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Coronavirus UK latest news LIVE: Government makes face masks in shops mandatory from July 24 as deaths hit 44,830

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WEARING a face mask in shops and supermarkets is to be made mandatory in England in a fresh move to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Government has said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will say anyone failing to comply with the order – which comes into force on July 24 – could face a fine of up to £100.

Ahead of Tuesday's announcement by Mr Hancock, a No 10 spokesman said: “There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus.

“The Prime Minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from July 24.”

It comes as the UK's coronavirus death toll increased by 11 to 44,830 - the lowest rise since the outbreak began.

Follow the latest news and updates surrounding coronavirus below...

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    IRISH RUGBY PLAYERS AGREE TEMPORARY CORONAVIRUS PAY CUT

    Rugby players in Ireland earning more than €25,000 euros ($28,000) a year have agreed to reduce their salary by 10 per cent and defer 10 per cent more until 2021.

    The Irish Rugby Football Union and Rugby Players Ireland agreed on the pay cut to run from July 1 to December 31.

    They also agreed that five per cent of the deferral will be subject to a retrospective salary reduction depending on the impact of the pandemic.

    The IRFU, the provinces and clubs remain in a highly precarious financial situation, making it critically important that an agreement was reached on this matter, IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    MISSISSIPPI INTRODUCES MASK MANDATE

    Mississippi has introduced a mask mandate in 13 of its 82 counties as the state continues to see a rapid increase in cases of the new coronavirus, including a steady rise in hospital patients.

    “This is the worst that it's ever been for spread of cases in our state,” Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said during a news conference on Monday.

    Figures released Monday by the state Health Department showed 1,020 people were hospitalised with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 on Sunday.

    That's up from 664 on June 22.

    The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said eight hospitals in Mississippi had no beds available in their intensive care units as of Monday.

    Four of those were in the Jackson area.

    He also said long-term care facilities are seeing an increase of cases because of transmission in communities.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    NEARLY 1,000 US IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

    More than 930 employees of private contractors running US immigration detention centres have tested positive for the coronavirus.

    The heads of four companies – CoreCivic, The GEO Group, Management & Training Corp (MTC) and LaSalle Corrections – that detain immigrants on contract with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), reported the infections among employees in response to questions from lawmakers.

    ICE has reported 45 cases of COVID-19 among its direct staff at detention facilities. Most of the employees at the privately run centres, however, work for private contractors and are not included in ICE's count.

    Lawmakers have raised concerns about the spread of the virus inside nearly 70 centres across the country.

    More than 3,000 immigrants in ICE custody have tested positive for Covid-19, although some have recovered or been released.

    Two detainees have died of the disease.

    On Monday, a 51-year-old Mexican man who had tested positive for coronavirus died in ICE detention, although the agency said the cause of death was still undetermined.

    The chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Kathleen Rice, a Democrat from New York, said there had been reports among employees of rationing of personal protective equipment, inadequate medical care and delayed testing.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    120,000 COULD DIE IN SECOND CORONAVIRUS WAVE

    Scientists have warned up to 120,000 people could die in a second coronavirus wave this winter.

    A new report from the Academy of Medical Sciences, commissioned by the Government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, says action must be taken now to mitigate the potential for a second peak of Covid-19.

    It argues that hospitals could potentially see 120,000 Covid-19 deaths in between September and next June at the same time as battling a surge in demand due to usual winter pressures, including flu.

    The report, from 37 scientists and academics, acknowledges there is a high degree of uncertainty about how the Covid-19 epidemic will evolve in the UK over the coming months, but sets out a “reasonable worst-case scenario” that would see the R rate rise to 1.7 from September.

    The R refers to the number of people an infected person can be expected to pass the virus on to.

    The academic modelling suggests there could be a peak in hospital admissions and deaths in January and February 2021, similar to or worse than the first wave in spring 2020. It does not include deaths in the community or care homes.

    The figures do not take account of Government intervention to reduce the transmission rate, or the use of the drug dexamethasone in intensive care units, which has been shown to cut deaths.

    Professor Stephen Holgate, a Medical Research Council clinical professor of immunopharmacology who led the study, said: “This is not a prediction, but it is a possibility.

    “The modelling suggests that deaths could be higher with a new wave of Covid-19 this winter, but the risk of this happening could be reduced if we take action immediately.

    “With relatively low numbers of Covid-19 cases at the moment, this is a critical window of opportunity to help us prepare for the worst that winter can throw at us.”

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    LEADER OF NEW ZEALAND'S OPPOSITION PARTY STEPS DOWN

    The leader of New Zealand's opposition National Party, Todd Muller, has quit, citing health reasons just over two months from a general election and 53 days after taking charge in a leadership coup amid the party's stagnant poll numbers.

