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Coronavirus - 23rd June


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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 10:16

Summary for Tuesday, 23rd June

  • Cases in Florida surge past 100,000, the seventh US state to reach the mark
  • New infections are spiking in several US states as the country reopens
  • Saudi Arabia has said the Hajj pilgrimage will go ahead but with no international visitors
  • Cases are rising in Victoria, Australia, raising fears a second wave might be coming
  • UN chief Antonio Guterres has thanked health workers for their "remarkable acts of service to humankind"
  • UK PM Boris Johnson is expected to say pubs, cinemas and galleries will be able to reopen in England from 4 July
  • Worldwide there have been more than 9 million virus cases and 471,000 deaths

WHO: The greatest threat is lack of solidarity

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The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said the "greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself, it’s the lack of global solidarity and global leadership".
"We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world," he said during a video conference.
While Tedros did not mention President Trump specifically, the US leader said last month that his country - which is the WHO's biggest funder - would terminate its relationship with the organisation.
"China has total control over the World Health Organization," he claimed

More cases recorded in Australia outbreak

Another 17 cases have been reported in the Australian state of Victoria, sparking fears of a "second wave".
Many cases in the latest outbreak came from large family gatherings and other community transmission, whereas previously most were found in returned travellers.
Medical teams were swooping in on six "hotspot" regions in Melbourne to trace contacts and carry out testing.
"There is literally an army of people going out door knocking," said Premier Daniel Andrews.
Cases in Victoria make up close to 90% of Australia's new infections in the past week.
Other states are keeping their borders firmly closed, even as they move further out of lockdown.
Western Australia and South Australia are both scrapping gathering limits next week.

Trump steps in after adviser's China comment

President Trump has reassured investors that the US trade deal with China is still on - after White House adviser Peter Navarro told Fox News that an agreement between the countries was “over”.
Navarro said the “turning point” came when the White House learned about the coronavirus only after a Chinese delegation left Washington, where they had signed the phase one trade deal, on 15 January.
Mr Navarro quickly walked back on his comments, saying that they had been taken "wildly out of context", and Mr Trump said the deal was "fully intact".
The debacle sent global stock markets on a roller coaster ride as shares slipped on the initial comments - only to recover after the clarification.
tweet Donald J. Trump:
:Left Quotes: The China Trade Deal is fully intact. Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the Agreement!

Mexican newborn triplets test positive

Will Grant - BBC News, Mexico and Central America correspondent
Newborn triplets have all tested positive for coronavirus in Mexico, in what health authorities say is a previously unheard of case.
The babies were tested in the first hours of their life and hadn’t been in contact with anyone known to be infected with the virus.
Scientists believe they may be able to help shed light on whether the virus can be passed internally by pregnant mothers via the placenta.
"It is unprecedented from a scientific point of view," said Miguel Angel Lutzow Steiner, the head of the public health agency in San Luis Potosi.
Two of the babies are in a stable condition; the other is receiving treatment for a respiratory illness.
The health authorities believe the parents may have been asymptomatic – they have been isolated while they await results of their own tests.

Another 13 cases in Beijing

Beijing has recorded another 13 virus cases, taking the recent total to 249.
The city had previously gone 57 days without a locally transmitted case but a cluster, linked to a huge food market, broke out earlier this month.
The city responded to the outbreak by banning people from at least 27 neighbourhoods from leaving the city, while others needed a negative test before they could leave.
Across China, 22 new cases were reported on Tuesday.

How Asia's biggest slum contained the coronavirus

Soutik Biswas - India Correspondent
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Night falls on Dharavi, home to 650,00 people

In one of the world's most congested shanty towns, social distancing is not a luxury people can afford. And density is a friend of the coronavirus.
Imagine more than 500,000 people spread over 2.5 grubby sq km, less than a square mile. That's a population larger than Manchester living in an area smaller than London's Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
Eight to 10 people live together in poky 100 sq ft dwellings. About 80% of the residents use community toilets.
Homes and factories coexist in single buildings lining the slum's narrow lanes. Most people are informal daily-wage workers who don't cook at home and go out to get their food.
And yet Dharavi, a sprawling slum in the heart of Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital, appears to have brought an outbreak under control - for now.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 10:19

South Korea reports 46 cases in 'second wave'

South Korea has reported 46 new cases across the country, after authorities said they were in a "second wave" of the virus. Of those, 30 were from overseas.
Yesterday, authorities said the "first wave" ended in April , with an increase in cases since then.
However, the number of infections in the country remains fairly low by international standards.
In the past month, there have usually been between 35 and 50 new cases each day.

Disney to reopen in Japan

The Disneyland and DisneySea attractions in Japan will reopen on 1 July, after being closed for four months.
Social distancing will be enforced, numbers will be limited, and guests must wear masks.
Last month, a group of Japanese theme parks announced new safety guidelines - including asking guests not to scream loudly on rides.

Saudi Arabia bans Hajj tourism

Saudi Arabia has banned international visitors from making the Islamic pilgrimage, or Hajj, this year.
Only a very limited number of people living in the kingdom may take part.
An estimated two million people would otherwise have visited Mecca and Medina this summer.
A number of countries had already banned citizens from travelling to Saudi Arabia, for fear of spreading - or bringing back - the virus.

US deaths pass 120,000

Another 425 people with Covid-19 died in the US in the past 24 hours, taking the total above 120,000.
The US has by far the worst Covid-19 death toll in the world - more than twice the number recorded in Brazil, the second-most affected country.
Although the number of new infections in some US states is falling, the figure is increasing in 23 states, according to New York Times data. States with sharp increases in confirmed cases include California, Texas, and Florida.

UN secretary-general thanks frontline workers

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has thanked public servants on the Covid-19 "frontline".
He said workers - including doctors, nurses, cleaners, bus and train drivers, and teachers - had performed "remarkable acts of service to humankind".
Today's is the United Nations' "Public Service Day", which is celebrated on 23 June every year.

Delhi to give oximeters to those in home isolation

Delhi's chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, has announced that pulse oximeters will be provided to all those in home isolation in the national capital.
Oximeters measure oxygen levels and can help identify people who are infected. His announcement comes as infections are rapidly multiplying in Delhi.
With nearly 60,000 confirmed cases so far, experts worry that it could soon overtake Mumbai - which has over 66,000 cases - to become the worst-affected city in India.
In his address to the media on Monday, Kejriwal added that Delhi had increased its testing, saying it was up from 5,000 to 18,000 daily.
India eased out of its harsh lockdown earlier this month, despite an increasing caseload.
The country currently has the fourth-highest number of infections in the world, with more than 400,000 confirmed cases and 14,011 deaths.

Trump: US death toll could have been four million

As we reported earlier, the number of people with Covid-19 to die in the US has passed 120,000.
And now, President Trump has said the total "could get up to 150 [thousand]" or beyond.
But, in the same interview with TV channel Spectrum News, he said "we would have lost two million to four million [without mitigation]".
A report from Imperial College London on 16 March said 2.2m people in the US could die without action.
Although the number of new cases is falling in some parts of the US, it is still rising in 23 states - including California, Texas, and Florida.

