Coronavirus live news: Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trial put on hold; England bans gatherings of more than six



22:39

New Zealand confirms six new cases of community transmission

Charlotte Graham-McLay reports for the Guardian:

New Zealand reported six new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, all spread by community transmission and connected to an outbreak in the largest city, Auckland.

Health authorities are asking all members of a particular church, Mt. Roskill Evangelical Fellowship, to be tested for the coronavirus –even if they are not symptomatic or have been tested before. All six of the new cases have links to the church.

One of the cases reported on Wednesday was diagnosed in a bus driver, health officials said.

The government imposed tighter restrictions on Auckland as the new community cases emerged after a period in June where New Zealand was free of Covid-19. There are currently 82 cases in the community, and 43 imported cases in the managed isolation facilities for travelers returning to New Zealand.

The country has recorded 1,437 cases of the virus, and 23 people have died. There are four people in hospital with Covid-19, two of them in intensive care.

An earlier lockdown of the entire country – one of the world’s strictest – has been widely credited with curbing the virus’ spread in New Zealand.



22:21

Trouble in store as Covid canning craze leads to empty shelves and price gouging

It’s the time of year when gardeners are turning their ripe tomatoes into sauces and salsas and cucumbers into pickles. But a boom in gardening and preparing food at home during the coronavirus pandemic has led to a scarcity of supplies with which to preserve them, the AP reports.

From Maine and Vermont to Louisiana and West Virginia, gardeners have reported being in a pickle when it comes to finding the right size glass jars, the special lids to safely seal them, or the bands with which to screw them on. They’ve gone from store to store and some have given in to paying higher prices online.

“We have been everywhere,” said Vanessa Ware of Hurricane, West Virginia, who said she went to at least half a dozen stores after running out of supplies for her tomatoes, peppers, corn and sauerkraut canning. She still had enough leftover jars and lids but not the bands, so she started looking – and looking. And a search of online retail sites proved to be frustrating due to price gouging:



21:48

A million jobs lost in Australia between March and June quarters

Amy Remeikis

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has announced that total filled jobs fell by 6.4 per cent and hours worked fell by 9.8 per cent between the March and June quarters.

Head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, Bjorn Jarvis, said: “The Labour Account provides the most comprehensive measure of total job losses during the Covid-19 period – a fall of around 932,000 jobs. This echoes what we have previously seen in falls of employment in Labour Force Survey data and changes in jobs in the indexed payroll data.”

The record decrease in filled jobs followed a small decrease of 0.1 per cent in the March quarter. The decrease between March and June was more pronounced in the private sector (down 7.1 per cent), compared to the public sector (down 1.9 per cent).

The number of secondary jobs in the labour market decreased by 19.6 per cent, with the rate of multiple job holding falling to 4.9 per cent of all employed people (from around 6.0 per cent prior to the COVID-19 period).

The number of job vacancies decreased by 42.1 per cent over the quarter, and was down 43.3 per cent on June quarter 2019. Vacant jobs accounted for 0.96 per cent of all jobs in the June quarter, the lowest since March 2002.

“In line with the impact seen in other indicators, the largest declines in hours worked since the March quarter were in the Accommodation and food services industry, down 36.0 per cent, and Arts and recreation industry, down 35.5 per cent,” Mr Jarvis said.



21:45

In case you missed it:

China has passed “an extraordinary and historic test” with its handling of the coronavirus, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday at a triumphant awards ceremony for medical professionals decorated with bugle calls and applause, Reuters reports.

The nation’s propaganda machine has churned out praise for China’s Covid-19 response, reframing the public health crisis as an example of the agility and organisation of the Communist leadership.

Xi doled out gold medals to four “heroes” from the medical field in front of hundreds of applauding delegates on Tuesday, all wearing face masks and strikingly large red flower pins.

“We have passed an extraordinary and historic test,” Xi said, praising the country for a “heroic struggle” against the disease.

