I won’t hug my grandparents at Christmas, Sage scientist says, as he warns against PM’s optimism

Professor John Edmunds poses for a photograph outside the London School of Hygiene and Tropical

Professor John Edmunds poses for a photograph outside the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - SIMON DAWSON / REUTERS
Professor John Edmunds poses for a photograph outside the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – SIMON DAWSON / REUTERS
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has said he won’t be hugging his elderly relatives at Christmas as a return to pre-lockdown normality is a “long way off.”

The message comes after Boris Johnson was accused by Labour of making policy “on a wing and a prayer” after he claimed on Friday that Britain could make a “more significant return to normality” before Christmas.

“Unfortunately I think it is quite a long way away,” Prof Edmunds told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning. 

“If what you mean by normality is what we used to do until February and the middle of March this year – go to work normally, travel on the buses and trains, go on holiday without restrictions, meet friends, shake hands, hug each other and so on – that’s a long way off, unfortunately.

“We won’t be able to do that until we are immune to the virus, which means until we have a vaccine that is proven safe and effective.

“If we return to those sort of normal behaviours the virus will come back very fast,” he said.

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Coronavirus podcast newest episode

Follow the latest updates below.

12:30 PM

 South Korea moves mud festival online

Children play in a mud pool during the Online Boryeong Mud Festival at their home during a live streaming event, in Gwangju - HEO RAN / Reuters
Children play in a mud pool during the Online Boryeong Mud Festival at their home during a live streaming event, in Gwangju – HEO RAN / Reuters

The popular Boryeong Mud Festival, halted this year because of Covid-19, instead became an online celebration of soil, with people from around the country enjoying mud pools and mud packs in their homes – and streaming the dirty results.

The annual mud extravaganza, in Boryeong on the coast 130 km (80 miles) southwest of the capital Seoul, is South Korea’s most popular festival for international visitors. They typically flock to the beach in their hundreds for mud slides, mud wrestling and other revelry.

This year the city set up a large screen in a studio streaming images of hundreds of people, some with mud kits consisting of a mini-pool, mud packs, mud soaps and colourful mud powders.

Some 3,000 people, including K-pop fans from overseas, watched the live event on YouTube.

Boryeong launched the festival on Daecheon Beach in 1998 to rejuvenate a local economy hit by the Asian financial crisis. The event promoted mud-based cosmetics said to be good for the skin – turning what is known as a dirty beach into one of South Korea’s biggest tourist attractions. 

12:11 PM

More than 140 offenders released from prison housed in hotels during lockdown

More than 140 offenders were housed in hotels and bed and breakfasts after they were released from prison during lockdown.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the move was “a last resort” to prevent offenders from becoming homeless and to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Of the 304 offenders who were due for release and provided with accommodation, 136 were housed in hotels or B&Bs after all other options were exhausted, the MoJ said.

Additionally, of the 172 offenders released under the End of Custody Temporary Release scheme – in which prisoners who are within two months of their release date are temporarily released from custody – six were housed in hotels.

An MoJ spokesman said: “All offenders due for release are thoroughly risk-assessed and hotels have only been used as a last resort to reduce any potential spread of coronavirus.

“These temporary measures are part of the unprecedented response to the pandemic which has helped protect the NHS and save lives.”

11:55 AM

Lunchtime round up

Good afternoon. If you’re just joining us, here’s everything you need to know from today: 

  • The UN secretary general has strongly criticised the world’s biggest powers for failing to act together. It comes as European Union leaders spend their Saturday hunting for compromises, as a summit to reach a deal on an unprecedented €1.85 trillion (£1.68tn) EU budget and coronavirus recovery fund entered its second day with tensions running high.

  • Donald Trump has refused to order Americans to wear masks to limit the risk of coronavirus spreading in the USA.

  • Australia’s parliament will be suspended for two weeks over fears that politicians could bring coronavirus from outbreak hotspots to the country’s capital.

  • Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has said he won’t be hugging his elderly relatives at Christmas as a return to Boris Johnson’s dream of a pre-lockdown normality is a “long way off.”

  • Britons who are issued refund credit notes for cancelled package holidays will get their money back even if a travel firm collapses, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed today. 

  • A “backdoor” attempt to ban smoking outdoors in the wake of coronavirus has been backed by councils.

  • And the next pandemic may already have started, we just haven’t noticed yet.

11:39 AM

Chinese province launches emergency response after new cases

China launched mass health screenings in Xinjiang on Saturday after a spike in coronavirus cases raised fears of a fresh outbreak in the far western province.

The new cases illustrate the continuing difficulty China faces in stamping out the contagion, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year before spreading around the world.

The new testing regime comes a day after authorities curtailed most flights into regional capital Urumqi and shut down local subway and public transport services.

The city had recorded 17 new coronavirus infections as of Saturday, authorities said in a briefing.

Mass screening for the virus will begin in buildings which had reported new cases and eventually cover all of Urumqi, said local health commission chief Zhang Wei.

“The whole city has entered a ‘wartime state’, and will suspend all kinds of group activities,” an official said at the briefing, according to state media reports.

Urumqi residents were also urged not to leave the city unless absolutely necessary.

11:20 AM

How a little-known data scientist convinced the West to wear face masks

On America’s west coast, a little-known data scientist watched from his living room, scarcely believing his eyes. Donald Trump, who had long sneered at face coverings, was finally, belatedly, sporting one, and in public. And, with that black mask, embossed with the US Presidential seal, Jeremy Howard’s extraordinary mission had helped claim the most important scalp of all.

After a week in which the world – with the exception still of large swathes of the US – at last embraced face masks as a vital tool in the fight against the spread of coronavirus, Mr Howard’s almost accidental role in contributing to a shift in world opinion can be revealed as key. His supporters see him truly as the man behind the mask.

What did he do? Jennifer Rigby and John Mullin explain all here.

11:05 AM

Why the next pandemic may already have started

Imagine you are a smoker who drives for a living. Every day you throw burning cigarette butts from the car. It’s happened many thousands of times without incident. The smouldering stub lands, bounces and dies. Occasionally one may singe a clump of grass but nothing more. You drive on in blissful ignorance.

This analogy, say virologists, is a good way of thinking about zoonotic spillover events like the one which sparked the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic.

They are happening all the time but are seldom noticed. Only very rarely, when environmental conditions are just right, do they spark a violent wildfire which spreads exponentially.

Paul Nuki and  Sarah Newey spoke to the experts to find out what this means and why many think  the next pandemic may already have started. 

Read more here.

10:45 AM

EU leaders enter second day of ‘grumpy’ talks over €750bn Covid bailout fund

European Union leaders were hunting for compromises on Saturday as a summit to reach a deal on an unprecedented €1.85 trillion (£1.68tn) EU budget and coronavirus recovery fund entered its second day with tensions running high.

A full day and night of discussions by the 27 leaders on Friday only added to the irritations over how the huge sums should be spent and what strings should be attached.

The atmosphere “was grumpier this evening than this afternoon,” Dutch Prime Minister Rutte told Dutch reporters after Friday’s marathon talks. “This is going to take a while, I think.”

The EU executive has proposed a €750bn fund, partly based on common borrowing, to be sent as loans and grants to the most needy countries. That comes on top of the seven-year 1-trillion-euro EU budget that leaders were fighting over when Covid-19 slammed their continent.

Though it remains to be seen if countries can reach agreement or will have to schedule another meeting.

Our foreign staff have more on this here.

10:35 AM

Jailed ex-minister dies of coronavirus

A former Algerian cabinet minister detained in a corruption case has died from Covid-19, a news website reported on Saturday.

Ex-telecom minister Moussa Benhamadi, 67, contracted the novel coronavirus earlier this month and died on Friday, his brother Hocine Benhamadi said.

