The treasurer of the 1922 Committee and Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown says he is “confident” that Boris Johnson will have eased the two-metre social distancing rule by September.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m absolutely sure that we’re not going to get all the school children back in September unless the two-metre rule is changed.
“And I’m quite certain from everything I’ve heard, it will have been changed by then.
“The Prime Minister is undertaking a detailed study into this and I’m certain that by September it will have been changed.”
He also said he thought that quarantine will be eased in matter of days raising hopes that summer holidays will be able to go ahead as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the Government “wants to open up as soon as we safely and responsibly can using all the mechanisms we have”.
Follow the latest updates below.
Scots who live alone can form ‘extended household group’ from Friday
Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scots who live on their own – or only with young children – will be able to form an “extended household group” with one other household from Friday, meaning they will be able to meet indoors without the need for physical distancing, as well as stay overnight.
If anyone from the extended group contracts the virus, then the whole group will be required to self-isolate.
From Friday, people will be able to meet those in two other households while outside, with no more than eight people gathered at a time. People will also be able to go inside to use the toilet when meeting in someone else’s garden, the First Minister added.
She also confirmed that those who are in the shielding category will be able to go outside for exercise from Friday, as well as be able to meet people from one other household, as was the case for the general public in phase one, so long as social distancing measures are adhered to.
Scotland moving to next phase out of lockdown, Sturgeon confirms
The First Minister has announced that Scotland will be moving to the next phase out of lockdown.
Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs in Holyrood that the progress made in suppressing the virus was “clear and substantial”, adding: “Taking account of that progress and the other evidence we are required to assess, I am therefore very pleased to confirm that the Scottish Government has concluded that we can now move into the next phase of our exit from lockdown.”
However, she also said the virus “has not gone away” and that the reason the virus had been suppressed to its current levels was “because of lockdown”.
She added: “So as we gradually remove the restrictions that have kept it under control, there is a very real risk that transmission could rise again.
“That is why – if we don’t want to go backwards – we must progress carefully.”
Iran reports 87 new Covid-19 deaths
Iran has announced 87 new deaths from the coronavirus as authorities moved to tighten measures to stop its spread in some of the country’s worst-hit provinces.
Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a televised interview that the fatalities in the past 24 hours had taken the overall death toll in Iran’s outbreak to 9,272.
She added that another 2,596 people had tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of infections to 197,647.
Five of Iran’s 31 provinces – Bushehr, East Azerbaijan, Hormozgan, Kermanshah and Khuzestan – are currently “red”, the highest level on the country’s colour-coded risk scale.
Sweden sees first ‘positive signs’ for virus-hit economy
Swedish officials said today that the country is beginning to see the first “positive signals” and its economy will not contract by as much as initially expected this year.
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said the Government now expected the Swedish economy to shrink by six per cent in 2020, instead of by around seven per cent as projected in April.
She stressed that the improvement had started from an unusually low level and there was still considerable uncertainty over the projections.
Sweden has pursued a softer approach to curbing the spread of the virus and allowed many businesses to stay open as other countries have opted for strict lockdowns.
Read more: What Sweden got wrong – and right – in the coronavirus fight
Asymptomatic people with Covid-19 may have weaker immune systems
People who have had coronavirus without any symptoms may have a weaker immune response to Covid-19, research suggests.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to 41 per cent of people infected with Covid-19 may be asymptomatic.
Researchers in China studied 37 asymptomatic people diagnosed with the infection from the Wanzhou district of Chongqing before April 10 2020, and found that these patients had a median duration of viral shedding of 19 days, compared with 14 days in a group of 37 symptomatic patients.
Viral shedding refers to how much virus someone sheds, or excretes.
Levels of virus-specific antibodies were also significantly lower in the asymptomatic group than in the symptomatic group during the acute phase of infection. Antibodies are produced by the immune system when it is being attacked, and indicate whether someone has had the virus.
Eight weeks after the patients were discharged from the hospital, levels of the antibodies decreased in 81.1 per cent of asymptomatic patients, compared with 62.2 per cent of symptomatic patients.
This indicates that the asymptomatic patients may have had a weaker immune response to the virus, the authors suggest.
Ai-Long Huang and colleagues, from Chongqing Medical University, also observed that antibody levels began to diminish within two to three months of infection in a large proportion of the asymptomatic patients.
They argue that these findings highlight the potential risks of using “immunity passports” and supports the continuation of public health interventions and widespread testing.
Watch: ‘We do want to open up UK to travel’, says Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
The Government is coming under increasing pressure from the travel industry and its own MPs to scrap the fourteen-day quarantine rule for visitors arriving in the UK from abroad. Watch the Foreign Secretary’s comments below.
Amnesty demands Egypt stops ‘harassment’ of frontline medics
Amnesty International have today demanded that Egypt stop its “harassment and intimidation” of frontline medics for speaking out during the coronavirus pandemic.
The rights group documented the cases of eight healthcare workers, including six doctors and two pharmacists, arbitrarily detained since March for online and social media posts expressing their concerns.
It also interviewed seven doctors who said they witnessed security and administrative threats against their health worker colleagues for complaining on social media.
“Amnesty International is calling on the Egyptian authorities to put an immediate end to their campaign of harassment and intimidation against health care workers who are speaking out,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.
“The campaign not only further undermines freedom of expression in the country, but also hamstrings the efforts of those tackling the heath crisis and puts their and others’ lives in danger,” he added.
Frontline medics have been vocal in their requests to Egypt’s health ministry to provide health care workers with Covid-19 tests, personal protective equipment and adequate access to health care if they contract the disease.
Earlier in the week, Egypt’s top doctors union urged authorities to immediately release its detained colleagues.
