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Coronavirus roundup

185,000 test swabs sent abroad due to demand

A BACKLOG of 185,000 swabs have been sent to labs in Italy and Germany due to NHS Test and Trace shortfalls. The capacity of the system is at its highest yet, the Department of Health and Social Care claims. But it said there has been a ‘significant’ demand for tests — including from those ‘who do not have symptoms’. Leaked documents revealed the backlog and export of tests, The Sunday Times reported. The DHSC responded by saying it had to do everything required ‘to respond to the pandemic’. It said it aims to rapidly expand capacity and speed up testing.

GPs told they must see patients face-to-face

PATIENTS must be able to have face-to-face appointments with GPs if needed, the NHS has said. Practices need to state clearly before winter comes that the service is still on offer, as well as phone and video consultations, the health service said in a letter. Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England, wrote: ‘While many people, particularly those most vulnerable to Covid-19, want the convenience of a consultation over the phone or video, the NHS has been and will continue to offer face-to-face appointments.’ Patients will still need to call or book online for appointments.

Over 700,000 jobs ‘will be at risk’ this autumn

HUNDREDS of thousands of workers could face redundancy in the coming months — the highest amount since the mid-1990s — a think-tank has warned. The UK is likely to be hit by 450,000 redundancies, and risks seeing more than 700,000, said the Institute for Employment Studies, which called for urgent support for those affected. ‘This data lays bare the scale of the jobs crisis we’re facing,’ said IES director Tony Wilson. ‘Our top priority must be to support those facing the prospect of losing their jobs to find new, secure and good quality work. We also mustn’t accept that all of these redundancies are inevitable.’

Israel is first country to impose 2nd crackdown

ISRAEL is to reinstate a nationwide lockdown amid a surge in Covid-19 cases — making it the first country in the world to impose restrictions on citizens for a second time. Premier Benjamin Netanyahu last night said a three-week shutdown of schools and businesses will start on Friday, the eve of the Jewish New Year, in a TV address. ‘I know these steps come at a difficult price for all of us. Our goal is to stop the increase [in cases] and lower morbidity,’ he said Israel, which has had more than 150,000 cases and 1,100 deaths, shut down in spring to lower cases but the measures wreaked havoc on the country’s economy.