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Coronavirus - 3rd July


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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 07:58

Summary for Friday, 3rd July

  • People arriving in England from dozens of nations will no longer need to quarantine from 10 July
  • A full list of 'low risk' countries is set to be published on Friday but will include France, Spain and Germany
  • UK PM Boris Johnson will urge the public to act responsibly ahead of lockdown being eased
  • The governor of Texas has ordered face coverings to be worn in public as virus cases rocket
  • With 53,000 new cases recorded on Thursday, the US set a new one-day record for new infections
  • Globally there are 10.8m virus cases and there have been more than 520,000 deaths

Hello and welcome back to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Here's a quick glance at the latest headlines:

  • People arriving in England from dozens of countries will no longer need to go into self-quarantine from 10 July. A full list of these "low-risk" countries is set to be published later today
  • Over in the US, the governor of Texas has issued an order requiring residents to wear a face-covering in public spaces. It comes as the state marks record numbers of new infections - seeing more than 8,000 cases on Wednesday alone
  • And it's not just Texas. The US has now reported its largest single-day jump in new cases since the start of the pandemic - with more than 53,000 reported on Thursday
  • Globally, more than 10.8 million people have been infected with the virus and more than 520,000 people have died as a result of it

England scraps quarantine for 'low-risk' countries

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People arriving in England from countries including France, Spain, Germany and Italy will no longer need to quarantine from 10 July, the Department for Transport (DTF) has confirmed.
A full list of exempt countries posing "a reduced risk" from coronavirus will be published later today.
About 60 countries are expected to be included on this list, according to BBC Newsnight's political editor Nick Watt.
Currently, most people arriving into the UK from anywhere, apart from the Republic of Ireland, have to self-isolate for two weeks.
Ministers have been under pressure to ease quarantine measures because of the impact on the travel industry, and a number of holiday companies and airlines had been urging the government to drop the arrangement.
The list of exempted countries will be kept "under constant review", so that if the health risks increase, self-isolation measures can be re-introduced, said the DTF.
Read more here

Delivery driver interview praised in China

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
Beijing broadcaster BTV has been praised for taking the stigma out of having Covid-19 by showing an interview with a delivery driver surnamed Kong, who tested positive in late June.
Today, he has been cured and discharged from hospital. But last month, there was huge concern when he contracted the virus, given that he was delivering food to around 50 people a day.
After he tested positive, Global Times reported that more than 104,000 other delivery personnel were ordered to be tested.
But seeing him today, speaking of how he “was worried that he had harmed everyone”, has got Chinese netizens commenting on how they should feel more grateful about front-line workers, and that he shouldn’t feel guilty.
He is the third patient to be discharged in Beijing; more than 329 people have so far tested positive in the city since one individual case on 11 June.

Texas mandates face masks as cases surge

The governor of Texas has ordered face-coverings to be worn in public as virus cases in the state continue to rocket.
The directive applies to counties with 20 or more Covid-19 cases - which covers most of the 254 counties in Texas.
Texas hit a record of more than 8,000 cases on Wednesday alone - up from about 2,400 two weeks ago.
It was one of the states that had initially led the charge in loosening lockdown measures. Its governor Greg Abbott had allowed his initial stay-at-home order to expire on 30 April.
But as the virus surged, he began to walk back on this - ordering all bars shut last week and cutting restaurant capacity.
Mr Abbott had initially resisted a state-wide order on masks, going so far as to ban local governments from requiring facial coverings.
Read more about the situation in Texas here

Tokyo cases top 100 again

The number of virus cases in the capital city of Japan has topped 100 for the second straight day, worrying health authorities.
Tokyo reported 124 cases on Friday, according to local media reports - the highest daily tally since a national state of emergency was lifted in late May.
There is now growing concern about a resurgence in the capital - the city's governor said infections could be seen in many places such as "households, workplaces and elderly care facilities".
According to the Japan Times, many of the recent cases are people in their 20s and 30s who have visited nightlife areas in the capital.

What's gone wrong in Melbourne?

Australia has been a relative success story but an outbreak in Melbourne is at a "critical stage", experts say.
Infections have surged in the past few weeks - there are now 482 active cases in the state of Victoria.
The numbers remain below Australia's March peak, but what's concerning now is that most cases are being spread locally rather than by people arriving from overseas.
In every other state, the virus has been dramatically slowed or eradicated. So what's gone wrong in Victoria?
We've put together this explainer on five of the key reasons.

Could 'immunity passports' work?

It is a concept that would have been unthinkable months ago - but it is something some governments around the world are now considering.
We are talking about "immunity passports" - a document that would certify that you have had coronavirus and will not carry or contract the disease again. This could potentially open a way out of lockdown restrictions for the holder.
But will it create a niche group of antibody-carrying people that can date, travel and work as they wish - while others are still limited by health precautions?
One psychology professor says such a concept could create "a mutli-tier society and increase levels of discrimination and inequity".
Read more about the idea.

North Korea's handling of virus a 'shining success'

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has praised his country's handling of the coronavirus, calling it a "shining success".
In a politburo meeting, he said the country had "maintained a stable situation and prevented the inroad of the malignant virus".
But he added that the country still needed to stay on "maximum alert... without relaxation on the anti-epidemic front".
North Korea maintains that it has zero virus cases - though mosts analysts say this is unlikely.
However, the country did act quickly against the virus, closing its borders and putting thousands into quarantine from as early as January.
More on North Korea's handling of the virus here

Protest, rally or eating out - Where is riskier?

Many US states have started the process of reopening, which means larger numbers of people are venturing out to attend protests, rallies, or dine at a restaurant.
Dr Georges Benjamin, the Executive Director at the American Public Health Association, breaks down the risks.
Video journalist: Cody Melissa Godwin. Senior producer: Phoebe Frieze.


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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 08:41

What's happening in the UK?

