UK coronavirus LIVE: ‘True’ Covid-19 death toll tops 56,400 as five countries added to quarantine exemption list
The UK’s “true” coronavirus death toll has passed 56,400, the latest Office for National Statistics figures reveal.
So far 56,409 deaths have been registered across the country where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.
The Government continues to opinion over its “swift” decision to remove Spain from its list of safe destinations to visit. Meanwhile, Downing Street has added a further five countries to the so-called “travel corridor” group.
In other developments, Boris Johnson has announced plans to make bikes available on the NHS as part of the Government’s anti-obesity drive, and the world’s biggest Covid-19 vaccine trial has begun in the US, with some 30,000 volunteers taking part.
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Duchess of Cornwall wears a mask in public for the first time
PM: European coronavirus ‘second wave’ could mean further quarantine restrictions
Boris Johnson has indicated that quarantine restrictions could be imposed on further European countries if a “second wave” of coronavirus hits the continent.
The Prime Minister already faces a diplomatic row with Spain after warning against all but essential travel to the country – and its resort islands – and insisting that travellers arriving in the UK from there spend a fortnight in quarantine due to an increase in cases.
But he defended the move and insisted the Government would not hesitate to act if flare-ups of coronavirus occurred in other destinations.
“I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic,” the Prime Minister warned.
Which areas of England have enjoyed the lowest coronavirus rates?
Leicester and Blackburn have both experienced recent spikes in the rate of new cases of coronavirus – but a handful of local authorities have gone for several weeks without a single confirmed case of Covid-19, according to the latest figures.
The area to have had the longest spell without a new case is West Devon, where the most recent case was recorded on June 26.
The Isle of Wight has not recorded any new cases since July 2, while in Scarborough no cases have been recorded since July 3.
The figures are published by Public Health England and cover positive cases that have been confirmed up to and including July 24 by tests carried out in laboratories (pillar one of the Government’s testing programme) and in the wider community (pillar two).
They also show no recorded cases in Ryedale in North Yorkshire since July 5 and in Torridge in Devon since July 9.
Some nurseries and childcare providers appear to have treated parents “unfairly” by demanding full fees despite closures during the pandemic, the competition watchdog has said.
Parents were pressured to make payments after providers said their child’s place would be lost or they would go out of business, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found.
Other early years providers relied on “unfair cancellation terms”, or large cancellation fees from parents, despite most children having to remain at home amid lockdown.
But the CMA has decided not to take enforcement action against providers at this stage, adding that the sector has encountered “financial pressures”.
The decision comes after the regulator launched an investigation in April into nurseries and childcare providers following reports alleging unfair practices over payments and cancellations.
Nurseries closed their doors in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak, remaining open only for vulnerable youngsters and the children of key workers.
But some parents were asked to pay some or all of their monthly fees, which can amount to hundreds of pounds, to retain their child’s place.
Real Madrid forward Mariano has tested positive for coronavirus and will miss the Champions League clash against Manchester City as he quarantines.
The 26-year-old Dominican Republic forward gave the positive result as players and staff returned to the training ground following a few days off after securing the league title.
A club statement said: “After the Covid-19 tests carried out individually on our first football team yesterday by the Real Madrid medical services, our player Mariano has given a positive result.
“The player is in perfect health and complying with the sanitary isolation protocol at home.”
Scots urged to help vaccine effort
Scotland’s deputy chief medical officer Nicola Steedman has urged people to volunteer to help during the testing phase of a new Covid-19 vaccine.
Last week, findings from the early phases of an Oxford University trial were published, with Ms Steedman saying the vaccine was both safe and created a “good response” in the more than 500 test subjects.
She added: “It’s still early days, but it’s definitely good news.”
Ms Steedman said: “Science and research has never been more important than it is now.”
Larger-scale trials will be required to ensure that vaccines can be rigorously tested in the coming months and Ms Steedman has said a registry has been set up across the UK for people to sign up to be a part of Covid-19 trials.
