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Today's top stories
Pubs and shops should be shut in order to reopen schools if a trade off needs to be made because of a rise in infections, the Children’s Commissioner has urged the government.
Deaths from the most common type of heart attack rose by nearly 40 per cent during lockdown, a major study has shown.
Local authorities will be able to order the demolition of buildings at the centre of coronavirus outbreaks under draconian powers to contain a potential second wave.
GPs cannot refuse to treat patients who refuse to wear a face covering, according to new NHS guidance that doctors have denounced as "barmy".
Donald Trump has stumbled through one of his toughest interviews yet, drawing particular criticism for saying "it is what it is" when pressed on the death of 1,000 Americans per day from coronavirus.
It’s easy to be concerned about what Covid-19 might do if we catch it – from lung damage to neurological issues, its full range of potential long-term effects still isn’t well understood. But as a limited form of lockdown continues, it’s also important to reckon with the problems working, socialising and living in a series of small spaces is causing – and taking steps to address them.
WHO caution over vaccine
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged caution over Russia's potential coronavirus vaccine, which remains far behind other vaccines being developed.
Russia is planning to proceed with mass vaccinations in October, and its treatment is among 140 possible vaccines that are currently in development globally.
But the WHO has urged caution and said that while approximately two dozen candidate vaccines are in clinical trials, including the Russian one, no second or third-phase trials from the country have been listed to date.
A document released by the WHO shows that the jab developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow is far behind some of the other prospective medicines, and is still in phase one trials.
The Telegraph has previously revealed that Britain is likely to reject a vaccine from Russia, amid serious concerns over its trial processes.
What happened today
That's all from me for tonight, but we will be back tomorrow with all the latest coronavirus and global health news.
In the meantime, here's everything you need to know from today:
The World Health Organisation urged caution over Russia's potential coronavirus vaccine, which remains far behind other vaccines being developed. No second or third-phase trials from Russia have been listed to date.
Pubs and shops should be shut in order to reopen schools, the Children's Commissioner said, if a trade off needs to be made in the event of a rise in infections.
Novavax Inc said on Tuesday that its experimental Covid-19 vaccine produced antibodies against the novel coronavirus, according to initial data from a small, early-stage clinical trial.
Brazil's health ministry confirmed that Brazil's total cases now stand at 2,801,921, representing a rise of 51,603, with 1,154 new virus-related deaths also recorded.
Officials were looking anxiously towards South Africa among other countries and said Africa has reached a 'pivotal point' as it races towards one million coronavirus cases.
Analysis of more than half a million women found that women who take the contraceptive pill are less likely to develop serious coronavirus, as oestrogen plays a crucial role in protecting against Covid-19.
Local authorities will be able to order the demolition of buildings at the centre of coronavirus outbreaks under draconian powers to contain a potential second wave. Cars, buses, trains and aeroplanes could also be destroyed subject to the approval of magistrates.
Brazil coronavirus cases rise by more than 50,000, as 1,154 new deaths confirmed
Brazil's health ministry has confirmed that the country's total cases now stand at 2,801,921, representing a rise of 51,603.
The South American country, which has been badly hit by the pandemic, also recorded 1,154 new virus-related deaths.
Brazil has reopened itself to tourists despite having reported record numbers of cases and deaths in the last couple of weeks, having opted against a full-scale economic shutdown.
Last week President Jair Bolsonaro, who spent three weeks in quarantine after being infected himself with the virus, said "I regret the deaths, but that's life".
"I knew I was going to catch it someday, as I think unfortunately nearly everyone here is going to catch it eventually. What are you afraid of? Face up to it," he said.
The second wave preppers: Meet the people getting ready for another lockdown
Government ministers are already drawing up hasty contingency documents for the possibility of a winter lockdown - and charities are planning for disaster, mindful of the lessons learned, writes Flic Everett.
With clear warning, it’s certainly easier to prep. But tinned fish is out, mental health is in; having finally got the message that if we all buy sensibly, we’ll be OK for spaghetti, the greater issue is sowing the seeds for staying cheerful in isolation - particularly in winter.
For Dr Aishah Iqbal, 28, from Leicester, “the past few months have taken their toll,” she says. And so the paediatric doctor and personal trainer is prepping for a second lockdown, should it come, by “making sure I get my mental health into a stronger place.”
NHS rota changes alongside feeling cut off from normal activities like going to the gym and socialising, were particularly hard to handle; “While I can, I’m getting out to see friends and family, and taking regular breaks. I’m also rearranging my house so the interior is as nice as possible.”
In a time of greater than ever familiarity with one’s own four walls, making them - and the locale immediately beyond - attractive is of utmost importance, says Katie Beardsworth, a classical music agent at Polyphony Arts.
She and her husband had long considered moving from their home in Hull to a more rural, picturesque spot, but had never managed to take the plunge: lockdown, which they spent cooped inside a three-bed terraced house with their three-year-old son, focused their minds on the importance of open space and sea air.
Coronavirus vaccine trials: Early results show promising Novavax response
A potential Covid-19 vaccine in development through the biotech company Novavax has shown a promising immune response in a small, early trial, but with a high rate of - mostly mild - side effects.
The results have been published today and are the latest encouraging sign in global efforts to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, which has now been linked to almost 700,000 deaths worldwide.
However the Novavax data, much like recent Moderna and AstraZeneca results, are too preliminary to draw any concrete conclusions about how well the vaccine could protect against the nove coronavirus.
“It’s a small number of people in each arm, and the study wasn’t designed to demonstrate efficacy, which are the standard caveats for a Phase one trial,” Wisconsin-based epidemeologist Edward Belongia told American health website Stat.
“Having said that, it looks very promising — at least as promising if not more so than the other vaccines we’ve looked at.”
BP dividend slashed and company vows to leave oil behind after record losses
BP has vowed to leave oil behind with a historic shift into green energy after cutting its dividend in half and sinking to a record loss.
The North Sea behemoth set out an ambitious plan to slash fossil fuel production by 40pc over the next decade and increase its annual investment in renewable and clean technologies to $5bn a year.
BP will also develop more than 50 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar farms – equivalent to Britain’s entire renewable capacity at present.
Bosses were forced to cut dividend payments for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon disaster a decade ago as part of a battle to save money. It will pay out 5.25 US cents per share, down from 10.5 cents in the previous quarter.
Ed Clowes has more details here.
Brentford vs Fulham: Fulham promoted to the Premier League after Joe Bryan goals
Two stunning late goals - including a 35-yard free kick - have sealed Fulham's place in the 2020/2021 Premier League season.
Fulham beat Brentford 2-1 in a behind-closed-doors play-off final at Wembley Stadium, the final fixture in what has been an English football league season like no other amid the coronavirus pandemic.
'Stay at home' UK coronavirus lockdown message saw 40% rise in heart attack deaths
Deaths from the most common type of heart attack rose by nearly 40 per cent during lockdown, a major study has shown.
The research prompted warnings that the Government's "Stay Home" message may have had a "devastating" impact by deterring thousands of patients in medical crisis from seeking help.
The study, led by the University of Leeds, tracked more than 50,000 patients who had a heart attack and were treated at 99 major hospitals in England before or during lockdown.
It found that, overall, the number being treated for the most common type of heart attack – NSTEMI (Non ST Segment Elevation (NSTEMI) Myocardial Infarction), which is caused by a partial blockage – fell by 49 per cent in the two months from March 23.
Deaths from such attacks rose by 39 per cent in the month after lockdown, with 30-day mortality rates rising from 5.4 per cent to 7.5 per cent. The number of people being seen for the most major type of heart attack fell by 29 per cent, the study found.
Duchess of Cambridge bursts into tears after hearing about young family struggles during lockdown
The Duchess of Cambridge is the epitome of decorum on royal jobs, giving little away as she smiles and shakes hands with the great and the good, Victoria Ward reports.
But the mother-of-three has revealed she was reduced to tears after meeting vulnerable families who had struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, weeping when she had returned to the privacy of her own home.
The Duchess, 38, had made a private visit to a baby bank - providing supplies to parents in need - in West Norfolk at the beginning of lockdown.
The experience so moved her that she was prompted to spearhead a drive to persuade high street brands to donate goods such as nappies, bedding and clothing to baby banks across the UK.
The initiative, which supports her focus on the Early Years, has been so successful that already, 19 major UK retailers and brands have donated in excess of 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks.
The Duchess recalled her initial experience as she visited Baby Basics UK in Sheffield on Tuesday, admitting: "It can get very emotional. I remember a couple of the families I met from King’s Lynn and I went home and literally burst into tears, their stories were so moving. "
The front page of tomorrow's Daily Telegraph
Close pubs and shops to ensure schools reopening, says Children's Commissioner
Pubs and shops should be shut in order to reopen schools if a trade off needs to be made because of a rise in infections, the Children’s Commissioner has urged the government.
Anne Longfield said that if lockdown restrictions need to be reimposed because of local flare ups in infection rates, schools must only be closed to bring transmission down as a last resort once all other options have been exhausted.
She criticised ministers for treating children as an “afterthought” during the first lockdown, adding they must be put at the heart of planning for a second wave.
“That means schools must be the first to reopen and the last to close during any local lockdowns,” she said.
“If the choice has to be made in a local area about whether to keep pubs or schools open, then schools must always take priority.”
Camilla Turner and Gordon Rayner have the story.
Philip Johnston: 'Dominic Cummings' planning overhaul will provoke Tory shires into outright rebellion'
The planning shake-up outlined by Mr Jenrick, the housing secretary, and to be published tomorrow really is radical in the literal sense because it will tear up the existing system by the roots and start all over again, writes Philip Johnston:
Mr Jenrick insists that the Green Belt will remain inviolable, which acknowledges the fundamental problem here: a lot of people living in places that will be designated for development will not want it. If you wish to end the inefficient rationing of land, why should green field sites beyond the Green Belt be built on but not those within it?
A lot of the thinking about this new planning regime took place before the pandemic hit and arguably changed everything. Its genesis is a study written for the Policy Exchange think-tank and published in January just as the first coronavirus cases were making their way into the country. One of the report’s authors now works as an adviser in No 10.
The aims are laudable but almost certainly unachievable without causing an almighty backlash, principally from the Conservative party’s core voters. The Government says it wants local people to have a say in the designation of zones, either through their councils or direct involvement; but at some point they must be excluded since they will always be the most formidable barrier to developments they do not like.
Business rates could be hiked by Rishi Sunak for 'most valuable properties'
Rishi Sunak is considering an increase in business rates for the "most valuable properties", with fears being raised that the move could hurt firms already struggling amid the effects of the coronavirus crisis, our deputy political editor Anna Mikhailova writes.
The Chancellor has asked for industry feedback on whether high end shops, offices and other large premises should pay a new, higher business rate, with responses due ahead of the autumn Budget.
In a call for evidence as part of a business rates review, the Treasury said failing to raise enough revenue from them could put pressure on "other parts of the tax system".
Business rates are based on shop rental values, typically calculated every five years and paid by tenants rather than property owners. Critics say the system is unfairly priced and puts bricks and mortar businesses at a disadvantage compared to their online competitors.
At present, a "standard multiplier" applies to properties with rateable value of over £51,000, while about 1.8 million small businesses below that value pay a lower rate. The consultation is examining proposals to create "additional higher multipliers for the most valuable properties".
On Tuesday, business rates experts described the proposals as "abhorrent".
Jerry Schurder, the head of business rates at consultancy Gerald Eve, said: "It beggars belief, considering the primary complaint about business rates is that the tax is just too high."