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A marquee is set up for outdoor drinkers at a Rochdale pub, as the PM warns people to "act responsibly"

Here's a summary of this morning's headlines to get you up to speed today:

Why surviving the virus may be just the beginning

Chris Morris - BBC Reality Check
"Often rehabilitation is seen as a Cinderella service and not a priority," says Sally Singh, professor of pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation at the University of Leicester.
Tens of thousands of people around the UK are now setting out on that rehabilitation journey.
Some came close to death in intensive care units, others needed less intrusive hospital treatment to help them through the worst. All of them have had their lives changed by Covid-19.
But for the most seriously ill patients in intensive care, rehabilitation begins well before they are woken from a coma. Physical and psychological support has to be there from the start.
Read more here

UK to bring back televised briefings later this year

The UK government is planning to introduce daily televised press briefings – similar to those held at the White House in the US – later this year, a Downing Street source said.
It comes after No 10 ended its regular on-camera coronavirus briefings on 23 June, after 92 days.
The new format is expected to begin in October, with one held each weekday afternoon.
There is expected to be a competitive process to appoint a broadcaster to host the question-and-answer sessions.

In pictures: UK businesses preparing to reopen

Coronavirus restrictions are beginning to be lifted to allow more business to reopen across the UK. The hospitality industry and visitor attractions open their doors in Northern Ireland today, and restaurants, pubs, hairdressers and cinemas reopen in England on Saturday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging the public to "act responsibly" . But how are business owners preparing for their customers' return?
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At a canalside pub in Birmingham, workers are installing outdoor seating to allow more drinkers to sit in safety

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Chefs at the Hard Rock Cafe in Piccadilly Circus, central London, will be wearing masks as they prepare food

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Hairdresser John Belfield has fitted perspex screens between seats at his salon in Newcastle-under-Lyme

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Frank Tyler, owner of the Zafra Italian restaurant in Essex, measures out social distancing signs

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The Melton Constable pub in Northumberland is stocking up, but will not be ready to open until 7 July

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Cinemas in Northern Ireland are due to open at the end of the month – this manager has installed a temperature check machine in readiness

More than 50 countries exempt from England's quarantine - Shapps

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Destinations such as Majorca will be open for quarantine-free travel

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said that more than 50 countries - including key destinations such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain - will be on the list of places exempt from England's quarantine requirements from 10 July. The full list will be published later today.
He told BBC Breakfast that travellers from these countries to England would not have to quarantine for 14 days. Although the announcement does not guarantee reciprocal agreements, most countries on the list would not require travellers from the UK to self-isolate on arrival, he said. Some countries with very low infection rates, such as New Zealand, may do so, however.
The travel industry has welcomed the news with "huge relief" and said it could now plan ahead and take summer holiday bookings.
“Travel businesses have been under enormous pressure since the start of the pandemic, and the industry can now start to meet customers’ pent-up appetite for travel," a spokesman for the travel trade organisation Abta said.

Scotland criticises England's 'last-minute' quarantine plans

It's important to stress that the list of countries being revealed today that will be exempt from quarantine rules only applies to arrivals at English airports, not elsewhere in the UK.
The Scottish government has said it is "disappointing" that the UK government is announcing exemptions for England before all four nations could reach an agreement.
“We would still like to reach a four-nations approach if possible but that is difficult when the UK government changes proposals and gives us last-minute sight of them," a spokesman said.
He said Scottish ministers were examining the public health impact of the plans and the evidence behind them, and would announce any changes for Scotland later.

Latest updates from around Europe

Spain is reopening its borders to 12 non-EU countries from midnight, but Morocco, Algeria and China will not be among them, even though they're on the EU's safe list . That's until the three countries let Spanish nationals in too. Spain shares a land border with Morocco through its enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. In other news:

  • The mayor of Belgrade in Serbia is expected to declare a state of emergency because of a rise in cases. It will place limits on the number of people indoors, require social distancing of 1.5m and tighten rules on wearing masks
  • Sweden has ordered a review of emergency supplies after its defence research agency found a number of shortcomings in its response to the pandemic
  • Portugal has stepped in to nationalise the airline TAP to save it from collapse, by increasing the state's share from 50% to 72.5%
  • The EU has opened infringement proceedings against Italy and Greece for breaching passengers' rights. Under EU rules, passengers are allowed a choice of a cash refund for cancelled trips as well as vouchers, and Italy and Greece have offered only vouchers.
  • The EU is also expected to approve the use of anti-viral drug Remdesivir for treating Covid-19 patients aged over 12

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 11:53

US travellers on 'red list' for quarantine in England

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Arrivals in England from countries such as the US will continue to face quarantine

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed that the US will be among the countries on England's coronavirus "red list", and travellers from there will continue to face 14 days' quarantine on arrival.
"I'm afraid it will be," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "The US from a very early stage banned flights from the UK. There isn’t a reciprocal arrangement in any case there."
The US ban on flights "hasn’t helped them to avoid this crisis", he said, as it currently has "very high numbers of infections".
Mr Shapps responded to criticism that the UK government had not properly consulted with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in drawing up the list of exemptions, with the Scottish National Party accusing him of calling meetings with 38 minutes' notice.
He said the chief medical officers of all four nations were involved in drawing up the list, and that he hoped the devolved administrations would sign up before 10 July, when it comes into effect.

How did the Leicester outbreak play out?

The city of Leicester has become the first in the UK to go into local lockdown in a bid to combat a surge of Covid-19 cases.
The outbreak has prompted criticism about the slow flow of information to reach those in charge of the city.
So who knew what and when? And how long exactly did it take for the city to recognise the growing problem?
We've pieced together a timeline of events here

South Korea infections rise to two-week high

South Korea's has recorded its highest daily increase in cases in two weeks.
The country recorded 63 infections for the past day, including 52 local cases, raising the total to just under 13,000.
Confirmed infections outside the capital Seoul showed a sustained increase, raising concerns that the country's overall infections will continue on an upward trend.
South Korea was one of the first hotspots of the pandemic outside of China but over the past months had appeared to bring the virus under control.
Since late May though, the country has seen a small resurgence, leading to health officials confirming the country was seeing a second wave.

