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Coronavirus - 29th June


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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 06:43

Summary for Monday, 29th June

  • The number of people to die with Covid-19 worldwide passes 500,000
  • Since the outbreak began, there have been more than 10 million cases
  • The number of new, daily cases is rising in more than 30 US states
  • The governor of Texas says the virus has taken a "swift and dangerous turn"
  • But New York state records its lowest death toll - five - since 15 March
  • In Hebei province, China, more than 400,000 people are under a new, strict lockdown
  • Another 75 cases are recorded in Victoria, Australia, as its spike continues

Hello and welcome back to our rolling coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest headlines:

  • The number of people to die with Covid-19 since the outbreak began passes 500,000 worldwide
  • Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases is now over 10 million
  • In Texas, the governor says the outbreak has taken a "swift and dangerous turn"
  • But New York state records its lowest death toll - five since 15 March
  • More than 400,000 people are under a new lockdown in Hebei near Beijing

Lowest deaths in New York state since 15 March

New York state has been the worst-hit part of the US - it has recorded more than 30,000 Covid-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University date, more than twice as many as any other state.
But, after months of bad news, things are getting better.
On Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said just five people with the virus had died , the lowest daily total since 15 March.
"As states across the country struggle with new outbreaks related to reopening, New York's numbers continue to go down to record lows," he said.
"Our progress is a direct result of New Yorkers' discipline and hard work and an incremental, data-driven reopening."

China locks down 400,000 people after virus spike

China has reinstated a strict lockdown near Beijing, affecting around 400,000 people, after a small surge in cases.
The restrictions have come into force in Anxin country in Hebei province.
Only essential workers are allowed to leave their homes, while one member of a household is allowed to go out once a day to shop for necessities.
After the pandemic emerged in China at the end of last year, the country has managed to get new infections to a consistently low level.
To avoid a second wave, even small surges are taken very seriously by the country's health authorities.

Melbourne outbreak sees 'concerning' rise

Infections in the state of Victoria have risen in the past fortnight to become Australia's biggest outbreak in almost three months.
Today’s 75 new cases – the most nationally since 11 April – follow a door-to-door testing blitz in 10 suburbs of Melbourne.
Recent transmissions are "overwhelmingly concentrated" in those areas, say health officials, who describe the state's 288 active cases as "concerning".
They have not ruled out re-imposing strict lockdown measures, but maintain the outbreak doesn’t yet constitute a "second wave". (You can read more about second waves globally here.)
"I think it will get worse before it gets better," said Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton.
Australia has had more than 7,500 cases in total and 104 deaths.
Other states and territories have seen few or no cases in recent weeks.

Singapore hands out coronavirus tracing devices

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Singapore has started to hand out Bluetooth-enabled contact tracing devices as part of its measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The so-called TraceTogether tokens are an alternative to the government's contact tracing smartphone app.
They are aimed at people that do not own - or prefer not to use - a mobile phone.
The announcement of the device was met with concerns in some quarters over privacy.

Where the 500,000 deaths have been

The US remains the country hardest-hit by the virus, with 125,803 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
Brazil comes second at 57,622 deaths, followed by the UK, Italy, and Spain. In fact, more than half of recorded deaths have occurred in those five countries - which is partly down to their testing and reporting methods.
And here are the ten most-affected countries, ranked by deaths per 1 million of the population:

  1. San Marino - 1,235
  2. Belgium - 839
  3. Andorra - 675
  4. UK - 639
  5. Spain - 606
  6. Italy - 574
  7. Sweden - 522
  8. France- 455
  9. US - 377
  10. Netherlands 356

Texas infections take 'swift and dangerous turn'

The spread of infections has taken a "swift and very dangerous turn" in the US state of Texas, its governor has warned.
Governor Greg Abbott said the daily number of cases had gone from an average of about 2,000 to around 5,000.
And Abbott revealed that as many as 5,000 people a day were being admitted to hospital for treatment.
US Vice-President Mike Pence said the government would "make sure that Texas... [has] the resources, supplies, the personnel to meet this moment".
He also urged Texans to wear masks, saying "we know from experience, it will slow the spread of the coronavirus".
Several southern and western states have recorded a surge in cases after lockdown restrictions were eased.

Ghana extends tax waiver for health workers

Thomas Naadi - BBC News, Accra
Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo has announced a three-month extension of the incentive package for health workers.
They will continue to enjoy a 50% increase in their basic salaries and will not pay income tax for the months of July, August and September.
The incentives were initially announced three months ago after the country recorded its first coronavirus case.
Ghana has so far confirmed about 17,000 cases and 112 deaths. It has conducted 294,867 tests - one of the highest in the continent.

South Korea records 42 new cases

South Korea recorded 42 new cases on Monday - mostly tied to churches - as the country deals with its self-described "second wave".
Of these, 30 were locally-transmitted infections - 21 from the capital Seoul and its surrounding areas.
At least 27 recent cases have been tied to a major church in Seoul, according to Yonhap News.
Health officials said earlier this month that the country was in the grip of a second wave , though its numbers have remained relatively low.

Half of Tokyo residents oppose 2021 Olympics, says poll

More than half of Tokyo's residents do not think the postponed Olympic Games should be held next year, a poll suggests.
The poll, which was conducted by two Japanese news organisations between 26-28 June, found that 51.7% of people hoped the Games in 2021 were postponed or cancelled again.
Among those opposed to the Games being held in 2021, 27.7% wanted them cancelled altogether, while the rest preferred a second postponement.
Of those who wanted a 2021 games, 31.1% said the event should be scaled-back, including without spectators, while 15.2% said they wanted to see a full-blown Olympics.
The poll received 1,030 replies. The Games, originally meant to be held in July, are now scheduled for July 2021.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 07:33

Welsh pupils return to school after three months

Pupils are starting to return to schools in Wales for the first time since March.
Limited numbers will be allowed back over the next three or four weeks to "check in, catch up and prepare" ahead of what has been called a "new normal" from September.
Online learning will continue but all pupils are being offered a (socially-distanced) experience of school before the summer holidays.
The aim is to ease children in gently, get them used to school again, and give them a chance to see their friends and teachers.
Read more here

Here are this morning's UK stories

Good morning to those of you joining us in the UK. Here is a round-up of our main UK coronavirus stories this morning.

Where are cases rising?

