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UK Considers Reducing Quarantine Period for COVID-19 Contacts | World News

(Reuters) – Britain’s government is looking at how long those exposed to COVID-19 need to quarantine, Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis told Sky News on Sunday, commenting on reports that the self-isolation period could be reduced from 14 days.

Like many other European countries, the UK is facing a surge in infections. It has so far reported 884,457 coronavirus cases with 44,795 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

The government has ordered those in England identified as being exposed to the virus to stay at home for 14 days, or face fines of up to 10,000 pounds ($13,043).

“Teams are looking at what we can do around those isolation periods, this will be scientifically led,” Lewis said when asked about reports the period could be reduced to 10 or seven days.

“We’re not ready to make a final decision or announcement on that yet, but we want to make sure we’re moving with the science, and indeed again, allowing people to live and work within this virus as best as we can.”

Lewis denied a report in the Sunday Times that some city workers and company bosses could be exempt from the quarantine period. He said any changes to the rules would apply to everybody.

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru and William James in London; Editing by Frances Kerry and Catherine Evans)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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The Latest: India’s Cases Keep Downturn With 50K Infections | World News

NEW DELHI — India’s daily coronavirus cases have dropped to nearly 50,000, maintaining a downturn over the last few weeks.

The Health Ministry says 50,129 new cases have taken the overall tally to nearly 7.9 million on Sunday. It also reported 578 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising total fatalities to 118,534.

The ministry also said India’s active coronavirus cases were below 700,000 across the country and almost 7.1 million people had recovered from COVID-19.

India is second to the United States with the largest outbreak of the coronavirus. Last month, India hit a peak of nearly 100,000 cases in a single day, but since then daily cases have fallen by about half and deaths by about a third.

Some experts say the decline in cases suggests that the virus may have finally reached a plateau but others question the testing methods. India is relying heavily on antigen tests, which are faster but less accurate than traditional RT-PCR tests.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Surging coronavirus colors White House race in closing days

— Europe, US watch case totals grow, debate new restrictions

— Colombia reaches 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases

— Iran’s supreme leader has urged authorities to prioritize public health above any economic or security concerns, amid the Mideast’s worst outbreak of the coronavirus. Iran’s death toll from the global pandemic topped 32,000 this week.

— Pope Francis met with the Spanish prime minister Saturday at the Vatican, which has had a rash of COVID-19 infections confirmed in recent days, but neither man used a face a mask during the public part of their meeting.

— Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for the coronavirus; apologizes to those in quarantine because of contact, including Poland’s recent French Open winner.

— Police force in England says it will try to stop people from leaving Wales, which has started a 17-day lockdown to slow a surging rate of coronavirus infections.

Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MELBOURNE, Australia — A COVID-19 outbreak in the north of Melbourne has led health authorities in Australia’s Victoria state to hold off on any further easing of restrictions in the beleaguered city.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews withheld any announcement on an easing on Sunday as the state awaits results on 3,000 people who were tested in the city’s north in the past 24 hours.

He described it as a “cautious pause” – not a setback – to rule out there wasn’t widespread community transmission linked to the cluster.

Among the current restrictions are mandatory wearing of masks and no traveling beyond 25 kilometers (15 miles) from home. At the start of the second wave of cases two months ago, Andrews instituted an overnight curfew and shut down most businesses.

“I know it is frustrating,” Andrews said. “I know people are keen to have a long and detailed list of changes to the rules. It is not

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The Latest: No Masks: Pope, Spanish PM Meet at Vatican | World News

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan has reported more than 3,000 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the highest daily count yet during the pandemic.

The 3,338 new COVID-19 cases reported Saturday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services surpassed the state’s previous single-day record of 2,030 new cases set on Oct. 15. That earlier record had topped the previous record of 1,953 from early April.

The state agency also reported Saturday 35 more deaths from COVID-19, raising Michigan’s pandemic toll to 7,182 deaths.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said in a statement that it’s “now more important than ever that people take this seriously.” She urged Michigan residents to wear a face mask every time they are around someone outside of their own household, to practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— US sets daily record of more than 83,000 virus cases

— Pope Francis, Spanish PM Sanchez meet at Vatican without masks

— Italy’s daily coronavirus cases reach nearly 20,000

— Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for the coronavirus; apologizes to those in quarantine because of contact, including Poland’s recent French Open winner.

