200 workers quarantined at Herefordshire farm after 73 catch Covid-19
AS Green and Co, a farm in Mathon near Malvern on the Herefordshire-Worcestershire border, –
Roughly 200 workers on a farm in Herefordshire have been quarantined after 73 people tested positive for the coronavirus, it has emerged.
The owners of the farm, AS Green and Co, said on their website that they have arranged widespread testing of all staff, the management team and visitors to the site as a “precautionary measure”.
“All results to date outside of our site have been returned with negative results,” the company said in a statement. But there are 73 positive cases on the site, in the village of Mathon near Worcester, among workers picking and packing vegetables.
Staff members have been told they cannot leave as the whole group are being treated as “one extended bubble”, while the farm has been closed to visitors.
Herefordshire Council has said it is arranging foot and essential supplies for residents on the site – who reside in mobile homes based on the farm during harvesting season.
“Our staff are our priority, they are hard-working key workers helping us provide food for the country during these unusual times,” AS Green and Co added.
“Public Health England advises that it is very unlikely Covid-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, so shoppers can remain confident buying British fruit and veg,” the statement added.
Follow the latest updates below.
Watch: How Covid-19 has changed the royals forever
England records 15 new fatalities
While Scotland and Wales have reported no new deaths today, NHS England has recorded 15 additional fatalities in hospitals.
The patients were aged between 72 and 96 and only one had no known underlying health issues. It takes the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 29,066.
South Africa mulls return to restrictions as cases surge
Some worrying news from South Africa. Confronted by surging hospitalisations due to the coronavirus, the government is considering a return to tighter restrictions to combat the disease.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced he will speak to the nation about the crisis on tonight, after top health officials have warned that shortages of hospital beds and medical oxygen could overwhelm the country’s health system.
South Africa imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in April and May, including closing virtually all mines, factories and businesses, and a ban on sales of liquor and cigarettes.
The measures slowed the spread of the coronavirus but South Africa’s economy, already in recession, contracted dramatically, triggering widespread hunger while unemployment was pushed above 30 per cent.
In June the country began relaxing restrictions to allow millions of South Africans to return to work. But within a few weeks the country’s numbers of confirmed cases and hospitalisations increased dramatically.
Here’s a look at the trajectory of the country’s outbreak – more than 10,000 new infections have been confirmed for several days now.
Dispatch: Hospitals overwhelmed as Johannesburg runs out of oxygen
‘Confusing message’: Experts condemn Gove on face masks
The big topic of today has been face masks, following Michael Gove’s comments that he doesn’t think coverings should be mandatory – but that the public should still wear them indoors in public (see 2:02pm).
Most experts are unimpressed by Gove’s comments. Linda Bauld, professor of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, said ministers are sending a “confusing message” and it is “insufficient” to simply suggest wearing a mask is good manners.
“The evidence on the role of face coverings in enclosed public places has grown during the Covid-19 pandemic. A number of new studies and systematic reviews have persuaded most researchers and public health officials that they should be worn, including those who were sceptical a few months ago.
“The government is urging people to get back onto public transport and spend money in shops. Both are enclosed environments where physical distancing may not always be possible.
“It sends out a confusing message to say face coverings are mandatory in one setting but not the other. In Scotland I’ve already noticed a big difference in the number of people wearing them in shops now that it is required, compared to last week when it was not.
“Suggesting it is ‘good manners’ to wear one is insufficient. Government ministers need to send the simple message that it is expected. The easiest and clearest way to do this would be to make it compulsory to wear a face covering in shops and other enclosed public places.”
No new deaths in Scotland
As well as no new fatalities in Wales (see 14:20), there have also been no deaths in Scotland in the last 24 hours – the fourth day in a row without a death.
But Nicola Sturgeon, the country’s First Minister, said that a small rise in new infections would be “closely examined”.
The latest figures show that 18,359 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 19 from 18,340 the day before, and an additional 12 extra infections compared to yesterday.
Another day y’day with no registered deaths of people who had tested positive for COVID. 19 new cases though – 12 more than yesterday. We can expect to see daily variation – but as on Friday, these are being closely examined. And it’s a reminder that the virus hasn’t gone away. https://t.co/TBTrboxR3g
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 12, 2020
More from Herefordshire, where 200 staff at a farm are in quarantine
A few more details have emerged about the outbreak on a farm in the village of Mathon, near Worcester, where nearly 200 staff members have been quarantined.
It comes after 73 people living at the site tested positive for Covid-19. Herefordshire Council has said it is arranging food and essential supplies for residents on the site – who reside in mobile homes based on the farm during the harvesting season – while they self-isolate.
Katie Spence, from Public Health England Midlands, said that to support the workforce the company had put a range of infection control measures in place.
“Despite these measures, a small number of workers became symptomatic earlier this week and they and a few close contacts among the workforce were tested initially and found to be positive,” she said in a statement.
