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India reports record daily rise in virus cases


By SJA Jafri + Bureau Report + Agencies

NEW DELHI/ NEW YORK/ LONDON: India has recorded 57,000 new corona virus cases – the highest daily total to date

Maharashtra – home to the financial capital, Mumbai – is still the worst affected state

In the UK, shielding ends for some two million people – while further easing of restrictions in England is halted

Pubs or “other activities” in England may need to close to allow schools to reopen next month, a leading scientist says

The US top infectious diseases expert has said he is ‘optimistic’ a US-developed vaccine will be available by end of 2020

Mexico’s coronavirus death toll is now the world’s third highest, with only the US and Brazil recording greater numbers

Millions of Americans are set to lose a $600 benefit after US politicians failed to agree a deal on its extension

The elderly leader of a South Korean sect has been arrested for allegedly obstructing a tracing investigation

Mexico has become the country with the third-highest coronavirus death toll, with only the US and Brazil recording greater fatalities.

A $600 (£459) jobless benefit paid weekly to tens of millions of unemployed Americans struggling during the pandemic expired overnight after Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a deal on its extension.

Shielding for those most at risk from coronavirus has ended in the UK, while the government also slammed the brakes on the planned easing of some lockdown restrictions

India has recorded more than 57,000 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours – the highest daily total to date

America’s top infectious diseases expert has said he is “optimistic” a US-developed vaccine will be available by the end of 2020

A South Korean sect leader, whose church accounted for many of the country’s early coronavirus cases, has been arrested by authorities for allegedly obstructing a tracing investigation

We’ve been tracking the trajectory of coronavirus infections and deaths globally since the start of the pandemic.

The top Democrats in Congress are set to meet today with senior aides to President Donald Trump for talks on a new coronavirus relief bill

It comes as a $600 jobless benefit paid weekly to ten of millions of unemployed Americans expired overnight after Republicans and Democrats failed to reach an agreement on its extension

The US has now reported more than 4.5m cases of coronavirus, while more than 153,000 people have died, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University

Cases in 19 US states doubled during the month of July, a tally by Reuters news agency found

Two deaths in Wales, none in Scotland for 16 days in a row

A further two people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Wales.

The numbers of cases have increased by 21, according to Public Health Wales.

For the 16th day in a row, Scotland recorded no new deaths among people who tested positive.

Another 18 cases of the virus were recorded, the Scottish government said.

We’ll bring you the figures for Northern Ireland and England when we get them, as well as the UK-wide figures later.

FA Cup final to kick off at Wembley – without fans

Arsenal and Chelsea will face each other in the FA Cup final at Wembley this afternoon – but the final will look like no other as fans will not be present in the stadium.

Watch the video below as BBC Sport looks back at how fans on Wembley Way became an iconic sight on FA Cup final day – and how they’ll be missed for this year’s final.

Businesses fear collapse after lockdown easing delay

A decision on Friday to put lockdown easing on hold in England for at least two weeks has caused confusion and dismay for businesses which were looking forward to reopening today.

Beauty salons, casinos and bowling alleys are among those that had been preparing to welcome customers for the first time since March.

“We’re in absolute shock,” Gita Lavingia, owner of Lavingia Beauty, Clapham, south London told the BBC shortly after the announcement.

“We literally found out this afternoon, with less than 24 hours’ notice, and we have clients booked in for tomorrow.”

Ms Lavingia says that 80% of her business is focused on facials. Because the treatments involve close contact with a customer’s face, the continuation of restrictions means that her firm will have to cancel most of the bookings it has lined up.

“We lose £800 in revenue for each day, we cannot fully-operate. And many of our therapists are self-employed, so they are earning nothing at all,” she added.

“It’s made or break for our business now – there’s a big question mark about how long we can stay open for.”

The latest developments in Asia

The Philippines reported almost 5,000 new coronavirus cases, in a record daily increase for the country. Dozens of medical associations signed a letter urging President Rodrigo Duterte to tighten recently eased lockdown measures

The health ministry in Vietnam reported 40 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections to 586. It came after the country reported its first Covid-19 fatalities on Friday

Japan’s Okinawa prefecture has declared a state of emergency, with people urged to stay at home for two weeks amid a spike in infections

India has reported more than 57,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, marking a record daily total

The leader of a sect at the centre of the early coronavirus outbreak in South Korea has been arrested for allegedly obstructing a tracing investigation

Hong Kong has turned its AsiaWorld-Expo exhibition centre into a temporary hospital with 500 beds amid a surge in coronavirus cases

You’re finally abroad, but was it worth it?

