The 33-year-old male was cleared of the virus and discharged from a hospital in April, but tested positive again after returning from Spain via Britain on August 15. – ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

A Hong Kong man who recovered from Covid-19 was infected again four-and-a-half months later in the first documented instance of human re-infection, researchers at the University of Hong Kong said today.

The findings indicate the disease, which has killed more than 800,000 people worldwide, will continue to spread amongst the global population despite herd immunity, they said.

The 33-year-old male was cleared of the virus and discharged from a hospital in April, but tested positive again after returning from Spain via Britain on August 15.

The patient had appeared to be previously healthy, researchers said in the paper, which was accepted by the international medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

He was found to have contracted a different coronavirus strain from the one he had previously contracted and remained asymptomatic for the second infection.

“The finding does not mean taking vaccines will be useless,” Dr. Kai-Wang To, one of the leading authors of the paper, told Reuters. “Immunity induced by vaccination can be different from those induced by natural infection,” To said. ” will need to wait for the results of the vaccine trials to see if how effective vaccines are.”

World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said today that there was no need to jump to any conclusions in response to the Hong Kong case.

Instances of people discharged from hospitals and testing positive again for Covid-19 infection have been reported in mainland China. However, in those cases it was not clear whether they had contracted the virus again after full recovery – as happened to the Hong Kong patient – or still had the virus in their body from the initial infection.

Story continues

Follow the latest updates below.

08:44 PMExclusive: NHS ignored SAGE’s advice to test all patients before their discharge from hospital

Health chiefs failed to act on requests by government scientists to test all hospital patients for Covid before they were discharged, amid fears they were seeding the disease back into the community, it has emerged.

Minutes from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) meeting on June 18, show that experts had ‘reiterated concerns’ that infectious patients were being released without testing. 

The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) and New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), which feed into Sage, also both recommended that pre-discharge testing was vital in the previous weeks.

Health chiefs failed to act on requests by government scientists to test all hospital patients for Covid before they were discharged, it has emerged. – Justin Setterfield/Getty Images Europe

But the recommendation was not enacted by NHS England.

On May 28, Nervtag warned about the problem of ‘reseeding’ infections into the community, and said consideration should be given to screening all patients before discharge.

“Since there continues to be ongoing acquisition of SARS CoV2 infections in hospitals, patients admitted for other reasons may be presymptomatic or asymptomatic for Covid on discharge and might reseed infections into the community,” they warned. 

Read the full story here. 

08:26 PMMore research needed to determine genetic impact of Covid in BAME patients, experts say

There is not enough historic research to know what role genes linked to race have on diseases, experts have said, but “everyday discrimination” could explain why people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are more likely to die from Covid-19.

Dr Winston Morgan, reader in toxicology and clinical biochemistry at the University of East London, said more BAME people needed to be involved in scientific research to avoid implicit bias within the medical profession.

Speaking on a Royal Society of Medicine webinar, he said: “We don’t like to accept that there’s implicit bias in our practice but there are all these studies that show there is a lot of implicit bias.”

“By having more BAME people involved in research, not only can you see things that others can’t see but you can also change the direction of the research and that’s really important.”

08:09 PMComment: ‘Back to school? Government’s ‘awful and inconsistent’ message leaves parents fearful’

More than half of parents are ‘worried’ about children going back to school, despite science supporting a return, writes Camilla Tominey. 

The Prime Minister’s clarion call for children to return to school next week may have been loud and clear, but parents remain confused about the safety of the classroom in the post-Covid-19 era.

Boris Johnson reiterated that Britain has a “moral duty” to reopen schools in September, insisting the science now shows it is safe to do so.

But the mixed messaging around the risk of the R rate (the number of people that a single infected person will go on to infect) spiking as the new term begins – potentially sparking a second lockdown – appears to have left families in a quandary.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data reveals that while approximately nine in 10 (90 per cent) of adults say it is “very likely or fairly likely that the children or young people in their household will return to school or college”, more than half of parents (58 per cent) are “very worried or somewhat worried” about it. 

That figure is barely down on the 62 per cent who reported similar concerns at the end of term in mid-July, before many of the lockdown measures were eased. 

Read more here. 

07:48 PMTrials for Oxford vaccine moving in a positive direction, says leading professor 

Asked when a Covid-19 vaccine might be available, Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, told Channel 4 News: “I’m hopeful we are going to start to get a read-out early in the autumn as to whether this thing works or not.”

A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration – Dado Ruvic/REUTERS

“A lot of this depends on the intensity of infection. So, in order to get a read-out, you have to have a certain number of incident cases in the control vaccine population – and that then tells you you can look at the real vaccinated population and see whether they have been protected.”

“So, I’m hoping that’s going to happen pretty smartly this autumn.”

“There will be a delay between the outcome of the trial and a decision whether it can be approved as a vaccine.”

07:31 PMWHO: 172 countries engaging with Covid vaccine plan 

Around 172 countries are currently engaging with the World Health Organisation led COVAX  plan designed to ensure equal access to coronavirus vaccines, Reuters have reported. 

However, WHO has cautioned against complacency and warned that more funding is urgently needed.

WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing: “Initially, when there will be limited supply (of Covid-19 vaccines), it’s important to provide the vaccine to those at highest risk around the globe”.

07:14 PMCompanies accused of furlough fraud after data found two thirds of workers carried on working 

Companies have been accused of encouraging furlough fraud after data found two thirds of workers carried on with their jobs during the pandemic. 

 According to a new report six million workers continued to work during April and May while their employers were claiming furlough money from the Government. 

The furlough scheme was announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on March 20 in a £30billion scheme which saw the Government pay 80 percent of salaries for furloughed staff up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. 

The study, by Oxford, Cambridge and Zurich universities, conducted surveys of 9,000 people and found that the ban on working while furloughed was “routinely ignored”, with 63 percent of furloughed employees having broken the rules. 

It also found that furloughed staff worked an average of 15 hours a week and that a fifth of furloughed employees were instructed to carry on working by their employer.

Our Political Correspondent, Danielle Sheridan has more here. 

06:54 PMWatch: Gavin Williamson says it is the ‘right time’ for schools to return as ‘clear’ system of safety controls in place

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said a “very clear system of controls” has been set out so that schools are able to return safely.

He told Sky News: “What we’ve done is we’ve set out a very clear system of controls for every school to be following, whether that’s primary school or whether that’s secondary school.

“Whether it’s making sure it’s maintaining good hygiene and good distancing, good flows of pupils moving through the schools, staggered starts, all of these measures are about ensuring children remain safe and those who work in schools remain safe.

“By doing that, we can see all children returning back to their classes and we’ve already seen over 1.6 million children going back to school safely, not just safely for them but also safely for those who work in schools.”


06:35 PMIreland: Health chiefs closely monitoring rise in Covid cases

Irish health chiefs are closely monitoring the rise of coronavirus cases in Dublin, Reuters has reported. 

Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said that while there was no suggestion that further targeted measures would be needed in the capital, officials were observing trends within the region. 

“It’s not that there is a major problem, I’m not sounding an alarm but we have seen an increase in cases particularly in Dublin over the last number of days. It’s just something we’re watching closely,” Mr Glynn told a news conference.

06:16 PMTest and Trace system criticised as some users sent 350 miles away for Covid testing

The NHS Test and Trace system has faced fresh criticism for a flaw in its online booking system, after users complained of being directed more than 100 miles away for testing. 

Some people with coronavirus symptoms have been directed to testing centres hours away from their homes. 

For example, a person from Ilfracombe in Devon who has symptoms of Covid-19 – including a persistent cough, fever or loss of sense of taste or smell – is directed to a test centre in Swansea when they try to book a test online.

This would see them drive past centres in Taunton, Bristol and Cardiff on their six-and-a-half hour round trip, driving 175 miles in each direction.

The NHS Test and Trace system has faced fresh criticism for a flaw in its online booking system, after users complained of being directed more than 100 miles away for testing. – Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe

Problems with the booking system were highlighted early on in the crisis but it appears that glitches in the system – which seem to disproportionately affect those on the coast – are yet to be rectified.

