Today's top stories
- Coronavirus risks fuelling the spread of superbugs due to the “excessive use” of antibiotics to treat sick patients, England’s former chief medical officer has warned
- Coronavirus restrictions were significantly eased on Thursday night with a relaxation of curbs on sports and leisure. Gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres, beauty salons and outdoor arts venues in England will all reopen
- Nearly 7,000 jobs are under threat after John Lewis and Boots announced dozens of store closures on Thursday, while Burger King said it may not reopen more than 50 outlets
- Areas of New York have recorded a nearly 70 per cent rate of immunity to Covid-19, in what scientists have described as “stunning” findings that suggest they could be protected from any second wave
- Schools should update behaviour policies to include Covid-related offences such as "purposefully coughing on someone", new Government guidance says
- The Government has turned down the opportunity to join a European Union coronavirus vaccine scheme after ministers expressed concern over “costly delays”, The Telegraph understands
Raft of regulations to make workout spaces safe
Indoor Gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities will reopen in England from July 25, the Culture Secretary has announced.
Oliver Dowden said the new guidelines would help the country get “match fit to defeat this virus”, as he laid out a raft of regulations to make workout spaces safe.
Gyms must use timed booking systems to limit the number of people in the building at one time and allow for social distancing, while equipment must be spaced out and cleaned regularly.
All facilities have been closed since March 21, to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Indoor spaces are riskier than customers being outdoors, as the virus can spread through the air in enclosed spaces. Outdoor pools will reopen from July 11.
Mr Dowden also announced that recreational team sports will be permitted to begin returning outdoors from this weekend, allowing different households to participate in training and competitive matches.
“The reopening of gyms is the news millions across the country have been waiting for with many people desperate to jump on a spinning bike or dive into a pool,” Mr Dowden said.
“Our comprehensive guidance will ensure gyms, pools and leisure centres have the support they need to reopen safely for their customers and staff.
“Helping people return to gyms safely will also help the nation get match-fit to defeat this virus.”
UK turns down EU coronavirus vaccine scheme
The Government has turned down the opportunity to join a European Union coronavirus vaccine scheme after ministers expressed concern over “costly delays”, The Telegraph understands.
Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary, is believed to have walked away from the plan after failing to secure “sufficient assurance” that the UK would receive the number of vaccines it needs on time.
The decision not to participate in the scheme is likely to provoke a backlash among opposition MPs, who believe that the Government is reluctant to take part in EU projects after Brexit.
Harry Yorke has more on this here.
Gyms reopening: What experts think will happen next
Coronavirus crisis reverses years of NHS waiting list progress as delays soar
The true scale of the damage done to NHS waiting lists by the coronavirus crisis has been laid bare in new data revealing the loss of more than 13 years of progress.
Patients were warned on Thursday to expect long delays to continue for the foreseeable future after official figures showed soaring numbers waiting months for access to basic services.
In particular, experts highlighted a "growing crisis" in access to diagnostic procedures, with 571,459 patients waiting more than six weeks in May for one of 15 standard tests – such as MRI or ultrasound – compared to just 43,230 in the same month last year.
Such tests are crucial for detecting cancers and other serious diseases at an early stage.
Overall, 1,448,357 patients waited longer than the 18-week target to begin hospital treatment in May this year – the highest for any calendar month since December 2007 and more than double the 576,237 of 12 months before.
Henry Bodkin explains why hospitals may struggle to clear backlog here.
Rio de Janeiro to reopen beaches only when there is a Covid-19 vaccine
The famous beaches in Brazil's tourist hot spot of Rio de Janeiro will only reopen officially for sun bathers and swimmers once there is a vaccine for Covid-19, Mayor Marcelo Crivella said on Thursday.
Currently, the city of Rio's beaches are open for exercise and water sports, although casual beachgoers regularly break those rules to pack the sand on recent weekends, with many not using masks or following social distancing guidelines.
"Where you can't use masks, the inclination is to only return when there is a vaccine, which is being tested, or when contamination is close to zero," Crivella told reporters.
"On the beach, you don't use a mask and the level of infection goes up."
Brazil is the second-worst-hit country by the novel coronavirus pandemic after the United States, with more than 1.6 million cases of the disease. Rio de Janeiro state has the second-highest death toll in Brazil, with nearly 11,000 people killed.
Many parts of Brazil have begun reopening certain segments of society despite tallying tens of thousands of new cases of the disease a day.
Last week, Rio city allowed bars and restaurants to reopen, leading to crowds at some establishments despite mandated capacity limits and hygiene measures.
Businessman arrested over alleged £495k furlough fraud
A businessman alleged to have committed a £495,000 furlough fraud has become the first to be arrested in connection with the Government scheme.
The 57-year-old man, who has not been named, was quizzed by officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on Wednesday in connection his use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
HMRC said it was the first such arrest to happen.
Officers executed a search warrant in Solihull, in the West Midlands, seizing computers and other digital devices, while funds held in a bank account relating to the arrested man's business have been frozen.
Investigation launched after bag of Covid-19 test samples found on road
An NHS investigation has been launched after a bag of Covid-19 test samples was found by a member of the public on a road in the Scottish Highlands, authorities have said.
The samples were being taken from Caithness General Hospital in Wick to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, according to a statement from NHS Highland.
The bag was found on the A9 near Tain and taken to a local police station.
NHS Highland said it was investigating how the bag came to be abandoned on the roadside.
A spokesperson said: “We can confirm that samples being transported from Caithness General Hospital in Wick to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness were found on the A9 near Tain.
Manufacturers take aim at 'gross waste' of £15bn PPE bill
Manufacturing chiefs have hit out at ministers for wasting taxpayer money on protective gear shipped in from abroad at vast expense, after figures revealed £15bn of spending on PPE.
Factory owners who had offers for help turned down in favour of overseas suppliers at the height of the crisis said that the cash would have been better spent in Britain.
The Department for Health was unable to say how much of its total PPE bill has gone to foreign manufacturers. However, insiders say much of the kit was provided by companies abroad, often in China, and there were several cases where this equipment turned out to be useless.
Alan Tovey has more here.
Serbia bans gatherings of more than ten after violent clashes
Serbia moved on Thursday to crack down on protests as it banned gatherings of more than 10 people in Belgrade after two nights of violent clashes between police and thousands of demonstrators.
Authoritarian president Aleksander Vucic abandoned plans for a tough lockdown in the capital to counter a renewed surge in coronavirus after the move sparked protests culminating in riots that left scores injured.
Police fired tear gas and threw stun grenades at protesters on Wednesday evening. Videos on social networks appeared to show officers severely beating up some demonstrators.
Demonstrations spread on Wednesday to Novi Sad and Nis, the second and third largest cities in the country.
While the protests were at first driven by anger over economically-stifling measures to contain the pandemic, they evolved quickly into anti-government rallies.
Trump's love for hydroxychloroquine is undying, apparently
Donald Trump continues to see a malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a promising drug to be used to prevent infection with the coronavirus, the White House said on Thursday - despite both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stating its efficacy and safety are unproven.
"The president has always said that he sees hydroxychloroquine as a very promising prophylactic but that every person should not take it unless they get a prescription from their doctor," White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said at a news conference.
Trump told reporters in May he had started taking hydroxychloroquine after two White House staffers tested positive for Covid-19. His doctor said last month that Trump had suffered from no side effects after a two-week course of the malaria drug, which can cause heart problems.
Last month, researchers cancelled a trial into hydroxychloroquine after they found it was 'useless' against coronavirus.
That factor hasn't stopped Trump or his Brazilian counterpart from brandishing hydroxychloroquine as a possible Covid-19 preventative.
Earlier this week, another world leader, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, said he had tested positive for the virus and was taking hydroxychloroquine.
Bolsonaro has pushed his government to make the drug widely available and has encouraged Brazilians to take it both to treat Covid-19 and to prevent it.
Ireland's virus contagion 'R' number inches over one
Ireland's reproduction number, which measures the number of people who become infected from each positive case, has increased in the past week and is now around 1, a senior Irish health official said on Thursday.
"We are seeing an increase in the number of reported cases over the last 2 weeks and the R-number is now at or above 1," up from between 0.6 and 1.0 a week ago, Philip Nolan, Chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, told journalists.
Areas of New York may have reached 68 percent immunity
Areas of New York have recorded a nearly 70 per cent rate of immunity to Covid-19, in what scientists have described as “stunning” findings that suggest they could be protected from any second wave.
Some 68 per cent of people who took antibody tests at a clinic in the Corona neighbourhood of Queens received positive results, while at another clinic in Jackson Heights, 56 per cent tested positive.
The results, shared by healthcare company CityMD with the New York Times, appear to show a higher antibody rate than anywhere in the world, based on publicly released data.
But is there a catch?
Josie Ensor and Henry Bodkin have the details here.
Morocco extends coronavirus emergency decree
Morocco extended on Thursday an emergency decree until August 10 giving local authorities leeway in taking restrictive measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The cabinet maintained the decree in force to allow for restoring lockdowns on a region-by-region basis depending on the coronavirus developments.
Morocco has unlocked since June 25 most of the economy allowing cafes, restaurants, sports clubs, and other services and entertainment businesses to resume activity at half capacity except in the provinces where infections remain higher such as Tangier, Marrakech and Safi.
Domestic travel has resumed, while borders are set to reopen on July 14 to nationals in addition to foreign residents and their families.
By Thursday evening, Morocco had recorded 15079 cases, including 242 deaths and 11447 recoveries with total tests rising to 835,264.
Outbreaks within industrial clusters have complicated Morocco’s efforts to counter the coronavirus with the latest major outbreak earlier this week found among workers of fish canneries in Safi.
