One in five Britons turn NHS app contact tracing off amid 'pingdemic' surge

·46 min read
The UK Government plans to bring in vaccine passports for nightclubs at the end of September  - Chris Eades/Getty Images
The UK Government plans to bring in vaccine passports for nightclubs at the end of September - Chris Eades/Getty Images

06:07 PM

What happened today?

Good evening, that's all from us for now. Here's an update on UK Covid developments:

  • Downing Street insisted it was "crucial" to self-isolate when alerted by the NHS Covid-19 app, as officials slapped down the business minister Paul Scully for suggesting this morning that people could make an "informed decision" on whether to isolate after being pinged

  • One in five Britons have turned the contact tracing function off for the NHS app, a YouGov poll suggested, amid mounting pressure on the Prime Minister to address the "pingdemic" of self-isolation alerts grinding the British economy to a halt

  • The decision to move France onto the UK's amber-plus travel list is "not clear", said Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Government's own vaccine advisory committee JCVI, adding: "I'm not really sure quite what the thinking was behind that"

  • Critical workers will have to apply for Boris Johnson's promised exemption for certain industries from self-isolation because there will be no official list, Downing Street said as it did not rule out supermarket workers being included

  • Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she was considering introducing vaccine passports, like in the UK from the autumn for nightclubs, but warned of the ethical and civil liberty risks - and urged the JCVI not to "rule out" offering all teenagers a vaccine

  • Almost a quarter of pupils (1.7 million) in England were out of school last week, the latest official attendance figures show, including over a million absent for Covid-related reasons

  • The UK reported another 96 Covid-linked deaths - the highest number since late March.

05:55 PM

Coronavirus around the world, in pictures

People in Dhaka, Bangladesh, don their masks as they board a ferry ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha - Allison Joyce/Getty Images
People in Dhaka, Bangladesh, don their masks as they board a ferry ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha - Allison Joyce/Getty Images
A Japan self-defence force vehicle arrives at Tokyo International Forum, one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics venues amid warnings the Games could still yet be cancelled - Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images
A Japan self-defence force vehicle arrives at Tokyo International Forum, one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics venues amid warnings the Games could still yet be cancelled - Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images
A mobile phone screen bears the EU Digital Covid Certificate as the French government rolls out mandatory health passports for many public spaces, sparking mass protests - JOEL SAGET/AFP
A mobile phone screen bears the EU Digital Covid Certificate as the French government rolls out mandatory health passports for many public spaces, sparking mass protests - JOEL SAGET/AFP

05:45 PM

France infections rise 150 per cent in a week

New Covid cases in France have risen 150 per cent in a week thanks to the delta variant, after 18,000 cases were reported for the previous 24 hours, French media reported.

Health minister Olivier Veran told the French parliament: "That means we have an increase in the spread of the virus of around 150% in the last week: we’ve never seen that, neither with Covid [the original form], nor the British variant, nor the South African or the Brazilian one."

But the beta variant is surging more quickly elsewhere on the continent, as this graphic shows:

05:42 PM

Sturgeon rebukes minister's unsourced mask graphic

A senior Scottish minister has received an apparent rebuke from Nicola Sturgeon after tweeting an incorrect graphic about face masks.

John Swinney, the deputy first minister, came under fire on Monday for tweeting an unsubstantiated graphic that claimed there was zero risk of Covid transmission if people wear face coverings and stay two metres apart.

The SNP politician tweeted: "As we move to Level 0 in Scotland - marking good progress on our careful process of relaxing restrictions - this is a helpful graphic showing why we must use face coverings and keep our distance."

It prompted calls from the Scottish Conservatives to take it down, but it remains live.

Questioned on the row during this afternoon's press briefing, Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon said in an apparent rebuke: "We recognise that in seeking to illustrate that [point], we should take care to use properly verified graphics and we will certainly take that on board in terms when we tweet that information in future."

Scotland's deputy chief medical officer said the evidence on masks was "incredibly complex", depending on many factors such as the type of mask and the setting.

05:15 PM

Analysis: How delta variant dominance could come to our defence against Europe's beta surge

With Britain firmly in the grip of the delta blues, concerns about other variants had largely slipped off the radar.

So it was unexpected when last week the Government insisted that doubly-vaccinated travellers from France would still need to quarantine for ten days because of the "persistent presence of the beta variant".

The beta variant, formerly known as the South African variant, was rattling around Britain last year before it was convincingly out-competed, first by the alpha (Kent) variant, then more recently the delta (Indian) strain. Just a dozen or so cases are now reported each week.

Scientists were initially concerned about beta because it carries two troublesome mutations, one which increases transmissibility, and a second which helps it evade immunity.

But a quick look at the figures in France tells a less gloomy story. Far from rising, cases of the beta variant have been falling in the country since May.

04:55 PM

Government warned against learning 'wrong lesson' on prisons from pandemic

A prisons watchdog has warned the Government against learning the "wrong lesson from the pandemic" as he said inmates were "not being rehabilitated while they are banged up".

In his first annual report since taking over the role, chief inspector of prisons Charlie Taylor said in the past year "many prisoners have been released without some of the core building blocks that will help them to lead successful, crime-free lives", running the risk that "more will continue to offend".

