you. Learn how to take care of your kids by your damn self,” wrote one follower, apropos of nothing.

“I receive messages and comments and DMs and tweets like this all day long. Messages like these are not few and far between. And messages like these are exhausting,” Kail calmly wrote beneath a screenshot of the message.

“You can have any opinion you want about me — THAT’S fine. But it’s none of my business,” she added.

“So before you actually send me the hate message — or any [one of] the nasty comments, please ask yourself what your end goal is here … does this make you feel good? Do you think it’s going to change something in me?”

It’s a valid insight.

And it’s the sort of question we should all ask ourselves before reacting to whatever unique name Kail chooses for her fourth child.

Chris Lopez to Reveal “My Truth” in New Documentary; Kailyn Lowry Responds in Epic FashionStart Gallery

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Lifestyle

How you can stop overeating at three key times of the day

From the afternoon munchies to the ‘9.30pm sugar hit’: Dietitian reveals how you can stop overeating at three key times of the day

  • Dietitian Susie Burrell said key overeating times are 11:01am, 3:14pm and 9:31pm
  • But you can avoid a complete calorie overload at these times with strategies
  • Rather than reach for sugar, the dietitian recommends protein-rich options
  • Susie also suggests an ‘eating cut off’ of 8 or 9pm, to prevent bingeing 

Whether you are someone who can’t get to lunchtime without an 11am snack or you find yourself mindlessly grazing at 9.30pm hours after dinner, we all have ‘eating traps’ we fall into day in day out.

In fact, a survey commissioned by a UK supplement company several years ago found that there are three danger times when it comes to eating, or overeating – 11:01am, 3:14pm and 9:31pm.

These are the times when we are at highest risk of consuming a complete calorie overload. 

Now, Australian dietitian Susie Burrell has shared how you can stop overeating at these points and unveil your best body yet. 

Australian dietitian Susie Burrell (pictured) has shared how you can stop overeating at key times including 11:01am, 3:14pm and 9:31pm

The 11am hunger 

Chances are if you had breakfast around 7.30 or 8am, by the time the clock strikes 11 o’clock, you will be feeling a little peckish.

But rather than reach for the nearest muffin, cake or high-carb treat, Susie recommends you choose something a little healthier and have it at around 10.30am, so you don’t end up pushing back your lunch to 2 or 3pm.

‘Ideally this snack will contain just 100-200 calories and 5-10g of protein to keep the hunger pangs at bay until lunchtime,’ Susie wrote on her blog. 

It should be enough to satiate your hunger for a couple of hours, not numb it so you’re not hungry for your main meal.

Good options here that the dietitian recommends include a small coffee, 100 grams of Greek yoghurt and berries or some wholegrain crackers and cheese.

The afternoon munchies around 3pm is perhaps the most popular time for diets to fall by the wayside as your blood glucose levels have dropped (stock image)

The afternoon munchies 

The afternoon munchies around 3pm is perhaps the most popular time for diets to fall by the wayside. 

This is because our blood glucose levels have dropped two or three hours after a meal, and we are likely to feel peckish.

‘This tends to correspond to 3-4pm each workday when the lure of the vending machine or box of office fundraising chocolates becomes to much and we seek out sweet food to boost our glucose levels,’ Susie said.

But these snacks are unlikely to leave you satisfied, and will instead leave you craving more food by the end of the working day.

A far better idea is to opt for something protein-rich and nutrient-dense, whether that is a nut-based snack bar, crackers with a savoury topping like cottage cheese or hummus, or vegetables with a dip.

Susie said by having a decent snack at this time, you will likely set yourself up to avoid binge eating when you arrive home at 6pm. 

Susie said there is a reason biscuit and chocolate manufacturers advertise treat-style foods in the evenings, and that is because we routinely overeat at this time (stock image)

The 9.30pm hit

Last but not least, for many of us, our overeating trap is that time after dinner, when you’re relaxing in front of the TV and ‘the thought of a cup of tea and something sweet is just what you feel like to round out a long day’.

Susie said there is a reason biscuit and chocolate manufacturers advertise treat-style foods in the evenings, and that is because we routinely overeat at this time. 

‘Eating sweet foods in front of the television is a bad habit, and a habit that can be exceptionally difficult to break, especially when you have done it for many years,’ she said.

But it can be done. Try to control the amount of calories you eat at this time by just having a few squares of dark chocolate or an individually-wrapped small bar.

The dietitian also recommends setting yourself an ‘eating cut off’ each day, whether that is 8 or 9pm.

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French urged to stop cheek-to-cheek kisses to contain the spread of coronavirus – The Sun

FRENCH people have been told to stop greeting each other with customary kisses on the cheek as the government tries to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

As the number of Covid-19 virus victims soares, health minister Olivier Veran urged people to cut back on the iconic "la bise".

Read our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates


Having previously recommended that people avoid shaking hands, the minister said they should also cut back on la bise, the custom in France and elsewhere in Europe of giving greetings with kisses, or air kisses, on the cheeks.

The number of French cases almost doubled, to 100, on Saturday. Of those 86 are hospitalised, two have died and 12 have recovered.

Mr Veran said at a news briefing: "The reduction in social contacts of a physical nature is advised.

"That includes the practice of the bise."

France has also imposed a ban on all indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus.

The minister added: "These measures are temporary and we will likely have to revise them.

"They are restrictive and paradoxically we hope they don't last long because that means we will have contained the virus' spread."

The tightened restrictions on public gatherings had an immediate impact.

A major four-day trade show in Cannes for property investors was postponed from March to June.

A half-marathon that was scheduled for Sunday in Paris also was cancelled, as was a carnival in the Alpine town of Annecy, Veran announced.

Public gatherings are being banned completely in the Oise region north of Paris that has seen a cluster of cases, and in a town in the foothills of the Alps that has also seen infections, he said.

The epidemic also impacted the Paris fashion industry and the French capitals Catholic churches.

French designer Agnes b. announced the cancellation of her Paris Fashion Week show, originally scheduled for Monday, in view of the current international health context."



 

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