Coronavirus hits fragile northwest Syria
A first case of coronavirus was recorded in northwest Syria Thursday, an opposition official said, reviving fears of disaster if the pandemic reached the rebel bastion's displacement camps.
"We regret today to announce the first case of coronavirus in a health worker at one of the hospitals" in the northwestern province of Idlib, said opposition health official Maram al-Sheikh.
The head of WHO's office in Turkey's Gaziantep, Mahmoud Daher, said the patient was a male Syrian doctor in his 30s who had been working in a hospital in the town of Bab al-Hawa on the Syrian-Turkish border.
"He suspected that he might have contracted COVID-19," and a test came back positive on Thursday, he said.
"There have been no cases so far in northwest Syria until this morning," Daher said, confirming it was the first case.
Sheikh said: "The hospital has been closed, as have its living quarters."
Those who had been in contact with the patient had been swabbed and isolated, and an emergency meeting convened, she said in a statement on Twitter.
Aid groups have been preparing for months to prevent an outbreak in northwest Syria, where a fragile truce has stemmed a Russia-backed regime offensive against the Idlib region.
£500bn of borrowing will loom over the economy for decades, IFS warns
The Treasury is set to borrow half a trillion pounds over two years as the cost of battling the coronavirus and lockdown recession mounts.
This year’s deficit will come in at about £350bn, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies - a record for any peacetime year.
It will fall by more than half to £150bn next year, the analysts estimate, which still almost matches the £158bn borrowed at the peak of the financial crisis.
This debt mountain will pose a challenge to Rishi Sunak and his successors as Chancellor for many decades to come as a result.
Tim Wallace explains more here.
Peruvian minister tests positive after Amazon visit
A Peruvian cabinet minister has tested positive for Covid-19 after leading the delivery of humanitarian aid to the country's Amazon region, the government said Thursday.
Production Minister Rocio Barrios, 46, is the second cabinet minister to contract the virus. Agriculture Minister Jorge Montenegro, 54, fell ill in May but has recovered.
"After receiving the positive result, the minister has been recovering and complying with her social isolation," the ministry said in a statement.
It did not say if Barrios is hospitalized or recovering at home.
Barrios had visited the Amazon region of Loreto, one of the areas worst-hit by the coronavirus.
The government on July 1 lifted a mandatory national quarantine in 18 of the country's 25 departments where it said the coronavirus had passed its peak.
The order includes Lima, despite the capital being home to 70 percent of the country's infections.
Six million people, one-third of the South American country's population, remain under quarantine.
Peru is the second worst-hit country in Latin America after Brazil, with more than 312,000 cases, and ranks third-worst by Covid-19 deaths, with more than 11,000.
US barrels past 3 million cases
The US reported 3,047,671 cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, an increase of 64,771 cases from its previous count.
The country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also said that the number of deaths had risen by 991 to 132,056.
High risk workers to be tested over fears of asymptomatic spread
Tens of thousands of taxi drivers, cleaners and shop workers are to be tested for coronavirus amid concern that they are spreading the disease.
Addison Lee, BT and Boots are among some of the firms whose staff will be given tests even though they appear healthy.
The Department of Health and Social Care has said it will help scientists understand the prevalence of the virus in asymptomatic people in higher-risk jobs.
However, scientists are divided over the extent to which asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 are infectious.
Henry Bodkin has the latest here.
Medical community raises concerns about latest lockdown adjustments
Is lockdown being lifted too quickly? This is what Dr David Strain, Clinical Senior Lecturer at University of Exeter Medical School, and Chair of the Medical Academic Staff Committee of the British Medical Association, has to say on the matter:
“Whilst we recognise the importance of getting life back to normal as soon as possible, there are concerns that these steps are happening without chance to evaluate the effects of the previous easing of lockdown.
"Although numbers are improving, and infection rates are dropping, we still have more new cases than our European neighbours did when they eased lockdown and we have started to see resurgences in some communities.
"It is important to remember that it is likely to take several infection cycles before the impact is experienced among the population at greatest risk from Covid.
"If the younger population that enjoyed last Saturday’s re-openings, were unlucky enough to contract coronavirus, they are unlikely to develop significant symptoms.
"They are, however, at risk of spreading infection to family members or others around them, who due to their risk factors would have been more reluctant to reduce their physical distancing measures in the first wave."
The emerging cost of the UK’s bungled coronavirus response
Calls for an inquiry mount after Treasury figures reveal £25 billion has been spent on the PPE and NHS Test and Trace programmes, both littered with problems.
The Telegraph’s Economics Reporter, Tom Rees joins Theodora Louloudis to discuss the Government’s accountability and the long-term effects of loosening the public purse.
Listen to the new episode of Coronavirus: The Latest podcast here:
Airborne transmission of coronavirus can occur during medical procedures, WHO say
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus can occur during medical procedures that generate aerosols.
These aerosols may potentially be inhaled by others if they are not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, the agency said.
The WHO also said some outbreak reports related to indoor crowded spaces have suggested the possibility of aerosol transmission, combined with droplet transmission, such as during choir practice, in restaurants or in fitness classes.
"In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out," it said, as it called for more studies to be urgently carried out to access their significance for transmission of Covid-19.
German slaughterhouse reopens after officials quash outbreak
A pig slaughterhouse that was the centre of a new coronavirus outbreak in Germany has partially reopened.
Adminsitrative staff at the Tönnies abattoir in Rheda-Wiedenbrück were allowed to return to work on Wednesday, but the animal slaughter areas remain closed.
"In view of the relatively low risk of infection, the resumption of business administration need not be disproportionately delayed," said a spokesman for the local authorities.
More than 1,500 employees at the abattoir tested positive for the virus last month, and lockdown was reimposed in the surrounding district of Gütersloh after the German R number briefly rose to 2.88 as a result of the outbreak.
But the outbreak appears to have been successfully contained. Few cases were found outside the slaughterhouse workforce and local lockdown measures have now been lifted. The German R number has been back under 1 for more than 2 weeks.
Justin Huggler reports from Berlin.
Another study has shown mothers can give Covid-19 to unborn babies
Experts say more research is needed into the risk of coronavirus for unborn babies after another study has suggested that in utero transmission is possible.
The study from Italy, which found evidence of transmission between Covid-19 positive mothers and their babies in two cases out of 31, is the latest in an emerging body of evidence on coronavirus and pregnancy.
Jennifer Rigby has more details here.
Cheap and widely available hep C drug shown to reduce Covid-19 death rate
Two cheap and widely available hepatitis C drugs have cut death rates among patients hospitalised with coronavirus, the results of three small studies have shown.
The drugs - sofosbuvir and daclatasvir - were given to three groups of patients hospitalised with the virus in Iran. After 14 days of treatment 94 per cent of patients taking the drug combination were showing signs of recovery versus 70 per cent receiving standard care.
The death rate for the combination of drugs was five per cent, compared to 20 per cent for people on standard care.
“We saw significantly faster rates of clinical recovery and hospital discharge for people taking the drug combination and we also saw faster rates of survival,” said Dr Andrew Hill, senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University and one of the researchers.
The drugs will now be tested in larger clinical trials, added Dr Hill.
Anne Gulland has more on this here.
Africa could have Covid-19 vaccine by early 2021
Africa could have a Covid-19 vaccine in the first quarter of 2021 if human trials underway in South Africa succeed, a university professor heading the trials said on Thursday.
The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 experimental vaccine is one of 19 being tested on humans and human trials are also underway in Brazil, led by Oxford University scientists who are working with British drugmaker AstraZeneca on development and production.
"A vaccine could be made commercial as early as the beginning of next year," said Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at University of Witwatersr, who is leading the South African trial.
"But it is completely dependent on the results of clinical trials," he cautioned.
Trials will depend on 2,000 volunteers aged 18-65 years who will be monitored for 12 months after vaccination to asses its efficacy. Early results could be seen by November or December, Madhi said.
Covid-19 cases in Africa topped half a million on Wednesday, with almost 12,000 deaths registered across the continent. However there is grave concern that the number may be far higher due to under reporting and testing of the virus.
What a resurgence of Covid-19 around the world tells us about the risk of a second wave
England might be reopening its gyms, beauty salons and outdoor theatres, but that doesn't mean the pandemic is over.
Several countries around the world are already seeing a resurgence of cases, some more severe than the first.
But are they second waves, spikes or simply a continuation of the first wave? And what do they tell us about the likelihood of a second wave hitting the UK this winter?
Anne Gulland and Paul Nuki explain here.
What did we learn in today's Downing Street press conference?
That was a bumper press conference from Oliver Dowden. The Government has now moved from holding a briefing every day to only when they have something to announce, so it was good that we got some decent clarity on the new rules. In short:
- Indoor gyms, pools and leisure centres will reopen from July 25, subject to some strict rules restricting how many people can use them at once and how often they must be cleaned. But you don't have to wear a mask on the treadmill.
- Outdoor pools will reopen from July 11 - there is a lower risk of people meeting outdoors than inside.
- Grassroots sport can begin again from this weekend, meaning people of different households can train and play together. Clubs will have to submit an action plan to the Government explaining how they will follow the rules.
- Outdoor performances of theatre, music and dance can begin again from Monday, and Mr Dowden promises he is working really hard to find a way to bring them back inside. There is a concern that the virus might be able to survive for a while on brass instruments, so jazz fans might be waiting even longer.
- Beauticians, tattooists and spas will be able to reopen from Monday, in line with the existing regulations on hairdressers. Beauty salons have been a bit of a headache for the Government in recent days, with commentators wondering why a party of older men might be more interested in opening golf courses than nail bars...
- It could all be locked down again. Mr Dowden was very clear that localised lockdowns will follow if there are any outbreaks such as the one seen already in Leicester.
