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Coronavirus - 24th July


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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 11:13

Summary for Friday, 24th July

  • India records 49,310 new infections - its highest daily number of cases
  • New rules begin in England making it compulsory to wear face coverings in shops
  • President Trump cancels the Republican convention in Florida, blaming the virus "flare-up"
  • Cases in the US pass four million with at least 144,000 deaths
  • All major international tennis tournaments have been cancelled in China
  • Former UK PM Tony Blair believes coronavirus will not be eliminated
  • Globally there have been more than 15.4m cases and almost 632,000 deaths

Hello and welcome back to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. As another week draws to an end, here's a quick look at key developments over the last few hours:

  • Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says he does not believe the virus will be eliminated, saying Britons must simply "learn to live with it"
  • It comes as new rules begin in England, making it compulsory to wear face coverings in shops
  • In the US, more than four million people have now been infected with Covid-19
  • It comes as US President Donald Trump has cancelled next month's Republican party convention in Florida, saying "it's not the right time for that"
  • Globally, more than 15 million people have been infected with the virus, with over 632,000 deaths

Stay with us for all the latest updates - reports from our correspondents on the ground, expert analysis, and your reaction from around the world

We 'must learn to live with Covid-19': Tony Blair

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Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said Britons need to learn to live with the virus, saying it would not be eliminated.
In an interview with the Press Association, the former Labour leader said there was "at least a 50/50 chance" that the UK would see a resurgence of Covid-19 in the autumn, and it was "absolutely essential" to prepare for it.
He urged the government to "put in place every single last bit of containment infrastructure that you possibly can to make sure that if that happens you are able to control the disease, because you're not going to be able to go back into the lockdown that we endured in March, April and May".
A new report by his think tank, the Tony Blair Institute, also recommended the roll-out of mass testing and compulsory use of face masks in all enclosed public environments.
Mr Blair said: "If you're only testing the people with symptoms... you are missing asymptomatic people and you are missing pre-symptomatic people.
"And often part of the biggest problem with the disease are pre-symptomatic people."

WHO slams 'unacceptable' remarks by Pompeo

The World Health Organization (WHO) has slammed "unacceptable" remarks by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had earlier said the global health body had been "co-opted by China".
The WHO's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebyreyesus said the allegations were "untrue and unacceptable and without any foundation".
He added that they would not be "distracted by these comments".
The WHO has been a frequent target of criticism by the US administration, with US President Trump accusing it of failing to hold Beijing to account over the pandemic.
Trump said earlier in May that China had "total control over the World Health Organization".

Mask rules come into force in England shops

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Face coverings are now compulsory for customers in shops in England, after new coronavirus rules came into force within 12 hours of the government issuing guidance on the change.
Coverings are mandatory in enclosed public spaces such as supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, transport hubs, banks and takeaways.
Police can hand out fines of up to £100 ($127) to those who do not comply.
But some retailers have insisted they will not enforce the rule.
Read our full story

Trump scraps Republican convention in Florida

US President Donald Trump has cancelled the Republican party convention in Florida , citing the coronavirus "flare-up" as US cases passed four million.
"It's not the right time for that," he said, adding that he would still give a convention speech in a different form.
Florida - a state crucial to the president's re-election hopes - is behind only California and New York in total cases.
As well as passing four million confirmed cases on Thursday, the US has recorded more than 144,000 deaths from Covid-19.
Opinion polls suggest Mr Trump is facing an uphill battle for a second term in office amid criticism of his handling of the pandemic

Bolivia postpones election for second time

Bolivia has postponed its general election over fears the planned date could coincide with a possible peak in infections.
Officials said the election has now been scheduled for 18 October.
It is the second time the vote has been postponed due to the pandemic. It was originally scheduled for May but was pushed back to September due to lockdown measures.
Medical experts have warned that infections in the country could peak at the end of August or beginning of September.
“The definitive date for the election gives better conditions for health protection, outside voting facilities and the arrival of international observer missions,” said Salvador Romero, head of Bolivia’s electoral court.
Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Anez, tested positive for the virus two weeks ago.
The country has recorded 2,407 deaths and more than 65,000 infections.

Australia to see lowest population growth in century

Australia is heading towards its lowest population growth in a hundred years this year.
The rate will plunge from an average 2% growth to 0.6% due to border closures and immigration disruptions. For decades, migrants have driven Australia's population increase and related economic growth.
The nation is still reeling after yesterday's Treasury data showed the economy to be in its worst shape since WW2. Government debt A$488bn ($197m; £270bn) has ballooned to a quarter of national GDP.
All efforts at the moment are on containing the virus' spread in mainly Melbourne and Sydney.
Two thousand more soldiers will be sent to Melbourne to speed up contact tracing. Victoria state reported 300 new cases on Friday, a slight dip in the rate of local transmissions.

All major tennis tournaments cancelled in China

All major international tennis tournaments in China this year, including the Shanghai Masters and WTA Finals, have now been cancelled, said the organisers of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women's Tennis Association (WTA).
"We are extremely disappointed that our world-class events in China will not take place this year," said Steve Simon, head of the WTA, in an AFP news agency report.
"We do however respect the decision that has been made."
Among the WTA events cancelled is the Wuhan Open, scheduled for October.
The ATP said it would be cancelling the prestigious Shanghai Masters and China Open in Beijing.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 11:28

Question mark over 2021 Tokyo Olympics

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This Friday was supposed to be the opening day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. They're now planned as Tokyo 2021 but it's not at all clear whether they'll be able to go ahead then.
And even if the Games happen, some athletes will be too old, too exhausted or too financially stretched to wait for another year.
The BBC's Japan correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes spoke to athletes, organisers and pundits about the fading hopes for the sports spectacle to go ahead.

