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COVID CRISIS

Coronavirus UK LIVE: Deaths exceed 37,000 as local lockdowns could be put in place to handle flare-ups

THE total death toll from the coronavirus in the UK reached 37,048 on Tuesday after a further 134 deaths were recorded.

It comes as the country continues to ease out of Covid-19 lockdown, with thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres in the UK set to reopen on June 15.

The government is also set to wind down the furlough scheme - with firms reportedly set to be banned from putting future employees on the scheme.

And Health Secretary Matt Hancock told reporters yesterday evening that the UK had met four out of five tests for lifting the lockdown after sealing a huge PPE deal.

Yet, tough local lockdowns could be put in place to avoid flare-ups to towns, as businesses, workplaces and schools face another closure from this week.

Follow our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates...

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    GETTING LUCKY IN LOCKDOWN

    A UK player has won £16.5 million in the EuroMillions draw, Camelot said.

    The winner will share Tuesday's £33 million jackpot with a player from France, with each pocketing a £16.5 million prize.

    People have 180 days to check their tickets, meaning the prize can be claimed until November 22 2020.

    Tuesday's main EuroMillions numbers are 04, 09, 14, 21 and 27, and the two Lucky Star numbers are 04 and 06.

    The two winners matched all of the numbers to take home the top prize.

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS KNOWN TO HAVE HAD VIRUS

    A total of 265,227 people have been officially diagnosed with Covid-19 in the UK.

    Here's a timeline of how the crisis developed here.

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    CLOTHING COULD BE 'PUT INTO QUARANTINE' IF IT'S TOUCHED BY CUSTOMERS

    We're already seeing big changes to the way we shop.

    And when more businesses reopen on June 15, a scientist has suggested there'll be lots for customers to think about.

    Bill Keevil, professor of environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton, said superbug bacteria and viruses such as flu and coronaviruses can linger for a long time on certain hard surfaces.

    He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “That's why it's so important to wash hands and also regularly clean all touch surfaces.

    “In terms of shops, when you go into a shop you're obviously careful about trolley handles, door handles, this kind of stuff, they should certainly be kept regularly clean.

    “The issue is now coming down to things like clothes, fabrics. Should people touch them?”

    He said there are suggestions garments which are touched but not purchased could be “put in quarantine for several days” before going back on shelves.

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    PHARMACY ANTIBODY TESTS 'GIVE UNRELIABLE RESULTS'

    This is bad news for anyone trying to find out whether they could have coronavirus antibodies.

    Health officials have ordered laboratories to stop accepting blood samples from privately bought antibody tests.

    Scientists have been told not to process samples from coronavirus home test kits being sold by pharmacies because they can give “unreliable results”.

    Antibody kits, which tell the user if they have previously had the virus, are currently available to buy online from around £70.

    Some of the country’s largest pharmacy chains are selling the test, including Alpha XR and Lloyds.

    Here's the full story.

    Image: AP

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    PM SET TO BE QUIZZED ON CRISIS

    One of the big stories of the day is likely to be Boris Johnson's appearance at a Commons committee meeting.

    The Prime Minister will be questioned on the coronavirus crisis, and Dominic Cummings seems highly likely to be one of the things he'll be asked about.

    At least 30 Tory MPs have publicly called for Mr Cummings to be sacked or to resign.

    And a YouGov survey for The Times showed the Conservative lead over Labour dropped by nine points during the Cummings saga, as support for the Government fell four points to 44 per cent with Labour rising five points in the week to Tuesday, to 38 per cent.

    Image: PA

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    DRUG IS 'BIGGEST STEP FORWARD' IN VIRUS BATTLE

    Good news from last night's daily Government press briefing – Health Secretary says the first approved drug for tackling Covid-19 could be the “biggest step forward” so far.

    Mr Hancock said that antiviral drug remdesivir – originally developed to tackle Ebola – was given the green light for the NHS yesterday.

    It comes after trials showed that it helped patients hospitalised with coronavirus recover almost a third faster.

    And early data suggests it can slash the risk of dying by 31 per cent.

    Here's the full story.

    Image: dpa-Pool

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    EX TEACHER HAS 'SOME REGRETS' OVER CUMMINGS ROW

    More on Dominic Cummings now.

