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Live updates on the coronavirus in Leeds and across the UK.

Sunday, 15th March 2020, 1:09 pm
Shoppers in Leeds city centre.
Shoppers in Leeds city centre.

All the latest updates as UK government moves to 'delay' phase of tackling the spread of coronavirus.

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Leeds news LIVE: Latest on Coronavirus on Sunday, March 15

Last updated: Sunday, 15 March, 2020, 15:56

  • New measures set for UK in fight against coronavirus
  • Trolleys 'abandoned' and queues of up to 30 people per till' at Leeds supermarkets
  • University of Leeds announce transition to online classes
  • Leeds man on Benidorm holiday shares eerie photographs of deserted beach and streets
  • Full list of affected Tui holiday locations including Spain, Cyprus, Malta and Italy
  • Jet2 releases updated statement as flights to Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands cancelled from UK

The difference between a pandemic and an epidemic

What is a pandemic?

The WHO defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease, across several countries or continents, affecting a large number of people.

A viral outbreak could be categorised as a pandemic if it is markedly different from recently circulating strains, and if humans have little or no immunity to it, according to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive.

What is an epidemic?

In contrast, an epidemic refers to a more localised or regional outbreak of a disease, rather than one that has spread across the globe.

It is an increase - often sudden - in the number of cases of a disease that is above what is normally expected in that population in that area, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC)

Leeds man on Benidorm holiday shares eerie photographs of deserted beach and streets

A Leeds holiday goer has shared eerie photographs of a deserted Benidorm - including an EMPTY beach and streets without a single person.

Paul Grimley, 40, is currently on holiday in Benidorm with his family.

However, Paul - a Tenancy Enforcement Team Leader for a Housing Association in Leeds - told the Yorkshire Evening Post the whole area is on lockdown.

Latest on Jet 2 flights to Madeira

New measures set for fight against coronavirus

The UK's fight against coronavirus is set to dramatically escalate, with measures to shield the elderly from the disease and plans to isolate entire households.

Boris Johnson will also personally urge manufacturers to shift their production lines to build ventilators as the NHS prepares for a significant increase in cases of Covid-19.

And the Government is in talks with private hospitals about the possibility of taking over beds in a further sign of the pressures that will face the health service at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

In an acknowledgement of the almost wartime measures being introduced, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Our generation has never been tested like this.

"Our grandparents were, during the Second World War, when our cities were bombed during the Blitz.

"Despite the pounding every night, the rationing, the loss of life, they pulled together in one gigantic national effort.

"Today our generation is facing its own test, fighting a very real and new disease."

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he said everyone would have to make sacrifices to protect not only themselves, but "especially those most vulnerable to the disease".

The increase in activity came after 10 more patients died in England after testing positive for Covid-19, while the US government imposed a travel ban on the UK and Ireland in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts on the UK's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) set out the need for extra action to slow the spread of the disease.

The panel advised that the next interventions "will need to be instituted soon".

Those measures will include steps to shield the vulnerable - including the elderly and those with existing health problems - from the virus by telling them to stay in their houses or care homes.

There could also be a shift to household isolation rather than individual self-isolation.

The 10 patients who died since Friday were being cared for in Buckinghamshire, Sandwell & West Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Barts, London, north Middlesex and Chester, NHS England said.

A number of the patients, who were over 60, had underlying health conditions.

There have been 1,140 positive tests for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Saturday, up from 798 at the same time on Friday.

The UK death toll now stands at 21, with 20 in England and one in Scotland.

At a press conference on Saturday, President Donald Trump - who said he had been tested for the virus - announced the extension of his travel restrictions to cover the UK and Ireland.

The changes will come in at midnight on Monday night in the eastern US.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson and the president spoke on Saturday evening and "the Prime Minister set out the science-led approach the UK is taking".

On Monday the Prime Minister will urge manufacturers to join a "national effort" to produce equipment for the NHS.

Engineers have already been asked to draw up plans to quickly produce more ventilators in the UK amid concerns that critical care facilities will come under intense pressure as the Covid-19 crisis intensifies.

Negotiations are also taking place with private health firms about access to their hospital beds.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: "We need every part of society and every industry to ask what they can do to help the effort."

Whitehall sources have already indicated that mass gatherings could be banned from next weekend.

Other measures, including school closures, have also been considered as an option to combat the spread of the virus.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster, who has attended the Cobra meetings formulating the UK's response, suggested that schools would need to be closed for four months if that step was taken.

