UK coronavirus update live: Latest news and cases as test and trace fails to reach 30% of cases | The Independent


Thursday 25 June 2020 16:50

A major incident has been declared after thousands of people flocked to the coast in the southeast of England after months of lockdown.

It comes as Europe reported an increase in weekly coronavirus cases for the first time in months, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Hans Kluge, the regional director of the WHO in Europe, said the continent continues to report nearly 20,000 new cases and over 700 new deaths daily as he warned that the resurgence could lead to extreme pressure on healthcare systems in some countries.

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Globally, more than 9.4 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. This comes as the WHO warned that the pandemic has yet to peak in much of the Americas.

Read the latest below:

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Social distancing in Northern Ireland to be reduced to 1m

Social distancing in Northern Ireland is to be reduced from two metres to one metre, first minister Arlene Foster has announced.

She said: “A minimum one-metre distance between individuals can be considered acceptable in circumstances where appropriate mitigations are made.”

She said the relaxations had been made through the efforts of people to drive down the rate of infection.

“Northern Ireland is opening up again, however there is an onus on all of us not to ease the fight and vigilance against Covid-19.”


Pandemic is getting worse globally, WHO head says

The Covid-19 pandemic is subsiding in Europe, but getting worse globally with the number of infections expected to reach 10 million next week and the number of deaths 500,000, the head of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.

Speaking via video-conference with members of the European Parliament’s health committee, Tedros said that once the pandemic was over, the world should not return to its previous state, but build a “new normal” that would be fairer, greener and help prevent climate change.


A quarter of furloughed workers could be made redundant in September, survey suggests

Millions of furloughed workers face redundancy as many employers anticipate only half of their staff returning to work when the government’s job retention scheme begins to wind down following the coronavirus lockdown, Kate Ng reports.

A survey of over 2,000 businesses in the UK found that 45 per cent of firms will likely have just half their furloughed staff back in work in July, while a quarter are likely to be kept on furlough as part of the extended scheme.

The remaining quarter of furloughed staff could “well be made redundant”, warned the report by lender Marketfinance.

The report also found a large majority of the businesses surveyed were still waiting to be paid for work done in March, before lockdown took place. Nine in ten businesses are waiting to be paid an average of £148,917.


No plans to reopen pubs in Wales

The Welsh Government has no timetable for reopening pubs and restaurants, the finance minister has said.

Rebecca Evans said talks between ministers and the hospitality sector were “ongoing”, but details for relaxing certain measures could not be given due to uncertainties about the spread of coronavirus in the coming weeks.

It came as a health think-tank showed Wales had the slowest decline of Covid-19 compared to the rest of the UK’s regions, as well as the highest cumulative rate of cases in the middle of June.



Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested “the weather” is to blame for the UK’s sky-high death toll from coronavirus, in the latest extraordinary explanation given, reports Rob Merrick.

The Commons leader also pointed to “the practices of individual cultures and societies” – although he did not expand on the thesis.

The reasoning comes after a different government minister drew criticism for claiming the UK was particularly vulnerable as “a global travel hub”.


Gulf coronavirus infections surpass 400,000

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the six Gulf Arab states has doubled in a month to more than 400,000, as the region’s two biggest economies this week fully lifted curfews imposed to combat the infection.

As of today, authorities across the energy-producing region have reported a total of 410,300 infections with 2,395 deaths, according to a Reuters tally. It passed the 200,000 mark on May 27.

The United Arab Emirates announced late on Wednesday the lifting of a nightly curfew in place since mid-March as the daily number of infections fell from a peak of some 900 in late May to average between 300-400 in recent weeks.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which has the highest regional count at more than 170,600 infections and more than 1,400 deaths as of Thursday, ended its three-month curfew on Sunday.

Kuwait’s cabinet agreed on Thursday to ease the country’s curfew by one hour, to run from 8pm to 5am from Tuesday. Qatar, Oman and Bahrain did not impose curfews.

