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Coronavirus - 22nd July

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 10:03

Summary for Wednesday, 22nd July


  • Australia sees its worst day yet in the pandemic, with more than 500 new cases
  • The overwhelming majority of them are in the city of Melbourne
  • The head of the Pan American Health Organization says the virus shows "no signs of slowing down" in the Americas
  • President Donald Trump says the pandemic is going to get worse, and urges Americans to wear face masks
  • Leading Democrat Nancy Pelosi dubs Covid-19 "Trump virus"
  • Health experts in the UK have told politicians Sars-Cov-2 virus will be with us for "decades"
  • There have been nearly 15m cases of the new virus worldwide and more than 600,000 deaths


Welcome back to our global coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the headlines to bring you up to speed this Wednesday morning.

  • The pandemic is showing no sign of slowing down in the Americas, the head of the Pan American Health Organization warns.
  • Carissa Etienne says the virus is surging in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. More than 300m people risk developing complications from Covid-19 because of underlying conditions, she says
  • US President Donald Trump has warned the United States pandemic may "get worse before it gets better". He also asked all Americans to wear face coverings, saying "they'll have an effect" and show "patriotism"
  • In the UK, health experts have warned politicians the Sars-Cov-2 virus will be with us for "decades"
  • In Australia, the state of Victoria has announced another record number of daily cases, with 484 in the past 24 hours


Latest from around Europe

An Austrian woman goes on trial today for ignoring quarantine rules. The unprecedented case involves a woman from Klagenfurt accused of going to the post office while suffering from Covid-19 and not wearing a mask. She could face a three-year jail term.
Ireland's government has relaxed quarantine rules on travel to and from 15 European countries but says the safest thing is still not to travel. The "green list" includes Malta, Finland, Norway, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia and the Baltic republics. The UK, France and Spain remain on the quarantine list.
France's public health authority says it's still too early to give a precise coronavirus death toll - but says 29,186 deaths in hospitals and care homes were directly linked to the virus from March to the end of May. At one point, at the end of March, the mortality rate was 60% higher than normal.

Pandemic 'not slowing down' in Americas

The Pan American Health Organization has warned the pandemic in the Americas shows "no signs of slowing down".
Director Carissa Etienne said high levels of infectious disease and chronic conditions meant that three out of 10 people - over 300 million - were at increased risk of developing complications.
She said the virus was surging in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, with some Central American countries seeing the highest weekly increases since the arrival of the virus.
Mexico's health ministry, meanwhile, confirmed that the number of deaths there has risen above 40,000; only the United States, Brazil and the UK have more.
Etienne also pointed to some bright spots: Chile, Argentina and Uruguay made "important progress" in fighting influenza, highlighting the value of Covid-19 prevention measures like handwashing and social distancing.

Nine in 10 Melbourne cases failed to heed symptoms

Another record spike - 484 cases - has been confirmed in Victoria, Australia, nearly two weeks into a lockdown in the state capital of Melbourne.
Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews he was "very unhappy and very sad" to report that people aren't following the rules. Of the 3,810 cases detected in the past two weeks, officials have found that:

  • Nearly 90% of cases did not isolate between first feeling symptoms and getting tested
  • 53% of people did not self-isolate while waiting for their results

"People have felt sick, they've got symptoms and they've kept going shopping. They've kept going to work," Andrews said. "They have been at the height of their infectivity. And they have just continued on as usual."
However, he said it wasn't about blaming people, noting that many would have felt the pressure to work to "feed their kids, and pay their bills". He stressed that the state was offering 1,500 Australian dollars (£840; $1,070) sick leave payments to those who needed it.

Paid quarantine for international arrivals in Delhi

International passengers arriving at Delhi will have to pay for their quarantine of seven days. This will be followed by a week of home quarantine, according to the latest guidelines.
Passengers will also have to undergo two rounds of mandatory screening before they can go into quarantine.
India has been badly hit by the virus - with more than a million cases, the country has the third highest caseload in the world.
Its national capital, Delhi, dominated headlines in June when cases were spiking at an alarming rate - but it seems like there has been a drop in infections in recent weeks. The capital has confirmed over 120,000 infections and 3,663 deaths so far, according to health ministry data.

Tokyo 2020 'depends on vaccine or treatment'

The Tokyo Olympics, already pushed to next year, will hinge upon the development of a coronavirus vaccine or treatment, organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said Wednesday.
The Tokyo 2020 Games should have kicked off this Friday, but they were postponed in March as the pandemic spread across the globe.
Asked whether Tokyo could hold the Olympics next year if the situation remained unchanged, he said that "if things continue as they are now, we couldn't".
Yet he also said he was hopeful there would be enough progress until then. "I can't imagine a situation like this will continue for another year."

Outbreak 'devastating' tourism in Africa

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Tourism numbers across Africa are sharply down.
A few countries on the continent are starting to allow international flights again. Yet this raises a dilemma: open up too fast and foreign tourists could bring a new outbreak of Covid-19; remain closed for too long and more livelihoods will be lost and there might be little left to salvage.
"To say the impact of the crisis has been devastating is an understatement, Naledi Kabo, CEO of Africa Tourism Association, told the BBC.
"I don't think tourism will ever look like it did before."
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 10:21

The latest from the UK this morning

Good morning to our UK audience just waking up. We'll be bringing you the latest updates on the virus from around the world all day.
Here's a quick round-up of what's been happening in the UK:


Trump concedes pandemic will get worse

President Donald Trump has warned that the US pandemic will probably "get worse before it gets better", as he revived his coronavirus briefings.


Trump pivots: 'I'm getting used to the mask'

Trump also asked all Americans to wear face coverings , saying "they'll have an effect" and show "patriotism".
He himself was not wearing a mask at the briefing and has previously downplayed the use of masks.
The president's aides have reportedly asked him to adopt a new tone as virus caseloads spike across the US. There have now been almost 4 million confirmed cases in the country and just under 142,000 deaths have been linked to Covid-19.