Culture Secretary can't wait to shout in the pub again
Adam Bienkov from Business Insider points out some slightly odd phrasing from the Culture Secretary there, suggesting he can't wait to be back shouting at the bar...
"I’d love us to be in a situation where pubs are as we know and love them, where you can crowd around the bars, you know, people can shout and all those other things,” says the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, explaining what happens in a pub.— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) July 9, 2020
Why don't we see ministers wearing masks more?
Mr Dowden is asked whether minister should be seen wearing face coverings more in public.
Should the Prime Minister be photographed in a mask?
In this morning's press photos of Rishi Sunak delivering katsu curry to customers in Wagamama, he was not wearing the mask.
Dowden says masks are just one form of advice the Government has given and dodges the question about the PM.
No face masks on the treadmills: Dowden clarifies advice
Charlie Cooper from Politico points out that Government guidance suggests people should wear face coverings in enclosed spaces.
Does that apply to gyms?
"We have announced a whole series of mitigating measures that we would expect gyms to take," say Mr Dowden, but people won't have to wear gyms.
He adds he wore a face covering himself during a visit to the Royal Academy this morning.
Will people be brave enough to go to gyms and swimming pools?
Macer Hall from the Daily Express suggests people will have to put their trunks on before going to the swimming pool and won't be allowed to do butterfly in the water. Is that creating confidence in the public?
Mr Dowden says "it is rarely the case that you pull up the shutter and people come rushing in", and acknowledges that it will take time for people to gain confidence in going to gyms and pools.
It is better to have premises open with some restrictions than not at all, he says.
Pubs and restaurants have not forced up case numbers: Dowden
Oliver Dowden says the changes to lockdown measures prior to July 4 - the opening of pubs and restaurants - has not had an effect on the number of cases in the UK.
He adds the Government will not hesitate to "take steps" to protect localised areas if they have flare ups.
Will the Government introduce mass asymptomatic testing?
Mr Dowden is asked whether the Government is introducing mass asymptomatic testing, to find people in the community who do not have symptoms
The minister says it is a matter for the Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary whether the testing is introduced but defended the Government's record.
Dowden defends test and trace against 'handwritten notes' story from Sky
Oliver Dowden says the Government continues to "ramp up" the testing and tracing capacity, which is now at around 300,000 per day.
The system has been set up well and is working, he says.
Sam Coates at Sky said ministers were using handwritten notes to track people with the virus at the beginning of the pandemic, and suggests the Government did not prioritise testing and tracing fast enough.
The minister says he "does not recognise" that description.
Licence fee scrapping is 'regrettable', says Culture Secretary
Oliver Dowden says he "very much regrets" the BBC's decision to scrap the free licence fees for over-75s.
He says the BBC was happy with a settlement announced last year and he is disappointed they have not been able to find efficiency savings.
Government will enforce rules if they are broken
Questions from the media now.
Oliver Dowden is asked whether there will be sanctions for businesses that do not follow the Government's guidelines.
He says he has been "tremendously heartened" by how people have observed the rules.
"People are observing the rules because they know it's the right thing to do to protect us from this virus."
He says the Government will take measures to enforce the rules if they are broken.
Footfall in towns and cities 'will help retail sector'
A member of the public asked Mr Dowden what the Government is doing to help the retail sector.
Mr Dowden said retailers that un-furlough their workers will be given £1000 per worker, and the Government expects shops will benefit from increased footfall in town centres created by re-opening hospitality.
Work out to help out now gyms are open, says Culture Secretary
Mr Dowden said at the beginning of the crisis, people stayed at home and protected the NHS.
But now, they must "eat out to help out," by spending money in the sectors that are struggling, he said.
He adds they must also "work out to help out" and use the gyms now they have been reopened.
Dowden: Gyms will be locked back down if there are local spikes
The Culture Secretary says that from July 25, gyms will be able to reopen and people can "jump on their exercise bikes for the first time in months".
Gyms need "certainty and clarity" on reopening, which is why they cannot open immediately, he said.
Gyms will use timed booking systems, space out customers and implement enhanced cleaning regimes.
The conditions imposed are "reversible", Mr Dowden said, stressing that the Government will not hesitate to re-introduce local lockdowns where there are spikes in the virus.
'Bumper' economic package needs public support, says Dowden
Oliver Dowden says there will be a VAT cut for zoos, shows, theatres and amusement parks as part of a "bumper package" of measures for tourism and hospitality.
There will also be cheaper hotels, campsites and caravan parks.
The country should "make the most of this summer safely" and support struggling businesses, Mr Dowden said.
Oliver Dowden: Beauticians, tattooists and spas back next week
Beauticians, tattooists and spas can reopen from Monday, just like hairdressers, says Oliver Dowden.
Some particularly high-risk services will stay closed, he says.
Mr Dowden did not elaborate on which services would still be banned.
Government working on how to put on indoor performances, says Culture Secretary
Oliver Dowden said the Government is trying to work out how to "confidently usher socially distanced audiences indoors as soon as possible".
The Government is also funding scientific research on how to stop the spread of the virus on brass instruments, among other things, he said.
"Of course we want to see our venues open as soon as it is safe to do so," he said.
Today's announcement will bring us closer to that, he adds.
Oliver Dowden: Gyms, pools and outdoor performances allowed again
For months now, our lives have been on hold," says the Culture Secretary.
"When the call came in March, we pressed paused on many of the things that brighten our lives."
He lists some of the lockdown restrictions.
"Today, I am very pleased to announced that we can go a little bit further," he said.
This weekend, artists, musicians and dancers can perform live outdoors.
Recreational sport will begin this weekend, followed by pools, leisure centers and gyms, he said.
Who is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf?
The World Health Organisation has said that Liberia’s former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, will lead an international panel to review the world’s response to the coronavirus, Will Brown writes.
Mrs Sirleaf, who is often affectionately called ‘Ma Ellen’ in Liberia, will lead the panel with Helen Clark, New Zealand’s former prime minister.
Mrs Sirleaf led the West African nation through the region’s Ebola epidemic from 2013 to 2015, which killed more than 11,000 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for leading Liberia through a peaceful transition to democracy after the country was practically destroyed in two horrific civil wars in the 90s and early 2000s.
The WHO has been criticised by the Trump administration for being too slow in its response to the initial coronavirus outbreak in China. The panel will review the WHO's handling of the pandemic and the response of individual countries.
Coming up: Oliver Dowden set to announce new guidance for gyms
The Culture Sec is expected to make the announcement at today's Government press briefing at 5pm.
Free Wi-Fi routers for sailors stuck in UK ports
Merchant ships stranded in British ports due to the coronavirus pandemic are to be given free mobile Wi-Fi routers so sailors can stay in touch with their families, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has said.
It comes as the UK leads efforts to secure an international agreement recognising seafarers as key workers.
The Department for Transport said around 200,000 sailors, including 2,000 British citizens, are currently stranded abroad abroad due to international coronavirus travel and quarantine restrictions.
Ministers said the problem had been exacerbated as ships have been barred from returning home due to the pandemic, meaning many mariners' contracts had expired while they were still at sea, requiring them to make their own way home.
Mike Wright has the story here.
Moscow to list most of its coronavirus restrictions
The Russian capital will lift most of its coronavirus restrictions as the outbreak is dying down, Nataliya Vasilyeva writes.
Moscow, once the epicentre of the epidemic, has been a sharp drop in new Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.
Moscow reported less than 600 new cases on Thursday, it’s lowest day increase since early April.
Sergei Sobyanin, the Moscow mayor, issued a decree on Thursday to lift most of the remaining restrictions after lockdown formally ended in early June.
Schools and universities will be allowed to resume in-person classes and activities, if they have any, starting next Monday. All restrictions on retail and the service industry will be lifted on Monday as well.
Moscow’s theatres and cinemas will be allowed to reopen on 1 August as long as they keep 50 percent of the seats empty.
Mr Sobyanin, who oversaw a strict lockdown in Moscow that lasted for two and a half months, on Thursday, quoted recent statistics on infections and hospitalisation as the reason that should allow the city of 12 million to go back to normal.
Data released by the City Hall on Thursday shows that less than 5,000 beds are currently used for by coronavirus patients, compared to 20,000 in early May, and the number of new cases dropped 20 percent compared to a week earlier despite the fact that the lockdown rules have eased.
Mayor Sobyanin said on Thursday that the remaining restrictions will be lifted “as soon as we make sure that there is no change for the worse and that the Covid epidemic is still on the wane.”
Video: Sir Keir Starmer criticises 'dead weight' of furlough bonus scheme
Sir Keir Starmer has today said that the Government cannot afford the "dead weight" of the Job Retention Bonus Scheme.
Speaking whilst on a visit to Harlow engineering firm Beard and Fitch, he said: "We are living through an unprecedented crisis so the government is right to act. Our concern is that the action they have taken isn't focused on the right places."
The Job Retention Bonus is set to see employers given a £1,000 bonus for every furloughed employee that is kept in work until January 2021.
- Tom Harris: Starmer is offering overly cautious and mushy opposition
- Michael Deacon: Sunak showed why his star continues to rise - and Labour should worry
Cruise ship holidays should be avoided, Government says
The UK Government has updated its guidance for cruise ships, advising all British people to avoid travelling on them, Benjamin Parker reports.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the new information was “due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England” and that they would “continue to review its cruise ship travel advice”.
It added: “[The FCO] continues to support the Department for Transport’s work with industry for the resumption of international cruise travel.”
The updated advice comes as a huge blow the cruise industry - read the full story here.
Wales confirms travel quarantine exemptions ahead of summer holidays
Tourists from Wales can visit 73 countries and territories without self-isolating on their return after the Welsh Government published its list of air bridges.