Mr Schurder said the "most valuable properties" could include large shops, supermarkets, offices, hotels and cinemas.
Distribution warehouses, including for businesses which supply the hospitality industry and have already been struggling as a result of the virus crisis, would be likely to be affected, he added.
Turkey coronavirus policy toughens as daily cases pass 1,000
Turkey has today imposed a range of new inspection and enforcement rules after Covid-19 cases passed 1,000 for the first time in three weeks, in what the government described as a grave rise during peak holiday season.
President Tayyip Erdogan's government had previously called 1,000 a critical threshold at which rules should be reconsidered.
Top doctors have sounded the alarm about insufficient testing, and urged a tougher message from Ankara, which lifted a partial lockdown in June and has since lobbied hard for tourists to return.
Turkey has now implemented daily quarantine inspections, new tracing oversight in all cities, and measures for funerals, weddings, and other large gatherings.
The Interior Ministry said the nationwide rules - including some fines for violations - were needed to sustain the fight against the pandemic that has led to 5,765 deaths and 234,934 infections in Turkey, which puts the country 17th globally in a tally of total cases that has been compiled by Reuters.
The 1,083 new cases are reflective a "severe" rise following a four-day holiday weekend, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote. He urged Turks to avoid unnecessary contact so that their vacations do not have grave consequences.
Councils can demolish contaminated buildings under new powers to stop second wave of coronavirus
Local authorities will be able to order the demolition of buildings at the centre of coronavirus outbreaks under draconian powers to contain a potential second wave.
Cars, buses, trains and aeroplanes could also be destroyed subject to the approval of magistrates.
Boris Johnson remains determined to avoid a second nationwide lockdown and has given a broad range of powers to local councils to contain outbreaks as soon as they are detected.
The latest Matt cartoon for tomorrow's Telegraph...
Last minute holidays: The best places to go, and what to expect
August is upon us, meaning it is ‘now or never’ when it comes to booking that last-minute summer holiday, Greg Dickinson writes. So where should you go?
With everything so up in the air, the viability of a last-minute holiday in 2020 comes down to your own personal circumstances and considerations.
We are going to assume here that you are keen to stick to the Foreign Office's travel advice, and do not want to go into quarantine on return. In doing so, holiday stalwarts like Spain and Portugal are currently off the table.
But there are plenty of other favourites in Europe with case numbers under control (either better or comparable to the UK) where you will neither have to quarantine on arrival nor return, and where you can – crucially – hit the beach without wearing a face mask.
Beirut explosions: Lebanon death toll at least 50 in 'national disaster akin to Hiroshima'
Lebanon's health ministry has confirmed that there are at least 50 dead following the Beirut explosions today, with more than 2,700 people injured.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab has now urged "friendly countries" to send help after the catastrophe.
Gold price hits record high at $2,000 an ounce
Gold hit $2,000 (£1,530) an ounce for the first time on Tuesday following a record-breaking rally driven by fears over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy, LaToya Harding writes.
The yellow metal, seen as a safe-haven asset, has been on a steady upwards trajectory over recent months, climbing more than 30pc this year.
The reversal of the positive move in the dollar also assisted the metal on Tuesday, with silver prices also buoyant.
Gold has been one of the world’s best performing mainstream assets this year also thanks to depressed bond yields and interest rates remaining around 0pc in many parts of the world.
Analysts at BofA Global Research forecast that bullion will surge by 50pc over the next 18 months to around $3,000 an ounce and see other precious metals benefiting in the Covid-19 environment.
Australia coronavirus outbreak: Amid Melbourne lockdown, what went wrong?
On June 16, Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said “a day like today can make me nervous”.
The southeastern Australian state had just recorded 21 new cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours, the highest number of new cases they had seen in a single day since May 15. For the next four weeks, everything still seemed to go to plan.
But almost two months later, Covid-19 is surging. Victoria's outbreaks are helping bring Australia alongside the UK for daily cases and deaths. The country was once thought to be a safe haven.
So where did it all go wrong? Watch to find out more:
Coronavirus case rise puts years of health gains at risk in North and Latin America, official warns
North and Latin America remain under the “tight grip” of Covid-19 with warnings from a top health expert that the fallout could undo years of development in a matter of months, Sarah Newey reports.
Speaking at a virtual briefing on Tuesday, Dr Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said that the Americas has now reported more than 9.7 million cases and some 365,000 deaths. This is roughly half of the global death toll.
She said that nearly every country in central America is “witnessing spikes in Covid-19 cases”, while south America is facing a “public health paradox” amid mounting pressure to reopen economies and schools, despite “clear signs” that rapid transmission is continuing.
Dr Etienne added that the pandemic has also demonstrated that health systems have been chronically underfunded, with many in the region unable to access care.
Read the full story here.
Staycation UK trend sees seaside breaks boom in Salcombe as population surges by 1,000%
In any other August, the bustling streets of Salcombe filled with hundreds of Britons enjoying what is likely their first holiday at home in years would usually be a welcome sight to most locals, Izzy Lyons reports.
But in the midst of a global pandemic, the small Devonshire town - dubbed ‘Chelsea on Sea’ due to its popularity with middle-class Londoners - has been left “exhausted and overwhelmed” by a larger than normal influx of city-dwellers having a staycation.
After Salcombe’s population surged by 1,000 per cent thanks to British tourists making the most of loosened lockdown restrictions, its mayor said visitors “think they are in a bubble” when it comes to social distancing and has urged them to “show a bit of respect".
“It's like August bank holiday weekend every day, everybody is exhausted and overwhelmed. The businesses need the customers but we would just like a bit of respect back for the town that they claim to love,” town mayor Nikki Turnton said.
Her plea comes amid rising tensions in the UK between rural residents and British tourists looking to holiday in the countryside, as nearly one third of people are having a staycation this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Comment: 'Forget the unions – it's time the Government flushed out teachers who refuse to work'
Three cheers for Charlie Mullins, the founder of Pimlico Plumbers, writes Julia Hartley-Brewer. As The Telegraph first revealed, Mr Mullins has told his 450 staff to get back to work or face the sack.
For weeks at the height of the pandemic, we were all out on our doorsteps, clapping for the carers who battled daily on hospital wards to save lives. Now, though, it is time to cheer for the business owners and their employees who are busy fighting to save our economy.
Mr Mullins, who runs the country’s largest independent plumbing company, is one of many thousands of business owners who has had to face up to the economic realities of the coronavirus lockdown.
In a message to his employees, many of whom had been on furlough, he told them they had to get back to work by last Friday or they’d have no job to go back to.
While applauding the Chancellor’s furlough scheme as a “much-needed lifeline”, he said it was time to “draw a line under it”, insisting that even some of his own staff had been “milking the system”, enjoying getting paid 80 per cent of their wages to “sit on their backsides”.
This is precisely the sort of ruthless straight-talking that the teachers in our state schools need to hear from the people who pay their wages.
Lebanon explosion: Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron post tributes
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has paid tribute those caught up in massive explosions in Beirut tonight, which are now known to have killed at least 27 people, with many more fatalities feared.
Mr Johnson described tonight's events as "a terrible incident", and pledged: "The UK is ready to provide support in any way we can."
Emmanuel Macron also paid tribute on social media, and wrote:
I express my brotherly solidarity with the Lebanese people after the explosion, which caused a large number of casualties, this matter in Beirut, and caused serious damage.
France has always stood by Lebanon. There is French aid, which is now being transferred to Lebanon.
Rajapaksa brothers landslide feared by minorites in Sri Lanka elections
Sri Lankans go to the polls tomorrow in an election set to hand further power to the Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist Rajapaksa family, prompting fears they could rewrite the constitution and further target minorities, writes Joe Wallen.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s grip on the country will tighten if, as expected, his brother Mahinda is elected as Prime Minister and he obtains a two-thirds majority in tomorrow’s snap parliamentary election.
Authoritarian Gotabaya surged to a win in November’s presidential elections after promising to return law-and-order to Sri Lanka which had been devastated by the Easter Sunday bombings in April.
Both Gotabaya and Mahinda enjoy enormous popularity among Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese, Buddhist majority - the group constitutes 75 percent of the country’s population - after playing pivotal roles in bringing the country’s 26-year civil war, which claimed over 100,000 lives, to an end.
Latest football news: Brentford vs Fulham, Alexis Sanchez sold - and Sancho to United?
Tonight will see promotion in the time of coronavirus, as Brentford and Fulham compete for the twentieth and final place in what will - at least to begin with - be another socially distant Premier League season.
Jake Goodwill is live blogging every kick, tackle and goal.
It comes as the Premier League considers screening other matches in stadiums as part of proposals to allow the gradual return of fans in a Covid-compliant manner.
Meanwhile, Manchester United will be breathing a sigh of relief that £560,000-a-week forward Alexis Sanchez is on his way to Inter Milan on a permanent deal. James Ducker has the lowdown on how Sanchez's time at United became a nightmare for both the player and the club.
And as United continue talks to sign Jadon Sancho, JJ Bull looks at where he would play, what he would bring and who might drop out of the starting XI to make room for the Borussia Dortmund prodigy.
Swarms of locusts could be heading for one of the most vulnerable regions on earth, warns UN
Billions of desert locusts which have been swarming over the Horn of Africa since the start of the year could soon head west to the Sahel, one of the most food-insecure regions in the world, the United Nations has warned.
"We have witnessed the unprecedented desert locust threat to food security and livelihoods in East Africa, and we are doing everything we can to prevent a similar crisis repeating in the Sahel region, which is already experiencing several ongoing crises," the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement, quoted by Xinhua News Agency.
The Sahel region running south of the Sahara desert faces cyclical bouts of famine and food shortages every few years.
The region is often referred to as ground zero for global warming and suffers from widespread desertification and increasingly unpredictable rainfall.
Our Africa correspondent Will Brown has the story.
Workers who have to go to the office resent those who work from home, experts say
Workers who have continued to come into their offices during the coronavirus pandemic resent colleagues who work from home, but some are being offered extra pay or perks, HR professionals have said.
Those who feel they have taken on extra responsibilities as others work from home or are furloughed have even resorted to launching grievance procedures against their employers, it has emerged.
The anger of colleagues has seen some furloughed workers asked to return early, it is understood.
On Monday, the first working day on which employers in England could demand their staff return to the office, it was said bosses have also seen "push back" from those refusing to come back.
Hayley Dixon has more details.
Glastonbury Festival 2021 unlikely to take place, Michael Eavis says, describing plans as 'wishful thinking'
Glastonbury 2021 is unlikely to go ahead as its founder Michael Eavis conceded that plans to postpone the festival until next year are "wishful thinking".
The coronavirus pandemic had forced organisers to cancel hosting the event in June.
Stars including Sir Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Diana Ross had been set to headline the Pyramid Stage this year to celebrate the festival's landmark fiftieth anniversary.
Although he is "moving heaven and earth" to ensure it will take place next year, Mr Eavis said its prospects remain uncertain.
Max Stephens has the full story.
Rafa Nadal to skip US Open 2020 over Covid-19; and Madrid Open cancelled as Spain coronavirus cases rise
World number two Rafa Nadal has confirmed on social media that he will not defend his U.S. Open crown this year at Flushing Meadows, as organisers confirm the singles entry list for the Grand Slam.
Nadal said back in June that he had reservations about travelling to America during the pandemic, and he joins Ash Barty, the women's world number one, in skipping the tournament due to Covid-19 concerns.
"After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year's U.S. Open," Nadal said on Twitter.
"All my respects to the USTA, the US Open organisers and the ATP for trying to put the event together for the players and the fans around the world through TV.
"This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel."
