Two metre rule relaxed in NI schools, putting pressure on PM to act

It is understood that the Prime Minister wants to scrap the two metre rule in

It is understood that the Prime Minister wants to scrap the two metre rule in schools - PA
It is understood that the Prime Minister wants to scrap the two metre rule in schools – PA
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

The two metre social distancing rule will be halved in Northern Ireland’s schools when they reopen in August, putting more pressure on Boris Johnson to relax measures in England.

First Minister Arlene Foster said the measure would allow class sizes to return to near-normal levels.

In guidance sent to school principals, reducing the rule to one metre is “safe and appropriate” and had been taken after an “extensive” review by the Public Health Agency and Northern Irelands’ Chief Medical Officer.

 Matt Hancock has conceded that a reduction would make it “easier” to “have people together at school”.

He said: “We’re working very hard now… on the work that’s needed in order to have all pupils back in school as everybody wants to see from the start of September.”

It is understood that the Prime Minister wants to scrap the two metre rule by then so pupils can return fully for the start of the school year.

Coronavirus podcast newest episode
Coronavirus podcast newest episode

 Follow the latest updates below.

06:20 AM

Matt of the day

On the day that Dame Vera Lynn died aged 103, here is Matt’s tribute to the great British icon. 

With a twist, of course. 

MATT
MATT

 See all of Matt’s cartoons here.

06:13 AM

Retail rebounds as lockdown eased

Retail sales volumes jumped 12% in May compared with the all-time record falls in April during lockdown, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Sales were still down by 13.1% on February, before the scale of the impact from coronavirus was clear, but non-food stores saw the biggest increase in sales – up 42% – as more DIY and hardware store reopened in May.

Online sales rose to their highest proportion on record, accounting for 33.4% of total spend, compared with 30.8% in April, the ONS added.

05:53 AM

Fears cats and dogs could re-infect human populations

A team of British scientists has called for more research into the animals susceptible to Covid-19, including pet cats and dogs, for fear they could re-infect human populations who have fought to control the disease.

Researchers from University College London say if the Covid-19 virus becomes common in animals in close proximity to humans – such as pets or livestock – outbreaks could occur even if the coronavirus has been eradicated from in people in the area.

In a comment article in The Lancet Microbe, the scientists have called for more research into which animals are susceptible to the virus causing Covid-19, and for regular testing to then be carried out on the species posing the highest risk of transmitting the disease to people.

Domestic and feral cats, dogs, hamsters, monkeys and ferrets have so far been shown to be able to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The authors also warn farmed wildlife such as pigs, minks, bats and rodents, could act as “reservoir species” for the virus. Some 10,000 farmed minks were destroyed in the Netherlands last month due to fears they had spread the disease to people, although only a small number of the animals showed symptoms.

05:43 AM

Five new imported cases in Thailand

Thailand on Friday reported five new coronavirus cases, all of which were found in quarantine, making it 25 days without a confirmed domestic transmission of the virus.

The new cases were Thais returning from Saudi Arabia, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesman for the government’s Covid-19 task force.

Thailand has recorded 58 deaths related to Covid-19 among some 3,146 confirmed cases, of which 3,008 patients have recovered.

05:39 AM

Cummings saga slashes Tory poll lead

The Conservatives’ poll lead has been slashed to just four points over Labour according to the latest polling by Savanta ComRes, Associate Editor Camilla Tominey reports.

The poll of Westminster voting intention found that the Tories are now on 40 per cent – six points lower than they achieved last month. 

Labour is on 36 per cent, up three points while the Liberal Democrats are on nine per cent and other parties, including the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Northern Irish parties, on a combined 15 per cent.

The poll also found that the controversy surrounding the Prime Minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings breaking the lockdown rules has affected Boris Johnson’s popularity.

Read the full piece here.

05:30 AM

Michael Deacon | Hapless and app-less… but Matt Hancock still tried to put a positive spin on this shambles

After the flop of the much-vaunted contact tracing app, the Health Secretary valiantly attempted to look on the bright side, our sketch writer Michael Deacon comments. 

