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COVID-19: All the latest LIVE worldwide updates - today's updates are also on our Portal page, here)
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 09:22

Summary for Tuesday, 1st September

  • Hong Kong has started mass Covid-19 testing - but critics say the programme is insufficient and could be misused for surveillance
  • Hundreds of thousands of pupils in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began, are back in classes
  • Children in England are three months behind in their studies after lockdown, a teacher survey suggests
  • A UK travel industry leader has warned of "chaos and hardship" if Portugal is reintroduced to the quarantine list
  • New rules on the wearing of face masks in workplaces come into force in France
  • Nearly 25.5 million cases have been confirmed globally with more than 850,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University

News around UK

A round-up of the main stories from around the UK:

Warning of 'chaos' as Portugal seen on brink of UK quarantine

Less than two weeks after Portugal was given an exemption from UK quarantine rules, the country could face losing it as cases rise.
Infection levels have reached 21.1 virus cases per 100,000 people over the last week, above the UK's threshold for reimposing quarantine of 20 cases per 100,000.
But with more than two million Britons visiting Portugal in a normal year, the prospect has raised alarm in the travel industry . The boss of British Airways' parent company said the "ever-changing" quarantine requirements meant "the UK has officially hung up the 'closed' sign".
"Another U-turn by the government, adding Portugal to the quarantine list, will cause further chaos and hardship for travellers," wrote Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, in the Times .
In other cases where the UK government has imposed quarantine rules - including France, Spain and Croatia - travellers have faced a frantic and often expensive dash home to beat the deadline.

Hong Kong begins mass testing amid criticism

Mass coronavirus testing in Hong Kong has started , under a new scheme backed by the Chinese government.
But a number of pro-democracy leaders, fearing the mass collection of DNA by China, have called for a boycott.
The voluntary mass testing is being conducted with the help of medical staff from mainland China.
Since registration began on Saturday, more than 500,000 people have signed up to take the free tests, out of a population of 7.5 million.
But a health workers union has criticised the effort saying focused tests would be a much better way forward.
Authorities have dismissed the criticism as a smear campaign. They hope the universal testing effort will give an accurate picture of the spread and help to contain the pandemic.
Hong Kong has so far managed to keep the virus at a comparatively low level with just under 5,000 confirmed infections.

New face masks rules come into force in France

Lucy Williamson - BBC News, Paris
New rules on the wearing of face masks in workplace come into force in France. The government has been criticised on more than one occasion during this crisis, for confused messages on masks.
According to one paper, the rules for wearing masks in offices are now more complicated than French grammar.
Earlier this month, the employment ministry said face masks would be made systematic - that is "systematic", not "mandatory" - for all employees in shared workspaces, including corridors, meeting rooms and changing rooms.
Now it has published detailed criteria for when employees can remove their masks, with different measures required in different parts of the country, depending on how widely coronavirus is circulating there.
In less affected areas, masks can be temporarily removed if the building has enough ventilation, desks are divided by screens or staff wear visors.
In "red zones" like Paris, each employee needs four sq m (43 sq ft) of space around them if they want to take their mask off.
The country is facing its biggest test in tackling the virus since the end of lockdown, as schools reopen and people return to work after the summer break.
The number of new cases of coronavirus in France has risen to around 30,000 a week - up fourfold from the start of the summer.

India holds crucial college exam despite fears

One of India's most competitive college exams - the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) - is starting today, despite pleas to delay the test.
Students had protested against holding the exams - some voiced fears that they could contract Covid-19 on the way to the exam centre or at the exam centre itself. They are also afraid they could carry it home to the vulnerable, like parents and grandparents.
But the National Testing Agency has refused to reschedule it, with the Supreme Court saying "ultimately, life has to go on and the career of the students cannot be put on peril."
The JEE determines admission into engineering colleges and it will go on until 6 September. More than 850,000 students will take the exam at 660 centres across India.
Another hugely competitive exam, the NEET (The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), will be conducted on 13 September. The exam is needed for acceptance into medical schools.Some 2.5 million students are expected to sit both tests this year.
India has recorded 3.6 million virus cases so far.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 09:44

Back to school: Latest from across Europe

A new school term and a new school year like no other start this morning in many European countries:

