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Coronavirus - 17th July


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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 07:50

Summary for Friday, 17th July

  • Boris Johnson announces next steps for easing lockdown in England from 1 August
  • Employers given more discretion over office working and indoor performances allowed to resume
  • PM says local authorities will get more powers to bring in lockdowns in their areas to contain future outbreaks
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock calls for urgent review into data on deaths in England
  • There have now been more than 1m confirmed cases in India, and 2m in Brazil
  • The total in both countries has doubled in less than a month
  • Despite an increase in daily infections, the death rate in Brazil is largely flat
  • But in India, the number of people dying with Covid-19 each day is increasing
  • In the US, the daily total of new cases hits another record
  • With infections rising, Japan is now recording more daily cases than Italy
  • The UK, US, and Canada accuse Russian spies of targeting vaccine researchers
  • Globally there have been 13.8 million cases since the outbreak began, with 589,000 deaths

Welcome back to the BBC's live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it's having around the world.
Here are some of the latest developments:

  • There have now been more than two million people infected in Brazil with the total doubling in the last month
  • In the US the daily total of new cases breaks another record-hitting 75,000 cases, according to Reuters
  • It comes as the top US infectious diseases expert has pleaded with young people not to go out to crowded places like bars
  • Tokyo is another hotspot we are watching after it reported the highest number of new case since the start of the pandemic
  • And Victoria in Australia also reported a record daily increase in infections while neighbouring New South Wales said it was banning dancing, singing and mingling at weddings.

India virus infections cross one million - reports

Infections have passed the one million mark in India, where more than 30,000 daily cases were confirmed on Thursday, local media report.
For months now cases have been swelling in the country, which has the third highest caseload in the world after the US and Brazil.
India's health ministry website, which publishes the total tally and state breakdowns, does not yet reflect the new numbers.

Japan domestic travel campaign to exclude Tokyo

A campaign aimed at increasing domestic travel across Japan will not include trips to Tokyo, Japan has said.
The capital saw 286 cases on Thursday - a record high - sparking concerns that the virus could resurge.
The "Go To Travel Campaign", which is due to kick off next Wednesday, will also exclude residents who live in Tokyo who want to travel outside the prefecture.
The campaign will provide local travellers with subsidies for domestic travel - but not everyone is happy.
“I wonder if it’s all right for the program to begin during this period,” Yamagata's Governor Mieko Yoshimura said, according to a Japan Times report . “It will contribute to the economy, but I cannot welcome it entirely.”

Brazil passes two million virus cases

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Brazil has now tallied more than two million confirmed virus cases.
It was less than a month ago that Brazil reached one million cases - and there is little sign that the rate of increase is slowing.
Brazil, which is home to around 210 million people, is the second worst affected country behind the US. But President Jair Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the virus, has continued to play down its health risks and fought against social distancing orders.
More than 74,000 people have died from the virus - and the true figures are believed to be even higher.
This is how the virus swept through the country, in pictures .

US sees biggest daily infection spike

The US has reported more than 74,500 new cases on Thursday – the highest daily rise since the pandemic began in the country.
This brings the total number of infections to more than 3,570,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Covid-19 cases are now on the rise in 30 US states.
Nearly 1,000 people have died in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall deaths to more than 138,000.

More US states issue mask orders

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More than half of the 50 US states have now issued mask orders, as the outbreak continues to rage across the country.
The latest to do so was Louisiana, where it is now mandatory to wear face coverings indoors. Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards also said bars across the south-eastern state would be closed.
Earlier, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, also a Democrat, ordered everyone in the western state from age 10 to “wear a mask or face covering whenever they are in public”.
However, this continues to be a divisive issue.
In Georgia, Republican Governor Brian Kemp filed a lawsuit challenging the authority of the Democratic mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, to require wearing masks in the city.

Russian spies targeting Covid-19 data

Russian spies are targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine in the UK, US and Canada, security services have warned.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the hackers “almost certainly” operated “as part of Russian intelligence services”.
It did not specify if any information had been stolen, but said vaccine research had not been hundred by the hackers. Russia has denied all responsibility saying it had “nothing to do with the attempts”.
Read more here

How did India get to one million cases?

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Women queue for a health check-up in India's worst-hit state, Maharashtra

The Health Ministry has now confirmed that with more than 34,000 new infections in the last 24 hours, India has breached the one million mark. The number of deaths reported has now crossed 25,000.
When India first went into lockdown, back in March, cases were hovering around 500. And when it started to gradually exit out of its lockdown on 8 June, confirmed cases had increased rapidly across states.
With more than 1.3 billion people, the country was always a point of concern. With its densely populated cities, most experts anticipated India to become a big hotspot when cases were still in the thousands.
From the first case, which was confirmed in January, to now, it took nearly 170 days to cross a million infections. Over the months, it raced past China, Europe's worst-hit countries, and most recently, Russia, to confirm the third-highest caseload in the world.
In the past two months, we've heard heart-breaking stories of people unable to get care and hospitals overwhelmed . Simultaneously, testing across states has increased which could help explain the rise in numbers too.
But it's worth noting that India's active cases are still relatively low at around 340,000. The number of people recovering from the virus is optimistic - for every 100 confirmed cases, 63 have recovered . And the mortality rate , at 2.55%, remains encouraging.
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Closed shops and empty streets in Bangalore city, which is back under lockdown due to rising cases

Beijing sees no new cases for more than 10 days

The Chinese capital of Beijing has recorded no new cases for an 11th consecutive day, around a month after a new outbreak emerged in the city- linked to one of its biggest markets.
The outbreak, which eventually went on to infect more than 250 people, prompted a partial lockdown. But the chief epidemiologist from China’s CDC has now said Beijing’s outbreak has been “basically reined in”.
Overall China reported 10 new cases on Friday - nine of which were imported.

Another record day of cases in Melbourne...

with 428 new infections confirmed today (all except five of which are in the city). This follows the 317 reported Thursday, and around 200 per day for a week before that for the entire state of Victoria.
Officials described the number as "disappointing", and urged residents to abide by lockdown rules. Police have issued hundreds of fines to people visiting other households and lingering outside.
"We have not turned the corner here," said chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton. He added that the next few days would be crucial to see if lockdown is working.
The rest of Australia closed its borders to Victoria to stop the virus' spread. However, around 40 cases have emerged in Sydney, in the neighbouring state where concern is growing. Officials are urgently tracking a cluster of cases centred around a pub visited by a Melbourne man.
Three more people have also died - taking Australia's death toll to 116.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 08:00

The end of Boeing 747s for British Airways

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British Airways has said it will retire all of its Boeing 747s as it suffers from the sharp travel downturn.
Airlines across the world have been hit hard by coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
"It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect," a BA spokesman told the BBC.
The UK airline is the world's largest operator of the jumbo jets, with 31 in the fleet.
"It is unlikely our magnificent 'queen of the skies' will ever operate commercial services for British Airways again due to the downturn in travel caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic," the spokesman added.

NHS in England to get £3bn to help cope with possible second wave

One of the top stories in the UK today is the government's promise of more funding for the NHS in England.
At a speech later on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will pledge an extra £3bn of money for the health service to prepare for a potential second wave of the virus this winter.
It comes after scientists warned a second wave this winter could see around 120,000 Covid-19 deaths in UK hospitals .
Also at today's press conference, the PM is expected to commit to a new target for testing capacity.
Read more on the story here.

