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Here's a recap of today's top news:
An increase in foreign travel this summer is concerning, while autumn could prove to be a particularly “risky point” for the UK, scientists advising the Government have warned
The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said France will remain on the amber-plus travel list until at least next week
The first doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine donated by the UK to lower income countries left Heathrow Airport bound for Guyana and Belize
Covid-19 case rates have fallen in every local authority in England simultaneously for the first time since comparable figures began more than a year ago
The World Health Organisation warned that vaccine nationalism remains a "very serious problem" as the global rollout exposes inequalities
Israeli president Isaac Herzog received a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine, as the country starts its campaign to offer booster jabs to the over-60s
Japan expanded its Covid state of emergency to four more areas, in addition to Tokyo, following record high case numbers - with its prime minister insisting that the Olympics had not contributed to the spike
Covid case rates falling in every local area of England for first time
Covid-19 case rates have fallen in every local authority in England - the first time this has happened in all areas simultaneously since comparable figures began more than a year ago.
None of the 315 local authorities recorded a week-on-week rise in rates for the seven days to July 26.
Middlesbrough currently has the highest rate of new cases in England, but this is down significantly week-on-week from 1,421.5 cases per 100,000 people to 695.8.
Redcar and Cleveland, also in the North East, saw the biggest fall, with cases down from 1,520.2 to 668.6.
Vaccines and masks will be mandatory for Broadway audiences
Proof of Covid-19 vaccinations and face masks will be required for all Broadway audience members when New York City's theatres reopen in the next few weeks, operators announced today.
The Broadway League said there will be exceptions to the vaccine rule for children under 12 and for people with a medical condition or religious belief that prevents vaccination. Those people will need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test instead.
“As vaccination has proven the most effective way to stay healthy and reduce transmission, I’m pleased that the theatre owners have decided to implement these collective safeguards at all our Broadway houses,” Broadway League president Charlotte St Martin said.
Vaccinations will also be required for all performers, crew members and theatre employees.
Six passengers test positive for Covid aboard Royal Caribbean cruise
Six passengers on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship tested positive for Covid-19 at the end of their cruise and entered quarantine, the company said.
The four adults and two children, all American citizens, were aboard the Adventure of the Seas ship for a seven-day cruise that left and returned to the Bahamas.
Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Lyan Sierra-Caro said the adults were all vaccinated against coronavirus and one has mild symptoms of the virus, while the other three do not. They were not travelling together.
The two children, who were in the same group but not travelling with any of the four adults who tested positive, had not been vaccinated and are not showing symptoms.
Man who accosted Prof Chris Whitty in park gets suspended sentence
Lewis Hughes, of Romford, Essex, accosted Professor Chris Whitty in St James's Park in London on 27 June.
The 24-year-old pleaded guilty to assault at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday.
He was sentenced to eight weeks in prison suspended for two years and ordered to pay £100 in compensation.
Kalsoom Shah, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said Hughes showed "little regard" for Professor Whitty or social distancing rules "when he accosted the government's chief medical officer in the street".
First donated AstraZeneca vaccines leave UK
The first doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine donated by the UK to lower income countries left Heathrow Airport today bound for Guyana and Belize.
The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced earlier this week that the UK would donate nine million coronavirus vaccines to countries around the world, marking the first part of the Prime Minister's pledge, made at G7, of 100 million vaccines donated over the next year.
New guidance on oxygen monitors to ensure accuracy for all skin tones
NHS England has updated its guidance for the use of at-home blood oxygen monitors, to ensure people with darker skin tones are not adversely affected by potentially inaccurate results.
The move has been welcomed by patients, after experts previously warned that the devices could be giving "seriously misleading" results for black and minority ethnic people, possibly contributing to a higher risk of dying from coronavirus.
In April, the NHS Race and Health Observatory published a review into the accuracy of pulse oximeters, following a research paper which cited a "growing body of evidence" that they are less accurate in darker skinned patients.
Updated guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement advises that patients should take readings when they are first given the oximeter and regularly afterwards, noting changes over time rather than from just one reading.
They are also advised to speak to a health or care professional before using the device to raise any concerns.
