US records 2,600 new coronavirus cases an hour as total approaches 4 million

US records 2,600 new coronavirus cases an hour as total approaches 4 million

Coronavirus Article Bar with counter .. Every hour an average of 2,600 new cases are

Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

Every hour an average of 2,600 new cases are registered in the United States, according to official tallys, which show the country’s total is edging ever closer to 4 million. 

Infections in the US have soared in recent weeks with President Donald Trump now pointing the blame at bars, protests and Mexico for rise in cases.

It took the country 98 days to reach 1 million cases, another 43 days to reach 2 million and then just 27 days to reach 3 million. 

In the most recent count it appears to have only taken 16 days to reach 4 million, clocking in at a rate of 43 new cases a minute, according to a count by Reuters news agency.

Globally, the rate of new infections shows no sign of slowing, with the disease accelerating the fastest in the United States and South America, according to official reports.

Follow the latest updates below.

Table of Contents

01:23 PM

English death toll rises by 19

A further 19 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals to 29,231, NHS England said.

Patients were aged between 35 and 89 years old and all had known underlying health conditions.

Another six deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

01:17 PM

London launches ‘green recovery’ plan with cycle skills scheme

Sadiq Khan has launched a new online cycle training course as part of measures to promote London’s “green recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic.

Cycle Skills helps participants get their bike ready for their first ride, offers tips for avoiding potential hazards and has guidance for cycling with children.

It is available on Transport for London’s (TfL) website and is “tailored to cycling in London”, according to City Hall.

Everyone who completes the four training modules will be sent a free 24-hour access code for rental scheme Santander Cycles.

Addressing the latest changes, the mayor said: 

“We’ve got to take advantage of the good weather and also the opportunity provided by this pandemic – an awful word to use, opportunity, when it comes to the loss of life, but actually the reality is we are transforming London for the better to make it easier to walk and cycle.”

“We’ve got to make sure that we have a green recovery. What we want to avoid at all costs is a car-led recovery because that’d be awful.

“We don’t want to move from one crisis, the Covid-19 crisis, to an air quality crisis.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tries out a new Streetspace protected cycle lane in London at the launch a new online cycle training scheme. - Stefan Rousseau / PA
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tries out a new Streetspace protected cycle lane in London at the launch a new online cycle training scheme. – Stefan Rousseau / PA

01:04 PM

People with treatable cancers will die due to Government scaremongering

People with treatable cancers are going to die because hospitals have been laid empty due to Government scaremongering, an NHS nurse has warned.

An NHS nurse called Holly* has said that throughout the lockdown period “hospitals were empty” beyond the ICU units and Covid wards and that people have died as a result. 

Urging people to engage with services, Holly* added that those who will die as a result of measures put in place to protect the NHS will include “young healthy people who had treatable cancers and treatable issues”. 

Read more on this here.

12:54 PM

Iraq’s coronavirus infections pass 100,000 

Iraq’s total number of infections from the novel coronavirus passed 100,000 on Thursday as the health ministry said 102,226 cases had been recorded.

At least 4,122 people have died from Covid-19 in Iraq, it said in a statement.

Iraq has often recorded more than 2,000 new cases a day in recent weeks as the spread of the virus has accelerated.

12:46 PM

EU prolongs duty-free import of face masks

 The European Commission has extended until the end of October a waiver of customs duties and sales taxes on imported face masks and other medical gear to help tackle shortages as the bloc fights the coronavirus epidemic.

The measure was initially adopted in April for the period covering the first six months of the year, and has now been extended to October 31. It will also be applied by the United Kingdom.

“Today’s decision is due to the risks posed to public health by the number of coronavirus cases in member states and to the shortages of medical equipment which are still recorded,” the EU executive commission said in a statement released on Thursday.

Masks, testing kits and ventilators are among imported items that will continue to be exempted from sale tax and customs duties in the 27-nation bloc and Britain.

Medical gear was in short supply when the pandemic first hit countries in the bloc in March. The problem is less intense now as most European nations have long past the peak of their outbreaks, but shortages could re-emerge in the event of a second large wave, which is considered possible in the autumn.

12:39 PM

French hospital tests new breathalyser machine to detect Covid-19

A hospital in the southern French city of Lyon is testing patients with a new machine that enables them to breathe into a tube to see whether they have Covid-19 in a matter of seconds.

The machine is entering a second trial phase after three months of use on dozens of people, among whom about 20 had the virus and the others did not. Unlike the uncomfortable standard PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, it is not invasive and provides an immediate result.

“It’s the same principle as a classic breathalyser test,” Christian George, director of research at the National Centre of Scientific Research at the la Croix-Rousse hospital, told Reuters.

“The machine will register the molecules in the exhaled air and then detects the traces of the sickness.”

Jean-Christophe Richard, head of intensive care at the hospital, said the objective was to have the machine fully operational by the end of the year.

“This type of quick test means we will have the results straightaway and can then move the patient to the right area of the hospital. As we now have a few efficient treatments, the quicker we can diagnose the quicker we can treat them,” he said.

Christian George, Director of Research at the National Centre of Scientific Research, helps a patient to use the Covid-19 'Breathalyzer' test machine at the La Croix-Rousse Hospital in Lyon - STRINGER / REUTERS
Christian George, Director of Research at the National Centre of Scientific Research, helps a patient to use the Covid-19 ‘Breathalyzer’ test machine at the La Croix-Rousse Hospital in Lyon – STRINGER / REUTERS

12:27 PM

Nearly 9 in 10 Britons say it is either essential or important to wear a facemask 

Almost 9 in 10 Britons say it is either essential or important for people to wear a facemask in certain public situations, such as shopping or using public transport, to stop the spread of coronavirus, new polling by Ipsos MORI has found.