“He contracted the virus on July 4 and was only transferred to hospital in Algiers on July 13,” the brother told the website of French-language daily Liberte.

Moussa Benhamadi had been held in pre-trial detention at El Harrach prison since September 2019 as part of an investigation into corruption involving the Algerian high-tech firm Condor Electronics.

Mr  Benhamadi was once close to once close to ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign in April last year after losing the backing of the army amid massive street protests against his decision to seek a fifth term.

Following his departure, authorities launched a string of graft investigations into members of his entourage accused of abusing their power.

Mr Bouteflika’s powerful brother Said and two former intelligence chiefs have been jailed, as have powerful businessmen and former government ministers.

Benhamadi’s brother and head of Condor Electronics Abderahmane Benhamadi is also detained in a corruption case.

10:24 AM

Riot police sent to shut down Finsbury Park illegal rave

Riot police descended on north London to shut down an illegal rave on Friday night.

The Met Police said officers were called to an “unlicensed music event” after residents living near the Woodberry Down Estate alerted the force of the event.

One video from the scene in Finsbury Park, shows a line of officers in riot gear walk down a street to revellers:

10:15 AM

World reports record number of cases in 24 hour period

A record number of new cases were recorded yesterday, according to the World Health Organization tally.

A total of 237, 743 new infections were reported in the last 24 hours, the highest rate of new infections since the outbreak began.

A record number of new cases were recorded on 17 July
A record number of new cases were recorded on 17 July

The Americas made up the largest portion of new cases, with 137, 989 new infections and 3, 554 deaths reported on 17 July. 

Followed by South-East Asia, which recorded 39, 518 additional cases and 803 deaths.

09:53 AM

What will your post-Covid gym workout look like?

two women bounce on trampolines - Owen Harvey
two women bounce on trampolines – Owen Harvey

Ever since the announcement that gyms and swimming pools in England can finally reopen from 25 July, the fitness world has been busy behind the scenes ensuring it is ready.

So what will our old favourites look like?

Lucy Dunn has a list of some of the things you can expect here.

09:40 AM

Scientists identify six different types of coronavirus with increasing severity levels

Six distinct types of coronavirus have been identified by scientists in a breakthrough that promises to save lives by flagging the highest-risk patients.

Analysis of thousands of cases by artificial intelligence software has revealed different “clusters” of symptoms and ranked them in order of severity.

Headache and loss of smell are common to all six groupings, but the range of symptoms varies widely after that.

Scientists at King’s College London (KCL) found that patients with the sixth type of Covid-19 are nearly 10 times more likely to end up needing breathing support than patients in the first group.

This is significant because often patients only deteriorate to a critical stage several days after after showing symptoms.

It’s hopped that the new ranking system should flag up the highest-risk cases and give doctors the opportunity to intervene earlier.

Henry Bodkin has more on this here.

09:30 AM

UN chief condemns vaccine espionage

The head of the United Nations has condemned any attempt by countries to steal details of coronavirus vaccine research from their rivals.

Secretary-general Antonio Guterres said it was “very important” that the intellectual property rights of scientists seeking to develop a vaccine were protected.

At the same time he stressed it was essential that if a successful vaccine was produced, it was made available to “everybody, everywhere” around the world.

His warning came after Britain, the United States and Canada accused hackers linked to Russian intelligence of targeting vaccine researchers- including those in the UK – in an attempt to steal details of their work.

Moscow has strongly denied the allegations.

Mr Guterres told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme:

“Any espionage in relation to vaccines is to be condemned as we must condemn any policies that divide the world instead of conceiving the vaccine as a global public good, conceiving the vaccine as a people’s vaccine, that must be accessible to everybody, everywhere.

“Just to develop a vaccine for each country’s population and forget about the others is also something that is unacceptable.

“It is very important the intellectual property is protected, that nobody spies on anybody, but it is also important that a vaccine must be available to everybody, everywhere and affordable by everybody, everywhere.”