Labour said it was “hugely disappointing” that the issues were still occurring and has called on the Government to address the issues as a “matter of urgency”.

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said:

“From the first days when testing centres were being rolled out, we have heard stories of people being sent unfeasibly long distances just to get a test, but for this to be still happening at this stage is hugely disappointing.

“They must solve these problems as a matter of urgency.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “NHS Test and Trace is working, it’s completely free and is stopping the spread of coronavirus.”

“Regional testing slots are allocated based on the nearest testing site with availability and we are working to ensure this takes into account journey times. Anyone with symptoms across the UK should get a test as soon as possible.”

05:55 PMUS: Covid death toll rises to 176,223

The number of recorded coronavirus deaths within the US has increased by 572, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The overall Covid death toll now stands at 176,223, while 5,682,491 cases have been reported across the country. 

05:41 PMScotland: Government consulting on recommending face masks in secondary schools

The Scottish Government is consulting on recommending secondary school pupils and staff wear face coverings when moving around schools, Scotland’s First Minister has announced.

Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland’s Education Secretary John Swinney is in the final stages of consulting with teachers and councils on the issue.

She told the Scottish Government’s regular coronavirus briefing the recommendation would not include pupils wearing masks while in the classroom.

“We’re consulting on this specific measure because, firstly, mixing between different groups is more likely in corridors and communal areas – increasing the potential for transmission.

“Secondly, crowding and close contact in these areas is more likely and voices could be raised, resulting in greater potential for creating aerosol transmission.

“Finally, there’s also less scope for ventilation in these areas.”

She said decisions are yet to be made on whether the guidance would apply to school transport and that decision will be made in the coming days.

05:26 PMBali bans foreign tourists for rest of 2020

Foreign tourists won’t be allowed to visit Bali for the rest of 2020 due to coronavirus concerns, its governor said, scrapping a plan to open up the Indonesian island from next month.

The holiday hotspot re-opened beaches, temples and other tourism spots for domestic visitors at the end of July and had said it would let foreign tourists return on September 11.

But the plan has now been cancelled over concerns about Indonesia’s mounting virus cases, with many foreign nationals subject to travel bans in their home countries.

Foreign tourists won’t be allowed to visit Bali for the rest of 2020 due to coronavirus concerns, its governor said on Monday – Barcroft Media/Wawan Kurniawan / Opn Images/ Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing

Jakarta is also yet to lift its ban on foreign tourists entering Indonesia.

“The situation in Indonesia is not conducive to allow international tourists to visit Indonesia, including…Bali,” the island’s governor I Wayan Koster said in an official letter.

“The central government supports (Bali’s) plans to recover tourism by opening the doors for international tourists. However, this requires care, prudence, not to be rushed, and requires careful preparation,” it added.

He did not give a new date for allowing foreign tourists to visit.

05:09 PMBlood pressure drugs may protect against Covid-19 effects

Medication for high blood pressure lowers the risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from Covid-19 by one third, a study suggests. 

Researchers from the University of East Anglia studied 28,000 patients taking antihypertensives, a class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. 

They found that the risk of severe Covid-19 illness and death fell by one third for people taking Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) or Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB) .

Lead researcher Dr Vassilios Vassiliou, from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, said: “We found that there was a significantly lower risk of death and critical outcomes, so they might in fact have a protective role, particularly in patients with hypertension.

“Covid-19 patients with high blood pressure who were taking ACEi/ARB medications were 0.67 times less likely to have a critical or fatal outcome than those not taking these medications.

“Our research provides substantial evidence to recommend continued use of these medications if the patients were taking them already.”

Read the full story by our Science Editor, Sarah Knapton here. 

04:53 PMSyria: Constitutional Committee paused after three members test positive for Covid

The Syrian Constitutional Committee has been put on hold after three members tested positive for coronavirus,  the United Nations has said.

The Committee were attempting to make progress in drafting a new Syrian charter to lay the foundations for U.N.-sponsored elections, as part of ongoing efforts to find a political resolution to the Syrian Civil War. 

A statement released by the Committee said: “Following a constructive first meeting, the Third Session of the Constitutional Committee is currently on hold. The Office of the Special Envoy will make a further announcement in due course”.

“Committee members were tested before they travelled to Geneva, and they were tested again on arrival, and the wearing of masks and strict social distancing measures were in place when they met at the Palais des Nations”. 

04:29 PMGovernment not considering introducing face masks in schools, says Education Secretary 

Secondary school pupils in England will not be required to wear masks when they return to class despite their Scottish counterparts potentially being ordered to wear face coverings.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said measures being adopted by schools to limit the spread of coronavirus meant that masks would not be necessary. 

Pupils arrive by school bus at Kelso High School on the Scottish Borders – Owen Humphreys/PA

This contrasts to Scotland, where the Government is consulting on measures which could see masks worn by secondary school pupils and teachers in corridors and other communal areas – although not in classrooms.

The World Health Organisation and UN children’s agency Unicef advise that adults and children aged 12 and over should wear a mask, particularly when they cannot guarantee at least a one-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.

However Mr Williamson insisted there was no need to do so, arguing that the Government was confident in the  “system of controls” in place in schools for children to be able to return safely “and for staff to be able to operate safely”.

04:21 PMWatch: WHO urges caution over Covid plasma treatment approved by Trump 

The World Health Organization has said that coronavirus plasma treatment is still “experimental” and more research was needed to determine its effectiveness.

The treatment involves using antibody-rich plasma from recovered Covid patients and transferring it to individuals who are suffering from coronavirus.

While the treatment has been endorsed by US President Donald Trump, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, said that evidence in support of the treatment has not been convincing enough for the organisation to endorse it fully. 

“At the moment, it’s still very low-quality evidence,” she told a news conference, adding: “so we recommend that convalescent plasma is still an experimental therapy, it should continue to be evaluated in well-designed randomised clinical trials.”


04:09 PMScotland: Coronavirus outbreak at Dundee school leaves 17 staff and two pupils infected 

Seventeen staff and two pupils have tested positive for coronavirus at a school in Scotland as hundreds of people are told to self-isolate.

Kingspark School in Dundee was closed last Wednesday when people on site were stuck down by the virus, and cases have now been linked to two other schools nearby.

NHS Tayside said in an update on Sunday that 17 staff, two pupils and three community contacts had tested positive.

The school, which looks after pupils with additional support needs, has 185 students aged between five and 18.

All of them have been told to self isolate for two weeks, while their parents, carers, siblings or anyone else who lives with them have also been told to self isolate “if they are unable to maintain physical distancing within the household”.

03:56 PMAt least 150 test positive for coronavirus at French naturist resort 

At least 150 holidaymakers at one of France’s best-known naturist resorts have tested positive for Covid-19, making it one of the country’s most “worrying” coronavirus clusters, according to health authorities.

At least 150 holidaymakers at one of France’s best-known naturist resorts have tested positive for Covid-19 – Bruno DE HOGUES/Gamma-Rapho

Holidaymakers say the Cap d’Agde resort on the Mediterranean coast is frequented by many “libertines and swingers” who have ignored social distancing rules.

One visitor told the Telegraph by telephone: “In the evening, we’re all huddled together, which means preventive measures or physical distancing are impossible. Frankly, this is a place where you come to meet people. No one comes here to play cards.”

The local newspaper, L’Indépendant, described the resort as a “temple of libertinism”. However, a spokesman for its management said:

“Our customers are disciplined and they have respected health rules and barrier gestures. I don’t think you can say that people have been more careless here than anywhere else.”

David Chazan has the full story here. 

03:46 PMGreater Manchester Police spending an extra £100,000 per week on enforcing Covid restrictions

A chief constable for Greater Manchester Police has admitted that the force has spent an additional £100,000  per week enforcing lockdown restrictions. 

Ian Hopkins also defended the force against accusations that it was heavy handed in its decision to break up a children’s birthday party over the weekend. 

The force was criticised after issuing a fixed penalty notice when officers attended a home in Swinton where three families were celebrating a child’s birthday in a private garden.