Germany considers local lockdown after abattoir spike

In Germany, an isolated outbreak at an abbatoir is one of the reasons cited for a rise in the country's reproduction (R) number to 2.88.
R is the average number of people who someone with Covid-19 could infect. A number below one is seen as necessary to contain the spread of the disease.
The Tönnies meat processing plant in the Gütersloh area of North Rhine-Westphalia has now reported more than 1,500 infections, out of a total of 7,000 workers.
State premier Armin Laschet says schools and kindergartens have already been shut in the immediate area and 7,000 people have been put into quarantine. Now public health officials are deciding whether to go further.
An opinion piece on the Deutsche Welle website suggests an outbreak at Europe's largest meat processing plant was "a disaster that was bound to happen and just as preventable

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 10:33

Florida passes 100,000 infections

As the number of people to die in connection with Covid-19 in the US passes 120,000, the state of Florida alone has now reported more than 100,000 confirmed infections.
Nearly 3,000 new cases were diagnosed on Monday, according to local health officials.
In response, Florida's Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued a public health advisory on Monday urging everyone to "wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible".
The advisory also suggests that people over the age of 65 and those with "high-risk conditions" stay at home and frequently wash their hands.
Florida is the seventh state to record more than 100,000 cases of coronavirus, the others are New York, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Texas and Massachusetts.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says many of the new infections in the state are down to increased testing and involve people in their 20s and 30s.

Why so many outbreaks in meat processing plants?

Reality Check
Hundreds of workers have tested positive for coronavirus at meat processing plants and abattoirs in the UK, France, Spain and the US. In Germany, 1,500 people have caught the virus at just one plant in Gütersloh.
More than 150 workers have become infected with Covid-19 at a chicken processing site in Anglesey in Wales. Elsewhere in the UK, there have been outbreaks at plants in Wrexham and West Yorkshire.
But why are meat workers getting coronavirus?
Meat processing factories can provide the perfect conditions for the virus to spread.
People get infected from droplets, which may be coughed, sneezed or exhaled by an infected person.
In indoor areas such as these factories, which can be cold and damp, "droplets from infected individuals are more likely to spread, settle and stay viable," says Prof Lawrence Young, from the University of Warwick.
Another factor could be noisy machinery, which requires people to talk more loudly or shout, which can increase the spread of infected droplets.
Read more about it here

Ex-UK chancellor calls for tax cut

Sajid Javid - who was the UK's chancellor of the exchequer until February - has called for a tax cut to make it cheaper for businesses to employ staff.
In a report with the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, he said employers' national insurance - a payroll tax - should get a "significant, temporary" cut.
Employers and employees pay national insurance. The employers' rate is 13.8% on wages above £732 a month. Mr Javid told Today on Radio Four that having a temporary stimulus would "turbo-charge" economic recovery.
He said that infrastructure projects were a big part of what was required to stimulate investment, along with keeping taxes low.
Mr Javid has also warned against a return to "austerity" as the UK deals with an increased public debt of almost £2 trillion

Closing Texas again 'will be last option'

In the US state of Texas, the virus is said to be spreading at "an unacceptable rate", with the governor warning that tougher restrictions could be needed to control it.
Governor Greg Abbott told a news conference on Monday that he hoped it would be possible to "protect Texans' lives while also protecting their livelihoods," adding that "closing down Texas again will always be the last option".
The number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in Texas on a daily basis has doubled this month compared with May, the governor said.
He added that he was confident that the spread could be brought under control if people wore face coverings.
"I know that some people feel that wearing a mask is inconvenient, or it's like an infringement of freedom," he said, "but I also know that wearing a mask will help us to keep Texas open".

UK pubs fear new opening rules won't save them

Simon Jack - BBC Business Editor
Many establishments in the UK are straining at the leash to reopen.
Several pubs and restaurants have told me that they do not see the point of reopening even under one metre distancing rules as it would be impossible to police and the business would still lose money.
That's the supply side of the equation - the other side is demand. Most of us want to go out for a drink or a meal or a film but how many would actually step through the door?
Recent polling by Ipsos Mori found that six out of 10 people would feel uncomfortable returning to a pub or restaurant.
Some operators feel that the UK government's reopening guidelines expected later today may be counter-productive.
Read more from Simon here

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 10:37

Three cricketers test positive - and other updates from Pakistan

  • Three Pakistani cricketers have tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of their of England tour. All national players were to be tested before boarding a chartered flight to the UK later this week. The Test series against England is slated to begin in July
  • PM Imran Khan has said that lockdown is not the solution to the coronavirus crisis in Pakistan. On Monday, Khan said that there was no need for a "strict" lockdown. "The lockdown has created an unprecedented situation. If provinces had consulted me, I would have not allowed a lockdown," he said
  • Cases have been rising in Pakistan. It has confirmed more than 180,000 infections and 3,695 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Hong Kong reports biggest spike in months

Hong Kong reported 30 new imported Covid-19 cases on Monday - its biggest increase since early April.
The city has so far managed to avoid the waves of infection seen in other large cities across the world.
However, the death toll on Tuesday increased to six after a 72-year-old man died with the virus, local media say. Hong Kong has reported a total of 1,161 infections.

What changes can we expect from UK PM?

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As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the UK have continued to fall, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to outline a further easing of coronavirus restrictions in England. He will speak at 12:30 BST, so what can we expect?

  • Johnson is expected to announce measures that will allow pubs, restaurants, cinemas, galleries and theatres to reopen under relaxed - but still constraining - rules from 4 July
  • He is also expected to say that the 2m social distancing rule will be reduced to 1m from 4 July, with some mitigating measures
  • Ministers have not ruled out customers having to register when entering pubs and bars so they can easily be tracked down if they come into contact with an infected person
  • Some entertainment venues will be expected to minimise face-to-face contact by requiring customers to pre-book tickets, to stand in spaced queues and to enter and leave through different areas
  • Screens could also be put in place to reduce the risk to staff and ventilation systems will be improved

Online grocery shopping in UK up by 115%

Online grocery shopping in the UK was up 115% in the four weeks to 13 June, compared with the same period last year, new analysis reported by Reuters has shown.
Market researcher Nielsen also said that due to a surge in demand for frozen food during lockdown, Iceland outperformed all other major UK grocery retailers over the 12 weeks to 13 June with a 23.2% rise in sales compared to the year before.
Shopping at smaller convenience stores was up 17% year on year.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 10:48

Latest from Europe: Car sales slump and fresh curbs in Lisbon

  • A new surge of coronavirus cases in the Portuguese capital has forced the authorities to bring back lockdown measures in a number of Lisbon's suburban districts. Outdoor gatherings are again limited to 10 people, shops must close by 20:00 local time and restaurants must stop serving drinks by the same hour
  • Car sales in Europe will drop by 25% this year, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association
  • Crisis talks are taking place in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany after an outbreak of infections linked to the Tönnies meat processing plant. Regional officials may reimpose lockdown restrictions in the area after 1,553 workers were infected
  • And a third tennis player has tested positive after taking part in the Adria Tour on Croatia's Adriatic coast. Viktor Troicki played in the event set up by world number one Novak Djokovic. British player Dan Evans has said Djokovic should “feel some responsibility” for the infections.

'We'll all have to behave differently if we want places to reopen'

Government minister Brandon Lewis has been speaking ahead of PM Boris Johnson's much-anticipated announcement later about the next batch of changes to the lockdown in England.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the cabinet would meet later this morning to hear the views of the government's chief medical and scientific advisers before making a "final decision".
But Lewis - who is a former community pubs minister - was challenged over one of the expected changes that would reduce social distancing to 1m and allow pubs to open. Will pub customers really follow the social distancing rules after a few drinks on a busy Friday night?
"I take the point and that’s why we will be issuing guidelines as well so they [pubs] can have some confidence about what is expected of them to create a safe environment, both for their staff and for their customers," he replied.
Lewis was also asked whether people would willingly give their real names and contact details to pub staff so they could be tracked down if they come into contact with an infected person - another of the ideas not yet ruled out.
“The reality is we’re all going to have to get used to this new kind of normal as we go forward… where we have to take some self responsibility to ensure the safety of ourselves, our friends, our family, and the people in our community."
He said if people wanted places to be able to reopen "we all have to understand we're going to have to act and behave a bit differently... We have all got that self responsibility."