The easing of restrictions has varied across the Gulf region with the UAE and Saudi Arabia taking the lead in reopening commercial businesses, including dine-in restaurants and malls.


Europe sees spike in cases

Europe has reported an increase in weekly coronavirus cases for the first time in months, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Hans Kluge, the regional director of the WHO in Europe, said the continent continues to report nearly 20,000 new cases and over 700 new deaths daily as he warned that the resurgence could lead to extreme pressure on healthcare systems in some countries.


A major incident has been declared after thousands of people flocked to beaches on the south coast of England during this week’s hot weather.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said services were “completely overstretched” as huge numbers of visitors defied advice to stay away.


Workers demand investigation at Chile’s Codelco over coronavirus deaths

Unionised mine workers in Chile have demanded an investigation into the death of a third miner from coronavirus at state-run Codelco, increasing pressure on the world’s largest copper producer as cases soar throughout the South American nation.

Codelco on Wednesday reported the death of one of its workers amid the fast-spreading pandemic, but in an internal memo said the miner had contracted the coronavirus outside of work.

Chile’s Federation of Copper Workers (FTC), a top mine union group, rejected the claim, demanding an investigation into the man’s death and calling Codelco’s management of the crisis “incompetent”.

“It is unacceptable that Codelco’s senior management tries to evade its legal responsibilities to protect … the health and safety of its workers,” the federation said in the statement.

“Our union will not rule out … bringing to justice those responsible for the breach of these preventive measures,” the federation said.

Codelco did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Reuters.

The company, which turns all its profits over to the state, has maintained output with a skeleton crew since the pandemic struck in March.


UK coronavirus death toll rises by 149

149 more people have now died with coronavirus in the UK, bringing the death toll to 43,230, according to the Department of Health.


MPs debating calls to reward health and care workers on frontlines

MPs are debating calls by members of the public to reward health and care workers on the front line of the Covid-19 crisis.

Commons e-petitions which gain over 100,000 signatures may be debated by MPs if they are selected by the Commons Petitions Select Committee.

Petitions relating to Covid-19 have received more than 4.6 million signatures, including 290,000 calling on the government to “reward those caring for us and our loved ones at this time of national need”, according to the committee’s chairwoman, Labour’s Catherine McKinnell.

Ms McKinnell said NHS workers needed a pay rise, or for student debt to be written off.

She said: “One NHS worker wrote to me to say ‘I’ve heard whisperings of NHS staff getting medals after the pandemic. Please don’t let this happen, it’s utterly ridiculous when we’re working in understaffed and under-resourced settings. For money to be spent on medals is outrageous’.”

Meg Hillier, Labour chairwoman of the Commons Public Affairs Select Committee said: “Medals don’t put food on the table and there are many people working in our NHS and social care settings who work through agencies and are paid minimum wage or less.”


Beaches and parks packed with people and litter as thousands defy lockdown to enjoy hottest day of year

Thousands defied lockdown warnings and flocked to beaches and parks amid another day of blistering temperatures on Thursday — but in many areas the enjoyment was spoiled by disorder or piles of litter.

Heaps of rubbish were visible strewn across Britain’s public spaced after sunseekers flocked to beauty spots on Wednesday.

Litter pickers were out bright and early to tackle the chaos left behind after crowds headed out to enjoy the 32C sunshine.

Piles of rubbish, including empty beer bottles, tents, disposable barbecues and laughing gas canisters, were pictured dumped on parts of the country’s stunning coastline.

And there is likely to be little respite for parks and beaches as large swathes of the country head out once again on Thursday to soak up predicted temperatures of 33C in London, while parts of Wales could see highs of 34C.


Australian airline Qantas to cut 6,000 jobs to survive coronavirus crisis

Australian airline Qantas has announced plans to cut at least 6,000 jobs and keep 15,000 more employees on extended furlough as part of a cost-cutting plan to try and stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic, Kate Ng reports.

