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Coronavirus

New COVID-19 contact tracing app open to fraud

The UK Government is currently trialling a new COVID-19 coronavirus contact tracing app on the Isle of Wight. Many expect that the app will roll out to the rest of the country later this year. 

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has received evidence of a phishing scam themed around the app, even before the real app has released nationally.

Members of the public received texts informing them that they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The message contains a link to a bogus website which asks for the personal details of the user. Scammers may use the information to gain access to bank accounts and commit other forms of identity fraud. 

Scams related to the coronavirus emergency have taken off since March, and Action Fraud reports that COVID-19 scams stole over £2 million during this time. Consumer protection experts fear that more scams themed around the contact tracing app will appear once it is released nationally.

CTSI Lead Officer, Katherine Hart, said: “We have witnessed a surge in COVID-19-related scams since lockdown began. This evidence is yet another example of scammers modifying their campaigns as the situation develops.

“I am especially concerned that scams themed around the contact tracing app are already appearing, even though the official NHS app has only been released in a limited testing phase on the Isle of Wight.

“These texts are a way to steal personal data and may put the bank accounts of recipients at risk. If anyone receives texts or other kinds of messages like this, they should not click on any accompanying links, and report them to Action Fraud.”

To report instances of scams, go to the Action Fraud website

Public advised to cover faces in enclosed spaces

The public is advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

  • People who use public transport or visit shops should consider covering their mouth and nose based on advice from SAGE
  • Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular handwashing which remain the most important actions, says Chief Medical Officer
  • Public urged not to buy medical grade masks so they can be saved for frontline health and care workers, and instead make their own face coverings at home

The public is advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces where you may be more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, the government announced today.

After careful consideration of the latest scientific evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the government confirmed face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances.

Face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are suffering from coronavirus but not showing symptoms. People with coronavirus symptoms, as well as members of their household, should continue to follow the advice to self-isolate.

They may be beneficial in places where it is hard to follow maintain social distancing measures. This applies when using public transport, such as trains, buses and metro systems, or when visiting shops.

They do not need to be worn outdoors, while exercising, in schools, in workplaces such as offices and retail, by those who may find them difficult to wear, such as children under two or primary aged children who cannot use them without assistance, or those who may have problems breathing while wearing a face covering.

The public is being strongly urged not to purchase surgical masks or respirators. These are prioritised for healthcare workers working in more high-risk environments where the risk is greatest.

Instead the public is encouraged to make face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items that many will already own. Read the guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.

Health Minister Jo Churchill said:

At all times our strategy for keeping the public and the NHS safe during this crisis has been guided by the science.

Today, thanks to the evidence provided by our expert scientists, we are advising people to consider wearing a face covering if they can in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is impossible, for example on public transport or in shops. This may help prevent you spreading the virus to others.

You do not need a clinical mask which is prioritised for our healthcare workers. Instead a face covering is sufficient and we encourage people to make these at home with items they will already own.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer said:

Wearing a face covering is an added precaution that may have some benefit in reducing the likelihood that a person with the infection passes it on.

The most effective means of preventing the spread of this virus remains following social distancing rules and washing your hands regularly. It does not remove the need to self-isolate if you have symptoms.

COVID-19 can be spread directly by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces by touch and subsequently from touching the face. That is why hand hygiene is so important in controlling the infection.

Evidence shows a face covering can help in reducing the spread of droplets and therefore potentially infecting others, and could help to reduce the spread of infection as lockdown measures start to be lifted. It is important people refrain from touching their face covering when wearing it, where possible, to avoid hand to mask transmission of the virus.

Government will not be supplying face coverings centrally as at home items and fabrics readily available on the market can be used, but it is important to wash them after every use.

Research from the WHO showed that where masks were recommended for prolonged periods of time, some wearers failed to maintain good handwashing practices or follow social distancing policies, putting others at risk. As England has demonstrated strong adherence to social distancing, the government is confident face coverings can be recommended as an added precaution in certain environments rather than an essential part of social distancing policies.