As these charts show, the number of confirmed cases is increasing in most continents, apart from Europe.
For more analysis and charts like this, click here.
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Shops reopen in Scotland as lockdown restrictions ease

Shops with on-street access and some workplaces such as factories are reopening in Scotland today following an easing of its lockdown.
Small weddings and civil partnerships can now be held outdoors and zoos and safari parks will be able to reopen, but only to visitors who live nearby.
The easing of restrictions is the first time many stores will have had customers since the Scottish government's lockdown came into effect on 23 March.
It forms part of phase two of the Scottish government's "route map" out of lockdown . Further restrictions are due to be lifted later this week.
Read more here

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 11:17

Pubs, restaurants and barbers reopen in Republic of Ireland

Pubs and bars that serve food, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers and barbers are reopening in the Republic of Ireland.
But they must observe social distancing as the country continues to relax its Covid-19 lockdown.
The move is part of phase three of a four-stage reopening plan

Electronic tags as cases rise in Indian state

The southern Indian state of Karnataka is ordering electronic tags for those under strict home quarantine, local media reported.
This comes after its capital, Bangalore, saw more than 1,000 new cases and seven deaths over the weekend. The latest rise in numbers has worried officials in the state, which has so far managed to keep numbers low in comparison to others like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
A state official told the Bangalore Mirror newspaper that around 13,000 people violated their home quarantine last week . Officials are reportedly speaking to a firm to develop the tags, which will be worn around the wrist. Authorities will be notified if the person wearing the tag violates quarantine protocol.
Karnataka has confirmed more than 13,000 cases so far. India, which has the fourth highest number of cases worldwide, has reported more than 530,000 infections and 16,475 deaths.

UK tennis 'financially stable' despite Wimbledon cancellation

Today was meant to be the first day of Wimbledon - one of tennis' highlights for the year. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the championships has been cancelled for the first time since World War Two.
The tournament's chief executive, Richard Lewis, said the finances of British tennis "won’t be severely impacted" by the cancellation.
And concerns for strawberries - often associated with the event - also appear to have been misplaced. There has been a surge in demand for eating strawberries at home, meaning sales have leapt by one-fifth this year.

Where are cases rising the fastest?

David Shukman - Science editor, BBC News

The US is seeing startling increases, and it's already recording the world's highest number of infections and deaths. Its number of positive tests in the past few days has reached a daily record total of 40,000, and it's still climbing, fuelled by clusters in Arizona, Texas and Florida. This is not a "second wave" of infections, it's a resurgence , often in states which relaxed their lockdown restrictions, arguably too early.
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Brazil, the second country after the US to pass 1m confirmed cases , is also experiencing a dangerous spike. Its biggest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, are the hardest hit but many other areas of the country are doing little testing, and the real numbers are bound to be far higher.
Something similar is happening in India. It recently recorded its greatest number of new cases on a single day - 15,000.
Read more here.

Starmer calls for jobs-focused recovery plan

Coronavirus - 29th June 8016b458-9b55-4fc1-956a-a74580075f20 Today Programme - BBC Radio 4
UK opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to focus on jobs in its recovery plan.
Responding to reports that the government was planning to spend on infrastructure in order to "build our way back to health" , Sir Keir said there ought to be a July Budget.
He said he was "really concerned" that alongside the health crisis there was a developing economic crisis, "the like of which we haven't seen for a generation".
"There really ought to be a July budget. It is staggering that in light of the economic crisis that is about to descend upon us that we're not having a July budget that puts jobs absolutely at the centre of the recovery."
Sir Keir also said the government's job retention scheme needed to be more flexible and called for support to be continued to employees in sectors that would not be "able to cope" by October or November.

Sri Lanka lifts its curfew as cases fall

Sri Lanka has completely lifted its curfew - the 24-hour curfew was first imposed in March, and in April, was reduced to nighttime only.
On Sunday, when the curfew was removed, officials said they had succeeded in controlling the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Its biggest daily spike was recorded in late May, when 150 people tested positive.
Since then, infections have dropped steadily - on Saturday, 19 people were confirmed as positive. Sri Lanka has confirmed just over 2,000 cases and 11 deaths.
But authorities will continue to be strict. For instance, people in public spotted without a mask may be subjected to a 14-day quarantine , reported local media.

Should US case rises worry us?

Michelle Roberts - Health editor, BBC News online
New coronavirus cases have been swiftly rising in more than half of US states and experts are worried. America has had more than 2.5m infections - the highest number of confirmed cases in the world. The number of daily cases had been declining in May and early June. But as many places continued to ease lockdown restrictions, cases began to rise again, hitting a record high of 47,341 a day on 26 June.
This is not a second wave of infections, rather a resurgence of the disease that had shown signs of being brought under control. Some of the hardest-hit states, including Texas and Florida, have tightened restrictions again in a bid to bring down infection rates and avoid hospitals becoming overwhelmed with patients who are ill with the virus.
There is a lag of a few weeks from infection to possible death, so it is not easy to draw an immediate correlation. And, additionally, much will depend on who the new cases are (if they are fit young people, then there won’t be a similar rise in deaths).
Rising infections are worrying, regardless, because higher rates in the community means a higher chance of it getting out of control and infecting vulnerable groups.
Leading US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has said the next two weeks will be critical.
Is the pandemic getting worse in the US?
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Boris Johnson: Coronavirus a 'disaster' for UK

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described the coronavirus crisis as a "disaster" for the UK, but has insisted now is not the right time for an inquiry into what has gone wrong.
Speaking to Times Radio, the prime minister said: "This has been a disaster - let's not mince our words. I mean this has been an absolute nightmare for the country and the country has gone through a profound shock."
Johnson, who spent time in intensive care battling Covid-19, said the government owed it to all those who have died and suffered to look at exactly "what went wrong and when".
"I totally understand that and we will. I happen to think that the moment is not right now, when everybody is flat out, I don't think the moment is right now for consecrating a huge amount of official time to all of that.
"But we are learning lessons the whole time."
Asked about his senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, who faced calls to be sacked or resign last month for allegedly breaching lockdown rules, Mr Johnson said: "Dom is outstanding."

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 11:27

Which countries are reporting the most deaths?

More than 501,000 people have died after contracting coronavirus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University in the US. Here are 10 countries reporting the highest number of deaths:

  • United States: 125,803
  • Brazil: 57,622
  • United Kingdom: 43,634
  • Italy: 34,738
  • France: 29,781
  • Spain: 28,343
  • Mexico: 26,648
  • India: 16,475
  • Iran: 10,508
  • Belgium: 9,732

Full class sizes to return in September in England

There will be a return of full class sizes for primary and secondary schools in September in England, five days a week, the education secretary has confirmed.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Gavin Williamson said existing class bubbles of 15 would be expanded to 30 once schools return in September.
But Williamson said it would be “more complex within secondary schools”.
The education secretary also said there would be a “different approach” to social distancing within schools to the approach taken in pubs or retail settings.
The government’s full plan would be set out later this week, he said, but the approach would be “really careful, really cautious”.
Williamson told LBC Radio that parents could be fined if they did not send their children back to school in September.
"It is going to be compulsory for children to return back to school unless there's a very good reason, or a local spike where there have had to be local lockdowns."

