Prince William waged a secret battle with coronavirus - catching it just days after his father was struck down with the deadly bug.

The second in line to the throne was left "struggling to breathe" but did not reveal his illness because he did not want to shock the Commonwealth.

Prince Charles caught the virus following a busy function to raise money for Australia's bushfire relief effort at Mansion House in London in March.

It was revealed on Monday that Prince William was diagnosed with COVID-19 in April, shortly after Prince Charles and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson battled with the disease.

Prince William, 38, was knocked about by the bug, but "did not want to worry anyone" - according to one observer.

"William was hit pretty hard by the virus - it really knocked him for six," a source told The Sun newspaper.

"At one stage he was struggling to breathe, so obviously everyone around him was pretty panicked."

Prince William may have caught the virus after meeting with health professionals to show his support for their work at the peak of Britain's first wave.

"After seeing medics and testing positive - which was obviously quite a shock given how fit and healthy he is - William was determined it should be business as usual though," the source said.

"He was determined to fulfil his engagements."

The news of Prince William's battle comes as England prepares to go into lockdown again, with more than 20,000 cases each day threatened to overwhelm the country's health system.

Prince William held an engagement on April 1, but had a break of nine days following April 9.

Prince William isolated with his family at their Norfolk home during his illness. Picture: Comic Relief/BBC Children in Need/Getty
Prince William isolated with his family at their Norfolk home during his illness. Picture: Comic Relief/BBC Children in Need/Getty

The Queen was drafted in to deliver a special message to the nation on April 6, mentioning the famous wartime song We'll Meet Again by Vera Lynn which became an anthem for the UK during the first lockdown.

The royal family has been working hard to keep spirits up during the pandemic, which has also curtailed some of their events.

But Prince William was still working hard around the time of his illness, arranging calls with the Football Association to discuss mental health and organising key diplomatic calls with leaders in the Middle East.

His family were also pictured outside their Norfolk home in April as they supported the "clap for carers" to recognise staff in the National Health Service.

PANIC-BUYING IN UK AS LOCKDOWN LOOMS

Supermarket shelves have been stripped bare across the United Kingdom as the country prepares to enter a full state of lockdown.

The four-week-long lockdown is set to commence on Thursday, after weeks of growing new coronavirus infections.

With fears of another spike across the UK and Europe now being realised, people spent hours lining up to panic buy across the country, with some shoppers filling multiple trolleys.

Supermarkets were forced to introduce rations in March during the first virus wave, when Britons spent an additional $110 million on groceries and essentials, The Sun reports.

Last month, the head of food and sustainability for the British Retail Consortium, Andrew Opie, urged shoppers to keep calm, saying, "We urge consumers to be considerate and shop for food as they would usually during this difficult time."

Tesco Chief Executive Jason Tarry issued a similar message, telling Brits, "Our stock levels are good, so there's no need to buy more of your regular groceries than normal."

In Wales, Tesco staff went so far as to block off aisles of non-essential goods to minimise shopper time in the store.

Non-essential items are blocked off in a Tesco supermarket in Cardiff. Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty
Non-essential items are blocked off in a Tesco supermarket in Cardiff. Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty

VICTORIA RECORDS THIRD DOUGHNUT DAY

Meantime, Victoria has recorded its third straight day of no new coronavirus cases as Melburnians spent the weekend in restaurants and bars for the first time since July.

The 14-day rolling average for metropolitan Melbourne is still well below the safe threshold of five, falling again from 2.2 to 1.9 overnight.

The number of cases from an unknown source remains at one.

Regional Victoria's 14-day rolling average remains at zero with no mystery cases.

There are no active cases in regional Victoria.

 

The state's death toll remains at 819.

Victoria has recorded 20,346 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 61 cases still active as of Sunday.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton has flagged that universal mask wearing in Victoria would be reviewed in future reopening steps, but said they were still required while community transmission was occurring.

"Masks are very important for those potential transmission events when we don't know that there's something out there," he said on Sunday.

Melbourne is back open after 112-day lockdown. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
Melbourne is back open after 112-day lockdown. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

 

"We will be transitioning from universal mask wearing to maybe indoors only, or to maybe just in high risk settings at the appropriate time."

It comes after Victoria recorded no new cases on both Saturday and Sunday after the one weak positive infection on Saturday was reviewed and rejected.

The last time Victoria had a positive case was Friday when four infections were recorded.

