NEW rules making it mandatory for Brits to wear face masks in shops have been announced today.
From tomorrow, Friday July 24, wearing masks will become compulsory in shops and takeaways in a bid to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
Those who are caught not wearing face masks will be hit by a £100 fine, cut to £50 if paid within a fortnight.
It comes as as England’s coronavirus regional divide has revealed that eight out of the ten worst hit areas are in northern towns and cities.
While cases have remained flat across the UK a North/South divide has started to form with eight of the most at risk areas being in the North of England and one being in North Wales.
Experts at King’s College London said the number of cases in the South has stayed the same, but in the North they have increased.
Follow all the latest coronavirus news and updates below…
CROSSRAIL HAS BEEN DELAYED AGAIN
Crossrail will not open until summer 2021 now due to coronavirus delays.
On Thursday evening, Crossrail said: “A programme of this scale and complexity was already challenging, the impact of Covid-19 has clearly made the existing pressures more acute.
“Due to a pause of physical activity on sites and significant constraints on ongoing work – time has been lost, only some of which can be recovered.
“The opening of the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood next summer, as announced earlier this year prior to Covid-19, is not achievable.”
IRISH SCHOOLS ON TRACK TO REOPEN IN SEPTEMBER
Schools across Ireland are on track to reopen in September, health officials said tonight.
The good news came as the latest COVID-19 figures show the spread of the virus is decreasing in the country.
Today saw only nine deaths, of which eight were from previous months, and seven new cases.
LUTON AND BLACKBURN LIKELY TO BE LOCKED DOWN NEXT WEEK
Blackburn and Luton have joined Leicester as ‘areas of intervention’ due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases.
Blackburn currently stands at 80 cases per 100,000 residents – second only to Leicester and twice as high as anywhere else in the UK.
Worryingly, one in five new cases were residents under the age of 19.
A formal decision will be made on Monday, when the next review is due.
Public Health England classifies local authorities and highlights those of greatest concern:
SOUTH AFRICA HITS THE 400,000 CASE MARK
South Africa has just confirmed over 400,000 Covid-19 cases.
The country also has 6,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Thursday evening in a televised address to the nation.
The country now has 408,052 confirmed cases and is the fifth highest globally, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
CORONAVIRUS TESTING GETTING SLOWER
Coronavirus swab testing is getting slower with 30 per cent of tests taking longer than 24 hours to get back with a result.
The new figures mean that Boris Johnson is missing his target to have all in-person tests back within a day.
71.4 per cent of people who had an “in-person” test – either at a regional or mobile testing site – received the result within 24 hours in the week ending July 15.
Data published today shows the number is down from 87.7 per cent in the week to July 8 and 90.7 per cent in the week to July 1.
WHAT IS THE SECTION 21 TENANCY RULE AND WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS AS A RENTER?
The tenancy law – known as Section 21 – means a landlord can ask you to move out with two months’ notice, without needing reason.
The first step of every procedure is the section 21 notice – a letter of notification that the landlord must serve to the tenant, prior to the eviction. The notice to quit is purely informational and doesn’t carry any legal power.
OXFORD IS LEADING THE VACCINE RACE
UK scientists have announced early trials of a vaccine called ChAdOx1 is safe and triggers a strong immune response.
The data from Oxford University research involved more than 1,000 healthy volunteers.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said the trial result announcement was a “great day for British science.”
He told The Sun earlier this week he is increasingly hopeful a vaccine will be available “this side of Christmas.”
18 AREAS OF UK ‘CORONAVIRUS FREE’
The 18 local authorities in the UK that are currently believed to be “coronavirus” free, with an R rate close to or on zero leading up to July 19 are:
‘NO VACCINE THIS YEAR’ WHO WARNS
The WHO has warned that a coronavirus vaccine will not be ready until 2021, saying “.
Executive director of WHO’s emergencies programme, Mike Ryan, said that while researchers are making “good progress”, suppressing the spread of the deadly bug should remain the focus.
He noted that several vaccines were now in phase 3 trials and none had failed, in terms of safety or ability to generate an immune response.
“Realistically it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people getting vaccinated,” he told a public event on social media.
“We need to be fair about this, because this is a global good,” he added, stressing that the vaccines “are for everybody”.
NORTHERN IRELAND COVID-19 TRACING PHONE APP TO BE LAUNCHED NEXT WEEK
Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 contact-tracing mobile phone app will be launched at the end of the month.
