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Coronavirus - 4th September


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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 10:22

Summary for Friday, 4th September

  • A man in his 50s is the first to die with coronavirus in New Zealand since May, health officials say
  • He was part of a cluster of cases in the city of Auckland, which has been under renewed lockdown rules
  • President Donald Trump again mocks Joe Biden, his rival in November's US election, for wearing a mask
  • India records a total of 3.94 million cases, closing in on Brazil as the world's second highest tally
  • Passengers returning to Wales from Portugal, Gibraltar and six Greek Islands now have to self-isolate for two weeks
  • Globally more than 23.6 million cases and 868,000 deaths have been confirmed, according to Johns Hopkins University

It’s Friday morning here in London and welcome to our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the headlines from around the world:

  • New Zealand has recorded its first Covid-19-related death in more than three months after a man in his 50s died at a hospital in Auckland
  • Brazil has now recorded more than four million cases of coronavirus, but the daily average deaths has dropped to its lowest level in three-and-a-half months
  • Brazil has the second highest number of cases after the US, but India looks set to overtake as its total reaches 3.94 million
  • President Trump has mocked his presidential rival Joe Biden for wearing a face mask so often and letting it hang off his ear when he gives speeches. Addressing an audience in Pennsylvania, few of whom were wearing masks, Mr Trump said: “Did you ever see a man who likes a mask as much as him?”
  • Filming for The Batman movie has been suspended because, according to US media, its lead actor Robert Pattinson has tested positive for the coronavirus

What's happening in the UK so far today?

Just waking up? Here’s what’s going on in the UK this morning.

New Zealand sees first Covid-related death since May

Sad news from New Zealand this morning as the country reports its first death from Covid-19 since the end of May.
The man in his 50s died in an Auckland hospital on Friday, having been in intensive care for the last few days, the health ministry said.
Auckland, the country’s largest city, has been at the centre of a cluster of more than 100 cases of Covid-19 in recent weeks, with five more cases reported on Friday.
New Zealand received international praise for its early response to the pandemic and went more than 100 days without any new locally-transmitted cases. Restrictions have since been increased to try and contain the latest outbreak.

Quarantine decisions split UK

People arriving in Wales from Portugal, French Polynesia and six Greek islands must now self-isolate for 14 days after new rules kicked in at 04:00 BST.
Arrivals to Scotland from Portugal and French Polynesia will have to self-isolate from 04:00 on Saturday.
However Portugal, Greece and French Polynesia remain on England and Northern Ireland's lists of travel corridors, meaning there is no quarantine requirements for travellers.
The different restrictions between UK nations has been criticised as confusing.
In Portugal, the seven-day infection rate has increased from 15.3 to 23 per 100,000 people. This is above the threshold of 20, which is when the UK government generally considers triggering quarantine conditions.
But England's Department of Transport claimed Portugal had "drastically increased its testing capacity", alongside other measures to control the spread.
Crete, Mykonos, Zakynthos (or Zante), Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos are the six Greek islands from which travellers arriving in Wales will have to quarantine. Scotland reintroduced self-isolation measures for arrivals from Greece earlier in the week.
England has yet to apply any quarantine measures to Greece. Nonetheless UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned travellers on Thursday that travel corridors remained under "constant review" - and the situation could change "at very short notice".

Berlusconi taken to hospital with Covid-19

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Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been taken to hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus.
A party colleague, senator Licia Ronzulli, said it was a precautionary measure.
Berlusconi, 83, told members of his centre-right Forza Italia party on Thursday that he was “doing pretty well” with “no fever, no pain”.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 10:28

'Pivotal moment' as infection rate rises in Leeds

People in Leeds must make a "collective effort" to avoid further coronavirus restrictions, councillors have warned.
The city is expected to be added to Public Health England's weekly watch list as an "area of concern" after its infection rate rose to 29.4 cases per 100,000 people.
City council leader Judith Blake said it was "a pivotal moment in our efforts to control the spread of the virus".
"Nobody wants to see further restrictions on life in Leeds," she said.
"The harsh reality is that if our infection rate continues to rise as it has been, we will be left with no alternative."
According to recent figures, 44 new coronavirus cases were identified in Leeds on Wednesday.
Read more.