Nadal's decision comes as the Madrid Open, which was slated to take place from September 12 to September 20, was cancelled on Tuesday following a cluster of coronavirus cases in Madrid.
What's behind Next's surprise high street success?
As far as fashion is concerned, Next is a bit of a dark horse, Tamara Abraham writes.
But if its latest financial results are any indication it’s not short of fans. In fact, it appears to have weathered the pandemic more successfully than other high street stalwarts.
Take John Lewis, which is to close eight stores permanently, and Marks & Spencer, which says it is cutting 950 jobs.
Meanwhile, Next has reported a lower-than-expected fall in sales, bucking industry trends. It had been expecting a 56 per cent drop, but actually only experienced a 28 per cent fall, and still expects to end the year in the black.
This is all the more remarkable when you recall that it actually paused online sales for a period in April to help its warehouse staff comply with social distancing, followed by restrictions on the number of items consumers could purchase on a given day.
It helps that Next was in a healthy financial position before lockdown – meanwhile, year-on-year profits at John Lewis had fallen 65 per cent in January, while M&S was suffering from the impact of buying missteps, hampering its Christmas sales.
Next also had a strong e-commerce business – online trade accounts for about half of all sales – so when stores were forced to close, it had less of an impact than it did on other brands.
First polio vaccination campaign since coronavirus outbreak resumes
The world's first polio vaccination campaign since the outbreak of the coronavirus has successfully resumed, with hundreds of thousands of children vaccinated within the space of a week.
During the week of July 20, the Emirates Polio Campaign (EPC) was able to successfully vaccinate nearly 723 thousand children across Pakistan. The EPC is supported by HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nayhan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
The UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme has announced that the campaign successfully vaccinated 722,500 children in Pakistan between July 20 and July 26 2020.
The initiative is considered the world's first polio vaccination campaign since the outbreak of Covid-19, and was implemented as part of the Sheikh's global initiative to eradicate polio. The campaign has had a 94.3 per cent success rate against the campaign’s target of 766,000 children.
'Eat out to help out' scheme: The best participating restaurants across the UK
With the Eat Out To Help Out scheme rolling out in restaurants, pubs, and cafés from today, now is a great time to go and try local restaurants whose prices might otherwise be a little off-putting, writes Jack Rear.
The scheme grants a discount of 50pc on all food and soft drinks at participating restaurants, up to a total of £10 per head. We’ve written a brief guide to how the scheme works and what food and drink are eligible here.
We already covered some of the top London restaurants participating in the offer but there’s plenty on offer outside the capital too.
French coronavirus patients in intensive care units rises for second day in a row
The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units in hospitals in France rose for the second day in a row, marking the reversal of a downward trend that had been in place for 16 weeks, health ministry data has shown.
The ministry said in a statement the number of people in ICU rose by four to 388 having previously risen by 13 on Monday.
The number of people in ICU had fallen virtually every day without interruption since reaching a high of 7,148 on April 8, except for two one-day increases in July.
Will there be a new lockdown for over 50s? It's not looking likely
Plans to extend shielding to some over-50s this winter have been abandoned after Cabinet ministers mounted a backlash against the proposals, Charles Hymas reports.
Downing Street killed off the plan to tell over-50s to stay at home after ministers warned that it was impractical, could damage the economy and sent out mixed messages on the day the Government wanted workers to get back to the office.
Industry chiefs and prominent backbenchers including the former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said it was "economic madness" and would deprive business of key managers and experience at a time when they were needed to help rescue industry in face of a recession.
Government sources confirmed the plan on Sunday, under which over-50s with defined "risk factors" would have "enhanced" shielding to protect them from a second wave of Covid-19, adding to the 2.2 million people who stayed at home completely from March to August 1.
Anyone over 50 who is obese, overweight or in ill health was likely to receive an individually tailored letter in the autumn warning them that they were at increased risk and advising them of steps to take to protect themselves.
It led to a row within Government, with business and economic ministers distancing themselves from the policy and warning of economic consequences.
Bars reopening delayed in Ireland as country's coronavirus cases double
Ireland has announced a delay to the complete reopening of bars and postponed its move out of the final stage of lockdown after new Covid-19 infections more than doubled in a week.
Prime Minister Micheál Martin told a news conference:
I know that this will come as a blow to pub owners and I want them to know I have enormous sympathy for their plight.
This virus is taking away their ability to earn a living, to provide a key service in the heart of many communities.
But we are doing what we are doing to save lives and to give our society and economy the best chance we can to open safely and sustainably.
He also announced that Ireland's "green list" of travel destinations had been reduced from 15 countries to 10.
Who is in lockdown in the UK?
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered swathes of the north of England back into partial lockdown in a bid to stop a second wave of coronavirus.
As many as four million people are banned from meeting people from different households indoors under the new rules, which become law as of midnight.
The decision comes after Public Health England data showed coronavirus cases reaching worrying levels across the region.
Within a week, there were 69 cases per 100,000 in Blackburn with Darwen, which surpassed infection rates in Leicester, where the infection rate had fallen to 50 cases per 100,000.
Harry Yorke has the full details of which areas are in lockdown and what the new rules mean for those affected.
UK coronavirus deaths today rise by 89
The UK's coronavirus death toll has risen by 89, which takes the total number of deaths to 46,299.
Today's total deaths mark a 25 per cent drop from this time last week when 119 deaths were recorded.
A further 670 positive Covid-19 cases were confirmed by laboratory tests in the past 24 hours.
Seven of the deaths announced today were in hospitals, which is the lowest Tuesday rise during the coronavirus lockdown.
White House accuses Democrats of 'making a mockery' of US coronavirus talks
Democrats have rejected four offers from the White House in negotiations over another round of economic aid meant to blunt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has said, accusing them of "making a mockery" of the talks.
"It is Democrats ... that are making an absolute mockery of this process," McEnany said at a briefing. "We're still engaging with them, but this president has been clear: He is ready to act on this."
After a week of almost daily negotiations, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have moved closer in a number of areas.
“We remain far apart on a number of issues. But we’re finally moving in the right direction,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “At the moment, the gap between our two parties in the negotiations is about priorities and about scale.”
Greece coronavirus cases count highest in weeks
Greece today recorded 121 new cases of Covid-19, its highest level in weeks, as authorities confirmed that infections have been steadily been rising throughout the last 10 days.
The total number of infections in the country now stands at 4,855, and the death toll at 209.
Officials have blamed social events and overcrowding in clubs for the renewed spread of the virus. More than 340 confirmed infections among nearly 1.3 million incoming travellers since the start of July.
Live updates on Beirut explosion today as 10 deaths confirmed in Lebanon
Massive explosions have shaken Lebanon's capital Beirut today in a blast that is confirmed to have killed 10, with many more fatalities feared to come.
Health Minister Hamad Hasan said an explosion in central Beirut on Tuesday had caused a "very high number of injuries" and extensive damage, Lebanese LBC television channel quoted the minister as saying.
Beirut City Governor Marwan Aboud said "Beirut is a disaster city and the scale of the damage is enormous" and called the blast a "national disaster akin to Hiroshima."
Number claiming coronavirus pandemic unemployment payment in Ireland falls further
The number of people claiming temporary coronavirus-related unemployment payments in Ireland has fallen by five per cent since last week, leaving the current figure 54 per cent below the May peak, data released today shows.
The Irish government is paying 274,600 people the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. On May 5, shortly after the peak of the outbreak in Ireland, 598,000 people were receiving the payment.
Around 390,000 employees are currently signed up to a separate wage-subsidy scheme, according to the Department of Social Protection.
Local lockdown laws: Manchester and other areas affected as legislation comes into force at midnight
Laws enforcing lockdown restrictions in areas of the north of England including Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire will be effective from midnight.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions on Gatherings) (North of England) Regulations 2020, which were published this afternoon, will come into force as of Wednesday.
Those found in breach of the local lockdown rules could be fined up to £100, with a maximum penalty of £3,200 for repeat offenders.
When the restrictions on Greater Manchester and other areas were first announced late at night on July 30, ministers said that the rules would apply from midnight on July 31.
Officials refused to comment when asked why there had been a delay in imposing the laws, and on what legal basis they had been enforced for the first five days of the measures.
The legislation - which bans people from different households meeting in a private home or garden following a spike in coronavirus cases - imposes restrictions on metropolitan, city and borough council areas in: Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Calderdale and Kirklees.
But the restriction zone could change at any time as directed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, legislation papers said, with existing laws for Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford being changed to subject those areas to the same measures.
Six more England coronavirus deaths in hospitals confirmed by NHS England
A further six people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, NHS England said.
This takes the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 29,358.
The six patients, who were aged between 46 and 93 years old, all had known underlying health conditions.
Antwerp coronavirus curfew: Church transformed into coronavirus testing centre
Those with coronavirus symptoms in Antwerp, Belgium are heading for the Sint Rochus Catholic Church in Deurne - which has been transformed into a Covid-19 testing centre during Antwerp's local outbreak.
Cathy Berx, the governor of Antwerp province, took drastic measures last week and introduced a curfew for the whole province in response to a regional spike in cases.
Other measures announced by Berx included the obligation to wear a face mask, with limited exceptions. Fines of up to €1,600 are in place for those who break the rules, with two-week prison sentences in extreme cases.
What the UK coronavirus lockdown has done to our bodies – and how to fix it
It’s easy to be concerned about what Covid-19 might do if we catch it, writes Joel Snape.
From lung damage to neurological issues, its full range of potential long-term effects still isn’t well understood. But as a limited form of lockdown continues, it’s also important to reckon with the problems working, socialising and living in a series of small spaces is causing – and taking steps to address them.
From eye strain to back pain, there's plenty you can do about the stuff that’s been bothering you – and you can also take preemptive action against problems that haven’t yet surfaced.
Comment: Coronavirus is the last straw for broken Europe banking system
European banks were already in trouble before the pandemic, writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. They never recovered fully from the double shock of the global financial crisis and the eurozone policy errors of 2010-15, and have been trading far below book value. Now they are in even deeper trouble.
The Stoxx 600 bank index has fallen by four fifths from its peak and is currently at levels first reached (synthetically) in September 1988. It has been nothing less than a death spiral.
Europe’s lenders are half as profitable as US rivals. They are battling negative interest rates and falling fees, and now face the prospect of mass insolvencies from Covid-19. The day of reckoning has been delayed by state credit guarantees and furlough support but these will start to expire over coming months.
The danger is a European credit crunch as lenders act preemptively to protect themselves and shore up capital buffers. Many are already itching to shut down credit lines for thousands of vulnerable firms, threatening to set off a vicious circle and a second phase of the downturn.
The European Central Bank’s lending survey found that a net 23pc of banks plan to tighten loan conditions this quarter, akin to the incipient squeeze in late 2007 – which then tipped Germany and Italy into recession, months before the Lehman crisis.
New York City health commissioner Dr Oxiris Barbot resigns over 'deep disappointment' with Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York City health commissioner Dr Oxiris Barbot has resigned in protest over her “deep disappointment” with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing efforts aimed at mitigating its spread.
Her departure is the latest development in a series of escalating tensions between top Health Department officials and City Hall, which trace back to the start of New York City’s outbreak in March but have recently escalated in a public and unsavoury manner.
“I leave my post today with deep disappointment that during the most critical public health crisis in our lifetime, the Health Department’s incomparable disease control expertise was not used to the degree it could have been,” she said in her resignation email, which was sent to Mr de Blasio.
New York City has been hit hard by Covid-19, emerging as an early hotspot in America. It has now recorded 231,000 cases and 23,021 virus-related deaths.