For workers in various sectors, or in public transport, the government is advising they continue to follow the advice of their employers and make sensible workplace adjustments. Further guidance on safer workplaces and on transport will be published shortly.

Government has produced guidance for employees and in it they emphasise and reassure employers that for the majority the most effective way they can ensure that their employees are safe at work is to make sensible workplace adjustments, including erecting perspex screens which many supermarkets have already introduced.

Face coverings do not need to be worn in schools.

Coronavirus Update – 10th May

In a Prime Ministerial statement on Sunday 10th May, it is proposed that from Wednesday 13th May (to be confirmed today Monday 11th May) that:

– families will not be restricted to one form of exercise a day, people can exercise, sit on park benches or have a picnic as long as you are with members of their household;

– people in manufacturing & construction are actively encouraged to go to work as long as it is not possible to work from home and it is safe to travel to work;

– the fine for people that flout the rules is to be increased.

These changes are part of a phased roadmap, however, if the infection rate increases we will be back to the lockdown that has been in operation.  Social distancing rules remain unchanged.

For the full statement from the Prime Minister CLICK HERE

Increase in cyclists prompts police to share safety message

With more novice cyclists than ever taking to the roads for their daily exercise during COVID-19, police are urging both cyclists and drivers to follow some simple safety tips to help keep everyone safe on our roads.

We are sharing the following safety tips for novice cyclists:-
•Follow the government advice about how you exercise and observe social distancing while you do it
•Plan your journey in advance and advise someone of where you are going and when you intend to return, especially if you are cycling in a remote location.
•If you are cycling with a young family, consider riding routes with dedicated cycle paths to ensure the safety of young children and pedestrians. Please remember that if you are cycling on the roads that vehicles such as HGVs, are still regularly travelling routes in order to move much-needed supplies. Large vehicles might scare and unbalance young children on bicycles when overtaking them.
•Ensure that your bicycle is roadworthy. If it has been unused for a while, ensure that the mechanisms such as brakes and gears are working and that tyres are pumped up before starting any ride. Brake failure can cause a serious collision. Follow this link for a short video clip from Cycling UK showing you how to do the M check on your bike. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94RqKKbG2GQ
•Please take extra care at junctions. Nationally around three quarters of cyclist collisions happen at or near them (Source: Cycling UK)
•Think about your positioning in the road and whether you can be seen by other road users. Wearing reflective clothing and ensuring that your bike is fitted with lights and/ or reflective discs helps with visibility. Assuming a position towards the centre of the lane where possible maximises the rider’s line of vision and means that other road users have a clear view of you.
•If you are riding with protection around your face ensure that this does not restrict your head movement and that you are able to look around freely without restriction so that safety checks can be carried out.
•If you’re riding with your family, help motorists overtake you with the safe distance of 1.5 metres by filtering down to single file.
•Effectively communicate with other road users, by using hand signals when turning left or right. Try to make eye contact with other road users and pedestrians to ensure that they have seen you.

We are asking drivers to:-
•Follow the latest government guidelines around COVID-19, stay at home and only drive for essential purposes. These can be found on www.gov.uk
•Please slow down and take extra care around these vulnerable road users giving them extra space and time.
•Always expect the unexpected around each corner, and pass cyclists at a minimum distance of 1.5 metres when it is safe to do so, particularly on left hand bends. Cycling UK have produced a Too Close for Comfort video to show drivers what it’s like to be close passed so they can understand it from a cyclist’s perspective. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kgPt-lNYGY
•Please take extra care around cyclists (and other vulnerable road users) at junctions where three quarters of cyclist collisions happen.

The Law

You must ensure your brakes are efficient, and at night use lit front and rear lights and have a red rear reflector.

For more info, click here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-cyclists-59-to-82

More information about safe cycling

https://www.rospa.com/Road-Safety/Advice/Cyclists-and-motorcyclists/Cycling-advice

www.cyclinguk.org