“We quickly achieved initial success in the people’s war against the coronavirus. We are leading the world in economic recovery and in the fight against Covid-19.”

China has come under intense global scrutiny over its response to the virus, with the US and Australia leading accusations against Beijing that it covered up the origins and severity of the virus.

Tuesday’s lavish ceremony in the Great Hall of the People began with a minute’s silence for those who lost their lives during the outbreak.



21:28

Mainland China reported two new Covid-19 cases on 8 September, down from 10 a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Wednesday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that both cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas, marking the 24th straight day of no local infections.

The number of new asymptomatic cases also fell to eight from 13 reported a day earlier. China does not count these symptomless patients as confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases for mainland China now stands at 85,146 while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.



21:10

Concerns in Canada over rising cases as schools reopen

Canada is seeing a worrying increase in the number of people infected with the coronavirus as schools across the country start to reopen, a top medical official said on Tuesday.

Reuters reports that Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said an average of 545 new cases had been reported daily over the past week, up from about 300 in July.

“This is concerning and I want to underscore that when cases occur, including in schools, it is a reflection on what’s happening in the community,” she told a briefing.

“This week is a really critical week.”

Several of the 10 provinces have started to reopen schools this week for in-person learning for the first time since March after investing millions in added protections. Quebec, which welcomed back pupils last month, has already reported a number of cases in schools.

Tam noted that the increase in infections was concentrated among younger adults and cited the risk posed by private functions and family gatherings.

Alberta, which reopened schools one week ago, reported 11 new Covid-19 cases spread across 11 different schools, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw told reporters on Tuesday. She said the infections were spread in the community, and not acquired within the schools.

Alberta now has 1,692 known active cases, the most since early May.

The premier of Ontario, Canada’s most-populous province, railed against young people and students who he said were holding unauthorized parties and warned them he wanted the police to lay charges if necessary.

“No more parties. I just can’t stress it enough,” Doug Ford told a briefing on Tuesday. Ontario announced a one-month suspension of efforts to lift remaining restrictions that had been imposed to fight the outbreak.

The coronavirus reproduction number, which shows how many people someone with Covid-19 is infecting, has risen to just above one, an indication that the virus is spreading.

Canada has recorded a total of 132,142 Covid-19 cases and 9,146 deaths.



20:53

Are there important developments in your country that we’re not covering? Have you seen something online that you think may provide a bit of comic relief for our blog readers? Have you discovered the secret to eternal youth?

Get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com.



20:44

Australia’s coronavirus hot spot of Victoria state on Wednesday reported 76 new cases and 11 deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours, Reuters reports.

Victoria, the country’s second most populous state, a day earlier reported eight deaths and 55 cases.

The state, which extended its tough movement restrictions in its largest city of Melbourne until 28 September to contain a second wave, is deepening its contact tracing programme to further ease a rise in daily new cases.



19:59

Gatherings of more than six to be banned in England

Peter Walker and Simon Murphy report:

The UK government has announced emergency action to try and stem a feared autumn resurgence of coronavirus, tightening laws to ban virtually all gatherings of more than six people in England.

Amid concerns that the current rules are both widely misunderstood and too difficult for police to implement, Boris Johnson will hold a hastily-arranged Downing Street press conference on Wednesday to outline the new restrictions.

The dramatic change of approach by No 10 follows a sudden spike in the number of people being infected with the virus, with almost 8,500 positive tests being recorded in England in the last three days:



19:41

The Seattle Times reports that drive-through testing centres in a Seattle health district have been closed due to poor air quality caused by the wildfires:

 

Due to the poor air quality caused by wildfires in the region, the Snohomish Health District has closed its drive-thru testing operations at two sites until Thursday.

The sites are located at the Lynnwood Food Bank and 3900 Broadway.

Staff is notifying all individuals with appointments to reschedule for later this week, and to contact their healthcare provider if symptoms worsen.