The Partnership for New York City, an influential business group, yesterday estimated that one-third of the city’s 240,000 small businesses might never reopen as a result of the economic and social effects of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
Can children catch coronavirus and Kawasaki disease? What parents should know about schools reopening
They are the least likely group to become fatally ill with the virus, but in many ways the young have been the most profoundly affected by the fallout from Covid-19, missing months of school and having their social lives curtailed, writes Eleanor Steafel.
Now, as schools gear up to finally reopen in less than a month, concerns that sending kids back to class could trigger a catastrophic second wave are beginning to grow.
Authors of a report released by the University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine this week warned that without improvements in testing it would be “absolutely essential” to introduce other measures in September to “mitigate” the effects of schools opening.
Getting children back into classrooms has been held up by the prime minister as a “national priority”. But the chief medical officer last week admitted the UK may have reached the “outer edge” for how far we can emerge from lockdown without leading to a resurgence of the virus.
There has been much debate since the very beginning of the pandemic around whether or not children can get the virus, or be carriers, and there are still significant gaps in our understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on the young.
Young people taking coronavirus in Wales less seriously, Welsh international relations minister claims
There is evidence that younger people are not taking the measures put in place to combat the pandemic as seriously as other age groups are, according to Welsh international relations minister Eluned Morgan.
Baroness Morgan said during the Welsh government's weekly press conference that social media is to be used to ensure that young people "understand the message", after a large number gathered in Cardiff Bay over the weekend, leading South Wales Police to issue a 48-hour dispersal order that applied to the area.
Public Health Wales said earlier today that one further person has died with coronavirus, which taking the total number of Welsh deaths to 1,566:
Also stressing that recently reopened premises must follow Covid-secure guidelines, Baroness Morgan said:
It is a really concerning situation, it is something where I think we do have to get messages out particularly to younger people that this does affect them, it will affect them.
Clearly the evidence suggests that younger people are really perhaps in some parts of the country not taking this as seriously as some of the other age groups.
So that is a message that we need to get out. The police are very aware of the situation in Cardiff Bay and will be enforcing measures to make sure that people comply with the rules.
There are of course many means of communication now.
We can use social media and will be doing that in the future to make sure that those younger people understand the message and that it applies to them as well.
President Donald Trump criticised after 'it is what it is' comment over US coronavirus death toll
Donald Trump stumbled through one of his toughest interviews yet on Monday, drawing particular criticism for saying 'it is what it is' when pressed on the death of 1,000 Americans per day from coronavirus, writes Josie Ensor.
The US president was put on the spot and and seemed to flounder when questioned on the rising number of deaths and hospitalisations.
“They are dying, that’s true. And it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague that beset us,” he told Jonathan Swan from Axios news.
When asked by Mr Swan if Mr Trump thought the pandemic was under control, the president responded: “Well what’s your definition of control? Under the circumstances, right now, I think it’s under control.”
Mr Swan replied: “How? A thousand Americans are dying a day.”
More than 152,000 deaths and nearly 4.7 million cases have been reported nationwide.
Josie has the full story here.
UK coronavirus cases today: 670 more Britons test positive for Covid-19
A further 670 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in all settings in the UK, the Department for Health has announced.
This brings the total number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the UK since the start of the pandemic to 306,293 as of 9am today.
The most up-to-date coronavirus death toll is yet to be announced. A further nine Covid-19 fatalities were recorded yesterday.
UK coronavirus deaths fell by more than a quarter in seven days, ONS coronavirus data shows
Weekly coronavirus deaths have fallen by more than a quarter within seven days, official statistics show, putting them at their lowest level since before the nationwide lockdown on March 23.
England and Wales are expecting lower-than-average death figures for the sixth week in a row, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said today.
In the week ending July 24, 217 deaths involving Covid-19 were registered, accounting for 2.4 per cent of all deaths and marking a 26.4 per cent fall in coronavirus deaths from the previous week.
Coronavirus deaths have not been so low since the week ending March 20, when there were 103 deaths registered as related to the virus.
Overall deaths continue to stay below the number usually expected at this time of year, based on an average from the previous five years.
There were 8,891 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending July 24, which is 161 deaths fewer than the five-year average.
The number of deaths in care homes and hospitals was also below the five-year average, but the number of deaths in private homes remains above average.
Face masks and coronavirus PPE may be less effective against smaller droplets, study suggests
Small aerosol droplets could penetrate some personal protective equipment (PPE) that is used to shield people from infections like coronavirus, scientists have warned.
Heriot-Watt University and University of Edinburgh researchers created a mathematical model showing how small, medium and large aerosol droplets were dispersed through the air.
The study, which was published in the journal Physics of Fluids today, found that both large and small droplets travelled further than medium-sized ones.
Its authors said that although PPE including masks and face shields is an "effective barrier" against larger droplets, it is likely to be less effective against smaller ones.
The authors said that if the spread of coronavirus by aerosol droplets is confirmed to be "significant", guidelines on social distancing, ventilation systems and shared spaces will need to be reconsidered.
Felicity Mehendale, co-author and academic surgeon at the University of Edinburgh, said: "We can't afford to be complacent about small droplets. PPE is an effective barrier to large droplets but may be less effective for small ones."
Cathal Cummins, of Heriot-Watt University, added that the findings have "important implications" for the medical and policy response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Big firms cut nearly 4,500 jobs in just two days as furlough tapers off
Nearly 4,500 jobs have been lost at major British employers in only the first two working days in August, as businesses continue to feel the fallout from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dixons Carphone, Pizza Express, Hays Travel and DW Sports have all announced major redundancies, or plans that could put hundreds of jobs at risk.
It comes as many businesses have to decide whether to keep staff who have been on furlough on their books as the Government's coronavirus job retention scheme starts to unwind.
More than 26,000 jobs were lost at British employers in July, according to analysis by the PA news agency.
It was a small decrease from June when almost 30,000 jobs were lost at British employers when stripping out the effects of BP and HSBC, whose combined 45,000 jobs losses announced in July will be spread around the world.
In May, around 36,000 job losses were announced.
Students who post graduation selfies could be vulnerable to degree fraud
University students who have missed out on face-to-face graduation ceremonies due to Covid-19 could be more vulnerable to degree fraud, PA Media reports.
Graduates are being warned of the dangers of posting selfies with their degree certificates on social media as it can give counterfeiters access to the latest logos, signatories and wording.
Students have been denied their usual graduation ceremony picture opportunities amid the pandemic so more graduates are likely to want to share photos of their certificates online.
Prospects, which runs the Hedd Degree Fraud Service on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS), has issued the warning as it expects the number of graduates posting selfies to rise.
It comes as graduation officers have returned to campuses across the UK to post out degree certificates to students who spent their final months of university at home during lockdown.
UK Government willing to pay less than other countries to protect citizens' lives, study reveals
The price the UK Government was prepared to pay to save lives during the pandemic was lower than in many other developed nations, a study has revealed.
Analysis by academics at the University of Exeter suggests that, based on the level of economic activity sacrificed, the UK Government was willing to pay far less than other developed countries including Germany, New Zealand and South Korea to protect more citizens' lives.
The researchers added that 20,000 lives in the UK would have been saved if the Government had imposed lockdown three days earlier.
The study found that whilst the "price of life" in the UK was among the lowest at around 100,000 US dollars, in South Korea and New Zealand, where their respective governments acted quicker to impose lockdown restrictions and whose response to date has been deemed most successful, the price of life was much higher at 6.7 million US dollars and 11.6 million US dollars respectively.
To come to these conclusions, the researchers completed a cross-country comparison across nine nations, Belgium, the US, Germany, Korea, Italy, Denmark, China, New Zealand and the UK, and used epidemiological modelling to calculate how many lives were lost through delaying lockdown.
They then assessed this alongside the financial cost lockdown had on GDP in each country by comparing pre-lockdown IMF forecasts to the most recent figures and teasing apart the amount of GDP loss that came from the effects of lockdown policies.
This then gave them a "price of life" estimate, the amount of money individual governments were willing to pay to protect their citizens' lives, reflected in the economic activity sacrificed.
Forcing joggers to wear masks is 'nonsensical', say French doctors
Doctors say it is “nonsensical” for joggers to be compelled to wear face masks in Nice, Lille and dozens of other French towns that have now made masks mandatory outdoors.
Face masks lose their protective value when soaked in sweat, which happens quickly while running, said Stéphane Gayet, an infectious diseases specialist at a major teaching hospital in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
“When you’re breathing heavily, the mask gets into your mouth and you feel uncomfortable. If you’re practicing a relatively intense physical activity, you risk having trouble getting enough oxygen.”
Dr Gayet added: “Sweat is charged with organic matter that will soil the mask. Its filtering capacity will be altered and it will be less effective and more uncomfortable.” Requiring joggers to wear masks is “nonsense”, he said.
David Chazan, in Paris, has more here.
City authorities in Paris want to make face masks mandatory in some outdoor areas
Parisian city authorities want to make the wearing of face masks mandatory in certain outdoor areas in order to prevent a new spike of coronavirus infections, Le Monde has reported.
The paper said that mayor Anne Hidalgo would put in a formal request with the Paris prefecture about ordering the use of face coverings in specific areas, after the Government on Friday gave local authorities the power to order the wearing of masks in outdoor public spaces.
Melton 'to get test centre' after rise in coronavirus cases
A testing centre is to be set up in Melton later this week following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, the BBC reports.
The town has the eighth highest seven-day infection rate in the UK after 19 new cases were confirmed in the week to 30 July.
Local MP Alicia Kearns said there were no plans for a lockdown but a testing centre would soon be up and running.
Ireland may have to reopen pubs on county-by-county basis
Ireland might have to consider reopening pubs on a county by county basis, according to Mike Ryan, executive director with the World Health Organisation.
Owners (and customers) of pubs across Ireland are currently waiting for the outcome this evening of a cabinet meeting about returning to business on August 10, a move which had already been delayed amid concerns over the spread of the virus. The move relates to pubs that do not serve food.
“It is a balance [reoepning pubs] and depends on people’s behaviour and how they adapt,” Ryan told RTE television today.
“You can use a much more localised strategy – by county, by province, whatever it is in the Irish context – but to do that you need very localised data and a localised response capacity.”
Coronavirus around the world, in pictures
German football clubs agree plans to allow fans to return from mid-September
Football clubs in Germany's top two divisions have today agreed to plans drawn up by the league which could allow the partial return of fans to stadiums from mid-September, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the agreed plans drawn up by the German Football League (DFL) for the new season, which starts on September 18, fans would only be allowed to sit, alcohol at matches would be banned until October and there will be no away fans until the end of the year.
One new virus death recorded in Wales
One further person has died with coronavirus in Wales, according to Public Health Wales (PHW).
It means the number of people who have died with the virus now stands at 1,566.
A further 22 new cases of Covid-19 were reported by PHW, meaning 17,361 people have now tested positive for the virus in Wales.
According to PHW, 4,661 tests were carried out in the last day in both PHW and non-NHS laboratories.
Indonesia to have capacity for 250m vaccine doses a year
Indonesia will have capacity to produce 250 million doses a year of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020 pending trials on humans, a minister said today, as the country seeks to halt a wave of infections that has shown no sign of relent.
Indonesia has confirmed 115,056 cases of Covid-19 and 5,388 deaths since its first infections in March. It has been reporting more than 1,000 new cases on most days since the start of June.
State-run pharmaceutical firm Bio Farma will begin phase three of clinical trials in humans this week using a vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac, Reuters reported. If those are successful, Bio Farma has said would produce the vaccine itself.