“In line with NHS guidance, affected individuals were asked to self-isolate for seven days, with their households and close contacts asked to isolate for 14 days.
“As we have seen a global trend of large food producers being subject to outbreaks, as a precautionary measure, the decision was made to test the entire workforce.
“The initial batch of results showed a significant percentage of positive cases, despite these individuals being asymptomatic.
“We are still awaiting a few final results, but currently we have 73 positive cases of Covid-19 among the workforce.”
Lebanon: Record number of new Covid-19 infections reported
Meanwhile in Lebanon, officials have reported more than 100 new cases in the last day – the highest daily increase yet.
Most of theses cases have been detected among the workers of a large cleaning company, according to Lebanon’s health minister. Close to 75 per cent were symptom free.
“To reassure people, the source is known,” health minister Hamad Hassan told broadcaster LBC. He added that 800 workers from the company in question would be tested, along with 1,000 from two other firms that they work closely with.
“The number will remain high this week,” he said.
Lebanon has recorded more than 2,000 infections and 36 deaths from coronavirus since February.
But the country has also been hit by its worst economic crisis in modern history, as the Lebanese pound has lost over 80 per cent of its value since October, when nationwide anti-corruption protests began to rock the country.
Accelerated by the pandemic, unemployment is soaring, the value of wages are plummeting and prices continue to skyrocket. Lebanon is also host to around 1.5m refugees – the most per capita in the world.
Abbie Cheeseman has more on the crisis in this dispatch from Beirut.
No new deaths in Wales
There are no new deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Wales, while the number of new infections has risen by 16.
This means there have now been 1,541 fatalities and 15,962 cases since the pandemic began in the country, according to Public Health Wales said.
Recap: What’s been said about mandatory face masks?
Michael Gove said earlier today that face masks should not be made mandatory inside shops in England because “it is always best to trust people’s common sense”.
But he added that he would encourage people to don a face covering when inside in public, particularly in places with poor ventilation.
“I think that it is basic good manners, courtesy and consideration, to wear a face mask if you are, for example, in a shop,” Mr Gove, a Cabinet Minister, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning.
His comments come amid growing calls for the Government to introduce stricter guidance on face coverings, after Scotland made masks mandatory in shops on Friday. There are now roughly 120 countries across the globe with similar policies.
On Friday, Boris Johnson was pictured wearing a face covering in public for the first time in his Uxbridge constituency. The Prime Minister indicated during an online Q&A that the Government was considering tougher guidance on masks.
“I do think we need to be stricter in insisting that people wear face coverings in confined places. We’re looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings, in shops, for example,” he said.
And Mr Gove’s opposite number, Labour’s Rachel Reeves, also said this morning that the compulsory wearing of face coverings in shops would be a “sensible way forward”.
Voting underway in Spain but 420 Covid positive excluded
Meanwhile in Spain, the first regional elections in since the onset of the pandemic got under way on today in the northern regions of Galicia and the Basque country, though voters were wary of new spikes in infections.
People who have tested positive for Covid-19 are not permitted to vote, excluding 420 electors from a total of about 4.5 million across the two regions.
Voters were masked and presented their identity card to gloved officials, according to images on public television.
The elections in the Basque country and in Galicia were due to be held on April 5 but were postponed as the virus advanced across Spain. According to opinion polls, the conservatives are likely to retain power in Galicia, and the Basque National Party is expected to hold on to the Basque country.
The election comes follows a drastic drop in the number of cases and deaths in one of the European countries most affected by the pandemic, more than 70 new outbreaks are currently active in Spain – below is a look at the country’s outbreak:
Private schools see a surge of interest despite pandemic
Private schools have seen record numbers of new pupils join during the summer term as “frustrated” families tire of the state online offering.
Headteachers at fee-paying institutions say they have had an influx of children enrolling just weeks before the summer holidays, many of whom are from families which had never previously considered private education.
“I think the common strand is that mums and dads who are trying to rescue their own businesses and working phenomenally hard are also having to be teachers for their children,” said Chris Hattam, headmaster of The Elms School in Colwall, Herefordshire.
“There is a real frustration at the lack of their time that has been taken up with educating their children, who finish the work their school set them in a couple of hours.”
Mr Hattam, who has seen a surge of interest from families who “fear what the future might hold” if there is a local lockdown and their children’s school is forced to close.
Our Education Editor, Camilla Turner, has the full story here.
73 people infected with Covid on a Herefordshire farm
Throughout the pandemic, in the UK and across the world, we’ve seen numerous examples of outbreaks at factories and plants where people work in close quarters.
In the latest in this list of highly localised outbreaks, more than 70 people have contracted Covid-19 on a farm in Herefordshire, the Guardian has reported.
Workers picking and packing vegetables at AS Green and Co, based in Mathon near Malvern, have been asked to isolate on the farm and stay within household groups, after 73 of the farm’s 200 workers tested positive for the virus.
“Our staff are our priority, they are hard-working key workers helping us provide food for the country during these unusual times,” a spokesperson for the farm said.