The list is identical to the one published by the UK Government for English residents, and will allow holidaymakers to visits countries including Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, in addition to long-haul destinations such as Australia, without having to self-isolate for two weeks on their return to the UK.
It also means like England, notable absentees include China, Portugal, Thailand and the US.
UK faces 'reckoning' of tax rises after coronavirus - but not until 2022
A "reckoning in the form of higher taxes" is coming, a senior economist has warned - but he said that was not expected to happen until 2022, Anna Mikhailova reports.
Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), said the UK was facing its "deepest recession in history" and tax rises would be inevitable as a result.
He said: "The time to pay for all this will come – but not this year, and not next."
The autumn Budget is likely to see "more targeted tax cuts", Mr Johnson said, adding: "Affordability can wait for now."
Portugal holidays: President of tourist board seeks to reassure Britons
The president of Portugal's national tourist authority has assured British holidaymakers that they are "100 per cent welcome" and that they will not need to quarantine upon arrival.
Luis Araujo announced airports on the Portuguese mainland are equipped with UV equipment for disinfection, contactless checkout facilities, and walk-through camera systems for temperature scanning.
Those travelling back to the UK must still go into self-isolation for 14 days once back in the UK, after it was revealed that Portugal and its outlying islands is excluded from a list of 59 countries that are exempt from quarantine rules, a decision that Mr Araujo described as 'bewildering'.
- 'Portugal air bridge snub is a strange way to treat your oldest friend'
- Backlash as 'excluded' Portugal left out of UK travel corridor list
Social distancing in action at protest in India
I’m on annual leave at the moment but it’s hard to get away from the impact of Covid-19 in India. Here in Jaipur, teachers are holding a socially distanced protest as they say their wages have not been paid since March because of cuts pic.twitter.com/59Mpq2jKaX— Joe Wallen (@joerwallen) July 9, 2020
John Lewis shop closures and Boots store closures add to retail year from hell
To get a sense of just how badly coronavirus has affected the retail, 2020 has already seen nearly 56,000 job losses in retail in the UK, more than the whole of 2019, when 45,000 roles were lost.
That is according to the most recent data from the Centre for Retail Research, which shows 40 UK retailers have gone bust this year, in turn affecting 2,630 stores.
It comes as the BBC reports that General Electric plans to cut 369 jobs at its aircraft engine plant in Wales.
Government scraps target of half of all young people going to university
The Government is scrapping the target to get half of all young people into university, saying the emphasis should be on skills for future work in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, gave a virtual speech hosted by the Social Market Foundation in which he "called time on the idea that higher education is somehow better than further education".
Mr Williamson said further education was at the heart of the Government's mission of levelling up, emphasising further education, apprenticeships and university all as equally valid routes to productive employment.
Coronavirus UK: Around one in 3,900 has coronavirus, data suggests
Around one in 3,900 people were infected with Covid-19 at any point between June 22 and July 5, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.
New data from the Covid-19 surveillance study for England suggests an estimated average of 14,000 people had coronavirus during that time.
The Office for National Statistics added that the decline in cases seems to have levelled off in recent weeks, and urged caution into reading too much into the figures due to the low number of positive cases.
During the 14-day period from June 22 to July 5, there were an estimated two new Covid-19 infections for every 10,000 people per week, equating to an estimated 1,700 new cases per day.
Pubs reopening: Can country pubs survive in a socially distanced world?
In the latest instalment of The Telegraph's The future of... series, Guy Kelly takes a look at the future of country pubs at a time of mandatory hygiene measures and social distancing guidelines.
Five centuries, 21 kings and queens, 25 prime ministers, two lord protectors, a reformation, a few dozen wars (two World, one Civil, all uncivil), the tail-end of the Black Death, the wind-up of feudalism, 21 solar eclipses, the industrial revolution, the rise and fall of the British Empire, the Spanish flu, foot and mouth, a Little Ice Age, a national population rise of around 3330 per cent, every kind of weather imaginable, and, as the chant goes, one World Cup.
The Duke of Cumberland Arms, a pub overlooking the South Downs in West Sussex, has seen a lot since it opened in 1525. “And you know what?” declares its current landlord, Simon Goodman, “we never closed.” He shakes his head. Until, of course, Friday March 20th 2020. “Bloody coronavirus, eh?”
Read the full piece on the future of the Great British country pub here.
Airbus jobs cuts prompt workers to march in Toulouse
Airbus workers are on the march in Toulouse, the plane makers' headquarters, demonstrating against plans to eliminate 15,000 jobs over the next year.
The jobs will mostly be lost in Europe, with around 1,700 job losses expected to fall in the UK.
Property stamp duty holiday: First-time buyers to lose advantage
First-time buyers could lose their edge in the housing market as Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty cut puts all house hunters on the same footing instead of giving newcomers the advantage, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned.
The result of the tax break could be that house prices rise and so sellers end up being the biggest beneficiaries of the move.
“When there is a tax break it can lead to the price of houses going up, so sellers can benefit,” said Helen Miller at the IFS.
Tim Wallace has the full story here.
Nicola Sturgeon update: Scotland to enter phase three of lockdown - video
Eiffel Tower reopening date confirmed as July 15
The Eiffel Tower in Paris will reopen its top level on July 15 after months of being off-limits because of the coronavirus outbreak, its operator has said this afternoon.
The first and second floors reopened on June 26 after the monument's longest closure since the Second World War, marking a symbolic restart as France emerged from its coronavirus lockdown.
All visitors will have to wear face masks and maintain social distancing from others, as France continues to recover from an epidemic that has claimed nearly 30,000 lives in the country.
The top floor will only be able to accommodate a maximum of 250 people at any one time on its reopening. Elevators were initially off-limits when the tower reopened last month, but have since reopened.
UK coronavirus deaths today: 85 new fatalities confirmed today
The Department for Health has announced a further 85 coronavirus deaths across all settings.
This takes the UK's overall death toll across all settings to 44,602.
A further 642 UK coronavirus cases have also been announced, taking the total number of positive infections to 287,621.
Life behind the 'Pandemic Wall' in Perth
A raft of tough measures have allowed Western Australia to go an extraordinary 89 days without a community-based Covid-19 infection, writes Ronan O'Connell.
Put simply, the virus is not circulating in the state of 2.7 million people, and it hasn’t been for a long time.
The only recent infections were detected in WA’s harsh mandatory quarantine, which requires residents returning from overseas to be locked in a hotel room for 14 days and to test negative for Covid-19 before being released.
It was Victoria’s failure to enforce this same policy that led to its recent spike in infections and the fresh lockdown of Melbourne.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak visits Bosch factory
Outdoor gatherings: Downing Street denies coronavirus rules update is imminent
Downing Street said there are "no plans" to update guidance on the size of outdoor gatherings in England, despite the fact that the law allows up to 30 people to meet.
The Prime Minister's spokesman confirmed that the six-person or two household limit was just "guidance", but said:
It is there because that's what scientific and medical advice suggests is a sensible, precautionary number.
We're trusting the public to exercise their common sense and to follow our advice just as they have done during the pandemic.
The law... allows police to use their enforcement powers for any gatherings over 30 unless there is an exemption listed in the regulations.
Tokyo to subsidise nightclubs to close after record spike in Japan coronavirus cases
Tokyo unveiled plans to offer subsidies to nightclubs to close as new coronavirus infections in the capital hit a single-day record, with many linked to entertainment districts.
Under the plan, the Tokyo metropolitan government will give 500,000 yen (£3,700) to nightclubs and other venues - including so-called host and hostess bars - if they close for more than 10 days.
The measures came after a fresh surge in coronavirus cases in Tokyo, particularly in the capital's major commercial and entertainment districts, including famed Shinjuku.
Tokyo said the number of new coronavirus infections reached a single-day record of 224 on Thursday.
Spain coronavirus measures: Authorities to fine tourists who leave their hotel without a face mask
Tourists in several Spanish holiday hotspots must wear face masks this summer, or risk being hit with hefty fines, writes Tom Mulvihill.
Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Basque Country are today adopting harsher rules on protective face coverings following several spikes in new coronavirus infections across the country.
It means that residents and visitors alike in popular tourist destinations such as Barcelona, Majorca, Ibiza and San Sebastian are now forbidden from leaving their homes or hotels without wearing a mask, and must wear them at all times while out in public, with those who flout the rules liable to receive an on-the-spot penalty of €100 (£90).
Summer holidays: Europeans want British tourists to stay away
Europeans do not want British tourists to visit the Continent this summer, according to new polling from YouGov.
Spaniards are most opposed to the arrival of UK holidaymakers, with nearly two thirds (61 per cent), keen on Britons to stay away this year, 15 percentage points more than any other European nationality. A majority of French, German and Italian residents also want British travellers to stay home.
In France, Spain, Germany and Italy, only residents from the US and China are less welcome, the research shows.
- UK travel news: All the latest here
- Over 100 'red list' countries have lower infection rates than approved destinations
Top HMRC civil servant warned against furlough boost and 'Eat out to help out'
HMRC’s most senior civil servant warned the Chancellor against the £9.4 billion job retention bonus scheme because of concerns over “value for money”, writes Amy Jones.
Jim Harra, the permanent secretary, said advice said the cost of the policy and the number of jobs protected by it were both “highly uncertain”.
Mr Harra also wrote to the Chancellor with his concerns over the 'eat out to help out' policy.
Under the new programme, businesses will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for each employee that they have retained at the end of January.
PureGym cleans down and gears up for reopening
Burger King news and closing John Lewis stores: Restructuring firm warns of more job losses
The fast food chain Burger King has announced that it could close one in 10 of its UK sites as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, putting up to 1,600 jobs at risk on a bleak day of news for British businesses.