Brazil indigenous chief has 'severe' case of virus, says son

Aritana Yawalapiti, one of Brazil’s leading indigenous chiefs, has a severe case of Covid-19, his son said on Tuesday.
The 70-year-old tested positive after having trouble breathing, his son Taipi told AFP news agency.
Chief Aritana had been raising funds to help indigenous communities cope with the virus when he became ill. Indigenous communities in the country have been hit hard by the virus.
According to the Brazilian Indigenous People’s Association, more than 17,000 people from the indigenous community have been infected and 544 have died.
The chief has been transferred from a smaller hospital to one with an intensive care bed available, his son said.

Qantas sends final Boeing 747 into early retirement

Australian airline Qantas is bidding farwell to its final Boeing 747 plane, after its retirement was brought forward by the coronavirus pandemic.
The company's chief executive, Alan Joyce, was joined by pilots and other staff in signing the carrier's last 747 at Sydney airport before its final flight to the Mojave Desert in the US.
The iconic jumbo jet had grown less desirable than newer models even before the pandemic, but Qantas pushed its retirement forward by several months because of the lack of international travel demand.
Other airlines such as British Airways are doing the same.
Qantas has grounded most international flights until at least July 2021 because of travel restrictions.

'PM Modi, please make men share housework!'

Geeta Pandey - BBC News, Delhi
Quibbles over who does the housework during the recent coronavirus lockdown have brought the gender politics of India's homes into the open.
Housework in India usually involves a lot of heavy lifting. Unlike in the West, few Indian homes are equipped with dishwashers, vacuum cleaners or washing machines.
So, dishes have to be individually cleaned, clothes have to be washed in buckets and hung out to dry, and homes have to be swept with brooms and mopped with rags. Then there are children to be looked after and the elderly and infirm to be cared for.
In millions of middle class homes, the housework is delegated to the hired domestic help - part-time cooks, cleaners and nannies. But what happens when the help can't come to work because there is a nationwide lockdown?
The answer is friction and fighting - and in one unique case, a petition urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 10:34

India Hindu pilgrimage cancelled due to Covid-19

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The cave shrine attracts hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims annually over two months

An annual Hindu pilgrimage to a Himalayan cave shrine in Indian-administered Kashmir has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials cited rising cases as the reason, saying the health concerns were "serious".
The Amarnath Yatra attracts hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims annually over two months.
All places of worship in Jammu and Kashmir are closed to the public until 31 July.
On Tuesday, the region recorded 608 new cases, taking the total caseload past 15,000, media reports said.
The shrine, located high up in the mountains, has a naturally formed stalagmite that is worshipped as an incarnation of Hindu god Shiva.



Australia's worst day since the pandemic began

We reported earlier that the state of Victoria had seen a record 484 infections in the past day, overwhelmingly in Melbourne.
That also makes it Australia’s worst day since the pandemic began, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd has just confirmed.
With 16 infections in New South Wales and one each in Queensland and South Australia, today's 502 cases eclipsed a record from 28 March (469).
Australia has fared better than many nations but Melbourne's outbreak will see deaths increase, officials warn. Australia has had 128 in total.
"We reported only two cases [of the virus] on June 9 - less than six weeks ago - and this shows how quickly outbreaks can occur and spread," Mr Kidd said.


Thailand extends state of emergency despite low cases

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Thailand has extended its state of emergency to stop the spread of the virus

Thailand is extending its state of emergency until the end of August, a senior official confirmed.
A state of emergency was first declared in April, in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the country. Under the decree, the prime minister is allowed to ban anyone from leaving home, mass gatherings and the use of public transport.
The prime minister can also stop media from reporting any content that causes panic or unrest, the Bangkok Post said ahead of the extension.
Thailand hasn't reported a case of local transmission in two months, according to Reuters news agency.
Compared with other countries in the region, Thailand has had a relatively small number of cases.
More than 3,000 people have tested positive and 58 people have died.
“It is still necessary to have the decree because we are opening up the country for more business meetings and tourism to stimulate the economy,” Somsak Roongsita, secretary-general of the National Security Council said.
A committee on lockdown easing has vowed that the state of emergency would not be used to control political gatherings.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 10:45

Nancy Pelosi dubs Covid-19 'the Trump virus'

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Nancy Pelosi hit out at the president accusing him of inaction over the pandemic in the US

Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi has dubbed coronavirus the “Trump virus” as she criticised the president’s handling of the pandemic.
Her comments came after President Trump asked Americans to wear face masks and said the situation in the US may “may get worse before it gets better.”
It marked a change in tone from the president who in a briefing largely stuck to what public health officials have advised about the pandemic.
Speaking on CNN, Pelosi, the House Speaker, said: “Well, I think with the president’s comments today, he recognised the mistakes he has made by now embracing mask-wearing and the recognition this is not a hoax. It is a pandemic that has gotten worse before it will get better because of his inaction.”
“In fact, clearly it is the Trump virus,” she said.
Her phrasing echoed Trump's, who has been criticised for calling Covid-19 the "China virus".

Can we really know how effective contact-tracing apps are?

Germany and Ireland have both trumpeted their success in rolling out contact-tracing apps.
But is there any evidence that they are doing what they are designed to do - that is, warning people they could be infected with the virus?
Not yet - and the privacy-conscious way in which they are designed could mean we will never know how effective they have been.
Germany's Corona-Warn-App was rolled out nationwide in June. A few days ago, the Robert Koch Institute provided an update on its progress, celebrating the fact that it had now been installed by around 16 million people.
Bear in mind, however, that there are 83 million Germans, and it is thought more than half of the population need to have an app before it is truly effective.
"The app works" added the institute's president Prof Lothar Wieler. He went on to say that about 500 app users had tested positive for the virus and "had the opportunity to warn others via the app".
But he then said: "We cannot say exactly how many people were warned, because of the decentralised approach of the app."
In other words, we do not know whether the software is performing its key function.
Read the full piece from our tech reporters here.

