Theatres, casinos and bowling alleys to reopen as PM eases lockdown restrictions

Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe
·62-min read
People wearing face masks and keeping a safe distance from each other in a theatre in Uruguay, as Boris Johnson eases more lockdown restrictions in the UK to allow theatres to reopen from August 15 - AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico
People wearing face masks and keeping a safe distance from each other in a theatre in Uruguay, as Boris Johnson eases more lockdown restrictions in the UK to allow theatres to reopen from August 15 - AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

12:02 AM

Today's top stories

Follow the latest coronavirus updates in Saturday's live blog.

12:01 AM

PM eases lockdown restrictions

Theatres, casinos and bowling alleys will be allowed to reopen in England from this weekend as the Government resumes its easing of lockdown restrictions.

From Saturday August 15 socially distanced audiences will also be allowed back into indoor venues, while wedding receptions of up to 30 people will also be permitted.

Wedding ceremonies remain capped at no more than 30 people and should be kept "as short as reasonably possible", the Government said.

Audiences will be able to return to indoor theatre performances and music venues in England, so long as they adhere to social distancing.

Boris Johnson said the changes will allow people to “get back to more of the things they have missed” since the health crisis began after rising infection rates appeared to have “levelled off”.

The Government said it will resume plans to pilot a small number of sporting events in order to test the safe return of larger crowds. This will begin with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre on Saturday and Sunday.

The lockdown restrictions were due to be eased on August 1, but a spike in coronavirus cases at the time resulted in them being paused for two weeks.

09:56 PM

The front page of tomorrow's Daily Telegraph

 

09:45 PM

Coronavirus has exposed extent of slavery in UK, says Sir Iain Duncan Smith

Coronavirus has shone a light on a “lawless state” within Britain, where people are held as slaves and criminal gangs steal from the taxpayer, says Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

The former Conservative Party leader tells of the “enormous criminal sub-society thriving in the UK”, whose practices have been exposed during the pandemic.

The former Conservative Party tells of the 'enormous criminal sub-society thriving in the UK', where many people are held as slaves - Eddie Mulholland/Eddie Mulholland
The former Conservative Party tells of the 'enormous criminal sub-society thriving in the UK', where many people are held as slaves - Eddie Mulholland/Eddie Mulholland

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Sir Iain says: “A significant and well-organised network of gangs brings people into this country by different methods, including illegal passports. But the gangs don’t just go away when the migrants land in the UK. Too many migrants are then forced into slavery in disgusting conditions.”

He made the comments after a report was published by the Centre for Social Justice, the think tank, on slavery and exploitation of workers in Leicester.

It follows reports of a clothing factory in Leicester that allegedly paid staff illegally low wages and flouted safety measures.

Our Deputy Political Editor Anna Mikhailova has the latest here

09:29 PM

Test people arriving from red list countries to end 'quarantine roulette', Government told

Holidaymakers returning to the UK from "red list" countries should be tested in order to end the "quarantine roulette" that has dogged the summer, the Government has been told.

Around 160,000 travellers faced a scramble to return from France on Friday after they were given just over 24 hours notice by the Government to leave the country or face having to quarantine for 14 days on their return. 

Thousands more face the prospect of cancelling breaks or risk missing weeks of work. Going on holiday could also mean children – who have already missed months of school – being stuck in quarantine when the new term starts.

Holidaymakers were originally due to have until 4am on Sunday to make it back to the UK (see video below), but Scotland, backed by Wales and Northern Ireland, pushed for that deadline to be brought forward to 4am on Saturday.

MPs and industry figures called for a testing regime for those returning from abroad to end the chaos – but it emerged that the Government was told by scientists two months ago that testing travellers could help avoid a blanket quarantine.

 

09:09 PM

Exam appeals made free amid fears GCSE results will be bigger disaster than A-levels

All exam appeals will be free this year, the Education Secretary announced last night in an attempt to see off rising anger ahead of GCSE results day.

Gavin Williamson said that his department would cover the costs so that schools were not left out of pocket, as he announced that he would set up a Government task force to oversee the appeals process.

His intervention came as statisticians predicted that GCSE results day on Thursday would be an even bigger disaster for students than A-levels were. The exams regulator’s own analysis of its algorithm being used to calculate most results this summer found that it was able to predict GCSE grades less accurately than it could predict A-level grades.

Prof Guy Nason, chair in statistics at Imperial College London, told The Telegraph that he was struck by Ofqual’s admission on this. “I am extremely worried about next week,” he said. “If people think A-level results were bad, what is going to happen then?”

Ofqual should have been more open about its model so that a “mature discussion” could have taken place earlier at an earlier stage, he added.

Read the full piece here.

08:49 PM

Evening summary

If you are just joining us, here is a round up of this evening's events.

  • Local coronavirus lockdowns could stigmatise towns, drive away visitors and damage property prices, Government advisers have warned.

  • Northampton has the highest rolling seven day rate of new coronavirus cases, according to the latest Government figures broken down by local authority. 

  • Rule-breaking pub landlords in Birmingham are facing a police crackdown for failing to properly record customers' details as concerns grow about a rising Covid infection rate in the region. 

  • Germany looks set to impose antigen PCR tests for travellers arriving into the country from Spain.

  • Greece has announced a 50-person limit on public gatherings in a bid to contain a recent spike in infections. 

  • France has reported more than 2,500 new infections for the third day in a row, while Paris and the city of Marseille have been identified as high risk coronavirus zones.

  • Child marriage has almost doubled in parts of Malawi during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to figures from a national helpline. 

  • Germany is set to declare nearly all of Spain - including the popular tourist island of Mallorca - a coronavirus risk region

  • The Norwegian government has advised its citizens to wear face masks on public transport and when travelling in and around the capital city.

08:27 PM

Watch: Government secures access for two new potential vaccines

 

08:10 PM

Household ban remains in place for residents in the North of England

Residents in parts of northern England face a third week banned from meeting others in their homes or gardens as the latest evidence shows no decrease in the number of coronavirus cases, according to the Department of Health.

Households in areas of the North West, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester cannot mix indoors - unless they are in a support bubble - and limits remain on numbers meeting outside.

While venues including casinos, bowling alleys and conference halls across England prepare to reopen on Saturday - following a two-week delay - they will not be allowed to reopen in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire or Leicester.

The department said the latest evidence does not show a decrease in the number of cases per 100,000 people in those areas and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had, alongside local leaders, agreed that the rules should stay in place.

There has been a continued rise in cases in Oldham and Pendle, while numbers remain high in Blackburn with Darwen, the department said, with local leaders setting up an "enhanced incident team" in an effort to bring infection rates under control.

Health Minister Edward Argar said: "I'd like to thank everyone in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester for their continued patience in following these vital rules put in place to tackle the spread of the disease - I know it hasn't been easy.

"We will review the measures again next week as part of our ongoing surveillance and monitoring of the latest data.

"It is essential we all remain vigilant, and I urge everyone in these areas to continue to follow the rules - wash your hands regularly, follow social distancing, get yourself a free test as soon as you get any symptoms, and isolate if NHS Test and Trace tells you to."