— AstraZeneca resumes late-stage testing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the U.S.

— Police force in England says it will try to stop people from leaving Wales, which has started a 17-day lockdown to slow a surging rate of coronavirus infections.

Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

EL PASO, Texas — The surge in coronavirus in the Texas border city of El Paso continued Saturday with a record 1,216 new cases, nearly 20% of the state’s 6,125 new cases, according to city-county health officials.

There have been 3,346 cases in the city during the past three days, according to city-county health reports. El Paso has reported 38,554 total cases since the pandemic began in March.

“Today’s spike is part of an unfortunate national surge that we have been planning and preparing for,” public health director Angela Mora said in a statement. “Now, we need our community to help us by doing their part and staying home, if and when possible, for the next two weeks in order to stop the rapid the spread of the virus.”

Gov. Greg Abbott has sent medical equipment and about 500 medical personnel to the region to help fight the virus. There have been more than 858,000 reported cases in Texas and nearly 17,500 deaths, 81 reported Saturday, since the pandemic’s start.

COLUMBIA, Tenn. — A Tennessee hospital is suspending all elective procedures requiring an overnight stay due to a surge in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, The Daily Herald of Columbia, Tennessee, reported.

As of Friday evening, Columbia’s Maury Regional Medical Center was treating 50 COVID-19 inpatients, 20 of whom were in the medical center’s 26-bed intensive care unit. In response, the hospital said Friday it is suspending elective surgical procedures that require

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South Korean Authorities Stick to Flu Vaccine Plan After Deaths Rise to 48 | World News

SEOUL (Reuters) – The number of South Koreans who have died after getting flu shots has risen to 48, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday, adding that the vaccines would continue to reduce the chance of having simultaneous epidemics.

The health authorities said they found no direct link between the deaths and the shots. They plan to carry on with the state-run vaccination programme to try to avoid having to fight both the flu and the coronavirus over the coming winter.

“After reviewing death cases so far, it is not the time to suspend a flu vaccination programme since vaccination is very crucial this year, considering … the COVID-19 outbreaks,” KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyung told a briefing.

Jeong said the review had shown no direct link between the flu shots and the 26 deaths that have been investigated.

Some 20 initial autopsy results from the police and the National Forensic Service showed that 13 people died of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other disorders not caused by the vaccination.

The death toll among those who have been vaccinated rose by 12 cases from a day earlier to 48 on Saturday.

The rising deaths have caused some doctors and politicians to call for a halt to the government campaign to vaccinate about 30 million of the country’s 54 million people.

While encouraging people to get flu vaccines, Jeong issued precautions to take before getting the shot, such as drinking enough water and telling healthcare workers about any underlying medical conditions. She also advised people to wait 15-30 minutes before leaving the clinic where they receive their vaccine.

“If possible, try to get the flu shot when it’s warm, since there are concerns that low temperatures could affect cardiovascular disease or cerebrovascular disease,” she said.

The KDCA said 9.4 million people had been inoculated as of Friday in the programme that began in September, with 1,154 cases of adverse reactions.

South Korea reported 77 new coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight, bringing total infections to 25,775, with 457 deaths.

(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Tom Hogue)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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The Latest: UNGA Head Concerned NY Mayor Won’t Meet on Virus | World News

UNITED NATIONS — The president of the United Nations General Assembly has expressed concern that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio rejected a meeting with him to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work of the 193-member world organization.

Volker Bozkir said in a statement that the United Nations “has been proud to call the city its home since the middle of the last century” and is “happy to generate billions of dollars in economic benefits and tens of thousands of jobs in New York City.” But the Turkish politician said he was disappointed at the mayor’s refusal to meet him.

Bozkir said: “This lack of interaction concerns me.”

His spokesman, Brenden Varma, told reporters that Bozkir reached out about two weeks ago to ask for an appointment with the mayor. But the assembly president received a response a few days ago declining the request, he said.

Penny Abeywardena, New York City’s commissioner for international affairs, responded to the assembly president’s statement without mentioning the mayor’s decision not to meet Bozkir.

She pointed to de Blasio’s “excellent relationship” with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and “deeply collaborative relationship with Mr. Bozkir’s predecessors,” and said the city looks forward “to continuing our partnership with the United Nations.”