Leicester restrictions could be extended for two weeks

Pubs and restaurants in Leicester may stay closed for two more weeks due to a surge in coronavirus cases, the city's mayor has said.
Sir Peter Soulsby told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the government has recommended current restrictions are maintained for a further fortnight.
In the two weeks to 23 June, there were 866 positive cases in the city - 29% of the 2,987 who have tested positive since the pandemic began.
On Sunday Home Secretary Priti Patel said the city faced a possible local lockdown.
Sir Peter criticised the government report he received as "superficial" and said "it does not provide us with the information we need if we are to remain restricted for two weeks longer than the rest of the country".
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We are working alongside Public Health England to support the council and local partners in Leicester to help prevent further transmission of the virus."

Analysis: Local flare-ups will become a way of life

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
We should get use to these local flare-ups – they are going to become a way of life over the coming months.
Given the amount of virus still around – there are still about 1,000 positive tests every day across the UK on average and that’s not counting asymptomatic cases that don’t get tested – there will be clusters developing as people return to something near normal life.
What’s important is that they are brought under control quickly and don’t spread.
The fact a local outbreak has been identified in one part of Leicester suggests the system is working to some extent, although it’s fair to ask whether it could have been spotted more quickly given these cases have been growing for a number of weeks.
With extra testing facilities parachuted in, officials will be desperately trying to get a clear idea of just how far it has spread so delaying the further easing of restrictions is the logical step.
If more cases keep emerging a local lockdown will be on the cards.
Should it be like this? Some argue we should have suppressed the virus further before easing, essentially going for elimination like New Zealand.
But for a country like the UK, where the virus had spread further before lockdown and with its size of population and packed cities, that is somewhat harder.

Mike Pence urges mask wearing - Trump remains reluctant

Peter Bowes - North America correspondent
In the US, there’s growing pressure on people to wear face coverings in public, despite President Donald Trump’s reluctance to make it mandatory.
Texas is one of several states reporting a surge in cases, and its Governor Greg Abbott says matters have taken a very swift and very dangerous turn, with rising numbers of infections among people aged under 40.
At a news conference in Dallas, White House task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx said that in light of this trend, all Texans should wear a face covering to help stop the spread of Covid 19. She said there was scientific evidence that it worked.
Vice-President Mike Pence - who’s defended Trump's refusal directly to ask all Americans to comply - said people should follow local laws requiring them to cover their faces.
In response Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, has said the president should make masks mandatory and set an example, adding that "real men wear masks".

Economic effort like New Deal needed for UK recovery, Johnson says

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has this morning given an interview to the newly-launched Times Radio.
Mr Johnson told the station the government should take an activist and interventionist approach to the economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said an economic effort like the one enacted by former US president Franklin D Roosevelt in his New Deal out of the great depression was now needed.
"I believe personally that what the government has got to do right now is keep going with an activist, interventionist approach," said Mr Johnson.
"But that's the way also to get business to be confident, to start investing, to start taking people back and start creating new jobs and driving new growth."
The prime minister said there would be "some bumpy times" ahead but the UK would get through the economic fallout, adding that people "instinctively" knew it would be tough.
He also said the government was "concerned" about a rise in coronavirus cases in Leicester. In the two weeks to 23 June, there were 866 positive cases in the city - 29% of the 2,987 there who have tested positive since the pandemic began.
The city's mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, earlier said he had been told by the government that current coronavirus restrictions ought to continue in Leicester for another two weeks .

'Noticeable' rise in cases around German meatpacking plant

Local authorities brought back lockdown measures in two German districts last week after an outbreak of coronavirus at a meatpacking plant near the city of Gütersloh.
All workers at the Tönnies plant were ordered into quarantine. Residential blocks for employees were cordoned off, and officials began handing out food packages to those isolating inside.
Read more about what went wrong at the plant .
On Sunday health officials announced a “noticeable” rise in confirmed cases around Gütersloh, including among people without any connection to the plant.
It’s now unclear whether authorities will extend the lockdown. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel lifted national restrictions in May, she imposed a so-called "emergency brake", requiring local authorities to reimpose restrictions if cases rose above a threshold of 50 per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.
In Warendorf, this figure is reportedly at 21.2. But in Gütersloh the number could reportedly be as high as 170 per 100,000 inhabitants.
North Rhine-Westphalia premier Armin Laschet will give a press conference later announcing the decision for the two districts.

How businesses in Birmingham's Chinatown are bouncing back

Rebecca Woods - BBC News
The Chinese Quarters of England have been among the hardest hit throughout lockdown, with dozens of family-run businesses forced to close or rebrand, as well as experiencing hate crimes linked to coronavirus .
Well before Boris Johnson ordered restaurants and cafes to close, businesses in Birmingham's Chinatown had already started to lose much of their regular custom. Almost five months on, restaurant owners are considering how to entice people back when emotions - and fears - are still running high.
So far 18 of the area's 80-plus businesses have signalled they will reopen for a "soft launch" on 4 July. The BBC went to Chinatown in Birmingham to see how they plan to bounce back.
Read more here

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 11:31

Boris Johnson: 'We are not out of the woods yet'

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the government is "concerned about Leicester", where there has been a surge in coronavirus cases.
On a visit to a construction site in west London, the prime minister said: "We are concerned about Leicester, we are concerned about any local outbreak.
"I want to stress to people that we are not out of the woods yet.
"We are making these cautious, calibrated steps, we are opening as much of hospitality as we can on 4 July, opening as much of the economy as we can - some things, alas, still remain closed until they can become Covid-secure.
"But to make all that possible we have to remain vigilant."
He said the local "whack-a-mole" strategy for managing coronavirus had worked in Weston-super-Mare and where there had been outbreaks around GP surgeries in London.
"That's the same approach that we will bring to bear in Leicester as well."
Read more on how local lockdowns work .