07:50 PM

Germany to test arrivals from Spain for Covid-19

Germany looks set to impose antigen PCR tests for travellers arriving into the country from Spain, reports Reuters. 

Ms Gonzalez-Laya told Reuters that Spain "respects the decision" and is now working with Germany to "change the situation as soon as possible". 

Spain recorded nearly 3,000 new cases on Friday, bringing the country’s total caseload to 342,813 - the highest in Western Europe.

07:27 PM

Comment: 'Boris has lost the trust of the beauty industry'

We have finally reached the finish line, but we will never forget the unnecessarily complicated series of events it took to get here, writes Beauty Director Sonia Hara.

New guidance announced on Thursday allows close-contact beauty services such as eyebrow shaping and facials to reopen from Saturday  - StockPlanets
New guidance announced on Thursday allows close-contact beauty services such as eyebrow shaping and facials to reopen from Saturday - StockPlanets

Last night it was announced that finally beauticians can get back to work tomorrow, the end to one of the most unnecessarily complicated journeys of this whole lockdown for an industry that has been tossed around and stung by the government irreparably. 

Let me catch you up to speed on the haphazardness of the government's decision-making process, because for the ridiculousness to have its real impact you need to see it listed. Let’s see: there was the initial tearing apart of hairdressers and beauticians back at the end of June, with beauticians being told a few days before reopening that they weren’t ‘covid-secure’ enough. Yet it was okay to sit next to several people in a pub with no PPE. 

The beauty sector were angry, and so were we: at the Telegraph we launched our Why Can’t I Work campaign, which saw thousands of women posting pictures of themselves in their full PPE on social media, asking the government to answer just why they weren’t covid secure. It still makes absolutely no sense to me, but let’s continue. 

Then in July came the ridiculous rule that only treatments ‘neck-down’ could be performed - effectively wiping out 70 percent of the 200,000 workforce - a decision based on ‘following the science’, despite us ever seeing this science. 

In mid-July came the August 1st date for the remaining off-menu treatments to resume, only to be told the devastating news with less than 24 hours that the government needed to ‘put on the brakes’ for another two weeks. Why? Because the rate of infection was rising, most likely down to increased levels of socialising and certainly not because someone needed their eyebrows threaded.

Click here to the full piece. 

07:05 PM

France reports more than 2,500 new Covid cases

France has reported more than 2,500 new infections for the third day in a row.

The country’s official caseload now stands at 212,211, while Paris and the city of Marseille have been identified as high risk coronavirus zones.

Use our graph below to see how the pandemic has impacted the country.

Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart - Cases default

06:42 PM

US: Coronavirus travel ban extended

The United States will extend its ban on non-essential travel at land borders with Canada and Mexico for another 30 days, a top U.S. official has said. 

Acting U.S. Homeland Security Department Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed the decision on Twitter.

The ban - which does not cover trade or travel by air - was first imposed in March and has been continually extended  as the US has struggled to contain its outbreak.

06:25 PM

Beijing food market linked to coronavirus outbreaks set to reopen

The wholesale food market in Beijing that was linked to a cluster of coronavirus cases in June is set to reopen on Saturday,  reports Wendy Tang.

Xinfadi market closed on 13 June after 335 coronavirus cases were linked to the market, including among workers from its beef, lamb and seafood section, raising fears of a second wave in China.

Beijing reacted quickly, closing the market, banning tourism to the capital city and putting the district on a "wartime" lockdown footing to avoid an explosion of cases of the virus.

At the time, the authorities suggested the virus had been brought in to Xinfadi on imported frozen salmon, sparking largely unrealised fears that surface transmission could be a major problem in the spread of coronavirus.

However, markets like Xinfadi have played a major role in transmission, including right at the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan at the end of last year, with some of the initial cases traced to the Huanan Seafood Market.

People walk in central Beijing - Artyom Ivanov/TASS
People walk in central Beijing - Artyom Ivanov/TASS

The pandemic has since killed 760,000 people and infected more than 20 million. Xinfadi - the largest seafood and agricultural market in Asia - will only initially open at 60 per cent capacity, selling fruits and vegetables.

All buyers and sellers will have to be pre-approved via electronic registration before entering the market, and only its wholesale section will open, while its retail and underground trading hall will stay shut to keep foot traffic down.

Before the pandemic, on average it received 60,000 customers a day and supplied much of the groceries sold in Beijing. It is not expected to re-open fully before 10 September.

Goods entering the market will also be registered online with details including their origin, volume and quality control qualification.

Personnel will confirm the details of the products before trading takes place, and deals will be recorded.

The market's partial reopening came as the Chinese capital recorded seven days with no new cases of coronavirus.

06:09 PM

Local lockdowns could stigmatise towns and cause divisions, scientific advisers have said

Local coronavirus lockdowns could stigmatise towns, drive away visitors and damage property prices, Government advisers have warned.

The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), a sub-group of Sage, wrote a report in July arguing that long-term economic decline could be an unintended consequence of shutting down individual towns.

The concerns appear in a report released in a tranche of Sage papers on Friday. The authors warned that an area identified as a Covid-19 "hotspot" may become known as "a place to avoid" for fear of contracting the virus. 

They wrote:

"Reduction in travel to and through that area will further depress local finances, through reduced business takings and local taxation, resulting in higher reliance on funds from central Government".

"Intention to avoid travelling through or returning to a previously contaminated area has been noted in prior studies."

"If economic decline ensues, people will be less likely to visit the area. An area that people do not want to visit will become an area in which people do not want to live. If families no longer move there or current residents move away, the area will suffer long term economic damage." 

05:48 PM

Child marriages skyrocket in Malawi as Covid-19 closes schools, figures show

Child marriage has almost doubled in parts of Malawi during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to figures from a national helpline. 

Even before the pandemic, around half of all girls in Malawi got married before the age of 18. The situation has worsened dramatically as a result of the school closures and rise in poverty linked to the coronavirus outbreak, the charity Care International told The Telegraph.

One district saw a 400 per cent increase in reports of rape, according to police data, and teen pregnancies tripled - AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP
One district saw a 400 per cent increase in reports of rape, according to police data, and teen pregnancies tripled - AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP

From April to June this year, the national youth helpline recorded 669 child marriages, up by 83 per cent on last year, according to its director, MacBain Mkandawire. His organisation Yoneco runs the helpline on behalf of the government. 

Calls about child rape also went up by 150 per cent under lockdown when compared with last year, the figures showed. Under Malawian law, sex with a minor is rape, so the numbers are linked to the marriage statistics. 

Jennifer Rigby has the full report here

05:30 PM

Local authority data reveals Northampton has the highest rate of new coronavirus cases

Northampton has the highest rolling seven day rate of new coronavirus cases, according to the latest Government figures broken down by local authority. 

A total of 260 new cases were recorded in Northampton in the seven days to August 11, the equivalent of 115.8 per 100,000 people - up from 34.7 in the previous seven days to August 4.

The spike in cases is thought to be caused by a Covid outbreak at Greencore sandwich factory. 

In Oldham the rate has jumped from 68.7 to 112.2, with 266 new cases recorded. Meanwhile, within Blackburn with Darwen, the rate has increased slightly from 82.2 to 88.2 with 132 new cases.