If you're just joining us...

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The West Bank is now under full lockdown for five days

Good morning to our readers in the UK and Europe - and if you're joining us in Asia, good afternoon.
Here are some of the main headlines from around the world, to help you catch up.

  • The US has reported its largest single-day jump in new cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 53,000 reported on Thursday
  • One US state seeing a surge in cases is Texas, where people have now been ordered to wear face coverings in public. Texas marked a record number of infections this week, with 8,000 new confirmed cases on Wednesday alone
  • The Palestinian Authority is imposing a full five-day lockdown in the West Bank, starting from today, as cases of the virus continue to rise. Previous local restrictions in "red areas", including hard-hit cities Bethlehem and Hebron, failed to stop the spread of the virus
  • South Korea has recorded its highest daily increase in cases in two weeks. In the past day the country reported 63 new infections, bringing the total to just under 13,000
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Tokyo have topped 100 for the second day in a row. The Japanese capital reported 124 cases today - the highest daily number since a national state of emergency was lifted in late May
  • Melbourne is at a "critical stage" after an outbreak of the virus, despite Australia generally being a success story. Although the numbers are still below March's peak, most cases are now being spread locally instead of from people arriving from abroad
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un praised his country's handling of the virus as a "shining success". The country maintains that it has had zero cases, but most analysts say this is unlikely

What are the rules on travel to and from the UK?

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Greece will not lift restrictions on UK travellers until at least mid-July

Quarantine rules in England are being abolished for travel from dozens of countries - including France, Spain, Italy and Germany. That means people arriving from these countries, including UK travellers coming home, will not have to spend 14 days in isolation.
But the other UK nations have not yet decided whether to relax their rules.
Travellers from England may also still face restrictions at their intended destinations.
Greece, a popular holiday destination with a low number of coronavirus deaths, says it will not accept direct UK flights until at least mid-July.
Austria requires Britons to self-isolate unless they have a recent medical certificate or test negative for coronavirus on arrival.
New Zealand has barred almost all foreign travellers from visiting, while those entering Australia require a special exemption visa and face a mandatory quarantine.
Read more about the rules

Austria cases rise again after plateau

Bethany Bell - BBC News, Vienna
There has been a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Austria, after relatively stable figures through most of June.
The total number of active cases in Austria is now around 787, compared to 470 before the weekend.
A number of schools have been closed in several districts in the province of Upper Austria and almost 1,400 people are in quarantine there, after new outbreaks of coronavirus, including a cluster at a church. There are currently 229 active cases in the province, 99 of them connected to the church.

Plans for furloughed UK workers to be revealed next week - PM

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The prime minister said his hairdresser will be among those getting back to work tomorrow

Boris Johnson has been speaking on LBC radio this morning, where he was asked what would happen to people on the furlough scheme when it ends in October.
"You'll be hearing more about what we're going to do to support people next week from the Chancellor Rishi Sunak," he said.
Mr Sunak is due to make a statement on the economy then, and Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds is calling for him to deliver a "back to work budget".
The prime minister also spoke to the Evening Standard yesterday , telling the paper that furlough was "keeping people in suspended animation" and "stopping them from actually working".
He also said he had a haircut booked for tomorrow and he would be having a night out with fiancée Carrie Symonds.

'Raise that with him' - UK PM on his father's Greece trip

Boris Johnson was also asked by LBC about the trip to Greece that his father, Stanley , took on Wednesday, despite the country having blocked direct flights from the UK until at least mid-July.
Mr Johnson said: “I think you really ought to raise that with him. I am not going to get into details of family conversations.
“I think the overwhelming majority of the British people have understood what needs to be done and have been very prudent, and that is the right thing to do.”
The trip appeared to contradict Foreign Office advise against "all but essential travel".
But Stanley Johnson told the Daily Mail that he was travelling "on essential business" to make sure a holiday rental home was "Covid-proof".

Excess care home deaths in England and Wales total 29,000

There were 29,000 more deaths in care homes in England and Wales during this year's coronavirus crisis compared with the same period last year, new figures reveal.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures give the clearest picture yet of the toll of the epidemic in care homes because they include the deaths of all residents, not just those who died in their home, said BBC head of statistics Robert Cuffe.
A quarter of care home residents died in hospital.
Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate of 19,394 of the 29,000 excess deaths, leaving almost 10,000 that were registered to other causes.
Coronavirus was the leading cause of death for men in care homes, accounting for a third of all deaths, and the second leading cause of death for women, after dementia and Alzheimer's disease, which accounted for a quarter of deaths.
Analysis by the ONS has previously suggested that many of the non-Covid deaths include undiagnosed coronavirus.
The week up to 12 June was the first point since early March when the number of death fell below last year's figures.

Virus 'spreading like wildfire' through South Africa townships

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South Africa is easing its lockdown, but the coronavirus is still devastating impoverished townships in the country.
In one township in Cape Town, Khayelitsha, doctors and residents have told the BBC's Andrew Harding that they're struggling to cope.
"Already this is spreading like wildfire," Eric Groemaere, a Belgian MSF doctor, says. "The hospitals in this region cannot cope."
Because of this, he says, the most severe cases are left in a palliative care section in a corner of the make-shift healthcare centre, where they are almost certain to die.
Read more about how the virus is continuing to affect townships in South Africa here .