More than 60 per cent of Britons say they support making it the law to wear a face mask in shop.

However, 15 per cent of respondents said it was unlikely they will wear a mask in the near future, citing beliefs that facemasks do not prevent the spread of coronavirus, that they are uncomfortable or that it goes against their personal freedoms.

Michael Gove, Britain's Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, visits a Pret a Manger sandwich shop wearing a face mask - Hollie Adams / Getty
Michael Gove, Britain’s Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, visits a Pret a Manger sandwich shop wearing a face mask – Hollie Adams / Getty

12:17 PM

More than 10,000 health workers in Africa infected with Covid-19

More than 10,000 health workers in the 40 African countries have been infected with Covid-19, the World Health Organization has warned.

So far, about 10 per cent of all cases globally are among health workers, though there is a wide range between individual countries.

In Africa, information on health worker infections is still limited, but preliminary data finds that they make up more than 5 per cent of cases in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa alone, and in four of these, health workers make up more than 10 per cent of all infections.

The warning comes as Covid-19 cases in Africa appear to be gathering pace. There are now more than 750 000 cases, with more than 15 000 deaths.

Commenting on the stark findings,  Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said:

“The growth we are seeing in Covid-19 cases in Africa is placing an ever-greater strain on health services across the continent. One infection among health workers is one too many.

“Doctors, nurses and other health professionals are our mothers, brothers and sisters. They are helping to save lives endangered by Covid-19. We must make sure that they have the equipment, skills and information they need to keep themselves, their patients and colleagues safe.”

12:08 PM

Afternoon summary

Good afternoon, 

If you’re just joining us, here’s a run down of today’s key events: 

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on a tour of Scotland today. The main purpose of the trip is to shore up enthusiasm for the union, as the polls show that independence is gaining support in the wake of perceptions about his handling of the coronavirus response

  • Meanwhile the UK has pledged 100 million pounds of funding for a facility to scale up the manufacturing of vaccines for Covid-19

  • And more than three million cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Europe as of today

  • France is to hand out 40 million free washable masks to seven million vulnerable people

  • While holiday resorts across Spain are seeing coronavirus cases rise again following the return of British tourists.

  •  California’s confirmed coronavirus cases have topped 409,000, surpassing New York as the hardest hit US state

  • Australia will post its biggest budget deficit since the Second World War Two this year as the coronavirus crisis sparks its first recession in three decades

  • The Russian government has said it will pay citizens to take holidays in their own country this summer, in a bid to rescue a tourism industry hit by coronavirus and border closures

  •  South Africa has recorded a jump of nearly 60 per cent in overall numbers of natural deaths in recent weeks, suggesting a much higher toll of coronavirus-related fatalities than officially reported.

11:53 AM

First Minister sends ‘heartfelt’ thanks to Scottish shielders

Addressing those who have been shielding due to an underlying health condition, the First Minister extended a “sincere and heartfelt” thanks to those shielders who had stayed at home despite the “incredibly difficult'” conditions.

Nicola Sturgeon said: “That has been incredibly tough and it’s easy for me to say that but the reality is I actually find it hard to fully imagine just how difficult it has been.”

From Friday, the guidelines for those who are shielding in Scotland will ease and become closer to guidance for the general public, including being able to meet up to eight people from two different households indoors, as well as four different households outdoors.

The First Minister also said that advisers have told her shielding will be able to be “paused” from August 1, with those in the category able to follow the guidance for those who are at higher risk from the virus, such as the elderly.

The shielding category has shown the collective effort needed from Scots to ensure that the virus remains at a low transmission rate, she said:

“Shielding and shielding people demonstrate, perhaps more powerfully than anything does, just how all of us are dependent right now on each other’s actions.

“The reason that we can pause shielding, hopefully at the end of next week, is because all of us have stuck to the guidance so far – and all of us need to continue to do that in order that we continue collectively to protect those at risk.”

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson - Jane Barlow / PA
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson – Jane Barlow / PA

11:42 AM

Domestic violence helpline calls up by 80 per cent in June

More than 40,000 calls have been made to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, and demand is rising as restrictions ease, according to the charity that runs it.

Refuge’s telephone helpline, which ordinarily logs around 270 calls and contacts from women, friends and family members needing support every day, saw an increase of 77 per cent during June.

During the same month, Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline website, where women experiencing domestic abuse can access support if they are unable to call, saw an increase of more than 800 per cent compared with pre-lockdown statistics.

Gareth Davies has more on these harrowing statistics here

11:34 AM

France to hand out 40 million free washable masks

France is to hand out 40 million free washable masks to seven million poor people, the health minister announced on Thursday.

“It’s clear that France will not leave people who are unable to equip themselves with masks (without protection),” said health minister Olivier Véran.

France made face masks compulsory in all public indoor places on Monday on pain of a €135 (£123) fine after “worrying” signs of an upswing in coronavirus infections and the eruption of 500 clusters around the country.

“We’re going to send 40 million washable masks for the general public, which are usable 30 times, in order to supply seven million French people who are on the poverty line,” he said.

Henry Samuel reports from Paris.