"Schools will not be closed immediately but schools and parents should prepare because when they do they will close for at least 16 weeks," she warned.

Meanwhile, a newborn baby in England who has tested positive for coronavirus is likely to be one of the world's youngest patients with the disease.

The infant and its mother both tested positive at a north London hospital and staff who had contact with the pair have been advised to self-isolate.

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust said: "Two patients at North Middlesex University Hospital have tested positive for coronavirus.

"One has been transferred to a specialist centre and one is being treated in an isolation room."

Other developments include:

- A second death has been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland, as well as 39 more cases, bringing the total of confirmed cases of Covid-19 to 129

- WHO said Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic

- Jet2 planes from the UK to Spain turned back in mid-air as the airline announced it was cancelling all flights to the country

- Apple closed all its stores outside China, including its flagship outlet on London's Regent Street

The UK's approach to developing "herd immunity" against Covid-19 has been called into question by the World Health Organisation.

Spokeswoman Margaret Harris said not enough is known about the science of the coronavirus, and that while "theories" can be talked about, the current situation requires "action".

And in an open letter, a group of 229 scientists from UK universities argued that "going for 'herd immunity' at this point does not seem a viable option, as this will put NHS at an even stronger level of stress, risking many more lives than necessary".

A Department of Health and Social care spokesman said: "Herd immunity is not part of our action plan, but is a natural by-product of an epidemic.

"Our aims are to save lives, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS."

Briton tests positive for coronavirus after leaving cruise ship in Chile

An 83-year-old British national has tested positive for coronavirus after disembarking a cruise ship in Chile, local media reported.

The man, who was travelling on the Silver Explorer, is in a "good condition" in hospital in Coyhaique, Patagonia, the country's health minister Jaime Manalich said, as quoted in La Tercera.

Chile has quarantined nearly 1,300 passengers on board the Silver Explorer and another ship in the port of Chacabuco.

Following the man's diagnosis, the 500 residents of Caleta Tortel have also been made subject of restrictions for a fortnight after the passenger was in contact with several members of the community, the Chilean health ministry said.

University of Leeds announce transition to online classes and cancel lectures due to coronavirus

The University of Leeds has announced immediate transition to online classes - with physical classes of more than 200 students cancelled from Tuesday.

The university announced the new plans last night. 

In a statement released on their website, the university confirmed ll physical classes of over 100 students will be cancelled from Monday 23 March (at the latest), with students instead receiving online classes.

The full guidance from the university said: "We have been following National Health Service (NHS) and Public Health England (PHE) advice and guidance in recent weeks, and we will continue to do so. However, in fast moving circumstances we are making changes to our current teaching practices with effect from Monday 16 March.

Coronavirus poses 'very significant challenge' says Health Secretary

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said coronavirus is "a very significant challenge" that will "disrupt the lives of almost everybody" in the UK.

Speaking on Ridge On Sunday on Sky News, Mr Hancock said: "The measures that we're taking, the measures that we're looking at taking are very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country in order to tackle this virus."

Mr Hancock said that people aged over 70 will be asked in the coming weeks to self-isolate for up to four months in order to protect them from the coronavirus.

Asked if that was in the Government's plan, he told Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "That is in the action plan, yes, and we will be setting it out with more detail when it is the right time to do so because we absolutely appreciate that it is a very big ask of the elderly and the vulnerable, and it's for their own self-protection."

Pressed on when the measure will be introduced, he said: "Certainly in the coming weeks, absolutely."

Mr Hancock said a Bill setting out emergency powers to deal with the coronavirus outbreak will be published on Thursday.

Asked what the emergency powers will include, Mr Hancock said they would be shared on Tuesday: "Yes, we're going to set out the emergency powers on Tuesday and publish the Bill on Thursday."

Mr Hancock added that he has been talking to Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth about what the emergency powers cover.

He said: "This is a cross-party approach. He's made some suggestions of other things that should be in there which we've included. And it includes a broad range of actions, all about preparing Britain, making sure that we're ready, should we need to be."

First case of coronavirus confirmed in Wakefield

Over-70s will be asked to self isolate for up to four months - Health Secretary

Elderly people will be asked to self-isolate for up to four months, as the UK escalates its fight against coronavirus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is a "very big ask", but it is a measure which is for their own "self-protection".

In an acknowledgement of the almost wartime measures being introduced, Mr Hancock said the steps are "very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country".

