The Department for Health has confirmed a further 53 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in hospitals, care homes and the wider community, taking the total number of fatalities to 45,554. As of 9am this morning there has also been 769 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, where coronavirus has been largely under control, health authorities confirmed the R rate on transmission could be above one in certain areas.
The daily estimate for the R rate is between 0.7 and 1.1 in Northern Ireland – a rate of one and above means the number of people infected will increase.
On Wednesday, Northern Ireland reported nine new cases of coronavirus and no deaths for a ninth successive day.
The COVID-19 death toll in Northern Ireland remains at 556.
The figures come as face coverings will be mandatory in supermarkets, shopping centres, takeaway outlets, banks, building societies and post offices in England from tomorrow.
But they will not be mandatory in places such as restaurants and pubs, hairdressers, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.
People who do not comply could face a fine of up to £100.
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The seven-day average of infections is up 9.2 percent
01:18am update: School reopenings show more pupils need mental health support, teachers say
School students have become more vulnerable during lockdown, primary and high schools teachers have said.
Staff told the BBC that the last few weeks of term in which schools have been open confirmed more mental health support was needed for pupils.
Wales’ Education Minister Kirsty Williams said COVID-19 “is inevitably causing additional anxiety for people of all ages, not least children and young people,” the BBC added.
Edward Browne takes over live reporting
9.20pm update: Blackburn council leader issues coronavirus warning as cases surge
The leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council has said it is “sensible not to relax” lockdown restrictions, as the rate of Covid-19 cases in the borough surged.
Councillor Mohammed Khan urged the community to “keep up the momentum” in combating the disease as 122 new cases were recorded in the seven days to July 20.
Public Health England (PHE) has identified two new high risk areas due to spikes in coronavirus infections.
Luton in Bedfordshire and Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire have been put on notice in the latest PHE surveillance report.
Public Health England has identified two high risk areas
8.00pm update: Top medic warns virus ‘does not discriminate between buildings’ as face covering guidance released
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association council chairman, warned the virus “does not discriminate between buildings” after many venues were exempt from requiring the public to wear face coverings.
He said: “The BMA has for months said that face coverings can play an important role in suppressing the spread of Covid-19, and tomorrow’s measures are long overdue – especially given the 10-day time lag between the announcement and implementation.
“In the 10 days since this rule change was announced, we’ve seen confusion, mixed messaging and U-turns from the Government about how it would apply, leaving it until the last minute to issue any meaningful guidance.
“So, while today’s guidance is in some ways helpful, the uncertainty of recent weeks has done nothing to inspire public confidence.
“Meanwhile, if venues such as theatres, museums and salons are not subject to these rules, there must be an absolute assurance that they can protect the public by enforcing physical distancing or putting other mitigating measures in place such as the installation of screens – and the Government must support them in this.
“The virus does not discriminate between buildings and it’s vital that all necessary steps are put in place to minimise the chance of asymptomatic sufferers unwittingly passing on the infection.”
6.50pm update: Trade union hits out at Boris over timing of face covering guidance
Boris Johnson has been criticised for the short notice given over face coverings in England after details were released less than 24 hours before the new guidance came into force.
Chief executive of the UKHospitality Kate Nicholls said: “Venues have made a huge effort to get themselves open to customers and ensure that premises are safe for staff and customers. That has been reflected in the guidance which makes the bulk of hospitality exempt from the mandatory wearing of masks.
“Unfortunately, the announcement lacked clarity around many issues affecting outlets offering both takeaway and on-premises dining. Furthermore, with the announcement at around 2.30pm the day before the measures come into effect, it left those venues a very short time to properly brief staff, prepare signage and take steps to encourage compliance.
“UKH has acted swiftly to provide a briefing on face coverings, to provide some much-needed clarity to operators.”
6.30pm update: France records 10 more COVID-19 deaths
France has recorded a further 10 coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday.
The death toll in France now stands at 30,182.
5.45pm update: R rate between 0.7-1.1 in Northern Ireland
The Department for Health published the R rate of transmission in Northern Ireland is between 0.7 and 1.1.
5.20pm update: Coronavirus cases rise by 769 in the UK
The Department for Health has confirmed there has been a further 769 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the 24-hour period up to 9am on Thursday.