Hong Kong announces new restrictions

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Hong Kong has seen a spike in cases in recent weeks

Stricter measures in Hong Kong will come into effect from midnight on Wednesday making it mandatory to wear face masks in all indoor public areas.
Anyone flouting the rules could face a HK$5,000 (£509, $645) maximum fine.
A number of venues including gyms and entertainment centres will remain closed until 28 July. A ban on dining in restaurants after 6pm will also be in place until then.
Health secretary Sophia Chan said: “This is the most critical time for Hong Kong. We ask citizens to be patient and stay at home as much as possible.”
The city has seen a spike in cases in recent weeks. On Tuesday, 61 infections were confirmed and two people died.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 10:55

Singapoliday to the rescue!

Andreas Illmer - Singapore
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Much like everywhere else, tourism isn't exactly booming in Singapore right now. But the tiny city state and travel hub heavily depends on visitors cash flowing in. So what now?
Well, authorities are banking on getting their own citizens to step up to the task and they're urging locals to take what's been dubbed a "Singapoliday"!
The campaign is worth 45 million Singaporean dollars (£25m, $32m) and it trying to encourage locals to rediscover their island nation. The focus ranges from food to cultural cultural heritage, nature and of course shopping.
Oh, there's also a drive to get residents to ditch their apartments for a night and book one of the city's many luxurious hotels for a staycation.
Most of the action these hotels have seen over the past weeks was in fact people forced to quarantine. Just to give you an idea, the number of actual tourists dropped by 99.9% in May compared to last year.

Police will enforce face masks in England shops 'as last resort'

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Face coverings become mandatory in shops in England on 24 July

The head of London's Metropolitan Police has said she hopes people will be “shamed” into complying with new rules on wearing face coverings in shops.
Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said police would respond as a last resort if shoppers without face masks refused to leave and were getting “aggressive”.
She told LBC: "Our approach to the regulations has been throughout to only use enforcement as a last resort."
She said the "vast, vast, vast majority of people do comply" with the restrictions.
Face masks will become compulsory in shops in England from Friday.
Different nations in the UK have different rules on masks. In Scotland, they are already compulsory in shops and on public transport. They're mandatory on public transport in Northern Ireland, and will become so in Wales from next week.

Airlines call for US and Europe to set up joint testing scheme

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At the moment, some countries test travellers' temperatures on arrival

Currently, most travel between the US and Europe is suspended - and airlines have been struggling.
British Airways and United Airlines are among the airlines calling for a joint virus testing programme in the US and Europe so travel can resume.
They've sent a letter to US Vice President Mike Pence and Ylva Johansson, the European commissioner for home affairs.
"We believe it is critical to find a way to reopen air services between the US and Europe,” the letter said.
The EU doesn’t currently allow visits from US residents, while the UK requires people arriving from the US to spend 14 days in self-imposed quarantine. The US bans entry to most passengers coming from Europe or the UK.

Nobel Prize ceremonies re-formatted due to pandemic

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The ceremonies in Oslo and Stockholm will go ahead however they will be re-formatted to comply with social distancing rules

The Nobel foundation has announced that its ceremonies will be reformatted in light of the pandemic.
The ceremonies will be held in Oslo and Stockholm on 10 December and will comply with social distancing restrictions.
A statement from the Nobel Foundation said it was taking into account that only some or perhaps none of the Laureates will be on site.
It said that embassies and consulates could be roped in to deliver awards as it has done in the past when a winner has not been able to attend the ceremony in person.
The Nobel banquet, usually held in Stockholm City Hall, will not take place this year.
This is the first time since 1956 the event has been cancelled, according to the foundation.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 12:30

31 states will have to quarantine when visiting New York

A total of 31 US states now have to quarantine for 14 days when visiting New York, New Jersey or Connecticut.
The list of states was updated on Tuesday. Of the 31 states, 10 were added on Tuesday, including Washington and Alaska. Only one state – Minnesota – was removed from the list.
It is based on a seven day rolling average of positive tests in excess of 10%, or positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents, according to New York’s coronavirus website.
The advisory aims to stop a resurgence of Covid-19 in the tri-state area. The three states were among the first to be affected by the virus earlier this year. More than 32,000 people died in New York alone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In a statement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said: “As infection rates increase in 41 other states, our numbers continue to steadily decline, thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers and our incremental, data-driven opening.
“Yesterday, we had our lowest death toll since the pandemic began - and with no fatalities in New York City. While today's numbers are encouraging, we must remain vigilant.”

Australia sees highest daily total yet

As we mentioned earlier, Australia has marked its worst day for new coronavirus infections.
The country recorded 502 new cases of the virus over the past 24 hours. The previous record was 469 cases.
The majority of new cases were from Victoria state which is the epicentre of the current outbreak.
Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said more than half of people who tested positive between 7 July and 21 July did not isolate.
“This means people have felt unwell and just gone about their business," he said. "They have gone out shopping, they have gone to work. They have been at the height of their infectivity and they have just continued on as usual."
He warned that the lockdown won’t just be for six weeks, as initially stated, unless people isolate after being tested.