“We contacted PHE and we are working closely with them and Public Health at Herefordshire Council to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
The latest from Israel: Netanyahu promises financial aid
In Israel, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just pledged immediate financial aid to those whose livelihoods have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. It comes as his government faces mounting anger over its pandemic response.
Last night thousands of protesters turned out in Tel Aviv to voice frustration at Netanyahu, who won praise for his early response to the outbreak but has come under criticism amid a resurgence in cases.
Netanyahu did not mention the Tel Aviv protest ahead of his weekly cabinet meeting, but promised that financial help was on the way, starting with cash dispersement of up to 7,500 shekels (roughly £1,700) to the self-employed.
“This support, this grant, is not dependent on legislation and we have instructed that it be put into effect today. The button will be pressed and the money will reach accounts in the coming days,” he said.
He also announced a broader aid package for workers and small business owners would advance through Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, over the coming days.
Related: James Rothwell asks in this dispatch whether the country’s ‘iron-fist’ approach has led to the world’s worst second wave.
Virgin Atlantic set to unveil £1 billion rescue package
And in business news, Virgin Atlantic will this week unveil a £1 billion rescue deal, ending months of uncertainty over the future of Sir Richard Branson’s airline.
Shai Weiss, the chief executive, has drawn up a four-year plan that will allow the carrier to survive even if flights to the US do not return until 2021.
With many US states retrenching into lockdown after a spike in Covid-19 cases, and a presidential election later this year, Sir Richard’s 36-year-old airline has been forced to plan for the worst.
Virgin Atlantic will kick off a phased return to the sky in the coming weeks, initially focusing on services to the Caribbean and Israel.
Details of the rescue package could be announced as early as Tuesday, with the deal rubber-stamped by creditors shortly afterwards.
Oliver Gill has the more details on this story here.
Iran: Supreme leader calls resurgence ‘truly tragic’
A short update from Iran, where the country’s supreme leader has called the resurgence of the coronavirus “truly tragic” and urged all citizens to help stem what has been the region’s deadliest outbreak.
“Let everyone play their part in the best way to break the chain of transmission in the short term and save the country,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a video conference with lawmakers, according to his office.
Here’s a look at the trajectory of Iran’s outbreak – it was an initial hotspot when the pandemic first escalated outside China in March, before cases dipped in May. But since then, the country has struggled to bring the outbreak under control:
The pandemic in photos
Here’s a roundup of the best pictures from across the globe:
Los Angeles, US:
San Miguel Petapa, Guatemala:
Mexico City, Mexico:
UK lunchtime update
Here’s a roundup of the top UK stories since our last overview at 8:54am.
The Cabinet Minister Michael Gove has said he does not think the face masks should be mandatory in shops, but urged people to use them inside – especially in places with poor ventilation.
Gove also said that people should now consider going back to the office if they have been working from home during the pandemic as “we want the economic engines of this country to be fired up again”.
Sadiq Khan has slated Gove’s comments on masks Twitter, especially because it contradicts signalling from Boris Johnson on Friday that the government was looking into tougher guidance on masks. The London Mayor said the UK’s response is “once again behind the rest of the world”.
Labour has also said they would be supportive of compulsory face masks in shops.
Nicola Sturgeon said she isn’t currently planning to introduce a quarantine in Scotland from the rest of the UK – but that she would keep this “under review” and is taking nothing off the table.
But Micheál Martin, Ireland’s Taoiseach, has said that UK travellers would still be subject to quarantine if they travel to Ireland as the government is taking a “cautious approach”.
Professor Robin Shattock, head of Imperial College London’s vaccine team, has said he thinks it’s a “very low, low risk” that none of the candidates being developed across the globe will be successful.
He added that 15 people have been enrolled in a vaccine trial at Imperial and they’re hoping to ramp up to 200-300 people in the coming weeks.
Scroll down for more of today’s news.
The view from Melbourne: Victoria marks of triple-digit cases
Down under, Australia’s Victoria state has reported 273 new cases of the coronavirus and another death today, marking a week of triple-digit increases in infections.
Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s second most-populous state, went under a six-week lockdown on Thursday after a spike in community-transmitted cases.
“This is a dangerous time,” Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews told a news conference.
“I know we are asking a lot of Victorians, but we simply have no choice but to acknowledge the reality that we face and to do what must be done, and that is to follow those rules, to only go out when you need to.”
Sunday’s cases, the second highest for Victoria, follow a record 288 infections reported on Friday. The increase partly reflects increased testing, with the state conducting more than 30,000 tests daily.
There have been multiple outbreaks of the virus, with cases recorded at some public and private hospitals, aged-care facilities, public housing complexes and supermarkets.
Australia’s other seven states and territories have banned travellers from Victoria amid concern that community transmission was causing a second wave of the virus.
Ministers seek out clear face masks to help deaf people struggling to lip-read
And in yet more face mask news – the Department of Health is in the process of procuring see-through face masks, after charities and professional bodies warned that coverings make communication “impossible” for deaf people.
