June 21, 2024


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UK has a ‘window of opportunity’ to eradicate virus before the weather changes next month, says scientists

Data across Europe suggests warmer temperatures and humidity have helped reduce the spread of the virus - AP
Data across Europe suggests warmer temperatures and humidity have helped reduce the spread of the virus – AP
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

Britain has a “window of opportunity” to stamp out Covid-19 before the temperature starts to drop at the end of the summer, a scientist has said.

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist from King’s College London, said the prevalence of symptoms noticeably waned across Europe in the face of warmer weather as spring turned into summer. 

The academic created one of the leading smartphone apps for tracking symptoms of the virus, which has been downloaded by millions of members of the public since the start of the pandemic. 

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Generally, as the weather got warmer, the severity of the disease reduced and mortality reduced over time.”

He added: “I think there is a window of opportunity to (eradicate the virus in the summer months) because it is milder, but our symptom app is showing – and the Government data is as well – that we actually bottomed out about two weeks ago, the rates of decline stopped at the beginning of July.”

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Coronavirus podcast newest episode

Follow the latest updates below.

08:28 AM

Pay rise for NHS doctors and dentists but nurses miss out

Nurses and other frontline NHS staff are set to miss out on public sector salary increases set to award doctors and dentists a 2.8 per cent pay rise, the Health Secretary has confirmed today.

Nearly 900,000 public sector workers will benefit from the rise, but nurses and other frontline workers will not be included in the uplift as they are paid under the three-year Agenda for Change pay deal agreed with NHS trade unions. 

In an announcement made today, Matt Hancock said:

“These past few months have been an incredibly challenging time for our NHS, and the resolve, professionalism and dedication of staff has been on show throughout. 

“We are able to accept the recommendations of the independent pay review body for dentists and doctors. 

“I am committed to supporting the entire NHS and social care workforce through improved recruitment and retention and delivering 50,000 more nurses and 6,000 more doctors in general practice.”

The pay rise, which could see consultants earn an additional £3,000, will be backdated until April. 

Care workers were also missing from the list of public sector workers due a payrise. In the post below, delivered at 9:00am, we covered comments made by Policing minister Kit Malthouse, who said they would instead have to rely on increases in the minimum wage to improve their pay levels.

08:13 AM

UK borrows record £128bn in battle to save economy

The Government borrowed £127.9bn in the first three months of this financial year as surging spending combined with slumping tax revenues to force an extraordinary budget deficit on the Treasury.

This is the biggest quarterly deficit since records began in 1993, the Office for National Statistics said, and is double the entire level of borrowing for the entire previous financial year.

In June alone the Treasury borrowed £35.5bn, making it the third-biggest month of borrowing on record.

The two bigger months were April, at £46.9bn, and May, at £45.5bn.

It means borrowing in recent months far outweighs even the worst days of the financial crisis, when the Government borrowed £21.3bn in December 2009.

Tim Wallace has more here.

08:00 AM

Many care workers reliant on minimum wage increases, minister says

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said social care workers would have to rely on increases in the minimum wage to improve their pay levels.

As almost a million public sector workers were awarded pay rises, Mr Malthouse said: “The vast majority of social care workers are paid in the private sector so our ability to influence pay rates there is limited.”

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that – apart from “nationalising the entire thing” – the minimum wage rate was the best tool the Government had to recognise the efforts of care workers:

“What we have done is raise the level of the minimum wage very significantly over the last few years to get it up towards the £10.50 mark. That, we hope, will push through into these private sector jobs.

“Everybody looks at people who work in social care during coronavirus and thinks they have done a fantastic job in very, very difficult circumstances.

“But that’s the mechanism by which we think we can increase pay in that sector.”

07:51 AM

China requires negative Covid-19 tests for arriving air passengers

Passengers of China-bound flights must provide negative Covid-19 test results before boarding, China’s aviation authority said on Tuesday, as the government looks to further reduce the risk of imported coronavirus cases amid increased international travel.

Nucleic acid tests must be completed within five days of travel, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said on its website. Tests should be conducted at facilities designated or recognised by Chinese embassies in host countries, it said.

In the past month, CAAC has allowed more foreign airlines to resume services in China and add flights to the country as the economy recovers. Deutsche Lufthansa AG on Friday said it would double the number o
f flights to and from mainland China in coming weeks, and Air France KLM SA said it has received approval to add more China flights.