    In a statement released at 7:30am Tuesday, local time, which reportedly shocked lawmakers in the right-of-centre party, the 67-year-old Muller said he was stepping down effective immediately.

    Lawmakers were meeting by teleconference to decide how to proceed, with few clear candidates to assume the leadership.

    “It has become clear to me that I am not the best person to be leader of the Opposition and Leader of the New Zealand National Party at this critical time for New Zealand,” Muller said. “It is more important than ever that the New Zealand National Party has a leader who is comfortable in the role.

    “The role has taken a heavy toll on me personally, and on my family, and this has become untenable from a health perspective.”

    The National Party has been embroiled for the past week in a scandal after it was revealed a junior lawmaker leaked private health details of New Zealand's Covid-19 patients to news media.

    The information was provided by a former party president who received it confidentially in her capacity as acting chief executive of the Auckland rescue helicopter organisation.

    Muller has been widely criticised for his handling of the scandal and the veracity of some of his statements had been challenged.

    He was facing questions over when he knew the source of the leak and if he knew one of his most senior MPs had also received the information.

    The private information was sent to three media organisations but was not published.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    AUTHORITIES TO OVERSEE WEARING OF FACE MASKS IN SHOPS

    Authorities rather than businesses will oversee the mandatory wearing of face masks in shops.

    The move has been welcomed by the retail trade body the British Retail Consortium.

    Chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “We look forward to further clarity over whether the wearing of face coverings will apply to shop staff.

    “If so, there must be flexibility for colleagues who are in stores all day and can already benefit from other safety measures such as protective screens and 2 metre distancing.

    “While retailers will play their part in communicating the new rules on face masks, they must not be the ones enforcing these rules.

    “With hundreds of incidents of violence and abuse directed at retail staff every day, we welcome the announcement that enforcement will be left to the authorities, rather than potentially putting hardworking retail colleagues in harm's way.”

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    MEXICO NOW HAS FOURTH HIGHEST DEATH TOLL

    Mexico has now become the country with the fourth highest death toll from Covid-19.

    The country surpassed Italy this weekend to reach the grim milestone.

    More than 35,000 Mexicans have died so far, and the country has nearly 300,000 confirmed cases, according to a New York Times database.

    Only the United States, Brazil and Britain have recorded more deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    US GOVERNMENT HITS RECORD BUDGET DEFICIT

    The US government racked-up its largest ever budget deficit in June as programmes to relieve the impact of the coronavirus began to take effect and millions of job losses affected tax revenue.

    The Treasury Department reported on Monday that the deficit hit $864billion last month, a figure that surpasses most annual deficits in the nation's history and is above the previous monthly deficit record of $738bn in April.

    That amount was also tied to the trillions of dollars Congress has provided to cushion the impact of the widespread shutdowns that occurred in an effort to limit the spread of the viral pandemic.

    For the first nine months of this budget year, which began Oct. 1, the deficit totals $2.74 trillion, also a record for that period.

    That puts the country well on the way to hitting the $3.7trillion deficit for the whole year that has been forecast by the Congressional Budget Office.

    That total would surpass the previous annual record of $1.4trillion set in 2009 when the government was spending heavily to lift the country out of the recession caused by the 2008 financial crisis.

    The June deficit was driven higher by spending on various government relief programmes such as an extra $600 per week in expanded unemployment benefits and a Paycheck Protection Program that provided support to businesses to keep workers on their payrolls.

    The report showed that the cost of the Paycheck Protection Program in June was $511bn.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    RETAIL TRADE UNION BACKS WEARING FACE MASKS IN SHOPS

    The head of the retail trade union has backed the government's move to make the wearing of face masks compulsory in shops but wants more guidance.

    Paddy Lillis, general secretary of retail trade 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.

    “We welcome the indication that shop workers will not be expected to enforce the wearing of face coverings. They are already dealing with more abuse than normal and this could be another flashpoint.

    “There must also be clarity on age identification procedures, under the 'Think-25' policy, when a customer is wearing a face covering.

    “We now need a public information campaign to explain the correct use of face coverings, that some people are exempt from wearing face coverings and the importance of maintaining existing social distancing and hygiene measures.”

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    US CORONAVIRUS VACCINE ON COURSE FOR SUMMER

    A coronavirus vaccine could be being manufactured in the US by the end of the summer, a senior administration official said on Monday.

    The US government has helped finance the development of several vaccines, along with drugmakers, as well as therapies, through its Operation Warp Speed programme.

    The official added more announcements about investments in Covid-19 vaccines were planned for the future.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    BRAZIL RECORDS MORE THAN 20,000 NEW COVID-19 CASES IN 24 HOURS

    Brazil recorded 20,286 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours as well as 733 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

    Since the pandemic started the South American country has recorded nearly 1.9million official cases.

