UK COVID-19 Daily: travel restrictions, second wave?

  • Tim Locke, Medscape.com

  • UK Medical News
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These are the latest UK coronavirus stories you need to know.

Travel restrictions, Second Wave?

On Monday, the Spanish Government asked the UK to reconsider its 2-week quarantine measures for travellers returning from the Canary Islands and Balearics.

The UK responded by extending the advice against all but essential travel to mainland Spain to its islands as well.

Boris Johnson defended the decision, saying "swift and decisive action" was needed, and warned of signs of a second COVID-19 wave in Europe.

The Telegraph reports the Government is planning to cut the self-isolation period for returning travellers to 10 days from 14. There'd also be testing for people coming back from high-risk countries. Those who test negative could end their isolation sooner.

Quick Poll: Will You Risk a Holiday Abroad This Summer?

Oldham Takes Lockdown Prevention Measures

Oldham Council is asking people to follow new local restrictions to help avoid a Leicester-style lockdown.

Although it wasn't on the latest Public Health England watchlist, officials are concerned about 119 new COVID-19 cases in the week up to 25 July.

The measures include reduced contact between households, maintaining care home visiting restrictions, and shielding to continue for an extra 2 weeks.

Cancer Treatment Impact

COVID-19 impacted cancer treatment for 1 in 3 patients, according to a survey of 1842 patients for Cancer Research UK carried out in May and released on Tuesday.

The charity estimates that around 38,000 fewer treatments took place under lockdown.

Cancer testing has also been affected for 42% of cancer patients.

Cancer Research UK Chief Executive Michelle Mitchell commented: "Since the peak of the pandemic, the NHS has started to restore cancer services and more people are being referred to hospital for tests. But there’s still a long way to go to clear the mounting backlog of patients waiting for tests and treatment."

Face Coverings for Shop Staff

If customers have to wear face coverings in shops and other businesses, staff should too, the BMA says.

Dr Peter English, BMA public health medicine committee chair, said in a statement: "The virus does not discriminate between customers and staff, so to have one rule for one group, and a different [one] for another, is entirely illogical. Shop staff, for example, are likely to encounter many different people during their shift, and without other mitigating measures – for example, cashiers sitting behind individual plastic screens – they too should be wearing effective face coverings."

Public Perception Key to Tracking App Success

Public perception needs to be gauged before rolling out a COVID-19 tracking app, say Lancaster University researchers involved in an international study.

NHSX abandoned its app for England after trials on the Isle of Wight, with a new version promised at some later stage using Apple/Google technology.

A study was carried out in Germany with a fake app and 518 participants before the country's official app was released. The results are published in the European Journal of Information Systems.

Privacy turned out to be a priority for only a certain group of people. Others were more interested in convenience, while others were keen on the wider benefits above their own health.

One of the authors, Professor Monideepa Tarafdar from Lancaster University Management School, commented: "More than half of the population must install and actively use the app in order for it to be effective. In light of the urgency of the situation, and the fact the Government will roll it out voluntarily, getting a true understanding of how to get the masses to accept – and crucially, use – one single app, is the most important consideration for developers.

"Our study reveals that one app simply cannot fit all – so the government needs to understand what the majority of us think about the system in order for it to be successful."

Daily Deaths and Data

Public Health England (PHE) is pausing publication of daily death data after England's Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered an investigation into its methodology.

However, data are still published on another gov.uk page with 119 UK COVID-19 deaths announced on Tuesday, taking the total to 45,878.

Another 581 positive cases were reported on Tuesday taking the total UK confirmed cases to 300,692.

ONS Data

Deaths in week 29 (ending July 17) registered in England and Wales were 3.0% below the 5-year average. That's the fifth consecutive week that deaths have been below the 5-year average, the Office for National Statistics said.

The number of deaths involving 'novel coronavirus (COVID-19)' was the lowest in the last 17 weeks and 19.4% lower than the previous week. COVID-19 accounted for 3.3% of all deaths in England and Wales.

Foreign Office COVID-19 Response Criticised

A report from the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has criticised the Foreign Office response to COVID-19, including repatriation efforts for Britons abroad.

The report found the UK's repatriation operation was too slow and relied on commercial providers rather than chartering planes like some other countries. It suggests keeping unspent funds back in case of a second wave.

Communication with embassies was also criticised, with many people unable to get hold of embassy staff, and many of those who did receiving unhelpful and 'outmoded' information.

Committee Chair Tom Tugendhat commented: "For many of those Britons stranded, the advice they received from the FCO was confusing, inconsistent and lacking in compassion, at other times misleading and outdated, and, in the worst cases, entirely absent."

Adapted from Medscape UK.