Reacting to the most recent wave of job cuts, Julie Palmer from Begbies Traynor - which sells its services to companies seeking to restructure - has said:
This has to be expected. Even after yesterday’s government announcement there will be a significant amount of job losses on the high street. Many of the biggest companies have been fighting against the tide of destruction before this crisis, and there is a huge dam of distressed businesses building and waiting to break.
How Covid-19 brought Latin America to its knees
This devastating dispatch from Bogotá, Colombia by Matthew Charles reveals how the novel coronavirus - a "disease of the rich, killer of the poor" - has exposed the deep inequalities at the heart of Latin America.
With over five million infections and 247,000 deaths, Latin America has reported more cases of Covid-19 than any other region of the world.
Lockdowns on the continent have been some of the longest on the planet, but even as infections and deaths continue to rise, quarantine measures are now being relaxed across the continent as the lives versus livelihoods debate lingers on.
In Colombia, epidemiologists are warning the country won’t reach the peak of the virus until August, yet ICU capacity in Bogotá is now at more than 80 per cent and increasing daily. But despite the climbing infection rate, President Iván Duque is gradually easing the country’s lockdown.
Shopping centres are open, hairdressers are taking appointments, but bars and restaurants remain closed for now. Last week, the president said that the country cannot afford to lock itself up while it waits for a vaccine. Instead he pledged to expand ICU capacity and purchase extra ventilators.
Gyms reopening: UK announcement due on indoor gyms opening date
Gyms will reopen next week, the Government is expected to announce today, with swimming pools, nail bars and beauty salons likely to follow later this month, Gordon Rayner writes.
Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, has said that he would be making an announcement on indoor gyms “imminently” with the target date set for mid-July.
In the latest lifting of lockdown measures, ministers have suggested they expect nail bars and beauty salons to be given a date when they can reopen, which is likely to be before the end of this month.
Wales coronavirus news: Welsh schools to reopen from September, minister announces
All pupils in Wales will be able to return to schools in September, the country's education minister Kirsty Williams has just announced.
Schools in Wales reopened for a three to four-week term at reduced capacity on June 29 with staggered starts, lessons, and breaks for pupils, but there have been calls for ministers to set out a September return plan.
Under the return plans, which are subject to the continued suppression of Covid-19, schools will only need to operate with "limited social distancing" within contact groups of around 30 children.
The plans recognise that direct or indirect mixing between children in different contact groups will also be unavoidable, such as on school transport. Schools will also be provided with a supply of Covid-19 home testing kits.
Ms Williams said schools' autumn term in Wales will start on September 1, and that schools able to accommodate all pupils as soon as term starts should do so.
Boots Opticians closing and more than 4,000 Boots jobs cut
Boots has announced that it will more than 4,000 jobs and 48 of its Boots Opticians stores in the face of Covid-19.
The high street pharmacy said it has experienced a “significant impact ” from the pandemic, with retail sales across Boots UK crashing 48 per cent during lockdown.
The cuts, which follow John Lewis’s announcement of 1,300 job cuts earlier this morning, will affect seven per cent of Boots’ workforce.
Sebastian James, Boots UK’s managing director, said:
The proposals announced today are decisive actions to accelerate our Transformation Plan, allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth. In doing this, we are building a stronger and more modern Boots for our customers, patients and colleagues.
I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months. They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.
We recognise that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.
Sturgeon update as Scotland coronavirus 'phase 3' imminent
Confirming the move to phase three of Scotland's way out of lockdown, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said exceptions are to be made to the two-metre social distancing rule in some contexts.
Public transport and retail settings will see the two-metre rule relaxed from Friday, the First Minister said, but mitigations will have to be in place in these sectors following discussions with trade unions.
Ms Sturgeon also issued a reminder that face coverings become mandatory from Friday, asking the Scottish public to comply with this new rule.
15 people permitted to meet outdoors as Scotland coronavirus rules updated
Up to 15 people from five different households will be allowed to meet outdoors in Scotland from Friday, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said, as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to.
A maximum of eight people from three different households will also be able to meet indoors, but Ms Sturgeon said that the change is "one of the highest risk changes we have made so far".
She added: "We know that the risk of transmitting the virus indoors is significantly higher than it is outdoors.
"So it is essential that we all take great care and strictly follow all of the public health advice."
Couples who do not live together will now be able to meet without physically distancing, regardless of their living arrangements.
Coronavirus lockdown measures reintroduced in Bulgaria with sport spectators banned
Bulgarian nightclubs and indoor discos will close, spectators will be banned at all sports events and public gatherings will be limited to 30 people as new cases of the coronavirus have surged.
The Balkan country has registered 6,342 cases and 259 deaths, with the number of cases rising a few weeks after the most restrictive lockdown measures were lifted. A one-day case tally of 240 was recorded today, with the ministry admitting that it expects similar numbers in the coming days.
"We believe these measures will be enough to stop the upward trend. The increased cases are mainly due to the school proms and massive gatherings of people at one place," health minister Kiril Ananiev told reporters.
Dozens of people tested positive after a school prom in Veliko Tarnovo, while numerous violations of social distancing rules were reported after spectators were permitted at football games in early June.
Nightclubs and discos will be allowed to operate outside but only at 50 per cent of their capacity and with compulsory social distancing measures in place. Weddings, school proms and other public gatherings could not exceed 30 people, regardless of whether they are indoors or outdoors.
Tedros announces independent review of WHO's mistakes - as well as those of all other nations
Two world leaders have been appointed to run an independent review of the World Health Organisation's response to the pademic, Dr Tedros announced at today's World Health Organisation briefing in Geneva.
The new Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness & Response will report to two co-chairs - former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, 70, who administered the United Nations development programme between 2009 and 2017, and the former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 81.
Dr Tedros said that the review is "the battle of our lives... a once in a generation opportunity to prove to each other that we can be greater than the sum of our parts."
There was also a frank admission of mistakes made during the "defining crisis of our age", and an emotional appeal for solidarity from Dr Tedros, who called for a "truce" in a clear appeal to President Donald Trump, who this week notified the WHO about the US' intent to withdraw from the organisation.
BREAKING: New WHO panel will have independent secretariat accountable to co-chairs
Former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have agreed to serve as co-chairs of the World Health Organisation's new evaluation committee, Dr Tedros announced, which is being called The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness & Response.
Dr Tedros added:
This is a time for self reflection to look at the world we live in, and strengthen our collaboration as we work together to save lives and to bring this pandemic under control.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to prove that we can come together and be greater than the sum of our parts.
This is not a standard report that ticks a box and is put on a shelf to gather dust. This is something to take seriously, we learn from, and we follow through.
"For years, many of us warned that a catastrophic respiratory pandemic was inevitable. It wasn't a question of if, but when.— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) July 9, 2020
Still the 🌍 wasn't ready
Our systems weren't ready
Our communities weren't ready
Our supply chains collapsed
It's time for honest reflection"-@DrTedros
WHO Director-General calls for honest reflections and learning lessons
In Geneva, Dr Tedros has said:
After ever outbreak in recent history there are lessons we have learned to protect ourselves better, and the world has made some progress in pandemic preparedness. But it is also clear we have much more to do...
People from the health sector, even outside the health sector, many of our leaders, warned of a catastrophic pandemic. It was not a matter of if, but when.
It’s time for a very honest reflection. All of us must look in the mirror. WHO, every member state, all involved in the response, everyone.
We are in the midst of this battle, the battle of our lives, and we have to do better. Not just now, but for the future. Because these threats will never stop. And in all likelihood they will get worse.
But it’s in our hands, we make the choices.
We need to look at the responses of our national surveillance and response systems... and whether our global health architecture is fit for purpose.
These are very important, but the most important questions is: are we ready to have an honest reflection... are we ready to learn the big lessons and can we honestly do it?
Dr Tedros: 'No easy answers, no quick fixes' to coronavirus
More than 11.8 million cases of Covid 19 have been reported to the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros said, and the pandemic is still accelerating with the total number of cases having doubled in the last six weeks.
"Everyone is fighting hard against the virus, but so many lives have been lost. But the health effects of the pandemic go far beyond the suffering caused by the virus itself. It is unravelling many of the gains we made fighting some of the world's most dangerous diseases," he said.
Dr Tedros said millions of children were missing vaccines for diseases including typhoid, cholera and malaria.
“Covid-19 could push them over the brink. And around the world in countries rich and poor, many more people are now going hungry,
Dr Tedros cited estimates that global hunger could reach to more than 260 million people. "These are not numbers, these are people," he said.
Dr Tedros added that countries face a delicate balance, and there are "no easy answers" and "no quick fixes", but that we must globally learn from the best practice of countries that have.
"It has been made devastatingly clear that the best defence against global emergencies is a strong health system."
Dr Tedros: 'When it comes to health, our destinies are intertwined'
In his opening remarks, World Health Organisation director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
The Covid-19 pandemic has left no country untouched. It has hampered all of us. It is often said that there are no borders. It does not care about our political differences and it disregards the distinctions we drove between health and economy, lives and livelihoods. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted them all.
Exploited inequalities in health systems and existing societies, widening and deepening the cracks between us.
This once in a century pandemic has hammered home a critical lesson - when it comes to health our destinies are intertwined.
LIVE: WHO Director-General speaks at weekly member states session
Dept for Health announces testing for 'high-risk' workers
Thousands of people who work in high-risk occupations, such as taxi drivers, cleaners and shop workers, will be tested for coronavirus, the Department of Health has announced.
This testing will form part of a new pilot, and take place even if workers have no symptoms.
Firms included in the trial include taxi firm Addison Lee, BT, services firm Mitie and pharmacy giant Boots.
