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GSK actions to support the global response to COVID-19

GSK is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and is supporting global efforts to tackle the virus. Since the outbreak, we have been actively exploring ways to help, with our science and expertise, alongside protecting the health and wellbeing of our people and managing our global supply chains to support patients and consumers who depend on our products.

Using our science, technology, portfolio, and resources to support the development of products for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and the overall global response.

Our COVID-19 solutions PDF – 698.2KB

Hear from our CEO, Emma Walmsley

Hear from our CEO, Emma Walmsley

Emma discusses GSK’s response to COVID-19 including our collaboration with Sanofi to develop an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine, our commitment to access and investment in long-term pandemic preparedness.

Supporting research and production of candidate COVID-19 vaccines

We are collaborating with companies and research groups across the world working on promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates through the use of our innovative vaccine adjuvant technology. The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and therefore contributing to protecting more people.

We announced on 14 April that GSK has joined forces with Sanofi, bringing together two of the world’s largest vaccines companies in an unprecedented collaboration to fight COVID-19. The two companies will combine innovative technologies to develop an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to enter clinical trials in the second half of 2020 and, if successful and subject to regulatory considerations, aim to complete the development required for availability by the second half of 2021. This would be a significantly faster timeline than for normal vaccine development and teams from both companies are starting work on this urgently. 

One of the important parts of this collaboration is our combined scale. Both companies bring significant manufacturing capacity and whilst we have a lot of work to do, given this is at an early stage of development, we believe that, if successful, we will be able to make hundreds of millions of doses annually by the end of next year. Both GSK and Sanofi have a long history of making our vaccines available to people all around the world and we are committed to making any vaccine that is developed through this collaboration affordable and through mechanisms that offer fair access for all people.

In addition to Sanofi, we are also collaborating with the University of Queensland, Clover Biopharmaceuticals and Xiamen Innovax Biotech Co., Ltd. We believe that more than one vaccine will be needed and we’re hoping that there will be a number of successful vaccines developed with our pandemic adjuvant technology. 

On 19 June, the scientific collaboration with Clover, using GSK’s pandemic adjuvant in combination with COVID-19 vaccine candidate SCB-2019, moved into phase I clinical trials. Over the next few months, we expect to see data from many of these collaborations.

On 7 July, we announced a new collaboration with Canadian biopharmaceutical company, Medicago, to develop and evaluate a COVID-19 candidate vaccine combining Medicago’s recombinant Coronavirus Virus-Like Particles (CoVLP) with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant system. CoVLPs mimic the structure of the virus responsible for COVID-19 disease, allowing them to be recognised by the immune system. The companies will use Medicago’s innovative plant-based production technology to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine antigen. This innovative technology uses the leaves of a plant as bioreactors to produce the protein for use in the CoVLP vaccine candidate. It is highly scalable and can support the production of large amounts of vaccine in a significantly shortened timeline. The vaccine candidate will enter into Phase I clinical trials in mid-July.

We have confirmed our intention to manufacture 1 billion doses of our pandemic vaccine adjuvant system, in 2021, to support the development of multiple adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine candidates. This follows the completion of a review conducted across our global supply network. We will manufacture, fill, and finish adjuvant for use in COVID-19 vaccines at sites in the UK, US, Canada, and Europe.

Overall GSK does not expect to profit from our portfolio of collaborations for COVID-19 vaccines during this pandemic. As any short-term profit generated will be invested in support of coronavirus related research and long-term pandemic preparedness, either through GSK’s internal investments, or with external partners. Making our adjuvant available to the world’s poorest countries will also be a key part of our efforts, including donations of this adjuvant, by working with governments and the global institutions that prioritise access. 

Our approach to pricing and making our adjuvant available

We have announced our approach to pricing and making our adjuvant available as part of our COVID-19 vaccine collaborations. Here, we explain some of the thinking behind it.

What is an adjuvant?

What is an adjuvant?

An adjuvant is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response, thereby creating a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone. The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it can reduce the amount of antigen required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and made available to more people. 

Screening and research into new medicines

In addition to Vaccines we are also supporting screening and research into potential medicines for COVID-19.

In April we announced a collaboration with Vir Biotechnology to use Vir’s monoclonal antibody platform technology to accelerate existing and identify new anti-viral antibodies that could be used as therapeutic or preventative options for COVID-19. Subject to regulatory review, the companies plan to proceed directly into a phase 2 clinical trial within the next three to five months.

GSK is also evaluating its marketed pharmaceutical products and medicines in development to determine if any could be used beyond their current indications in response to the pandemic. This includes medicines with potential direct anti-viral activity and those with possible utility in prevention or treatment of secondary complications of COVID-19.

Following this evaluation, we started a phase II clinical trial in May 2020 at sites in the United States (US) to assess whether one of our medicines currently in development – a monoclonal antibody – can help treat patients who are affected by secondary complications associated with COVID-19. In addition to the US, we intend to conduct the trial at sites in Europe, South America, and Africa.

GSK is a member of the collaborative research effort, the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. The aim of the Accelerator is to bring pharmaceutical companies and expert academic institutions into coordinated research programs, with the aim of bringing the most promising molecules forward that could be used to treat cases of COVID-19. GSK will contribute by making available compounds from its libraries for screening for activity against COVID-19.

