UK coronavirus LIVE: Croatia added to quarantine list as UK sees second highest number of new cases since June

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  • August 20, 2020
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Croatia has been axed from the UK Government’s quarantine exemption following a spike in coronavirus cases in the Balkan holiday spot.

Travellers to the UK from Austria and Trinidad and Tobago will also have to quarantine for 14 days on their return to the country, it has been announced.

Meanwhile, passengers arriving in the UK from Portugal will no longer have to self-isolate after it was added to the travel corridor list.

It came as the the UK recorded the second highest number of new coronavirus cases since June, as 1,182 infections were confirmed on Thursday.

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Live Updates


Coronavirus cases near three million in India

India reported 68,898 new infections in the last 24 hours, data from the federal health ministry showed.

The total number of cases in the country now stands at 2.9 million. Deaths in the same period jumped by 983, with the total now at 54,849.

India is the worst-hit country in Asia, and third behind the United States and Brazil in terms of total cases of the coronavirus.



Thousands of renters could lose their homes around Christmas if the Government does not give judges powers to stop automatic evictions of tenants hit by the coronavirus outbreak, charities fear

Renters have been protected during the Covid-19 crisis by a Government ban announced in March, extended in June and due to end on Monday.

If this is lifted without extra protection, charities are warning that tens of thousands of outgoing tenants could be unable to find or access affordable homes, prompting a “devastating homelessness crisis”.

Separately, the British Medical Association has warned of a potential surge in Covid-19 cases if the ban is not extended and homelessness increases, with homeless people more likely to have health conditions increasing their vulnerability.

Shelter said by the end of June some 174,000 renters had been warned by their landlord that they are facing eviction, and 58,000 moved out after being asked to leave during the lockdown.

It estimates almost a quarter of a million renters had fallen behind on their rent by the end of June.


Coronavirus cases in Brazil reaches 3.5 million

Brazil reported 45,323 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,204 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Brazil has now registered 3,501,975 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 112,304, according to ministry data.

The death toll reported on Thursday takes the total number of fatalities across Latin America past 250,000.

An aerial view of a section of the Nova Iguacu cemetery dedicated to people who died of the coronavirus disease near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (REUTERS/Pilar Olivares)


Six million people across the UK have fallen behind on household bills due to coronavirus, a new study has found

Research from Citizens Advice shows that one in nine people in the UK are behind on bills, with around a fifth of these individuals having to go without essentials including food.

The study finds that carers and those who were shielding during the pandemic and key workers are twice as likely to have fallen behind on bill payments due to coronavirus, while black people, those aged between 18 and 34 and disabled people are also at least twice as likely to be in arrears.

Citizens Advice warn that with protections against eviction for renters due to end this weekend, something Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has protested against, many of those who are struggling may face harsh enforcement.

The charity is calling on the Government to give financial support to those in debt in the form of a one-off or time-limited financial support for arrears built up because of coronavirus, with the cost of relief shared fairly between Government, creditors and individuals.


British holidaymakers face another scramble to return home to avoid quarantine after Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago were removed from the safe travel list

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday that travellers from those countries to the UK would be required to self-isolate for 14 days with the restrictions coming into effect from Saturday at 4am.

It comes as Portugal was given travel corridor status, meaning that Brits will not have to quarantine on their return to the UK from the country.

Prices for flights from quarantine nations rocketed following the announcement by Mr Shapps, with British Airways advertising tickets for an early Friday morning flight between Zagreb, Croatia to London at 308 euro for economy class.

Similarly, the airline was on Thursday night advertising an economy seat on a flight from Vienna to London Heathrow for 538 euro.

Figures released by Department for Transport (DfT) indicate that the weekly incidence (cases) per 100,000 for Croatia increased from 10.4 on August 12 to 27.4 on August 19, a 164 per cent increase.

Over the same period, Trinidad and Tobago saw a 232 per cent increase increase in weekly incidence per 100,000, while Austria had a 93 per cent increase between August 13 and August 20 (from 10.5 per 100,000, to 20.3).