The predicted large-scale deaths in prisons as a result of Covid-19 were prevented, but the severe and prolonged measures put in place as a result harmed the physical and mental welfare of inmates, he said.

Mr Taylor's observations came on the same day the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland described some of the changes made in jails during the pandemic as a "success".

04:33 PM

One in five Britons turn NHS contact tracing app off

Ministers have come under increasing pressure in recent days to tackle the "pingdemic" of NHS app alerts grinding British industries to a halt.

Some 500,000 people received a notification last week from the NHS Test and Tracer app saying they should self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is moving to exempt certain fully vaccinated workers in critical industries, and Downing Street have expressed concern about people deleting the app altogether.

Now it has emerged that as many as one in ten Britons have deleted the app since installing it, and one in five have the contact tracing function turned off.

A YouGov poll of 1,761 British adults between July 15 and July 16 shows that 10 per cent have deleted the app, having previously installed it, on top of 31 per cent who have never downloaded it despite owning a smart phone.

“App deserters” are more likely to be in the younger age group, with 17 per cent of those aged 18-24 deleting the app having previously installed it.

Other findings include:

  • 20 per cent of Britons with the app have contact tracing or Bluetooth turned off; 14 per cent turn tracing off at certain times

  • A third of those with the app have avoided scanning QR codes at venues at least once (33 per cent)

  • 3 in 10 have never downloaded the app despite owning a smart phone (31 per cent).

The pingdemic is affecting many businesses - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The pingdemic is affecting many businesses - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

03:55 PM

Hospitality backlash over vaccine passports

As the Government presses ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports domestically this autumn, Sacha Lord, Manchester's night-time economy adviser, calls it "extremely concerning" for the hospitality industry.

03:48 PM

Boris squanders vaccine victory with 'Freedom Day' chaos

This 'unlockdown' strategy is riddled with the same sense of chaos that has come to define the Johnson Government in general, Jeremy Warner writes.

The UK Government is in danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in its Covid strategy. After a disastrously ill-judged initial response to the pandemic, ministers came close to redeeming themselves with the headstart they achieved in vaccine rollout, but like drunken sailors on shore leave, are now busy squandering their gains.

03:25 PM

Latest UK Covid figures

A further 46,558 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the UK, Government figures show.

Another 96 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, which is the highest reported daily figure since March 24 and brings the UK total to 128,823.

While deaths and hospitalisations are slightly rising, the vaccine's effect at weakening the link between infection and serious illness means they are a fraction of their level in previous waves for these case rates.

Government data up to July 19 shows that of the 82,592,996 Covid jabs given in the UK, 46,349,709 were first doses, a rise of 35,670 on the previous day.

Some 36,243,287 were second doses, an increase of 143,560.

03:08 PM

Delta variant accounts for 83 per cent of US cases

Health officials say the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to surge and accounts for an estimated 83 per cent of US Covid-19 cases.

That's a dramatic increase from the week of July 3, when the variant accounted for about 50 per cent of genetically sequenced infections.

"The best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 variants is to prevent the spread of disease, and vaccination is the most powerful tool we have," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The delta variant is a mutated coronavirus that spreads more easily than other versions. It was first detected in India but now has been identified around the world.

02:54 PM

Government's vaccine advisory board needs to be less male-dominated, says minister

Pregnant women have not been prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine because of the male domination of the decision-making committee, according to a health minister.

Nadine Dorries said she was "shocked" to discover the number of men and women on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The Tory minister suggested scientific committees taking decisions about women's health should have a gender balance.

Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on reducing baby loss, Ms Dorries raised her 32-weeks-pregnant daughter and said: "I was quite shocked to discover - after constantly asking why pregnant women aren't being prioritised - I just took a glance at the make-up of the JCVI, to discover that it is made up of 14 men and three women.

"So I am unsurprised at the JCVI not emphasising or prioritising pregnant women for vaccination.

"Again, that is a point I am raising within the department and in particular with the women's health strategy - because maybe all scientific committees that make decisions about women's health should have a gender balance."

Queues have formed at testing and vaccine centres in recent weeks - Morgan Sette/AAP Image
Queues have formed at testing and vaccine centres in recent weeks - Morgan Sette/AAP Image

02:27 PM

Major trial of Sinopharm shot set to begin in Mozambique

A major trial to tests China’s Sinopharm vaccine is set to launch in Mozambique, in an attempt to better understand how effective the shot is against the variants circulating in southern Africa, writes Sarah Newey.

The trial, announced on Tuesday by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (Cepi) and the International vaccine Institute (IVI), comes after the Covax vaccine scheme signed an agreement to distribute the shot, which is already in use in 50 countries.

But to date, there have been no trials assessing how well the vaccine works against variants widespread in southern Africa, nor its effectiveness in HIV-infected individuals.

The study - set to begin shortly - will involve volunteers in Beira and Maputo, Mozambique, and is expected to deliver interim results before the end of the year.

A separate phase two trial will also assess whether Sinopharm and AstraZeneca’s vaccines can be used in a “mix and match” regime.

Both shots are set to be widely used across Africa; if they can be used in coordination it could bring far greater flexibility to the rollout in the face of fluctuating supply.