Biden to Trump: Step up and do your job
Eight further cases in Northern Ireland
Eight more positive cases of Covid-19 have been detected in Northern Ireland over the weekend, the Department of Health said. The total number of people who have been infected is now 5,996.
No new deaths were recorded, leaving the total in the region at 556, according to official figures.
WHO head: There might never be a coronavirus 'silver bullet'
There might never be a "silver bullet" treatment for coronavirus, according to the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing on Monday: "A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials, and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection.
"However, there's no silver bullet at the moment – and there might never be."
His remarks came following a meeting of the WHO-convened emergency committee of international experts on Friday.
Dr Tedros also said wearing a face mask sends a message of solidarity as he urged countries to continue with the "basics" of public health to bring the pandemic to an end.
Anne Gulland has more here.
Australia pumps in more stimulus after Melbourne lockdown
Australia’s central bank is scrambling to prop up the country's battered economy after fresh Covid-19 outbreaks triggered a draconian lockdown in Melbourne.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is to restart its bond-buying programme following a three-month pause, in a bid to pump money into the system and peg three-year borrowing costs at a lower level. Governor Philip Lowe said support will continue for as long as it is needed.
Officials rushed to provide stimulus after Victoria's premier Daniel Andrews declared a “state of disaster” and imposed restrictions on more than five million citizens in state capital Melbourne, including nightly curfews and fines of up to A$20,000 (£10,800) for those who repeatedly break the rules.
Russell Lynch has more here.
Danish state epidemiologist advises against lockdown easing
Denmark’s state epidemiologist has said he could not recommend proceeding to the next phase of reopening society during the coronavirus outbreak, Danish media outlet Ingenioeren has reported.
“It is not something that I can recommend from a healthcare perspective that you go ahead with,” Kare Molbak, director of Statens Serum Institut (the State’s Serum Institute) said according to Ingenioeren.
The Government and Parliament are due to begin discussing the fourth phase of reopening, including nightclubs, this month. The weekly number of people infected with the virus in Denmark has risen in the past couple of weeks.
The country has so far reported 14.073 cases of the virus overall and 616 deaths.
WHO urges Russia to follow guidelines on virus vaccine
The World Health Organization has urged Russia to follow the established guidelines for producing safe and effective vaccines after Moscow announced plans to start swiftly producing Covid-19 jabs.
Russia said on Monday that it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine in September and turn out "several million" doses per month by next year.
Russia is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes. Officials claimed that one trialled by the Gamaleya institute in Moscow has reached advanced stages of development and is about to pass state registration.
Asked about the developments in Russia, the WHO stressed that all vaccine candidates should go through the full stages of testing before being rolled out.
"There are established practices and there are guidelines out," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters at the United Nations in Geneva. "Any vaccine...(or medicine) for this purpose should be, of course, going through all the various trials and tests before being licenced for roll-out," he said.
"Sometimes individual researchers claim they have found something, which is of course, as such, great news.
"But between finding or having a clue of maybe having a vaccine that works, and having gone through all the stages, is a big difference."
Unions support return to school but warn 'Plan B' needed in case of second lockdown
Teaching unions have demanded an "alternative strategy" to reopening schools in September, saying they need official guidance on how to proceed if there is a second lockdown.
Headteachers said that while they fully support the "ambition" to get all children back into the classroom at the start of the next academic year, a "Plan B" is urgently needed in case this is not possible.
Their warnings come after a new Lancet study suggested that reopening schools without an improvement in test and trace could result in a second coronavirus wave more than twice the size of the first.
Julie McCulloch, the director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), accused ministers of failing to plan an "alternative strategy" for education if schools are unable to reopen as planned.
"We remain concerned that the Government still lacks a 'Plan B' in the event that this does not prove possible because of infection rates, or if there is a second national shutdown," she said.
Camilla Turner has more here.
Latest global developments
Here are some coronavirus-related developments from around the world today:
The pandemic has killed at least 694,507 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year, according to an AFP tally today.
Hundreds of people infected with the virus in Australia's worst-hit state Victoria have been caught flouting stay-at-home orders, authorities say, prompting hefty fines as high as A$20,000 (£10,850). Some 800 infected people - or more than 25 per cent of those doorknocked across Victoria - were not at home when authorities conducted recent checks, which state Premier Daniel Andrews calls "completely unacceptable".
The United States has the most deaths with 155,471, followed by Brazil with 94,665, Mexico 48,012, Britain with 46,210 and India with 38,938 fatalities.
Iran has confirmed over 2,700 new infections, the country's highest single-day count in more than a month.
The French Government's Covid-19 scientific council warns the country could "at any moment" lose control over the spread of the virus. Official data shows the first rise in France of intensive care patients since April. The council also warns of a possible "resumption of circulation of the virus at a high level" by autumn 2020, after the August summer holidays.
Virgin Atlantic could 'run out of money' by September
Virgin Atlantic could run out of money by the end of September if creditors do not approve a £1.2 billion bailout package, a court has heard.
Without a restructuring and injection of new cash, it is projected that the airline's cash flow would drop to "critical levels" by the middle of next month and it will "run out of money altogether" by the week beginning September 28.
The airline unveiled a restructuring plan to secure its future, involving only private funds, last month.
The proposal needs to secure approval from creditors under a court-sanction process.
At a High Court hearing today, David Allison QC, for Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, told Mr Justice Trower that the Virgin Atlantic Group has "a fundamentally sound business model which was not in any problems at all before the Covid-19 pandemic".
Another bar in Aberdeen closed amid outbreak fears
This follows an announcement earlier this morning by the hospitality firm which owns Aberdeen bars Soul and College, which stated all of its premises will be shut “until we feel safe to reopen”.
A “cluster” of coronavirus cases has been linked to another venue, The Hawthorn Bar, in the city.
French singles say ‘non’ to sex with strangers in coronavirus era
Singles looking for romance in the era of Covid-19 are more likely to turn to ex-partners than choose new ones, according to a survey by IFOP, the French Institute for Public Opinion.
“The sexual activity of singles is like economic activity. Since the end of the lockdown, it has gradually revived, but not at the same level,” said IFOP’s François Kraus.
62 per cent of respondents said they would refuse sex with anyone who has had Covid-19 or been in close contact with an infected person. The survey also showed that 64 per cent are unwilling to have sex with people whose jobs expose them to the virus, including health and public transport workers, and sales personnel.
“This is symptomatic of a new sort of sexual stigma that is likely to last a long time,” Mr Kraus said.
David Chazan has more here.
How Australia's coronavirus strategy unravelled with sex scandals and assaults on police
The hotel quarantine system has come under renewed scrutiny, as have government employment policies, reports Giovanni Torre in Perth.
Stories emerged from whistleblowers of little to no training at the hotels, inadequate protective equipment, inadequate staffing levels, and sub-contractors being allowed to work across multiple sites.
There was at least one allegation that a security guard slept with one of the quarantine residents.
A returned traveller who spent two weeks in quarantine in April told The Australian that at the hotel mental health workers were called in to sedate guests who were “screaming” and “begging to be let out and running for the doors”.
He said the guards appeared unprepared to control guests desperate to be released.
“And they were being told no, but the guards had no real authority … they gave the impression they could be talked around. And guests were going up to the security guards, begging and offering money to be let out. It was insane,” he said.
Read the full report here.
Iran records highest daily case rise in over a month
Iran has confirmed over 2,700 new Covid-19 infections, its highest single-day count in more than a month, as the health ministry called for those without masks to be fined.
Deaths and infections from the virus have been on a rising trajectory in the Islamic republic since hitting a months-long low in May. This has prompted Iran to make wearing masks mandatory in enclosed spaces and reimpose restrictions that were lifted gradually since April.
Despite the rule, people without masks can still be seen inside the capitals' shops and banks, AFP reports, and state television often criticises them for doing so.
"In the past 24 hours, new confirmed cases were reported to be 2,751," health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in televised remarks.
The number is the highest since June 5, when the ministry reported 2,886 infections in one day. The latest count takes the total cases identified in Iran since late February to 314,786, Lari added.
Another 212 people died from the virus during the past 24 hours, bringing the overall toll to 17,617.
Follow Covid-19 rules or you could be closed, Welsh minister warns
Welsh Government minister Eluned Morgan warned pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels that they “must” follow rules to avoid the spread of Covid-19 if they are to stay open, the BBC reports.
“You must maintain physical distancing on your premises and – if you are a hospitality business - you should capture your customers’ contact details,” she said.
Customers should raise the matter with the venue if they are not asked for their details, and should only gather indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants with members of their extended household, Ms Morgan added.
“Most of us are following the law and helping to stop the virus from spreading,” she said..
“But I would like to finish by saying this to the small minority – people and businesses - who aren’t: we will take action to enforce the rules in Wales.”
UK excess deaths during Covid outbreak down by 1,500
The overall number of excess deaths in the UK since the coronavirus outbreak began has fallen by nearly 1,500 over the past six weeks, new figures show.
The total currently stands at just over 63,500 excess deaths, down from around 65,000.
The drop has been caused by a run of several weeks where the number of deaths registered across much of the UK have been below the five-year average.
The latest figures from the UK's statistics agencies show that up to the week ending June 12 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to June 14 in Scotland, a total of 64,929 excess deaths had been recorded since the Covid-19 outbreak began.
But once a further six weeks of data is added, running to the week ending July 24 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (and to July 26 in Scotland), the total drops to 63,540.
Driving the fall has been six consecutive weeks in England and Wales where the number of registered deaths has been below the five-year average.
In Scotland, four of the most recent six weeks saw deaths below average, while in Northern Ireland three of the six weeks saw deaths at or below average.
23 further cases confirmed in Scotland
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there have been 23 additional positive coronavirus cases in Scotland. The new cases account for 0.9 per cent of people newly tested.
Overall, that takes the overall number of positive cases in the country to 18,717.
Provisional information suggests that 15 of the 23 new cases are in the Grampian health board area. Sturgeon has not yet been able to confirm whether the new cases are linked to the outbreak in Aberdeen.
The Scottish Conservatives have accused the SNP of “systemic failures” in a flagship Scottish Covid contact tracing scheme after a high-profile spike in new cases.
Government's 'Stay At Home' message may have led to increase in heart attack deaths
The Government's "Stay at Home" messaging may have led to an increase in the number of heart attack deaths, new research has implied.
The "Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives" slogan employed by the Government during the early part of the pandemic may have had the "unintended consequences" of people putting off seeking care for heart attack symptoms, researchers said.
Researchers examined data on hospital admissions for 99 hospitals in England comparing information from before lockdown and during lockdown. Experts found that during lockdown, there was a "substantial decline in admissions" among acute heart attack patients.
There was also an increase in death rates for what is usually a lower risk heart attack, according to the study published in the European Heart Journal - Quality of Care and Clinical Outcomes.
The study, led by the University of Leeds, looked at data on 50,689 patients who had a heart attack and were treated at 99 acute NHS hospitals in England over the 14 months prior to UK lockdown on March 23, and the first two months of lockdown.
Sturgeon warns she could close pubs and restaurants again after spike in cases
Nicola Sturgeon has blamed young adults for putting Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19 at risk, as she warned that she is prepared to shut down pubs and restaurants again if Covid-19 cases continue to rise.
The First Minister said she had seen pictures of “largely younger people” not following distancing rules over the weekend that “made me want to cry” and suggested the hospitality sector could be sacrificed if it meant allowing schools to fully reopen safely.
While Ms Sturgeon said introducing new curbs on pubs and restaurants was “the last thing I want to do" she said she was willing to introduce new restrictions, “upto and including” another shutdown of the businesses.