What is antibody therapy?

What is antibody therapy?

Our immune system fights infections by recognising antigens on the surface of invading viruses and bacteria. It makes antibodies to destroy antigens. Antibody therapy uses monoclonal antibodies which are produced, or cloned, from immune cells in a lab. By targeting specific antigens, they could help our immune system fight diseases such as COVID-19.

Helping frontline health workers and offering expertise

GSK is donating $10 million to The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, created by the UN Foundation and WHO, to support WHO and partners to prevent, detect, and manage the pandemic, particularly where the needs are the greatest. Amongst its objectives, the fund will enable distribution of essential supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health workers. GSK is also donating surplus reagents to support diagnostic testing to several countries and is preparing to do the same for surplus PPE.

We have also initiated new volunteering processes for people working at the company, to enable those with medical expertise to provide support to frontline health workers, whilst at the same time ensuring we protect supply and development of our medicines and vaccines. Initiatives have also been started to use salesforce personnel to help with the delivery of PPE and testing equipment, and for specialists, such as procurement leaders, to work with national governments on developing supply chains.

Taking action to deliver high-demand consumer healthcare products

GSK Consumer Healthcare is prioritising actions in its supply chain to deliver more products that are in high demand, due to COVID-19. This includes increasing production for pain relief brands such as Panadol and multi-vitamins and dietary supplements such as Emergen-C and Centrum.

GSK Consumer Healthcare has also entered into a collaboration with Mammoth Biosciences to develop a consumer-friendly test for active COVID-19, using CRISPR technology. The two companies have started work on the test and are aiming to have a device submitted for FDA Emergency Use Authorization before the end of 2020.

Supporting and strengthening UK COVID-19 testing capability 

In April 2020, GSK joined with AstraZeneca and the University of Cambridge to create a state-of-the-art, high-throughput testing laboratory in Cambridge. This Centre complements the Lighthouse Centres’ testing efforts and will support the UK Government’s comprehensive COVID-19 plan of “test, track, and trace.” In particular, the Cambridge Testing Centre is introducing state-of-the-art robotics, automation, and other diagnostic innovations to optimise COVID-19 testing. In the long-term, these innovations will inform and strengthen the UK’s diagnostics capability.

Further actions and updates

We will provide regular updates on our progress and our efforts to support the global response to COVID-19. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will take further actions to develop our response to the pandemic, including ideas and support for long-term, global pandemic preparedness. In doing so, we will continue to put the needs of patients and our people first at all times.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Featured, Features, Health, International, Local, Travel0 Comments

Reverse story of need for negative COVID-19 test certificate to enter Antigua

Reverse story of need for negative COVID-19 test certificate to enter Antigua

by Bennette Roach

We are pleased to say we rush to reverse a story where we hurried yesterday the headline “Travelers to face Negative COVID-19 Test to enter Antigua”, from a Montserrat GIU release.

We dutifully published,While entering Montserrat has taken on visa-styled requirements to enter the island, leaving Montserrat is equally involved as health certificates become necessary to enter Antigua.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services is notifying travelers from Montserrat to Antigua, of the need to have a negative COVID-19 test prior to traveling.

At 1.45 p.m. today Premier Farrell reiterated the information in the Government release which three hours later we discovered the following news from Antigua News Room which completely contradicts the information confirmed by the  Hon Premier Farrell in his press conference where he announced the reduction of conditions resulting in full lockdown and curfews including the closure of the borders of Montserrat to travel in and out of Montserrat.

The Cabinet has agreed to establish what is known as “a travel bubble” that will allow citizens from identified states to travel to Antigua without the necessity to have Covid-19 tests undertaken and certificates presented upon entry.

The citizens of the O.E.C.S. and Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Jamaica will be accorded the privilege of being included in this “bubble”. Reciprocity is also deemed to be a requirement. The number of infected persons in these jurisdictions is deemed sufficiently low so as not to cause a threat, although the citizens of these CARICOM countries, upon entry, will be made to undergo non-invasive temperature tests. Only two of the states have opened their borders since the Covid-19 epidemic.

All other persons of every citizenship who intend to travel to Antigua, after yesterday, July 7, 2020, are required to undertake a Covid-19 test that is no more than 7 days old prior to travel, and to have a certificate showing that they have tested negative.


Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Features, International, Local, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments


COVID-19 forces Visa-styled requirements to enter Montserrat

by Bennette Roach

As the Government of Montserrat continues to remove and amend COVID-19 suppression restrictions, and the phased reopening of the economy continues, a release from the Government Information Unit (GIU) advises:  

“As of Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 5:00 a.m. the maximum number of persons allowed to gather in a public place will increase from 10 to 50.

  This is outlined in the ‘Public Health (COVID-19 Suppression) (No.4) Order, S.R.O. 44 of 2020’ which will be in effect until August 4, 2020.

Additionally, the categories of persons allowed to travel to Montserrat now “includes a person” who owns a habitable house or home in Montserrat.  However, persons traveling to Montserrat must register by completing and submitting the declaration form on the government of Montserrat website ( no later than three days of their intended date of travel.”

