Coronavirus: Contact Tracing Scheme Slammed As 'Shambolic' By Recruits – And Five Other Stories You Need To Know

Training glitches with virus tracing initiative, single parents tell of back-to-work concerns and deaths spike in Brazil. Here's the latest.

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The government’s Covid-19 contact tracing programme – initially hailed as a beacon of hope in the battle to contain the virus – has been experiencing a number of setbacks with recruits describing the process as “shambolic”.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic campaigners last night called for a public inquiry into disproportionate coronavirus deaths impacting these communities.

As of 2pm Tuesday, the UK death toll was 35,341.


Here’s what you need to know today:

Chaotic Covid-19 contact tracers’ training

More than 17,000 contact tracers were hired by the government to track the spread of Covid-19 but a programme to train recruits has been described as “shambolic”.

People hired to contact those exposed to someone with coronavirus and advise them to self-isolate have spent days just trying to log into the online system, The Guardian reports. In addition to this, virtual training sessions have left participants unclear about their roles.

New contact tracers have been told to rely on a two-page script and a list of frequently asked questions, both seen by the publication.

Recruits were reportedly advised to consult YouTube for advice on how to support a bereaved person.

This comes as outsourcing firm Serco, which is responsible for training tracers, apologised after accidentally sharing the email addresses of almost 300 recruits.

Maja Hitij via Getty Images

It made the error when it emailed new trainees to tell them about training.

Serco said it had apologised and would review its processes “to make sure that this does not happen again”.

On Monday, deputy chief scientific adviser Dame Angela McLean said the lockdown should not be eased unless the government puts in place a system to test, trace and isolate the infected.

Government ministers echoed this warning in a briefing to Sky News.

What will returning to work look like for single parents?

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While thousands of workers and unions in England raised concerns over the government’s advice for staff who could not work remotely to go back to work, single parents have been left wondering how they can return.

While childminders have been given the green light to look after children and nannies are allowed to work again, these forms of childcare are financially out of reach for many families.

And with schools and nurseries effectively closed, and social distancing rules preventing family members from helping out, many parents still have no viable childcare options.

“So single parents have not had any support during this whole time and I feel quite let down that I have struggled mentally, physically, financially and emotionally to keep it going for the greater good of the country and the NHS. And for what?,” Yasmine, a mother-of-two, told HuffPost UK.

“For it all just to be completely undone, with people being sent back to work with no clear plan of how we’re going to manage ourselves out of this situation? It’s just really worrying to be honest.”

“Shabbily Treated” BAME Communities deserves public inquiry into impact of coronavirus, campaigners say

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A public inquiry to examine the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities is urgently needed, campaigners have declared.

High-profile figures including author and journalist Gary Younge, MP Diane Abbott and Professor Azeem Majeed were among those who spoke out at an online meeting on Tuesday calling for an investigation similar to the inquiry following Stephen Lawrence’s death.

Anti-racist campaigners have also highlighted the hypocrisy of desperately needing migrant workers in the NHS, care homes and other sectors during the current crisis and the legislation preventing them from working when the disaster is over.

HuffPost UK revealed how people from BAME communities felt they were being “thrown to the wolves” with the government’s new back-to-work guidelines in an easing of lockdown measures.

The UK has one of the highest per-capita death rates in the world for coronavirus and around 28 per cent.

Cambridge University moves all lectures online for next academic year

King's College Chapel (centre), Cambridge, England
King's College Chapel (centre), Cambridge, England
joe daniel price via Getty Images

The University of Cambridge has confirmed that all “face-to-face lectures” will be moved online during the next academic year.

It becomes the first university to set out measures for the full 2020/21 academic year, as the institution says it is “likely” that social distancing will continue to be required.

Lectures will continue virtually until Summer 2021, the university said, while it may be possible for smaller teaching groups to take place in person if it “conforms to social-distancing requirements”.

A spokesman for the university said: “The University is constantly adapting to changing advice as it emerges during this pandemic.

“Lectures will continue to be made available online and it may be possible to host smaller teaching groups in person, as long as this conforms to social-distancing requirements.”

All teaching at the university was moved online in March, while exams are being carried out virtually.

Brazil and India record spike in cases despite strict lockdown

India recorded more than 5,200 new infections on Tuesday - its biggest spike so far in a single day. Its tally of confirmed cases is now over 106,000, with 61,149 active infections.

This comes as Brazil sees its highest daily death toll of 1,179. With almost 18,000 new daily infections, the pandemic is quickly gaining pace in the country.

New Zealand PM suggests a four-day working week to rebuild the country

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has suggested employers consider a four-day working week and other flexible working options as a way to boost tourism and help employees address persistent work/life balance issues.

In a Facebook live video, Ardern said people had suggested everything from the shorter work week to more public holidays as a means to stimulate the economy and encourage domestic tourism, while the borders remain closed to foreign nationals.


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