The coronavirus crisis has claimed the lives of around 70 Egyptian doctors so far.
Egypt has recorded nearly 50,000 COVID-19 cases nationwide including 1,850 deaths, according to official figures.
Zoom to offer end-to-end encryption for all users
Zoom has changed its stance on end-to-end encryption and says it will now offer the security feature to all users.
The video conferencing app has become widely popular during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, with workplaces, families and friends alike all using the service to keep in touch.
But despite the recent surge in usage, Zoom has come under intense scrutiny over its security, with a number of issues quickly identified in the app.
“Zoombombing”, the practice which allowed strangers to use a loophole in meeting settings to gatecrash video calls, often bombarding participants with offensive and abusive content, has been one of the most high-profile flaws raised about the platform.
However, chief executive Eric Yuan has now confirmed that after receiving feedback from users and online safety organisations, it will make end-to-end encryption available to all its users – both free and paid.
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) makes content and data from meetings inaccessible to anyone other than those in the conversation.
Read more: What is the Zoom meeting app, how does it work and is it safe?
Pre-booked airport security slots launched in bid to make flying safer
Pre-booked airport security slots are being trialed at Manchester Airport in hopes the scheme will enable passengers to be managed more efficiently and queue sizes reduced.
Passengers at the airport can reserve a free 15-minute window to use a dedicated lane taking them directly to a checkpoint. Anyone who misses their slot will be asked to join the standard security queue.
The airport’s owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said it is the first time such a system has been used in the UK.
If the trial is successful, it could be rolled out at MAG’s other airports, which are Stansted and East Midlands.
There have been suggestions that passing through security is part of the airport journey where passengers may be most at risk of being infected by Covid-19.
MAG chief operating officer Brad Miller said the pandemic will “reshape the airport experience”.
Breaking: Bank of England announces £100bn of new stimulus for UK
The Bank of England, the UK’s central bank, has announced £100bn in fresh stimulus to support the UK economy.
It also kept the benchmark interest rate on hold at 0.1 per cent – an historic low.
The new stimulus will take the form of quantitative easing, with the bank buying up billions of pounds of Government bonds to artificially keep interest rates low across the economy. By driving up demand, the prices of those bonds rise on the open market, while the interest rates on them fall.
Many interest rates offered by banks to businesses and individuals are influenced by the price of Government bonds.
Quantitative easing also makes it cheaper for the UK Government to borrow large sums of money, which is key to funding its Covid-19 response.
It follows a £200bn boost to its bond-buying programme back in March.
The annoucnement comes after the UK economy shrank by a record 20.4 per cent in April.
Follow all the latest on our business live blog here.
Cluster busting: the lessons the new Beijing outbreak holds for the UK
New outbreaks can be expected across Britain this winter – how we deal with them will be key, writes our global health security editor Paul Nuki.
Singapore, Seoul in South Korea, Kaohsiung in Taiwan, Tokyo and now Beijing. All are cities that successfully suppressed the first wave of Sars-Cov-2 but have had to scramble to fight back subsequent significant outbreaks.
On Wednesday, China reported 44 new coronavirus cases, 31 of which were found in Beijing. The city has confirmed 137 cases over the last six days, ending a 56-day streak of zero infections. The city’s emergency level has been raised, outbound transport links have been severed and entire housing compounds quarantined in a bid to curb the spread.
These localised outbreaks, or clusters, can be seen as both a positive and a negative – either way we should get used to them. As the pandemic rolls on, there will many others in cities across the world, and Europe will not be immune. Lives and economies will hinge on the efficiency of the cluster-busting teams deployed to deal with them.
Read the full analysis here.
Test and Trace figures reveal thousands who tested positive for Covid-19 in England weren’t reached
A total of 14,045 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had their case transferred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system during the first two weeks of its operation, according to figures from the Department of Health and Social Care.
Of this total, 10,192 people (73 per cent) were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts.
The Test and Trace figures also show that 3 per cent of people (418) who tested positive for Covid-19 during the two-week period could not be reached because their communication details were not provided.
A further 24 per cent (3,435) were not reached and asked to provide contact details. This includes people who the service was unable to reach because there had been no response to text, email and call reminders.
The Department of Health and Social Care also said some contacts who had been reached under the Test and Trace system had not agreed to self-isolate, despite having been in close contact with somebody who had tested positive for Covid-19.
The figures cover the period May 28 to June 10.
NHS Test and Trace data [4 June – 10 June]
▶️ 5,949 positive cases transferred to service
▶️ 73% reached to provide contacts
▶️ 44,895 contacts identified
▶️ 91% of identified contacts were reached and advised to self-isolate
Read the full report 🔽https://t.co/qVd3GxMN85
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) June 18, 2020
Spanish Government unveils 4.3 billion euro plan to help tourism sector
The Spanish Government has unveiled a €4.3bn (£3.9bn) plan to help the country’s tourism sector as it emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and prepares to welcome visitors from EU and Schengen areas countries this Sunday.
Spain, which relies on tourism for 12 per cent of its GDP, has been one of the countries hardest hit by the virus and is keen to restart its tourism industry as quickly as possible.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has today announced a 28-point plan intended to restore confidence in Spain as a safe destination, improve its competitiveness and boost its image abroad.
“Spain is opening up for tourism again,” said Sánchez. “We are world leaders and that’s why every step we take will be a safe step. Through prudence and responsibility we will show that Spain is a safe and healthy destination.”
Under the plan, €200m has been spent on 21 health and hygiene guides to help those in the sector prevent the spread of the coronavirus. New credit lines worth €2.5bn will also be made available to help the struggling sector.