WHO 'strongly rejects' allegations reportedly made by Pompeo

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Mike Pompeo is in the UK to discuss global issues such as economic recovery

The World Health Organization has rejected allegations reportedly made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over its handling of the pandemic.
Mr Pompeo is currently visiting the UK for talks. Last night in London, Mr Pompeo was reported to have said that the head of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was "bought" by China and that there are "dead Britons" because of it.
In a statement issued in Geneva, the WHO said: "WHO is not aware of any such statement but we strongly reject any ad hominem attacks and unfounded allegations.
"WHO urges countries to remain focused on tackling the pandemic that is causing tragic loss of life and suffering.”
Behind the scenes there is shock and fury at Mr Pompeo’s comments, and a clear reluctance to respond in detail for fear of amplifying them, said the BBC's Geneva correspondent Imogen Foulkes.
There is also frustration at being caught in the crossfire in a row between the US and China which the WHO feels has little to do with it, and more to do with US/China trade disputes and with America’s own Covid-19 crisis.
US President Donald Trump has previously been critical of the WHO, and earlier this month began the process of withdrawing the US from the agency.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 12:36

Sales soar in lockdown DIY boom, says B&Q owner

We've heard a lot about the hobbies people have taken up during lockdown, but another popular choice has been DIY.
Sales of paint, wallpaper, plants and compost have soared during lockdown, the owner of B&Q and Screwfix has said.
Kingfisher said people had been doing more DIY than usual, as like-for-like sales jumped by 21.6% in the three months to 18 July.
Store re-openings also boosted revenue, while online sales more than tripled.
Read more here - including on how the company is recruiting more workers to keep up with demand.

Authorities in Kashmir Valley impose six-day lockdown

Authorities in Kashmir Valley have imposed a six-day lockdown following a spike in cases there.
The region has recorded more than 15,000 cases so far, with 260 deaths.
The restrictions come into place on Wednesday evening and will apply to the entire Kashmir valley, apart from one district, Bandipora.
Agriculture, horticulture and construction work will be allowed to continue.
The decision will be reviewed every six days, according to PTI news agency.
The lockdown comes a day after the government cancelled a well-known Hindu pilgrimage to a cave temple high in the Himalayas in the Kashmir region.

Driving tests restart in England with safety measures

Learner drivers in the UK previously told us they were feeling anxious for tests to restart, and now they finally have in some places.
From today, car driving tests have restarted in England.
They'll restart in Wales on 17 August but no date has been set for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
But with months of no tests - 210,000 tests were cancelled due to the pandemic, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency - there's a huge backlog.
The DVSA is urging candidates to ensure they have "had enough practice" before taking the test.
A string of safety measures are in place to protect learners and examiners - including compulsory face masks.
Any learner who makes a fault that means they will have failed will immediately be taken back to the test centre to minimise the amount of time spent in the car - rather than finishing the test as is usually the case.

Hong Kong records highest daily total yet

Hong Kong has reported its highest daily total yet with 113 new cases.
Of those, 105 were local transmissions.
The city has seen a rise in the number of cases in recent weeks.
As we mentioned earlier, the city is enforcing stricter measures from midnight on Wednesday. People will be required to wear masks in all indoor public areas including shopping malls and markets.
Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan-Siu-chee said: “We do not rule out any further stringent measures, which would basically focus on social distancing.”
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 13:14

US accuses China of virus research hacking

The US Department of Justice has accused China of sponsoring hackers who are targeting labs developing Covid-19 vaccines.
Prosecutors said two Chinese men spied on a Massachusetts biotech firm in January which was researching possible cures for Covid-19. They also hacked a Maryland company less than a week after it said it was researching the illness.
Officials said the men were private hackers who occasionally received support from Chinese intelligence agents, including an officer from the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS).
The UK, US and Canada last week accused Russia of seeking to steal research related to Covid-19.


Belgium experiences surge in cases

Belgium is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, health officials warned on Wednesday.
The country’s national security council is set to meet on Thursday and could decide to postpone the next phase of uneasing of lockdown measures.
“The situation is not without an exit, we can still change the course of events, but we must act fast,” said spokesman Boudewijn Catry.
The average number of coronavirus cases per day between 12 to 18 July was 184.
It is an 89% increase in the average number of virus cases per day compared to the week of 5 to 11 July.
The reproduction number is now at 1.1.

Headlines from around the world

To those of you just joining us, here’s your lunchtime update of the latest headlines from around the world

  • Australia has seen its worst day yet in the pandemic, recording more than 500 new cases
  • US President Donald Trump has warned that the pandemic is going to get worse and told Americans to wear face masks to stop the spread
  • Health officials in Belgium have warned that the country is experiencing a second wave of cases. The national security council will meet tomorrow to discuss the easing of lockdown measures and whether they will go ahead
  • Aritana Yawalapiti, one of Brazil’s leading indigenous chiefs, has a severe case of Covid-19, according to his son. He has been moved to a hospital with intensive care facilities
  • The head of the Pan American Health Organization says the virus shows “no signs of slowing down” in the Americas
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 20:38

Tokyo governor advises people to stay at home during upcoming holiday

Tokyo’s governor has urged people to stay at home during the upcoming four-day holiday.
The holiday begins on Thursday and comes as the capital experiences a surge in cases.
Last week the city hit a new daily record of 293 cases and the figure has stayed above 200 in recent days.
Governor Koike Yuriko warned in a press conference that the new daily number of infections is on the verge of exceeding 300. She said that infections were being reported at restaurants and theatres, with clusters confirmed in workplaces and schools.
It’s a change from a few weeks ago when Tokyo’s nightclubs were blamed for the rise in cases.