Other areas recording notable week-on-week jumps include:

  • Rochdale (up from 36.0 to 45.0, with 100 new cases)

  • Manchester (up from 34.9 to 40.7, with 225 new cases)

  • Kirklees (up from 26.6 to 34.3, with 151 new cases)

  • Birmingham (up from 13.8 to 28.1, with 321 new cases)

05:12 PM

Watch: Travellers from France left frustrated by new quarantine

 Last night, Boris Johnson announced that from Saturday, hundreds of thousands of British holidaymakers in France will need to quarantine for 14 days upon their return to the UK. 

The Prime Minister decided to remove France from the "green list" after the country reported a sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

About 400,000 Britons have until 4am on Saturday to return to the UK before restrictions requiring them to self-isolate for two weeks are implemented.

Watch the video below to see how the last minute rule change has impacted Brits abroad. 

 

04:52 PM

Norwegians urged to wear face masks on public transport

The Norwegian government has advised its citizens to wear face masks on public transport and when travelling in and around the capital city. 

Speaking at a news conference earlier this afternoon, Health Minister Bent Hoie said: "We recommend face masks as an extra precaution when it is difficult to maintain a distance of one metre (one yard) on public transport". 

Last week, 357 positive coronavirus tests were recorded within the country, the highest number of positive cases since April.

The Oslo town hall (L) is seen as people enjoy the view from a ferry in the Oslo fjord in the Norwegian capital  - ODD ANDERSEN
The Oslo town hall (L) is seen as people enjoy the view from a ferry in the Oslo fjord in the Norwegian capital - ODD ANDERSEN

 

04:37 PM

Rule breaking pub landlords face police crackdown in Birmingham

Rule-breaking pub landlords in Birmingham are facing a police crackdown for failing to properly record customers' details as concerns grow about a rising Covid infection rate in the region. 

The latest data showed the second city had a rate of 23.6 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to August 10 with the trend increasing, according to the NHS Digital progression dashboard.

Clive Wright, a West Midlands regional convenor for the Department of Health and Social Care, said Birmingham's infection rate rise "right across the city" was down to multiple factors.

He said: "It looks as though it's a combination of people socialising and not maintaining social distancing and perhaps hospitality settings or other gatherings of people and this may be the underlying problem."

However, he also turned the spotlight on licensed premises, some of whom have reportedly been flouting a legal requirement to take names, addresses and contact details of customers, so they can be traced in the event of an outbreak. He said: 

"We are very keen to be working very closely with the police over coming weeks because what we're noticing across the West Midlands is that as weeks go by the rigour in which pubs in particular are recording names and addresses of customers is dropping off in some locations."

"We'd like to encourage the police to re-emphasise to the pubs that they do need to be recording that information."

Waheed Saleem, the West Midlands deputy police and crime commissioner, said pubs, bars and clubs needed to act "in a responsible manner".

He added: "Pubs and clubs - they also have a very clear responsibility to ensure they're following the guidelines, that they are getting information on those individuals who attend.

"We will work closely with the licensing authorities to crack down on those premises that don't follow rules and are breaking rules."

"These rules are there for everyone and they're there for a reason. The virus is still out there. We must remember that."

04:23 PM

Germany to declare the majority of Spain a coronavirus risk region

Germany is set to declare nearly all of Spain - including the popular tourist island of Mallorca - a coronavirus risk region, Reuters have reported. 

Sources have told Reuters that all of Spain except for the Canary Islands would be included on Robert Koch Institute’s next list of risk regions.

On Friday, Spain ordered the closure of nightclubs, banned drinking in outdoor public areas in a bid to stem a resurgence of coronavirus cases. 

Use the graph below to analyse how Spain's Covid crisis compares to the UK's. 

04:04 PM

'No country' has an effective strategy to prevent outbreaks linked to pubs and clubs, experts warn

Bars and clubs are among the 'most dangerous' places due to human behaviour, enclosed settings and the difficulty in tracing contacts, reports Sarah Newey

From Aberdeen to Seoul, coronavirus outbreaks linked to pubs, bars and nightclubs have become commonplace - VICKIE FLORES/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock
From Aberdeen to Seoul, coronavirus outbreaks linked to pubs, bars and nightclubs have become commonplace - VICKIE FLORES/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

Two men and a woman walk into a bar… unfortunately they're not around to tell the tale. During a pandemic a pint is no longer risk-free and the last laugh is rarely funny. 

From Aberdeen to Seoul, coronavirus outbreaks linked to pubs, bars and nightclubs have become commonplace. The layout of the venues themselves coupled with human behaviour create the “perfect storm” for the virus to spread, experts say - while tracing such an outbreak after the event is a tall order. 

With winter on the horizon and fewer opportunities to socialise outside, there are growing concerns that this problem will only get worse - especially as governments attempt to reopen more and more aspects of society. 

“No country I know of has got a handle on how to deal with this,” says Prof Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at Edinburgh University. “It almost feels like reopening the nighttime economy is the piece that makes the tower of building blocks collapse.”

Click here to read the full story. 

03:52 PM

Greece to set 50 person limit on public gatherings

Greece has announced a 50-person limit on public gatherings in a bid to contain a recent spike in infections. 

Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said the limit on public gatherings would last until August 24 and would only be imposed in parts of the country where infection numbers have risen.

Mr Hardalias said: "No measures can substitute for personal responsibility, particularly that of young people to protect their parents and grandparents."

A further 204 coronavirus cases were reported on Thursday, bringing the country’s total caseload to 6,381. 

03:40 PM

Oxford University college to admit all A Level offer holders

Worcester College, Oxford has said that it will admit all students who were given offers - irrespective of their A Level results. 

In a statement on its website, it explained that the decision was taken "in response to the uncertainties surrounding this year’s assessment".

Following yesterday's A Level results, the exam watchdog has been accused of creating an A-level grading system which punishes poorer state educated students and favours wealthier, privately educated pupils. 

Official figures revealed that the proportion of grades awarded to pupils at independent schools increased more than twice as much as those handed to students at those at state schools. 

03:29 PM

UK records highest number of daily Covid infections since June

In the 24-hour period up to 9am on Friday, a further 1,441 positive coronavirus cases were confirmed, the government has said.  The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 316,367. 

The latest daily figures mark the highest number of positive tests recorded since June 14.

A further 11 people have died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus deaths to 41,358. 

Separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies show there have been 56,800 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - DEATHS default
Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - DEATHS default

03:18 PM

EU agrees Covid vaccine deal with AstraZeneca

The European Union has agreed to buy at least 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s potential coronavirus vaccine. 

The European Commission has said the deal included an option to purchase 100 million additional doses from the drugmaker provided its vaccine proves to be safe and effective. 

A subject receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine by Moderna for Covid-19 - Ted S. Warren/AP
A subject receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine by Moderna for Covid-19 - Ted S. Warren/AP

The Commission has not disclosed the specific terms of its agreement with AstraZeneca. 

In a statement, AstraZeneca said: "This new agreement will give all EU member states the option to access the vaccine in an equitable manner at no profit during the pandemic". 

03:06 PM

Wales: Covid death toll remains unchanged

There have been no further reported deaths of people who tested positive for coronavirus in Wales, health officials have said.