Aircraft owners have seemingly (non-criminalised) responsibilities

The owner of an aircraft or vessel must also ensure that the person has been granted approval to travel to Montserrat prior to departing. All persons arriving on Montserrat must self-quarantine for 14-days commencing on the date of arrival.

The Order also “makes provisions for child care centers, nursery schools, primary schools, secondary school, tertiary school, and any other school(s) to open.”

“However, the Head or owner of the school must submit a sanitisation plan to the Minister of Health for approval, before opening.  The Head or owner of the school must also ensure that staff, students and customers practice social distancing, and comply with any direction or guideline issued by the Minister of Health regarding cleaning, sanitisation, and other precautions. Failure to comply with the directives from the Minister of Health may result in the school being ordered to close.

“As it relates to the operations of gyms and sports clubs, these entities will be allowed to offer services, but must first submit a sanitisation plan to the Minister of Health for approval, before opening.  Once approved to operate, owners of gyms and sports clubs must ensure that customers maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from each other and must comply with any direction of guideline from the Minister of Health regarding cleaning, sanitisation, and other precautions.

“Although the six feet physical distance is specified for gyms and sports clubs, the Order also makes provisions for ‘contact sporting’ activities but individuals must comply with the restriction on the number of persons allowed to gather.” 

The release concludes that all other measures which were previously announced guiding the operations of businesses such as restaurants, cookshops, barbershops, beauty salons, bars, spas and bus, and taxi operators still remain in effect.

For those so able, the full S.R.O may be downloaded at

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, COVID-19, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments


Power outages and damage reported after 5.4 earthquake hits southern Puerto Rico

Associated Press Published – May 2, 2020 – reprint

by Danica Coto

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico— A 5.4-magnitude earthquake hit near southern Puerto Rico on Saturday, briefly knocking out power and jolting many from their beds on an island where some people still remain in shelters from previous quakes earlier this year.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit at a shallow depth of 5.6 miles near the city of Ponce and the towns of Guanica and Guayanilla, where hundreds of homes were destroyed by a quake in early January that killed one person and caused millions of dollars in damage.

Reports of damage were still trickling in on Saturday, with at least one second-story balcony crashing in the southern city of Ponce, spokeswoman Inés Rivera told The Associated Press. Meanwhile, cracks in homes were reported in Guayanilla.

“Everything shook really hard,” spokesman Danny Hernández said by phone.

A police officer, wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, removes debris caused by a 5.4-magnitude earthquake, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Saturday, May 2, 2020. The quake hit near southern Puerto Rico, jolting many from their beds on an island where some people still remain in shelters from previous quakes earlier this year. Carlos Giusti, AP

Meanwhile, in Guánica, Mayor Santos Seda told the AP that no major damage has been reported so far, but noted that between five to 10 people remain in a shelter since the 6.4-magnitude quake that hit in January.

“Thank God everyone is OK,” he said. “The infrastructure is already weak.”

From January: 950 earthquakes have hit Puerto Rico so far this year. Why? Blame it on an ‘earthquake swarm’

Several aftershocks hit Puerto Rico’s southern region, including a 4.9-magnitude one.

Víctor Huérfano, director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, said in a phone interview that while it’s understandable many people are afraid and surprised by the most recent earthquake, it’s not unusual given the seismic activity that began in the region in late December.

“In the long run, it’s decreasing, but you can have peaks,” he said, adding that he expects strong aftershocks to continue.

The earthquake struck as Puerto Ricans are ordered to remain home as part of a two-month lockdown to help curb coronavirus cases. Gov. Wanda Vázquez tweeted that rescue crews were fanning out across the area and that she would shortly be traveling there to meet with those affected in person. 

A police officer, wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, walks past debris caused by a 5.4-magnitude earthquake, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Saturday, May 2, 2020. The quake hit near southern Puerto Rico, jolting many from their beds on an island where some people still remain in shelters from previous quakes earlier this year. Carlos Giusti, AP

“If your infrastructure is damaged, you must leave with your face mask on and your emergency backpack,” she said as she urged people to remain calm.

But nerves are already frayed in many parts of the island as Puerto Rico continues to recover from Hurricane Maria, a string of strong earthquakes and the coronavirus.

Silvestre Alicea, a 67-year-old man who moved back to Puerto Rico from New York upon retiring, lost his home in January’s earthquake and is still living with his sister in Guanica. 

“This is unreal,” he said, adding that some neighbors have left the area to stay with relatives elsewhere and that many, including a security guard who worked all night, are now sitting nervously in their balconies. “He hasn’t slept.”

Alicea, however, said he decided to knock down a couple of breadfruits from a nearby tree as the aftershocks continue: “I’m taking it easy. There’s nothing else you can do.” 