The gearing up of the Government's efforts comes as the UK's Covid-19 death toll rose on Saturday from 11 to 21, while the number of people testing positive for the disease passed the 1,000 mark.

Mr Hancock said that people aged over 70 will be asked in the coming weeks to self-isolate for up to four months, in order to protect them from the virus.

Asked if that was in the Government's plan, he told Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "That is in the action plan, yes, and we will be setting it out with more detail when it is the right time to do so, because we absolutely appreciate that it is a very big ask of the elderly and the vulnerable, and it's for their own self-protection."

Pressed on when the measure will be introduced, he said: "Certainly in the coming weeks, absolutely."

He said coronavirus is "a very significant challenge" that will "disrupt the lives of almost everybody" in the UK.

"The measures that we're taking, the measures that we're looking at taking, are very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country in order to tackle this virus," he said.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson will personally urge manufacturers to shift their production lines to build ventilators, as the NHS prepares for a significant increase in cases of Covid-19.

Mr Hancock said: "The thing the NHS needs now more than anything else is more ventilators. We've been buying as many as we can but we need to produce more too."

He said he could not make guarantees that everyone who requires a ventilator will get one, saying: "We don't make guarantees in healthcare."

The Health Secretary said a Bill setting out emergency powers to deal with the outbreak will be published on Thursday, and details of what the powers will include will be shared on Tuesday.

Mr Hancock said ministers are yet to make a decision on whether to ban gatherings of over 500 people in the rest of the UK, after Scotland said it would bring in restrictions from Monday.

"We are absolutely ready to do that as necessary," he said, but he pointed towards a Cobra meeting being held on Monday when asked when the decision will be made.

The Government is in talks with private hospitals about the possibility of taking over beds, in a further sign of the pressures that will face the health service at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Hancock said: "Our generation has never been tested like this.

"Our grandparents were, during the Second World War, when our cities were bombed during the Blitz.

"Despite the pounding every night, the rationing, the loss of life, they pulled together in one gigantic national effort.

"Today our generation is facing its own test, fighting a very real and new disease."

The increase in activity came after 10 more patients died in England after testing positive for Covid-19, while the US government imposed a travel ban on the UK and Ireland in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts on the UK's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) set out the need for extra action to slow the spread of the disease.

The panel advised that the next interventions "will need to be instituted soon".

There could also be a shift to household isolation rather than individual self-isolation.

Mr Hancock said he was "confident" shops will not run out of food but could not guarantee it, and warned the Government could take further action.

Asked if food supply might be at risk, the Health Secretary told Sophy Ridge: "No, one of the things we are confident about is that the food supply will continue."

There have been 1,140 positive tests for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Saturday, up from 798 at the same time on Friday.

At a press conference on Saturday, US President Donald Trump, who has tested negative for the virus, announced the extension of his travel restrictions to cover the UK and Ireland.

The changes will come in at midnight on Monday night in the eastern US.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson and the president spoke on Saturday evening and "the Prime Minister set out the science-led approach the UK is taking".

On Monday the Prime Minister will urge manufacturers to join a "national effort" to produce equipment for the NHS.

Engineers have already been asked to draw up plans to quickly produce more ventilators in the UK, amid concerns that critical care facilities will come under intense pressure as the Covid-19 crisis intensifies.

Negotiations are also taking place with private health firms about access to their hospital beds.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: "We need every part of society and every industry to ask what they can do to help the effort."

Whitehall sources have already indicated that mass gatherings could be banned from next weekend.

Other measures, including school closures, have also been considered as an option to combat the spread of the virus.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster, who has attended the Cobra meetings formulating the UK's response, suggested that schools would need to be closed for four months if that step was taken.

Meanwhile, a newborn baby in England who has tested positive for coronavirus is likely to be one of the world's youngest patients with the disease.

The infant and its mother both tested positive at a north London hospital and staff who had contact with them have been advised to self-isolate.

The UK's approach to developing "herd immunity" against Covid-19 has been called into question.

In an open letter, a group of 229 scientists from UK universities argued that "going for 'herd immunity' at this point does not seem a viable option, as this will put NHS at an even stronger level of stress, risking many more lives than necessary".

A Department of Health and Social care spokesman said: "Herd immunity is not part of our action plan, but is a natural by-product of an epidemic.

"Our aims are to save lives, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS."

Ryanair reduces flights to and from Spain

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