02:22 PM

Government faces tense Commons vote over vaccine passports

The move to introduce vaccine passports in nightclubs this autumn sets up crunch votes in Parliament, with an unusual coalition of lockdown-septic Tory MPs and liberal Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs expected to oppose it amid fears that it paves the way for ID cards.

Much will depend on whether Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, whips his MPs to oppose the move. Sir Keir told The Telegraph earlier this year that Covid passports went against the "British instinct".

The vice chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, Sir Charles Walker, is among the first out of the blocks vowing to vote against Government proposals for the use of Covid passports in nightclubs.

Asked on the BBC Radio 4 World At One programme if he would back the plans in a vote, he said: "It will be a vote that I will vote against the Government, I've voted against the Government on most things to do with Covid."

He added: "The Government said that it wasn't going to introduce vaccines passports, and is. I think it will start with nightclubs then quickly move on to other venues and parts of the hospitality sector.

"I'm afraid this is just part of the pattern, things are ruled out then a volte-face is done."

02:03 PM

In pictures: UK's heatwave weather continues post-'Freedom Day'

People enjoying the hot weather at Bournemouth Beach in Dorset on July 20 - Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
People enjoying the hot weather at Bournemouth Beach in Dorset on July 20 - Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Pedalo riders travel along the Serpentine, in London's Hyde Park - Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Pedalo riders travel along the Serpentine, in London's Hyde Park - Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
People enjoying the sun at Helen's Bay beach in County Down, Northern Ireland - Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People enjoying the sun at Helen's Bay beach in County Down, Northern Ireland - Liam McBurney/PA Wire

01:43 PM

Covid hospitals in Pakistan's largest city turning away patients

The spread of the coronavirus delta variant is surging in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi on the eve of the Eid al Adha Muslim holiday, medical officials have warned.

The Sindh provincial government said on Monday that the Covid-19 situation in the city is becoming serious, and warned people that ignoring precautionary measures during the holiday could make matters worse.

During the past 24 hours, the coronavirus positivity rate in the Sindh capital increased to 25.7 per cent, nearly five times the national rate of 5.25 per cent.

Government hospitals have reached saturation point, something not witnessed during previous waves, and even some private hospitals are refusing patients, said Dr Qaiser Sajjad, of the Pakistan Medical Association.

“God have mercy on us, people are not taking this pandemic seriously. Such irresponsible behavior on the Eid festival will make matters worse,” Sajjad told Reuters.

The Delta variant could spread during the holiday as people travel from cities like Karachi to their home towns.

01:15 PM

Vaccine passports for clubbing... but not for the Commons

Ministers have been warned off making Covid vaccine passports a requirement for MPs to attend the House of Commons.

The Government plans to make full vaccination a condition of entry to nightclubs and "other venues where large crowds gather" from the end of September - with proof of a negative test no longer considered sufficient.

But Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he has received no indication that the policy will apply to the Commons, adding he does not believe it applies to MPs.

Asked about the issue by the Tory MP Mark Harper, he said: "I have had no indication that the Government considers the policy he's mentioned should apply to this House.

"There is nothing to stop a member coming in to here, you have the right to come to this House unless this House otherwise says so. The Government's not been in touch, I don't expect them to be in touch because, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't apply to members."

The Commons chamber would regularly accommodate more than half the 650 MPs pre-pandemic, but this has been curtailed by social distancing during the pandemic.

01:02 PM

Watch: How Boris Johnson's nightclub Covid passports U-turn is creating trust issues for his Government

12:52 PM

No 10 not sure how many critical workers will be exempt from isolation

Downing Street was unable to say how many fully vaccinated workers will experience loosened isolation rules under Boris Johnson's new plans.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "I don't have a specific number for you at the moment. As these discussions proceed we might have a clearer sense of the numbers, but as the Prime Minister set out yesterday it will be a very low number of people."

Asked if it will be on the scale of hundreds or thousands, the spokesman said: "I wouldn't want to set specific numbers on it at this point."

12:34 PM

Vaccine passports for pubs too?

Downing Street has not ruled out extending the mandatory use of vaccine passports to pubs.

Boris Johnson's official spokesman said: "The Prime Minister talked about the sort of areas we were considering, and nightclubs are where there is significant evidence we have at the moment.

"But we're going to use the coming weeks to look at the evidence, particularly both in the UK and globally before making a specific decision."

Downing Street also suggested full vaccination will still be mandatory for nightclub entry this autumn regardless of whether uptake among young adults is significantly increased.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "This is the policy that the Prime Minister has set out and this is what we will be introducing by the end of September."

But he added: "We would obviously consider exemptions for those, for example, who can't get vaccines for medical reasons."

12:20 PM

Australian man ties bedsheets together to escape fourth-floor hotel quarantine

A man in the Australian city of Perth escaped mandatory quarantine in a hotel by scaling down a rope made of tied together bedsheets from a fourth-floor window, police said on Tuesday.

After arriving in the West Coast city on an interstate flight from Brisbane, the man had his application for entry refused under the state's tough border entry rules intended to stop the virus entering from elsewhere in the country.

The man was told to leave the state within 48 hours and taken to a hotel for temporary quarantine.