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 16:38

How to keep your guests safe from Covid-19

If you want to have people over but don't want to risk them catching coronavirus, here are some things you can do to keep your guests safe:
Watch the video here

Delhi gets its first plasma bank for Covid patients

India's capital, Delhi, is betting big on plasma therapry to treat coronavirus patients. On Thursday, the city unveiled its first plasma bank, which is meant to help patients get easier access to plasma.
Plasma therapy involves transfusing antibody-rich blood into Covid-19 patients.
"People were finding it really difficult to get plasma and the situation in Delhi was turning chaotic. To have a systematic approach, the plasma bank has been set up for treatment of corona patients. The bank will only be successful if people come forward," Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal told local media . "I urge everyone who is eligible to donate," he added.
Plasma therapy is still in a trial stage in Delhi with only a handful of hospitals being allowed to administer it. The hope is that the antibodies in plasma from one patient could help to clear the virus in others.
In the past 24 hours, Delhi has reported more than 2,000 fresh cases, taking the total tally to over 90,000.
India has the fourth-highest number of cases in the world with more than 625,000 cases, including 18,213 deaths.

Everything you need to know about holidays from England

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Some beaches in Europe could be welcoming English tourists from 10 July

The prospect of a summer holiday abroad has moved a big step closer for people in England, as the government eases quarantine rules.
From Saturday, the Foreign Office's warning against all but essential international travel will be lifted for some countries. And from 10 July, people returning to England from certain countries will not need to self-isolate.
But which countries will still have restrictions in place when you arrive? And what can you see and do when you get there?
We're rounding up all the information on key destinations such as Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and Greece. You can read the full guide here

What's reopening in England tomorrow?

Many people in England are making big plans for the weekend as the nation takes one of its biggest steps in relaxing lockdown yet. But which businesses are allowed to reopen?

  • Restaurants, pubs and cafes in England can reopen from Saturday, providing they follow safety guidelines
  • Holiday accommodation - including hotels, B&Bs, cottages, campsites and caravan parks - can also reopen from Saturday, with households in England allowed to stay away from home overnight
  • Hairdressers can reopen, as long as they take precautions
  • Libraries, community centres, bingo halls, cinemas, museums and galleries can open, along with funfairs and theme parks, amusement arcades, outdoor skating rinks, social clubs and model villages

  • Outdoor gyms, children's playgrounds and other outdoor spaces can reopen, if they can do so safely

  • Places of worship can open for prayers and services, including weddings with up to 30 guests - subject to social distancing

In Northern Ireland, hotels, pubs and restaurants opened today .
Decisions on hospitality and holidays in Wales are expected in early July.
In Scotland, the hope is that from 15 July all holiday accommodation can open up, along with indoor areas of pubs and restaurants and hairdressers and barbers. Beer gardens should be able to reopen from 6 July.
Read about all the changing UK coronavirus measures here

Scottish and UK ministers in row over quarantine plan

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Scottish minister Humza Yousaf said the UK government's approach was "disappointing"

Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said he had been given only 30 minutes to look at a list of countries under consideration for relaxing quarantine rules before being asked to make a decision on Wednesday night.
He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme the Scottish government asked for more time to examine the public health impact before making a "swift decision".
"It's quite disappointing that we haven't been given the courtesy of working together on that four nations approach," he said.
As a result, quarantine rules will be relaxed in England, but not in the UK's other three nations, despite the ease of travel between them.
England has an infection rate five times higher than Scotland, Mr Yousaf said, meaning travel from countries such as France, Italy and Spain could have a greater potential impact.
But UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he hoped the Scottish government, and the devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland, will agree to the rules before the 10 July implementation date.
"I very much hope we can do this as four nations at the same time I think that would very much simplify it for people but they will need to make that decision themselves," he said.

Rapid return of restrictions amid resurgence in Israel and Palestinian Territories

Tom Bateman - BBC Middle East correspondent
Cases in Israel have surged to their highest peak since April, while Palestinian officials have reimposed a full lockdown in the West Bank.
In the West Bank movement between cities is to be heavily restricted, while most shops will close for five days. Nearly 70 new coronavirus cases were recorded on Thursday. With 11 people in intensive care - fears are returning that the creaking health system would be overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, Israel’s dramatic resurgence has seen more than 1,100 new cases in 24 hours. On top of new restrictions on indoor gatherings there are localised lockdowns in parts of the cities of Lod and Ashdod.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 17:24

Belgrade announces state of emergency - but the parties continue

Guy Delauney - BBC News, Belgrade
State of emergency sounds alarming. But Belgrade is hardly back in full lockdown mode - yet.
The city's famous "splav" floating nightclubs may keep the party going for up to 500 people on their open air decks. But a 23:00 curfew will certainly come as a relief to the long-suffering old town residents who often endure sleepless summer nights.
Masks are mandatory indoors - as is social distancing. But as many as 100 people may still gather in enclosed spaces.
Belgrade's mayor says it is not necessary to quarantine the city. But Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic has warned that he would have locked down the capital for a week if the decision had been his. He pointed out that Belgrade accounted for more that four fifths of new cases of Covid-19.
Serbia has been reporting a steadily rising number of new infections in recent weeks. More than 350 new cases were confirmed yesterday.
The spate of cases has led many EU countries to decide against admitting arrivals from Serbia - even though the country is one of 15 on the bloc's "safe list".
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Supporters of President Aleksandar Vucic celebrated after he claimed victory in a general election last month

A&E told to brace for scenes similar to New Year's Eve

If you’re gearing up for a happy return to England’s reopening pubs tomorrow, spare a thought for the doctors.
A&E departments have been told to prepare for scenes similar to New Year’s Eve, when drunk patients pack emergency wards after injuring themselves (or each other).
One regional NHS England director has written to hospital trust leaders, urging them to lay on extra senior staff and beds, “should we also see a rise in admitted patients”.
Police Federation leaders have raised fears of a spike in drunken violence and disorder. Steve Kent, chairman of South Yorkshire Police Federation, warned “we’re going to have a couple of weeks of New Year's Eves” from 4 July onwards.
And Dr Felix Brewer, a committee member of Doctors' Association UK, told the BBC: "I think everyone working in the NHS is apprehensive about the easing of restrictions on 4 July.
"Social distancing in hospitals is incredibly difficult, especially in busy A&E departments. A surge in demand for services following the reopening of bars and pubs could make this task almost impossible, putting both patients and staff at risk."
He said a New Year's Eve scenario would be "incredibly difficult" to deal with.
Quote Message: Capacity is already reduced as departments try to stream those with / without suspected Covid symptoms. The effects would be felt throughout the hospital. More patients coming into A&E leads to more admissions, which puts pressure on other departments. If not enough inpatients beds are available, elective admissions for surgery may have to stop, further contributing to the backlog. 

