The UK was told the peak of the epidemic had passed this week, but that wasn’t the only good news about coronavirus
In a week where worldwide cases of coronavirus passed the three million mark, there was a cheerier statistic to cling to: more than a million people have recovered from Covid-19 so far, according to data obtained by Johns Hopkins University. The vast majority of people who come down with the virus make a full recovery and many have only mild symptoms. Meanwhile, new cases of Covid-19 continue to fall in some of the hardest hit counties, including Italy, Spain and the UK.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed this week that the UK had passed the peak of the epidemic and promised a “comprehensive plan” next week on how his government would restart the economy, reopen schools and get people back to work. The prime minister is likely to face criticism in the coming weeks over his handling of the pandemic; the UK is on course to have the highest Covid-19 death rate in Europe and the virus remains rampant in care homes. It has also disproportionately impacted people from BAME groups.
Image: Edward Howell
A crowdfunding campaign to fund the distribution of thousands of copies of Positive News magazine to NHS workers is almost two thirds of the way towards its goal after one week. The team behind Positive News hopes that by providing free copies of the magazine to NHS workers, it will bring them some respite from the psychological pressures of coronavirus. In the first week of the four-week campaign, more than £7,600 has been contributed by 250 supporters, which is 60 per cent of the £12,000 fundraising target.
Measures to stop the spread of coronavirus have resulted in 11,000 fewer deaths from air pollution in Europe. That’s according to the Centre for Research on Energy & Clean Air (CREA), which claims a slump in demand for fossil fuels caused by the lockdown has resulted in 6,000 fewer new cases of asthma in children, 1,900 fewer emergency room visits due to asthma attacks and 600 fewer premature births. “This reduction in pollution has helped alleviate pressure on the health care system during this crisis,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at CREA, in a blogpost.
The story of army veteran Captain Tom Moore doing laps of his Bedfordshire garden to raise money for the NHS not only cheered the nation up at its lowest ebb but also showed the power of positive news during a crisis. Moore’s story went global and the captain has now raised more than £32m for NHS charities, earning him an RAF fly-by and a promotion in military rank. Now an honorary colonel, Moore turned 100 yesterday and received 140,000 birthday cards from well-wishers, including the Queen. “I am in awe at the response my walking has had,” he said.
The country has gone without coal-fired electricity for more than 20 days and counting – the longest stretch since the Industrial Revolution. That’s partly due to reduced demand for energy caused by the lockdown, but also thanks to a new record being set for renewable energy: on 20 April, UK solar farms generated more than 9.6GW for the first time. Read more here.
Cinemas and theatres are closed until further notice in many places. But in Prague, people can still go out and see a show thanks to a new drive-in festival. Inspired by the old drive-in cinemas in the US, Art Parking is a two-month jamboree of film and performance art, which enables people to engage with real-life culture rather than watching it at home on a screen. “We don’t want to stream ourselves to death,” said Dominika Antonie Pfister, one of the festival’s organisers. “Live art needs a living spectator and vice versa.” Read more here.
Image: Jan Hromádko
The Covid Arms, one of a number of virtual pubs that have sprung up since real pubs closed, says its live-streamed comedy nights have raised £57,000 and counting for the Trussell Trust, an NGO that runs food banks across the UK. Demand for food banks has soared during the coronavirus pandemic. The Covid Arms’ next comedy night is this Saturday (2 May) and stars Kiri Pritchard Mclean, Russell Howard and Ed Gamble. Tickets are available on Crowdfunder.
Image: Tanialee Gonzalez
An experimental drug called remdesivir could boost the survival rate of people suffering from Covid-19, a new trial has found. More than 1,000 severely ill patients in 75 hospitals were given the drug and were found to recover 31 per cent faster than patients who were given a placebo, according to the Guardian. The newspaper reports that 8 per cent of patients treated with remdesivir died, compared to 11 per cent of those given a placebo. The results should be taken with caution, however, as more data is needed.
Image: Volodymyr Hryshchenko
Main image: Jan Hromádko