People, wearing protective face masks, walk in a street in Paris, France - GONZALO FUENTES/ REUTERS
People, wearing protective face masks, walk in a street in Paris, France – GONZALO FUENTES/ REUTERS

11:24 AM

Indonesia reports jump in cases

Indonesia reported 1,906 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing its total infections to 93,657, data from the country’s Covid-19 taskforce showed.

The number of Covid-19 deaths in the Southeast Asian nation rose by 117 on Thursday to bring the total to 4,576.

11:14 AM

Johnson calls for vigilance ahead of colder months

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said people must remain vigilant to the coronavirus threat when the country heads into winter.

“It is not the end of the story and we’ve got to be very, very vigilant as we go forward into the colder months,” Johnson told reporters during a trip to Orkney, Scotland today.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds crabs caught on the Carvela with Karl Adamson at Stromness Harbour - Robert Perry / Getty
Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds crabs caught on the Carvela with Karl Adamson at Stromness Harbour – Robert Perry / Getty

11:06 AM

Test NHS staff weekly to prevent catastrophic second wave, Health Committee urges

All NHS staff should be offered weekly Covid-19 tests from September, the influential Health Committee has said. 

In a letter to the Health Secretary and the head of the NHS, committee chairman Jeremy Hunt urged the health service to quickly introduce staff testing, in a bid to prevent a catastrophic second wave. 

It follows warnings that at the peak of the epidemic, almost half of staff were infected in some hospitals. 

Laura Donnelly has more here.

10:57 AM

UK pledges 100 million pounds to scale up COVID-19 vaccine production

Britain will provide 100 million pounds of funding for a facility to scale up the manufacturing of vaccines for Covid-19. Government officials announced today.

“This new Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Innovation Centre, alongside crucial investment in skills, will support our efforts to rapidly produce millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine while ensuring the UK can respond quickly to potential future pandemics,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma said in a statement.

 Business Secretary Alok Sharma - STEFAN ROUSSEAU / AFP
Business Secretary Alok Sharma – STEFAN ROUSSEAU / AFP

10:43 AM

Government’s lack of economic pandemic planning ‘astonishing’, MPs say

The Government’s failure to plan for the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been described as “astonishing” by MPs.

A report by the Commons public accounts committee has said a lack of preparedness could have a “long-term” impact on the economy.

It criticised the fact the Treasury waited until the middle of March, days before schools and businesses were closed by the lockdown, before designing coronavirus economic support schemes.

Meg Hillier, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, said: “Pandemic planning is the bread and butter of Government risk planning – but we learn it was treated solely as a health issue, with no planning for the economic impacts.

Ms Hillier also said that “a competent Government does not run a country on the hoof, and it will not steer us through this global health and economic crisis that way.”

But you can read more on that here

10:35 AM

PM needs to listen not lecture, says Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said that the Prime Minister needs to “listen not lecture” on his trip to Scotland today.

Mr Starmer also said he should listen to the communities in Scotland, not go up there delivering lectures for them. 

Commenting on calls for Scottish independence following the devolved Government’s success in the coronavirus response, Mr Starmer said:

“In the health response, and particularly on the economic response, it has been very important that Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom have worked together.

“It’s an example of why we shouldn’t be pulling apart the United Kingdom.”

10:23 AM

Coronavirus spread may not be slowed down by warm weather

Warm weather may not slow the spread of coronavirus, a scientific review by Oxford University has found – and it warns that sunshine is no excuse to take risks. 

Researchers pointed out that the virus has spread in very warm areas such as Ecuador, Brazil and India, as well as in warm US states such as Florida, California and Texas.

Health officials have repeatedly raised hopes that improvements in the weather may reduce transmission of the virus, but the new analysis says it is impossible to know whether this is the case.

Our health editor Laura Donnelly has more on this here.

10:15 AM

Philippines confirms 2,200 new cases

The Philippine health ministry on Thursday reported 2,200 new coronavirus infections and 28 new deaths.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths have increased to 1,871 and infections have risen to 74,390.

The Southeast Asian nation’s coronavirus task force on Thursday reimposed a ban on non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos, two weeks after it lifted it.

10:04 AM

Millions excluded from coronavirus support

The Chancellor has turned his back on millions of struggling workers excluded from coronavirus support schemes, despite his pledge that no one would be left behind, an influential group of MPs has said. 

The Treasury Select Committee, which scrutinises the Chancellor, made a series of recommendations in a recent report aimed at bringing those still suffering financial hardship within the scope of the protection measures. 

More than a million people have been unfairly left without help, the report found, including those moving between jobs who missed the cut-off for furlough, the newly self-employed, directors who pay themselves in dividends and PAYE freelancers. 

Campaigners have said as many as three million people have fallen through the cracks, left without an income now for four months. 

Harry Brennan has the story here

09:52 AM

Tokyo sees surge in new cases

Japan’s capital has reported 366 new coronavirus cases, Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, said on Thursday, as the new daily record fuels fears of a second round of infections.

As Japan began a four-day stretch of holidays, the city’s government declared its highest alert against the disease. Thursday’s figure took cumulative infections to more than 10,000 in Tokyo, topping a daily high of 293 cases last week.

“A total of 366 cases have turned positive, which was the largest number to date, and a record 4,926 were tested,” Koike told reporters.

“It’s a very big number. Please refrain from going out as much as possible during the four-day weekend. We must stop infections from spreading with everyone’s cooperation.”

Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk in a street at Shinjuku district in Tokyo, Japan - FRANCK ROBICHON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk in a street at Shinjuku district in Tokyo, Japan – FRANCK ROBICHON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

09:43 AM

Russian Government to pay citizens to holiday at home

The Russian government has said it will pay citizens to take holidays in their own country this summer, in a bid to rescue a tourism industry hit by coronavirus and border closures.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced the launch of a 15 billion-ruble (£166 million) fund to help an expected two million Russians take domestic vacations. 

Holiday-makers will be able to claim back up to around £170 of the cost of their trips, the government said.

Holidays have to be booked through an official site and must last at least five nights, and are restricted to areas that have been particularly badly hit by the downturn in tourism. 

On Thursday Russia reported just under 6,000 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to around 800,000. 

The country has registered some 13,000 deaths, a lower proportion than other badly hit nations. Officials have denied allegations they are underreporting figures.  

Theo Merz reports.

People bathe in the Black Sea in the village of Kabardinka, Russia - Dmitry Rogulin / TASS
People bathe in the Black Sea in the village of Kabardinka, Russia – Dmitry Rogulin / TASS

09:33 AM

Man arrested over coronavirus treatment scandal

A man in Hyderabad has been arrested after scamming more than 200 Indians by pretending to be a recovered Covid-19 patient and promising to send his blood plasma for money.

25-year-old Sandeep Reddy would ask for a cash transfer for the plasma before disappearing, making a quick buck off desperate families.

There has been a surge in demand for blood plasma in India – which has now recorded over 1.2 million cases – after two-thirds of hospitals participating in an Indian Council of Medical Research study said it was beneficial in helping those with a moderate to severe strain of the virus recover.

In the state of Karnataka, recovered Covid-19 patients who donate their plasma are being offered over £50 as a cash incentive while in Assam, a ruling party politician has said those who donate will be given preference in future job schemes.

The blood of a recovered Covid-19 patient would supposedly contain the antibodies needed to fight the virus but doctors around the world say initial studies have been inconclusive.

Joe Wallen reports from New Dehli.

09:24 AM

Wearing a face mask is not new – but the backlash against them is

The Beatles with smog masks on in Manchester, 1965 - Mirrorpix via Getty Images
The Beatles with smog masks on in Manchester, 1965 – Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Face masks are not new to the UK – in fact, the government urged Londoners to wear them during the Blitz, new research has found.

But while masks may not be new, historians say the ferocity of the modern anti-mask movement is; a sign that modern attitudes remain a long way from the “Blitz spirit” the government has encouraged in the face of national crisis.  

Jennifer Rigby spoke to the experts. Read more here

09:12 AM

Europe hits three million coronavirus cases

More than three million cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Europe, more than half of them in Russia, Britain, Spain and Italy, according to an AFP tally.

Europe has registered 3,002,861 infections, out of a global total of 15,237,784. The continent remains the hardest hit in terms of deaths, with 206,633 out of 626,994 worldwide.

Russia recorded the highest number of cases in the continent, at 795,038 including 12,892 deaths, followed by Britain (296,377 cases and 45,501 deaths), Spain (267,551 and 28,426) and Italy (245,032 and 35,082).

Coronavirus live map cases tracker
Coronavirus live map cases tracker

09:02 AM

South Africa may stop lenders blacklisting borrowers during pandemic

South Africa’s government may temporarily ban lenders from blacklisting consumers whose credit records have been hit by the coronavirus crisis, a consultation document published by the main opposition party showed.

The Department of Trade (DTI) document said it was considering banning blacklisting and ordering the removal of any adverse information on consumers’ profiles, until Sept. 30 or when a national state of disaster ends, whichever comes first.

“The regulations are aimed at assisting all consumers who are negatively affected by the national state of disaster … and subsequently have had their credit records deteriorating,” said the document, published by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

08:53 AM

Spain wrestles with fresh wave of coronavirus as tourists return

Holiday resorts across Spain are seeing coronavirus cases rise again following the return of British tourists.

There has been a sharp increase in new infections along the Costa del Sol, with Marbella reporting its first case in 11 days while 23 people have contracted the virus in Malaga in the last 48 hours. The city of Almeria has also seen a spike in infections, only weeks after Spain reopened its borders with the UK.

Health officials in Lanzarote are also on high alert after a British holidaymaker tested positive while staying at a hotel on the island, while fears of a second lockdown in Barcelona arose after residents were asked to leave their homes only for essential trips.

The Spanish government has insisted that the infection rate is under control amid fears that other European countries could close borders if the number of cases continues to rise.

Our travel live blog has all the latest news on this and more here.

Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart – Cases default

08:45 AM

World’s poorest could receive a temporary basic income, UN suggests

Nearly three billion of the world’s poorest people should receive a temporary basic income to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, a United Nations body says.

As infection numbers spike in developing countries, measures to protect vulnerable populations are “urgently needed”, according to a report released Wednesday by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Funding of $199 billion per month would provide 2.7 billion people with a temporary basic income and the “means to buy food and pay for health and education expenses”, the report said.

The virus has brought havoc to the developing world where millions work in the informal economy with little access to government welfare or other support.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented social and economic measures,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “Bailouts and recovery plans cannot only focus on big markets and big business. A Temporary Basic Income might enable governments to give people in lockdown a financial lifeline.”

UN projections have warned the virus could kill 1.67 million people in 30 low-income countries.