  • 12.4 million children in France are heading back after a very long summer break. President Emmanuel Macron says the challenges are numerous but he has appealed to everyone to adopt the same responsible approach as they have for months. "Don't be scared!" is the message to parents from Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. Monday saw new infections in France down to 3,082 - a big drop on last week
  • 1 September is traditionally the first day of term across Russia and today is no different. But there will be no traditional celebrations - as the number of infections nationally approaches a million
  • In Italy there will be one-metre social distancing in class or face coverings where that is not possible. Capacity on public transport is being increased to 80% to enable students to return to school
  • In Belgium, 1.2 million children are going back, with rules requiring no mixing of classes in between lessons, regular ventilation of classrooms and teachers and students wearing masks in the classroom
  • It is a new term in Poland too - with 10 rules for safe learning for students, involving compulsory hand-washing and regularing airing of classrooms
  • Children in Portugal have another fortnight before they go back to school - but several education groups say the country is not yet ready because the rules are unclear

In pictures: Children go back to school in Wuhan

Nearly 1.4 million children in Wuhan, eastern China, have gone back to school or nursery in the city where the coronavirus pandemic started in December. The city accounted for nearly 80% of China's total deaths and endured nearly 11 weeks of lockdown from January.
Qing Qing Chen, a journalist for the Chinese newspaper Global Times, described some of the measures in place.
"During the weekend, a lot of schools across the city have taken a series of preventative measures, for example setting up checkpoints at each entrance to the [high school] campus," she told the BBC's Newsday programme .
"And this morning, before the kids go into the school, they have to [have] body temperature checks... Inside the campus, it's not mandatory to wear a mask, but students can always bring them along."
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Students attend the 100th anniversary of the founding of Wuhan High School

Pupils must wear face coverings when travelling to and from school
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There are contingency plans to revert to online teaching if the virus resurfaces
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Wuhan has been gradually returning back to normal since the lockdown was lifted in April

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 09:49

Nearly 70,000 children 'at risk of dying' in sub-Saharan Africa

Catherine Byaruhanga - Africa correspondent
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Before the pandemic, communities most at risk were already facing food insecurity

The charity Save The Children is warning that nearly 70,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of dying from extreme hunger before the end of this year.
It says the Covid-19 pandemic is adding to the pressures some families and communities face in accessing food.
The aid organisation says it is already treating an increased number of children suffering from malnutrition at its clinics in east and southern Africa.
Save The Children adds lockdown measures have meant families on the continent are facing a serious decline in their livelihoods, and nutritious food is becoming increasingly hard to find or simply too expensive.
According to its analysis, over 67,000 children could die as a result in 2020. It follows a similar warning by the United Nations’ World Food Programme about rising levels of hunger around the world due to coronavirus.
Before the pandemic, communities most at risk were already facing food insecurity because of floods, displacements and swarms of locusts in East Africa. Providing support to those most vulnerable is also harder with restrictions on movements and funding shortfalls.

UK's jobs furlough scheme begins to wind down

From today, companies will have to begin contributing to the wages of workers on the furlough scheme , which has seen the government pay 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
Now employers will have to pay 10% and the government will contribute the remaining 70%. By the end of October, the scheme is due to end altogether.
Employers have already resumed paying the pension contributions and National Insurance.
In October, the government's contribution to wages will drop to 60% and employers will pay 20%.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has repeatedly ruled out extending the furlough scheme for longer, saying it is "wrong to keep people trapped" in a situation where they have no prospect of returning to work.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 09:58

'I don't know how the kids are going to be'

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"I'm trying to be as safe as safe as I can be," says teacher Kemi Oloyede

Many teachers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are heading back to the classroom to see some of their students in person for the first time since March. So how do they feel about this year's return to school?
"I'm ready to go back to work because the students have missed out on a lot due to schools closing down back in March," says Kemi Oloyede, a Londoner who works in a pupil referral unit. "But mentally, because of the anxiety, maybe not so much."
Living with her parents who are classed as being at risk has impacted how she feels about her return. "I won't lie to you, I probably will be wearing a mask in the building and wearing gloves as well. I'm trying to be as safe as safe as I can be."
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"I've seen them on screen but I don't know how they are as people," says Tom Clark about his pupils

Geography teacher Tom Clark say it is normal for teachers to feel butterflies before the start of a new term. But this one feels different.
"I don't know how the kids are going to be," he says. "I haven't seen them for six months. I've seen them on screen but I don't know how they are as people."
But the private school teacher says "intensive training" meant that remote learning was a "huge success", so he feels ready if there is another shutdown.
"The idea of doing online learning would have filled me with terror eight months ago but it has become part and parcel of my daily life," he said.

