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Coronavirus - 1st JULY


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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 10:22

Summary for Wednesday, 1st July

  • The US has bought almost all the world's upcoming supply of Covid-19 treatment drug remdesivir
  • Top US health expert Dr Anthony Fauci warns cases in the US could reach 100,000 a day
  • The UN's labour agency says the virus's economic impact is far worse than feared
  • EU borders are reopening to people from 15 countries but the US is excluded
  • Australia is battling rising cases in Victoria, which is facing a possible new state-wide lockdown
  • UK PM Boris Johnson has pledged to speed up infrastructure projects to boost the economy
  • The UK has the third highest Covid-19 death toll globally, after the US and Brazil
  • Worldwide there have been nearly 10.5m confirmed infections and more than 509,000 deaths

Hello and welcome to another day of rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to rage, with worrying lines coming out of the US and Latin America.
Here are the latest updates:

  • The Trump administration says it has secured half a million doses of the Covid-19 drug remdesivir - that amounts to most of the upcoming global supply
  • It comes as top US health expert Anthony Fauci warns that cases in the country could reach 100,000 a day
  • The European Union is opening borders to people from 15 countries - but not the US
  • And Australia is battling a rise in cases in Victoria that could lead to a new statewide lockdown

US strikes an 'amazing deal' on remdesivir

US President Donald Trump's administration has secured almost all the world's upcoming supply of the drug remdesivir. The drug, produced by the firm Gilead Sciences, is the first approved by authorities in the US to be used to treat Covid-19.
It has been shown to help people recover faster from the disease.
A statement from the Department of Health and Human services says Trump struck an "amazing" deal with Gilead for 500,000 doses which amounts to 100% of Gilead's production in July, 90% of it in August and 90% in September.
A treatment course of remdesivir is, on average, 6.25 vials.

Czechs hold party to 'farewell' pandemic

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The World Heath Organization this week warned that the pandemic was not even close to being over, but in the Czech Republic, a party has been held to give the coronavirus a "symbolic farewell".
Several thousand people celebrated on Charles Bridge in Prague on Tuesday.
Guests brought food and drinks and were encouraged to share them with their neighbours. There was no social distancing, something people in countries under lockdown will find hard to relate to.
Read more about the party here

Plea for 300,000 to obey Melbourne lockdown

The Australian state of Victoria has recorded another 73 infections as an outbreak grips Melbourne.
After two weeks of daily double-digit increases, the state is re-imposing a lockdown in 36 suburbs from midnight tonight (14:00 GMT Wednesday).
It will affect about 300,000 residents in the city of five million, and last for four weeks.
Speaking today, Premier Daniel Andrews said he was buoyed to see "some consistency" in the infection rate after a massive testing blitz.
But he warned a statewide lockdown was possible if people became complacent with Australia's worst outbreak in almost three months.
"To families across those lockdown suburbs, if we all work together and if we all stick together over these next four weeks we can regain control of community transmission,” he said.
Some states have banned Victorians from entry. The rest of the country continues to experience few or no cases - Australia has had about 7,700 in total and 104 deaths.

South Korea distributes stocks of remdesivir

South Korea has started distributing stocks of remdesivir, a drug being used to treat Covid-19.
The supply has been donated by Gilead Sciences and discussions are under way to purchase supplies in August, the Korea Centers for Disease Control said.
"Patients who are eligible for remdesivir are limited to severe patients with pneumonia and in need of oxygen therapy," the disease control agency said in a statement.
Remdesivir is an anti-viral medicine that has been used against Ebola. The drug cut the duration of symptoms from 15 days down to 11 in a clinical trial at hospitals around the world.
It is unclear how many doses have been donated to South Korea by the US company.

June was 'worst month of India outbreak'

A whopping majority of infections and deaths in India happened in June - more than 400,000 cases and nearly 12,000 fatalities were reported last month, according to the Times of India newspaper.
To put that into perspective, India currently has 568,092 confirmed cases and 17,400 deaths, according to figures from the health ministry.
This means that around 70% of India's caseload happened in June. Experts had earlier warned that the country's peak would occur when the monsoon began - typically between July and August.
India eased out of its lockdown in early June even as cases were rising at an alarming rate.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the second phase of "unlocking India" via a televised address. He urged citizens to not be careless and continue to enforce effective measures like social distancing, saying that many were not responsible enough in the first phase.

EU reveals countries considered 'safe' from today

The EU has decided that from today, its borders will be reopened to citizens from 15 non-EU countries including South Korea, Canada and Japan.
China also features on the "safe" list however it is subject to a reciprocal agreement, which is still pending.
The UK is automatically included as "safe".
The list does not feature the US, Brazil and Russia - countries that have reported high numbers of cases.
However the decision is not legally binding and states can choose not to open up to all of the countries on the list.
Read more about the countries considered safe here.

What is remdesivir?

Remdesivir is an anti-viral medicine that has been used against Ebola. It works by attacking an enzyme that a virus needs in order to replicate inside our cells.
It has been approved for use in Covid-19 patients by the US and the UK, among other countries.
Early data suggests it can cut recovery time by about four days , but there is no evidence yet that it will save more lives.
Gilead Sciences has signed agreements with drug makers in South Asia to expand supply.
The agreement between Gilead and five generic pharmaceutical companies in India and Pakistan will help make the medicine for 127 countries.

Badly hit Indian state to open places of worship

The southern state of Tamil Nadu will open places of worship in rural areas. Among the worst-hit in India, the state on Tuesday announced new social distancing measures for devotees , reported local media.
According to the guidelines, only small temples, mosques churches and other religious places in rural areas will be open to the public starting Wednesday.
People over 65 years, pregnant women and children under 10 as well as those with any underlying health issues have been advised to stay home. Only those with no symptoms will be allowed in.
Guests must maintain six feet distance and wear a mask. They will also have to wash their hands and feet with soap before entering the premises, according to the new measures.
Officials are on high alert as clusters linked to religious places have been reported from various places across the globe, including South Korea and Germany .

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 10:24

From The Guardian:
Rising coronavirus infections in pockets of UK raise fears of further local lockdowns
Leicester is unlikely to be the only place to return to tight restrictions, say scientists

Parts of Kent, London, north Wales and Scotland are still battling significant Covid-19 outbreaks, sparking fears from scientists and public health directors that Leicester’s return to lockdown is set to be repeated.

Bars and restaurants are preparing to reopen on Saturday in what the prime minister, Boris Johnson , has dubbed “Independence Day”.

But infections have risen in the Medway, the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Ealing in London and Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland , according to publicly available figures relating to tests by NHS and Public Health England laboratories. All areas have seen increases of 10 or more weekly infections between 18 and 25 June.

“I am expecting there to be a number of Leicesters,” said Prof Deenan Pillay, a virologist at UCL and member of Independent Sage, the shadow government scientific advisory group. “The base level of infections going on in the UK is still much higher than it was in other countries in Europe when they started to release their lockdowns.”
“We need to be cautious on easing lockdown because we are not out of the woods yet,” said Jeanelle de Gruchy, president of the Association of Directors of Public Health. “Leicester is a sobering example of that. It should make us cautious about being too gung-ho in easing different measures.”

In his speech on Tuesday, Boris Johnson acknowledged the potential dangers ahead. “As we approach July 4, I am afraid that the dangers – as we can see in Leicester – have not gone away. The virus is out there, still circling like a shark in the water, and it will take all our collective discipline and resolve to keep that virus at bay.”
The warnings come amid concern that some local public health officials are not receiving enough information about exactly who has tested positive for the virus and where they live to enable new outbreaks to be quashed.