The latest UK headlines this lunchtime

If you're just tuning into our live coverage now, here is a quick roundup of the key developments in the UK this Wednesday lunchtime:

  • Deaths linked to coronavirus in Scotland have fallen to the lowest level since the start of the pandemic, with just six registered last week. New figures from the National Records of Scotland showed the number of deaths falling for the twelfth week in a row
  • Fitness Coach Joe Wicks has held the final session of PE with Joe, after first starting the workouts 18 weeks ago for children stuck at home during the lockdown. Wicks, 33, who is known as the Body Coach, has raised £580,000 for the NHS through his online workouts and urged fans to "keep it up" as he ended his last session
  • Nearly a quarter of textile firms in Leicester inspected for health and safety breaches since the lockdown have faced action, the government has said. Concerns about working conditions in the city's textile factories have grown in recent weeks after reports staff have been underpaid and unprotected from Covid-19. The city of Leicester was the first in the UK to be subjected to a local lockdown following a spike in infections last month
  • Police in London will only enforce the wearing of masks in shops "as a last resort", the Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has said, adding she hoped shoppers who refused to wear masks would be "shamed" into compliance. Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England is to become mandatory from 24 July
  • A majority of British children struggled to continue learning at home during the lockdown, according to an Office for National Statistics report. It found that of the 52% who struggled, three-quarters of parents gave a lack of motivation as a reason



Visits to care homes allowed to resume in England

People in England will be able to visit loved ones living in care homes again, the UK government has confirmed.
Until now, visits were limited and dependent on local infection rates and the individual care home.
Care homes have been badly affected by the virus - with at least 20,000 care home residents in England and Wales dying with Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak.
Visits will now resume in specific care homes once local directors of public health and local authorities decide it is safe to do so, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
Face coverings will have to be worn and social distancing followed during visits.
"I know how painful it has been for those in care homes not being able to receive visits from their loved ones throughout this period," said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
"We are now able to carefully and safely allow visits to care homes, which will be based on local knowledge and circumstances for each care home.
"It is really important that we don't undo all of the hard work of care homes over the last few months while ensuring families and friends can be safely reunited, so we have put in place guidance that protects everyone."
In Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland, some care homes have reopened already.
Read our full story here.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 20:43

Nepal ends lockdown after four months

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Nepal has ended its lockdown after four months

Nepal has officially ended its lockdown as of midnight on Wednesday - but schools and cinemas will remain closed.
The lockdown was imposed in March after the country recorded two cases.
More than 17,994 cases have been recorded and 40 people have died in the country since the pandemic began.
While most of the lockdown restrictions have been removed, schools and cinemas will remain closed and large gatherings remain banned.
International and domestic flights will resume from 17 August.
All international passengers, both arriving and departing, will need to have a certificate saying they are not infected.

Scottish deaths fall to 'lowest level' of pandemic

Deaths linked to coronavirus in Scotland have fallen to the lowest level since the start of the pandemic, with just six registered last week.
New figures from the National Records of Scotland showed the number of deaths falling for the twelfth week in a row.
In the week to Sunday 19 July, the virus was mentioned on six death certificates.
At the peak of the outbreak in April, more than 600 deaths with links to Covid-19 were being logged each week.
The latest report said the virus had been registered as a confirmed or suspected cause on 4,193 death certificates.
At her daily coronavirus briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the weekly total of deaths was "the lowest we have seen since we started to record them".
You can read more here .

What happened during today's PMQs?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been updated MPs on the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic during PMQs.
In case you missed it, here's a quick summary of the key points:

  • Mr Johnson said he will be "very happy to look" at what a group, leading a "cross-party rapid inquiry to learn the lessons of Covid before a second wave" comes up with. Liberal Democrat leadership contender Layla Moran, who is leading the group, said it has already had 900 submissions, including from bereaved families and professional bodies
  • The PM said the government will bring forward a strategy to address obesity in response to a question from Caroline Nokes, the chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, who said the virus has had an "unequal impact on the BAME community, the elderly, men and the overweight".
  • Plaid Cymru's Ben Lake asked about VAT on face coverings as they become mandatory on public transport in Wales, and in shops in England on Friday. He said there is already zero VAT on all other PPE, but asked whether the PM would extend that, so that members of the public, including those on low incomes, are not unfairly penalised for following the rules. Mr Johnson said he would need to talk to the relevant minister about what could be done, and he will come back to the MP.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 20:48

Pandemic has led to increase in child exploitation in Asia

Long periods of isolation and lockdown have escalated the exploitation of children in South and Southeast Asia, particularly girls, according to a report by two human rights organisations.
Plan International and Save the Children say that nearly 10 million children may never return to school even after the pandemic is over. They also say most girls are afraid of being forced into child marriages.
Save the Children’s David Bloomer told the BBC that, in times of crisis, “girls are often the first to bear the brunt of negative coping mechanisms when making difficult decisions”.
“Although some incredible progress has been made in the region when it comes to violence against children and women, we want to ensure the rights of girls are placed at the centre of all Covid response strategies.”
18-year-old Huu from Vietnam told the two aid agencies: “I know two girls who have just gotten married during this pandemic. I truly think that education offers us a chance to a brighter future. However, due to the current pandemic, many girls are giving up their learning opportunities for marriage to alleviate the new economic hardship.”
According to the UN, an extra 15 million gender-based violence cases are expected for every three months the lockdown continues globally. The UN also estimates that Covid-19 could result in an additional 13 million child marriages worldwide over the next ten years.

Will Christmas be back to normal in the UK?

There are still months to go - but for some, thoughts are already turning to Christmas.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised the hopes of normality returning by Christmas during his speech on coronavirus restrictions last week.
"It is my strong and sincere hope that we will be able to review the outstanding restrictions and allow a more significant return to normality from November at the earliest - possibly in time for Christmas," he said.
But some scientists have seemed to reject the suggestion, with Prof Sir Jeremy Farrar - who sits on the government's scientific advisory group - saying that "things will not be done by Christmas".
In Wales, some annual Christmas events are already being cancelled.
One chain of garden centres say its annual Santa experience won't go ahead, while one town council say there will no festive light switch on. Read more.

South African restaurants hold 'empty seats protests'

Restaurant owners and workers in South Africa's tourist areas including Cape Town are holding peaceful protests against the government's reimposed curfew and a ban on sale of alcoholic drinks.
Pictures and videos shared online from Stellenbosch town in the Western Cape province show them holding banners warning of job losses if the government does not reverse the restrictions.
They also put out empty seats to show how badly their businesses had been hit by restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 20:52

Restaurants struggle with no-shows

"The gut reaction to no shows is sort of in the pit of my stomach," says restaurant owner Crispin Somerville.
Since restaurants were allowed to reopen in the UK, new social distancing regulations to make them safe mean there are fewer tables for customers, which in turn means less income.
But restaurateurs say many people who make reservations are simply not showing up, which is threatening their survival.
And it's not just restaurants. Gardens in London have also complained of no-shows, with the National Trust, Kew Gardens and the Royal Horticultural Society saying people were booking slots to visit and then cancelling or not turning up.

