The UK has made a mistake in bringing back a rule meaning travellers from Spain must stay at home for 14 days, Madrid’s prime minister has said, arguing that much of the Mediterranean country has a lower coronavirus infection rate than the UK.
“The error, in my judgement, and hence the lack of alignment of the United Kingdom’s response, is based on considering the cumulative incidence of [the virus in] the entire country,” Mr Sanchez said in an interview with Telecinco television. The rebound in Covid-19 cases is focused in two regions, Catalonia and Aragon, he said, adding: “In most of Spain, the incidence [of the disease] is very much inferior to even the numbers registered in the United Kingdom.”
It comes as the head of the World Health Organisation warned the pandemic “continues to accelerate” with a doubling of cases over the last six weeks.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organisation’s director-general, said nearly 16 million cases have now been reported to the UN health agency, with more than 640,000 deaths worldwide. ”Covid-19 has changed our world,” he said on Monday. “It has brought people, communities and nations together — and driven them apart.”
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Scotland could shut hospitality venues if ‘slicing standards’ lead to further outbreaks, Nicola Sturgeon says
Hospitality venues could be closed down if “slipping standards” on Covid-19 measures lead to outbreaks of the virus, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The first minster made the warning as she announced another four positive cases in Scotland, bringing the total to 18,558.
No deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours, meaning the total number of fatalities remains at 2,491.
But Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government is likely to adopt a “cautious approach” to lockdown easing when its planned review takes place on Thursday.
She warned there is a “worrying resurgence” of Covid cases globally and stressed the hospitality sector in Scotland must ensure it is adhering to guidelines put in place.
While most businesses are following the rules, including mandating face coverings for staff and collecting the details of customers, she said she had heard anecdotally that some have not.
A further document has been distributed to venues to ensure they are fully aware of their responsibilities.
Ms Sturgeon said: “If we do start to see outbreaks linked to the hospitality sector, we would need to take action and that could include closing premises down again.
“Nobody wants to see that happen.”
The first minister added the standards “must become the norm” and “you cannot allow standards to slip”.
Coronavirus lineage circulating in bats for decades, researchers say
The evolutionary history of the coronavirus 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, 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.
Scotland goes 12 days without coronavirus 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.
Dr Gao Fu, a dean at the state-backed Chinese Academy of Sciences, said on Sunday he had been given the treatment but did not confirm how it was administered or when he took it.
China says it is currently exploring eight vaccine candidates – more than any other country in the world. Gao Fu did not confirm which of these potential treatments he had taken.
But what are your employment rights if you have to quarantine when you come back? Here’s everything you need to know.
Boris Johnson has warned the UK must be “vigilant” over the threat of a second wave of Covid-19.
Speaking on a visit to Nottingham today, the prime minister said the most important thing is for people in all communities to “heed the advice” before restrictions can be eased across the country.
“The most important thing is for everybody in all communities to heed the advice, to follow the advice, not to be spreading it accidentally and get it right down and we’ll be able to ease the restrictions across the country,” he added.
“But clearly we now face, I’m afraid, the threat of a second wave in other parts of Europe and we just have to be vigilant and we have to be very mindful.”
Mr Johnson also said he sympathised with the views of local leaders who want restrictions on their areas to be lifted.
He said: “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.
“The priority, and I think the mayor 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.”
The notice – in the window of Mama Mia’s Pizza And Kebab Takeaway in Scarborough – said such face coverings were for “hooligans, vigilantes, superheroes, criminals and asbestos workers”.
Boris Johnson has warned of a “second wave” of coronavirus coming from Europe and said he is ready to impose new restrictions on movements from further countries if necessary.
The prime minister’s comments, made during a visit to Nottingham to publicise a cycling initiative, came just days after imposing a controversial 14-day quarantine on holiday-makers returning from Spain, denounced as “unjust” by the country’s prime minister.
Australia sends medical team to Papua New Guinea as coronavirus cases rise
Australia said it was sending a medical team to help Papua New Guinea fight an outbreak of coronavirus after the neighbouring country experienced a rise in infections.
The Pacific nation, which had escaped the infection levels of its neighbours since the crisis escalated in March, has recorded an increase in new cases in the past week, according to data analysis firm Worldometer.
There were 62 confirmed virus cases as of late Tuesday, up from just eight infections 11 days ago.
After PNG asked for assistance, Australia arranged to send a team of medical and crisis response staff to the capital Port Moresby, acting foreign affairs minister Simon Birmingham said.
The Australian team would help with laboratories, case management, infection control, triage and emergency management and public health, he added.
“The government is planning for a further deployment in consultation with the government of Papua New Guinea and subject to domestic considerations and results of the on ground assessment,” the statement said.
A day earlier, PNG halted entry for travellers, except those arriving by air, in an effort to tighten curbs against coronavirus infections.
Greece to mask mask-wearing compulsory in more indoor public spaces
Greece will make mask-wearing compulsory in more indoor public spaces to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus after a small flare up of Covid-19 infections in the second half of this month, its deputy civil protection minister said on Tuesday.
Health authorities had made mask-wearing compulsory for consumers at supermarkets 10 days ago. Mask have been also compulsory at public transport.
The measure goes into effect from Wednesday.
Greece has managed to contain the spread of Covid-19 infections to 4,227 confirmed cases and 202 deaths after imposing an early lockdown based on official data up to Monday.