The widespread uptake of masks is leaving many people who rely on lip reading to communicate feeling “isolated” and “lonely”, with some even reluctant to leave the house as a result.
Work is under way by the DHSC to source hundreds of thousands of clear face masks that conform to current regulations, for use across the health and social care sector, The Sunday Telegraph understands.
Ian Noon, head of policy at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said although public health must take priority, face masks are “already making life harder” for the UK’s 12 million deaf people.
Lizzie Roberts has the full story here.
Sadiq Khan: ‘Our response is behind the rest of the world’
The face mask debate has erupted again this morning, after Michael Gove suggested that coverings should not be made mandatory in shops.
London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has criticised the comments on Twitter, suggesting the Government needs to get its act together because “our response is once again behind the rest of the world.”
Friday: PM – we need to be stricter on face masks
Sunday: Michael Gove – masks won’t be made mandatory in shops
This pandemic is far from over, but our response is once again behind the rest of the world.
The Govt need to get their act together. #Marrhttps://t.co/zhvKsoPYJD
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) July 12, 2020
But the debate is also raging in the US – where the President wore a face mask for the first time yesterday. The move has been widely welcomed among health experts – but this Tweet from a Harvard doctor puts the move into start context:
Many sighs of relief that the president has finally worn a mask in public.
I am one of those.
For a second though, think about how unbelievable it is that it has taken this long—5 months, 137k+ deaths— for this to happen.
Our expectations of leaders have sunk that low. pic.twitter.com/IJwG18SR9D
— Abraar Karan (@AbraarKaran) July 11, 2020
‘I started a lockdown business with my four-year-old daughter’
Here’s a really lovely story for a Sunday morning. Lynda Phoenix, a single mother, decided during lockdown to set up a new business with her four year old daughter, Fifi.
Here’s an extract, you can read more about Lynda’s story here.
Lying in bed at home in Molesey, Surrey, I felt something plastic clinging to my forehead. Reaching up, I peeled it off to find a googly eye staring back at me. In my bedroom – now my HQ – boxes of coloured wool, stickers and card were piled up around me. My bed was pushed over to the far side of the room, allowing space for my new L-shaped desk.
If someone had told me at the beginning of lockdown that my house would look like this, with my garage transformed into a crafting workshop, I’d have laughed. But since setting up a business with my four-year-old daughter, Fifi, life has changed a lot.
Bollywood stars test positive for Covid-19
Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her daughter have tested positive for Covid-19 today. This comes a day after her father-in-law and top Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan and her husband and actor Abhishek said that they were infected with the virus.
Maharastra state health minister Rajesh Tope said in a tweet Aishwarya and her daughter had tested positive for the virus that causes Covid-19.
It was not clear whether they had been admitted to hospital, as Amitabh and Abhishek were on Saturday, when they said they had mild symptoms.
Hungary imposes border checks and quarantine
Over in Hungary, the government has imposed new restrictions on cross-border travel as of Wednesday in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus after a surge in new cases in several countries.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff announced the new policy today. Under the rules, Hungarian nationals returning from high risk countries listed as “yellow” and “red” will have to go through health checks at the border and will have to go into quarantine.
The same applies to foreigners coming from “yellow” countries, but their entry will be banned from “red” countries.
Countries in the Balkans and neighbouring Ukraine belong to the red category, among other states. Serbia and Romania are listed as “yellow”, while travel from Croatia is free for the time being.
Elsewhere in travel, Greece has indicated that it could reintroduce some lockdown measures, after the country has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases following the return of tourism. More on this story here.
Inside the world’s longest and strictest coronavirus lockdown
The Philippines has seen one of the strictest quarantines of anywhere across the globe.
Known as “enhanced community quarantine”, no-one aged below 21 or over 60 years was allowed out at all, there was a 10pm-5am curfew, all offices, transport and schools were closed and only one family member was allowed out at a time essential food and medicine.
The country’s hardline President Rodrigo Duterte warned that anyone caught violating the restrictions would be shot.
In this fascinating dispatch, Dan Olanday and Jennifer Rigby ask: what has been the impact on the country’s poorest?
One jeepney driver in Manila answered in no uncertain terms: “Every single day has been a struggle.”
Jowel Palaña, 41, has not been able to work as a driver since March 15, when the lockdown began. Instead, he swept the streets in exchange for food from his local district leaders. He has not been able to travel to see his wife, three children and their extended family outside the city – or send them any money to survive – for months.
Read more here.
What’s going on in America?
This week the US’ death toll started to rise again, as the recent surge in cases in the sunbelt states triggered a resurgence of fatalities. There was also some big news overnight as Donald Trump, after weeks of experts urging him to set an example, finally wore a face mask in public.
But what else is going on in America? Here are some of the latest updates to be aware of:
The US has now seen daily new cases top 60,000 in four of the past five days.