Read his full piece here.

05:21 AM

Today’s front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Friday, June 19.

dt
dt

05:10 AM

Cases continue to spike in India

India has recorded its highest one-day spike of 13,586 coronavirus cases, raising the total cases to 380,532, with no signs of flattening of the curve.

India’s total deaths reached 12,573, a rise of 336, according to a Health Ministry statement on Friday.

Three states, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and New Delhi, account for 60 percent of total cases.

The nationwide lockdown imposed in March has been lifted except for high-risk areas.

The government has allowed reopening of shops, malls, manufacturing and religious places. However, schools, colleges and movie halls remain shuttered across the country.

Migrant workers and their families wait in lines outside a railway station to board a train to their home state of eastern West Bengal - Reuters
Migrant workers and their families wait in lines outside a railway station to board a train to their home state of eastern West Bengal – Reuters

04:29 AM

Keep cats inside and dogs on leash, scientists say

Cats should not be allowed out and dogs should be kept on leads in order to avoid coronavirus spreading between households, scientists said as they called for widespread testing of animals.

In an article for The Lancet Microbe, experts from University College London said there was “increasing evidence” that some animals can pass Covid-19 on to humans.

They are urging the systematic surveillance of animals to prevent the build-up of virus “reservoirs” that could prolong the crisis.

Their concerns follow the culling of 10,000 farmed minks in the Netherlands after infected animals were suspected of transmitting the virus to at least two humans. 

Read the full story

02:59 AM

Japan lifts all domestic travel restrictions

Japan lifted all coronavirus-related curbs on domestic travel on Friday, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling on people to go sightseeing or attend concerts and other events to help the nation’s economy bounce back from a pandemic recession.

Japan began lifting its pandemic lockdown in May as coronavirus infections fell. The latest easing on Thursday comes after the end of an emergency declaration that allowed people to return to work and for bars and restaurants implementing social distancing measures to reopen.

“I would like people, while observing social distancing, to go out on sightseeing trips. We would like you to make an effort to engage in social and economic activity,” Abe said in an address to the country late on Thursday.

People walk through Kabukicho entertainment district in Tokyo - FRANCK ROBICHON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
People walk through Kabukicho entertainment district in Tokyo – FRANCK ROBICHON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

01:32 AM

China publishes virus genome data from latest Beijing outbreak

China has published the genome data for the coronavirus behind the latest Covid-19 outbreak in the capital city of Beijing, the website of state-backed National Microbiology Data Center showed on Friday.

State-backed Beijing News also reported that the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention submitted the genome sequencing data for the virus to the World Health Organisation, which had previously sought access to the data. 

01:11 AM

Honduran president’s condition improving in hospital 

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez is in stable condition and being treated for pneumonia after testing positive for Covid-19, one of his doctors said on Thursday.

Dr. Cesar Aaron Carrasco at the Military Hospital said Mr Hernandez’s condition had improved since he was admitted on Wednesday with difficulty breathing, fever and fatigue.

“In the two days that he’s been hospitalised an improvement in his situation has been observed,” Mr Carrasco said. “He’s in a good general state, recovering.”

Mr Carrasco said the president no longer laboured in his breathing, but still suffered fatigue when walking. He said it was unclear how long Mr Hernandez would remain hospitalised.

First lady Ana Garcia de Hernandez, who also tested positive for a coronavirus infection, continued to be asymptomatic.

Coronavirus Live Tracker promo embed
Coronavirus Live Tracker promo embed

01:01 AM

Cases rise slightly in Beijing

Mainland China reported 32 new coronavirus cases as of the end of Thursday, 25 of which were reported in the capital city Beijing, China’s National Health Commission said on Friday.

This compared with 28 confirmed cases a day earlier, 21 of which were in Beijing. Local authorities are restricting movement of people in the capital and stepping up other measures to prevent the virus from spreading further following a series of local infections.