09:18 AM

Philippines cases surge by 2,000

The Philippines’ health ministry has reported 113 more new coronavirus deaths and 2,357 additional infections.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths have increased to 1,773 while confirmed cases have reached 65,304, with the capital and Cebu City in central Philippines accounting for the bulk of the infections as the virus spreads.

09:11 AM

Donald Trump won’t order Americans to wear coronavirus masks

President Donald Trump, foreground left, wears a face mask as he walks with others down a hallway during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda - patrick Semansky / AP
President Donald Trump, foreground left, wears a face mask as he walks with others down a hallway during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda – patrick Semansky / AP

Donald Trump has refused to order Americans to wear masks to limit the risk of coronavirus spreading in the USA.

People should have “a certain freedom”, the president, who was pictured last weekend wearing a mask for the first time, told Fox News on Friday. 

Earlier Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US expert on the pandemic, had called on state and local leaders to be as “forceful as possible” in getting people to wear masks. 

State and local officials imposed conflicting orders with a number of states, including those led by Republicans, ordering the mandatory wearing of masks outdoors.

Read more on this here.

09:00 AM

World’s biggest powers failing to act together, says UN head

The UN secretary general has said poor relations between countries, such as the United States and China have exacerbated the problems posed by the virus.

Speaking to the BBC today programme António Guterres strongly criticised the world’s biggest powers for failing to act together and said the relationship between the US, China and Russia had never been so dysfunctional:

“We are now in a world that is no longer bi-polar but it is not yet multi-polar. It is chaotic in many aspects. Unfortunately this lack of mutual understanding, this competition among the largest powers, is a major fragility for the UN, but I would say for the world in general.”

Guterres also called for the Security Council to find solutions to ease conflicts taking place around the globe, in Libya, Syrian, Yemen and Afghanistan. And he criticised rich countries for not doing enough to help out poorer nations during the pandemic.

He said the world’s nations should back a “people’s vaccine” made available and affordable to all. “We will not be safe in the pandemic if everybody is not safe.”

08:54 AM

British holidaymakers offered reassurance over cancelled trips

Britons who are issued refund credit notes for cancelled package holidays will get their money back even if a travel firm collapses, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed today. 

The Government will underwrite credit notes for customers whose trips are, or have been, disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The protection will be backdated to March 10 and will extend to September 30. Travellers will be able to cash in or use their refunds up until September 30, 2021. 

British holidaymakers are owed as much as £4.6 billion as a result of coronavirus cancellations, down from a peak of around £7 billion.  

“This news provides much-needed clarity for consumers, who should now feel confident that their money is secure if they have chosen to accept a refund credit note for their cancelled ATOL-protected booking,” said Paul Smith, consumer director at the Civil Aviation Authority.   

By law, customers who book package holidays are entitled to receive a cash refund for any cancellations by the tour operator. To maintain cash flow during the pandemic, some travel companies offered refund credit notes in lieu of cash refunds.

Read more on our travel live blog here.

08:42 AM

Australia suspends parliament over virus fears

Australia’s parliament will be suspended for two weeks over fears that politicians could bring coronavirus from outbreak hotspots to the country’s capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday.

The postponement comes a day after the nation’s second-biggest city reported a record rise in COVID-19 infections.

Citing medical advice, Morrison said the government could not ignore the risk that legislators might spread the disease to Canberra.

“The risks posed by a parliamentary sitting are significantly higher and unlikely to be resolved in the next month,” he said.

Canberra and its surrounding Australian Capital Territory continue like much of the country to control the virus but cases have been on the rise in Sydney and Melbourne

08:33 AM

London ponders its future as pandemic turns capital into a ghost town

A plethora of live growth signals tracked by economists reveals central London has transformed from the country’s economic powerhouse to a ghost town devoid of activity. It is suffering a deeper downturn and slower recovery than all other towns and cities in the UK and capitals in Europe.