The warning came after several Covid-19 cases were linked to a city centre pub in Aberdeen at the weekend, and the number of new infections confirmed on Sunday hit a two-month high.
In case you missed it yesterday, Daniel Sanderson has more here.
Local authority sets up test-and-trace system to plug gaps in English scheme
The local authority with the highest infection rate in England has launched its own contact-tracing system to plug holes in the £10bn national scheme described by Boris Johnson as “world-beating”, the Guardian reports.
Blackburn with Darwen council, in Lancashire, set up its own virus-hunting team after the national system failed to reach hundreds of its most vulnerable residents.
Dominic Harrison, the council’s director of public health, said the government programme was “simply not tracing enough cases and contacts fast enough”. The move reflects growing frustration among local health officials with the national test-and-trace system, which has been described as needing improvement if England hopes to avoid a second wave worse than the first.
The Guardian reports that in Blackburn with Darwen, where the infection rate is more than 10 times England’s average, dozens of staff have been seconded from other departments to contact residents who could not be reached by the national system.
The council said under its new model, which was supported by Public Health England, local teams would track down people who could not be reached by the national system after 48 hours. If local officials still did not make contact after two days, council workers would visit their address to pass on advice and offer support.
Five things to read this lunchtime
Good afternoon. If you're just joining us, here's some news, analysis and comment from across our website to accompany you this lunchtime:
Revealed: How the Government is really deciding which countries to put on quarantine list. As Telegraph analysis shows Portugal had lower Covid rates than many "Green" countries Britons were allowed to visit, our travel news editor, Hugh Morris, has all you need to know on what the drivers are behind the Government's decisions.
The man behind the revolutionary 90-minute Covid test - and the family anguish that spurred him on. Tests currently take 24 hours to process, and two in 10 come back with a "false negative". A game-changing new technology could change that, and Victoria Lambert and Luke Mintz have interviewed the man behind it.
Schools reopening 'not up for debate' says minister, despite fears it could prompt second wave. Schools will reopen "in full" this autumn, a minister has said, despite a Lancet study warning that it could result in a second coronavirus wave more than twice the size of the first. Cat Neilan has all the latest on our politics live blog.
A 'generational catastrophe': 24 million children will never return to school post-Covid, UN warns. The pandemic has unleashed a “generational catastrophe”, with more than one billion children in some 160 countries missing school this year, according to the United Nations. Sarah Newey has more.
Africa at 'pivotal point' as continent races towards one million coronavirus cases. Many officials are looking anxiously to South Africa, where the virus is surging through densely packed urban areas, overwhelming some of the best equipped public hospitals on the continent and forcing authorities to dig mass burial sites, reports Will Brown.
Interpol warns of 'alarming' cybercrime rate during pandemic
Global police body Interpol has warned of an "alarming" rate of cybercrime during the coronavirus pandemic, with criminals taking advantage of people working from home to target major institutions.
An assessment by the Lyon-based organisation found a "significant target shift" by criminals from individuals and small businesses to major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure.
"Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by Covid-19," said Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock.
"The increased online dependency for people around the world is also creating new opportunities, with many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyberdefences are up to date," he added.
The report said cybercriminals were sending Covid-19 themed phishing emails - which seek to obtain confidential data from users - often impersonating government and health authorities.
Cybercriminals are increasingly using disruptive malware against critical infrastructure and healthcare institutions, it added.
Melton's Covid-19 infection rate 'higher than Manchester'
Melton in Leicestershire has a higher coronavirus infection rate than Manchester, new figures have shown.
The BBC reports that the borough's 19 new cases in the week to 30 July saw its rate jump from 17.6 cases per 100,000 people to 37.2 - the eighth highest rate in the UK. Manchester's rate for the same period was 34.3.
It comes after Greater Manchester became one of a number of areas in northern England to be subject to new lockdown measures.
The figures also showed the coronavirus infection rate is continuing to fall in Leicester and the borough of Oadby and Wigston - the last suburb outside of the city area to be released from the Leicester lockdown zone on Saturday.
In the city, the rate fell from 66.2 to 52.6, while Oadby and Wigston's rate dropped to 12.3, down from 42.1 the previous week.
Majority of Canadians would support returning to lockdown, poll finds
A sizeable majority of Canadians would support, or "somewhat support", returning to lockdown in the event of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in their country, according to a new poll
The survey, conducted for The Globe and Mail by Nanos Research and published today, recorded that more than seven in 10 respondents indicated some level of support for shutting down most businesses and implementing self-isolation
“Even with the economic uncertainty, Canadians are quite receptive to a shutdown of the economy again if there was a resurgence,” Nik Nanos, who oversaw the polling, told the newspaper.
“It’s pretty clear that Canadians understand that even though we may be doing okay, this is not over.”
One in four Canadians expressed some degree of opposition.
The man behind the revolutionary 90-minute Covid test
Tests currently take 24 hours to process, and two in 10 come back with a "false negative". A game-changing new technology could change that, writes Victoria Lambert and Luke Mintz.
Until now, tests have had to be sent off to laboratories, often by post, where they take a minimum of four hours to process. A 24-hour turnaround time is seen as the “gold-standard”, experts say. But Prof Toumazou’s test, along with another test supplied by Oxfordshire-based Oxford Nanopore, can be processed on the spot in portable machines, at a cost of just £20 per kit. They are likely to be used to screen travellers at airports, and teachers will be randomly tested to determine whether reopening schools in September has any effect on transmission rates.
The tests can detect flu as well as Covid, meaning people with Covid-like symptoms will know whether they are suffering from the more common illness and can avoid self-isolating. It follows a successful pilot of the 90-minute tests in Southampton.
“I’m excited because I’ve always been passionate about trying to bring these sorts of testing technologies to the consumer,” says Prof Toumazou, who wants to “de-mystify” the testing process and dispel the idea that a Covid test can only be carried out by a white-coated scientist in a faraway lab. “It’s such great news when you see a midwife doing a test, or a nurse or a surgeon, [rather than] a laboratory assistant.”
Read the full interview here.
24 million children will never return to school post-Covid, UN warns
The pandemic has unleashed a “generational catastrophe”, with more than one billion children in some 160 countries missing school this year, according to the United Nations.
Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, warned that school closures as a result of Covid-19 “could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities."
He added that even before the pandemic hit, the world faced a “learning crisis” with well over 250 million children out of school and just a quarter of pupils in developing countries leaving secondary school with “basic skills”.
But the current crisis has triggered the most severe disruption to the world’s education system in history, Mr Guterres said, with some 40 million children missing out on education “in their critical preschool year”.
Sarah Newey has more here.
Man beaten with bats over face mask dispute in Paris suburb
A resident of a Paris suburb says he was beaten with baseball bats because he asked a fellow laundromat patron to wear a face mask – a requirement in all indoor public places in France to fight resurgent coronavirus infections.
Surveillance video of the attack published Tuesday by Le Parisien newspaper shows two people with bats and two others attacking a masked man inside the laundry facility then fleeing, leaving him face down on the floor.
The victim, identified only as Augustin, told BFM television that he was beaten because he had asked one of the attackers to don a mask when he entered the laundromat in the town of Soisy-sous-Montmorency north of Paris.
“I had a mask, I asked this person to put on his mask,” Augustin said. “He acted as if he didn’t hear, I insisted. He called his brother or his cousin or someone he knew who was outside ... they were threatening, insulting.”
Minutes later he saw two people enter with baseball bats. “I received blows on my back, on my temple, on my skull.” Le Parisien reported that he filed a police complaint. The identities of the attackers are unclear.
France has seen scattered incidents involving resistance to wearing masks, where in one case a French bus driver was beaten to death after he asked passengers to wear face masks aboard his vehicle.
Where the jobs axe is falling across the UK
Companies across Britain have seen their revenues decimated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – and many have begun to announce job cuts ahead of the closure of the Government’s job retention scheme in October.
Our reporter Sophie Smith has a list of the companies that have axed jobs in the UK since the coronavirus crisis. In total, 129,289 jobs have been lost or are at risk. This does not include a number of companies that have warned of redundancies but have yet to put a figure on them.
From Buzzfeed and Burger King to EasyJet and HSBC, here's a list of where there have been job losses so far.
Pizza Express to close 67 outlets with 1,100 jobs at risk
Pizza Express is planning to close 67 of its UK restaurants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk as it looks to shore up cash as the pandemic hammers sales.
The chain, which was founded in 1965, has been put up for sale by its Chinese owners, Hony Capital, with advisers from investment bank Lazard hired to oversee an auction of the business.
Pizza Express plans to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) that would result in the closure of around 15 per cent of its 449 UK sites. The CVA would require the approval of landlords and other creditors. It is also seeking rent reductions as part of the insolvency procedure.
Hannah Uttley has more here.
Government must 'act immediately' to support those on maternity leave during pandemic, MPs say
The Government must urgently consider additional support for those on parental leave during the coronavirus pandemic before it is too late, MPs have said.
Labour MP Catherine McKinnell, chairwoman of the Petitions Committee, has written to Business Minister Paul Scully, saying the Government must understand the urgency of the issue and "act immediately" before more parents have to give up their jobs.
A report published by the committee last month recommended that the Government should publish new guidance making it clear that pregnant women have a right to be suspended on full pay if they cannot work safely.
Other suggestions included changing the way Statutory Maternity Pay is calculated to disregard periods of unpaid leave or Statutory Sick Pay where pregnant women were put on these incorrectly.
The committee argued that, as the Government was able to amend the Statutory Maternity Pay calculations to disregard the lower income of periods on furlough, it should also do so for women whose incomes have fallen through no fault of their own because their employers have failed to follow the guidance on how pregnant women should be treated.
The report was prompted after more than 226,000 people signed an e-petition calling for the Government to extend maternity leave by three months with pay in light of Covid-19, with thousands raising concerns about the dangerous impact the pandemic is having on their children's development and their own mental health.
But the Government said a response to the report would not be possible before the House rose for summer recess on July 22 due to the need for careful consideration of recommendations.
Vietnam capital short of test kits as national coronavirus cases climb
Vietnam reported ten new Covid-19 infections and two deaths today, lifting its total cases to 652, with eight dead, as the capital Hanoi said it was running short of the rapid testing kits being used to keep a new outbreak at bay.
Targeted testing and strict quarantining had helped Vietnam contain earlier outbreaks, but it is battling a new cluster of infections after going more than three months without detecting any domestic transmission.
The new outbreak has infected more than 200 people since July 25, the majority in the central city of Danang, but it has spread to at least eight other cities and provinces, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, where entertainment venues are closed and gatherings restricted to prevent infections.
Reuters reports that more than 88,000 people have returned to Hanoi from Danang since July 8, but only 70,689 were tested, the health ministry said. Only two of those were positive.
The gap is due to a shortage of rapid testing kits used to screen thousands of residents at a time, according to state media.
The health ministry said it would assign Hanoi medical institutions and hospitals to boost testing capacity.
The rapid test kits, which can diagnose a blood sample in minutes but are prone to inaccuracies, are used to identify potentially positive cases which are then confirmed with the more accurate, swab-based Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.
Poland reports fourth record daily rise in cases
Poland has reported its fourth record daily increase in coronavirus cases in a week, with more than 30 per cent of cases coming from the Silesia region in the south, which has been grappling with another outbreak among coal miners.
The daily record, with 680 new infections and six deaths, comes as Poland considers introducing stricter restrictions, including mandatory testing for travellers returning to Poland and quarantine for those coming from certain countries.
More than 220 cases were reported in Silesia.
Sanitary services said last week that the resurgence of Covid-19 among miners is a result of loosening restrictions and the working conditions in mines, where it is difficult to enforce social distancing.
