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#Coronavirus - Tackling and sparring allowed in next stage for Britain's elite athletes

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Soccer players will be able to tackle in close-contact training, and boxers spar with partners, in the next step towards Britain’s elite athletes returning to live sport after the COVID-19 lockdown, guidance published on Monday (25 May) said, writes Alan Baldwin.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) guidance spelled out the second part of a five-stage framework to enable athletes to get match fit before any top level competition resumes.

“Stage Two training can be described as the resumption of close-contact training where pairs, small groups and/or teams will be able to interact in much closer contact,” it said.

Examples given include close quarters coaching, combat sports sparring, team sports tackling and the sharing of technical equipment such as balls, gloves and pads.

“The progression of training into Stage Two is vital to prepare fully for the return of competitive sporting fixtures in many sports,” added the document.

“Close contact training is required to replicate match formations and conditions, so that the sport-specific demands can be placed on the body, mind and senses.”

Premier League soccer players have returned to non-contact training in small groups with their clubs while respecting social distancing guidelines. Some have already expressed concerns, however.

The league was halted in mid-March but under ‘Project Restart’ hopes to get going again in June without spectators.

Stage One for returning to unrestricted elite competition was set out on May 13, and must be completed before embarking on the next phase.

The guidance said close contact training will be allowed only when sports bodies, clubs and teams deem conditions right to do so, following consultation with athletes, coaches and support staff.

Under stage two, athletes will still have to keep their distance before and after training and time spent closer than two metres in training should be kept to “a reasonable minimum”.

“The exemption on social distancing is for the period of actual training itself but not to activities which are peripheral,” it spelled out.

“In particular there should be no opportunity for social distancing to be breached between training clusters or between different sports.”

The guidance also said there should be no resumption of Stage Two training without a documented risk assessment and risk mitigation strategy.

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EAPM - Time to register for key personalised medicine conference on 12 October - register now!

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Registration is still open for the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) conference entitled 'Ensuring Access to Innovation and data-rich biomarker space to speed better quality of care for Citizens in a COVID 19 and Post-COVID 19 world', taking place during the Germany EU Presidency conference which will be a ‘virtual’ event, held online, on 12 October, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan. 

Please find the link here to register and the agenda is here.

The Alliance has helped to shape awareness among stakeholders and policymakers over recent years about the needs of modern-day patients, and about the potential of personalised medicine to change healthcare for the better. 

Now, in a world where the landscape has been changed not just by massive advances in science and technology but by the COVID 19 pandemic and the consequent shift in perceptions of the place in health in society, EAPM focused in this latest conference on how more of that “future promise” can be integrated into current clinical practice and health system strategy.

There is potential future promise in the European policy context, with the legislative and policy initiatives currently on the EU agenda. 

The Beating Cancer Plan and the Cancer Mission, the European Health Data Space, the expanded health programme, the review of research incentives and – most recently – the declaration of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in favour of European Health Union. But for all these potential positives to be realized, it will be necessary to establish a co-created framework involving all stakeholders, and for clear messages to be transmitted from clinical, research and patient communities to policymakers in government, among payers, and in health technology assessment bodies.

To perfectly match the less-than-perfect times we find ourselves in through social distancing, the conference will be socially connected virtually.

Please find the link here to register and the agenda is here

So, what are among the topics on the table?

The current COVID-19 crisis has thrown many European, and indeed global, health-care issues into sharp relief.

It has also raised important questions, not necessarily new ones, but ones that have shifted more into focus during the pandemic.

One such question is whether the EU should have a bigger role in public health – and particularly in the provision of health technology. This, of course, would impinge upon the closely guarded member state competence in health care so, if this were to happen, how would that be?

Sessions during the presidency conference will address topics such as:

  • Opening Session: The Pharmaceutical Strategy of the EU: Developing a Framework to ensure capacity and equitability across the EU
  • Session I: Multi-stakeholder approach – Rational Allocation of Resources to support innovation and healthcare system efficiencies – Who to test, when to test and how to test?
  • Session II: Cancer: Case Study for EU Coordinated Action on Prostate, Lung, Breast and Cervical Cancer
  • Session III: Biomarker testing: Piercing the fog of Alzheimer's and related dementia
  • Session IV: Propelling Healthcare with Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs)
  •  Closing Session: Realising the potential of Data & Early Diagnosis through biomarker testing & Molecular Diagnostics

Please find the link here to register and the agenda is here. The above are just an example of the huge topics among many up for discussion on the day. So be sure to join us on 12 October.

Therefore, if you are a stakeholder in personalised medicine in particular, or the advancement of healthcare in general, this is the ideal forum for sharing your views and expertise while absorbing that of others.

 We hope to see you in virtually on 12 October!

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Merkel government wants tighter rules for parties to suppress virus

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Angela Merkel’s government wants to restrict the size of parties to suppress the spread of the coronavirus in Germany, a draft resolution seen by Reuters ahead of a meeting between the chancellor and state premiers on Tuesday (29 September) showed. Germany has fared better than many other European countries so far during the pandemic, but Merkel told leaders of her party on Monday (28 September) that the infection rate could hit 19,200 per day if the current trend continues, a party source said, writes Sabine Siebold.

Under a “hot spot strategy”, the government wants to tighten restrictions to limit parties to 25 people in private and 50 in public places in areas where the infection rate hits 35 per 100,000 over a seven day rolling period, the draft showed. Temporary bans on serving alcohol would also be enforced.

If the seven-day infection rate hits 50 per 100,000, celebrations in private spaces would be restricted to 10 people and those in public spaces to 25, the draft resolution showed. Mass-selling newspaper Bild reported that the plans were running into resistance from some of the state premiers, who must still agree to them.

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Netherlands tightens coronavirus rules amid second wave

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The Dutch government on Monday (28 September) announced a raft of new restrictions to slow a second wave of coronavirus infections, including earlier closing times for bars and restaurants and limited travel between major cities, write Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch.

The measures, which also include wider use of cloth masks for the public in Amsterdam and other big cities, came as daily new infection rates have passed their earlier peak in April. (Graphic)

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the steps were unavoidable due to the speed of the virus’s spread. “Naturally these measures will have negative economic consequences,” he said in a televised press conference. “But allowing the virus to flare up would have even bigger consequences, including damage to the economy.”

Businesses were instructed to have employees work from home except when strictly necessary. Bars and restaurants must shut by 10 p.m. People were told to avoid non-essential travel between hot spots Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Retail stores in those cities will be allowed to refuse customers who do not wear masks. Sporting events will be closed to the public and gatherings limited to 40 people. Social gatherings at home must be limited to three guests.

Rutte had said on Friday (25 September) that he was considering regional measures to slow the outbreak, but by Monday the situation had worsened, prompting the nationwide measures. The National Institute for Health (RIVM) on Monday reported 2,914 new cases, just shy of Sunday’s all-time record of 2,995.

Hospitalizations and deaths are below April’s levels, but the head of the country’s intensive care units warned that non-essential procedures will be delayed to make way for COVID-19 patients again starting this weekend. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said the number of infections was projected to increase to 5,000 per day from a current 3,000 before the measures kick in.

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