Passenger removed from US flight for not wearing mask
A passenger has been removed from an American Airlines flight after refusing to wear a mask, in what’s believed to be a US first.
Brandon Straka was asked to disembark before the plane began its journey from New York to Dallas.
The conservative activist detailed his experience in a video and called the incident “insane”.
In response, Astead Herndon – a New York Times reporter who was on the same flight – challenged what Straka was tweeting about the incident and shared a video where audio of the exchange can be heard.
There is currently no US law requiring travellers to wear face masks on planes, but airlines are allowed to enforce their own policies. Earlier this week American Airlines and five other carriers announced that they would bar anyone from travelling on their flights without a mask.
There are certain exemptions, however, including for those who should not wear a mask due to a medical condition.
absolutely not how the interaction went. Not only did this guy hold up the entire flight he is fabricating how the interaction went with the flight attendants for some twitter likes pic.twitter.com/hsFskL4yQM
— Steadman™ (@AsteadWesley) June 17, 2020
Coronavirus around the world, in pictures
Moscow lawmakers seek to cancel vote on Putin’s constitutional amendments amid pandemic dangers
Several Moscow lawmakers have filed a lawsuit with the Russian Supreme Court seeking to cancel the upcoming vote on Vladimir Putin’s constitutional amendments, citing dangers of the ongoing epidemic, reports Nataliya Vasilyeva.
Russia holds a week of voting starting next Wednesday to decide on constitutional changes that would allow President Putin to run for two more terms in office.
Russia has the world’s third-largest number of Covid-19 cases, and although the epidemic appears to be on the wane in the capital, the country still posts around 8,000 new cases every day.
Analysts say the Kremlin is anxious to hold the vote as soon as possible before popular discontent fueled by economic hardships kicks in.
Moscow City Council deputies, as well as a lawyer and a political scientist, have filed the lawsuit with the Russian Supreme Court, saying that the vote endangers public health and should be canceled.
“Dozens and even hundreds of people die every day from the virus that we have not beaten,” Yevgeny Stupin, lawmaker and one of the claimants, said on Wednesday. “It is a crime to hold a vote in these circumstances. Canceling Putin’s decree will save many lives.”
It is not likely that the Supreme Court, that has previously sided with the Kremlin, will rule to scrap the voting but the lawsuit would still be casting a shadow on the hastily arranged referendum.
Russia reported 7,790 new Covid-19 cases this morning and 182 deaths. The overall death toll stands at 7,660 but officials acknowledge that not every person with the coronavirus who has died has been attributed as a coronavirus fatality.
People who get news from social media more likely to believe 5G conspiracy theories
People who use social media to get information about the coronavirus are more likely to believe conspiracy theories about the disease, a new study has found.
The research, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, revealed 60 per cent of people who believe Covid-19 was linked to 5G get their information from YouTube.
For those who get their information from Facebook, 54 per cent believe the conspiracy versus 20 per cent who do not.
The debunked conspiracy, that 5G mobile masts, the next generation of mobile signal, are spreading the coronavirus, has led to arsonists targeting phone masts and the harassment of broadband engineers.
Lizzie Roberts has more here.
Nearly 500 Russian medics die after testing positive for Covid-19
Nearly 500 Russian medics who tested positive for the coronavirus have died, the head of the state health watchdog said today – a far higher figure than given before.
“489 – that is medics, unfortunately we have lost almost 500 of our colleagues,” the Roszdravnadzor watchdog chief Alla Samoilova said at an online conference, TASS state news agency reported.
Previously a health ministry official on May 26 gave a confirmed death toll of 101.
The new toll is even higher than that given by an independent website set up by medics where colleagues report deaths, the Remembrance List, which lists 444 deaths.
Less than half of firms topping up 80pc staff furlough pay
Less than half of businesses using the Government’s furlough scheme are topping up their workers’ pay above the 80 per cent guaranteed by the taxpayer up to £2,500 per worker, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Officials found that in the final two weeks of May, just 42 per cent of businesses reported they had continued to cover the gap, despite finding 79 per cent of companies had been trading for most of last month.
Between May 18 and 31, 5 per cent of companies had started trading again, with a further 5 per cent saying they intended to restart in the first few weeks of June.
Around 30 per cent of the workforce were on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), it found, matching up with similar data from the Government.
The Treasury said on Tuesday that 9.1 million jobs have been covered by the scheme, which is expected to cost around £60 billion by the time it closes in October, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Donation of 26,000 books for one of England’s most deprived towns
Children and parents living in one of the UK’s most deprived towns are receiving a “fantastic” donation of more than 26,000 books, after a fund was set up to provide additional help to families who are supporting their children’s learning at home during the Covid-19 crisis.
Titles by Neil Gaiman and Jessie Burton, as well as radio stars Greg James and Chris Smith, feature in the literary bundle bound for Hastings in East Sussex. The town is one of the most deprived areas of the country, with over 26 per cent of children living in income deprived households.
The books are a donation from publisher Bloomsbury, which is also contributing £10,000 to the National Literacy Trust’s national emergency fund.
The books – aimed at children and adults – will be distributed by schools that remain open during lockdown, as well as food banks and homeless shelters.
Carole Dixon, chief executive of the Hastings-based charity Education Futures Trust, said: “These fantastic books will be in children’s hands when they are distributed next week. It is lovely to be able to give children new books that they can keep, rather than second-hand versions.
“The latter are really appreciated, but imagine a child, who does not have a book of their own, getting a brand new copy.”
Denmark to allow citizens from European countries with low infection rates to enter
Denmark will allow citizens from European countries with low infections to enter the country from 27 June, reports Reuters, citing the Danish foreign ministry.