Signs of second coronavirus wave in Europe, Boris Johnson says as he defends quarantine restrictions on Spain
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.”
China reports 68 new coronavirus cases
China reported 68 new coronavirus cases for 27 July, up for the fourth consecutive day, including two in Beijing, the country’s health authority said on Tuesday.
China is battling the most aggressive return of Covid-19 in months, driven by infections in the far western region of Xinjiang and a separate flare-up in the northeast.
Of the new local infections for 27 July, 57 were in Xinjiang, according to a statement by the National Health Commission. That brings the total number of cases in the region’s current outbreak to 235 since the first infection was reported on 16 July.
Xinjiang has yet to explain how patient zero, a 24-year-old woman who worked in a mall in its capital Urumqi, contracted the virus.
The northeastern province of Liaoning reported six new cases as of 27 July. The current outbreak in Liaoning, which began on 22 July, centred mostly on the port city of Dalian, east of Beijing. The first case in Dalian worked at a seafood processing company, and had not travelled out of the city in recent weeks.
To contain the spread of the virus, Xinjiang and Dalian have tested millions of people for Covid-19, but the coronavirus is already on the move.
Beijing reported two new infections, one linked to Dalian and the other imported. They were the first new cases in the Chinese capital for more than three weeks.
On Monday, the northeastern province of Jilin reported two new cases, its first infections since May. Both were staff at the Dalian seafood processing company, and had travelled back to Jilin from nearby Dalian about 10 days ago.
As of Monday, mainland China had 83,959 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The Covid-19 death toll remained at 4,634.
Pandemic is ‘one big wave’, WHO says
The World Health Organisation has warned against complacency about new coronavirus transmission in the northern hemisphere this summer, saying the virus did not behave like influenza that tended to follow seasonal trends.
“People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and… this one is behaving differently,” Margaret Harris told a virtual briefing in Geneva, urging vigilance in applying measures to slow transmission that is spreading via mass gatherings.
She also warned against thinking in terms of virus waves, saying: “It’s going to be one big wave. It’s going to go up and down a bit.
“The best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something lapping at your feet.”
Selfridges has told staff it plans to cut 450 jobs as it warned annual sales are expected to be “significantly less” than last year due to the pandemic.
The upmarket retailer said it will reduce its total headcount by 14 per cent to cope with the impact of the virus and subsequent lockdown.
In a message to staff, group managing director Anne Pitcher warned the recovery will be “slow”, stressing 2020 will be “the toughest year we have experienced in our recent history”.
She said: “As you would expect at such a critical time, we have been carefully examining every aspect of our business – our structures, our costs, our ways of working – from top to bottom, leaving no stone unturned to ensure we are fit for purpose and the future.
“This has involved reviewing all non-essential expenses as well as pausing projects and initiatives where prudent to do so.
“The task ahead is significant and, as we look to reinvent retail and prepare to build back, we will need to go further.”
She added: “As a family business, the hardest decisions are the ones that affect our people, which is why it pains me to share news today of the toughest decision we have ever had to take that we will, very regrettably, need to make a 14% net reduction in our overall headcount, approximately 450 roles.”
US drug maker Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech said an advanced trial has begun on a Covid-19 vaccine candidate that the firms hope to bring to market by the end of 2020, Matt Mathers reports.
The trial will include 30,000 participants from 120 sites across the globe, including regions hardest hit by the pandemic. If successful, the firms plan to apply for regulatory approval for the potential vaccine by October.
Pfizer and BioNTech hope to supply 100 million doses of the treatment – named BNT162b2 – by the end of 2020, rising to 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.
“The initiation of the Phase 2/3 trial is a major step forward in our progress toward providing a potential vaccine to help fight the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” the companies said in a statement on Monday.
“Many steps have been taken toward this important milestone and we would like to thank all those involved for their extraordinary commitment.”
Over 56,400 deaths involving Covid-19 registered in UK
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 17 July, and had been registered by 25 July.
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 19 July while 850 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland up to 17 July (and had been registered up to 22 July) 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.
German advises against travel to virus-hit Spanish regions
Germany’s foreign ministry has advised holidaymakers not to travel to several Spanish regions including Catalonia, home to Barcelona, that have seen coronavirus infection rates rise.
“We currently advise against unnecessary tourist trips to the autonomous communities of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre due to high infection numbers and local lockdowns,” the ministry said on its website.
Spain’s rise in Covid-19 cases has prompted most regions to impose rules for masks to be worn everywhere and, in several areas including Barcelona, calls for people to stay at home.
Deaths where Covid-19 mentioned on death certificate fall to lowest number since mid-March
There were a total of 8,823 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to 17 July, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 270 fewer than the five-year average of 9,093.
This is the fifth week in a row that deaths have been below the five-year average.
Of the deaths registered in the week to 17 July, 295 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate – the lowest number of deaths involving Covid-19 since the week ending 20 March.
Negligence behind rise in German coronavirus infections, health institute says
Negligence is behind a steady rise in new coronavirus infections in Germany, the head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases has said, adding that it was unclear if the country was experiencing a second wave.
“The new developments in Germany make me very worried,” Lothar Wieler said during his first news conference in weeks.
“The rise has to do with the fact that we have become negligent.”
The number of daily new cases almost doubled on Tuesday to 633, and the RKI linked the increase to increased social contact at parties and in the workplace. It urged people not to flout social distancing rules.