Major India religious festival scaled down

Jill McGivering - South Asia editor
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Temple priests and Hindu devotees carry an idol of Lord Jagannath at a separate Rath Yatra event in the Indian city of Kolkata on Tuesday

Hindu priests in the Indian state of Odisha are staging a high-profile religious festival, with tight restrictions in place because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
The Rath Yatra is usually a major festival. Tens of thousands of people crowd the streets to watch the giant statues of Hindu deities taken from the temple.
But this year, no more than 500 people were allowed to pull each chariot and officials said they had all tested negative for the coronavirus.
Last week, the Supreme Court banned the festival because of concerns about Covid-19, but on Monday, the state authorities - supported by central government - managed to overturn the ban, arguing that it was a matter of faith for millions of people.
India today announced nearly 15,000 additional confirmed cases, the highest single figure to date.

What are the plans for hospitality sector in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

The changes expected to be outlined by PM Boris Johnson later will only be for England. The devolved nations have their own plans in place for the hospitality industry:

  • The Scottish government will make a decision on reopening outdoor spaces at pubs and restaurants on or around 2 July. The hospitality sector in Scotland has been told to prepare to reopen on 15 July
  • The next review of Wales's lockdown measures is due on 9 July. The Welsh government has promised talks with the hospitality sector about a "potential phased" reopening of pubs, cafes and restaurants, but no dates have been given
  • In Northern Ireland, pubs, hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants can open from 3 July.

As for the 2m distance rule - which is expected to be reduced to 1m in England later - it has already been cut to 1m for schools in Northern Ireland when they reopen in August.
But apart from that, the 2m rule remains in place everywhere else. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has asked scientific advisers to review the circumstances in which it might be reduced alongside "additional mitigations".
A change has also not been ruled out in Wales - where First Minister Mark Drakeford said he would support a reduction if Welsh advisers said it was safe.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 10:54

How Covid-19 could damage the brain

Some scientists suspect that Covid-19 causes respiratory failure and death not through damage to the lungs, but the brain – and other symptoms include headaches, strokes and seizures.
More than 300 studies from around the world have found a prevalence of neurological abnormalities in Covid-19 patients.
Read more about the research and the doctors who have experienced it first-hand .

Japan supercomputer to fight virus

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Japans Fugaku supercomputer

A supercomputer in Japan is being deployed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The large machine, named Fugaku, is being used to simulate how droplets would spread in office spaces with partitions installed or in packed trains with the windows open.
The computer, whose name is another way of saying Mount Fuji, is located in the city of Kobe and was developed over six years by Japanese technology firm Fujitsu and the government-backed Riken Institute.
When it is fully operational next year, experts hope the machine will also be able to help narrow down the search for effective treatments for such viruses.
A supercomputer is more than 1,000 times faster than a regular computer, according to Riken. Read more here.

Latest from US: Surge in cases in southern and western states

The number of people to have died with Covid-19 in the US has now passed 120,000, with surges in confirmed cases across southern and western states raising fears that the outbreak is spiralling out of control. Here are some of the latest developments:

  • In Florida, nearly 3,000 new cases were diagnosed on Monday alone, according to local health officials
  • Florida's Surgeon General Scott Rivkees has urged people to "wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible"
  • In Texas, the virus is said to be spreading at "an unacceptable rate", with the governor warning that tougher restrictions could be needed to control it - including the possibility of "closing down Texas again"
  • President Trump has said in a television interview that the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in the US "could get up to 150 [thousand]" or beyond

German regional government reimposes local lockdown

Damien McGuinness - BBC News, Berlin
The premier of North Rhine Westphalia, Armin Laschet, has announced that a lockdown will be re-introduced in the district of Gütersloh, as a result of the outbreak in Tönnies meat processing plant. A total of 1,553 workers have tested positive with Covid-19. About 360,000 people live in the district.
Social distancing measures will return to the level of March. People in the district can only meet people outside who belong to their own household. Indoor group activities will be banned. Concerts, cinemas, museums, galleries will be closed. Sport in closed rooms will be banned. Gyms, swimming pools and saunas will be closed. Picnics and barbecue will be banned. Bars and cafes will be closed. Restaurants can only serve meals to go.
Quarantine measures for 7,000 Tönnies workers are compulsory. Metal fences have been put up and police officers are guarding the fences. Officials are distributing food and supplies.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 11:02

Brazil leader says virus measures 'over the top'

Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has again called for the easing of lockdown measures and the reopening of shops and businesses, a day after the country became only the second in the world to register more than 50,000 Covid-related deaths.
He said that the way the pandemic had been handled had "maybe been a bit over the top" and that the measures taken to contain it shouldn't be allowed to become more damaging than the pandemic itself.
The president's insistence that the economy should be prioritised has been deeply divisive and two health ministers have left their posts after disagreements with him.
He has also clashed with state governors who have brought in lockdowns.
Read more on how the pandemic turned political in Brazil .

More on Germany's coronavirus flare-up

Germany is at risk of having a second wave of coronavirus infections, the country's leading health official has warned, adding that he believes it can be prevented.
Lothar Wieler of the Robert Koch Institute was speaking as the big western state of North Rhine-Westphalia reintroduced lockdown measures in the district of Gütersloh because of an outbreak at the Tönnies meat processing plant that has led to more than 1,500 new infections.
Mr Wieler says Germany's high reproduction (R) number - currently estimated at 2.76 - is probably "largely due to local outbreaks" such as the one in Gütersloh.
R is the average number of people who someone with Covid-19 could infect. A number below one is seen as necessary to contain the spread of the disease.
Ricardo Mexia of the European Public Health Association has told the BBC that clusters of cases in Germany could be targeted in a "precise" way in the hope of avoiding broader national measures.
"If you can address the [meat processing outbreak] specifically, probably the rest of the community can just implement the measures that they have been implementing for quite some time and they just control the problem in that setting," he said.
Read more on this breaking story here

Number of deaths in England and Wales not back to normal yet

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the number of deaths in England and Wales in the week ending 12 June was below 10,000 for the first time since the pandemic started.
But this is still not yet back to normal numbers of deaths.
There were 9,976 deaths registered in England and Wales, down from 10,709 the previous week.
This was 6% (559 deaths) above the five year average.
There were 1,114 Covid-19 deaths registered, compared with 1,588 the previous week.
This is the lowest figure since the week lockdown was introduced - the week ending 27 March when there were 539 Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales.
Northern Ireland and Scotland have already released their figures for this week.
Northern Ireland had 292 deaths registered, in contrast with the five-year average of 291.
Scotland was within 3% of normal (1,032 deaths registered, as opposed to an average of 1,000).

US-China trade deal 'fully intact' despite virus row

China has dismissed a statement by US President Donald Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro, that a deal between the two nations was over, as "nonsense and ridiculous".
Navarro told a US television network that the agreement had ended because Beijing had kept Washington in the dark about the coronavirus for two months.
But his comments were later contradicted by China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
"[Navarro] has a habit of talking through his hat," Zhao said, adding: "China's position on this is consistent and clear."
Trump also denied Navarro's comments, tweeting that the deal, signed in January, remained intact.