Thirteen US nuns die after catching coronavirus at US convent

Thirteen nuns at a Roman Catholic convent in the US have died of coronavirus since the country's outbreak began, according to a spokesperson for the Felician Sisters of North America.
The group - aged between 60 and 99 - account for around a third of all those living in the religious community in Livonia, Michigan. A further 17 nuns at the convent have recovered after contracting the virus.
Catholic news outlet Global Sisters Report said the deaths "may be the worst loss of life to a community of women religious since the 1918 influenza pandemic."
"I first heard two aides had contracted the virus," Sister Andrew told Global Sisters Report. "We don't know who they are, and we don't want to know. Then it hit sisters on the second floor, and it went through like wildfire."

US signs contract for 100m doses of potential vaccine

US health officials have signed a contract with pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and biotech firm BioNtech to buy 100 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine once it's approved for use.
Health Secretary Alex Azar said that production would start in December and that the country could acquire a further 500 million doses. The vaccine will be free to all US residents, although their insurance may be charged, said the US Department of Health and Human Services.
In clinical trials, Pfizer and BioNTech have been testing vaccines that require two injections, so a supply of 100m doses would likely vaccinate 50 million Americans.
In May, the US pledged $1.2bn (£940m) to secure 300 million doses of another AstraZeneca vaccine being developed by Oxford University.
Neither vaccine has yet been approved for use but both have produced positive data in clinical trials.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 20:57

China keen to highlight Trump failings during pandemic

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
As US President Donald Trump resumed hosting coronavirus briefings yesterday, state media in China have leapt on the opportunity to highlight US failings at controlling the outbreak.
China’s official Xinhua says the president was shown “admitting the situation will ‘get worse’,” and highlights a damning article in US paper The Washington Post’ saying that “the nation has failed spectacularly”. The official People’s Daily has also picked up on papers’ - including the New York Times’ - assessment that data from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention indicates the number of infections in the US is “far higher” than officially recorded.
It’s no secret that tensions between China and the US are at an all-time high, and China’s media have long been critical of the Trump administration’s comments on China in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak.
There is genuine frustration in China that the country – which has managed to control a number of localised Covid-19 outbreaks and provide aid to other countries – is being painted as the bad guy.
So China's media are keen to highlight where more and more powerful Americans and media organisations are attacking the president.

Ireland urges people to holiday at home

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The government says the safest thing to do is to stay at home

Authorities in Ireland have urged people to “holiday at home”.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, said 50,000 people a week are leaving the country.
He said he was obliged to give people guidance on “the risk attached to travel” and the “overall message from the government is that the safest thing to do is stay at home”.
There is a list of 15 countries that people can go to and not self-isolate on their return. Great Britain, the US, France, Spain and Portugal are not on the list.
Read more here .

President Trump 'unhappy with China' over pandemic - Conway

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway has been taking questions from reporters. When asked about the message America is sending by shutting down a Chinese consulate in Texas, Mr Conway said President Trump remains unhappy with China over its response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“I think this president has made very clear that he’s unhappy with China - the fact that China virus was unleashed onto this country and around the world with very little information, honesty and transparency from China,” said Conway.
“We’re still not getting information from China. We still don’t know the case numbers, the death numbers, etc.”
The US has ordered Beijing to close its consulate in Houston by Friday. Officials say the decision was taken "in order to protect American intellectual property". Earlier this week US Department of Justice accused China of sponsoring hackers who had been targeting labs developing Covid-19 vaccines .
China's foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the closure was "outrageous and unjustified".
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 21:01

Schools and shielding could be only changes in Scotland next week

Nicola Sturgeon has said Scottish businesses that aren't open yet may have to wait a little longer before the coronavirus restrictions affecting them are eased.
The First Minister said the focus of the government was on the reopening of schools and easing of restrictions on those who are shielding.

UK passport application backlog reaches 400,000

If you've applied to renew or get a new British passport recently, you might have to wait longer than normal.
Figures show there's a backlog of more than 400,000 passport applications due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Reduced staffing to allow social distancing meant forms were taking longer to process, said Home Office minister Baroness Williams.
She said steps were being taken to increase capacity after travel restrictions were eased.
But those applying may have to wait longer than the usual three weeks.
Asked how long it would take to clear the backlog, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast he did not know - "it's not quite my area" - adding that the Home Office was working hard to clear it.
The Passport Office is advising that only people going away before September or those travelling on compassionate grounds should apply now for a passport.
Read our full story here.

UK infections over 296,000

Britain's national tally of cases has risen by 560 since yesterday, bringing the national toll to 296,377, according to official figures .
The UK death toll has also risen by 79 to 45,501.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 21:05

Brazil's Bolsonaro still has Covid after two weeks

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Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has again tested positive for coronavirus, more than two weeks after he first revealed he had Covid-19 on 7 July.
Bolsonaro has in the past dismissed the risks of the virus and boasted that it would have little effect on him if he got it due to his "athletic past".
An official statement said that despite testing positive for a third time, the president was "still in good condition".
He appeared outside the presidential palace on Sunday, where he greeted his supporters from a distance.
Brazil is the second-worst affected country with more than 2.1 million confirmed cases.

