Future flare-ups of coronavirus infections could lead to localised lockdown measures, the health secretary has said.
Matt Hancock revealed stricter social distancing measures could be introduced in certain areas in future, as part of the NHS test and trace system for continuing to suppress the spread of Covid-19.
“We will have local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups,” he said at the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
South America has become a new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The region officially has more than 636,000 confirmed cases and more than 31,000 deaths as of May 25.
But due to a dearth of testing and medical facilities, experts believe the outbreak is far bigger than the official numbers show.
Brazil, the continent’s largest and most populous country, also has the largest outbreak, with more than 363,000 confirmed cases, and President Jair Bolsonaro is still refusing to impose aggressive measures to curb the spread.
The virology lab in Wuhan, the city at the heart of the outbreak, was working on three live strains of bat coronavirus, but none of them match the one that has caused the Covid-19 pandemic, its director has said.
Wang Yanyi, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, told Chinese state broadcaster CGTN that the closest genetic match to the virus spreading around the world was only 79.8 per cent, adding that claims made by US president Donald Trump and others that the virus could have leaked from the facility were “pure fabrication”.
The relatively low number of coronavirus cases in Africa so far have “raised hopes that African countries may be spared the worst of the pandemic,” in the words of the UN. But at the same time it urges caution.
There is a general consensus among those in charge of health policy on the continent that testing rates are woefully low, and this could be distorting our understanding of how far the virus has spread.
As countries move beyond the lockdown phase, only testing and surveillance will allow governments to really know what is going on.
India on Tuesday recorded a total of 145,380 coronavirus infections and a death toll of 4,167, comparatively low figures for the world’s second-most populous country.
But separate states witnessing millions of migrant labourers returning from the big cities were recording rising infections, officials said, fearing that the pandemic could spread through villages where medical care is basic at best.
Health ministry officials said that India’s death rate stood at 0.3 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to what they said was a world average of 4.4.
Countries hit hard by the tourism decline are offering to pay travellers to return once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Many popular holiday destinations are struggling as flights are grounded and borders have closed around the world.
The UK has currently advised against all non-essential travel, with a mandatory 14-day quarantine from June 8.
This means travelling abroad may not be likely any time soon, despite pleas from countries such as Spain for tourists to return for the summer season.
However, others are offering deals and even payments to entice travellers.
Pictured top: Matt Hancock (Picture: PA)
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