Half of people in Myanmar may soon get Covid as disaster spreads
Myanmar is grappling with a Covid crisis, and half of its 54 million people could be infected with the virus in the next two weeks, Britain has warned.
The South-East Asian nation has been in turmoil since a military coup in February ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government. Hundreds have died in protests and other coup-related violence, and now thousands more are being caught up in Myanmar’s worst Covid outbreak, which has been exacerbated by the political turmoil.
Infections have surged from about 50 a day in June to an average of more than 5,000 since mid-July. Officially, there are more than 289,000 confirmed cases and 8,500 deaths reported in the country, although analysts say the true toll is likely to be higher given limited testing.
Read the full story here
UK records 29,622 new Covid cases and further 65 deaths
The UK has recorded 29,622 new cases of Covid-19 and a further 65 deaths.
The figures show a slight fall in case numbers and deaths since yesterday, when there were 31,117 new cases and 85 deaths reported.
WHO: 'Very positive consultations' on next stage of Covid origin investigation
The World Health Organisation said it is in "very positive consultations" with member states - including China - around what the next stages of an investigation into the origins of the pandemic may look like.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's emergencies programme, said the UN agency expects "work to continue in China and other countries around the world".
"We believe we have the basis to move forward, we have a set of studies that can be taken forward," Dr Ryan said, adding that he is confident of cooperation from all member states.
"There's a lot of rhetoric out there at the moment, certainly, and by all countries. The one consistent thing we've heard from all countries, has been: let's not politicise the science. The next thing that needs to happen is the science," Dr Ryan said.
"We want to reassure our colleagues in China that this process still is, and has always been, driven by science," he said, adding that the Director General has not "taken sides".
"[We are] trying to reach the objectives that we all want: to control a Covid-19, to establish the origins of the virus, and put in place measures we can't prevent further reemergence of a similar virus in the future."
WHO director-general: I wasn't wrong to travel to Tokyo
The head of the World Health Organisation has defended his decision to travel to Tokyo to address the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ahead of the opening of the Games.
Asked if it was a mistake to endorse the Olympics as cases in Tokyo surge, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he wanted to use the platform to communicate with the world.
He said: "I wanted to be in Tokyo, and to join the IOC and the Government of Japan in the Olympics, to use the platform to tell the world that we need to use the spirit of Olympics, the spirit of solidarity, the spirit of unity, to end the pandemic.
"I said it in my speech earlier today, do you really accept 1.5 per cent vaccination in Africa, while in some countries it's already 70 per cent? Don't we need a platform like the Olympics to go and tell the truth: that the world is actually morally, epidemiologically and economically doing the wrong things?
"Is it really wrong to go to the mountaintop of the Olympics to call for solidarity. Are you saying that's wrong. I hope not. So that's why I went."
Dr Tedros added that he took all the necessary safety checks, including regular PCR tests and use of face masks.
WHO: Vaccine nationalism remains a 'very serious problem'
The World Health Organisation has warned that nearly 70 per cent of African countries will miss ambitions set out by the UN agency at the start of the year to vaccinate 10 per cent of the population by September, as the world's poorest have been "trampled on" in the stampede for vaccines.
At a press conference on Friday, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus' said that a year after the WHO first warned of the threat of vaccine nationalism, inequitable distribution remains a "very serious problem".
He said: "Nearly 70 per cent of African countries will not reach the 10 per cent vaccination target by the end of September.
"Around 3.5 million to 4 million vaccines are administered weekly on the continent, but to meet the September target this must rise to 21 million, at the very least, each week."
He added: "Many African countries are prepared to roll out vaccines, but the vaccines have not arrived. Less than two per cent of all those administered globally have been in Africa, less than two per cent. Just 1.5 per cent of the continent's population are fully vaccinated."
WHO: Global progress curbing Covid in 'jeopardy'
Hard won progress curbing Covid-19 is in "jeopardy", the head of the World Health Organisation warned on Friday.
Speaking at a press conference, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus painted a stark image of a pandemic far from over - with total known cases set to pass 200 million "within the next two weeks".