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 11:41

:shamrock:  Phase Three: What's reopening today in Ireland?
Harry Brent - Irish Post
IRELAND enters Phase Three of lockdown as of today as the nation begins a slow, but hopefully steady, easing of restrictions.
The government approved the country entering Phase Three last Thursday with outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar making the official announcement that evening.
From today, a number of businesses and facilities, which have been closed since lockdown began in March, will be reopening their doors to the public, including:

  • Restaurants
  • Pubs (only those that can serve food)
  • Hotels
  • Creches/Childcare facilities
  • Cafes
  • Churches
  • Museums
  • Cinemas
  • Theatres
  • Beauty salons
  • Gyms

Meanwhile, other coronavirus-related restrictions have been eased or lifted entirely:

  • Domestic travel restrictions have been lifted
  • Sporting activity can resume
  • Gatherings of up to 50 people allowed indoors
  • Gatherings of up to 200 people allowed outdoors

Don't expect life to fully return to normal just yet though. Despite the mass reopening of society, face masks are recommended for the public while shopping and going anywhere where it might be difficult to properly socially distance.
Meanwhile, wearing masks on public transport is a mandatory requirement, with the capacity of services now increasing to 50%.
Despite transport restrictions around Ireland effectively being lifted, people are still being encouraged to walk or cycle wherever possible, and only to use public transport for essential journeys.
The government has advised the public to observe measures under the acronym DATE, standing for Distance, Activity, Time and Environment.

  • D - staying two metres away from others where possible
  • A - wash hands regularly, and wear face coverings in crowded areas
  • T - be conscious of the length of time you spend with another person
  • E - be aware of poorly ventilated areas

The next milestone to look out for will be July 9, where the government is expected to announce the so-called 'green list' of countries where Irish citizens are allowed to fly to without having to self-isolate for 14 days.
On July 20, providing there are no unforeseen changes, the pubs which do not serve food are expected to reopen.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 11:50

‘It’s just crazy’ - Irish pubs fully booked for the next week or more ahead of grand reopening
Jack Beresford - Irish Post
THE IRISH public are chomping at the bit to get back to the pub with many of the bars due to reopen this week already booked up for the next week or more. 
Pubs across Ireland are set to begin reopening from Monday as the next phase on Ireland’s road map for lifting lockdown begins. 
Social distancing measures will be in play, while several other strict rules designed to help combat any potential spread of Covid-19. 
They include rules meaning customers can only stay for a maximum of 105 minutes. 
Any reopening bar must also be able to serve and sell “substantial meals” costing at least €9 in accordance with guidance issued by Fáilte Ireland. 
Most crucially of all, patrons are required to book ahead of arrival. 
An estimated 450 pubs in Dublin alone are expected to reopen – but punters could find it tricky to bag themselves a table in the next week or so. 
According to one pub owner who spoke to the Irish Mirror , there has been a surge in demand, with at least one pub already fully booked for the next nine days. 
The owner of Clancy’s bar in Youghal in Co Cork, Padraig Hennessy, told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “We went live with our bookings about two and a half weeks ago and when we put a link on to our web page it went absolutely mental. 
“It’s just crazy. We seat about 120 and then another 40 outside so with working with the hour and half slots we are booked up for around nine days now already. 
“Even today when I was out the front of the pub around 14 people walked up and asked if we were open.” 
Clancy’s Bar is one of several to be completely booked up for the first week of opening with slots in other weeks quickly filling up.  
Despite social distancing measures and the other restrictions in place, it would appear that people are desperate to return to some form of normality with a trip to their local pub. 
And with Guinness busy over the past few weeks preparing bars for the imminent reopening plans, it would appear Ireland is on the edge of a significant step back towards some form of normality.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 12:02

Michael Rosen was told he 'might not wake up' from Covid-19

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Author Michael Rosen has told the BBC that doctors warned him he "might not wake up" while he was being treated for Covid-19 .
The former Children's Laureate, 74, spent three months in hospital - 47 days of which were on a ventilator - after contracting coronavirus in March.
He told the BBC that at one point doctors "handed me a piece of paper and said you've got a 50/50 chance".
The We're Going On A Bear Hunt writer is now recovering at home with his wife , radio producer Emma-Louise Williams.

Chinese military to get coronavirus vaccine

Michelle Roberts - Health editor, BBC News online
An experimental coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use by the Chinese military.
The Ad5-nCoV vaccine is one of 150 being investigated around the world to see if immunisation can protect people against the pandemic virus by teaching the body to recognise and fight off the disease.
This particular jab, developed by Can Sino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, was the first one to enter a clinical trial with human volunteers.
That study, involving 108 adults, found the vaccine was safe and appeared to generate a response by the body’s immune system, The Lancet medical journal reported in late May.   It’s unclear whether this means people who get the vaccine will then have immunity against coronavirus.
Giving it to military staff could help scientists answer this vital question. No vaccine has yet been approved for widespread commercial use against coronavirus.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 13:51

How Delhi 'wasted' lockdown to become India's biggest hotspot

Aparna Alluri - BBC News, Delhi
With more than 80,000 cases of Covid-19, India’s capital, Delhi, has become the country’s biggest hotspot.
The city administration seems to have squandered the opportunity afforded by a stringent nationwide lockdown that lasted more than two months.
Lax contact tracing, excessive bureaucracy, poor or no co-ordination with private health services and political wrangles have all led to a surge in numbers.
Smaller Indian cities seem to be doing a far better job than the capital, the seat of India’s federal government.
But much like the financial capital Mumbai, which has also been hit hard by the virus, Delhi has been overrun with cases and its public hospitals, some of the best and biggest in the country, are struggling. So what went wrong?

Nurse hugs two-year-old son after 11 weeks apart

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A self-isolating nurse has finally hugged her two-year-old son after 11 "heartbreaking" lockdown weeks apart.
Charlotte Cole, 30, from Lancashire, says her "heart feels full again" now that she's been reunited with George.
George went to live with Ms Cole's parents after Covid-19 was confirmed at one of the care homes where she works - and for all of that time, his parents only saw him through a window .

Leicester's restrictions could stay and more UK headlines

Good afternoon to those of you joining us. Here's a round-up of the main UK coronavirus stories this lunchtime.

Two households can join together in Wales from Monday

Our colleagues over on the Wales live page have just reported that two households in Wales will be able to form one "extended household" and meet indoors from next Monday.
Only one extended household can be formed, and cannot be changed once arranged, the Welsh Government said.
People who are shielding are included in the new rules.
First Minister Mark Drakeford says he knows people have been missing seeing their families.
It follows similar "support bubble" arrangements elsewhere in the UK .

Scotland reports no deaths for fourth consecutive day

It's the fourth day in a row that Scotland has reported zero coronavirus deaths.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she is "pleased" to confirm the latest figures.
The nation has seen a total of 18,241 cases of the virus and 2,482 deaths.

Where are cases under control?