UN appeals for $10.3bn to fight virus

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A woman is treated for coronavirus in Yemen, where a quarter of those confirmed to have the virus have died from it

The United Nations is making an appeal for $10.3bn (£8bn) to help fight the virus - its largest ever fund-raising call.
The money will be used for low-income and fragile countries. The UN says failure to act could undo decades of development.
It also says up to 256 million people could face starvation by the end of the year due to Covid-19.
Find out more about the situation in some of these countries here .

Welcome to our UK audience

If you're just waking up in the UK, welcome to our live coverage. We'll be bringing you all the latest coronavirus headlines all day.
The warning from security services that Russian hackers have targeted researchers trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine leads many of today's newspapers.
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Hundreds of flights cancelled after China records case in Xinjiang

More than 600 flights have been cancelled in Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang province after a case was confirmed there.
A 24-year-old woman tested positive on Thursday after displaying symptoms. Three of her close contacts tested positive. However, they were asymptomatic.
The cancellations at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport account for more than 80% of the day’s total.
From Friday, a number of airlines including Juneyao Airlines and Shenzhen Donghai Airlines require all passengers travelling to and from Urumqi to show a negative nucleic acid test taken within seven days.
Passengers must display a "safe to travel" health code, on an app which aims to identify potential virus carriers, the Chinese state-run Global Times says.
China Eastern Airlines has already put those restrictions in place.
Urumqi also suspended the city’s subway services on Thursday.
Mainland China confirmed 10 cases on Friday. Nine of those were imported from overseas, the country’s health authority said.

Delhi breathes again as Covid-19 cases dip

Aparna Alluri - BBC News, Delhi
Two weeks ago, India's capital, Delhi, was scrambling to fight a pandemic that appeared to be spiralling out of control.
June had been a terrible month for the city, with record surges almost every day. Overrun labs and public hospitals added to the chaos and anxiety - as did conflicting information from the state and central governments.
By the end of the month, Delhi responded with a flurry of measures, from door-to-door health check-ups to increased testing, with the use of antigen tests, which are rapid but less reliable than the more widely used RT-PCR tests.
These efforts seem to be paying off, says K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India and member of the national Covid-19 taskforce.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 09:37

Latest updates around Europe

Ireland's acting chief medical officer has warned the country is in a "precarious" position and urged people to holiday at home. Ireland's public health emergency team says if the virus continues to spread there could be 150 cases a day by 10 August. In other news:

  • Spain recorded its highest number of cases since early May on Thursday, with 580 new infections. Authorities in Barcelona are planning to restrict movement throughout the city to halt the spread
  • Madrid's Cibeles fountain is the traditional destination for celebrating Real fans when they win La Liga. But last night it was fenced off to prevent supporters going near the water - "The goddess Cybele's saddest celebration" - in the words of El País

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Real Madrid supporters got this close to the fountain in their cars

  • Cases are also rising again in Italy, where 230 infections were recorded in 24 hours, many of them in Lombardy and Emilia Romagna in the north. Fatalities in Italy have now surpassed 35,000
  • Serbia and Montenegro have been removed from an EU list of countries seen as having the pandemic under control
  • Two areas of France are causing concern in particular: Mayenne in the north-west and Nouvelle Aquitaine on the west coast where several clusters have been recorded.

'Unacceptable' litter and mess left at Welsh beauty spots

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At the height of lockdown, Wales' three national parks including Snowdonia were closed

Snowdon is Wales' highest mountain - and one of the UK's top beauty spots.
But since reopening to visitors earlier this month, there have been reports of people leaving litter behind - as well as dog mess and even human excrement.
Wales' national park authority said the behaviour was "unacceptable".
"This is a emerging widespread issue not just in the mountains but also at lakeside locations, and across the national parks and visitor destinations in Wales," it said in a statement, adding that similar problems were being seen in England.
During lockdown, many public toilets have been closed, and many people have struggled without them, including people with medical conditions, older people and those with young children .
Read the full story here.

India's Covid-19 rise in two charts

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Earlier, we reported that India had passed one million cases, making it the third country to do so. It surpassed Russia earlier this month.
In the graphic below, you can see the curve rising steeply upwards in the past two months. Cities left lockdown and jumped back into action in June, alongside the ramping up of testing across the country, which could account for part of the ascent.
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Vaccine labs targeted in 'ongoing' hacking incident

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"It is appalling that any government should act in this way," said James Brokenshire

We've got a few more details on the warning from security services that Russian spies are targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
UK Security Minister James Brokenshire said there was "no evidence" the hackers had succeeded in stealing any information from pharmaceutical companies.
He would not say whether the attacks had been stopped, saying only that they had been "detected" and adding: "This is an ongoing incident, which is why we have put this alert out there, why there is mitigation that has been put in place."
The government minister added that the National Cyber Security Centre is 95% certain the cyber attacks against labs were carried out by the Russian state.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Brokenshire said the attacks were carried out "with the intent of extracting intellectual property and information".

Israel imposes weekend restrictions

Israel is imposing weekend restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.
From 17:00 on Friday (14:00 GMT) until 05:00 on Sunday, the start of the Israeli working week, only essential shops will be allowed to open, gyms will close and restaurants will operate a takeaway or delivery service.
Hairdressers, zoos, markets and tourist sites will also shut.
Gatherings of more than 10 people in closed spaces and 20 outside will be banned.
Beaches will also close on weekends from 24 July.
The restrictions will apply for every weekend until further notice, a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the health ministry said.
It added that the decision was to “prevent a general lockdown in light of the sharp increase in the morbidity of the coronavirus”.
Daily cases of the virus have spiked this month. On Thursday, Israel confirmed a record 1,939 cases.

Leicester lockdown: What has changed?

Alex Smith - BBC East Midlands
The city of Leicester was the first in the UK to go into local lockdown, but that will be eased from 24 July. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons some restrictions - "but not all" - would be lifted . Here's what is changing:

  • Leicester, Oadby and Wigston remain subject to lockdown measures due to authorities saying case numbers are still above the national average
  • Restrictions on schools and nurseries will be lifted
  • The hospitality sector in Leicester will stay in lockdown, including bars and restaurants
  • A new local power will be used to close shops selling non-essential items where necessary
  • The ban on non-essential travel and social gatherings of more than six people will remain

How the financial shockwave is affecting people's money

The finances of millions of people in the UK have changed since the pandemic.
Not everyone has been affected equally, though. Your age, your job, where you live, and the pre-virus state of your finances have all made a difference to how well you can cope.
While the youngest have generally been hit the hardest, since they have less in savings and need to spend more of their money on essentials, such as rent, some people have been able to save.
Figures show there's been a dramatic and sudden repayment of debts such as overdrafts and credit cards. With shops and travel not allowed, many people have been spending less - or getting refunds for cancelled events and holidays.
Read the full piece here.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 13:03

UK government briefing:

The PM starts by saying that "steady progress" is continuing to be made with new daily cases below 1,000 and the R number nationally between 0.7 and 0.9.

The number of daily deaths is continuing to fall thanks to the phenomenal efforts of the British people, Boris Johnson says.

Different tools used to combat virus

The PM says the government's goals, to stop the spread of the virus and protect the NHS, remain the same but "the tools" being used are evolving.
He says the "blanket national lockdown" imposed between the middle of March and end of May was the right thing to do but now the UK is focused on localised lockdowns.
He points to the success of dealing with local outbreaks in cities such as Blackburn and Leicester, pointing out that restrictions in Leicester are beginning to be relaxed now infection rates are falling.

Stay at home orders to tackle local outbreaks

The PM is now setting out substantial new powers to tackle local outbreaks in the future.
Councils will be able to intervene to shut down outdoor spaces and premises at short notice, he says.
Stay at home orders could also be imposed, the PM says.
These local powers may seem "unjust" to those who are affected but they are needed to tackle inevitable local spikes, he adds.