The “Stop Covid NI” app is designed by Google and Apple will be aimed at interrupting coronavirus’ spread by finding those most vulnerable to catching it.
Anyone testing positive will have a unique code texted to the phone.
Once the user gives permissions the app will release data from the handset to a server so close contacts also using the app can be traced following a “digital handshake” between their devices, Stormont’s health department said.
The aim is to alert close contacts of a patient within a day or two of a positive test.
The software’s use will be voluntary and identifiable information will not be stored to comply with data protection regulations, an official told the health committee of Assembly members.
The app will need people to keep their Bluetooth on.
Health Department official Dan West said: “We are going to do a general launch of the app next week and intend to follow up with specific guidance to employers.”
Wednesday July 29 would be the earliest launch date, he said.
PRINCE WILLIAM AND KATE’S FOUNDATION AWARDS £1.8M TO SUPPORT FRONTLINE WORKERS
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have warned about the “lasting” mental health impact of Covid-19 as their foundation awarded almost £1.8 million to support front line workers and others affected by the pandemic.
Kate said the couple are “in awe” of the efforts of frontline and emergency responders during the coronavirus outbreak, as they spoke to some of the 10 organisations who have benefited from the grants.
The couple’s Royal Foundation Covid-19 Response Fund is helping a range of projects, from ensuring all emergency workers have access to individual grief trauma from Hospice UK, to helping early years charity Best Beginnings support an extra 20,000 new mothers.
Kate and William spoke privately earlier this week with two emergency responders and two mental health counsellors whose organisations are being supported by the fund.
During the open-air meeting at the Queen’s Sandringham estate, the duchess told them: “Over recent months we have all been in awe of the incredible work that front line staff and emergency responders have been doing in response to Covid-19.
“But we know that for many of them, their families, and for thousands of others across the UK, the pandemic will have a lasting impact on their mental health.”
NINE DEATH ROW INMATES KILLED BY CORONAVIRUS
A 67 year old child murderer has become the ninth death row inmate in Claifornia’s San Quentin prison to die of coronavirus.
John Beames, who was convicted of torturing and murdering a baby in 1994, has been pronounced dead on Tuesday following complications from the coronavirus.
So far, eight other death row inmates at San Quentin have died of confirmed or suspected coronavirus, while four others have died in the general prison population in the facility.
EVICTIONS TO START NEXT MONTH
Tenants who are behind on their rent due to the coronavirus crunch could be made homeless in weeks.
Hundreds of thousands of families and vulnerable people are at risk as the government tennant protection policy implemented during coronavirus is due to expire August 23.
Housing charity Shelter says 230,000 renters are at risk of being booted out over the summer once landlords are given the power evict tenants once again.
Around 3 per cent of tenants are believed to have fallen behind on rent since the start of the pandemic.
CHINA IS USING CORONAVIRUS TO BULLY ITS NEIGHBOURS
China has been using coronavirus to bully its neighbours and become the dominant world superpower.
The country has turned the threat to its advantage as the rest of the world has been forced to drop everything to deal with the health and economic fallout of the virus.
In recent months, China has allegedly launched cyber attacks on Australia and the US, killed 20 Indian soldiers in brutal border clashes and cracked down on free speech in Hong Kong.
The communist regime has also continued its takeover of the South China Sea and behaved more and more aggressively towards Taiwan, while its puppet regime in North Korea has suddenly ratcheted up tensions once again.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has himself openly called for the country to “turn danger into opportunity”, Brookings reports.
R NUMBER UP ACROSS THE UK
The R Number has gone up to a range of 0.7 to 1.1 across the UK according to the latest Department of Health figures.
Last weeks estimate sat at from 0.5 to 1.0 nationally.
The Department of Health has published the current #COVID19 reproduction number (R).
The current estimate of R is 0.7 – 1.1https://t.co/kU3fm6vfu4
— Department of Health (@healthdpt) July 23, 2020
SWAB TESTING SERVICE GETTING SLOWER
Coronavirus swab-testing is getting slower as new figures show 30 per cent of people are waiting more than 24 hours for their results.
Some 71.4 per cent of people who had an “in-person” test – either at a regional or mobile testing site – received the result within 24 hours in the week ending July 15.
Data published today shows the number is down from 87.7 per cent in the week to July 8 and 90.7 per cent in the week to July 1.
The figures reveal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledge to have all in-person tests back within 24 hours is not being met.
Check out our full report on that here.