The country’s death toll stands at 134,729 with 760 additional deaths counted yesterday.
In Florida Disney World reopened two of its four Orlando theme parks yesterday, even as the state reported 10,360 new infections and 95 deaths.
In New Mexico, work safety regulators ordered Walmart to close a store in the city of Las Cruces after four employees tested positive for the coronavirus in the past three weeks.
And in Nevada lawmakers have pumped the brakes on their emergency special session because someone in the legislative building has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gove: Face masks should not be mandatory in England
Launching straight into the face masks debate – which has been prominent across the Sunday news shows this morning – BBC’s Andrew Marr asked Michael Gove whether they should be compulsory in shops in England:
“I don’t think mandatory, no, but I would encourage people to wear face masks inside in an environment where they’re mixing with others and ventilation might not be so good.
“So I think it is basic good manners, a courtesy to wear face masks if you are for example in a shop.”
This comes after face coverings became compulsory in Scotland in shops on Friday – there are now 120 countries across the globe that have taken this stance.
Is airborne transmission a key Covid-19 issue?
Wendy Barclay, chair of influenza virology at Imperial College, has given Andrew Marr a useful overview of the increasingly controversial debate about how Covid-19 spreads (see 8:31am).
The virus is expelled into the air from an infected individual in very small droplets, sometimes so small they’re called aerosols.
These droplets can remain in the air for a time, and while there can travel a significant distance from the initial infected individual.
Prof Barclay said we know that the virus can remain viable and infectious in these small droplets – which raises the possibility that yes, airborne spread is an issue.
She said it can remain there for more than an hour in this infectious form, according to laboratory studies.
Prof Barclay added that the new acknowledgement from the WHO was important. Though several other routes of transmission are important – meaning that hand washing, for instance, should be prioritised – it’s going to be vital to think about airborne transmission routes.
Analysis: UK government struggling to combat changing behaviours
Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of global health at Edinburgh University, has been sharing sharp analysis throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s an interesting observation after the BBC’s Andrew Marr show – is the government struggling to inspire confidence in it’s strategy?
Watching #marr & clear message is UK govt struggling to get economy going bc people have changed behaviour. They’re trying to get people back to offices & restaurants through financial incentives but missing that suppressing virus is best way to get confidence back & normality.
— Devi Sridhar (@devisridhar) July 12, 2020
Sturgeon doesn’t rule out quarantine measures for the rest of the UK
Nicola Sturgeon has said she is not currently looking or planning to introduce a quarantine in Scotland from the rest of the UK – but that she would keep this “under review” and is taking nothing off the table.
“One of our biggest risks over the next few weeks as we have driven the virus to very low levels in Scotland is the risk of importation,” she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. She as previously said that England’s infection rate is five times higher than Scotland’s.
“That’s why we have taken a very cautious decision about international quarantine and, this is not a position I relish being in, it also means we need to take a very close look at where the virus might come in from other parts of the UK.
“It’s not political, it’s not constitutional, it’s just taking a similar view to countries across the world in terms of protecting the population. It’s not something we’re looking to do at this stage, it’s not something we’re planning to do, but I will take decisions the best I can to protect the health of Scotland.”
But she added that “leaders across the world” – including in Australia, where the border has been closed between Victoria and New South Wales, and in the US, where New York has introduced quarantine for a number of states.
Gove: Consider going back to the office
Meanwhile on Sky, Michael Gove, a Cabinet Office minister, has said that people should now consider going back to work if they have been working from home during the pandemic.
“We want to see more people back at work on the shop floor, in the office, wherever they can be,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
“We want the economic engines of this country to be fired up again.”
Mr Gove said working from home had been an “absolute requirement” for many people during the pandemic, but many of them could now return to work safely and should do so.
He added that the civil service would consider moving “essential decision makers” elsewhere in the UK to distribute its resources “more equitably” around the UK.
Irish PM: Britons will still be quarantined on arrival
Micheál Martin, Ireland’s Taoiseach, has been speaking to Andrew Marr this morning about international travel, and suggested that reopening schools and hospitals was more important to his government than encouraging unnecessary trips abroad.
He said that Ireland would be “very cautious” about advising citizens to travel and confirmed that Brits visiting Ireland will still be subject to a quarantine.
Asked what Britain needs to do to get onto the “green list”, Mr Martin added:
“Well I think the suppression of the virus is the key. We’ve watched reports where in certain parts of the UK there are still difficulties and areas have had to go into lockdown and so on.
“We’re all in common facing this issue and this challenge. And that’s why in out travel advisory, we’re telling people not to travel for non essential purposes. Because our priority is to get our schools open towards the end of August, to also free up hospital capacity to deal with non Covid illnesses, and to try and get more activity there.
“So I think caution is the watchword here.”
He added that later this month Ireland will unveil guidance on international travel for citizens, which will outline which countries are safer to visit based on ongoing transmission of Covid-19. The “metric” will be focused on places that are in a similar or better position than Ireland.
