DEATHS in the UK today hit 34,636 after 170 more people died across the four nations.
The news came as Business Secretary Alok Sharma, at today’s coronavirus Government briefing, praised work on a vaccine by UK researchers, promising Brits would be the first in line if a successful vaccine is developed here.
He added extra funding is also being pumped into the huge efforts to develop a vaccine, which would see a successful vaccine rolled out across the UK in just six months.
However Mr Sharma stressed the plans were dependent on manufacturing, adding that it’s possible a vaccine may never be developed.
Mr Sharma also announced the UK is now in a position to begin a move to level three of lockdown.
Meanwhile, the latest rise in deaths confirmed by NHS England is smaller than it was yesterday, when 181 deaths were logged.
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ALMOST HALF OF BRITS HAVE GAINED 1LB A WEEK DURING LOCKDOWN
Nearly half of Brits have piled on almost 1lb a week since lockdown, with Geordies putting on the most weight.
A poll found that 47 per cent of us confessed to gaining 5lb or more over the past seven weeks.
People on Tyneside were at the top of the table, with 62 per cent saying their weight soared as they exercised less, ate more comfort food and drank more alcohol.
Read more on the story here.
TRAIN SERVICES TO INCREASE THIS WEEK
Britain’s train companies will ramp up services on Monday to reflect coronavirus travel restrictions being eased.
Industry body the Rail Delivery Group said services will be increased from around 50% of the standard timetable to 70%.
But in a bid to enable social distancing, their capacity will be reduced to as little as 10% of normal levels, and passengers are being urged to avoid non-essential travel.
British Transport Police will have more officers at London stations in a bid to control crowds.
Will Rogers, managing director at East Midlands Railway, warned that the new timetable “will only allow a small rise in the number of passengers we can accommodate”.
He added: “We urge everyone to only go by train if it is necessary and keep public transport for key workers and those who must travel.”
Passengers travelling by train are being asked to wear a face covering and keep a two metre distance from other people where possible.
Transport operators are being urged by the Government to rearrange, remove or limit seating “to try and ensure social distancing is observed”, which may include blocking off seats in close proximity to others and removing face-to-face seating.
RUSSIA REPORTS NEARLY 10,000 NEW COVID-19 CASES
Russia on Sunday reported 9,709 new cases of COVID-19, the second consecutive day the number of new cases was less than 10,000. Total new cases for the week were 2,937 lower than in the previous week.
Chief epidemiologist Anna Popova said Sunday that the situation has stabilised, but prevention measures will persist.
Russia’s coronavirus taskforce said the overall number of cases nationwide stood at 281,752.
It added that 94 people had died over the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll from the virus to 2,631.
POLICE BREAK UP 70-PERSON PARK RAVE WITH DJ PROTESTING SOCIAL DISTANCING
Police were forced to break up a 70-person rave over the weekend as crowds moaned that they were “sick of isolation”.
Officers were called to a mass gathering in Granville Country Park in Shropshire where a DJ was playing loud music to a large crowd of lockdown breakers.
It comes amidst other stories of large gatherings this weekend despite lockdown rules clearly stating that Brits are now only allowed to meet one member of another household.
West Mercia Force have since slammed the ravers who broke the rules.
Read more about it here.
CHILD SERVICES ‘OVERWHELMED’ BY UNDER FUNDING AND CORONAVIRUS
Children’s services are being overwhelmed by the “perfect storm” of a decade of under funding and the coronavirus crisis, five leading charities have warned.
Analysis by The Children’s Society, Barnardo’s, Action for Children, NSPCC and the National Children’s Bureau reveals a £2.2 billion funding fall of local services for vulnerable kids over the past decade, as they are swamped with demands for help.
It is feared even more children and families, ‘hidden’ from the view of professionals during the lockdown, could slip through the cracks, doomed to reach crisis point before any help is provided.
The cuts between 2010/11 and 2018/19 mean that spending on early help dropped by almost half (46%).
The charities are calling on the government to do more as the “overstretched services” are struggling to cope through the coronavirus crisis, with a crippling spike in demand expected, as the true extent of the devastation caused by the pandemic becomes apparent.