Wrong to 'scapegoat' Public Health England, says ex-minister

Jeremy Hunt, former health secretary and now chair of the House of Commons health committee, said England's public health body - which is being replaced - "basically did what ministers told them to do".
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it was unfair to blame Public Health England for failings over testing in the early part of the pandemic and it would be "wrong to make them a scapegoat".
The testing issues, a result of focusing on flu pandemics rather than Sars-like viruses, "went back to my time as health secretary", Hunt acknowledged.
But he said it could still be a "positive thing" to reform the public health structures.
Hunt also called for mass testing of secondary teachers every couple of weeks to give them confidence in their safety as they return to work.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 11:36

Spain PM 'moderately optimistic' over economic recovery

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has said he is moderately optimistic about the country's economic recovery despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on Tuesday, he said GDP was growing faster than 10% in the third quarter and that partial employment data was very positive.
"The situation is delicate with many uncertainties caused by the pandemic, but the resilience our workers are showing fuels a moderate optimism about the recovery of the country," he told Spanish radio (in Spanish).
His comments come after new figures showed the number of foreign tourists visiting Spain fell 75% in July from a year earlier.
One of the top tourist destinations in the world, Spain normally welcomes some 80 million visitors a year, but only saw 2.5 million foreigners in the month of July, the National Statistics Institute said (in English).
The country has seen a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.

How does UK decide its travel quarantine rules?

The travel industry has complained that UK holidaymakers face more "chaos" as Portugal is on the brink of quarantine rules being reimposed.
But how does the government decide which travellers should quarantine and how can you avoid a fortnight's self-isolation after your trip?
The decision is generally triggered when 20 or more people out of every 100,000 in a country are infected over seven days.
But the UK's Joint Biosecurity Centre also looks at things such as trends in infection, how much of the population is currently infectious, clusters of cases and the level of transmission in the community.
People entering the UK from most countries have to quarantine, but you can find out the list of countries that are currently exempt here .
Things can change fast, however: cases in Spain rose so rapidly that quarantine was imposed with just five hours' notice. And in other countries, travellers have faced a dash home with around 30 hours' notice to beat the deadline.

Doctors in Nigeria's capital begin strike

Is’haq Khalid - BBC News, Abuja
Doctors in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, have begun an "indefinite" strike over the non-payment of what they call Covid-19 hazard allowances and other benefits since April.
The Association of Resident Doctors said the authorities had failed to fulfil promised to staff working in coronavirus isolation and treatment centres as well as in hospitals. It said the strike comes after the authorities were given a 14-day ultimatum.
The authorities have not yet commented. The doctors say they will not go back to work until their demands are met.
Nigeria has so far confirmed 54,008 coronavirus cases with 41,638 recoveries and 1,013 deaths, according to the country’s Centre for Disease Control.
Abuja is the second-worst hit city after the commercial hub, Lagos. But the country’s number of daily confirmed infections is beginning to decline.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 11:40

India sees nearly two million cases in August

India has reported nearly two million Covid-19 cases in August, the highest monthly tally in the world since the pandemic began.
August was also the worst month for fatalities with 28,000 virus deaths.With 3.6 million confirmed cases, India has the third-highest caseload in the world, after the US and Brazil.
The government continues to lift restrictions to try to boost an economy that lost millions of jobs because of a strict lockdown which began in March. In August, India saw an average of 64,000 cases per day - a 84% hike from average daily cases in July, according to official data.
This number is the highest in the world - for example, the US, which has the most number of cases, saw 47,000 daily cases on average last month. The spike in numbers comes as the country expands its testing amid concerns that the virus has started to spread in many rural areas as well.
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'Mass unemployment' fears as furlough scheme winds down

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak, pictured visiting a cafe on the Isle of Bute, has said he will not extend the furlough scheme