The total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic remains at 1,586.

Public Health Wales said the total number of cases in the country had increased by 18, bringing the revised total of confirmed cases to 17,516.

02:58 PM

Expert reaction: Disruption and quarantine risks here to stay

Britons should expect travel disruptions and quarantine risks to be in place for "some time to come", an expert has said, after France was wiped from the safe travel list.

Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said: 

“The pandemic is accelerating globally, and the many UK Covid-19 deaths were ultimately the result of initial importing of new cases with significant local transmission.  

"We have to ensure the UK does not get anywhere near this situation again, and the public health considerations have to take priority."

Dr Head added the travel rules, restrictions and quarantines are "appropriate".

He said: "Travellers must understand that their plans, including the potential for quarantine on their return, may well be disrupted.  

"That is a risk when booking a holiday or travel abroad right now, and this will remain a risk for some time to come.”

Read more: Quarantine threat sparks surge of Britons racing to get back before deadline

02:40 PM

Saints or sinners: young people and Covid-19

Recent virus spikes have been linked to people in their teens and 20s partying - but is criticism of 'generation Covid' unfair, writes Harriet Barber.

At the beginning of the pandemic young people were being celebrated for helping their communities the conversation has shifted - young people are now being castigated for spreading the virus. 

The WHO has warned young people could be driving spikes across Europe, while reports of illegal raves across the UK and parts of Europe have regularly made headline news. 

And figures from Public Health England now show infection rates among the younger generation in England are becoming increasingly significant - as the chart below shows. 

But is the criticism warranted? Read the full analysis here.

02:27 PM

John Lewis's Grand Central Birmingham store will never reopen

John Lewis's Grand Central department store in the heart of Birmingham, which had been closed since lockdown, will never reopen, according to West Midlands mayor Andy Street.

Speaking on a weekly video call with journalists on Friday, Mr Street said: "A sad piece of news that is to do with John Lewis in central Birmingham.

"We were contacted yesterday by them and they have indeed confirmed to their staff that the proposal to close the central Birmingham shop has become a reality and it will not now reopen."

Mr Street said himself and other local leaders put forward "viable alternatives" to closing the store, but they were not accepted.

A former managing director of John Lewis, Mr Street had been urging the chain to reverse what he called the "dreadful mistake" of closing its Grand Central branch, since the proposal was announced at the end of July.

02:18 PM

UK R rate remains unchanged

The reproduction number, referred to as R, for the UK as a whole remains unchanged from last week and is between 0.8 and 1, latest figures show.

Data published today by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has also revealed the growth rate of coronavirus transmission is between minus 4 per cent and minus 1 per cent, changing from between minus 5 per cent and zero last week.

The growth rate reflects how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, as a way of keeping track of the virus.

In England, the R is between 0.8 and 1, but Sage has indicated it is not confident that R is currently below one in the country.

The R number represents the number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

The chart below shows how the estimated overall reproductive rate for Covid-19 compares to other infectious diseases. 

01:59 PM

WATCH: Gatwick passengers react to new UK-France quarantine rules

01:50 PM

Greater Manchester authorities urge public to 'do all they can' to reduce cases

The situation in Greater Manchester remains "challenging", authorities have said, as it was announced the North West will remain under temporary lockdown.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Combined Authority said: "The Mayor of Greater Manchester and leaders once again agreed on Wednesday that increased restrictions should continue across the city-region for another week.

"The situation in Greater Manchester remains challenging. It is clear that while the current restrictions appear to be having a positive effect in some places, we urgently need to bring the number of cases down in several boroughs.

"Everyone in Greater Manchester must do all they can to reduce the number of cases. That means individuals, pubs, restaurants and supermarkets all taking this seriously and following all the regulations."

01:35 PM

NHS England records eight further Covid-19 deaths

NHS England has announced a further eight people, who tested positive for the coronavirus have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 29,452.

Patients were aged between 75 and 90 years old and all had known underlying health conditions.

Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - DEATHS default
Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - DEATHS default

01:15 PM

Revealed: The countries that could be next in line for quarantine after France

Several countries are closing in on infection rates which could trigger quarantine, with rates rising rapidly in Greece and Ireland, new analysis by Dominic Gilbert and Alex Clark, Telegraph's data journalists, shows.

Grant Shapps told LBC this morning that any country recording above 20 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in a week causes "concern" and can "trigger" introduction of quarantine measures, requiring inbound travelers to self isolate for two weeks.

This means Denmark, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Croatia could all be next in line, Telegraph analysis of the latest coronavirus figures shows, with infection rates above 14 per 100,000 and rising.

Read the full story and how close other destinations are to being wiped off the safe travel list, here.

12:57 PM

Lockdown restrictions in North West to remain in place

Restrictions on household gatherings in parts of the North West, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester will continue, the Department of Health said.

The latest data does not show a decrease in the number of cases per 100,000 people in the area and shows a continued rise in cases in Oldham and Pendle while numbers remain high in Blackburn with Darwen, the department said.

The measures will be reviewed again next week.

Edward Argar, Health minister, said: "I'd like to thank everyone in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester for their continued patience in following these vital rules put in place to tackle the spread of the disease - I know it hasn't been easy.

"We will review the measures again next week as part of our ongoing surveillance and monitoring of the latest data.

"It is essential we all remain vigilant and I urge everyone in these areas to continue to follow the rules - wash your hands regularly, follow social distancing, get yourself a free test as soon as you get any symptoms, and isolate if NHS Test and Trace tells you to."

12:38 PM

Wellcome Trust warns UK must help make vaccines globally available

Alex Harris, Wellcome’s Head of Global Policy, said the announcement that the UK has secured an additional 90 million potential Covid-19 vaccines puts the country in a "strong position".

But he warned Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary, must explain how the Government will ensure "fair and equitable access of a vaccine around the world". He said:

“Without this clarity, the risk increases that other rich countries will seek to strike similar bilateral deals, potentially securing significant oversupply, leaving insufficient volumes of vaccine for the rest of the world. 

“Spreading risk by investing in a range of vaccines that use diverse technologies is smart, because we do not yet know which might be successful or the most effective, and not all vaccines will be suitable for all who are at risk.

"But efforts to do this must be global, countries should only buy doses for those in greatest need – healthcare and essential workers and those at highest risk. Where there is oversupply there must be willingness to donate surplus doses to a central pool. Countries cannot, and do not at this stage need to, buy for every citizen."

12:25 PM

Norwegians ordered to wear face masks on public transport

Norwegians should wear face masks in public transport in and near Oslo amid a rise in Covid-19 cases, the country's government said today.

Until now, authorities in Norway had refrained from recommending wearing face masks in public.

"We recommend face masks as an extra precaution when it is difficult to maintain a distance of one metre (one yard) on public transport," Norway's Health Minister Bent Hoie told a news conference. 

Read moreWhat are the best face masks to buy and how much should I pay for a reusable one?

