Coronavirus latest news: Still no date for UK release of contact tracing app

Sarah Newey
·95-min read
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

The Government has sidestepped questions about when the UK's troubled contact tracing app will finally be ready to launch. 

Speaking to the Lords Science and Technology committee today Baroness Harding, head of the NHS Test and Trace system, said she was "keen not to commit to a specific date" because technology development paths "do not run in a smooth and linear way". 

The Government was forced to abandon development of its NHSX contact-tracing app in mid June and is instead looking to use software created by Apple and Google to build the system. 

"We really recognise that the introduction of the app is urgent and important, but it must be a product that the user can trust, it really must work," Simon Thompson, who is heading up the app's development, said today. 

During the committee Baroness Harding added that the current test and trace system, which has been in operation for just over four weeks, is "not far away" from hitting the goal of getting 80 per cent of a coronavirus patient's contacts into self-isolation within 72-hour period. 

She suggested that an app would "free us all up a bit more", but that the biggest problem right now is that less than half of England's population know they are eligible for a test if they feel unwell. 

Coronavirus podcast newest episode
Coronavirus podcast newest episode

  Follow the latest updates below.

10:00 PM

Tomorrow's Paper Today

Here's a sneak peak at tomorrow's Telegraph:

09:52 PM

DRC extends health emergency for the sixth time

The Democratic Republic of Congo extended its coronavirus health emergency today for another 15 days, the sixth extension since March, with some lawmakers voicing concern about the effect on the economy.

President Felix Tshisekedi's government closed the borders, halted flights between the capital Kinshasa and the rest of the country and closed schools and places of worship in March.

Officials lifted the ban on internal flights last week, but all other measures remain in place in a country that has recorded 182 deaths from 7,432 infections.

Critics in the National Assembly said the measures risked "suffocating" the economy, Assembly President Jeanine Mabunda calling for an "exit plan" from the emergency status saying the deputies did not want to vote for an "endless extension".

The government's handling of the crisis has been widely criticised. Health workers in Kinshasa - the epicentre of infections in the country - launched an "unlimited strike" today, saying they had not been paid in three months.

09:43 PM

US says foreign students whose classes move online cannot stay

Here's the latest from the United States, where the government has announced that it will not allow foreign students to remain in the country if all of their classes are moved online in the autumn due to the coronavirus.

The US Immigration and Custom Enforcement said in a statement:

"Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.

"Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.

"If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings."

F-1 students pursue academic coursework and M-1 students pursue "vocational coursework," according to ICE.

Most US colleges and universities have not yet announced their plans for the autumn term. But a number are looking at a hybrid model of in-person and online instruction, while some, including Harvard University, have said all classes will be conducted online.

09:34 PM

Investor Tim Horlick's trading firm wins £252m PPE contract

Health officials are facing scrutiny after a £252.5m contract to supply face masks was awarded to a small family investment firm with no known history in the industry.

The Department for Health handed the deal to London-based Ayanda Capital - run by Tim Horlick, ex-husband of the star fund manager Nicola Horlick - which has five employees, and according to its website specialises in currency trading, offshore property, private equity and trade financing. 

It   has sparked further questions about the Government’s PPE procurement strategy following a £108m contract awarded to small pest control firm PestFix. 

Rachel Millard has the full story here

09:22 PM

Air New Zealand to put on hold inbound flights

Here's the latest from down under - where Air New Zealand has said it has put a hold on new bookings of international flights into the country following a request from the government to restrict inbound passenger numbers due to limited quarantine facilities.

The move is to help ensure the country is able to provide quarantine accommodation for inbound passengers for the required 14-day period, the country's flag carrier said in a statement.

"We accept this is a necessary short-term measure given the limited capacity in quarantine facilities," Air New Zealand Chief Commercial and Customer Officer Cam Wallace said in the statement.

09:10 PM

Will the honeymoon soon be over for Rishi Sunak?

He's the man with the Government's highest approval ratings, but tough challenges are looming for the Chancellor, writes Camilla Tominey in this article. Here's an extract:

A rare chink appeared in Rishi Sunak's seemingly impregnable armour last week when the Treasury was forced to delete a tweet celebrating the reopening of pubs on July 4.

With more than 44,000 people confirmed dead from coronavirus, the invitation to "grab a drink and raise a glass" was criticised for tone-deafness.

But the unfortunate episode did nothing to dint the Chancellor's abiding popularity as he continues to be credited with  riding to the public's rescue amid the Covid-19 crisis.

As Mr Sunak prepares to make a "jobs, jobs, jobs" pledge in his summer statement on Wednesday, the esteem in which the 40-year-old rookie is held is soaring.

He's already being touted as a future Prime Minister, could the economic fallout from the crisis take the shine off his status as a rising star? The answer to that, as far as Conservatives are concerned, appears to lie in Mr Sunak's willingness to follow his own free market instincts. 

Rishi Sunak - TOLGA AKMEN/AFP 
Rishi Sunak - TOLGA AKMEN/AFP

09:00 PM

Matt's take

08:47 PM

Phoenix mayor says Arizona reopened 'way too early'

Arizona reopened “way too early” after its coronavirus lockdown, the mayor of Phoenix has said as the US state and scores of others continue to see Covid-19 cases surging, Ben Riley-Smith reports.

Kate Gallego, whose city is the capital of Arizona, made the comment amid a debate about whether states who left lockdown early inadvertently fuelled the virus’s resurgence. 

“We opened way too early in Arizona. We were one of the last states to go to stay at home and one of the first to reemerge, and we reemerged at zero to 60", the Phoenix mayor said. 

"We had crowded nightclubs handing out free champagne, no masks. Our 20- to 44-year-olds, which is my own demographic, really led the explosion,” Ms Gallego, a Democrat, went on. 

Arizona has been one of the worst states impacted by the summer-time surge of coronavirus in America, with Texas, Florida and California among the others badly hit. 

08:39 PM

India: Scientists warn August vaccine deadline unrealistic

India’s attempt to launch a Covid-19 vaccine by August 15 has been met with scepticism by some scientists, who questioned whether a vaccine can be pushed for public use after barely a month of trials.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - India’s premier biomedical research body - announced a Covid-19 vaccine for public use by August 15, India's independence day. 

Dr Balram Bhargava, director general of the ICMR, sent a letter to 12 hospitals selected for the clinical trial of Covaxin, telling them that development of the vaccine should be seen as a top priority project. The trials are ordered to start no later than July 7.

But the ICMR has come under criticism from scientists, who say the deadline is "impossible" to meet and could put intense pressure on regulators to approve the vaccine before it has been fully vetted.

The head of one of the 12 institutes contacted by the ICMR, speaking on condition on anonymity, told The Daily Telegraph: “This is just impossible. We can’t do it by August 15. I’m sure ICMR doesn’t mean it."

Samaan Lateef has more on this story here.

India - AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
India - AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

08:26 PM

Recap: Boris Johnson embroiled in row over care home comments

In case you missed this story earlier today - Boris Johnson has triggered outrage today, after suggesting that care homes fuelled the spread of coronavirus by failing to follow the right procedures. 

Care providers said the Prime Minister's comments were "outrageous" and accused the Government of attempting to shift the blame for its own failings. 

They also demanded clarity on which rules they were being accused of breaking, saying that homes had been issued with more than 100 guidance updates in the space of as many days during the crisis. 

Care homes have now seen almost 20,000 coronavirus deaths, with heavy criticism of policies that saw thousands of patients discharged from hospitals into homes at a time when there was no routine testing. 

It followed advice from Public Health England (PHE), which in February had said it was "very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home will become infected". 

Our health editor, Laura Donnelly, has the full story here

08:13 PM

Brazil's Bolsonaro dilutes face mask law - again

Jair Bolsonaro has made yet more changes to weaken a law requiring the wearing of face masks in public places.

On Friday, the Brazilian President watered down the bill by vetoing several articles, including ones requiring employers to supply face masks for their staff and another mandating that public authorities should provide face coverings for "economically vulnerable people."

Today he has also vetoed articles requiring masks be worn in prisons and another obliging businesses to provide information on how to wear masks properly. Some states have already made the wearing of masks mandatory, but this was the first such law on a national level.

Since the beginning of the virus outbreak, Bolsonaro has minimized the risks of what he initially called "a little flu" and flouted social distancing rules and containment measures, such as wearing a mask in public.

Brazil is the second worst-hit country in the world in the pandemic, with almost 65,000 deaths and more than 1.6 million cases. Here's a look at the trajectory of the country's outbreak:

Coronavirus Brazil Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Brazil Spotlight Chart - Cases default

08:03 PM

How women became the pandemic's 'precarious worriers'

New research suggests that anxiety fuelled by the coronavirus crisis does not affect both sexes equally. Rosa Silverman explores the findings in this article - here's an extract:

I am far from alone in having been driven to the brink of insanity by the coronavirus crisis. New research by Kantar that divides us into six different “tribes”, based on how we have responded to Covid and lockdown, suggests that women are far more likely than men to fall into a the category labelled “precarious worriers”.

Such people are more inclined to worry about falling sick; are relatively scared about the situation; check on deaths and infections daily; and constantly seek out information about best practices. (If you remember the exact death tolls from last weekend, and washed your hands so much throughout March and April that your skin was bleeding and raw, you may well fit into this box.)

That women appear to be experiencing much higher levels of anxiety around their finances compared to men is no doubt linked to the fact that 37 per cent of women have already seen, or expect to see, a negative impact on household income due to the virus, compared to 25 per cent of men.

07:53 PM

Burundi starts taking Covid-19 seriously

In Burundi, the government launched a mass Covid-19 screening campaign today - indicating that the new president is changing policies to more assertively combat the spread of the disease.

The East African country has reported 191 cases of the virus, but there are concerns this is an underestimate. The previous president, Pierre Nkurunziza, who died last month of what the government called a heart attack, had been criticised for not taking the pandemic seriously.

He expressed the belief that divine protection would largely suffice for protection against Covid-19, allowed large campaign rallies ahead of the presidential election in May and kicked out the World Health Organization's country director for speaking out about his response to the disease.

Some countries and human rights groups have expressed hope that the new President Evariste Ndayisimiye, an ally of Nkurunziza, would chart a new path to fight the disease, but there was little sign of face masks or social distancing at Ndayishimiye's swearing-in three weeks ago.

But last week, while swearing in new Cabinet ministers, Ndayishimiye surprised many when he declared Covid-19 as "the worst enemy of Burundi" and announced preventive measures against the disease including mass screening wherever they are cases and reducing the price of soap and water.

The screening program launched today, named "I won't get infected and propagate Covid-19," in the Kirundi language, indicates that Ndayishimiye is indeed taking the threat of the disease more seriously. The Health Minister also announced a range of preventative measures to tackle the pandemic. 

High ranked personnel of the Burundian Army carry the coffin of late Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, who died at the age of 55 - TCHANDROU NITANGA/AFP
High ranked personnel of the Burundian Army carry the coffin of late Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, who died at the age of 55 - TCHANDROU NITANGA/AFP

07:45 PM

'Unless every country has access to Covid-19 treatments the whole world is at risk'

Coronavirus therapies must not only be limited to those that can afford them, write Nick Cammack and Janet Ginnard in this opinion piece:

But despite giant scientific leaps over the past six months, we still only have one treatment that saves lives.  Dexamethasone has been proven to save lives in patients who are severely and moderately ill – so it’s no surprise that global demand for the drug has skyrocketed in the past fortnight. In the US alone, weekly demand in hospitals is said to have increased by over 600 per cent.