The crisis has left tens of millions unemployed around the world and crippled global commerce, prompting the European Union to approve an unprecedented 750 billion euro ($858 billion) aid package for its hardest-hit member states earlier this week.

Children of Yemen's minority group known as "Muhamasheen" -- literally the "Marginalised" attend a lesson at a slam in the capital Sanaa - MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP
Children of Yemen’s minority group known as “Muhamasheen” — literally the “Marginalised” attend a lesson at a slam in the capital Sanaa – MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP

08:33 AM

Australia set for biggest deficit since Second World War

Australia will post its biggest budget deficit since the Second World War Two this year as the coronavirus crisis sparks its first recession in three decades.

Despite managing the pandemic better than most developed nations, the shattering global impact of the outbreak has left its trade-exposed A$2 trillion (£1.1 trillion) economy grappling with skyrocketing unemployment.

Read more here.

08:23 AM

French economy to rebound to pre-crisis levels by 2022, minister says

The French economy is on course to rebound by 8 per cent next year and should return to pre-crisis levels by 2022, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday.

Le Maire told the National Assembly recent economic data had been “satisfying but too fragile” for now to change forecasts for an economic contraction this year of 11%, the worst since modern records began.

“I won’t resign myself to a -11 per cent recession. If we step up the measures that we have already decided and make sure they are implemented well, we can do better than -11 per cent in 2020,” Le Maire said to open a debate on the public finances.

The government has committed more than 460 billion euros (£418.7 billion) in public funds to supporting the economy. Most will come in the form of state-guaranteed loans and tax breaks to help companies cope with a slump in business.

The government put France under one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe in mid-March, shutting down vast swathes of the economy.

Activity has steadily picked up since lockdown restrictions began to be lifted on May 11, although businesses such as hotels relying on foreign tourists continue to suffer.

Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, Finance, and Recovery, wearing a protective face mask - GONZALO FUENTES / Reuters
Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, Finance, and Recovery, wearing a protective face mask – GONZALO FUENTES / Reuters

08:12 AM

Scotland’s coronavirus success down to ‘strength of the Union’, agrees NI Secretary

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the Government was right to suggest that Scotland was only able to weather the coronavirus impact due to the “strength of the Union”.

It comes as polling suggests a majority of people support Scottish independence and that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is perceived to have handled the Covid-19 crisis better than Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Addressing the polling, Mr Lewis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We should all be very wary of getting too driven by polling, we have seen a few interesting results contrasting to what polling has said over the past few years.”

He added: “The reason we were able to put such massive support in for nearly the one million people whose jobs were protected in Scotland – the £4.6 billion they had from the Treasury, £1.6 billion and half a million jobs roughly for Northern Ireland, similar in Wales as well – that’s because we had the strength of the Union, all four nations together.”

Asked whether he was suggesting that an independent Scotland could not have bailed out businesses and jobs during the pandemic, Mr Lewis said: “I’m absolutely being very clear that yes, we as a UK were able to put in place unprecedented support that the Chancellor was able to put in place for businesses, individuals, because we are part of an entire United Kingdom.”

08:03 AM

China reports 22 new cases

China has reported 22 new coronavirus cases, up from 14 cases a day earlier, the health commission said on Thursday.

Of the new infections, 18 were in the far western region of Xinjiang and one was in Dalian city in the northeastern Liaoning province, according to a statement by the National Health Commission. The other three were imported cases.

The Dalian case involved a 58-year-old man working at a seafood processing company. Multiple samples collected from the company, including frozen food, processing workshop, canteen and office building also tested positive, state media said.

China also reported 31 new asymptomatic patients, or those showing no symptoms, up from 22 a day earlier.

As of Wednesday, mainland China had 83,729 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The Covid-19 death toll remained at 4,634.

A delivery worker wearing a face mask takes a nap near a mural on display outside an office building in Beijing
A delivery worker wearing a face mask takes a nap near a mural on display outside an office building in Beijing

07:57 AM

South African toll jumps by 60 per cent

South Africa has recorded a jump of nearly 60 per cent in overall numbers of natural deaths in recent weeks, suggesting a much higher toll of coronavirus-related fatalities than officially reported.

“In the past weeks, the numbers have shown a relentless increase – by the second week of July, there were 59 per cent more deaths from natural causes than would have been expected based on historical data,” the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said in a report released late Wednesday.

South Africa is the worst-affected country in Africa and among the top five in the world in terms of confirmed cases, with 394,948 infections reported to date including 5,940 deaths.

The mortality rate has remained low, however, at around 1.5 percent on Wednesday, according to the health ministry’s daily updates.

Undertakers load the casket containing the remains of Steward Motlhabane, who died of COVID-19 coronavirus, into a hearse at the AVBOB funeral house in Soweto - MICHELE SPATARI / AFP
Undertakers load the casket containing the remains of Steward Motlhabane, who died of COVID-19 coronavirus, into a hearse at the AVBOB funeral house in Soweto – MICHELE SPATARI / AFP

07:45 AM

Government to slash aid budget by nearly £3bn amid economic downturn

The government is to slash its aid budget by £2.9 billion this year amid a “severe economic downturn” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The budget – set at £15.8 billion before Covid-19 hit – is being cut because it is pegged to gross national income (GNI), which is expected to drop amid the fall-out from the pandemic. 

Government sources said that a “line-by-line” review of aid projects had taken place and what were considered the “40 most vulnerable countries” were prioritised for overseas development assistance (ODA). No further details about which programmes will face the axe have been released.