Speaking to Radio 5 Live on Monday, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “It feels a bit at the moment like we can’t win.”

He added: “It wasn’t sort of jelly and ice cream with a bunch of three and four-year-olds sat around in the middle of the afternoon.

“Officers decided, based on what they had seen, to issue a fixed penalty notice.”

He said officers were also called to a party being held for a terminally-ill child and decided not to issue a fine after attending.

“We are trying to absolutely balance what we’re doing, but it’s a really difficult position for us at the moment,” he said.

03:33 PMBirmingham ‘not a Covid hotspot’, former council leader argues 

Birmingham is not a “Covid-19 hotspot” and warnings the city should be preparing for local lockdown have been branded “ridiculous” by the local authority’s former leader.

John Clancy, who led the city council from November 2015 until September 2017, said “the citizens of Birmingham should be congratulated, not warned” for their response to coronavirus. 

He claimed imposing local lockdowns based on “dodgy data” was unacceptable, pointing out “91 per cent of England – that’s 51 million people – live in neighbourhoods where there hasn’t been a recorded Covid-19 case in the last four weeks”.

A woman is seen wearing a protective face mask in an area outside the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham – Carl Recine/REUTERS

“Birmingham cannot, as a city, be in any way regarded as a Covid-19 hotspot”, he added.

No new Covid deaths have been reported in Midlands hospitals, including those in Birmingham, in the latest figures released by NHS England on Monday.

Data from the seven days to Friday – the latest available – showed Birmingham had 20.4 cases per 100,000 people, or a total of 233 cases in the period, according to the NHS Digital Progression dashboard.

03:21 PMEducation Secretary: ‘Clear system of controls’ to ensure schools reopen safely 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said a “very clear system of controls” has been set out so that schools are able to return safely.

He told Sky News: “What we’ve done is we’ve set out a very clear system of controls for every school to be following, whether that’s primary school or whether that’s secondary school.

“Whether it’s making sure it’s maintaining good hygiene and good distancing, good flows of pupils moving through the schools, staggered starts, all of these measures are about ensuring children remain safe and those who work in schools remain safe.

“By doing that, we can see all children returning back to their classes and we’ve already seen over 1.6 million children going back to school safely, not just safely for them but also safely for those who work in schools.”


03:12 PMUK: A further four people have died from coronavirus

A further four people have died from Covid-19 in the UK, according to the latest data from the Department of Health and Social Care. 

In total, 41,433 Covid deaths have been recorded by the department.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

853 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the UK’s total caseload to 326,614. 


03:01 PMExperts react to Hong Kong re-infection case

There has been a mixed reaction from experts on the news that a patient has become re-infected with Covid-19, with some urging caution against reading too much into the case.

Professor Brendan Wren, professor of microbial pathogenesis at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “With over 3 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide, the first reported case of a potential re-infection with SARS-CoV-2 needs to be taken into context.

“It appears that the young and healthy adult has been re-infected with a slight SARS-CoV-2 variant from the initial infection three months previously. It is to be expected that the virus will naturally mutate over time. This is a very rare example of re-infection and it should not negate the global drive to develop Covid-19 vaccines.”

However David Strain, clinical senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and chair of the British Medical Association’s Medical Academic Staff Committee, said:

“This is a worrying finding for several reasons. The first, as is laid out in this manuscript, is that it suggests that previous infection is not protective. The second is that it raises the possibility that vaccinations may not provide the hope that we have been waiting for.

“Vaccinations work by simulating infection to the body, thereby allowing the body to develop antibodies. If antibodies don’t provide lasting protection, we will need to revert to a strategy of viral near-elimination in order to return to a more normal life.”

02:49 PMUsain Bolt tests positive for coronavirus

Usain Bolt has allegedly tested positive for Covid-19 shortly after attending a star-studded surprise party to celebrate his birthday, a Jamaican news site has reported. 

The retired sprinter took a Covid-19 test a few days ago and tested positive yesterday, Nationwide News Network said.

Bolt celebrated his 34th birthday on Friday with a surprise party attended by celebrities including footballers Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) and Leon Bailey (Bayern Bayern Leverkusen). All will now have to take tests, according to the news site.

02:40 PMVirgin Atlantic launches free Covid-19 insurance cover for customers

Free Covid-19 insurance is to be provided to customers of Virgin Atlantic, offering financial cover should they or a companion fall ill with coronavirus while travelling.

The airline’s new policy includes meeting emergency medical costs as well as associated transport, accommodation and repatriation expenses up to a value of £500,000 per customer.

It will also cover up to £3,000 of expenses if a customer is denied boarding a plane or held in quarantine due to a suspected or positive case of coronavirus during a trip.

Virgin Atlantic’s announcement follows the Emirates airline launching its own Covid-19 insurance for customers earlier this month, covering medical expenses of up to 150,000 euros (£135,000) if they are diagnosed while away.

All existing and new bookings for travel from August 24 until March 31 next year will have the “Virgin Atlantic Covid-19 Cover” automatically applied.

The airline claimed the policy, being fulfilled by Allianz Assistance, had “the highest value offered by any airline to date”, with no excess payment required.

02:18 PMFirst Covid-19 reinfection documented in Hong Kong, researchers say

Researchers in Hong Kong have today reported what appears to be the first confirmed case of Covid-19 reinfection.

A 33-year-old man who was first infected by SARS-CoV-2 in late March has, four and a half months later, seemingly contracted the virus again while traveling Europe.

The case raises concerning questions about the durability of immune protection from the coronavirus, but it has also been met with caution by other scientists, who questioned the extent to which the case pointed to broader concerns about reinfection.

While there have been scattered reports of reinfection, these have been largely based on anecdotal evidence and flaws in testing.

In this case, however, researchers at the University of Hong Kong sequenced the virus from the patient’s two infections and found that they did not match, indicating the second infection was not tied to the first. 

“This is the world’s first documentation of a patient who recovered from Covid-19 but got another episode of Covid-19 afterwards,” the researchers said in a statement.

02:13 PMMasks for teachers and students become mandatory in Greece

In Greece, teachers and students will be required to wear masks in class and indoor spaces when schools reopen in September, Reuters reports.

The rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks has forced Greek authorities to gradually reimpose restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

Education Minister Niki Kerameus said schools are expected to reopen on September 7 but an extension may be deemed necessary.

Mask wearing will be mandatory in all indoor spaces of schools across the country, she said, adding that authorities will offer fabric masks for free to students and teachers.

The number of pupils in each class will be limited to 17.

On Sunday, Greece reported 284 new cases, a new daily record since its first case surfaced in February. In total, the country has registered 8,664 infections and 242 deaths.

02:05 PMOne further death and 19 cases in Wales

Public Health Wales said a further one person has died having tested positive for coronavirus, bringing its total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 1,593.

The number of cases of Covid-19 in Wales increased by 19, bringing the revised total of confirmed cases to 17,746.

01:58 PMWHO: Worldwide Covid-19 vaccination rollout ‘in the interest of all countries’

A globally coordinated rollout of a coronavirus vaccine will be in the “interests of all countries”, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) director general has said.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against “vaccine nationalism” and said global competition to create one could lead to prices spiking “exponentially”, which would only prolong the virus.

Instead, he urged countries to support the Covax vaccines facility, which has the “largest and most diverse” Covid-19 vaccine portfolio in the world.

He told a WHO press briefing today that 172 countries were “engaging” with the mechanism, which aims to deliver at least two billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021.

Dr Tedros said: “We’re working with vaccine manufacturers to provide all countries that join the effort timely and equitable access to all vaccines, licensed and approved. This doesn’t just pool risk, it also means that prices will be kept as low as possible.

“New research outlines that global competition for vaccine doses could lead to prices spiking exponentially in comparison to collaborative efforts, such as the Covax facility.

“It would also lead to a prolonged pandemic as only a small number of countries would get most of the supply. Vaccine nationalism only helps the virus.”