UK paper headlines: 'Mask-up Friday'

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Many of Friday's newspaper front pages in the UK focus on what the Daily Mail calls "Mask-up Friday".
Sainsbury's, Asda and Costa Coffee will not enforce the new face covering rules in England, according to the Daily Telegraph, while Tesco will sell masks at their front doors.
The i suggests there has been a reluctance in the UK so far to wear them - only two-thirds of the people they surveyed comply with the public transport requirements.
GPs raise concerns in the Times about plans to extend flu jabs this winter to 30 million people in England as part of plans to prepare for a winter that could see the annual flu season coincide with a surge in coronavirus.
They question how they will administer so many doses, and fear that their surgeries could become hotbeds of infections.
Vets could be used to give the jabs, according to the Sun. The Daily Telegraph says that the government has been stockpiling tonnes of vaccines for months .
Read our full paper review here.

More people in England to be offered flu vaccine

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News
Most people in England, about 30 million, are to be offered the flu vaccine this year, the government says.
It is to prepare for a winter that could see the annual flu season coincide with a surge in coronavirus.
The traditional flu programme will include all over-50s for the first time, as well anyone on the shielding list and the people they live with.
Also for the first time, children in their first year of secondary school will all be offered the vaccine.
Plans for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet been announced.

Democrats taunt Trump over convention cancellation

As we mentioned earlier, President Trump has announced that the August Republican National Convention has been cancelled.
It had already been moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, because of covid restrictions.
Trump blamed the “virus flare-up” for the cancellation.
Democratic Party officials have taunted the president over the announcement.
They have planned an almost entirely virtual convention in Wisconsin in August where Joe Biden will formally accept the party nomination.
A Democratic strategist involved in their conference planning said: "I wonder who will have the better convention - the party who recognised the limitations early on and have been planning for a mostly virtual/digital television production to capitalise on a prime-time audience of millions, or the clowns who keep moving theirs from place to place and have no concrete plan a month out."
Read more here

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 11:41

Dutch government advised to bring in new measures

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Austrians have been here before: masks in shops were first made mandatory in April

As face coverings become compulsory in shops in England for the first time, in Austria they're being made mandatory a second time. They were first brought in early in April but the rules were scrapped in mid-June as Austrian cases fell. Now the numbers are on the rise again, as in many European countries, so they're required in supermarkets, banks, post offices, bakeries and petrol station shops. In other news:

  • A group of experts is urging the Dutch government to bring in new measures within days to prevent a second wave. The ex-head of the health care inspectorate told Dutch TV that masks should be required in catering and at the hairdresser's
  • France has seen a 26% rise in cases in the past week. More than 1,000 infections were reported on Thursday. The most vulnerable areas are French Guiana, Mayotte (in the Indian Ocean) and Mayenne in north-west France
  • The Czech Republic has more than 5,000 currently infected with Covid-19, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. So face coverings will be mandatory from midnight at indoor events with more than 100 people
  • A survey says 79% of Germans have now got used to wearing masks and social distancing - but 19% still find it difficult to comply with the measures

Cases pass 800,000 mark in Russia

The overall number of coronavirus infections in Russia has gone past 800,000, the country's coronavirus crisis response centre says.
It now stands at 800,849 with 13,046 deaths.
Of those infected, 588,774 have recovered.

Did Sweden's Covid strategy fail or succeed?

Maddy Savage - BBC News, Stockholm
Brightly coloured beach towels line the shores of Lake Storsjon, two hours north of Stockholm.
Staycations are popular here this summer, thanks to a slew of travel restrictions imposed on Sweden by other countries, due to its coronavirus infection rate.
More than 5,500 people have died with Covid-19 in this country of just 10 million. It is one of the highest death rates relative to population size in Europe, and by far the worst among the Nordic nations. Unlike Sweden, the rest all chose to lock down early in the pandemic.
"Maybe we should have taken some more care of each other," says Dan Eklund, 31, visiting the lake on his friend's boat.
Latest figures suggest Sweden is getting better at containing the virus. The number of daily reported deaths has been in single digits for much of July, in contrast with the peak of the pandemic in April, when more than 100 fatalities were logged on several dates.
Read more here

Minor assaulted at giant Covid-19 centre in India

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A 14-year-old girl in a Covid-19 quarantine centre in India's capital Delhi was allegedly sexually assaulted by another patient within the facility.
The accused, 19, and another man who allegedly filmed the incident have been arrested, police said.
All three had tested positive with mild symptoms and were in quarantine in India's largest Covid-19 centre - a facility with 10,000 beds.
News of the alleged assault, which took place on 15 July, has just come out.
India has confirmed more than 1.2 million cases so far, making it the country with the third highest number of infections.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 11:54

Police investigate video of woman defying checkpoint in Australia

Police in Australia’s Victoria state are investigating after video footage showed a woman being allowed to pass through a covid checkpoint by refusing to answer questions.
The state is currently under restrictions following a spike in cases.
In the footage posted to Facebook, the woman stops at what appears to be a police checkpoint.
An officer asks the woman her reason for travelling and she tells the officer that she does not want to answer the question.
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After several more questions, which she refuses to answer, she is given the all-clear to pass through.
The video has caused outrage on social media with many people criticising the woman for breaking the rules.
Victoria Police said the woman has been identified and an investigation is under way into whether there was a breach in the chief health officer’s directions .
Victoria police branded “this type of behaviour” as “unnecessary and selfish”.