Testing to increase to 500k a day

Boris Johnson says the government has made "substantial" progress in testing, saying it has increased "100 fold to more than 200,000 tests a day".
He says: "Anyone anywhere in the UK with symptoms can get a test without delay".
But, as we approach winter, testing will have to go further.
"We will further increase testing capacity to 500,000 a day... by the end of October."

We are preparing for the worst

Johnson says the government has taken a number of measures to make sure the NHS is ready for winter.
He says it has increased the number of ventilators to nearly 30,000, increased the pipeline of personal protective equipment, and it will be "rolling out the biggest ever flu vaccination programme" in the UK.
The PM confirms £3bn more funding for the NHS, with money for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
He says the government will maintain the extra hospital capacity from the independent sector and maintain nightingale hospitals until the end of March.
"We are making sure we are ready for winter and planning for the worse," he says.
"But I strongly believe we should also hope for the best."

Come back to office if safe

Moving on to questions from the press, the BBC's Vicki Young asks the PM about the guidance for businesses and whether it is confusing.
Johnson says: "It is not for government to decide how employers should run their companies.
"What we are saying now is if employers think it would be better and more productive for employees to come to office, and they can work in a safe way, there should be discussions between employers and employees and people should make a decisions."
But he does say if people are productive at home, which many companies are seeing, they can stay there.

Do advisers believe plan is too optimistic?

Next up is Sky News's Beth Rigby who asks the PM why he says there is a risk of the virus becoming more virulent this winter and yet he wants to ease restrictions.
Why, she asks, are Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance - the chief medical and scientific advisers - not on the panel today? Is this because they think the plans are too optimistic?
The PM says his main advisers are giving evidence to a parliamentary committee later but ultimately it is up to ministers to make decisions.
He says a "balance" needs to be struck between protecting health and boosting productivity and these new proposals are based on that.

PM 'hopes for best' for Christmas

The next question is about how confident the PM is that families will be able to gather round the Christmas tree this year.
Johnson says it is "what we want is for everybody", adding: "It is not only a very important time for families, but also a very important time of year for the UK economy and the many millions of people working in sectors on modest incomes.
"It is very important we hope for the best... but plan for the worst."
He says all the steps he has laid out for September, October and November are "conditional".
But the PM says the "real secret" to tackling the virus has been, and will be, "the common sense and collective action of the British people".

Are antibody tests 'still a game-changer'?

The FT's Jim Pickard asks how many of the UK's 400,000 civil servants the PM is expecting to return to work next month.
The PM says it will be down to managers and where people can realistically work from, repeating his belief that while home working has proved successful, it cannot replicate face-to-face conversations.
The FT's second question is whether the PM still believes antibody testing - a test which can tell whether someone has had the virus and has built up antibodies - can be a "game-changer".
Mr Johnson says it is a vaccine that will really be a game-changer.
Dido Harding says more than one million antibody tests have been carried out but there are no plans to expand targets for them.
Everyone hopes that they will prove a game-changer and be a "silver bullet", but she warns that "like technology, science has its limits".

Human interaction needed for business

The next report returns to comments made by the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who said on Thursday there was no reason to change advice about returning to the workplace.
Boris Johnson says: "The government certainly has a view about whether it is safe [to return] and it is safe, provided employers have taken the steps they need to take.
"But whether people should go into work or need to go into work is not something the government can decide. It is up to employers with their employees to decide."
He adds the public has learned "all sorts of lessons over the last few months about Zoom, muting and unmuting our colleagues... it is a miracle.
"But in the end human interaction, face to face conversations are important and businesses have told me that."

England and Scotland 'working well' together

A journalist from the Scotsman has asked the PM why his virus approval ratings are so much lower than First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and why support for Scottish independence has risen during the pandemic.
Mr Johnson says the UK and Scottish governments have worked well together, despite the "surface differences and polemics".
He cites the UK-wide furlough scheme and the support that the armed forces have given to help people in Scotland get tested.
The union between England and Scotland has proved its worth time and time again during the pandemic, he adds, saying the "oldest, most successful political partnership in the world" remains as relevant and necessary as ever.
That is the final question and the press conference is over.

Government trying to tighten crackdown on local outbreaks

Jessica Parker - BBC political correspondent
A more localised approach, when it comes to tackling Covid, has been used now for some time.
But Boris Johnson is also signalling a tougher approach, with new powers for councils and ministers as well.
One of those powers for central government is quite striking: the ability to prevent people entering or leaving defined areas.
As efforts to get the economy going mean the lockdown is loosening overall, the government’s trying to tighten its ability to crack down on local outbreaks.

Is Johnson passing the buck to employers?

Jessica Parker - BBC political correspondent
Nudge, nudge, nudge. Boris Johnson emphasises that anybody can use public transport.
And he says that from 1 August, the advice on working from home will change.
Businesses are to be given more “discretion” on whether staff should come back to work.
It reflects deep concerns about the economy - not just that some people can’t easily work from home or may, in some cases, be less productive, but also that businesses who rely on the passing trade from office workers are struggling.
However, Johnson may face questions over whether he’s passing the buck to employers who now need to make some tough decisions.
And what about the statement of his own chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance yesterday - that there was “absolutely no reason” to change the advice on work from home?

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 13:09

Getting back to normal could still be some time away
Vicki Young - Chief Political Correspondent
There are questions about whether these new announcements are too optimistic.
And people do say Boris Johnson is an optimist.
But the prime minister says all of the plans are contingent on people behaving responsibly, they will be reviewed, and he is not ruling out some of these restrictions being put back.
That would be done in a different way, though.
The government is very much hoping a national lockdown won’t be needed again.
Instead, it believes it can see local outbreaks happening and give more powers to local councils, and ministers, to act on that very, very quickly.
What we are seeing Boris Johnson do is outline a longer term plan to, as he says, “get back to life as normal”, or as normal as possible.
But it is clear from listening to him that it is not going to feel normal for everybody for quite some time.

Barcelona braces for new restrictions

The Catalan regional government is preparing restrictions for Barcelona and its surrounding areas in an attempt to bring coronavirus under control.
The planned measures would aim to avoid large groups of people, especially in places where they are unable to observe social distancing.
According to local media , the capacity of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and religious venues could be reduced. Closing nightclubs and non-outdoor sports venues for 15 days is also being considered.
On Thursday, Spain reported 580 cases, the highest daily jump in infections in more than two months. Catalonia and Aragon were among those leading the increase.
Some areas of Catalonia have already seen restrictions put back in place. In L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, south-west of Barcelona, people have already been asked to stay at home and only leave for essential matters.
More than 170 localised outbreaks have emerged in Spain since it lifted its lockdown. However, Catalonia is at the epicentre of the new outbreaks.

Protest over juvenile detention for homework not done

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People gathered outside the teenager's school in Michigan to protest her detention

Protests have been held in the US over a decision by a Michigan judge to send a 15-year-old girl to juvenile detention for violating her probation by not completing her online schoolwork during the lockdown.
The African-American teenager, known as "Grace", has reportedly been detained since mid-May.
The state supreme court said on Thursday that it would review her case after it was highlighted by ProPublica earlier this week.
The news website described how "Grace" had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and had already been struggling with behavioural issues.
She had been placed on probation in mid-April via a Zoom juvenile court hearing after facing assault and theft charges last year. One of the terms of the probation was a requirement to do her schoolwork.
Read more here

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 13:13

Ministers trying to wean people off 'stay at home'

Jessica Parker - BBC political correspondent
I’ve heard from opposition sources that, in a cross-party call this morning, the prime minister discussed the need for public “confidence”.
We’ve talked before about how effective the "stay at home" message was.
Ministers have been trying for some time to wean people off it – to make those who may be anxious about venturing out, less so.
Perhaps an issue with communications here though is that "stay at home" was so clear.
The rules were simple. While a more complicated message at this stage is inevitable - it’s perhaps harder to land.