David Shukman - Science editor, BBC News
New Zealand has been widely praised for its aggressive response which recently led to a 24-day period with no new cases. That came to an end as citizens started to return from abroad, some of them infected, and further measures were needed to monitor people on arrival. But many experts see it as evidence of a surveillance system that generally works effectively.
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Similarly, South Korea is lauded for using technology and contact tracing to drive down infections to extremely low numbers and had three days in a row with no new cases.
Proudest of all is Vietnam, which claims to have had no deaths from Covid-19 at all. A rapid lockdown and strict border controls combined to keep the numbers of infections low.
What's next? A big unknown is what happens in most of the countries of Africa, which in many cases have not seen the scale of disease than some feared.
Read more here

Thailand to ease restrictions on nightlife and foreign visitors

Thai authorities have announced that pubs, bars and karaoke clubs will be allowed to re-open from Wednesday, and rules on foreign visitors will be eased, as the country looks to bolster its tourism-reliant economy.
The venues will be able to stay open until midnight local time, so long as they adhere to safety guidelines like social distancing.
Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesperson for the government's Covid-19 task force, said customers would be closely monitored before entering the businesses.
Foreigners with residency, work permits and families in Thailand will also be able to enter the country, so long as they quarantine themselves for 14 days. Business visitors from countries like Japan and Singapore could be exempt from quarantine, provided they are tested on arrival and can produce certificates showing they're free from Covid-19.
International flights have been banned in Thailand since March. It's been nearly five weeks since any community transmission was reported there. Thailand was the first country outside of China to confirm a case of coronavirus, but so far its national toll has been comparatively low, with 3,169 infections and 58 deaths.

Hancock meeting Leicester leaders

Health Minister Matt Hancock is meeting leaders from Leicester as the city experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.
Hancock is meeting with local leaders "to discuss the situation" this lunchtime, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
There have been 2,987 positive cases in Leicester since the pandemic began, with 866 of those - 29% - reported in the two weeks to 23 June.
Pubs and restaurants in Leicester may stay closed for two more weeks because of the outbreak.

'Dangerous turn' in Texas and other main news

Hello and thank you for following our live coverage. It's a bright summer's day here in London where our reporters are bringing you the latest updates, together with colleagues from the rest of the UK, Asia, Africa and the US.
If you're just joining us, here are some of the biggest developments:

  • The global tally of virus-related deaths has risen to over 502,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, along with 10.1m infections
  • The US continues to be the epicentre of the pandemic. Texas is one of several states reporting a surge in cases and its Governor Greg Abbott says matters have taken a "swift and very dangerous turn," with rising numbers of infections among people aged under 40
  • An experimental coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use by the Chinese military. It is one of 150 being investigated around the world to see if immunisation can protect people by teaching the body to recognise and fight off the disease
  • South Korea has recorded 42 new cases - mostly tied to churches - as the country deals with its self-described "second wave"

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 16:21

Klopp urges Liverpool fans to wait to celebrate

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Liverpool fans must wait until "the time is right" to celebrate the club's first Premier League title together, says manager Jurgen Klopp.
Thousands of people celebrated on the city's waterfront on Friday , despite restrictions on gatherings because
of the coronavirus pandemic.
Firefighters extinguished a small fire at the Liver Building and 34 people were injured, three seriously.
Klopp said he "did not love" the scenes at Pier Head.

Georgia breaks record in new cases

For the third day in a row, the US state of Georgia has broken its record for new coronavirus cases in a single day.
On Sunday, the state reported 2,225 confirmed cases - topping 2,000 for the first time.
Georgia was among the most aggressive states to reopen, lifting its shelter-at-home order on 30 April, and allowing customers to return to barbershops, salons, bars and restaurants.
But since then it has seen a persistent uptick in new cases.
Georgia has now recorded more than 77,000 cases and 2,778 deaths.

Penalty fines for missing school next term

Sean Coughlan - BBC Education correspondent
Parents in England who do not send their children back to school in September will face fines, says the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
"Unless there's a good reason for absence… we'd be imposing fines on families," he said.
But head teachers said fining parents was not the "right approach" at first.
"There will be many frightened and anxious parents out there," said Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union.
Read more here

Latest figures for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Scotland has recorded no new deaths from people who have tested positive for coronavirus for a fourth consecutive day, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
She said the "recent figures demonstrate, beyond any doubt, how much progress Scotland has made in tackling Covid and that is down to the efforts and sacrifices of everyone across the country."
The death toll for those who have tested positive for Covid-19 remains at 2,482.
Elsewhere, a further 19 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 28,672, NHS England said.
Patients were aged between 60 and 96 years old and all had known underlying health conditions.
In Wales, a further three people have died after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the total number of deaths to 1,507.
One additional death involving Covid-19 has been reported in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said, bringing the total there to 551.
Separate UK-wide figures will be released by the UK government later today.

US warning on herd immunity

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top disease expert in the US, has warned that the US is "unlikely" to develop herd immunity to the coronavirus once a vaccine is available.
He said this was due to the combination of a vaccine that is only partially effective, and the large number of Americans who will refuse to get it.
Dr Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he would happily "settle" for a vaccine that is only 70% to 75% effective.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), herd immunity is reached when "a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely".
Last week, Fauci predicted that a Covid-19 vaccination would be available by early 2021.

Analysis: Data can't show what is behind Leicester 'surge'

We have been reporting today on the news that pubs and restaurants in Leicester may stay closed for two more weeks due to an apparent surge in coronavirus cases.
But the BBC's head of statistics, Robert Cuffe, said it was not possible to tell from testing data what was behind this apparent increase in cases - a rise in infections or simply more testing.
He said the government's official testing statistics missed the "spike".
Figures released by Leicester Council on Sunday showed there have been 2,987 positive cases in Leicester since the pandemic began, with 866 of those - 29% - reported in the two weeks to 23 June.
The government's own figures - which did not include commercial tests and had come from testing done largely in hospitals and on health workers - had recorded around 1,000 cases, with an increase in the last two weeks of about 8%.
In Bradford, Rochdale and Barnsley, there has also been a higher level of cases than the rest of the UK in recent weeks when all kinds of testing are included, he said.
"If you're living in any of those places you want to know - is it more testing - what's really happening here? But we don't have the information available to us to tell that."

UK reports 25 further deaths

A further 25 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, across all settings.
The number of deaths announced are often lower on Mondays due to reporting lags over the weekend.
Last Monday, for example, the number fell as low as 15 - the lowest figure since lockdown began .