One senior director of public health told the Guardian that data from central government was “patchy” and made dealing with outbreaks like “playing a game of battleships” because postcode data was not always supplied.
Only since 24 June has detailed local positive test data been provided to directors of public health in local authority areas.

“There are public health people in Leicester who are still unclear about precisely where the cases are,” said Pillay. “The data problem has probably spawned a whole load of other infections, which could of course lead to deaths.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have been working closely with our local partners, providing them with the resources and tools so that they can take swift action to deal with any new local spikes in infection.”

The extent of local infection rates remains unclear because while the government publishes data for tests that relate to hospitals and public health laboratories, it doesn’t publish the results of community testing for local areas.

According to the test results from hospitals and public health laboratories that are available, Bedford, Barnsley, Flintshire and Hammersmith and Fulham were among the areas that recorded higher rates of coronavirus infection in the week up to 25 June than Leicester. However, because the data published by the government is only partial, that does not necessarily mean their outbreaks are worse.

When the health secretary, Matt Hancock , announced the Leicester lockdown on Monday night, he used additional data from wider testing in the community. This showed that, once results from home tests and mobile units were added in, the seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 people, three times higher than the next highest city.

Read more here

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 10:32

Calls for better data and other UK headlines

Good morning to readers joining us from the UK - here are some of the latest headlines:

Local UK outbreaks 'not spotted as quickly as they should be'

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
It remains one of the most baffling aspects of the current approach.
Local authorities have not routinely been given information about their residents who test positive.
They are asked to chase up the so-called complex cases - where people test positive in care homes, prisons or schools - so they get that information quickly.
But they are not getting real-time information about individual residents who test positive.

Local directors of public health say it has hampered their ability to look for patterns and clusters developing. In theory the national system should do this, but why not have a second pair of eyes? Especially one that knows the local situation much better?
There are signs that is beginning to change. Public Health England is setting up a system that will hopefully do this in a comprehensive and speedy manner.
But the fact it has not happened yet and the experience of those on the ground in Leicester - where cases were going up for a number of weeks - suggests local outbreaks developing in the community are not yet being spotted as quickly as they should be.

Disneyland Tokyo reopens after four months

Visitors have been able to return to Tokyo Disneyland for the first time in four months.
The park, along with Tokyo DisneySea, became the last of Disney's theme parks in Asia to reopen on Wednesday.
The company says it is "proactively requesting guests" at the resort in Urayasu to follow social distancing and limiting visitor numbers.
In China, where the pandemic began, Shanghai Disneyland welcomed visitors again in May, followed by the park in Hong Kong in late June.
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Social distancing is among the measures introduced at Tokyo DisneySea

What does Covid-19 do to the brain?

Fergus Walsh - Medical correspondent
Stroke, delirium, anxiety, confusion, fatigue - the list goes on. If you think Covid-19 is just a respiratory disease, think again.
As each week passes, it is becoming increasingly clear that coronavirus can trigger a huge range of neurological problems.
Several people who've contacted me after comparatively mild illness have spoken of the lingering cognitive impact of the disease - problems with their memory, tiredness, staying focused.
But it's at the more severe end that there is most concern.
Read more here

More than 100 test positive after India wedding

Some 111 guests tested positive for Covid-19 after a wedding in India's northern Bihar state. The groom also died a day after the wedding on 16 June , NDTV reported. However, it's not clear if he had the virus as he was not tested.
More than 350 people attended the wedding on 15 June and the groom drove approximately 1,095km (680 miles) for the event.
Authorities have been contact tracing and isolating those who attended the wedding for the past week, local media reported.
Officials have also opened an investigation into why more than 50 people attended - the maximum number of guests allowed at a wedding under the new rules in light of the virus.
Bihar has confirmed more than 9,500 cases and 60 deaths so far.

What is fair access to a drug?

Today Programme - BBC Radio 4
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A "stronger framework" is needed to ensure fair pricing and fair access to drugs during national emergencies, a leading UK scientist has said, after the US bought almost all the world's upcoming supply of Covid-19 treatment drug remdesivir.
Prof Peter Horby from the University of Oxford told the BBC it was "partly to be expected" as manufacturer Gilead was a commercial US company that would be under "certain political pressures locally".
But he added: "It does raise two very important questions: what is a fair price for a drug and what is fair access to a drug, and those are common issues but are particularly important in a global crisis like this."
Prof Horby noted that the trial enabling remdesivir to go on sale included patients participating in other countries, including the UK.
It also raises questions if a vaccine is found, he said, adding: "Commercial companies are built to behave like this and we need a much stronger framework if we are going to develop these things and they're going to be used for national emergencies."

Data 'being shared with local authorities' - minister

BBC Breakfast
Business Secretary Alok Sharma has insisted that data is being shared with local authorities to help them tackle coronavirus in their areas, after doctors urged the government to provide vital information more quickly.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Sharma said information was "being made available on a digital dashboard to local authorities".
Asked about length of time it took to get testing data to officials in Leicester, the first city to experience a local lockdown, Mr Sharma said: "My understanding is that data was shared and has been shared over the past two weeks."
"Of course where we are able to improve, we will do that," he added.
Read more about the call from doctors here

US could see 'up to 100,000 cases' daily - Fauci

As the US reached yet another record high in daily coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the country's top expert on infectious diseases voiced his concern.
Dr Anthony Fauci said current numbers of over 40,000 new cases reported every day put the "entire country at risk".
When asked how many cases the US might ultimately expect, he said he "would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day".

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 10:47

Borders and brothels reopen – the latest from Europe

Wednesday is a big day in Europe, as borders reopen to (some) countries and individual countries move into the next phase of lockdown easing. Here are the headlines:

  • The EU has agreed to allow in visitors from 15 countries outside the bloc. The “safe travel” list includes Canada, Japan and New Zealand, but excludes countries with high infection rates – including Brazil, Russia and the US
  • International flights resume to and from Greece on Wednesday. The country is expecting 104 flights to operate, according to local media, although visitors from Sweden and the UK won’t be allowed in until 15 July
  • The border between Portugal and Spain also reopens. Portugal – which is reimposing lockdowns around Lisbon to tackle a rise in cases – had asked the Spanish government to keep it shut to prevent a flood of visitors
  • From 1 July, brothels in Austria and the Netherlands can open their doors as those countries ease lockdown measures further. Sex workers worldwide have been hit hard by the pandemic – you can read more here
  • But the outbreak seems to be worsening in the Balkans, with case numbers spiking in a number of countries. Overwhelmed hospital staff in the Serbian town of Novi Pazar turned their backs in protests when Prime Minister Ana Brnabic visited yesterday

Biscuit firm says 'merci' to French health workers

From weekly claps to donating meals to hospital workers, people around the world have come up with various ways of thanking medical staff for their work during the pandemic.
And now the company making France's famous Petit Beurre biscuits has come up with a new way of honouring them.
LU's factory near Nantes is producing a limited-edition biscuit that replaces its traditional logo - which dates back to 1886 - with a heartfelt merci beaucoup (thank you very much).
Over 200,000 biscuits have been produced and will be given to medical facilities in the region.
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Leicester MP wants 'clarity' over local lockdown

People in Leicester "just want clarity" over the return of tighter lockdown measures for the city, the UK's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said.
The Labour MP for Leicester South told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "I don't think it's fair to the people of Leicester to announce at a press conference on a Thursday afternoon that Leicester has a problem, but then actually take 11 days to tell Leicester that they are going into lockdown and what they are going to do about it.
"People are really worried in Leicester, people are going to be anxious. People who are shielding are very, very scared.
"People who were planning to get their businesses open this Saturday are desperately worried about their livelihoods and what happens next with the economy.
"And every parent in Leicester is concerned about the safety of their children [and] also deeply concerned about their children missing out on more education."
What are Leicester's new lockdown restrictions?