Anne Gulland and Sarah Newey have more on this here.

07:37 AM

Trump blames bars, protests and Mexico for rise in cases 

07:23 AM

You must wear a face mask in a bank, minister says

Banks should be treated as a shop and therefore customers must wear a face mask when they enter, a Government minister has said. 

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said: “If you’re using it as a shop, you should be wearing a face mask. 

Asked if people should cover their faces if they are going into a bank, Mr Lewis said: “Yes. Because the idea of wearing a face mask, the point around retail outlets and takeaways as of tomorrow and supermarkets is this balance…looking at where you’re coming into contact in a confined or more enclosed space for a longer period of time. 

“When you’re outside and in the fresh air and moving around, obviously the virus is less likely to spread around. 

“When you’re in an enclosed environment like public transport and retail when you’re in that space with strangers for longer, then it is appropriate to wear a face mask.

“It’s all retail outlets and retail banks on our high streets are retail outlets effectively as well. 

“And what you’re doing when you are in a bank, if you’re going in there to pay money in or withdraw money, you’re going in there in the same way as you’re going into a shop to buy a sandwich, or a book or some clothes. 

“Therefore it is appropriate that you should be wearing a face mask.” 

07:01 AM

Nicola Sturgeon welcomes PM’s visit to Scotland

The First Minister has tweeted ahead of Boris Johnson’s visit to Scotland. 

06:52 AM

Wear face mask if you’re going to get coffee from Pret, says minister

If you are getting a take away coffee from an outlet like Pret a Manger, you should wear a face mask, but if you are dining in there is no need to wear one, a Government minister has said. 

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told Sky that the Government would be publishing guidance after confusion about which circumstances made it mandatory for a mask to be worn. 

He said: “Wear face masks where you can and when it’s appropriate, but obviously if you’re at a food outlet it’s not practical to wear a face mask. 

“What changes from tomorrow is that if you’re in a retail environment, a shop or a supermarket, you should be wearing a face mask. 

“What changes tomorrow around the Pret a Manger question as it’s become – if you’re going to Pret a Manger and you’re eating at Pret a Manger, which in some stores you can, then obviously you wouldn’t be wearing a face mask because you’re eating. 

“But it’s clear, good common sense that if you’re going in to buy a take away and leaving again, you’re treating it like a shop and you should be wearing a face mask.”

06:42 AM

Blackford: PM’s message ‘going to go down badly in Scotland’

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said he did not think Boris Johnson’s message about Scotland’s dependence on the Union during coronavirus would be well received during his visit.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “I think he’s going to find that this message is going to go down particularly badly in Scotland.

“Is he really saying that any other small nation in Europe and any other part of the world doesn’t have the capability to deal with the Covid crisis?

“I think the days of telling Scotland that we are either too wee, too poor or too stupid really is over.

“I think what we’ve demonstrated over the past two months in the areas of devolved responsibility and of public health is that the leadership that has been shown by our First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) is in sharp contrast with the bluster we have seen from Boris Johnson.”

06:29 AM

South Africa edges towards 400,000 cases

South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have nearly reached 400,000 as the country reports a new daily high of 572 deaths.

South Africa is now one of the world’s top five countries in terms of reported virus cases, and it makes up more than half of the cases on the African continent with 394,948. Deaths are at 5,940.

Public hospitals are struggling as patient numbers climb, and more than 5,000 health workers have been infected.

The struggles by Africa’s most developed country in coping with the pandemic are a worrying sign for other, far less resourced countries across the continent as the spread of infections picks up speed.

06:16 AM

Liverpool celebrates Premier League win 

The strangest trophy celebration in recent memory took place on Merseyside on Wednesday night. 

With no fans allowed inside Anfield, Jurgen Klopp’s men hoisted the Premier League trophy aloft alone in the stadium. 

The Premier League trophy is lifted inside an empty Anfield - Liverpool FC/Andrew Powell
The Premier League trophy is lifted inside an empty Anfield – Liverpool FC/Andrew Powell

 But outside the stadium, fans had gathered in their thousands to light flares and celebrate.

Crowds, some holding flares, gather outside Liverpool's Anfield stadium - Reuters/Matty Johnson
Crowds, some holding flares, gather outside Liverpool’s Anfield stadium – Reuters/Matty Johnson

 Relive the night of drama here.

05:58 AM

Care homes | Only one family member will be able to visit relatives

Families will be told to choose one member to visit elderly relatives in care homes, with “unbelievably difficult” dilemmas facing those who have already endured four months apart, Health Editor Laura Donnelly writes.

New Government guidance for the care sector – which bans flowers and hugs – says homes can begin allowing visitors shortly after they have undergone risk assessments of safety protocols. 

The advice recommends “limiting the numbers of visitors to a single constant visitor per resident, wherever possible”. It says: “This, for example, means the same family member visiting each time to limit the number of different individuals coming into contact.” 

Read the full story here.

05:53 AM

PM to hail ‘sheer might’ of UK ahead of Scotland trip

The “sheer might” of the UK has been shown during the coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister has said ahead of a visit north of the border.

Boris Johnson will arrive in Scotland on Thursday, ahead of the one year anniversary of his first day in Downing Street on Friday.

He will say that being part of the UK saved 900,000 Scottish jobs during the pandemic, according to the BBC, which reported Inverness MP Drew Hendry of the SNP as saying Scotland could flourish as an independent country.

