Chancellor Rishi Sunak said ministers would take action wherever necessary, as the number of Covid-19 cases creeps steadily up in the European nation. It has five days to bring down its infection count or Downing Street will add it to its red list of “higher risk” countries, one leading travel consultant told The Times.
It comes after Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas were removed from the UK’s catalogue of so-called travel corridors, with the Foreign Office warning against all non-essential travel to the three destinations.
Follow our live updates here…
Thousands of vulnerable patients would be left “stranded” and at risk of early death if NHS bosses shut down normal care in response to a second wave of Covid-19, doctors have warned.
Doctors’ and surgeons’ leaders on Thursday urged managers to keep the day-to-day health service running. At the start of the UK’s outbreak in March thousands of appointments were cancelled to help hospitals cope with the an influx of coronavirus patients.
House prices leapt to a new high in July, in a “surprising spike” after the market was put on pause earlier this year, according to an index.
Property values jumped by 1.6 per cent, or £3,770, month-on-month on average in July, Halifax said.
Across the UK, the average property value was £241,604 in July, up from £237,834 in June.
House prices increased by 3.8 per cent annually.
The housing market has gradually been reopened after restrictions were imposed earlier this year as part of the coronavirus lockdown.
Manchester lockdown should be extended – mayor
The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has said local lockdown measures in the county need to be maintained.
“We’re not in a position yet where they can be removed because we’re still seeing increases across most of our boroughs,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.
“Eight out of 10 have recorded a further increase this week so I think it reinforces that this was the right decision, as difficult as it was.”
Mr Burnham was asked why there has to be an approach which treats the whole area of Greater Manchester in the same way.
He described the area as “interconnected”, adding: “Nobody here, or very few anyway, live their life entirely within one borough.
“People are crossing borough boundaries multiple times in any given day.
“So while Wigan may have had a low number of cases on its own borough boundaries, its communities are on the doorstep of places with much higher levels.
“So that was the justification for why a Greater Manchester restriction was needed, because we saw a situation in Trafford which had similar case numbers to Wigan, but it shot up a couple of weeks ago and that’s what can happen,” he said.
The Government is expected to make an announcement on the status of the measures in the North West of England and Leicester later today.
Measures banning mixing between households were due for review on Thursday, a week after they were brought in for residents in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire, as well as Leicester.
Working from home has given this Government employee a taste for the countryside:
Palmerston, the Foreign Office’s (FCO) much-loved Chief Mouser, has announced his retirement.
The black-and-white rescue cat said that after four years of service it is time for him to “step away from the limelight” and enjoy some “me-time” in the country.
The playful moggie has become an online sensation since he arrived at the FCO’s King Charles Street base in 2016, amassing more than 105,000 Twitter followers.
But, on Thursday, an open letter was shared on the platform, saying it was time for him to take a well-earned paws from duties.
A couple who claim to have seen Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings on a second lockdown trip to Durham have filed an official complaint to the police watchdog, according to reports.
Dave and Clare Edwards told the Daily Mirror that they informed Durham Police in May that they had seen Mr Cummings while out walking in Houghall Woods near Durham on April 19, the weekend after he had returned to work in London.
Mr Cummings has denied making this second trip, insisting photos and data on his phone disprove the allegations.
Durham Constabulary ultimately said they would not take “retrospective action” despite finding the adviser may have made a “minor breach” of lockdown laws by making a trip to the North East with his family earlier in April.
This included the trip to Barnard Castle on Easter Sunday which he used to assess his fitness to drive back to London the next day, following his recovery from illness.
However Mr and Mrs Edwards have since put in a subject access request in order to determine exactly how their complaint was followed up.
A spokeswoman for the IOPC said: “In accordance with the police complaints procedure, we have forwarded a complaint to Durham Constabulary.
“It will now be a matter for the force to determine the next steps including whether this complaint merits referral to the IOPC.”
Planning a trip to the continent? Be warned…
Is contact tracing working in Preston?
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi was asked if he had any evidence that contacts of coronavirus cases did indeed self-isolate.
The director of public health at Lancashire County Council told the BBC: “It’s a very tricky choice. We’re asking people to restrict their movements, to limit their livelihoods in a way; generally people do follow our advice and stay at home.
“But, in some areas, particularly where we are seeing more numbers of cases, these are all deprived areas, people may be sole bread-winners in their family.
“So, we think, to encourage that isolation behaviour, perhaps we need to go the extra mile to provide the extra economic incentive as well as the general guidance.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier defended the Government’s “significant measures to support people’s incomes when they’re isolating”.
He said: “We did this right at the beginning of this crisis … changed how most of our benefits work and indeed how statutory sick pay works.
“We made other improvements, generosities and strengthenings to our safety net to make sure that that support is both more accessible and more generous and particularly covers those who are isolating.”
Preston health chief says city’s ready to tackle local outbreak
Officials in Preston have warned it could become the latest area to face a local lockdown amid rising infection rates, with 47 new cases in the past week.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, the director of public health at Lancashire County Council, said the city had taken action ahead of an expected announcement by the Government and Public Health England today.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We’re not waiting for others to tell us what to do here in Preston, we’ve already activated our plans, making more tests available and asking people to avoid social contacts.”
He said contacts of people with coronavirus symptoms were being encouraged to come for tests even though they may not have symptoms “so that we can find the virus that is hiding in close contacts and stop the transmission”.