01:53 PMCoronavirus around the world, in picturesSecurity guards ensure that passengers respect the obligation to wear a face mask in western Germany – AFPChildren, who miss their online classes due to lack of internet, walk in a line as they leave after attending their open-air classes after schools were closed in central Kashmir’s Budgam district – Reuters Here’s a look at the open air school setup in Kashmir – ReutersEducation Minister Peter Weir talking with pupils at St Joesph’s Primary School Carryduff, as primary 7 year pupils are allowed to return to school in Northern Ireland – PA01:35 PMItalian vaccine candidate inoculates first volunteer

An Italian hospital has said it has inoculated a first volunteer with a vaccine as part of human trials expected to last six months, AFP reports.

The woman, in her 50s, received the first dose developed by Rome-based biotech company ReiThera at the capital’s Spallanzani Institute for infectious diseases.

The trials, developed between ReiThera and Spallanzani researchers, will be carried out on 90 volunteers divided into groups by age to test the efficacy of different dosages of the vaccine, developed since March.

If the first results of Phase 1 of the human trials prove positive, researchers say they will be able to proceed to phases 2 and 3 by the end of the year, on a larger number of volunteers even outside of Italy.

The vaccine has already passed pre-clinical tests on animal models.

Giuseppe Ippolito, the institute’s scientific director, said: “Having an Italian vaccine means not being slaves and servants of other countries that will say ‘Me first’,” adding that he hoped the vaccine would be ready for use by spring 2021.

01:27 PMKFC to pause ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ slogan amid pandemic

KFC is to pause the use of its classic Finger Lickin’ Good slogan after 64 years as it admitted that the message “doesn’t quite fit” following the coronavirus outbreak.

The company has released new images of advertising posters and packaging with the well-known slogan blurred and pixelated.

It said the slogan will return “when the time is right” but it will shift its messaging in the meantime.

The restaurant chain closed its sites temporarily in March as a result of the pandemic but has now reopened the majority of its restaurants with more stringent health and safety policies in place.

“We find ourselves in a unique situation – having an iconic slogan that doesn’t quite fit in the current environment,” said Catherine Tan-Gillespie, global chief marketing officer at KFC.

“While we are pausing the use of It’s Finger Lickin’ Good, rest assured the food craved by so many people around the world isn’t changing one bit.”

01:16 PMOnline booking system under fire as some face 350-mile round trip for Covid test

The NHS Test and Trace system has faced fresh criticism for a flaw in its online booking system which tries to direct people to test centres more than 100 miles away.

Some people with coronavirus symptoms who try to book a test online are directed to centres which would take them more than three hours to reach by car.

A person from Ilfracombe in Devon who has symptoms of Covid-19 – including a persistent cough, fever or loss of sense of taste or smell – is directed to a test centre in Swansea when they try to book a test online.

This would see them drive past centres in Taunton, Bristol and Cardiff on their six-and-a-half hour round trip, driving 175 miles in each direction.

People in Felixstowe, Suffolk, have been directed to Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, with the Government coronavirus test booking website saying it is just 13.8 miles away.

However, the journey is 40 miles by car, taking almost an hour to get from one place to another.

And people in the region with symptoms of Covid-19 would be forced to drive past their closest test centre in Ipswich on their way to Clacton.

Labour said problems with the booking system should be resolved as a “matter of urgency”.

01:11 PMScottish secondary pupils to wear face coverings in school corridors but not classrooms

Secondary pupils in Scotland are to be ordered to wear face masks in school corridors and other communal areas but not classrooms, under plans outlined by Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister said different groups of pupils are more likely to mix and transmit the virus in these areas, with crowding and a lack of ventilation also more commonplace.

Speaking at her daily briefing, she said her government was in the final stages of consulting on the change and an announcement will be made within the next few days.

Although SNP ministers are not consulting on introducing masks into the classroom, she said they could be an option where there are outbreaks. Ministers are also considering whether masks must be worn on school buses.

Simon Johnson has more here. 

01:06 PMPilot schemes taking place for mass testing

Downing Street said mass testing was “incredibly important” and pilot schemes were taking place.

Responding to reports that Health Secretary Matt Hancock wants up to four million coronavirus tests a day by early next year, a Number 10 spokesman said pilot schemes were currently being assessed.

“We have, throughout the pandemic, increased our capacity to test for coronavirus and we have always been clear that we’ll continue to increase capacity,” the spokesman said.

“DHSC (the Department of Health and Social Care) has three pilots currently under way and we are continuing to assess their feasibility.”

Mass testing on that scale “would allow for us to test wider sections of society that may be asymptomatic”.

01:01 PMCatalonia caps all social gatherings at 10 people

Catalonia’s Government has moved to ban all meetings of more than 10 people in a bid to stem a rise in infections that is threatening the scheduled return of children to classrooms in September, reports James Badcock in Madrid.

After today saw the number of new Covid-19 positives from the previous 24 hours reach more than 1,700, Quim Torra, Catalonia’s president, said urgent measures were require to stop this “persistent rise”.

The R rate in Catalonia stands at 1.12.

“We have to ask people for a fresh effort so that we all get to work and ensure that schools can reopen,” said Mr Torra.

Numbers of people meeting in public have been limited to 10 in the Barcelona area since July, but the restriction will now be imposed across Catalonia and also apply to private gatherings.

“The fewer people we have contact with, the better,” said Alba Vergés, Catalonia’s health minister.

12:51 PMIndia’s outbreak shows no sign of slowing as cases surpass three million

India’s total number of Covid-19 cases surpassed the unwelcome milestone of three million yesterday, only the third country to reach this figure, Joe Wallen reports.

Concerningly, India’s outbreak shows no sign of slowing with the number of new daily cases consistently exceeding 60,000 throughout August. If it continues to add new Covid-19 infections at this rate it is predicted to overtake Brazil to have the world’s second-highest tally of cases by the end of September.

Public health experts have warned that despite this already alarming number that only a small percentage of India’s cases are being officially registered, due to a lack of testing.

A sero survey carried out in New Delhi last week found over one-quarter of the 15,000 respondents had already developed Covid-19 antibodies. Officially, fewer than one per cent of Delhiites have contracted the virus.

Similar results have also been recorded in serosurveys in other major Indian cities like Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad, indicating the epidemic is far more widespread than officially thought.

12:38 PMLabour calls for halt to restarting bailiff visits for duration of pandemic crisis

Bailiff visits should be halted for the duration of the Covid-19 public health crisis, Labour has said.

In April, the Government banned bailiff visits but the temporary measures ended on Sunday, with debt collections allowed to restart today.

On a visit to Citizens Advice in Beverley, East Yorkshire, Labour’s shadow justice minister Karl Turner warned that millions of people could now face an anxious wait for a knock at the door.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “It is incredibly worrying the Government promised not to reintroduce bailiff visits during a public health pandemic, they’ve gone back on what they promised there.

“We’ve now got a situation where three million people are likely to be affected and 800,000 of those people who might be expecting a knock on a door today are people who have been affected directly as a result of Covid-19 and the public health crisis.

“So what we’re saying is the Government should think again, they should stop bailiff visits right now, get this public health crisis out of the way and then go back to reintroducing.

“But we need better oversight and we need better regulation – there is not enough, that’s just the truth of it.”

12:33 PMTop Gear ‘very much up and running’ but The Apprentice on hold

Kate Phillips, entertainment controller at the BBC, offered an update on their flagship entertainment shows, saying: “Top Gear is very much up and running. The big difference is we won’t be able to do all the foreign trips although a couple were done before lockdown.

“The inventiveness they have brought to the table, they are very, very funny, proper belly laughs.”

She added: “The Apprentice was a really hard call because we all really love The Apprentice. We had long discussions with the production team.

“We felt in the end the compromise that would have to be made, a lot of things that people love, the running around the streets, the living in the house together, we just couldn’t do it, and with the increasing costs, we thought we would rather bring it back when we can do it properly so that is paused until next year.”

12:28 PMBBC drama boss says shows using ‘ingenious’ ways to navigate Covid filming restrictions

BBC drama boss Piers Wenger has said productions ranging from EastEnders to The Pursuit Of Love are using “ingenious” ways to navigate Covid-19 filming restrictions, including have actors kissing through a sheet of perspex, which is then taken out in post-production, or putting cast and crew in “bubbles”.