Pilgrims told to pray and fast 'from wherever'

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Father La Flynn has maintained the tradition of prayer on the island

Many religions have seen their traditional worship disrupted during the pandemic - whether it be Easter Masses or Eid celebrations.
Now, one of Ireland's holiest sites, Lough Derg in County Donegal, has cancelled its traditional three-day pilgrimage.
Thousands of pilgrims normally visit St Patrick's Purgatory each summer. The island has been a place of Christian worship for more than 1,500 years.
But this year the prior Fr La Flynn has invited people to instead undertake the three-day pilgrimage of prayer and fasting "virtually" and do "Lough Derg from wherever you are".
Read more here

German regional lockdown needed after 'biggest' outbreak

Shortly after announcing the lockdown in Germany's Gutersloh district, North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet said the move was unavoidable.
The regional government "will have a lockdown for the whole Gütersloh district" he said, because the outbreak at the Tönnies meat processing plant was the "biggest infection incident" in the country. More than 1,500 employees have tested positive for Covid-19.
Indoor sports facilities will be closed, along with cultural buildings, gyms, bars and cinemas.
Extra police will be sent to enforce the quarantine of more than 6,000 Tönnies employees and to escort the medical teams doing tests there.
Read more on this story here

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 16:32


UK PM begins announcement

Boris Johnson is updating the House of Commons and about to outline the next stage of changes to the lockdown in England.
He says: "From the outset we have trusted in the common sense and perseverance of the British people.
"We have been clear that our cautious relaxation of the guidance is entirely conditional on our continued defeat of the virus."
Johnson says the number of new infections is now declining by between 2 and 4% every day.
"We created a human shield around the NHS and in turn our doctors and nurses have protected us."

2m rule to be reduced to 1m in England

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says from 4 July the two metre rule is to be relaxed to "one metre plus" where 2m is not possible - but people will be encouraged to have mitigation in place to reduce transmission.
He says: "We can now go further and safely ease the lockdown in England.
"At every stage, caution will remain our watch word. Each step will be conditional and reversible."

People in England allowed to meet another household indoors

Mr Johnson says from 4 July people will also be allowed to meet with one other household at a time indoors, subject to social distancing.
Mr Johnson says the meet-ups do not always have to be with the same household - but that only one household can meet one other at any time.
These measures are not the same as the household bubble where distancing is not required, meaning family members who live apart can still not hug.
Mr Johnson says "we cannot lift all the restrictions at once".
He adds: "The fewer social contacts you have the safer you will be."

Pubs, restaurants and hotels can open in England from 4 July

From 4 July pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open both indoors and outdoors if they put in safety guidelines including table service only.
Other businesses allowed to reopen will be:

  • Hotels, bed and breakfasts, campsites and caravan parks
  • Hair salons and barbers but with visors worn
  • Playgrounds, museums, galleries, theme parks, outdoor gyms and arcades, libraries, social clubs and community centres

However nightclubs, spas, indoor soft play areas, bowling alleys, water parks, indoor gyms, nail bars, swimming pools and water parks will not be able to reopen at this stage.

The shrivelling of the two metre rule in England

Chris Mason - Political Correspondent
What we have just heard follows weeks of argument from plenty of Conservative MPs and plenty of businesses who made their case plainly: if you keep the two metre rule, we will go out of business.
Note that the prime minister says "where it is possible to keep two metres apart, people should," but as of 4 July - a week on Saturday - the recommended gap shrinks to 1 metre, plus taking mitigating measures to minimise the risk of getting the virus.
Note too the repeated caution from the government: "The more we open up, the more vigilant we will need to be."

UK PM: There will be flare-ups - but hibernation starting to end

Boris Johnson adds that, "as we have seen in other countries, there will be flare-ups" and the government "will not hesitate" to reapply the brakes and reintroduce restrictions - even at national levels.
He urges people to still keep washing their hands and stay 2m away from others where possible.
But he adds: "Today we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end... the bustle is starting to come back."
Mr Johnson adds: "We will continue to trust in the common sense of the British people."

Labour's Starmer: We will scrutinise details but welcome this statement

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is responding to the PM's announcement on the latest changes to England's coronavirus lockdown.
Mr Starmer says Labour will "scrutinise the details" of the announcement and "study the guidance", but "overall I welcome this statement, I believe the government is trying to do the right thing, and in that we will support them."
He said there are no "easy" decisions to be made, and any unlocking of restrictions carries "risks".

Biggest single leap back to normality yet in England

Chris Mason - Political Correspondent
As of 4 July there will be the biggest leap back to (the near) normal we have seen so far.
Getting a haircut, having a pint, staying in a hotel, going on holiday will all be possible.
So will going to a place of worship for a service - albeit without singing! Singing is seen as a particular danger.
This reopening matches what was set out as the hoped for timetable in the government's "roadmap" last month.
So what is the scientific basis - in detail - of getting rid of the two metre rule? The government says it will publish this, but not until later this week.

Starmer: 'Number of questions' about basis of these decisions

Mr Starmer says he has a "number of questions" about the "basis" for these decisions.
On the scientific evidence for changing the 2m social distancing rule, he asks whether the PM can assure MPs that the package of measures he just announced has been agreed with the government's Sage advisers, the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser.
He asks what overall assessment has been made about the overall transmission of the virus and on the R rate - the reproduction rate of the virus - "both nationally and regionally".

Progress made, but how fast is too fast?

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
Restrictions have to lift at some point. The big question is whether the UK is moving too soon.
The number of infections has fallen dramatically.
There are now just over 1,000 new cases a day on average.
That compares to an estimated 100,000 at the peak at the end of March - we don’t know the exact figure because there was limited testing in place.
Huge progress has, therefore, been made.
But the number of infections is still significantly higher than other countries.
France and Germany are seeing less than half the number of infections that the UK is (and Germany has a larger population), while Italy has less than a quarter.
It is why there are plenty of experts, including former government chief scientific adviser Sir David King, voicing concern restrictions are easing too quickly.

Return to work has to be 'safe' and 'enforced' - Starmer

Labour's Keir Starmer asks about protections for those working on the frontline, and stresses that although we want to return to work, it has to be "safe" and "enforced".
He asks the PM what "enforceable measures" will be in place to "give confidence" to those returning to work.
On support for businesses on social distancing, he says these changes will be acutely felt by small businesses, asking what help is there for them.
He adds he thinks it's safe for some children to return to schools but that the question is "how quickly" can we get all schools back "safely".


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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 16:41

Tennis star Djokovic tests positive

World number one tennis champion Novak Djokovic has tested positive for coronavirus.
He is the latest tennis star to report an infection after playing at his Adria Tour event.

Still big concerns over test and trace system - Labour

Mr Starmer says the PM is "aware" that Labour has significant "concerns" about gaps in the current test and trace system, including the absence of a contact-tracing app.
Five days ago, the government ditched the way its current coronavirus-tracing app works and said it is shifting to a model based on technology provided by Apple and Google.
He says getting this right is "essential" to unlocking in a safe manner and it's important the PM clarifies when the full programme will be in place.
Mr Starmer concludes his response, reiterating Labour will scrutinise the details, adding "we do want more clarity but we welcome the thrust of this statement".

What is reopening in England?