Small businesses are warning of "a huge increase in mass unemployment" if the UK's furlough scheme ends in October as planned with no extension.
Craig Beaumont of the Federation of Small Businesses told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that a million small employers had furloughed staff and 23% were considering redundancies in the next three months.
"This is very, very serious. That's a huge section of the economy," he said. "Sixty per cent of those who work in the private sector do so for a small business, so if that happens without any intervention, then that's a huge increase in mass unemployment."
The UK's support for retaining jobs "looks a little bit short" compared to countries such as France and Germany, said Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics.
Last week, Germany agreed to extend a scheme that tops up pay for workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic until the end of 2021.
But Dales said many jobs would not return after the coronavirus crisis and it was important to start "reallocating" workers into roles with a lasting future.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 11:49

When UK unemployment topped 3m - and kept rising

The UK is in a recession for the first time in 11 years, and there are some suggestions unemployment could reach three million.
The last time unemployment reached these heights, was in the recession of the 1980s. Our colleague Megan Fisher looks back at the causes and consequences of that recession.

Germany's recession 'weaker than predicted'

Some encouraging news coming from Germany, Europe's largest economy. The country's recession is expected to be weaker than earlier predicted because of a stronger-than-expected recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has said.
Recession is now forecast to reach -5.8% for 2020, compared with an earlier projection of -6.3%, Altmaier said.
"The recession in the first half of the year turned out to be less severe than we had feared and the upswing after the low point and the peak of the restrictions is happening faster and more dynamically than we dared hope," he said.
"This shows that the German economy was in good shape before the start of the pandemic and that its forces are strong."
He also said he did not expect the authorities to impose another round of lockdown measures, with restrictions in place able to limit transmission.

WHO: Pandemic exacerbates existing food insecurity in Africa

We told you earlier about the charity Save The Children's warning that nearly 70,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa risk dying of extreme hunger before the end of the year as a result of the pandemic.
It says lockdown measures have meant families are facing a serious decline in their livelihoods, and nutritious food is becoming increasingly hard to find, or expensive.
Dr Adelheid Onyango, regional adviser on nutrition at the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, told the BBC World Service's Newsday programme: "We know that the underlying conditions were already setting us on the path towards this food insecurity because in the eastern and south African region, there were locusts, and there was drought and now, there is some flooding.
"The same thing is happening in the western African region, where in addition to the usual difficulties that we have with food insecurity and health, there is also the insecurity, due to all the political strife that exists there. The activities that put everybody at very high risk."
She says lockdowns and restrictions due to the pandemic have severely affected the ability of the authorities in African countries to get food to children:
"We know from the World Food Programme, for example, that many children in the eastern and southern African region, who depend for a decent meal on the school's feeding programme, are unable to have recourse to this because schools are closed in many cases."

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 16:52

No truancy fines at start of term, Wales decides

Parents in Wales will not be threatened with fines if their children do not return to school at the start of term, the nation's education minister said.
Kirsty Williams told the BBC: "We want to have reassuring conversations with parents, rather than threatening them with fines."
The approach contrasts with that in England, where Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said parents will face fines "unless there's a good reason for absence".
Williams acknowledged that some parents had been "reluctant" to send children back in the first few days of catch-up sessions at the end of summer.
She said the use of fines would be reviewed as the term progressed.
"At this stage it's absolutely appropriate that we have those conversations to understand why parents may have concerns, why they don't want to send their children back, and to work with parents, school by school, on an individual basis, to reassure them," she said.

Unlicensed music event broken up by police

Police in Birmingham have broken up an unlicensed music event attended by more than 50 people.
Officers said music equipment was being set up when they arrived at the venue in Lozells at about 01:45 BST.
West Midlands Police said it dealt with about 90 reports of possible breaches of coronavirus restrictions over the weekend. Birmingham is on Public Health England's coronavirus watchlist.
"We are still in a pandemic, these events will not be tolerated," officers from Lozells Police tweeted.
Since Friday, police in England have been able to fine organisers of illegal gatherings of more than 30 people - such as raves - up to £10,000.
One such event included a rave in a Norfolk forest attended by more than 500 people. The unlicensed event started at about 23:20 on Saturday and was closed down at 18:30 on Sunday.