12:24 PMMillionaire search after two winning Lotto tickets bought in lockdown-Oldham

Two potential millionaires from Oldham are being urged to come forward as winning Lotto tickets bought in the town have yet to be claimed.

The £1 million prizes were both won in the Lotto draw on Saturday August 8, but have not been claimed by the lucky ticket-holders.

The tickets were both bought in the metropolitan borough of Oldham, which has been subject to local lockdown restrictions in recent weeks.

National Lottery bosses are urging people to double-check their tickets for the winning numbers: 2, 40, 49, 53, 56 and 58 with a bonus ball of 41.

Camelot’s Andy Carter, senior winners’ adviser at the National Lottery, said: “We’re desperate to find this mystery ticket-holder or ticket-holders and unite them with their winnings, these amazing prizes could really make a huge difference to somebody’s life.

“Given the current situation in Oldham, and the wider national situation, we’re encouraging everyone who may have bought a ticket in the area to check their tickets online via the National Lottery website or via the National Lottery App.”

12:10 PMThe ever-changing travel naughty list has turned some of us into middle-class criminals

To go or not to go? Our columnist ponders the pros and cons of breaking the rules in order to visit France.

I should be in France right now, eating a croissant for breakfast, slathering the thing in apricot jam from the garden and washing it down with a delicious mug of rosé. Sadly, I’m not. I’m sitting in Crystal Palace, where there’s a lamentable lack of apricot trees and I’ve never seen a single man wearing a string of garlic like a handbag.

I couldn’t go to France because I didn’t have time to quarantine on the other side and I spent the week leading up to the government’s decision dithering over whether I should book a pedicure or not. “Oh just go,” said one anonymous friend, when I moaned about the situation. “Who’s going to check if you quarantine properly when you get back?”

This friend, I need to tell you, is the sort person who would never put the wrong sort of plastic in the recycling bin and yet here she was, advocating that I return from holiday and skip around the country’s care homes to have a jolly good breathe over everyone. Close enough, anyway.

Read the full piece, from Sophia Money-Coutts, here

11:53 AMSweden not expecting big second wave, says country’s chief epidemiologist

Sweden is likely to see local outbreaks but no big second wave of Covid-19 cases in the autumn, the country’s top epidemiologist and architect if its unorthodox pandemic strategy said today.

Sweden has been an outlier in Europe’s fight against the coronavirus, keeping businesses, restaurants and most schools open throughout the pandemic, while not recommending the use of face masks, which remain a rare sight on city streets.

Per capita, Sweden has suffered many times more virus deaths than its Nordic neighbours, though not quite as many as Europe’s worst-hit countries such as Belgium, Spain and Britain.

New cases, hospitalisations and mortality have fallen sharply over the past couple of months. With most Swedes having returned from summer vacations and schools reopening last week for the new term, there are concerns the country could see a second wave of infections.

“We don’t believe we’ll have a classic second wave, such as those seen in influenza pandemics where you get widespread contagion in the community again,” Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said in an interview with broadcaster TV4.

“This disease appears to work in a different way. The spread is more patchy, so the likelihood is greater that we will see – as one is currently seeing around Europe – outbreaks in certain places, at workplaces and similar environments, during the autumn.”

11:40 AMRecord rise in cases puts Greek holidays at risk of quarantine

Fears are growing that Greece could be dropped from the UK’s quarantine-exempt list, as it announced a record 284 new cases on Sunday, and two more deaths.

Greece’s Civil Protection Authority has thus implemented new measures on the island of Lesvos; ordering bars, restaurants and entertainment venues to close between midnight and 7am as of today. Similar rules are already in place in Santorini, Kos, Crete and Thessaloniki.

While Greece’s number of cases per 100,000 residents over a one-week period is currently at 14.1, well under the UK’s threshold of 20, it has been rising sharply. Two weeks ago, that number was only 6.1.

It comes as a raft of other countries around Europe face being removed from the FCO’s fast-dwindling ‘green’ list. The Czech Republic reported 506 positive tests on Friday, its highest daily rise since the start of the pandemic, while Switzerland saw new cases climb above 300 a day twice last week, a four-month record.

Read all the latest on our travel live blog ​here. 

11:34 AMWetherspoons warns of annual loss in wake of pandemic

Wetherspoon expects to sink to an annual loss and warned that sales will suffer when the Eat Out To Help Out scheme ends next week. 

The pub group, which has reopened 844 of its 873 sites, said bar and food sales fell by 16.9pc for the 44 days to 16 August.

Wetherspoon said sales had seen a “rapid acceleration” following the launch of Rishi Sunak’s discount dining scheme that halves the cost of food and soft drinks up to a maximum of £10 per person from Monday to Wednesday in August.

Sales have also improved as a result of additional seating outside its pubs, the company added. 

However, it warned that sales are expected to be more subdued once the Chancellor’s scheme ends. Chairman Tim Martin said it expects to fall to a loss this year due to one-off costs related to the pandemic.

Hannah Uttley has more here. 

11:27 AMFace masks at Edinburgh school ‘request, not obligation’, council says

Pupils who have been asked to wear face coverings at school are doing so as a “request by the school, not an obligation”, according to a local authority.

The move comes as a school in Scotland remains closed after a cluster emerged last week.

James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh welcomed youngsters back to classes today with the decision for masks reportedly to be used when moving along indoor corridors between classrooms.

Face masks are also being introduced at schools in the Highland Council area – including Millburn Academy in Inverness and Grantown Grammar School, in Grantown.

But a City of Edinburgh Council spokeswoman told the PA news agency: “As per the current Scottish Government and city guidance, there is no requirement for pupils to wear face coverings while in our schools.

“However, schools may choose to construct advice based on consultation with their pupils, on what they find suitable for their individual school community.

“At this time the wearing of face coverings at James Gillespie’s is a request by the school, not an obligation.”

11:18 AMWatch: Minister insists return to school is ‘safe’11:05 AMDutch royals sorry for Greek holiday virus breach

The Dutch King and Queen have apologised after they were pictured breaking coronavirus social distancing rules while on holiday in Greece.

A photograph on the internet showed King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima up close to a man said to be a restaurant owner on the island of Mykonos.

“A photo appeared in the media in which we kept too little distance. In the spontaneity of the moment, we did not pay attention,” the King and Queen said on Twitter.

“Of course, we should have done. Because on holiday too, respecting rules for coronavirus is essential for beating the virus.”

The photo showed the King, 53, in a patterned shirt with a mask in one hand and his arm around the Queen, 49, while the man also had his arm around the queen.

The person who took the photo, quoted anonymously by Dutch broadcaster RTL Nieuws, said it was taken in a private capacity and that the failure to respect social distancing was a “mistake”.

10:57 AMIt may not start and it may not finish – prepare for a Tour de France like no other

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic means this year’s biggest road race is up in the air, but its unpredictability could make it thrilling, writes Tom Cary.

It promises to be a Tour de France like no other. When the 107th edition of cycling’s biggest race kicks off in Nice next Saturday, it will do so with bubbles and buffer zones, mobile testing labs and minimal media interaction. Pre-race press conferences will be conducted via Zoom. Journalist access to buses and team hotels forbidden. In a blow for fans of plastic keychains and Haribo sweets, there will be no Tour caravan throwing trinkets to crowds this year.

What there will be is regular Covid-19 testing for the travelling circus. Tour organisers ASO have confirmed a two-strikes-and-you’re-out policy, raising the possibility of a maillot jaune contender having to abandon the race within sight of the finishing line in Paris despite not actually testing positive for coronavirus himself.

Imagine if that contender was Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot, about to become the first French winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985. It might trigger another French revolution.

Read the full piece here. 

10:44 AMEU Trade Commissioner urged to resign after controversial golf event

Ireland’s housing minister said that the EU’s Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan should resign after he attended a controversial golf event in the west of the country which many claim broke Covid-19 rules.

Mr Hogan is a senior Irish politician with significant standing in Brussels who would be deeply involved in any deal with Britain after Brexit.