    The witness who reported seeing Boris Johnson's top aide in Barnard Castle in County Durham says he has some regrets about speaking out.

    Retired chemistry teacher Robin Lees said the reaction he'd had after telling the Guardian he'd seen Mr Cummings with his wife and son had been “pretty awful”.

    Asked if he regretted speaking out, he told the BBC: “In some ways. I just feel it was right for what I saw to be in the public domain.”

    He said he didn't know if Mr Cummings would have mentioned the trip to Barnard Castle otherwise.

    But asked what it was like to be at the centre of a political storm, he said: “It's not particularly pleasant, especially some of the things that I have read.”

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    'SNEEZE VISORS' AND NO TOUCHING – HALFORDS ANNOUNCES REOPENING PLANS

    Halfords is set to reopen 53 stores to welcome back customers.

    Bosses said they have seen a surge in bike sales since the Government relaxed lockdown rules and encouraged commuting that avoids public transport.

    Halfords has been allowed to remain open throughout the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown, classed as an “essential” business.

    But the company chose to close sites and operate an employee-only model where customers could make purchases from outside or online, meaning of 335 of Halfords' 446 retail stores have been run this way since lockdown.

    New rules include reduced customers, queuing marshals, safety notices and floor markings, sneeze screen visors for staff and instructions to customers not to handle or try on products.

    Image: Alamy

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    FURLOUGH 'TO BE WOUND DOWN'

    We know lots of you will be furloughed and wondering what happens next.

    Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce the slow end of the scheme.

    Firms will be barred from furloughing more staff and the Government hopes to wind down the initiative altogether.

    Here's the full story.

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    BRITS HEAD ONLINE FOR FOOD SHOPPING

    This is a pretty amazing statistic.

    Over a period of four weeks in April and May, Brits spent a record £1.2billion buying their food shopping online.

    Lots of people are choosing to stay away from supermarkets at the moment.

    A stats company called Nielsen said 7.9million British households placed an online grocery order, up from 4.8million during the same period last year.

    There were 1.1million new online shoppers.

    And sales inside supermarkets were up 6.6 per cent – despite visits to the shops being down 24 per cent.

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    'CUMMINGS HAS TO GO'

    Boris Johnson may be completely desperate to get past the Dominic Cummings story – but it looks like it could roll on for some time yet.

    Ex Tory MP Dr Sarah Wollaston has added to calls that Mr Johnson's top aide must be sacked.

    She ITV's Good Morning Britain that she would urge Boris Johnson “unequivocally” to sack Mr Cummings.

    She said: “The principle that there's one rule for you, one rule for everybody else, it just won't wash and he has to go.”

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    'TIME TO MOVE ON FROM CUMMINGS SCANDAL'

    Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has said it is time to “move on” from the scandal over Dominic Cummings' trip to Durham.

    Asked if he believes Mr Cummings should resign, Mr Jenrick told the BBC's Breakfast programme: “No, he shouldn't.”

    He said explanations had been given and added: “Now, I think, is the time for us all to move on.”

    Image: Getty

  • Alex Winter 's avatarAlex Winter

    BRITS 'WILL BE ABLE TO SEE GRANDPARENTS FOR FIRST TIME IN MONTHS'

    Some lovely news if you're just starting your day.

    Families and friends could soon have barbecues together.

    The Government is hoping to approve small outdoors gatherings at home from next month.

    It will be capped at two households at a time — but will mean youngsters can see grandparents again.

    Here's the full story.

    Image: Ian Thraves

  • Alex Matthews 's avatarAlex Matthews

    'TAKE RESPONSIBILITY'

    Shadow Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Secretary Lisa Nandy has said that Boris Johnson must take responsibility over the scandal surrounding his adviser Dominic Cummings.

    Speaking on the BBC's Breakfast programme, the Labour MP said: “The Prime Minister has got to take responsibility for this now.

    “He's got to decide whether he can actually account for why that situation was so unique that the rules had to be broken and if he can't, then I think it's right that he should take action to restore public confidence.

    “At the moment, we've got a situation where both the Prime Minister and his own adviser are just refusing to resign or to sack him, and also refusing to answer basic questions.

    “That's just not sustainable.

    “Something has got to change and it's got to change very, very quickly if the public are going to have confidence.”