We’re doing what we can to protect the young – Sunak
The Chancellor said a forthcoming “Kickstart scheme” will offer Government-subsidised jobs for young people at risk of long-term unemployment, which will provide at least the national living wage and 25-hours per week of work, along with training.
He told BBC Breakfast “That will help a generation of young people get into the labour market.
“Young people, in particular, are most at risk in a crisis like this and we want to protect their prospects for the long-term.
“If they don’t have a job early in their career that will have a negative impact on them for many years to come.
“We also significantly increased the cash incentives for businesses to take on new apprenticeships, £2,000 to take on a young apprentice, £1,500 to take on an apprentice over the age of 25. That’s a great way for people to get into work and earn and learn at the same time.”
Will furlough be extended if there’s a second wave?
Chancellor Rishi Sunak was asked if he was “completely ruling out” extending the furlough scheme to hard-hit job sectors such as travel and theatre.
He told BBC Breakfast: “If you look at it from start to finish of the furlough scheme, the Government will have been stepping in to pay people’s wages for eight months.
“I think most reasonable people will say ‘gosh, that’s not something that can carry on forever’. In common with almost all countries around the world … their versions of this are slowly being wound down toward the end of the year.”
Asked if the furlough scheme would be extended if a second wave hit and resulted in another national lockdown, Mr Sunak said: “I don’t think it’s helpful to sit here and speculate on every potential situation that might arise.
“It’s not something that we want to see happen and we’re doing everything we can … to stop that from happening.”
Never lose hope, says Sunak as furlough winds down
Rishi Sunak has said winding down the furlough scheme supporting jobs during the coronavirus crisis is “one of the most difficult decisions” he has made as Chancellor.
He told Sky News: “It’s one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in this job.
“I don’t think it’s fair to extend this indefinitely, it’s not fair to the people on it. We shouldn’t pretend there is in every case a job to go back to.
“This is what we need to do now, it’s to look forward, provide the opportunities for tomorrow.
“Yes, there is hardship ahead for many people, we know that, but they shouldn’t be left without hope.”
UK won’t hesitate to add more countries to quarantine list – Sunak
The Governement will not hesitate to add more countries to its travel quarantine list, Rishi Sunak has said when asked about whether France could join its neighbours Belgium and Spain.
He told Sky News: “It’s a tricky situation.
What I can say to people is we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and that means there is always the risk of disruption to travel plans and people need to bear that in mind.
“It’s the right thing for us to do to keep everything under review on a constant basis talking with our scientists, our medical advisers, and if we need to take action as you’ve seen overnight we will of course not hesitate to do that, and we’re doing that to protect people’s health.”
Africa tops one million cases
Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 1 million, but global health experts say the true toll is likely several times higher.
This is due to a severe lack of testing for the continent’s 1.3 billion people.
More than 21,000 people have so far died of Covid-19.
The World Health Organisation is calling the milestone a “pivotal point” for Africa as infections in several countries are surging.
The virus has spread beyond major cities “into distant hinterlands” where few health resources exist and reaching care could take days.
This graphic shows which regions of England are suffering a spike in cases:
A report by the Labour Party reveals there have been severe cuts to medical research:
Life-saving work is being cancelled as medical research has plunged by more than 40 per cent amid the coronavirus crisis, Labour has warned.
The party said charity-funded research has been severely impacted by Covid-19, with charities projecting it will take more than four years for spend to recover to normal levels.
Only five of 152 medical research charities (3 per cent) are eligible for Government support, it claimed, adding that charity funding for medical research has plunged by 41 per cent.
We begin with some of our top stories from overnight.
The Cummings saga is far from over…
Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham at the height of lockdown drastically undermined public trust in the Government’s handling of the pandemic, according to new research.
Published in the Lancet, the research analysed 220,000 survey results from 40,000 participants in UCL’s Covid-19 social study between April 24 and June 11.
Good morning and welcome to our live coronavirus coverage.
We’ll be bringing you all the latest news from the UK and around the world throughout the day.
That’s all from our live blog for tonight, thank you for following!
Irish fine foods factory suspends operations after outbreak
O’Brien Fine Foods has suspended all processing operations at its facility at Timahoe, Co Kildare from 9pm.
It comes after a number of employees tested positive for coronavirus.
The company has since worked with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to test all employees.
Announcing the suspension, the company said: “Of 243 tests completed, 80 have been confirmed as positive for Covid-19.
“Of the 80 confirmed, the level of asymptomatic infectivity appears to be very high. We are completing testing of a further 42 employees today.
“Those who have tested positive have been advised to isolate as per the official guidance and full risk assessment and contract tracing procedures are under way. All close contacts of those affected are being notified, advised to self-isolate and to contact their GP.”
The company said it has been following public health guidance throughout the pandemic, including working from home for all non-operations staff, mandatory PPE, perspex screens, staggered shift and break times, a restricted site visitor policy, daily temperature checking, changing work practices, communications in five languages, and intensive cleaning and sanitisation procedures.
“Given this level of rigour and our comparatively low level of confirmed cases up to this point, this sudden spike is difficult to comprehend,” the company added.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that arrivals from Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas will have to quarantine from 4am on Saturday.
In a tweet he said: “Data shows we need to remove Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas from our list of #coronavirus Travel Corridors in order to keep infection rates DOWN.
“If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.”
Read more below: