While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 11

Johnson says no end to coronavirus lockdown but some measures will be eased

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday the coronavirus lockdown will not end yet, urging people to “stay alert” to the risks as he outlined plans to begin slowly easing measures that have closed down much of the economy for nearly seven weeks.

While his government was giving directions for England, it wants the United Kingdom’s other constituent nations – Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – to take the same approach. But there were immediate divisions, with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying she was sticking with the existing “stay at home” message.

Johnson announced a limited easing of restrictions, including allowing people to exercise outside more often and encouraging those who cannot work from home to return to their jobs.

“This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week,” he said in a televised address. “Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.”


New York enacts new coronavirus protections for nursing home residents

New York state announced new protections on Sunday for residents of nursing homes, which have accounted for a large percentage of the almost 80,000 coronavirus deaths recorded across the country.

All nursing home staff must be tested twice a week for Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and hospitals may not discharge any Covid-19 patient to a nursing home until the patient tests negative, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

If a nursing home cannot provide proper care, the patient must be transferred to the state, which he said has ample available hospital beds.


What we don’t know about the coronavirus’ origins might kill us

The best minds in virology are trying to unravel a mystery: How did a lethal coronavirus jump from the wilds of rural China to major human population centres? And what chain of genetic mutations produced a pathogen so perfectly adapted for stealth and mass transmission?

Deciphering the creation story of SARS-CoV-2, as the virus now rampaging around the globe is known, is a crucial step toward arresting a pandemic that’s killed 270,000-plus and triggered what could be the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

While crash vaccine programmes are underway in the United States, Europe and China, an inoculation to ward off the virus may not be ready for months, and the jury’s out on potential treatments.


India to ‘gradually’ restart railway operations in coronavirus lockdown easing

One of the world’s largest train networks will “gradually” restart operations from Tuesday as India eases its coronavirus lockdown, as the number of cases past 60,000 with more than 2,000 deaths.

Some 30 train journeys – 15 pairs of return trips – will run from the capital New Delhi to other cities including Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, Indian Railways said late Sunday.

The vast train network, which had carried more than 20 million passengers daily, was halted in late March as India imposed a strict lockdown to stem the spread of the virus.


Swiss back-to-school angst illustrates worries around easing coronavirus lockdowns

Getting children back into classrooms may seem like a reassuring step toward normalcy after weeks of coronavirus lockdown but for some parents in Switzerland like Audrey Razama, it’s a source of anxiety.

Swiss schools start reopening on Monday (May 11) and Razama’s 5-year-old daughter is due to join classmates. Razama, from the western town of Vevey, is instead opting for home schooling, worried that her daughter could bring home the virus and infect her younger sister, who has a heart murmur.

Last month, parents in Denmark experienced similar angst: schools re-opened to many empty desks. France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States are also planning education reboots.


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