Tensions flare in Israel over government’s coronavirus response
Thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv yesterday, angered by what they say has been an inept government response to the economic hits they have taken during the coronavirus crisis.
You can get a gain a sense of the scale of events in the city’s Rabin Square via the photos below – and James Rothwell asks in this dispatch whether the country’s ‘iron-fist’ approach has led to the world’s worst second wave.
‘Very low, low risk’ that no vaccine will work, says Imperial’s Prof Shattock
In vaccine news Professor Robin Shattock, who heads Imperial College London’s vaccine team, has said that 15 volunteers have so far been given the innovative jab they are developing.
He added that this will be ramped up in the “coming weeks” to include another 200-300 participants.
Talking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday on the subject of success, he said it was “very difficult to predict” which vaccine would work. But he added that he thinks it’s a “very low, low risk” that none of the candidates being developed will be successful – there are more than 140 candidates across the globe.
What he said about immunity is interesting, so here’s his full comments:
“I think it’s very difficult to predict. One of the things that we don’t understand right now is what level of immunity you need to prevent infection.
“If you only need a very small amount of immunity, I suspect most of the vaccines that are being developed will actually work, but if you need a very strong immune response or particular quality of immune response, we’ll see that actually it will be shaking out to some of these candidates.
“We hope we will be the candidate, one of the candidates, that is successful, but there’s no certainty with any individual approach.
“I think we’re very lucky in the UK that we have two very strong candidates, the one from Imperial, the one from Oxford, and so we’re pretty well placed, but there’s still not a certainty that either of those two will work.”
Prof Shattock added that a Covid-19 vaccine will be rolled out across the UK in the first half of 2020 if everything “goes really well”.
Indonesia: Military academy hit by outbreak
In Indonesia, nearly 1,300 people at a military academy have tested positive for Covid-19, an official said, as the country struggles to contain the epidemic.
The Indonesian Army Officer Candidate School in the country’s most populated province of West Java has been quarantined, General Andika Perkasa said late last night.
Of the 1,280 confirmed infections, 991 were cadets and the rest were staff and their family members, he said. Most had no symptoms.
Indonesia is the hardest hit country in Southeast Asia with more than 74,000 known cases of Covid-19 and over 3,500 deaths (below is a look at the trajectory of the outbreak).
But the real toll is widely believed to be much higher, with experts saying limited testing was understating the true scale of the crisis – the WHO has urged the country to do more testing.
Labour supportive of mandatory face masks in shops
The Sunday news programmes have started, so we can expect a flurry of UK news updates in the next couple of hours.
First up on that score, Labour’s shadow business minister has said that the party could support the mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Lucy Powell said:
“We do need to get a lot more confidence back in the system and if the mandatory wearing of face masks in shops will help to do that then we absolutely support it.
“We think the Government – instead of just showing a bit of leg occasionally on these things by briefing newspapers or saying things that are not clear guidance in press conferences as the Prime Minister did on Friday – (should) get some clarity.
“That’s really something that would get confidence back into the system and get people feeling that they can go to the shops, they can go to restaurants and go to bars.”
Powell added that Rishi Sunak’s ‘summer statement’ was a “real missed opportunity” – she said it was perhaps the last opportunity to save tens of thousands of jobs in the UK.
Morning coronavirus briefing
Just joining us today? Here are some of the key stories to be aware of as you sip on your morning coffee:
A senior doctor has warned that patients are postponing elective surgery because of draconian pre-op coronavirus quarantine rules, calling for an overhaul of NHS guidelines.
The EU has been accused of risking lives by insisting on slow checks on vital medicines and potential coronavirus vaccines produced in Britain after Brexit.
The Government is preparing to ease restrictions on using public transport to encourage people to return to rail, bus and Tube networks, and return to work and help kickstart the economy, the Sunday Telegraph understands.
In the US, where the pandemic is surging, Donald Trump has appeared in public wearing a mask for the first time during a visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, after previously refusing to wear one and ridiculing some who did.
Meanwhile in India the Covid-19 caseload is nearing 850,000, with a record surge of 28,637 in the past 24 hours, prompting authorities to announce a weeklong lockdown in the key southern technology hub of Bangalore.
And Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan says he has tested positive and is hospitalised in Mumbai, India.
Serbian police say they have detained 71 people after clashes erupted during the fourth night of anti-government protests that were initially sparked by an announced lockdown against the new coronavirus.
Michelle Bolsonaro, the wife of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who has the virus, said on Saturday that she and her two daughters had tested negative. Brazil recorded 1,071 new deaths from the outbreak yesterday.
Thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv, angered by what they say has been an inept government response to the economic hits they have taken during the coronavirus crisis.
Scroll down for more of the latest news.
Thailand: Vaccine trials to launch in November
Experts have repeatedly said that a coronavirus vaccine is the best “exit strategy” from the coronavirus, and there are currently more than 100 in development across the globe – including some 20 in clinical trials.