How many people are travelling to work?

Reality Check
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the guidance on working is being updated so that instead of telling people to work from home, the government will ask employers to decide (with necessary precautions).
So, what do the figures show on how many people are coming to work?
Approximately 48% of working adults were travelling to work during the first week of July, up from 44% in mid-June, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Of those working from home, 71% said it was because their employer had asked them to do so. 50% said they were following government guidance, and 35% said it was because their workplace had been shut down.
According to a poll of 1,000 office workers conducted by Portland Communications, only 21% have returned to their desks while 58% expect to be back at work by September and 81% by December.
In London only 68% of office workers expect to be back at work in December.
Currently, around 23% of the workforce are still furloughed, but 71% of those workers expect to return to their old job.
Read more here.

Government's focus shifts to local lockdowns

The prime minister says that from Saturday, the government’s focus will shift from a national lockdown to targeted local lockdowns.
Local authorities will be given new powers to

  • close specific premises
  • shut outdoor spaces
  • cancel events

From next week, draft regulations will be published to set out how central government can intervene more effectively at a local level
Ministers will have the power to:

  • close sectors or types of premises in local areas
  • introduce localised stay-at-home orders
  • reduce the maximum size of gatherings
  • restrict transport systems
  • stop people leaving a certain area

Read: How do local lockdowns work?

Change of emphasis on role of science

Jessica Parker - BBC political correspondent
Remember we used to hear a lot about how the government’s approach to tackling coronavirus was science-led?
Well, now Boris Johnson is moving away from the work from home advice after, just yesterday, his chief scientific adviser said there was “absolutely no reason” to do so.
Challenged on this, the prime minister today said that while he takes the advice from his chief medical officer (CMO) and chief scientific adviser (CSA) “very seriously” – it’s ultimately up to politicians to decide.
That has of course, as a state of play, always been the case.
But again, it's a change of emphasis. It’ll be interesting to see what the CMO and CSA have to say at a parliamentary committee later…

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 13:20

EU leaders meet to discuss post-Covid stimulus package

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EU leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, are meeting today to discuss a post-Covid stimulus package

EU leaders are meeting face to face for the first time in months, seeking to reach a deal on a €750bn (£670bn) post-Covid stimulus package.
The main issue is how much of the recovery fund will be handed out in grants and how much in loans.
The meeting will continue on Saturday. However, more time may be needed to come to a deal.
The head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde has urged the EU27 countries to move quickly on an "ambitious package".
Arriving for the talks, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said nobody should lose sight of the big picture – “we’re faced with the biggest economic depression since the Second World War”.
Read more about the EU summit here.

How much PPE is there?

Reality Check
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the government had “substantially increased the pipeline of personal protective equipment [PPE] for the NHS and social care, constituting over 30 billion items of PPE over the course of the pandemic”.
However, only 2.3 billion items have actually been delivered to health and social care services in England, up to 12 July.
This includes 1.4 billion gloves, which are counted individually as opposed to pairs.
It’s not immediately clear where the 30 billion number comes from, but it could include future deliveries.
On 26 June, Lord Paul Deighton who’s leading the government’s PPE efforts, said there were currently 28 billion items on order. Adding that together with what has already been delivered would be just over 30 billion.

Fans could return to sports stadiums in October

Good news for sport fans today, as Boris Johnson said supporters could be able to return to stadiums from October.
Pilots will take place from 1 August - and any stadium reopenings would be subject to coronavirus guidelines.
Some sports, including football and cricket, have already resumed behind closed doors - with canned cheering sometimes being used on TV broadcasts.
The pilot projects will be held at:

  • Two men's county cricket friendly matches - including Surrey v Middlesex at The Oval on 26-27 July;
  • The World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre from 31 July;
  • The Goodwood horse racing festival on 1 August.

Read more here.

What does my boss need to do keep my workplace safe?

Reality Check
Many more employees in England could be back in the office when the working from home advice changes on 1 August.
Employers should talk to their workers about what steps to take and only bring them back to their place of work if it is safe to do so, Boris Johnson has announced.
Right now, employers must follow a strict code of measures, which can include:

  • Observing the "1 metre plus" rule of social distancing
  • Introducing one-way systems to minimise contact
  • Frequent cleaning of objects and communal areas
  • Storing returned items for 72 hours before returning them to the shop floor
  • Table service only in indoor pubs and restaurants
  • Venues expected to collect customers' contact details for the NHS Test and Trace system

Click here to read more about the changes to the guidance and what your rights are.

Labour leader: 'Key is confidence'

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he will look at the details of the government's plan to get people back to work in England, but stressed the "key is confidence".
He added: "This can't be done on a wing on a prayer and requires a credible plan and national leadership."
He questioned whether the public and businesses would have confidence in the advice given and whether the government’s own scientific advisers would support the measures.
"Businesses have to be confident that it's safe to go back to work," he said.
He welcomed the additional £3bn for NHS England, but lamented that there were no extra funds announced for social care by the PM.

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Local experts in charge 'a good thing'

Dr Bharat Pankhania, a consultant in communicable disease control, welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to give local authorities more powers over localised coronavirus outbreaks.
"This is a game-changer," he told BBC News.
He said local authorities who were supported by "a fine level of data" would be able to pick up on "early warning signs" and impose measures to stop any virus spread "as early as possible".
"I personally think we will never have a national lockdown ever again," said Mr Pankhania.
"We need local experts in charge of local outbreaks."
He stressed the need for extensive testing as key to controlling local outbreaks, as well as data such as GP visits and A&E attendance to build up "a more comprehensive picture of what is happening locally".

TUC: PM's call to return to work carries 'risk of contagion'

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There are concerns that London's underground system could rapidly become overcrowded as people return to work

Kevin Rowan, of the Trades Union Congress, has told the BBC there are still "major challenges" to getting employees back into the workplace - as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed for a "significant return to normality".
Mr Rowan said many employers were still "not doing the right thing" in terms of managing health and safety, citing concern over factories in Leicester and elsewhere.
He told BBC News the prime minister's announcement that staff should look, where possible, to return to the workplace from 1 August was "still relatively short term".
"We're going to see, I think, a real increase in risk of contagion if we see lots of people going back to work quickly."
Mr Rowan also expressed concerns over the opening up of public transport and the "confusion" around the availability of childcare going forward.
"The government want to send this message of hope [but] there aren't the safe systems of operating across the economy that match that ambition."

Belgian virologist warns of second wave

A top Belgian virologist has warned that the country could be at the start of a second wave after it reported a 32% rise in weekly cases.
Speaking on VRT Radio, Mark Van Ranst said: “Faced with these figures, it must be said that we are at the start of a second wave”.
The reproduction rate of the virus in Belgium has risen to one meaning that every average patient with Covid-19 infects on average one other person. It is the first time the rate has risen above one since 4 April.
However, on Twitter he said it was promising that before “we only detected one in 10 cases. For now, we would be around one in three”.
Yves Ban Laethem, a spokesman for the health ministry told RTFB that this is “absolutely not” the case. He said that the cases were localised in Flemish provinces – West Flanders, Antwerp and Limburg.