Indian officials apologise over video of victims' bodies

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A video showing bodies of Covid-19 victims being dumped in southern India has provoked outrage online.
The footage, which was shared on social media, showed workers wearing PPE tossing eight bodies wrapped in black garbage bags into deep pits.
Officials from the district in Karnataka state later confirmed that the footage was genuine and apologised to families.
Karnataka has seen more than 246 deaths due to Covid-19 but has been recognised as one of the states that has been more successful in tracing and containing the disease.
Read more here

'Concerns' around Covid-19 rates in Bradford and Doncaster

Today Programme - BBC Radio 4
A key scientist who advised the UK government in the coronavirus response has warned that Bradford and Doncaster are "clearly of concern" for potential local outbreaks, with high rates of Covid-19.
Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, told the BBC: "It's inevitable we will [have further local outbreaks], we are relaxing lockdown rules and that means that contacts in the population are going up and that's a very variable process."
Asked about Bradford and Doncaster, he said: "Those are areas, where not as high as Leicester, but they have some of the highest numbers of cases per 100,000 of the population, which is the relevant measure, so they're clearly of concern."
Prof Ferguson also said there "really isn't a big distinction between a second wave and these local clusters".
"A second national wave is just a agglomeration of small outbreaks... merged together across the country," he said.
"That's exactly what we want to avoid by snuffing out those small outbreaks when they are just sparks."

Biden won't hold campaign rallies

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As the US gears up for November's presidential election, Joe Biden has announced he won't hold campaign rallies.
"I'm going to follow the doc's orders - not just for me but for the country - and that means that I am not going to be holding rallies," the former vice-president and Democratic nominee said on Tuesday.
It's a stark contrast to the stance of his rival, President Donald Trump, who held his first campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June despite health warnings - although turnout was lower than expected and no new rallies have been announced.
The US has recorded more than 40,000 new coronavirus cases on four of the last five days.

The Queen and Donald Trump talk on phone

The Queen and US President Donald Trump have spoken on the telephone about "close co-operation" on defeating coronavirus and re-opening global economies.
It is not known how long the pair spoke for, but the White House said Mr Trump wished the Queen a happy birthday after her official celebration last month.
He also expressed his condolences for those have died during the coronavirus, the White House added.
The Queen has spoken on the telephone to several leaders during the virus lockdown, including French president Emmanuel Macron, Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison and Canada's Justin Trudeau.
Calls of this nature are made at the request of the government, in what is known as "soft diplomacy", to help strengthen the UK's ties with its allies.
How the Royal Family is changing in lockdown

German economy likely to recover 'by late 2021'

The German economy is expected to return to last year's level by the end of 2021, one of the country's largest economic think tanks has said.
IFO said in its quarterly report that coronavirus had left Europe's largest economy facing "what is by far the deepest recession in its post-war history", with a decline of 11.9% in the second quarter of this year.
This fall, it said, was twice as steep as that seen during the 2009 financial crisis.
But the report remained optimistic, with increasing growth projected for the rest of 2020 as lockdown lifts - albeit below last year's levels.
However, unemployment is likely to continue to rise to around 3 million in the coming months, with more than half a million more people out of work than in 2019.

Lebanon's international airport reopens after three months

Martin Patience - BBC News, Middle East correspondent
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The first flights taking off from Beirut airport were bound for Addis Abba, London and Cairo

Lebanon’s only international airport has reopened after being closed for more than three months.
For now, Beirut's airport is operating at 10% of its normal capacity. Passengers will be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival and be required to quarantine at home if they have the disease.
While Lebanon has largely avoided the worst of the coronavirus, the lockdown has hastened the country’s economic collapse.
The Lebanese currency has lost 80% of its value in recent months; people’s savings in the banks have been wiped out; and a growing number of Lebanese are unable to put food in the table.
The government is in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, but any bailout will involve painful economic reforms that the country’s sectarian leaders - for now, anyway - do not appear to be willing to make.
So instead despair is setting in across Lebanon - and many now fear growing social unrest and a brain drain from the country on the scale last seen during its civil war.

Cooperation key for access to treatment drugs - minister

Government and firms should cooperate to ensure access to coronavirus treatments, business minister Nadhim Zahawi has said.
As we have been reporting, the US has bought up virtually all stocks for the next three months of remdesivir, a drug shown to cut recovery times for those who have had Covid-19.
Mr Zahawi said the UK had "rightly" stockpiled dexamethasone, another drug which has proven effective in the most seriously ill Covid-19 patients, but suggested cooperation rather than competition was the way forward.
"The best outcome for the whole world is that we work together," he said.
"By attempting to compete, I think we ultimately undermine all of our strategies," he said. "Much better to work together than to work to undermine each other."

What's behind the new US outbreaks?

The US is among a handful of countries that are facing a surge of new infections.
The states of Texas, Florida, Arizona and California are the latest virus epicentres - but state leaders and health officials are divided on the cause of the outbreaks.
We took a look at the four US hotspots, the facts and figures raising alarm and the theories that may help explain the surge.
Read more here

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 17:29

Slovenia political crisis grows over protective equipment

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Protesters have been holding weekly demonstrations accusing the government of corruption

A Slovenian minister has been detained and another has resigned amid an investigation into the purchase of protective supplies during the pandemic.
Economy Minister Zdravko Pocivalsek is accused of favouring companies that did not offer adequate equipment, according to local media, although he denies the charge.
Interior Minister Ales Hojs stepped on Tuesday after a number of police raids related to the case and said the probe was politically motivated. The government has only been in power since March.
The country's police chief also resigned in protest, Hojs said.
Slovenia is not the only country where ministers have faced charges over the procurement of medical equipment amid the spread of coronavirus.
Last month, Zimbabwe's health minister was charged with corruption over a $20m (£16m) contract awarded to a Hungary-registered firm for coronavirus tests and equipment


UK prime minister to face ministers at PMQs

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to face a fresh grilling over the UK government's handling of the pandemic at Prime Minister's Questions at 12:00 BST.
It comes after he set out a post-coronavirus recovery plan on Tuesday and vowed to "use this moment" to fix longstanding economic problems in the UK.
While we wait for PMQs to start in the House of Commons, here are the latest UK headlines:

'Massive error' to end French season - Lyon president

Ending the French Ligue 1 season early was a "massive error" and one that showed "an obvious lack of leadership", says Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas.
The campaign was stopped on 13 March because of the global coronavirus pandemic and did not resume.
Paris St-Germain were crowned champions in April, with Toulouse and Amiens relegated to Ligue 2.
Top flights in Germany, Spain, Italy and England resumed in May and June.
Aulas said nobody "outside those who took the decision" understands why the campaign was declared finished.
He told the BBC: "All that was needed was to stop temporarily, assess the situation and take a decision on whether to stop later on."
The loss of revenue from ticketing, sponsorship and TV could see clubs forced to sell players, he said.
Read more here

Uganda to allow entry to thousands of refugees

Catherine Byaruhanga - BBC News, Kampala
For more than a month thousands of displaced people have been stuck in DR Congo’s Ituri region trying to seek safety in northern Uganda. The government in Kampala finally agreed to give them entry on humanitarian grounds.
They will first spend 14 days quarantined at a newly set-up isolation centre, 13km (eight miles) from the border.
The UN’s refugee agency says sample testing will be carried out on the group to see if coronavirus is present amongst them. This will help authorities decide when they can be transferred to camps.
Aid agencies have talked about the difficulties of ensuring social distancing and sanitation in refugee settlements. Fifty-two refugees have so far tested positive for Covid-19 in Uganda out of nearly 900 confirmed cases.
The UN says it is concerned about reports of rising violence in the DRC, where five million people are internally displaced.