CONTACT TRACING WILL INCLUDE ‘DIFFICULT TO REACH COMMUNITIES’
At Sunday’s Downing Street press conference Alok Sharma was asked about how the Government will consider language and cultural differences in contact tracing within the BAME community.
More than 17,000 people have been recruited to work as contact tracers after a target was set by the Health Secretary to hire 18,000 people by mid-May.
When asked about how the tracing strategy will address barriers to contact tracing in the BAME community, Mr Sharma said the Government wanted to ensure they have the right number of people.
He continued: “This is also a question of making sure that people from across all communities are able to come forward for this really vital task as well.”
Mr Sharma also said work was ongoing to study the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME people.
The Business Secretary added: “In terms of contact tracing, I think there’s a very important point and we need to make sure that all communities are represented.”
EUROPE MUST PREPARE FOR SECOND VIRUS WAVE IN WINTER, WARNS WORLD HEALTH CHIEF
Europe must prepare for a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections this winter, a top WHO chief has warned.
Dr Hans Kluge, the organisation’s director for Europe, said he was “very concerned” about another spike in cases despite months of lockdown across the continent finally bringing the infection rate under control.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Dr Kluge warned that now was “time for preparation, not celebration” as stringent lockdown measures begin to ease across Europe.
Though cases in hard-hit countries such as the UK and Italy have seen a dramatic reduction in the past few weeks, Dr Kluge claims that the pandemic remains at an early stage.
The WHO chief said: “I’m very concerned about a double wave – in the fall, we could have a second wave of Covid and another one of seasonal flu or measles.”
INDIA EXTENDS NATIONWIDE LOCKDOWN AMID RISING CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS
India has extended a nearly two-month-old stringent lockdown by another two weeks.
Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and some other key regions still battling to control the rising curve of coronavirus infections.
On May 4, the government eased some restrictions, allowing reopening of neighbourhood shops and manufacturing and farming in rural areas. It also resumed running a limited number of trains, mainly to carry the stranded workers.
But the government-run National Disaster Management authority said in a statement on Sunday that fresh guidelines will be issued, that will also address the need to open up economic activity.
A government statement said travel by air and metro will remain shut down nationwide until the end of May. Schools, hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping malls, cinemas and places of worship will also be closed across the nation.
The Health Ministry on Sunday reported a record jump of nearly 5,000 cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the number of confirmed cases to 90,927, with 2,872 deaths.
CANCER SUFFERER BANNED FROM ASDA STORE FOR BREAKING LOCKDOWN RULES TO USE TOILET
A pensioner with bladder cancer was banned from Asda after breaking lockdown rules to use the store’s toilet.
Graham Dunn, 76, is now banned from the branch in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent following the incident.
The grandfather, who due to his illness needs to relieve himself every 15 minutes, claims he was told to wait in line for half an hour after he had missed the OAP shopping slot.
Read more on the story here.
FUNDRAISING APPEAL LAUNCHED AFTER BABY DIES FROM RARE ILLNESS
A family has launched a fundraising appeal following the death of an eight-month-old baby who died from a rare childhood illness.
Alexander Parsons, from Plymouth, died on April 25 at Bristol Children’s Hospital after being diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, his family said.
The illness affects children under the age of five, with symptoms including a high temperature, rashes, swelling and a toxic shock style response.
Medical experts believe up to 100 children in the UK have been affected from a condition similar to Kawasaki disease, which has been linked to coronavirus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last month that experts are investigating the new syndrome in children “with great urgency” but has stressed it is rare.
Research led by Imperial College London is looking at the characteristics of those who have been admitted to hospital, while information regarding the illness is being shared across the international community.
ITALY RECORDS LOWEST NUMBER OF COVID-19 DEATHS SINCE LOCKDOWN BEGAN
The number of people in Italy who died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours sank to 145 on Sunday – the lowest number since Italy’s lockdown went into effect.
The total number of deaths in the country has now reached 31,908.
The contagion in Italy has slowed significantly, with just 675 confirmed new cases, according to the Civil Protection Agency.
The true scope of the pandemic in Italy is believed to be much higher as testing is still restricted mostly to people showing symptoms who need to be hospitalised.
The number of currently infected people dropped under 70,000, while more than 125,000 have recovered from the virus.