EU and Schengen countries, including the UK, would be individually assessed based on objective criteria, the ministry said. Sweden and Portugal did not meet the criteria, it said.
A country would be classified as open if it has less than 20 infected per 100,000 inhabitants per week.
Denmark’s strict border policy sparked protests last week from employees in the aviation industry.
Production at chicken processing plant in Wales shut down following Covid-19 outbreak
Production at a chicken processing plant in North Wales has been shut down for a fortnight following a Covid-19 outbreak.
Earlier this week, unions said they were aware of 13 cases among staff at the 2 Sisters factory in Llangefni, with 110 self-isolating as a precaution.
In a statement, the 2 Sisters Food Group said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues is ultimately the thing that matters most at our business. We are a responsible company with people at its core. Without our people we are nothing.
“Therefore in light of the current Covid-19 cases at our Llangefni site, we have decided to take the necessary action to clearly demonstrate how seriously we take this issue by doing the right thing.
“Doing the right thing means from today we will temporarily suspend production at our Llangefni site with immediate effect for a period of 14 days.
“We will not tolerate any unnecessary risks – however small – for our existing loyal workforce at the facility.”
Weston hospital in Somerset fully reopens to patients
A hospital that closed to new admissions due to a high number of Covid-19 cases has now fully reopened.
Weston General Hospital in Somerset temporarily stopped accepting new patients, including to its accident and emergency department, from 8am on May 25.
Deep cleaning has been carried out at the hospital in Weston-super-Mare, and social distancing measures have been put in place in line with national guidance, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust said.
All inpatients have been tested for the coronavirus and there have been no new cases in the hospitals non-Covid wards since the measures were introduced.
Staff have been tested at least twice or completed periods of isolation to confirm that they do not have the infection.
The trust previously said an initial round of staff testing suggested that approximately 6 per cent of staff were infected but asymptomatic.
Why women are falling through the Covid cracks
The fallout from the pandemic on women’s lives and gender inequality will be devastating – as statistics already show, writes Laura Bates.
Lockdown is easing. The shops are open, the football is on. More employees are expected to return to work. There are, however, still no longer plans for all pupils to return to school before September. For some observers, these are separate facts. For working parents, they are an intertwined nightmare. And as history has repeatedly shown, what affects working parents usually disproportionately impacts working mothers.
The chore gap is one of those unfashionable, stubbornly persistent issues that we like to brush under the carpet in our supposedly enlightened age. But the coronavirus crisis and lockdown has shone a light on the gulf which exists in many British households; research has shown that mothers are doing 31 hours more housework each week than before the crisis. And although the study into working parents found fathers are also doing more chores, there was a huge gender gap, with mothers doing 12 hours more on average than fathers.
Read more about the multifaceted ways in which women are being disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic here.
Coronavirus around the world, in pictures
Doctors warn of organ shortage as lockdown cuts fatal accidents and violent crime
The number of organ transplant operations in the UK has plummeted during lockdown, leaving thousands of patients waiting for surgery, as a fall in violent crime and car accidents has reduced the pool of donors.
Data from NHS Blood and Transplant shows only 265 transplant operations were carried out between April 1 and May 31 of this year, compared with 702 carried out in the same period in 2019.
Coronavirus carriers cannot donate organs, and the concentration of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units in April and May across the UK has made transplants from other patients who died on the ward more risky, experts have said.
Most transplant centres across the UK closed at the beginning of the pandemic, with only the most essential operations – such as heart transplants – going ahead in lockdown.
The NHS no longer has an accurate account of how many people need organ transplants, because some transplant centres removed many of their patients from the list during the pandemic.
Tony Diver and Jasmine Cameron Chileshe have the full story here.
New nursing home to open for Covid-19 patients being discharged from hospital
A new nursing home is being opened for recovering Covid-19 patients being discharged from hospital to prevent the risk of the virus entering care homes on their return.
The Clarence Unit at Woodcot Lodge in Gosport, Hampshire, will provide temporary “step-down” care for 54 patients leaving Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.
Patients will be cared for in isolation for 14 days after their arrival, during which they will be supported by a dedicated team of care staff but will not be able to mix with other residents to minimise the risk of the virus or other infections spreading.
Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for adult social care and health, said: “During the coronavirus pandemic, because of the increased need for facilities where people are able to isolate safely and because we do not want to pass undue risk to other very hard-pushed public and private care homes, this challenge has intensified.”
Stays will be for a maximum of 28 days, after which patients will return home or be transferred to a longer-term care setting.
While at the Clarence Unit, families will not be able to visit but they can keep in contact by phone or video call.
Pakistan imposes ‘smart lockdown’ on cities in Punjab province
A “smart lockdown” was imposed yesterday in several cities of Pakistan’s Punjab province, an area home to more than 100 million people, following a spike of new infections.
So far Punjab has recorded almost 60,000 cases.
Pakistan is now focusing on a strategy of local “smart” lockdowns in hundreds of places around the country in a bid to control the virus while minimising the economic impact.
Officials said lockdowns lasting at least two weeks would come into force wherever at least 300 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed.
Police are guarding the entry and exit points of locked-down areas. In an emergency, only one person in a household will be allowed to leave.
Markets, shopping malls and restaurants, including government and private offices, will remain closed in the sealed areas but grocery shops and pharmacies are allowed to open. Public and private transport is banned.
Public toilets continuing to be closed could disproportionately impact women
Many shops in the UK started to re-open this week, writes Jennifer Rigby, but the fact that public toilets continue to be closed could put off hundreds of thousands of people from venturing out.
As well as people suffering with illnesses like Crohn’s disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), who need access to toilets, many women also have issues with incontinence after childbirth.
