Civil servants who refuse to return to office won't have pay cut, No 10 confirms

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Commuters at Waterloo - AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Commuters at Waterloo - AP Photo/Matt Dunham

06:01 PM

News in brief: UK summary

And, following on from our previous post, here's a look at today's key stories in Britain:

  • The Government has no plans to cut the pay of civil servants who refuse to return to the office, Downing Street has insisted.

  • British holidaymakers in France are facing vaccine passport chaos as their NHS codes are not being accepted.

  • Nicola Sturgeon has admitted that she has "butterflies in my stomach", as most legal restrictions lift in Scotland today and nightclubs finally reopen.

  • The UK as a whole has reported 25,161 new coronavirus cases, a slight fall compared to yesterday - but over the last seven days, average cases have risen by roughly five per cent compared to the previous week.

  • Protesters, thought to be anti-vaxxers, have clashed with police as they tried to gain entry to TV studios where the ITV show Loose Women was being filmed.

  • The backlog of heart patients is set to take five years to clear, with thousands at risk of dying from treatable conditions, health experts have warned.

  • Coronavirus testing for returning holidaymakers has been described as as "absolute mess" after images of overflowing boxes for completed test kits were posted on social media.

  • Vaccine hesitancy among 16 and 17-year-olds has decreased from 14 per cent to 11 per cent, according to an ONS survey. The group are now able to get a Covid-19 jab.

  • And finally in vaccine news, the first generation shot developed by BioNTech-Pfizer works against coronavirus variants such as the delta strain and does not need to be modified for the moment, the chief executive of German company BioNTech has said.

05:50 PM

News in brief: global outlook

Just joining us? Here's the latest developments across the world this afternoon:

  • One person is now dying from Covid-19 every two minutes in Iran, according to state TV, as the Middle East’s worst-hit nation reported a new record daily toll of 588 fatalities.

  • France's controversial vaccine passport went into full effect today, even as restaurant staff said they did not plan on enforcing the law amid a growing backlash. It is causing some chaos for UK holidaymakers, as their NHS codes are not being accepted in some venues.

  • Italian police have blocked several groups on mobile messaging app Telegram where users could buy fake Covid-19 health passes required to access an array of services and leisure activities.

  • Canada has lifted its prohibition on Americans crossing the border to shop, vacation or visit, but the United States is keeping similar restrictions in place for Canadians.

  • New Covid cases in the United States are averaging at more than 100,000 a day for the first time since February, fuelled by the delta variant, as debates about face masks have reignited. It comes amid reports the Pentagon is expected to seek President Joe Biden's approval to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for service members.

  • Australia expanded a lockdown to a rural town and the coastal region of Byron Bay on Monday, as fears grew that the virus has spread from Sydney to the northern tip of the country's most populous state.

  • Brunei has reported 42 new coronavirus cases, a record daily tally, following the detection over the weekend of the Southeast Asian country's first locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in 15 months.

  • More than 30 Chinese officials have been sacked or received other punishments over accusations they failed to respond properly to the latest surge of the coronavirus in the country.

  • And finally, more than 24 million people in the Philippines have been plunged into a new, harsh lockdown as Covid-19’s aggressive delta variant runs rampant across the Southeast Asian nation. Nearly a fifth of hospitals are close to full capacity.

05:40 PM

China fires more than 30 local officials as Covid cases surge

More than 30 local officials have been fired or received other punishments for shortcomings in handling China's latest virus surge.

Among the officials fired for failing to fully implement anti-pandemic measures were a vice mayor, heads of city districts and health commissions, and staff from hospital management, airport and tourism departments.

China's National Health Commission said today that 94 new cases of domestic transmission had been recorded over the previous 24 hours. Of those, 41 were in the central province of Henan, which has been slammed by deadly flooding in recent weeks.

Another 38 cases were reported in Yangzhou, a neighboring city to Nanjing, where China's widest outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic was traced. The highly contagious delta variant spread among Nanjing airport workers and has since spread from tropical Hainan province in the south to Inner Mongolia in the far north.

The country is rolling out mass testing across cities and regions detecting cases in an effort to curb the outbreak.

A child being given a nucleic acid test for the coronavirus in Nantong, in China's eastern Jiangsu province - STR/AFP via Getty Images
A child being given a nucleic acid test for the coronavirus in Nantong, in China's eastern Jiangsu province - STR/AFP via Getty Images

05:29 PM

US: Pentagon to seek approval to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory

The Pentagon on Monday is expected to seek US President Joe Biden's approval to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for service members no later than the middle of September, two officials told Reuters.

Last month, President Joe Biden urged local governments to pay people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, and set new rules requiring federal workers to provide proof of vaccination or face regular testing, mask mandates and travel restrictions.

At the time, he had directed the Pentagon to look into "how and when" it will require members of the military to take the vaccine.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that more than a month had been given with the hope that the Food and Drug Administration will have given the Pfizer vaccine full approval.

The deadline could be moved up if the FDA approves the vaccine earlier. An official statement is expected to be released later on Monday.

05:19 PM

Zoos and pets pose same threat for disease ‘spillover’ as wet markets, study suggests

Animals in zoos and domestic pets should be taken more seriously as “breeding grounds” for viruses that could infect humans, according to a new paper in a leading journal.

The focus during this pandemic has been on the risks of wet markets and the international wildlife trade for causing “spillover” events, but animals closer to home could also pose a similar threat, according to the paper in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

“Domesticated animals in high-income countries are as much a threat as the oft-cited wildlife in wet markets or equatorial rainforests,” write the paper’s authors, led by Dr Gemma Bowsher at King’s College London.

The paper argues that better surveillance and testing of these animal populations could be as important as an early warning sign for the next zoonotic disease, the term for pathogens which cross from animals to humans.

Jennifer Rigby has more details here.

05:09 PM

Latest data: check Covid rates in your area

04:59 PM

Florida: Norwegian cruises can require proof of vaccination, Judge rules

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Florida law that prevents cruise lines from requiring passengers to prove they're vaccinated against Covid-19, saying the law appears unconstitutional and won't likely hold up in court.

The "vaccine passport" ban signed into law in May by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis fails to protect medical privacy or prevent discrimination against unvaccinated people, but it does appear to violate the First Amendment rights of Norwegian Cruise Lines, US District Judge Kathleen Williams wrote.

In a nearly 60-page ruling, the judge said Florida failed to "provide a valid evidentiary, factual, or legal predicate" for banning requirements that passengers prove they've been vaccinated.

Norwegian has shown that suspending the requirement will jeopardise public health, potentially causing "super-spreader" events wherever passengers disembark, she wrote.

Florida separately sued the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seeking to block federal cruise ship vaccination requirements. The CDC lost on appeal, but then made its guidelines non-binding, and all cruise lines operating in Florida have agreed to keep following the CDC's instructions on a voluntary basis, the judge wrote.