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 16:29

California shuts bars and pubs in seven counties

California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered bars, breweries and pubs to be closed in seven counties - including Los Angeles - and recommended that they close in nine other counties as coronavirus cases surge in the state.
Newsom's order comes two days after Texas and Florida - where new cases are soaring - also ordered bars to shut.
"Covid-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom said in a written statement. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases."
Experts say bars can be especially bad for the transmission of coronavirus, as large crowds gather and intermingle, patrons lower their masks to drink and raise their voices over loud music - possibly spreading respiratory droplets further.
On Sunday, coronavirus cases in California topped 215,000.

Iran's record-high jump in deaths

Iranian authorities have reported 162 more virus-related deaths - the country's highest single-day toll since its outbreak began in February.
Since April, Iran has been steadily easing some lockdown measures and allowing some businesses and religious centres to re-open. But there has been a surge of coronavirus cases in recent weeks, sparking fears of a 'second wave' of infections.
There is clearly been more social interaction as restrictions are lifted - but officials have suggested the surge in new cases could be down to more testing.
Over 225,000 infections have been reported by authorities, along with 10,670 deaths, making Iran one of the worst-hit countries in the world.

Greece extends ban on flights from UK

Greece has decided to ban all flights from the UK until 15 July, according to Athens News Agency.
The current ban was expiring on 1 July but the Greek government has extended it for two more weeks.
Greece recorded its first Covid-19 case on 26 February and the government acted swiftly to impose a lockdown. On 28 April, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a relaxation of lockdown measures in the weeks ahead, with a particular focus on opening up the country for the summer.
Tourism accounts for about 25% of Greek GDP, and one in five jobs.
You can read more here about how lockdown in Greece - and other European countries - is being eased.

Homeless man faces return to living in woods

As England went into lockdown in March, local authorities were given emergency government funding to make sure rough sleepers had a place to isolate during lockdown.
Martin Wilderspin was given a hotel room in Stevenage after spending the previous six months sleeping on a blanket in the woods.
But his local council says it will not have enough accommodation for everyone, once hotels reopen in July.

UK goes green under Czech traffic light system

Rob Cameron - BBC Prague Correspondent
The Czech Republic's health minister says the UK has been re-categorised as "green" under the country's traffic light system for travel during the pandemic.
Adam Vojtech's announcement means there will be no more restrictions by Czech authorities on travel to and from the UK, including for tourism - although it's not yet been confirmed when this change will be made.
The only "non-green" EU countries on the Czech map are Portugal (orange) and Sweden (red).
It comes after ministers in the UK said blanket restrictions on non-essential overseas travel would be relaxed from 6 July.
But the list of so-called air bridges, or travel corridors, between the UK and other countries is yet to be published - that is due to happen this week.

Germany extends local lockdown near meat plant

An outbreak linked to the Tönnies meat processing factory near the German city of Gütersloh infected thousands of people. Last Tuesday local lockdown rules came back into force for roughly 600,000 people in two districts.
Now, local authorities have extended the lockdown in the Gütersloh district. North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet called the extra week of restrictions a "precautionary measure" as they carry out more tests.
The lockdown in neighbouring Warendorf district ends at midnight, however, as the number of infections there is far lower.
You can read more about the lockdowns here

South Africa minibuses defy passenger capacity rules

Operators of minibuses in South Africa are defying a directive to reduce passenger capacity.
The government had allowed the minibuses to operate at 70% capacity as part of safety measures after stringent restrictions.
But the South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) told drivers to carry passengers to full capacity after its scheduled meeting with transport ministry officials failed to take place.
Local media report that commuters are boarding the minibuses and occupying all seats without complaining.
The operators last week went on strike to protest against the government's relief package of nearly $300 (£240) per registered driver which they say is too little.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 17:58

Misinformation follows US face mask debate

Reality Check
Americans are being urged to follow rules on face masks as coronavirus cases rise in several states. But this is proving controversial. Videos of some shoppers angrily refusing to wear them in stores where they’re compulsory have been viral hits on social media. Posts claiming masks are actually dangerous are also being circulated.
Reality Check has debunked two of the most widespread claims:

  • Wearing a mask will not lead to you re-inhaling the carbon dioxide you exhale. Carbon dioxide molecules are tiny - far smaller than droplets containing coronavirus which the masks are designed to stop - and won't be trapped by a breathable material.
  • The recommended types of mask worn properly won’t lead to your body being deprived of oxygen – known as hypoxia. Surgeons regularly wear much heavier-duty face coverings all day without coming to harm.

Read more about the misleading claims around face masks.

Florida reports more than 5,000 new cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 5,266 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the state's total to 146,341 infections.
It comes amid a massive upsurge in new cases in Florida and only two days after the state set its newest record for single-day cases at 9,585.
Another 28 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported on Monday, bringing the state's total to 3,447.
The median age for new cases reported on Monday was 37 years old, significantly lower than in the earlier days of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, beaches throughout southern Florida have been closed for the 4 July Independence Day weekend in an effort to keep transmission rates down.

EU draws up list of 'safe' countries for travel

The EU says that from 1 July it will allow travellers in from an initial list of "safe" non-EU countries.
The countries on an initial version of the list are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
BBC Europe correspondent Katya Adler reports that the list will be updated as the situation in different countries changes. China, she says, will also be added if it offers EU countries a reciprocal agreement.
The list is expected to be finalised by midday tomorrow.

'No plans' for Scotland to quarantine UK visitors

Scotland will not be enforcing a quarantine on anyone venturing north of the border from other parts of the UK.
However First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned Scotland had to be "on our guard" to prevent cases of Covid-19 coming in from elsewhere and "consider all options" to stop a resurgence if the infection rates "diverge" in different parts of the UK.
Only five new confirmed cases have been announced in Scotland today, and there are 10 patients in intensive care wards.
One leading expert says Scotland could eliminate coronavirus by the end of the summer if the decline in new cases continues.
Read more

WHO warns 'the worst is yet to come'

The head of the World Health Organization has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is not even close to being over.
It has now been six months since the first cases of a mysterious pneumonia-like illness were reported in Wuhan, China.
At the time it was feared that we would see a repeat of the Sars outbreak of 2002 to 2004, which killed 774 people.
Now, with more than 500,000 people dead and more than 10 million confirmed cases worldwide, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said this is "a moment for all of us to reflect".
But, he warned, the "worst is yet to come" - adding that "with this kind of environment and conditions, we fear the worst".
Despite progress in some countries, he said the pandemic was speeding up and the world would need even greater stores of resilience, patience and generosity in the months ahead.
"Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world - and our lives - would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus," Dr Tedros told the WHO press conference.