Luckily, the drug is cheap, easy to make and manufacturing can be scaled up quickly.  But this should not be a question of luck, and dexamethasone is not a silver bullet. Future treatments will, we hope, be even more effective at preventing serious illness, but they may be more expensive and harder to make.

They must not be limited to those who can afford them.  This is why the ACT-Accelerator, a global collaboration led by the World Health Organization to share the costs and risks of developing vaccine and treatment candidates, plays a pivotal role in making sure that Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines can be accessed fairly.

07:32 PM

Trump's Twitter tirade

Here's the latest from the US, where the President has been busy on social media. Donald Trump has insisted on Twitter that US schools must open in the autumn - a decision over which he has limited power. 

Schools are largely under the jurisdiction of state and local governments. Educators have struggled with decisions over opening schools considering the risk of infection to both students and faculty.

 It was not immediately clear what schools Trump was referring to - elementary and high schools or colleges and universities - or what actions he was considering.

Colleges and universities have announced a number of plans for the fall semester, including changing the calendars and holding some courses online. Harvard University announced earlier on Monday that all of its courses would be held online for the upcoming academic year.

Trump also made a series of Twitter posts defending his administration's response to the pandemic. Across the US, where fatalities surpassed 130,000 today, governors are struggling with a rise in coronavirus infections and states are reversing or pausing attempts to reopen.

The President defended hydroxychloroquine, which has been shown to be ineffective in helping coronavirus patients in large scale clinical trials, claimed the US had the lowest fatality rate in the world once again referred to Covid-19 as 'China Virus'. 

07:23 PM

Leicester residents accused of sneaking into nearby pubs

When Coronavirus struck there were many new things to be wary of - using door handles, straying within two metres of a stranger, touching your own face.

But now it seems that the people of the East Midlands have added one more item to the list - the Leicester accent. The city has faced the "perfect storm" of being the first to be placed under local lockdown as the rest of the country celebrates the easing of social distancing rules.

As a result people from neighbouring towns and villages have been trying to spot residents who have snuck out in the queues for the hairdressers or the pub.

The police have no powers to stop people from leaving the city, so some establishments have taken matters into their own hands and are even asking people to bring along their council tax bill to prove they are not a fugitive.

Hayley Dixon has the full story here.

07:05 PM

France: Macron creates three super ministries to lead Covid recovery

France is creating three beefed-up ministries for finance, social affairs and the environment in response to the coronavirus shockwaves convulsing the economy, part of a significant reshuffle by Emmanuel Macron as he recasts his presidency:

  • Macron's chief of staff Alexis Kohler said Bruno Le Maire would stay at the helm of a Finance Ministry tasked with steering France out the worst economic depression in decades, now in full control of the budget.

  • Elisabeth Borne will take charge of an enhanced Labour and Social Affairs ministry just as the downturn unravels Macron's hard-fought gains on unemployment and the president seeks to reset relations with unions and voters after waves of protests. She previously led the Ministry for Ecological and Inclusive Transition.

  • Former Green party politician Barbara Pompili will run a dedicated Environment Ministry as Macron and his new prime minister seek more emphasis on green policies to drive an economic rebound and build a sustainable future for companies like Air France and Renault.

The reshuffle comes eight days after Macron's party took a drubbing in local elections that saw the Greens surge in major cities like Lyon, Bordeaux and Strasbourg.

06:51 PM

Scientists race to answer six key questions about the coronavirus

Since a novel pneumonia was discovered in Wuhan in central China, scientists around the world have been working at breakneck speed to understand this new disease.

They have sequenced the genome, started developing a vaccine and begun trialling treatments. But despite these advances, there is still a lot we don't know:

  1. Where did the virus come from?

  2. Will we get a vaccine and will it work?

  3. Why do some people get so ill and not others?

  4. How long does immunity last?

  5. Has the virus mutated?

  6. What will happen in winter?

Anne Gulland, our Global Health Security deputy editor, looks at where scientists are on each of these unanswered questions in this informative article

06:32 PM

Global summary

Just joining us? Here's an overview of today's biggest international stories - for a UK update, scroll down to 4:19pm. 

  • US deaths have surpassed 130,000, amid a surge in Covid cases that has put Donald Trump's handling of the crisis under the microscope and derailed efforts to restart the economy. The New York Governor has accused the President of being a "co-conspirator" with the virus. 

  • India has overtaken Russia with the world's third-highest number of coronavirus cases, while.

  •  Officials are closing the border between Australia's two most populous states from tomorrow as they scramble to contain an outbreak in Melbourne, marking the first time the border will be shut in 100 years.

  • Germany has only a few hundred doses of remdesivir, an antiviral shown to reduce recovery time for serious coronavirus cases, the country's health minister told EU lawmakers today - urging to move production of the drug to Europe.

  • Also in Germany - a court has granted an emergency request to suspend the lockdown imposed on a region that saw a spike in coronavirus cases linked to a slaughterhouse.

  • Israel reimposed a series of restrictions to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, including the immediate closure of bars, night clubs, gyms and event halls.

  • Results from the final stage of a nationwide antibody study show some 5.2 per cent of Spain's population has been exposed to Covid-19, health officials said, meaning the concept of herd immunity is nowhere near having been attained.

  • Portuguese officials have rebuked the British government over its decision to exclude Portugal from a relaxation of travel restrictions.

06:20 PM

From 'stay away' to welcome back: A postcard from the Lake District

The return of visitors to the Lake District was a cool, calm and collected affair – despite fears of chaos at the UK's beauty spots, writes Lucy Aspden. 

Here's an extract of her piece from Ambleside - which you can read in full here (or watch via the Twitter thread below).

An early start, in fear of hitting the traffic many predicted, meant I was one of the first people to arrive there on Saturday, as local business owners lifted their shop shutters for the first time in months and the earlier risers among us fuelled up on coffee (served, as now is routine, from behind a perspex screen but still with lashings of the warm Cumbrian welcome I had missed so much during lockdown).

As I laced up my walking boots, feeling guilty about the coating of dried mud from my last pre-Covid hike still present, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief – it felt refreshing to be back and away from home for an entire day (and night) for the first time in over four months.

A circular ramble around Rydal Water, the family home of poet William Wordsworth, taking in views of Grasmere in the distance and the iconic caves below Loughrigg Fell with my parents in tow, was just as enjoyable and serene as ever. 

06:12 PM

Turkmenistan: Bus drivers don masks despite claims to be 'virus free'

Bus drivers in Turkmenistan were spotted wearing face masks for the first time today, as a long-delayed World Health Organization delegation arrived in the tightly controlled country - which claims to be coronavirus-free.

The WHO first attempted to visit the isolated ex-Soviet country in the spring, but the 10-day mission was held up over travel logistics, Turkmenistan's foreign ministry said. A spokesman today told AFP that the delegation has now arrived and will examine all aspects of the country's response to the pandemic.

Despite reports in foreign media of pneumonia cases emerging in the country, the government has insisted the isolated gas-rich state is virus-free. And last month a US embassy health alert warning Americans over potential coronavirus cases in the country was dismissed as "fake news".

Police have reportedly discouraged citizens from wearing masks and facial protection has been absent from mass government events held in recent months, some of which were attended by thousands of people.

That approach changed today. According to one bus driver the health ministry ordered drivers to wear masks in the capital city of Ashgabat.

"They were given to us for free before we set off. We have to wear them for the whole shift," Sapar, 31, told AFP. He added that he approved of the change: "in rush hour there are lots of people on the bus. They cough and sneeze. It is dangerous for everyone." 

An aerial view of Moskovsky Avenue in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan - TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov 
An aerial view of Moskovsky Avenue in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan - TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov

06:01 PM

Patel: Lockdown adaptations can help counter domestic abuse in future

The Home Secretary has told PA news agency that lessons will be learned from lockdown in terms of how best to protect people from domestic abuse and safeguard vulnerable children, as well as the role of technology.  

During a visit to Sussex Police HQ this afternoon, Priti Patel was shown how the force had adapted to support domestic violence victims during the lockdown. Afterwards she told PA: 

"I think there will definitely be learnings out of Covid around domestic abuse but also safeguarding, working with local councils, working with other agency partners too and I think we can all learn lessons going forward.

"I think going forward in terms of lessons to be learned, and I think this isn't just a policing perspective or a Home Office perspective, it's very much about technology."

She added Sussex Police are "leading the way" with their use of technology to tackle domestic abuse - during the visit the force explained how potential victims can speak to officers through their smartphone in a manner that leaves no trace to be found by the perpetrator. 

05:48 PM

'Don’t let coronavirus response repeat mistakes of 1980s Aids crisis'

Winnie Byanyima, head of UN Aids, has told the Telegraph that millions of Covid-19 deaths could have been prevented if the world had paid more attention to the painful lessons learnt during the 1980s Aids crisis.

“We learnt from HIV that when companies are allowed to use intellectual property rights to monopolise their technology people die,” she said.  “Millions died of Aids-related illnesses while there were medicines available that could have saved their lives. This should not happen with Covid.” 

Her warning comes as UNAids released their annual report on HIV/Aids prevalence across the globe, which found that the poorest and most vulnerable communities continue to be hit the hardest by the ongoing HIV global epidemic.

The research also warns that progress against the disease is stalling and that the successes and failures of the global HIV response provide a blueprint for countries currently in the grip of their own coronavirus crisis.

Jordan Kelly-Linden has the full story here

UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima -  FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP 
UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima - FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP

05:36 PM

New York's governor pleads with Trump to acknowledge Covid as 'major problem'

Over in the US, where the number of coronavirus deaths surpassed 130,000 today (see 3:46pm), New York's governor has called on President Donald Trump not to be a "co-conspirator" of the virus. 

The country has seen cases surge in dozens of states after some rushed to reopen, putting Trump's handling of the crisis under the microscope and derailing efforts to restart the economy. 

"So, Mr President, don't be a co-conspirator of Covid," Andrew Cuomo said at a news briefing today. "Acknowledge to the American people that Covid exists, it is a major problem, it's going to continue until we admit it and each of us stands up to do our part."

Mr Cuomo added that the President was "enabling" the virus if he failed to acknowledge the severity of the situation, and slammed the president's comments that the spike in US cases was due to increased testing.

"He makes up facts. He makes up science," Mr  Cuomo said, citing several past Trump statements on the virus such it would disappear like a miracle as the weather got warmer.

"He said all those things, none of them were true," he continued. "And now we have a problem in 38 states because some people believe him."

The governor added that, in New York, coronavirus hospitalisations have dropped to 817 - the lowest level since March  8 - and nine people died on Sunday.

Here's a look at the trajectory of outbreak across different states in the US:

05:23 PM

Germany: Court overturns local lockdown on slaughterhouse town

An interesting development from Germany - a court has overturned an emergency lockdown imposed in the town of Guetersloh following an outbreak in a slaughterhouse there, ruling that the restrictions were disproportionate.