Last week footfall in central London was down 73pc compared to a year earlier, worse than anywhere in the UK, according to Springboard. The UK average was 52pc lower than last year, while outer London is down a more modest 38pc. Separate footfall data suggests it is also recovering slower than anywhere else.

Movement of people and vehicles in cities – a measure tracked by economists for hints of activity – is much lower in London than any other European capital, Citymapper data suggests, while restaurant bookings were down 82pc on Tuesday compared to 66pc lower in the UK as a whole and up 3pc in Germany, OpenTable reveals.

Now London ponders its future as the pandemic turns the capital into a ghost town. Tom Rees has more here.

08:19 AM

Local Government Association supports ‘backdoor’ attempt to ban smoking outdoors

A “backdoor” attempt to ban smoking outdoors in the wake of coronavirus has been backed by councils.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has thrown its support behind a House of Lords amendment which would make all pavement licences issued by councils subject to the condition that they are smoke-free.

The move has angered the hospitality industry, which has warned that banning smoking outdoors imposes unwelcome extra restrictions on already beleaguered pubs, bars and cafes. 

Camilla Tominey has more details here.

08:10 AM

Benefits of childhood vaccines outweigh risk of Covid-19 transmission, study finds

The long-term health benefits of maintaining essential childhood immunisation programmes in Africa far outweigh the risk of contracting Covid-19 when visiting vaccination clinics, a new study published in the Lancet Global Health journal has found.

According to the study, continuing with routine immunisation programmes may lead to 8,300 additional deaths from coronavirus because of infections picked up when visiting immunisation clinics. 

However, the suspension of such vaccination programmes to avoid excess coronavirus deaths could lead to a further 702,000 children on the continent dying from preventable diseases before the age of five.

Jordan Kelly-Linden has more on the study here.

07:59 AM

Don’t flood back too quickly, Transport Sec urges commuters

Speaking on BBC breakfast, Mr Shapps said there is capacity on public transport for more people to use it to go back to work, but that they shouldn’t flood back too quickly:

“We are quite close to full capacity but the usage of public transport is way down.

“We have been very careful to ask people not to flood back too quickly and they have not, and so we are seeing many cases of quite empty, for example, trains.

“There’s more capacity there, you can now return. Anyone, not just key workers, can use public transport.

“I would recommend trying to avoid the busier times of day, but as people return to work – and the Prime Minister asked employers and employees to look at doing that particularly from August 1 – the public transport is there.”

07:49 AM

So will we return to normal by Christmas?

Despite what epidemiologist Professor John Edmunds has said above, Transport Secretary Grant Shapp believes that it will be possible for the country to return to normality by Christmas.

He told BBC Breakfast the Prime Minister’s announcement was about giving people a “sense of direction”, adding:

It’s giving people a road map, really, so we can give people some hope whilst planning for the worst as well.

“We want to give people some sense of direction, because a lot of people are running businesses or rely on the Christmas period and need to know that if everything goes well that this is our intention.

“But you can’t get away from the fact that the virus is still, in many ways, a bit of an unknown, and of course it depends how millions of people respond and how good and alert we are in terms of all the things we know, like washing your hands and for the time being keeping that distance of one metre plus.”

So who’s right?

07:03 AM

PHE’s exaggerated death statistics are a scandal that has fed fear

Has Public Health England been exaggerating the Covid-19 daily death statistics?

It appears that PHE compiles “out of hospital” deaths by searching the NHS database for whether that person ever tested positive.

It then apparently fails to consider how long ago that person tested positive or their actual cause of death.

“By this PHE definition, no-one with Covid in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness,” Professors Yoon K Loke and Carl Heneghan, who discovered the statistical flaw, explain.

It is astonishing: under these terms, a person who tested positive a few months ago but then gets hit by a bus this week would be recorded as a Covid death.