'Garden setup' for Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia

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Coronavirus precautions are being taken as the Turkish city of Istanbul prepares to hold Muslim Friday prayers at the Hagia Sophia building for the first time since the celebrated museum was controversially turned back into a mosque.
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya urged those attending to bring "[face] masks, a prayer rug, patience and understanding".
Turkey's religious affairs minister, Ali Erbas, said that about 1,000 people would be able to attend prayers at the site at any one time.
He said that "modifications" had been made inside and that a "garden setup" had been prepared, adding that the site would remain open overnight.
Read more

Police rep urges shops to enforce new face mask rules in England

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The chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, has urged shops to refuse entry to anyone not wearing a face covering in England.
Police can hand out fines of up to £100 ($127) to those who do not comply with the new rules which have come in today.
He said: "I would urge retail outlets to play their part in making the rules crystal clear; if you are not wearing a face covering then you are not coming in.
"Officers will be there to help stores if needed - but only as a last resort, as we simply do not have the resources."
Do you want to know what powers the police actually have? Find out more here.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 12:05

India records new one-day case record

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The country recorded 740 deaths on Friday

India has recorded 49,310 cases, a single-day record, the health ministry said. This brings the country’s total number of cases to 1.2 million.
The country recorded 740 deaths on Friday, bringing the total to almost 30,000 since the pandemic began.
India is the world’s third worst affected country and is currently experiencing a rise in cases after relaxing some lockdown rules.
Many experts say that testing levels remain low in the country, which means the extent of the pandemic could be worse than is being reported.
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Kashmir state has been put back into lockdown following a rise in cases there

In some states, lockdowns have been put back in place.
Kashmir is one of the regions currently experiencing another shutdown. The entire Kashmir valley aside from one district has gone back into lockdown until 29 July.
Southern Kerala state, which has already imposed partial restrictions, could decide on Monday to impose a full state-wide lockdown, AFP news agency said.
India is set to mark its Independence Day on 15 August and the home ministry has asked all states to avoid large gatherings, the Times of India reports, during the celebrations amid concerns it could lead to a further rise in cases

Backlash over reopening of schools in Florida

As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the US state of Florida, teachers are calling for schools to remain closed.
Governor Ron DeSantis has decided to reopen all brick and mortar schools in August.
However teachers have accused the government of making students “guinea pigs” and “test subjects”

Treatment cancelled 'for fifth of long-term patients' in GB

More than half of people receiving treatment in Great Britain for long-term physical or mental health conditions before the coronavirus pandemic have had their care cancelled or reduced, a survey suggests.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, 63% of 660 adults with a physical or mental health condition or illness had been receiving medical care, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found as part of its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.
Of these, less than a third (31%) said their treatment had started or continued as normal since the outbreak.
A similar proportion (30%) said they had received reduced treatment, or care for only some of their conditions, while a fifth (21%) said their treatment had been cancelled.
The ONS analysed responses from 1,606 adults aged 16 and over in Great Britain who were polled between July 15 and 19.

South Africa to close state schools for a month

State schools in South Africa will close for a month following a surge in coronavirus cases.
The number of confirmed cases in the country has surpassed 400,000. More than 6,000 people have died, according to data from John Hopkins University.
The measure will come into effect on Monday and students from poorer families will continue to have meals provided for them by the government during the break.
President President Cyril Ramaphosa said closing schools was important to stop them from potentially spreading the virus.
Schools were closed during a first lockdown in March but some classes resumed early last month.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 12:11

Chileans to be allowed to dip into pension funds

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Bolivia has recorded more than 64,000 cases of coronavirus

We have already reported thatBolivia's general election has been postponed until 18 October as the country grapples with the pandemic. In other developments in Latin America:

  • Mexico and Venezuelaboth recorded new daily highs in infections of 8,438 and 449 respectively. A further 718 people died in Mexico, which now has the fourth highest number of deaths in the world
  • A network of domestic violence shelters in Mexico are reporting that the country's lockdown has brought a surge of 80% in the number of women and children seeking refuge, reports Thomson Reuters Foundation
  • In an effort to combat the economic impact of the pandemic in Chile, President Sebastian Pinera will today sign a law allowing people to withdraw 10% of their pension funds

Brazilian study finds hydroxychloroquine ineffective

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has touted the drug as a treatment for coronavirus

A drug that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro pushed heavily saying it could treat coronavirus has been found to be ineffective in a large study in Brazil.
Hydroxychloroquine made headlines earlier this year when it was hoped the malaria drug could also help people sick with Covid-19.
Since May, Bolsonaro's goverment has recommended that hospitals prescribe the drug to coronavirus patients. The president himself has said he is taking it after testing positive for Covid-19 in early July.
US President Donald Trump also said it could be beneficial.
But after a large trial at Oxford University in June found hydroxychloroquine to be ineffective, the World Health Organization halted its own studies.
Now a clinical study of patients with mild to moderate symptoms in 55 hospitals in Brazil has found the drug does not effectively treat Covid-19 and could have damaging side effects.
The study, conducted on 667 patients, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine .
The trial had its limitations, the paper's authors cautioned, explaining, "the trial cannot definitively rule out either a substantial benefit of the trial drugs or a substantial harm".
Read more about coronavirus and hydroxychloroquine