Queuing to get a socially-distanced sunbathing spot on the beach

Wearing your face mask to the hotel bar

Finding out halfway through your trip that you’ll have to quarantine when you get home

People are going abroad for holidays for the first time in months, but as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, is it worth the hassle?

The latest headlines in the UK

Good afternoon and welcome to those of you just joining us. Let’s take a look at today’s headlines from around the UK:

Pubs or “other activities” in England may need to close to allow schools to reopen next month, a scientist advising the government has said. Prof Graham Medley told media there may need to be a “trade-off”, with the re-opening of schools seen as “a priority” for children’s wellbeing.

More than two million people shielding against coronavirus in most of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland can now leave their home and return to work.

Residents in popular resorts have said they are “too scared” to go food shopping because of visitors pouring down narrow streets and ignoring social distancing.

Businesses that have furloughed staff during the coronavirus pandemic must now start contributing to the government’s job retention scheme.

The Coastguard had its busiest day for more than four years on Friday, when the UK recorded its third hottest day ever, dealing with more than 300 incidents.

Spain tracks Covid-19 – in the sewers

Covid-19 has been called the “invisible enemy” by world leaders. Health experts say that to defeat the disease we need to find out where it is by tracking and tracing it.

In the Spanish city of Valencia, a new track-and-trace method has been pioneered by a team of engineers and scientists.

It involves collecting human waste in sewers and testing those samples for traces of Covid-19.

Watch the video below to see how the method works.

‘Corona-denier’ protesters descend on Berlin

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the German capital Berlin to take part in dozens of protests over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some are right-wing extremists, with far-right flags and symbols. Others are conspiracy theorists, who don’t believe Covid-19 even exists.

And some of the demonstrators are people who simply object to the German government’s approach to the pandemic.

What they all have in common is that they want an end to the government’s measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The so-called corona deniers have come in specially organised coaches from all over the country, and are calling their demonstration “The Day of Freedom”.

Counter-protests against right-wing extremism were planned, but so far the mood is peaceful.

Hardly anyone is wearing a face-covering or keeping the required distance from other protesters, despite police urging them to do so.

What’s not clear, is what the police can do if such large numbers of people refuse to stick to the rules.

Poland sees record daily rise in cases

Poland recorded its highest number of new Covid-19 cases for a third day in a row on Saturday, with 658 in the previous 24 hours, its health ministry has said.

The previous daily highs were 657 on Friday and 615 on Thursday.

The recent spike in new cases has been mainly caused by outbreaks at three Silesian coal mines and among miners’ families in southern Poland.

Health minister Lukasz Szumowski said on Saturday that restrictions may be reimposed on weddings, where currently up to 150 guests are allowed.

The totals so far are 46,346 cases, 1,721 deaths and 34,374 recoveries in Poland.

Poland has recorded much fewer cases and deaths than many western European countries.

What are the rules on weddings now?

People getting married in England can currently have up to 30 people at their ceremony but not at the reception.Many were hoping for a change in the rules this weekend, but a relaxation in restrictions to allow a total of 30 people to attend wedding receptions from 1 August has been put back until 15 August at the earliest.

This means that receptions can only be attended by six people outside, or two households inside.

The government has published guidance on having a “Covid-secure” wedding, which includes:

Ceremonies should be as short as possible

No food or drink should be consumed unless essential

Group singing and playing of instruments should be avoided

The venue should keep a temporary record of visitors for 21 days for contact tracing

Social distancing must be observed at all times

Northern Ireland has allowed outdoors weddings with 10 people present since early June.

Wales and Scotland also now allow wedding ceremonies to take place, but social distancing must be observed, and big gatherings are not allowed.

Scientific adviser thinks England may have to close pubs to reopen schools

In the face of rising infections in England, many are wondering how schools will be impacted as they prepare for the autumn term.

England’s chief medical officer said yesterday that sending children back to school was an “absolute priority” – but he warned there could be trade-offs needed to reopen society.

This morning, a member of the government’s scientific advisory group, Professor Graham Medley, suggested pubs in England may need to shut in order for schools to open next month.

He said: “I think we’re in a situation whereby most people think that opening schools is a priority for the health and wellbeing of children, and that when we do that we are going to reconnect lots of households.

“And so actually, closing some of the other networks, some of the other activities, may well be required to enable us to open schools.”