Colombia mayor shops lockdown-breaking son

While officials in some countries have faced criticism after they or their relatives flouted lockdown measures, one mayor in Colombia took a strong stance against rule breakers.
Carlos Higgins Villanueva, from the northern town of Juan de Acosta, personally drove his son, his nephew and "a great friend" to the police station after discovering that the trio had broken coronavirus rules.
The mayor explained to Blu Radio that he'd received reports from locals that the men were in a house together drinking alcohol.
"My relatives are the first to be called upon to respect the measures. I won't allow the lives of our town's residents to be put at risk for the sake of enjoying a few drinks," he said in a series of tweets.
He has been widely praised for his actions.
Colombia has recorded more than 95,000 cases of coronavirus and 3,376 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
Read more here

More UK job cuts amid economic downturn

More companies are slashing jobs as the UK economy suffers its worst contraction in 41 years :

The human cost of fake news in India

Shruti Menon - BBC Reality Check
Fake or misleading news can have a real impact on those who find themselves the targets.
This has been a particular problem in India during the coronavirus pandemic, where reliable sources of news are frequently drowned out by unverified information online.
False information has had serious consequences for minority communities as well as some business sectors such as the meat industry.
The Reality Check team looked at the extent of this misinformation and some of those directly affected, which you can read here .

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 17:46


Prime Minister's Questions gets under way

PMQs: Johnson defends timing of Leicester lockdown

In his first question from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Boris Johnson is asked about the local lockdown in Leicester - and why the government was "slow to act" after a rise in coronavirus cases there.
Mr Johnson replies that mobile testing units were first sent there on 8 June.
He says they took "decisive action" and it was the "right thing to do".
The government had to act and did so - and would do the same again for other areas, says the prime minister.
Sir Keir says while he agrees with the lockdown, businesses and schools may take persuading that the government acted quickly enough.
He suggests testing data about community infections was not shared quickly enough with local officials, resulting in a "lost week".
But the PM rejects the accusation, saying Leicester got all the data in good time. Such data is crucial to the UK's "whack-a-mole" strategy to tackle local spikes, he adds.

PMQs: 'Behave responsibly at seaside resorts'

Sir Keir asks the PM if he regrets being "flippant" when asking local leaders in seaside towns to "show some guts" over the risk of visitors.
"Two days later Bournemouth beach was closed with 500,000 visitors, a major incident was declared," says the Labour leader. "Does the prime minister now regret being so flippant?"
Mr Johnson replied that he was making it "absolutely clear" that those who represent seaside communities "should be as welcoming as they can possibly be" - but people still had to stick to social distancing on the beach.
He added: "But it is also vital that people have to behave responsibly and that is why the scenes in Bournemouth were completely unacceptable and that is why we stick to the advice that we have given."

PMQs: Last chance to save jobs, says Starmer

Sir Keir next asks how many jobs will be saved as a result of measures that the PM announced in a speech yesterday, when he set out a post-coronavirus recovery plan .
Mr Johnson doesn't give a figure for those jobs, but says 11 million jobs have been protected through the furlough scheme. "Massive investment" is being brought forward in hospitals, schools and infrastructure, he adds.
The Labour leader urges the government to extend the furlough scheme, saying next week - when Chancellor Rishi Sunak is making a speech on the UK economy - is the last chance to save "million of jobs".
In response, the PM defends the economic programme. The chancellor's speech will be on 8 July.

PMQs: Starmer 'not blind to risks'

Sir Keir Starmer says the number of people not being reached by the test and trace system is a "real problem" that needs addressing.
He adds there is to be lifting of lockdown restrictions "without an app, without clear data for local authorities or the world-beating system we were promised".
He added: "I support the easing of restrictions but unlike the prime minister, I'm not blind to the risks and I don't think anybody else should be."
The Labour leader says there were 22,000 new Covid infections a week in mid-June - with just 5,000 of those subsequently reached - and asks the PM to explain this.
Mr Johnson responds: "As he knows very well the test, track and trace operation is actually reaching huge numbers of people and causing them to self-isolate in ways I don't think he conceivably could have expected a month ago when this system was set up."
He adds that the test and trace system "has now reached 113,000 contacts, 113,000 contacts who have undertaken to self-isolate to stop the disease spreading".

PMQs: PM wants theatres to open 'as soon as possible'

Conservative MP Nickie Aiken, whose constituency covers London's West End theatre district, asks whether the government wants theatres to reopen "as soon as it is safe to do so".
In reply, Boris Johnson echoes her comments that "the show must go on".
He says he wants the sector to move as quickly "as fast as we possibly can" - but the virus must also be defeated.

PMQs: 'Astonishing' to suggest Scotland quarantine

Boris Johnson says the suggestion that people going to Scotland from other parts of the UK would have to be quarantined is "astonishing".
Andrew Bowie, the Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, had asked the PM if he shared "the frustration of the Scottish tourist sector... that it's having the legs pulled out from under it by deeply irresponsible, damaging and divisive talk of arbitrary border closures and quarantining of visitors from across the United Kingdom".
Mr Johnson replies: "I must say I found the suggestion absolutely astonishing.
"There have been no such discussions with the Scottish administration about that but I would point out to (Mr Bowie) what he knows very well - there is no such thing as a border between England and Scotland."


PMQs comes to an end for the week

Prime Minister's Questions has come to an end. Remember there's even more coverage on our politics live page here

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 17:49

Death rate in Scotland returns to normal levels

The total number of people who are dying in Scotland has returned to normal levels, according to official figures.
There were 35 deaths linked to the virus last week - the lowest number since the middle of March.
The National Records of Scotland (NRS) said a total of 1,006 people had died between 22 and 28 June.
This was actually slightly lower than the average of 1,026 deaths recorded in the same week over the past five years.
The figures reflect the continuing fall in the number of coronavirus deaths in Scotland.
Read more here

One more death in Scotland

One more person has died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the total in the nation to 2,486.
Speaking at the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said eight more people had tested positive for the virus in 24 hours, taking the total to 18,259.
A total of 785 patients are in Scottish hospitals with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a fall of 100 in 24 hours, she added.
Of these, 17 are intensive care, a drop of two.
The death figure announced by the first minister differs from the weekly statistics released on Wednesday by the National Records of Scotland, as the former covers patients who have tested positive and the latter involves all registered deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate, whether confirmed or suspected.