'More New Zealand deaths possible' - health chief

Shaimaa Khalil - BBC News, Sydney
The man who was being treated in intensive care at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland is the youngest person to have died from Covid-19 in New Zealand and the first death since 28 May..
He was in his 50s and was one of a 152 infected people linked to the recent outbreak in the country’s largest city.
The Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said he acknowledged the anxiety New Zealanders may be feeling but added that more Covid-19 deaths were possible.
The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland would remain in semi-lockdown for another two weeks.

Latest around Europe

Italian ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has spent the night in hospital after contracting coronavirus, but a party colleague Licia Ronzulli says it's just a "small precautionary admission". Only yesterday Berlusconi, 83, told an election rally over the phone that he was fine: "no fever, no pain". Infections are rising in Italy - last night another 1,397 infections and 10 deaths were reported. There are cases in every region.
Elsewhere around Europe:

  • The head of Spain's Madrid region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, says private and public meetings will have to be limited to 10 people in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus in the capital. Spain has seen 3,607 cases and 40 deaths in 24 hours and Madrid has seen a third of the infections
  • Twenty-two schools have closed in France because of Covid-19 infections, less than a week since the start of the school year, the Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer has told French radio
  • A proposal by German virologist Christian Drosten to cut the quarantine period for people with symptoms from 14 days to five is gaining support. German politicians believe it could help convince the public to accept continuing restrictions on their lives
  • Turkey has extended by two months a ban on layoffs it introduced to combat the economic impact of the pandemic
  • At least 100 people have been infected in Norway, after taking part in a Shia Muslim religious festival south of the capital Oslo. The head of the Sarpsborg-based community, Sadiq Baker Alezairjawi, said no-one who took part in the community event on Sunday was showing symptoms

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 10:41

Doctor with 'long Covid' calls for more research

A doctor who has been ill since contracting Covid-19 six months ago has called for more research into the prolonged effects of the virus.
Dr Jake Suett, 31, has been unable to work since March, when he first had suspected Covid-19 symptoms.
He said data about so-called "long Covid" was essential to help the NHS make "good public health decisions".
A government spokesperson said it was "constantly learning" about the long-term impact of the virus.
Dr Suett was working as an anaesthetist and intensive care doctor at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk, when he became ill with suspected Covid-19, but tests were not available at the time.
He said he was still unable to walk for more than 30 minutes without feeling breathless, adding he "almost feels ashamed as a 31-year-old to still be feeling so unwell".
Read more here

Could Brazil's outbreak finally be slowing?

Katy Watson - BBC South America correspondent
Brazil’s health ministry has said that the country has now surpassed more than four million cases of Covid-19. The total number of deaths in the country from the virus is now more than 120,000 but there are signs that the spread of the virus is slowing.
Brazil is still the worst-hit country after the US in terms of both fatalities and infections but after a long period of consistently high numbers, the death-toll from Covid-19 seems to be easing and the transmission rate falling.
It’s early days though, and numbers still remain high - on Thursday, more than 40,000 new infections were recorded and 834 people died.
Meanwhile, Rio’s beaches are filling up, shops and restaurants have re-opened across the country and most people have returned to work – so experts have cautioned against declaring that the worst is over.

Quarantine: Do I have to self isolate?

Coronavirus means you're travelling between particular countries, you may have to observe a 14 day quarantine when you arrive.
The full list of quarantine restrictions for the UK is updated every week by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBS) - set up by the government to monitor Covid-19.
One in five eligible passengers will be called or texted to check they are following the rules.
People who do not self-isolate can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and £480 in Scotland.
There are fines up to £5,000 for persistent offenders.
But what do you have to do if you're asked to quarantine?
BBC Health Correspondent Laura Foster explains what you need to do.

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

Milan's La Scala reopens with tribute to Covid victims

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La Scala closed in February amid rising cases of coronavirus in the Lombardy region

Remembering those who have died from Covid-19 is the poignant focus for Italy's famous La Scala opera house as it begins a new season of concerts and ballet.
Verdi's Requiem, conducted by La Scala's musical director Riccardo Chailly, will be performed at Milan's cathedral later on Friday, and broadcast in churches around the region. Over the next week it will be performed in Bergamo and Brescia, two areas of Italy that were badly hit by the pandemic.
Dominique Meyer, director of La Scala, said: "The whole region was very hurt, we wanted this requiem as a thought for the dead and their families."
The Milan theatre itself opens on 12 September with a reconstructed stage to ensure a suitable distance for its 189 musicians, choristers and soloists.
La Scala closed in February amid rising cases in the Lombardy region. It reopened for a series of mini-concerts in July before closing again until its official reopening this month.

