Coronavirus news you may have missed overnight as Tory MPs turn on Cummings and schools to reopen despite serious concern

Harry Cockburn
A beach on the island of Mykonos on the eve of the beginning of it's delayed tourist season on May 24, 2020. After months of being on lockdown due to the coronavirus, Greece will begin ease travel restrictions on movement between the mainland and the country's islands: Getty

The coronavirus pandemic continues to cause chaos around the world as governments aim to limit the spread of the disease, while also reducing the impact of the virus on their economies.

Covid-19 has now infected 5.5 million people worldwide, with over 346,000 deaths.

In the UK, 36,793 people have died from the disease – the highest figure in Europe, and the second highest in the world after the United States.

The UK government is continuing its gradual easing of lockdown measures.

Here is your daily briefing of coronavirus news you may have missed overnight.

Conservative MPs tell Boris Johnson to launch inquiry into Dominic Cummings

Boris Johnson is facing demands from “blue wall” Tory MPs who helped him win last year’s general election to launch an inquiry into Dominic Cummings’s actions during lockdown.

The calls came after the prime minister staked his authority on a full-throated defence of his most senior adviser, saying the public would understand why he drove 260 miles while they were being told to stay at home.

Keir Starmer calls Boris Johnson's defence of Dominic Cummings 'insult to sacrifices of British people'

Keir Starmer has said that Boris Johnson has 'failed' by defending Dominic Cummings over a 260-mile trip during lockdown.

The Labour leader said: "This was a test of the Prime Minister and he has failed it.

"It is an insult to sacrifices made by the British people that Boris Johnson has chosen to take no action against Dominic Cummings.

"The public will be forgiven for thinking there is one rule for the Prime Minister's closest adviser and another for the British people.

"The Prime Minister's actions have undermined confidence in his own public health message at this crucial time.

"Millions were watching for answers and they got nothing. That's why the Cabinet Secretary must now launch an urgent inquiry."

Boris Johnson announces schools will reopen on 1 June as UK enters phase two of lockdown exit

A major teaching union has warned that Boris Johnson's decision to press ahead with a partial reopening of primary schools in England on 1 June is "seriously at odds" with scientific evidence about the risk of coronavirus infection to pupils, teachers and parents sparking a second wave of Covid-19.

And a second union said it would not be right for schools - which have been open only to vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers during lockdown – to open more widely at the start of next month.

Education staff fear return to school, survey finds

Thousands of education workers fear the consequences of returning to work amid the coronavirus pandemic, a survey has found.

The research by Unison found that 83 per cent of 5,000 staff in Scotland were worried about going back to work or increasing the number of children returning to classrooms. The union called on Nicola Sturgeon‘s government – which recently set out a lockdown-easing roadmap – to create guidance for teachers on using PPE and other issues.

Just 3 per cent of respondents to the survey, carried out between 18 and 22 May, believed it was currently safe to return. Thirteen per cent said they were losing sleep because of the thought of it.

Japan ends state of emergency in some regions including Tokyo

Experts on a special government panel have approved a plan to remove a coronavirus state of emergency from Tokyo and four other remaining prefectures, paving the way for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare entirely ending the measure to allow businesses to gradually resume.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that experts on a government-commissioned panel approved the plan to end the state of emergency that has lasted for more than a month and a half.

PA

Coronavirus: Oxford vaccine ‘has only 50-per-cent chance of success’

Oxford University scientists working on a coronavirus vaccine have said it may only have a 50-per-cent chance of success.

Project leader Professor Adrian Hill, of the university’s Jenner Institute, said the realisation of a working vaccine was far from guaranteed and cautioned against “over promising”, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.

But the warning has not deterred pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, which announced a $1.2bn (£986m) deal to produce 400 million doses of the vaccine first created in Professor Hill’s Oxford lab.

Coronavirus: Trump bans travel from Brazil after it becomes Covid-19 hotspot

Donald Trump has issued an order to restrict travel to Brazil, as the South American nation has emerged as the latest coronavirus hotspots.

As the number of cases of infection in Brazils passed 350,000 – second only to the US – Mr Trump said he was preventing foreign citizens entering the US if they had visited that nation in the last two weeks.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the new restrictions would help ensure foreign nationals did not bring additional infections to the US, but would not apply to the flow of commerce between the new countries.

Aggressive rodents looking for new food sources as restaurants remain closed, US government warns

Humans aren’t the only ones hankering for the days they could dine out at their cities’ restaurants: some rats that miss feasting on the scraps are becoming increasingly brazen to find new food sources, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned this week.

Amid stay-home restrictions set across the country to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus, many restaurants and cafes are closed or limited to takeout and delivery, and with the reduced sales, the restaurants’ trash bins are no longer overflowing with scrumptious leftovers hoards of rodents subsisted on. Finding slimmer pickings than they used to, cities’ critters are more aggressive, prompting CDC to issue guidance on how to deter them.

Greece restarts regular ferry services to islands

Greece restarted regular ferry services to the islands on Monday, while restaurants and bars were also back open for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season.

Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown in late March, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents keeping access.

But the country's low infection rate in the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the government to start the holiday season earlier than expected, on June 15, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain, and Turkey — are grappling with more deadly outbreaks.

PA

Sir David Attenborough warns climate change has been ‘swept off front pages’ by coronavirus

Sir David Attenborough has warned that climate change has been “swept off the front pages” by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 94-year-old broadcaster called for a renewed focus on the issue and suggested the outbreak could result in increased co-operation between the nations of the world.

“The trouble is that right now the climate issue is also seen as being rather in the distant future because we’ve got the virus to think about,” he said during an appearance on the So Hot Right Now podcast.