Why Putin won't wear a mask

Vitaly Shevchenko - BBC Monitoring
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has again appeared in public not wearing any protective equipment despite the Covid-19 pandemic.In footage aired by state TV today, President Putin was shown casting a ballot in a vote on constitutional amendments which is all but certain to allow him to stay in power beyond 2024, when his current term runs out. Unlike most, if not all, other people in the hall, Vladimir Putin was not wearing a face mask or gloves.
Technically speaking, he broke quarantine rules as face masks are still mandatory inside confined public spaces in Moscow.
The Russian president has not been seen wearing a face mask since the start of the pandemic but he had a full hazmat suit on during part of a visit to Moscow's Kommunarka hospital for Covid-19 patients in March.
But when he met the head of Kommunarka, Denis Protsenko, during the same visit, neither of them was wearing any protective gear.
A week later, Mr Protsenko tested positive for coronavirus, and Vladimir Putin went into self-isolation.
So why is President Putin so reluctant to wear a mask?
Much of his public image is based on a macho personality, for instance evidenced by the now famous images of him riding a horse bare-chested. From this point of view, wearing a face mask may be perceived as a sign of weakness on the part of Russia's strongman ruler.
In April, state TV suddenly showed Putin meeting officials face to face after going into self-isolation - possibly to show that he was not afraid of Covid-19. But circumstantial evidence strongly suggests the meeting was filmed weeks earlier.

Local authorities given access to more testing data

There have been concerns that data isn't being provided to local authorities quickly enough, as we've reported here .
Now, the Department of Health says a data-sharing agreement has been reached.
It will give local authorities access to information about how many people have tested positive for coronavirus in the community in their area - rather than just the data on how many have tested positive in hospitals, which is what they've had up to now.
The new arrangement means local authorities can log on to a dashboard to see who is coming forward for testing, as well as their results, down to each postcode area.

Record daily infection numbers in the Western Balkans

Guy De Launey - BBC Balkans Correspondent
Countries in the Western Balkans had implemented some of Europe's strictest measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus. Governments deployed total lockdowns over long weekends, daily curfews and intercity travel bans.
And the tight controls apparently produced results, with the region's infection rates a fraction of the EU average. Montenegro even declared that it was Europe's only country without a single active case.
But looser restrictions have brought record daily numbers of new infections in several countries, including North Macedonia and Bosnia. And even though Serbia and Montenegro are on the EU's green list, new cases have been rising there too – leading Austria to issue a warning against travel to the entire Western Balkans region.
Serbia has reintroduced some restrictions in an attempt to prevent the situation spiralling out of control. Its chief epidemiologist said the country was “now reaching the maximum of the second peak”.
Citizens planning to travel to EU countries will be hoping that is an accurate assessment.

Analysis: Starmer 'trying to push PM on specific problems'

Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC's political editor, says of today's PMQs: "We are into a familiar pattern with Prime Minister's Questions now where Keir Starmer is trying to push Boris Johnson on specific problems with the government's handling of coronavirus.
"And today, he raised the issue of why testing information on the number of cases in the community, rather than in hospitals and in care homes, has not been shared quickly enough with local councils.
"This is one of the issues at the heart of what's happened in Leicester."

German residents under local lockdown 'had cars scratched'

BBC Radio Leicester
Leicester might be the first city in England to have a local lockdown but many others across the world have found themselves in the same situation.
It's been a week since authorities in Germany extended a lockdown in and around Gütersloh - a city between Dortmund and Hanover in the north of the country.
It followed an outbreak that started at a nearby meat processing plant, where many city residents work.
The mayor of Gütersloh, Henning Shultz, called the new restrictions "lockdown light".
He told the BBC: "The infected employees of the company are in quarantine for 14 days so our task, as a city, is to check they stay at home but also to check they have enough to eat and drink to support them.
"For my inhabitants, it means the schools are closed but their lives have not completely shut down.
"The restaurants are open, the shops are open, but in public space or in restaurants you are only allowed to sit with two people together or as a family."
He said residents felt "sad and annoyed" by the local lockdown and were "stigmatised" when they travelled outside the city.
"When people travel to the next district, their cars have been scratched because you could see where the car has come from on the licence plate," he said.
"It's quite hard for the people here to accept the new lockdown because since March we were all waiting for living our old lives again - going out and going on holidays."
Despite this, he said the rules were working because people were "very disciplined".

Jobs to go at John Lewis and Harrods

We heard earlier about UK [url= UK job cuts amid economic downturn%262020-07-01t10%3a48%3a22.889z&ns_fee=0&pinned_post_locator=urn:asset:690098d8-004d-4ecf-94fa-c18c3b23a5ec&pinned_post_asset_id=5efc667d1aef1f0655fca296&pinned_post_type=share]companies cutting jobs[/url] due to the economic turndown caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Now even more firms have announced they're making cuts.
One of the biggest names is John Lewis. The department store says it will be cutting jobs, and the number of stores.
It's yet to be decided how many of its premises will be closing, and how many jobs will go. The cuts could include the smaller of its two head office buildings in London.
"The reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now," John Lewis - which is owned by its employees, known as partners - said in a statement.
"As difficult as it is, it is highly unlikely we will reopen all our John Lewis stores. However no decision has been made and any details would be shared with Partners first by the middle of July."
Luxury store Harrods and Arcadia, which owns Topshop, will also be cutting jobs. Up to 680 will go at Kensington store Harrods, and 500 of the 2,500 head office staff at Arcadia, which is owned by billionaire Philip Green.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 18:01

Thai children return to school at last

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It may be later than planned but children in Thailand are finally able to begin the new school term.
New measures have been introduced to help stop the spread of the virus, including the use of masks and social distancing between pupils.
And it's not just schools that are opening up - bars and clubs will also start welcoming customers again from Wednesday.
Thailand has recorded fewer than 4,000 coronavirus cases and just 58 deaths since the pandemic began.
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Six more people die with coronavirus in Wales

Six more people with coronavirus are confirmed to have died in Wales, taking the official total to 1,516.
Figures from Public Health Wales also showed there were 32 new cases reported, meaning 15,775 people have tested positive for Covid-19.
To date, 139,248 individuals have been tested for coronavirus in Wales, with 123,473 testing negative.
A total of 185,111 tests have been carried out, with some people having been tested more than once.
PHW publishes daily statistics of deaths, mostly occurring in hospitals, but only when the virus has been confirmed by laboratories.
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Cross-border 'cluster' reported in Scotland and England

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A cross-border "cluster" of coronavirus cases has been identified across south-west Scotland and north-west England.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway has confirmed nine new cases of Covid-19 in the Gretna and Annan areas since Monday.
It said everyone was self-isolating and work was taking place to identify any recent contacts.
National clinical director Prof Jason Leitch described it as a "complex but small cluster".
He stressed that the last positive cases in the Dumfries and Galloway health board area had come on 22 June.
Read more here

Spotting the next spike in England

Daniel Wainwright - BBC England Data Unit
We now know that Leicester has had the most cases per population, but we don't know who is currently seeing their cases rise or increase the most.
Public Health England has now published for the first time the full figures of positive cases in each local authority in England in the week to 21 June.
This shows why the government was so worried - Leicester's rate of new infections was more than double the next highest, Bradford. These figures are now 10 days old, however.
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What's come as a surprise to many people is that the government's public data on cases , updated daily, shows a much lower rate of infections in Leicester.
This is because it only includes so-called Pillar 1 tests - those in hospitals and involving healthcare workers.
The bulk of Leicester's infections have been discovered under Pillar 2 tests done outside of hospital.
Having this new breakdown of both sets of test results is going to be vital in determining where else may need to be subject to local lockdown.