Batman filming paused after star 'tests positive for coronavirus'

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Just days after filming resumed on the new film The Batman, operations have been suspended again, following media reports that lead actor Robert Pattinson has tested positive for coronavirus.
Filming began in Glasgow earlier this year but was halted for six months because of the pandemic.
Vanity Fair magazine said Pattinson, 34, caught the virus days after filming recommenced near London.
On Friday, a spokeswoman for Warner Bros said shooting had been "temporarily paused".
"A member of The Batman production has tested positive for Covid-19, and is isolating in accordance with established protocols," she said. The spokeswoman refused to comment on the identity of the crew member.
British star Pattinson, the latest actor to play the Gotham City crime-fighter, has not commented on the reports.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 17:09

Thousands of children with special needs 'may not return to school' this month

Research suggests some 20,000 children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) in England are unlikely to return to school because of safety concerns.
“Heads and parents told us repeatedly how they felt forgotten about," Amy Skipp, the director of Ask Research, told the Guardian .
"Messages from government and the issued guidance have been so confused for children with special needs who faced an impossible situation over the last few months.”
According to the report , headteachers estimated that an average of 14% of pupils may not return this month, with almost two-thirds of the 510 parents surveyed concerned about children's safety, and a third anxious about Send pupils’ inability to adhere to safe practice and social distancing.
Headteachers are anticipating having to make significant changes to Send pupils' curriculum to accommodate wider coronavirus measures, including fewer activities and reduced contact hours.
The government told the BBC it had given "specific guidance on the measures special schools and other special education settings should put in place to keep children and staff as safe as possible."
“Throughout the pandemic we have worked with schools and councils to help support children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, including by asking schools to stay open to those with Education Health and Care Plans," a Department for Education spokesperson said.
"At the same time, we are increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780 million this year, and a further £730 million next year - boosting the total budget to more than £8 billion in 2021-22.
“We know that the staff who work day in, day out with these children and their families understand their individual needs best, and that they have put in place any necessary adjustments to ensure a smooth transition back to school.”

School in England closes after confirmed Covid case

A school in Staffordshire has closed to pupils because of a confirmed case of Covid-19.
The JCB Academy in Rocester, which welcomed pupils back at the end of last month, asked children to stay at home on Friday.
In an email to parents, seen by the BBC, the co-ed secondary school - and apprenticeship training centre - said it was investigating a "single case" of the virus.
It added there was no need for parents to be "unduly concerned" but asked parents to book a test if their son or daughter displayed any symptoms.
It is not clear whether the case involves a pupil or a member of staff. The school said lessons would continue online in the meantime.

Two schools in Ireland have sent students home following the confirmation of a number of coronavirus cases

The schools, both in Co. Kerry, found out about the Covid-19 cases on Thursday, and made the decision to send all pupils who could be at risk of infection or the spread of infection home.
One of them, a secondary school, discovered that a student had been diagnosed with the virus, and decided to remove all students in the same year group and ask them to remain in their homes.
The student is currently waiting for further guidance from the HSE regarding their infection.
The other school, a primary school in the same area of the county, sent students home from two classes after a child tested positive.
The news comes after another primary school in Co. Clare was closed for a time last week when a number of staff members were identified as close contacts of someone outside the school who had been diagnosed with Covid-19.
Parents of all pupils at the school were informed that they plan to reopen on Wednesday, September 9.
Two days ago, a school in Dublin sent a number of students home who were also found to be close contacts of someone with coronavirus, though the school remains open and operational for the time being.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday a confirmed Covid-19 case was identified at a primary school in the Irish capital, which saw an entire class sent home for a period of two weeks.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 17:12

New Zealand's battle to keep Covid out: A timeline

As we mentioned earlier, New Zealand is mourning its first death with Covid-19 in three months with confirmation that a man in his 50s died in hospital in Auckland today.
New Zealand was widely praised for its tough early measures, which resulted in 102 days without any locally transmitted cases of the virus - one of the few countries to reach such a milestone.
Here's how the country's response has played out so far:

  • 3 Feb: Bans entry to anyone coming from or via China after a man in the Philippines becomes the first person outside China to test positive. This is then extended to include other countries with outbreaks
  • 19 March: Bans all non-residents from entry
  • 25 March: Nationwide lockdown, despite recording only 102 cases and no deaths
  • 8 June: PM Jacinda Ardern announces transmission of the virus has been "eliminated.. for now" and the lockdown is lifted.
  • 13 August: Fourteen new cases, most traced to one family, recorded in Auckland, which goes back into lockdown
  • 4 September: Despite restrictions, cases rise to 152 with three new cases recorded on Friday. The country's death toll from the pandemic now stands at 23

So, can I go on holiday to Portugal or Greece?