Local authorities in Bradford, Newham, Brent and Oldham will also select groups of people deemed to be high-risk for asymptomatic testing. The Department for Health said each business will receive thousands of tests for staff via home-testing delivery or a mobile testing unit, while local authorities will book tests for people at walk-in test sites.
Those who test positive will need to self-isolate and results will be shared with the NHS Test and Trace programme so contacts can be traced, the Department added.
Latest test and trace figures published for coronavirus home testing
1.8 per cent of people who took a Covid-19 test using a home test kit in the week ending July 1 received their result within 24 hours - roughly the same proportion as in the previous week (2.2 per cent).
A total of 68.9 per cent of people received their result between 24 and 48 hours after taking the test, an improvement from 55.1 per cent in the previous week.
Across the five-week period of Test and Trace, 1.4 per cent of people using a home test kit received their result within 24 hours, 32.2 per cent between 24 and 48 hours, 52.1 per cent between 48 and 72 hours, and 14.1 per cent after 72 hours.
Liberal Democrat leadership contender Layla Moran said the figures show the Chancellor's economic response to the coronavirus as was set out yesterday is "built on sand."
Coronavirus news updates from around the world
Here is the state of play globally this morning:
- In Australia, Victoria has been sealed off from neighbouring New South Wales with a Melbourne lockdown introduced. Giovanne Torre has the full story of how Melbourne ended up under curfew once more.
- India has seen its transmission rate increase for the first time since March, with nearly 25,000 new coronavirus infections reported today. The new cases bring the total in the world's third worst-affected country to 767,296, while the Covid-19 death toll in India has risen to 21,129.
- The prime minister of France has said that the country cannot afford another lockdown, with the country's public health experts expecting a second wave in autumn or winter.
- Indonesia has seen Bali reopen to local tourists - with anti-Covid certificates for businesses.
- And in Japan, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has said that a record 224 new coronavirus cases reported today is a "wake-up call" for the city, urging younger people to act responsibly so they will not infect the vulnerable.
Coronavirus UK: Gyms to reopen on 'Covid-secure' basis
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce new guidance for gyms reopening in the UK, after a proposed reopening date of July 4 - alongside pubs and restaurants on 'Super Saturday' - was blocked by the Government.
Since then, the sector has pinned its hopes on July 11, which has not been ruled out by Whitehall sources, with Mr Johnson promising to open gyms "as soon as we can" on a basis that is "Covid-secure".
Dave Capper CEO of Westfield Health, said that the UK's "passion for exercise has grown exponentially during lockdown", and the need for health facilities had "never been greater" for those who have found solace in an active lifestyle as well as those who have become more sedentary during lockdown.
“The impact of lockdown has been profound on the physical and mental of the UK population, and employers are going to have to expect that the demand for access to health facilities will turn to them soon," Mr Capper said.
Here's what we know so far on the question of when will the UK's indoor gyms reopen.
Stamp duty holiday: How does the stamp duty holiday work for second homes or buy-to-let purchases?
Many second home buyers and buy-to-let investors will benefit from a temporary stamp duty cut, which could potentially save them thousands of pounds, writes Marianna Hunt.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said these buyers will only pay the tax at a rate of 3pc on the first £500,000 of a property's price. Previously, second home buyers would pay 3pc on the first £125,000, after that they were charged 5pc on the next £125,001 to £250,000, with the rates increasing as the property value did.
The stamp duty holiday will last until March 31 2021. Those buying a main home will not be charged any stamp duty on the first £500,000.
Africa coronavirus cases and deaths reaching “full speed” as mass graves prepared
The coronavirus pandemic in Africa is reaching "full speed" and it was proper to prepare for the worst-case scenario, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention chief said today, after a South African official said a single province is preparing 1.5 million gravesites.
A day after confirmed cases across the continent surpassed the half-million mark, the total stands at 522,000 and rising, with more than 12,000 deaths, although the real numbers are unknown due to low levels of testing.
South Africa has the most confirmed cases with over 224,000, and for the first time Gauteng province, which is home to Johannesburg and capital city Pretoria, has the country's most cases with 33 per cent of all infections.
Provincial official Bandile Masuku, a medical doctor, startled South Africans when he told reporters yesterday that Gauteng is preparing over 1.5 million graves. “It's a reality that we need to deal with,” he said, and added that it was the responsibility of the public “to make sure we don’t get there”.
Pakistan coronavirus warning: Imran Khan urges caution ahead of Eid ul-Adha 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan has appealed to Pakistanis to be careful during the upcoming Eid ul-Adha festival, amid fears the religious holiday will see another spike in coronavirus cases, reports The Telegraph's South Asia correspondent Ben Farmer.
Disregard for social distancing and an easing of restrictions before the Eid ul-Fitr holiday at the end of May were blamed for a surge in cases during June, and health officials fear a repeat after the festival scheduled for the end of this month.
"The virus spreads rapidly when a large number of people gather," said the former cricketer, saying "carelessness" on Eid ul-Fitr in May led to a spike in cases in Pakistan, Dawn newspaper reported.
"This led to pressure on our hospitals, our frontline workers also faced immense pressure, we unfortunately lost lives and the virus peaked."
Mr Khan went on: "Today, I want to make a special appeal to you all: if we are careless on Eid ul-Adha, the virus could spread again and there could be a fresh spike in the number of infections. Hospitals will come under pressure again. So I'm appealing to you all to mark this Eid with simplicity."
Coronavirus testing has fallen in Pakistan by more than a quarter in recent weeks, with some health officials saying Covid-19 has peaked and others saying the government is trying to deliberately downplay case numbers.
Around 30,000 tests were carried out daily in mid-June, but the figure has now fallen to around 22,000. Daily positive test numbers have fallen in line and death figures have also dropped.
Reaction continues to Chancellor Rishi Sunak's mini-Budget
Yesterday saw "the Treasury's resident hawk take flight," according to Camilla Tominey, who writes that Rishi Sunak's robust response to the coronavirus crisis is now seen by many as the steadiest response to the pandemic of anyone in Government.
Mr Sunak knows his mission is "to wean Britain off permanent Covid socialism", argues Allister Heath, who says that the next challenge facing the Chancellor is to unleash an "entrepreneurial revolution" which will create the millions of jobs that Britons are crying out for.
Elsewhere The Institute of Fiscal Studies notes that the temporary stamp duty holiday announced by Rishi Sunak could push up house prices, as "the effect of stamp duty can be passed through to sellers".
And Sherelle Jacobs warns number 10 against falling into the "lethal paradox" of becoming fixated with polling while overlooking nuances - which, she argues, was what ultimately cancelled New Labour.
John Lewis: Eight stores will never reopen
Eight John Lewis shops will never reopen, the department store has said in a statement, which puts 1,300 jobs at risk.
The stores in question are Heathrow, St Pancras, Croydon, Newbury, Swindon, Tamworth, Birmingham and Watford.
Louis Ashworth has all the latest business news live here.
Arts funding: Culture Secretary says venues must have "exhausted all available funds"
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said arts venues will have to demonstrate they have "exhausted all available funds" in order to be granted a Government bailout.
On Sunday night, the Government announced a £1.5 billion support package for cultural, arts and heritage institutions that have been struggling during the coronavirus lockdown, which has seen many plays, concerts and other events cancelled or postponed until at least 2021.
During culture questions, Mr Dowden said: "In designing this package it's intended to achieve two principal outcomes. First of all to protect those crown jewels nationally and internationally significant institutions.
"But also and equally vitally to help cultural institutions up and down the country where their loss would deprive communities of essential cultural experiences.
"We will be publishing the full criteria processes shortly and of course that will include, for example, demonstrating that they have exhausted all available funds."
Trump latest: Tulsa rally 'more than likely' added to local spike in US cases
Donald Trump's campaign rally and other mass events that took place in Tulsa last month "more than likely" added to a local surge in coronavirus cases, health authorities in the southern US state of Oklahoma have said.
Tulsa County has seen this week seen a record number of daily new Covid-19 cases, including 266 on Wednesday, after a decline in previous weeks.
Pressed on whether this explosion in new infections was due to Trump's June 20 event, Tulsa health department director Bruce Dart said it was "more than likely" that "significant events in the past few weeks" had contributed.
There was criticism levelled at the gathering for a lack of social distancing and its failure to mandate the wearing of masks, although temperatures were taken on arrival.
While masks were distributed, most participants, including Trump himself, did not wear one.
- US election polls latest: Trump versus Biden in the race for the White House
- Tulsa rally: Media and protesters blamed by Trump for low turnout
NHS coronavirus impact leads to longest hospital waiting lists since 2007
The number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks to receive hospital treatment in England is now almost 1.45 million, the highest figure since 2007.
This means that just 62.2 per cent of people were seen in the space of 18 weeks, records from May have revealed, falling well short of a target of 95 per cent.
The number of people having to wait more than 18 weeks to start hospital treatment rose to 1,448,357 in May this year, according to data from NHS England.
This is more than double the number in May 2019 (576,237), and the highest number for a single calendar month since December 2007.
The new figures also show the number of patients admitted for routine treatment in hospitals in England was down 82 per cent - year-on-year - in May.
How do 'the eat out to help out' vouchers work?
Is there such a thing as a free lunch? No, but you might be able to score a big discount from Monday to Wednesday throughout August.
The 'eat out to help out' scheme forms part of the Covid-19 mini budget, announced in the House of Commons yesterday – a £30bn plan designed to rescue the economy from a coronavirus-induced recession.
So, how does it work, to which restaurants does it apply – and how much could you save on a meal out with your family, all while supporting the country’s eateries?
Madeleine Howell and our chief political correspondent Christopher Hope have all the details here.