Coronavirus - 23rd June 6920bc10

Here is a reminder of what can reopen in England from 4 July - a week on Saturday:

  • Hotels
  • Bed and Breakfast
  • Holiday homes
  • Campsites
  • Caravan parks
  • Boarding houses
  • Places of worship
  • Libraries
  • Workplace canteens
  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Cinemas
  • Museums and galleries
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • Funfairs
  • Theme parks
  • Amusement arcades
  • Model villages

And what is not yet reopening in England?

Coronavirus - 23rd June 5f825310

There are still several sectors in England that will not be allowed to reopen on 4 July.
They are:

  • Nightclubs
  • Bowling alleys
  • Indoor play areas eg softplay
  • Spas
  • Nail bars
  • Tattoo parlours
  • Indoor fitness and gyms
  • Swimming pools
  • Waterparks
  • Conference centres

Why can't gyms and live theatre reopen?

Chris Mason - Political Correspondent
The prime minister's official spokesman tried to explain the rationale behind the government's decisions for England today.
There isn't yet a date when gyms can reopen for instance, because of the number of surfaces that people touch and the "much greater risk of infection" as a result of lots of people breathing harder.
There is a commitment - albeit a vague one - to get those areas of the economy that have to remain closed "within weeks if we can,” he says.
Theatres and concert halls can reopen to show recorded shows, but not live performance because of issues around socially distancing performers and the risks associated with singing.
For the same reason, religious services won't be able to include singing.
And while football is back, cricket is not - because, as the prime minister put it, "the ball is a natural vector of disease."

Cricket ball 'a natural vector of the disease', says Johnson

A bit more on that ban on cricket.
Mr Johnson says: "Everybody will want to add something on to the great wheelbarrow of measures that we're making and at a certain point there will come a straw that will break the camel's back.
"The ball is a natural vector of the disease... and we've been round it many times with our scientific friends. At the moment we're still working on ways of making cricket more Covid-secure.
"We can't change the guidance yet."

New law to enable more eating and drinking outside

Chris Mason - Political Correspondent
The PM's spokesman has told political reporters that the government is planning a new law making it easier for pubs, restaurants and cafes to serve people outside.
The new legislation will be introduced in parliament later this week, we are told.

UK PM: I have my doubts over Wales' five mile rule

Boris Johnson - who has been unveiling changes to England's lockdown - has also given his opinion on one of the lockdown rules in Wales.
Each devolved nation in the UK is in charge of its own lockdown restrictions.
In Wales, one of the measures currently in place requires people to travel no more than five miles away from their home.
"I have my doubts over the five mile rule in Wales," says Mr Johnson. "I wonder whether that might be something that was reviewed."

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 16:49

More on Djokovic's Covid-19 result

A statement confirming that Novak Djokovic has tested positive for Covid-19 says he is "not showing any symptoms".
News of the Serbian tennis player's infection follows the recent announcements that Croatia's Borna Coric, Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Serbia's Viktor Troicki have all tested positive for the virus.
They had all been participating in Djokovic's Adria Tour exhibition tournament in Croatia, where lockdown measures are gradually being eased.
Djokovic has faced criticism over the event, which he hosts.
Great Britain's Andy Murray said the positive tests were a "lesson for us", while Australian Nick Kyrgios called playing a "bone-headed decision".
Images on the tournament's social media site on Friday showed Dimitrov playing basketball with Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic, while also putting his arm around Coric before their match.
Troicki's wife, who is pregnant, tested positive on Friday, before he returned a positive test on Sunday.

UK PM: Pubs and restaurants should take people's names and contact details

Boris Johnson is asked about one safety measure being suggested for pubs, bars and restaurants - whether staff should take customers' contact details so they can be told if someone nearby later tests positive for the virus.
Mr Johnson said businesses should be encouraged to take the names of customers.
"I do think that is something that people get and as far as possible we want people to do that and we want businesses to comply with that," he said.
"I believe it is very, very important for our ability to track back and stop outbreaks happening."
Mr Johnson said he also wanted people "to take advantage of the freedoms that they are rightly reacquiring, but I must stress that people should act in a responsible way".

The PM's defence of test and trace system

Reality Check
The prime minister defended the NHS test and trace system in England which, despite not having an app, he says has been “a great success”.
The system works by those who test positive for coronavirus giving a list of recent contacts to test and trace teams. They then contact those people and ask them to self-isolate so they don’t spread the virus.
In the first two weeks, 14,045 people who tested positive for coronavirus in England had their information transferred to contact tracers.
Of these, 10,192 people were reached and asked to provide details, but 3,435 – a quarter – were not reached.
In total, the trace teams were supplied with 96,746 people who coronavirus-positive people had been in contact with, of whom they reached 87,639 people.
Boris Johnson said these people had “elected voluntarily to self-isolate” but we don’t yet have the figures to say how many actually did this.

What did we learn from Boris Johnson's speech?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just updated Parliament on a number of changes to England's coronavirus lockdown to come into force from 4 July.
He told MPs that the "cautious" relaxation of the guidance is "entirely conditional" on the UK's "continued defeat of the virus" and he would "not hesitate" to reapply the brakes and reintroduce restrictions - even at national level - if there is a surge in new infections.
Here is a quick roundup of the key changes:

  • The 2m social distancing rule will be relaxed to "one metre plus" where 2m is not possible - but people will be encouraged to have mitigation in place to reduce transmission
  • People will be able to meet one other household at a time indoors with social distancing. Meet-ups do not always have to be with the same household
  • Pubs and restaurants can reopen indoors and outdoors with safety measures such as table-only service. Hotels, B&Bs, campsites, caravan parks, hairdressers, playgrounds, museums, galleries are among the businesses that can reopen
  • Nightclubs, spas, indoor soft play areas, bowling alleys, indoor gyms and nail bars are among the businesses that can't reopen at this stage

You can read more here

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 17:02

'We did everything with a pure heart' - Djokovic

In response to criticism over hosting the Adria Tour event, tennis star Djokovic said in a statement on his website that the competition was "meant to unite and share a message of solidarity ".
"Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions.
"We organised the tournament at the moment when the virus had weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the Tour had been met," the statement reads.
He adds that "unfortunately, this virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope and live with."

Latest US headlines

As the US passes 120,000 deaths, here are some of the latest developments across the country:

  • California shattered its single-day record for new coronavirus infections on Monday, with over 6,000 new cases. The previous single-day high was 4,515 new cases
  • The University of Michigan is expected to withdraw from hosting a 2020 presidential debate in October due to fears that the gathering could bring the virus to the campus
  • Black Americans are four times more likely to require hospital treatment for Covid-19 than white Americans, according to a new report from the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • A rash of public health officials have quit their jobs after receiving threats and protests at their homes from citizens angered by lockdown and virus mitigation measures. According to one advocacy group, nearly 25 officials have quit amid the pandemic so far

Lisbon lockdown tightening with fines on illegal gatherings

Alison Roberts - Portugal correspondent, Lisbon
Portugal's government has tightened the lockdown in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area in an effort to bring a series of coronavirus outbreaks under control.
From today the limit on outdoor gatherings is back down to 10, from the national maximum of 20.
All shops must close by 20:00 and restaurants may not serve alcohol after that hour, while drinking in all other public places is banned.
The measures were approved at an online cabinet meeting last night, after a meeting between the Prime Minister António Costa and Lisbon area mayors.
The government says the outbreaks can mostly be traced to particular workplaces or crowded neighbourhoods.
But police have also been called to a number of illegal parties in recent days, some of them very large.
Fines of up to 350 euros (£318) are to be introduced from Sunday for people taking part in illegal gatherings.

Who can I visit inside in England?