:Left Quotes:  Capacity is already reduced as departments try to stream those with / without suspected Covid symptoms. The effects would be felt throughout the hospital. More patients coming into A&E leads to more admissions, which puts pressure on other departments. If not enough inpatients beds are available, elective admissions for surgery may have to stop, further contributing to the backlog.

Police in Leicester prepare for 'Super Saturday'

Even in Leicester, the one city in England where pubs can't reopen tomorrow due to a local lockdown, police are bracing themselves .
Leicestershire Police said more officers would be on duty than on a typical New Year's Eve and hospital bosses in the city are also preparing for a busy weekend.
Assistant Chief Constable Kerry Smith said plans were being made for when restrictions were eased outside the lockdown boundary on Saturday.
"We realise it is a difficult situation and we are all still adapting to these new challenges," she said.
And Rebecca Brown, chief executive of Leicester's hospitals, said the trust was working with the ambulance service and the police "to make sure that we're ready to support not only a surge in Covid but also a surge in typical behaviours of New Year's Eve".
Elsewhere in England, just one in three pubs, bars and restaurants in Newcastle city centre will reopen, according to the local council. Some pubs have said they fear "total chaos" on so-called Super Saturday.
A further 10% will open later in the month when the initial rush has passed.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 17:28

What's the latest from the US?

Hello - particularly if you're joining us from the US and are just waking up.
The US is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases right now, and states are reacting accordingly. Here's the latest.

  • The US has recorded its largest single-day jump in infections since the start of the pandemic, with more than 53,000 new cases reported yesterday
  • Cases are currently rising in 37 out of 50 states, leading governors to roll-back their plans to end lockdowns
  • Southern states are seeing a particularly large surge. Over the past week, Arizona has the highest average daily increase in cases per million people
  • Texas reported about 8,000 new confirmed cases of the virus yesterday. The state's governor has now ordered people to wear face coverings in public
  • Chicago, in the midwestern state of Illinois, has said everyone who travels to the city from states where cases are surging will need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The new rule will take effect on Monday
  • President Donald Trump said the surge in cases in the country was due to testing being "so massive and so good, far bigger and better than any other country"

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Why this Fourth of July will be like no other

Along with Christmas and Thanksgiving, 4 July is one of the US's biggest public holidays - and it comes with certain traditions.
In "normal" times, it's not Independence Day if you don't have huge public fireworks displays, massive parades, and large family reunions - usually at a backyard barbecue.
But, as you can imagine, this year is a bit different.
Read about the many ways coronavirus is impacting 4 July here .

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 17:40

Holidaymakers 'taking financial risk when booking break'

Kevin Peachey - Personal finance reporter
Excitement among those desperate for a summer getaway has been mounting for some time, and will only be heightened by today’s quarantine announcements for England.
Yet holidaymakers need to be aware they are taking a risk when booking an overseas break, owing to the lack of financial protection.
Lifting of the Foreign Office advice against non-essential travel to some countries will make travel insurance valid again, and some cover is available for those who become ill with coronavirus at a resort.
But nearly all new policies won’t cover cancellation if someone develops symptoms, or needs to self-isolate, just before they plan to go away. Package holidays won’t be refunded in such circumstances either.
Advice service Resolver says holidaymakers are “bearing all the risk” and has called for them to be treated with “compassion”.
Read the full story here . And here's our explainer on your travel rights.

Concern as India cases threaten to overtake Russia

India has reached a new record number of daily infections, with more than 20,000 cases reported for the first time since the pandemic reached the country.
The southern states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are among the worst-affected areas in India, which has recorded more than 18,000 deaths and around 625,000 cases nationwide.
If this trend continues, the country could soon overtake Russia to have the third highest number of infections in the world.
Although India enforced a strict lockdown, many measures are now being eased, with restrictions remaining in hotspots.

'Workers unable to enter offices' as Beijing’s app goes down

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
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People need to scan a QR code using the app before they can go into shops and offices

There were problems with China’s track and trace system in Beijing this morning, meaning that many rush-hour travellers couldn't board public transport or enter buildings.
According to official Chinese broadcaster CCTV, the Beijing Health Kit app - which gives users a “green code” if they don't have Covid-19 - stopped working on the mobile messenger WeChat between 08:15 and 10:09 local time.
The city’s IT bureau apologised and said it would carry out upgrades.
Some people were able to access their green code via the only alternative app service, Alipay. But many others posted on social media site Sina Weibo that there were crowds of people outside buildings, unable to enter shops or workplaces.
Many cities, including Beijing, have been strict about these codes being a mandatory requirement for entering crowded spaces.