And this morning, Thai researchers have announced a timetable for the development of their own vaccine.
They will begin human trials of a potential immunisation in November following favourable results in trials on primates and are preparing 100,000 doses, a senior official said today. The aim is to have a vaccine that is ready to use by the end of 2020.
“At first we were going to send them in June, but it was not easy to plan everything,” Kiat Ruxrungtham, director of the Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University vaccine development program, told a news conference.
“If everything goes according to plan, the vaccine will be ready for Thailand in the third or fourth quarter next year,” he added.
Experts warn against air con as WHO shifts advice on airborne spread
The last week has seen the debate on coronavirus transmission become increasingly public, after more than 200 scientists sent a letter to the WHO urging the body to consider the role of airborne spread.
With that in mind, experts have told the Telegraph that air conditioning units that only used recirculated air could exacerbate the spread of virus particles if someone was infected with Covid-19.
Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, a fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering, said there were two types of air conditioning units – ones that take air in from outside and expel it out again, or those that recirculate the same air.
This second type, known as a “split” unit, draws air in, passes it over cooling coils and sends it back into the room.
Dr Fitzgerald said that it may go against conventional wisdom and be more expensive, but opening a window while operating the unit was the best way to mitigate risk – or turn it off completely.
Anne Gulland has more on this story here.
Dengue prevention efforts stifled by pandemic
Government issued lockdowns are hampering efforts to cope with seasonal outbreaks of dengue, an incurable, mosquito-borne disease that is also known as “breakbone fever” for its severely painful symptoms.
Singapore and Indonesia have dealt with concurrent outbreaks of dengue and coronavirus. In Brazil, where there are over 1.6 million Covid-19 infections, at least 1.1 million cases of dengue have been reported, with nearly 400 deaths, according to the Pan American Health Organisation.
Dengue cases are likely to rise soon with the start of seasonal rains in Latin American countries like Cuba, Chile and Costa Rica, as well as the South Asian countries of India and Pakistan.
Prevention efforts targeted at destroying mosquito-breeding sites are still the best ways to curb the spread of the disease. But coronavirus-era lockdowns and other restrictions have meant that these efforts have been reduced or stopped altogether in many countries.
Bangalore going into week-long lockdown after surge in cases
India’s coronavirus caseload is nearing 850,000 with a record surge of 28,637 in the past 24 hours, prompting authorities to announce a week-long lockdown in the key southern technology hub of Bangalore.
The new confirmed cases took the national total to 849,553. The Health Ministry on Sunday also reported another 551 deaths for a total of 22,674.
New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Pune are among the key Indian cities witnessing a surge in infections. Several states also have announced stringent lockdowns in high-risk areas.
China records no new domestic cases
Chinese health authorities on Sunday reported seven new coronavirus cases that they said came from abroad and said there were no additional domestic infections.
Four of the confirmed cases reported in the 24 hours through midnight Saturday were in Tianjin, east of Beijing, two in Shanghai and one in the southeastern province of Zhejiang, the National Health Commission reported.
That raised China’s total number of confirmed cases to 83,594, with 4,634 deaths, according to the NHC.
More than 60 US Marines infected on Japanese island
The governor of Japan’s Okinawa island demanded a top US military commander take tougher prevention measures and more transparency hours after officials were told that more than 60 Marines at two bases have been infected over the past few days.
Okinawan officials on Sunday reported a total of 61 cases – 38 of them at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and another 23 at Camp Hansen – since July 7.
The disclosure of the exact figures came only after Okinawa’s repeated requests to the US military.
“Okinawans are shocked by what we were told (by the US military),” Gov. Denny Tamaki told a news conference on Saturday. “It is extremely regrettable that the infections are rapidly spreading among US personnel when we Okinawans are doing our utmost to contain the infections.”
“We now have strong doubts that the US military has taken adequate disease prevention measures,” he added.
Premier of Australia’s worst hit state warns ‘this is a dangerous time’
Australia’s worst-hit Victoria state reported 273 new cases on Sunday, the sixth straight-day of triple-digit increases.
State Premier Daniel Andrews said a man in his 70s died overnight, bringing Australia’s death toll to 108, including 24 in Victoria, which currently has 1,484 active cases.
Mr Andrews warned Victorians “this is a dangerous time”.
The major city of Melbourne is in virtual lockdown and Mr Andrews said “we simply have no choice but to acknowledge the reality that we face and to do what must be done.
“That is to follow (the) rules, to only go out when you need to and to only go out for purposes that are lawful.”
Illegal raves shutdown in south-east London
Police were called into to disperse a crowd in at an illegal rave in South Norwood Country Park early on Saturday night.
Authorities then attempted to shutdown a gathering at Burgess Park in Campbell, later in the evening.
Revellers are partying at an illegal rave in #SouthNorwood Country Park in south-east London.