Another five asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, those who are infected with the coronavirus but show no symptoms, were also reported as of June 18 compared with eight a day earlier. China does not count these patients as confirmed cases.

Read more: China says Beijing outbreak will peak soon as officials suggest it began in May

Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at Beijing Railway Station - China News Service
Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at Beijing Railway Station – China News Service

12:39 AM

News in brief

  • Mexico‘s health ministry reported on Thursday a record 5,662 new confirmed cases and 667 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 165,455 cases and 19,747 deaths.

  • Brazil‘s Health Ministry reported new statistics on Thursday showing the country fast approaching 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 50,000 deaths.

  • China has found the trading sections for meat and seafood in Beijing’s wholesale food market to be severely contaminated with the new coronavirus and suspects the area’s low temperature and high humidity may have been contributing factors, officials said on Thursday.

  • Canada officially racked up 100,000 cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday and although the outbreak is slowing.

  • California on Thursday started requiring people throughout the state to wear masks in most indoor settings and outdoors when distancing isn’t possible as the coronavirus continues to spread.

  • A TV channel sparked controversy in Bolivia on Thursday after it broadcast live the final minutes of a Covid-19 patient’s life while doctors tried desperately to save him.

Central Unica das Favelas, a Brazilian non-governmental organization, delivers food for poor families amid the outbreak - Reuters
Central Unica das Favelas, a Brazilian non-governmental organization, delivers food for poor families amid the outbreak – Reuters

11:31 PM

UN food agency calls for more funding to deliver critical equipment

The United Nations food agency warned on Thursday that without immediate funding its global transport system will stop delivering thousands of tons of masks, gloves and other critical equipment to tackle the pandemic to 132 countries by the third week of July.

Amer Daoudi, the World Food Program’s director of operations and Covid-19 response, told a video press conference that its aircraft have also transported 2,600 humanitarian and health workers free of charge to 40 destinations across Africa, Asia and the Middle East since the pandemic began, and that service will also come to a halt.

“As the virus continues to accelerate across many parts of the world, as we are seeing, these services become more and more vital and important,” he said.

To meet the demand, he said the Rome-based WFP requested $965 million to sustain its transport services through 2020.

But so far it has received about $132 million – only 14 percent – even though “the Covid-19 virus is not slowing down” and “the entire humanitarian and health community is relying on WFP’s logistic services now more than ever,” Mr Daoudi said.

11:07 PM

Drivers rethink summer holiday plans

Fewer than one in three drivers expect to take the summer holiday they had planned before the outbreak, a survey suggests.

The RAC poll of 3,200 motorists also indicated that 68 per cent of those who have cancelled or expect to cancel their plans for a break still want to get away if they can.

Of this group, a staycation in the UK by car is favoured by the majority (59 per cent), with 13 per cent holding out for an overseas trip by plane.

A further 7 per cent are hoping to take their car across the Channel for a holiday.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “While a good proportion of drivers we surveyed remain optimistic about taking the holiday they had planned before the lockdown, most are anticipating having to make changes – with a move towards UK staycations the favoured option.”

Read more: Air bridges to be negotiated to enable foreign holidays by July 4

11:00 PM

Today’s top stories

  • Boris Johnson is expected to announce that deals have been put in place for so-called air bridges with a “small number” of countries which would allow families to go on foreign holidays from July 4.

  • The NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app is to be abandoned and replaced after an audit found it could detect only one in 25 contacts on Apple phones. 

  • Wikipedia founder has claimed he can launch a German-style contact-tracing app in the UK within ‘two weeks’, as he blasted the NHS’s aborted effort as the ‘height of incompetence’.

  • The two metre social distancing rule will be halved in Northern Ireland’s schools when they reopen in August, putting more pressure on Boris Johnson to relax measures in England.

  • Matt Hancock said over-50s, frontline healthcare workers and those with heart and kidney problems would also be in the first cohort to be inoculated by coronavirus jabs as soon as a vaccine becomes available.

Source Article