A resident, wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, makes photos of the damage caused by a 5.4-magnitude earthquake, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Saturday, May 2, 2020. The quake hit near southern Puerto Rico, jolting many from their beds on an island where some people still remain in shelters from previous quakes earlier this year. Carlos Giusti

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Earthquake, Environment, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments


Montserrat increases its Caribbean record as the highest per capita (10000) as it records two new cases and one recovery

As of April 12, 2020

Press Release: April 12, 2020 – GIU, Davy Hill, Montserrat

Montserrat has recorded its first full recovery; while two persons have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) has received the results of eight samples recently dispatched to CARPHA Reference Laboratory for testing.  The results returned with two (2) of the eight (8) samples, testing positive for COVID-19.

The new positives include one hospitalized individual while the other is in self–isolation at their residence.

Among the six (6) samples testing negative was the second repeat test of one of the islands previously confirmed cases. This means that this individual is Montserrat’s first full recovery from COVID-19.

Therefore, Montserrat has recorded 11 confirmed cases overall—10 confirmed cases on the island, nine of which are active cases, as one has now recovered.

While the recovery of one patient represents a win in the fight against COVID-19, the Ministry noted that the battle is far from over. Residents of Montserrat are therefore advised to remain aware of the symptoms of the disease, and to contact the St. Peter’s Clinic at 491- 5436 or 496-9724 or the Glendon Hospital Casualty Department at 491-2802 or 491-2836 should they experience fever, cough, difficulty breathing or any other ‘flu-like’ symptoms.

The public is also encouraged to continue to practice the highly effective public health measures of hand hygiene, social distancing and cough etiquette, and to strictly adhere to the seven (7) day full lockdown which commences tomorrow Monday, April 13 at 12:00 a.m.   These measures will keep us all safe from COVID-19.

Posted in COVID-19, Featured, Government Notices, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments


Covid – 19 fears and doubts

by Bennette Roach

MOHS national influenza committee

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has evidently touched most of the world and has taken place in many headlines with coverage throughout each day. And Montserrat no less, as the call for more action out of concern and the accusation of mismanagement.

The month began with a release from the Government Information (GIU) that said Officials from the Ministry of Health, Port Authority, Integrated Border Security, Customs and Excise, the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS), Access Division, Airport and the Office of the Premier were engaged in the discussions.

These officials made up the National Influenza Pandemic and Preparedness Committee (NIPPPC) which had met to review the government’s action plan and risk mitigation for COVID-19, and to recap the evolving global and regional situation.

The release said that the NIPPPC discussed various scenarios and further actions and mitigation measures required from the various sectors, especially ahead of the St. Patrick’s festival; which is a high tourist season for the island. That the Ministry of Health is also in communication with local non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) such as Red Cross, The Montserrat Association of Persons with Disabilities and the Montserrat Senior Citizens Association; to ensure that the most vulnerable in the community are protected.

Since then a number of key exercises occurred including completion of training of emergency personnel in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), continued distribution of educational literature and continued training in handwashing and proper sanitation of special interest groups such as children and caretakers of the elderly. Situational updates and strategic response meetings also continue with local and regional partners; Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and Public Health England. 

One writer on the matter got our attention: “After speaking to numerous infectious disease experts over the past few days, I’m starting to wonder: is our reaction to COVID-19 the exact reaction an adversary in an information war would hope for? Said differently: is the COVID-19 story the Information Age Pearl Harbor we’ve been expecting?

coronavirus cells…

Look at the trillions of dollars of value taken from the stock market. Look at the billions of dollars in canceled travel. Look at the interrupted supply chains. All of this for the “common cold” virus that, in truth, is deadly… but no more deadly than the flu. While the medical community will not definitively say what COVID-19 exactly is (or is not), according to the CDC, the WHO, and other credible sources, the mortality rate of COVID-19 is approximately the same as the flu, and young people are less likely to get it.

No one is less of a conspiracy theorist than I am. I’m not trying to minimize the pain and suffering caused by COVID-19. However, the more I learn about this disease, the less scared of it I get, and the more suspicious I get about the origin of the story. Is anyone else wondering about this?

Another story that caught our interest which spoke to the outbreak and how it began. It said, “Finally, you may have heard that although the disease is highly infectious, it is dangerous only to the elderly or to those who have a compromised immune system. The official lethality rate is approximately 2% or so… You will have been told that it is an influenza-like illness that can in severe cases cause pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death.

“All of that is a bunch of lies concocted by the Chinese state with the tacit support of the U.S. deep state and its friends in the European Union, Russia and Australia, and spread by the docile media in all of those countries…”

But on our search for the integrity and the veracity of the story, it turned out to be a well written false, ‘fake’ story. “Let them come. Let them do with me as they will. I no longer care,” the article concluded.

Soon, as the virus continued to spread to other countries first heard about in China and governments began to see this as a threat to the world’s economy and its existence; as stock markets tumbled and gatherings, sports, and cancellations of sporting games, festivals, closing of borders and travel severely curtailed, the Caribbean included and the fear of what is referred to as the dreaded virus, the Montserrat St. Patrick’s Day festivities came into focus.

Several hundreds of people began arriving with its problems of inoperable ferry trips because of high seas, the call for the consideration of canceling the festivities grew loud and louder doubts were expressed and whispers turned into questions directed at the Governor, Premier, and Ministers.

