UK coronavirus LIVE: Death toll rises by 89 as cities face quarantine blockades to stop spread

The Government’s “critical” failure to bring in travel quarantine restrictions at the start of the coronavirus pandemic allowed thousands of infected people to arrive in the UK, a report by MPs has found.

Some 10,000 people with Covid-19 may have entered or returned to the country in March, according to the Commons Home Affairs Committee review, which condemned Downing Street’s “inexplicable decision” to lift all border restrictions in the same month.

The damning assessment comes as ministers were urged to sacrifice pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops to enable schools to reopen if a second wave of the virus hits.

The Children’s Commissioner for England said children were too often “an afterthought” and education “must be protected – at the expense of other sectors and activities.”

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2020-08-05T06:18:08.706Z

Business update:

The bookies are enjoying a winning streak…

William Hill said it had seen encouraging progress last month as its betting shops started to reopen again following months of lockdown.

Online, the business said that it had done well since mainstream sports started up again and it is “encouraged by early indications”.

Pre-tax profit hit £141 million in the first six months of 2020, a swing from a loss of £63 million the same time last year.

Revenue was £554 million, down by a third.

2020-08-05T06:11:31.326Z

Getting kids back in the classroom must be ‘absolute priority’ – Labour

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Labour would accept “tough decisions” to make sure children can get back to school in England in September.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Ashworth said: “I think what we really need to see now is the testing and tracing regime radically improved.

“We think that getting children back into school has to be an absolute national priority, they have to be back into school safely and we need to use these next four weeks of August to get really on top of these infections, to drive them down by improving testing and tracing.”

Mr Ashworth continued: “I can’t get ahead of the advice from Sage or the Chief Medical Officer, but quite clearly Chris Whitty said we are at the limits now of what restrictions can be eased and if tough decisions have to be made, if restrictions have to be reimposed in order to get children back into school, then of course we would accept that.”

2020-08-05T06:04:39.446Z

Now’s the time to get winter-ready – Labour

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has urged the Government to use the four weeks in August to prevent a second wave of coronavirus in winter.

Mr Ashworth told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We’ve seen infection rates beginning to increase again, we’ve also seen hot spots across England, here in Leicester or in Greater Manchester, we’re seeing the virus on the increase in parts of Europe as well.

“And yesterday there was a bunch of scientists who came out and said ‘look, if you don’t get Test and Trace fixed, if you don’t sort it, we could be facing a devastating second wave by December’.

“What we’re saying to the Government here is let’s use these four weeks now to urgently fix it, let’s expand testing and let’s make sure, if you’ve had a test, you get those results back in 24 hours – that is still not happening often enough.”

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2020-08-05T01:50:21.836Z

The Government has been criticised for treating children “as an afterthought” during the Covid-19 crisis and not acting quickly enough to close the UK border in the early days of the pandemic.

A failure to quarantine travellers arriving in the UK in the early days of the pandemic “accelerated” the spread of Covid-19, a new report by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee suggests.

Meanwhile, children’s commissioner Anne Longfield said the re-opening of schools “should be prioritised” as lockdown measures are eased, saying schools must be the first to reopen and the last to close during any local lockdowns ahead of pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops.

It comes as new laws enforcing lockdown restrictions in areas of the north of England including Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire came into force at midnight.

2020-08-04T23:01:02.500Z

Failings on border restrictions ‘allowed coronavirus to spread faster’

Coronavirus spread faster in the UK as the Government failed to bring in quarantine rules for travellers in the early days of the pandemic, a report has found. The “critical errors” including the “inexplicable” decision to lift all border restrictions in March “accelerated” the scale and pace of the pandemic, the Commons Home Affairs Committee said.

2020-08-04T22:00:41.553Z

Streaming service a “bright spot” for Disney as theme park profits suffer

Walt Disney Co on Tuesday reported financial results that fell short of the unmitigated disaster some investors feared as it eked out an adjusted profit amid the coronavirus pandemic that shut down parks, movie theatres and sporting events globally.

Disney’s quarterly profit of 8 cents per share on an adjusted basis beat expectations of a 64 cents-per-share loss, sending shares up 5% in after-market trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

COVID-19 wiped out $3.5 billion in operating profit in the parks division.

Investors overlooked total revenue that fell short of expectations by nearly $600 million and focused on divisions including parks and its media networks whose declines in revenue were not as bad as expected.