On average infections have nearly doubled in five of the six WHO regions in the last four weeks, Dr Tedros said, with rising figures largely driven by the highly infectious delta variant - which has now been detected in 132 countries.
Increased social mixing, vaccine inequity and inconsistent use of public health measures are also to blame.
Dr Tedros said: "Hard won gains are in jeopardy or being lost, and health systems in many countries are being overwhelmed.
"The increased number of infections is creating a shortage of treatments such as life saving oxygen.
"Meanwhile, testing rates in low income countries are less than two per cent of what they are in high income countries, leaving the world blind to understanding where the disease is and how it's changing."
Nearly all pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid were unvaccinated
Ninety-nine per cent of pregnant women who have been admitted to hospital with Covid were unvaccinated, a study by the University of Oxford suggests, as doctors and midwives urged expectant mothers to get the jab.
Since the beginning of the pandemic and up to July 11, more than 3,300 pregnant women have been admitted to hospital with the virus, according to data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System.
But only four per cent of those admitted since February 1 had received a single dose of vaccine and none had been double jabbed.
Read the full story here
Scotland's Covid data 'confirms decline in cases', says expert
Professor Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said while there are disparities between Covid-19 case numbers and the ones in the ONS infection survey in England, the two are largely the same in Scotland.
She said this confirms that cases are declining there, and urged people to wear face masks in shops and on public transport, to open windows, to test regularly and to get vaccinated to stay safe.
Big sigh of relief as decline in confirmed cases in Scotland aligns with ONS decrease in infection rates. Much we can do safely- wear masks inside shops/on transport, open windows, get outside, distance, test regularly & get vaccinated. https://t.co/DFpXwP81Eg
— Prof. Devi Sridhar (@devisridhar) July 30, 2021
Sri Lanka orders over a million civil servants back to the office
Sri Lanka has announced that it is ending its work from home option for civil servants, and has ordered all 1.2 million staff members back to the office from Monday, despite a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.
The island's chief bureaucrat, P.B. Jayasundera, said there was no need for officials to work from home since "the majority... have been vaccinated".
The move comes as the country recorded a doubling in daily coronavirus cases, to around 2,000 compared to early July, with hospitals struggling to cope.
Around 43 per cent of the population have received one vaccine dose, and more than two million people are fully-vaccinated.
Japan expands Covid state of emergency to more areas
Japan has expanded a Covid-19 state of emergency to four more areas in addition to Tokyo, following record spikes in cases, with its prime minister insisting that hosting the Olympic Games has not contributed to outbreaks.
Prime minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba, as well as in the western city of Osaka, from Monday until 31 August.
Emergency measures already in place in Tokyo and the island of Okinawa will be extended until the end of August, following the end of the Olympics - but well into the Paralympics, which start on 24 August.
Five other areas, including Hokkaido, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka, will be placed under less strict emergency restrictions.
"Infections are expanding in the Tokyo and western metropolitan areas at an enormous speed that we have never experienced before," Suga said.
Coronavirus around the world, in pictures
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
US unions oppose Biden's proposed mandatory jabs for federal workers
President Joe Biden faces significant opposition to his plan to require US federal workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or submit to regular testing.
The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents more than 26,000 federal officers, said that requiring vaccinations represents an infringement on civil rights, the Washington Post reports.
“There will be a lot of pushback. It’s going to be an avalanche,” association president Larry Cosme said.
Meanwhile, the American Postal Workers Union said: “While the APWU leadership continues to encourage postal workers to voluntarily get vaccinated, it is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent.”
However, the proposal has gained the support of other unions, such as the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, which represents around 25,000 federal workers at organisations such as NASA.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, over 600,000 people are dead, and we don’t want any more of our members dying,” union president Paul Shearon said.
Kenya bans meetings and gatherings to contain Covid outbreak
Kenya’s government has suspended all in-person meetings and public gatherings to try to contain the growing spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Health minister Mutahi Kagwe said that the government had asked public and private-sector employers to allow their staff to work from home, unless they were deemed essential services.