The city was back open across the weekend after a gruelling 112-day lockdown, with some pubs and restaurants booked out for up to two weeks.

The easing of restrictions saw 16,200 retail stores able to reopen last Wednesday, along with 5800 cafes and restaurants, 1000 beauty salons and 800 pubs.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to provide more detail on today's infections at a media conference later in the day.

FAUCI BLASTS WHITE HOUSE

Meantime, America's top infectious diseases expert has railed against the White House in a Washington Post interview in which he criticised the Trump administration's strategy for fighting coronavirus, and Mr Trump's deferral to a doctor untrained in infectious diseases.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's most respected infectious disease expert, also said he agreed with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows when he told CNN during a recent interview that the administration had given up on attempting to control the spread of the virus.

At a time when Donald Trump is downplaying surging COVID-19 cases across most US states, playing down medical science and campaigning without a mask, Dr Fauci told the Post that the nation is "in for a whole lot of hurt."

The US currently has 9,170,430 reported cases of COVID-19 and 230,811 deaths.

 

"All the stars are aligned in the wrong place" he said, as the country heads indoors in colder weather for the Northern Hemisphere's winter.

"You could not possibly be positioned more poorly."

Dr Fauci has served as a medical adviser under six presidents from both Democrat and Republican parties.

He has repeatedly said that Americans can change the trajectory of the virus and save lives if they adhere to mask wearing, social distancing and other safety protocols.

 

Dr Fauci criticised the influence of Dr Scott Atlas, a controversial figure who has become Mr Trump's unofficial adviser on the virus.

"I have real problems with that guy," the Washington Post quoted Dr Fauci as saying about Dr Atlas. "He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn't make any sense."

Dr Atlas, a believer in the benefits of herd immunity, tweeted over the weekend:

"New interview. Lockdowns, facts, frauds … if you can't handle truth, use a mask to cover your eyes and ears."

That interview, which went live over the weekend, local time, appeared on Russian state media and dismissed scientific estimates of COVID-19-related deaths in the US, according to CNN.

Dr Atlas then tweeted on Sunday afternoon, local time, that he was unaware his interview had been on behalf of The Kremlin:


Dr Fauci, on the other hand, said the US needs to make an "abrupt change" in public health practices and behaviours regarding the pandemic.

He said the country could surpass 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day and predicted rising deaths in the coming weeks.

The White House lashed out at Dr Fauci for being so outspoken.

White House spokesman Judd Deere called Dr Fauci's comments "unacceptable and breaking with all norms."

"Dr. Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he's not done that, instead choosing to criticise the President in the media and make his political leanings known by praising the President's opponent," Mr Deere said in a statement made on the weekend, according to the New York Post.

CHRISTMAS UNDER THREAT IN UK

England has been plunged into a second lockdown, with Christmas celebrations under threat as the spread of the virus breaches worst-case scenarios.

Boris Johnson reluctantly moved England into tough restrictions, following the lead of France and Germany, and even Wales and Northern Ireland, which had all gone into lockdown.

Scotland, which already had tough restrictions, was monitoring its response in the wake of Mr Johnson's announcement on Sunday morning Australian time.

From Thursday in England, pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops will close until December 2.

Boris Johnson announces the a new four-week lockdown across England. Picture: Getty Images
Boris Johnson announces the a new four-week lockdown across England. Picture: Getty Images

The decision was an embarrassing U-turn for the British Prime Minister, who had refused to put England into a two-week lockdown earlier this month to coincide with half-term school holidays.

Now he has been forced into a four-week shutdown, which will include an extension to the nation's furlough scheme, that pays 80 per cent of workers' wages.

Mr Johnson was unrepentant about his delay, saying that the situation had changed.

"We've had to listen to all kinds of scientific advice, some of which tends in very much a different direction from some of the Sage (scientific) advice that you've seen," he said.

"But we also have to balance that scientific advice with the consequences for people's lives, for people's mental health, people's livelihoods that comes from lockdown measures."

However, he conceded that "Christmas will be different this year" and warned it would be a "moral disaster" if the country did nothing which would force doctors to choose who "lived or died".

The British PM has been forced to make a U-turn with the blanket restrictions. Picture: Getty Images
The British PM has been forced to make a U-turn with the blanket restrictions. Picture: Getty Images

Mr Johnson promised rapid improvements in testing, which has been woeful in the UK, saying that soon whole cities would be able to be screened with fast turnaround result times.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer seized on the U-turn, saying Mr Johnson should come clean now and admit that Christmas was effectively cancelled.