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 16:17

South Korea to admit audiences to football and baseball matches

South Korea has announced it will allow audiences to attend professional baseball and football matches.
Both seasons began in May in front of empty seats.
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) can now open its stadiums to fans but only 10% of the seats can be occupied. According to the Korea Times, clubs that are ready can reopen from this Sunday .
The Korea Professional Football League (K League) will open its stadiums from 1 August and the same capacity rule will apply.
Tickets will be sold online so that there is a record of who is being admitted to the stadiums. All spectators will be required to wear a mask, Yoon Tae-ho from the Central Disaster Management Headquarters said.
South Korea recorded 41 new cases on Thursday and one death. A total of 298 people have died from the virus and almost 14,000 cases have been confirmed.

Poland records highest rise in a month

Adam Easton - Warsaw Correspondent
Poland recorded 458 new Covid-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday. It's the highest daily rise in more than a month.
The rise in new daily cases this week has been mainly caused by outbreaks in three coal mines in the region of Upper Silesia in southern Poland. However, the government says there is no need for concern at this stage.
Speaking ahead of the publication of the latest figures on Friday, deputy prime minister Jadwiga Emilewicz said the government was not talking about reintroducing a lockdown and would deal with localised outbreaks as and when needed.
Of the new cases reported on Friday, 184 - or 40% - were recorded in Upper Silesia, which has seen mass testing take place following outbreaks at three of the region’s coal mines in the past week. Mining companies reported 105 new cases on Friday, up from 33 on Thursday.
This week, 300 miners from the privately-owned Silesia mine have been tested, as have 800 miners at the Chwalowice and Bielszowice mines owned by the state-owned PGG company, where the outbreaks have occurred.
Coal miners account for 16% of all cases recorded so far in Poland, but most have not displayed any symptoms. According to the health ministry more than 97% have been asymptomatic. Of the more than 6,900 miners that have tested positive, 94% have so far recovered.

What's happening in the UK?

If you're just joining us this lunchtime, you can catch up with all the main stories from the day here:

  • About 30 million people in England will be offered the flu vaccine this winter to reduce the burden on health services coping with a potential second wave of Covid-19. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it the "biggest ever" flu immunisation programme
  • New rules requiring face coverings to be worn in shops in England have come into force. Scotland, where masks became compulsory on July 10, has so far issued one fine to a man in a Jedburgh supermarket in the Scottish Borders
  • UK retail sales increased by 13.9% in June , with the amount of goods sold at reopened shops approaching pre-lockdown levels. But economists warned the recovery will still take time
  • Boris Johnson has said he wants to speed up government services and tackle "backlog Britain" as the coronavirus crisis eases up. He cited delays in receiving passports and birth certificates as well as the backlog in court hearings
  • A fifth of people with long-term health problems saw their care cancelled altogether during the pandemic, a survey suggests. The Office of National Statistics found another 30% has seen their treatment reduced
  • A ban on junk food TV advertising before 21:00 is one of the measures expected to be in the government's plan to reduce obesity – seen as a risk factor in coronavirus. The prime minister said he had lost more than a stone (6.3kg) since he was admitted to intensive care with Covid-19

Two English towns halt reopening of gyms after spike in cases

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People in Blackburn have been urged to follow tougher control measures for a month

The lifting of coronavirus restrictions in Luton and Blackburn has been paused following a spike in cases.
Gyms and leisure centres in the rest of England are due to re-open tomorrow but the leaders of both town councils said they would postpone the move.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "I appreciate this will be disappointing for many people and some businesses in the area but we are in complete agreement with local leaders that the priority must be to protect local residents by stopping the spread of this virus."
Public Health England (PHE) data released on Thursday showed both towns had been marked as "areas for intervention" due to a spike in cases.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 16:25

The latest headlines from around the world

More than 15.5 million cases have been confirmed around the world and more than 630,000 people have died since the pandemic began.

  • On Friday, India recorded its highest daily number of cases with 49,310 new infections
  • South Africa is closing its public schools for a month in a bid to curb the virus there
  • The Czech Republic is making the wearing of face coverings at indoor events mandatory from midnight. The country currently has more than 5,000 people infected with the virus, the highest number since the start of the pandemic
  • Disney has announced it has been forced to postpone the release of action film Mulan due to the pandemic. The new Star Wars and Avatar films have also had their release dates pushed back
  • President Trump has cancelled the Republican convention in Florida, blaming the virus “flare-up”
  • Bolivia has postponed its election until October over fears that the virus could peak there in August or the beginning of September

Portugal stays on UK quarantine list

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Travellers coming to the UK from Portugal will still have to self-isolate for 14 days

Travellers from Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines are to be exempt from UK quarantine restrictions.
The Westminster government – which has drawn up a list of exempt countries which applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and the Scottish government both announced that the 14-day self-isolation period will no longer apply to these five nations from 28 July.
But Portugal remains off the list , meaning that visitors and people returning from holiday there will continue to face 14 days of quarantine.
Earlier this month, Portugal criticised its omission as "senseless and unfair", arguing that the UK had higher rates of Covid-19.
The list of countries which do not face travel restrictions into England has now risen to 80 nations .
Guidance will be updated weekly, the government said, meaning the rules could change while people are away.