The government is also considering additional restrictions for weddings, officials have said. Poland currently allows 150 guests at weddings.
Poland now has a total of 48,149 recorded coronavirus cases and 1,738 deaths.
France risks losing control of coronavirus, warns science council
France could "change course at any moment" to a runaway spread of coronavirus, the government's Covid-19 scientific council warned today as official data showed the first rise in intensive care patients since April.
In an opinion prepared for the government, the council warned "the virus has recently been circulating more actively, with an increased loss of distancing and barrier measures" since France emerged from a strict two-month lockdown in May.
"The balance is fragile and we can change course at any time to a less controlled scenario like in Spain for example," it said.
The council also warned of a possible "resumption of circulation of the virus at a high level" by autumn 2020, after the August summer holidays.
Data released by the health department on Monday showed the number of people in intensive care had risen by 13 since Friday, breaking the downward trend observed since April, when French people were under strict stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the virus.
Returning NHS services to normal levels for winter 'a big stretch'
Asked if NHS (England) chief executive Sir Simon Stevens' request for trusts to prepare ahead of winter returning non-coronavirus services to near normal levels was realistic, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think it's a big stretch."
He added: "I think it's very uncertain at the moment how quickly people will be able to get up and running, and, of course, there's lots of other uncertainties around.
"It's not just obviously trying to run Covid and non-Covid services, staff having to wear this PPE equipment, social distancing, all those things inhibit productivity and some services at the moment are around 60 per cent.
"There's another factor actually which is about patient confidence and whether patients will actually come in the numbers that we need them to come because there are sort of two messages coming from Government at the moment.
"One is the virus is still here, be cautious stay alert, these are not normal times. At the same time, we're trying to say NHS services are open for business and we need patients with symptoms to come forward."
Russia reports 5,159 new cases
Russia has reported 5,159 new cases of the coronavirus, pushing its national tally to 861,423, the fourth largest in the world.
The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 144 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 14,351.
Watch: Schools reopening 'absolutely vital' says minister despite fears it could prompt second wave
Post-menopausal women at higher risk of developing severe Covid-19, research suggests
Post-menopausal women with lower levels of the female sex hormone estrogen appear to be at higher risk of developing severe Covid-19, research suggests.
The study, led by researchers at King's College London, found that high levels of estrogen may have a protective effect against the coronavirus.
Using data from the Covid Symptom Study App, researchers examined the rate of predicted Covid-19 among post-menopausal women, pre-menopausal women using the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) and post-menopausal women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), from more than 500,000 women in the UK, between May 7 and June 15 2020.
Researchers hypothesised that estrogen could serve as a protectant against Covid-19, and previous studies on SARS-CoV and MERS suggest this might explain why men of all ages are at a higher risk of severe infection, including Covid-19.
The study found that women in the 45-50 age group were most likely to be at risk, and reported symptoms of anosmia, fever and a persistent cough, and the need for oxygen treatment in hospital was significant in this group.
Women using the COCP, between 18-45 years, had a lower rate of predicted Covid-19 and corresponding reduced frequency of symptoms, including persistent cough, delirium, anosmia, skipped meals, severe fatigue and pain.
The rate of hospitalisation was also significantly lower in this group.
Tui extends suspension of Portugal holidays
Tour operator Tui has extended the suspension of holidays to Portugal for UK customers up to and including August 16.
The firm said it will "continue to review its holiday programme in line with UK Government advice".
Most English regions had deaths below five-year average last week
All but three regions of England had deaths below the five-year average in the week ending July 24, the ONS said.
The exceptions were the East Midlands, where the number of registered deaths was 5.8 per cent above the five-year average, the West Midlands (5.2 per cent above average) and north-east England (2.7 per cent above average).
The other regions were north-west England (1.1 per cent below), south-west England (2.4 per cent below), south-east England (3.2 per cent below), eastern England (3.5 per cent below), London (6.1 per cent below) and Yorkshire & the Humber (8 per cent below).
In Wales, the number of deaths registered in the week to July 24 was 0.2 per cent below the five-year average.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths in care homes, hospitals and other communal establishments remained below the five-year average in Week 30, while the number of deaths in private homes continued to be higher than the five-year average (727 more deaths).
Of the deaths registered in Week 30, 217 mentioned "novel coronavirus (COVID-19)", the lowest number of deaths involving Covid-19 in the last 18 weeks and a 26.4 per cent decrease compared with Week 29 (295 deaths), accounting for 2.4 per cent of all deaths in England and Wales.
UK deaths with Covid on death certificate surpass 56,000
More than 56,600 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK.
Figures published today by the ONS show that 51,596 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to July 24, and had been registered by August 1.
Figures published last week by the National Records for Scotland showed that 4,201 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to July 26, while 854 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland up to July 24 (and had been registered up to July 29) according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
Together, these figures mean that so far 56,651 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.
World facing 'generational catastrophe' on education, UN chief warns
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on today that the world faces a "generational catastrophe" because of school closures amid the coronavirus pandemic and said that getting students safely back to the classroom must be "a top priority."
Guterres said that as of mid-July, schools were closed in some 160 countries, affecting more than 1 billion students, while at least 40 million children have missed out on pre-school.
This came on top of more than 250 million children already being out of school before the pandemic and only a quarter of secondary school students in developing countries leaving with basic skills, he said in a video statement.
"Now we face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities," said Guterres as he launched a UN "Save our Future" campaign.
"Once local transmission of Covid-19 is under control, getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority," he said. "Consultation with parents, carers, teachers and young people is fundamental."
BP cuts dividend after huge loss as pandemic hammers demand
BP has slashed its dividend for the first time in a decade after falling to a record loss in the second quarter as the pandemic hammered energy demand.
The company halved its payout to 5.25 cents a share from 10.5 cents – its first cut since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
It came as the oil titan slumped $6.7bn (£5.1bn) into the red in the second quarter under its preferred measure of underlying replacement cost loss, compared with profits of $2.8bn for the same period a year earlier.
The loss was slightly better than the $6.8bn analysts had predicted, prompting shares to rally 5.8pc higher to 297.4p in early trading.
Simon Foy has more here.
Aboriginal group blocks access to Australia's Uluru over virus fears
Indigenous residents forced the closure of Australia's famed Uluru national park today, after blocking tourists from accessing the sacred site amid fears over the spread of Covid-19.
AFP reports that about 30 members of the local community physically blocked dozens of tourists arriving from virus-hit eastern Australia from accessing the park entrance, said Glenn Irvine, manager of Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation, which handles local community issues.
Locals said they were blindsided by the arrival of 43 tourists on a flight from Brisbane, Queensland and decided to take action.
"We were of the understanding that the flight was cancelled," Irvine told AFP.
"We asked for the national park to be closed," he added. When that did not happen, "members of the community gathered at the park gate".
After crisis talks with local authorities, the park remained closed.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park said in a statement: "We have the utmost respect for Uluru-Kata Tjuta's traditional owners and are continuing to work in good faith with them and all other parties to keep Mutitjulu residents safe."
There are 'very bad surges' without proper testing and tracing, says WHO official
Dr David Nabarro, the WHO's special envoy on Covid-19, warned that if Test and Trace is "not done properly, then you get very bad surges occurring".
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This virus is capable of surging back really quickly and is actually doing so in most countries where there's been success at getting it under control and, as it surges back, the way you stop outbreaks developing is through having well-functioning contact tracing linked to testing, with isolation of people who've got symptoms or who've been in contact.
"If we can do that, and do it well, then the surges are kept really small, they're dealt with quickly and life can go on.
"If, on the other hand, this testing and tracing and isolation just is not done properly, then you get very bad surges occurring and this will lead to economic challenges."
Expert: If Test and Trace not done effectively, there is risk of a second wave this year
Dr Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths, senior research fellow and lecturer in mathematical modelling at the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, UCL and lead author of the modelling study, said if Test and Trace is "not done effectively or adequately, then there is a risk of an occurrence of a second wave later this year".
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Using the information that we have to date and in the mathematical study that we are talking about, we have fitted the model to data between 21 January this year and 16 June inclusive.
"We predict ... that under the scenarios, that under different Test and Trace scenarios, we ... are able to avoid a second wave if we test sufficiently, (a) sufficient number of people with symptoms and trace their contacts sufficiently, but if this is not done effectively or adequately, then there is a risk of an occurrence of a second wave later this year and peaking in December for the scenario of full opening of schools (in) society."
Britons were less likely than French or Italians to follow lockdown guidelines, study finds
Only 71 per cent of Brits, Americans and other English speakers around the globe followed guidelines set by their governments during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to a new study from Durham University Business School.
This was drastically lower than French and Italians – where 89 per cent of respondents followed guidelines.
The research was conducted at the end of April 2020, the height of the global pandemic, when many countries were at the strictest stage of their lockdowns.
Researchers also found that only 70 per cent of native English speakers were happy to take preventative steps such as wearing a mask indoors, social distancing, avoiding crowds, staying at home and washing their hands frequently.
The findings come from a survey of over 8,300 respondents from 70 countries, which was collected via the mobile phone app from Praditus.com. The interviews focused on beliefs and attitudes towards three key areas of Covid-19 prevention: following government recommendations, taking health precautions (including mask wearing, social distancing, handwashing, and staying at home), and encouraging others to take health precautions too.
Africa at 'pivotal point' as continent races towards one million coronavirus cases
After months of slow burn, Africa is now roaring towards one million coronavirus cases.
Many officials are looking anxiously to South Africa, where the virus is surging through densely packed urban areas, overwhelming some of the best equipped public hospitals on the continent and forcing authorities to dig mass burial sites.
“The continent is at a pivotal point,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Africa Director said last week. “The virus has spilled out of major cities and spread into distant hinterland.”
“We can still stop Covid-19 from reaching full momentum, but the time to act is now,” Dr Moeti warned.
When the pandemic began to wreak havoc on Italy’s advanced healthcare system in March, international observers made grim predictions of hundreds of thousands if not millions of deaths in Africa.
Our Africa correspondent Will Brown has more here.
1.5 million have come into contact with virus in Italy, study suggests
In Italy, nearly 1.5 million people have come into contact with the coronavirus, a new study suggests, which is six times more than the official number of people infected.
The study was carried out by the health ministry, Red Cross and national statistics agency.
The results of serological tests suggest that 1.482 million people in Italy - 2.5 per cent of the resident population -have developed antibodies for SarsCov2. That means that six times as many people have come into contact with the virus than the number of confirmed cases identified so far.
The "provisional' analysis is based on 64,660 serological tests taken as part of a campaign to see how widely the coronavirus has spread in the Italian population. The campaign failed to hit the target of doing 150,000 tests but the health ministry and ISTAT say the analysis is still valid.
Trump gets grilled on US deaths
Here is a trailer for Jonathan Swan's interview with Donald Trump, to be aired later today, where they clash over the number of deaths in the USA from Covid-19.
Watch the extraordinary clip below:
Greek cabinet reshuffle expected as country seeks to quell rise in infections
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday will announce "operational improvements" in his government, his spokesman said as the country seeks to quell a rise in coronavirus infections after reopening to tourism.
The announcement on what is expected to be a limited reshuffle will be made at midday (0900 GMT), government spokesman Stelios Petsas said.
"We are talking about improving the government's performance as we head into major challenges," a lawmaker of the government's conservative New Democracy party, Kostas Karagounis, told state TV ERT, pointing to the ongoing tourism season and the risks of the coronavirus pandemic.
Greece has seen Covid-19 infections increase this month to levels last seen in April, with officials blaming overcrowding in clubs and social events.