Well, the slightly infuriating answer is "it depends". You are free to travel there, but whether you'll have to self-isolate when you get home depends on which bit of the UK you live in.
If you are travelling to Wales (no matter which UK airport you've landed at) and you've just been to Portugal, then you'll have to quarantine for two weeks when you get back.
The same applies if you're travelling to Scotland, as of 04:00 BST on Saturday. Scotland has also added Greece and French Polynesia to its quarantine list.
And if your final destination is Wales, you'll also have to self-isolate if you've been to any of these places: Gibraltar, French Polynesia or the Greek islands of Mykonos, Zakynthos (or Zante), Lesvos, Paros, Antiparos or Crete.
So how is it decided which country ends up on the quarantine list?
That's done with the help of the Joint Biosecurity Centre, set up by the government, which works with the chief medical officers of each nation and advises which countries it should have on its list.
Each UK nation sets its own quarantine list, although until recently these have generally been identical.
Take a look at our explainer here which gives more detail.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 17:16

Berlusconi in 'early stages of double pneumonia'

Mike Sanders - BBC News
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Media gather outside the San Raffaele hospital

Silvio Berlusconi's political party Forza Italia insists he's been taken to the San Raffaele hospital in Milan as a precaution after testing positive for coronavirus.
The former Italian prime minister has released a video saying he feels fine.
But he is 83, and reportedly in the early stages of double pneumonia. That's not necessarily any worse than pneumonia in one lung but it is a recognised symptom of Covid-19, which was originally called novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia.
His 30-year-old girlfriend, the Italian MP Marta Fascina, and two of his children have also tested positive.

Pret a Manger to offer coffee on a monthly subscription

Pret a Manger is to offer customers up to five coffees a day if they sign up to a monthly subscription service.
The chain is hoping that the price tag of £20 is low enough to win back some of the business lost during the pandemic.
Pret has already announced it is closing 30 outlets and laying off a third of its staff.
Pret boss Pano Christou told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the sandwich chain "needs to adapt itself to the changes of customer patterns" as many office workers continue to work from home.
For the fixed monthly fee, a customer can select any "barista prepared" drink, using their phone to access the subscription, up to five times a day, seven days a week.
The scheme appears to be designed around the "new normal", at a price that is still attractive even if you're only going to the office twice a week, said Natalie Berg, an analyst with NBK retail.
"Pret is betting you'll buy a sandwich with that coffee and it becomes habitual," she said.
Read more.

Co-op to create 1,000 jobs and open 50 new stores

Grocery chain the Co-op is opening 50 new stores and creating 1,000 new jobs this year.
The new roles come on top of the 1,000 jobs which the retailer added during lockdown, as demand from shoppers increased.
The extra posts announced today will be spread across new shops, in areas including Wrexham, Leeds and Guildford - as well as 15 stores that are being remodelled.
The Co-op said its research found that 70% of adults have relied on their local store for food and other goods in recent months as customers prioritised convenience.
In contrast to other parts of the economy, the grocery sector has seen a surge in demand during the pandemic. Last month, Tesco said it would create 16,000 permanent jobs after lockdown led to "exceptional growth" in its online business.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 17:22

Here's a round-up of the headlines so far today

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If you're just joining us, here's a reminder of the latest news on coronavirus around the world today:

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 17:29

Police urge competitors not to turn up to cancelled Ironman Wales

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Police have raised concerns about people planning to travel to Tenby, in Pembrokeshire, Wales, to race the Ironman route this weekend - even though the event was cancelled nearly three months ago.
The annual 2020 triathlon, which typically attracts more than 2,000 athletes from all over the world, was cancelled in June because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dyfed-Powys Police and Pembrokeshire council said they were concerned people still intended to attempt the 140-mile course, which comprises a 2.4-mile (3.86km) swim, a 112-mile (180km) bike ride and a marathon.
"While we understand people have trained really hard to compete and are disappointed the race is cancelled, we are concerned about the impact of racing without any road closures or the usual support," local police said on Facebook .
They urged cyclists not to ride in large groups, runners to consider social distancing and swimmers to check sea conditions.
Others on social media shared their concern, with Mike Field urging participants "to respect the pandemic and the people of Pembrokeshire".
Read more.