Related: Florida parents sue governor Ron DeSantis saying 'children could die' because of mask mandate ban

04:47 PM

Anti-vax protesters gather outside BBC offices in West London

The Labour MP David Lammy has called anti-vaccine protesters outside the BBC's old headquarters in West London "dangerous boneheads".

Videos shared online shows a mob, who are thought to be protesting against vaccine passports and giving children jabs, attempting to enter the complex in White City:

Full story: ​Anti-vaxxers target BBC - but protest at building broadcaster left eight years ago

04:36 PM

Pandemic in pictures

Glasgow, Scotland:

Clubbers queuing for the reopening of a nightclub as the clock stuck midnight on Monday morning and nearly all restrictions across Scotland were lifted -  Emily Macinnes/Bloomberg
Clubbers queuing for the reopening of a nightclub as the clock stuck midnight on Monday morning and nearly all restrictions across Scotland were lifted - Emily Macinnes/Bloomberg

Santiago, Chile:

A view of La Moneda presidential palace illuminated during two days of national mourning to pay tribute to the victims of the pandemic in Chile, where 36,016 people have died from Covid-19 - CLAUDIO REYES / AFP
A view of La Moneda presidential palace illuminated during two days of national mourning to pay tribute to the victims of the pandemic in Chile, where 36,016 people have died from Covid-19 - CLAUDIO REYES / AFP

Jakarta, Indonesia:

Family members offer prayers during the funeral of a loved one who died from the coronavirus in Jakarta - CAHYA NUGRAHA/AFP
Family members offer prayers during the funeral of a loved one who died from the coronavirus in Jakarta - CAHYA NUGRAHA/AFP

Beijing, China:

A man has his swab sample collected for a Covid-19 test by a medical worker in a booth outside Beijing West railway station, as China instigates mass testing to try to curb a new outbreak - ROMAN PILIPEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 
A man has his swab sample collected for a Covid-19 test by a medical worker in a booth outside Beijing West railway station, as China instigates mass testing to try to curb a new outbreak - ROMAN PILIPEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

04:24 PM

Long delays as Canada opens border to fully vaccinated American tourists after 16 months

Long delays were reported at the Canadian-American border today, as Ottawa finally opened doors to fully vaccinated American tourists for the first time in 16 months, causing a rush of tourists to travel north during the busy summer season.

Government data showed a seven-hour wait time for the Fort Frances, Ontario, and International Falls, Minnesota, crossing. Fort Frances advertises itself online as "rarely experiencing delays".

Canada barred all leisure travel from the United States in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but as of August 9 fully vaccinated travellers are able to enter the country. International travellers who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter in early September.

However, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Washington is "continuing to review" its border restrictions for Canadians wishing to head south for a holiday.

04:10 PM

Covid vaccine hesitancy falling among young people

Covid vaccine hesitancy is dwindling among young people, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Figures show that just five per cent of people aged between 18 and 21 are reluctant to get a Covid jab – down from nine per cent a month earlier. Hesitancy among 22 to 25-year-olds dropped from 10 per cent to nine.

The ONS survey looked at public opinion towards vaccines between June 23 and July 18 – the day before "Freedom Day".

Last week, the Government launched a campaign to get more young people jabbed, with a specific focus on social media. There has been an increasing need for people to get vaccinated in order to travel and attend some events, with Covid passports for nightclubs set to be introduced next month.

Joe Pinkstone has more details here.

03:56 PM

New in brief: global outlook

Just joining us? Here's the latest developments across the globe this afternoon - head to 2:57pm for a UK roundup:

  • One person is now dying from Covid-19 every two minutes in Iran, according to state TV, as the Middle East’s worst-hit nation reported a new record daily toll of 588 fatalities.

  • France's controversial vaccine passport went into full effect today, even as restaurant staff said they did not plan on enforcing the law amid a growing backlash. It is causing some chaos for UK holidaymakers, as their NHS codes are not being accepted in some venues.

  • Nigeria has postponed the rollout of its second batch of Covid-19 vaccine due to "unforeseen circumstances," a setback for Africa's most populous nation as it faces a major surge in confirmed cases.

  • Italian police have blocked several groups on mobile messaging app Telegram where users could buy fake Covid-19 health passes required to access an array of services and leisure activities.

  • New Covid cases in the United States are averaging at more than 100,000 a day for the first time since February, fuelled by the delta variant, as debates about face masks have reignited.

  • Brunei has reported 42 new coronavirus cases, a record daily tally, following the detection over the weekend of the Southeast Asian country's first locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in 15 months.

  • And finally, more than 24 million people in the Philippines have been plunged into a new, harsh lockdown as Covid-19’s aggressive delta variant runs rampant across the Southeast Asian nation. Nearly a fifth of hospitals are close to full capacity.

03:42 PM

Baroness Dido Harding to step down from NHS role in October

Baroness Dido Harding, the Tory peer became chair of NHS Improvement in October 2017, will step down from her NHS role come October.

She had applied to become the new chief executive of NHS England - but the role recently went to Amanda Pritchard, who had worked as chief operating officer of the health service for the past two years (more details here).

Baroness Harding was also executive chair of the Government's coronavirus Test and Trace programme until April this year.

The scheme has come in for criticism over the course of the pandemic, with a report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in March saying there was "no clear evidence" the £22 billion venture contributed to a reduction in coronavirus infection levels.

News of her departure from NHS Improvement was first reported by the Health Service Journal. Among her previous jobs, Baroness Harding was chief executive of TalkTalk for seven years until 2017, and before that worked in senior roles for both Sainsbury's and Tesco.

03:26 PM

Covid testing for returning holidaymakers an 'absolute mess'

Coronavirus testing for returning holidaymakers has been described as as "absolute mess" after images of overflowing boxes for completed test kits were posted on social media.

Teaching assistant Gavin Marshall captured an image in Sutton, south London of a full box for kits supplied by testing firm Randox. Mr Marshall expressed his anger at being "forced to pay Randox over the odds for a day two PCR test".

He explained that he drove for half an hour to drop off his sample as there are "so few collection points", but on arrival found the box "overflowing and insecure". He added that the testing system is a "rip off".

Tilly Slight, who works in the art sector in London, replied to Mr Marshall's photo with the message "You think that one's bad?":

Paul Charles, the chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, said the images demonstrate "the absolute mess that PCR testing has become".

International travellers entering the UK must pay for a PCR test on or before the second day. These typically cost around £50, but some are priced at more than £100.

People who are not fully vaccinated must take a second test on or before day eight if they have arrived from an amber list country, or are staying in a quarantine hotel. This group must also self-isolate at home for 10 days after arrival.

They can leave quarantine early if they receive a negative result from an additional test after at least five days. But many people have reported delays in receiving pre-ordered test kits, meaning they must stay at home for longer than planned.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has asked the competition watchdog to investigate the market for travel PCR tests in response to concerns about the cost for families travelling abroad.

03:18 PM

Chef loses parents and brother in one week after they rejected Covid vaccines

A chef lost his parents and brother to coronavirus within a matter of days after they contracted the virus at a family meal.