But just before 1am on Tuesday (local time) "he climbed out a window of the fourth-floor room using a rope made of bed sheets and fled the area", Western Australia Police said in a Facebook post.

A view of a bedsheet rope used by a 39-year-old man to escape from quarantine hotel in Perth, Australia - Western Australia Police/Handout via REUTERS
A view of a bedsheet rope used by a 39-year-old man to escape from quarantine hotel in Perth, Australia - Western Australia Police/Handout via REUTERS

12:03 PM

'Bizarre freedom day heralds the start of a disturbing new normal'

The PM must start being honest about living with the risks of Covid – the perils of not doing so are worse, says our columnist Sherelle Jacobs.

In the end, though, Freedom Day went off with a ping rather than a bang – beckoning not a break for liberty but an unsettling “new normal”. Amid test-and-trace chaos and gloomy third wave warnings, this week’s relaxations feel like a snatched reprieve rather than a decisive restoration of our old lives. The PM has been humbled – forced to hold a Zoom press conference as he self-isolates on the day he had planned to channel his hero Winston Churchill with a speech declaring “victory” over Covid.

As things stand, the libertarian cause has not simply been defeated, but routed. Instead of “learning to live with Covid”, society looks set to learn to live with restrictions.

11:51 AM

Lobby latest: PM urges more caution, and denies latest Cummings broadside

Boris Johnson has reiterated to ministers that the move to Step 4 of the lifting of coronavirus restrictions did not mean the pandemic was over, during a meeting with his Cabinet on Tuesday.

A readout after the meeting from Downing Street said: "Cabinet concluded with an update on Covid-19. The PM said that on Monday we moved to Step 4 of the road map and lifted many of the remaining restrictions across England.

"However, this is not the end of the pandemic and we must continue to stress the need for caution and gradual behaviour change."

Downing Street also denied Dominic Cummings' claim that Boris Johnson wanted to visit the Queen in person in March last year after coronavirus hit No 10.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "This didn't happen and we've been clear about that."

11:28 AM

Minister slapped down by No 10 after suggesting people can choose to isolate

There's been yet another row over the 'pingdemic' this morning. Catherine Neilan fills you in...

A minister has been slapped down by Number 10 for suggesting people could make their own "informed decisions" about whether to self-isolate after being pinged by the NHS Covid app.

During the media round this morning Paul Scully, the small business minister, stressed that while it was a legal requirement to isolate if you have been contacted by Test and Trace, that same requirement did not apply to those who were alerted via the app.

"The app is there to allow you to make informed decisions," he told Times Radio. "By backing out of mandating a lot of things, we're encouraging people to really get the data in their own hands to be able to make decisions on what's best for them, whether they're employer or an employee."

Asked whether this meant people should or should not self-isolate if 'pinged', he said it was "up to individuals and employers".

But Downing Street subsequently insisted that it was "crucial people isolate when they are told to do so, either by NHS Test and Trace or by the NHS Covid app".

A spokesman said: "Businesses should be supporting employees to isolate, they should not be encouraging them to break isolation."

11:19 AM

Covid-related school absences surge to one million

More than one million state school pupils in England did not attend class last week for Covid-19 related reasons - a new record high since all students returned in March.

An estimated 1.05 million pupils were out of school on July 15, the equivalent of around one in seven (14.3%), according to the Department for Education.

Of this total:

  • 773,700 pupils were self-isolating due to a possible contact with a case of coronavirus from inside school

  • 160,300 pupils were self-isolating due to a possible contact with a case of coronavirus from outside school

  • 47,200 pupils had a confirmed case of coronavirus

  • 34,800 pupils were absent as a result of school closures due to Covid-19 related reasons

  • 34,500 pupils had a suspected case of coronavirus.

Camilla Turner has more on these alarming figures.

11:07 AM

Jailed senior adviser to ousted Myanmar leader dies from Covid, party says

Myanmar politician Nyan Win, a senior adviser to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, died in hospital on Tuesday after becoming infected with Covid-19 in jail, his party said, as the Southeast Asian country struggles with an exponential rise in infections.

Nyan Win, 78, who had been held in Yangon's Insein prison after being arrested when the army seized power on Feb. 1, was transferred to hospital last week, the National League for Democracy (NLD) said in a statement.

Reuters was unable to reach the health ministry or a junta spokesman for comment.

Myanmar has been hit hard by Covid - Thein Zaw/AP
Myanmar has been hit hard by Covid - Thein Zaw/AP

10:45 AM

Watch: I stopped PM seeing the Queen at beginning of pandemic, says Cummings

10:32 AM

India's Covid deaths '10 times higher than reported'

India's coronavirus death toll is up to 10 times higher than the nearly 415,000 fatalities reported by authorities, likely making it the country's worst humanitarian disaster since independence, a US research group has said.

The Center for Global Development study's estimate is the highest yet for the country of 1.3 billion people, which was gripped by a delta variant surge in April and May.

The study - which analysed data from the start of the pandemic to June this year - suggested that between 3.4 million and 4.7 million people had died from the virus.

"True deaths are likely to be in the several millions, not hundreds of thousands, making this arguably India's worst human tragedy since partition and independence," the researchers said.

India's official death toll of just over 414,000 is the world's third-highest, after 609,000 fatalities in the US and Brazil's 542,000.