The ruling, after some 1,500 workers were infected, throws into doubt the system of quick lockdown responses and rapid track-and-trace on which Germany has been relying to move into the second phase of its fight against the pandemic.

After the outbreak, the premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia brought in a week-long lockdown, imposing social distancing on the town of about 100,000 people and closing many cultural institutions to try to stop its spread.

A legal challenge brought by a private individual against the first week of lockdown was rejected.

But when it was extended to run for another week until Tuesday, an entertainments company operating in the district put in a second challenge and the court changed its mind, saying authorities had had time to impose more targeted restrictions. 

05:06 PM

Research news: Brazil to trial Chinese Covid-19 vaccine

João Doria, the governor of Brazil's richest and most populous state São Paulo, has just announced that trials of a new potential vaccine against Covid-19, developed by China's SinoVac, will start on July 20.

The trials, to be done in partnership with the Instituto Butantan, will involve 9,000 volunteers. 

Brazil is one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 1.6 million cases and close to 65,000 confirmed fatalities. 

A trial of the vaccine in development by Oxford University and AstraZeneca is also underway in the country. Widespread circulation is actually required for trials, to test whether a jab is successful at preventing infections.  

There are some concerns that a drop in cases during lockdown in the UK has actually delayed the development of a vaccine - as we report here

04:56 PM

Data: The high-risk Covid-19 cities where going out is on the rise

Here's an interesting analysis article from my colleague Alex Clarke - Britons are starting to drive and walk almost as much as before lockdown, including in cities with the highest rates of new coronavirus cases.

Data released by Apple on how people are checking directions on their iPhones shows the UK reaching close to pre-lockdown levels of travel on Saturday:

Requests for driving directions are now touching on levels seen before the pandemic, with Saturday’s data representing 97 per cent of normal, as defined by Apple’s baseline of January 13.

That was actually less than the weekend before, which saw a ‘major incident’ declared across several UK coastal towns after thousands flocked to beaches and caused gridlock on roads.

But requests for walking directions in the UK on Saturday were at their highest level since lockdown began, as Britons headed to pubs and restaurants for the first time in months. 

However, the volume of walking direction requests across the UK was more equivalent to a pre-lockdown weekday than a typical Saturday, echoing data from Springboard released today that shows weekend footfall down more than 50 per cent year-on-year. 

04:46 PM

Puerto Rico reports new daily high in cases

Meanwhile in Puerto Rico, the government has reported a daily record in new coronavirus infections - though critics say these figures are deeply flawed. 

The Health Department reported 530 cases today, topping a spike of 485 on June 4.

But the numbers include both molecular swab tests for current infections and serological tests for antibodies, and independent health experts complained that some of the results date back as far as April, so they don't provide an accurate picture of the current situation.

"We keep watching the virus through a rearview mirror," epidemiologist Roberta Lugo told The Associated Press, adding that the government keeps taking decisions based on faulty and incomplete data. He said he might recommend rolling back recent re-openings if the increase in cases continues.

The US territory, home to about 3.2 million people, has reported 8,585 confirmed or probable cases of Covid-19 and at least 155 deaths. Puerto Rico was one of the first US juristictions to impose tight restrictions to fight the disease and it is lifting those in stages. 

A woman wearing a protective mask pushes a shipping cart on a sidewalk in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico  - RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP
A woman wearing a protective mask pushes a shipping cart on a sidewalk in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico - RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP

04:34 PM

UK test and trace system 'not far away' from meeting targets

Earlier today Baroness Harding told the Lords Science and Technology committee that the NHS test and trace system is still not meeting the target set by the Government's scientific experts. 

This goal, set by Sage, is  to isolate 80 per cent of the contacts of coronavirus patients within 48-72 hours. 

"We are not far away from it," said Baroness Harding, who is heading up the programme. "We are not exactly there yet but we are close enough that we can see the path."

She indicated that one of the problems she faced was that less than half of England's population understood they were eligible for a coronavirus test if they felt ill.

The latest NHS Test and Trace figures showed that 27,125 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have had their case transferred to system. Of this total, just 74 per cent were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts.

Baroness Harding also declined to give a target date for the launch of the troubled contact tracing app, but said if a fully-functioning product was available it would "free us all up a bit more".

04:22 PM

WHO cancels hydroxychloroquine clinical trial

Here's another snippet of research news: the World Health Organization has cancelled its trial of hydroxychloroquine on hospitalised patients, weeks after it emerged the US president Donald Trump takes the drug to ward off the virus.

Interim trial results showed that hydroxychloroquine produces little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalised Covid-19 patients when compared to standard of care, the WHO said in a press release.

The drug was touted as an effective treatment for the virus by Mr Trump after being popularised by an unconventional French doctor at the start of the pandemic. 

04:15 PM

Review of evidence: Can Covid-19 linger and spread in the air?

The World Health Organization has told Reuters this afternoon that it is reviewing report suggesting its advice on coronavirus transmission needs updating.

The health agency has said that the virus spreads primarily through small droplets, which are expelled from the nose and mouth when an infected person breaths them out in coughs, sneezes, speech or laughter and quickly sink to the ground.

But in an open letter, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence they say shows that smaller exhaled particles can infect people who inhale them, the New York Times reported on Saturday. 

Because those smaller particles can linger in the air longer, the scientists, who plan to publish their findings in a scientific journal this week, are urging WHO to update its guidance.

"We are aware of the article and are reviewing its contents with our technical experts," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said today. .

The extent to which the coronavirus can be spread by the so-called airborne or aerosol route - as opposed to by larger droplets in coughs and sneezes - remains disputed.

Any change in the WHO's assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-metre physical distancing. Governments, which also rely on the agency for guidance policy, may also have to adjust public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

04:05 PM

Egypt arrests doctors and silences critics over virus outbreak

Earlier this afternoon we posted a report on Nicaragua's efforts to cover up the coronavirus outbreak.

In Egypt, security agencies appear to be taking a similarly tough line to suppress criticism of the government's handling on the outbreak - at least 10 doctors and six journalists have been arrested since the virus hit the country in February, according to rights groups.

Other health workers say they have been warned by administrators to keep quiet or face punishment. One foreign correspondent has fled the country, fearing arrest, and another two have been reprimanded over "professional violations."

The coronavirus is surging in the country of 100 million, threatening to overwhelm hospitals. As of today, the Health Ministry recorded 76,253 infections, including 3,343 deaths - the highest death toll in the Arab world.

"Every day I go to work, I sacrifice myself and my whole family," a doctor in greater Cairo told the Associated Press. "Then they arrest my colleagues to send us a message. I see no light on the horizon."

A man with a camel is seen in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza after reopening for tourist visits in Cairo on July 1 - REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A man with a camel is seen in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza after reopening for tourist visits in Cairo on July 1 - REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

03:56 PM

Watch: Johnson urges people to 'maintain discipline' as lockdown eases

03:47 PM

Care providers: PM's comments are 'neither accurate nor welcome'

Boris Johnson said earlier today that care homes had failed to follow procedures to look after their residents properly during the pandemic, as Laura Donnelly reports here

Perhaps unsurprisingly his comments have triggered frustration from those in social care, with providers branding them "neither accurate not welcome". 

Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum urged Mr Johnson to start "turning the dial up on reform and down on blame". She added: 

"Government guidance has come to the sector in stops and starts - with organisations grappling with over 100 pieces of additional guidance in the same number of days, much of which was not accompanied by an understanding of the operational implications of operating care services.

"Care providers have moved to adopt these new procedures consistently, at pace and with integrity."

Meanwhile Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, said he vast majority of providers had "done their absolute best in the face of slow and conflicting advice".

He added that it was only when the real death toll in care homes became apparent that the Government accepted social care was as much on the front line as hospitals.

Related: Hope among the horror - what now for care homes abandoned to Covid?

03:35 PM

UK: Death toll rises by 16

The Department of Health and Social Care has published it's daily coronavirus update. In total, 44,236 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK as of 5pm on Sunday - up by 16. 

This is the lowest number reported since March 16, but reporting is often lower on weekends and the Government figures do not include all deaths involving Covid-19 across the UK. If we take into account those who died after a suspected, not confirmed, infection, the death toll is thought to have passed 55,000.

The data also showed that in the 24-hour period up to 9am today, there were 352 positive test results. Overall, a total of 285,768 cases have been confirmed.

03:33 PM

The view from Nicaragua: Doctors face political pressure

Nicaragua has reported 2,519 infections and 83 deaths since the pandemic began - but there are growing concerns that the true scale of the virus' impact has been covered up by the Government.

According to the Citizen Observatory, the real death toll may be 25 times that. Here's a stark report from the Associated Press on the country's unfolding crisis:

Inside Nicaragua's public hospitals, the walls are plastered with political propaganda, ruling-party activists ensure no information leaks out, and doctors were once forbidden from wearing masks.

While the Pan-American Health Organization urges Nicaragua to take more aggressive measures against the coronavirus pandemic and neighboring countries warily eye its outbreak, President Daniel Ortega's increasingly authoritarian government seems more focused on hiding the virus than treating it.

Schools remain open, and the government has threatened to ban baseball players who refuse to play - at games that still draw fans. And everyone is warned to keep quiet.

"Inside, everything is secret," Dr. Maria Nela Escoto, an anesthesiologist with 24 years of experience, said of her work at Lenin Fonseca hospital. "They don't allow suggestions, and you can't question anything because they're watching. It's a very hostile environment."

Frightened that the government's attempts to deny the severity of the outbreak would doom many in this Central American country, 600 medical workers signed an open letter in May asking for protective equipment in public hospitals. Within weeks, more than a dozen were fired, including Dr Escoto.

03:19 PM

UK coronavirus roundup

Just joining us? Here's a quick look at some of the key UK developments today - for global stories, head down to our update at 1:52pm.

  •  At least one in 10 hospital patients with Covid-19 acquired their infection while in hospital, according to a new study (more at 2:27pm).

  • Daily hospital admissions of people with Covid-19 have dipped to single figures in most regions of England. Meanwhile the country has reported 16 fatalities among those who tested positive for the coronavirus, while no new deaths have been reported in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

  • Boris Johnson has urged people not to "stuff this up" after lockdown restrictions were eased in England, as fears over a lack of social distancing were prompted over the weekend as drinkers flocked to popular areas (more at 2:55pm).

  • Government data shows that as many as a fifth of Covid-19 tests - more than two million - are either not being sent back to laboratories or are being voided.

  • This comes after the Government announced changes to the way the it will publish daily testing data - it will no longer report how many people have been tested each day, though this figure has already not been available for a month (see 3:10pm - and 3:40pm for Labour's reaction). 

  • Passengers arriving at Heathrow will be among the first to be offered medical Covid-19 tests at a UK airport, pending Government approval.

  • The vast majority of children will no longer need to shield from the end of this month, England's deputy chief medical officer has said.