Indonesia coffin punishment abandoned

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People caught refusing to wear a mask have been able to choose to lie in a mock coffin, instead of paying a fine or doing community service

Indonesia is one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus in South-East Asia, and the authorities have been coming up with some creative ways to encourage people to wear their masks.
But punishing mask-refusers by making them lie in an open coffin is one tactic that has proved to be short-lived. It was introduced on Wednesday but abandoned by Friday after an intense public backlash, the BBC's Jerome Wirawan reports.
The punishment was intended as an alternative to a $17 fine or community service, which usually involves cleaning public facilities, our correspondent says. One official said the aim was to get the culprit to “contemplate their actions because with Covid-19 there is a risk of them being laid inside a real coffin”.
But internet users criticised the plan, with one, Situr, pointing out: “People are not scared of coffins, even couples are getting intimate in the graveyard."
One man who did go in the coffin for not wearing the mask indicated to local media that it was a quickest and cheapest option.
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Government workers dressed in PPE carry a coffin as a public health message in Jakarta

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 17:34

Struggling airline Virgin Atlantic to cut a further 1,150 jobs

Virgin Atlantic is to cut a further 1,150 jobs after UK and US courts approved a £1.2bn rescue plan which will secure its future for at least 18 months.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact on the aviation industry, as lockdowns and quarantines devastate air travel.
Virgin had already cut more than 3,500 jobs, from the 10,000 employees it had at the beginning of the year.
The airline had previously stated that the rescue deal should mean no further job losses but said "regrettably" the company was compelled to make further cuts "one last time... to ensure it emerges from this crisis".
"Until travel returns in greater numbers, survival ispredicated on reducing costs further and continuing to preservecash," said Virgin Atlantic in a statement.

Number 10 says ministers 'assessed' Portugal and Greece travel advice

Downing Street has refused to deny that advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) was that travel from Portugal and the six Greek islands currently restricted by Wales presents a risk of spreading coronavirus. Scotland also has Portugal, and all of Greece, on its quarantine list.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps earlier acknowledged the UK's quarantine rules are confusing , with England and Northern Ireland holding off from putting Portugal and Greece on their own quarantine lists.
Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said Wales was acting "in line with" the risk assessments from the JBC in imposing a 14-day quarantine on arrivals from those areas.
A Number 10 spokesman has declined to comment on what the JBC's advice was but when asked by reporters if he disputed Mr Gething's assessment, the spokesman said "no".
He explained: "Ministers assess the data which is provided by JBC - and the JBC risk assessments are assessed by ministers."
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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 17:43

How to get a Covid test

Rachel Schraer - BBC Health Reporter
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Testing people, followed by tracing the contacts of those infected, is considered vital to stop coronavirus from spreading.
Here's what to do and when.
Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus can be tested. These are:

  • a fever
  • a new continuous cough
  • a loss of smell or taste

There are two types of tests: the first, typically a nose and throat swab, checks if you are currently infected; the second involves blood samples and looks for antibodies - which indicate past, not current infection.
Tests can be taken by visiting either a drive-through or walk-through testing site, or a mobile testing unit. They need to be booked - online or by calling 119.
Alternatively, you can order a home testing kit, but only in the first four days of having symptoms.
Generally only people with symptoms are told to apply for a test, with results expected inside 48 hours.
However, staff and residents in care homes should now be receiving regular tests, as well as some hospital staff.
People living in areas where there is a current outbreak can also be tested, even without symptoms.
Current testing capacity in the UK is reported as being 350,000 a day.
The government has also pledged to bring in mass coronavirus testing by the end of the year, even among people with no symptoms.
For more information, read here.