County cricket ready for 1 August start after long delay

Professional county cricket has been given the green light to get started on 1 August - some three and a half months after the usual start of the season.
Final approval for the formats to be played by men's teams will be approved early in July at a meeting of the 18 first-class clubs.
Two competitions, taking in both four-day Championship cricket as well as the more popular Twenty20 format, have been under discussion.
Essex won both competitions last summer, but were among 16 counties who were forced to furlough players and other staff under the government's job retention scheme.

I am not invincible' - US doctor on catching coronavirus

David Vega, 27, is a medical student in the US state of Indiana, and he caught coronavirus in March.
He's written a blog post about his experience and warns that young people aren't "invincible" when it comes to the virus.
In an interview with the BBC, he said neither age, race nor a lack of pre-existing conditions were "protective factors" against the outbreak.

UK travel corridors to be confirmed this week

The UK's list of countries that people will be able to travel to and from without going into quarantine will be published this week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed.
In a written statement, Mr Shapps adds that travel corridors being considered are based on things such as the prevalence of the virus and the trajectory of new cases in different countries.
The transport secretary says the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will also soon be giving details on a review of its travel advice to UK citizens.
Since March , that advice has been to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.
As we reported over the weekend , it is thought that the list of travel corridors with the UK will include Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Turkey, Germany and Norway - but not Portugal or Sweden.
The government previously said the new rules will give people the opportunity of a foreign summer holiday, while also boosting the UK economy - but the relaxation depends on risks staying low.
For more on this, read our holidays explainer or watch what it’s like to fly in the "new normal" .

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 19:49

Italy's La Scala theatre to reopen after four-month shutdown

Milan's La Scala theatre is reopening next week with a series of four concerts, according to news agency Associated Press, following a four-month shutdown during Italy's coronavirus outbreak.
Concerts by a small number of artists will be held on on 6, 8, 13 and 15 July, in front of a reduced audience of 600 people. The 13 July concert will feature recent graduates of La Scala’s academy, while its final event will host the La Scala Philharmonic orchestra.
“I think for many music lovers, the time has come to return to hearing live music, even if the means are reduced,” said general manager Dominique Meyer.
Concert-goers will have to wear protective masks while entering and exiting the historic theatre, but can take them off once seated. No intermissions are planned for the events, and snack bars will be closed to prevent people from forming queues. The concerts and other future events will be streamed online.
Plans for full-scale operas are currently on hold due to public health measures in Italy. But in September, La Scala has arranged for a performance of Verdi's Requiem in Milans Duomo theatre to commemorate those who've died from coronavirus. It will also host a recital of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on 5 September.

UK hardest hit by virus among G7 nations

Faisal Islam - BBC Economics Editor
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The UK has suffered worse than any other G7 nation on excess deaths stats

The UK was the hardest hit of all the G7 major industrialised nations in the weeks leading up to early June, according to BBC analysis of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Analysis also showed that England fared the worst in Europe, just above Spain. The research compared 11-week periods for each nation as the virus hit its peak in each country.
The analysis of Covid-19 deaths and excess deaths - which compared countries in three different ways - showed the UK worse off than the USA, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and Japan.
A separate analysis of European nations, by Oxford University economists, has England just above Spain in terms of the proportion of deaths over and above what would be normal.
Read Faisal Islam's report in full.

Survivors at risk of PTSD

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
People who were seriously ill in hospital with coronavirus need to be urgently screened for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leading doctors in the UK say.
The Covid Trauma Response Working Group, led by University College London and involving experts from south-east England, said those who had been in intensive care were most at risk and regular check-ups should last at least a year.
More than 100,000 people have been treated in hospital for the virus across the UK. The experts say tens of thousands of these would have been seriously ill enough to be at risk of PTSD.
The working group highlighted research which showed 30% of patients who had suffered severe illnesses in infectious disease outbreaks in the past had gone on to develop PTSD, while depression and anxiety problems were also common.
Read more here

Broadway theatres to stay closed for the rest of the year

The curtains won't be opening across New York's iconic Broadway theatre district until at least early 2021, according to the AFP news agency.
The Broadway League, the representative body for the theatres, is making the announcement now that there will be no stage performances for the rest of 2020, due to the unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic.
It has not set a date for performances to resume, but is offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for all shows until 3 January.
The entertainment industry has been particularly hard hit by the effects of coronavirus.
Concert halls, music venues and theatres are likely to be some of the last institutions to reopen in the UK, though there is more positive news in Italy: Milan's famous La Scala theatre will stage four concerts next week as it begins to open up after lockdown.

A 'dying' patient's miraculous recovery

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When Mohammed Azeem arrived in Bradford Royal Infirmary he was in a critical state, with far too little oxygen in his blood - at one point his oxygen levels were "not compatible with life" according to the intensive care specialist treating him.
But incredibly he survived, writes Dr John Wright.
Once his breathing problems began, he was reluctant to call the NHS for help, because of the myth then circulating in parts of the Asian community that people admitted to hospital were never discharged alive. It was his friend, Haleem, who insisted on calling an ambulance and even helped to carry him into it, as by this stage he was unable to walk.
When Mohammed arrived in A&E it was clear that his life was in immediate danger. He was whisked straight to the Intensive Care Unit. It was touch and go from his first day and his perilous journey was only just beginning. He ended up in a coma in ICU for 48 days, and in hospital for 68.
Read about Mohammed's miraculous recovery here

Support for lockdown easing is falling: YouGov poll

Support for the government’s plans to ease the lockdown in England has fallen noticeably over the past week, a poll suggests, amid rising concern over a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak.
The reopening of restaurants, pubs, hairdressers and cinemas was backed by 55% of people questioned by YouGov over the weekend.
But support has fallen by nine points when compared to a poll that asked the same question on Monday last week.
A total of 38% of people said they opposed the relaxation – a rise of nine points on the previous poll.
YouGov’s research manager Chris Curtis said: “It’s likely that the shift in support was sparked by images of packed beaches and parks over the hot weekend.
“Polling already shows a large majority of the public (74%) are worried about a second wave of coronavirus, so photos and rolling news footage of busy public areas will only reignite those concerns.”
YouGov questioned 1,626 adults in England, Wales and Scotland online between 26 and 28 June.

Golf's Ryder Cup likely to be postponed until 2021

Iain Carter - BBC Sport commentator
The Ryder Cup, golf's premier team competition in which Europe and the USA compete over a three-day tournament every two years, is likely to be postponed a year.
Europe were due to defend their crown in Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, from 25 to 27 September. However few major in the sport are keen about the prospect of the event being contested in front of empty galleries.
Top stars, led by world number one Rory McIlroy, have said the match should not be played without fans present.
The American Brooks Koepka has said he would "possibly" choose to miss the event in the event it were to be staged behind closed doors.