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— France surpasses 1 million coronavirus cases

— WHO says Northern hemisphere at ‘critical juncture’ with rising cases, deaths

— FDA approves first COVID-19 drug: antiviral remdesivir

— UN chief says G-20 leaders must coordinate to fight coronavirus. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is frustrated leaders of 20 major industrialized countries didn’t do it in March as he proposed.

— Schools from New Jersey to California have been hit with teacher and staff layoffs. Urban areas lacking the property wealth of suburban communities are especially vulnerable to budget cuts, with many schools hoping for a new round of federal money.

— An online Japanese-language text messaging service for suicide prevention has grown to 500 volunteers since March.

Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MADISON, Wis. — Nearly 4,400 more Wisconsin residents have contracted COVID-19 as the disease continues to surge unchecked across the U.S. state.

The state Department of Health Services reported 4,378 newly confirmed cases on Friday. The daily record is 4,591 cases, set on Tuesday. The state has now seen 190,478 cases since the pandemic began in March.

DHS reported 42 more people have died, bringing the death toll to 1,745.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association reported 1,243 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, setting a new record for the second straight day. Two patients were at a field hospital the state has set up at the state fairgrounds in West Allis as of Friday.

NEW YORK — The number of people hospitalized in New York because of the coronavirus has climbed back over 1,000.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there were 1,023 hospitalizations around the state as of Thursday. That’s more than

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medicine

Cleaveland: Low-tech medicine in a high-tech world

An accident landed me in a local medical center where I could observe and reflect upon the accelerating changes in the technology of medicine.

When I first began practicing medicine in Chattanooga in 1971, the city featured many fine caregivers at a time when technology was severely limited. The two principal hospitals had excellent reputations for nursing care. Many patients arrived in emergency rooms via hearses provided by funeral homes. Emergency rooms were modest in space and equipment.

CT and MRI scans had not yet been perfected. Fiberoptics, which revolutionized examination and therapy of lungs, digestive tracts and joints, was several years away from clinical deployment. Arteriography allowed diagnosis of narrowed or blocked arteries, but the technology of dilating vessels and placing stents was a few years away. Open heart surgery was the only option for clearing a blocked artery. Today, clots that block arteries can be rapidly dissolved or removed, thus preventing or limiting damage to organs. Patients may be safely discharged to their homes after a few days.

Heart attacks would run their course in the absence of clot-dissolving medication. Once in the hospital, the victim of the heart attack would typically be hospitalized for 10 to 14 days in a program of gradually increasing exercise.

Before the advent of minimally invasive surgery, a patient with a diseased gall bladder might require a week of post-operative care before discharge.

Until the discovery that bacteria caused most peptic ulcers, patients with severe ulcer disease often required various surgeries, which included removal of part of the stomach and clipping of nerves that stimulated acid secretion.

Patients with fevers of unknown origin might require exploratory surgery to determine the source of their fever, which might be a lymphoma or other malignancy.

Entire subspecialties of medicine did not exist outside of academic medical centers.

Upon arrival in the emergency room, an ER physician evaluated me before ordering X-rays and a CT scan. A hospitalist obtained a complete history and physical before the orthopedic surgeon examined me and the imaging studies to determine that my hip fracture needed immediate surgery. Electronic devices monitored heart, blood pressure and oxygen saturation. A bar code linked each measurement to me. Everyone’s data entered into an electronic medical record (EMR), which is alternately cursed and praised. Physicians who are new to the EMR report that the system has radically altered how they evaluate patients. Most physicians report that entering data into the EMR adds two to three hours to each day’s work.

Describing these changes, a physician whom I deeply admire described himself as a low-tech physician in a high-tech world. He had to re-order the sequences of the history and physical examination. Administrative time for the EMR eroded time for patient interaction.

Low-tech medicine consists of personal engagement between caregiver and patient. Mutual trust and empathy are built upon this platform. The patient is regarded not as an object but as a fellow human being who may be dealing with fear, pain and uncertainty.

Feeling low

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Europe Daily Coronavirus Cases Double in 10 Days, Reports 200,000 Daily Cases for the First Time | World News

By Anurag Maan and Shaina Ahluwalia

(Reuters) – Europe’s reported coronavirus cases more than doubled in 10 days, crossing 200,000 daily infections for the first time on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally, with many Southern European countries reporting their highest single-day cases this week.