  • Alex Matthews 's avatarAlex Matthews

    WHEELY GOOD NEWS

    Halfords said it plans to reopen 53 stores to customers for the first time since lockdown as bosses expect a surge in customers wanting to get behind the wheel of cars that have been unused for several weeks.

    The company has been allowed to remain open throughout lockdown but instead shut stores and operated online and from store car parks instead.

    A date has not been set but screens and markings will be in place along with other safeguarding measures, Halfords said.

  • Alex Matthews 's avatarAlex Matthews

    PASSING TESTS

    Britain has met four out of five tests for lifting the lockdown after sealing a huge PPE deal, Matt Hancock suggested last night.

    The Health Secretary said this evening that “significant progress” has been made on securing enough vital equipment to help keep Brits protected on the front line in hospitals and care homes.

    Boris Johnson has said five tests must be met in order to move into the next stage – including making sure there is enough PPE.

    Stockpiles of protective equipment are back-up to safe levels – with a week’s worth of kit now in warehouses.

    The Government has signed deals with more than 100 new manufacturers to “significantly boost” UK supplies, he revealed this evening.

    The Health Secretary claims three months of stock has now been ordered to help protect frontline NHS and social care staff.

    Mr Hancock says UK production has also been ramped up, with 2 billion pieces of kit set to be made in Britain.

  • Alex Matthews 's avatarAlex Matthews

    OPEN HOUSE

    Families and friends may soon be having barbecues together under plans allowing different households to meet for the first time in months.

    Ministers looking to ease the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are hoping to approve small outdoors gatherings at home from next month.

    It will be capped at two households at a time — but will mean youngsters can see grandparents again.

    Ministers want to let different households meet up at their homes again for the first time since lockdown in March.

    However any gatherings must be outside where coronavirus is far less likely to spread.

    They will be limited to a maximum of two households only under the plans currently being discussed by ministers.

    Families will also have to pick which other household to buddy up with under the proposals.

    You will not be allowed to meet a household one weekend, then choose another the next.

    It means youngsters could see one set of grandparents for the first time in months — though the other will have to wait.

    Downing Street is expected to announce the latest lockdown loosening later this week.

  • Alex Matthews 's avatarAlex Matthews

    LOCAL LOCKDOWNS

    Tough local lockdowns to rapidly isolate new coronavirus sufferers could be thrown in place from Thursday, The Sun reveals in today's paper.

    Boris Johnson plans to announce the government’s crucial new ‘track and trace’ programme to stamp out new coronavirus contagion trails tomorrow.

    He will say it will go live either on Thursday or Friday, when an army of 25,000 contact tracers will begin work hunting down new cases.

    Whole towns could face lockdown if there are regional flare-ups and schools, businesses or workplaces may be closed.

    The PM pledged to introduce the new contact tracing system – that has proved highly successful in South Korea and Germany – by June 1.

    But it is being rushed forward in a bid to give parents and teachers comfort that it is safe for some primary school classes to return on Monday.

  • Alex Matthews 's avatarAlex Matthews

    BORIS GRILLING

    Boris Johnson will be questioned by senior MPs over the coronavirus crisis and the Dominic Cummings scandal today.

    The Prime Minister is set to face questions at a Commons committee meeting on the decision of his top aide to travel from London to Durham during the shutdown.

    It comes amid a growing revolt from within Mr Johnson's party, with at least 30 Tory MPs having now publicly called for Mr Cummings to be sacked or to resign.

    Senior ministers have expressed public support for the defiant adviser but there are reports a number of Cabinet members have privately called for him to be ousted from No 10.

    Mr Johnson's scheduled appearance via video link has been tinged with controversy over the fact the PM will only briefly be quizzed on the Cummings affair.

    It is understood MPs will have a maximum of 20 minutes in a 90-minute session to probe the situation when Mr Johnson appears before the committee.

    Other aspects of the coronavirus crisis will also be discussed in the 20-minute slot.

  • Alex Matthews 's avatarAlex Matthews

    BO-JO AT BUCK PAL

    The Queen has reportedly given Boris Johnson approval to exercise in the grounds of Buckingham Palace as he continues to recover from Covid-19.