Barcelona residents urged to stay home

Guy Hedgecoe - Freelance journalist in Madrid
The regional government of Catalonia has announced new restrictions in Barcelona and its surrounding metropolitan area in an effort to control outbreaks of coronavirus there.
The measures, which are due to last two weeks, include limiting numbers of people in bars and restaurants and closing down nightclubs, gyms and cultural venues. The authorities have said that people should only leave home for essential errands and that no more than 10 people should gather together at once. The measures, which are recommendations and not prohibitions, will affect an estimated four million inhabitants of the area.
“This is a difficult moment,” said Catalan government spokesperson Meritxell Budó. “We have to act quickly in order to prevent a situation like the one we had in March.”
Similar restrictions have been in place in some districts of the neighbouring city of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat in recent days. Also, the Catalan area of Segrià has been in quarantine for the last two weeks and these new measures will also apply there.
On Thursday, Catalonia reported about 1,300 new infections, more than half of which were in Barcelona or the surrounding area.

Trump's polling numbers fall because of pandemic

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll has found that most Americans disapprove of how President Trump has handled the virus pandemic.
Sixty percent of Americans disapprove of the president's response to Covid-19 - up from 53% in May - while 38% approve. Of those who disapprove, the poll found 52% disapprove "strongly".
Six in 10 Americans said they did not trust what Trump said about Covid-19 - including nearly three in 10 Republicans.
The US president has been criticised for pushing to reopen schools even as cases surge in a number of states. Critics have also accused him of undermining public health officials throughout the pandemic.
Earlier this week, another poll by Quinnipiac University found 62% of voters feel Trump is hurting efforts to contain the virus. His job approval rating overall saw 60% disapproval and a 36% approval - his lowest score since August 2017.

Winter wave of virus could be worse than first, say scientists

We've heard a lot this morning from the UK government and Boris Johnson about how they're "hoping for the best but planning for the worst".
Mr Johnson confirmed an extra £3bn in funding for the NHS to help it prepare for a potential second wave of infections and to cope with its usual winter pressures.
Earlier this week, scientists warned that the UK could see about 120,000 new coronavirus deaths in a second wave of infections this winter.
Asked to model a "reasonable" worst-case scenario, they suggest a range between 24,500 and 251,000 of virus-related deaths in hospitals alone, peaking in January and February.
The estimate does not take into account any lockdowns, treatments or vaccines.
And the scientists say: "The risk... could be reduced if we take action immediately".
The report , requested by the UK's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, stresses there is still a high degree of uncertainty over how the coronavirus pandemic will play out this winter.

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

Socially distanced indoor performances 'not viable'

Indoor performances with socially distanced audiences can take place in England from the start of August, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said. But BBC arts editor Will Gompertz explains why this may not be enough:
"The announcement is likely to be welcomed by theatre owners and producers, but a sense of frustration with the government is likely to remain.
"It makes no financial sense for many venues to open with social distancing rules in place; theatre budgets tend to be based on a breakeven of around 70% capacity.
"If social distancing measures mean a theatre can only run at 20-25% capacity, the producer cannot afford to put the show on.
"What the industry says it desperately needs from the government is some clear guidance on when stage five (fuller audiences indoors) of the phased return will be possible.
"The call is for the government to announce a 'not before' date, which would allow producers and theatre owners to make a plan of action for the coming months, be that preparing a show or reducing overheads."

US extends cruise ship ban

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US public health experts have blamed cruises for contributing to the virus' spread

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has extended its no-sail order as virus cases and deaths continue to rise. The move comes days after the largest single-day spike in new infections globally.
The cruise ship ban was due to expire on 24 July. This extension will last through 30 September.
In its order, the CDC noted that 80% of cruise ships from 1 March to 10 July were affected by the virus, and nine are still grappling with outbreaks. This has led to some 3,000 cases, suspected and confirmed, as well as 34 deaths from ships in US waters.
The Cruise Lines International Association had previously extended its voluntary suspension of operations from US ports through 15 September.
Read more about cruise ships during the pandemic:

Turkmenistan leader wears mask against ‘dust’

Alistair Coleman - BBC Monitoring
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President Berdymukhamedov reportedly spent the day by a lake catching catfish

The authoritarian President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, has been seen wearing a face mask for the first time, but tightly controlled state media says it is a measure against possibly virus-laden “dust”.
Turkmenistan is one of the few countries in the world which claims to have no coronavirus cases.
Mr Berdymukhamedov was seen on Turkmen television wearing a mask for a fishing trip, before driving to an orphanage where he gave his catch to mask-wearing children.
Mask-wearing and social distancing measures went into effect this week , and markets, restaurants and cafes have been closed.
To combat the coronavirus “dust”, state television aired footage of two elderly biplanes spraying empty countryside with disinfectants.
One local news portal claimed “bombing possible viruses from the air is a completely reasonable measure”.
But like North Korea – another dictatorship which has not admitted having any Covid-19 infections - while there are preventative measures, there is still no admission of actual cases.

Is UK carrying out the most tests in Europe?

Reality Check
“Publicly available data suggests we are now carrying out our tests more than anywhere else in Europe in total - and more than Germany, France, Italy and Spain per capita,” PM Boris Johnson said at Friday’s briefing.
Is he right? Making international comparisons is fraught with difficulties, as we've explained previously.
The number of tests performed each day, reported by different European countries, does not always refer to the same thing. Some countries report the number of people tested while others report the number of tests performed. Daily figures fluctuate too.
With these constraints in mind, the website Our World in Data publishes a comparison of the number of daily tests performed across the world. Based on an average daily figure over the last seven days, the UK performed 1.67 tests per 1,000 people a day, while Germany carried out 0.86 tests per 1,000, Italy 0.70 and Spain 0.63. Data for France is not readily available.
The only two countries in Europe that carried out more tests per capita were Denmark (with 2.11 tests per 1,000 people) and Luxembourg (12.77).
In absolute terms, the UK is now carrying out more tests than other European countries. According to yesterday’s figures from the Department for Health and Social Care, there were 202,912 daily tests made available in the UK while 152,063 tests were processed.

Online Proms to open with Beethoven 'mash-up'

Mark Savage - Music reporter, BBC News
A six-minute "mash-up" of Beethoven's nine symphonies - created to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth - will launch the 2020 Proms season on Friday night.
The new piece will be played by 323 musicians from the BBC's choirs and orchestras, all playing remotely due to restrictions necessitated by Covid-19.
The lockdown means that most of this year's Proms season will comprise archive performances.
However, it is hoped that live performances will take place in the final two weeks - with 14 concerts featuring mostly British musicians, including pianist Stephen Hough and violinist Nicola Benedetti.
The season will culminate in a pared-back version of the traditional Last Night, with soprano Golda Schultz joining conductor Dalia Stasevska and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
"There won't be a Proms atmosphere in the same way," said conductor Sakari Oramo. "But, of course, once the music gets going, the music will take us where it needs to take us."
Read more.

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Pakistan's prime minister calls for 'simple' Eid celebrations

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People have been urged to follow guidelines during Eid festival in order to prevent another surge in cases

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged people to celebrate the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival with “simplicity” to stop a further spread of the virus.
Eid is set to begin at the end of July and will last several days. Many people return to rural areas from cities to see their families.
During Ramadan, the last religious holiday, many people in Pakistan ignored social distancing rules, leading to a surge in coronavirus cases.
Khan said on Twitter that the same could not happen again and reminded people that “our hospitals were choked” during that time.
More than 5,470 people have died and more than 260,000 people have tested positive for the virus in Pakistan.

India coronavirus cases surpass one million

India has now recorded more than one million cases of coronavirus.
It comes after the country reported a record number of cases - nearly 35,000 - in the past 24 hours.
India is only the third country to officially pass the one million mark - after the US and Brazil. The US has now recorded more than three million cases, and Brazil more than two million.
India has been reporting a relatively low death rate from the virus. Its death toll of more than 25,000 is currently the eighth highest in the world.
You can read more about coronavirus in India here.