Read Matthew Lesh’s comment in full

06:46 AM

Prayer during the pandemic in pictures

A a memorial service for the victims of coronavirus at Manchester Cathedral - Getty
A a memorial service for the victims of coronavirus at Manchester Cathedral – Getty
Muslim worshippers attend a sermon during the Friday prayers at a mosque in Kuwait City - AFP
Muslim worshippers attend a sermon during the Friday prayers at a mosque in Kuwait City – AFP
A Hindu priest holds a lamp as he gives blessing to devotees at a temple on the Tamil's holy month of Aadi during a lockdown in Chennai - AFP
A Hindu priest holds a lamp as he gives blessing to devotees at a temple on the Tamil’s holy month of Aadi during a lockdown in Chennai – AFP

06:28 AM

Councils support ‘backdoor’ attempt to ban smoking outdoors

A “backdoor” attempt to ban smoking outdoors in the wake of coronavirus has been backed by councils.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has thrown its support behind a House of Lords amendment which would make all pavement licences issued by councils subject to the condition that they are smoke-free.

The move has angered the hospitality industry, which has warned that banning smoking outdoors imposes unwelcome extra restrictions on already beleaguered pubs, bars and cafes. 

Read the full story

05:54 AM

India records another surge in cases

A surge of 34,884 new coronavirus cases took India’s tally to 1,038,716, as local governments continue to reimpose focused lockdowns in several parts of the country.

The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 671 deaths in the past 24 hours for a total of 26,273. 

The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons including limited testing. Over 300,000 samples are being tested every day.

About a dozen states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, have put high-risk areas under lockdowns, only allowing essential food supplies and health services.

Rahul Gandhi, leader of the main opposition Congress party, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday to take concrete steps to contain the pandemic. He warned that the number of infections will double to 2 million by Aug. 10 at the current pace.

Experts say India is likely to witness a series of peaks as the infection spread in rural areas.

Relatives offer funeral prayers in New Delhi, India - Getty
Relatives offer funeral prayers in New Delhi, India – Getty

03:33 AM

Summary of news from around the world

  • Spain‘s Covid-19 death toll of 28,400 is one of Europe’s worst and the country has identified more than 150 new virus clusters across the country. 

  • India hit the million mark the day after virus cases in Brazil topped two million – although the World Health Organisation said on Friday that Brazil‘s contagion has “plateaued”. 

  • Mexico has registered 736 more deaths and 7,257 more confirmed cases – it now has more than 35,000 deaths from the pandemic.

  • Authorities in South Korea say most of the country’s cases are coming from abroad with at least 28 of 39 newly confirmed cases tied to people arriving from other countries.

  • In the US, the deadliest month of the pandemic in Texas continues, with state officials reporting 174 new deaths, the most in one day since the outbreak began.

  • The number of confirmed  cases in Germany increased by 529 to 201,372, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Saturday.

A health official takes a swab sample from a man at a testing point in Allahabad, India - AFP
A health official takes a swab sample from a man at a testing point in Allahabad, India – AFP

03:18 AM

China battling new outbreak in Xinjiang region

The number of confirmed cases in a new Covid-19 outbreak in China’s far west has risen to 17.

The National Health Commission said Saturday that 16 more cases were identified in the previous 24 hours in the Xinjiang region, on top of a first case.

The outbreak in the city of Urumqi is the latest to pop up since China largely contained the domestic spread of the virus in March. The largest was a recent outbreak in Beijing that infected more than 330 people.

Authorities in Urumqi have reduced subways, buses and taxis and closed off some residential communities, according to Chinese media reports. They also placed restrictions on people leaving the city, including a suspension of subway service to the airport.

People worship at the Buddhist Jing'an Temple in Shanghai as it reopens following the outbreak - Reuters
People worship at the Buddhist Jing’an Temple in Shanghai as it reopens following the outbreak – Reuters

02:36 AM

Parliament ‘too risky’, says Australian PM

Australia’s prime minister is seeking to to postpone the sitting of parliament, saying the increased community transmissions of the coronavirus in the country’s two most populous states have made it too risky.