Experts have been casting doubt on India's toll for months, blaming the already overstretched health service.

India's health system has been blamed for under counting Covid-linked deaths - JAGADEESH NV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
India's health system has been blamed for under counting Covid-linked deaths - JAGADEESH NV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

10:22 AM

Covid-related weekly deaths in England and Wales highest since April

The number of deaths involving coronavirus registered each week in England and Wales has climbed to its highest level since the end of April.

A total of 183 deaths registered in the week ending July 9 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up 68 per cent on the previous week, and is the highest number since 205 deaths were registered in the week to April 30.

Deaths had dipped as low as 84 in the week to June 11.

The number of deaths is still well below the level seen at the peak of the second wave, however - some 8,433 deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in England and Wales in the week to January 29.

The total number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to July 9 was 6.2 per cent above the pre-pandemic five-year average, the ONS said, for the first time since the week to February 26.

09:59 AM

Row over minister's self-isolation comments

John Edmunds, professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a member of Sage, disagreed with business minister Paul Scully's comment that self-isolating should now be up to individuals.

Speaking on Times Radio, Professor Edmunds said: "Contact tracing and self-isolation play an important role in stopping cases getting out of control and preventing deaths. It's important we maintain these measures as stringently as we can.

"We have one of the highest rates of cases in the world right now. The NHS has been under strain for a long time and they are busy trying to catch up on operations and are very, very busy. So to put them under more pressure now is going to be awkward."

09:49 AM

'Ministers mix messages, change approach and water down proposals'

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: "The Government making it up as they go along.

"Ministers mix messages, change approach and water down proposals when the public and businesses need clarity and certainty.

"If this is a true change in approach on the app, why didn't the Prime Minister set this out last night?

"Yet again there is more confusion and incompetence from the heart of government at the expense of public health. They need to get a grip."

09:31 AM

Downing Street slaps down minister for suggesting self-isolating was a choice

Downing Street slapped down business minister Paul Scully after he suggested that self-isolating when pinged by the Covid-19 app should be a matter for individuals and employers to decide.

It was "crucial" to self-isolate when told and business should be supporting employees to do so, Downing Street said.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: "Isolation remains the most important action people can take to stop the spread of the virus.

"Given the risk of having and spreading the virus when people have been in contact with someone with Covid it is crucial people isolate when they are told to do so, either by NHS Test and Trace or by the NHS covid app.

"Businesses should be supporting employees to isolate, they should not be encouraging them to break isolation"

09:26 AM

Australian man escapes quarantine from fourth-floor hotel room using bedsheets

But not everybody is on board with the tighter restrictions in Australia...

A man in Perth escaped mandatory quarantine in a hotel by scaling down a rope made of tied together bedsheets from a fourth-floor window, police said on Tuesday.

A 39-year-old man was arrested and charged after he fled his hotel room  - Western Australia Police Force
A 39-year-old man was arrested and charged after he fled his hotel room - Western Australia Police Force

After arriving in the West Coast city on an interstate flight from Brisbane, the man had his application for entry refused under the state's tough border entry rules intended to stop the virus entering from elsewhere in the country.

The man was told to leave the state within 48 hours and taken to a hotel for temporary quarantine, but just before 1am on Tuesday "he climbed out a window of the fourth floor room using a rope made of bed sheets and fled the area", Western Australia Police said in a Facebook post.

They also posted photos the makeshift rope hanging from a window on the brick building's top floor down to the street.

The drop from the fourth floor - Western Australia Police Force
The drop from the fourth floor - Western Australia Police Force

Police arrested the man across town about 8 hours later, and charged him with failing to comply with a direction and providing "false/misleading information". They did not disclose the man's identity except to say that he was aged 39 and tested negative to the virus, nor did they give a reason for his alleged actions.

09:12 AM

More than half of Australia in lockdown

More than half of Australia's 25 million population is under lockdown after a third state imposed movement restrictions on Tuesday to contain the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 delta variant.

Australia's coronavirus case numbers and deaths are well below other developed nations, but the country's use of lockdowns due to a sluggish vaccination rollout is putting pressure on the national government with polls at their lowest in a year and just months before elections are due to be held.

South Australia, a state of 1.8 million people, imposed a seven day lockdown after detecting five infections linked to a returned traveller, just as neighbouring Victoria state extended a five-day lockdown by a week after it failed to stop new cases.

"We hate putting these restrictions in place but we believe we have one chance to get this right," South Australia premier Steven Marshall told reporters.

Sydney, the country's largest city and where the latest Delta outbreak started before spreading to other states, is in its fourth week of a five week lockdown.

New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital, logged 78 new cases on Tuesday, from 98 a day earlier, its biggest daily dip since Sydney went into lockdown.

09:08 AM

Poll results | More than a third will still wear masks as they have been

On Monday we asked you, the Telegraph reader, if you would be ditching your face masks.

More than 3,000 votes were registered, and the results are in:

  • No - I'll keep wearing it as I have been (34%)

  • Yes - I'm not wearing one unless I'm told I have to (43%)

  • Sort of - I'll have it on and off as the guidance requires (23%)

You can still have your say below.

09:00 AM

Poll | Will you self isolate if you're pinged by the app?