Georgia governor in mask row with local leaders

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There were long lines at a free testing site in Atlanta this week

In the US state of Georgia, where the death toll is over 3,100, local leaders are in a legal row with their governor over mask mandates.
Republican Governor Brian Kemp has sued the mayor and city council of Atlanta, the largest city in the southern state, over a city order that punishes not wearing a mask in public with a fine or jail time.
Governor Kemp has argued that Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' rule violates his own Covid-19 emergency order, which does not allow local officials to impose additional pandemic restrictions than what his office has decreed.
The governor has asked a judge to overturn the mayor's regulation on masks as well as one that limits public gatherings in the city to 10 people, rather than Kemp's 50, and to bar her from issuing any further Covid-19 orders.
The lawsuit also says Bottoms should be prohibited from issuing public statements implying she has the authority to impose public health measures that are different from the governor's.
Mayor Bottoms and others across the state have accused Kemp of hindering their efforts to keep residents safe.
Kemp has said he supports and encourages mask-wearing, but on Wednesday, he signed an order explicitly banning local officials from issuing face-covering rules.
Back in April, Kemp was criticised by health officials and President Trump for his decision to open up Georgia businesses ahead of the recommended timeline.
Now, his insistence against ordering residents to cover up comes as a number of other state leaders - including the Republican governors of Alabama and Texas - have issued statewide mask mandates. Other Republican governors, including Florida and South Carolina, have held off on statewide rules, but have allowed city officials to issue their own.

'100 is a great age,' Queen tells Capt Sir Tom Moore as she knights him

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The Queen awarded Captain Sir Thomas Moore with the insignia of Knight Bachelor at Windsor Castle

Capt Tom Moore, the World War Two veteran who won the hearts of the UK public when he raised more than £32m for NHS charities, has officially become Sir Tom.
In a special ceremony at Windsor Castle just for him, Sir Tom was knighted by the Queen - her first official engagement in person since lockdown.
Sir Tom was being recognised for walking more than 100 laps of his garden in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire.
Earlier Sir Tom, who celebrated his 100th birthday during lockdown, tweeted that it was "the most special of days for me".
The Queen was overheard as telling him that "100 is a great age", while Prince Philip added: "Have you been shut up - been isolating?"
She also told Sir Tom: "Thank you so much, an amazing amount of money you raised."

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 17:35

Piracy incidents surge across Asia during pandemic

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Experts say the economic impact of coronavirus may have caused the spike in piracy

Incidents of piracy have surged across Asia during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report.
There were 50 incidents in the region in the first half of the year, compared to 25 in the same period of 2019, [url= ISC Half Yearly Report 2020.pdf]the report, published by the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), says.[/url]
Incidents are classified as piracy if they happen outside the jurisdiction of any state, otherwise they are classed as armed robbery.
Brandon Prins, a scholar of sea piracy at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, said the coronavirus pandemic may have led more people to commit criminal acts at sea.
"My fear has always been that Covid-19 would reduce global trade which lowers growth, increases poverty and joblessness [and then] leads to more sea piracy," he told the BBC.
"There is certainly concern that with trade going down there will be fewer sailors on board ships [and therefore] fewer crew monitoring for potential pirates or armed robbers," he added.
You can read more about this here.

Sheep wool 'barely worth selling any more'

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Anglesey farmer Gerallt Hughes threw away nearly 600 fleeces

The popularity of wool has been in decline since the 1950s - but this year, coronavirus has added to the problems for sheep farmers.
In February, the global wool market closed, leading to vast amounts of wool left unsold, and so the price went down.
Some 14 million kilograms of wool is waiting to be shifted from British Wool - which is how most farmers sell their fleeces - and the average price per kg has nearly halved from 60p last year to 32p.
"Farmers used to be able to pay a year's rent from the price of wool, but it's barely worth selling anymore," said Rachel Atkinson, who runs a sheep wool company in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
Read more about the struggles they're facing.

Return to work strategy 'rings alarm bells' for disabled

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A leading disability equality charity has expressed concern about the UK government's call for more employees in England to head back into the workplace from 1 August.
James Taylor, from Scope, said Boris Johnson's comments "will ring alarm bells for many disabled people".
Two thirds of those who have died from Covid-19 were disabled . The virus has not gone away. Millions of disabled people at greater risk of coronavirus feel their fears are not being taken into account and feel forgotten by the government.
“Disabled people must be able to have flexibility about returning to their workplace. Leaving this to the discretion of employers will create inconsistency, and does little to reassure those disabled people who fear being forced to choose between protecting their health and paying the bills.
Recent research by the charity found half of disabled people feel anxious about shielding being paused, with one in five of those surveyed stating they will not leave home until there is a vaccine or effective treatment against coronavirus.

Social distancing 'likely to continue for a long time', says top adviser

The government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance hailed the British public's "extraordinary altruism and spirit" when asked about face coverings by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.
"This is a classic public health issue and the communication needs to be clear about what benefit this brings.
"Face covering wearing is a classic one where there may be some protection to the wearer, but there's more protection to others."
England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, told the same committee hearing social distancing remained key - even with the introduction of face coverings - and was likely to be necessary for a long time.
He said: "There are some things which we started right at the beginning, which absolutely have to continue for a prolonged period of time - washing hands, isolation, household isolation.
"And then we've added to that things like contact tracing, most recently face coverings.
"The reality is distancing remains an important part of this mix and how it's interpreted in different governments has evolved.
"But it has not gone away. So, all of those need to continue for a long period of time."

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 17:43

Mandela family praised for battling Covid stigma

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Zindzi Mandela with her father Nelson in 2010

The family of the South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela, have been praised for revealing that his daughter, Zindzi, who died on Monday, had Covid-19.
The gesture will "encourage acceptance" of those infected, current President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
The cause of death has not been disclosed.
Zindzi was buried on Friday morning alongside her mother, anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
South Africa is the African country worst hit by coronavirus, with more than 320,000 cases.
There have been more than 4,600 deaths, and government projections estimate this could rise to 50,000 by the end of the year.
Despite public awareness of how the virus is spread, its symptoms and effects, there have been some reported cases of stigmatisation of those infected.
Read more here.

Japan calls for US troops to be tested for covid

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A total of 138 military personnel have tested positive for the virus at US bases in Okinawa

Japan’s Defence Minister Taro Kono has requested that US military personnel coming to Japan are tested for coronavirus after an outbreak on the island of Okinawa.
The US, which is currently only testing those who are showing symptoms, says it is considering the idea, Kono said.
As of Thursday, 138 military personnel have tested positive at several bases in Okinawa, where most of the US troops in Japan are based.
Last weekend Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki told reporters: “I can’t help but have strong doubts about the US military’s measures to prevent infections.” He claimed that US service members had gone off base for 4 July beach parties and visits to local nightlife areas.
The relationship between Okinawa locals and the US forces is already tense. Locals have campaigned for their removal for years.

'Moment of truth' as EU leaders seek Covid deal

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Customary handshakes and kisses made way for elbow bumps

EU leaders are meeting in their first face-to-face summit since the coronavirus crisis, with low expectations of a deal on a €750bn (£670bn) post-Covid stimulus package.
The mask-wearing leaders, who met with elbow bumps not handshakes, must also agree a seven-year, €1.07tn budget.
French President Emmanuel Macron said it was a "moment of truth" for Europe.
There are splits between leaders over whether the post-Covid package should be given as grants or loans.
Mr Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel want grants to mostly finance the fund. Four northern nations insist on loans.
Arriving for the talks in Brussels, Mrs Merkel said "the differences are very very big and I cannot say if we will find a solution this time". It would be desirable, she said, but people had to remain realistic.
Read more here.