Argentina among top 10 affected nations: Latin America round-up

After a surge in cases, Argentina has jumped ahead of Chile and is now among the 10 countries with the highest number of confirmed infections in the world.
As of Monday, it had more than 417,000 cases and 8,660 Covid-related deaths. A strict and early lockdown meant that cases at first spread slowly, but in recent months there has been a jump and, on Friday, they reached a new daily high with 11,717 cases reported in the previous 24 hours.
Bolivia on Monday surpassed the 5,000 Covid-related deaths mark. But there were some good news as the country's Director of Epidemiology Virgilio Prieto said he expected the number of new cases to plateau in the coming days.
Lockdown measures are also being eased from Tuesday with Bolivians allowed out until 20:00 local time on weekdays rather than 17:00.
Meanwhile, Brazil, the worst affected country in Latin America, is approaching four million confirmed cases. While it had its highest daily number of new infections at the end of July with more than 70,000 cases, it still registered just below 50,000 new infections on Monday.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 16:56

Russia passes one million cases mark

Russia says its number of recorded coronavirus cases has now passed one million.
With a total of 1,000,048 reported cases, Russia has the fourth largest number of reported cases in the world after the US, Brazil and India.
More than 815,000 people have so far recovered, authorities say, and more than 17,000 have died, according to the country's coronavirus crisis centre.
Despite passing this new figure, many Russians seem fairly relaxed about the pandemic, partly because officials constantly stress a relatively low death rate - and progress on producing a Russian vaccine , says the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow.
Excess mortality figures suggest the daily official tally of Covid fatalities is an underestimate though, she adds.

UK headlines this afternoon

If you're just joining us this lunchtime, here's what's been happening in the UK so far today:

More than one in 10 pupils absent in Scotland

More than one in 10 pupils in Scotland were absent from school last week - but the Scottish government said other winter infections, and not coronavirus, are to blame.
Only about 21,000 of the 73,000 absences at the end of last week were recorded as Covid-related, with ministers saying it was common for other viral infections to spread after a "prolonged break" from school.
Covid-related absences include "a positive test, showing symptoms, self-isolation, quarantining, and parents not sending their child to school against public health guidance".
The Scottish government has said it is important for parents to be able to distinguish between possible Covid-19 symptoms - a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of smell or taste - and other winter infections, so children do not stay off school unnecessarily.
On 17 August, shortly after classes resumed, attendance levels were much higher at 95.8% – above the usual average over the school year of between 93% and 94%.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 17:04

Jamaica reggae star Toots Hibbert in intensive care

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Toots Hibbert is 77 years old

Toots Hibbert, the 77-year-old Jamaican frontman of reggae and ska group Toots and the Maytals, is in an intensive care unit in hospital with a possible coronavirus infection.
In a statement, his family said the singer had had a Covid-19 test and was now awaiting the results.
"The family would like to assure those concerned that he is making positive progress and is receiving the best possible treatment.
"He is resting and in good spirits, and is showing signs of improvement by the hour," the statement said.
Hibbert was taken to a private hospital in Jamaica's capital Kingston on Sunday following complaints of breathing difficulties, his manager was quoted as saying by the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper

Today's headlines from around the world

If you're just joining us, here are the main developments around the world in the past 24 hours:

  • Hong Kong has started mass coronavirus testing, under a new scheme backed by the Chinese government . A health workers union says the voluntary programme is a waste of resources, while activists say it could be used to collect DNA samples
  • In France, masks are being made "systematic" in all shared, enclosed workplaces as of today. But companies may be able to avoid the new regulation if rigorous social distancing measures are put in place instead
  • Millions of children across Europe have gone back to school - but social distancing rules widely differ across the continent
  • In China, nearly 1.4 million children in Wuhan are also back in the classroom as the authorities have reopened every school and nursery in the city where the pandemic started late last year
  • In Russia, the number of confirmed infections has now passed one million; more than 17,000 people have died
  • In Nigeria, doctors in the capital Abuja begin an "indefinite" strike over non-payment of "Covid-19 hazard and inducement allowance" since April

'Deep concern' over Covid safety claims on Cardiff flight

The Welsh government has said it is "deeply concerned" at reports that rules on mask-wearing were not properly enforced on board a flight to Cardiff where 16 passengers have tested positive for coronavirus.
The 193 passengers and crew who were on board flight TOM6215 from Zante in Greece on 25 August are being asked to self-isolate for a fortnight.
But some passengers reported that people on the flight were not wearing masks properly and were mingling on the plane.
Wales' Education Minister Kirsty Williams said the government was "deeply concerned" at reports about "the lack of appropriate measures to keep everybody on that flight safe".
She said Health Minister Vaughan Gething was speaking to "all the relevant parties" and would make a statement later.
Tour operator Tui said safety was a priority and it was concerned by the claims, while Spencer Birns, interim CEO of Cardiff Airport, said Tui was taking "every necessary measure".