US leaving World Health Organisation could trigger mass exodus
There are growing fears that the United States’ decision to break ties with the World Health Organisation could trigger a wider exodus and undermine global collaboration beyond the current coronavirus pandemic, writes Sarah Newey.
The Trump administration formally notified the United Nations that it will pull out from the WHO on Tuesday, prompting widespread condemnation from experts who warned that the move marks the “end of an era of United States global health leadership”.
But there are also concerns that the decision could spur other governments whose leaders are aligned with Donald Trump’s populist politics, such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, to quit the organisation.
Read the full story here.
President appears to backtrack on coronavirus lockdown after Serbia protests
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić appeared to relent on the re-introduction of a nationwide curfew less than a day after it was announced, after mass protests in the capital Belgrade, reports Marcus Parekh.
Mr. Vučić said on Tuesday that he planned to bring back a curfew this weekend, but violent protests forced him to backtrack by this morning, saying that he now "probably" will not do so.
In Belgrade, protesters clashed with police outside the parliament building, with a handful of people even trying to storm the building. The President blamed "right-wing and pro-fascist demonstrators," while also claiming that he had evidence that foreign intelligence officers were goading the protesters on.
The attempt at bringing curfews back in to force comes as the Balkan state is grappling with a resurgence in Covid-19 cases. 13 people died in Serbia on Tuesday, the highest single day death toll to date.
Mr. Vučić said that Belgrade is in a "critical" situation.
Brazil press association to sue Bolsonaro for removing mask after positive test
The Brazilian Press Association (ABI) will file a lawsuit in the Brazilian Supreme Court, suing President Bolsonaro for potentially exposing members of the media to the novel coronavirus, according to a statement, Marcus Parekh writes.
The ABI say that Bolsonaro did not respect social distancing when he removed his mask at a press conference he gave in Brasilia on Tuesday where he announced he has tested positive for Covid-19.
ABI's President Paulo Jeronimo de Souza said "The country cannot watch continued behavior that is beyond irresponsible and constitutes clear crimes against public health, without reacting."
The ABI are following the lead of congressman Marcelo Freixo, who tweeted after the event that he would also be filing a lawsuit against Bolsonaro for removing his mask: "The president violated Articles 131 and 132 of the Penal Code by removing his mask during the interview in which he announced that he has the coronavirus."
Three TV channels were present at the event. A reporter for CNN Brasil is undergoing tests for the virus and is self-isolating until receiving the results.
Coronavirus cases: Slovakia reports biggest case rise since April
Slovakia has seen its biggest daily jump in new coronavirus cases since April 22 after infections rose again.
The country has one of Europe's lowest Covid-19 death tolls, with 28 deaths among a total of 1,851 cases, having avoided the surge in cases experienced by many of its western neighbours.
Health Ministry data shows that 53 new cases were recorded yesterday, which was the seventh day since June 30 that the daily rise had been in the double digits.7 have recovered and 28 have died.
In an ominous Facebook post, Prime Minister Igor Matovic wrote: "53 new cases. Too many for us to continue to rely on people's responsibility. Unfortunately."
Mr Matovic's office had no comment as to whether this was hinting at the reintroduction of lockdown measures.
The Embassy of Slovakia last week told The Telegraph a travel corridor is out of the question for the foreseeable, and said: "So far the UK is not on [our] safe list, and we do not think that an air bridge between the UK and Slovakia could be established in the near future."
Sunak summer statement leaves pubs and restaurants thirsty for more despite £4bn giveaway
Pub, restaurant and tourism chiefs have toasted a huge VAT cut and £500 million dining discount scheme to save their bombed-out industries from collapse, writes Oliver Gill.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak slashed VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for hospitality and tourism firms as part of an effort to put a rocket under demand and save summer trading in his mini-Budget on Wednesday.
But while some bosses welcomed the Chancellor’s £4 billion catalyst for the hospitality industry, others were left thirsty for more - especially those disappointed that the cut on VAT didn't extend to beer.
Read Oliver's full dispatch on the reaction of the hospitality trade here.
Rolls-Royce plc - holdings and redundancies update
More than 3,000 British workers have applied for redundancy at Rolls-Royce after the company announced a sweeping round of job cuts.
It comes seven weeks after Rolls-Royce said that it would cut 9,000 jobs globally and warned factories in the UK would be worst hit.
The Derby-based manufacturer had already been facing problems, which were extrapolated by the blow dealt to the global economy by the coronavirus pandemic.
So-called widebody engine flying hours were down by 75 per cent in the second quarter of the year, with cash inflow for the company down by £1.1 billion.
Chief executive Warren East said that Covid-19 had created a "historic shock in civil aviation" which will take several years to recover from.
"We are taking steps to resize our Civil Aerospace business to adapt to lower medium-term demand from customers and help secure our future," he said.
"This means we have had to take the very difficult decision to lose people who have helped us become the company we are and who have been proud to work for Rolls-Royce."
Rishi Sunak: More than one million businesses affected by coronavirus helped by Government
While doing the radio station station rounds this morning, Rishi Sunak told Times Radio that more than a million businesses had benefited from Government financial support and support packages during the crisis.
He said: "Over a million businesses have benefited, for example from the furlough scheme a million businesses have accessed some of our loans, almost a million businesses have got access to cash grants or business rates holidays.
"So clearly the scale of what we're doing is reaching a lot of people. Is it going to reach absolutely every single person and every single company in exactly the way they would like? I'm sure not and I can only apologise for that."
He also offered an apology to freelancers who have felt left behind by the support schemes offered by the Government since the lockdown came into place in March.
Rishi Sunak announcement: Chancellor issues warning on furlough scheme
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said people "sitting there on furlough forever" will see their skills fade.
As the furlough scheme is gradually wound down, the new Job Retention Bonus will provide a one-off £1,000 payment to employers for every furloughed employee they bring back and retain until January 2021.
Following his 'mini-Budget' yesterday, Mr Sunak told Radio 4's Today programme:
Fundamentally we have to get our economy back to normal: we can't sustainably have a system where Government subsidise jobs and the only way that those jobs exist.
That's not fair either to the taxpayer but also to those people who are then trapped in a job which only exists because of that subsidy.
We're not doing those people any favours by not allowing them to get the skills they need to find a new opportunity - just sitting there on furlough forever means their skills fade and they lose that opportunity to move on to a different job.
The Chancellor also said some firms will claim the £1,000 bonus for workers they would have kept on anyway, and acknowledged that "without question there will be dead weight".
But he said that due to the "severity" of the current economic situation, a broad and rapid approach was needed.
How an impoverished island beat coronavirus
Despite extreme poverty and high malnutrition rates, the youngest democracy in Asia has avoided a coronavirus catastrophe.
As of July 8, Timor-Leste has kept its Covid-19 case count down to just 24, with no deaths – an achievement the country's health ministry attributes to the government declaring a state of emergency early on, locking down the borders, and introducing strict quarantine measures.
The country, which became independent in 2002, moved quickly to contain the virus by shutting schools and suspending non-essential public activities, and expanding a surveillance system to monitor the spread of Covid-19.
Randy Mulyanto and Nicola Smith have the full story.
Boris Johnson expected to issue new gym guidance as industry boss says it is 'beggars belief' that they have been forgotten
As the Prime Minister is expected to issue new gym guidance, Pure Gym boss has said it is 'beggars belief' that gyms have been forgotten despite being 'part of the solution to the problem'.
Humphrey Cobbold. Chief Executive Officer of Pure Gym, the UK’s largest gym operator, told BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme: "Once again the gym and fitness sector, the one sector that can make a positive difference to people's health and wellbeing, has been forgotten and ignored.
"Hopefully this is because we're going to hear as trailed by the PM at the end of last week that we're going to be allowed to open soon, a step that we believe is long long overdue."
Mr Cobbold added: "It really is beggars belief of the 7,000 operators in our sector who employ 400,000 people that there is no stimulus at all for a sector that is part of the answer to the solution to the problem that we have, which is a health problem fundamentally, which we are ready to provide and it seems strange that no indication of that has been given yet."
He sad the industry was on "tenterhooks" as they awaited an announcement from Government on when they could reopen.
"Clearly the sector is incredibly frustrated but is very ready to get going and get people getting fit and active again," he said.
It was reported on Wednesday that the Prime Minister is expected to inform gyms of when they can reopen within days.
While gyms will need to take stringent measures to prevent the spread of the virus, they are expected to be allowed to reopen by 'mid-July'.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak previously hinted at plans to reopen gyms when he suggested they could be up and running when his new discount meal voucher comes in at the start of August.
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds says Government is taking a "one-size fits all" approach in its incentive scheme
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has said the Government is taking a "one-size fits all" approach in its incentive scheme to persuade employers to keep on furloughed staff beyond October.
She told Radio 4's Today programme: "My major concern with the way Government is proceeding now is that they're withdrawing the job retention scheme and the self-employed scheme at the same time, right across the whole economy.
"We all know that some sectors are being much more strongly impacted than others, the Chancellor's continuing with that one-sized fits all approach, we would urge him to look again at this, we have been continuously."
Ms Dodds added: "I do find it a little peculiar that we now have this bonus that will be paid to all employers regardless of whether their business are back operating up to full capacity or not.
"We really need to have targeted support, this is a crisis like no other where the impact is very strongly sectoral, we should have had a more sectoral approach from the Chancellor."
Chancellor Rishi Sunak says jobs are at risk unless economic activity returns to normal
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said jobs are at risk unless economic activity returns to normal.
He told Sky News: "We've moved through the acute phase of the crisis where large swathes of the economy were closed. We're now fortunately able to safely reopen parts of our economy, that's the most important thing that we can do to get things going.
