Tag: United Kingdom

Coronavirus infection spread: Symptomatic vs Asymptomatic, What do we know?
Geopolitics

Coronavirus infection spread: Symptomatic vs Asymptomatic, What do we know?

Coronavirus infection transmission rate and the potency of infection spread from asymptomatic patients is still “unknown”, World Health Organization clarified on Tuesday. This was after Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’S COVID-19 technical lead said on Monday that infection spread from asymptomatic cases is “very rare”. The fact that this observation was based on a small study group, makes it not reliable.

Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, Dr. Michael Ryan said that undoubtedly there is transmission of infection from asymptomatic sources and that he was “absolutely convinced” about it. Just the question left is that “how much” infection spread rate is from patients displaying no symptoms.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who is also the WHO’S Head of Emerging Diseases clarified the distinctive features between three categories of coronavirus patients/ carriers.

  • Asymptomatic patients – these are the ones who never develop any symptoms to infection, and therefore sometimes might go undetected.
  • Pre-symptomatic – These patients do not have any symptoms when they are tested positive, but they develop them later on.
  • Mild symptomatic – These people have very mild or common (atypical) symptoms and they usually do not realize they have the infection, and go undetected.

These minor differences between categories, which are seldom not mentioned in the reports, along with small sample size for study make it significantly difficult to draw any conclusions regarding carriers and spread of coronavirus infection.

But Dr. Van Kerkhove suggested that available evidences indicate lower infection spread instances from patients who never develop the symptoms or are asymptomatic, when compared to patients with mild or moderate-severe symptoms.  

According to studies conducted by the WHO in various random sample groups of asymptomatic cases, when contact tracing was done it was discovered that there were very low secondary infection cases among people who came in contact with asymptomatic patients.

WHO published in “guidance on wearing masks” on weekend, based on the study concluding “The available evidence from contact tracing reported by member states suggests that asymptomatically-infected individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who develop symptoms.”

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) in UK after consistent sample testing of patients concluded that only 29% of positive tested patients of COVID-19 reported “any evidence of symptoms” when they were tested positive, or previous or following visits.

Symptomatic patients – highest risk carriers

 Contact tracing sample studies in many countries provides evidence that “true asymptomatic” cases “rarely transmit” infection. But the studies also indicate that there can be infection transmission before or on the day symptoms appear when they are mild in severity, stated Prof. Babak Javid who is an Infectious Diseases Consultant at the University of Cambridge.

Around three days before the patients first develop symptoms, there can be a detectable load of virus present in their system, which is capable of transmission relatively higher just before or on the day of symptoms appearance.

The asymptomatic cases can transmit the infection, but the relative high infection spread by symptomatic patients provides suitable evidence that they are the “highest risk” category of carriers.

The evidence collected through studies suggests – a positive case doesn’t directly indicate the transmission capacity of the patient or how much virus is in their system, also known as “Viral Load”. But when a patient displays symptoms like sneezing and coughing and the amount of contact he has with other people, directly influences how likely he can transmit the infection. It has been substantially determined that coronavirus mainly “passes through infectious droplets”. This determines that when a patient sneezes or coughs, he is most prone to pass on the infection, pointed out Dr. Van Kerkhove.

UAE sent 6.6 tonnes of medical material to UK, boosting PPE production
Middle East & Africa

UAE sent 6.6 tonnes of medical material to UK, boosting PPE production

In the context of international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, the United Arab Emirates has delivered today 6.6 tonnes of medical material to the United Kingdom that will enable the country to produce millions of items of personal protective equipment, PPE.

The shipment arrived at Heathrow Airport on a special chartered flight on Friday morning and was made up of 6.6 tonnes of melt blown fabric, an essential component of surgical face masks. According to UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) there is currently a global shortage of the material and its export is restricted from the UAE.

This shipment will enable the UK to manufacture millions of face masks to protect millions of medical professionals as they work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The UAE Ambassador to the UK, Mansoor Abulhoul, said: “We are delighted to be able to assist Britain, one of our closest friends and allies. The UAE is committed to helping fight COVID-19 wherever it can and has donated aid to 63 countries around the world.”

Soon after the virus emerged the UAE retooled factories to produce PPE, the UAE was able to supply the material because of its internationally-recognised success in curbing the spread of COVID-19. Careful supply chain management also meant the UAE did not exhaust domestic supplies of melt blown fabric, which is used in the oil industry and is manufactured in the UAE.