02:58 PM

Coronavirus around the world, in pictures

Indian health workers leave after the medical checkup of the residents of a 'containment zone' in the Ambujwadi area - Shutterstock
Indian health workers leave after the medical checkup of the residents of a 'containment zone' in the Ambujwadi area - Shutterstock
Beer gardens have been allowed to reopen in Scotland from today. Here's members of the public enjoying their first beers since March in Glasgow - Getty Images Europe
Beer gardens have been allowed to reopen in Scotland from today. Here's members of the public enjoying their first beers since March in Glasgow - Getty Images Europe
Spanish Civil Guards control a checkpoint on the highway between the regions of Galicia and Asturias in Ribadeo, after the region ordered the lockdown of 70,000 people - AFP
Spanish Civil Guards control a checkpoint on the highway between the regions of Galicia and Asturias in Ribadeo, after the region ordered the lockdown of 70,000 people - AFP
New South Wales police officers look on as passengers arrive from a Qantas flight that flew from Melbourne. The NSW-Victoria border will close at 11.59pm due to a surge in cases - Getty Images Asia
New South Wales police officers look on as passengers arrive from a Qantas flight that flew from Melbourne. The NSW-Victoria border will close at 11.59pm due to a surge in cases - Getty Images Asia

02:46 PM

US death toll passes 130,000

The US’s Covid-19 death toll has topped 130,000 today amid a surge in cases, with the CDC forecasting between 140,000 to 160,000 coronavirus deaths by July 15.

The overall rate of increase in US deaths has continued to trend downward despite case numbers surging to record levels in recent days, but health experts warn that fatalities are a lagging indicator, showing up weeks or even months after cases rise.

At least five states have already bucked the downward trend in the death rate, according to a Reuters analysis. Arizona had 449 deaths in the last two weeks of June, up from 259 deaths in the first two weeks of the month. The state posted a 300 per cent rise in cases over the full month, the most in the country.

Nationally, cases are approaching three million, the highest tally in the world and double the infections reported in the second most-affected nation, Brazil.

Sixteen states have posted record daily increases in new cases since the start of July, including Florida, which confirmed more than 11,000 in a single day. As well as the state’s largest one-day rise so far, that was more than any European country reported in a single day at the height of the crisis there.

Coronavirus USA Spotlight Chart - deaths default
Coronavirus USA Spotlight Chart - deaths default

02:40 PM

Labour: Government losing control over testing regime

Labour has accused the Government of "losing control over the testing regime", after Downing Street confirmed it had given up publishing the daily figures (3.10pm).

Justin Madders, shadow health minister, said it was "an absolute shambles".

He added: "It seems that the real reason why the Government stopped issuing figures for the number of people tested each day is because they never hit their 100,000 people a day target and they were too embarrassed to admit it. 

“We know that the number of people actually tested is less than a third of the number of tests they state are being completed. It is clear that Ministers are losing control over the testing regime and are failing to not only keep track of the tests but to ensure the results are returned swiftly. 

“Ministers need to get to grips with the state of the testing regime and be far more open about where the failings are. As lockdown measures are relaxed it is vital the public have confidence that there is an effective test and trace system in place.”

02:35 PM

Weddings in Northern Ireland to take place from July 10

Hotels and private venues in Northern Ireland will be able to host weddings from July 10, First Minister Arlene Foster said.

Nuptials have been put on hold since the lockdown to combat the spread of disease was introduced in March.

02:28 PM

Pakistan health minister tests positive for virus

Pakistan’s health minister has become the country’s latest senior government figure to contract Covid-19.

“I have tested positive for Covid-19. Under (medical) advice I have isolated myself at home & taking all precautions. I have mild symptoms. Please keep me in your kind prayers,” Zafar Mirza said on Twitter.

A number of high level officials have tested positive in Pakistan, where rising cases of the virus are putting pressure on the country's fragile health system.

On Friday, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced he had the virus, while the minister for railways Sheikh Rasheed and speaker of the lower house of parliament, Asad Qaiser, have also contracted it.

Pakistan has confirmed 229,831 cases and 4,762 deaths in total. Although daily testing numbers are falling, around 4,000 new cases per day continue to be confirmed.

02:23 PM

Why are young, healthy people dying of coronavirus?

The patients who have been critically ill aren't just older people and those with underlying health conditions, writes Cara McGoogan and Eleanor Steafel.

Anyone can catch coronavirus. The youngest person to be diagnosed with the disease in the UK was a newborn baby. In most cases, younger people will experience milder symptoms of Covid-19, and some may not have symptoms at all, but people of all ages could become critically ill.

From whether symptoms are different in younger people to if your "viral load" can affect how ill you get, we have the answers to all your questions here. 

02:10 PM

Millions of Covid-19 tests not being processed

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has revealed that since testing started, a total of 10.5 million tests have been "made available" but only eight million of those have been "processed".

It means that as many as a fifth of tests - more than two million - are either not being sent back to laboratories or are being voided.

Number 10 accepted that some people were opting not to carry out the process of sending their test back for examination after receiving their home coronavirus testing kit.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told reporters: "It will be the case that some members of the public may order a test and then for whatever reason they choose not to return that test.

"Obviously, if people are ordering tests it is entirely right that we should provide them with one."

It comes as the UK Government announced changes to the way it will publish daily testing data. Downing Street said the decision to stop revealing how many people had been tested every day was because the statistic did not take into account someone who had been tested multiple times since the outbreak started.

The figure had not been made public for several weeks.

02:06 PM

No further deaths in Wales or Northern Ireland

There have been no further deaths of patients with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland or Wales, their respective health bodies have said.

Scotland also reported no further deaths today.

In England, the number of patients that died with Covid-19 in hospital has risen by 15.

02:02 PM

'Bank of Mum and Dad' lending to surge as post-Covid market shuns first-time buyers

Coronavirus has ushered in a new era for the “Bank of Mum and Dad” as first-time buyers are squeezed out of the housing market and lenders demand far higher deposits.

Savills, the estate agency, has forecast a 14 per cent jump in lending from parents and grandparents because of the pandemic – equivalent to an extra £700m in 2021 compared to 2019.

By 2022, 154,000 first-time buyers will be receiving financial support from family. This will be a new high since the previous peak of 149,000 in 2017. The lending will account for 42 per cent of mortgaged first-time buyers and will total £5.8bn.

Melissa Lawford has more here. 

01:55 PM

Boris Johnson urges people to 'maintain discipline' as lockdown eases

Boris Johnson has urged people not to "stuff this up" after lockdown restrictions were eased in England, as fears over a lack of social distancing were prompted over the weekend as drinkers flocked to popular areas, with London's Soho particularly busy.

Mr Johnson said he was not shocked by some of the scenes over the weekend because "I understand what human nature is" but added that the overwhelming majority had behaved sensibly.

"There is a risk that some people will not obey the guidelines, that's always going to be there," he said. "But the overwhelming majority of people have and so far we think that the measures and the package is working.

"But we cannot be complacent, we really can't afford to stuff this up, to blow it now. We have got to keep going in the prudent way that we are."

He urged people to "maintain discipline" in order to "get back to life as close to normal as possible as fast as possible".

01:47 PM

Restrictions reimposed in Israel after surge in cases

Bars, nightclubs, gyms and event halls have been closed in Israel as restrictions are reimposed to combat a surge in Covid-19 infections.

At a special cabinet meeting today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country had to reverse course to avoid a wider lockdown that could devastate its economy, where unemployment is above 20 per cent.

Netanyahu said: "The pandemic is spreading - that’s as clear as day. It is rising steeping daily and it is dragging with it, contrary to what we had been told, a trail of critically ill patients.”

A statement issued by the Government said in addition to the closure of some leisure and hospitality venues, the number of diners in restaurants will be limited to 20 indoors and 30 outdoors.

Attendance at synagogues has also been capped at 19 worshippers, while buses can only carry up to 20 passengers.

Coronavirus Israel Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Israel Spotlight Chart - Cases default

01:41 PM

Coronavirus around the world, in pictures

People celebrate the suspended 'Chupinazo' opening ceremony to mark what was supposed to be the kick-off of the San Fermin Festival outside the Town Hall of Pamplona in northern Spain  - AFP
People celebrate the suspended 'Chupinazo' opening ceremony to mark what was supposed to be the kick-off of the San Fermin Festival outside the Town Hall of Pamplona in northern Spain - AFP
A worker wearing a protective suit sterilizes the chalet pool rented by Saudi families in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - Reuters
A worker wearing a protective suit sterilizes the chalet pool rented by Saudi families in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - Reuters
A health worker takes swab samples from a tourist to test for the coronavirus, at Promahonas border crossing with Bulgaria, which is the only land border into Greece that is open on Monday - AP
A health worker takes swab samples from a tourist to test for the coronavirus, at Promahonas border crossing with Bulgaria, which is the only land border into Greece that is open on Monday - AP
More from Greece: Dozens of vehicles of Serb holidaymakers who were trapped at the Greek border overnight have been allowed to cross into Greece after a ban on the entry of people from Serbia came into effect due to a coronavirus flare-up
More from Greece: Dozens of vehicles of Serb holidaymakers who were trapped at the Greek border overnight have been allowed to cross into Greece after a ban on the entry of people from Serbia came into effect due to a coronavirus flare-up

01:27 PM

10pc of Covid-19 hospital patients acquired infection in hospital

At least one in 10 hospital patients with Covid-19 acquired their infection while in hospital, according to a new study.

A report from the Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics (Delve) group, which advises Government scientists, found that an estimated 1 per cent of all Covid-19 infections in England between April 26 and June 7 were acquired in hospital, representing 10 per cent of all hospital cases of Covid-19.

The experts predicted the true figure could be higher, adding that between mid-March and early May an increasing proportion of cases were coming from infections acquired in hospitals.

The team also estimated that at least 10 per cent of all Covid-19 infections in England across the same period were among healthcare workers who deal with patients, and social care workers looking after care home residents.

Some 6 per cent of all Covid-19 infections were also among care home residents, the team found.

Other studies have suggested much higher rates for hospital-acquired Covid-19, with separate modelling in May by Public Health England (PHE) suggesting that a fifth of coronavirus infections among hospital patients, and almost nine in 10 infections among healthcare workers, could have been acquired in hospital.

01:16 PM

Fujitsu to let employees work from home permanently

Tech giant Fujitsu has committed to halving its office space in Japan within the next three years to facilitate a “new normal” for employees.

The company said its 80,000 workers in the country would benefit from flexible hours and that work-from-home would become standard practice wherever possible.

The changes are part of the company’s “Work Life Shift” initiative, which it hopes will boost innovation and work life balance.

Michael Cogley has more here. 

01:07 PM

Bulgaria to clamp down on virus measures

Bulgaria will clamp down on people who fail to observe obligatory social distancing in public spaces or wear protective face masks indoors as new cases of the coronavirus surged, the health minister Kiril Ananiev said today.

The Balkan country of 7 million people has registered 5,740 cases and 246 deaths so far, New cases in the last week alone totalled 1,049.

Ananiev said he would extend the state of epidemic emergency in the country until the end of July to allow him to be more flexible and issue special orders if needed.

He urged local authorities to enforce compliance with anti-infection measures and limit large public events. Fines for failing to comply with distancing and other measures would be more strictly imposed.