    The country has recorded a total of 72,833 deaths from the virus.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    CORONAVIRUS CASES PASS 13MILLION WORLDWIDE

    More than 13million people around the world have now contracted the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    The grim figure came on Monday as more than 570,000 people have died from the virus.

    The university's Covid-19 tracker showed that the United States leads the globe in total reported cases, with more than 3.3m.

    Brazil is the next highest country with 1.9m cases.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    FACE MASKS TO BE COMPULSORY IN ENGLAND'S SHOPS

    Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets is to be made mandatory in England in a fresh move to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Government has announced.

    In a statement on Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will say anyone failing to comply with the order – which comes into force on July 24 – could face a fine of up to £100.

    The move follows a weekend of confusion over whether ministers intended to make face coverings compulsory after Boris Johnson said they were looking at “stricter” rules.

    The senior Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said on Sunday he did not believe they should be mandatory and that it was better to “trust people's common sense”.

    However, during a visit to the London Ambulance Service on Monday, the Prime Minister offered the clearest signal he was going down the route of compulsion, saying the Government was looking at the “tools of enforcement”.

    Ahead of Tuesday's announcement by Mr Hancock, a No 10 spokesman said: “There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus.

    “The Prime Minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from July 24.”

    The move will bring England into line with Scotland, where face coverings are already mandatory in shops.

    The Government has been urging people to wear face coverings in confined spaces such as shops since early May and they have already been made compulsory on public transport in England since mid-June.

    The regulations will be made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, with a maximum fine of £100 – reduced to £50 if it is paid within 14 days.

    Enforcement of the regulations will be the responsibility of the police.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    LEICESTER CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN EXPECTED TO BE EXTENDED

    The lockdown currently in place in Leicester is expected to be extended over fears the city's infection rate is still too high.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock met the city's mayor Sir Peter Soulsby on Monday to discuss the measures.

    Dr Jonathan Van Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, said on Monday that Leicester remains an “outlier”, with higher Covid-19 infection rates.

    He said that, while it would not be his decision to end the lockdown, doing so “can't be rushed”.

    A final decision on whether or not to extend the lockdown for a further two weeks is expected to be made on Saturday. 

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    WHO WARNS REOPENING SCHOOLS HAS BECOME A 'POLITICAL FOOTBALL'

    A senior official at the World Health Organisation that the issue of reopening schools during the coronavirus outbreak has become a “political football”.

    Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said the issue of schools reopening should be driven by comprehensive, data-driven Covid-19 public health strategies and not politically motivated.

    He said “we can’t play Whack-a-mole. We need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time”.

    Dr Ryan added the issue had become a “political football” which was not fair on children: “decisions must be made on data, and an understanding of the risks.

    “There needs to be a sustained commitment on suppressing the virus. If we can suppress it, then, schools can open safely.”

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    LLAMA BLOOD COULD HELP SAVE THE LIVES OF SERIOUSLY ILL COVID-19 PATIENTS

    Llama blood could help save the lives of patients who are seriously ill with the coronavirus, a new study has indicated.

    Researchers led by Oxford University have used repurposed antibodies taken from the South American animals to fight the virus during laboratory trials.

    Doctors are already using antibodies derived from humans who have survived coronavirus, but the new findings could mean a more potent and easily available treatment.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    CASES OF CORONAVIRUS TRIPLE IN BARCELONA IN A WEEK

    The number of Covid-19 cases in the city of Barcelona has almost tripled in the last week, rising from 164 to 458.

    Authorities say the rise has been mainly fuelled by younger people and middle-aged people through family gatherings and meeting up with friends.

    In total there have been 24 “small, controlled outbreaks” of at least four people.

    The mayor, Ada Colau, has described the situation as “worrying”, but “not alarming”.

    The Spanish health ministry's figures released on Monday reports 255,953 confirmed Covid-19 cases, an increase of 2,045 compared to the previous total, published on Friday. Of those, 164 were related to cases in the last 24 hours, with 42 in Catalonia, more than any other area.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    CALIFORNIA TO REIMPOSE LOCKDOWN MEASURES

    California is reimposing strict lockdown measures after coronavirus cases started to surge in the US state.

    Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today one of the most sweeping rollbacks of any state’s reopening plans.

    Mr Newsom has moved to close indoor venues statewide for restaurants, wineries, cinemas, zoos and card rooms, and bars would be forced to close all operations.

    He added that in the case of the 30 worst-affected counties, businessed would be forced to close indoor activities for fitness centres, places of worship, non-critical offices, hair salons and barbershops and malls.