The disease-modelling expert added: “It might come down to a question of which do you trade off against each other – and then that’s a matter of prioritising, do we think pubs are more important than schools?”

Concerns over Russia’s plan for mass vaccination by October

Russian officials have said the country is on track to become the first to approve a vaccine against Covid-19, raising concerns over the effectiveness and safety of its efforts.

Health minister Mikhail Murashko on Saturday said Russia will seek to roll out a mass vaccination programme against Covid-19 in the country from October this year.

He told media that clinical trials of the vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, had been completed.

In briefings to CNN and Reuters News Agency, Russia officials said they expect the vaccine to be approved by regulators by August.

Murashko said doctors and teachers would be the first to receive doses of the vaccine but the progress Russia says it has made on a coronavirus vaccine has been met with skepticism by health officials and media outlets in the US and Europe.

They fear Russia may be cutting corners in its attempts to win what it has likened to the space race contested by the Soviet Union and the US during the Cold War.

Because Russia has released no scientific data on its vaccine testing, it is not possible to verify its claims.

At a congressional hearing in the US on Friday, leading infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci expressed doubts about the rigor of the testing process in fast-track vaccine efforts in Russia and China.

Okinawa declares state of emergency

The Japanese prefecture of Okinawa has declared a state of emergency following a surge in coronavirus infections.

The regional governor, Denny Tamaki, called on people to remain at home for the next two weeks.

He said hospitals were being overwhelmed by the surge.

“A dramatic surge in infections has been seen, and a collapse of the health-care system must be prevented at all costs,” Tamaki said, local media reported.

Okinawa reported 71 new cases on Friday, bringing the total to just under 400. More than half of those infected are US military personnel based on the island.

The 15-day state of emergency will come into effect on 1 August, Tamaki said.

On the Japanese mainland, some restrictions are being reintroduced next week after the number of daily cases reached a new record.

How Leicester’s Muslims are marking Eid in lockdown

When Muslims are describing Eid celebrations to people from other faiths, many will say it’s the equivalent of Christmas – a noisy, joyous festival of prayer, present-giving and fun with friends and family but in Leicester – one of Britain’s most vibrant multi-cultural cities – this year’s Eid al-Adha is looking rather more muted.

With the city still in lockdown and restrictions not due to be lifted until Monday, everyone has been encouraged to stay at home.

Usually, Jawaahir Daahir’s house would be full of family members right now.

After going to the mosque for prayer, there would be hugs with friends, sweets for the children and an array of specially-prepared dishes and presents at home.

Instead, she had to explain to her three-year-old grandson Kamil that she wouldn’t be seeing him.

“He was on the phone telling me ‘I want to come to your house grandma, I want to come to your house’ and I was telling him ‘you can’t come right now’ because I live in Leicester,” she says.

“It’s so sad – what can you say? It is so hard for the children to understand.”

And what about the new restrictions in parts of northern England

After a spike in coronavirus cases, some restrictions were reintroduced for Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire on Friday.

The health secretary said data showed the rise was down to households meeting, but not following social distancing.

In response, new rules mean people from separate households in these areas are not allowed to mix with each other in their homes or gardens, or in pubs and restaurants.

People will only be able to visit such hospitality venues with members of their own household.

Matt Hancock said the move was not an attempt to curtail Eid celebrations – due to start this weekend – after Miqdaad Versi, from the Muslim Council of Britain, said the restrictions were likely to have a “large impact” on festivities.

In Leicester, where a local lockdown has been in force for several weeks, restrictions are also in place on household visits.

However, from 3 August pubs and restaurants in the city will be allowed to reopen.

Which of England’s lockdown rules are not being eased?

Earlier we told you how people in many parts of the UK will no longer have to shield from today, while other lockdown measures will not be eased due to rising infection rates in England.

Several changes, which were supposed to come into force today, have been delayed until 15 August at the earliest:

Indoor venues such as casinos, ice skating rinks and bowling alleys, which were due to reopen, will remain closed

Live indoor theatre and concerts, which were due to resume with socially distanced audiences, will not take place

Pilot sporting events allowing limited numbers of spectators at Goodwood, the Crucible and The Oval, will not go ahead

Wedding receptions with up to 30 guests cannot yet happen

Separately, face coverings will be compulsory in more indoor settings where people are likely to come into contact with people they do not know, such as museums and places of worship – from next weekend. They are already required in shops, banks, airports and other indoor transport hubs.

The Prime Minister said the rules for face coverings would be enforceable in law from 8 August.

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