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 17:10

EU warning over Hungary's border measures

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Hungary said it would close the borders to curb a rise in infections

The European Commission - the EU executive - is to formally object to the closure of Hungary's borders to all foreigners from Tuesday, a measure the government says is needed to combat a rise in coronavirus infections.
Christian Wigand, a Commission spokesman, said the EU commissioners in charge of justice and home affairs intended to remind Budapest that EU rules on freedom of movement were clear, and there could be no discrimination between EU citizens at the border.
"There are clear rules on free movement in the European Union and every member state needs to follow," he said.
Hungary says it will only admit visitors from the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia as well as a few other exceptions. Returning residents will have to self-isolate for 14 days unless they provide two negative Covid-19 tests.
The number of infections has risen in Hungary in recent days. The country has reported around 6,200 cases with 616 deaths as of Tuesday.

Ministers accused of 'nakedly political' Manchester lockdown easing

Dominic Hughes - Health correspondent
Ministers have been accused by a local council leader of causing "chaos and confusion" over the easing of lockdown measures in Greater Manchester,
In a strongly worded letter to the health secretary, the leader of Trafford Council says the government has adopted a "haphazard and nakedly political approach" to public health.
Andrew Western has already complained that the advice of local public health officials - to delay any relaxation - has been ignored.
Faced with a rising number of Covid-19 infections in the borough, he is now demanding an urgent update from the government given the changing picture.
He accuses ministers of only listening to local Conservative MPs who have been pushing the lifting of lockdown measures, rather than public health experts.
He also complains that no-one from government has been in touch with the council to explain the decision to lift lockdown measures – and says ministers have taken an approach which left him with little confidence in the health department at a time of national crisis.

Passenger on Glasgow Tui flight tests positive

A passenger who flew to Glasgow from a Greek island on a Tui Airlines flight has tested positive for coronavirus.
Tui was told about the case on 26 August, three days after the passenger had flown with them.
It passed contact information of the people seated within two rows of the affected passenger on to contact tracers, and got in touch with those customers too to let them know.
At the time of Tui flight TOM 1745, the passenger was not displaying symptoms.
Onboard there are precautions in place to restrict the spread of the virus, including that masks must be worn, and Tui said this is enforced by the flight crew.
Read more here .

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 17:14

New virus tracing app takes Finland by storm

More than one million people in Finland - or almost every fifth person in the Nordic country - have downloaded a coronavirus tracing smartphone app, just a day after it was launched, officials say.
The Koronavilkku (Corona flash) is a free programme developed by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). It is currently only available in Finnish and Swedish, but an English version is expected later this autumn.
Users send a randomly generated code via Bluetooth to others when in close contact, and those who are tested positive are encouraged to enter their status into the app.
The THL hopes the app will help break infection chains.
In a separate development, existing social distancing and other anti-virus measures in Finland's restaurants and bars have been prolonged until the end of September.

Latest UK coronavirus cases and deaths

The latest UK statistics on coronavirus cases and deaths have been published.
They show that - as of Tuesday - a further three deaths have been recorded of people who died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.
It brings the total UK deaths to 41,504.
Separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies show there have now been 57,200 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
A further 1,295 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus have also been recorded, bringing the total to 337,168.

False claims about US Covid-19 death toll spread online

Olga Robinson and Christopher Giles - BBC anti-disinformation unit
There have been false and misleading social media posts claiming that the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), which is responsible for tracking Covid-19, has reduced the total tally of deaths to 6% of the original count.
Over the weekend, President Donald Trump had retweeted a post making these claims, but it was removed by Twitter for violating its rules.
One viral post said: "The CDC quietly updated the Covid number to admit that only 6% of all the 153,504 deaths recorded actually died from Covid. That's 9,210 deaths.
"The other 94% had 2 to 3 other serious illnesses and the overwhelming majority were of very advanced age."
Ryan McNamara, a virologist at the University of North Carolina hit back on Twitter : "Those saying 'only 6% die from COVID-19 alone', or some derivation thereof, don't understand how infectious diseases work."