Chinese parents cut pupils' hair 'at the school gates'

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
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There are often stories this time of year about students being sent home for the wrong uniform, but in central China’s Hebei province, masses of students have been sent home because their hair had grown too long.
This meant that many parents have been resorting to drastic measures. Footage has gone viral today in China of students outside the gates of a secondary school in the city of Zhuozhou having their hair cut by their parents, to avoid their kids missing a single day of school.
Media says that most students getting a quick chop from their parents were female, as the school had introduced rules saying that "hair should not be longer than shoulder length".
Students across China have been returning to physical classrooms this week, and many haven’t seen their campus in seven or eight months.  For some, that has meant a lot of surprises.
The only region where students have yet to return is Xinjiang, in the northwest. However, yesterday the region confirmed that students at primary and secondary schools could return in phased groups from 6 September. College and university students in the region can begin to return from 10 September.
It has been 19 days since any domestic cases of Covid-19 have been reported in China.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 17:52

Call for investigation into PM social distancing 'breach'

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A Downing Street spokesman insisted Mr Johnson obeys his own social distancing rules

Political opponents have called for a "full investigation" by the Leader of the House of Commons, following rumours Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a speech to at least 50 Conservatives in a parliament room marked for a maximum of 29 people.
The PM remarked that his colleagues were packed "cheek by jowl" as he gave a speech to the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs on Thursday night, it was reported.
A Number 10 spokesman did not deny concerns that social distancing rules may have been breached but refused to clarify the circumstances.
"I'm not privy to the detail, it's a political event," he said.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench committee, insisted "social distancing of one metre plus was maintained".
But the Liberal Democrats said any speculation threatened to "undermine faith in government and ultimately impact the effectiveness of government public health messaging".
"We cannot allow it to look as though there is one rule for Conservative MPs and another for the rest of the country," said Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse.
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Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, insisted social distancing was maintained

Anger from English holidaymakers who changed Portugal flights

Some travellers have been left frustrated and out of pocket after changing their flights home to England to avoid a potential Portugal quarantine that now hasn’t been imposed.
"We feel as if we've lost two days of our holiday, it's cost us an arm and a leg - we're just very disappointed," Karen said as she waited to board a plane at Faro airport.
There has been confusion over whether people need to quarantine for 14 days after returning to the UK from Portugal or Greece.
There are strict new self-isolation rules for people from Wales and Scotland coming back from Portugal . But there is no change for England and Northern Ireland as yet.
"We've paid just over £1,000, I think, for three going back to Manchester," said another passenger, Ron, adding: "It would be good if governments could all get together... and come up with one set of policies which are applied reasonably consistently."
Kelly Jones and her family changed their flights home from the Algarve from Saturday to Friday at a cost of £900.
The 45-year-old from Birmingham said the situation was "absolutely disgusting".
She said: "The government just changes the goalposts left, right and centre at the moment. It's embarrassing."

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 17:56

Czech Republic sees another record rises in cases

The Czech Republic has seen a record numbers of new Covid-19 cases for the third day in a row. Thursday's tally of 680 took the number of infections to nearly 26,500 with 426 deaths.
Radio Prague says the country has the highest rate of infections of all its neighbours. But officials say the low number of people needing hospital treatment shows that facilities are not in danger of being overwhelmed.
However, the virus is impacting all aspects of Czech life. The chief public health officer has tested positive for the virus and a number of ministers, including the health minister, are self-isolating. Sports events have been cancelled because team members have tested positive, and schools are under threat of closure having just reopened.
Face masks will be mandatory again in all shops and shopping centres in the capital, Prague, from Wednesday. People across the country already have to wear the coverings in public spaces and on public transport. Bars and clubs in Prague will also have to close between midnight and 06:00.

London key workers invited to play at Wimbledon

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Eighty London key workers have been invited to play on Wimbledon tennis courts, to thank them for their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
NHS staff, London Ambulance Service and Transport for London employees are now in south-west London to play on the famous courts over two days.
"Rally Together" is part of a scheme launched by the Mayor of London, which celebrates community, individual and business responses to coronavirus.
Sadiq Khan said during his visit to Wimbledon on Friday that Londoners "owe a debt of gratitude" to those who looked after people "during the darkest days of the pandemic".
"None of us are claiming the pandemic is over or the virus has gone away - many of those here today will be back on the front line in the coming days.
"But it's important we take a moment to say thank you."

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 18:16

Second £1,000 fine issued in NI for quarantine breach

Police have issued a second £1,000 fine in Northern Ireland for breaching coronavirus travel regulations.
On Tuesday, a County Fermanagh man became the first in Northern Ireland to receive such a fine after he went on socialising following a holiday in Spain. He later tested positive for Covid-19.
Police have confirmed a second person was fined on Friday for a breach of the International Travel Regulations.
Between 30 March to 4 September there have been a total of 479 fines issued for breaches of coronavirus regulations.
It comes as 61 new positive cases of the virus were confirmed in Northern Ireland in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 7,503.
There was one further death, meaning the death toll in Northern Ireland now stands at 564, as recorded by the Department of Health.