The Health District hopes to reopen Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but will continue to monitor air quality over the next 24 to 36 hours.

The District recommends that people monitor the website at www.snohd.org/testing or the Health District’s social media channels for any further changes to the testing schedule.



19:17

AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford pause major vaccine trial for second time

Here is what we know so far about the vaccine trial being put on hold.

AstraZeneca Plc has put a hold on the late-stage trial of its highly-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine candidate after a suspected serious adverse reaction in a study participant, health news website Stat News reported on Tuesday.

It quoted an AstraZeneca spokesperson as saying in a statement that the “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.”

The study is testing a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford researchers at sites including the United States and the United Kingdom, where the adverse event was reported.

The nature of the safety issue and when it happened were not immediately known, although the participant is expected to recover, according to Stat News.

Fergus Walsh
(@BBCFergusWalsh)

This is the second ‘pause’ in the trial. The investigation should be complete in a few days.

September 8, 2020

The development of a promising Covid-19 vaccine has been put on hold due to an adverse reaction in a trial participant.

A spokesman for AstraZeneca, the company working with a team from Oxford University, told the Guardian the trial has been stopped to review the “potentially unexplained illness” in one of the participants.

The vaccine, which had been expected to be publicly available as early as January 20201, is one of two projects the Australian government plans to spend AI$1.7bn on as part of a deal to ensure free vaccines for all citizens.

On Monday, the Australian government committed to buying 33.8 million doses of the vaccine, if it was successful.



19:06

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest from around the world for the next few hours. Is there news you’d like to see more of or a major story in a country that we’ve missed? Get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com. Questions, comments, frankly embarrassing amounts of praise welcome.

AstraZeneca Plc has put a hold on the late-stage trial of its highly-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine candidate after a suspected serious adverse reaction in a study participant, health news website Stat News reported on Tuesday.

It quoted an AstraZeneca spokesperson as saying in a statement that the “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.”

The study is testing a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford researchers at sites including the United States and the United Kingdom, where the adverse event was reported.

The nature of the safety issue and when it happened were not immediately known, although the participant is expected to recover, according to Stat News.

BBC Medical editor Fergus Walsh pointed out that this is the “second ‘pause’ in the trial” and that the “investigation should be complete in a few days.”

Fergus Walsh
(@BBCFergusWalsh)

This is the second ‘pause’ in the trial. The investigation should be complete in a few days.

September 8, 2020

  • Gatherings of more than six people to be banned in England. Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday after the number of daily positive Covid-19 cases in the UK rose to almost 3,000.
  • Tour de France director tests positive. The Tour de France director, Christian Prudhomme, has tested positive for coronavirus. However, all 166 remaining Tour de France riders were cleared to continue racing after Covid-19 tests.
  • France records 6,544 new daily cases. The number of new, confirmed cases of Covid-19 in France rose by 6,544 over the last 24 hours to stand at a total of 335,524.
  • Three migrant camps near Athens placed in quarantine as concerns mount over spread of virus. Three migrant camps near Athens were placed in quarantine on Tuesday as concerns mounted over the spread of Covid-19 among thousands of asylum seekers living in squalid conditions in Greece.
  • Spain reports 3,168 new cases in past 24 hours. Spain’s health ministry reported 8,964 new Covid cases on Tuesday, 3,168 of them diagnosed over the past 24 hours.
  • Coronavirus bill has cost UK government £210bn, spending watchdog says. The government response to the coronavirus pandemic is on track to cost £210bn for the first six months of the crisis, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has said.
  • Hong Kong eases coronavirus curbs. Hong Kong will expand the size of public gatherings to four people and reopen more sports venues from Friday as the Asian financial hub relaxes strict curbs against a third wave of the coronavirus.
  • School disruption could have century-long economic impact: OECD. Disruption to schooling stemming from the Covid-19 epidemic will cause a skill loss that could result in a 1.5% drop in global economic output for the rest of this century, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has estimated.

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