'They said I'd be cleaning toilets so I quit'

Lucy Hooker - Business reporter
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Retail outlets in the UK have promised customers more frequent and thorough cleaning regimes - but some staff being asked to take on new duties have mixed feelings about it.
When Sandra Gilbert returned to work at a safari park after weeks of furlough, it didn't turn out as she had expected.
"On my return I was told that I wouldn't be in the gift shop any more," she says. Instead she would be wiping tables in the restaurant and cleaning toilets."
Before the pandemic she'd worked first as a manager, then as a retail supervisor, talking to customers, tidying displays and ordering stock.
"I am 60 years old and felt this was very unfair," she says. "To be pushing a big trolley round, cleaning toilets, it's a bit of a come-down. I don't want to sound snobbish, but I felt I was treated badly."
The next morning she got up and emailed to say she wouldn't be returning to work. Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 16:36

UK's R number remains the same

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The rate of coronavirus infections in the UK has remained at the same level for another week, according to weekly figures published by the government.
Data released on Friday revealed the reproduction number, referred to as R, remains at 0.7 to 0.9 across the UK.
The R number is the amount of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average. If the number is lower than one, the disease will eventually peter out.
Here is a regional breakdown of the R number for England, from the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage):

  • London - 0.8-1.0
  • The South East - 0.8-1.0
  • The North East and Yorkshire - 0.8-1.0
  • The Midlands - 0.7-1.0
  • The South West - 0.7-1.0
  • The North West - 0.7-1.0

Vietnam bans wildlife trade due to pandemic risk

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It is suspected that the origins of Covid-19 lie in the wildlife trade

Vietnam has banned the import of wildlife and wildlife products to reduce the risk of new pandemics.
The origins of the current Covid-19 pandemic are thought to lie in the wildlife trade, with the disease emerging in bats and jumping to people via another, as yet unidentified, species, which could include rats, civets and pangolins.
The move also bans wildlife markets for such items, including online sales.
Read more here

Chinese city with three cases goes into partial lockdown

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
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Dalian authorities announced testing for 190,000 people in the coming days after a man tested positive for the virus

The city of Dalian in Liaoning in north-eastern China has gone into partial lockdown, and in the coming days, some 190,000 people are going to be tested for Covid-19.
This is after a 58-year-old man working at a seafood processing company tested positive on Wednesday.
At least two others have reportedly tested positive with symptoms, and 15 without, meaning that the city’s government has ordered the closure of a number of business premises.
Internet cafes, shower rooms and mah-jong/poker rooms have closed, and shopping malls, wholesale markets and cold-chain warehouses are undergoing disinfection.
The city has ordered people in at least two communities to go into self-isolation, in what the Global Times newspaper calls a return to“wartime mode".
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People in Dalian wait at the entrance of their sealed compound for grocery deliveries

Prior to this outbreak, Dalian - with a population of around six million people - had not experienced a localised outbreak for 111 days.
But the central Chinese government learnt the hard way at the beginning of the year how its huge population could easily lead to a widespread outbreak without immediate action, and has since managed to keep its Covid-19 cases down with swift, community-level lockdowns, and widespread testing.
Last month, one individual in the capital city of Beijing led to more than 300 people testing positive, and that’s even after similar, swift lockdown measures.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 16:41

No new deaths in Scotland, Wales and NI

Scotland has recorded another 20 infections in the last 24 hours, according to the latest figures .
A total of 278 people with confirmed cases of Covid-19 remain in hospital, with two in intensive care. But there have been no new deaths, leaving the total number of people who have died after testing positive for the virus at 2,491.
Wales reported 45 new cases . Its death toll remains at 1,548, with no new fatalities in the last 24 hours.
Northern Ireland’s Department of Health said 15 more cases had been detected but no new deaths were reported.

Premier League season to start on 12 September

The 2020-21 Premier League season will start on 12 September and finish on 23 May.
The current campaign will end on Sunday after it was suspended for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Premier League said it would "continue to consult" with the Football Association and English Football League (EFL) "regarding the scheduling of all domestic competitions".

Tests for Germans returning from high-risk countries

In Germany, people who return from high-risk countries will now be required to take a coronavirus test at the airport.
Anyone who can't show a negative result, including people who refuse the test, will have to go into quarantine for 14 days.
Officials hope these measures will help prevent a new wave of infections.
The new rules were agreed upon by state health ministers, and announced by Berlin Health Minister Dilek Kalyci earlier today.