While it is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you are contacted directly by the NHS either by text or email to say you have been close contact of a confirmed case, pinging remains murky.

Business minister Paul Scully has said that being 'pinged' by the Covid app meant self-isolating was "up to individuals and employers". So, given that, what would you do?

08:56 AM

Labour accuses Government of 'panic and confusion'

Labour's shadow economic secretary said Covid certification could have a role to play when combined with testing.

Pat McFadden told Sky News: "We will have to look at this proposal as it comes out because what strikes me most of all over the last 24 hours is the panic and confusion that this shows on the part of the Government."

He said: "I think it could have a role to play if combined with testing, but vaccine passports are not enough on their own when only two-thirds of the population have had a double vaccine. So we've still got about a third of the population who haven't had that.

"They'll also be a proportion of the population who for some medical reason maybe can't have the vaccination. So vaccination on its own can't just be the whole answer, it's got to be something which runs alongside testing."

08:44 AM

Freedom day, in pictures

A full crowd fill the seats ahead of the Royal Albert 150th Anniversary Concert at Royal Albert Hall on July 19, 2021 in London - Joe Maher/Getty
A full crowd fill the seats ahead of the Royal Albert 150th Anniversary Concert at Royal Albert Hall on July 19, 2021 in London - Joe Maher/Getty
A protester wears 'freedom' written on face masks on her back. An anti lockdown and anti-vaccine demonstration took place as almost all Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in England - Michael Melia/Avalon
A protester wears 'freedom' written on face masks on her back. An anti lockdown and anti-vaccine demonstration took place as almost all Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in England - Michael Melia/Avalon
A person attends the 'freedom day' demonstration - Beresford Hodge/Reuters
A person attends the 'freedom day' demonstration - Beresford Hodge/Reuters

08:39 AM

'Clearer guidance' needed on self-isolating

Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery said the Government needed to give "clearer guidance" to people about whether or not to self-isolate if pinged by the NHS app.

"When we had no protection the risk was the same for everybody. If that risk is now reduced because someone is double vaccinated it feels as though we need more sophisticated advice," Sir Jonathan said.

"If we are visiting an elderly relative or a cancer patient then take the ping seriously but, if you are doing something relatively Covid-friendly then maybe make a different decision.

"The Government needs to do more to help us make better decisions."

08:34 AM

Excess deaths in India reach 4 million

The number of excess deaths in India since the onset of the pandemic has crossed four million, according to new research by the US-based Center for Global Development.

India Correspondent Joe Wallen writes although we cannot say for certain that the additional fatalities were all caused by Covid, states across India that have made mortality data available show the gross under-reporting of deaths from the virus, particularly during India's devastating second wave.

India has one of the world's most underfunded and understaffed public healthcare systems and the meagre available resources have been directed to handle Covid-19 over the last 18 months.

Therefore, it is expected that there has also been an uptick in deaths from other chronic diseases like heart disease and malaria, as Indians have had restricted access to usual healthcare support during the pandemic.

India's official death toll from Covid-19 is 414,000 but the researchers from the Center for Global Development used three separate data sets to predict there were between 3.4 million and 4.7 million excess deaths than would normally occur, since February 2020. Meanwhile, India's second wave continues to show signs that it has subsided. On Tuesday, the country reported 30,093 new daily cases - its lowest tally in four months.

07:54 AM

Government adviser concerned about vaccine passports' impact on personal freedoms

Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, who chaired the ethics advisory board for NHSx on its contact tracing app, spoke to Times Radio on Tuesday morning about the Government's plans to introduce mandatory vaccine passports for nightclubs and other venues.

Sir Jonathan said he was concerned about the impact such a requirements would have on personal freedoms.

He said: "We should have a debate about where incentive reaches coercion. Maybe this is more like hanging a carrot out if someone would like to go to a nightclub then they need to get vaccinated.

"But it raises the question about the impact on people who can't get vaccinated for medical reasons, or ethical reasons, or people who just don't want to get vaccinated."

Sir Jonathan said he believed No 10's decision not to allow unvaccinated people to be able to get into venues by providing evidence of a negative Covid-19 test was more about "providing an incentive to get vaccinated rather than public safety".

"The best way to get people to take the vaccine is to communicate that it's safe," he added.

07:47 AM

Could Spain be next for amber plus?

Asked whether Spain was going to be added to the amber plus list of travel restrictions, business minister Paul Scully said the decisions were "taken at Cabinet level".

He told Sky News: "They'll look at the data, and they'll make sure that they can work out what is best to make sure that we keep transmission of the virus low, we keep the transmission of the variants low, because it's the variants that are really key here to work out how they're interacting with our vaccine programme."

Asked whether rates being higher in Spain than in France, where those returning from the country are no longer exempt from quarantine, pointed to Spain being added to the amber list, Mr Scully said: "It's not just about... we try and give people as much data as we can but it's not just about the pure numbers.

"It's also about the variants, and the style of variants, the Beta variant, for example, that's quite prevalent in France at the moment, we're looking at how that interacts with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"And so it's... there's a lot of factors that are involved in the decisions that are taken around travel."

07:31 AM

Britons accepted restrictions due to 'Government fearmongering', says Lord Sumption

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption said people had accepted coronavirus restrictions due to the demand for security and "Government fearmongering".

When asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday why so many people consented to the demands of the state he said: "I think that it is to some extent the demand for security that has been a growing characteristic of human society, especially in the west for quite a number of years, and to some extent it has been stoked up by Government fearmongering.

"After the lockdown was first announced last March the Government resorted to what I regard as an appalling campaign to heighten the risks beyond those which actually existed.

"Of course there are risks, of course this is serious, but the way in which it was portrayed and the unbalanced way in which it was portrayed was appalling and something that we must learn from in future."

07:30 AM

JCVI member in France asked why France is on amber plus list

Here is Professor Adam Finn.

07:20 AM

Americans urged not to travel to UK

The State Department has elevated the UK to "do not travel" status amid a surge in Covid-19 cases in Britain.

Following the updated advice from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, Britain has been placed at the highest warning level, meaning Americans should not visit except in an emergency.

The UK recorded more than 48,000 new cases on Monday, and there is concern in Washington that the virus could spread even among the vaccinated.

07:02 AM

Vaccine passport 'completely unecessary', says Lord Sumption

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption said that vaccine passports were now "completely unnecessary".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday: "Getting vaccinated is a choice that people have. "I don't think one should compel them to do it but I think, like most choices in life, you have to accept that they have ups and downs in the way of consequences.

"I don't think vaccine passports imposed by the state are a good idea now.

"Earlier this year when fewer people had been vaccinated I thought that there was something to be said for allowing those who had been to prove the fact and return to normal life.

"But at the moment, with 70% having had both jabs, including all vulnerable groups, I think it is completely unnecessary."

06:49 AM

Self-isolating after being pinged by app 'up to individuals'

Paul Scully has said that being 'pinged' by the Covid app would "allow you to make informed decisions" but self-isolating was "up to individuals and employers".

The business minister told Times Radio: "Well, I think the exemption is being extended beyond the NHS to critical workers. So critical infrastructure and these kind of things.

"We've seen the Metropolitan line in London close, for example, because of a handful of really crucial signal workers having to self-isolate. So it's those kind of things that we're extending to.

"It's important to understand the rules. You have to legally isolate if you are on the... contacted by Test and Trace, or if you're trying to claim isolation payments.

"The app is there to give... to allow you to make informed decisions. And I think by backing out of mandating a lot of things, we're encouraging people to really get the data in their own hands to be able to make decisions on what's best for them, whether they're employer or an employee."

Asked whether this meant people should or should not self-isolate if 'pinged', he said: "We want to encourage people to still use the app to be able to do the right thing, because we estimate it saves around 8,000 lives."

However, he added that it was "up to individuals and employers".

06:45 AM

Lord Sumption 'disappointed' by Government's 'two-faced' freedom day

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption said he was "disappointed" by the Government's "two-faced response" to so-called freedom day.

When asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme if he was disappointed by the lack of freedoms, he said: "I am disappointed by the Government's two-faced response.

"They have removed legal restrictions but put pressure on employers, venue owners, public transport and so on to maintain them as if nothing had changed.

"The latest statement about nightclubs for example, which is really a threat that unless they voluntarily insist on vaccine passes the Government will force them to do so, is a classic example.

"The age group affected by nightclubs has a negligible chance of getting seriously ill or dying, if they wish to take a risk then why should they not do so?"

06:45 AM

'I'm not comfortable that Government is mandating anything frankly', says minister

Asked whether he was comfortable with the Conservative Party implementing something similar to an ID card, Mr Scully told Sky News: "I'm not comfortable that Government is mandating anything frankly, I'm a very libertarian Conservative, I want to be able to back off, that's why yesterday was an opportunity for Government to back off from so many different things and let people live their lives.

"But what we have to do is make sure that people will also live their lives safely, the NHS can function safely, and these are the challenges that we still have to do.

"So it's incredibly frustrating, it's incredibly complicated to work through the detail, but that's the challenge we have."

He said ministers urged nightclubs to implement the use of Covid-19 passports voluntarily ahead of September.

06:33 AM

'Crowded pubs' will not be subject to vaccine passports, insists minister

Business minister Paul Scully told Sky News that "crowded pubs" would not be included in plans to use Covid-19 certification.

He said nightclubs and "larger ticketed events" would be affected and he said "there are a number of sporting venues that are already looking at voluntarily doing this".

He said: "We want to stop the NHS being overwhelmed by cases throughout the winter."

06:24 AM

'We've got to get it absolutely right', says minister on nightclubs

Business minister Paul Scully said the use of Covid passports for nightclubs was not being introduced straight away in order to get the "detail" right.

He told Sky News: "We need to look at the detail behind it."

And he added: "It's got to get through parliamentary scrutiny, so we've got to get it absolutely right, we've got to work with the sectors that are going to be affected, to make sure that we can define this really carefully.

"All we're doing right now is giving an advanced warning of what is coming down the line."

He denied the scheme was a bribe to young people to get their coronavirus vaccinations.

06:17 AM

Today's front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, July 20.

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05:47 AM

‘Critical’ workers can be exempt from self-isolation

Critical workers will be able to avoid self-isolation if they come near someone with Covid in a bid to keep trains running and avoid food shortages.