UK care home guidance 'should have been here last month'

Earlier, we brought you the news that people in England can start visiting loved ones in care homes again. (You can read the full story here.)
The government has published new guidance for homes, and advises that visits should be limited to one consistent person per resident, where possible.
Care England, the country's largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, said it was "disappointed" the guidance had come so late.
"This guidance should have been with care providers last month," said its boss Professor Martin Green.
"We are at a loss to understand why the Department of Health and Social Care cannot act quickly in a crisis or why it is deaf to the comments and input from the sector."
He added the guidance does not consider issues around visitors and residents leaving the premises, with many relatives likely to want to take their loved ones out.
Guidance was produced by the Care Provider Alliance in mid-June for residential care providers, in the absence of government guidance. The PA news agency says it understands that some care homes have been allowing socially distanced visits in outdoor areas which have been free of coronavirus.

More than 15 million infections reported worldwide

The global number of confirmed coronavirus infections has risen to over 15 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University .
More than 617,000 deaths have also been reported by the US university.

Outbreak in Catalonia 'coming under control' - Spanish minister

Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto has said a resurgence of coronavirus cases in Catalonia was coming under control, and that she hoped there would be no need for neighbouring France to close its border.
“With the latest data we have in Aragon and Catalonia we are a bit more optimistic. Catalonia has already reduced the number of infections over the last three days,” said Ms Maroto.
“Let’s hope that with these better data we don’t have to close a border that for us is very important for mobility with our European partners.”
The northeastern Spanish region has logged more than 7,000 new cases of Covid-19 over the last weeks - nearly half of the national total - although its infection rate has dropped in the recent days.
Catalan leader Quim Torra has ruled out a return to lockdown, telling the regional parliament that "Catalonia can't be closed."
But elsewhere, in Madrid the regional government said it might make face masks compulsory - even in situations where social distancing can be guaranteed - unless the national government imposed safety controls on people flying in to the capita's Barajas airport. Madrid and the Canary Islands are the only regions of Spain without such strict face mask rules in place.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 21:10

Obama and Biden meet for socially distanced campaign ad

Presidential candidate Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama - Biden's boss when he was vice-president for eight years - have sat down for their first in-person meeting of the 2020 election year.
A one-minute clip teasing their interview, which will be released tomorrow, show them arriving at Obama's office in Washington DC wearing face masks and criticising Trump's handling of the pandemic.
"Can you imagine standing up when you were president and saying, ‘It's not my responsibility'," Biden says, quoting Trump in March when he was asked about testing delays.
"Those words didn't come out of our mouths when we were in office," Obama responds.

Latest headlines from the US


  • California, with more than 409,000 infections, has overtaken New York as the state with most confirmed cases. Florida, with nearly 370,000 cases is in third place
  • The US government has agreed to a $1.95bn (£1.5bn) deal to purchase 100m doses of vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech once the medication is approved by US regulators
  • Over 500 women have test positive at a federal prison in Texas for inmates with medical and mental health issues, in one of the largest outbreaks to yet occur in US prisons
  • A coalition of African American mayors of major US cities formally called on state governors to repeal orders prohibiting them from enacting local policies to prevent the spread of Covid-19
  • Thirteen elderly nuns - making up a third of a Roman Catholic convent outside Detroit - have died after contracting the virus


British pupils struggled to learn at home - new research

New research has found more than half of British children struggled to continue learning at home while schools were shut during the lockdown.
Of the 52% who struggled, three-quarters of parents gave a lack of motivation as a reason, the Office for National Statistics research found.
It also showed wide disparities in what families were able to do.
Schools closed for most pupils at the end of March in England, Wales and Scotland, as the pandemic took hold. Some schools re-opened in England on or around 1 June for some year groups.
The ONS researchers assessed surveys of more than 12,000 people in Great Britain between 3 April and 7 June about their experiences of home-schooling during the coronavirus pandemic. There's more on the findings here.

Your vaccine questions answered

There is a lot of promising news on vaccine research this week. Oxford University announced first results but it’s only one of around two dozen vaccines being tested on people in clinical trials - and there are around 140 others in development around the world.
Some of you have sent in questions around what a future vaccine can and can not do.

  • Would a vaccine be 100% safe?
  • What if the virus mutates?
  • Do the normal flu vaccines have any effect at all?
  • Can people with transplants take a vaccine?

Click here to read our health editor Michelle Roberts answering all those questions and more.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 21:18

Madagascar hospitals 'overwhelmed' amid new record

Catherine Byaruhanga - BBC News, Kampala
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Madagascar hospitals warn they are 'overwhelmed' with cases

Madagascar has reported another record day with 614 infections.
At one government hospital in Antananarivo, the director says they are already treating 46 patients and only have space for four more.
Another administrator at a different facility said they were constantly overwhelmed. The World Health Organisation representative in Madagascar has warned that hospitals are saturated even before the peak of the pandemic in the country is reached.
There are over 7,500 coronavirus cases in Madagascar nearly 80% of them were diagnosed in the past month. With the spike in positive results, the government reinstated a strict lockdown of the capital and surrounding areas.
On Monday, the Minister for Health wrote to development partners asking for equipment like testing kits, respirators and protective equipment for health workers. But there’s been push back from the government’s spokesperson who said it was not the minister’s place to make such a request.

No vaccine can be expected before early 2021 - WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that researchers are making good progress on developing a coronavirus vaccine, but their first use cannot be expected until early 2021.
Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's emergencies programme told reporters that it was vital to "not cut corners on safety", even if this meant slowing the vaccine's development.
"We have to be able to look ourselves in the eyes, and we have to be able to look at our communities and ensure them that we have taken every precaution to make sure that these vaccines are safe and effective before we go giving them to general populations," said Dr Ryan. "In order to make that happen, we can shorten that time, but realistically, it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people vaccinated."
He added that several potential vaccines were in phase 3 trials and none had failed in terms of safety or their ability to generate an immune response.