Europe reported 100,000 daily cases for the first time on Oct. 12.

Europe has so far reported about 7.8 million total coronavirus cases and about 247,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

European countries like Italy, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia reported their highest single-day coronavirus cases on Thursday.

Europe as a region is reporting more daily cases than India, Brazil and the United States combined. The increase is partly explained by far more testing than was done in the first wave of the pandemic.

The global coronavirus tally stands at about 41.4 million cases and about 1.1 million deaths.

According to a Reuters tally, Wednesday saw the highest total of infections reported in a single day across the world, at 422,835.

As of now, Europe accounts for nearly 19% of global cases and about 22% of global deaths, according to Reuters tally.

In Western Europe, France, which is reporting the highest seven-day average of new cases in Europe with 25,480 infections per day, reported an all-time high of 41,622 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, according to French health authorities.

To slow the spread of infection, France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday announced widening of a coronavirus curfew to more than two thirds of its population.

Another Western European country Netherlands reported more than 9,000 in 24 hours, a new record, data released by the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) on Thursday showed.

Germany, which reported more than 10,000 daily cases for the first time on Thursday, extended travel warnings for Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, most of Austria and Italian regions including Rome.

Hospitals across Europe remain under strain. Even though the it remains well below levels at the peak of the crisis six months ago in the region, COVID-19 hospital admissions and occupancy are going up again.

A World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Monday said Europe and North America should follow the example of Asian states by persevering with anti-COVID measures and quarantining anyone who comes into contact with infected people,.

(Reporting by Anurag Maan and Shaina Ahluwalia in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Germany Issues Travel Warnings as COVID Surges in Europe | World News

By Kirsti Knolle and Inti Landauro

BERLIN/MADRID (Reuters) – Germany warned on Thursday against travel to neighbouring countries, Belgium’s foreign minister went into intensive care and Spain said COVID-19 was “out of control” in many areas, as governments across Europe took action to fight the pandemic.

As German authorities reported more than 10,000 daily cases for the first time, Berlin issued travel warnings for Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, most of Austria and many Italian regions, including the capital Rome.

“The situation overall has become very serious,” Lothar Wieler, of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s infectious diseases agency, said in Berlin, adding: “We still have a chance to slow a further spread of the virus.”

After Europe appeared to have gained a measure of control over the epidemic following the dramatic lockdowns of March and April, a surge in cases over recent weeks has put the continent back at the heart of the crisis.

Hospitalisations and deaths across most of Europe have not yet reached the levels of the initial wave early this year, but authorities in many countries worry the situation could rapidly get worse.

More than 5.3 million people in Europe have contracted the disease and over 204,000 have died, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

India has had more than 7.7 million cases – the world’s highest tally after the United States with 8.3 million. But elsewhere in Asia, from China to South Korea or New Zealand, draconian lockdowns and rigorous contact tracing have helped contain the disease.

Grappling with the enormous costs of the coronavirus, Europe’s leaders are desperate to avoid a repeat of the blanket lockdowns that shut down their economies in the spring.

But as cases have surged, and health services have come under increasing pressure, they have been forced to impose and expand local restrictions aimed at reducing public gatherings to ever wider areas.

Underlining the reach of the disease, Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes went into intensive care on Thursday. German Health Minister Jens Spahn tested positive a day earlier.

“The second wave is a reality,” Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Thursday. “In many areas of our country, the epidemic is out of control.”

A number of Spanish regions are calling for localised curfews such as those implemented in France and Italy, where Lazio, the region around Rome, has joined Lombardy and Campania around Milan and Naples in imposing overnight curfews.

Amid the growing public alarm, Germany’s statistics office noted that sales of toilet paper rose almost 90% last week from pre-crisis levels with almost equally sharp jumps in sales of disinfectants and soap.

Only Sweden, a European outlier which has relied largely on voluntary measures to promote social distancing, was an exception, declaring senior citizens no longer need to isolate themselves given lower COVID infection rates than in spring.