Leaders in Wales and Scotland criticise 'shambolic' quarantine changes

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford says dealing with the UK government over changes to travel quarantine rules has been "an utterly shambolic experience" .
The plans, including potential air bridges and international travel agreements, are an example of the government "making an announcement first" and making up details later, according to Mr Drakeford.
He says his administration has yet to see a reliable list of proposals involving international travel destinations. But he adds the Welsh government does not want to hold up any agreement and he foresees imposing the same measures in Wales as in England.
Quarantine rules are being relaxed in England, but not in the UK's other three nations, despite the ease of travel between them.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon used the same language as her Welsh counterpart, saying she would not be dragged along by the "shambolic decision-making process" .
She says she needs time to consider the list of countries - adding she often had little or no notice of UK government proposals. Despite this, it's likely the Scottish government will be able to agree with the UK government's list of countries.
It comes on the day Mr Drakeford announced travel restrictions in Wales will end on Monday.
"Stay local" guidance, asking people to stay within five miles of home, will end, with no limits on travel, and outdoor attractions will able to open.
Two households will also be able to stay together indoors from 6 July.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 17:48

NI minister 'sorry for hurt' after crowds at IRA funeral

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Michelle O'Neill (right) attended the funeral with former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and his successor, Mary Lou McDonald

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has said she is "sorry for grieving families experiencing more hurt" after complaints that she breached social distancing rules at an ex-IRA leader's funeral.
Four executive parties, including the DUP, called for her to step aside after large crowds lined the streets for the funeral of Bobby Storey.
But Ms O'Neill, the Sinn Fein member for Mid-Ulster, said she believed she followed coronavirus guidelines "in terms of attending a Requiem Mass, which was allowed, and also to walk in a funeral cortege of up to 30 people".
She said she thought it was "unfortunate that the executive is divided on this issue".
The BBC understands that about 120 mourners were inside St Agnes's Church in Belfast, although coronavirus guidelines say a maximum of 30 people are allowed to gather together outdoors.

What are the new rules when pubs reopen?

What to expect when Northern Ireland's pubs and restaurants reopen

Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in Northern Ireland and England are ready to welcome customers for the first time since lockdown began in March.
Hotels, pubs and restaurants in Northern Ireland that serve food and have table service are allowed to reopen from Friday and in England from 06:00 BST on Saturday.
But going to the pub will be very different, due to a range of new restrictions including limited numbers, mandatory table service and protective screens. So will it be safe? And do you need to book ahead?
Read about the new rules here .

EU approves Covid-19 drug remdesivir

The European Commission has approved the use of remdesivir for patients with Covid-19 in the EU.
The anti-viral drug was originally developed as a treatment for Ebola but has been found in studies to reduce the recovery times of people hospitalised with coronavirus.
Remdesivir has already been approved in a number of countries, including the US. There has been controversy, however, after the US announced earlier this week that it had bought almost all supplies of the drug from US producer Gilead for the next three months.
Read more about remdesivir here .

UK nations report latest death tolls

A further 38 people who had tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England. It brings the total number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths in hospitals in England to 28,832, NHS England said.
Northern Ireland recorded two more deaths, bringing its total to 554, while in Scotland, one further person has died, taking the total to 2,488.
Wales also recorded a further two deaths, bringing its total to 1,525.
A UK-wide figure is due to be announced later, but it may differ from the total figures announced by the four nations as it is calculated on a different time frame and includes deaths in the community and care home, as well as hospitals.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 17:52

Catch up with what's been happening in the UK today

We're expecting to hear from Prime Minister Boris Johnson a bit later on - he's leading a press conference at 17:00 BST, the day before some restrictions are being eased in England.
The PM is going to warn we're "not out of the woods yet" when it comes to the virus and that people need to act "safely and sensibly" when they're out and about at places like pubs and bars. They're going to be opening their doors for the first time since March - from as early as 06:00 - alongside restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers.
So, before we get to that - what else has been going on this Friday?

  • England has said that people arriving from more than 50 countries - including France and Spain - won't have to quarantine from 10 July. A full list of exempt countries is expected to be confirmed later
  • But Scotland and Wales still have to decide whether they're easing international travel restrictions, with the first ministers of each describing dealing with the UK government over the issue as "shambolic"
  • At the height of the pandemic, people weren't asked for their addresses for weeks , it has emerged. It's understood Public Health England is now trying to match addresses to positive test results to understand the spread of the virus
  • In Scotland, the five-mile travel limit has been lifted and self-contained holiday accommodation can now reopen
  • Travel restrictions in Wales will end on Monday , First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed - previously, people had been asked to stay within five miles of home
  • And back to that so-called Super Saturday in England as pubs plan to reopen - one place they won't be is Leicester, which is under a local lockdown. Despite this, there'll be more police than on New Year's Eve patrolling, as rules are being eased outside the city's boundaries

Full list of England quarantine exemptions published

The UK government has published the list of countries which are exempt from England's 14-day quarantine requirements .

Morning opening for pubs is a 'sensible precaution'

Downing Street has said the decision to open pubs in England on Saturday from 06:00 BST is a "sensible precaution" to avoid midnight parties.
The pub industry said the re-opening was "fantastic" but urged customers to respect staff and changes in practices.
Pub-goers are being encouraged to book tables in advance, while live gigs and standing at the bar will not be allowed.

Some hairdressers and barbers will be open from midnight to provide those much-needed haircuts.

Which countries have 'travel corridors' with England?

The list of countries the UK government deems safe for travel from to England includes some that were widely expected, such as France, Italy, Spain and Germany.
Others on the list are countries that have been praised for their ability to control the spread of coronavirus, such as South Korea and Vietnam. But it also has some inclusions that might be surprising - and some notable omissions.
Turkey was left off the European Union's safe travel list, with the government there expressing its disappointment. But it's on the list for quarantine-free travel to England from 10 July.
And although Greece has seen very few infections, there was doubt whether it would appear on the list as it will not approve direct flights from the UK until at least mid-July.
Portugal, meanwhile, has had fewer coronavirus cases than some European holiday destinations and it is open to UK citizens without quarantine. But it has not been granted a travel corridor amid concerns over rising infection rates.
Sweden is the other notable European nation to be omitted: it has had a more relaxed approach to coronavirus restrictions, and its infection rate is higher than in the UK.
Countries such as the US and Brazil, which are experiencing tens of thousands of infections daily, were expected omissions.
But there is also no travel corridor with China, which has seen very few cases of coronavirus since the Wuhan outbreak came under control. Travellers from England will be able to fly back from Hong Kong or Macau without quarantine, however.