However, a number of airlines have been suspended from operating China routes after more than five passengers tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival.

07:44 AM

Chief nursing officer was not silenced by No 10, says policing minister

Policing minister Kit Malthouse has denied that chief nursing officer Ruth May had been silenced by Number 10.

She was dropped from a Downing Street press conference in the wake of the Dominic Cummings row after saying that lockdown rules should apply to all. Mr Malthouse told BBC Radio 4’s Today:

“The Prime Minister and ministers are responsible for the decisions that have been taken and the science is meant to inform their decisions.

“Who or who doesn’t appear at a podium at a particular press conference seems to me less relevant than this hard-working and dedicated public servant can speak when she wishes and she has done, obviously, before and since.

“I don’t think there’s any intention to restrict that.”

07:35 AM

Why the first round of Covid cuts are falling on women

Marks & Spencer, Boots the Chemist, and John Lewis: the last bastions of the high street which, in normal times, most of us still relied on being able to pop into regularly, despite the shift to online shopping. Now, after four months of lockdown, they are under serious threat – as is their predominantly female workforce.

Wholesale and retail trade is the second most common sector of employment for women in the UK (the first is health and social care), accounting for 14 per cent of all working women.

Research by think-tank the Resolution Foundation has shown women are more likely to be employed in industries that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, with almost 20 per cent working in sectors that have suffered major job losses and pay cuts, compared to 13 per cent of men.

However, this isn’t only a “women’s issue” – where women are unequally impacted there is always a knock-on effect on the economy.

Eleanor Steafel explains more here.

05:32 AM

Bailout deal finally reached at marathon EU summit

European Union leaders reached a deal on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-blighted economies at a pre-dawn meeting on Tuesday after a fractious summit that went through the night and into its fifth day.

Summit chairman Charles Michel tweeted “Deal” shortly after the 27 leaders reached agreement at a 5.15 am (0315 GMT) plenary session.

“This agreement sends a concrete signal that Europe is a force for action,” Mr Michel said at a dawn news conference

“It is about a lot more than money. It is about workers and families, their jobs, their health and their well-being. I believe this agreement will be seen as a pivotal moment in Europe’s journey, but it will also launch us into the future.”

Read the full story

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron arrive for a joint press conference at the end of the European summit - Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron arrive for a joint press conference at the end of the European summit – Reuters

04:43 AM

Cases from China’s latest outbreak fall

Numbers of new cases in China’s latest outbreak fell on Tuesday, with just eight reported in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Another three cases were brought from outside the country, according to the National Health Commission, bringing China’s total to 83,693 with 4,634 deaths.

Xinjiang cases have been concentrated in the regional capital and largest city of Urumqi, where around 50 people and possibly more have been infected. 

04:25 AM

How Fergie’s lockdown reinvention has won over a new legion of fans

Under the circumstances, you’d imagine someone in the Duchess of York’s predicament would have used the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to lay low for a while. The ongoing scandal surrounding her ex-husband’s links to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein can’t have been easy. But fading into the background has never been for Sarah Ferguson.

No, this flame-haired Royal has long proved she is made of much stronger stuff than that. The Major’s daughter  has never strayed far from controversy, and proved, once again, at the weekend just how thick her Teflon coating is.

Within hours of executing a hastily re-arranged wedding for her firstborn at Royal Lodge, the Windsor home she still shares with Prince Andrew, if being absent from the first pictures from the happy day was upsetting, she wasn’t going to let it show. Instead, the quirky 60-year-old was seen flapping around in a floral garland headband, imitating donkey noises on her new YouTube show ‘Fergie and Friends’.

Read the full story

02:39 AM

California reports record increase in cases

California reported a record increase of more than 11,800 new cases on Monday, according to a Reuters tally of county data, as the Trump administration pushes for schools to reopen to help businesses return to normal.

If California were a country, it would be rank fifth in the world for total cases at nearly 400,000, behind the United States, Brazil, India and Russia.

This is the first time California has reported over 10,000 new infections since setting a record with 10,861 cases on July 14.

Florida has reported over 10,000 new cases a day for the last six days in a row and Texas has reported over 10,000 cases for five out of the last seven days.

California’s daily increases have already surpassed the highest daily tally reported by any European country during the height of the pandemic there.