Chris Mason - Political Correspondent
Am I allowed to visit people inside their houses now, as long as there aren't more than two households together at the same time?
So I could visit my mate in his house and then see my sister in hers the next day?
The answer: Yes.
What isn't allowed is multiple households meeting indoors at the same time.

No more daily Downing Street press conferences

It's been confirmed that the daily Downing Street press conferences in the UK will no longer happen after today.
There will still be announcements but they will instead be timed to coincide with "significant announcements".
The No 10 briefings began on 16 March, the day when it was announced the number of people who had died with the virus reached 36.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 17:11

Judge orders Brazil's president to wear mask in public

A judge in Brazil has ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a protective mask when he is in public spaces in the capital, Brasilia, and the surrounding federal district.
The far-right president has been criticised for belittling the risk posed by the coronavirus, which he dismissed as "a little cold" at the start of the pandemic.
He has also repeatedly appeared in public without a mask while greeting his supporters without socially distancing.
At one rally he was filmed coughing without covering his mouth and on another occasion he was seen sneezing into his hand and immediately afterwards shaking the hand of an elderly woman.
Federal Judge Renato Borelli said that if the president - and other public officials who are also required to abide by the rule - did not comply with the requirement to wear a mask when out in public, he would incur a fine of 2,000 reais ($387; £310) per day.

End to UK government's daily briefings

Chris Mason - Political Correspondent
They have become a staple of late afternoons in spring and summer 2020: the government's news conferences at 5pm each weekday, and 4pm at the weekend.
A minister troops into an empty room in Downing Street, often with a scientist in tow, occasionally on their own.
A few weeks ago, the weekend ones disappeared. As we reported earlier this hour, so too will the weekday ones, after today.
Instead, we are told, they will happen when the government has something significant to announce.
The government promises it will still be publishing all of the data which has previously been included in the news conference slides.

Friends and family in England can help with childcare

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that parents in England will be able to ask friends and family to help with childcare under the changes which come into force on 4 July.
He also said "wrap-around care" for school-age children - meaning care for children before and after school - and formal childcare will "restart over the summer".
And he repeated his promise to reopen schools fully in the next academic year, saying: "Primary and secondary education will recommence in September with full attendance and those children who can already go to school should do so because it is safe."

Top US experts warn of 'tremendous burden'

Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government's top infectious disease expert, is due to testify in just over an hour before a congressional committee investigating the nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Dr Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, will also be testifying to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The CDC director will warn that “Covid-19 activity will likely continue for some time,” according to a prepared statement.
“This could place a tremendous burden on the healthcare system related to bed occupancy, laboratory testing needs, personal protective equipment and healthcare worker safety,” the statement adds

So what's changing in England on 4 July?

The big story of today in England is that a whole raft of changes are going to come into force from 4 July, meaning people will be able to do things they haven't done in more than three months.
We've put together a run down of everything that's changing.
And for an update on what you can do in the other nations of the UK, that's here for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland .

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 17:15

The risk of a 'second spike'

Reality Check
After the statement by the prime minister earlier, the SNP's Ian Blackford firstly pointed out Boris Johnson's announcement applied in England only (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own timetable for easing the lockdown) and then urged caution over the virus "taking off" again if people do not remain cautious.
He pointed out that Germany was experiencing “a spike in cases” - but what do the figures show there?
Germany eased its lockdown earlier than the UK, and in recent days it has seen a significant rise in its R number.
The R number refers to the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to. If it’s below 1 then the infection is slowing, if it’s above 1 it’s speeding up.
In Germany, the R number has jumped from 1.06 to an estimated 2.76 – as a result of several local outbreaks (including at a meat processing plant, as we've been reporting).
The UK’s R number is currently between 0.7 and 0.9.
When it comes to daily cases of coronavirus (over the past 7 days) Germany has had an average of 574 confirmed cases, compared with 1,209 in the UK.

Second German district placed under renewed lockdown

Germany has placed a second region under lockdown following the outbreak of coronavirus infections from a meat-processing plant.
Warendorf in the big western state of North Rhine-Westphalia has joined the neighbouring district of Gütersloh in reintroducing local measures, state health minister Karl-Josef Laumann has announced.

What's the background to German outbreak abattoir?

The billionaire boss of a giant German slaughterhouse at the centre of an outbreak of coronavirus infections has apologised.
Clemens Tönnies - nicknamed "the meat baron" - owns the Tönnies meat processing plant near Gütersloh in western Germany, which has been locked down after more than 1,500 employees tested positive .
Tönnies, 64, called it "an existential crisis for the company".
The Tönnies plant, founded as a family business in 1971, has grown to become one of Europe's biggest meat producers. Today it employs about 16,500 people in Germany and Denmark, and 50% of the meat is exported.
The plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrück near Gütersloh slaughters and processes about 20,000 pigs daily. But now production has been suspended as the authorities race to contain the virus outbreak.
In response, German authorities are now bringing back local lockdown measures for two districts.
Bars, museums, cinemas and gyms must all close in the Gütersloh area, and restaurants can only serve meals to take away. Stricter social distancing measures are back in force, meaning people can only meet one person from outside their own household in public. Schools and nurseries for 50,000 children have been closed. Similar restrictions are to be imposed on neighbouring Warendorf too.

More from around Latin America

The number of coronavirus cases and Covid-related deaths continues to rise fast in much of Latin America but there is some positive news from Peru.

  • In Mexico, 759 people were reported to have died in the 24 hours up to Monday evening, raising the total number of Covid-related deaths to more than 22,500. The worst-affected area is Mexico City, where officials had to postpone plans for a reopening of businesses. Among those who have tested positive for the virus are footballers Rafael Baca and Jonathan Rodríguez, who play for top division club Cruz Azul
  • Peru, which has the second-highest number of cases in Latin America after Brazil, had some good news on Monday as it registered its lowest number of new cases in 42 days. The news came as shopping centres in some parts of the country reopened after three months
  • Brazil has the second highest number of Covid-related fatalities in the world. Intensive care units are feeling the strain with Amazonas state in the north; Acre in the north-west; Rio Grande do Norte, Pernambuco, Alagoas and Sergipe in the north-east, and Espirito Santo in the east struggling the most

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 17:27

Eating habits change in China amid latest outbreak

Kerry Allen - China media analyst
The latest Covid-19 outbreak in Beijing has led to some swift changes in Chinese eating habits.
So far, 249 people in the capital have tested positive since an individual tested positive on 11 June.
State media believe that the virus was first detected on chopping boards used for imported salmon, and so media are highlighting that there has become widespread nervousness around eating seafood.
Popular website The Paper today interviews wholesalers who import seafood to China, who talk of the drastic fall in sales, with supermarkets and restaurants suddenly removing salmon from their shelves.
Medical specialists are also suddenly seeking to reassure the public that they will not catch Covid-19 from eating crisps after eight workers at a Beijing-based PepsiCo factory, which produces Lays crisps, tested positive over the weekend.
Medical specialist Feng Zijian says that the virus survival time is “very short” on dry food at room temperature.

Johnson to host final UK briefing at 17:00 BST

We have just had it confirmed that the UK government will give its daily briefing at 17:00 BST (16:00 GMT), led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Earlier today, the government confirmed it would be the last of the daily conferences, which have taken place - and been televised on BBC One - since mid-March.
Mr Johnson will be joined by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance – the same line-up as the first press briefing on coronavirus.