Boris Johnson urged to commit to a “zero-Covid” strategy across England by a group of MPs and peers

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus said the measure would “provide clarity and reassurance” to the public.

It follows an inquiry into the Government’s response to the pandemic by the group, who have warned of the risk of a second wave of the virus in winter.

As well as calling for a “zero-Covid” approach, the group recommends that ministers set a target to reduce the number of new cases seen in England over a seven day rolling average to no more than one new case per million population per day.

Measures proposed to help meet the target include accelerating the development of a “locally lead and locally coordinated, but nationally supported” Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) programme in England.

The group also suggests devolving public health outbreak control efforts in responding to local flair-ups, as well as reinstating daily coronavirus briefings – which were ended in June.


Nursing officials are pushing for a pay increase for healthcare staff as 73 per cent of those working say they would feel more valued

A study by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) found that nearly three-quarters of the 3,800 nurses questioned north of the border supported a pay increase.

More than three quarters (77 per cent) of the respondents said that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased their stress levels.

Staff were also found to be concerned for the wellbeing of fellow nurses, with 90 per cent saying they were worried about others in the profession generally.

Theresa Fyffe, the director of RCN Scotland, said: “Our members have painted a clear picture of the challenging times they have faced and the additional burden the pandemic has placed on them as individuals and their teams.

“It is also clear that safe staffing and the lack of recognition of the work that nursing staff do were issues before the pandemic that still need to be addressed. The Scottish Government must ensure that nursing is attractive, well-paid and meaningfully supported.”


Irish agriculture Minister Dara Calleary apologises after going to an indoor golf society event

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing or breach of coronavirus rules on the part of the hotel or anyone who attended Wednesday night’s function in Clifden, Co Galway.

Mr Calleary said: “Last night I attended a function I committed to a number of weeks ago, to pay tribute to a person I respected and admired greatly.

“In light of the updated public health guidance this week I should not have attended the event. I wish to apologise unreservedly to everyone.”

The Agriculture Minister added: “We are asking quite a lot from everyone at this difficult time. I also offer this apology and my sincere regret to my Government colleagues.”

The Oireachtas Golf Society event was held at the Station House hotel.


Sir Keir Starmer’s response to coronavirus has been “exactly right”, says John McDonnell

The former shadow chancellor praised the Labour leader for approaching the Government in a “constructive way” during the Covid-19 pandemic. And he said that the Government had adopted policies put forward by Labour in order to tackle the crisis.

Speaking to John Pienaar on Times Radio, Mr McDonnell said: “Keir’s got this exactly right. He’s approached the Government in a constructive way – and we’ve got to get through this crisis together – but he can’t help but point out failure after failure. And people are getting pretty angry.

“He’s taking this Government on. What’s interesting is the Government itself has had to adopt many of the policies – not just the ones we advocated for in the last general election, the investment etcetera – but also the policies that we put to them in March to cope with this Covid crisis.

“The furlough scheme was our proposal, the support for small businesses, the self-employed – our proposals. I think he’s gaining the benefit of that.

“Of course with a new leader, the media will give you a much wider leeway to a large extent and of course he’s exploiting that, good for him.”


Tour provider welcomes news Portugal has been added to safe countries list

Ben Hitchcock, marketing director at cruise and tour provider Riviera Travel, welcomed the new Portugal had been added to the travel corridor list and confirmed the firm would restart Douro river cruises in September.

He said: “Restarting river cruising in Portugal is good news for the many thousands of people who want to take a cruise now, and especially for our travel agent partners who are well placed to take advantage of demand for last-minute getaways.

“Customers can book with confidence. Over the last few months, our team have been working hard with our suppliers and international health experts so our customers can rest assured that their wellbeing is our top priority.

“Travel with Riviera is a great experience at anytime, but with limited numbers onboard as well as quieter tourist sites, those choosing a Riviera Travel river cruise will have an intimate and special holiday experience.”