Russian vaccine Sputnik V 'produces antibodies'

Patients taking part in early tests of a Russian vaccine developed antibodies with "no serious adverse events", the Lancet medical journal has reported, quoting findings by several Russian scientists.
But researchers said longer and larger trials were needed to prove the Sputnik V vaccine would be safe and effective.
Last month, Russia announced that the vaccine had been approved by the country's health regulatory body - a move that was met with scepticism in some countries.
A number of experts, particularly in the West, warned Moscow was moving too quickly, skipping a key stage required for research.
Russia has rejected the criticism as baseless.
President Vladimir Putin has said that one of his two daughters has already been vaccinated.
And of Friday, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was shown on Russia's state TV getting the jab himself.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 18:19

159 new cases in Scotland

There have been 159 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Scotland in the past 24 hours. This compares to 101 the previous day - an increase of 58 cases.
Seventy three of the new cases are in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board area. Restrictions on visiting other households were reintroduced in Glasgow and two neighbouring areas on Tuesday.
Two new cases have been reported in the Western Isles for the first time since June.
There have been no new reported deaths of people who tested positive in the last 28 days.

New UK daily cases highest since 30 May

Some 1,940 new daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the UK, the highest since 30 May, according to the latest government figures.
Ten more people have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus, the government said, bringing the total death toll in the UK to 41,537.
The UK's testing capacity has increased since the peak of the outbreak earlier this year.

What is happening in the US?

Here's a round-up of what is happening in the US:

  • There is some good news on the jobs front as new figures showed the unemployment rate fell below 10% in August for the first time since the pandemic began . Some forecasters fear the recovery is not sustainable
  • A further 1,070 deaths due to Covid-19 have been recorded in the last day alone, with a rise of 36,506 new cases. This brings the total confirmed cases to 6,151,523 and deaths to 186,806
  • And the death toll may rise dramatically in the coming months if projections by the University of Washington are correct. Scientists there estimate the toll will reach 410,000 by 1 January, but more than half of those lives could be saved if face masks are made mandatory
  • Joe Biden's decision to wear his face mask regularly was mocked by President Trump at a rally on Thursday. He said: "It gives him a feeling of security... if I was a psychiatrist, I'd say this guy has some big issues."
  • The Trump administration may have told state health officials to prepare for distributing a vaccine by the end of October, but a key scientific adviser in that effort, Dr Moncef Slaoui, has cautioned "there is a very, very low chance" that an effective vaccine will be ready by then

Hong Kong extends mass testing despite criticism

Hong Kong has now decided to extend by four days a China-backed mass coronavirus testing programme, despite concerns that it is not effective and could be misused for surveillance.
Officials said that only six people had been found infected among 128,000 people tested since the voluntary free programme was launched on Tuesday.
They say that overall more than 900,000 people have registered for such tests.
A health workers union has criticised the effort as an inefficient waste of resources, while activists have said it could be used by the authorities in mainland China to collect DNA samples.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 18:23

Leeds added to 'area of concern' list in UK

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The infection rate in Leeds has been rising over the last few weeks

Leeds has been added to Public Health England's weekly watch list of areas of concern , after its seven-day infection rate rose to 32.4 cases per 100,000 people.
The city council said the data suggests a lot of the cases are in different areas of the city, meaning they may be linked to social interaction and leisure activities.
"The spread is broad and changeable across wards and cases have also been increasingly detected in younger people aged 18-34, with some concern over activities like house parties and gatherings," it said.
There will not be any further restrictions on Leeds at this stage but it does mean increased monitoring of cases and potential additional steps in future if the infection rates do not start to fall.
Council leader Judith Blake said: "This rise in infection rates means that inevitably, our window of opportunity is shrinking by the day and the city is rapidly approaching a tipping point."

Birmingham asylum centre hit by outbreak

Officials say 56 people have tested positive at an asylum centre in Birmingham, in England's West Midlands.
Staff and residents at the Serco-run Stone Road Asylum Centre in Edgbaston are affected and the centre has been closed, the city council says.
Those infected have been moved to alternative accommodation where they can safely self-isolate.
Contact tracing is also under way and being carried out in the relevant languages of affected residents, the council says.