Scott Morrison said he had consulted with the parliamentary opposition and had asked the Speaker to postpone the two-week session. Lawmakers are now expected to meet in Canberra on Aug 24.

“The government cannot ignore the risk to parliamentarians, their staff, the staff within the parliament and the broader community,” Mr Morrison said, adding he acted based on the advice of medical authorities.

On Saturday, Victoria reported 217 new cases of the coronavirus cases, after a record 428 cases on Friday. New South Wales said it was banning dancing, singing and mingling at weddings as authorities struggle to contain a new wave of infections.

Scott Morrison said there is a risk to parliamentarians - EPA
Scott Morrison said there is a risk to parliamentarians – EPA

01:43 AM

The six types of coronavirus

Six distinct types of coronavirus have been identified by scientists in a breakthrough that promises to save lives by flagging the highest-risk patients.

Analysis of thousands of cases by artificial intelligence software has revealed different “clusters” of symptoms and ranked them in order of severity.

Headache and loss of smell are common to all six groupings, but the range of symptoms varies widely after that.

The six types of coronavirus
The six types of coronavirus

Read more: Scientists hope six-tier system will save lives

01:17 AM

Record cases in US for third straight day

The United States marked a record number of coronavirus cases Friday for the third consecutive day, notching 77,638 new infections in 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The country also recorded 927 deaths in one day.

The US, the hardest-hit by the coronavirus in the world in absolute terms, has suffered 139,128 total fatalities out of 3.64 million confirmed cases.

Experts believe the US never emerged from its first wave of infections, and cases have been surging again in recent weeks, particularly across the south and west in states that pushed to lift lockdown restrictions early.

In California, Los Angeles County reported 4,592 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, a single-day record.

A refrigerated trailer outside of HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest. Texas officials are bringing in refrigerated trucks to cope with the body count - GETTY IMAGES
A refrigerated trailer outside of HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest. Texas officials are bringing in refrigerated trucks to cope with the body count – GETTY IMAGES

11:56 PM

EU leaders deadlocked over virus recovery plan

Divided European Union leaders appeared certain to head into a second day of marathon talks over a €750 billion rescue fund to kickstart the bloc’s economy  after the coronavirus pandemic on Friday. 

Heads of state and government of the remaining 27 member states were downbeat over their chances of striking a deal as they met in Brussels for their first face to face summit since the pandemic at 10am local time. By the evening, there was no sign of a breakthrough in negotiations over the unprecedented stimulus package.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, the bloc’s two most influential leaders, have thrown their weight behind a European Commission plan to give €500 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans to countries worst-hit by the crisis.

They face strong opposition from the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark. The “frugal four” want stricter conditions on the cash, which they would prefer to be in loans, and balk at the bolstered €1.1 trillion EU Budget for the next seven years, which is also under negotiation.

Read more: EU leaders downbeat ahead of summit talks on €750 billion coronavirus rescue fund

Angela Merkel greets European Council President Charles Michel with an elbow bump, followed by Emmanuel Macron and Finland's Sanna Marin - EPA
Angela Merkel greets European Council President Charles Michel with an elbow bump, followed by Emmanuel Macron and Finland’s Sanna Marin – EPA

11:27 PM

Captain Sir Tom Moore’s incredible journey to a knighthood

When he set off down the garden path a few months ago to complete 100 laps of his garden in time for his 100th birthday, Captain Tom Moore could never have imagined that his fundraising walk for the NHS would lead him here, Joe Shute writes.

But on Friday, as he crossed the immaculate turf of Windsor Castle’s quadrangle, he took the final few steps in what has been a quite unbelievable journey.  

The Queen was there to present him with a knighthood in her first face-to-face Royal engagement with a member of the public since the coronavirus lockdown came into force in March.

Read more: The Queen has spoken of the resilience of her generation. Sir Tom Moore is the best of it

11:12 PM

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