Online sign-up can be found at www.nhs.uk/researchcontact.
Are we any closer to figuring out where the coronavirus came from?
The evolutionary history of the virus responsible for the coronavirus pandemic has been circulating in bats for decades, according to an international team of researchers.
The scientists have traced back the origins of SARS-CoV-2 – which causes Covid-19 – with their findings having implications for preventing future pandemics from the same lineage.
The team used three different approaches to identify and remove regions in the genome before reconstructing histories and comparing them to see which specific viruses have appeared in the past.
They found the lineage of viruses that SARS-CoV-2 belongs to diverged from other bat viruses from about 40 to 70 years ago.
David L Robertson, professor of computational virology at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, said the findings suggest “other viruses that are capable of infecting humans are circulating in horseshoe bats in China”.
He said: “SARS-CoV-2’s receptor-binding domain sequence has so far only been found in a few pangolin viruses.
“Furthermore, the other key feature thought to be instrumental to SARS-CoV-2’s ability to infect humans – a polybasic cleavage site insertion in the Spike protein – has not yet been seen in another close bat relative of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
“While it is possible that pangolins may have acted as an intermediate host facilitating transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans, no evidence exists to suggest that pangolin infection is a requirement for bat viruses to cross into humans.”
He explained: “Instead, our research suggests that SARS-CoV-2 likely evolved the ability to replicate in the upper respiratory tract of both humans and pangolins.
“The key to successful surveillance is knowing which viruses to look for and prioritising those that can readily infect humans.
“We should have been better prepared for a second SARS virus.”
Second wave fears? This isn’t flu, says the WHO:
Coronavirus is going to be “one big wave” rather than follow seasonal trends, the World Health Organisation has warned.
The health authority warned against complacency about coronavirus transmission in the summer, saying that Covid-19 does not behave like flu which tends to follow seasonal trends.
“People are still thinking about seasons,” Dr Margaret Harris said during a briefing in Geneva.
“What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and…this one is behaving differently.”
Schools set to reopen in Scotland on August 11
Scotland’s Education Secretary John Swinney addressed the Holyrood briefing on the reopening of schools.
Mr Swinney said “we should be confident” that schools should be able to reopen on August 11.
He added: “As we consider the reopening of schools, it is vital that, along with our partners, we address the wider impacts of the virus on the health, wellbeing and educational attainment of children and young people to whom we have listened carefully about their aspirations about their return to schooling.”
The wellbeing of children is “critical” to the decision to reopen schools, Mr Swinney said, adding that parents should be reassured that local authorities and schools are developing plans to ensure the safety of children.
Mr Swinney reiterated that £50 million had been made available to local authorities to recruit more teachers and staff, along with £20 million more to support the practicalities of reopening schools.
Sturgeon ‘highly concerned’ by coronavirus spikes across Europe
Despite Scotland having not seen a death as a result of a confirmed case of Covid-19, the First Minister said she was concerned that there was an increase in other parts of the world, including Europe.
She said: “I remain highly concerned, possibly increasingly concerned again, about the Covid risk.
“We are currently seeing a worrying resurgence of Covid cases, not just in far away parts of the world, but also in several countries across Europe right now.”
Parts of Belgium and Spain, along with Germany and France, have seen recent outbreaks in coronavirus, the First Minister said.
Ms Sturgeon said that as the suppression of the virus continues in Scotland, care should be taken it is not allowed to enter the country from outside, adding the Scottish Government will reimpose the quarantine regulations on countries with spikes in coronavirus cases if they feel it is necessary.
She warned those planning overseas holidays to be aware that the regulations could be reimposed while they are away.
Scotland confirms 12th day of no new Covid deaths
Scotland has now gone 12 days without any new coronavirus deaths, Nicola Sturgeon said.
The First Minister gave the latest figures at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh.