Walkers confirms 28 Covid-19 cases at Leicester site

Sonia Kataria - BBC News
Snack firm Walkers has confirmed 28 positive cases of Covid-19 at its site in Leicester.
Walkers, which employs 1,400 people across the site in Beaumont Leys, said during June it has seen a "steady increase" in the number of confirmed cases.
The Leicester-based company said its track and trace procedure indicated the transmission of the virus was "not in our factory".
It believes the rise "coincides with the roll-out and uptake of testing" in the city.
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"We have seen an increase in the number of confirmed cases, reflecting the situation in the local community and coinciding with the roll-out and uptake of testing," a Walkers spokesperson said.
The company said they have shared their data and analysis with health authorities, who they say support the view that the firm's situation reflects transmission in the community and we "do not have a transmission issue on site".
A spokesperson added employees with a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 were self-isolating on full pay.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 18:09

A recap on the remdesivir buy-up

In case you're just joining us, here's a reminder that the US has secured almost all of the forthcoming global supply of a drug shown to help people recover faster from Covid-19.
Remdesivir is produced by the US firm Gilead Sciences and is the first drug to have been approved by authorities in the US to be used to treat the disease.
The US administration is set to receive 500,000 doses - or 100% of the company's supply production in July, 90% of it in August and 90% in September.
On average, a course of remdesivir requires 6.25 vials.
A statement from the Department of Health and Human services praised President Donald Trump's "amazing deal" with Gilead.

'Hundreds' of five-a-side footballers flout lockdown in Scotland

Chris McLaughlin - BBC Sport Scotland
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CCTV footage shows players taking part in full-contact games

Hundreds of people are flouting lockdown rules every week by breaking into five-a-side pitches to play football, BBC Scotland has been told.
The owner of one complex in Glasgow says vandals have burned their way through perimeter netting and even stolen astroturf.
An unofficial tournament featuring up to 50 teams also had to be broken up.
The Scottish government has said lockdown restrictions mean pitches will not reopen until at least 24 July.
But CCTV footage from one football centre shows players taking part in full contact games.
They can then be seen further breaching hygiene and social-distancing rules by shaking hands at the end of their match.
Read more here.

Another 50 people die with coronavirus in England

Another 50 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total to 28,759, NHS England said.
Patients were aged between 52 and 97 years old.
Two patients, aged 52 and 63, had no known underlying health conditions.
No deaths were recorded in the South West region in the latest figures.

Global cases pass 10.5 million

The number of coronavirus infections worldwide has now surpassed 10.5 million.
The US has by far the largest number of confirmed cases of any country, with 2.6 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
More than 127,000 people have also died there.
Brazil, meanwhile, has recorded 1.4 million cases and almost 60,000 fatalities.

Immunity may be more widespread than tests suggest

Rachel Schraer - BBC Health Reporter
People testing negative for coronavirus antibodies may still have some immunity, a study has suggested.
For every person testing positive for antibodies, two were found to have specific T-cells which identify and destroy infected cells.
This was seen even in people who had mild or symptomless cases of Covid-19.
But it's not yet clear whether this just protects that individual or if it might also stop them from passing on the infection to others.
Researchers at the Karolinksa Institute in Sweden tested 200 people for both antibodies and T-cells.
Some were blood donors while others were tracked down from the group of people first infected in Sweden, mainly returning from earlier affected areas like northern Italy.
This could mean a wider group have some level of immunity to Covid-19 than antibody testing figures, like those published as part of the UK Office for National Statistics Infection Survey, suggest.
Read more here

Families of children with special needs 'abandoned' during school closures

Families of children with special educational needs feel they have been "utterly abandoned" during school closures, an MPs' committee has been told.
Those with extra educational, physical or emotional needs saw support "fall off a cliff" during the coronavirus.
Risk assessments for Covid-19 were used by some schools to prevent special educational needs and disability (SEND) pupils from attending, the committee heard.
There was also concern national catch-up plans did not mention SEND children.
Ali Fiddy, chief executive of the Independent Provider of Special Education Advice, said her organisation was seeing families who were "very clearly struggling".
There was definitely not enough support being offered for parents, she said, with many families feeling "utterly abandoned".
Children with special needs plans were part of the group of children who were invited to continue schooling.
But, Fiddy said, in some cases the risk assessment process tied to the coronavirus outbreak was being used as an excuse to offer no services and keep pupils out of school.
Read more here

Wigan Athletic go into administration

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Wigan Athletic have gone into administration, becoming the first English professional club to do so since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The administrators said the suspension of the Championship season because of the coronavirus pandemic has had a "significant impact on the recent fortunes of the club".
The English Football League has said Wigan will be deducted 12 points. The sanction will be applied at the end of this season if the Latics, 14th in the Championship, finish outside the bottom three after 46 games.
Should Wigan finish in the relegation zone, the penalty will be applied during the 2020-21 season instead.
Wigan have won all three of their league games since the resumption of the Championship season on 20 June.
Read more here

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 18:16

Another 176 people die with coronavirus in UK

A further 176 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community in the UK, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
This brings the total to 43,906 as of 17:00 BST on Tuesday.
The government figures do not include all deaths involving Covid-19 across the UK.
The DHSC also said in the 24-hour period up to 09:00 BST on Wednesday, 226,398 tests had been carried out or dispatched, with 829 positive results.
Overall, a total of 9,662,051 tests have been carried out and 313,483 cases have been confirmed as positive.
The figure for the number of people tested has been "temporarily paused to ensure consistent reporting" across all methods of testing.

Leicester lockdown boundary 'stupid', say residents

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Paula Meadows said the boundary made no sense

Residents on a street cut in half by the Leicester lockdown boundary line have branded it stupid.
Some addresses on Bowhill Grove, Scraptoft, are now subject to the tighter restrictions introduced on Monday, while others are not.
One resident said people living in the lockdown area could walk over the line to a nearby local pub, which may open.
Leicestershire County Council said the boundary had been drawn up rapidly and was "an imprecise science".
A map showing the boundary of the lockdown zone was made public on Tuesday morning before a postcode tool allowing people to check whether they lived inside the affected area was launched.
Leicester's new lockdown rules at a glance

EU equipment scheme emails 'sent to defunct addresses'

The UK missed out on the chance to take part in EU schemes to source medical equipment during the coronavirus outbreak because the information was sent to an outdated email address, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.
He suggested that a failure by EU officials to update their records might have been to blame for the situation.
The EU started to co-ordinate the purchasing of personal protective equipment, testing kits and ventilators in February.
In a letter to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Raab said: "The relevant EU committee, the Joint Procurement Agreement Steering Committee [JPASC], was relaunched by the European Commission in September 2019, after three years of not meeting.

"The UK provided up-to-date contact details for the UK representatives to the JPASC in September 2019.
"Despite this, however, we understand from the commission that the UK contact details on their circulation list for issues relevant to joint procurements at the time of the Covid-19 outbreak were still those of the previous UK representatives, ie those who had last attended JPSAC in 2016."
Raab said "unfortunately those email addresses no longer existed" because of changes in departmental structures and government IT systems.

People in Leicester 'confused' by new rules

People in Leicester say they're confused about new rules in the city as shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth accuses the government of failing to give resident enough information about the local lockdown.
It was announced on Monday night that residents would face tighter restrictions over the next fortnight because of a recent spike in coronavirus cases.
Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, said residents were anxious.
People from Leicester have expressed frustration at what they see as a lack of guidance, telling the BBC they're confused about who they can and can't see - and what constitutes essential travel.
What has caused the spike in Leicester?
In short, our health correspondent Nick Triggle says , the virus was still present and there was not enough social distancing. Density of population was also bound to be a factor.
While there was nothing necessarily unique to Leicester, infections there are on quite a different scale to other local flare-ups, our correspondent adds.