Bulgaria has lifted most of the restrictions linked to the pandemic, opening bars, restaurants and allowing free travel to help the economy recover.

01:03 PM

No 10: More countries expected to announce easing of restrictions for UK travellers

The Government expects more countries on England's coronavirus "green light" safe list to announce an easing of travel restrictions on travellers from the UK.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman was asked during a briefing with journalists whether it was "misleading" to have published a quarantine-free list when not all of those featured were allowing UK visitors in without restrictions placed on them upon arrival.

The No 10 spokesman said: "Many countries already don't impose quarantine restrictions on travellers from the UK and we expect more to ease restrictions on UK travellers following our announcement.

"We are working closely with international partners around the world to discuss arrangements from travellers arriving from the UK.

"It is obviously a changing situation across the world and passengers should check the individual country pages that we make available on gov.uk for travel advice and any restrictions at their destination before they book their trip and before they travel."

12:52 PM

Today's top stories so far

Good afternoon. If you're just joining us, here's a summary of the day's key developments so far:

  • Greece will permit direct flights from Britain to resume on July 15, a Greek Government spokesman has confirmed.

  • Ofsted's Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has said it "may make sense" for children to drop a subject so that they can focus on English and maths when schools reopen.

  • Coronavirus may have lain dormant across the world and emerged when environmental conditions were right for it to thrive - rather than starting in China, an Oxford University expert believes.

  • The border between the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales will be closed Monday night for the first time in over 100 years as Victoria struggles to contain a surge in Covid-19 cases.

  • Almost 230,000 renters could lose their home when the Government’s ban on evictions comes to an end in August. 

  • Kosovo's Government has re-imposed nightly curfews in the capital Pristina and three other towns in a bid to curb an increase of Covid-19 infections in the Balkan nation.

  • India has reported its highest daily spike in Covid-19 cases yet after recording more than 24,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking its overall case number to 697,413 and overtaking Russia as the country with the third-highest tally in the world. 

  • Results from the final stage of a nationwide antibody study found that some 5.2 per cent of the Spanish population has been exposed to the coronavirus, confirming findings from earlier stages and signalling that so-called “herd immunity” to Covid-19 is not realistic.

12:40 PM

No 10: Police forces reported being 'quieter than expected' on Saturday

Number 10 said police forces reported being "quieter than expected" after pubs and restaurants were allowed to open on Saturday.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "I think far and away the vast majority of people acted in a safe, sensible and responsible manner and as I understand it many police forces across England reported a quieter than expected evening with few arrests.

"We would urge people not to overdo it. This was a cautious step towards opening more of our economy and it does look like the vast majority of people acted in a sensible and responsible way."

Asked whether Boris Johnson was concerned about busy scenes seen in some places, the spokesman added: "As I say, overall people did act in a responsible way.

"There were a small number of individual incidents but my understanding is that numerous police forces reported a quieter than expected weekend."

12:35 PM

Comment: Britain faces a deadly new cancer crisis thanks to lockdown

I'm no fan of apocalyptic predictions, but 50,000 people could lose their lives unless we act now, writes Professor Karol Sikora, a British physician specialising in oncology.

I remember how those horrifying images of Italy’s overwhelmed hospital system shocked us into action. Ensuring we were never short of hospital capacity was a great achievement. But cancer is hidden – the enemy within. There is no such emotive imagery to serve as an effective wake-up call. And deaths from heart disease and strokes can be drastically reduced by preventive action. But all this has been put on hold.

I’ve been one of the biggest critics of apocalyptic predictions, but I am going to make one myself. If we don’t get cancer diagnosis and treatment moving immediately, tens of thousands of people will lose their lives, potentially up to 50,000. This number doesn’t even include the countless patients who have suffered with other problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and mental health issues – the list goes on.

Read the full piece here. 

12:31 PM

Weekend footfall still down more than 50pc despite lockdown easing

Revellers came out in force over the weekend to celebrate the reopening of pubs, bars and restaurants after three months of lockdown. 

Visits to the high street rose by more than a third on Saturday and were up nearly 50pc on Sunday in the evening - suggesting that customers were eager to return to their favourite eating and drinking spots. 

The data from Springboard compared the weekend just gone with Saturday and Sunday the week before and suggests a recovery is now underway for the tottering hospitality industry. Nevertheless, weekend footfall was still down more than 50pc compared to year earlier. 

There was a particularly large pick up in London, with footfall almost two-thirds higher on Sunday after thousands packed the streets of Soho the night before to celebrate lifting of restrictions.

Laura Onita and Lizzy Burden have more here. 

12:27 PM

Cases in Qatar pass 100,000

The number of Covid-19 cases in Qatar has exceeded 100,000 today, adding 546 new cases and five deaths in the past 24 hours.

With a population of about 2.7 million people, the Gulf state has one of the world’s highest per capita number of confirmed cases.

12:21 PM

Vietnam records first virus cases in 81 days

Vietnam’s health ministry has today reported 14 new Covid-19 infections, all among Vietnamese citizens held in quarantine upon their arrival from overseas.

The southeast Asian country has been 81 days without a domestically transmitted infection due to successful programmes to contain the virus.

It has yet to report any deaths from Covid-19 and has confirmed 369 cases in total, over 90% of which have recovered, according to official figures.

12:15 PM

Sturgeon: Bars and restaurants shouldn't feel normal right now

The First Minister has called on customers at the newly reopened businesses to be respectful of staff members.

She said: "Hospitality staff, just like retail staff right now, are getting used to new ways of working in very difficult circumstances for them and they'll be asking you to go about your business in different ways as well, so please show respect for them and for your fellow customers.

"If we all do that then we can really help to support our hospitality and tourism sector to help it in that process of recovery and ensure that as we do so, we continue to suppress the virus and keep everybody safe."

Ms Sturgeon added that regular social distancing and hygiene measures such as hand washing should continue to be adhered to.

She also said that those visiting a place where there is a large crowd should consider leaving or not going there at all, adding: "If you go to a bar or a restaurant outside right now, if it feels totally normal, exactly like it was before this pandemic, then something is wrong."

12:09 PM

Sturgeon welcomes UK Government funding pledge for arts and culture

Speaking at the Scottish Government's daily coronavirus press briefing, Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the announcement by the UK Government of extra funding for the arts and culture.

On Sunday, a package of £1.57 billion was announced for the sector, which would amount to £97 million for Scotland. The announcement came after a similar £10 million package announced by the Scottish Government on Friday.

The First Minister said: "We very much welcome the announcement from the UK Government last night of a significant package of financial support."

Ms Sturgeon said she was looking to find out how the funding "would work" from the UK Government and would be engaging with those in the sector about how the money could best be spent.

She added: "I want to give an assurance today that the funding announced last night by the UK Government will be passed on in full in Scotland to our arts, culture and heritage sector."

12:01 PM

5.2 pc of Spanish population have been exposed to virus

Results from the final stage of a nationwide antibody study found that some 5.2 per cent of the Spanish population has been exposed to the coronavirus, health officials said today, confirming findings from earlier stages and signalling that so-called “herd immunity” to Covid-19 is not realistic.

Reuters reports that the study, which tested nearly 70,000 people across Spain three times over the past three months, found the virus’ prevalence had not altered significantly since preliminary results were published in May.

It said: "The relatively low seroprevalence observed in the context of an intense epidemic in Spain might serve as a reference to other countries.

At present, herd immunity is difficult to achieve without accepting the collateral damage of many deaths in the susceptible population and overburdening of health systems."

The Spanish study’s lead author, Marina Pollán, who is director of the National Center for Epidemiology, told CNN: "Some experts have computed that around 60 per cent of seroprevalence might mean herd immunity. But we are very far from achieving that number."

Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default

11:44 AM

No new deaths reported in Scotland

No new Covid-19-related deaths have been reported in Scotland in the last 48 hours, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

A total of 2,488 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for the virus, Ms Sturgeon said, giving figures for a two-day period as death figures could not be reported on Sunday for technical reasons.

Speaking during the Scottish Government's daily briefing, the First Minister said 18,300 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by four from 18,296 on Sunday.

There are 646 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a decrease of 20 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, eight were in intensive care, down by three.

11:38 AM

Heathrow arrivals could be offered testing for £140

Coronavirus testing will be made available for passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport if the Government amends its quarantine policy.

Travel assistance company Collinson and ground-handling firm Swissport announced they have developed a system for people flying in to the UK's busiest airport to get tested, find out their results within 24 hours, and avoid self-isolation if they get the all-clear.

Tests would cost around £140 each and would be aimed at people returning to or visiting England from countries not included on the quarantine exemption list published by the Department for Transport on Friday, such as China, Portugal and the US.

But the Test On Arrival trial will only begin if the Government's quarantine policy is updated to also allow people who test negative at Heathrow to travel freely.

Vienna Airport is already offering coronavirus tests for arriving passengers willing to pay 190 euros (£172).

11:31 AM

Dutch cull virus-infected mink farms

Dutch authorities have today culled thousands of mink on two farms infected with Covid-19, bringing the total to 20, health authorities said.

AFP reports that the outbreaks were reported in Gemert, in the same area in southern Netherlands where previous infections took place.

"All mink on 18 infected farms previously reported have been culled, with two more farms following today," the health ministry said in a statement.

The Netherlands first reported in April that two mink farms had been infected with the virus. At least two workers were also infected in what the World Health Organization said could be the first known animal-to-human transmissions.

The Netherlands has reported more than 50,000 coronavirus infections, with more than 6,100 deaths, according to official figures.

11:24 AM

Kosovo reimposes curfew as Covid-19 infections surge

Kosovo's Government has re-imposed nightly curfews in the capital Pristina and three other towns in a bid to curb an increase of Covid-19 infections in the Balkan nation, AFP reports.

The country of 1.8 million people has registered around 3,500 known infections and 75 deaths from the virus so far.

"Any movement of people outside their homes is banned," due to the curfew introduced in towns with the highest number of infections, a Government statement said. People will not be allowed to go outside between 9pm to 5am next day, it said.

Kosovo, whose poorly equipped healthcare system is unprepared for a major emergency, introduced curfews on the whole territory in March, and the restrictions were lifted in early June.

The Government also ordered public and private sector to temporarily cut the number of employees "only to the level of necessary staff". Restaurants and bars throughout Kosovo will have to close early and limit their services to terraces and other open-air spaces only.

11:15 AM

Watch: Arts funding will prioritise 'crown jewel institutions', says Culture Secretary

11:07 AM

200,000 renters to lose homes in summer of evictions

Almost 230,000 renters could lose their home when the Government’s ban on evictions comes to an end in August. 

An estimated 3 per cent of adults living in rented accommodation owe almost two months' worth of money to their landlord, research by charity Shelter has shown. Normally, any tenant who owes eight weeks of rent or more can be automatically evicted.

Early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government announced that no one would be kicked out of their home during the crisis. The ban on evictions was originally due to end on June 25 but was extended until August 23. 

Marianna Hunt has more here. 

10:59 AM

Indian scientists alarmed over 'unrealistic' vaccine aims

A group of Indian scientists have warned that a deadline to launch a Covid-19 vaccine for public use is unfeasible, BBC reports.