    Roughly 80 percent of the state’s population lives in the affected counties

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    MASSIVE WRITE-OFF OF COVID-19 DEBT MIGHT BE ONLY WAY TO SAVE ECONOMY

    A huge write-off of debt that was created to keep businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic might be the only way to keep the economy from stagnation, the head of the spending watchdog has warned.

    Richard Hughes of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has said repayments on £45bn of taxpayer-backed loans could be linked to companies' revenue with any money outstanding after a set timeframe simply cancelled.

    If this wasn't done businesses of all sizes could drown under the weight of debt borrowed to ensure companies kept doing during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Government schemes such as the Bounce Back Loan programme have allowed businesses to borrow cash from their bank, with taxpayers covering at least some of the lender's losses if the money is not paid back.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    POP-UP CYCLE LANES COULD BECOME PERMANENT AFTER CORONAVIRUS

    London's new transport boss has said that most “if not all” of the new emergency cycle lanes built in the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown could become permanent.

    Andy Byford, who became the commissioner of Transport for London at the end of June, told the Evening Standard the pop-up cycle lanes were “fantastic” and that they represented a “good start”.

    TfL and the city's borough councils have created miles of new cycle routes on the capital's roads since lockdown, with more being planned – as part of a plan to get more people using other means of transport other than buses or trains.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    LABOUR SAYS GOVERNMENT POLICY ON FACE MASKS 'MUDDLED'

    Labour has hit out at the government's policy on wearing face masks, calling it “muddled”.

    Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: “The Government has been slow and muddled again over face coverings.

    “Given the Government’s own guidance issued on 11th May advised in favour of face masks, many will ask why yet again have ministers been slow in making a decision in this pandemic, and why it’ll take another 11 days before these new guidelines to come into force.

    “The Health Secretary must account for this further delay.”

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    BOLIVIAN SEX WORKERS PROPOSE COVID-19 SAFETY MEASURES

    Sex workers in Bolivia's capital La Paz have drawn up a set of proposals so they can work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

    A 30-page coronavirus security manual has been drawn up by the Organisation of Night Workers of Bolivia (OTN).

    The measures include bottles of bleach, gloves and see-through raincoats, all of which they say will help them resume work safely.

    The group is also recommending “biosecurity suits” are worn.

    Prostitution is legal in Bolivia, but procuring it is not.

    One sex worker, Antonieta, showed Reuters last week the paper face mask, plastic visor, gloves and raincoat she planned to wear to work.
    She gave a demonstration of how she sprays a bleach solution on the pole she uses to dance for clients at the brothel that she operates with several other women.
    “The biosecurity suit will allow us to work and protect ourselves,” she said, while her colleague, Vanessa, a single mother to two children who said she had to work to be able to fund their studies, said she felt confident the proposed changes would keep everyone happy, adding: “Our clients respect the issue of safety, that we are taking these measures for our security, but also for theirs.”

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    PARTS OF LISBON TO REMAIN UNDER PARTIAL LOCKDOWN

    Five areas on the outskirts of Lisbon will remain under a partial lockdown, Portugal's government has said.

    The lockdown was put in place two weeks ago after an outbreak of coronavirus cases struck the capital.

    People living in 19 civil parishes of Greater Lisbon are allowed to leave home only to buy essential goods such as food or medication, or to travel to and from work.

    “Although the coronavirus incidence rate has improved in these 15 days, it has not yet reached a stage where we would reevaluate measures,” Cabinet Affairs Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said.

    Portugal has reported a total 46,818 cases and 1,549 deaths from the coronavirus, much lower than many other European countries.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC STOKING EXTREMIST VIEWS

    A side-effect of the global coronavirus outbreak is that it is fuelling the growth of extremist groups, security officials have said.

    So far the pandemic has killed around 550,000 people worldwide and infected a further 12 million.

    Security forces are being stretched as the outbreak is fuelling grievances and spurring the growth of extremist groups, analysts have told The Washington Post.

    The pandemic is said to be creating new opportunities for the ISIS and other militants in the Middle East and Africa, where governments are being forced to redeploy security forces to battle the disease.

  • Jon Rogers 's avatarJon Rogers

    GOVT TO 'RAMP UP' ENFORCEMENT OF FACE MASKS ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT

    Ministers are “ramping up” the enforcement of the wearing of face masks on public transport ahead of an expected decision to make them mandatory in shops.

    Transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton told the House of Lords that inspectors on public transport will start to enforce the rules about wearing coverings.

    She said: “At the moment, we are looking at engagement rather than enforcement, although we are ramping up enforcement because we feel that people have had time enough for this message to sink in.”

    The peer said officials were particularly worried about young men forgetting to put on masks when on public transport.

    Compliance with the transport rules has been good, with 91 percent of travellers wearing a covering on public transport between June 22 and 28.

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