Francis Goncalves, who lives in Cardiff, said that all three family members had not taken up the opportunity to get vaccinated after being scared by misinformation from anti-vaxxers.

"They got caught up in a lot of the anti-vaccination propaganda. It preys on people who are afraid," he said.

Mr Goncalves' brother, Shaul, 40, mother Charmagne, 65, and father Basil, 73, had a family dinner together in Portugal, not knowing that Basil had contracted the virus in hospital a few days earlier. Within two weeks of becoming infected all three fell seriously ill.

India McTaggart has the full story here.

Pictured from left to right are; Shaul, Francis, Basil and Charmagne Goncalves  -  WALES NEWS SERVICE
Pictured from left to right are; Shaul, Francis, Basil and Charmagne Goncalves - WALES NEWS SERVICE

03:06 PM

Latest data: UK cases rise by 5.2 per cent in a week

A further 25,161 new coronavirus cases have been reported in the last 24 hours, according to the latest Government data, a slight drop on the 27,429 announced yesterday.

But it takes the latest seven day case count to 194,228 - a rise of 5.2 per cent compared to the previous week.

Meanwhile, a further 37 fatalities have been reported, taking the weekly total to 617. This is an increase of 14.8 per cent on the previous seven days.

On the vaccines front, across the UK 47.05 million people have had at least one jab, including 39.5 million who are fully inoculated.

Of the vaccines administered yesterday, 122,070 were second doses and 22,843 first shots.

03:00 PM

UK holidaymakers in France facing vaccine passport chaos

Holidaymakers in France are facing vaccine passport chaos as their NHS codes are not being accepted.

France extended its health pass on Monday to cover bars, cafes and other public areas in addition to museums and other crowded settings.

Although Britons can load digital QR codes provided by the NHS onto the Tous Anti Covid app, which is also known as the Health Pass, some venues are already struggling to read these.

Unvaccinated people can also take Covid-19 tests to gain access to venues, but the results of these must either be printed out or uploaded to the app.

Other businesses across France have outright refused to accept British proof of vaccination, insisting that either the domestic pass or European Union-recognised accreditation is needed instead.

Dominic Penna has more details here.

A French police officer conducts customer health pass document checks, enforced under new nationwide legislation, at a restaurant in Paris  - Bloomberg/Nathan Laine 
A French police officer conducts customer health pass document checks, enforced under new nationwide legislation, at a restaurant in Paris - Bloomberg/Nathan Laine

02:49 PM

'Unforeseen circumstances': Nigeria postpones vaccine rollout

Nigeria has postponed the rollout of its second batch of Covid-19 vaccine due to "unforeseen circumstances," a setback for Africa's most populous nation as it faces a major surge in confirmed cases.

The Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 made the announcement last night, without providing further details about why the Tuesday launch was being delayed.

Less than two percent of the country's 200 million citizens have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

Nigeria initially received about 4 million doses of AstraZeneca donated through the Covax distribution scheme, but exhausted its supply in mid-July. The country has since received four million doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States.

The delay comes amid a 553 per cent increase in confirmed monthly infections since the delta variant was detected in the country in early July, according to data from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control.

Here's a look at the trajectory of the country's outbreak:

Related: 'Countless batches' of Covid vaccine at risk of being thrown away in low income countries

02:38 PM

No need yet to adapt Pfizer vaccine for Covid variants, says BioNTech chief

The first generation vaccine developed by BioNTech-Pfizer works against coronavirus variants such as the delta strain and does not need to be modified for the moment, the chief executive of German company BioNTech has said.

"It is quite possible that in the next six to 12 months, further variants will emerge and that would require adaptation of the vaccine but it is at the moment not yet the case," Ugur Sahin told journalists today.

He added that a decision to make a switch should be made only if it is clear that the vaccine failed to work or is only offering sub-par protection against the virus, but the fast-changing situation means that getting the timing for the change right is also crucial.

"Making a decision at the moment might turn out to be wrong in three or six months if another variant is dominating. Therefore the timing of the decision must be appropriate," he said. "At the moment we have a good understanding that the booster vaccine with the parental strain is completely sufficient."

BioNTech's partner Pfizer has also repeatedly amplified the case for booster shots amid the latest wave of infections.

Countries including France and Germany have said they will begin offering the additional shot to the elderly and the most vulnerable from September.

Related: World Health Organisation calls for moratorium on Covid booster jabs

02:27 PM

Australia's 'zero Covid' lockdowns costing $1bn a week

Australia’s unravelling “zero Covid” strategy will cost its economy more than £500m every week of lockdown as analysts warn restrictions in some of its most populous states could last until October.

Forecasters warned that renewed lockdowns and the glacial pace of its vaccination programme will trigger a sharp drop in GDP in the third quarter as Delta cases threaten to explode.

Economists at UBS said the current lockdown in New South Wales and its capital, Sydney, will cause a A$1bn (£530m) hit a week and cost the Australian economy a cumulative A$25bn, or £13bn.

If the most populous state is in lockdown for all of the third quarter and restrictions are imposed elsewhere, national GDP would fall by 2.5pc compared with the previous three months, the bank warned.

Such a decline would not be as damaging as the record 7pc slump suffered in the second quarter of 2020 but would still be far larger than pre-Covid contractions.

Tom Rees has a full breakdown of the figures here.

02:15 PM

Northern Ireland: Impact of vaccines 'clear and indisputable'

There has been a dramatic reduction in the number of being people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 thanks to the vaccination programme, Northern Ireland's chief scientific adviser has said.

Professor Ian Young said there are 22 hospitalisations for every 1,000 cases of the virus, down from 80 per 1,000 last December.

He was speaking during another surge of the virus in Northern Ireland on Monday when there were 245 Covid positive patients in hospital, with 41 in intensive care.

On the same day, eight further deaths of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 in the region had been reported, along with another 1,031 new confirmed cases.A total of 2,322,659 vaccines have been administered so far.

Prof Young said the benefits of the vaccination are "clear and indisputable":

"Back in December last year, for every 1,000 cases of Covid-19 in NI, around 80 were admitted to hospital here. Now it's in the region of 22 hospitalisations per 1,000 cases. That's a dramatic reduction.

"Clearly, the vaccination programme has made a significant difference. Its benefits are indisputable."

02:08 PM

France divided as controversial vaccine passport comes into effect

France's controversial vaccine passport went into full effect on Monday, even as restaurant staff said they did not plan on enforcing the law amid a growing backlash.

Anyone looking to enter a bar, restaurant or café, or board a long-distance train or plane now has to scan a QR code showing proof of vaccination, a recent negative Covid-19 test, or a certificate confirming they have recovered from the disease within the last six months.

The law has applied to spaces with a capacity of more than 50 people since late July.

Despite the threat of being fined, restaurant workers told The Telegraph they would not prioritise monitoring customers' health.