Overall, a total of 297,146 cases have been confirmed.
5.15pm update: Coronavirus deaths rise by 53 in the UK
The Department for Health has confirmed a further 53 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in hospitals, care homes and the wider community.
A total of 45,554 have now died from COVID-19 in the UK as of 5pm on Wednesday.
4.45pm update: US passes four million COVID-19 cases
The US has surpassed four million coronavirus infections according to the latest Reuters tally.
The US has recorded more than 143,000 coronavirus-related deaths, the highest in the world.
4.20pm update: Spain reports 2,615 new coronavirus infections
The Spanish health ministry has confirmed the number of cases of coronavirus has increased by 2,615 in the past 24 hours, sparking fears of a second wave of infections.
On Thursday the total number of infections stood at 270,166, up from 267,551 on Wednesday.
Some 16,410 infections have been detected in the last 14 days.
4.00pm update: Hancock urges Britons to ‘play their part’ in beating coronavirus as new mask rule comes into force
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has urged the British public to continue to “play their part” in defeating coronavirus as new rules on face coverings come into force in England from tomorrow.
Matt Hancock said: “As we move into the next stage of easing restrictions for the public, it is vital we continue to shop safely so that we can make the most of our fantastic retail industry this summer.
“Everyone must play their part in fighting this virus by following this new guidance.
“I also want to thank the British public for all the sacrifices they are making to help keep this country safe.”
3.25pm update: Department for Health says face coverings should be stored in a plastic bag
The Department for Health has said face coverings should be stored in a plastic bag until they can be washed or disposed of.
The British public are also advised to wash their hands before putting a covering or mask on or taking it off, and to avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth while wearing one.
The Department for Health has clarified where face coverings should be worn
3.10pm update: Government outlines where face coverings should be worn from tomorrow
Face coverings will be mandatory in supermarkets, shopping centres, takeaway outlets, banks, building societies and post offices in England from tomorrow.
But they will not be mandatory in places such as restaurants and pubs, hairdressers, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.
People who do not comply could face a fine of up to £100.
2.24pm update: Total hospital deaths in UK approaches 30,000
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.
1.59pm update: Staff contract COVID-19 after being incorrectly fitted for masks
Fourteen staff at a Northern Ireland health trust contracted coronavirus after having been incorrectly fitted for a protective mask.
The chief executive of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said it was working on the assumption that the staff could have contracted COVID-19 as a result of their failed FFP3 masks.
Seamus McGoran told the Assembly’s Health committee that all affected staff had recovered from the virus and were back at work.
Northern Ireland’s chief nursing officer Charlotte McArdle later told committee members that none of the other four trusts in the region had recorded COVID-19 infections among staff who required refitting for FFP3 masks.
1.41pm update: Call centre COVID-19 case rise to 24 since last Wednesday
The number of coronavirus cases linked to a Lanarkshire call centre has risen to 24 since Wednesday, the First Minister has said.
An outbreak was confirmed by NHS Lanarkshire on Sunday at the Sitel premises in Eurocentral business park near Bellshill.
Staff at the call centre help to trace contacts of positive Covid-19 cases for NHS England.
A member of staff from the firm told the PA news agency on Monday that adherence to social distancing within the centre was “lax”.
1.15pm update: Don’t report people for not wearing masks, says Number 10
Downing Street said it did not expect members of the public to report those who were not wearing masks in shops from Friday due to voluntary take-up of the policy.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “You’ve seen over the course of recent months the British public have voluntarily chosen to follow the guidance because they want to help slow the spread of the virus and I’m sure that will be the case with face coverings as well.
“With shops, we would expect them to give advice to customers and remind them that they should be wearing a face covering and I’m sure the overwhelming majority of the public will do so.”
Those not wearing their masks properly over both mouth and nose will be “advised as to the right and safest way to wear a face mask” rather than be immediately fined up to £100 for non-compliance, said the Number 10 spokesman.
12.40am update: Scotland records 16 new cases
Scotland has recorded 16 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in a day, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, she said 18,500 people have tested positive for Covid-19 north of the border.
She added provisional figures indicate four of the new cases are in Lanarkshire and added there are now 24 cases linked to the outbreak at the Sitel call centre in the region, up from 20 yesterday.