On February 28 Attorney at Law Jean Kelsick wrote to the Governor suggesting, “…immediate and serious consideration to whether St Patrick’s Week should be celebrated this year in the teeth of a deadly virus that may be on the verge of becoming a global pandemic.”

A few days later the Government released information as above about the formation of the NIPPPC. It was also after that the virus infestation grew and as we have shown mostly on our Facebook page and the website, St. Patrick’s celebrations and festivities were canceled. In Ireland, San Francisco, Boston, etc. and finally after biggest arrivals of guests for the Montserrat festival, and the announcement of the first confirmed case of the virus infection in neighboring Antigua, along with an announcement from Emerald Isle, N.C., (USA) which said: “Emerald Isle St. Patrick’s Festival Cancelled.”

Social media lit up and the misinformation moved quickly. That got an announcement from the government, but it also brought the issue of Montserrat canceling its own festival more to the fore. That was yesterday, but it also increased the need for the possible cancellation of the festival; and, late today we received a copy of a letter signed by Dr. Lowell Lewis, the Montserrat Chamber of Commerce and the Montserrat Bar Association. It called “…on Government to take immediate steps to bring the situation under control and make a prompt and full public statement on the matter.”

It noted 16 points outlining what they called, “government’s continued mismanagement of the coronavirus problem.” See the letter on page enumerating the concerns about the virus as it relates to Montserrat.

Premier Taylor-Farrell

In late news today, Premier Taylor-Farrell issued a statement updating plans to address the growing problem or concerns which evolved out the single reported case in Antigua.

The Premier sought to comfort residents that the plans are in operation. “Although Montserrat has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, my Minister of Health, Chief Medical Officer and the entire Health Team have been working tirelessly to prevent, detect, manage and contain any potential outbreak in Montserrat as a matter of public health emergency,” he said.

He said his government is making sure that the right steps are being taken to try to prevent and minimize the impact of the virus. He stressed further: “I am keenly aware that Montserrat’s national security and economic prosperity require meaningful investment in public health security.  So, on my direction, the Government is deploying the full range of resources at our disposal to prevent an outbreak of the virus in Montserrat.”

He advised that people who have visited affected countries and subsequently developed symptoms of the coronavirus that they should stay at home and contact the Casualty Department at the Glendon Hospital on 491 2802 or 491 2836. See the letter here …

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Featured, Features, Health, Legal, Letters, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments


Coronavirus: Schools, colleges and childcare facilities in Ireland to shut

Reprint – from the Irish Times

Shutdown starts this evening and runs until March 29th, restrictions placed on gatherings

TMR Editor: With the banning of gatherings of travel all around the western world, and we can specify as it gets closer to home in many close ways, the UK and the US, questions are now looming and becoming somewhat vocal. What is the Montserrat, local government doing in the face of all that?

The next question with the announced preparations (for protection) the serious and important question is also asked, somewhere, ” Have any extra resources been allocated to Montserrat, by the UK out of the huge allocation towards this ‘pandemic’
Do we have the capability to test? Can we detect the disease?
If we cannot even detect the disease, how are we going to slow the spread?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlining the new measures at Blair House, Washington DC, on Thursday. Photograph: PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlining the new measures at Blair House, Washington DC, on Thursday. Photograph: PA

Pat Leahy, Paul Cullen, Suzanne Lynch, Fiach Kelly

Schools, colleges and other public facilities are set to close in the Republic from this evening for at least two weeks in response to the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking from Washington DC on Thursday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the measures being announced today would remain in place until March 29th and would be kept under review.

From 6 pm, schools, colleges, and childcare facilities will close, Mr. Varadkar said. Cultural centres will also close, he said.

The Government is also banning indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people.

People should continue to go to work if they can, but those who are able to work from home should do so, he added.

Shops and supply chains will remain open, the Taoiseach said, and cafes and restaurants can remain open. He also said people should minimise social interaction where possible.

Public transport will continue to operate.

Mr. Varadkar did not comment on the US travel ban announced last night. The ban applies to visitors from most European states, but not Ireland.


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The Mater Hospital announced it is limiting activity to essential services from Thursday.

The announcement comes a day after the first death from coronavirus was recorded in the Republic.

In a statement on Thursday, the hospital said all outpatient appointments and elective surgeries would be “limited to essential services only until further notice”.

It said: “The Mater regrets the impact that this will have on our patients but these new arrangements are necessary in order to deal with the impact of Covid-19.”

Patients whose appointments are being deferred will be contacted by phone, the hospital said, adding every effort is being made to manage and control the spread of coronavirus.

“Our staff across every part of the hospital are carrying out Trojan work around the clock to deal with the virus, care for those infected and to protect and care for other patients in the hospital,” it said.

Visitor restrictions remain in place at the hospital. The only visitors allowed are those visiting patients in critical care, vulnerable young adults or those whose loved ones are receiving end-of-life care, the hospital said. No children are permitted to visit the hospital.

The public has been told to limit its social interactions and stop shaking hands with others as part of enhanced containment measures following the announcement of the first death from the disease.

The elderly woman had an underlying condition that was terminal and died on Wednesday at Naas General Hospital.

“The death took place in the last 24 hours. The diagnosis was part of the certification of the death of the individual,” chief medical officer Dr. Tony Holohan said on Wednesday night.