Read more: Donald Trump to resume coronavirus briefings

Coronavirus Live Tracker promo embed
Coronavirus Live Tracker promo embed

01:35 AM

Three deaths and rising cases in Melbourne

Australia’s second most populous state of Victoria has reported three deaths from the
coronavirus and logged 374 daily cases of infections, compared with 275 cases a day earlier.

A woman, believed to be more than 100, a woman in her 90s and a woman in her 80s have died from the virus, Premier Daniel Andrews said.

The state has recorded just under 6,300 total confirmed cases of Covid-19, which is nearly half of the total infections in Australia.

Victoria’s government has enforced a six-week partial lockdown in the city of Melbourne and asked residents to wear face masks when they step outside their houses or risk fines to contain a flare-up in infections.

Melbourne is in partial lockdown - GETTY IMAGES
Melbourne is in partial lockdown – GETTY IMAGES

12:49 AM

Summary of news from around the world

  • Two more ministers in the Cabinet of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro say they have tested positive for the coronavirus. 

  • Navajo Nation lawmakers are considering overturning a presidential veto of a bill that cancels the tribe’s primary election in early August over concerns about the coronavirus. 

  • A Russian court has ordered a coronavirus-denying monk to pay a fine for “inciting hatred” through his sermons. 

  • The US Department of Health and Human Services is issuing guidance on preventing discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in the country’s response to the pandemic. 

  • The release of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has been postponed yet again but unlike previous postponements a new release date was not announced.

  • In the US, the White House is reviving its public coronavirus task force briefings, and President Donald Trump will again take on a starring role.

  • The head of emergencies at the World Health Organisation is hailing “good news” in results shown by two vaccine candidates in early trials, but warns “there’s a long way to go”. 

  • South Africa’s health minister says “no one should be turned (away) at the gate” for coronavirus care as public hospitals come under growing pressure from the pandemic. 

  • Face masks are now required in France’s supermarkets, shopping malls, banks, stores and indoor markets to curb worrisome signs that the coronavirus is making inroads again. 

  • India reported more than 40,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, a record high for the country.

Health workers wait for instructions to conduct a door-to-door medical screening drive for coronavirus at a residential area in Mumbai - AFP
Health workers wait for instructions to conduct a door-to-door medical screening drive for coronavirus at a residential area in Mumbai – AFP

12:13 AM

Murders in Mexico increase during pandemic

The number of homicides in Mexico has grown during the pandemic, including a 9.2 per cent spike in killings of women, according to government figures released Monday.

The data for the first half of 2020 showed homicides increased 1.9 per cent to 17,982, as compared to 17,653 in the same period of 2019.

Activists have long worried that the increased confinement of families to their homes would increase killings of women, and they indeed grew from 448 in the first half of 2019 to 489 in the same period of 2020.

Some experts, meanwhile, had hoped the lockdown would limit the drug gang activity that is a major cause of the violencue, but on Monday the Defense Department released an analysis saying that a disturbing video of massed drug cartel gunmen posted online last week was indeed genuine and had received about 16 million views in a few days.

Police pass near the drug rehabilitation center that was attacked ton July 1 in Irapuato, Mexico, where at least 27 people were killed according to authorities - AP
Police pass near the drug rehabilitation center that was attacked ton July 1 in Irapuato, Mexico, where at least 27 people were killed according to authorities – AP

11:32 PM

Brazil’s death toll quadruples in two months

Brazil’s death toll surpassed 80,000 on Monday, according to health ministry figures, as the country hit second-hardest in the world continued struggling to control the pandemic.

The figure, second only to the death toll in the US, quadrupled in two months. Brazil passed the mark of 20,000 Covid-19 deaths on May 21.

Recently, the Latin American country of 212 million people has regularly registered more than 1,000 new deaths a day – though the figure for Monday was lower, at 632, bringing its overall death toll to 80,120.

The country has confirmed 2.1 million total infections.

Experts say under-testing means the real numbers are probably much higher.

An aerial view showing graves in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil - AFP
An aerial view showing graves in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil – AFP

11:26 PM

Get ready for a post-lockdown trip

For anyone planning a holiday right now, the potential to forget an essential item feels even more worrying than before.

A lost toothbrush is easily replaced, but forget your mask and you might find yourself charged with a hefty fine at your destination – if they let you board your flight without one, that is.

Find out what items that should be on you packing list before you head off for any post-lockdown trip.

The ultimate holiday packing guide: from face masks to factor 30

11:00 PM

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