The Disney+ streaming service, which now reaches 60.5 million customers as of Monday, has also been a bright spot in the quarter, Bob Chapek, Disney chief executive, told analysts on Tuesday.

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2020-08-04T21:46:46.073Z

Virgin Atlantic files for bankruptcy in the US

Virgin Atlantic files for bankruptcy as industry ravaged by pandemic

Evening StandardVirgin Atlantic has reportedly filed for bankruptcy as the airline industry continues to be devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.  The Virgin Group airline filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday. It comes just hours after a court in London heard Virgin Atlantic could run out of money by the end of September if creditors do not approve a £1.2 billion bailout package.

2020-08-04T21:06:35.806Z

Turkey imposes new restrictions

On Tuesday Turkey adopted daily quarantine inspections, new tracing oversight in all cities and measures for weddings, funerals and other large gatherings, even while it avoided broad curbs on economic activity.

The Interior Ministry said the nationwide rules – including some fines for violations – were needed to sustain the fight against the pandemic that has killed 5,765 and infected 234,934, putting Turkey seventeenth globally in a Reuters tally of total cases.

The central city of Kirikkale will pilot a new call center that checks complaints about citizens ignoring face masks and other rules, and for a “safe area” rewards system for business that abide them, the ministry said.

The 1,083 new COVID-19 cases reflect a “severe” rise after a four-day holiday weekend, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter, urging Turks to avoid unnecessary contact so that their vacations do not have grave consequences.

2020-08-04T20:52:57.296Z

Virgin Atlantic seeks US bankruptcy

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd is seeking protection from creditors in the United States under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which allows a foreign debtor to shield assets in this country, according to a court filing on Tuesday.

Virgin Atlantic’s filing in U.S. bankruptcy court in the southern district of New York said it has negotiated a deal with stakeholders “for a consensual recapitalization” that will get debt off its balance sheet and “immediately position it for sustainable long-term growth.”

The U.S. filing is in addition to a proceeding filed in a British court, where Virgin Atlantic obtained approval Tuesday to convene meetings of affected creditors to vote on the plan on Aug. 25.

A Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said the restructuring plan was before a British court “to secure approval from all relevant creditors before implementation.”

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2020-08-04T20:01:18.473Z

Top Syrian football players test positive for coronavirus

At least four players and three staff members on Syria’s national soccer team have tested positive for coronavirus and are in isolation, a Syrian official said Tuesday. 

The infections come amid reports of a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country, where the long conflict has hit health care facilities and services hard. 

Officially, there have been roughly 850 confirmed cases and 46 deaths in government-held areas, the majority of them registered since July, but a lack of testing and concerns over official data mean the true figure may be higher.

Infected members of the national team include some star players like Mardik Mardikian and Mohammad Anz, according to the Facebook page of the Syrian Arab Football Association.

2020-08-04T19:33:08.730Z

Mysterious paralysing disease that affects children could be disrupted by coronavirus, say scientists

The Covid-19 pandemic could be disrupting a strange disease that causes paralysis among children, health experts have said. 

The mysterious illness tends to spike every other year starting in late summer. 

But scientists say that mask wearing, school closures and other social distancing measures could be slowing the spread of the virus which causes acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM.

Dr. David Kimberlin, a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, called it “the million-dollar question.” 

“We just simply don’t know right now,” Mr Kimberlin, who is co-leader of a US study to gather specimens from children who develop the condition, told the Associated Press. 

2020-08-04T18:58:15.870Z

Trump’s national security adviser returns to work

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, returned to work at the White House on Tuesday following his recovery from a mild case of COVID-19, a National Security Council spokesman said.

O’Brien “has already met with the President, who warmly welcomed him back to the West Wing,” spokesman John Ullyot said in a statement. “He has been cleared by doctors after two negative tests for the virus, and has been asymptomatic for over a week,” Ullyot said.

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2020-08-04T18:37:33.290Z

New cases on the rise in Turkey

Turkey’s new coronavirus cases surpassed 1,000 for the first time in three weeks on Tuesday according to an official tally, breaching what the government has called a critical threshold to possibly reconsider rules.

The 1,083 new COVID-19 cases reflects a “severe” rise in recent days that raises concerns as Turkey wrapped up a four-day holiday weekend that occurred while many Turks were taking domestic vacations, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter.

The virus has killed 5,765 and infected 234,934 in total in the country, which mostly lifted its partial lockdown on June 1. New cases had hovered just below 1,000 since July 13.