12:03 PM

Spain closes all nightclubs as cases rise

ll Spanish regions agreed to order the closure of nightclubs and to ban smoking in outdoor areas when keeping a safe distance is impossible - REUTERS/Borja Suarez
ll Spanish regions agreed to order the closure of nightclubs and to ban smoking in outdoor areas when keeping a safe distance is impossible - REUTERS/Borja Suarez

All Spanish regions agreed to order the closure of nightclubs and to ban smoking in outdoor areas when keeping a safe distance is impossible, among other measures aimed at curbing a rise in coronavirus infections, Health minister Salvador Illa has said.

Mr Illa also advised against meetings of more than 10 people, and warned young people specifically not to gather outside to drink alcohol.

Infections have spiked in recent days, bringing the total as of Thursday to 337,334 since the pandemic began.

11:41 AM

Latest UK data shows Covid-19 infections 'levelling off'

An estimated 28,300 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between August 3 and 9, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This was the equivalent of about 0.05 per cent of the population, or one in 1,900 individuals.

The estimate is unchanged from the previous week of July 27 to August 2.

The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.

The ONS said that while recent figures had suggested the percentage of individuals testing positive for Covid-19 in households in England had risen slightly in July, this trend now appears to have levelled off.

Coronavirus UK Local Authority Map - Live Data
Coronavirus UK Local Authority Map - Live Data

11:24 AM

US government scientists to manufacture Covid-19 strain for vaccine trials

United States government scientists have begun efforts to manufacture a strain of Covid-19 that could be used in human challenge trials of vaccines, a controversial type of study in which healthy volunteers would be vaccinated and then intentionally infected with the virus, Reuters are reporting.

The work is preliminary and such trials would not replace large-scale, Phase 3 trials such as those now under way in the United States testing experimental vaccines from Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc, according to a statement emailed to Reuters by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

"Should there be a need for human challenge studies to fully assess candidate vaccines or therapeutics for SARS-CoV-2, NIAID has begun investigations of the technical and ethical considerations of conducting human challenge studies," the agency statement said.

That includes efforts to manufacture a suitable SARS-CoV-2 strain, draft a clinical protocol and identify resources that would be required to conduct such studies.

NIAID said it is continuing to prioritise field trials to evaluate SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates, but it opened the possibility to challenge trials for future generations of vaccines or treatments.

Read more:  Will Russia beat the UK to a Covid-19 vaccine? 

11:15 AM

Countries in Europe with the fewest coronavirus cases

Have your holiday plans been thrown into chaos following the latest Government announcement to remove France, Malta, and the Netherlands, among others, from the exemption list?

Check out the list below to see which European countries have the fewest Covid-19 infections per 100,000 people before you pick your next travel destination. 

Which countries in Europe have the fewest new cases per capita?
Which countries in Europe have the fewest new cases per capita?

 Read more: Holiday quarantine: Which country will be next?

11:01 AM

Calderdale warned over rising infections

People living in one of the areas under stricter Covid-19 measures have been given a stark warning that action is needed to stem rising infections rates.

The regional public health director of  Calderdale, West Yorkshire, Debs Harkins, issued a plea to the 200,000 residents of the borough, as Calderdale Council was due to launch its own contact tracing service to run alongside the national programme.

She said the particular concern was in Halifax, where infection rates in some areas of the town are now higher than any part of Leicester, Blackburn with Darwen, or Luton.

Ms Harkins said: "Being the voice of doom doesn't come naturally to me. But I'm sorry to say that I'm writing this today to stress how serious the situation in Calderdale is, and to ask for your help to tackle Covid-19."

She added: "When we look at the trends in confirmed cases in Calderdale, it's clear that too many restrictions were lifted too quickly. In parts of Halifax particularly the infection rates are amongst the very highest in the country."

Ms Harkins said the borough had some of the lowest infection rates in the country during lockdown, and the information available seemed to indicate that new cases are in people who have been working in essential roles.

10:48 AM

Warning new vaccine deal threatens fair global distribution

Campaigners have warned the Government's latest agreements to secure an additional 90 million Covid-19 vaccines will  increase the "global scramble to hoard vaccines" by wealthy countries.

The vaccines are being developed by US biotech company Novavax and pharmaceutical business Janssen, which is headquartered in Belgium and owned by Johnson & Johnson. 

Campaign group Global Justice Now said by agreeing to advanced vaccine deals the Government is adding to a "dangerous trend of vaccine nationalism".

Heidi Chow, of Global Justice Now, said: “This latest vaccine deal shows the government shows a complete disregard for its own claims about supporting equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines. 

"This UK-first approach is fuelling vaccine nationalism as rich countries scramble to hoard vaccine supplies leaving poorer countries without. The fastest way to end this pandemic is through global collaboration. 

"The government should work with other countries and support a global fair allocation process based on public health needs so that all vulnerable groups are immunised first, wherever they live."

10:34 AM

Why students are swapping a sanitised university experience for a Covid gap year

Tour operators are reporting a huge demand for gap year travel despite the coronavirus closing international borders and bringing existing trips to an abrupt halt, Natalie Paris writes.

After receiving their A-level results yesterday, operators report that – rather than being put off travelling – students are pursuing potential projects while keeping an open mind about which country they may end up in.

Read the full story here.

10:17 AM

WATCH: New Zealand extends Auckland lockdown

New Zealand has extended a partial lockdown in Auckland for another 12 days.

The country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned the situation will get "worse before it gets better" as Covid case numbers grew. 

09:56 AM

German study reveals one in five positive cases were asymptomatic

Results of a study in a town which had one of Germany's earliest coronavirus outbreaks found 7.7 per cent of residents had antibodies to Covid-19, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said today.

Researchers tested 2,203 people in the town of Kupferzell in southern Germany, where a church concert lead to a coronavirus outbreak in early March, between May 20 and June 9.

The findings show there were almost four times as many infections in the town as previously reported, the study's project leader Claudia Santos-Hoevener, from the RKI, told a news conference.

Just shy of 17 per cent of people did not show any symptoms, the RKI said. 

09:54 AM

Government launches funding to bolster global supply chains

A new scheme has been launched to help high street businesses strengthen their global supply chains by supporting workers in developing countries during the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding, announced by International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, includes investment from UK businesses to help vulnerable workers retain employment and secure supply chains.

The UK currently imports 20 per cent of its food and drink from developing countries, but the pandemic has put many of these chains at risk with farms and factories closing.

The new Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility, made up of £4.85 million UK aid and £2 million from businesses, will help to ensure the steady supply of products like vegetables, coffee and clothes to the UK high street.

It will focus on supply chains and workers in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana.

09:41 AM

Netherlands joins France in retaliating to UK quarantine rules

A man rides a bicycle while wearing a face mask in Amsterdam -  Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
A man rides a bicycle while wearing a face mask in Amsterdam - Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Netherlands told its citizens not to travel to Britain or face two weeks' isolation on their return and France threatened retaliatory quarantine measures after the UK put both countries on its coronavirus red list last night.

The British decision, which takes effect on Saturday morning, means travellers returning from France and the Netherlands must quarantine for two weeks.

A spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "This means that Great Britain will receive a code orange as travel advice, because the Dutch have to be quarantined there."

Read the latest by James Crisp, here.

09:24 AM

Notting Hill Carnival will be virtual this year

Notting Hill Carnival in 2018  - Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph
Notting Hill Carnival in 2018 - Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph

This year's Notting Hill Carnival will swap the streets of West London for computer screens around the world, as the event turns online-only due to the coronavirus pandemic, streaming hours of music and performance.