"I don't think it's fair to pretend that Christmas is going to be normal in any sense of the word," Sir Starmer said.

Schools, universities and the construction sector will stay open, but the hotel industry will be decimated with overnight stays banned except for work reasons.

There were predictions of as many as 4000 deaths a day and 85,000 fatalities over the UK winter without new restrictions.

 

 

The peak may even have hit on Christmas Eve, with hospitals overwhelmed and other non-COVID-19 treatments forced to be cut.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty dismissed rear-view mirror experts, saying that "the idea that there is some perfect time to act is a complete misapprehension."

"There is basically no perfect time and there are no good solutions, all the solutions are bad, and what we're trying to do is have the fewest - the least bad - set of solutions," he said.

After Mr Johnson confirmed Premier League matches would continue, Mr Whitty borrowed a football analogy to explain his confidence that the situation would improve by February.

People watch TV in the Red Lion Pub in Westminster as Boris Johnson announces the four- week lockdown. Picture: Getty
People watch TV in the Red Lion Pub in Westminster as Boris Johnson announces the four- week lockdown. Picture: Getty

 

"There are now multiple shots on goal from science and the scientific effort that's going on at the moment is absolutely unparalleled," Mr Whitty said.

Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific officer, said he was also optimistic about the medium term.

But without action, he warned that the death toll over the UK winter would have been "twice as bad" as the March peak.

The UK has more than 1 million COVID-19 cases, with 46,555 deaths so far.

The move comes after France and Germany also announced month-long lockdowns.

 

The restrictions will start on Thursday but there were already long lines at supermarkets in London on the weekend, along with clothes stores including Zara, with weary Brits preparing for a long winter.

Mr Johnson was desperate to avoid another lockdown, with the UK national debt already topping $3.68 trillion AUD (2 trillion pounds).

But he has acted following warnings there would be up to 4000 deaths a day if he did nothing.

 

Labor had demanded a national lockdown in early October, aligned with scientific advice.

Mr Johnson refused, and it was likely he would call the new measures Tier 4 restrictions, rather than using the term that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had sought.

The Conservative Party's backbench were in revolt about the plans, but Steve Baker, one of the MPs leading the resistance, was called into Number 10 Downing Street on Sunday morning Australian time.

He said outside Downing Street that he had been briefed on all the scientific evidence, which had included forecasts of another 85,000 deaths had no new action been taken.

"The Prime Minister has got very, very difficult choices to make and I would encourage all members of the public and all members of parliament to listen extremely carefully to what the Prime Minister says today," he said.

Mr Baker's moderate comments were seen as a sign that he had been persuaded that a lockdown was inevitable.

 

ISRAEL LOOSENS LOCKDOWN, STARTS VACCINE TRIALS

Israel began clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine on Sunday, authorities said, as the government loosens a second lockdown imposed to stem soaring infections.

"We can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.

Early in the pandemic, Netanyahu tasked the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) with developing a vaccine against the virus.

Two volunteers, one at Sheba and another at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, received the vaccine on Sunday.

Israel will first test the vaccine on 80 people, before extending it to 980 in the second phase, and then 25,000 in the final stage, slated for April or May.

The Israeli trial is one of around 40 "vaccine candidates" being tested worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Ten are at the most advanced stage, where effectiveness is measured on a large scale on tens of thousands of volunteers.

The trial start in Israel coincided with a reduction in lockdown restrictions. After a peak of more than 10,000 cases per day in September, which was at that time the highest infection rate per capita in the world, the number of cases in Israel has fallen below a thousand a day, according to official data.

COVID-19 has killed over 2,553 people in Israel out of a total of 314,778 confirmed cases, Johns Hopkins figures show.

On Sunday, primary school children were allowed to return to class.

PHILIPPINES STRUGGLES WITH COVID DURING SUPER TYPHOON

At least ten people were killed as Typhoon Goni pounded the Philippines on Sunday, ripping off roofs, toppling power lines and causing flooding in the hardest-hit areas where hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

 

Schools, which have been empty since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, are being used as emergency shelters, as are government-run evacuation centres and gymnasiums.

COVID-19 patients being treated in tent facilities have been evacuated, officials said.

The Philippines has recorded more than 383,113 infections, including more than 7,238 deaths, which has stretched its resources and complicated evacuations.

On Monday morning, Australian time, the world number of cases stood at 46,369,296. Deaths recorded stood at 1,198,516.


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