When can I watch sport or have my eyebrows done?

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On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a further raft of changes taking place in England from the first day of August.Here are some of the key changes:

  • If tenpin's your thing, bowling alleys - as well as indoor skating rinks - will be able to open for the first time since lockdown was introduced
  • Spectators will also be admitted to some sport events on a trial basis, including cricket, snooker and horse-racing
  • Or how about a trip to the salon? Your locks may be tamed, but what about your monobrow? From 1 August beauty treatments on the face - including eyelashes, eyebrows and threading - are given the all-clear, providing close attention is paid to Covid-secure regulations
  • Other changes on the horizon include the reopening of casinos and a return to indoor performances in front of a live audience - should pilots prove successful
  • And, for those who are tying the knot this summer, wedding receptions of up to 30 people will be allowed

Read more.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 18:02

A FATHER is fighting for his life after catching coronavirus from his son, who contracted the virus when breaking lockdown rules to meet with his friends.
Harry Brent - Irish Post

42-year-old John Place, from Plantation, Florida, is in intensive care and was on a ventilator for 13 days.
Every member of his family contracted the virus, but John was hit the worst, according to 6 South Florida .
His symptoms began last month after his 21-year-old son went to a friend's house and at one point took his mask off.
John's wife Michelle and the children recovered from the virus after three weeks, but the father of three, who is diabetic, was taken to hospital after suffering from constant coughing over four days.
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John Place has been in the ICU for 13 days

Michelle, who can't visit John because she had the virus, said: "I feel like I’m living a nightmare, like it’s a bad dream and you can’t wake up from it."
Speaking about the son visiting friends, she recalled: "He said, 'Oh, well, they seem okay, they’re not sick,' so they took off their masks."
"So, that’s the instance he believes, because that same friend told them two weeks later that she was positive."
She explained how difficult it was to explain to her six-year-old daughter why her Dad wasn't allowed to come home.
Michelle also spoke to 7 News Miami , saying she pleaded with the son to wear a mask.
"I pleaded with him every time he left the house, 'Please wear your mask, take sanitiser, make sure you’re constantly washing your hands'.
"He always assured me, 'Don’t worry, mom. I’m doing everything right, relax, chill.' You know how these kids are, so I trusted in him.
"You let your guard down just one time, it’s all it takes. You come home, and you infect the entire house."

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 18:13

Cork man describes heart-breaking moment he woke from Covid-19 coma to discover his mother had died
Jack Beresford - Irish Post
A BRAVE Cork man has described the distressing moment he woke from an induced coma to learn his beloved mother had passed away while he was unconscious.

Ian O’Sullivan detailed his tragic story to Neil Prendeville during a heart-breaking interview broadcast on Cork’s Red FM .
A full-time carer for his 83-year-old mother, Ian had followed every precaution to try and halt the spread of coronavirus in the family home.
Even now, he doesn’t know how he ended up becoming infected. It’s a question that has dogged him in the weeks and months since.
“I had been out and about that week in a few pubs to watch the Cheltenham racing — I don’t know if that was it. It is the million-dollar question. But I just don’t know,” he told Prendeville.
“I followed all the virus stuff on the media so I went into lockdown. Because of my mother’s age I was very worried about her. At the time the protocol was to self-isolate and to get tested.
“I did just that – I stayed at home in my room. Friends dropped medicines to my house. I was like that for nine days. I was in the bed most of the time – it really knocked me, I was exhausted.”
Despite suffering from ill-health, the fact Ian was his mother’s only full-time carer meant he had to continue looking after her even as his well-being deteriorated further.
With anyone suffering symptoms under strict instruction to self-isolate and avoid contact with any outside parties, he had no other choice.
“I was cooking for her as best I could,” he said. 
“I didn’t leave the house — my sisters brought food to the house as well. But no one came in. I didn’t leave the house.”
It took ten days before Ian conceded he needed urgent medical help.
Struggling to catch his breath, he contacted his GP, with an ambulance subsequently taking him to Mercy University Hospital (MUH).
Tragically, his ill-health left him unable to even say goodbye to his mum.
“I wasn’t well enough to have a conversation. I kind of said goodbye to her with my eyes. I even had PPE on me leaving the house.”

Matters took a sad turn two days later when Ian’s mother was also rushed to hospital with the virus.

Ian, meanwhile, was having to contend with the news he was going to be put in an induced coma to try and help rid his body of the lethal virus.

“They eventually told me they had to put me into an induced coma, maybe for two weeks. Straight away I got upset but I just couldn’t breathe,” he said.

“I was going to get the best of care — I was the first person there with COVID. I was scared but I knew I had to do it.”

During those two weeks, Ian suffered the kind of tragedy that has proven all too common during this pandemic, with his mother sadly passing away despite the best efforts of hospital staff.

In an incredibly brave and no doubt difficult moment during the interview, Ian described the moment he came around and how he learned of the devastating news.

“I came around and I was asking for my daughter and my mother. My sisters didn’t want the news coming from anyone but a family member.

“They couldn’t get into the ward in person. My sister video-called me and broke the news about mam.

“I relive it quite a bit. She died four days before I came out of the coma. I will take it to my own grave that I couldn’t go to my own mother’s funeral. I was so close to her but I couldn’t see her.”

“I left my home fighting for my life and I never saw my mother again.”

A total of 1,749 people have died in Ireland as a result of Covid-19.

1,749 fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Gone but never forgotten.

Posts : 8253
Join date : 2011-03-19
Location : Around the bend

Coronavirus - 17th July Empty Re: Coronavirus - 17th July

Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 18:32

How are businesses feeling about bringing back staff?

Earlier, we heard from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said he would now leave it up to employers to decide whether to bring their staff back to work.
So what do the employers themselves think?
Well, many warned a mass return to work immediately was unlikely.
The British Chambers of Commerce said companies still needed "crystal-clear official guidance" on safety, while the Institute of Directors said "there is a significant amount of caution out there" in the country.
"Not everything is in a company's control," said Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors.
"Childcare is an issue for many employees, and even if the guidance is changed, some staff who use public transport will still be concerned."
Read more about the reaction from businesses.

What will a winter with Covid look like?

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News
Winter is the big concern.
The problem is we don’t know how well coronavirus will spread as the nights draw in.
The pandemic really kicked off in our spring, so we don’t know what a winter with Covid will look like.
There is evidence the virus survives longer in cooler temperatures and similar infections, including flu, do get a winter boost.
So how the virus behaves, and the effectiveness of NHS Test and Trace, will dictate how many of these restrictions can actually be lifted.
SAGE documents, released today , raise serious doubts about how far we can go.
They say it is not possible to return to normality without levels of contact tracing and other coronavirus protections that would be “difficult to achieve”.
They advise the government should already be planning how measures should be reintroduced.

Would you spit in a tube every week to end the pandemic?

Fergus Walsh - Medical correspondent
What if there was a way of returning life to what it was like before coronavirus? No more social distancing, no face coverings, no fear of Covid-19. Of course the reason for all the restrictions is an attempt to bear down on the virus, and to minimise its spread. What we need is a fast and reliable way of spotting those around us who are infected.
Saliva tests could be a real gamechanger.
Imagine if all you had to do was spit into a tube to find out if you have coronavirus.
OK, it's not quite as simple as that. The saliva sample has to be sent to a laboratory, but the result can be turned around far quicker than a swab test.
Jayne Lees and her family are part of a four-week trial of saliva tests under way in Southampton.
I watched as Jayne and her three teenage children, Sam, Meg and Billy, sat round their kitchen table, spat on a spoon and tipped the spit into a test tube.
"A swab test feels quite invasive, especially if you are not feeling very well," says Jayne. "The saliva test is so much easier."
More than 10,000 GP and other key workers and their families in the city are involved in the project.
Full story here.