No deaths of people who tested positive for the virus have been recorded for a week running, meaning the toll remains at 2,491.
12.15am update: Boris Johnson issues winter second wave warning
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people must remain vigilant to the coronavirus threat when the country heads into winter.
He told reporters: “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.”
He was speaking in the Orkneys, during a trip to Scotland aimed at delivering a message about what he regards as the collective power of the United Kingdom in the face of the pandemic.
11.45am update: Second Irish building site forced to close after positive COVID-19 test
A construction site in Dublin has had to close temporarily after a worker tested positive for COVID-19.
The staff member was working on the East Quad site in Grangegorman, which is part of a development of two new buildings for students attending Technological University Dublin.
It is understood the site has been closed to undergo a deep clean.
A spokesman for the firm said the Health Service Executive (HSE) has been made aware of the incident.
It comes after a construction site on Townsend Street in Dublin city centre was temporarily shut on Monday after it emerged a number of workers had been infected.
A nurse at a drive-in test facility in Manchester
11.43am update: Bath cancels Christmas market
Bath’s Christmas Market has been cancelled this year to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The event usually involves more than 150 chalets spread over the streets of the historic Somerset city.
However, after public health advice on COVID-19, the 2020 market will not take place.
Kathryn Davis, chief executive of Visit Bath, said: “It is disappointing that we cannot hold the Christmas Market this year, but I hope everyone will understand the reason for this decision and the early notice we are giving.
“We fully understand the value of the Bath Christmas Market to the city, but public safety and preventing the spread of COVID-19 has to come first.”
11.41am update: Number getting results within 24 hours of test drops for second week running
The proportion of people receiving their COVID-19 result within 24 hours of being tested at a regional site or mobile testing unit – a so-called “in-person” test – has fallen for the second week in a row.
Some 71.4 percent of people received the result within 24 hours in the week ending July 15, down from 87.7 percent in the week to July 8 and 90.7 percent in the week to July 1.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month pledged to get the results of all in-person tests back within 24 hours by the end of June.
He told the House of Commons on June 3 he would get “all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that”.
11.09am update: US cases approach four million
US coronavirus cases were approaching four million on Thursday, with more than 2,600 new cases every hour on average, the highest rate in the world.
Infections in the United States have rapidly accelerated since the first case was detected on January 21.
It took the country 98 days to reach 1 million cases. It took another 43 days to reach 2 million and then 27 days to reach 3 million. It has only taken 16 days to reach 4 million at a rate of 43 new cases a minute.
The federal government, state governors and city leaders have often clashed over the best way to tackle the pandemic.
President Donald Trump recently shifted his tone, having previously been reluctant to wear a mask himself.
He this this week encouraged Americans to wear masks and recently appeared in public for the first time with a face covering.
US President Donald Trump produced a mask at yesterday’s briefing – although he did not put it on
11.01am update: Union boss welcomes masks rule – but calls for clear guidance
Commenting on the wearing of masks in shops in England from Friday, Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said: “It is right to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory in shops, but we must recognise that expert advice says it is an additional protection on top of existing safety measures.
“There now must be clear and detailed guidance from the Government and we urge them to work with Usdaw and retail employers to draw that up, as we successfully did on joint safety guidance for the reopening of high street retail with the British Retail Consortium.
“Usdaw is urging employers to stay with the established two-metre social distancing, using screens at tills and limiting the number of shoppers in store at any one time.
“Employers must also be aware that staff will need regular breaks when they can take their face covering off and have the opportunity to replace it. Staff on tills who are behind screens should not be required to wear a face covering.
10.50am update: Children more likely to be asymptomatic
Children aged nine and under were least likely to be the index patient, said Dr. Choe Young-june, a Hallym University College of Medicine assistant professor who co-led the work, although he noted that the sample size of 29 was small compared to the 1,695 20-to-29-year-olds studied.
Children with COVID-19 were also more likely to be asymptomatic than adults, which made it harder to identify index cases within that group.
Choe said: “The difference in age group has no huge significance when it comes to contracting COVID-19. Children could be less likely to transmit the virus, but our data is not enough to confirm this hypothesis.”
