Young and previously healthy people with ongoing symptoms of Covid-19 are showing signs of damage to multiple organs four months after the initial infection, a study suggests, writes Linda Geddes.
The findings are a step towards unpicking the physical underpinnings and developing treatments for some of the strange and extensive symptoms experienced by people with “long Covid”, which is thought to affect more than 60,000 people in the UK. Fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and pain are among the most frequently reported effects.
On Sunday the NHS announced it would launch a network of more than 40 long Covid specialist clinics where doctors, nurses and therapists will assess patients’ physical and psychological symptoms.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has finished treatment for COVID-19 but will undergo follow-up checks, the North African country’s presidency said on Sunday.
Tebboune, 75, was flown to a German hospital 19 days ago after he tested positive for coronavirus
A further nine people with Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has said.
The death toll recorded by the department now stands at 855. There were also another 472 confirmed cases of the virus recorded in the last 24-hour reporting period.
A total of 46,831 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland since the pandemic began.
In Northern Ireland, Stormont’s health minister has said he is likely to be asking for further coronavirus restrictions before the scheduled reopening of the hospitality sector.
Robin Swann’s remarks raise the prospect of more executive discord in the near future, following a week when the coalition administration was consumed with in-fighting over its pandemic response, PA Media reports.
After four days of acrimonious exchanges, a majority of ministers finally backed a proposal that saw the region’s four-week circuit-break lockdown extended by one week followed by a phased reopening of hospitality businesses.
Swann had wanted a comprehensive two-week extension of the lockdown and said he only voted for the compromise deal as ministers had “run out of time” and a failure to strike a deal would have resulted in all the restrictions on hospitality lapsing by default on Friday night.
He told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, “I’m disappointed, I’m embarrassed and ashamed that it took us to Thursday to actually come up with this compromise agreement, that doesn’t go in my opinion far enough.”
The minister has made clear he will be asking for changes to the current plans before they are fully rolled out.
Here is the Guardian report on claims from the scientist behind the first potential Covid-19 vaccine to clear interim clinical trials that the jab could reduce transmission of the disease perhaps by 50%, resulting in a “dramatic” reduction in cases.
One of France’s best-known authors, Alexandre Jardin, has vowed that writers will bail out rebel bookshop owners fined for opening in defiance of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
Jardin, who wrote bestselling romance novels Le Zebre and Fanfan, told France’s Europe 1 radio that Didier van Cauwelaert, winner of the Prix Goncourt, France’s top literary prize for his 1994 novel Un Aller Simple, would begin the revolt by offering to cover any penalty imposed on a bookshop in the city of Cannes.
“The next bookshop will be me, and the next somebody else,” he said, according to the AFP news agency, declaring that “no state has the moral right to close bookshops”.
France’s literature lovers are fuming over the closure of bookstores, along with all other outlets selling “non-essential” goods or services, for the second time this year.
A handful of bookshops have openly flouted the shutdown, backed by writers, literary critics and tens of thousands of bookworms who argue that books are essential to wellbeing.
Romanian officials will check all intensive care units after a fire killed 10 people at a hospital treating coronavirus patients, the country’s leaders have said.
The fire broke out on Saturday in a room at the intensive care unit of the Piatra Neamt county hospital in northeastern Romania and spread to an adjoining room.
Six intubated Covid-19 patients were injured and were transferred to another hospital, Reuters reports.
The doctor on call, who sustained severe burns as he tried to rescue the patients from the flames was flown to a specialised hospital in Belgium early on Sunday.
The government said public health inspectors and the agency for emergency situations would check the conditions under which medical equipment was operating in all intensive care units from Monday.
Prosecutors said an investigation was underway into what triggered the fire.
Professor Wendy Barclay, a member of the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said on Sunday that there was a “worry” that mutations of Covid-19 could mean vaccines “won’t work quite so well as we’d hope them to”.
Mutations in the virus have triggered the cull of millions of farmed mink in Denmark over fears the genetic change might undermine the effectiveness of vaccines.
Barclay, of Imperial College London, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “The worry would be that if these mutations that are arising naturally in people, or in animals and then the virus coming back into people from animals, if they are affecting the way that antibodies can see the virus, maybe the vaccines which we’re generating now won’t work quite so well as we’d hope them to on the virus, as the virus continues to evolve.”
But she continued this “doesn’t mean that vaccines won’t work at all”, adding that a jab which is “very adaptable and fast responding” could be the best option.
Coronavirus has killed at least 1,313,471 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Sunday.
At least 54,001,750 cases of have been registered. Of these, at least 34,599,700 are now considered recovered.
The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.
Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases.
Over Saturday, 9,246 new deaths and 607,998 new cases were recorded worldwide.
Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were United States with 1,351 fatalities, followed by Brazil with 921 and Mexico with 635.
The United States is the worst-affected country with 245,614 deaths from 10,905,598 cases. At least 4,148,444 people have been declared recovered, AFP reported.
According to the AFP tally, After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 165,658 deaths from 5,848,959 cases, India with 129,635 deaths from 8,814,579 cases, Mexico with 98,259 deaths from 1,003,253 cases, and the United Kingdom with 51,766 from 1,344,356 cases.
The country with the highest number of deaths compared to population is Belgium with 123 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Peru with 107, Spain 87, Argentina 78.
China – excluding Hong Kong and Macau – has to date declared 86,338 cases, including 4,634 deaths and 81,319 recoveries.
Latin America and the Caribbean together have 423,176 deaths from 12,023,640 cases, Europe 334,968 deaths from 14,432,068 infections, and the United States and Canada 256,487 from 11,195,957 cases.
Asia has reported 181,799 deaths from 11,440,026 cases, the Middle East 68,991 deaths from 2,913,735 cases, Africa 47,109 deaths from 1,966,317 cases, and Oceania 941 deaths from 30,008 cases.