'Right response' seen in vaccine trials

The right sort of immune response has been seen in trials for a potential Covid-19 vaccine at the University of Oxford , a parliamentary hearing has been told.
The trials have now entered the Phase III clinical stage.
Sarah Gilibert, professor of vaccinology at the university, told the government committee that the trial had enrolled 8,000 volunteers for the next stage.
She could not give a timeline for when the vaccine - which was licensed to AstraZeneca - might be ready, as it depends on the results of the trial.

Sturgeon condemns Johnson's 'ridiculous political comments'

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Nicola Sturgeon has criticised Boris Johnson's "absurd and ridiculous political comments" claiming there is no Scottish border.
Scotland's first minister has said she would not rule out people having to quarantine if entering Scotland from other parts of the UK, if they're suggested by public health evidence.
But speaking at Prime Minister's Questions earlier, the prime minister said he found such a suggestion "absolutely astonishing".
He went on to say: "There is no such thing as a border between England and Scotland."
But Ms Sturgeon later said this was "such an absurd statement", adding: "What there definitely is, is a geographical boundary to my powers as first minister.
"If the prime minister is questioning that now, I'm not sure what he would say if I pitched up in Newcastle and started to try to implement Scottish government policies in Newcastle."
She said there were no current plans to implement the quarantine rules, but said: "Given the nature of what we're dealing with right now - just to remind the prime minister: an infectious virus - I would not be doing my job properly if I ruled things out that, as we see from countries around the world, are being used selectively in appropriate circumstances to try to contain a virus."
There's more on the story here .

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 18:23

Peru LGBT club reopens as grocery store

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ValeTodo Downtown has become the Downtown Market

Peru's largest LGBT nightclub has reopened its doors as lockdown eases - as a grocery store.
ValeTodo Downtown is one of the best known dance floors in the capital, Lima. But the club's famed drag queens will now be serving milk, fruit and bread rather than cocktails as nightclubs are still not permitted to open.
Times have been tough for the club's 120 employees since the pandemic hit.
"I was very depressed because I have been doing this art for years, but you have to adapt to new challenges for the future," Belaluh McQueen, who is identified by her stage name, told Reuters news agency.
"We have a new job opportunity," she added, standing in the newly named Downtown Market in a sequined suit, high heels and a mask.
"Before, I used to come here to dance and have a good time, but now we come to buy," said Alexandra Herrera, a regular attendee of the club.
"The thing is to reinvent yourself."
More than 9,500 people have died of Covid-19 in Peru.

'Enough doses of remdesivir for UK use'

Here's some more from the government's Science and Technology committee hearing that's been going on this afternoon.
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer, has said there are enough doses of remdesivir for use on hospitalised patients in the UK.
It comes on the back of news that the US had secured almost all of the forthcoming global supply of the drug, which has been shown to help people recover from Covid-19 more quickly.
Prof Van-Tam said: "Right now, there are stocks in the UK - and I judge us to have adequate stocks - of pre-licensed, as in unlicensed, clinical trial stocks of remdesivir which are available to be used through the emergency access protocol."
Remdesivir is produced by the US firm Gilead Sciences and is the first drug to have been approved by authorities in the US to be used to treat the disease.
The US administration is set to receive 500,000 doses - or 100% of the company's supply production - in July, 90% of it in August and 90% in September.

Public concern over coronavirus 'has risen' in Britain

Mark Easton - Home editor
Most of Britain is preparing for an easing of lockdown restrictions.
But public concern at the risks from coronavirus has risen to the highest level since the end of April, a new poll conducted by Ipsos Mori this week suggests.
However, the survey also says the public is becoming more comfortable about returning to work and sending children back to school.
A month ago, 37% of those surveyed said they were ‘very concerned’ about the risks to the country. This new poll suggests that has risen to 50%. Concern about the risks to individuals has also risen from 24% to 29%.
The survey asks people whether they would feel comfortable in a range of situations if lockdown measures were lifted. The proportion of parents who said they would be comfortable sending their children to school has risen to 49%, up from 38% a month earlier.
Two-thirds of people would be comfortable meeting friends or family outside their household, also a rise from six weeks before. But the poll suggests around six in 10 people would be anxious going to bars or restaurants, using public transport or lavatories and only 15% said they would be comfortable going to large sport or music events.
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,078 British adults aged 18-75 online between 26-29 June 2020. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

Meet Britain's unlikely key workers

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Matt Forward with his hawk in Trafalgar Square

Whether it's nurses, carers or supermarket staff, key workers have rightly been hailed as heroes during lockdown.
But behind the pandemic's front line there have also been many others who have been busy doing essential jobs.
Matt Forward's job is to keep the pigeons away from Trafalgar Square, in central London.
Pest management was covered in the key worker list, so throughout the lockdown Matt drove himself and his Harris hawk 45 miles (70km) to the iconic square early two mornings a week.
Matt, who lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said he never thought of stopping his job because of lockdown.
"If someone wasn't there doing the job that we do, we'd be overrun," he says.
Read more about how lockdown has been for Britain's unlikely key workers here

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 18:30

Job losses are 'thin end of very big wedge'

Simon Jack - BBC Business Editor
The worldwide economic impact of the coronavirus has been seismic and the job losses are starting to crash on the shores of the UK with increasing frequency and severity.
The 1,700 UK job losses at Airbus had a grim inevitability to them, given the destruction of demand in the aviation industry.
Demand for air travel in April and May was down more than 90% and normality is not expected to return for up to three years - maybe never for the more lucrative business class travel.
BA, Easyjet, Ryanair and Rolls Royce have already announced 20,000 job losses between them, so Airbus was never going to emerge unscathed.
The travel wipeout has seen SSP, the owner of stalwart transport hub tenants Upper Crust and Café Ritazza, cut 5,000 posts.

We already know that the number of workers on UK payrolls shrank more than 600,000 between March and May, according to the ONS.
That looks like the thin end of a very big wedge as the government's unprecedented job support scheme tapers off, with employers being asked to share the burden of the cost from the end of July to its withdrawal at the end of October.
Read more from Simon here.

Uganda opens border for refugees

Uganda has opened part of its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo to allow in thousands of people stuck in no-man's land for more than a month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At least 3,000 of them fled their homes in May after inter-communal clashes in north-eastern Ituri province.
But they were unable to cross into Uganda to seek safety as the country had closed its borders in March to control the spread of coronavirus.
It has been agreed the refugees will be quarantined before being settled.
This will happen for 14 days at a new isolation centre, 13km (eight miles) from the border.
The UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) says sample testing will be carried out on the group to see if coronavirus is present among them.
This will help authorities decide when the refugees can be transferred to camps.
Read more here.

Misleading claims circulate online over local lockdowns

Marianna Spring - Specialist disinformation and social media reporter
As Leicester, in England's East Midlands, has become the first city put under a local lockdown, misleading claims have been shared on social media.
A string of local councils have posted on Twitter and Facebook to counter online rumours of imminent lockdowns in their areas - making it clear none have been announced.
A rise in cases has been recorded in some local authority areas but a Public Health England (PHE) spokesperson told the BBC that using this data to predict which areas would see significant rises in cases is "not appropriate" because it doesn't give a "complete picture" of the local situation.
Meanwhile, a number of social media posts attributing the local lockdown in Leicester to videos of crowds of people taking part in anti-racism protests in the city centre a few weeks ago have led to racist and abusive comments directed at protesters.
We've identified posts in Facebook groups that may have sparked some of the rumours.
You can read more here .