Data for the study was collected between January 20 and March 27, when the new coronavirus was spreading exponentially and as daily infections in South Korea reached their peak.
KCDC has reported 45 new infections as of Monday, bringing the country’s total cases to 13,816 with 296 deaths.
10.48am update: People more likely to catch COVID-19 at home, study shows
South Korean epidemiologists have found that people were more likely to contract the new coronavirus from members of their own households than from contacts outside the home.
A study published in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 16 looked in detail at 5,706 “index patients” who had tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 59,000 people who came into contact with them.
The findings showed that less than two percent of patients’ non-household contacts had caught the virus, while nearly 12 percent of patients’ household contacts had contracted the disease.
By age group, the infection rate within the household was higher when the first confirmed cases were teenagers or people in their 60s and 70s.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and one of the authors of the study, told a briefing: “This is probably because these age groups are more likely to be in close contact with family members as the group is in more need of protection or support.”
10.38am update: Johnson’s visit “highlights key argument for independence”, claims Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed the Prime Minister’s visit to Scotland, claiming his presence north of the border highlights one of the “key arguments” for independence.
Boris Johnson said ahead of his trip north that the coronavirus crisis has shown the “sheer might” of the UK, with almost 900,000 workers in Scotland benefiting from UK Government assistance.
But Ms Sturgeon countered that, tweeting that his presence showed how Scotland has “its future decided by politicians we didn’t vote for, taking us down a path we haven’t chosen”.
She said: “I welcome the PM to Scotland today. One of the key arguments for independence is the ability of Scotland to take our own decisions, rather than having our future decided by politicians we didn’t vote for, taking us down a path we haven’t chosen. His presence highlights that.”
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister
10.33am update: NHS staff need weekly COVID-19 tests, Hunt tells Hancock
NHS staff should be given at least weekly COVID-19 tests from September, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.
In a letter to the current Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the head of NHS England Sir Simon Stevens, Mr Hunt said nurses, doctors, cleaners and porters needed the reassurance of regular testing given fears of a second spike in virus cases in the winter.
The chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee also said patients are being left in limbo by interruptions in NHS care caused by the pandemic.
Mr Hunt said: “NHS staff want to know they will get the weekly testing that has now been offered to care home staff so they can be confident they won’t pass on infections to patients.
“The chief medical officer for England (Professor Chris Whitty) says he supports this in principle so there should be no further delays given the complicated logistics necessary to set it up ahead of winter.”
Jeremy Hunt has written to Matt Hancock urging weekly tests for NHS staff
Labour has fallen six points behind the Tories – at a time when the Government has been coming under enormous scrutiny over its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and with a recession looming.
The figures – which suggest the Tories have actually extended their lead compared with last month – will comes as a blow to the party’s leader Sir Keir Starmer, who will have hoped his party would be in the ascendancy three months after taking over from Jeremy Corbyn.
Instead, Savanta Comres’s latest Westminster Voting Survey, published today, suggests the Conservative Party is currently on 43 percent – a similar share of the vote to the one it achieved in the December general election, and up three points compared with June.
Labour is on 37 percent, up one, with Liberal Democrat support is on just six percent, also similar to the party’s general election showing.
10.08am update: Wear a mask, says GP
The founder of on-demand GP service GPDQ has emphasised the importance of wearing face masks in takeaways, the day before new rules come into force.
NHS GP Dr Anshumen Bhagat said: “The facemask debate has rumbled on for months now, with inevitable naysayers refuting the benefits.
“However it’s simple: wearing a facemask in enclosed public spaces helps to deter the transmission of infection.
“At current, the asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 is far higher than ever expected and it’s difficult to understand why this mandatory stance hasn’t been implemented sooner.
“As we enter flu season, wearing masks will also help to reduce normal flu transmission too, inevitably saving lives even further.”
10.02am update: More than nine in 10 UK firms now trading again, ONS figures show
About 92 percent of UK firms were trading in the two weeks to July 12 as more businesses opened their doors to customers on the easing of lockdown restrictions, according to new figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the proportion of firms which were active jumped from 86 percent in the first two weeks of June, as the economy was boosted by the reopening of non-essential shops and hospitality venues.