171 deaths announced in UK, but number of cases drops again

The Department of Health has confirmed that the number of people who have died with coronavirus following a positive test in the UK has risen by 171.
However, the new cumulative total of 42,927 is actually up 280 on what was announced yesterday - with the government explaining that an adjustment has been made to include earlier deaths "due to improvements in how the Covid-19 death data is processed in England".
Even if you go by the daily figure of 171, that is a big increase on the 15 that were announced yesterday, but that is typical for a Tuesday. So it makes more sense to compare with the figures announced previous Tuesdays - it was 233 a week ago and 286 a fortnight ago.
The number of new cases confirmed by a positive test continues its recent falls and the new daily number is 874.

The UK picture

We should be hearing from the UK government in the next 30 minutes or so, but let’s take a look at the latest from the country first:

Thailand sterilises 'aggressive' monkeys struggling with lockdown

Hundreds of monkeys are being sterilised in Thailand in a city famous for its macaque population, as the coronavirus measures leave them hungry and aggressive.
In Thailand's central Lopburi province, the monkeys have long been popular with tourists who feed them while posing for selfies.
But since Thailand closed its borders on 4 April to help control the spread of Covid-19 infections, the monkeys have struggled to adapt, Reuters news agency reports.
"They're so used to having tourists feed them and the city provides no space for them to fend for themselves," government veterinarian Supakarn Kaewchot says.
"With the tourists gone, they've been more aggressive, fighting humans for food to survive," she adds. "They're invading buildings and forcing locals to flee their homes."

Johnson: The five tests

Boris Johnson begins the briefing outlining the five tests the government has insisted it passes before easing any lockdown restrictions.
They are: making sure the NHS can cope, seeing a fall in the daily infection and death rates, ensuring there is enough PPE and testing capacity, and being confident any changes won't risk a second peak.
The prime minister says: "It has meant that we have so far avoided the catastrophe of a second peak of infection."
Coronavirus - 23rd June 96fdd710

Johnson: NHS has coped fantastically

The PM takes each test one by one, starting with the NHS’ ability to cope, and he says it has coped "fantastically".
He says there were 283 admissions to hospital on Saturday in England, Northern Ireland and Wales - down from a peak of 3,432 on 1 April.
Mr Johnson also says that on Monday, 340 people across the UK were in ventilated beds in hospital - down from a peak of 3,301 on 12 April.
"These numbers provide confidence that we are still meeting the first test," he adds.

Johnson: The second test is still being met

Moving on to test two – seeing a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates – Boris Johnson says there has been a fall in daily deaths from 943 on 14 April to 121 today, when the seven week rolling average is taken into account.
The PM says: "The second test is therefore still being met."

Johnson: Infection rate is shrinking

On ensuring the rate of infection has decreased to “manageable levels”, the PM says there is a difference of 4,048 from the rolling average mid-April to today – with 306,210 cases confirmed in total.
He says: "Sage believes infections across the UK are shrinking at a steady rate at between 2 and 4% every day."

Johnson: 87,000 told to self-isolate

Moving to PPE, Boris Johnson says the UK has made deals with 175 new suppliers to ensure supplies, with 2.2 billion items manufactured by home-grown companies.
He also says over eight million tests have been carried out, including over 822,000 antibody tests.
The PM adds the new NHS test and trace service has already advised 87,000 to self-isolate.

Johnson: Time for step three of roadmap

On its final test - being confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS – Mr Johnson says: "I can confirm the government judges we have met the fifth test".
He refers back to the government's roadmap in May, saying steps one and two were implemented as planned.
"Now, step three can be implemented as planned on 4 July," he adds.

UK's chief scientist: Don't be fooled, the disease hasn't gone away

The UK government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance says the latest reproduction rate – or R number, which is the average number of people each infected person passes the virus onto – is currently between 0.7 and 0.9 in the UK.
"The epidemic continues to shrink at the rate of something between 2 and 4% per day," he says.
He says it's important to remember the infection is "still here".
Mr Vallance adds that the estimated proportion of the population who have had the virus in England and have had antibodies is "something in the order of 5%", he says, adding that it shows a large proportion of the population are still susceptible to it.
The total number of deaths and the number of deaths involving Covid-19 has continued to decrease in the last week, he adds - and it is "coming back down towards normal".
But he adds a warning, saying: "Don't be fooled that this means it [the virus] has gone away.
"The disease is growing across the world, it's going down in the UK but it hasn't gone away."
He urged people to follow the guidelines, "to make sure Covid-secure really means Covid-secure by the way we all adhere to it".

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What did we learn from today's UK briefing?

Today marked the end of the daily government press conferences. From now on, the government says it will only hold a briefing when it has something to announce.
Today's conference was held by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty, and the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
Here's what they told us:

  • Where it is not possible to stay 2m apart, people can stay 1m apart with added precautions, such as plastic screens, not sitting face-to-face, and wearing masks
  • As planned, from 4 July, hotels, pubs, bars, cinemas and many other businesses can open, following Covid secure guidelines. A full list is here.
  • From 4 July, members of two different households can meet indoors, and stay over, but (unlike those in 'support bubbles') should stay socially distant
  • Overall deaths in the UK are returning to normal levels, but the disease has not disappeared and is growing in other parts of the world
  • If people only pay attention to the measures that have been eased and not the restrictions, the rate of infections will increase again
  • Changing lockdown and social distancing rules is not risk free and will be reversed if needed
  • Prof Whitty expects the current situation, where coronavirus is circulating widely, to continue into 2021

Analysis: Health and political risks remain

Iain Watson - Political correspondent
Boris Johnson gave the first of the daily updates on 16 March. It feels like a different era.
The prime minister had already warned that some people would lose loved ones before their time. It’s unlikely he was anticipating being in ICU himself the following month.
But now just as the nation "emerges from hibernation", government ministers are withdrawing from daily public view, although "significant announcements" will still be subject to media scrutiny.
Today, the scientists seemed absolutely determined not to go out on a high.
Sir Patrick Vallance stressed infections were not down to zero. The virus has not gone away – and most of the nation is still susceptible to it.
Chris Whitty still advised people to stay 2m apart in England, where possible, and reminded us we could be living with the virus until this time next year, so some restrictions may have to return.
And this is the political risk for the prime minister. Boris Johnson said today he takes responsibility for his decisions.
While he will get plaudits for restarting the economy, if, subsequently, he does "have to apply the handbrake and reverse" (and just imagine the screeching noise your car would make if you did that) his handling of the pandemic will come under even greater scrutiny.
Even without daily press conferences.

Putin plans tax rise for wealthy Russians

President Vladimir Putin says he will increase taxes for wealthy Russian citizens as the country tackles the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a televised address to the nation today, Putin proposed an increase in the annual rate of income tax from 13% to 15% on earnings above five million roubles (£58,228; $72,833).
It will be the first time that Russia will have increased the rate since a flat tax rate was introduced in 2001.
The president, whose approval rating has fallen to an all-time low, said the changes would add an extra 60 billion roubles to the budget and could come into effect on 1 January 2021.
There are currently almost 600,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Russia, and 8,349 reported deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Who's most affected by the Hajj coronavirus ban?

Reality Check
Saudi Arabia won't be allowing foreign visitors to make the annual Islamic pilgrimage, or Hajj, this year because of the risk of coronavirus. So who's likely to be most affected?
People normally come from around the world to visit Mecca. But this year, the Saudi authorities say the only non-Saudi pilgrims who can take part are those normally resident in the Kingdom.
In 2019, there were a total of 2.49 million pilgrims at the Hajj out of whom 1.8 million were international visitors, according to official Saudi statistics.
And the data shows that the number of pilgrims coming from non-Arab countries in Africa and Asia has been growing in the last few years.
Each country is normally allocated a specific quota for the Hajj, based on the size of its Muslim population, with Indonesia having the largest number, followed by Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Egypt.
These countries have all seen increases in coronavirus cases during May and early June, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.
India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in particular are reporting large numbers of new cases daily.
You can read more on how coronavirus is spreading across the world here.