“All public gatherings and in-person meetings of whatever nature are suspended countrywide. In this regard, all government, including intergovernmental meetings and conferences, should henceforth be converted to either virtual or postponed in the coming 30 days,” he said.
Kagwe singled out politicians for hosting meetings that turned out to be “super spreader” events.
“We want to be part of the solution. We are asking those in politics to be part of the solution instead of creating epicentres of spreading of the disease,” he said.
80pc of students hope to be fully-vaccinated before return to campus
Around 80 per cent of British students hope to have had received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine before the start of the next academic year, according to a poll conducted by UNiDAYS.
The poll, of 20,000 people, found a third of students are still unvaccinated, while 30 per cent have had one dose.
The poll also found that almost a fifth (17 per cent) of students do not intend on having the jab.
The Government has not yet confirmed whether students will need to be fully-vaccinated to attend in-person lectures or to move into halls of residence from September, a proposal that has been criticised by both MPs and teaching unions.
Cyprus to vaccinate 12-15 year olds against Covid
Cyprus announced that children aged 12 to 15 would be included in a mass vaccination programme to curb the spread of Covid-19, as it tightened restrictions for access to public spaces.
"The only way we can stop the emergence of new aggressive strains (of coronavirus) is vaccination," Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said in a statement.
Children will be eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, though only with parental consent. The measure will come into effect on 2 August.
Israeli president receives third Pfizer vaccine dose
Israeli president Isaac Herzog received a third shot of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine today, as the country starts its campaign to give booster doses to people aged over 60.
President Herzog, 60, said he was proud to launch the booster vaccination programme “which is so vital to enable normal circumstances of life as much as possible in this very challenging pandemic”. Herzog’s wife Michal also received a dose.
Prime minister Naftali Bennett was also present, and urged the importance of booster shots in fighting the ongoing pandemic and said Israel would share all information it gathers from the public vaccination programme.
“Israel is a pioneer in going ahead with the third dose for older people of the age of 60 and above. The fight against the Covid pandemic is a global fight. The only way we can defeat Covid is together,” Bennett said.
Germany arrivals must take Covid test from Sunday unless fully-jabbed
People entering Germany from abroad will have to take a Covid-19 test from Sunday, unless they are fully-vaccinated or have recovered from coronavirus, officials said.
The health minister Jens Spahn said: "All unvaccinated people entering Germany will have to be tested in future - regardless of whether they come by plane, car or train."
The new rules, set to be signed off by government later today, will apply to all travellers aged over 12, with the exception of cross-border commuters and those passing through in transit, according to a draft seen by AFP.
Under current rules, any unvaccinated person entering Germany by plane must get tested, but those entering by road or rail must not unless they are coming from a 'high-risk' area.
95pc of British adults still wearing face masks, ONS data shows
Around 95 per cent of people in the UK said they wore face masks when outside their home in the past week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found.
89 per cent of adults surveyed also said they felt that wearing face coverings to help stop the spread of coronavirus was either very important or important.
A further 69 per cent of respondents said they saw everyone or almost everyone wearing face masks while shopping in the last seven days.
The findings - from a survey of 3,784 people aged 16 and over between July 21 and 25 - are similar to those from the previous week's survey, conducted before most legal restrictions in England were eased on July 19, including the mandatory wearing of face coverings.
Starmer: England should speed up self-isolation exemption date
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said bringing forward the date that the fully-vaccinated no longer have to self-isolate (unless they test positive) by nine days would "allow some order to come back into our lives".
Speaking to reporters, Sir Keir said: "We have got to find a way forward here. We're seeing a real summer of chaos, you can see the impact it is having on so many businesses, so many sectors.
"The Government has never really explained the logic of its August 16 date on isolating.
"Welsh Labour has obviously taken the lead on this and said in clear terms that if you're double vaccinated, you don't need to self-isolate from August 7.
"And I'm challenging the Government: we should do the same and allow some order to come back into our lives, allow some stability for holidays and for businesses.
"There is too much chaos, there isn't a satisfactory answer from the Government as to why they are clinging on to the date of August 16 - Welsh Labour is showing the way, we should follow them."
Poll: Should the self-isolation rule change date be brought forward?