Met Police say a dispersal order has been put in place and that the organisers of the event have been told to turn the music off. pic.twitter.com/WspANBNj9W
— London 999 Feed (@999London) July 11, 2020
British pilot heading home after months in Vietnamese hospital
A British pilot who was Vietnam’s most critical Covid-19 patient was discharged from a hospital on Saturday, less than a week after doctors said he was virus-free and healthy enough to return home to Scotland.
The 42-year-old man, identified by the official Vietnam News Agency as Stephen Cameron, was taken by ambulance from Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City to the city’s airport. He is scheduled to land in London on Sunday morning.
Vietnam has gone all out to save Mr Cameron, who was working for national carrier Vietnam Airlines when he tested positive in March. He had been critically ill and spent 65 days on life support.
“I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of the Vietnamese people, the dedication and professionalism of the doctors and nurses working” at Cho Ray Hospital, Mr Cameron said on Saturday morning in a video released by the hospital, where he was last treated.
“I can only thank everybody here for things that they have done,” he said, sitting in a wheelchair next to a group of doctors. “I’m going home with a happy heart because I’m going home, but it is sad that I’m leaving so many people here that I’m friends with.”
Restrictions flouted at Eleventh Night fires in Northern Ireland
Bonfires have been lit in loyalist areas across Northern Ireland as the annual July tradition took place amid coronavirus restrictions.
While there were fewer fires than usual, significant crowds did gather at several of the bonfires that did go ahead.
In north Belfast, there was a second night of sporadic disorder close to a community interface as police came under attack from petrol bombers in the nationalist New Lodge close to a bonfire in the loyalist Tiger’s Bay area.
Ahead of the Eleventh Night fires, politicians and community leaders had urged people to avoid mass gatherings and stick to regulations that limit outdoor gatherings to no more than 30 people.
Crowds well in excess of 30 were witnessed at a number of fires that were lit late on Saturday night.
Bonfires are torched in loyalist communities across the region every July 11 to usher in the main date in the Protestant loyal order parading season, the Twelfth of July.
World news in brief
Brazil recorded 1,071 new deaths from the outbreak on Saturday, with a total of 1,839,850 confirmed cases, the Health Ministry said. Brazil has now recorded a total of 71,469 deaths.
Lebanon‘s number of infections increased for a third consecutive day to a record 86, the government said on Saturday.
Thousands of Israelis demonstrated on Saturday in Tel Aviv, angered by what they say has been an inept government response to the economic hits they have taken during the coronavirus crisis.
Michelle Bolsonaro, the wife of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who has the virus, said on Saturday that she and her two daughters had tested negative.
Navajo Nation officials have reported 10 additional deaths as the tribe’s sprawling reservation remains under the latest weekend lockdown. The tribe’s death toll rose to 396 as of Friday.
South Africa is reporting another 13,497 confirmed cases for a total of 264,184 including 3,971 deaths.
The wife of a French bus driver who died of injuries after he asked four passengers to wear face masks wants “exemplary punishment”.
Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan says he has tested positive and is hospitalised in Mumbai, India.
Italy has confirmed another 188 infections, a third in the hard-hit Lombardy region.
Greek authorities announced 41 new cases over the past 24 hours on Saturday, with 11 detected in incoming tourists.
India’s cases have passed 800,000 after the biggest spike of 27,114 cases in the past 24 hours, causing nearly a dozen states to impose a partial lockdown in high-risk areas.
Mexico‘s Health Ministry on Saturday reported 6,094 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 539 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 295,268 cases and 34,730 deaths.
Public transport restrictions to be eased
The Government is preparing to ease restrictions on using public transport to encourage people to return to rail, bus and Tube networks, and return to work and help kickstart the economy.
As lockdown is eased with leisure centres, pools, hotels and some theatres now open, ministers want to ensure the public regains confidence in the transport network as long as face masks are worn and cleanliness guidelines followed.
The move follows the Prime Minister’s high-profile visit to shops on Friday where he wore a face mask and urged Britain to get back to work.
However, many people remain reluctant to return to their daily commute and are still following lockdown advice to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary.
Read the full story
Fifth consecutive night of protests in Serbia
Several thousand people gathered in front of the Serbian parliament building in Belgrade on Saturday for a fifth consecutive night of protests against government policies, including measures to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Protesters, most of whom wore masks, walked in front of the parliament building in the Serbian capital, occasionally calling for President Aleksandar Vucic to step down.
“We hope that authorities will hear us,” said Stefana Radjenovic, one of the protesters.
“We want authorities to stop lying to us and we want to know the entire truth about everything that has been happening in connection with the coronavirus epidemic.”
This demonstrations were initially driven by frustration over economically stifling measures to contain the spread of the vius, but soon evolved into anti-government rallies that demanded Mr Vucic’s resignation.
Critics say the government’s decisions to allow soccer matches, religious festivities, parties and private gatherings to resume in May and parliamentary elections to go ahead on June 21 are to blame for a surge in infections.
Many believe the government was playing down the outbreak in order to allow the elections to proceed.