Coronavirus latest news: Tests at four major railway stations find no trace of Covid

·15-min read
Commuters arrive at Liverpool Street railway station in the City of London, U.K., on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. As London remodels its streets to accommodate more cyclists and pedestrians during the coronavirus pandemic, its facing a new kind of hurdle: legal challenges - Bloomberg
Commuters arrive at Liverpool Street railway station in the City of London, U.K., on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. As London remodels its streets to accommodate more cyclists and pedestrians during the coronavirus pandemic, its facing a new kind of hurdle: legal challenges - Bloomberg

No traces of coronavirus were found in tests at four major railway stations and on intercity train services, Network Rail said.

Places passengers regularly touch, such as escalator handles, ticket machines and benches were swabbed, while hour-long air samples were taken.

Two rounds of testing were carried out at London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly station, in January and June.

Tests were repeated on trains running between the stations.

Examination of the results by Imperial College London found no Covid-19 contamination of any surface, or airborne particles of the virus.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

07:41 AM

Sunak: UK travel rules are 'out of step' with other countries

Rishi Sunak has reportedly warned Boris Johnson that the UK's travel restrictions are "out of step with our international competitors" and has pushed for rules to be relaxed to benefit the economy, according to The Sunday Times.

The Chancellor reportedly wrote to the Prime Minister about the damage being inflicted on the economy by the current border rules, particularly on its tourism and hospitality sectors.

He is said to be calling for the UK to take advantage of its successful vaccination programme by opening up further.

The newspaper quotes a source, who it claims is familiar with the letter, as saying: "Rishi has called time on the travel restrictions."

07:02 AM

Chinese cities test millions as virus cases surge

Chinese cities rolled out mass testing of millions of people and imposed fresh travel restrictions as health authorities battled on Sunday to contain the country's most widespread coronavirus outbreak in months.

China on Sunday reported 75 new cases with 53 local transmissions, with a cluster linked to an eastern airport now reported to have spread to over 20 cities and more than a dozen provinces.

The outbreak is geographically the largest to hit China in several months after the country's successes in largely snuffing out the pandemic within its borders last year.

That record has been thrown into jeopardy after the fast-spreading delta variant broke out at Nanjing airport in eastern Jiangsu province in July.

Authorities have now conducted three rounds of testing on the city's 9.2 million residents and placed hundreds of thousands under lockdown, in an effort to curb an outbreak Beijing has blamed on the delta variant and the peak tourist season.

People queueing to receive nucleic acid testing for the Covid-19 in Huaian, in eastern China's Jiangsu province - AFP
People queueing to receive nucleic acid testing for the Covid-19 in Huaian, in eastern China's Jiangsu province - AFP

06:44 AM

Sky News Australia says it has been suspended from YouTube

Sky News Australia said on Sunday it has been temporarily suspended by the video-sharing site YouTube following the platform's review of content for compliance with its Covid-19 policies.

"Sky News Australia acknowledges YouTube's right to enforce its policies and looks forward to continuing to publish its popular news and analysis content to its subscribers shortly," Sky News said in a statement on its website about the one-week suspension.

The 24-hour cable and television channel, which claims to have 1.85 million YouTube subscribers, is operated by Australian News Channel Pty Ltd and is a subsidiary of News Corp Australia.

YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc's Google, confirmed the suspension.

Australian media reported that the one-week suspension was issued on Thursday and came after a review of Sky News Australia's content that allegedly denied the existence of Covid-19 or encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat the coronavirus, without providing countervailing context

06:03 AM

Millions face homelessness as US eviction ban ends

A pandemic-related US government ban on residential evictions expired at midnight on Saturday, putting millions of American renters at risk of being forced from their homes.

The expiration was a blow to President Joe Biden, who on Thursday made a last-ditch request to Congress to extend the moratorium, citing the raging Delta variant.

On Friday, the US House of Representatives adjourned without reviewing the tenant protections after a Republican congressman blocked a bid to extend it by unanimous consent until October 18.

Democratic leaders said they lacked sufficient support to put the proposal to a formal vote.