The country’s Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said this morning that Mr Hogan should take responsibility for his actions.

The commissioner has also been urged to consider his position by the leaders of Ireland’s coalition Government, Micheal Martin and Leo Varadkar, after attending a dinner at a hotel in the west of Ireland with more than 80 people present.

Police are investigating whether coronavirus regulations were broken in holding the Irish parliament’s golf society event two days after the Government announced it intended to curb the numbers permitted to gather together.

Mr O’Brien also criticised the “drip feed” of information about Mr Hogan’s movements in Ireland.

“That’s unhelpful to say the least. The commissioner needs to realise how rightly people are so angry about this event and his participation in it,” he added.

10:33 AMJapan running out of credit card numbers after online shopping surge

Japan is facing a shortage of 16-digit credit card numbers after the pandemic sparked an online shopping boom.

Card providers are reportedly mulling an increase in the number of digits after shoppers turned to e-commerce as Covid-19 kept them at home.

The pandemic has helped with Tokyo’s push to boost cashless transactions with notes and coins still used for the vast majority of small purchases. Japan has lagged behind in the cashless shift but Shinzo Abe’s government plans to double usage to 40pc by 2025.

However, the industry fears the flurry of card issuance since the pandemic struck will cause a shortage of digit combinations, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported. 

Tom Rees has more here. 

10:24 AMTesco to create 16,000 permanent jobs for online business

Tesco has said it is creating 16,000 new permanent jobs as it sees “exceptional growth” in its online business.

Most of the roles are expected to be filled by workers who joined on a temporary basis at the start of the pandemic but who now want to remain with the business for the longer term, the retail giant said.

They include 10,000 pickers to put together customer orders and 3,000 drivers to deliver them, plus a number of other roles in stores and distribution, said Tesco – which is Britain’s biggest supermarket chain.

It said the new permanent roles were in addition to 4,000 already created since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

10:15 AMRussia reports over 4,700 new cases

Russia has reported 4,744 new coronavirus cases today, pushing its confirmed infection tally to 961,493, the fourth largest in the world.

Authorities said 65 people had died over the past 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 16,448.

10:00 AMFirst pupils return to schools in Northern Ireland

Many pupils in years seven, 12 and 14 in Northern Ireland are back at school today for the first time since March.

However, three schools did not reopen following the detection of Covid-19 cases: Ballyclare Secondary School is set to reopen on Tuesday following a deep clean and 72-hour incubation period, while St Kevin’s Primary School and St Louise’s College have also delayed their reopening following positive cases among the school community.

Some parents have taken to social media to express concern at their children returning to school.

Trevor Dempster, a father of five from Bangor, Co Down, said he is worried as his wife had been shielding during the pandemic.

“As a family, for us coronavirus is a life or death situation. My wife who is 32, has been taking immunosuppressants to treat a long-term illness.

“Jayne has no immune system to fight coronavirus and falls into the highest at risk category, labelled as vulnerable,” he tweeted. “This week will see our five young children return to school, at a time when new daily cases are rising sharply.

“The spread across all council areas in Northern Ireland suggests community transfer, which vastly increases the risk to those most vulnerable within our society.

“I agree the risk to children themselves is low but that is being used as spin from politicians & school leaders to hide behind the fact that children are ‘spreaders’. The issue is not that of children dying but of whom they will pass the virus too and the long-term consequences.”

Ashleigh Clarke teacher at St Clare’s Primary School in Belfast wearing a protective visor and gloves stands to greet pupils back to school – PATeacher Catherine McClean has her temperature checked by assistant teacher Hilary Brennan at St Clare’s Primary School in Belfast – PA09:51 AMEngland’s deputy chief medical officer calls for ‘fair distribution’ of any vaccine

England’s deputy chief medical officer has advocated for “fair distribution” of any Covid-19 vaccine after it was reported that Donald Trump is considering fast-tracking a UK Covid-19 vaccine candidate before the US election.

According to reports, the White House is considering granting emergency authorisation for a vaccine being developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

Commenting on the prospect of the vaccine being fast-tracked, England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said that everyone around the globe should have “fair and safe access to vaccine development”.

Dr Harries told Sky News: “We have a global crisis… It is really important that everyone around the world has fair and safe access to vaccine development.

“Obviously those countries which are more developed have the facilities to develop the vaccine and get it safely out to their populations. But I think all public health colleagues would be wanting fair distribution.”

09:46 AM22 cases linked to school in Dundee

A total of 22 coronavirus cases, most of them adult staff, have now been linked to a school in Dundee.

Kingspark School was closed last Wednesday as pupils and staff were asked to self-isolate for 14 days, with NHS Tayside confirming in an update on Sunday that 17 staff, two pupils and three community contacts had tested positive.

Two other school sites in Dundee have also been identified as result of contact tracing connected to the Kingspark outbreak.

A primary two class at St Peter and Paul’s School has been asked to self-isolate until September 2 after an individual tested positive.

Children who attended the Happy Times out-of-school club at Downfield Primary School are also being asked to self-isolate until the same date following a positive test result.

09:40 AMLatest Covid rates in key UK risk areas

Below  is a summary of the latest rates of new Covid-19 cases in key areas of England from PA news agency:


There were 149 new cases of Covid-19 recorded in Oldham in the seven days to August 20. This is the equivalent of 62.8 cases per 100,000 people – down from 102.5 per 100,000 in the previous week. Oldham continues to record the highest rate of new cases in England, but the rolling rate has fallen steadily since a peak of 112.2 in the seven days to August 11.

Further restrictions were introduced in Oldham from midnight on Saturday August 22, with people told not to socialise with anyone outside their household and to use public transport only if it is essential.


Pendle is currently recording the second highest rate in England, but here too the numbers are falling. Some 55 new cases were recorded in the seven days to August 20 – the equivalent of 59.7 cases per 100,000 people. This is down from 90.1 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to August 13.

Blackburn with Darwen

A total of 76 new cases were recorded in Blackburn with Darwen in the seven days to August 20, or 50.8 per 100,000 people. This is down from 94.9 in the previous seven days. Both Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle have had the same additional restrictions imposed as in Oldham.


Cases continue to fall in Leicester. The latest figures show 167 new cases were recorded in the seven days to August 20, or 47.1 per 100,000 people. This is down from 60.7 in the previous seven days. At the peak of the recent outbreak in the city, the rolling rate was as high as 159.5 cases per 100,000 for the seven days to June 24.


The city of Birmingham was placed on the Government’s national watchlist on August 21 as an “area of enhanced support”, meaning it will be provided with extra resources and support to help increase testing and manage outbreaks if necessary.

No new restrictions have been placed on residents, however, and the number of new cases is falling.

Birmingham currently has the 17th highest rate in England, with 23.6 cases per 100,000 people recorded in the seven days to August 20 – down from 30.4 in the previous seven days.

09:30 AMResidents in locked down China region complain about harsh restrictions

Residents in China’s north-western Xinjiang region have complained on social media about the harsh coronavirus lockdown measures in the region after a local outbreak.

Officials said earlier this month that they had “effectively contained” the spread of the Urumqi cluster, and there have been no new cases reported in the last eight days.

But hundreds of local residents flooded local social media forums in recent days to complain about harsh conditions, including many being forced to stay home.

After some of these comments were removed – China’s internet is heavily censored – users tried to flood local forums on the Twitter-like Weibo platform in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Social media users shared photos of front doors sealed with steel crowbars, and locks installed by community workers.

“Why can’t prefectures with no cases remove the lockdown? Why do you need to lock down the whole of Xinjiang?” read one comment on Weibo, which received thousands of likes.

09:23 AMJohnson: Transport should be ‘no obstacle’ to pupils returning

Boris Johnson said that transport should be “no obstacle” to pupils returning to school in September.

He said: “We’ve also got to face the fact that lockdown, kids being out of school as so many of them have, has been I think a risk for them physically because they haven’t been able to exercise, perhaps in the way that they should.

“But also there’s been pressure on their mental health as well and that’s why we’re putting another £8 million now into helping teachers to cope with some of the mental health problems that kids and young people may experience.