Airlines drop court action over UK quarantine

British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair have abandoned their legal action over the 14-day quarantine requirements for travellers to the UK, as the government published its list of dozens of exemptions.
The airlines had opened their case earlier today, saying that it was "extraordinary" quarantine rules had been imposed when the government was advised they would have “no material impact whatsoever on the level of Covid-19 transmission in the UK”.
They argued that the medical advice was that quarantine would only be effective when transmission of the virus in the UK is low, but it remains "significant".
But this afternoon, the airlines agreed to withdraw their claim on the basis that the list of exemptions was about to be published.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 17:58

Recreational cricket risk from 'teas and dressing rooms'

Recreational cricket will not be allowed to resume yet in England because of the risk of "communal teas and dressing rooms", Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.
That's despite the fact that other sports, including tennis and basketball, are now allowed.
"It's the teas, it's the changing rooms and so on and so forth," the prime minister told LBC Radio, adding that the ball itself was not the issue. "There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis."
But his comments have been criticised by cricketers.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan said Mr Johnson's explanation was "utter garbage", while the England and Wales Cricket Board said the risks of exposure to coronavirus from the sport were "very low".
Read more here .

Russian Church expels coronavirus-denying priest

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The Russian Orthodox Church has expelled a member of the clergy after he seized control of a convent in the Urals.
Father Sergiy - who calls himself Nikolai Romanov, after Russia's last tsar - has called the Covid-19 crisis "a pseudo-pandemic" and condemned the closure of churches during lockdown.
The local Church court found he had broken monastic rules, after taking over the Sredneuralsk Convent in June and posting armed guards.
There have been allegations of child abuse at the convent under Fr Sergiy's leadership, and the Church court called for a thorough investigation of the allegations by the Russian authorities.
The Church is also carrying out its own investigation.
Read more about the case here .

The UK picture

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We should be hearing from the UK prime minister in the next 30 minutes as he leads a press briefing ahead of lockdown measures being eased in England tomorrow .
But let’s take a look at the latest from the country first:

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 19:11

A round-up of the PM's press conference

We've just heard from Prime Minister Boris Johnson as England prepares to ease some lockdown measures tomorrow. But what did we learn? Here's a round-up.

  • Coronavirus is still very much with us as we move to the next set of changes, said the PM, who stressed: "We're not out of the woods yet"
  • He said tomorrow marks the biggest step on the road to recovery and urged people not to let down the "businesses and workers who have done so much to prepare us for this new normal"
  • As lockdown eases in England tomorrow, people should expect "targeted" local lockdowns to be reimposed - like the one currently in place in Leicester - where there are spikes in the number of cases of the virus
  • A timetable will be set out next week for the reopening of other businesses, - including the arts and events industry, indoor gyms and nails bars - said Mr Johnson
  • He said governments in Scotland and Wales are going in the "same direction" as England but perhaps at "slightly different speeds"
  • Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical adviser, warns that a second wave is a possibility and the risk will "exist with us for a very long time", as he urges people to stick to the rules. There is no "risk-free next step" he adds
  • Mr Johnson says people should feel safe to enjoy themselves this summer - but must do so "in a responsible way"

How will local lockdowns work?

Reality Check
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, if necessary, “we will introduce local lockdowns extending across whole communities”.
This week, the first local lockdown was announced in Leicester after a surge in coronavirus cases.
But how will local lockdowns work?
The prime minister has said they will only happen as a last resort, but could result in the implementation of full lockdown rules, such as the closure of schools, bars and restaurants.
Before that, the government will attempt to target its approach, such as shutting down a particular factory where a number of employees have fallen ill (there have been outbreaks in meat and food processing plants).
Find out more about local lockdowns here.

Analysis: Outbreaks of coronavirus are inevitable

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News
The virus is now at much lower levels, but it has not gone away and may never go away.
Until we have a vaccine it will always pose a threat.
We have already seen outbreaks in Leicester, Weston-super-Mare and Kirklees. Relaxing lockdown will make them more common.
Remember this is a virus that thrives on close contact – the more people we come into contact with, the more coronavirus will spread.
It was true in March, when lockdown came in, and it is true now.
However, outbreaks are not a massive problem as long as they can be contained. If they can be spotted and rapidly stopped then an outbreak may cause local disruption, but not “National Lockdown Two”.
This will be the challenge for NHS Test and Trace.
But some scientists are concerned lockdown is being lifted too quickly and that we are not yet able to stay on top of the virus. The danger is failing to stop an outbreak could lead to coronavirus spreading widely and cases surging.

British Columbia concerned over loopholes with US border

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An obscure 19th Century treaty has created a loophole at the British Columbia-Washington state border. The Treaty of Ghent, signed in 1814, says neither the US nor Canada can erect a barrier within 10 feet of the border.
Peace Arch Park was built on the site and is a popular spot for Canadians and Americans to gather without having to go through border security.
The border has been closed to all non-essential travel since March. Canada closed its side of the park to prevent the spread of coronavirus – but the American side remains open, allowing Canadians to travel to the US.
If Canada were to erect a border crossing at the park, the treaty says that the US has rights to claim back parts of southern Ontario and Quebec that it lost during the War of 1812.
In the north-western corner of the province, US citizens are allowed to travel through Canada to get to Alaska.
The loophole is necessary to allow Alaskan residents working in other states to return home.
But Premier John Horgan says he’s worried people are taking advantage of the relaxed rules to visit some of the province’s most scenic spots, like Vancouver Island.

US surgeon general urges mask wearing for 4 July

The fourth of July - or Independence Day - is one of the biggest holidays in the US, but this year it coincides with an increase in coronavirus infections across the country.
The US surgeon general has therefore called on Americans to wear masks during their celebrations.
"An important reminder this #July4th holiday weekend: I wear my mask to protect you. Your wear your mask to protect me," he said on Twitter.
But not everyone will be following the advice.
President Donald Trump is due to head to Mount Rushmore National Memorial on Friday for a fireworks display, with about 7,500 reportedly expected to attend. The governor of South Dakota has said social distancing won't be enforced at the event, and masks will be optional.
Read about how this year's Independence Day will be different here .