Since July 1 there have been over 340 confirmed infections among nearly 1.3 million incoming travellers, according to the civil protection agency.
Former prime minister Tony Blair calls for a mass testing regime
Former prime minister Tony Blair said a mass testing regime - covering people who are not displaying coronavirus symptoms - is essential to avoid the need for another lockdown.
"On some estimates 70 per cent of people with the disease are asymptomatic, so if you are only testing people with symptoms you are losing the majority of people from your testing strategy," he told Times Radio.
Without a vaccine or an effective treatment, mass testing is the only way to control the spread of the virus, he said.
"From the very beginning, mass testing has been the only thing that gets you through this, avoids the severity of the very blunt instrument of lockdown and gets you to a place where you can more or less get your economy moving whilst containing the disease."
He praised the Government for increasing testing availability but said more needs to be done, including making sure the existing capacity is actually used.
NHS Test and Trace programme "is delivering" but "there's always more to do", says Simon Clarke
The NHS Test and Trace programme "is delivering" but "there's always more to do", minister for regional growth and local government Simon Clarke has said.
Mr Clarke insisted the programme to track those with Covid-19 was working, adding "schools are going to reopen in full in the autumn".
He told Sky News: "I think it's obviously vital that we always continue to keep up the progress that we're making with test and trace, which is a massive national undertaking and it is working, I really would emphasise that.
"184,000 people so far have been contacted by the programme, either who've tested positive or their contacts, and those people have all been allowed to self isolate, removed from the community at a time when they could be at risk of spreading the virus.
"That's obviously a massive success, we reach over 80% of positive test results and contact over 75% of their close contacts, so this is a programme which is delivering and which is helping to keep us all safer.
"There's always more to do, we continue to work very hard to boost our testing capacity ... we're on track to deliver half a million by the end of October. But one thing is clear, schools are going to reopen in full in the autumn, that is not up for debate."
Germany is already dealing with a second wave
Germany is already contending with a second wave of the coronavirus and risks squandering its early success by flouting social distancing rules, the head of the German doctors' union said in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.
The number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases has ticked up steadily in recent weeks, with health experts warning lax adherence to hygiene and distancing rules among some of the public is spreading the virus across communities.
"We are already in a second, shallow upswing," Susanne Johna, president of Marburger Bund, which represents doctors in Germany, told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
She said there was a danger that a longing to return to normality and a suppression of containment measures would fritter away the success Germany had achieved so far, urging people to stick to social distancing and hygiene rules and wear masks.
Europe's biggest economy has so far withstood the pandemic with far fewer deaths than some large neighbours like France and Italy, owing to widespread testing, a well-equipped healthcare system and good adherence to social distancing.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 879 to 211,281, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday. The reported death toll rose by eight to 9,156, the tally showed.
Johna said hospitals were prepared and would make intensive care beds available to Covid-19 patients on a staggered basis, while at the same time gradually reducing the number of planned admissions to normal wards.
According to the DIVI intensive care register there are almost 21,000 intensive care beds in Germany, of which some 12,200 are currently free. As of Monday, there were 270 Covid-19 patients in intensive care, of whom 130 were being ventilated.
Airline easyJet see more bookings than expected
Budget airline easyJet has said that it has more bookings for the rest of the summer than it expected and will fly 40 per cent of its capacity in the fourth quarter of the financial year.
In the three months to the end of June, easyJet made just £7 million in revenue after the company's fleet was grounded from March 30 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It started flying again in the middle of June and carried 117,000 passengers in the 132,000 seats it had available in the last two weeks of the quarter, easyJet said.
The man behind the revolutionary 90-minute Covid test
Professor Chris Toumazou, a bio-engineer at Imperial College London, tells the Telegraph how he produced a safe, effective test for Covid-19 that would transform Britain’s approach to the virus by delivering a result in hours, rather than days.
His efforts finally bore fruit this week, when the Government placed an order for 5.8 million of his rapid Covid-19 test kits, to the tune of £161 million.
His work meant months without visiting his family, who live in Australia.
Read the full interview here.
UN says 1 billion students affected by closures
The United Nations chief says the pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education in history, with schools closed in more than 160 countries in mid-July affecting more than 1 billion students.
In addition, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that at least 40 million children worldwide have missed out on education "in their critical pre-school year".
As a result, he warned that the world faces "a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities".
"We are at a defining moment for the world's children and young people," Mr Guterres said in a video message and a 26-page policy briefing. "The decisions that governments and partners take now will have lasting impact on hundreds of millions of young people, and on the development prospects of countries for decades to come."
Mr Guterres called for the reopening of schools once the local transmission of the virus is under control.
West Indies T20 series in Australia called off
Australia's October Twenty20 series against the West Indies was called off on Tuesday, as the pandemic continues to affect the international sporting calendar.
It follows the postponement of the T20 World Cup, scheduled for October-November in Australia, and this month's one-day international series against Zimbabwe.
Cricket Australia said the three-match West Indies series had been intended as a warm-up to the T20 World Cup, but could no longer serve that purpose.
"In light of this development... it has been agreed to postpone the matches," CA said in a statement.
The series will be take place ahead of the rescheduled T20 World Cup, on dates yet to be decided in either 2021 or 2022.
Daly withdrew from PGA Championship due to 'health concerns'
Two-time major winner John Daly said on Monday that concerns about his health amid the pandemic had prompted his decision to withdraw from this week's PGA Championship.
Daly, known as "Wild Thing" during his heyday on the PGA Tour, withdrew on Sunday from the Aug. 6-9 event, one of golf's four majors, which will be played at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park without spectators.
The tweet marked a shift in tone from April when he joked about vodka and Diet Coke being a "cure" for Covid-19. He later said he meant no harm with his comment.
Fewer infections reported in China and Hong Kong
Both mainland China and Hong Kong reported fewer new cases on Tuesday as strict measures to contain new infections appear to be taking effect.
Mainland China announced 36 new cases across the country, down from 43 the previous day. No new deaths were registered , leaving China's total at 4,634 among 84,634 cases reported since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
Hong Kong reported 78 new cases over the previous 24 hours, the first time in almost two weeks that new cases had fallen into double-digits.
Latin America hardest hit region with 5 million cases
Latin America broke through 5 million confirmed cases on Monday, a Reuters tally showed, underscoring that the region is the area of the world hardest hit by the pandemic.
The coronavirus was initially slower to reach Latin America - home to about 640 million people - than much of the world. But health experts say it has been hard to control the virus due to the region's poverty and densely packed cities.
The more than 10,000 new cases reported by Colombia's health ministry on Monday pushed the region past the 5 million mark, a day after the Andean nation reported a record 11,470 cases.
Latin America has now topped 200,000 deaths. Brazil's total approached 96,000 on Monday and Mexico surpassed 48,000. The two countries have the world's second and third highest death tolls, after the US.
North America is the region with the second highest number of cases, with 4.8 million infections, according to a Reuters tally, followed by Europe and Asia, which have around 3 million infections each.
Australian state introduces tough new penalty
Australia's second-most populous state Victoria said on Tuesday anyone who has contracted Covid-19 and caught outside their home in breach of isolation orders will face fines of nearly A$5,000 (£2722).
Victoria state earlier this week imposed a nightly curfew, tightened restrictions on people's movement and ordered large parts of the local economy to close.
But state Premier Daniel Andrews said nearly a third of those who had contracted Covid-19 were not home when checked on by officials, requiring tough new penalties to stop community transmission.
Honeymooners hitch ride home on Antarctic boat
A New Zealand honeymoon couple stranded on the remote Falkland Islands in March because of the coronavirus has managed to return home by hitching a ride of more than 5,000 nautical miles (9,200 kilometers) on an Antarctic fishing boat.
Feeonaa Clifton said she had never spent even a single night on a boat before she and her husband Neville embarked on the monthlong voyage through some of the world's most forbidding seas.
After weeks spent watching albatrosses and learning how to don survival suits, they were finally able to set foot on land again on Tuesday.
In pictures: Circus acts take to the streets of Peru
Due to the pandemic, circuses in Peru remain closed, leading this group of clowns travelling in their mototaxi circus to perform in the streets of Lima.
Hurricanes increase risk of infection in Caribbean
Caribbean nations were scrambling to adapt storm shelters to prevent the spread of coronavirus and stock up on supplies, with thousands of people already evacuating their homes as the hurricane season gets underway, aid agencies warned on Monday.
A busier than normal Atlantic Ocean hurricane season has been predicted for 2020, and the coronavirus could "spread easily in crowded emergency shelters" where social distancing would be difficult, said UNICEF, the United Nations' children's agency.
"In the coming days and weeks, children and families will be at risk of being hit simultaneously by two disasters, Covid-19 and hurricanes," said Bernt Aasen, UNICEF's regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
"This is the perfect storm we fear for the Caribbean and Central America," he said in a statement.
With more than 4.5 million cases and about 190,000 deaths, Latin America and the Caribbean have become a global hot spot for infections.
About 5,000 people in the Dominican Republic were evacuated from their homes over the weekend as Tropical Storm Isaias churned through the Caribbean and up the Atlantic coast.
Trump threatens to sue Nevada over mail-in ballots
President Trump vowed on Monday to sue Nevada after the state's Democratic lawmakers passed a bill to send mail-in ballots to every voter before November's presidential election in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trump, who has repeatedly claimed without evidence that voting by mail will lead to rampant fraud, wrote on Twitter that the legislation approved on Sunday was an "illegal late night coup" and told reporters his administration was already preparing a lawsuit.
"We will be suing in Nevada. And that's already been taken care of, we'll probably file something tomorrow," he said during a White House briefing.
Mr Trump told reporters he had a right to issue an executive order regarding mail-in ballots but did not elaborate on what that would involve. "We haven't gotten there yet," he said.
GCSE English literature students to get choice of topics
Students taking GCSE English literature exams next summer will not have to cover all the topics as planned, due to lengthy school closures, England's exams regulator has announced.
Ofqual has confirmed pupils will be offered a greater choice of subjects in exam papers for English literature, history and ancient history in 2021.
But school leaders have criticised the regulator's decision not to offer optional questions in exams for the remaining GCSE and A-level subjects after students have faced months out of the classroom.
Government drops plan to make over-50s shield
Plans to extend shielding to some over-50s this winter have been abandoned after Cabinet ministers mounted a backlash against the proposal.
Downing Street killed off the plan to tell over-50s to stay at home after ministers warned it was impractical, could damage the economy and sent out mixed messages on the day the Government wanted workers to get back to the office.
Industry chiefs and prominent backbenchers including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith also warned it was “economic madness” by depriving business of key managers and experience at a time when they were needed to help rescue industry in face of a recession.
The plans led to a row within Government with business and economic ministers distancing themselves from the policy and warning of economic consequences.
Read more: Shield plan dropped after Cabinet backlash
Today's top stories
Plans to extend shielding to some over-50s this winter have been abandoned after Cabinet ministers mounted a backlash against the proposal
Workers who have continued to come into the office during the coronavirus pandemic resent their colleagues who work from home and some are being offered extra pay or perks, HR professionals have said
Reopening schools without an improvement in test and trace could result in a second coronavirus wave more than twice the size of the first, a Lancet study suggests
Monday to Wednesday is the new weekend, restaurants said as they hailed the first day of the new “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme and reported a surge in bookings
There might never be a "silver bullet" treatment for the coronavirus pandemic, according to the director general of the World Health Organisation
Homeowners will be able apply for grants of up to £10,000 to install double glazing and upgrade to energy efficient doors as part of a new Government drive to improve energy efficiency