The Indian Academy of Sciences warned against "any hasty solution that may compromise rigorous scientific processes and standards".

It follows the news that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had said it "envisaged" the vaccine to be launched by August 15, which is India's Independence Day. The ICMR has since said the date was "not a deadline".

The controversy first arose after a letter written by ICMR chief Balram Bhargava to 12 institutes selected for conducting human trials for the vaccine - named Covaxin - was shared widely on social media.

In it, he had directed them to expedite human trials so that the vaccine could be launched on 15 August by fast-tracking all approvals related to it. Non-compliance, the letter warned, would be treated "very seriously".

Vaccine Race - Platform
Vaccine Race - Platform

10:49 AM

Deprived communities should be front of line for vaccine, expert says

Deprived communities should join healthcare workers at the top of the queue for a vaccine as “wealth is the best shielding strategy” to protect against the coronavirus, according to a leading expert. 

Prof Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, told The Telegraph that there is a consensus that all healthcare staff - from hospital cleaners and porters to intensive care unit (ICU) doctors and care home nurses - must be protected first. 

Who comes next is debated. But inoculating deprived communities would protect many of the groups most at risk of catching Covid-19, Prof Sridhar said. Far from being the “great leveller”, the pandemic has disproportionately affected the poorest in society. 

Sarah Newey has more here. 

Groups for which there are arguments for priority vaccination
Groups for which there are arguments for priority vaccination

10:43 AM

Greece to lift ban on UK tourists from next week

The Greek Government has announced that as of Wednesday next week, it will be lifting its ban on travel from the UK and permitting direct flights to popular destinations nationwide.

The decision to re-open air links was made in conjunction with British authorities, the Government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters. Flights to and from the UK were suspended in March. 

Pestas told a news briefing: "In cooperation with the British Government, and following advice of experts, the Government announces the resumption of direct flights from the United Kingdom to all airports of the country from July 15."

The country had previously placed no restrictions on European travellers other than those from Sweden and the UK, where incidence of the virus remains comparatively high.

​Read more: How Greece moved quickly and decisively to keep Covid-19 out

10:30 AM

Bali to welcome foreign tourists from September

Indonesia's resort island of Bali will allow international tourists to visit from September 11, and Indonesian tourists will be allowed to return from July 31.

The island held a mass prayer on Sunday to ask for permission and protection from the Hindu God at the sacred Besakih Temple.

Tourism contributes about 70 per cent of Bali’s GDP. As a result, the island has been among the hardest hit in Indonesia amid the pandemic. Foreign arrivals dried up by almost 100 per cent in April as many countries, including Indonesia, closed their borders.

In his reopening decree, Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster implemented guidance on crowd avoidance, physical distancing and personal hygiene, including regular hand washing and wearing facial covering or masks.

Bali has recorded more than 1,800 positive Covid-19 cases so far and 20 virus-linked deaths as of Sunday.

10:21 AM

Comment: The arts bailout is welcome – but for some institutions it’s far too late

A package of £1.57 billion for the arts and heritage industries must be paired with clear guidelines on when live venues can reopen, writes Ben Lawrence.

So culture has not been forgotten. After months of uncertainty surrounding the arts, entertainment and heritage industries, the announcement of £1.57 billion investment comes as welcome news.

Hitherto, Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has sounded defensive about the future of those sectors in his purlieu, stressing the support already given through the furlough scheme, for example. But now we have a package that trumps even Germany’s 1billion euro bailout, and those who have stressed that our current administration cares nothing about the arts have been momentarily chastened. 

However, the funding announcement currently offers more questions than answers. A mixture of grants and loans have been promised, but it is not clear yet who will receive what. My feeling is that loans on easy terms will be given to bigger institutions such as the Royal Albert Hall (whose chief executive Craig Hassall announced that the 149-year-old institution would go bust next year if it didn’t receive more funds), while smaller operations such as the country’s repertory theatres will be in line for grants.

Read the full piece ​here. 

10:15 AM

Pret A Manger to close 30 stores as job cuts loom

High-street sandwich chain Pret A Manger is to close 30 of its 410 UK outlets as part of a coronavirus-related restructuring, BBC reports.

The company will also reduce staffing to "reflect lower footfall, rental costs and new safety measures".

Pret said the impact of Covid-19 on trading meant it had to make a "difficult decision".

It said 339 of its shops have so far reopened following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Sales are down 74 per cent year-on-year, the company reported.

10:10 AM

44 more deaths reported in Bangladesh

44 more people have died with Covid-19 in Bangladesh, according to the latest update from health authorities, as 3,201 more people tested positive for the virus.

The total death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in the south Asian country is now 2,096, while 76,149 have recovered, from a total caseload of 165,618. So far, 863,307 tests have been carried out in the country.

TBS News reports that 63,801 people are quarantined across the country.

​Read more: Coronavirus exposes the deep divide in Bangladeshi society

10:04 AM

Starmer: Government to blame for schools not reopening, not unions

Sir Keir Starmer has insisted that trade unions are not to blame for the delay in getting children in England back to school, and has instead suggested the blame lies with the Government for not showing leadership and having a clear plan.

Last week when he was live on LBC, the Prime Minister left a question for Call Keir: "Keir, Boris Johnson here. Could you possibly say once and for all that schools are safe to go back to - point one.

"And that the teaching unions should drop their opposition and allow every pupil to go back to school that can go back to school now and that every pupil should go back to school in September. No ifs, no buts, just say it."

Mr Starmer responded: "Yes, schools are safe for some children to go back to at the moment. My children are in school. And I want all children back at school in September.

"I don't actually buy his argument that it's the trades unions who have caused the problems. What this needed was leadership at the top and a plan. And frankly, every school I'm spoken to has said it comes down to the space they've got. If they've got a lot of space, they can do it, if they haven't, they can't.

"The day the schools were closed, the Prime Minister should have set up a plan to get them back open. Do you need pre-fab, do you need more classrooms built? Is there a library or a community centre you can use? These are the practical things we needed."

09:57 AM

French bus driver brain dead after attack for refusing maskless riders

A bus driver in France was declared brain dead today after being attacked by several people he refused to let onboard because they were not wearing face masks, AFP reports.

A police source in Bayonne, near the ritzy Atlantic resort of Biarritz in southwestern France, told AFP that one person was in custody and other suspects were being sought.

The individuals tried to board the bus on Sunday night without tickets or masks, which are mandatory on public transport across France. When the driver, in his 50s, tried to prevent their entry he was repeatedly punched in an assault that resulted in serious head injury.

He was unconscious when brought to hospital, and doctors declared him brain dead today, the police source said.

Regional bus services have been disrupted after several of the driver's colleagues refused to work in protest against the attack.

09:50 AM

A Covid-19 update from Spain...

Two areas in Spain are now locked down, affecting 300,000 people, with the Mariña area of Galicia adding to Lleida in Catalonia over the weekend, reports James Badcock.

The Catalan government health chief has said today that the confinement of Lleida and the surrounding area may last more than two weeks. Asturias, Spain’s first region to reach zero Covid cases for a two-week period, is controlling traffic from neighbouring Galicia.

The Covid-19 crisis is also exposing Spain's poverty trap, says outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston. Mr Alston said that the pandemic has shown just how badly Spain’s welfare system is, leaving millions more on the brink of destitution than was the case during his visit to the country in January, when he saw “appalling levels of poverty and exclusion and shockingly high inequality”.

In his final report, released today, Mr Alston said: “Poverty in Spain is rooted in a social protection system that is broken, underfunded, impossible to navigate and not reaching the people who need it most”, with lockdown seeing “millions unable to work encountering delays, glitches and inadequate support”.

He said the Government’s introduction of Spain’s first national minimum income scheme to help 850,000 vulnerable families was a step in the right direction and a sign that the Government was not going to abandon the poorest to their fate as occurred in the last major crisis 10 years ago.

Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default

09:45 AM

UK construction sector rebounds to growth after building work restarts

The UK construction industry surged back to growth in June as the phased restart of building work helped to drive a sharp turnaround for the sector.

The closely followed IHS Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index (PMI) surged to a reading of 55.3 last month, from 28.9 in May. A consensus of analysts had forecast a reading of 46 for the month, and any reading above 50 represents an expansion in business activity.

Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit, said: "June's survey data revealed a steep rebound in UK construction output as more sites began to reopen and the supply chain kicked into gear.

"As the first major part of the UK economy to begin a phased return to work, the strong rebound in construction activity provides hope to other sectors that have suffered through the lockdown period."

The influential survey signalled the steepest pace of growth for the sector since July 2018, as supply chains for the UK construction sector reopened following stoppages and business closures due to the lockdown.

09:36 AM

Coronavirus around the world, in pictures

The Louvre has reopened today for the first time in four months - AP
The Louvre has reopened today for the first time in four months - AP
A health worker screens people for Covid-19 at Dharavi, one of Asia's biggest slums, in Mumbai, India, which now has the world's third-highest case tally - AP
A health worker screens people for Covid-19 at Dharavi, one of Asia's biggest slums, in Mumbai, India, which now has the world's third-highest case tally - AP
Waterloo Station still looks eerily quiet during rush hour - Reuters
Waterloo Station still looks eerily quiet during rush hour - Reuters
Visitors wear face masks as they walk past the common ostrich enclosure at Singapore Zoo at its reopening today, which involves strict contact tracing, disinfection protocols and attendance limits - Shutterstock
Visitors wear face masks as they walk past the common ostrich enclosure at Singapore Zoo at its reopening today, which involves strict contact tracing, disinfection protocols and attendance limits - Shutterstock

09:28 AM

Three quarters of exporters eye recovery after Covid hit

Most exporters whose businesses were hit by Covid-19 are now recovering or are expecting to, according to a survey.

The Institute of Directors found that nearly half of exporters had experienced a fall in overseas sales since the outbreak of Covid-19, with the biggest drop coming from the European Union, mainly due to reduced demand abroad and travel restrictions.

Nonetheless, 76 per cent of the poll’s 978 respondents said the situation had either improved or was projected to.

Allie Renison, head of EU and trade policy, said: “It’s hardly surprising to see that exports have taken such a hit from the pandemic given so much of our trade is linked to the EU, where the virus struck so swiftly and to such an extent. There is clearly light at the end of the tunnel, however, given most of those affected expect to see a rebound as Europe gets back to business.”

Lizzy Burden has more here. 

09:21 AM

Scottish weather expected to be kind as pubs reopen beer gardens

Dry weather is expected today as pubs, cafes and restaurants reopen outdoor areas in Scotland for the first time since March.

The Met Office said the Scottish weather was not expected to spoil long-awaited trips to beer gardens, although Nicola Sturgeon warned that going for a drink should “not feel the same” as it did before lockdown.

Those visiting bars will have to leave their contact details with staff, with two metre distancing to be observed initially. While pubs reopened indoor areas in England on Saturday, those in Scotland will not be allowed to reopen indoors until July 15.

Some planning regulations are also being temporarily relaxed to help Scottish hospitality businesses make better use of outdoor spaces. However, some will choose to remain closed until July 15.

Daniel Sanderson has more on what the new hospitality normal will look like in Scotland here. 