Switzerland 'stable' despite infection spike

Switzerland has reported more than 400 new infections in the past 24 hours for the first time since mid-April.
But health officials say that - despite 405 confirmed cases - the situation in the country is "stable", and the reproduction rate remains below 1.
Three-quarters of the new cases are in people aged under 40.
“At the moment we’re not talking of a second wave; we’re talking of a slow increase in infections," said Stefan Kuster, the head of the Swiss health ministry's communicable diseases unit.
"The efforts of the population and the cantons are bearing fruit," he added.
The Alpine nation of about 8.5 million people has so far recorded more than 43,000 infections, with over 2,000 deaths.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 18:26

WHO dampens quick immunisation hopes

Earlier on, we reported that patients taking part in early tests of a Russian vaccine developed antibodies with "no serious adverse events".
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) now says it does not expect widespread immunisation against the virus until mid-2021.
The WHO acknowledged that a "considerable number" of vaccine candidates had entered final stage trials, which typically involve tens of thousands of people.
But WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris was quoted by AFP news agency as saying that "in terms of realistic timelines, we are really not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year".
The UN health agency has said it will not endorse any vaccine without proof that it is safe and effective.

France sees record rise in new infections

France has reported 8,975 infections in the past 24 hours - the highest number of new infections since the start of the outbreak.
The authorities also say the number of patients in intensive care units has been rising in the past few days.

Canada continues to add more jobs to economy

Jobs in Canada continue to grow, new labour market numbers say.
Statistics Canada reported on Friday that the economy had added 246,000 jobs in August. When added to the 419,000 new jobs in July, and 1.2m added in May and June, employment is now just about 5.7% shy of its pre-coronavirus levels in February.
As of the week of Aug 15, about 1.8m Canadian workers are affected by the Covid-19 shutdown, either because they are unemployed or have had their hours reduced. In April, this number reached a peak of 5.5 million.
Most of the employment gains have been in full-time work, the statistical agency said.
Additionally, the number of those working from home has decreased, from 3.4m in April to 2.5m in August.

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Post by Kitkat on Fri Sep 04 2020, 20:49

What do Russian vaccine trials tell us?

Philippa Roxby - Health reporter, BBC News
Early results from small trials on a Russian vaccine against Covid-19 have found it is safe and there were no serious side-effects in people.
“Encouraging” and “so far so good” are some of the reactions from scientists in the UK – but there is still, clearly, a long way to go.
Two small trials, with 38 people in each, were carried out in two hospitals in Russia.
Although the vaccine showed an antibody response in all participants in phase 2 (40 people), this doesn’t necessarily mean it would protect them from the virus.
That still hasn’t been established yet.
From these results, we can tell that the vaccine - named Sputnik V - appeared to be safe in healthy people between the age of 18 and 60 for 42 days, because that was how long the study lasted.
But what about older people and those with underlying health conditions who are most at risk of Covid-19 – how safe is it for them and over a longer period of time?
This can only be answered after much larger, long-term randomised trials where the people taking part don’t know if they are receiving the vaccine or a dummy injection.
These will also tell scientists how effective the vaccine really is among a much wider population.
There have also been calls for openness and transparency. Of the many vaccines currently being trialled around the world, some will work better than others in certain situations and in certain groups of people, perhaps.
So knowing exactly how well they work and for whom is paramount – it is unlikely that one vaccine will be suitable for everyone.

Today’s main coronavirus developments in the UK

Soon we will be pausing our live coverage - but before we do, here's a reminder of today’s main headlines from the UK:

France sees record spike and other world headlines

And here are the main developments around the world in the past 24 hours:

  • France reports 8,975 new infections in the past 24 hours - the highest number since the outbreak
  • Russia's vaccine produces antibodies without "serious adverse effects" in early trials - but questions remain about its safety
  • A man in his 50s is the first to die with coronavirus in New Zealand since May
  • Nigeria bans airlines from a number of countries - including Air France and Lufthansa - as it resumes international flights on Saturday

That's all from Friday's crew

Today's live coverage was edited by Lauren Turner and Jasmine Taylor-Colemen, and our team of writers was: Jo Couzens, Penny Spiller, Yaroslav Lukov, Paul Kirby and Victoria Lindrea.

Thanks for staying with us!

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 04:17