According to the femtech company Elvie, based on its survey of 2,000 women, 49 per cent of women have some kind of bladder issue.
Tania Boler, CEO and founder of Elvie, said public toilets remaining closed could put people off going out. “For women living with bladder problems, now is a particularly restrictive time,” she said.
Blackpool illuminations to stay lit for extra two months to boost tourism
The Blackpool Illuminations are to stay lit for an extra two months to boost tourism, which has been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The resort’s annual switch-on celebration in September will take place away from the public for the first time in more than 70 years, and be replaced by a televised closed event filmed inside the Tower Ballroom.
Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for tourism and culture at Blackpool Council, said: “The annual switch-on event is the biggest night in Blackpool’s events calendar. Sadly, it is simply not possible to stage an event of that scale given the current restrictions around social distancing and mass gatherings.
“We are very much aware of how much our tourism businesses are suffering as a result of the pandemic and we hope that, by extending the Blackpool Illuminations season by two months, it will give them an opportunity to bring in some additional trade.”
The extended Illuminations season will run from September 4 to January 3 2021.
Parents worse hit by Covid-19 impact than adults without children in the house
Parents were worse hit than adults without children in the house, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found.
They were around twice as likely to report reduced income or to have been furloughed, and fewer than half were able to cover a necessary expense as more than 20 per cent of them found childcare had an impact on their work.
Home schooling was found to negatively affect lower income families’ wellbeing.
There are also some signs of increasing economic inequality, as 26 per cent of those on lower personal incomes, between £10,000 and £20,000, experienced a worsening in finances, and were less able to save for the year ahead than those on higher incomes.
Meanwhile, those on personal incomes of £40,000-plus saw fewer impacts and were much more able to cover unexpected expenses than they were earlier in lockdown.
Parents, the self-employed, lower-income individuals, the lonely and those who felt unsafe in the home reported the biggest impacts in terms of their personal and economic wellbeing.
Indonesia records highest number of Covid-19 cases in Southeast Asia
Indonesia has today recorded the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Southeast Asia, surpassing Singapore with a total of 41,431 and the biggest death toll in the region of 2,267, reports Nicola Smith. Among the deaths are an unusually high number of children, experts have warned.
According to Australia’s ABC news, the Indonesian Paediatrician Association found that at least 160 children suspected to have been infected with Covid-19 had died as of June 1.
Meanwhile, some 715 Indonesian children were confirmed to have the coronavirus as of May 22, and more than 17,000 were under observation or suspected to have the disease, according to data released by the Indonesian Child Protection Commission.
Some of the infections have been attributed to a lack of knowledge about the disease that has meant parents have taken fewer precautions to protect their children.
But Achmad Yurianto, a senior health ministry official, told Reuters that Indonesian children were caught in a “devil’s circle” — a cycle of malnutrition and anaemia that increased their vulnerability to the coronavirus.
Estimated 12.5 million people financially affected by the coronavirus, says ONS
An estimated 12.5 million people say their households have been affected financially by the impact of Covid-19, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Nearly two-thirds (64.8 per cent) of employees felt their work was being affected by Covid-19 between May 20 and 24, up from 47.7 per cent earlier in May, as concerns about health and safety in the workplace grew.
Overall, levels of expectation for the general economic situation and financial situation fell to levels not seen since September 2008.
Test and trace ‘essential’ to combat Covid-19 amid second wave fears, says WHO
Health officials have stressed the need for a successful test, track and isolate programme amid concerns of a possible second wave of Covid-19 cases in the autumn.
Dr Hans Kluge, European regional director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said contact tracing and quarantining people potentially infected with the coronavirus was “an essential element” of the strategy.
His comments came a day after MPs were told the Government’s contact tracing smartphone app – previously heralded as a fundamental pillar of the country’s response to the pandemic – may not be ready until the winter.
Dr Kluge told a Russian-centred WHO briefing today that it was “well possible” that the autumn could have an impact on the number of cases, in the same way flu cases peak towards the end of the year.
Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn dies age 103
Dame Vera Lynn, whose song “We’ll Meet Again” was a symbol of hope during the Second World War and again during the coronavirus pandemic, has died at 103, the singer’s family have said.
A statement said: “The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers at the age of 103.
“Dame Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, passed away earlier today, 18 June 2020, surrounded by her close family.”
Dame Vera Lynn enjoyed a resurgence during the last few months of her life as her words became a source of comfort to many during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Queen channelled the lyrics of her wartime classic when she told a nation in lockdown, separated from their families and friends, “We will meet again”.
The song had originally helped raise British spirits during the Blitz.
Dame Vera said she had been buoyed by the Queen’s words.
“I watched with the rest of the country and thought it was a great encouragement during these difficult times, but I wasn’t aware that Her Majesty would use the lyrics at the end of her speech,” she told the Radio Times.
“I support her message of keeping strong together when we’re faced with such a terrible challenge.
“Our nation has faced some dark times over the years, but we always overcome.”
Czech Republic to drop mandatory face masks from July
Czechs will no longer have to wear face masks as of July 1, apart from in the capital, the health minister said today, lifting a measure introduced on March 19.
“The blanket duty to wear face masks will be abandoned on July 1, 2020… with the exception of regions with a worse epidemiological situation,” Health Minister Adam Vojtech told reporters.
Masks will still be mandatory in shops and on public transport in Prague, where the city hall has been paralysed after a deputy mayor tested positive for Covid-19.
Masks will also be required in the northeastern Karvina district, where nearly 500 people with ties to the Darkov coal mine recently tested positive.
The Czech Republic has 10,176 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 333 deaths.