"But we won't know the exact shape of that recovery for a little while - how will people respond to the new freedoms of being able to go out and about again. We have to rediscover behaviours that we've essentially unlearned over the last few months.
"But unless activity returns to normal, those jobs are at risk of going which is why we acted in the way that we did."
New Delhi reports nearly 25,000 new coronavirus infections
New Delhi, India has reported nearly 25,000 new coronavirus infections and 487 new deaths.
The new infections announced by the Health Ministry on Thursday bring the nationwide total to 767,296, the third most reported by any country.
The surge in infections comes as the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai says its calculated transmission rate for the virus rose during the first week of July to 1.19 after steadily falling from a peak of 1.83 in March. A transmission rate is the number of new infections estimated to stem from a single case.
India's infection numbers have skyrocketed since the government eased lockdown restrictions and as testing has ramped up to more than 200,000 samples a day, compared to just a few hundred a day in March.
Health experts say the true extent of the virus's spread in India is unknown and that the country must test more given its population of nearly 1.4 billion people.
Covid-19 could kill more people through hunger than the virus itself, warns Oxfam
More people will die of hunger caused by the pandemic than of coronavirus this year, according to a report from Oxfam.
An estimated 122 million of the world’s poorest people could be plunged deeper into hunger and poverty, equating to 12,000 extra deaths a day, the charity said. The global mortality rate for Covid-19 reached a peak at 10,000 deaths per day in April.
The report revealed the world’s 10 worst hunger ‘hotspots’, including Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and South Sudan. Middle-income countries such as India, South Africa and Brazil are also experiencing rapidly rising levels of hunger with millions being tipped over the edge.
Read the full article here.
Tokyo cases reach record daily high
Tokyo has recorded 224 new cases of coronavirus infection on Thursday, public broadcaster NHK said, surpassing the Japanese capital's previous record of 206 infections on April 17
Hollywood stars secretly made a movie during pandemic
Hollywood stars Zendaya and John David Washington secretly filmed a feature-length movie during the coronavirus pandemic, it has emerged.
The actors star together in Malcolm & Marie, described by Hollywood news website Deadline as having echoes of Noah Baumbach's family drama Marriage Story.
Filming reportedly took place between June 17 and July 2 at Caterpillar House, an environmentally friendly home in Carmel Valley, California.
Shooting was approved by the major entertainment industry unions, Deadline said, and adhered to the state's Covid-19 protocols.
Zendaya confirmed Malcolm & Marie's existence on Instagram.
No new deaths recorded in China
China says it has nine new confirmed cases, all of them brought from outside the country, and no new deaths.
Thursday's report buttresses growing signs the virus has been essentially contained inside the nation in which it first appeared late last year.
The near elimination of local virus transmission has allowed the reopening of most businesses and resumption of some social activities, including the holding of the crucial annual college entrance exams. Sports, tourism and cultural activities are also slowly starting to return.
The wearing of masks remains obligatory in most indoor spaces and a proof of health is required for entrance to many venues.
New clusters emerge in South Korea
South Korea has reported 50 new cases of the coronavirus as new clusters emerge across the country.
Nineteen new cases announced by South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were from the Seoul metropolitan area, while 15 were from the southern city of Gwangju.
Twenty-two of the new cases were linked to international arrivals as Covid-19 continues to spread globally.
Resort island of Bali reopens after 3-month lockdown
Indonesia's resort island of Bali reopened after a three-month virus lockdown on Thursday, allowing local people and stranded foreign tourists to resume public activities before foreign arrivals resume in September.
Normally bustling beaches and streets on the idyllic Southeast Asian island emptied in early April except for special patrols to ensure health protocols to contain the coronavirus were observed. Authorities restricted public activities, closed the airport and shuttered all shops, bars, sit-down restaurants, public swimming pools and many other places on the island that's home to more than 4 million people.
The local government began lifting the limits on Thursday, but tourists will face stringent rules in hotels, restaurants and on beaches, Bali Gov. I Wayan Koster said.
The island will open to Indonesians from other parts of the country on July 31 and new foreign arrivals on Sept. 11.
Call for mass testing of taxi drivers, airport arrivals and NHS staff
Taxi drivers, people arriving at airports and NHS staff could be subject to mass coronavirus testing in efforts to identify asymptomatic people and their contacts, Jeremy Hunt has suggested.
The former health secretary said certain groups within the population, as well as people in particular parts of the country, could be tested to try to better track infections.
Speaking yesterday during an online conversation with Prof Sir Simon Wessely, the Royal Society of Medicine president, he said: "I think looking at healthcare staff, looking at taxi drivers is another group, airport arrivals is another group. I think we need to think about mass testing amongst groups of the population as well as parts of the country like Leicester and so on, as our best way of finding out where the asymptomatics are and feeding them into the system so that their contacts can be isolated."
Australian city wakes to another lockdown as more state borders close
Five million Australians in the country's second largest city Melbourne woke up under strict stay-at-home rules on Thursday as authorities struggled to contain the outbreak in the city.
Three Australian states have imposed a hard border lockdown with the southern state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, after a surge in infections in recent days.
Victoria on Wednesday reported 134 new infections, down on the previous day's record increase but well above the rate of other states.
Other states and territories have recorded few or zero cases in recent weeks and are continuing to reopen their economies.
The state of Queensland on Thursday said it would tighten its border by banning non-residents from Victoria entering the state from Friday noon, ahead of opening its borders to people of other states and territories.
Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa 'may have contributed to spike'
A controversial campaign rally held by President Donald Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month likely contributed to a rise in the number of cases there, a top local health official said on Wednesday.
Tulsa has confirmed hundreds of new cases over the past two days, said Dr.Bruce Dart, health director for the city and county.
Asked by a reporter if Mr Trump's campaign event at the Bank of Oklahoma Center on June 20 could be responsible for that surge, he said: "In the past few days, we've had almost 500 cases. And we know we had several large events a little over two weeks ago, which is about right. So I guess we just connect the dots," Dr Dart said, apparently referring to the rally and accompanying protests.
Dr Dart cautioned that several more days of results would be needed to determine if the spike represented a trend.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said she had not seen data to support Dr Dart's conclusions.
"There were no health precautions to speak of as thousands looted, rioted and protested in the streets and the media reported that it did not lead to a rise in coronavirus cases," Mr Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.
Brazilian President turns himself into test case for hydroxychloroquine
After months of touting an unproven anti-malaria drug as a treatment for the new coronavirus, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is turning himself into a test case live before millions of people as he swallows hydroxychloroquine pills on social media and encourages others to do the same.
Mr Bolsonaro said this week that he tested positive for the virus but already felt better thanks to hydroxychloroquine. Hours later he shared a video of himself gulping down what he said was his third dose.
"I trust hydroxychloroquine," he said, smiling. "And you?"
On Wednesday, he was again extolling the drug's benefits on Facebook, and claimed that his political opponents were rooting against it.
Governor of Venezuelan hotspot seeking treatment
The governor of the Venezuelan state of Zulia, which President Nicolas Maduro has identified as a coronavirus hotspot, has checked into a clinic to seek treatment for respiratory trouble, three sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.
Omar Prieto was admitted on Tuesday night to a private clinic near Zulia's capital of Maracaibo where he is receiving preventative treatment while he awaits the results of a Covid-19 test, according to two of the sources.
A positive test result would underscore the severity of the outbreak in Zulia, which borders neighbouring Colombia, and signal that high-ranking officials in Mr Maduro's government are at risk in the pandemic.
Zulia has been among states hardest hit by Venezuela's crumbling power and water services, hampering efforts to maintain basic sanitation even in hospitals.
Officials say many of the cases originated in a sprawling food market known as the Maracaibo Flea Market that has long been known for its overcrowding and poor sanitation.
Bob Marley song reimagined to raise money for Unicef fund
Members of Bob Marley's family have reimagined the late reggae star's song One Love to raise money for Unicef's coronavirus fund.
Tuff Gong International, the label and recording studio founded by Marley in the 1970s, and global record company Amplified Music will release the recording on July 17.
Proceeds from the song will go to Reimagine, Unicef's global campaign to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic from becoming a lasting crisis for children.
Originally recorded in 1977 by Bob Marley And The Wailers, the new version of One Love features Marley's daughter Cedella, son Stephen and grandson Skip, as well as musicians from conflict zones and children living in vulnerable communities.
Attenborough appeals for donations to save charity behind zoos
Veteran broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough has appealed for donations to save the conservation charity behind two leading British zoos, London and Whipsnade, which has been hammered financially by the pandemic.
The short video clip, which will air on British television on Thursday, draws attention to the scientific work of the Zoological Society of London and features images of animals both in the two zoos and their native habitats.
"The Zoological Society of London has made an outstanding contribution to conservation and our understanding of wildlife for 200 years," said Attenborough, noting that the two zoos are home to over 20,000 animals, some of them endangered.
"The national institution is now itself at risk of extinction," said Attenborough, 94, who is famed worldwide for his documentaries on the natural world.
The ZSL has lost vital income after the pandemic forced its zoos to close for the first time since WWII, he said, urging people to make donations via the link zsl.org/justgiving.
Today's top stories
- The Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) appears to have been sidelined as ministers take more direct control of the response to coronavirus.
- The taxpayer has stumped up £10 billion for the Government’s bungled test and trace system, it emerged on Wednesday night.
- Restaurant meals will be subsidised by the Government as part of a radical £30 billion rescue package for jobs and the economy, Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday.
- Almost a third (31 per cent) of primary school aged boys are doing less than an hour a day of home learning compared to a quarter (24 per cent) of their female peers, according to researchers from Sussex University.
- Homeless people claim councils encouraged them to sleep on the street in order to access healthcare and accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic, charity workers have said.