“My job is to take care of clientele, not check their vaccination status,” said Smael Haddar, a server at the Royal Beaubourg, a brasserie steps away from the Pompidou modern art museum.

Read the full dispatch from Rebecca Rosman here.

First day of the compulsory Health Pass in Paris, France - 09 Aug 2021  - CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 
First day of the compulsory Health Pass in Paris, France - 09 Aug 2021 - CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

02:08 PM

France divided as controversial vaccine passport comes into effect

France's controversial vaccine passport went into full effect on Monday, even as restaurant staff said they did not plan on enforcing the law amid a growing backlash.

Anyone looking to enter a bar, restaurant or café, or board a long-distance train or plane now has to scan a QR code showing proof of vaccination, a recent negative Covid-19 test, or a certificate confirming they have recovered from the disease within the last six months.

The law has applied to spaces with a capacity of more than 50 people since late July.

Despite the threat of being fined, restaurant workers told The Telegraph they would not prioritise monitoring customers' health.

“My job is to take care of clientele, not check their vaccination status,” said Smael Haddar, a server at the Royal Beaubourg, a brasserie steps away from the Pompidou modern art museum.

Read the full dispatch from Rebecca Rosman here.

First day of the compulsory Health Pass in Paris, France - 09 Aug 2021  - CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 
First day of the compulsory Health Pass in Paris, France - 09 Aug 2021 - CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

01:57 PM

News in brief: UK update

Just joining us? Here's a look at today's key UK developments - head to our post at 11:29am for a global overview, or scroll through the posts below.

  • A call for civil servants who refuse to return to their desks in Whitehall to have their pay cut has been rejected by a Cabinet minister.

  • Nicola Sturgeon has admitted that she has "butterflies in my stomach", as most legal restrictions lift in Scotland today and nightclubs finally reopen.

  • The backlog of heart patients is set to take five years to clear, with thousands at risk of dying from treatable conditions, health experts have warned.

  • Vaccine hesitancy among 16 and 17-year-olds - who are now able to get a Covid-19 jab - has decreased from 14 per cent to 11 per cent, according to an ONS survey.

  • Students expecting their GCSE and A-Level results this week should feel "very confident" with their grades despite exams being cancelled due to the pandemic, the head of Ofqual has said.

  • Boris Johnson has been urged to cap the cost of private Covid-19 tests to prevent foreign holidays becoming a luxury open only to the wealthiest families.

  • By next year, the coronavirus pandemic should become an "endemic situation", a public health expert has suggested - but she warned we're in for a tough winter first, especially if new variants which challenge Covid vaccines emerge.

  • And finally, ministers have been accused of leaving poorer countries "fighting for scraps" following analysis suggesting that the UK is on course to "hoard" up to 210 million spare coronavirus vaccines.

01:48 PM

Ocado to allow home working staff to work from abroad

The online grocer Ocado has told staff that they can work remotely from anywhere in the world for one month of each year.

According to Claire Ainscough, chief people officer at Ocado Group, requests to work from abroad were a "top question" from staff, especially those with family living overseas.

She told The Times that staff were still being encouraged to return to the office, but that giving a limited amount of freedom would benefit employees and offer "balance and choice".

Related: Workers ignore Sunak's 'back to the office' call

01:37 PM

Africa CDC: 'Vaccine famine' is hurting continent's rollout

Dr John Nkengasong, the head of the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, has warned that "vaccine famine", not hesitancy, is the continent's main challenge - tweeting a short clip of hundreds of people queuing for shots.

According to Our World in Data, just 75 million jabs have been distributed across the continent, which is home to more than 1.2 billion people. Less than two per cent of all vaccines used worldwide have been administered in Africa.

The continent has struggled to secure access to shots, but examples of vaccines expiring before they can be used have gathered headlines. But, as the Telegraph reported at the end of last month, there are also growing frustrations that vaccine donations are arriving in Africa not long before they export.

Yet, according to analysis from the life sciences firm Airfinity earlier today, the UK is on course to "hoard" up to 210 million spare coronavirus vaccines by the end of this year (see 11:02am).

01:27 PM

Latest data: Scotland reports no new deaths

Scotland has recorded 852 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths in the past 24 hours, the latest offical figures show. It means the death toll under the daily measure - of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days - remains at 7,992.

The daily test positivity rate is 6.7 per cent, up very slightly from 6 per cent the previous day.

A total of 356 people were in hospital on Sunday with recently confirmed Covid-19, down from 360 the previous day, with 42 patients in intensive care, up two in 24 hours.

So far, 4,026,827 people have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,342,056 have received their second dose.

01:26 PM

Italian police bust fake health pass scheme on Telegram app

Italian police have blocked several groups on mobile messaging app Telegram where users could buy fake Covid-19 health passes required to access an array of services and leisure activities.

The so-called Green Pass is a digital or paper certificate that shows if someone has received at least one vaccine , has tested negative or recently recovered from the virus.

Mario Draghi's government adopted the pass to try to accelerate vaccinations in the face of the Delta variant, but it has triggered protests by some Italians who say it tramples on freedoms and is an indirect way of making vaccines obligatory.

As of August 6, it is required to access gyms, swimming pools, museums, cinemas and to eat indoors at restaurants, and from Septeber 1 it will also be mandatory for university students and to travel on trains, planes, ships and coaches.

The police said in a statement they had shut down 32 Telegram groups operating around the country, offering fake passes to thousands of subscribers for up to 500 euros ($588) in cryptocurrency or online shopping vouchers. Four people were placed under investigation on suspicion of fraud and forgery.

01:11 PM

Recap: Nicola Sturgeon admits she has 'butterflies' as Scottish restrictions lift

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted that she has "butterflies in my stomach", as most legal restrictions lift in Scotland today and nightclubs finally reopen.

The country moved beyond Level 0 at midnight, meaning legal requirements for gatherings and physical distancing - with the exception of healthcare settings - have been removed and all venues, including nightclubs. As the clock struck midnight on Monday, revellers partied for the first time in months.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, Ms Sturgeon admitted that "there's always going to nervousness" when coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

"I have to be honest that there's some butterflies in my stomach about it today, but I think it's the right moment to do this," she said.

"This is the right moment to remove legal restrictions to try to get that greater normality back in our lives, but with a big caveat that the virus hasn't gone away, the pandemic is not over."

01:00 PM

Australia to get first batch of Moderna doses next month

Australian regulators have approved the Moderna vaccine for adults, meaning the jab will become the third Covid-19 show available for use in the country next month.

The first million doses will arrive in Australia in late September and 10 million Moderna shots are scheduled to be delivered to Australia this year, according to the Health Minister, Greg Hunt.

Australia has a shortage of the Pfizer vaccine and a glut of locally manufactured AstraZeneca, which many are refusing to take because of concerns about very rare blood clots (find out everything you need to know about that here).

New South Wales and Victoria states, where cities are in lockdown due to virus outbreaks (see chart below), have stockpiles of more than a million unwanted doses of AstraZeneca, media reported.