A number of other patients in hospital with the disease are understood to be seriously ill.

The National Public Health Emergency Team said on Wednesday evening that containment measures would now be enhanced. It asked members of the public to “consider how to limit your social interactions” and to “avoid indoor, crowded spaces”, shaking hands and “close personal contact”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) for the first time yesterday labeled the coronavirus a pandemic, adding Italy and Iran were on the front line of the disease and other countries would soon join them.

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Contingency Plan activated – Ferry to dock at Plymouth Jetty today


Following a safe docking and landing of passengers as desired in Plymouth, the Jaden Sun has reportedly returned to Antigua and has left with passengers who will now be able to disembark and Port Little Bay.

UPDATE: That hope did not materialise – the second departure from Antigua with about 220 passengers with plans to dock at Port Little Bay around midnight. Instead went on to dock at Plymouth, ending the whole disembarkation and processing close to 4 a.m. There were other trips during today and all back to normal by tonight with Access reporting another big day tomorrow into Friday. But with calmer waters. GIU information says following assessments of conditions at Little Bay being favourable, the ferry is expected to dock at Little Bay. The latest report says the ferry Antigua left at approximately 10.20 p.m. which means a possible arrival time at Little Bay around midnight.

The first trip to Port Plymouth brought 100 passengers and according to GIU info, the second trip will bring about 220 persons, easing considerably the need for the near 400 persons expected today to overnight in uncertain accommodation tonight.

Here’s to more favourable times; remembering March 7, 2018, when the sea rose-up just moments after the ferry reached Plymouth and was about to dock, forcing the ferry to return to Antigua. But only after the same thing happened shortly after at Little Bay only a bit more aggressively.

Passengers getting ready to disembark when the water got a bit naughty

GIU, Davy Hill Montserrat–  The Access Division in the Office of the Premier has activated its contingency plan for the ferry to dock at the Plymouth jetty as sea conditions continue to pose a challenge at the jetty located at Little Bay.

Assessments of the sea conditions in Plymouth have indicated that the conditions there are more favourable for the ferry to operate. As a result, His Excellency the Governor, Andrew Pearce has granted approval for the ferry to disembark at the Plymouth Jetty.   The Jaden Sun Ferry will therefore depart Antigua promptly at 4:00 p.m. today Tuesday, March 10, 2020. 

To ensure as many persons as possible are able to travel on this trip, passengers will only be allowed to carry their hand luggage. All other luggage (bags) will be transported separately on the Typhoon Express ferry.

Following the arrival of the Jaden Sun ferry at Port Plymouth this afternoon, a further determination and subsequent announcement will be made about the other trips.

Posted in Climate/Weather, Environment, Government Notices, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of people is set to be cancelled this year in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Coronavirus: Three new Irish cases confirmed as St Patrick’s Day parades cancelled

Reprint from the Irish Times

€2.6bn sick pay measures and business liquidity fund announced; stocks markets plunge

Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of people is set to be cancelled this year in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times
Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of people is set to be canceled this year in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fiach Kelly, Martin Wall, Paul Cullen Updated: about 15 hours ago

Three newly discovered cases of coronavirus were reported on Monday evening, bringing the total of confirmed cases in the Republic to 24.

 The new cases included three women who had close contact with a confirmed case. Two, including one healthcare worker, are in the south of the country, and one is in the west.

 It has also emerged that one previously reported case involved a person who had traveled from Africa through a European country. This is the only travel-related case not linked to Italy.

Fourteen of the 24 cases are associated with travel from an at-risk zone, seven came from contact with a confirmed case and two have arisen in the health service. Three cases are the result of community transmission for which there is as yet no explanation.

Chief medical officer at the Department of Health Dr. Tony Holohan said Ireland remained in a containment phase, but would “eventually” move to a delay phase and then on to a mitigation phase.

Ireland still has a “relatively small number of mostly isolated, sporadic cases,” he said.

He said it is planned to introduce a number of measures relating to individual and collective behaviour but it was not to start these before they are necessary. “The measures we deploy have to be deployed at the right time,” he said, otherwise people would become “fatigued” and their compliance would drop.

The new cases come after the Government agreed on an aid package of some €3bn  to deal with the public health and economic impact of coronavirus. It has also canceled all St Patrick’s Day Parades in the State in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Sick pay

People affected by coronavirus are to receive sick pay of €305 per week from their first day of illness under a new initiative announced by the Government. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the existing conditions surrounding the sick payments, such as having a specific number of contributions, would be waived. 
Payments will also be available to the self-employed.  The Taoiseach said emergency legislation to change the existing rules governing sick pay would be introduced in the Dail next week.  This measure is estimated to cost €2.4bn. 

The decisions were made following a meeting of the new Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 and followed advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team.

It says the HSE  is scaling up its actions to deal with a population impact over the coming months which will cost in the region of €435 million in 2020. It says a package for business will include a €200m “liquidity fund”. 

At a press conference in Government Buildings, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “It is possible we are facing events that are unprecedented in modern times”.