Held at the end of August each year, the carnival attracts more than a million visitors and is seen a symbol of interracial tolerance which dates back to the 1960s and celebrates the Afro-Caribbean community.

However this year there will be no crowded streets as the physical parade was cancelled earlier this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Instead, organisers have spent a month filming acts to be broadcast online between August 29 and 31, hoping to keep the spirit of the carnival alive and bring it to a wider audience.

"First I was very sad that it wouldn't be on the streets - I still am - but I'm very excited about the possibilities of this year taking Carnival into unique places," said the carnival's executive director Matthew Phillip.

09:04 AM

Coronavirus cases continue to rise around the world

  • Indonesia reported 2,307 new coronavirus infections today, taking the total number of cases in the Southeast country to 135,123, data from Indonesia's Covid-19 task force showed. The data also showed 53 new deaths, taking the total number to 6,021, the highest number of fatalities in Southeast Asia.

  • Hong Kong reported 48 new coronavirus cases today as authorities advised residents in the global financial hub to remain vigilant in curbing the further spread of the virus, which has seen a resurgence in the city since early July. Out of the 48 cases, 46 were locally transmitted.

  • The Philippines' health ministry has reported 6,216 new coronavirus infections, the third-largest daily increase recorded in Southeast Asia up to now, and 16 additional deaths. The ministry said the total number of confirmed cases had increased to 153,660, while confirmed deaths had reached 2,442.

  • Russia reported 5,065 new cases of coronavirus today, bringing its nationwide tally to 912,823, the fourth highest caseload in the world. Authorities said 114 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing its official death toll to 15,498. 

08:47 AM

Greek migrant camp put into lockdown after Covid-19 cases confirmed

People walking among the tents in the Vial refugee camp, on the Greek island of Chios, in December 2019. This island has reported its first Covid-19 infection today in one of its overcrowded asylum seeker camps - LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty 
People walking among the tents in the Vial refugee camp, on the Greek island of Chios, in December 2019. This island has reported its first Covid-19 infection today in one of its overcrowded asylum seeker camps - LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty

Greek authorities have quarantined the country's third-largest migrant camp on the eastern Aegean Sea island of Chios after an asylum-seeker and a staff member tested positive for Covid-19.

The quarantine, in force until August 25, includes a ban on anybody entering or exiting the facility, and the suspension of all programs in the camp by charity groups as well as the asylum application process.

The camp is home to more than 3,800 people - almost four times above capacity. It's the first time a Covid-19 outbreak has been registered at any of the island camps, where a total 25,000 people live in very cramped conditions after arriving in smuggling boats from the nearby Turkish coast.

The migration ministry said yesterday that a 35-year old asylum-seeker from Yemen was diagnosed with Covid-19 and was taken to hospital with "mild" symptoms and a fever. The other case was a staff member at the camp. No details were provided on her condition.

08:38 AM

PM accelerates easing of lockdown from this weekend

Prime Minister Boris Johnson puts on a face mask at the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service HQ during the Prime Minister's visit to Belfast on August 1 -  Brian Lawless - WPA Pool
Prime Minister Boris Johnson puts on a face mask at the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service HQ during the Prime Minister's visit to Belfast on August 1 - Brian Lawless - WPA Pool

As the Foreign Office removed more countries to the UK's quarantine exemption list last night, the Prime Minister was also easing some lockdown restrictions. 

The Prime Minister said the changes will allow people to “get back to more of the things they have missed” since the health crisis began after rising infection rates appeared to have “levelled off”.

Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will now be allowed from Saturday, as will the reopening of casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks.

Read all the details about the new rules, by Anna Mikhailova, here.

08:29 AM

Easyjet plans to run all flights despite new quarantine rules

UK airline easyJet said it planned to operate its full schedule in the coming days despite last minute changes to quarantine rules for those arriving in Britain from France, Malta and the Netherlands which could deter travel.

"We plan to operate our full schedule in the coming days," the airline said.

If customers no longer wish to travel they can switch their flights without a change fee, or receive a voucher for the value of the booking, easyJet said. Customers will be notified of any cancellations later in August.

EasyJet operates more than 150 flights a week between the UK and France, it said on Friday.

Read more: France placed on UK travel quarantine list as coronavirus cases rise again

08:15 AM

Belgian hospitals stock up on drugs and PPE ahead of possible second wave

Belgian hospitals are stockpiling drugs and protective kits and putting in place contingency plans amid a continuing spike in Covid-19 infections.

With nearly 10,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus so far, Belgium with a population of 11 million has one of the world's highest death rates from Covid-19 per head.

New infections have risen steadily in recent weeks, with Belgium now reporting one of the highest number of cases per inhabitants of any European country and prompting fears of a second wave.

Michel Dewever, chief physician Michel Dewever at the Delta Hospital in Brussels, said they have begun to stock up on supplies amid the rising infections.

"We have stocked up on curare, anesthetics and antibiotics that allow us to last for two or three months during any second wave that might arise," he said. "We have built up a stock of protective equipment for all the staff, whether it be gloves, gowns or masks. We received part of this inventory from the government. We also bought part of it."

08:02 AM

South Korea sees spike in cases

South Korea reported 103 new virus cases Friday, in the biggest daily jump in locally acquired cases for months.

The country which has won plaudits for its extensive testing and tracing system reported 83 new cases in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.

Eighteen of the new cases were linked to international arrivals. Health authorities have in recent weeks tackled a string of clusters linked to churches, nursing homes, schools and workplaces.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun during a virus meeting on Friday said that authorities will be forced to consider stricter social distancing measures in the greater capital area if transmissions continue to rise.

07:39 AM

Double outbreak of Ebola and coronavirus is 'worrying', says WHO

The head of the World Health Organization has warned that the twin outbreaks of coronavirus and Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo are a "worrying development".

In June, a long-running outbreak of the deadly haemmorhagic fever in the east of the country that killed more than 2,000 people finally came to an end. But at the same time another outbreak was declared on the other side of the country, which has so far infected 86 people

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, told his regular coronavirus press conference of the "significant logistical challenges in fighting the virus".

"The geographic spread of the outbreak is vast, with cases in some areas separated by more than 250 kilometres and many areas are only accessible by helicopter or boat," he said. 

WHO has more than 100 people on the ground and has released $2,5m in emergency funding but Dr Tedros called for more money. 

"As we know from past experience, this is not just a matter for a country's health security. It is a matter of global health security," he said. 

07:36 AM

Peruvian death toll could be twice as high as official tally, minister admits

Commuters wearing protective masks in Lima, Peru - Rodrigo Abd/AP
Commuters wearing protective masks in Lima, Peru - Rodrigo Abd/AP

The total number of Covid-19 victims in Peru may be nearly twice the official total, the deputy health minister has admitted.

Doctors put coronavirus as the cause of death for about 50,000 people during the pandemic, though officials have only been able to confirm Covid-19 as the cause for 25,648 so far, Bloomberg reported.

Latin America remains the current global epicentre of the pandemic and countries continue to post large increases in cases and deaths.