English councils face 'funding gap of £7.4bn'

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Councils in England need urgent support as they face a funding gap of £7.4bn due to a loss of income related to coronavirus, the Local Government Association (LGA) says.
Local authorities have come under increased pressure during the pandemic as demand for services such as social care has grown, while at the same time, income from local taxation and charges has dropped.
James Jamieson, chairman of the LGA, which represents English councils and London boroughs, said "further funding and flexibilities are now urgent" if councils are to avoid taking steps such as "in-year cuts to local services" to cope with funding gaps.
Whitehall has given £3.2bn funding to all English councils in two grants to help cover coronavirus costs, but the LGA says between March and June councils had already incurred costs of £4.8bn.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 19:20

'Small' outbreak at UK bed factory

A "small" outbreak of coronavirus among workers at a bed factory in West Yorkshire has been confirmed.
Eight members of staff at the Dura Beds factory in Batley have tested positive for the virus this week, a statement says.
All staff - a total of 107 workers - will now be offered tests, according to the joint statement by Kirklees Council and Public Health England (PHE).
The Dura Beds factory has been closed for two weeks as a safety precaution for its employees and their families, the statement adds.
The firm is now "working closely" with the council and PHE so those who have tested positive can be followed up by the NHS Test and Trace programme and self-isolate.
People who might have come into contact with an infected individual will be contacted and may be advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
The statement adds: "While the risk to residents from this outbreak is very low, everyone in Kirklees should continue to socially distance, wash hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water and get tested if they have symptoms."

Leicester lockdown: Schoolchildren cannot cross border

Sonia Kataria - BBC News
Some children who live in the Leicester lockdown zone but attend school outside of the area will not be able to cross the border, the Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed.
From Thursday, only vulnerable children and children of key workers can travel across the boundary in either direction for school or appointments with social workers. Other children have been asked to stay at home.
The DfE said: "If you are a child or young person (other than a vulnerable child or child of a critical worker) that lives in Leicester but attends school or college outside the affected area, you must stay at home."
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Some children who attend St Luke’s Primary School in Thurnby, Leicestershire, which is outside the zone and will be open as normal tomorrow, are from within the boundary.
Headteacher Paul Galvin said he was "deeply sorry" to the families of those affected.
He said: "It might be difficult for families who are inside the lockdown zone - as we are just outside the boundary - especially if they are not children of critical workers."
He added the school has "adapted and will keep adapting to changes" during the coronavirus pandemic.
The school has been open since the lockdown in March for vulnerable children and children of key workers, and reopened for Reception and Year 1 in June.

What's happening in Peru?

Reality Check
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Peru imposed one of the earliest and strictest lockdowns in Latin America to stop the spread of coronavirus - but it now has the sixth highest number of confirmed cases in the world.
Peru's President, Martín Vizcarra, says things are improving but has previously said results of the lockdown "haven't been exactly what we expected".
So why has Peru been affected so badly?
The lockdown in Peru started on 16 March - before the UK and some other European countries - and lasted until the end of June.
Daily reported cases are now falling - but the number of deaths remains high.
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Officially, as of 30 June, around 9,600 people had died with coronavirus in Peru.
But the country has one of the world's highest excess death rates - the number of deaths above the average in previous years - which suggests the impact far exceeds official figures.
Why have measures been ineffective?
Peru has reported more cases than every European country apart from the UK, despite testing only about seven people in every 1,000 - more than some countries in Latin America but far fewer than Italy, for example, which has tested about 88 in every 1,000.
Experts say Peru's healthcare system was underprepared, leading to more deaths, but several other social and economic factors can help explain why Peru is struggling to contain the outbreak.
Read more here

Voices from the US outbreaks

Florida and Texas are among the states most affected by the huge surge in US virus cases. Here are what some of the people living there had to say.
Alisha Hoath, 22 - Boca Raton, Florida
There was a period when everyone began to forget about the virus. I even thought things were getting better for a while.
For the most part I know I could be doing better with social distancing. I've been going to yoga classes and took a trip to a hotel in Miami for the weekend which was probably not my best decision.
But we made sure to keep six feet apart and wear masks.
Genesis Valbuena, 26 - Austin, Texas
Some bar owners here in Austin are vocally going against what we need to do - criticising the data and suing the government for shutting them down.
If we continue to do this, we are going to be shut down for the rest of the year. For me that's completely narcissistic. How certain bar owners are acting is ludicrous.
The reopening should have been done less quickly.
Read more here

How the Royal Family is changing in lockdown

Sarah Campbell - BBC News/Royal Correspondent
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Will the Royal Family embrace life on Zoom?

Three months ago when lockdown began, it was hard to see how, in isolation, the Royal Family could unite the nation as it had previously done in times of crisis.
The Prince of Wales, the heir to the throne, had tested positive for Covid-19. He and the Duchess of Cornwall self-isolated in Scotland. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, both in their 90s, retreated behind Windsor Castle's walls.
The institution had already been rocked by the departure of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of York "stepping back". Yet with each day, the death toll rose and a nation needed reassurance.
Within a week Prince Charles, who suffered only mild symptoms of the virus, was able to release a video describing his "strange, frustrating and often distressing experience". The video was recorded at his home on the Balmoral estate.
Perhaps it was the setting - the crammed bookshelves, the family photo, the teddy bear on the mantelpiece - or the heartfelt, personal delivery - but it felt intimate and set the tone for how the Royal Family went on to communicate with the nation during lockdown.
See here for more from Sarah

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 01 2020, 21:23

First pantomimes cancelled ahead of make-or-break Christmas

Ian Youngs - Entertainment and Arts Reporter, BBC News
Oh yes it is. Oh no it isn't. The big question facing many theatres at the moment is - is panto season cancelled?
Norwich Theatre Royal became one of the first to call off its pantomime this week, saying the risk was "too great" after three months with no income.
Venues in Buxton and Welwyn Garden City have also cancelled, while Leicester Curve has scrapped its festive musical.
Pantos are crucial to theatre earnings, and this Christmas could prove to be make or break for some venues' futures.
Conservative MP Giles Watling, a former actor and panto dame, warned of the impact if festive shows are scrapped. "I think many provincial theatres will go to the wall, frankly, because that's the time they can make the money," he told BBC News.
"It puts money in the coffers to support the rest of the cultural offer. I can see massive problems ahead if something isn't done and soon."
Read more here.

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Catch up on the day's developments

That brings our updates on the global coronavirus picture to a close for the day.
Here are the main updates you need to know about this evening.

  • In the UK, at least 11,000 people are set to lose their jobs after multiple firms announced cuts over the past 48 hours. They're mainly in aviation and High Street retailers
  • The US is buying nearly all the next three months' projected production of Covid-19 treatment remdesivir from US manufacturer Gilead. While the drug cuts recovery times, according to tests, it's not clear if it improves survival rates
  • Local authorities in the UK are to be given access to postcode-level data about the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in their areas after it was agreed with the Department of Health. It comes after Leicester became the first city to enter a local lockdown
  • Uganda has opened part of its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo to allow in thousands of people who fled their homes in May after clashes. They were previously unable to cross into Uganda because the country closed its borders to control the spread of coronavirus
  • The UK must "prepare for the worst" this winter, instead of relying on the development of a successful coronavirus vaccine, Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, has told MPs
  • People testing negative for coronavirus antibodies may still have some immunity, according to a Swedish study

Scroll up for more on what's been going on this Wednesday.
And while the live updates are coming to an end, our colleagues around the world will continue to keep you up to date on our main stories.

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