Here’s a round-up of the key measures in place in parts of Europe.
Ugur Sahin, chief executive of BioNTech, which has announced promising preliminary results of its coronavirus vaccine with Pfizer, said the companies did not see any serious side effects of the jab.
He said the “key side effects” seen so far were a mild to moderate pain in the injection site for a few days, while some of the participants had a mild to moderate fever for a similar period.
“We did not see any other serious side effects which would result in pausing or halting of the study” he told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show.
“We have now safety data for a proportion of the subjects for more than two months, and we are continuing to collect data for more than two years, to not only see the short and mid-term side effect profile but also the long-term side effect profile.
“But so far the safety profile appears to be absolutely benign.”
Sahin said that more data needed to be generated to find out if immunisation against coronavirus was required each year.
The Czech Republic has reported a further decline in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths from daily highs seen in early November.
But the country remains among the hardest hit in Europe during this second wave of the pandemic.
Health ministry data showed 4,199 new cases were reported on Saturday, down by more than 3,500 from the same day a week earlier, amid tough lockdown measures, with 132 new fatalities, which includes revisions to previous days.
The total number of cases in the country of 10.7 million since the start of the pandemic now stands at 458,229. The death toll stands at 6,058, a tenfold increase since late September.
Germans should brace for another 4-5 months of severe measures to halt the rise in coronavirus infections and should not expect the current rules to be eased quickly, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told weekly Bild am Sonntag.
“We’re not out of the woods yet”, he said referring to infection numbers. “We cannot afford a yo-yo shutdown with the economy constantly opening and closing.”
Germany has imposed a set of measures dubbed a “lockdown light” to rein in the second wave of the pandemic that the country is seeing in common with much of the rest of Europe, Reuters reports.
While restaurants are closed, schools and shops so far remain open. Data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday that the number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 16,947 to 790,503. Weekend figures tend to be lower as not all data is reported by local authorities.
Altmaier said Germany should be wary of relaxing restrictions too quickly. “If we don’t want days with 50,000 new infections, as was the case in France a few weeks ago, we must see through this and not constantly speculate about which measures can be relaxed again,” he told Bild am Sonntag.
“All countries that lifted their restrictions too early have so far paid a high price in terms of human lives lost.”
His comments echoed those of other leading German policy makers. Among others, Health Minister Jens Spahn said at an online event of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party on Saturday that hard weeks, possibly even months, lie ahead.
Indonesia has reported 4,106 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, taking the total number to 467,113, data from the country’s COVID-19 task force showed.
It recorded 63 COVID-19 deaths, taking the number of fatalities to 15,211. As of Sunday, 391,991 people have recovered from the virus in Indonesia
The Covid-19 rate of growth across the UK “is slowing”, Professor Sir Ian Diamond the UK’s national statistician has said. The head of the Office for National Statistics told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday show:
Diamond, said that cases had increased in the East Midlands, West Midlands and the South East in the last week.
“In England, we have huge regional variation. We have seen in the North West, the North East and in Yorkshire steady increases, although they have tended to flatten off in recent weeks a little.
We have now seen increases in the last week in the East Midlands, West Midlands, and the South East.
And rates are lower, although slightly increasing, in the rest of the country.”
“The good news is – yes – we are seeing a slow down in the rate of growth.
That means we’re still increasing and we are now in England at 1.25 per 1,000. That means that one in 85 people in England, we believe, have the virus.
In Wales, a little less at one in 100, in Scotland one in 135 and Northern Ireland one in 105.
So yes we are continuing to increase the numbers, but the rate of growth is slowing.”
Greek police on Sunday announced a ban on public gatherings of four or more people as hospitals were overwhelmed with coronavirus cases, ahead of the annual anniversary of a 1973 anti-junta uprising.
Greece on Saturday said it would shut primary schools, kindergartens and daycare centres as virus-related deaths crossed a thousand, AFP reports.
The anti-junta demonstration is a treasured anniversary for many Greeks, and more than 30,000 people demonstrated in Athens and other major cities last year under a heavy police presence.
At least 24 people were killed in the 1973 crackdown, an event generally considered to have broken the junta’s grip on power and helped the restoration of democracy.
This year, however, all public gatherings of four or more people would be banned from 6 am on Sunday to 9 pm on Wednesday to stem the spread of coronavirus police said in a statement.
Fines of 5,000 euros will be issued to legal entities like political parties and 3,000 euros for individuals who organise gatherings, while those participating will be fined 300 euros.
Authorities on Saturday reported 2,835 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to 72,510, and 38 new deaths, raising the toll to 1,035.
It is being called the “great reversal”. After decades of progress, the international goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 is in jeopardy, former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has warned, as developing countries battling the coronavirus sacrifice their health and education systems to pay western and Chinese creditors, Jamie Doward reports.
“We need a comprehensive new plan that recognises the need for some countries to restructure and reduce debt,” Brown told the Observer. Ahead of a key G20 meeting next weekend, the former prime minister is calling for a global solution if an imminent child mortality crisis is to be averted.
His warning comes against a backdrop of rising poverty and reversals in child health. Data from the Johns Hopkins Medical School shows that an additional 6,000 children could die every day from preventable causes as the pandemic weakens health systems and disrupts routine services.
But the ability of many developing countries to tackle Covid-19 is severely limited by their debt obligations. With little financial support flowing from the IMF and the World Bank, some governments face a stark choice between repaying creditors or funding crucial public services.
It is predicted that African countries will pay out more than $10bn to creditors this year and next year alone. More than half will go to City asset management firms, like BlackRock, which employs former UK chancellor George Osborne on £650,000 a year, and Fidelity Investments.