Welsh leader disagrees with Johnson over return to office

Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson - who's in charge of the lockdown restrictions in England - said that rather than telling employers to keep staff at home, the government is leaving the decision up to them.
He said that could mean "continuing to work from home, which is one way of working safely and which has worked for many employers and employees" - and that returning to the workplace must be done safely.
The Welsh government has now responded, and said its advice is for people to carry on as they are - working from home if they can.
“I positively don't want people to be returning to offices in the way that we did before coronavirus happened," said First Minister Mark Drakeford.
He stressed the crisis had shown how it was possible for many to work from home very effectively “without the need for large numbers of people to be travelling at peak times of the day to office locations”.
He said he did not share Mr Johnson’s belief that there would be a significant return to normality by Christmas.
"You have to take a pretty sunny view of circumstances to think that that might be true," said the Welsh leader, adding that it did not fit with the scientific advice he’d seen.

Spain orders culling of almost 100,000 mink

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Mink are bred at farms for their prized fur

Almost 100,000 mink at a farm in north-eastern Spain are to be culled after many of them tested positive for coronavirus, health authorities say.
The outbreak in Aragón province was discovered after a farm employee's wife contracted the virus in May.
Her husband and six other farm workers have since tested positive for the disease.
The mink, bred for their prized fur, were isolated and monitored closely after the workers became infected.
But when tests on 13 July showed that 87% of the mink were infected, health authorities ordered for all 92,700 of the semi-aquatic animals to be culled.
Full story here.

Posts : 8253
Join date : 2011-03-19
Location : Around the bend

Coronavirus - 17th July Empty Re: Coronavirus - 17th July

Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 17 2020, 20:21

Rights groups sue over Canadian Covid database

Human rights groups in the Canadian province of Ontario have issued a legal challenge to limit police access to a database of people who have tested positive for Covid-19.
A government memo said that police, paramedics and firefighters have access to the database to prevent or respond to Covid emergencies, the Globe and Mail reported . It is not clear whether law enforcement has used the database.
The four organisations involved in the case say that giving police access to this information violates health privacy laws. They also argue that the data could harm to Indigenous and minority communities, who they say are disproportionately targeted by police, or lead to people refusing to get Covid tests.
But some officials say that it is critical for first responders to have this Covid-19 data to reduce the spread of the virus.
A hearing has been scheduled for November.

A further 114 Covid-related deaths in the UK

In the UK, a further 114 have died over the past 24 hours in hospitals, care homes and the wider community, after testing positive for coronavirus.
It brings the current UK death toll from Covid-19 to 45,233, according to figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Separate figures, published by the UK's statistics agencies, show there have now been 55,700 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The DHSC also said that in the 24-hour period up to 0900 BST on Friday, there had been a further 687 lab-confirmed UK cases.
In total, 293,239 cases have been confirmed.

Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan 'admitted to hospital'

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Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (right) is one of Bollywood's most famous faces

Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been admitted to hospital days after testing positive for coronavirus, according to Indian news agency ANI.
The actress had been self-isolating at home since she and her eight-year-old daughter tested positive for coronavirus on 12 July.
Her husband Abhishek and father-in-law Amitabh, both also actors, were taken to hospital at the weekend with the virus.
Ms Rai Bachchan, 46, is one of Bollywood's most famous faces.
She is a former Miss World, a Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS, and became the first Indian actress to be a jury member at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003.

Man arrested on charge of using coronavirus aid for gambling

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The US Justice Department released an image allegedly showing Andrew Marnell at a Black Jack table

A man in California has been arrested over claims he fraudulently obtained $8m (£6.4m) in coronavirus aid and used some of the money to gamble in Las Vegas.
Andrew Marnell, 40, is accused of submitting bogus loan applications on behalf of several companies to secure Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds. These funds are intended to help small companies and prevent layoffs during the pandemic.
It is alleged that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at casinos in Las Vegas and also used funds to make high-risk stock market bets.
Mr Marnell faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of bank fraud.
Read more here

US health agency delays new school guidance - US media

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was expected to release new guidance on reopening schools this week, but this update has been delayed, US media report.
A spokesperson told CNN and NPR the new documents would likely be ready by the end of the month.
Vice-President Mike Pence, who leads the White House Covid-19 task force, had earlier suggested the five new documents would still be released this week.
At a news conference on Tuesday he said: "To be very clear, we don't want CDC guidance to be a reason why people don't reopen their schools.
"We know that the risk the coronavirus presents to people under the age of 18 is very low but we also want to make sure that we have measures in place that protect faculty that may be vulnerable and so prevent kids from exposing others or bringing home the virus."
The update follows President Trump's complaints that the CDC's prior guidance for schools was "very tough" and costly.
However, CDC director Robert Redfield has said the agency is not changing its recommendations about reopening schools, but that the new documents will provide additional information on enacting preventative measures.
Current CDC guidelines recommend a number of social distancing and hygiene practices, like keeping desks apart, requiring face coverings and disinfecting.
The president has urged schools to reopen for in-person education despite concerns from public health experts, parents and teachers.

Budget cuts 'took away' councils' crisis capacity

Rachel Schraer - BBC Health Reporter
Local responses to coronavirus outbreaks could be threatened by a historic lack of investment in public health, UK government advisers warn.
Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance were speaking as councils were given new powers to close indoor and outdoor spaces and cancel events.
Speaking to peers on the Lords' Science and Technology committee, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick said "countries that invested heavily in their public health systems" had coped best with the coronavirus pandemic.
This had not been the case in the UK, Sir Patrick said.
Chief medical officer for England Prof Chris Witty added health protection had not been invested in "over the last several years", adding: "I think we should all be honest about that."
You can read more about their warning here .
On Friday, Public Health England set out the areas of England of greatest concern for local outbreaks.
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Theatres and music venues can reopen in August

There was some welcome news for the arts sector in Boris Johnson's announcement earlier: indoor performances with socially distanced audiences can take place in England from the start of August.
In the same way that sports fans are going to be allowed in stadiums for a small number of matches to see how it goes, there will also be pilots of theatre shows and concerts with socially distanced audiences.
The findings would feed into final guidance for venues in the run-up to them reopening, the PM said.
However, with social distancing in place, many venues warn it's not financially viable to open. Theatre budgets tend to be based on a breakeven of around 70% capacity, and so with much less capacity the producer cannot afford to put the show on.
Jon Morgan, the head of Theatres Trust welcomed the news as "a step in the right direction" - but said "for most theatres it will not be economically viable to reopen with 30-40% audience required under social distancing".
He said they needed to progress to theatres being allowed to open fully "with the appropriate safety measures", adding: "Without this most theatres cannot reopen viably and we need the go-ahead for Christmas shows, on which the survival of many theatres depends, in the next few weeks at the very latest."
There's more here.

Thanks for joining us

We're wrapping up our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic for today and will be back tomorrow.
Here's a look back at some of the biggest developments we've been bringing you from the UK and around the world:

You can follow all the latest news on the BBC News website , or for coronavirus news head here .

Today's live page was written and edited by Alix Kroeger, Sophie Williams, Francesca Gillett, Alice Cuddy, Victoria Lindrea, George Wright and Ritu Prasad.

    Current date/time is Sat Nov 28 2020, 08:38