Public broadly supportive of England's lockdown changes

Mark Easton - Home editor
An instant online poll in the hours immediately after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement on easing the lockdown in England suggests people are generally supportive of the changes.
Pollsters YouGov asked 2,200 people adults for their reaction.
On reopening pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, cinemas and other venues – 64% say they think it is a good idea, with 29% reckoning it is too soon.
There was a similar broad agreement with the plan to allow two households to meet indoors - 73% support the change with just 20% opposing the idea.
The snap survey suggests the government’s lockdown escape plans have the backing of voters, but there is still a significant minority of people who are concerned that ministers are easing the restrictions too quickly.
Just over a third of people in the poll (37%) think the changes go too far.
Just under half (47%) believe ministers have got the balance about right and just 7% say the changes don’t go far enough.

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Two more Trump campaign members infected after rally

Two more members of the Trump campaign have tested positive for coronavirus days after his rally on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It comes after six members of his team tested positive hours before the event.
"After another round of testing for campaign staff in Tulsa, two additional members of the advance team tested positive for the coronavirus," campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.
"These staff members attended the rally but were wearing masks during the entire event. Upon the positive tests, the campaign immediately activated established quarantine and contact tracing protocols."
Trump was criticised for holding the rally amidst the pandemic, and attendees had to sign waivers saying they accepted the risk of contracting Covid-19 at the event.
Today, Trump will be speaking at a mega-church in Arizona.

EU 'may bar US travellers' this summer

EU officials are considering who to allow into the union from 1 July, and Americans may not be accepted, according to draft lists seen by the New York Times newspaper .
Their assessment is to be based on how travellers' countries of origin are tackling the pandemic, the newspaper reports. The lists - supplied by EU officials anonymously - are also said to include China, Russia and Brazil.
The US currently has the world's largest number of cases with more than 2.3 million reported and more than 120,000 deaths, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University.  Earlier, a top US health official, Dr Anthony Fauci, told Congress that the US response was a "mixed bag" due to the nation's diversity, and that some states were now "seeing a disturbing surge of infection".
US travellers have been banned from entering the union since mid-March when lockdowns were imposed on most of the continent.
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Jun 23 2020, 22:02

Church where Trump will speak boasts of 'virus killing' air filter

The mega-church in Phoenix, Arizona, where President Donald Trump is due to speak later today has been criticised for claiming that its air filtration system takes "particulants" out of the air so that "Covid cannot live in that environment".
"So when you come into our auditorium, 99% of Covid is gone, killed, if it was there in the first place," Dream City Church pastor Luke Barnett said in a video posted on Twitter on Monday.
"You can know when you come here, you'll be safe and protected. Thank God for great technology and thank God for being proactive."
Numerous health experts say that although a filter will help clean the air, it does not prevent the spread of the virus on surfaces or the ongoing emission of potentially virus-contaminated respiratory droplets from attendees via coughs and sneezes.
The mayor of Phoenix has criticised the event for going ahead at all, saying the city has neither "sanctioned nor permitted" it to happen.
The 3,000 young people whom Trump will be addressing will comply with the Phoenix city ordinance passed on Friday requiring masks in crowded places, a Students for Trump spokesman told the Arizona Republic newspaper.

The big changes to England's lockdown explained

From 4 July, friends and families can be reunited, people can enjoy a pint at the pub or a meal in a restaurant - or even a stay-cation - as part of an easing to England's coronavirus lockdown.
The 2m social distancing rule has been changed so that if it's not possible to maintain this a "one metre plus" space will be acceptable if certain precautions are taken such as the use of face coverings.
Under the changes, two households of any size will be permitted to meet in any setting - inside or out - and can stay overnight.
People will also be able to enjoy a taste of life's bigger moments, with weddings of up to 30 people permitted in England from early July. They had been banned under almost all circumstances since lockdown began on 23 March.
After three months of binge-watching boxsets from the sofa, people craving something different will also be able to go to the cinema, with top UK cinema chain Showcase opening on 4 July and Vue, Cineworld and Picturehouse reopening on 10 July.
But the cinema experience will be different, with new safety measures such as limited numbers in each screen, socially distanced seating for those from different households and staggered start and finished times to avoid congestion in foyers.

Financial woes could see entire shopping centres shut

It's only eight days since doors reopened to shoppers at England's non-essential retail stores but the owner of 17 of the UK's biggest and most famous shopping centres has warned that entire complexes could have to close because of its own financial problems.
Intu owns Lakeside in Essex and the Trafford Centre in Manchester among others.
It has appointed administrators KPMG as a "contingency" in case financial restructuring talks with lenders fail - but only has until Friday to sort out a new financial footing.
If that happens, its says, "there is a risk that centres may have to close for a period".

Croatia PM 'won't self-isolate' after meeting Djokovic

Guy Delauney - BBC News, Belgrade
Croatia's prime minister says he will not enter self-isolation, despite meeting Novak Djokovic - who, as we reported earlier, has tested positive for the virus - at the Adria Tour event in Zadar.
Andrej Plenkovic said he had not had close contact with the tennis player, despite media photos which show him touching Djokovic's shoulder.
Opposition politicians have suggested Plenkovic should self-isolate. The PM has responded this is an attempt to remove him from political campaigning ahead of Croatia's parliamentary election on 5 July.
Earlier this week, he retweeted pictures of the tournament:

How lockdowns differ across the UK nations

We've spent quite a bit of today updating you on the easing of coronavirus restrictions which will come into force in England on 4 July. But it's worth remembering that there are currently different lockdown rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and devolved governments are easing restrictions at a different rate to Westminster.
For example, in England, where it is not possible to maintain the 2m social distancing rule, people should keep a distance of "one metre plus" from 4 July. But in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the 2m rule remains in place for now.
You can read more about the main differences here

The latest from the UK

Earlier, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced sweeping changes to England's lockdown which will come into force on 4 July.
Here is a quick roundup of the key updates:

Our live page is closing for the day

Coronavirus - 23rd June A0153b10

We're bringing our rolling coverage of the pandemic to a close until Wednesday. Thank you for joining us on the day England announced a significant relaxation of lockdown restrictions.
In other developments around the world:

  • US states including Florida are seeing a "disturbing surge" in cases, said top health adviser Dr Anthony Fauci
  • Two German districts reintroduced lockdowns after more than 1,550 workers tested positive at a meat-processing plant
  • World tennis number one Novak Djokovic tested positive for Covid-19 after playing in his Adria Tour tournament
  • A judge in Brazil ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a protective mask when in public spaces in the capital, Brasilia, and the surrounding federal district
  • Worldwide, there have been more than nine million reported virus cases and nearly 474,000 deaths

Today's live page reporters were: Fran Gillett, Mary O'Connor, Jennifer Scott, Lucy Webster, Krutika Pathi, Mal Siret, Alexandra Fouché and Max Matza. The subs were Jasmine Taylor-Coleman and Claudia Allen. The editors were Owen Amos, Paul Kirby, John Hand and Vanessa Barford.

    Current date/time is Sat Nov 28 2020, 08:30