Downing Street said that during his visit – his first to Scotland since the general election in December – the Prime Minister will meet with businesses hit by the pandemic, those working in green energy, and military personnel to thank them for their efforts in the response to coronavirus.

There are no plans to meet with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said at her regular coronavirus briefing on Wednesday that she would be willing to meet with the Prime Minister.

05:44 AM

Customers must wear face masks in takeaways

Here is that front page exclusive on face masks by Deputy Political Editor Anna Mikhailova and Political Editor Gordon Rayner.

Customers will be required to wear a face mask in takeaways and sandwich shops under laws to be introduced on Friday, The Telegraph understands.

Buying food from the counter and then sitting down to eat will be banned. Takeaways with seating inside will be counted as shops, where masks will become compulsory.

A government source said only premises with table service would not require masks, adding that customers would not be allowed to come in, buy a sandwich at the till, then sit down.

Read the full story here.

05:33 AM

Today’s front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Thursday, July 23. 

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04:38 AM

Australia reports its highest daily number of deaths

Pedestrians take time out for a selfie along Sydney Harbour - SAEED KHAN/AFP
Pedestrians take time out for a selfie along Sydney Harbour – SAEED KHAN/AFP

Australia reported its highest daily number of coronavirus-related deaths in three months on Thursday as new infections continue to climb in its second-most populous state.

Victoria state said it had confirmed another 403 infections, while five people died from the virus in the past 24 hours.

The fatalities, including a man in his 50s, mark the country’s biggest one-day rise in Covid-19 deaths since late April.

“This demonstrates the growing toll this terrible virus is taking on our community,” Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters in the state capital of Melbourne.

Nationally, Australia has recorded about 13,000 coronavirus cases with a death toll of 128.

Coronavirus Australia Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Australia Spotlight Chart – Cases default

04:09 AM

New outbreak forces Papua New Guinea to ask for WHO help

Papua New Guinea has asked the World Health Organisation for help after a rapidly spreading new coronavirus outbreak sparked preparations for large-scale community transmission in the under-resourced country.

Having mostly dodged the Covid-19 pandemic until now, Papua New Guinea reported on Thursday that it had detected three new cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 30 – up from just 11 on Sunday.

With limited testing and many positive cases found in health workers, there are fears the virus may have a stronger foothold than those detected cases may indicate.

Papua New Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the Pacific. Its rickety health system is already under severe pressure from the widespread transmission of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, as well as one of the world’s few remaining outbreaks of polio.

WHO is in the process of mobilising international emergency medical teams to deploy to the country.

03:40 AM

Mexico continues to battle high infection numbers

Municipal employees work in a cloud of dust at Zocalo square in Mexico City - REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Municipal employees work in a cloud of dust at Zocalo square in Mexico City – REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mexico’s Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 6,019 new confirmed infections and 790 fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 362,274 cases and 41,190 deaths.

The government said the real number of infected people was likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Earlier, Latin America exceeded the four million mark after Brazil reported a record number of cases.

03:19 AM

China to provide loan for countries to access vaccine

China plans to provide a billion-dollar loan to make its coronavirus vaccine accessible for countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, the Mexican foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement that China had made the pledge in a virtual meeting between ministers from some Latin American and Caribbean countries.

02:32 AM

Victoria struggles as it records five more deaths

Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria reported on Thursday five deaths from coronavirus in the past 24 hours and logged the third-highest daily rise in cases.

Victoria recorded 403 new cases overnight, Premier Daniel Andrews told a media briefing in Melbourne, a day after posting its biggest one-day spike of 484 cases.

Melbourne, the state’s largest city, has seen a flare-up in infections in recent weeks, prompting the government to enforce a six-week partial lockdown and make  masks mandatory for its residents or risk a A$200 (£112).

READ MORE: Australia sees worst day yet with almost 500 new coronavirus cases

Coronavirus Victoria, Australia cases
Coronavirus Victoria, Australia cases

02:13 AM

Masks to become compulsory in takeaways

Disposable masks being sold at a store on Oxford Street in London - ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Disposable masks being sold at a store on Oxford Street in London – ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Customers will be required to wear a mask in takeaways and sandwich shops under laws to be introduced on Friday, The Telegraph understands.

Buying food from the counter and then sitting down to eat will be banned.

Takeaways with seating inside will be counted as shops, where masks will become compulsory.

A government source said only premises with table service would not require masks, adding that customers would not be allowed to go in, buy a sandwich at the till, then sit down.

Read the full story here.

02:09 AM

Californian numbers exceed New York’s

California’s confirmed coronavirus cases have topped 409,000, surpassing New York for most in the nation.

However, California has nearly 8,000 deaths compared to New York’s 32,000.

Read the full story here.

02:07 AM

China records more cases

China continues to see newly confirmed coronavirus cases in its north-western region of Xinjiang, with 18 reported on Thursday.

More than 50 people have been infected in China’s latest outbreak focused on Xinjiang’s regional capital and largest city of Urumqi.

City leaders have restricted travel, locked down some communities and ordered widespread testing to contain the spread.

An additional three confirmed cases brought from outside China were reported by the National Health Commission.

China has reported a total of 83,729 cases, with 4,634 deaths.

12:47 AM

Families forced to choose one visitor as care homes reopen

Families will be told to choose one member to visit elderly relatives in care homes, with “unbelievably difficult” dilemmas facing those who have already endured four months apart.