“But the best way to tackle any mental health problems is to get our kids into school in September.”

Mr Johnson added: “Whether your child, whether your pupil is going by bus or by cycle, or by train, or by car, or walking, whatever mode of transport your kid needs to get to school, we’ll do everything we can to help.

“We’re putting another £40 million in to support councils and we want to make sure that transport is no obstacle and it won’t be. Transport should be no obstacle to kids, to pupils, getting back into school in September.”

09:10 AMBoris Johnson: Risk of children getting Covid is very small

Boris Johnson has sought to assure parents that the risk of children getting Covid-19 as they return to school is “very, very, very small”.

In a video posted on Twitter, the Prime Minister said: “It’s absolutely vital that pupils get back into school in September.

“It’s vital for their education, it’s vital for their welfare, it’s vital for their physical, and indeed, their mental wellbeing. So let’s make sure that all kids, all pupils, get back to school at the beginning of September.”

Mr Johnson continued: “I think parents are genuinely still a bit worried about their children contracting coronavirus. All I can say is the risks are very, very, very small that they’ll even get it, but then the risk that they’ll suffer from it badly are very, very, very, very small indeed.

“I think it’s vital that parents understand that schools are safe and that teachers have gone to great lengths to get schools ready. They’ve been doing it all throughout the pandemic, by the way.

“Lots of schools have been open and looking after kids very, very successfully and will take steps to ensure that groups aren’t mixed up, that we have washing of hands and all the other disciplines you need to prevent spread of the virus.”

09:08 AMFive-mile limit lifted as Aberdeen lockdown begins to ease

A number of lockdown measures have now been lifted in Aberdeen, including the five-mile travel limit and restrictions on indoor meetings.

People can now travel further than five miles for non-essential or leisure purposes, while restrictions on gatherings and hospital and care home visits have been eased.

However, people will have to wait until Wednesday before they can visit pubs or restaurants, which will reopen once they have undergone an environmental health check.

Aberdeen was put back on lockdown following a spike in Covid cases almost three weeks ago, with the hospitality sector ordered to close after an outbreak linked to pubs and restaurants.

08:41 AMClosing schools ‘last resort’ in terms of tackling local increase in infections

Minister for school standards Nick Gibb said the Prime Minister “has made very clear that closing schools will be the last resort in terms of tackling a local increase in the infection rate”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “So I think we are confident that it is safe for children to attend schools and we’re confident that we can identify at a local level where there is an increase in the infection rate.

“The Prime Minister has made very clear that closing schools will be the last resort in terms of tackling a local increase in the infection rate, but we will take swift action, advised by the local health protection teams when we identify a rise in the infection rate in local areas around the country. That’s the only way we can sort of suffocate this virus, to deal with it, to stop it spreading more widely in the community.”

Asked about having a helpline for headteachers to call, he said: “There are all kinds of methods by which we contact schools, we will look at all these issues… My understanding is that there’s always been a helpline available, but better than that is that our regional teams are in continual contact with schools around the country, and where there are concerns then help and support will be given to those schools.”

08:33 AMFrance to reciprocate Britain’s quarantine rule in coming days 

French authorities will in coming days reciprocate Britain’s decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from France, the junior minister for European affairs said today.

Britain said on Friday that travellers from the United Kingdom to France are required to self-certify that they are not suffering coronavirus symptoms or have been in contact with a confirmed case within 14 days preceding travel.

Since August 15 British authorities have also required travellers returning from France to self-isolate upon their return due to high Covid-19 infection rates in France.

“We will have a measure called reciprocity so that our British friends do not close the border in one single way,” French Junior European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told French TV France 2.

“For travellers returning from the United Kingdom, there will probably be restrictive measures decided in the next few days by the Prime Minister and by the Defence Council.”

08:26 AMSchools minister ‘confident’ all schools will open at start of September

Nick Gibb also said he was “confident” that all schools will be open at the beginning of September.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Fines are something that headteachers are very reluctant to use, they use them only as a last resort. It’s about reassuring parents that may have a particular concern about the measures that the school has taken to make sure that their young people are safe, and they are going to extraordinary lengths to make sure that children are safe.

“Ninety per cent of parents have said that it’s likely or very likely that their children will attend school. I’m confident that all schools will be open at the beginning of September.”

Asked about masks, he said: “What the current advice is, is that if a school puts in place the measures that are in the guidance that we issued in early July, all the hygiene measures that I’ve been talking about, then masks are not necessary for staff or pupils …

“Well, we always listen to whatever the current advice is from PHE, the chief medical officers, we always adhere to that advice, and it’s that advice that drives the content of the guidance that we give to schools.”

08:18 AMMeasures schools taking to minimise virus risk ‘very effective’, says schools minister

Minister for school standards Nick Gibb has insisted the measures schools were taking to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus are “very effective”.

Asked about fines for parents, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Well, look, fines for non-attendance have always been a last resort for headteachers and schools. What matters is that young people are attending school.

“We live in a country where education is compulsory and I think parents can be reassured that the measures that schools are taking to make sure that we minimise the risk of the transmission of the virus are very effective.”

He added: “If they’ve (parents) got extra concerns, that is a matter between the headteacher and the family to make sure that their concerns are taken into account, but it is important – it’s a moral imperative – that young people are back in school, because what the chief medical officers are saying now is that the risk of not being in school outweigh the very small risk of children being in school, particularly given all the control measures, the hygiene, the cleaning that’s taking place in our schools … there’s an absolute determination to make sure that schools are safe for the children and children want to be back.”

08:13 AMFace masks compulsory in Seoul as South Korea battles surge in cases

 South Korea’s capital has ordered the wearing of masks in both indoor and outdoor public places for the first time, as it battles a surge in coronavirus cases centred in the densely populated metropolitan area.

“If we fail to flatten the curve this week we believe we will be faced with a very important crisis, that the virus will spread to the entire nation,” health ministry official Yoon Tae-ho told a briefing.

The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 266 new cases as of midnight on Sunday, down from 397 a day earlier but another in more than a week of triple-digit daily increases. Overall, South Korea has reported 17,665 coronavirus cases and 309 deaths.

South Korea has been widely praised for its success in tackling the virus, with extensive testing and aggressive contact-tracing, but Yoon said health investigators had been unable to determine the transmission routes of about 20 per cent of the recent cases, raising concerns over so-called silent spreaders.

He called on people to avoid leaving home and to cancel any unnecessary trips out.

The Government has also extended second-tier social-distancing rules, which had been in place in Seoul, to other areas of the country, banning in-person church meetings and closing nightclubs, buffets and cyber cafes.

Health authorities say they are considering imposing the toughest stage 3 social-distancing rules, under which schools and business are urged to close, if the spread of new cases can not be slowed.

08:07 AMTrump considers fast-tracking UK vaccine before US election 

The Trump administration is considering bypassing normal US regulatory standards to fast-track an experimental coronavirus vaccine from the UK for use in America ahead of the presidential election, according to people briefed on the plan.

The Financial Times is reporting that one option being explored to speed up the availability of a vaccine would involve the US Food and Drug Administration awarding “emergency use authorisation” (EUA) in October to a vaccine being developed in partnership with AstraZeneca and Oxford University, based on results from a small UK study if it is successful.

The White House declined to comment on the report.

A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca denied the company had discussed an emergency use authorization for its potential vaccine with the US Government and said it would be premature to speculate on that possibility.

The company said the late-stage Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials for its vaccine candidate are still ongoing in Britain and other markets globally and that it did not anticipate efficacy results until later this year.

There are no approved vaccines for Covid-19, but AstraZeneca’s shot, called AZD1222, is widely seen as one of the leading candidates.

07:13 AMChildren more at risk from road accident on way to school than coronavirus

Children are more likely to be involved in a car accident or catch flu than coronavirus, the deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries has said. 

“Every time a parent sends their children to school, pre-Covid, they may have been involved in a road traffic accident – there are all sorts of things.

“That risk, or the risk of seasonal flu, we think is probably higher than the current risk of coronavirus,” she told Sky News.