As the crisis has intensified, much of the public goodwill seen in the first phase of lockdowns has evaporated and central governments have engaged in angry spats

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Contakt World Enters 3-Year Strategic Collaboration with Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine

Partnership to Improve Health Equity, Reduce Health Disparities, and Improve Community Health Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

OCEANSIDE, CA / ACCESSWIRE / October 22, 2020 / Contakt LLC, subsidiary of Contakt World Technologies Corp. (“Contakt World”), a technology company modernizing the contact tracing process, today announced a strategic partnership with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine to provide COVID-19 resources and the Contakt World Platform for digital contact tracing to support communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Over three years, Contakt will assist SHLI and local, state, and national health agency partners to identify, monitor and support marginalized populations who are at heightened risk of exposure and complications from coronavirus. The program is expected to reach all fifty United States and territories, as well as tribal nations disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SHLI is a leading academic institute within Morehouse School of Medicine that prioritizes research, training, and leadership development programs to eliminate inequities that prevent individuals from achieving optimal health. SHLI is leading several national projects to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable and underserved communities, including the the National Infrastructure for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Health Equity Tracker project with Google.org, CDC Foundation, and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD). Both projects aim to understand the root cause of the disproportionate spread of COVID-19 and other co-morbidities in minority communities and provide accessible health solutions. As part of the 3-year initial term between Contakt World and SHLI – Contakt World intends to obtain United States entitlements to use the Google-Apple Exposure Notification System (“GAEN”), while adding functionality across an array of tools for consumers, health agencies, and businesses to improve health agency reach to marginalized populations who may not have access to the latest smartphones using GAEN.

“We are honored to partner with SHLI on this project to improve the overall health of all communities and provide the right tools and resources to communities fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Justin Beck, Chief Executive Officer of Contakt World. “Any system designed for truly scaled digital contact tracing must be deliberately accessible and reach people where they are. We look forward to working with SHLI to ensure that no person is denied critical health information due to digital divides, language barriers or other limitations of trust or technology.”

Contakt World will enable any community working with SHLI with technologies to support their efforts to serve high risk areas. The Contakt World Platform will initially be available through the SHLI collaboration in Albany, GA., South Florida, New Orleans, LA., Moore County, TX., Alaska, Navajo Nation with plans to expand to all 50 states and territories within the next three years or earlier by request.

“COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated health inequities that have existed long before the pandemic started earlier this year,” said Daniel E. Dawes, Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine and author of The Political

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The Latest: Belgian Foreign Minister in Intensive Care | World News

BRUSSELS — Belgian Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes has been hospitalized in intensive care with the coronavirus.

Wilmes, who was in charge when the first wave of infections hit the country this spring, now serves in the new government led by Alexander De Croo.

Elke Pattyn, a spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry, told The Associated Press that Wilmes is in a stable condition and conscious. She said her condition “is not worrying.”

The 45-year-old Wilmes, who was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday evening, said last week she thought she got infected within her family circle.

Belgium, a country of 11.5 million inhabitants, has been severely hit by the coronavirus and is currently seeing a sharp rise in new cases. More than 10,000 people have died from coronavirus-related complications in Belgium

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Regulators, experts take up thorny vaccine study issues

— Despite pledges, Czechs face 2nd lockdown as system totters

— Virus spikes have officials looking to shore up hospitals

— Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has overruled his own health minister on the announced purchase of 46 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine being tested in Sao Paulo state.

— Ireland is already focused on Christmas. It’s a major national priority. Unless the country can get the COVID-19 epidemic under control, there won’t be much Christmas cheer this year in Galway, Cork or Dublin.

— Poland’s prime minister has signaled that the whole country faces being placed on the highest restriction level short of a full lockdown, as health authorities registered a record in new confirmed COVID-19 infections.

Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

LONDON — U.K. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is expected to announce increased help for bars, pubs and restaurants that have seen business collapse because of COVID-19 controls.

Hospitality businesses are under pressure because the measures severely limit social gatherings, even under the lower levels of restrictions imposed on areas with less severe outbreaks. That reduces the number of people who go out for dinner or to meet up with friends, reducing income and forcing employers to lay off workers.

But most can’t take advantage of current government aid programs, which are focused on businesses that are ordered to close under the highest level of restrictions.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street told the BBC that the support programs were designed with the assumption that the pandemic would ease, reducing the need for government assistance. That didn’t happen and infection rates are now rising across the country.

The government “didn’t expect us to be in a position through the autumn where we were having a rising level of the virus to this extent, so if you look at the design of the winter economy package, at the time that seemed rational but clearly events have moved very quickly.”

BUDAPEST — The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Hungary has risen above 2,000 for the

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