Analysis: Leicester data shows why people are calling for transparency

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
As we've been reporting, pubs and restaurants in Leicester may stay closed for two weeks longer than the rest of England, due to a surge in coronavirus cases.
But if you look at the UK government’s main coronavirus data site, you would think there’s no problem in the city.
The site describes about 1,000 cases in Leicester, a figure that has risen by 8% over the last fortnight.
But yesterday, the local council released figures, given to them by Public Health England, that count nearly 3,000 cases and a jump in the past fortnight of well over 35%.
The reason for this difference is that the main government site doesn’t publish figures on positive tests from private laboratories for local authorities in England.
They do have those figures – they’re included in national figures, shared with councils and used in PHE’s weekly map of coronavirus hotspots - but they’re not published in England.
These figures are published in Wales and, as of last week, in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, a health think-tank, has called on the government to publish better data in order to build the public confidence needed to loosen the lockdown and protect against a second wave of the virus.

Chinese students get ready to face annual exams

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
Next week, between 7 and 8 July, more than 10 million students at Chinese high schools will take their annual Gaokao final year exams.
Xinhua news agency calls this two-day event, similar to A-Levels, “the largest organised gathering event in China since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak”.
Given that students must attend these exams in person – even in areas where the virus is still high-risk, like Beijing – schools are going to great lengths to ensure that students sitting the exams are safe.
The National Health Commission said two weeks ago that all final year students and monitors needed to undergo 14 days of health monitoring and temperature checks before sitting exams. Students will also be tested for the virus on arrival.
In most areas, special quarantine centres have been arranged to isolate a maximum of four students with high temperatures, at each corner of a room.
However, the Global Times newspaper says that “only healthy students are able to attend the 2020 Gaokao” meaning students with a high temperature will not be able to take their exams.
Schools and test centres have been ordered to conduct strict sanitation and sterilisation tests.
Students across the country have been told they can wear masks in the examination rooms. For people from medium and high-risk areas, this is mandatory.

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Post by Kitkat on Mon Jun 29 2020, 19:55

How can family and friends visit my home safely?

Members of two households of any size can meet each other - either inside or outside - from this Saturday in England.
You can meet different households at different times, and overnight stays are allowed - but no more than two households should meet at any one time.
Social distancing between people not in your household will still have to be observed - ideally at 2m (6ft), but at 1m if that's not possible.
From rearranging your living room to resisting the urge to sing, here are a range of tips on how to make home visits as safe as possible . And remember - rules are different for each of the four UK nations.

Top medic warns of "worrying" increase in cases in Ireland

Ireland's chief medical officer says there's a "worrying trend" of increasing numbers of cases of coronavirus in the country.
The country has driven down the number of infections in recent weeks and pubs and bars serving food reopened today . But Dr Tony Holohan says there have been some new clusters.
As of midnight last night, public health chiefs reported 24 more confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total to 25,462.
The number of Covid-19 related deaths has not increased today - remaining at 1,735.
Dr Holohan said: "As restrictions are lifted and people move about more, it is important that we use the tools that have helped us suppress the virus to date."
He called on the public to wash their hands, maintain social distancing and wear face coverings to help "avoid contracting the virus and spreading it to those we love".
At least six of the new cases were associated with international travel.
Irish ministers had been intending to put in place air bridges with countries with low coronavirus infection rates by 9 July, in an effort to boost tourism.
But Dr Holohan has expressed concern at the plan and said many of the most popular European holiday spots did not have low enough disease rates to encourage travel to there.

Misleading UK suicide claims on Twitter

Shayan Sardarizadeh - Disinformation specialist
A misleading post claiming “suicide figures are up 200% since lockdown” went viral on Twitter in the UK today.
The post, which also features a number for the charity Samaritans, asks users to “copy and repost this tweet”. It has since been shared more than 31,000 times.
But we can find no evidence to support the claim.
“There is currently no evidence of a rise in suicide rates, with no system yet for national real-time monitoring of rates,” a Samaritans spokesperson told the BBC.
The Office for National Statistics releases suicide statistics annually. The last release was in September 2019.
The person who first tweeted the claim has been contacted and has posted a link to an ITV report from May about a mental health charity, Sane, warning that calls to its helpline had increased by 200% since lockdown began.
But this is obviously not the same as actual suicide figures rising by 200%.

Thousands of UK virus contact tracers have traced no contacts

You might remember our report a few weeks ago on the coronavirus contact tracer in the UK who told us they were paid to sit around and watch Netflix .
It seems they weren't alone. Thousands of workers in the government's new test and trace call centre failed to trace a single contact of a coronavirus case in the first three weeks of operation.
BBC Panorama has discovered that the government's so-called "army" of 25,000 call handlers contacted a total of only 15,812 people, to tell them to isolate, in the first three weeks of the operation.
The Department of Health says call handlers phone people 10 times before giving up on trying to make contact. It says the test and trace system has been built to have sufficient capacity for the future, so having an overcapacity is a real success.
But call handlers say they feel "guilty for being paid to do nothing" and that it is "not true" that things are going well.
Read our full story here.

Today's live page was brought to you by...

We will be wrapping up today's live page shortly. The coverage has been brought to you by:
Owen Amos, Oliver Brett, Joshua Cheetham, Alice Evans, Paulin Kola, Max Matza, Ashitha Nagesh, Krutika Pathi, Yvette Tan, Alex Therrien, Lauren Turner and George Wright.

A look back at today's main developments

We're pausing the coronavirus live page for now but will be back tomorrow morning.
We leave you with a round-up of today's biggest developments from around the globe.

  • The worldwide death toll has hit more than 500,000, while more than 10 million confirmed cases have been confirmed
  • The World Health Organization warned that the "worst is yet to come" . WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic was speeding up - rather than slowing down - and the world would need even greater stores of resilience, patience and generosity in the months ahead
  • Pubs and restaurants in the UK city of Leicester may stay closed for two more weeks due to a surge in cases, its mayor has said, with 29% of the city's overall 2,987 cases were reported in the two weeks to 23 June
  • The spread of infections has taken a "swift and very dangerous turn" in the US state of Texas , its governor has warned. Several southern and western US states have recorded a surge in cases after lockdown restrictions were eased
  • The EU has named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed "safe" to be let in from 1 July , despite the pandemic - but the US, Brazil and China are excluded. The countries include Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco and South Korea
  • Iran reported its highest single-day death toll since its outbreak began in February, with 162 fatalities

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    Current date/time is Sat Nov 28 2020, 08:14