It also said that, between July 10 and July 17, the number of job adverts increased to just over half, 52 percent, of their 2019 average.
9.49am update: Concern mounts in Hong Kong
Authorities in Hong Kong have reported 118 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a daily record, including 111 that were locally transmitted, adding to a deluge of new cases that have hit the global financial hub over the past two weeks.
Hong Kong extended strict social distancing measures on Wednesday as authorities reported 105 locally transmitted infections.
Since late January more than 2,000 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 14 of whom have died.
Authorities have warned the city faces a critical period in containing the virus.
Hong Kong has reported 111 locally transmitted coronavirus cases
9.30am update: Face mark rules come into force tomorrow
People will need to wear a face covering in sandwich shops in England under new regulations due to come into force tomorrow
The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed face coverings will be needed in shops such as Pret if people intend to take their food and coffee away.
If they sit down to eat or drink, they will be able to remove their face covering in that area.
It is likely takeaway outlets will fall under the same criteria.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “From Friday July 24, it will be mandatory to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets, as is currently the case on public transport.
“If a shop or supermarket has a cafe or a seating area to eat and drink, you can remove your face covering in that area.”
The regulations, which are enforceable by the police, are due to be set out on Thursday afternoon.
The same exemptions as for public transport will apply, with children under 11 and people with breathing problems not required to wear a covering.
Anyone who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment or disability is also exempt.
Face mask rules come into force tomorrow
9.21am update: “Largest number to date”
Mr Koike said: “A total of 366 cases have turned positive, which was the largest number to date, and a record 4,926 were tested.
“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.”
Although Japan has suffered about 28,000 infections and more than 1,000 deaths, it has escaped the kind of explosive surge seen elsewhere.
However, recent signs of a spurt in infections in Japan have prompted authorities to raise renewed alerts against the virus.
9.19am update Second wave fears in Japan
Tokyo’s total number of new coronavirus cases today stands at 366, Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, has said, as he urging residents to take responsibility.
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.
9.10am: Wear face masks in the bank, says Lewis
Mr Lewis has also confirmed customers would need to wear face masks in banks.
The Northern Ireland Secretary said: “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.”
9.03am update: Russia’s total closes in on 800,000
Russia reported 5,848 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, pushing its national tally to 795,038, the fourth largest in the world.
In their daily readout, officials said 147 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing Russia’s official death toll to 12,892.
8.54am update: Boris was right about Scotland, says Northern Ireland Secretary Lewis
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.”
8.43am update: Domestic Abuse Helpline has received more than 40,000 calls since start of lockdown
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 percent during June.
The first week in July saw a 54 percent rise in women needing emergency accommodation when compared with the last week in June – the highest number of women needing emergency accommodation during the lockdown period.
During June, 73 percent of calls to the helpline were from survivors of domestic abuse, and 40% of these callers were provided with information on issues such as child contact and housing rights.
The first week in July say a 54 percent increase in women needing emergency accommodation
8.29am update: Italy approves extra spending – days after EU unveils coronavirus package
The Italian government approved £22.75billion (€25 billion) of extra spending late on Wednesday, the third major cash injection to try to support its battered economy since the start of the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
The new stimulus will involve additional borrowing and drive the 2020 budget deficit to 11.9 percent of national output, versus a goal of 10.4 percent set in April and a figure of 1.6 percent reported in 2019, the lowest in 12 years.
Rome sees its public debt rising to 157.6 percent of GDP this year.
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte’s office said in a statement after the cabinet approved the move: “It is essential to continue to support the productive system and the income of citizens.”
Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s PM
8.22am update: Tokyo sets record for new daily infections
More than 300 new coronavirus infections have been reported in Japan’s capital of Tokyo, domestic media said on Today.
The daily figure was a record, topping the previous high of 293 cases reported last week, Kyodo news agency said.
8.18am update: Blackford takes swipe at Johnson
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has hit back at Boris Johnson, saying he did not think the Prime Minister’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.”
SNP MP Ian Blackford
8.14am update: Vaccine could be ready by the end of the year
A coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) could be ready for public use by the end of this year, state media reported on Wednesday, ahead of a previous expectation it may become available in 2021.
Sinopharm Chairman Liu Jingzhen told state broadcaster CCTV the company expects to finish late-stage human testing within about three months.