In other good news for Czechs, the cap on public events will increase from 500 to 1,000 participants as of June 22, Vojtech said. A maximum of 5,000 fans seated in five separate sectors, each comprising 1,000 people, will be allowed at football matches and similar events.
Attendance limits for swimming pools or zoos have been dropped along with social distancing rules for museums, galleries and castles from June 22.
From July 1, night clubs can reopen and pubs and restaurants will be allowed to operate beyond 11 pm.
Sadiq Khan urges Boris Johnson to make face coverings compulsory in shops
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has written to the Prime Minister calling for face coverings to be made compulsory in shops to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
He said: “It is increasingly clear that face coverings will play a key role in our efforts to stop the further spread of the virus and they need to become a more regular part of our day-to-day life.
“The high level of use on our public transport network has again shown that Londoners are willing to act to protect their community, but the Government’s current rules are lagging behind other countries.
“With non-essential shops now opening and the public returning to our high streets, I urge the Government to follow World Health Organisation guidance and make these coverings mandatory for those shopping in retail outlets and in other spaces where it impossible to keep a safe distance.”
Covid-19 poses threat to asylum systems, UN report warns
An unprecedented 79.5 million people were forced to flee their homes last year, according to a new report released by the UN Refugee Agency ahead of World Refugee Day.
Climate change and natural disasters have added to the threats that force people to flee, and Covid-19 may present an unprecedented and unique threat to refugees, the report warns.
For instance, the number of asylum applications registered in the European Union in March 2020 dropped by 43 per cent compared to February, as asylum systems slowed or came to a halt with countries closing borders. In other parts of the world, refugee registration also dropped “significantly”, despite efforts by some countries to resort to remote registration and documentation.
Matthew Saltmarsh, a UNHCR spokesman, told The Telegraph: “A longer-term risk posed by Covid-19 is that the adoption of emergency laws and policies may become entrenched. Also, many refugees and other displaced people are reliant on work, often in the informal economy, and have limited social protections. The shock on their livelihoods might be acute and may well endure.”
Georgina Hayes has more here.
Landlords and cash-strapped businesses await peace plan over unpaid rents
Ministers are closing in on plans to end rent disputes between warring landlords and cash-starved businesses, with new guidance expected over the coming days.
A code of conduct drawn up by the Government with property owners and business groups could be revealed as soon as this week ahead of the quarterly rent payment day next Wednesday, sources close to the discussions said. However, industry doubts remain over the likely effectiveness of the plan.
Draft guidance seen by The Telegraph revealed the voluntary code will encourage tenants and landlords to use a third party mediator to resolve disputes if no agreement can be found.
Industry bosses have privately raised concerns over whether guidance can help landlords and tenants at loggerheads. One property source said the code is “never going to solve anything” given it is voluntary and not legally binding.
Tom Rees has the full story here.
Angela Merkel urges EU recovery plan before end of July
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has today urged the European Union to reach an agreement on a recovery plan worth 750 billion euros by the end of July to kickstart an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It would be best if we could reach an agreement before the summer break,” Merkel said, calling for compromise from member states to enable the deal to be ratified by the end of the year.
“We must act quickly and decisively,” she said.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen proposed the fund to help the EU out of its deepest-ever recession, but the plan was immediately met with fierce opposition from fiscally conservative member states including Austria and the Netherlands.
The proposed package consists of 500 billion euros in grants and 250 billion euros in loans, but requires unanimous EU approval.
“The starting position is far from easy but I hope that all member states will act in a spirit of compromise in the face of this unprecedented situation,” Merkel said.
The European Council is due to hold a video summit on June 19 on the controversial stimulus package, the EU’s largest to date.
However, a decision is not expected until the leaders have met in person, said Merkel, whose country assumes the EU presidency in July.
Women in Ecuador sending emoji-coded pleas for help as domestic violence ‘skyrockets’ in lockdown
Women facing “skyrocketing” rates of domestic violence and abuse during the coronavirus lockdown in Ecuador have turned to smuggled messages using emojis, food aid baskets and candles to ask for help.
In one province, a telephone number set up to receive coded emoji messages from women facing violence has received four messages containing a sun – meaning “I am in immediate danger” – four times a day, every day, in the last few months.
Jennifer Rigby has more here.
Kazakhstan’s former president tests positive for the coronavirus
Kazakhstan’s 79-year-old former president and official “Leader of the Nation”, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has tested positive for the coronavirus, a statement on his official website said today.
“Currently, the First President of Kazakhstan is in self-isolation. Unfortunately, the last test… for the coronavirus infection showed a positive result. There is no cause for concern,” the statement said.
The statement said that Nazarbayev is “continuing to work remotely.”
Nazarbayev, who turns 80 next month, served as Kazakhstan’s president for close to three decades before handing the reins over to hand-picked successor Kassym-Jomart Tokayev last year.
He retains a number of powerful positions in the authoritarian Central Asian country, including the chairmanships of the national security council and the ruling party.
He is also constitutionally honoured as the “Leader of the Nation” – a designation that provides him with unique policy-making privileges.
Estate agent prepares to open with deep clean
Michael Vaughan: Let people play recreational cricket
Former England captain and Telegraph columnist Michael Vaughan has called on the Government and the England and Wales Cricket Board to relax measures to allow recreational cricket to return.
He told the BBC’s Today programme that cricket was losing players to golf and with people able to return to shops it was ridiculous that people were not able to return to recreational cricket.
Vaughan said that 2020 would have seen an influx of new players and supporters given the success of the national team in the Cricket World Cup, but the local game has not been able to capitalise on this success because of lockdown.
Raab: Hospitality and tourism ‘fraught with risks’ on social distancing
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said hospitality and tourism is “fraught with all sorts of particular risks” related to social distancing.