Pressure on hospitals continues to ease, with 13 fewer patients in intensive care and 89 fewer people in hospital, as the country prepares to open bars, restaurants, shops and other activities on Monday.
BARCELONA FUNERAL HOME SHUTS TEMPORARY MORGUE
A funeral home in Barcelona has closed a temporary morgue it had set up inside its parking garage to handle the overflow of victims of the Spanish city’s coronavirus outbreak.
The last coffin was removed and buried on Sunday.
The home said more than 3,200 victims of COVID-19 passed through the temporary morgue since it was set up in March.
The funeral home installed refrigeration units inside its closed parking garage to condition it to hold the deceased in their coffins.
The home plans to reopen part of the garage for parking but keep the refrigeration units in place in case they are needed again.
CARER DIES HOLDING PIC OF DAUGHTER AND BABY GRANDCHILD AFTER THINKING SHE BEAT VIRUS
A carer who died from coronavirus was holding a picture of her daughter and granddaughter in her final moments.
Sue Cairns, 58, initially thought she had beaten the disease but tragically passed away after an 18-day battle with the deadly bug.
Carer Sue was diagnosed with Covid-19 at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate, Kent after developing a persistent cough.
Read more on the story here.
US CONFIRMS 31,967 NEW CASES AND 1,394 DEATHS
The US has reported 31,967 confirmed cases of infection, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to data, accurate up to 4pm ET on Saturday, the total number of cases across the US now stands at 1,467,065.
The CDC confirmed the daily death toll had risen by 1,394 to 88,709 during the same period.
NEW YORK GOVERNOR TESTED FOR VIRUS ON LIVE TV
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was tested for coronavirus on live TV Sunday, and urged all people in the state experiencing flu-like symptoms are now eligible for tests.
Any New Yorkers experiencing flu-like symptoms or those who will be returning to work as part of phased reopenings across the state can now get tested, Cuomo said.
“You don’t have to be New York tough to take that test,” he said during the live broadcast of his daily briefing.
“If I am not here tomorrow, that means I tested positive,” the Governor said as a nurse in PPE took a nasal swab.
The state is expanding eligibility as it deals with a surplus of testing capacity. Cuomo said drive-thru and walk-in testing sites are performing about one-third of the 15,000 tests theyre capable of each day.
In all, the state is testing about 40,000 people per day.
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY HOPES FOR SOCIAL CARE INQUIRY AFTER CORONAVIRUS
The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he hopes for a Royal Commission into social care after the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to BBC News, Justin Welby said he hoped there would be lessons learned after this crisis, mentioning a Royal Commission, a rarely used form of public inquiry.
The archbishop said: “What I hope and pray that we learn is first of all that we cannot base our society on the idolatry of wealth, even of health.
“Secondly, that we build a vision of the society we want. We have a commission of inquiry into what we learned from this, not to blame but to learn.
“We have Royal Commission on how we look after social care.”
When asked whether austerity measures should be put in place after the pandemic, he said it would be “catastrophic”, particularly for already disadvantaged people.
TRUMP RESPONDS TO OBAMA CRITICISM
Donald Trump has given his first public response to Barack Obama’s indirect criticism of the US government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge,” Obama said in a speech on Saturday.
On Sunday, when asked by reporters about Obama’s comments, the president said: “Look, he was an incompetent president, that’s all I can say. Grossly incompetent.
“So I think we had a great weekend. We did a lot of terrific meetings. Tremendous progress is being made on many fronts, including coming up with a cure for this horrible plague that has beset our country,. It was a working weekend, it was a good weekend. A lot of very good things have happened.”
RUDD: GOVERNMENT WOULD MAKE “BETTER DECISIONS” WITH MORE WOMEN
Amber Rudd has claimed that the government would be making “better decisions” if more women were in senior positions.
The former Home Secretary said it was not a matter of “optics”, but an issue of “good government”.
“We hear a lot from Number 10, and particularly from Dominic Cummings in the past, about wanting to make sure that we have a diverse talent at the top of government.
“Well, I would start by making sure there are some women at the top.
“The most senior posts are generally held by men and I really think the Prime Minister needs to do something about that.”
