There have been reports of a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus in Europe, due to spikes in Spain and France.
Matt Hancock has said he is ‘worried’ about a ‘second wave starting to roll across Europe’ and that the UK must ‘do everything to prevent it reaching these shores’.
The news comes after the Belgian government has warned the country could be put back into a ‘complete lockdown’ due to significant spike in infections.
Similarly, Catalonia in Spain may also reintroduce lockdown if the outbreaks are not controlled within 10 days.
The health minister in France has called for greater vigilance due to a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in young people, while Germany’s public health body has said it is ‘deeply concerned’ about the rise over the past few weeks.
However, experts are divided about whether this actually is a second wave of infections and what the term ‘second wave’ actually means.
Scientists in the field actively avoid using the term ‘second wave’ as it is ill-defined and instead opt for ‘resurgence’, according to COVID expert at Norwich Medical School, Professor Paul Hunter.
The World Health Organisation has made it clear that it is, in fact, ‘one big wave’ spreading across the globe and for a second wave to exist, the virus would need to have gone completely away.
Similarly, ‘second wave’ also assumes that COVID-19 will act the way flu acts with seasonal peaks and troughs and rapid mutations, however ‘we don’t know that’, according to Dr Tom Frieden, who served as director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for eight years under Barack Obama.
Nevertheless, 36 countries in Europe are seeing an increase in infections, based on a seven-day rolling average. And while it has been six months since the WHO declared the highest possible alert under international law, global health emergency, cases are still acceleration.
There have been a total of 16 million cases detected worldwide but the overall figure has doubled in the last six weeks, according to the Telegraph.
Between July 17th and July 23rd, Belgium saw a 71% increase on the seven-day average of infection number.
The regional president of Catalonia, Quim Torra, has confirmed the current resurgence is a situation similar to that before the national lockdown was introduced in March.
Mr Torra said: “We’re in the 10 most important days of the summer and during that time, we’ll see whether we’re capable of sorting out the situation through solidarity, cooperation and a collective effort.
“But the situation is critical and if we don’t manage to, then we will have to go backwards.”
According to the ministry, six people have died from coronavirus in the past seven days. At its peak, Spain had 9,222 new infections in a single day. On Monday, the Spanish health ministry reported 855 new cases in 24 hours.
Many people in Barcelona have ignored advice to stay home and flocked to beaches instead and many young people have been holding ‘drinking parties’ in the streets.
French health minister, Olivier Véran said at the weekend: “When we carry out mass testing we are seeing a lot of young patients … more youngsters than during the previous wave.
“This is particularly the case in the Île-de-France [Paris] region where we are seeing young people who are infected without knowing how it happened. Clearly, older people are still being very careful, while young people are paying less attention.”
Germany is seeing outbreaks in urban areas and among holidaymakers. But abattoir and harvest workers have demonstrated how quickly the virus can flare up again.
While Spain makes headlines due to a resurgence in cases and the government’s response to introduce quarantine for travellers returning to the UK from Spain, other parts of Europe are also on a worrying trajectory.
Dr Kluge (WHO’s regional director for Europe) warned against complacency: “We consider about a three to four week lag time between case incidence and severe cases and mortality. We also know that the epi-curve is never linear, but rather exponential.
“So in that sense, we absolutely need to be vigilant as these raising numbers could, could, prefigure a return to community transmission in many countries.”
You should wear masks and avoid kissing during sex to stop spread of coronavirus, experts say
Strictly no kissing!
A sexual health charity has published advice on sex in a pandemic, and it includes avoiding kissing, wearing face masks and not using face to face positions.
Terrence Higgins Trust has said that 84% of people have abstained from having sex with a partner they don’t live with throughout the lockdown, but the charity urges officials that this is no longer realistic.
Asking people to refrain from sex completely is no longer realistic now there has been easing of the lockdown measures.
The charity said we need to find a way ‘to balance our need for sex and intimacy with the risks of the spread of Covid-19’.
The charity’s advice is simple, the best sexual partner during a pandemic is either yourself or a partner you already live with.
The advice explains that masturbation, sex toys, phone sex or online sex are all great and safe alternatives.
If you are having sex with someone you don’t live with, the charity suggests limiting the number of sexual partners. It also provides a list of other precautions you should take, and some might seem a bit unusual at first.
First up, like anything these days, before and after sex you need to wash your hands for 20 seconds. Nothing gets you in the mood quite like lathering up your hands as you hum Happy Birthday twice over!
Next, the advice states to avoid kissing, to wear a face mask during intercourse and to pick positions that are not face to face – get creative!
The charity also warns that the virus can be found in some bodily fluids, so ensure you are wearing condoms and dams for oral sex.
Other advice has even gone one step further, and suggested using physical barriers like glory holes that prevent face-to-face contact but allow sexual contact.
Dr Michael Brady, the charity’s medical director, said: “We’re clear that abstaining from sex is the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus, but we hope by issuing this advice we will help people to manage the risks of Covid-19 while also being able to have and enjoy sex.”
The charity also stresses the importance of practising good sexual health beyond the pandemic, including getting tested before becoming sexually active again.
Jet2 plane circles Greater Manchester after people report hearing ‘loud bang’
A plane was spotted circling the skies above Greater Manchester this afternoon, with witnesses reporting that they heard a ‘loud bang’.
The Manchester Evening News reports that a Jet2 Boeing 757 took off from Manchester Airport, but ended up circling the skies above Greater Manchester – as seen on online flight trackers.
According to the MEN, the flight has now landed safely back down at Manchester Airport.
A Twitter user said: “I saw the plane as it flew overhead. Following the noises, it stopped climbing and banked left. Looks to be trying to return to the Airport. Fingers/eyes/toes crossed that everyone & everything is okay x”.
Others reported they heard a ‘loud bang’ that could have been an ‘engine backfiring’.
One user wrote: “That was scary to hear and witness flames coming out of the right engine! Never heard anything like it before living under flight path”.
Some reports on Twitter suggest the noise could’ve been a bird strike.
The latest update from the MEN says the plane was on a test flight, with the airline set to issue an official statement shortly.
The ‘best meteor shower of the year’ will be visible over the UK this week
This will be amazing!
The Perseid meteors are active between mid-July and the end of August, and this year they will be reaching their peak this week.
There is set to be as many as 50 to 100 comets flying across the sky each hour, as part of the spectacle this week.
To get the best glimpse of the meteor shower, you’re gonna have to stay up late. The Royal Observatory advises that The Perseids will be most visible between midnight and 5:30am.
The meteors will be flying across the skies on the nights of August 11th and 12th, meaning you can get a glimpse as early as tomorrow evening!
According to the Royal Observatory: “[The shower] is always above the horizon as seen from the UK, which means that observers in the UK should be able to see some meteors as soon as the Sun sets.
“Therefore, it is worth looking up in the early evening.
“It is always favourable to try and spot meteors when the Moon is below the horizon or when it is in its crescent phase, because otherwise it will act as a natural light pollution and will prevent the fainter meteors from being visible.”
Many stargazers wait all year for this extra special meteor shower due to the rate and brightness of the meteors.
The Perseid meteor shower is caused as the Earth moves through a stream of debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which has a huge 133-year orbit.
The particles hit the Earth at a super speed of 37 miles per second, burning and streaking across the sky.
It is possible to see some rare meteors just before midnight that graze the Earth’s atmosphere and produce the occasional bright long trail, called a ‘fireball’.
The Royal Observatory recommends heading to the countryside for the best view, and to ensure you’re in an area of clear skies.
Find out more about the Perseid meteor shower here.