Only 22 per cent of adults among an Australian population of 26 million people had been fully vaccinated by Monday. The government expects to have provided a vaccine to every Australian adult who wants one by the end of the year.

12:50 PM

United States: Cases rise to highest level since February

Across the pond, new Covid cases in the United States are averaging at more than 100,000 a day for the first time since February, according to analysis from the New York Times.

States where vaccination uptake has been lower have been particularly badly hit, with the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting the current phase of the outbreak is a "pandemic of the unvaccinated".

Over the past week, the average number of cases doubled from two weeks ago, while deaths have nearly doubled to 516 a day over the same period.

Much of the surge is linked to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, but it has also reignited debates around the role of masks and vaccinations.

Over the weekend, the Republican Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, said that a previous state law banning mask mandates had been a mistake.

"It was an error to sign that law," he told CBS, "I admit that".

Related: Florida parents sue governor Ron DeSantis saying 'children could die' because of mask mandate ban

12:41 PM

Israel threatens fresh lockdown as vaccine front-runner faces delta surge

Israel, one of the world's front-runners in Covid-19 vaccinations, is reinstating restrictions and warning of a fresh lockdown as the number of serious cases rises to its highest in four months.

Nearly 5.4 million of Israel’s 9.3 million population have had both vaccines, according to health ministry data.

But despite the high vaccination rates, Israel brought back its "green pass" system on Sunday as the country struggles to contain the delta variant.

Before the delta variant arrived in June, Israel had driven daily new Covid cases down from 10,000 a day to fewer than 100. Now, Israel is recording an average of around 3,000 new cases per day, with more than 300 people in a serious condition -the highest since April.

The restrictions, which had been lifted in June, once again limit outdoor and indoor gatherings of any size to people who have been vaccinated, those who have recently recovered from the virus or people able to present a negative Covid-19 test.

Abbie Cheeseman has more details here.

Israel green pass - JACK GUEZ / AFP
Israel green pass - JACK GUEZ / AFP

12:35 PM

Brunei sees record Covid-19 cases after first local infections in 15 months

Brunei has reported 42 new coronavirus cases, a record daily tally, following the detection over the weekend of the Southeast Asian country's first locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in 15 months.

Brunei has implemented strict quarantine rules for inbound travellers and reported 406 infections since the onset of the pandemic. One cluster in the current outbreak was linked to a hotel quarantine centre, health minister Mohd Isham Jaafar said.

"Compared to the (outbreak) last year, we don't know the sources of many cases this time around," he said at a press conference today.

The outbreak was causing quarantine centres to quickly fill up, and authorities were also investigating the possibility illegal border crossings between Brunei and Malaysia were the source of the latest infections.

"We know that the weakest chain is mainly smuggling routes and frontliners from the airport to hotels," he said, adding that over the weekend that samples taken from infected people had been sent to Singapore to test for the highly contagious delta variant.

12:24 PM

Backlog of heart patients will take five years to clear

The backlog of heart patients is set to take five years to clear, with thousands at risk of dying from treatable conditions, health experts have warned.

Disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic will cause waiting lists for life-saving diagnosis and treatment to double within two years, new analysis has found.

The British Heart Foundation estimates that the number of heart patients waiting to be seen will peak at around 550,385 in Jan 2024 unless urgent action is taken.

Even in a best-case scenario it would take at least three years to get waiting lists down to pre-pandemic levels, the charity warned.

Henry Bodkin has more details here.

12:11 PM

Lobby latest: No plans to cut pay of civil servants working from home

The Government has no plans to cut the pay of civil servants who refuse to return to the office, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the Government was seeking to encourage the gradual return of officials to their desks.

"As with other employers, the Civil Service is following the latest Government guidance which involves gradually and cautiously increasing the number of staff working in the office," the spokesman said.

"There is no suggestion of going beyond that. We want to encourage people to work in a safe way but flexible working is, rightly, here to stay."

Asked about reported comments of an unnamed Cabinet minister calling for pay cut for those who refuse to go into the office (see post from 11:40am), the spokesman said: "We have no plans for that approach."

12:00 PM

Iran: one person dying of Covid-19 every two minutes, says government

One person is now dying from Covid-19 every two minutes in Iran, state TV said on Monday, as the Middle East’s worst-hit nation reported a new record daily toll of 588 fatalities.

With authorities complaining of poor social distancing, state media say hospitals in several cities have run out of beds for new patients. Some social media users have criticised the clerical establishment over slow vaccinations, with only about 4 per cent of the 83 million population fully inoculated.

Total deaths have reached 94,603, the ministry said, while cases rose by 40,808 in the past 24 hours to 4,199,537 in a fifth wave blamed on the highly transmissible Delta variant.

"Every two seconds one person gets infected in Iran and almost every two minutes one person dies from the coronavirus," state TV said, adding that most of Iran's 31 provinces have moved from the lower risk orange level to red alert.

Here's a look at the trajectory of the country's outbreak:

11:47 AM

Philippines imposes stringent lockdown on 24 million people as delta runs riot

More than 24 million people in the Philippines have been plunged into a new, harsh lockdown as Covid-19’s aggressive delta variant runs rampant across the Southeast Asian nation.

The latest lockdown imposed on the capital, Manila, and its satellite cities until August 20 is the third round of harsh restrictions since the start of the pandemic and will compound the already desperate economic struggles of daily wage labourers.

It restricts many people from leaving their homes and bans travel between cities for much of the population, and was imposed after cases began to rise in July after falling from a peak in April.

Health officials have warned that the end of the pandemic is far from sight as the variant has now taken hold in 13 out of 17 regions. To date, an estimated 10.45 per cent of the 109-million-strong population has been vaccinated as the Philippines, like much of Asia, fights to secure enough shots.

Nicola Smith has more details here.

11:34 AM

Analysis: Over 50s are 10 times more likely to be hospitalised if unvaccinated

Some interesting analysis here from John Roberts, a member of the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group, demonstrating just how much vaccines are shifting the dynamic.

In the last two weeks of July, those aged 50 or over were around 10 times more likely to be hospitalised or die if they hadn't been vaccinated, compared with the those fully jabbed.

"This data not only confirms the protection vaccination gives, but also that it's not perfect (nobody ever said it was), so there remains a residual risk of serious illness, even if fully jabbed," Roberts wrote. "That's why rising case [numbers are] still a concern, despite high vaccination levels."

Take a look at the analysis here:

11:26 AM

Most UK tourists struggle to understand international travel restrictions

Most UK tourists struggle to understand coronavirus restrictions overseas, a new survey suggests.

The majority find following the rules in other countries either difficult (47 per cent) or very difficult (33 per cent), according to the poll by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The Government and devolved administrations set out what quarantine and testing requirements people face when they return to the UK, but international travellers must also adhere to entry requirements determined by the country they are visiting.

For example, Spain requires UK tourists to provide proof of a recent negative result from a coronavirus test or proof of being fully vaccinated, but not all tests and vaccines are recognised.