Florida reports more than 9,000 new cases

There were 9,785 new infections recorded on Wednesday in Florida, according to health officials, raising the total number of coronavirus cases to 379,619.
There were an additional 139 deaths on Wednesday. The state has now recorded 5,345 deaths of residents, and over 100 deaths of non-residents.
According to the data, 47% of all deaths have occurred in long-term and elderly care homes.
Florida has the third highest level of infections out of any US state, coming behind California and New York.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 21:25

Niagara Falls photos show differing US and Canada policies

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US passengers, wearing blue ponchos, are packed together on a ferry boat which is allowing 50% of its normal capacity

Photos of tour boats operating at Niagara Falls, which sits on the US-Canada border, have illustrated the starkly different social distancing policies between the two countries.
Ferries operated from the Canadian side of the border, which normally can carry 700 tourists at a time, are only allowing six passengers per boat.
The US ferries are operating at 50% capacity, meaning customers are still crowded rather closely together as they strain to get a good view of the massive waterfalls.
“We actually took a picture of the [American] boat,” Julie Pronovost, a visitor from Quebec, told Reuters on Tuesday. “I don’t find that it’s very safe to be on a boat like that. It’s much better here.”
The US coronavirus outbreak is far worse than Canada's. On Tuesday, the US reported 57,777 new Covid-19 cases, compared with 786 in Canada.
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Canadian customers wearing red ponchos are treated to a VIP experience with the boat all to themselves

What is QAnon - and how is it linked to coronavirus misinformation?

Jack Goodman and Shayan Sardarizadeh - BBC Anti-disinformation team
Twitter has announced it’s banning thousands of accounts promoting QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory that believes President Trump is battling a “deep state” of global elites involved in child trafficking.
Accounts linked to QAnon have also promoted misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic on Twitter, and other social media platforms, amplifying misleading content about Covid-19, particularly related to face coverings and vaccines.
In April, QAnon accounts helped make a fake story claiming that an early participant of a UK vaccine trial had died go viral.
Last month, a video uploaded by a well-known QAnon influencer which called the pandemic a “deep state hoax” manufactured by the Democratic Party to hamper President Trump’s re-election chances racked up millions of views.
Misleading memes making claims about the health risks of face masks and the dangers of a “Bill Gates-funded vaccine” are widely-shared in QAnon-themed Facebook groups and quickly find their way onto Twitter, Reddit and TikTok.
You can read more about QAnon here.

Virus patient 'fit as a fiddle' after almost dying

A 64-year-old coronavirus patient who was not expected to survive has returned home and said he'll soon be "fit as a fiddle".
Ray Mwasaru ended up in an induced coma at Lister Hospital in Stevenage, where doctors told his wife he might only have hours left to live.
Eventually the mental health nurse made a good recovery and was clapped as he was moved out of intensive care .
Speaking at home in Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire, he said: "I believe by next week I should be up and running around. I'll be fit as a fiddle."
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Jul 22 2020, 21:33

What are the latest global developments?

Hello and thank you for following our coverage of the global pandemic, brought to you by our team of reporters in London and around the world.
Here are some of the biggest global developments of the day:

  • More than 15 million infections have now been confirmed worldwide, along with 618,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that researchers are making good progress on developing a coronavirus vaccine, but their first use cannot be expected until early 2021
  • America has ordered China to close its consulate in Houston by Friday , as US President Donald Trump ramps up pressure on China over the pandemic. Beijing has called the move "outrageous and unjustified"
  • Elsewhere in America, Washington DC's mayor has strengthened the city’s mask mandate, now compelling residents to wear a face covering any time they leave their home. The nearby city of Baltimore also announced that anyone over the age of two must wear a mask whenever out in public
  • Australia has seen its worst day yet in the pandemic, recording more than 500 new cases
  • Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has again tested positive for coronavirus, more than two weeks after he first revealed he had Covid-19
  • Meanwhile restaurant owners and workers in South Africa are holding peaceful protests against the government's reimposed curfew and a ban on alcohol sales
  • Two human rights charities warn that long periods of lockdown have escalated the exploitation of children in South and Southeast Asia, particularly girls. Plan International and Save the Children say nearly 10 million children may never return to school, even after the pandemic is over


Key coronavirus headlines in the UK this evening

As we wind down our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, here's a final round-up of the key headlines in the UK this Wednesday evening.

  • People in England will be able to visit loved ones living in care homes again, the government confirmed earlier. Care homes have been badly affected by the virus - with at least 20,000 care home residents in England and Wales dying with Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak
  • Deaths linked to coronavirus in Scotland have fallen to the lowest level since the start of the pandemic, with just six registered last week. New figures from the National Records of Scotland showed the number of deaths falling for the twelfth week in a row
  • Another 79 people are reported to have died with coronavirus in the UK, bringing the total death total to 45,502. There have been a further 560 confirmed cases of the virus since yesterday, bringing the national toll to 296,377, according to official figures
  • Fitness Coach Joe Wicks has held the final session of PE with Joe, after starting the workouts 18 weeks ago for children stuck at home during the lockdown. Wicks, 33, who is known as the Body Coach, has raised £580,000 for the NHS through his online workouts and urged fans to "keep it up" as he ended his last session
  • In Scotland, beauticians, nail salons and tattoo parlours were able to reopen today . All four nations of the UK are in charge of their own lockdown restrictions and beauty salons have already reopened in England and Northern Ireland
  • A majority of British children struggled to continue learning at home during the lockdown, according to an Office for National Statistics report. It found that of the 52% who struggled, three-quarters of parents gave a lack of motivation as a reason
  • Reduced staffing due to the coronavirus pandemic has meant there's a backlog of more than 400,000 passport applications in the UK , according to new figures


Thanks for joining us

We're pausing this page now for the night.
Many thanks for joining us today for our coverage of the latest coronavirus news from around the world.

Today it has been brought to you by: Andreas Illmer, Anna Jones, Alice Cuddy, Krutika Pathi, Jay Savage, Thom Poole, Lauren Turner, Sophie Williams, Josh Cheetham, Francesca Gillett, Mary O'Connor and Max Matza.

    Current date/time is Sat Nov 28 2020, 08:51