On Monday, Boris Johnson expanded the list of sectors whose employees could be exempt from the normal rules as he sought to ease the impact of the "pingdemic".

Train drivers, care home staff, medicine manufactures, border security guards, soldiers and people who work in food, water and electricity supply are among those who could benefit.

Read the full story here.

05:00 AM

'I've seen grown men cry': the humanitarian crisis at sea

"I've seen grown men cry," says Captain Tejinder Singh, who hasn't set foot on dry land in more than seven months and isn't sure when he'll go home.

It's a plight facing tens of thousands of seafarers like him, stranded at sea as the delta variant wreaks havoc on shore.

"People don't know how their supermarkets are stocked up," he says.

Captain Singh and his 20-strong crew are among about 100,000 seafarers stranded at sea beyond their regular stints of typically 3-9 months, according to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS); many without even a day's break on land. Another 100,000 are stuck on shore, unable to board the ships they need to earn a living on.

The delta variant devastating parts of Asia - home to many of the world's 1.7 million commercial seafarers - has prompted many nations to cut off land access to visiting crews, in some cases even for medical treatment.

Only 2.5pc of seafarers have been vaccinated.

The United Nations describes the situation as a humanitarian crisis at sea and says governments should class seafarers as essential workers.

Given ships transport around 90pc of the world's trade, the deepening crisis also poses a major threat to the supply chains we rely on for everything from oil and iron to food and electronics.

04:42 AM

China reports spike in cases at border

China on Tuesday reported the highest daily tally of new confirmed Covid cases since January, driven by a surge in imported infections in Yunnan province, where cases are spilling over from an "alarming spike" in neighbouring Myanmar.

Mainland China recorded 65 new confirmed cases for July 19, compared with 31 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said. That was the most since January 30, when 92 cases were reported.

Imported infections accounted for most of the new cases reported for July 19, with Yunnan reporting 41 cases originating from abroad, all of whom were Chinese nationals who recently returned from Myanmar.

04:29 AM

Another Australian city in lockdown

A third Australian state announced lockdown rules on Tuesday to combat the delta variant's spread.

South Australia has entered week-long restrictions, joining an extended lockdown in Victoria and a five-week shutdown in Sydney.

New South Wales is battling the worst Covid outbreak of this year, with cases exceeding 1,400 since the first case was reported more than a month ago in a limousine driver who transported overseas airline crew.

NSW authorities reported a slight slowdown in new cases on Tuesday as infections fell to 78 from 98 a day earlier.

At least 21 of the new cases were infectious while still in the community; a number that authorities said must be close to zero in order for lockdown restrictions to be lifted.

Ninety-five cases are now in hospitals in NSW, with 27 in intensive care, 11 of whom are on ventilators. Five deaths have been reported during the latest outbreak.

03:49 AM

Pfizer vaccine linked to Bell’s palsy

The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has been linked to Bell's palsy after a 61-year-old British man suffered facial paralysis after each dose of the vaccine.

In an article in the journal BMJ Case Reports, Dr Abigail Burrows, of Royal Surrey County Hospital, described how the man experienced paralysis to the right side of his face five hours after the first jab.

He attended the emergency department after he was unable to close his left eye properly or move the left side of his forehead and was given a course of steroids. Six weeks later, he suffered paralysis to the left side of his face two days after his second dose, causing him to dribble and have difficulty swallowing.

Although the condition cleared up after a further course of steroids, Dr Burrows advised medics to be on the lookout for the condition in patients who have recently received the jab.

Read the full story here.

02:20 AM

Boris faces backlash over nightclub vaccine plan

The Prime Minister is facing a backlash over plans to make coronavirus vaccination compulsory for nightclubs and other crowded venues.

Venues, backbench Tories and opposition MPs criticised Boris Johnson's announcement on Monday - the day that clubs in England were allowed to open for the first time since March last year.

Speaking from self-isolation on so-called "Freedom Day", Mr Johnson warned venues with large crowds that they must make full vaccination a requirement of entry from the end of September.

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said during the Downing Street press conference that clubs had the potential to cause "super-spreading events".

READ MORE: Vaccine passports to push young into getting Covid jabs

01:16 AM

Andrew Lloyd Webber begs Government for help

Andrew Lloyd Webber has accused the Government of idiocy after the "blunt instrument" of its self-isolation rules resulted in the cancellation of performances of his West End show Cinderella.

The theatre impresario said the current system is "completely, completely untenable" and his industry has been left "on its knees".

He had earlier announced Cinderella would not be returning to the stage on Monday after a member of the cast tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday.

"I say this from the heart, I am seeing the profession I have loved, I'm seeing musical theatre I think I had a small part in pioneering in this country at a time when frankly the British were not considered to be people who could do musicals," he said.

"And I am just saying it with passion - please, please will this Government for once listen to us.

"Listen. We do know what we're doing, we do. Just listen and knock all these platitudes and endless, endless blunt instruments that don't apply across the board."

He added that "I have tried and I have tried and I have tried" to work with the Government and prove theatres are safe.

READ MORE: 'Theatre is now on its knees, there’s no way forward': Andrew Lloyd Webber begs Government for help after Cinderella is suspended

12:20 AM

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