New Government guidance for the care sector – which bans flowers and hugs – says homes can begin allowing visitors shortly after they have undergone risk assessments of safety protocols. 

Read the full story here.

12:33 AM

White House says transmission risk is low after cafeteria worker tests positive

A cafeteria employee who works in a building where some White House staffers have offices has tested positive for coronavirus, an NBC News reporter said on Twitter on Wednesday.

The White House is doing contact tracing after the worker in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is next to the White House, tested positive, NBC News reporter Josh Lederman said.

The White House Medical Office determined the risk of transmission of the virus was low.

12:26 AM

Trump announces funding support for nursing homes

Fearing another grim wave of nursing home deaths as Covid-19 cases rebound, Donald Trump on Wednesday announced his administration will provide $5 billion (£3.9 billion) to help facilities counter the virus.

The move follows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s recent unveiling of a family caregiver plan that aims to greatly expand and subsidise alternatives to institutional care for frail older adults.

Both men are competing for seniors’ votes against a backdrop of eroding political support for Mr Trump among older Americans.

“I want to send a message of support and hope to every senior citizen,” Mr Trump said at the White House.

“The light is starting to shine and we will get there very quickly.”

12:22 AM

Coronavirus updates from around the world

  • Global coronavirus infections surged past 15 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, with the pandemic gathering pace even as countries remain divided in their response to the crisis.

  • Donald Trump has expressed a willingness to work with China or other countries to bring a successful coronavirus vaccine to the United States.

  • Australia will record its biggest budget deficit since World War II, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will say on Thursday.

  • Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has had another positive result for coronavirus in the third test he has taken since falling ill on July 7.

  • Spain‘s Tourism Minister, Reyes Maroto, said a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Catalonia was coming under control and she hoped there would be no need for France to close the border.

  • Italy‘s government will approve a new spending package – the third major cash injection since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the country – to try to prop up the economy.

  • A party at a Prague music club has led to infections in 68 people so far, including athletes.

  • Ukraine will let spectators return for football matches – up to a quarter of stadium capacity – after a three-month pause.

  • Hong Kong expanded strict new social distancing measures from midnight on Wednesday, mandating masks in all indoor public areas including malls and markets.

  • Aritana Yawalapiti, one of Brazil‘s most influential indigenous leaders, arrived at a hospital in the central city of Goiânia to be treated at an intensive care unit for Covid-19.

  • Total confirmed cases in Africa have passed 750,000.

  • Gazans are thronging beaches and crowding markets filled with holiday sweets and clothes as they prepare to celebrate Eid al-Adha largely free of restrictions.

11:58 PM

President urges young people to stay away from packed bars

At his second coronavirus-related press briefing in as many days, Donald Trump urged young people again to avoid packed bars and said he was conducting the briefing without doctors from his White House Coronavirus Task Force because he had been briefed by them himself.

Mr Trump cited civil rights demonstrations around the country as one reason for the spike in cases.

The US President has been criticised for his “law and order” emphasis in response to protests after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis who died in police custody.

Mr Trump again encouraged people to wear masks.

He said it was up to governors to decide how strongly to encourage or require face coverings in their states. 

Mr Trump has worn a mask only once in public but this week started encouraging their use on a wider scale.

He also pressed Americans to practice good hygiene.

“I’m finding more and more people are saying, ‘wash your hands’. So, wash your hands,” he said. 

11:35 PM

Numbers continue to rise in Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visits supporters outside Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, on Wednesday. Mr Bolsonaro tested positive in a third test for coronavirus - EVARISTO SA/AFP
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visits supporters outside Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, on Wednesday. Mr Bolsonaro tested positive in a third test for coronavirus – EVARISTO SA/AFP

Brazil recorded a new daily record of coronavirus cases on Wednesday with nearly 68,000 infections, a sign Covid-19 is still far from being brought under control in the hard-hit country.

The health ministry said 67,860 new infections and 1,284 deaths had been reported in the past 24 hours in Brazil, which has the second-biggest outbreak in the world after the United States.

The South American country of 212 million people has recorded 2.2 million infections and 82,771 deaths since confirming its first case five months ago.

Experts say under-testing means the real numbers are probably much higher.

Coronavirus Brazil Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Brazil Spotlight Chart – Cases default

11:15 PM

Britain risks becoming ‘cultural wasteland’ without arts support

The Government’s “failure” to act quickly enough to help UK arts in the pandemic could affect the sector’s position as a world leader and result in Britain becoming a “cultural wasteland”, MPs have said.

Ministers “consistently failed to recognise” the scale of the challenge to the arts and culture industry, according to a new report by MPs.

A £1.57 billion package of support for the sector came “too late” for many and there is little detail on how it will be distributed, they say.

Read the full story here.

11:12 PM

WHO leader refuses to be blown off course

Since coronavirus first emerged in China at the beginning of the year, the World Health Organisation and its director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, have been accused of being soft on Beijing.

These claims were given renewed vigour this week by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who told a private meeting of Conservative and Labour MPs that Dr Tedros had been “bought” by the Chinese government when he was elected to the top job at the UN agency in 2017. 

Part of the problem stems from the rules governing WHO – voted on by member states including the US.

In the words of Devi Sridhar, professor of global health at the University of Edinburgh, WHO can only support, encourage and advise countries.

READ MORE: In the eye of the storm – how WHO leader refuses to be blown off course

11:00 PM

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