Mr. Varadkar said the State’s response has to be “modulated and has to be calibrated” and said decisions on how to react to Coronavirus will not be made “on foot of pressure” from business, politics, the media or social media.

He said the Government will have to make sure “that the interventions that are going to take place have to work” at the right time. He said the spread of Coronavirus cannot be stopped but “it can be slowed” and that it warrants a societal response as well as a medical response.

“If the worst projections come true – come to be the case – if a vaccine and a treatment is not developed then obviously the situation is going to be not like anything that we’ve experienced in our living memory,” he added.

Coronavirus outbreak: Main developments on Monday

In Northern Ireland, two schools have been closed for a deep clean after a student tested positive for coronavirus.  The health minister Robin Swann told the North’s Assembly that the schools are located on the same site.  Northern Ireland currently has 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Councilors in Belfast have voted to cancel the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade because of coronavirus. 

The St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin draws nearly 500,000 people and it is the latest in a series of large public events to be canceled. The celebrations were expected to generate  €73 million for the economy.

The last time St Patrick’s Day parades were canceled was due to the foot and mouth restrictions in 2001.

Concerns over the impact of coronavirus on the global economy on Monday prompted some of the biggest one-day stock market falls since the 2008 crash.

US stocks plunged 7 percent after opening on Monday, triggering a 15-minute trading halt for the first time since December 2008.

The France-Ireland Six Nations game which was scheduled to conclude the Guinness 2020 Six Nations in the Stade de France next Saturday was postponed until October.

It has also been confirmed Mr. Varadkar will shorten his St Patrick’s visit to the US to attend further meetings about coronavirus.

Mr. Varadkar is not attending an engagement in New York on Tuesday and instead will begin his trip in Washington on Wednesday.

Ireland’s match against France in the Six Nations has been postponed until October. Photograph: Reuters
Ireland’s match against France in the Six Nations has been postponed until October. Photograph: Reuters

Stock markets were also spooked by the stand-off between Saudi Arabia and Russia which has triggered a 30 percent crash in oil prices.

More than 110,000 people have been infected in 105 countries and territories and 3,800 have died, mostly in mainland China, according to a Reuters tally.


The whole of Italy is to be put on lockdown to deal with Coronavirus, the prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Monday.

He will move to extend restrictive measures on travel — currently in force in the north — throughout the rest of the country in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus after the number of cases soared by 25 percent. He also said all public gatherings will be banned.

The country has also reported 463 deaths from the virus an increase of 97 from Sunday. Italy’s cabinet is expected on Wednesday to approve a €7.5 billion package to help to offset the hit from the crisis.

Five people have died and 319 people have tested positive for the disease, up from 273 at the same point on Sunday, the UK’s department of health said.

All sporting activity at all levels in Italy has been suspended until April 3rd at the earliest, the Italian national Olympic committee (Coni) has announced.

The French government announced on Sunday it was banning all gatherings of more than 1,000 people in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Germany has reported four deaths and has also implemented a similar ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

European Union leaders will hold emergency talks soon to discuss a joint response to coronavirus, officials said on Monday, as the bloc’s executive considers relaxing state subsidy rules to allow extra public spending.

In the United States, officials are preparing to receive thousands of people onboard a cruise ship with at least 21 people on board infected by coronavirus.

More than 3,500 people on the ship come from 54 countries, including Ireland. – Additional reporting agencies

See below – more cancellations of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations:

Boston cancels St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston amid coronavirus fears

By Danny McDonald Globe Staff,Updated March 9, 2020, 12:07 p.m. 126

A pipes-and-drum band marches in the St. Patrick's Day parade in South Boston last year.
A pipes-and-drum band marches in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston last year. Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston scheduled for Sunday has been canceled amid rising numbers of coronavirus infections in Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Monday.

“This decision is being made out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are doing what is needed to keep the residents of Boston safe and healthy,” Walsh said in a news release that described the decision as a collaboration with state and city representatives and David Falvey of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council.Related: Mass. coronavirus cases rise to 41 as events are canceled

CANCELED: 169th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival | San Francisco

Saturday, March 14, 2020 – All Day | Cost: FREE
Market Street | Market Street and Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CAFinancial DistrictSan Francisco

David Yu

The 2020 San Francisco Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival has been postponed. The permits for the Parade and the Festival—both scheduled for Saturday, March 14th, 2020—were canceled by the City and County of San Francisco on Friday, March 6th, 2020, as part of a series of measures designed to reduce the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Culture, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments


Coronavirus: NHS England declares level four incident over outbreak

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The new orders from health bosses come amid predictions that one in five workers could be off sick when the virus peaks.

Tuesday 3 March 2020 22:59, UK

Britain...s prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks as he holds a press conference at Downing Street on the government...s coronavirus action plan in London, Tuesday, March 3, 2020.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

Boris Johnson announces coronavirus plans

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NHS England has declared coronavirus a level four incident – the highest level of emergency preparedness planning.

It comes as confirmed cases in the UK rose to 51 and Boris Johnson unveiled his plan for dealing with the outbreak.

Under the level four alert, all hospitals in England have been told to “assume that they will need to look after COVID-19 cases in due course”.