“The risk to the child themselves is very, very small.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries says schools are currently a safe environment for children, describing a child’s risk from seasonal flu as higher than that posed by COVID-19. SI#KayBurley

— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) August 24, 2020


06:42 AMBack-to-school campaign must engage with parents

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said the Government needs to engage with families to help parents send pupils back to school.

Noting the anxiety many parents have about the return to school, he told BBC Breakfast: “The Government’s back-to-school campaign has really got to engage with parents, let parents know what to do, and to make sure that parents know what to do around the school as well to make sure all of the measures being taken in school are as secure as they can be.”

Mr Whiteman said there were worries about the impact on the R-rate and transmission of coronavirus in schools.

Boris Johnson in a classroom – Lucy Young/Pool via AP, File

He added: “We want to engage with Government, we want some more advice from Government about what to do if the pressure on R comes and what to do if we do need a plan B.

“It seems to be an act of heresy at the moment if you talk about wanting a plan B. It’s not defeatist to prepare for the worst whilst hoping for the best.

“If we do have to experience some form of shutdown going forward, we want to learn from what happened before when we had no time to prepare, and be prepared if it comes again.”

06:25 AMPrime Minister must galvanise his inner Churchill, says Sir Iain Duncan Smith

Writing in today’s Telegraph, former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith says: ” We have to make it clear to the Unions and others that there are no if’s or buts, schools must re-open and children must go back in September.

“Ministers even now should be explaining, forcefully, to parents that their children’s future will be blighted if this does not happen. They also need to explain again and again to parents that there is no risk. Also if children don’t go back to school, large swathes of the economy will lose the input of parents and be further damaged.

“This battle over schools returning must see the Prime Minister in the lead, galvanising his inner Churchill for this issue has the capacity either to scar the government or alternatively to re-invigorate the government.

“It is a fight that, if the government wins, will see the start of an uplift in its fortunes and win it must.”

​Read it in full here

05:30 AMThe oil and gas sector allowed to bypass environmental rules 

Thousands of oil and gas operations, government facilities and other sites have won permission to stop monitoring for hazardous emissions or otherwise bypass rules intended to protect health and the environment because of the coronavirus outbreak, The Associated Press has found.

The result: approval for less environmental monitoring at some Texas refineries and at an army depot dismantling warheads armed with nerve gas in Kentucky, manure piling up and the mass disposal of livestock carcasses at farms in Iowa and Minnesota, and other increased risks to communities as governments eased enforcement over smokestacks, medical waste shipments, sewage plants, oilfields and chemical plants.

The Trump administration paved the way for the reduced monitoring on March 26 after being pressured by the oil and gas industry, which said lockdowns and social distancing during the pandemic made it difficult to comply with pollution rules. States are responsible for much of the oversight of federal environmental laws, and many followed with their own policies.

05:06 AMIndia’s coronavirus cases surge to 3.1 millionIndian devotees wearing a protective face mask, carry Hindu god Lord Ganesha for immersion as part of a ritual in India. – Shutterstock

India reported 61,408 coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, taking its total caseload past 3.1 million, data from the federal health ministry showed.

India crossed the 3 million cases milestone on Sunday, 17 days after it crossed the 2 million mark. It is the worst-affected country in Asia, and third behind Brazil and the United States globally.

The number of deaths in the last 24 hours was 836, taking the total to 57,542.

04:56 AMNew Zealand extends Auckland lockdownPrime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. – Getty Images AsiaPac

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today extended a coronavirus lockdown in the country’s largest city until the end of the week and introduced mandatory mask wearing on public transport across the nation.

Ardern said the four-day extension in the city of Auckland was critical to enable the country to step down its scale of emergency restrictions – and remain at less restrictive levels.

“We want both confidence, and certainty for everyone,” Ardern said during a televised media conference.

The Auckland lockdown, imposed on August 11 after officials detected the country’s first locally acquired cases of Covid-19 in more than three months, had been scheduled to end on Wednesday.

It will now end on Sunday night. The city’s step down from Level 3 to Level 2 restrictions will be made gradually from today.

02:19 AMMexico posts lowest weekly death toll in 2 months

Mexico reported 226 more deaths from coronavirus on Sunday, finishing the week with 3,723 fatalities, the lowest total in over two months and lending weight to government assertions it is beating back the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the government’s coronavirus czar, Deputy Health Minster Hugo Lopez-Gatell, declared the virus was in “sustained decline” in Mexico, barely two weeks after the country posted its highest daily new infections.

Low testing rates have fed concerns that the published data may understate the true extent of the pandemic, and ministry officials also caution that cases could surge again.

Mexico has the third highest death toll globally standing at 60,480, after the United States and Brazil.

12:44 AMAustralia’s Victoria state reports lowest rise in cases in seven weeks

The Australian state of Victoria reported its lowest daily rise in new infections in seven weeks on Monday, fuelling optimism that a deadly second wave there is subsiding.

Victoria today reported 116 cases and 15 deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours, down from a peak of more than 700 cases early this month.

Australia saw a surge in infections in the past month in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital and the country’s second-largest city, but cases have been trending downward in recent days helped by a total lockdown.

While the Melbourne lockdown has curtailed the spread of infections, it has wreaked havoc on the economy with Australia’s effective unemployment rate expected to climb above 13pc by the end of September, according to government estimates.

Nearly half a million people could lose their jobs due to the full lockdown in Melbourne, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Sunday.

11:32 PMJapan’s Prime Minister Abe to visit hospital againJapan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is rumoured to have health issues – Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to visit a Tokyo hospital today, Yomiuri daily said, amid mounting concerns about his ability to continue as premier due to health issues and fatigue from handling the coronavirus crisis.

Citing several government and coalition sources, Yomiuri said Abe would receive the results of a medical check-up from a week ago, when he underwent an examination that lasted seven-and-a-half hours, adding to worries about his health.

Abe, already the country’s longest-serving prime minister, was set to surpass a half-century-old record set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato for the longest consecutive tenure as premier on Monday.

Abe, in office since 2012 in his second stint as prime minister, resigned from his first term in 2007 because of struggles with ulcerative colitis, which he now keeps under control with medication that was not previously available.

Akira Amari, an Abe confidante and chairman of the LDP’s tax panel, said that Abe, 65, could be suffering from fatigue because of his continuous work over the response to the virus.

10:41 PMUS announces approval of plasma treatment against virus

American authorities announced an emergency approval of blood plasma from recovered coronavirus patients as a treatment against the disease that has killed over 176,000 in the US.

The Food and Drug Administration’s authorisation comes as President Donald Trump faces intense pressure to curb the contagion that has crippled the world’s largest economy and clouded his once-promising prospects for re-election in November.

The plasma is believed to contain powerful antibodies that can help fight off the disease faster and help protect people from being seriously hurt by it.

“This product may be effective in treating Covid-19 and… the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product,” FDA said in a statement.

While the treatment has already been used on patients in the United States and other nations, the extent of its effectiveness is still debated by experts and some have warned that it could carry side effects.

For more read Donald Trump gives emergency authorisation for use of plasma to treat coronavirus  by US correspondent David Millward.

10:31 PMBoris Johnson urges parents to send their kids back to schoolPrime Minister Boris Johnson visits St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in London encouraging children to return to the classroom – Lucy Young/Pool Evening Standard

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on parents to send their children back to school next month after the summer holidays, which he views as a key step to helping the country and its economy recover from the lockdown.

Mr Johnson followed up on a warning over the weekend from medical advisers who said that students faced bigger risks from missing out on their education than from catching the virus.

“The risk of contracting Covid-19 in school is very small and it is far more damaging for a child’s development and their health and well-being to be away from school any longer,” Johnson said in a statement.

“This is why it’s vitally important that we get our children back into the classroom to learn and to be with their friends. Nothing will have a greater effect on the life chances of our children than returning to school.”

Schools shut their doors in March, except for the children of key workers, and reopened in June for only a small number of pupils.

For more read Julia Hartley-Brewer ‘s  article entitled  Schools crisis is Boris Johnson’s do-or-die moment.

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