Covid case spike in Chinese city 'most extensive' since Wuhan
Several parts of the Chinese city of Nanjing have been placed into lockdown, after 117 new cases of Covid-19 were detected there.
Thousands of the 9.3 million people living in the city have been instructed to stay at home while testing and contact tracing finds the source of the infections.
All of the new cases detected in Nanjing are the Delta variant, with linked infections found in at least 10 other cities, including Beijing.
The cases are believed to have originated at Nanjing Lukou International Airport.
State media has described the outbreak as the "most extensive" since the first one in Wuhan in December 2019.
Canary Islands Covid passport plan for bars halted buy judges
Canary Islands's Covid passport plan for bars has been halted by judges, who say "restaurateurs are not public health controllers", writes James Badcock.
The proposals to introduce a requirement for a Covid certificate to enter bars and restaurants has been struck down by the archipelago’s top court after an appeal by the hospitality sector.
The court said that the law makes bar owners and restaurateurs "public health controllers, obliged to invade the legal area of the right to privacy".
A full consideration and ruling will come in next few days, but for now it appears to have been provisionally shelved.
Galicia is the only other region to have so far implemented such a use of Covid certificates, with pharmacies in the region starting today to sell the rapid test kits that will allow access to bars in areas with a certain infection level.
France amber-plus because of beta variant, not just Reunion
The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said concerns over the Beta variant in France that saw it put on the amber plus list were not just based on coronavirus cases on an island thousands of miles away from the mainland.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday the decision to put France on the amber plus list was "based on the prevalence of the so-called Beta variant, in particular in the Reunion bit of France".
Reunion is a French island in the Indian Ocean 6,000 miles from Paris.
Speaking to Sky News today, Mr Shapps said: "The Beta variant, it's not just - as has been reported - on an island thousands of miles away. It was also an issue in particular in northern France, so it has been an overall concern.
"And look, the big concern is that we don't allow a variant in which somehow is able to escape the vaccine programme that we have got."
Ministers 'tying themselves in knots' over France issue
Government ministers "appear to be tying themselves in knots" trying to explain their decision to put France in the amber plus travel category, Labour has said.
Jim McMahon MP, Labour's shadow transport secretary, said: "Ministers appear to be tying themselves in knots trying to explain their decision. If they misinterpreted the data over cases in mainland France they need to come clean and apologise.
"It's completely unfair that holidaymakers who booked in good faith in line with the Government's own advice, have had to fork out extra for early flights, or lost income through having to isolate when they came home.
"This is why Labour has been calling for the country-by-country data informing the traffic light system to be published. The Government must do that without delay."
Watch | Grant Shapps: You won't legally need two jabs to return to the office
France to remain on amber-plus until at least next week
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said a decision on France's place in the international travel traffic-light system is not expected until next week.
France is currently on the amber-plus list, with holidaymakers returning from the country being required to self-isolate.
Mr Shapps said a decision on its status will be taken "by this time next week" as part of the regular travel list update every three weeks.
Asked if the decision could be taken before then, the minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "No, it's only six days away actually, so I wouldn't expect anything in advance of that, but it is the moment at which this will be looked at."
Asked if that also means waiting to hear whether Spain will join the amber-plus list, Mr Shapps said: "That's right. I would encourage people to broadly ignore the sort of ongoing speculation as much as is possible."
He added: "One thing I have seen over the last year with all this going on is that, quite often, the speculation is not all that helpful, or all that accurate indeed.
"When we get the information from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, that's the first point at which it really becomes clarified."
Delta variant 'as contagious as chickenpox'
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described the delta variant of the coronavirus to be as contagious as chickenpox and could cause severe illness, the New York Times reported, citing an internal CDC document.
The variant was also more likely to break through protections afforded by the vaccines, the report said, adding that the agency's reverse course on masking guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans on Tuesday was based on this document.
However, CDC's figures show that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death in vaccinated people, the report said, citing experts.
New research showed the vaccinated people infected with the delta variant carried tremendous amounts of the virus in the nose and throat, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told the newspaper.