ASTRAZENECA TO MAKE 30M VACCINE DOSES AVAILABLE TO UK BY SEPT (IF IT WORKS)
AstraZeneca will make 30 million doses of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine by September just for the UK – if it proves to work.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma this evening revealed a global licensing deal has been signed between Oxford University and the pharma firm to get doses for nearly HALF the UK population.
Read more on the story here.
FRANCE REPORTS 483 NEW COVID-19 DEATHS AS TOLL PASSES 28,000
French health authorities reported 483 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday, bringing the total death toll to 28,108.
The heath ministry said the number of people in hospitals fell to 19,361 from yesterday’s figure of 19,432.
The number of people in intensive care units dropped by 45 to 2,087 from Saturday’s total of 2,132.
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT DEFENDS HANDLING OF VIRUS OUTBREAK AT NIKE CONFERENCE
The Scottish Government has defended its handling of an early Covid-19 outbreak in Scotland after claims the infection was allowed to spread.
More than 70 Nike employees from around the world attended a conference at the Hilton Carlton Hotel in Edinburgh on February 26 and 27, with investigations finding at least 25 people linked to the event contracted Covid-19, including eight in Scotland.
The first coronavirus case in Scotland was announced on March 2 – a Tayside resident unrelated to the conference.
According to The Scottish Mail on Sunday, two companies believe their employees became unwell after coming into contact with delegates at the conference.
One of the companies – a digital marketing business – shares an office building with Nike in Glasgow, which sent staff to the conference. The other firm – a hire shop – fitted 10 event attendees for kilts.
Both companies said they were never warned about the outbreak by the Scottish Government and there was no contact tracing of their staff.
OBAMA CRITICISES US GOVERNMENT’S HANDLING OF PANDEMIC
Barack Obama indirectly criticised the US government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic a virtual graduation ceremony on Saturday.
“More than anything this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge,” he said during an online address to graduates of historically black colleges.
He continued: “Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy — that’s how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way — which is why things are so screwed up.
“I hope that instead, you decide to ground yourself in values that last, like honesty, hard work, responsibility, fairness, generosity, respect for others.”
He made the comments as he discussed the implications of the pandemic during the online event, without naming any specific leaders.
TURKEY ALLOWS SENIOR CITIZENS TO LEAVE HOMES FOR SECOND TIME
Turkey’s senior citizens were allowed to leave their homes for a second time as the country continues to ease some coronavirus restrictions.
People above 65 the age group most at risk of COVID-19 can be outside for six hours on Sundays, but must continue to self isolate on other days.
The health minister urged them to wear masks and practice social distance.
Turkey has instituted partial lockdowns, with people above 65 and under 20 ordered to stay home.
The measures for senior citizens took effect on March 21 and were relaxed for the first time last Sunday. Children and teenagers were also allowed out this week on different days for several hours.
The latest statistics from the health ministry show confirmed infections in the country stand at 148,067, while the death toll currently stands at 4,096.
GREECE RECORDS ONE NEW VIRUS DEATH AS QUARANTINE MEASURES EASED
Greek authorities have announced one new fatality from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to 163.
The average age of the victims is 75. There were also 15 new confirmed cases and the total now stands at 2,834.
Greece is gradually lifting quarantine restrictions; certain beaches opened Saturday amid a heatwave, while churches were permitted to open today.
On Monday, residents will be allowed to travel freely in the mainland and to and from the two largest islands, Crete and Evia.
Businesses such as malls and shopping centers, as well as zoos and archaeological sites, will also reopen tomorrow.
SPAIN REPORTS LOWEST DAILY DEATH TOLL SINCE MARCH
The death toll from Covid-19 in Spain fell below 100 for the first time in two months, the health ministry said on Sunday.
Total deaths from the virus rose by 87 to 27,650, while the number of confirmed cases edged up from 230,698 to 231,350.
Spain introduced one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns on March 14 in a bid to contain coronavirus, which threatened to overwhelm the country’s health service.
Last Monday, Spain began a three-phase plan to end restrictions for half the country by the end of June. Tomorrow restrictions in most of the country will be further relaxed – though Madrid and Barcelona will not see lockdown measures eased.
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