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Coronavirus roundup

Out of the gate… and back in again as race shuts doors

CLOSING the St Leger Festival races to spectators after one day is ‘the right thing to do’, Doncaster’s mayor said.

Ros Jones had said letting limited numbers of horse-racing fans into the four-day festival (pictured) was a ‘major risk’.

In a government pilot scheme, some 2,500 spectators attended yesterday’s opening day — with a plan to increase the crowd to around 6,000 for the showcase race on Saturday.

But yesterday Doncaster Council announced it has told Arena Racing Company to complete the event behind closed doors on ‘public health’ grounds from today, after infection rates rose.

‘I welcome this decision as I have said consistently that the risks were too great for Doncaster,’ said Ms Jones.

Vaccine pause shows need for trials to ‘be done properly’

A pause in trials of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University underlines the need for proper oversight, an expert has said.

The public must have ‘absolute trust’ that any vaccine is safe and effective, warned Wellcome Trust director and Sage member Prof Sir Jeremy Farrar.

AstraZeneca said the late-stage studies have been halted owing to a reported side-effect in a UK patient. Prof Farrar told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘There are often pauses in vaccine trials. For me it underlines just how important it is that these vaccine trials are done properly, that they have independent oversight, that the regulator is involved and we can trust and support that regulator and that we take these sorts of pauses seriously.’

Punctured lungs add to risk for thousands of patients

ABOUT one in 100 patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus develops a punctured lung, scientists have found.

The condition, pneumothorax, occurs when air collects between the lung and chest wall, stopping it from expanding.

Formation of cysts in lungs could be one of the reasons why Covid-19 patients develop the condition, said researchers. They found that less than two-thirds (63 per cent) of patients with a punctured lung survived.

Study author Prof Stefan Marciniak, of the Cambridge Institute For Medical Research, said: ‘Doctors need to be alert to the possibility of a punctured lung in patients with Covid-19, even in people who would not be thought to be typical at-risk patients.’ The data was published in the European Respiratory Journal.

THE Commons speaker has threatened to run Matt Hancock ‘ragged’ for failing to tell MPs first before informing the media that gatherings of more than six people are to be banned. Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the health secretary had shown a ‘total disregard’ of the House — and warned he may let MPs direct more urgent questions at him. ‘I expect him to apologise,’ said Sir Lindsay. ‘If this minister wants to run this chamber ragged I can assure you now I’m sure a UQ every day might just begin to run him ragged.’ Mr Hancock spoke in the Commons hours before the new rules were announced, but said nothing about them.