09:00 AM

Government accused of confusing holidaymakers over travel lists

Despite the Department for Transport naming 74 destinations that British people can travel to without having to quarantine upon their return, only 25 countries on Government lists are accessible for British visitors, causing industry bodies to accuse the Government of confusing travellers. 

The PC Agency chief executive Paul Charles said: "Consumers are confused by the two lists produced by Government, as it's just not clear which countries are actually accessible without having to quarantine on arrival.

Mr Charles continued: "It's vital that the Government provides clarity to consumers who are booking, and provides just one list that is accurate and up to date in terms of where we can actually access."

Emma Coulthurst, consumer advocate for price comparison site TravelSupermarket, said: "The Government's latest information released late on Friday on where UK citizens can holiday this summer has the potential to confuse people and see them unwittingly book holidays which, due to restrictions imposed by the destination country, they might not be able to take.

"There are some countries on the UK Government FCO and DfT lists which are refusing UK citizens entry or imposing strict entry requirements, which either completely prevent holidays or make them extremely difficult or more costly."

​Read more: Holidaymakers can only visit 25 of the 74 'travel corridor' countries without restrictions

08:49 AM

The Louvre reopens after four long months

Paris’ Louvre Museum, which houses the world’s most famous portrait, The Mona Lisa, reopened today after a four-month coronavirus lockdown.

Face masks are a must and visitor numbers will be limited, with reservations required.

Around 70 per cent of the large museum — 45,000 square meters (484,000 square feet) of space, or the equivalent of 230 tennis courts — housing 30,000 of the Louvre’s vast trove of works is again accessible to visitors starved of art in lockdown.

“It’s very emotional for all the teams that have prepared this reopening,” Jean-Luc Martinez, the museum director, told Associated Press.

Martinez said the museum was expecting just 7,000 visitors on the reopening day. Before the pandemic, as many as 50,000 people per day toured the Louvre in the busiest summer months.

Visitors wearing face mask stands in front of "The Wedding Feast at Cana" oil on canvas painting by the Italian artist Paolo Veronese - AFP
Visitors wearing face mask stands in front of "The Wedding Feast at Cana" oil on canvas painting by the Italian artist Paolo Veronese - AFP
Visitors hold reproductions of the Mona Lisa outside the museum  - Getty Images Europe
Visitors hold reproductions of the Mona Lisa outside the museum - Getty Images Europe
Visitors appreciate The Mona Lisa for the first time in four months - Bloomberg
Visitors appreciate The Mona Lisa for the first time in four months - Bloomberg

08:39 AM

Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation urge people to social distance

Following the changes to shielding guidance which come into effect today, Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation have released a statement urging people to continue social distancing and wearing face masks.

Alison Cook, Director of External Affairs at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said:

“Some of the 500,000 people shielding in England with a lung condition will now be able to meet up outdoors with friends and family, which will be a welcome relief after months of isolation. However we know that many people with lung conditions are feeling understandably anxious at the prospect of being outside in public spaces, where their safety could be compromised if others behave carelessly.

“As figures suggest cases of Covid-19 are rising in some areas, we all still have a part to play in supporting those who have been shielding as they socialise outside for the first time in months.  We’ve all seen anecdotally that a minority of people are disregarding rules on social distancing but for those who have been shielding this can make the difference between people feeling they can go out or remaining trapped in their houses.

"We really need everyone to keep practising social distancing, wear face coverings where advised to, and be mindful that not all health conditions are visible.”

​Read more: What are the latest rules on social distancing and shielding?

08:34 AM

Was lockdown really worth it?

The coronavirus pandemic has cost Britain dear. The virus has claimed over 44,000 lives. Nine million people have been furloughed and the national debt has soared.  The sport, arts, travel and hospitality sectors have been decimated. 

And yet lockdown has saved many lives.  In March, Imperial College research indicated that, with no lockdown, Britain would suffer 260,000 deaths. Currently, the country’s death toll stands at just under a fifth of that projection. 

What might have happened had the UK followed a different path? Has the last 15 weeks of hardship been worth it? It will take years to properly answer these questions. The pandemic is not yet over. But now, Telegraph writers and experts give their early impressions.

Read their full analysis here.

Was lockdown worth it? Health
Was lockdown worth it? Health

08:28 AM

Fiji records first new case in 78 days

Fiji's 78-day run without Covid-19 is over, with Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama confirming today that a 66-year-old man tested positive after returning from India.

It is the 19th case in the small South Pacific island nation, and more are now expected.

"We've confirmed a border case of Covid-19 among a returning citizen while he was securely in the confines of Government-funded quarantine," Bainimarama said.

All arrivals to Fiji have to undergo 14 days of quarantine.

The acting permanent secretary for health, James Fong, said Fiji had deliberately refrained from calling itself "Covid-free" and was not surprised when the positive test was recorded Sunday.

"While Fiji may be free of community-based transmission of COVID-19, this pandemic is still raging beyond our shores," he said. "We don't expect this to be Fiji's last border quarantine case."

08:23 AM

Demand for new cars fell by 35pc

Demand for new cars fell by 34.9 per cent last month, an automotive industry body said.

Only 145,377 new cars were registered in June compared with 223,421 during the same month in 2019, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The trade body said the decline reflects uncertain economic confidence and dealerships in Wales and Scotland remaining closed for much of the month due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Nearly 616,000 fewer new cars have been sold in the first six months of 2020 compared with the same point last year.

Was lockdown worth it? Economy
Was lockdown worth it? Economy

08:19 AM

Russia's case tally rises to 687,862

Russia’s official Covid-19 case tally has risen to 687,862 today after officials reported 6,611 new infections in the last 24 hours, Reuters reports.

Authorities also said that 135 people had died overnight, bringing Russia’s official death toll to 10,296.

India overtook Russia over the weekend as the country with the third-highest number of infections, behind the US and Brazil.

Coronavirus Russia Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Russia Spotlight Chart - Cases default

08:07 AM

Today's front page

Today's front page
Today's front page

Today on the Daily Telegraph's front page: Rishi Sunak is to hand out £1,000 cash bonuses to firms that hire young trainees; the plan to cut Huawei out of UK networks by 2029 is too slow, Tory rebels have warned Boris Johnson; and the arts have been given a £1.5bn rescue fund but ‘curtain will remain down’ for months to come. 

07:59 AM

Are other areas of the UK heading for local lockdown? Ask our experts

As Leicester became the first city to be placed under a local lockdown on Monday, many have been left wondering whether other areas of the UK could also be heading towards renewed lockdown restrictions.

Government sources have told The Telegraph that the northern towns of Barnsley, Oldham and Rochdale and the city of Bradford, along with Bedford, are all at risk of being placed under a local lockdown to help reduce rising infection rates. 

But how does the Government identify which regions could be placed under a local lockdown? How long do the revised restrictions last for and are local lockdowns actually effective? 

You can join the Telegraph's Global Health Security Editor, Paul Nuki, and Front Bench Editor, Daniel Capurro, at 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Monday, July 6 as they discuss the subject of local lockdowns while answering your questions. 

Click here to register and send in your questions. 

07:54 AM

Theatre performances without social distancing are 'some way off', says Culture Secretary

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said theatre performances without social distancing are "some way off".

He said the reduction of social distancing rules, such as on planes, has only been implemented in "exceptionally limited circumstances" and insisted "slow and baby steps" must be taken.

The chief executive of the Lighthouse venue in Poole, Elspeth McBain, had earlier told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that theatres cannot be viable with social distancing.

"With social distancing even at a metre-plus, the economics don't work for live performance. Most venues work on a really tight margin - we need about 80% capacity to be able to turn a profit," she said.

07:17 AM

Reducing curriculum to focus on maths and English at primary school 'may make sense', says chief schools inspector

Ofsted's Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has said it "may make sense" for children to drop a subject so that they can focus on English and maths. 

Her comments come as experts warned that the Government proposals for some pupils to focus on English and maths when they return to school in September could lead to a “cultural apartheid”.

The Telegraph previously reported that schools may teach a slimmed-down curriculum focusing on maths and English when children return in ­September, with the full syllabus not reappearing until next summer, ­according to draft government plans.  

Some subjects may be put on hold until 2021 to allow time for pupils to catch up on the core subjects given ­insufficient attention during lockdown, under plans being considered by ministers.

Ms Spielman told BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme:  "It may make sense for a small minority of children to perhaps drop a subject that they might otherwise have been doing, or for schools to decide that they will provide a curriculum with slightly less scope in some subjects in primary school to make sure that the core English and maths do get fully back on track. 

"But that's very different to wholesale slicing out of big chunks of the curriculum." 

Ms Spielman said that any decisions made by schools should be made "in the interest of each individual child not in a blanket way to do what's convenient for the school". 

07:04 AM

Theatres opening in time for Christmas pantomime season will be 'challenging'

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said it would be "challenging" to get theatres back open for the Christmas pantomime season.

He told BBC Breakfast: "I would love to be able to announce that pantos can return but I have to say it will be quite challenging to be able to get to that point.

"Because if you think about a panto, and we all love going to the panto for the joy of it, but it also supports local theatres, you've got granny through to grandchild all packed in together, you know how kids are encouraged to shout and scream at panto season, there's lots of sort of interaction.

"So I would love us to be able to do it. We're working with Public Health England and others to see about mitigations but I just want to be a bit realistic about the challenges of getting us back to that point any time soon."

06:54 AM

Health Secretary thanks those who have shielded

The Health Secretary has said that those shielding have played a "critical" role in the national effort to protect the NHS throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. 

On Monday, Matt Hancock thanked those who had shielded as restrictions are relaxed for them for the first time. 

He wrote on social media: "I'm so pleased that from today, we have been able to relax the restrictions for shielding individuals. Your role has been critical in our national effort to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed & saving lives.

"I want to say thank you to all who have been shielding. I know how hard it has been for you but your effort has been so important in our fight against." 

 

06:43 AM

Young Vic theatre welcomes Government support package

The artistic director of the Young Vic theatre has welcomed the Government's support package for the arts.

Kwame Kwei-Armah told Times Radio: "I think for me and for many of my colleagues, we are relieved.

"When we heard last night, we slept for the first time since March.

"It is a real vindication that we have been listened to and that the Government understand that we were dying on our knees and also that we are an important part of our country's recovery.

"So we are very pleased for this intervention that will hopefully get us from here to April."

He added that he has been speaking to artistic directors at other theatres and knows that many of them are planning to use a portion of their money to support freelancers in the theatre industry.

06:41 AM

First Minister of Wales urges visitors behave safely as lockdown measures ease

The First Minister of Wales has urged visitors to the country to behave safely and respectfully as restrictions on travel are lifted.

On Monday, the "stay local" requirement - advising people to remain within five miles of their home - will end.

This means visitors will be able to travel into and around Wales for the first time since lockdown measures were introduced in March.

Outdoor attractions can also reopen, with this paving the way for the tourism sector to begin welcoming guests from July 11, if conditions allow.

People from two households will be able to form one extended household from Monday, enabling families to be reunited.

On Sunday, Public Health Wales said one person had died after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the total number of deaths there to 1,531.

The total number of positive tests increased in Wales by 15 to 15,890.