2020-08-04T18:22:06.083Z

Ireland delays reopening of pubs

Ireland on Tuesday announced a fresh delay to the full reopening of bars, putting off a move to the final stage out of lockdown by three weeks while also tightening travel restrictions after new Covid-19 infections more than doubled in a week.

“I know that this will come as a blow to pub owners and I want them to know I have enormous sympathy for their plight. This virus is taking away their ability to earn a living, to provide a key service in the heart of many communities,” Prime Minister Micheal Martin told a news conference.

“But we are doing what we are doing to save lives and to give our society and economy the best chance we can to open safely and sustainably,” he said, while also trimming Ireland’s “green list” of travel destinations to 10 countries from 15.

2020-08-04T17:35:18.153Z

White House accuses Democrats of holding up Covid-19 relief fund

Democrats have rejected four offers from the White House in negotiations over another round of economic aid meant to blunt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and are making a mockery of the talks, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday.

“It is Democrats … that are making an absolute mockery of this process,” McEnany said at a briefing. “We’re still engaging with them, but this president has been clear: He is ready to act on this.”

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2020-08-04T17:09:56.743Z

Jordan postpones international flights

Jordan on Tuesday postponed a resumption of international flight services that was planned for Wednesday almost five months after they were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said.

Civil Aviation Commission chief Haitham Misto had announced last month that Queen Alia International Airport outside the capital Amman would reopen on Aug. 5 for about 22 destinations on a so-called low risk “green” list of countries.

Officials are worried that large numbers of people arriving by air could reverse Jordan’s success in curbing the spread of COVID-19 – the few recorded daily cases over the last six weeks have been attributed mostly to people coming from abroad.

Concerns have been heightened in recent days by a spike in COFID-19 infections in neighbouring Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, all major travel destinations from Jordan.

The country has recorded 1,218 cases with 11 deaths – a much smaller known toll than in many other Middle East countries.

2020-08-04T16:29:43.110Z

TFL launches new journey app

A new journey planning app has been released by Transport for London (TfL) to help passengers avoid crowds.

TfL Go provides real-time train times, information about when particular services are less busy, and offers alternative walking and cycling options.

The app, initially only available for the iPhone, also includes an accessible travel mode showing which stations allow step-free journeys.

New features to be added later in the year include live bus information, lift status updates and the location of toilets.

TfL intends to release an Android version in the autumn.

2020-08-04T16:00:41.116Z

Lockdown laws for parts of Northern England to come into force at midnight

Laws enforcing lockdown restrictions in areas of the north of England including Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire will be effective from midnight.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions on Gatherings) (North of England) Regulations 2020 were published on Tuesday afternoon and come into force on Wednesday.

Ministers had said the rules – which ban people from different households meeting in a private home or garden following a spike in coronavirus cases – would apply from midnight on July 31.

Anyone found flouting the rules could be fined £100 up to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offences.

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2020-08-04T15:24:35.046Z

Household mixing banned in parts of Northern England

People from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire will be banned from meeting each other inside their homes or their gardens from midnight, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

The new rules, which were introduced following a spike in virus cases, will also ban members of two different households from mixing in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues, however these businesses will remain open for those visiting individually or from the same household.

The Government said it will give police forces and councils powers to enforce the new rules – adding that some exemptions will be put in place, including for the vulnerable.

Mr Hancock said “households gathering and not abiding by the social-distancing rules” was a reason for the stricter rules and it was in order to “keep the country safe”.

He said: “We take this action with a heavy heart but unfortunately it’s necessary because we’ve seen that households meeting up and a lack of social distancing is one of the causes of this rising rate of coronavirus and we’ll do whatever is necessary to keep the country safe.”

2020-08-04T15:15:36.313Z

Pubs, cafes, and restaurants reopen in Leicester

Pubs, cafes and restaurants can reopen in Leicester from Monday after the announcement lockdown measures would be eased.

Liz Kendall, Labour MP for Leicester West, said that despite an “unbelievably difficult period” for the city, the hard work and sacrifice of residents had paid off.

The Department for Health and Social Care said social gathering restrictions would remain in place for the city – but leisure centres, gyms and public swimming pools will remain closed.

Mosques and other places of worship will be allowed to reopen from Monday, with Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth urging Muslims to celebrate Eid al Adha from Thursday “with your own household at home”.

All restrictions in neighbouring Oadby and Wigston will be lifted, the department added.

Evening Standard – News