Six failed tests at Scottish football club were 'false positives'

Chris McLaughlin - BBC Sport Scotland
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Football players have been having regular health checks

Only one of the seven St Mirren staff members who tested positive for Covid-19 actually has the illness.
The Scottish Premiership club said on Thursday that the individuals - none of whom are players - had been identified after tests analysed by a private lab.
However, after further National Health Service screening, it has emerged that six staff members returned "false positives".
The other is in "strict isolation" and has not been in contact with any player or other staff member since Saturday.
The club's chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick said St Mirren had "complied robustly" with testing protocols "to the letter" and were "undertaking an urgent review of the private testing arrangement".
The Scottish Premiership season is scheduled to start on 1 August.
Read the full story here.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 16:48

'Customers don't listen when I tell them to wear a mask'

Hazel Shearing - BBC News
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Ragini Patel says one customer was aggressive when she reminded him of social distancing rules

"Oh, better put our masks on," a woman says to her friend outside a homeware shop in Camberwell, south London. He shrugs and follows her inside, opting to go without.
Most people are wearing face coverings inside the shops on this high street after they became mandatory in England from today, but this exchange sums up the dilemma for some shopkeepers.
Ragini Patel says she asks customers to wear face coverings in her stationery shop but some older customers, in particular, don't listen.
"There's no point saying anything to anybody, you don't want to get in trouble," she shrugs.
In Scope charity shop, Dawn Surleyman says only one customer has come in today without one - and was grateful when she handed her a spare.
"I wouldn't say to someone, 'You can't come in because you haven't got a mask on,'" she says. "I'd explain to them, 'You do realise that you could possibly get a fine? And if you haven't got a mask I'm happy to give you one."

England reports 16 more deaths

A further 16 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital, NHS England said.
The patients were between 58 and 104 years old and all had underlying health conditions. It brings the total number of confirmed deaths in English hospitals to 29,247.
Another six deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test.
But there were no deaths recorded in London – previously the centre of the UK's outbreak – the east of England and the south west.
UK-wide figures are due to be published later on , although the government has launched a review into these statistics . They may differ from the totals of the four nations, as they are reported over a slightly different time period and include deaths in all settings, not just hospitals.

No Formula 1 races for the Americas this year

Andrew Benson - BBC Sport's chief F1 writer
Formula 1 has abandoned hope of holding the US, Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix this year as a result of the coronavirus situation in the Americas.
The three countries have among the worst infection rates in the world and F1 bosses therefore believe it would be irresponsible to hold races there.
Instead, three further races in Europe are to be added to the calendar.
These will see a return for Germany's Nurburgring and Imola in Italy, and an F1 debut for Portugal's Portimao track.
The US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, had been due to be held on 23 October, with the Mexican race in Mexico City a week later and Brazil on 13 November.
But with infections soaring in all three countries, F1 officials have accepted that it will be impossible to hold the races.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 16:54

Foo Fighters frontman calls for teachers to be protected from virus

Coronavirus - 24th July Aa5d0c10
Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl said he had spoken to his mother, a former teacher, about her concerns

Dave Grohl, lead singer of US rock band Foo Fighters, has criticised the decision to reopen schools.
The 51-year-old, whose mother was a teacher, said in a voice note published on social media , that “teachers want to teach, not die”.
He said his mother had shared her concerns about schools reopening and she had suggested remote learning should remain in place for now.
The voice note comes as President Donald Trump pushes for schools to reopen in August. Some teachers have said it is too soon.
“As much as Donald Trump’s conductor-less orchestra would love to see the country prematurely open schools in the name of rosy optics …. It would be foolish to do so at the expense of our children, teachers and schools,” he said.

Are people in England wearing face coverings?

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 Live has been asking listeners whether they have noticed a difference in the number of people wearing face coverings, after the rule change in England which came into force today.
Laura in Birmingham said she had been to Aldi this morning where "a couple of people weren't wearing them". She agrees with the new rules: “If there’s even a remote possibility that wearing a mask can reduce infection rate then it’s worth it. It’s not a hardship.”
Laura has been wearing colourful masks to make it better for her two young children who are "a bit perturbed" to see their parents in face coverings.
5 Live listener Paul said he received some “mask outrage” this morning in Maidenhead when he went into Tesco without a face covering after a bike ride.
He said it was an "honest mistake" but a fellow shopper berated him.
“She just went to town on me”, Paul said. “I’ve been rightfully scolded”.
Dave (not his real name) runs a Post Office in south east England, and has been challenging customers not wearing a face covering.
“I was only in the shop for five minutes today and I had to challenge three people. It's remarkable,” he said.
He's worried that he will get “grassed up” if he allows customers into the shop without a mask and he will be an “easy catch” for a police fine - but that's something John Apter, National Chair of The Police Federation, said wouldn't happen.
Listen back to 5 Live's Your Call on BBC Sounds.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 16:57

UK death toll rises by 123

Another 123 deaths have been reported in hospitals, care homes and the community in the UK, according to .
It brings the total number of deaths following a positive Covid-19 test result to 45,677.
There were also a further 770 cases confirmed through testing.
The daily death toll figures continue to be published by Public Health England on the coronavirus dashboard, but the government has launched a review into them over concerns that the figures from England may include some people who died months after a positive test.

Records broken across the US

Five states - Alabama, Hawaii, Indiana, Missouri and New Mexico - set new records for single-day infections on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Florida and Tennessee each set new state records for most coronavirus-related deaths in a 24-hour period.
The US recorded a total of 68,663 new cases on Thursday and 1,114 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The pace of infections across the US is increasing, experts say.
It took the US 15 days to jump from 3m to 4m - a milestone the country passed on Thursday.
It previously took 45 days to go from 1m to 2m infections, the Washington Post reports, and the leap from 2m cases to 3m took 27 days.