Mexico and Peru both surpassed half a million confirmed infections on Thursday.

07:26 AM

Grant Shapps: People 'knew the risks' of travelling

Asked whether the Government will provide financial assistance to people who are out of pocket after being quarantined or who must pay more money to travel home early, Grant Shapps said people "knew the risks".

Holidaymakers went abroad "with their eyes open" and "knowing that there was a significant chance of this happening," he said.

The Transport Secretary's response suggests the UK Government will not provide any assistance, which is likely to be problematic for people hit with fees of hundreds of pounds (see 08.08 post).

07:08 AM

The choice for holidaymakers: Pay hundreds or lock down for two weeks

Many British holidaymakers will be headed for Gare du Nord, where France's Eurostar terminus is based - Adrienne Surprenant /Bloomberg
Many British holidaymakers will be headed for Gare du Nord, where France's Eurostar terminus is based - Adrienne Surprenant /Bloomberg

Travellers trying to return from France on Friday to avoid the quarantine restrictions face paying hundreds of pounds.

The cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London is £210, compared with £165 on Saturday.

The cost of taking a car through the Channel Tunnel on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle services on Friday morning is £260.

All trains after midday are fully booked.

P&O Ferries has limited availability, but one person travelling with a car from Calais to Dover can buy a ticket for £200.

Travellers in the south of France face a struggle getting back to the UK before the 4am Saturday quarantine deadline.

Many direct flights to the UK on Friday are sold out.

06:59 AM

'Cut-off' needed for clear policy on French quarantine - Shapps

Mr Shapps returning from his own holiday in Spain last month - JULIAN SIMMONDS 
Mr Shapps returning from his own holiday in Spain last month - JULIAN SIMMONDS

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said there "has to be a cut-off" in regards to a time period for those being mandated to self-isolate on their return to the UK from abroad.

Mr Shapps was asked why it is the case that those who return to the UK from France before 4am on Saturday will not have to quarantine for 14 days whilst those returning after that time would have to do so.

He told BBC Breakfast: "I think the truth of this is, as everyone watching realises, there's no perfect way to deal with coronavirus.

"Unless you were going to have a sliding scale that sort of said if you stay another 24 hours the you must quarantine for X amount of time, another 36 hours for Y amount of time, you know, clearly there has to be a cut-off somewhere."

Mr Shapps added: "To be clear, the Joint Biosecurity Centre have cleared our approach to this."

06:57 AM

Government strikes new vaccine deal

The UK government has sealed two more deals to secure Covid-19 vaccines, buying shots in development from US drugmakers Johnson & Johnson and Novavax Inc, the chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce Katie Bingham told Sky News on Friday.

In a separate statement, Novavax said the UK would buy 60 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, for a phase 3 clinical trial.

The UK has now placed orders for six experimental vaccines, with a total potential stockpile of 340 million doses.

That is enough for everyone in the UK to receive five doses.

06:50 AM

Grant Shapps: There are around 160,000 Brits in France

Speaking on BBC Breakfast Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, estimated there are around 160,000 Britons in France now.

Anyone wanting to avoid quarantine must try to get home by 4am tomorrow morning.

06:47 AM

Matt's take on the day's news

06:34 AM

Today's front page

Here's the front page of today's Daily Telegraph.

 Late last night, our lead story changed to the news that France is being removed from the quarantine exception list.

Today's Daily Telegraph
Today's Daily Telegraph

06:17 AM

Paris becomes 'red zone' for Covid-19 infection as rates soar

The French government has designated Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone region around Marseilles as 'red' zones that have a high risk of coronavirus infection. Authorities there now have powers to impose localised curbs to contain the spread of the disease.

The decision comes as Britons in France were told they must get back to the UK before 4am tomorrow morning or be required to quarantine for two weeks.

The government move gives local authorities in Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone area powers to limit the circulation of people and vehicles, restrict access to public transport and air travel, limit access to public buildings and close restaurants, bars and other establishments.

Paris and Marseille had in recent days already made the wearing of face masks mandatory in busy public areas.

06:12 AM

High school American football returns for the first time amid virus concerns

The first regular season American football game has taken place since the start of the pandemic, between Davis and Herriman at a high school in Utah.

Utah is among the states going forward with high school football this autumn despite concerns about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Masked officials check out the game balls before a game - REUTERS/GEORGE FREY
Masked officials check out the game balls before a game - REUTERS/GEORGE FREY
A Herriman Mustangs masked coach talks to his players during a game against the Davis Darts - GEORGE FREY /REUTERS
A Herriman Mustangs masked coach talks to his players during a game against the Davis Darts - GEORGE FREY /REUTERS
Herriman cheerleaders carry the American flag before the start of a high school football game - Rick Bowmer /AP
Herriman cheerleaders carry the American flag before the start of a high school football game - Rick Bowmer /AP

05:40 AM

North Korea lifts lockdown after defector 'brought virus across border'

North Korea says it has lifted a three-week lockdown that was imposed on a border city after a defector believed to be carrying the coronavirus sneaked back into the country.

The secretive nation has insisted it has had no cases of Covid-19 - a claim international experts say is unlikely, given the spread of the disease around the world.

Authorities in July said they were imposing a lockdown on Kaesong city when a 24-year-old man, arrested after crossing the heavily fortified border from the South, was found to be displaying symptoms of the coronavirus.

"It has been proved the situation of anti-epidemic work has been kept and controlled stably", Kim Jong Un was quoted as saying by the state-run KCNA news agency.

Kim "expressed thanks... to the people in the locked-down area for having remained faithful to the measures taken by our Party and government, despite the inconvenience in their living under quarantine".

North Korea's medical infrastructure is seen as woefully inadequate for dealing with any large-scale outbreak.

Pyongyang closed its borders in late January - the first country in the world to do so - in a bid to protect itself against the coronavirus.

It imposed tough restrictions that put thousands of people into isolation, but analysts say the country is unlikely to have avoided the contagion.

05:05 AM

New Zealand virus outbreak spreads beyond Auckland

New Zealand's resurgent outbreak has spread beyond Auckland, health officials said today, in a major blow to efforts to contain the disease.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said there were 12 more cases of community transmission, and one probable, following the shock re-emergence of the virus in Auckland this week.

He said two of the infections were found in the North Island town of Tokoroa, around 130 miles south of Auckland.

It has resulted in around 30 people from Tokoroa who were in close contact with the infected pair being taken into quarantine and tested.

The crisis erupted when four family members in Auckland returned positive tests on Tuesday, ending New Zealand's run of 102 days with no reported community transmission.

Health authorities desperately scramble to find the source of the infection as case numbers rose to 30.

In just four days, New Zealand has gone from a transmission-free haven to contemplating national lockdown.

04:57 AM

Indonesia takes part in late-stage China vaccine trial

More people in Indonesia rolled up their sleeves today to test a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by a Chinese company.

The Indonesian government announced the partnership between state-owned enterprise Bio Farma and the Chinese company Sinovac BioTech in early July. As part of the deal, Indonesia recruited 1,620 volunteers for the trial. The first 20 were injected with the candidate vaccine in Bandung, West Java province, on Tuesday, and more followed suit.