The delta variant is more transmissible than the viruses that cause MERS, SARS, Ebola, the common cold, the seasonal flu and smallpox, the report said.
The immediate next step for the agency is to "acknowledge the war has changed," the report cited the document as saying. CDC is expected to publish additional data on the variant on Friday, the NYT said.
No vaccine passports for shops or pubs, insists minister
The Government will not go as far as requiring so-called vaccine passports for entry to shops or pubs, the Transport Secretary has said.
Asked on ITV's Good Morning Britain about concerns over vaccine passports being required for entry into certain places, Grant Shapps said: "I don't know why this is particularly controversial - nine out of 10 people have had their first vaccinations and are going on to have their second, so most people have already had their vaccinations anyway - and I'm talking about adults who have had their vaccinations anyway.
"So, for most people this doesn't matter one way or the other. It does protect not just your life but other people's lives when you get vaccinated, so of course, as a society, we should be encouraging it.
"We won't go as far as requiring it to enter a shop or the pub, we will for very close contact things like going to nightclubs - other countries are for international travel - so I think there is precious little reason not to be vaccinated, every good reason to be vaccinated. Why wouldn't we want to save lives? It's just obvious to me."
Watch | Israel begins offering third vaccine
Jabs for jobs a 'good idea', but won't be Government legislation
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has suggested it is a good idea for people to be double jabbed before returning to the office but that it will not be required by legislation.
Asked if it is a good idea for people to have the two vaccine doses before they go back to the office, Mr Shapps told Sky News: "Yes it is a good idea and yes some companies will require it. We are not going to make that legislation that every adult has to be double vaccinated before they go back to the office, but yes it is a good idea and yes some companies will require it."
Minister defends sticking to Aug 16 date
The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has defended the Government's date of August 16 to ease self-isolation restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated but come into contact with a positive coronavirus case, following a change for Wales.
Wales's Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed Aug 7 as the day when double-jabbed adults can avoid isolation if they come into contact with a positive case.
Asked if the Government should look again at the date the restrictions ease in England, Mr Shapps told Sky News: "We are always keeping it under very close review.
"The reality is that people putting themselves in self-isolation has been a factor in saving a lot of lives because it turns out that one in three people who are requested to self-isolate do end up developing symptoms, so it is, if you like, the only remaining measure that is being taken at the moment, because of course all the other measures have been dropped at the fourth unlock stage on the 19 July."
He added: "So we are being, if you like, slightly cautious about it, but we have got systems in place now where testing can take place at 2,000 different locations we'll have for key workers to be tested so they don't have to self-isolate in advance of the 16 August when we will then not require people to self-isolate but instead be tested if they are pinged or asked to self-isolate."
Labour challenges Government to move Aug 16 date forward
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has challenged the Government to match Wales by bringing forward the date on which fully vaccinated people in England can avoid isolation.
Wales's Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed August 7 as the day when double jabbed adults can escape isolation if they come into contact with a positive coronavirus case.
Scotland is also expected to remove the need for fully vaccinated people to isolate on August 9, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted England is "nailed on" to make the same move from August 16.
Sir Keir, however, has questioned why England should have a later timeline, saying this risks creating more pain for families and businesses.
"This has been a summer of chaos for British businesses and British families," Sir Keir said in a statement.
"The Tory government has never been able to explain the logic of their self-isolation rules and has just repeated the same mistakes over and over again.
"While the British public have been trying to do the right thing, we saw this Government's instincts when Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak tried to avoid the isolation millions have had to endure.
"The Government's slapdash approach to this global pandemic is crippling our economy and creating real problems for businesses and families alike. Welsh Labour has shown what can be done and it's time for the Tories to do the same."
Pregnant women can be reassured on vaccine safety, says Oxford professor
Pregnant women can be reassured about the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine, the lead researcher on a study has said.
Researchers at Oxford University said more than 99% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 are unvaccinated - with the Delta variant of coronavirus posing a significantly greater risk of severe disease
Marian Knight, professor of maternal and child population health at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, and chief investigator of the study, said more than 50,000 women in the UK and more than 130,000 in the US have had a vaccine in pregnancy with no concerns over safety.