Some holidaymakers have been prevented from boarding flights out of the UK because airline staff have determined that they do not meet their destination's entry requirements.

Find out more about the ONS survey in the Twitter thread below, and to keep abreast of all the latest travel news - including calls for the cost of PCR tests to be capped holidaymakers - head over to our liveblog.

11:14 AM

Pandemic in pictures

Beijing, China:

A healthcare worker takes a swab sample at a Covid-19 testing facility in Beijing, as China attempts to contain its broadest outbreak of Covid since it crushed the virus that first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019 - Gilles Sabrie/Bloomberg
A healthcare worker takes a swab sample at a Covid-19 testing facility in Beijing, as China attempts to contain its broadest outbreak of Covid since it crushed the virus that first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019 - Gilles Sabrie/Bloomberg

Jakarta, Indonesia:

A woman grieves over the grave of a loved one who died from the coronavirus in Jakarta, as Indonesia experiences another massive surge - Cahya Nugraha / AFP
A woman grieves over the grave of a loved one who died from the coronavirus in Jakarta, as Indonesia experiences another massive surge - Cahya Nugraha / AFP

Sydney, Australia:

Students wait for their turn to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine as Year 12 students in their final year of secondary school are inoculated ahead of their exams - DEAN LEWINS / POOL / AFP
Students wait for their turn to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine as Year 12 students in their final year of secondary school are inoculated ahead of their exams - DEAN LEWINS / POOL / AFP

11:05 AM

France: Covid certificates now required to enter restaurants, cafes and trains

People in France are now required to show a QR code proving they have a special virus pass to enjoy restaurants and cafes or travel across the country, as the controversial policy comes into force today.

The measure is part of a government plan to encourage more people to get the vaccine and to slow down a surge in infections, as the highly contagious delta variant now accounts for most cases in France. Over 36 million people in France, or more than 54 per cent of the population, are fully vaccinated.

The special pass is issued to people who are vaccinated against Covid-19, who have proof of recent recovery from the virus or who have a recent negative test. It also applies to tourists visiting the country.

Polls suggest that most French support the health pass, yet the measure has prompted strong opposition from some people who say their freedoms will be compromised, notably by limiting movements and daily activities outside the home.

Related: Macron grapples with new 'gilets jaunes' protests against French vaccine passports

10:54 AM

Covid will become an 'endemic situation' by next year, expert suggests

By next year, the coronavirus pandemic should become an "endemic situation" - but we're in for a tough winter first, especially if new variants which challenge Covid vaccines emerge.

That's according to Prof Linda Bauld, a public health academic from the University of Edinburgh. Here's what she told BBC Breakfast this morning, when asked whether there could be more lockdowns in the autumn and winter:

"None of us has a crystal ball (but) I'm hopeful that will not be the case. I think we will see, for example, outbreaks and surges in localities and we may need a more targeted and local approach.

"If we have the variants we currently have, and we don't have a new significant variant of concern that really does challenge the vaccine, bearing in mind none of the variants we have seen so far have really challenged the vaccines to the extent that the vaccines do not protect against severe disease and mortality, if we did see one in the future that raised questions (of whether) we would need to change our vaccination programme, we might have to reimpose some restrictions."

Prof Bauld added that, while she is optimistic that the virus will become an "endemic situation" by next year, she thinks we are "probably going to need vaccines and boosters for the foreseeable future".

Related: Variants could be named after star constellations when Greek alphabet runs out, says WHO Covid chief

10:40 AM

Civil servants working from home won't see pay cuts, says minister

A call for civil servants who refuse to return to their desks in Whitehall to have their pay cut has been rejected by a Cabinet minister.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he would like to see officials in his department going into the office two or three days a week.

However, during a round of broadcast interviews he acknowledged that flexible working - with staff working at least some of their time from home - was "here to stay".

His comments came after one unnamed Cabinet minister told the Daily Mail that officials who would not return to the office should have their pay docked.

The minister argued that those staff who continued to work from home were receiving a "de facto pay rise" as they did not have any commuting costs, which was "unfair" to those going into the office.

However, Mr Kwarteng strongly rejected the claim, saying that officials who were home-working were making an important contribution.

Related:

10:29 AM

In brief: the global outlook

Here's a quick look at the major coronavirus developments to be aware of outside the UK

  • More than 30 Chinese officials have been sacked or received other punishments over accusations they failed to respond properly to the latest surge of the coronavirus in the country.

  • Australia expanded a lockdown to a rural town and the coastal region of Byron Bay, as fears grew that the virus has spread from Sydney to the northern tip of the country's most populous state.

  • Vietnam's health ministry reported 9,690 coronavirus infections, a record daily increase, as the country struggles to curb the virus after maintaining low cases for most of last year.

  • Nearly a fifth of hospitals in the Philippines are nearly full as a surge in infections, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, spreads, the health ministry said.

  • Under pressure from businesses and public sectors facing a worker shortage that policymakers fear will fuel inflation, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to unveil plans this week to reopen borders.

  • And finally, more than half a million Tunisians received vaccinations yesterday as part of a campaign to control the outbreak of Covid-19 after the country received more than six million vaccine doses from Western and Arab countries.

Scroll down for more of today's coronavirus developments.

10:19 AM

Students should feel 'very confident' with grades despite exam cancellations, Ofqual chief says

Students expecting their GCSE and A-Level results this week should feel "very confident" with their grades despite exams being cancelled due to the pandemic, the head of Ofqual has said.

Simon Lebus, interim Chief Regulator of the watchdog overseeing exams, told the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme the teacher assessment grading system was fair and accurate.

He said "students will be able to feel comfortable" that their grades reflect the learning they have been able to achieve with different schools having different experiences of lockdowns, adding: "I'm very confident that when they get their grades on Tuesday and Thursday they'll feel satisfied that's happened."

Mr Lebus also said that teacher assessment was a "much more accurate and substantial reflection of what students are capable of achieving", saying that exams were more of a "snapshot" of a pupil's ability.

10:02 AM

UK on course for 210m surplus Covid jabs, analysis suggests

Ministers have been accused of leaving poorer countries "fighting for scraps" following analysis suggesting that the UK is on course to "hoard" up to 210 million spare coronavirus vaccines.

According to data from the analytics firm Airfinity, about 467 million jabs are set to be delivered to Britain by the end of 2021. Yet only 256.6 million will be needed in order to meet expected demand to vaccinate teenagers and offer booster shots.

The Global Justice Now group, which collated the figures and is campaigning for equitable global rollout of vaccines, told the Guardian that the leftover jabs could help inoculate 211 million people in the world's 10 least vaccinated countries.

Nick Dearden, director of the organisation, said it was an “insult to the thousands dying each day” that the UK was offering third doses and preparing to vaccinate teenagers while low- and middle-income countries were left “fighting for scraps”.