The airline, which employs about 29,000 people, said plans to reduce costs and raise fresh capital also include grounding 100 planes for a year or more and immediately retiring its six remaining Boeing 747 planes.

Alan Joyce, chief executive of Qantas, said shrinking the airline was necessary to brace for several years of much lower revenues and furloughed staff faced a long interruption to their airline careers.


Police Federation warns easing lockdown is ‘countdown to carnival’

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation in England and Wales, has expressed concern about the government’s decision to ease lockdown restrictions on a Saturday, calling it a “countdown to carnival”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme, he said: “My colleagues are doing their absolute best, there are not enough of us – I’ve said that for a number of years – and the challenges are increasing.

“They are going to get even more difficult on 4 July when the lockdown is eased even further and that’s a big concern to me and policing, and it should be for the NHS and wider because to ease the lockdown – which I completely understand, businesses have to survive and the economy must grow and I accept that – but to announce this easing of lockdown on a Saturday has created almost a countdown to carnival.

“I am deeply concerned we are going to see real big problems on that day when people are trying to get into pubs and bars and restaurants, drinking – alcohol causes an awful lot of problems for us to have to try and pick up the pieces.

“This is on top of the frustration that people are feeling.

“It is a perfect storm but not in a good way, I have to say.”


No 10 spokesperson declines to comment on packed beaches

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman declined to comment on particular scenes on beaches, but told reporters: “The prime minister and the government’s scientific and medical advisers have stressed the great importance of the public continuing to adhere to social distancing advice.

“It is only due to the public’s hard work that we have been able to bring the virus under control, and if the rules don’t continue to be followed and the virus starts to spread exponentially again, we will have to look at having to reverse some of the easements that have been put in place and I don’t think anyone in the British public would want that to happen.”


Coronavirus R number in UK remains at 0.7-0.9

The rate of spread of the coronavirus infection across the UK – the growth rate – remains at minus 4 per cent to minus 2 per cent per day.

While the reproduction number, referred to as R, remains at 0.7 to 0.9.

The figures are unchanged from when they were published by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies on Friday.


NHS test and trace unable to reach almost 30% of people with coronavirus

The government’s contact-tracing programme failed to reach almost 30 per cent who tested positive for the coronavirus in England last week, the latest figures show, Adam Forrest reports.

Only 70 per cent of the 6,923 people who tested positive for Covid-19 during the period were reached by NHS Test and Trace staff, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

This means that 2,054 people with the virus – and potentially thousands of their close contacts – could not be traced by the new system.

The figures also show only 73 per cent of almost 21,000 people who tested positive were reached and asked to provide details of contacts since the system was set up at the end of May. Some 24 per cent of people who tested positive during the three-week period were not reached.


Downing Street calls on public to cooperate with NHS Test and Trace

Downing Street has said it is important the public co-operates with the new NHS Test and Trace service.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said the service was continuing to make improvements, but did not rule out “further measures” if people failed to co-operate.

“We have always said it will improve over time,” the spokesman said.

“We have now reached more than 100,000 people who may have otherwise unknowingly spread the virus but the public must play their part by providing vital information we need to stop the spread of coronavirus, protect our families and communities and, ultimately, to save lives.

“Test and Trace are working to make the service more efficient and accessible by doing things like opening walk-in local testing centres, increasing translation services and concentrating calls at times that work best for the public.

“If we do find that significant numbers aren’t following isolation instructions we will consider whether further measures are required.”


UK towns and cities warn of potential bankruptcy from pandemic

Some of the UK’s biggest councils have warned they could be forced to declare themselves effectively bankrupt unless the government provides emergency funding, Adam Forrest reports

Leaders for Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham have all called on ministers to provide local authorities with more cash to stave off financial disaster due to the dire impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Several local authorities have said they may have to impose emergency spending controls known as section 114 notices – putting them into effective bankruptcy – unless they receive more money soon.

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