She told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "I think pregnant women can be reassured about the safety of the vaccine.
"And we need to emphasise the benefits, not only to them but we know that antibodies are passed on to their babies as well, so it's really important not just to prevent illness in you as a pregnant woman, but also to prevent the consequences of illness for your baby."
Today's front page
Here is your Daily Telegraph on Friday, July 30.
Much-needed vaccines avoid being thrown out
Hundreds of thousands of Covid vaccine doses have been saved from the rubbish bin after US regulators extended their expiration date for a second time, as part of a nationwide effort to salvage expiring shots to battle the nation's summer surge in infections.
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday sent a letter to shot maker Johnson & Johnson declaring that the doses remain safe and effective for at least six months when properly stored. The FDA's move gives the shots an extra six weeks as public officials press more Americans to get inoculated.
Similar efforts are happening in multiple states as public health officials try to ensure that soon-to-expire shots are put into arms before they must be discarded.
The J&J vaccine is not the only one facing expiration. States also report that many Pfizer and Moderna doses are approaching expiration, which is set at six months from the manufacturing date. In Louisiana, about 100,000 Pfizer doses are set to expire in about a week, for example.
Hospital figures for Covid cases ‘misleading’
One in four patients classed as a Covid hospitalisation is being treated for other reasons, official data reveal, prompting claims that the public has been misled.
For the first time, the NHS national stocktake establishes how many patients categorised as Covid hospitalisations had another primary cause of admission.
The data shows that of 5,021 patients this week classed as hospitalised by Covid, 1,166 were admitted for other reasons.
Read the full story here.
Tougher restrictions for struggling Sydney
Sydney today reported a slight easing in locally acquired cases of Covid amid a further tightening of restrictions in the worst-affected suburbs, with the military summoned to help enforce lockdown rules.
Millions of people in the city today began one of the country's harshest lockdowns since the pandemic began, after nearly five weeks of increasingly tough restrictions failed to quell an outbreak of the highly infectious delta variant.
Although cases dipped for the first time in nearly a week, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned cases could again rise due to the growing number of people positive with the delta strain moving around in the community.
New South Wales reported 170 new local cases, down from a record high of 239 set a day earlier.
Police have been given sweeping new powers to close businesses flouting rules, while the military will begin assisting police with ensuring compliance with restrictions from Monday.
Police commissioner Mick Fuller used the case of a worker who allegedly attended his worksite after knowing he had tested positive to defend the tougher rules.
Ms Berejiklian also implored people to avoid attending an anti-lockdown protest planned for Saturday in Sydney, warning they may be giving their loved ones "a death sentence".
States of emergency proposed for Japan
Japan's government today proposed states of emergency until August 31 in three prefectures near Olympic host Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka, as Covid cases spike to records, overshadowing the Games.
Existing states of emergency for Tokyo - its fourth since the pandemic began - and southern Okinawa island should also be extended to August 31, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is spearheading Japan's pandemic response, told a panel of experts in announcing the proposed expansion.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to formally announce the move later today after the experts approved it.
Japan has avoided a devastating outbreak, but is now struggling to contain the highly transmissible delta variant, with daily cases nationwide topping 10,000 for the first time on Thursday, media reported.
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One in four patients classed as a Covid hospitalisation is being treated for other reasons, official data reveal, prompting claims that the public has been misled
Businesses should ensure their staff are vaccinated before returning to the workplace, a Cabinet minister has suggested
Rising numbers of people testing positive for Covid-19 are refusing to hand over details of close contacts, as the numbers forced to self-isolate reached a record high
British holidaymakers in Spain are poised to escape quarantine next week after ministers received data showing there are no beta variant cases in the country's main tourist areas
France has slammed Britain's decision to single it out as the only European country for which 10-day quarantine will be required for fully vaccinated travellers, branding the move as “excessive”, “discriminatory” and “scientifically unfounded”
Italy has extended for another month its quarantine rule for British tourists, even after the UK government’s decision to drop entry restrictions for fully vaccinated arrivals from the EU and the US
Joe Biden has announced plans to pay Americans $100 to get vaccinated against coronavirus