Where coronavirus has spread in the UK

A national incident management team and coordination centre have been set up for the coronavirus.

NHS regions must report centrally and set up their own incident teams, including having a 24/7 contact for “patient management, alerts, referrals, and tracking”.

Everyone in intensive care with a respiratory infection must also now be tested, as should everyone in a Severe Respiratory Failure centre.

The guidance says it is “now appropriate” to put some patients in “wider infectious disease units” – rather than specialist COVID-19 units – and they could be grouped in “all acute units” if cases continue to rise.

An NHS emergency preparedness adviser, who did not want to be identified, explained: “Level one is a localised incident, like a small fire, where the NHS trust can manage by themselves without any intervention.

“Level two is a larger incident, like a small flood, where the commissioners would have to get involved.”

The former emergency department nurse, who was heavily involved in helping the NHS to cope during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, added: “A level three is declared when there is a regional emergency and level four, the highest emergency level, is declared when there is a national medical crisis.”

preview image

COVID-19: Who is most vulnerable?

Twelve new UK cases were identified on Tuesday: eight had travelled from Italy, one from Germany, one from Singapore, one from Japan and on from Iran.

They are from London, Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Bury, Wirral, Greater Manchester, Humberside, and Kent.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS had been “preparing for a pandemic virus for over a decade” and was still in the containment phase.

But he said if global cases continue rising – especially in Europe – “we may not be able to contain the virus indefinitely”.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for assurances that workers not entitled to sick pay would not be forced to choose between self-isolation and earning a living if they get sick.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has detailed the government’s plan to deal with the virus.

He said police could be reduced to just dealing with very serious crimes and maintaining public order, while the NHS could be closed to all but critical care.

Emergency services all have measures in place to “fulfill critical functions” but they would have to reduce services should large numbers of staff become ill.

The government also said plans were in place to draft in the Army, if necessary, to maintain public order.

Mr. Johnson said there were “long-established plans by which the police will, obviously, keep the public safe but they will prioritise those things that they have to do”.

What happens now with the coronavirus quarantine?

Coronavirus quarantine: What happens now?

He added: “And the Army is of course always ready to back-fill as and when, but that is under the reasonable worst-case scenario.”

The 27-page plan also warned of a depletion in workforces across the UK and said one in five workers could be absent when the virus peaks.

The government said it would consider closing schools and universities, encourage working from home and a reduction in large gatherings.

Key points:

  • Police would “concentrate on responding to serious crimes” if they lose a “significant” amount of staff to illness
  • UK has stockpiles of medicines for the NHS, along with protective clothing and equipment for medical staff
  • If coronavirus becomes widespread, there will be a focus on essential services for those “most at risk”
  • The Ministry of Defence will provide support as needed
  • There will be increased government communication with parliament, the public, and the media
  • Social distancing strategies could be implemented, which would include school closures, home-working, and reducing the number of large scale gatherings
  • Non-urgent operations and procedures could be canceled and hospital discharges monitored to free up beds
  • Measures would come into place to help businesses with short-term cash flow problems
  • A distribution strategy for sending out key medicines and equipment to NHS and social care patients
The government has taken extra measures to combat COVID-19
Image: The number of cases in the UK stands at 51

Speaking at a news conference, the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, said restricting travel once the epidemic was “everywhere” would make “no difference at all”.

He also said there was “no reason” for people to stockpile food and other goods.

Mr. Johnson told reporters he continued to shake hands with people, adding: “I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were coronavirus patients and I was shaking hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands. The infection numbers in real time Daily updates figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University

“People must make up their own minds but I think the scientific evidence is… our judgment is that washing your hands is the crucial thing.”

The government plan outlines its response in four stages.

They include containing the outbreak, delaying its spread, mitigating the impact of the disease once it becomes established, and implementing a research program aimed at improving diagnostics and treatment.

Officials are hoping to delay the peak of the outbreak until the spring and summer months when health services are less busy.

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Legislation allowing the government to use extra powers to help control COVID-19 is expected to be passed by the end of the month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also pledged more funds to fight the virus and has promised more cash in next week’s budget.

Meanwhile, there have been concerns over the viability of events and large gatherings, including the London Marathon just eight weeks away.

The health secretary told MPs that “reacting too early or over-reacting carries its own risk”, saying that the government would, therefore, “seek to minimise social disruption”.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: A woman wears a face mask while waiting for a tube train at Bank underground station on March 01, 2020 in London, England. There has been three more reported cases of the coronavirus - COVID-19 tested positive in the UK, bringing the total to twenty three. (photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
Image: Concerns have been raised about the virus spreading on transport networks

But Mr. Hancock admitted some of the action would be “uncomfortable” but insisted the government was “quite prepared to do that if it’s necessary”.

However, speaking to Sky News’ Kay Burley@Breakfast show earlier, he said the government was seeking “as targeted as an approach as possible” with the focus on the elderly and others likely to suffer most from the virus.

There are currently more than 90,000 cases of coronavirus around the world and more than 3,000 deaths.

Virus Outbreak: Global Emergency – Watch a special Sky News programme on coronavirus at 6 pm weekdays.

Posted in Features, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology, Travel0 Comments

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