 In this file photo taken on August 21, 2020, renters and housing advocates attend a protest to cancel rent and avoid evictions in front of the court house amid Coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles, California. - Millions of Americans face could find themselves homeless starting on August 1, 2021 as a nationwide ban on evictions expires, against a backdrop of surging coronavirus cases and political fingerpointing.  - AFP
In this file photo taken on August 21, 2020, renters and housing advocates attend a protest to cancel rent and avoid evictions in front of the court house amid Coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles, California. - Millions of Americans face could find themselves homeless starting on August 1, 2021 as a nationwide ban on evictions expires, against a backdrop of surging coronavirus cases and political fingerpointing. - AFP

05:36 AM

Business urges support for predicted wave of redundancies

Extra training is required to deal with the "many thousands" of redundancies being predicted as furlough support tapers off, the British Chambers of Commerce has said.

A survey of businesses found that one in five firms plan on letting staff go in response to Sunday's furlough policy change, which will see employers asked to contribute 20 percent towards the salaries of those whose wages are currently being subsided by the state.

The furlough scheme has seen staff whose jobs have been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic guaranteed 80 percent of their salaries - to a limit - from the Government.

The support is slowly being made less generous as the Treasury prepares to end the scheme by October.

Read more: Furlough scheme winds down: how will it affect you and when does it end

05:10 AM

Care home deaths could be thousands higher, say providers

England’s Covid care home death toll is likely to be thousands higher than official figures show, amid claims the watchdog excluded key dates when patients were discharged from hospitals without tests.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) declared there were 39,017 Covid-related deaths across care homes in England when it published official figures for the first time in July.

But care providers told The Telegraph the numbers were likely to be far higher, as only people who died with Covid between April 10 last year and March 31 this year were counted.

They claim that “thousands of elderly residents are likely to have died” in the days leading up to April 10 because just eight days earlier the CQC had signed off on a controversial government policy that allowed Covid-positive patients to be discharged from hospitals into care homes.

Read the full story

04:35 AM

Covid-positive Sumatran tigers on the road to recovery

Two Sumatran tigers at an Indonesian zoo were recovering from Covid-19 after they tested positive in mid-July, the Jakarta government said in a statement on Sunday, adding that authorities were trying to find out how they were infected.

Tino, a nine-year old tiger, and 12-year-old Hari were tested for coronavirus after both showed flu-like symptoms, had trouble breathing and lost their appetite.

The tigers had undergone about 12 days of treatment and were gradually showing signs of recovery, Jakarta's Head of the Parks and City Forest Office, Suzi Marsitawati, said.

"Their appetites have returned and they are back to being active," she said, although both tigers remain under close observation.

Tino, one of the two Sumatran tigers that recovered from COVID-19, rests at Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia July 31, 2021 in this still image taken from social media video recorded July 31, 2021.  - Reuters
Tino, one of the two Sumatran tigers that recovered from COVID-19, rests at Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia July 31, 2021 in this still image taken from social media video recorded July 31, 2021. - Reuters

04:04 AM

China battles expanding Delta outbreak

China reported 75 new cases of Covid-19 on the mainland on Sunday, up from 55 cases a day earlier, including new locally transmitted cases in eight provinces.

The wave is part of an expanding Delta variant outbreak that is becoming increasingly severe, following months of little to no locally transmitted cases.

The eastern province of Jiangsu recorded 30 new locally transmitted cases, up from 19 a day earlier, following news on Saturday that a cluster in the province's capital, Nanjing, had risen to 184 cases.

Officials on Friday said early cases of the Nanjing outbreak were linked to workers at the Nanjing Lukou International Airport, who cleaned a plane after it arrived from Russia carrying an infected passenger. They confirmed the cases were the Delta variant.

A traveler shows a health code on a smartphone to a medical personnel at the railway station in Shanghai, China, 29 July 2021. China reported 24 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, according to the National Health Commission. More than 170 people have been diagnosed with the Delta variant. The main outbreak is in the eastern city of Nanjing, in Jiangsu province. - Shutterstock
A traveler shows a health code on a smartphone to a medical personnel at the railway station in Shanghai, China, 29 July 2021. China reported 24 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, according to the National Health Commission. More than 170 people have been diagnosed with the Delta variant. The main outbreak is in the eastern city of Nanjing, in Jiangsu province. - Shutterstock

03:35 AM

Monks adopt different guise to help forgotten Thais

As Covid cases surge in Thailand, some Buddhist monks are donning PPE over their distinctive robes, delivering oxygen cylinders, taking nasal samples to help with testing, and even helping carry the dead to the crematoriums.

Thailand is struggling to contain its latest outbreak fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant, leaving healthcare services stretched and further damaging a battered economy.

"There are a lot of Thais who are still ignored by the public health system," said Mahapromphong, 33, the deputy abbot of Suthi Wararam Temple in the Thai capital.