When asked why shops are open but tourism is still limited, he said: “There is a higher level of risk of transmission, that’s the advice we have had from the experts, so we do need to wait a little bit longer to make sure we can do that responsibly.”
He told BBC Breakfast: “We are itching to open up those sectors from a business point of view and also a consumer point of view but we have just got to do it in a responsible way.”
Morning news quiz answers
Here are your answers (questions posted at 6.48am).
Three of Guinea-Bissau’s main hospitals facing coronavirus breakdown
More than 170 of Guinea-Bissau’s 2,000 health workers have contracted COVID-19, a World Health Organization expert said on Tuesday, warning that hospitals were close to being overwhelmed.
The tiny West African nation’s under-equipped healthcare system has been struggling to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected over 1,400 people and killed 15. Health authorities have raised the alarm over a lack of oxygen to treat patients.
“The three main Bissau hospitals are currently facing rooms filled with COVID-19 patients and a breakdown in essential medical services,” said Joana Cortez, a WHO expert in Guinea-Bissau, during an online seminar on the impact of the epidemic on Portuguese-speaking African countries.
Legal challenges for UK if it cherry-picks air bridges
The Foreign Secretary has warned there is a risk of legal challenges if the UK tries to form travel bridges with particular countries to the exclusion of others.
Discussing French president Emmanuel Macron’s visit to London today on BBC Breakfast, Dominic Raab said: “What we are going to look at is how (international travel) can be done safely and responsibly.
“Of course there is a risk of legal challenge if you open up for one country and not others so we want to make sure we can open up – and this is our starting point – as soon as we can safely and responsibly do so.”
He added: “If you open up the airports and don’t open up the Eurotunnel or if you open up to one country but not in relation to others there is always a risk of legal challenge.
Mr Raab said public health had to be “front and centre” of decision making.
‘We want to open up as soon as we can,’ says Raab on quarantine
French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting London today, and he wants to see Britain ditch the 14-day quarantine rule.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News: “We’re going to look at it very carefully.
“As we’ve always said the quarantine is there to stop the risk of reinfection.
“We’ve seen in Europe and in Asia about the risk of second spikes, but we’ll look at that very closely because we want to open up as soon as we safely and responsibly can using all the mechanisms we have.”
Russia trying to exploit challenges created by Covid-19 in Britain, Foreign Secretary admits
Asked on Sky News if Russia has interfered with how Britain has dealt with Covid-19, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “I don’t think they made a material difference in health terms.
“But certainly Russia and other countries see the challenges that Covid-19 is creating and is trying to exploit it.
“And we’re making sure we’ve got the resilience, the defence and the security to cope.”
‘Quarantine will be eased from June 28’
Sir Geoffrey also believes the 14-day quarantine will be eased in a matter of days.
He told the BBC: “I asked a question on this in the Commons.
“It will be fully reviewed again on June 28 and again that by June 28 or there abouts we will have had some negotiations on air corridors with countries that have lower rates that ours.
“So I think again that will be gradually eased from June.
“In my view, I wouldn’t have done because it doesn’t make a lot of rational sense for countries where the rate is lower than ours to try and have a quarantine against them at this late stage of the disease.
“If we are going to do it, we should’ve done it much earlier.
“But there we are. We’ve got it. But I think it will be eased from June 28 or there or there abouts.”
MP ‘confident’ two-metre rule will be changed by September
Treasurer of the 1922 Committee and Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown says he is “confident” that Boris Johnson will have eased the two-metre social distancing rule by September.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m absolutely sure that we’re not going to get all the school children back in September unless the two-metre rule is changed.
“And I’m quite certain from everything I’ve heard, it will have been changed by then.
“The Prime Minister is undertaking a detailed study into this and I’m certain that by September it will have been changed.”
Third case in New Zealand after it became ‘coronavirus-free’
New Zealand recorded on Thursday its third new case of the coronavirus this week as quarantine breaches and other failures undermined public confidence days after it declared itself among the first countries in the world to be free of the virus.
The new case is a man in his 60s who flew in from Lahore in Pakistan, via Doha and Melbourne on June 11, and is in quarantine.
It comes after two women who had arrived from Britain and were given permission to leave quarantine early on compassionate grounds tested positive.
The government has been forced to explain why the women were let out without proper testing, and questions were raised about whether quarantine facilities are being properly managed.
Only last week, New Zealand trumpeted its achievement of becoming one of the first countries to eliminate the novel coronavirus and return to normal with the lifting all social and economic restrictions except the border controls.
Matt of the day
Here’s Matt’s take on a day that brought thunder and lightning sweeping across Britain.
See all of Matt’s cartoons here.
Morning news quiz
Were you on top of the news agenda yesterday? Put yourself to the test with the morning news quiz.
Answers out later this morning.
According to West of England mayor Tim Bowles, how many extra passengers could a bus take if the two-metre social distancing rule was cut in half?
A family in Ipswich has been crowned Britain’s funniest by which children’s publication?
The crew of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier has discovered a stowaway creature in the ship’s hangar – what is it?
UEFA has confirmed the latter stages of the Champions League will take place in Lisbon – but in which city was the final originally due to played in?
Mental health inequalities could widen for a generation
The Covid-19 pandemic could see mental health inequalities widen for a generation, according to a new report.
The Centre for Mental Health raised concerns that the crisis could “entrench and exacerbate” inequalities as it called for urgent steps to be taken to close the gap.
A new report from the charity highlights how the pandemic has had a “profound effect” on the mental health of the nation.
But some communities and people are at a greater risk of worsening mental health, it said.
This includes some BAME people where the prevalence of Covid-19 has been highest and outcomes have been the worst.