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 03 2020, 20:26

Municipal councillor offers to resign after Zoom shower

While many of us have been using Zoom for months, the pitfalls of the new technology are still catching some people out.
In Torrelavega in northern Spain, a municipal councillor has offered to step down after a particularly embarrassing Zoom call.
Apparently unaware his video was still visible, Bernardo Bustillo took a shower during a meeting to save time before taking his daughter out.
Footage of the incident, which at one point showed him walking out of the shower naked, later went viral on social media.
In a letter sent to the media, he said he regretted if anyone was "bothered" by the incident but added that he did not feel he had to apologise, according to El Mundo newspaper.
"I do not believe it was a criminal, ethical or dishonourable act, but rather an error of believing the camera was disconnected."

Pakistani foreign minister tests positive

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says he has tested positive for coronavirus.
"This afternoon I felt a slight fever and immediately quarantined myself at home," he said in a message posted on Twitter on Friday.
According to Reuters news agency, Qureshi has been in contact with Prime Minister Imran Khan in parliament and at a cabinet meeting in recent days - although photos from these meetings show the minister and others wearing face masks.
Qureshi is not the first politician in Pakistan to contract the virus, with the railway minister and the Speaker of the lower house of parliament previously testing positive.
The country has recorded more than 220,000 cases and 4,551 deaths so far.

Travel industry reacts to UK quarantine plan

We've been hearing about the government's plans to drop quarantine requirements for travellers who come back to the UK from a list of 59 countries and territories.
Now we've had reaction from across the travel sector.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK - which represents UK-registered carriers - said it was a "welcome announcement".
He added: "This gives a clear path to opening further predominantly long-haul destinations in the weeks ahead, and we look forward to working with ministers on measures to mitigate the risk from red countries [where the Covid risk is currently highest] such as via voluntary testing."
A spokeswoman for Abta, which represents UK travel companies, said: "There is likely to be strong demand for holidays after months of lockdown and it is important that people consider how the lifting of these restrictions may affect their plans."
She urged people to check Foreign Office travel advice before booking and speak to their travel provider.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK & Ireland, said the company was pleased "summer holidays are saved" and "really excited to take our customers on holiday". "It's a significant and positive step forward for the travel industry, which had been in hibernation since March."
Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, said the announcement was a "timely boost for the tourism industry as we head into the peak summer season" and a "step on tourism's road to rebuilding".
And Glenn Fogel, boss of Booking Holdings - whose brands include and - told BBC World News he wanted governments to "co-ordinate their effort" and come together to draw up travel guidance. That would include what you can and can't do on a plane, and how far apart people should be - as this varies by country.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) says the announcement is a good first step.
Its general secretary Brian Strutton said: "Pilots want to ensure that passengers can safely and quickly get flying again, to help people reunite with family and friends, to carry out essential business and for much-needed holidays. So this announcement is a good step forward after the setbacks caused by the government quarantine announcement in the first place."

Nervous times for scientists as lockdown eases

David Shukman - Science editor, BBC News

People across the UK have been far more supportive of the lockdown than many scientific experts had expected.
But coming out hibernation, as the prime minister puts it, brings a new set of risks, especially where alcohol is involved, so these are nervous times.
One worry is that in this new phase of the crisis, the messaging about what to do has become more complicated and people might be more confused.
Add to that a sudden rush to catch holiday flights and it’s likely that the virus will have more opportunities to spread.
One big concern among scientists is that local outbreaks, which we’re certain to see more of, could escalate to a national scale.
Another is that they still don’t know how many people catch the virus but never develop symptoms and may be infecting others without realising.

What's happened today in the UK

Thanks for joining us today as we've brought you the latest news on coronavirus.
Here's the main news from the UK today:

  • The easing of lockdown restrictions in England on Saturday is the "biggest step yet on the road to recovery" , Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a Downing Street press conference
  • It comes as pubs in England prepare to open their doors for the first time since March - they're allowed to do so from 06:00 BST
  • England's chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty said while it was not a risk-free step, "there is no perfect, exact way of doing it"
  • Also today, the full list of countries for which quarantine will not apply to people arriving back in England has been published. It includes Greece, Spain, France and Belgium
  • Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the UK government's decision-making on air bridges had been "shambolic" - language echoed by Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford
  • Almost 30,000 more care home residents in England and Wales died during the coronavirus outbreak than during the same period in 2019, new ONS figures show. But only two-thirds were directly attributable to Covid-19

That's it for now

We're pausing our coverage for today, but our teams in the UK and abroad will be back with more coronavirus news early on Saturday. Here's a reminder of Friday's biggest international stories:

  • Cases have increased across the US, as the country prepares to celebrate Independence Day on Saturday. The US recorded its highest number of infections on a single day on Thursday, with states including Florida and North Carolina also reporting record case numbers
  • The US surgeon general has urged people to wear face masks during the holiday, but President Donald Trump is due to attend a celebration at Mount Rushmore National Memorial with up to 7,500 people on Friday where social distancing won't be enforced and face coverings are optional
  • India has reported more than 20,000 new cases in a single day for the first time since the outbreak began and could overtake Russia in the coming days to become the third-most affected country
  • Palestinian authorities have reimposed a full lockdown in the West Bank after a rise in cases, while cases in Israel have reached their highest peak since April
  • Restrictions have also been reintroduced in the Serbian capital Belgrade after infections rose
  • The EU has approved the use of the anti-viral drug remdesivir. Earlier this week, the US announced it had secured the vast majority of the drug's supply for the next three months

Today's coverage was brought to you by: Saira Asher, Andreas Illmer, Krutika Pathi, Yvette Tan, Jasmine Taylor-Coleman, Ashitha Nagesh, Victoria Bisset, Joseph Lee, Robin Levinson King, Lauren Turner, Verity Wilde and Jennifer Scott.

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