"We take care of everyone we come across."

AA family member cries as Thai Buddhist monk Pongpetch Santijittho is seen wearing a protective suit over his robe to cremate the body of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) victim at a temple in Pathumthani Province, near Bangkok, Thailand July 15, 2021. - Reuters
AA family member cries as Thai Buddhist monk Pongpetch Santijittho is seen wearing a protective suit over his robe to cremate the body of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) victim at a temple in Pathumthani Province, near Bangkok, Thailand July 15, 2021. - Reuters

03:08 AM

Companies spending more to support employees

Around three in five businesses have increased spending on supporting the health and wellbeing of their staff, new research suggests.

Half of 200 companies surveyed said they have been spending more since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, recognising the strain on their employees.

A third of businesses polled by manufacturing organisation Make UK said they spend between £10,000 and £50,000 on health and wellbeing annually, often seeing productivity increase and staff retention improve.

More than one in four respondents said it is a priority to put on regular events for their staff, while almost half said they stage regular calls with all their employees to promote wellbeing and look out for anyone struggling in the new working environment.

File photo dated 13/03/2020 of commuters crossing London Bridge, in central London, during the morning rush hour prior to lockdown. Extra training is required to deal with the "many thousands" of redundancies being predicted as furlough support tapers off, the British Chamber of Commerce has said. Issue date: Sunday August 1, 2021. PA Photo. A survey of businesses found that one in five firms plan on letting staff go in response to Sunday's furlough policy change, which will see employers asked to contribute 20% towards the salaries of those whose wages are currently being subsided by the state. The furlough scheme has seen staff whose jobs have been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic guaranteed 80% of their salaries – to a limit – from the Government. See PA story ECONOMY Furlough. - PA
File photo dated 13/03/2020 of commuters crossing London Bridge, in central London, during the morning rush hour prior to lockdown. Extra training is required to deal with the "many thousands" of redundancies being predicted as furlough support tapers off, the British Chamber of Commerce has said. Issue date: Sunday August 1, 2021. PA Photo. A survey of businesses found that one in five firms plan on letting staff go in response to Sunday's furlough policy change, which will see employers asked to contribute 20% towards the salaries of those whose wages are currently being subsided by the state. The furlough scheme has seen staff whose jobs have been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic guaranteed 80% of their salaries – to a limit – from the Government. See PA story ECONOMY Furlough. - PA

02:47 AM

Australian cases continue to rise despite lockdowns

Australia's most populous state of New South Wales recorded 239 Covid-19 infections of the highly transmissible Delta variant on Sunday, matching the record daily number of cases in the current outbreak seen on Thursday.

There are 222 people in hospital, 54 of them in intensive care and 25 requiring ventilation, state authorities said. The total number of cases in the outbreak, which began in mid-June, has reached 3,427.

Neighbouring Queensland reported nine new locally acquired cases in a new outbreak of the Delta strain, its highest daily number in a year, the state's Deputy Premier Steven Miles said. Parts of the state were put in a three-day snap lockdown on Saturday.

Photo by DAN PELED/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12240365d) Health workers swab members of the public at a pop-up COVID-19 testing station at Indooroopilly State High School in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 31 July 2021. Queensland has recorded six new community cases of the Delta coronavirus strain, reportedly originating from a student at the school, prompting a strict partial lockdown. COVID-19 pandemic in Queensland, Brisbane, Australia  - Shutterstock
Photo by DAN PELED/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12240365d) Health workers swab members of the public at a pop-up COVID-19 testing station at Indooroopilly State High School in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 31 July 2021. Queensland has recorded six new community cases of the Delta coronavirus strain, reportedly originating from a student at the school, prompting a strict partial lockdown. COVID-19 pandemic in Queensland, Brisbane, Australia - Shutterstock

02:05 AM

Israeli firm to start trial of Covid vaccine pill

Imagine a Covid-19 vaccine that came as a pill: no needles, no medical professionals required to administer it, potentially delivered directly to people's homes.

Israeli pharmaceutical Oramed is attempting to accomplish just that, and is poised to start its first clinical trial in early August, CEO Nadav Kidron said.

With just 15 percent of the world's population fully vaccinated, the global fight to end the pandemic is far from over.

Oral vaccines are particularly attractive for the developing world, because they reduce the logistical burden of immunization campaigns, Mr Kidron said.

But they could also increase uptake in wealthy countries where needle aversion is an often missed factor in hesitancy.