Related: World Health Organisation calls for moratorium on Covid booster jabs

09:49 AM

Vaccine hesitancy among younger age groups decreases

Vaccines - Hollie Adams/Getty Images
Vaccines - Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Vaccine hesitancy among young people has fallen, new figures suggest.

For 16 and 17-year-olds - who are now able to get a Covid-19 jab - hesitancy has decreased from 14 per cent to 11 per cent, according to an Office for National Statistics survey.

The study looked at attitudes during the period from June 23 to July 18 - a day before most coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England.

Among those aged 18 to 21, hesitancy around jabs went down to 5 per cent from 9 per cent, and dropped slightly for 22 to 25-year-olds from 10 per cent to 9 per cent.

The first otherwise healthy 16 and 17 year-olds in the UK received their Covid-19 jabs on Friday, two days after a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to extend the programme.

Until that point, some under-18s had been eligible for a jab if they had certain health conditions, lived with someone who is immunocompromised or were approaching their 18th birthday.

The extension of the rollout means all of the UK's 1.4 million 16 and 17-year-olds are now eligible to get a first dose.

09:28 AM

I can't guarantee no further lockdowns, Sturgeon warns

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is optimistic lockdown restrictions will not have to be reimplemented in Scotland, but warned she cannot guarantee anything.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Monday morning, she said: "I think any politician, anywhere in the world, in the face of a pandemic of an infectious virus that sits here and says 'I can guarantee something' is not being sensible and actually it's not being frank with people.

"Every fibre of my being hopes that the restrictions we are lifting today in Scotland will never, ever have to be imposed, and am I optimistic about that? Yes.

"Can I guarantee it? Well, I could tell you that right now for the sake of an easier interview, but it wouldn't be the right thing to say because keeping this virus under control depends on all of us continuing to do all of the sensible things I've been talking about.

"We also know that this is a virus that has already mutated, new variants continue to be our biggest threat, so we've got to be careful and we've got to be realistic.

"But I very much hope that all of that, coupled, of course, principally with the power of vaccination, will mean that never again do we have to face lockdowns."

09:15 AM

Face mask requirement in Scottish schools under review

Nicola Sturgeon has said that the continued requirement for pupils to wear face masks in secondary schools will not be kept in place for "any longer than necessary".

When announcing the easing of restrictions in Scotland last week, Ms Sturgeon's Government announced that secondary pupils would be required to wear face coverings for at least the first six weeks of the next term.

However, speaking on Good Morning Britain today, she said: "We will be monitoring that carefully and we will not keep that requirement in place for any longer than necessary.

"People sometimes ask me just now 'Why do young people still need to wear face coverings in schools when there are some other settings where that's not required?' - of course, young people for now remain unvaccinated, although we're starting to vaccinate 16 and 17-year-olds.

"And, unlike nightclubs, which are places that people have a choice over whether or not they go to, that's not the case with schools.

"There's something quite unique about the school setting... so keeping some basic precautions there for a bit longer as schools return strikes me as sensible - it's certainly the clinical advice I've got."

08:53 AM

Sturgeon: I've got butterflies in my stomach

Nicola Sturgeon - Jane Barlow /PA
Nicola Sturgeon - Jane Barlow /PA

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted having "butterflies in my stomach" over the lifting of most legal coronavirus restrictions in Scotland.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, she said: "I think there's always going to be nervousness when we lift restrictions after such a long period.

"I have to be honest that there's some butterflies in my stomach about it today, but I think it's the right moment to do this.

"We see daily fluctuations in our case numbers but the trend is downwards, and of course the vaccine is giving significant protection.

"So this is the right moment to remove legal restrictions to try to get that greater normality back in our lives, but with a big caveat that the virus hasn't gone away, the pandemic is not over.

"I think it's premature to declare victory over it or freedom from it, we've got to continue to be careful, which is why in Scotland we're keeping some sensible precautions in place - for example, face coverings in many indoor settings - so it's a moment to feel optimistic."

08:36 AM

Scotland lifts most Covid restrictions as it moves beyond Level 0

Most coronavirus restrictions have been lifted in Scotland after the country moved beyond Level 0 at midnight.

Legal requirements for physical distancing - except in healthcare settings - and gatherings have been removed and all venues, including nightclubs, are now able to reopen.

Some measures, such as the requirement to wear face coverings indoors in public places and on public transport, will stay in place.

The First Minister told MSPs last week that the country could move beyond Level 0, the lowest level of a five-tier system of restrictions in Scotland, due to the "steady decline in cases" and "the success of vaccination".

Under the new rules, double-vaccinated adults and all children will be able to avoid self-isolation if they are a close contact of someone with coronavirus so long as they are symptomless and provide a negative PCR test.

Pupils and teachers will have to continue wearing masks indoors for up to six weeks after schools return, the Government has said. But whole classes in schools will no longer have to stay at home if an infection is discovered.

Since the announcement, the Scottish Government has changed its position on requiring masks in nightclubs and people will also now be allowed to drink while standing up in pubs.

08:10 AM

'These are real results and they reflect the work that's been done'

Another follow up question focused on when students eventually return to normal. Mr Lebus was asked about concerns that results this year will be seen as less valuable than in other years when anonymously-marked tests were the norm.

The Ofqual chief said: "I hope they weren't worried about that. These are real results and they reflect the work that's been done in a real and meaningful way.

"They will also allow students to progress to the next stage of their education or their training or into work in an orderly way without proper reflection of what they're capable of doing.

"Longer term, I think everybody knows that 2020 and 2021 have been peculiar years, and they will be aware of that.

"But I think students can look forward to going on to the next stage, with these grades and they should feel proud of the fact that they reflect the reality of what they've achieved in remarkably difficult circumstances family was there from off call we'll leave it there."

07:31 AM

Teacher assessment 'much more accurate and substantial reflection'

Simon Lebus was on the BBC's Radio 4 Today progamme.

He was asked: "Why is it that this system may see overall slightly more generous grading them for example a normal exam?"

His answer was: "I think a way to think of it is the exams are a bit like a snapshot - a photograph you capture an instance - it's a form of sampling.

"Whereas teacher assessment allows teachers to observe student performance over a much longer period in a rather more complex way, taking into account lots of different pieces of work and arriving at a holistic judgement.

"I think from that point of view, we can feel satisfied is likely to give a much more accurate and substantial reflection of what the students are capable of achieving."

07:27 AM

Simon Lebus on the concerns over grades

I'm sure students are anxious, it is a big moment and it comes with the end of a very difficult year, but what we've done in terms of trying to make sure that students have a good experience and can feel satisfied that they've been well and fairly treated.

Because we put in some robust quality assurance arrangements, we've had a three stage quality assurance process which has touched all these centres all the schools and colleges that have been submitting grades and it's been giving us an opportunity to look at those grades, make sure they look right, make sure that they've been done in a proper way and consistent with the guidance that we set out about the policies that the schools and colleges should use in making their assessments.