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 18:46

Berlin toughens mask rules after clashes

Protesters at rallies in Berlin with more than 100 participants have been ordered to wear masks from now on.
The decision by local authorities follows last weekend's big demonstrations against Germany's coronavirus restrictions.
Hundreds of protesters, many from the far right, tried to storm the Reichstag, the home of the German federal parliament.
About 300 people were later arrested.
Until Tuesday, masks were not obligatory at open air events in Berlin unless the required 1.5m social distancing rule could not be maintained.
At the same time, the authorities say car or bike rallies in the city will be exempt from the new mask rules.

Portugal government in 'civic duty' plea over new app

Alison Roberts - Portugal Correspondent, Lisbon
Portugal's government has called on the public to download a new mobile app to track users' contacts and identify coronavirus contagion risks, dismissing any privacy concerns.
"Don't be afraid," said Prime Minister António Costa at an event in Porto to present the app.
"Understand that it is a civic duty to download this application and signal if you are diagnosed as testing positive."
As classes resume in schools, courts reopen and workers return after their summer holidays, the prime minister stressed there will be more gatherings and more people on public transport, making the app "very important" to interrupt chains of transmission.
Ensuring that Portugal does not have to go back to the kind of lockdown that was imposed in March and April depended "solely on citizens", Mr Costa said.
The "Stayaway Covid" app is a free tool available for both the iOS and Android operating systems.
It aims, based on the physical proximity of other smartphones, to track contagion networks quickly and anonymously, informing users who have in the last 14 days been in the physical vicinity of someone who becomes infected.
Privacy campaigners have, however, expressed concern at the fact that the app was developed in collaboration with Apple and Google, giving those companies at least partial control over its use.
Critics also warn that the app may give users a false sense of security at a time when a relatively small proportion of the population is using it, with around 80,000 downloads so far in a country that has more than seven million smartphone users.

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Glasgow local restrictions announced

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is particularly concerned that the level of Covid is high in West Dunbartonshire, the City of Glasgow and East Renfrewshire.
Ms Sturgeon points out transmission appears mainly to be happening inside people's homes and between households.
She announces that from midnight tonight if you live in local authority areas of West Dunbartonshire, the City of Glasgow and East Renfrewshire, you should not host other people from other households in your home.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 18:59

Glasgow restrictions to be reviewed after one week

If you are in the areas of West Dunbartonshire, the City of Glasgow and East Renfrewshire, you should also not visit someone else's home no matter where that is.
The only exception for that relates to extended households.
If any member of your household is identified as a close contact of someone who has covid, the whole household must now isolate for 14 days.
Visiting care homes in these three areas will be restricted to outdoor areas only and hospital visiting will be essential only.
Those who were previously advised to shield will be advised to be extra vigilant.
More detail will be published and the restrictions will last for two weeks, with a review after one week.

Sturgeon: 'I won't be able to have my family visit me at home'

Scotland's first minister says she knows this will be hard but it is essential and points out she is one of the residents who lives in this area.
"I won't be able to have my family visit me at home and nor will I be able to travel to a different local authority, in my case Ayrshire, to visit them," Nicola Sturgeon says.
The threat of Covid has not gone away and she calls on other parts of the country to the guidelines in place.
No more than eight people from three households should meet indoors and that applies to pubs and restaurants as well.

About 15% of Scotland's population affected by the measures

The restrictions in the west of Scotland will affect more than 800,000 people.
This includes 633,120 people in Glasgow, 95,530 in East Renfrewshire and a further 88,930 in West Dunbartonshire.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Sep 01 2020, 19:04

Recap of main stories as we're pausing live coverage

We're pausing our live coverage for now - thanks for staying with us! Just to recap - here are the key developments in the UK and around the world in the past 24 hours:

Tuesday's coverage was edited by Rob Corp and Hugo Bachega. On the writing team were Lauren Turner, Alexandra Fouché, Yaroslav Lukov and Joseph Lee.

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 04:44