01:28 AM

Discount vouchers to boost vaccines among young

Young people will be offered free taxi rides, pizzas and trips to the cinema if they agree to have a coronavirus vaccine as the Government tries to boost uptake.

Ministers are in talks with dozens of companies, including coffee and cinema chains, about a voucher scheme to be launched later this month, in time for the new academic year.

The Government is desperate to increase the numbers of young adults who have been jabbed. Just 67 per cent of adults under 29 year old have had their first dose.

Cabinet ministers have privately told The Telegraph that if this proportion can be increased to more than 80 per cent, it could head off the need for vaccine passports for venues such as nightclubs.

Read the full story

12:28 AM

Florida governor resists mask mandates as infections rise

Florida reported 21,683 new cases of Covid-19, the state's highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to federal health data released on Saturday, as its theme park resorts again started asking visitors to wear masks indoors.

The state has become the new national epicentre for the virus, accounting for about a fifth of all new cases in the US as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread.

Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, and along with the state legislature, has limited local officials' ability to impose restrictions meant to stop the spread of Covid-19.

On Friday, Mr DeSantis barred school districts from requiring students to wear masks when classes resume next month.

n this Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 file photo, park guests relax and cool off with a water mist under the globe at Universal Studios City Walk in Orlando, Fla. Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld are the latest theme park resorts in Florida to again ask visitors to wear masks indoors, with Universal also ordering its employees to wear face coverings to protect against COVID-19, which has been surging across the state. All workers at Universal's Florida park on Saturday, July 31, 2021 started being required to wear masks while indoors as the employees returned to practicing social distancing.  - AP
n this Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 file photo, park guests relax and cool off with a water mist under the globe at Universal Studios City Walk in Orlando, Fla. Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld are the latest theme park resorts in Florida to again ask visitors to wear masks indoors, with Universal also ordering its employees to wear face coverings to protect against COVID-19, which has been surging across the state. All workers at Universal's Florida park on Saturday, July 31, 2021 started being required to wear masks while indoors as the employees returned to practicing social distancing. - AP

12:18 AM

Israelis protest against restrictions amid new surge

Several hundred Israelis demonstrated Saturday in Tel Aviv against new coronavirus restrictions and vaccines as positive cases and hospitalisations rose to levels not seen in months.

The health ministry reported Saturday that 2,435 new Covid cases had been recorded the day before - the highest number since March - driven by the more contagious Delta variant.

There were 326 hospitalisations, the highest since April, although well below the January peak, when more than 2,000 people were being hospitalised daily.

Israel has in recent days rolled out a booster vaccine shot for older citizens, reimposed mask requirements indoors and restored "green pass" restrictions requiring vaccine certificates for entering enclosed spaces such as gyms, restaurants and hotels.

Israelis lift placards as they rally to denounce the government's renewed restrictions to combat COVID-19, in the central coastal city of Tel Aviv, on July 31, 2021. - Israel was quick to roll out its vaccination campaign and had dropped many restrictions on public gatherings in June, as new COVID-19 cases shrank from 10,000 a day to less than 100. But infections have soared in recent weeks, and masks are once again mandatory in enclosed public places, leading to the announcement on July 29 of the start of a vaccine booster campaign for over 60s, as concern mounts over the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus. - AFP
Israelis lift placards as they rally to denounce the government's renewed restrictions to combat COVID-19, in the central coastal city of Tel Aviv, on July 31, 2021. - Israel was quick to roll out its vaccination campaign and had dropped many restrictions on public gatherings in June, as new COVID-19 cases shrank from 10,000 a day to less than 100. But infections have soared in recent weeks, and masks are once again mandatory in enclosed public places, leading to the announcement on July 29 of the start of a vaccine booster campaign for over 60s, as concern mounts over the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus. - AFP

11:27 PM

Today's top stories

  • Young people will be offered free taxi rides, pizzas and trips to the cinema if they agree to have a coronavirus vaccine as the Government tires to boost uptake.

  • England’s Covid care home death toll is likely to be thousands higher than official figures show, amid claims the watchdog excluded key dates when patients were discharged from hospitals without tests.

  • Eight executives at NHS Test and Trace have been earning more than the Prime Minister, with some paid more than £240,000 annually, official records show.

  • Secret plans drawn up by the NHS said doctors may need to consider denying premature babies lifesaving care in a severe pandemic, the Telegraph can disclose.

  • Britain is preparing to open its borders to families and businesses from the Far East, Middle East and Australia by lifting its travel ban on airport hubs.

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