Social services facing budget hardship due to Covid-19
Social services directors have expressed concerns amid the coronavirus crisis, as less than one in 20 believe they have enough money to meet their statutory duties this year, according to a survey.
Only 4% of respondents are fully confident their budget will be sufficient in 2020/21, a report by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) found – down from 35% the previous year.
The charity, which surveyed members about the impact of Covid-19 on adult social care, said this was of “great concern” and could result in directors and councillors making “difficult decisions to balance the books”.
Some 35% of directors indicated they had no confidence that their budgets would be sufficient to meet statutory duties in the current financial year, while just over half (56%) are partially confident.
Out of 151 directors of social services in England, some 146 responded to the Adass survey between May 1 and 22.
Today’s front page
Here is your Daily Telegraph on Thursday, June 18.
India records highest one-day increase
India recorded its the highest one-day increase of 12,281 coronavirus cases, raising the total caseload to 366,946, but the government rules out reimposing a countrywide lockdown.
India’s total deaths reached 12,237, a rise of 334 in the past 24 hours, according to a Health Ministry statement on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejecting a new lockdown, saying the country has to think about further unlocking and minimizing all possibilities of harm to people.
The lockdown that was imposed nationwide on March 25 is now restricted to high-risk areas.
Muppets to help kids deal with Covid
Elmo, Cookie Monster and Muppets from Asia and the Middle East are joining forces for a special episode of “Sesame Street” aimed at helping kids cope with a world turned upside down by the pandemic.
“Elmo’s World News”, airing over the next few weeks in 13 languages across Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, will share activities, play, and advice on how to manage “big feelings” like frustration and sadness.
“Children are at home spending a lot more time indoors than before and families are really struggling with how to help them keep learning, keep engaged, how to play in new ways,” said executive producer Scott Cameron.
Trump: ‘We won’t lock down again’
President Donald Trump said the United States would not close businesses again as several states reported rising numbers of new coronavirus infections.
“We won’t be closing the country again. We won’t have to do that,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Channel.
Trump’s comments come after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both said the United States could not shut down the economy again.
In a call with governors, Vice-President Mike Pence encouraged them to repeat the administration’s claim that increased testing accounts for the spike in numbers, the New York Times has reported.
The paper’s analysis found that positive cases outstripped the average number of administered tests in at least 14 states.
Restaurants, gyms, schools and other locations closed down in March as the country braced for the coronavirus, which has so far sickened 2.16 million Americans and killed nearly 118,000.
Millions of Americans found themselves unemployed as a result of the pandemic. Trump had previously touted the strength of the economy, making it central to his re-election bid in November.
Mexican fighters receive aid in pictures
Mexican fighters are facing economic difficulties since arenas are closed due to the pandemic and are lining up to receive supplies.
Toll in US below 1,000 for seventh-day in a row
The United States recorded 840 deaths from the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, according to data from Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday, the seventh day in a row the toll has dropped below 1,000.
The country remains the most affected in the world by the pandemic in absolute terms, with more than 117,000 deaths overall and more than 2.1 million cases diagnosed.
Despite the encouraging drop in deaths, the number of new infections has plateaued around 20,000 a day, as infection rates wax and wane around the country.
Read more: Nine US states hit record highs
Beijing confirms 21 new cases
Beijing confirmed 21 new cases as of June 17, China’s health authority said on Thursday, down from 31 a day earlier.
Beijing logged its first case in the current outbreak, the worst in the city since early February, on June 11. The total number of infections has risen to 158 over the past week.
Read more: Should we be worried about the Beijing coronavirus outbreak?
Summary of news from around the world
Confirmed cases of infection in Panama reached 22,597 on Wednesday, up 635 from the previous day, and deaths climbed by 13 to 470, the health ministry said.
Parcel delivery firm DPD said on Thursday it would create 6,000 new UK-based jobs and increase investment in infrastructure to meet a boom in online shopping caused by the pandemic.
The Navajo Nation has reimposed 57-hour weekend curfews to protect citizens from a surge in cases in neighboring Arizona after the largest Native American reservation managed to flatten its own curve.
Peru topped 240,000 total cases on Wednesday, surpassing hard-hit Italy, government data showed, even as the pace of infections has begun to moderate in the South American nation.
In France, the Eiffel Tower is preparing to welcome back visitors after the lockdown, but they will need to be fit: because of lingering concerns about infection, the elevators will initially be off-limits.
Brazil recorded 1,269 additional deaths on Wednesday, bringing its official death toll to 46,510, the most in the world outside the US. The Health Ministry also registered 32,188 new cases for a total of 955,377 confirmed cases, also second to the US globally.
Many people in Jordan are struggling to meet basic needs after a more than two-month lockdown to fight the pandemic, a United Nations Development Programme study said on Wednesday.
Mexico‘s health ministry reported on Wednesday 4,930 new confirmed cases and 770 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 159,793 cases and 19,080 deaths.
Prince Charles: ‘We must prevent this crisis from defining the prospects of a generation’
The Prince of Wales has warned of the “potentially devastating” impact of coronavirus on young people, saying it is essential to now “prevent this crisis from defining the prospects of a generation”.
The Prince, whose Prince’s Trust is dedicated to helping the young, has spoken of his fears of a “terrible downward spiral” for those facing a “double disaster” of the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic repercussions.
Saying “desperately high numbers of lives and livelihoods” are already being lost, he warned young people are often “hardest hit” in times of economic hardship, currently working in industries which have “borne the brunt of this crisis”.
The Prince’s comments come amid growing concern about the wider repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, particularly on children, teenagers and young adults.
Read more: Prince fears for future of younger generation