    The Prime Minister has been allowed to make use of the palace grounds, amid security concerns over his practice of running in public spaces.

    Mr Johnson was photographed in the paper arriving at a side entrance to the palace in an armoured Range Rover yesterday. He later returned to Downing Street in a red t-shirt, blue shorts and trainers.

    The move comes after Mr Johnson was photographed exercising in the grounds of Lambeth Palace earlier this week, after being granted permission by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • Fionnuala O'Leary 's avatarFionnuala O'Leary

    CORONAVIRUS 6AM SUMMARY:

    MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TESTED IN WUHAN 6.5 million Wuhan residents were tested for coronavirus after officials ramped up diagnostics.

    COVID CRISIS Brazil's total coronavirus death toll rose to 24, 512, with 1,039 new deaths in the last 24 hours.

    STOCK MARKETS SURGE Stocks on Wall Street surged to their highest level since the lockdown began in the US.

    BREAKING POINT The UN Food Agency warned that the coronavirus pandemic pummeled aid projects in war-town Yemen.

    'STATES SHOULD OPEN UP ASAP' President Trump urged all states to reopen 'ASAP' despite an uptick in coronavirus cases in certain areas.

  • Fionnuala O'Leary 's avatarFionnuala O'Leary

    SHOCKING SIMULATIONS SHOW COVID SPREAD

    Disturbing simulations revealed how an infected person spreads coronavirus on public transport, or in a confined space.

    The University of Oregon's model shows how an infected person talking to someone in a closed environment can literally coat them in COVID if they do not wear a mask or keep their distance.

    While talking at short range is not as problematic as a sneeze or a cough – which can travel up to seven meters – the droplets can also travel from talking or even breathing.

    Another OU model demonstrated how the virus can spread from surfaces if you are infected and doing something as simple as the washing up in an office kitchen.

    Their third, equally frightening, model showed how easily the virus can then spread through an office space or classroom if someone coughs.

    (Photo Credit: BBC)

  • Fionnuala O'Leary 's avatarFionnuala O'Leary

    CELEBS TWEET FOR COVID SOLUTIONS

    Big names like Barbra Streisand, Ellen DeGeneres, Cher, Pitbull and others will be calling on big-time developers to use their skills in the coronavirus fight, reports say.

    Celebs are slated to tweet their support for Call for Code today, “a call-to-action to the 24 million developers around the world to use their skills and mastery of the latest technologies.”

    The project aims to “to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges and drive positive and long-lasting change across the world with their code” via these tech whizzes' talents.

    The organization claims to be “the largest tech for social good initiative in history” and Lady Gaga proclaimed her support for the cause last month.

    “We need you right now during COVID-19 more than ever,” Gaga told the “developers, problem solvers, [and] innovators” in an IBM Developer's Twitter video. “I may have the voice, but you're the tech rockstars.”

  • Fionnuala O'Leary 's avatarFionnuala O'Leary

    TRUMP SAYS 'STATES SHOULD OPEN UP ASAP'

    US President Donald Trump pressured governors to reopen their respective states “ASAP” on Tuesday evening.

    “Stock Market up BIG, DOW crosses 25,000,” he tweeted, just before 10pm in the US. “S&P 500 over 3000 States should open up ASAP.

    “The Transition to Greatness has started, ahead of schedule. There will be ups and downs, but next year will be one of the best ever!” he tweeted.

    His comments come after 20 states reported an uptick in COVID cases for the week ended May 24.

    These include South Carolina, which experienced the largest surge of 42 percent, Alabama (28 percent), Missouri (27 percent), and North Carolina (26 percent), according to The COVID Tracking Project.

    Georgia, which was one of the first states to reopen, saw a 21 percent rise in new cases after a fortnight of declines.

  • Fionnuala O'Leary 's avatarFionnuala O'Leary

    MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TESTED IN WUHAN WITHIN DAYS

    The Chinese government has ramped up testing measures in the city where coronavirus first emerged.

    So far, a whopping 6.5 million Wuhan residents have been tested for the deadly bug after officials mobilized medical workers two weeks ago.

    They intend to screen 11 million people as China continues its campaign to prevent a virus resurgence.

    The New York Times reported that only 200 – mainly asymptomatic – cases were detected by Tuesday, with some samples still being processed.

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