A total of 2,491 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for Covid-19.
Ms Sturgeon said 18,558 people have tested positive for the virus, up by four from 18,554 the day before.
There were 264 people in hospital with confirmed Covid-19, down six in 24 hours.
Of these, two were in intensive care, no change on the previous day.
Local lockdowns? We need to look at ‘big picture’ – PM
Boris Johnson said the priority must be people’s health in determining when local lockdowns are lifted.
Asked about the lockdown in Leicester, he said: “I have every sympathy for local leaders who want their area out of lockdown, I can understand their instincts.
“But we have to look at the big picture, we have to look at the national situation and, of course, we need to look at the health of the people of Leicester as well.
“They’ve been making a great effort to get the incidents down, the review is going on in the course of the next few days as you know, let’s hope we can make progress there.
“But the priority, and I think the mayor (Peter Soulsby) and local MPs would agree with this, the priority has got to be people’s health and getting the disease under control.
“Particularly now as we can see what’s happening amongst some of our European friends, where they’ve got it starting to bubble up again.”
PM fuels rumours quarantine could be cut down to 10 days
Asked about reports the 14-day quarantine period could be reduced, Boris Johnson said: “We are always looking at ways in which we can mitigate the impact of the quarantine, try to help people, try to make sure that the science is working to help travellers and holidaymakers.
“At the moment you have got to stick with the guidance that we are giving, we have given the guidance now about Spain and about some other places around the world.
“I’m afraid if we do see signs of a second wave in other countries it is really our job, our duty, to act swiftly and decisively to stop … travellers coming back from those places seeding the disease here in the UK.”
Brits need to make up their own minds about holiday risks – PM
Boris Johnson said it was up to individuals to decide whether they wanted to take the risk of going abroad in the present circumstances.
“These are decisions for families, for individuals, about where they want to go,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the quarantine measures were aimed at stopping cases being brought in to the UK.
“It’s vital that when people are coming back from abroad, if they are coming back from a place where I’m afraid there is another outbreak, they must go into quarantine.
“That’s why we have taken the action that we have and we will continue, throughout the summer, to take such action where it is necessary.”
PM: European friends are starting to see second wave
Boris Johnson said there were signs of a second wave of coronavirus in Europe as he defended the Government’s decision to impose quarantine restrictions on Spain.
“What we have to do is take swift and decisive action where we think that the risks are starting to bubble up again,” he said.
“Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s happening in Europe, amongst some of our European friends, I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.”
On yer bike: Boris Johnson spotted near Nottingham
The Prime Minister has been out with Darren Henry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe, at the Canal Side Heritage Centre in Beeston.
The pair are promoting the launch of the Government’s new anti-obesity drive to get more people cycling.
Spotted: The Duchess of Cornwall arrives at the recently reopened National Gallery.
Camilla will meet staff involved in the organisation’s Covid-19 response and reopening process.
Almost £50 billion of loans to businesses hit by Covid-19 have been approved so far, the Treasury said.
This includes, up to July 26, £33.68 billion in bounce back loans for 1,113,312 businesses.
The Government, which is guaranteeing the vast majority of the loans should they not be repaid, added that £12.65 billion has been endorsed through the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) and £3.1 billion through the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme (CLBILS) to larger firms.
A total of 510 convertible loans have been awarded through the Future Fund, totalling £512.9 million.
The Government is continuing to support the salaries of 9.5 million workers on furlough through the coronavirus job retention scheme.
The latest HM Revenue and Customs figures up to July 26 show 1.2 million businesses are claiming a total of £31.7 billion.
‘True’ coronavirus death toll tops 56,400
Just over 56,400 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK.
Figures published by the ONS show that 51,366 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to July 17, and had been registered by July 25.
Figures published last week by the National Records for Scotland showed that 4,193 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to July 19 while 850 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland up to July 17 (and had been registered up to July 22) according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
Together, these figures mean that so far 56,409 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.