Last April, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, donated 60 tonnes of urgent medical aid to the UK. The NHS has been given rent-free use of ExCel London; the conference centre owned by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre which is currently NHS Nightingale.

The UAE undertaken numerous initiatives to globally combat the new coronavirus, delivering more than 716 tonnes of medical aid to 63 countries; more than 716,000 medical professionals have been assisted worldwide so far.This global approach on fighting the common enemy, called COVID-19, allowed to save millions lives around the world.

Brexit deal likely by autumn, EU says
Europe

Brexit deal likely by autumn, EU says

European Union leaders will intervene soon in order to bring the Brexit talks to a conclusion by autumn, according to Berlin’s representative in Brussels.

Following the United Kingdom’s statement last week that talks can’t go on forever and needed to be concluded before autumn, Germany’s ambassador to the EU Michael Clauss confirmed that the EU was working towards this. Political intervention was likely and inevitable, and this would be EU’s main focus in September and October along with arriving at a pandemic recovery package for the bloc.

Saying that no real progress has been made so far on the negotiations, he said that Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, Charles Michel, the president of the European council, and Boris Johnson would meet this month to take stock. This will help negotiators arrive at a conclusion about whether no-deal planning was necessary. The UK has made it clear that it is not willing to budge from its red lines and it is up to the EU to accept this and arrive at a reasonable compromise.

UK officials are already of the opinion that an autumn deal would be too late as it would not give British business enough time to prepare for the end of transition without the knowledge of what kind of trade agreement has been reached. In the last round of negotiations, there was stalemate across the board in access for European fishing fleets to UK waters, the role of European courts, return for a zero-tariff trade deal, and common environmental, social and labour standards. UK negotiators have been repeatedly calling for EU’s political leaders to intervene to break the stalemate.

EU has been saying that Britain cannot have a full sovereignty and full access to the internal market, but it would have to give away some sovereignty to secure free trade. A compromise would have to be reached with the objective of arriving at a deal at the European Council summit on 15 October. It can’t be much later, according to EU insiders, because it would then need to be ratified by the European parliament which would need some time.

In lieu of China imposing new law in Hong Kong, UK to offer “citizenship route” to HK citizens
Asia Pacific Focus

In lieu of China imposing new law in Hong Kong, UK to offer “citizenship route” to HK citizens

China has been facing criticism over the new law imposing on Hong Kong that would devoid the country of its “independent” status and freedom to “protest”, with HK coming directly under the jurisdiction of China mainland.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Times in an interview that UK would offer a route of citizenship to HK residents in case the security law by China is imposed on the country.

UK and other allies like U.S. and Australia are already discussing on the mode of action and change in relations with HK, if China imposes the new law on Hong Kong – in which case the same relations with HK would be unlawful as would be undermining Beijing’s authority.

On Wednesday, UK PM Boris Johnson confirmed that in case of law imposition, the Hong Kong citizens with BNO (British National Overseas) passports would be allowed to enter UK without any visa and allowed to stay up to a year, as against 6 months as per earlier laws. The passport holders would be further allowed to work in UK as an extension to immigration rights.

Approximately 350,000 Hong Kong citizens have a valid BNO passport and more than 2.6 million are eligible for it.

PM Boris Johnson clarified that if need be Britain would take this step for HK citizens willingly and would not “walk away”.

“If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honour our obligations and provide an alternative,” PM Johnson told the Times.

Lord Patten, the last British governor to Hong Kong supported UK’s stand as being “politically and morally right.” He accused China of its continuous “bullying” tactics. He said that it is not against China but the fact that China’s communist regime cannot stand the HK’s policies – that is everything which President Xi Jinping dislikes.

He further said that this is the “era marking beginning of realism with China.”

Hong Kong had been the colony of Britain which was handed over to China in 1997. According to the terms of treaty, Hong Kong enjoys certain freedoms which are devoid in China mainland. These set of freedom policies are set in a mini-constitution known as Basic Law.

BNO passports were granted to HK citizens who were born before handover to China in 1997. These passports allow holders to enjoy many perks and protection from UK foreign policies, they are still not eligible to work or stay for more than 6 months in UK.

The proposed action under immigration and citizenship route by UK for Hong Kong citizens is believed to offer some respite and opportunities for people fearing China law implementation.

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