Sinopharm’s unit China National Biotec Group (CNBG), which is responsible for two coronavirus vaccine projects, said in June the shot may not be ready until at least 2021 as a lack of new infections in China made it difficult to find people to test it on.
But China has since found alternative trial sites abroad, overcoming some of the obstacles it faces in the global race to produce a vaccine to fight a pandemic that has killed over 600,000 people globally.
Sinopharm’s experimental shot has entered a Phase III trial involving around 15,000 participants and two vaccine strains in the United Arab Emirates.
8.12am update: Fears rise after new cases in China
China reported 22 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 22, up from 14 cases a day earlier, the health commission said today.
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 reported 31 new asymptomatic patients, or those showing no symptoms, up from 22 a day earlier.
Coronavirus cases worldwide
8.08am update: Stresses “won’t necessarily go away”
Commenting on the survery, Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “While it is encouraging to hear that people who have been drinking more during lockdown are planning to take action to reduce their intake, it can be hard to change habits once they are established.
“Stress was identified as a key factor for many and unfortunately these stresses aren’t necessarily going to go away with the easing of lockdown restrictions.
“Many people are worrying about going back to work, their children returning to school or concerned about using public transport.
“Some may not have a job to return to, creating additional uncertainty at an already difficult time.”
8.02am update: Scots drank more in lockdown to handle stress, research shows
More than half of people in Scotland who drank more alcohol than usual during lockdown were doing so as a way to handle stress, according to new figures.
The survey commissioned by Alcohol Focus Scotland and Alcohol Change UK found more than a quarter of people (27 percent) drank more than usual during lockdown – with 33 percent drinking seven or more units on a single occasion.
More than half of those (51 percent) said this has been a way to handle stress or anxiety, while a fifth of all respondents put dealing with stress as a reason for drinking.
The representative Opinium survey of 550 adults in Scotland also found 54 percent of those who reported drinking more than usual during lockdown have already taken steps to manage their drinking, while 59 percent plan to do so once lockdown eases
Almost two-fifths (37 percent) of those drinking more than usual expect to drink less as pubs and restaurants reopen, while around a quarter (24 percent) expect their drinking to increase further at this time.
Scots drank more alcohol during lockdown, the survey suggested
7.56am update: Pandemic shows “sheer might” of the UK, insists Johnson
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.
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.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
7.51am update: No plan for schools, says report
The report adds: “Yet, while school closures were predicted in pandemic planning, there seems to have been no plan for how schools and pupils would be supported to continue to learn.”
The PAC urged the Government to “learn lessons” from its response and “ensure it doesn’t repeat its mistakes again in the event of a second spike in infections – or another novel disease outbreak”.
The report stated: “We are astonished by the Government’s failure to consider in advance how it might deal with the economic impacts of a pandemic.”
Labour chairwoman of the committee, Meg Hillier, 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.
“This meant that the economic strategy was of necessity rushed and reactive, initially a one-size-fits-all response that’s leaving people – and whole sectors of the economy – behind.”
7.46am update: Parliamentary report savages Government’s “astonishing” failure to plan for pandemic
The Government’s failure to plan for the economic impact of a pandemic like the coronavirus has been branded “astonishing” in a scathing report by financial watchdogs.
The influential cross-party Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the economic reaction to Covid-19 was rushed and has left whole sectors behind.
The committee said lack of preparedness could have a “long-term” impact on the economy.
It said the Treasury waited until mid-March, days before the lockdown, before deciding on the economic support schemes it would put in place.
The committee also warned of the impact on children, saying: “It will be a huge task to ensure lengthy school closures do not have long-term or irreversible effects on children and young people’s future health and education.”
Boris Johnson has ordered the British army to prepare for four major disasters this winter which could simultaneously devastate the UK.
Downing Street has asked the Ministry of Defence to tabletop exercises to simulate the combined threat of a second wave of coronavirus, a serious flu outbreak, Brexit and flooding.
The Ministry of Defence will perform the exercises in conjunction with Whitehall departments as well as local authorities by the end of August.
The Government worries a second wave of coronavirus could overpower the NHS bringing it to its knees.
(Additional reporting by Ciaran McGrath)