The Bradford Arms in Llanymynech, where the border for England and Wales runs along the A483  - PA 
The Bradford Arms in Llanymynech, where the border for England and Wales runs along the A483 - PA

Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, said: "We live in such a beautiful part of the world and I know many of us are looking forward to visiting beaches, the countryside and our many beauty spots.

"People throughout Wales have done so much over the last few months to follow the rules and help reduce the spread of coronavirus - I thank them for their patience and understanding. I ask them to continue in this spirit.

"Unfortunately, over the recent weeks we've seen the results of people not treating parts of Wales with respect, with crowds leaving piles of litter in their wake.

"This selfish behaviour is a blight on our beauty spots and puts people at risk.

"While many footpaths and car parks are reopening, not all facilities will be available in every location straight away."

It comes as Llanymynech, a village straddling the border between England and Wales, dealt with a torn Super Saturday over the weekend, with the Welsh side subject to very different rules.

Helen Chandler-Wilde speaks to its business owners here. 

06:21 AM

'Young people are going to come out of this really badly,' warn Association of Colleges

The Association of Colleges has welcomed the traineeships funding but called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to go further with £3,000 of funding per apprenticeship to reduce damage to young people.

Chief executive David Hughes told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We know that young people get treated really badly in recessions.

"We're really worried about the end of furlough and the hit to the labour market on that so we need really bold action now on both labour market and on skills."

He called for "an incentive to employers" of about £3,000 per apprentice they take on, and for students to get an extra year in college to prevent young people facing decades of insecurity and poorer outlooks in the job market.

"That scarring, as many people call it, is really, really worrying us," he added.

"This is a really different type of recession where young people are going to come out of this really badly."

05:56 AM

'No chance' French Open will make same mistakes as Djokovic's tour

French Open organisers are taking every precaution to ensure the Grand Slam does not meet the same fate as Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour, which was abandoned after several players tested positive for Covid-19, tournament director Guy Forget said.

Djokovic has come under fire after the charity event was played in front of packed crowds in Serbia and Croatia and saw players hugging at the net and posing for pictures together.

Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki have all tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The French Open will allow up to 60 per cent of the usual capacity inside the Roland Garros grounds when the rescheduled claycourt tournament starts on Sept. 27 and Forget said there was no chance of them repeating the mistakes of the Adria Tour.

"Maybe some people were overconfident there," Forget said.

"Luckily no one got hurt really bad but even a few cases is too much and we want to avoid that as much as we can.

"We want to reassure everyone that having people getting ill will be terrible for us. Let's be really careful, really cautious."

Novak Djokovic, second left, Grigor Dimitrov, left, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric all tested positive - AP
Novak Djokovic, second left, Grigor Dimitrov, left, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric all tested positive - AP

05:32 AM

Pandemic could lead to an extra 35,000 cancer deaths

Britain’s covid crisis could lead to an extra 35,000 cancer deaths a year, research shows.

Medics have raised concerns that the numbers dying could soar,  because of late diagnosis and delayed access to life-saving treatment during the pandemic. 

Previously charities have forecast that the death toll could rise by 18,000.

But the new UK data modelling suggests a worst case scenario could be almost twice that. 

Read the full story

05:19 AM

Was lockdown really worth it?

The coronavirus pandemic has cost Britain dear. The virus has claimed over 44,000 lives. Nine million people have been furloughed and the national debt has soared.  The sport, arts, travel and hospitality sectors have been decimated. 

And yet lockdown has saved many lives.  In March, Imperial College research indicated that, with no lockdown, Britain would suffer 260,000 deaths. Currently, the country’s death toll stands at just under a fifth of that projection. 

What might have happened had the UK followed a different path? Has the last 15 weeks of hardship been worth it? It will take years to properly answer these questions. The pandemic is not yet over.

Read the verdict of  Telegraph writers and experts 

04:53 AM

South Korea's spread of infections continues

South Korea reported 48 new infections on Monday, 24 of them each linked to local transmissions and international arrivals.

The figures continue a weeks long spread that has inspired second-guessing on whether officials were too quickly to ease social restrictions in May.

The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the national caseload to 13,137 infections and 284 deaths.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo during a virus meeting on Monday said the outbreak remains controllable while urging vigilance to slow the spread.

A visitor examines a statue of Pengsoo at a beach in the southern port city of Busan, South Korea - YONHAP/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A visitor examines a statue of Pengsoo at a beach in the southern port city of Busan, South Korea - YONHAP/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

03:59 AM

Broadway star dies after battling virus for 95 days

Broadway and TV actor Nick Cordero, who spent months in intensive care being treated for the coronavirus and lost his leg from complications, died on Sunday aged 41, his wife said.

"My darling husband passed away this morning. He was surrounded in love by his family, singing and praying as he gently left this earth," Amanda Kloots wrote on Instagram.

"I am in disbelief and hurting everywhere. My heart is broken as I cannot imagine our lives without him."

"Elvis and I will miss him in everything we do, everyday," she added, referring to the couple's one-year-old son.

Kloots  said he had battled the disease for 95 days.

After nearly three weeks in intensive care, Cordero's doctors were forced to amputate his right leg because his blood flow had been impeded by a clot, another dangerous coronavirus complication.

He had been awaiting a double lung transplant when he died.

Cordero was known for his roles in the musicals "Waitress", "A Bronx Tale" and "Bullets Over Broadway", for which he was nominated for a Tony award.

Nick Cordero during the Broadway Opening Night Perfomance Curtain Call for 'A Bronx Tale' - WireImage
Nick Cordero during the Broadway Opening Night Perfomance Curtain Call for 'A Bronx Tale' - WireImage

03:29 AM

British universities face bankruptcy without bailout

Thirteen British universities face bankruptcy without a Government bailout, an analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies has found.

Institutions at the greatest risk of financial collapse would need with a £140 million cash injection or debt restructuring to keep them "afloat" in the future.

A new report by the IFS estimates that 13 universities across the UK - which educate approximately 130,000 students - could end up with negative reserves by 2024 as a result of the pandemic.

Read the full story

02:38 AM

Border closing in Australia for first time in 100 years

The border between Australia's two most populous states will close from Tuesday for an indefinite period, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday, following an outbreak of the coronavirus in his state.

The decision marks the first time the border with neighbouring New South Wales has been shut in 100 years - officials last blocked movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Melbourne, Victoria's capital, has surged in recent days, prompting authorities to enforce strict social-distancing orders in 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into complete lockdown.

The state reported 127 new Covid-19 infections overnight, its biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began. It also reported one death, the first nationally in more than two weeks, taking the country's total tally to 105.

Read more: Melbourne lockdown - Thousands ordered to stay home after virus surge

Coronavirus Live Tracker promo embed
Coronavirus Live Tracker promo embed

02:15 AM

India records biggest daily spike in cases

One high-profile victim of the global shutdown - the Taj Mahal - will remain closed, it was announced on Sunday as India reported 25,000 cases and 613 deaths in 24 hours - the biggest daily spike since the first case was detected in late January.

In the capital New Delhi, medical staff started treating patients at a spiritual center converted into an isolation facility and hospital with 10,000 beds, many made of cardboard and chemically coated to make them waterproof.

Critics allege India is conducting very few tests, leaving the true scale of the pandemic unknown.

A makeshift barricade set up to restrict entry in a containment zone during lockdown in Bengaluru, India - AP
A makeshift barricade set up to restrict entry in a containment zone during lockdown in Bengaluru, India - AP

01:41 AM

Heathrow ready to host UK's first Covid-19 airport testing trial

Passengers arriving at Heathrow will be among the first to be offered medical Covid-19 tests at a UK airport, pending Government approval.

Heathrow is ready to host the UK's first airport Polymerase Chain Reaction testing trial, using the same type of saliva swab test as the NHS.

British and international arrivals from countries not exempt from UK quarantine could be checked for the virus upon landing and know within hours if they have tested positive.

This could help thousands of people avoid a 14-day quarantine, if the British Government extends exemption to travellers who test negative. It is expected that 95 per cent of those tested will receive a negative result.

Read the full story

Read more: British holidaymakers can only visit 25 of the 74 'travel corridor' countries without restrictions

Heathrow is ready to host the UK's first airport Polymerase Chain Reaction testing trial - AP
Heathrow is ready to host the UK's first airport Polymerase Chain Reaction testing trial - AP

12:01 AM

News in brief from around the world

  • Authorities in northwestern Spain have ordered the lockdown of a county with a population of 71,000 for fears of an outbreak.

  • Residents of the Mexican town of Sonoyta, across from Lukeville, Arizona, briefly blocked the main road leading south from the US border over the weekend over fears of coronavirus outbreaks.

  • Slovenia says 15 people have been infected with the new coronavirus at a nursing home for the first time in weeks as the country faces a spike in cases.

  • After five straight days of small increases, the number of day-to-day confirmed cases in Italy has dipped.

  • Greece has banned Serbian travelers because of a spike in Covid-19 cases in that country.

  • The Kosovar government on has reimposed curfew times in the capital and three other cities following a significant spike of the new virus cases.

  • The Food and Drug Administration commissioner is declining to back up US President Donald Trump's claim that 99% of coronavirus cases are "harmless".

  • Pope Francis is praising UN Security Council efforts for worldwide cease-fires to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The United States has dipped under 50,000 new cases for the first time in four days, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, but experts fear celebrations for the July 4th Independence Day weekend will act like rocket fuel for the nation's surging outbreak.

Beaches and indoor restaurant seating in Los Angeles County were closed on July 4 - AFP
Beaches and indoor restaurant seating in Los Angeles County were closed on July 4 - AFP

11:24 PM

Covid-19 may not have originated in China, expert believes

Coronavirus may have lain dormant across the world and emerged when environmental conditions were right for it to thrive - rather than starting in China, an Oxford University expert believes.

Dr Tom Jefferson, senior associate tutor at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), at Oxford, and visiting professor at Newcastle University,  argues that there is growing evidence that the virus was elsewhere before it emerged in Asia.

Last week, Spanish virologists announced they had found traces of the disease in samples of waste water collected in March 2019, nine months before the coronavirus disease was seen in China.

Read the full story

Workers of the ecology and environment bureau collect samples from the sewage system in Xinle, Hebei province, China - Reuters
Workers of the ecology and environment bureau collect samples from the sewage system in Xinle, Hebei province, China - Reuters

11:20 PM

Today's top stories

  • Coronavirus may have lain dormant across the world and emerged when environmental conditions were right for it to thrive - rather than starting in China, an Oxford University expert believes.

  • Nicola Sturgeon is under pressure to condemn “disgraceful” border protests where nationalists in hazmat suits urged English visitors to stay away from Scotland.

  • Britain's theatres, galleries and music venues will receive a £1.57 billion rescue package, which Boris Johnson said will help while their "doors remain closed and curtains remain down".

  • Parts of Wales have overtaken Leicester for rates of Covid, analysis shows. Official statistics show that Merthyr Tydfil has recorded 179 cases per 100,000, compared with 141 per 100,000 in Leicester. 

  • The Government has "significant concerns" about clothing factories in Leicester opening behind closed doors and won't hesitate to shut them down if they break the rules, Matt Hancock has said.