So I think students will be able to feel comfortable on those grounds but also of course the other fundamental principle that we've tried to enshrine in the arrangements is the student should only be tested in what they've learned and had an opportunity to be taught about to make up for the fact that people have have had very different experiences in terms of the access to learning this year because of the pandemic. So we try to create a system that takes account of that and makes sure that every student has a fair chance to show what they come to and I'm very confident that when they get their grades on Tuesday and Thursday this week they'll be able to feel satisfied that that's happened.

07:11 AM

Backlog of heart patients will take five years to clear, experts warn

The backlog of heart patients is set to take five years to clear, with thousands at risk of dying from treatable conditions, health experts have warned.

Disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic will cause waiting lists for life-saving diagnosis and treatment to double within two years, new analysis has found.

The British Heart Foundation estimates that the number of heart patients waiting to be seen will peak at around 550,385 in January 2024 unless urgent action is taken.

Even in a best-case scenario it would take at least three years to get waiting lists down to pre-pandemic levels, the charity warned.

06:37 AM

French have to show vaccine passport for coffee in a cafe

People in France will from Monday need to show a vaccine passport to enjoy usually routine activities such as sipping a coffee in a cafe or travelling on an intercity train, in a plan championed by President Emmanuel Macron to squeeze Covid-19 infections and encourage vaccination.

The government is pressing ahead with the extension of an already-existing health pass to cafes, restaurants and intercity travel, despite four weekends of angry protests that saw almost a quarter of a million rally nationwide on Saturday.

Macron, who has expressed exasperation with the protests, hopes that the plan will help ramp up vaccinations and quell the fourth wave of coronavirus in France in a strategy similar to that of EU neighbours such as Italy and Germany.

The health pass is generated in a QR code either by a full course of vaccinations, a recent negative virus test or a recovery from Covid-19. The government expects a one-week grace period for consumers and businesses to get used to the new rules.

"The pass and the vaccination drive should help us avoid new curfews and lockdowns," Health Minister Olivier Veran told Le Parisien daily.

Veran announced slight modifications in the rules - notably that tests could be 72 hours old and not 48, and also that self-tests carried out under medical supervision would be allowed.

06:35 AM

Today's front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Monday, Aug 9.

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05:40 AM

Department of Health ditches return to office diktat

The Department of Health and Social Care has ditched its return to the office diktat for civil servants amid a row over mandarins continuing to work from home.

Staff at the department were told this week that plans for them to return to working in Whitehall between four and eight days every month from September were no longer going to be enforced.

This messaging puts the department at odds with Downing Street, which has said there should be a gradual return of mandarins to the office over the summer.

Read the full story

Read more: Workers ignore Sunak's 'back to the office' call

05:17 AM

China punishes 30 officials for pandemic failing

More than 30 Chinese officials have been fired or received other punishments over accusations they failed to respond properly to the latest surge of the coronavirus in the country.

Among those fired were a vice mayor, heads of city districts and health commissions, and staff in hospital management, airport and tourism departments.

China's National Health Commission on Monday announced 94 new cases of domestic transmission had been recorded over the previous 24 hours.

The latest outbreak is linked to the airport in the eastern city of Nanjing. The delta variant spread among airport workers and has since spread from tropical Hainan province in the south to Inner Mongolia in the far north.

The outbreak has prompted renewed travel restrictions, community lockdowns and the sealing off of the entire city of Zhangjiajie, with a population of 1.5 million.

Workers line up for mass coronavirus tests in a gym n Wuhan -  CHINATOPIX
Workers line up for mass coronavirus tests in a gym n Wuhan - CHINATOPIX

04:46 AM

Canada begins allowing vaccinated US citizens to visit again

Canada on Monday is lifting its prohibition on Americans crossing the border to shop, vacation or visit, but the US is keeping similar restrictions in place for Canadians, part of a bumpy return to normalcy from Covid-19 travel bans.

US citizens and legal permanent residents must be both fully vaccinated and test negative fwithin three days to get across one of the world's longest and busiest land borders. Travellers also must fill out a detailed on application on the arriveCAN app before crossing.

Even though travellers have to register, the Canada Border Services Agency won't say how many people they are expecting to enter Canada for the reopening.

Read more: Florida parents sue governor saying 'children could die' because of mask mandate ban

03:23 AM

Melbourne remains in lockdown, restrictions eased for rest of state

The state of Victoria in Australia is lifting its pandemic lockdown beginning on Tuesday, except in the city of Melbourne.

Australia's second-most populous state imposed a seven-day lockdown last Thursday due to concerns about the spread of the delta variant.

But Victoria Premier Daniel Andrew says all the cases detected in Victoria in recent days have been in Melbourne, with 11 more reported there on Monday. So the lockdown will end in the rest of the state at the end of Monday.

The neighbouring state of New South Wales on Monday reported 283 new coronavirus infections and one death in the latest 24-hour period.

Sydney has been in lockdown since June 26 and will remain under tight pandemic restrictions until at least Aug. 28.

02:51 AM

South Korea opens vaccines up to all adults

South Korea begins opening Covid-19 vaccine reservations for all adults over 18 for the first time on Monday as it scrambles to stave off a rise in sporadic outbreaks, many of them among young, unvaccinated residents.

South Korea was praised for its handling of the virus in the beginning of the pandemic with thorough tracing and testing, but a slow vaccination uptake has overlapped with surge in more transmissible variants.

Some 45 per cent of South Korea's 52 million population have had at least one dose of vaccine, while just 15 per cent have been fully vaccinated as of Sunday midnight.

The country aims to immunise over 70 per cent of adults by September as it vaccinates those in the 18-49 age bracket with Moderna or Pfizer's products.

Inoculation for the age group is due to start on August 26 and is scheduled to run until September 30.

01:13 AM

Japan PM Suga's support slides to record low

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga slid below 30 per cent for the first time since he took office, a survey showed on Monday, a sign the Tokyo Olympic Games failed to boost his ratings amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

Roughly a third disapproved of holding the Games which closed on Sunday and 60 per cent said they did not want Suga to stay on, according to the poll conducted by Asahi newspaper, darkening his ruling party's prospects in general elections to be held later this year.

Japan's slow vaccination rollouts have hurt Suga's popularity and a spike in new infections, caused by the rapid spread of the delta variant, has overshadowed the Olympic Games with cases hitting a milestone of one million on Friday.

Read more: Tokyo Olympics comes to an end with strange, poignant closing ceremony

12:06 AM

Most restrictions lifted in Scotland

Most coronavirus restrictions have been removed in Scotland after the country moved beyond Level 0 at midnight.

Legal requirements for physical distancing - except in healthcare settings - and gatherings have been removed and all venues, including nightclubs, are now able to reopen.

Some measures, such as the requirement to wear face coverings indoors in public places and on public transport, will stay in place.

The First Minister told MSPs last week that the country could move beyond Level 0, the lowest level of a five-tier system of restrictions in Scotland, due to the "steady decline in cases" and "the success of vaccination".

11:31 PM

Today's top stories

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