Police are to focus enforcement on Northern Ireland’s coronavirus hotspot areas, says health minister

Areas like Mid and East Antrim have seen the number of cases rise. That is partly down to a cluster of at least 35 infections at a meat processing plant in Cullybackey. Robin Swann said areas that have experienced a rise in cases needed more attention from police.

He added: “I believe it is particularly important in those districts which have seen sharp spikes in Covid-19 prevalence.”

Belfast has also recorded significant numbers of infections over recent times.

Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said there needed to be “right-touch, not light-touch” enforcement.

“People want to do the right thing but sometimes we all need to be reminded about that.”

PSNI assistant chief constable Alan Todd said: “Our approach has always been engage, explain, encourage and enforcement with any emphasis on enforcement being fully considered with all our partners.

“With the changing picture in relation to Covid-19 we will continue to work closely with the Department of Health and other partner agencies to inform the most effective policing approach to keep people safe including enhanced resources in those areas identified as a priority.”


AirBnB bans all house parties worldwide

Airbnb has banned all house parties worldwide in order to comply with limits on gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

With a few exceptions for some venues, occupancy will be limited to 16 people. The UK’s Bed and Breakfast Association had warned that Airbnb was putting communities at risk through its lockdown parties. Airbnb now says it will pursue legal action if guests or hosts break the rules.


Rapid home testing coronavirus kits ‘could be available in weeks’

Quick pregnancy-style coronavirus tests could be approved within weeks, a leading scientist has said. Sir John Bell, an Oxford University scientist and key Government adviser, said scientists at Public Health England were currently assessing the new tests.

He claimed the devices, which are “no larger than a teacup”, could be sold on Amazon or Boots for as little as £5 if they can be proven to be more than 90 per cent accurate.


End of eviction ban ‘could significantly contribute’ to Covid-19 infection rise, say experts

Failing to prevent a homelessness crisis by lifting the eviction ban next week could “significantly contribute to a rise in coronavirus infections”, experts are warning.

A surge in homelessness could have “serious consequences” on emergency departments as they head into a busy winter period, public health organisations believe.

Homeless people are more likely to access and be admitted to emergency departments compared to the general population.

They are also more likely to have chronic, complex health problems which increase their vulnerability to the virus.

And those sleeping rough will struggle to self-isolate if they develop symptoms, and lack access to hygiene measures that slow the spread of the virus.

The 19 organisations, including seven royal colleges, MedAct and Pathway, have written jointly to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick about the health risks associated with lifting the ban.

They write: “As public health organisations, we are deeply concerned that failure to prevent an evictions and homelessness crisis could significantly contribute to an increase of Covid-19 infections.”


Government making it too risky to travel anywhere abroad – travel expert

Responding to the latest quarantine list changes, Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “The Government has now made it clear that countries can be removed or added from the travel corridor list at a moment’s notice. That policy currently makes it too risky for anyone who is not able to quarantine for 14 days on return to travel anywhere abroad.

“Yet, those holidaymakers who want to heed the Government warning to not undertake non-essential travel to Spain, France and now Croatia and Austria are finding it increasingly difficult to claim a refund. Many airlines continue to operate flights and refuse customers the option of a refund, then charge eye-watering fees to those who try to rebook.

“Meanwhile, the addition of Portugal is likely to come too late to help many struggling holiday companies who are at the point of collapse, as summer trips have already been cancelled. Which? has been asking the Government what support it will provide to the travel industry for several months. That support is now urgently needed.”


A 33-year-old with no underlying health conditions dies from coronavirus


A further five people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 in UK hospitals, including a 33-year-old with no underlying health conditions.

The new deaths, which were all in England, take the UK’s coronavirus death toll in hospitals to 34,124.

Read the full story here


UK records second-highest number of daily Covid-19 cases since June

The UK recorded 1,182 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the second-highest daily total since June 21, Government figures showed.

This brings the overall number of confirmed cases to 322,280 cases.

The Government said 41,403 people had died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of 5pm on Wednesday, an increase of six on the day before.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.