Tokyo Olympics: 'Cancellation is our only option'

Dozens of protesters have been gathering outside Japan's National Stadium in the capital Tokyo today, the day that the Tokyo Olympics were due to begin. They've now been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But protesters say that's too soon for the Games to be held safely.
BBC OS on World Service radio has been hearing from people in Japan.
Tomomi Morisawa lives in the city of Sapporo on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. She has started a petition calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled altogether.
"We have Covid-19. Will it come to an end in a year? No. Postponing is not an option. Cancellation is our only option."
Masao Ohkushi lives in Tokyo. He had tickets for the Games and says he's disappointed by the postponement.
"In my opinion Tokyo is safe, but some other countries or cities are not," he said. "I'm expecting that the virus will become weaker than now next year. But people are so afraid about the virus now so it's hard to get rid of this mindset.
"It's not only Tokyo's problem. We, all over the world, need to fix this."

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 17:27

Boris Johnson says 'lessons to be learned' over handling of virus

Coronavirus - 24th July A6714410

The prime minister says the UK government didn't understand coronavirus in the "first few weeks and months" and has acknowledged there were things the government "could have done differently" in its handling of the virus.
Speaking to the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Boris Johnson said there were "lessons to be learned" about how the virus was managed in the early stages.
"We didn't understand (the virus) in the way that we would have liked in the first few weeks and months.
"The single thing that we didn't see at the beginning was the extent to which it was being transmitted asymptomatically from person to person.
"I think it's fair to say that there are things that we need to learn about how we handled it in the early stages."
The prime minister also said there were "very open questions" over whether lockdown came too late - a marked change from ministers' previous insistence that the right decisions were taken at the right time.
Asked whether there was a delay in implementing a lockdown which ultimately cost lives, he said: "Maybe there were things we could have done differently and of course there will be time to understand what exactly we could have done, or done differently."
Read the full story here

What's the latest from the US?

If you're joining us from the US, good morning.
To help you catch up, here are the main headlines from your side of the pond.

  • The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US has now surpassed four million, with more than 144,000 deaths
  • This means the number of cases in the country rose from three million to four million in the space of 15 days
  • Yesterday, five states broke records for numbers of new confirmed cases, while two states broke records for their daily death tolls
  • Cases are continuing to surge in the "Sun Belt" Southern states, with hospitals in states such as Florida and Georgia reporting being too full to accept new patients
  • Speaking to NBC's Today show, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx described Florida, California and Texas as "three New Yorks" in terms of the severity of the outbreaks there. New York was the epicentre of the US outbreak at the start of the pandemic
  • President Donald Trump has cancelled the pre-election Republican party convention in Jacksonville, Florida, in response to a surge in cases in the state. Part of the convention will still go ahead in Charlotte, North Carolina, on 24 August - where Trump will be formally nominated as the party's presidential candidate
  • Coronavirus continues to be highly politicised. Today, US media is reporting that some of the new guidance on reopening schools from public health body the CDC was actually written by White House officials rather than experts

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 19:37

Questions over Zambian airline's 'virus buster' badge claim

Peter Mwai - BBC Reality Check
A major privately run airline in Zambia has been using unproven badges whose manufacturers claim that they can offer protection against viruses.
A video posted by Mahogany Air on their Facebook page shows cabin crew wearing the badges.
Mahogany Air claims without any basis that the badges have “air-purifying virus buster technology that purifies the air around any passenger or crew member wearing it".
The airline’s CEO, Jim Belemu, told the BBC he believed the badges worked and would offer additional protection but there's no evidence these badges can ward off viruses and bacteria, and some health authorities have issued warnings about them.
Similar devices are being sold around the world and at one time were worn by members of the Russian parliament. Some countries have banned them. In Africa, the president of South Sudan and other senior officials were seen using the badges although a government official told the BBC they later stopped wearing them.
The substance released by such cards or badges - the bleaching agent chlorine dioxide - is potentially harmful. In April, the US Food and Drug Administration said chlorine dioxide products had not been shown to be safe and effective for any use, including against Covid-19.The agency says the substance, which is a powerful bleaching agent, can cause “serious and potentially life-threatening side effects".

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention push for schools to reopen

The latest guidance on schools and childcare from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasises the urgency of getting children back into classrooms in the autumn.
The document comes two weeks after President Trump criticised the previous CDC guidance on schools as "very tough and expensive".
"It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall," CDC Director Robert Redfield, a Trump appointee, said in a statement announcing the updates.
Critics - including many teachers - say it is too early to commit to in-person learning as infections continue to rise across the US.
“I am comfortable with that," Trump said earlier this week when asked about his 14-year-old son and his school-aged grandchildren returning to classrooms.
“I would like to see the schools open 100 percent. And we’ll do it safely. We’ll do it carefully,” he said.
Despite Trump's efforts, the Maryland private school attended by his son Barron has said they will not fully open in September due to virus concerns.

'PM's comments an enormous understatement' - acting Lib Dem leader'

Coronavirus - 24th July 80c7ed10

Reaction to the prime minister's interview with the BBC is continuing to come in.
Sir Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, has said: "At last Boris Johnson has admitted what we have all known for some time - this government made fundamental mistakes in their handling of the coronavirus crisis.
"However, to try and minimise this as there were some things they could have done differently is not only an enormous understatement, but it is an insult to all those who tragically lost loved ones to the virus.
"This interview has given people more questions than answers. With no remorse for the catastrophic mistakes such as the failure to protect our care homes or a refusal to put a comprehensive plan in place for a second wave, it is clear the prime minster has learnt nothing over the course of the last few months."

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 19:52

Did Sweden's strategy succeed or fail?

Maddy Savage - BBC News, Stockholm
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Restricted from travel abroad due to the infection rate, Swedes are holidaying at home

Brightly coloured beach towels line the shores of Lake Storsjon, two hours north of Stockholm.
Staycations are popular here this summer, thanks to a slew of travel restrictions imposed on Sweden by other countries, due to its coronavirus infection rate.
More than 5,500 people have died with Covid-19 in this country of just 10 million. It is one of the highest death rates relative to population size in Europe, and by far the worst among the Nordic nations. Unlike Sweden, the rest all chose to lock down early in the pandemic.
"Maybe we should have taken some more care of each other," says Dan Eklund, 31, visiting the lake on his friend's boat.
Sweden has largely relied on voluntary social distancing guidelines since the start of the pandemic, including working from home where possible and avoiding public transport.
The unusual strategy has attracted global criticism. But according to clinical epidemiologist Helena Nordenstedt, there's no consensus in Sweden's scientific community that the strategy as a whole has failed.
Read more .

McDonald's announces US-wide mask policy

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A McDonald's that is closed for indoor dining in Miami

McDonald's has announced that anyone entering one of their 14,000 restaurants in the US will be required to wear a mask starting on 1 August.
The fast-food chain joins other major businesses, like Walmart and Starbucks, that have announced new rules mandating masks.
In a statement, McDonald's said that nearly 82% of its restaurants are in regions that require masks.
Experts agree that wearing masks helps to prevent the spread of Covid-19. McDonald's said they were taking steps to also assist customers who refuse or are unable to wear a mask.
"In those situations where a customer declines to wear a face covering, we’ll put in place additional procedures to take care of them in a friendly, expedited way," the statement said.

Here's a bit more from the PM's interview...

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Although he admitted there were "open questions" about the government's early response to the virus, Boris Johnson denied that they had been too slow to act.
"If you look at the timing of every single piece of advice that we got from our advisers, from Sage, you will find that whenever they said that we needed to take a particular step, actually, we stuck to that advice like glue," he told the BBC.
The prime minister also warned that the UK is vulnerable to a second surge, particularly in the winter.
"Collectively, this country has done an incredible thing to get the disease down to the levels it's at. But we all know that it can come back," he said.
"And we can see what's happening in other countries - I won't name them - but you can see the resurgence that's happening. We know that we're vulnerable there.
"So that's why we're getting on now with our preparations for the winter... a massive flu vaccination programme, stockpiling PPE, making sure that we ramp up Test and Trace, and making sure that people get tested if they have symptoms."

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Jul 24 2020, 20:25

The day England's shoppers donned their face masks

Hazel Shearing & Alex Kleiderman - BBC News
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"Oh, better put our masks on," a woman says to her friend outside a homeware shop in Camberwell, south London, fishing around in her bag. He shrugs and follows her inside, opting to go without.
It's the first day that face coverings have been compulsory for customers in England's shops . But this short exchange sums up the dilemma for some shopkeepers and shoppers.
Susan Green, 57, in Liverpool, said: "I think it is a little bit late to have introduced this and lots of people I've seen this morning are not even wearing one.
"It won't put me off coming to the shops because I'll be out anyway, but it does seem a bit unnecessary."
Read the full story here

UK evening round-up

We're wrapping up today's live page coverage shortly, but if you want to catch up on the day's events, here is what has been happening in the UK.

We're pausing our live coverage

Thank you for joining us for our rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic today - particularly if you're in a city or country that's currently in lockdown.
We're pausing our live page until tomorrow morning (UK time). But to sum up, here are the main headlines from today.

  • The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US has now passed four million - an increase of more than one million in just 15 days. The total US death toll is also now higher than 144,000
  • US President Donald Trump cancelled the part of the Republican National Convention that was due to be held in Jacksonville, Florida next month, blaming the "flare up" of the virus in the state
  • India, meanwhile, recorded 49,310 new cases of the virus - its highest number of cases reported in a 24-hour period
  • In Japan, questions are being raised over whether the postponed Tokyo Olympics will be able to go ahead in 2021. Protesters say next year is still too soon to be able to hold the Games safely, while some athletes have pulled out
  • People flying into Germany from high-risk countries will now have to take a coronavirus test at the airport, or face going into quarantine for 14 days
  • South Africa is closing its public schools for a month in a bid to curb the spread of the virus there
  • The Czech Republic is making the wearing of face coverings to indoor events mandatory from midnight. The country currently has more than 5,000 people infected with the virus, the highest number since the start of the pandemic
  • Disney has postponed the release of its live-action remake of Mulan because of the pandemic. The new Star Wars and Avatar films have also had their release dates pushed back
  • Bolivia has postponed its election until October over fears the virus could peak there in August or early September
  • There are now more than 15.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, and there have been almost 635,000 deaths

Today our coverage has been brought to you by our journalists in London, Washington DC, Singapore and Sydney.
They are: Yvette Tan, Krutika Pathi, Yaroslav Lukov, Frances Mao, Saira Asher, Andreas Illmer, Anna Jones, Sophie Williams, Hazel Shearing, Katie Wright, Patrick Jackson, Paul Kirby, Georgina Rannard, Lauren Turner, Joseph Lee, Ashitha Nagesh and Max Matza.

    Current date/time is Sat Nov 28 2020, 08:27