US, BRAZIL AND INDIA ‘CAN DEAL WITH PANDEMIC’, WHO SAYS
Some more interesting comments from that virtual briefing given by the World Health Organisation this afternoon.
Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO emergencies programme, has said that he believes the United States, Brazil and India will be able to deal with the pandemic following a spike in cases in each country.
He credits this to the fact they are “powerful, able, democratic countries who have tremendous internal capacities to deal with this disease”.
It comes as coronavirus cases exceeded 4 million today with a staggering 2,600 new cases every hour, according to a Reuters tally.
DEMAND FOR RENT ARREARS ADVICE UP 332%
Fears are growing for tenants with just month to go until the ban on evictions, with private renters increasingly worried about arrears as the UK economy slows.
New figures from the Citizens Advice bureau show that visits to the organisation’s web page with advice on dealing with rent arrears are up by 332% against the same period last year.
The stats also show that visits to pages with guidance on helping with renting costs is up 62%.
Under the current Section 8 rules, anyone who ends up in rent arrears of eight weeks or more can be automatically evicted.
On top of this, renters are at risk of being handed a Section 21 “no fault” eviction notice which lets landlords turf out tenants for no reason.
The new rules potentially slow down the eviction process and will last until March 2021, but they don’t stop judges from issuing the eviction orders.
You can read more on that issue here.
WHY WEARING A MASK HELPS
The debate over face masks has been dominated conversations in Whitehall, the high street and among businesses in the past few weeks.
New rules enforced from tomorrow mean you’ll need to wear a face covering while in a shop, shopping centre or transport hub – and face a £100 fine for breaking the rules.
But health experts say that it’s a small price to pay for preventing the transmission of the virus.
Researchers have found coverings will only allow a lower dose of the virus to transmit to the wearer if they are exposed to coronavirus.
The chief of infectious diseases at San Francisco General Hospital, and the co-author of the study Moica Gandi told The Times: “The research suggests that we should go towards universal population-level masking to control infections and to limit the severity of disease.
“You will get in a lower dose of virus if you wear a mask and are exposed to Covid-19 and are very likely to have mild or no symptoms.”
A lower dose of the virus gives the immune system a much better chance of fighting it.
WHO SEES ‘INTENSE TRANSMISSION’ IN RELATIVELY FEW COUNTRIES
The World Health Organisation is seeing “intense transmission” of the coronavirus in relatively few countries, its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Thursday.
He told a virtual briefing in Geneva, Switzerland: “We continue to see intense transmission in a relatively small group of countries.
“Two-thirds of all cases are from 10 countries. Almost half of all cases reported so far are from just three countries.”
He also urged people to stay on their guard and keep up to date with the rate of infection in their local area.
He added: “Know your situation – do you know how many cases were reported where you live yesterday? Do you know how to find that information? Do you know how to minimise your exposure.”
BREAKING: DYSON CUTS 900 JOBS
Vacuum cleaner company Dyson will cut 900 jobs around the world due to the impact of the coronavirus, a spokesman for the company said this afternoon.
“The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated changes in consumer behaviour and therefore requires changes in how we engage with our customers and how we sell our products,” the spokesman said.
600 of these redundancies will be in the UK, and 300 in the rest of the world, they added.
The Department of Health’s figures include all settings – including care homes, hospices and the wider community – meaning the current totals could change once the review has concluded.
The number of new cases reported by the Department of Health is 769 – a jump from yesterday’s 560.
A total of 297,146 people have now tested positive for Covid-19.
Today’s figures are lower than last Thursday’s 66.
In England hospitals, the total number of Covid-19 deaths rose to 29,231 today – up 19 from yesterday.
BREAKING: UK DEATH TOLL RISES BY 53
The UK coronavirus death toll across all settings today rose by 53 to 45,554 – making it the lowest Thursday since lockdown.
The latest rise in deaths confirmed by the government’s dashboard is lower than it was yesterday, when 79 more deaths were logged.
It is the smallest daily rise on a Thursday since the start of lockdown when 183 deaths were logged on March 26.
NORTHERN IRELAND TO LAUNCH APP NEXT WEEK
Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 tracing mobile phone app will be launched next week.
Stormont health committee witness Dan West said it would be called Stop Covid NI.
Use of the app will be voluntary and it will not collect identifiable information, he added.
Should someone receive a positive test they will receive a unique code texted to their phone.
Once the user gives permissions it will release data from the phone to a server so close contacts can be traced, Mr West said.