Indonesian volunteers line up for potential vaccine trial - Reuters
Indonesian volunteers line up for potential vaccine trial - Reuters

"We hope that this third clinical trial will be completed in six months. We hope that in January we can produce it and at the same time, if the production is ready, vaccinate all people in the country," President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday.

"I want to join the trial for humanitarian reasons. I hope the pandemic will end soon," said one volunteer. 

03:41 AM

Colombia's death toll rises to 14,145

Colombia, the fourth most affected country in Latin America, reported 433,805 confirmed virus cases.

Deaths have climbed to 14,145, adding 308 fatalities after tabulating data from across the country over the past 10 days, authorities said.

About a third of Colombia's cases are in the capital Bogota, where several areas are under strict confinement orders.

03:38 AM

Australia awaits findings on cruise ship coronavirus outbreak

New South Wales Police Force outside the coronavirus-stricken Ruby Princess cruise ship back in April  - AFP
New South Wales Police Force outside the coronavirus-stricken Ruby Princess cruise ship back in April - AFP

The findings of a public inquiry into how passengers infected with coronavirus were allowed to disembark a cruise ship in Sydney in March, triggering a major outbreak, are set to be handed down today.

The government of New South Wales (NSW) state commissioned the probe into the events leading up to the disembarkation of 2,700 passengers from the Carnival Corp-owned Ruby Princess on March 17 without proper screening for the virus.

Passengers from the ship spread the virus across the country and internationally, resulting in more than 600 cases and 20 deaths in what was at the time Australia's largest outbreak of the disease.

The inquiry has heard evidence from medics, cruise ship executives and senior staff from the state's health department.

Some testimony pointed to confusion between state and federal authorities over who bore final responsibility.

NSW officials rated the liner as "low risk" since it had only visited New Zealand, although some passengers had flown in from countries including the United States, the inquiry heard.

02:05 AM

Mexico and Peru each top half a million virus cases

Images of the 125 doctors who have died during the pandemic in Peru, displayed outside Peru's Medical College (CMP) in Lima  - AFP
Images of the 125 doctors who have died during the pandemic in Peru, displayed outside Peru's Medical College (CMP) in Lima - AFP

Countries in coronavirus epicentre Latin America report troubling new statistics with Mexico and Peru both surpassing half a million confirmed infections.

Mexico has 505,293 cases overall after registering 7,371 new infections in 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said. There have been 55,293 deaths, making it the hardest-hit country in the region after Brazil in terms of fatalities.

Infections in Peru have been on the rise since a national lockdown was lifted on July 1, prompting the government to reinstate a Sunday curfew.

The country has now confirmed 507,996 cases, with a record of 9,441 infections in the last 24 hours. There have been 25,648 deaths.

There were also a record 277 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Latin America and the Caribbean is the hardest-hit region of the world by the pandemic, with more than 5.8 million cases and nearly a third of the world's 750,000 deaths.

01:42 AM

South Korea reports 103 new cases

The number of daily local virus cases in South Korea jumped to an over 4-month high on Friday as sporadic clusters in the greater Seoul area piled up, forcing health authorities to consider raising the level of social distancing to stem further spread.

The country's new daily coronavirus cases, including 85 locally transmitted ones, reached 103 today, raising the total caseload to 14,873, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

However, there are also reports that church groups, who have been at the centre of several outbreaks, have organized a mass protest in Seoul on Saturday against restrictions on their operations. The rally has been banned, but will probably go ahead.

The new cases bring the country's tally to 14,873 infections, with 305 deaths, as of Thursday midnight.

01:32 AM

North Korea lifts lockdown after suspected case 'inconclusive'

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un lifted a three week lockdown in the city of Kaesong and nearby areas, after a man who defected to the South returned to the border town last month showing coronavirus symptoms, state media said on Friday.

North Korea has said it has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but Kim Jong-un said last month that the virus "could be said to have entered" the country and imposed the lockdown after the man was reported to have symptoms. Later test results on the man were "inconclusive", according to the World Health Organisation.

Coronavirus prevention measures had stabilised the risk in the area, Kim said in a statement carried by KCNA.

While easing the lockdown within the country, Kim said that border controls should remain tight and ordered communities not to accept any external assistance related to the floods caused by weeks of heavy rain.

12:55 AM

New Zealand to announce decision on lockdown extension

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reintroduces new restrictions across New Zealand as more cases come to light - Getty Images AsiaPac
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reintroduces new restrictions across New Zealand as more cases come to light - Getty Images AsiaPac

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to announce whether a lockdown in its biggest city will be eased or extended, as officials said it appeared the country's first outbreak in more than three months was an imported strain.

Ms Ardern put Auckland, home to about 1.7 million people, into lockdown on Wednesday, just hours after a four new Covid-19 cases were discovered in a family living in the city. She also reinstated social distancing measures across the country.

A further 13 infections have since been confirmed and linked to the Auckland family.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said on Friday that genome testing of the strain of Covid-19 contracted by the Auckland family suggested it had originated in Britain or Australia.

However, he said how the Auckland family had acquired it was still under investigation.

Health officials said earlier in the week they were looking into the "low possibility" the virus was imported on frozen food packages.

12:11 AM

Organisers of illegal raves could face £10,000 fines

Illegal raves in England will be closed down with organisers facing huge fines - UKNIP
Illegal raves in England will be closed down with organisers facing huge fines - UKNIP

Organisers of illegal raves in England could face a £10,000 penalty as authorities clamp down on unlawful gatherings during the coronavirus crisis.

Officers have responded to a surge in unlicensed music events in recent weeks amid warm weather, breaching coronavirus regulations on large gatherings.

Ahead of a further easing of England's lockdown, Boris Johnson said that new fines are to be introduced for those hosting raves or other unlawful gatherings of more than 30 people.

No 10 sources said that fines for those responsible could be up to £10,000.

It comes after police forces promised to increase patrols of potential hotspots for raves in the coming weeks, while police chiefs are asking the public for their support in preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the summer months.

11:07 PM

Donald Trump and Joe Biden trade barbs on mask mandate

Democratic US presidential candidate Joe Biden, accompanied by Democratic US vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, calls for the mandatory wearing of masks - Reuters
Democratic US presidential candidate Joe Biden, accompanied by Democratic US vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, calls for the mandatory wearing of masks - Reuters

President Donald Trump attacked Joe Biden for calling on governors to mandate that all Americans wear masks for the next three months, accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of politicizing an issue Mr Trump himself has used for political gain in recent months.

Mr Trump claimed Mr Biden has been wrong about the coronavirus pandemic at every turn, "ignoring the scientific evidence and putting left-wing politics before facts and evidence." 

"To Joe, I would say stop playing politics with the virus," Mr Trump said at the White House press briefing.

Mr Biden did not call for an executive order, but did at an earlier campaign event call for the institution of "a mask mandate nationwide, starting immediately." 

Trump spent the early months of the pandemic refusing to wear a mask during public appearances, ridiculing reporters who wore them, and retweeting messages making fun of Biden for wearing a mask and implying that he looks weak. 

Yesterday,  he said it's patriotic for Americans to wear masks, but added, "maybe they're great, and maybe they're just good. Maybe they're not so good."

10:54 PM

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