Long Covid will increase in the UK, particularly among the young, unless infection rates are kept down, the government’s chief medical adviser has warned.
Chris Whitty urged the nation to “push hell for leather” to make sure everyone is vaccinated as he predicted a difficult winter ahead.
“The deaths from Covid I think are mercifully going to be much lower in this wave compared to the previous ones as a proportion of cases – but long Covid remains, I think, a worry,” he told a conference organised by the Local Government Association.
He made his comments after the British government said it will scrap the need for face coverings and social distancing from 19 July, while admitting the pandemic was “very far from the end”.
The new health secretary Sajid Javid also announced that those who have receive both doses of the vaccine will not have to self-isolate if they are a close contact of a new positive case of Covid from 16 August.
However a World Health Organization (WHO) expert has warned that the rush to lift coronavirus restrictions is “very premature”. Dr Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme, added: “I think we’re going to pay a price for that.”
Covid cases could surge to 200,000 a day even as England abolishes most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions, according to Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
- Chris Whitty warns of rise in young with long Covid
- WHO expert says rush to lift restrictions ‘very premature’
- PM says rules on masks and social distancing set to be torn up
- Former health secretary suggests lockdown easing not irreversible
- Tory MP says she won’t wear mask on public transport
- Covid cases could hit 200,000 a day, warns Sage scientist
- Fully vaccinated people will no longer have to self-isolate from 16 August
US to send Covid vaccines to Guatemala and Vietnam
20:07 , Celine Wadhera
The Biden administration will send coronavirus vaccines to Guatemala and Vietnam, the White House press secretary announced on Tuesday.
Jen Psaki said: “Both Guatemala and Vietnam will be receiving Covid vaccine doses from the Biden-Harris Administration.”
Guatemala is expected to receive 1.5 million vaccines, while Vietnam is expected to receive 2 million vaccines. Both countries will receive the vaccine manufactured by Moderna.
The US government previously committed to sharing at least 80 million doses of the vaccine with countries around the world.
Brazil approves new clinical trial of Covid-19 vaccine candidate
19:49 , Celine Wadhera
Brazil has approved a new clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate, the country’s health regulator Anvisa announced on Tuesday.
The jab will be a “next generation” vaccine that uses mRNA technology, and will be tested by Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccination division of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi.
The clinical trial will be phase one and two, and around 150 volunteers in Brazil will be involved in the study, Anvisa said.
Participants will receive two doses of the vaccine candidate, 21 days apart.
The same trial is also expected to take place in the US, Honduras and Australia.
In a tweet, the Scottish first minister said that reported Covid cases had dropped “compared to this time last week” and shared the latest daily coronavirus figures for the country.
The statistics included 2,363 new infections, bringing Scotland’s total cases throughout the pandemic to 299,848.
An additional seven deaths were also reported, bringing the country’s death toll to 7,735.
Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Daily fluctuations still likely – but reported Scottish cases have dropped compared to this time last week. Vital that everyone gets vaccine – & that we all stay outdoors as much as possible and continue to follow advice on distancing, face masks, hygiene etc”
Daily fluctuations still likely – but reported Scottish cases have dropped compared to this time last week. Vital that everyone gets vaccine – & that we all stay outdoors as much as possible and continue to follow advice on distancing, face masks, hygiene etc https://t.co/mMi5okpNwO
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 6, 2021
US President launches new campaign to encourage Americans to get vaccinated
19:15 , Celine Wadhera
American president Joe Biden is launching a new educational campaign to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, as vaccination rates have fallen across the US and the Delta variant threatens to cause new outbreaks across the country.
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said that the new campaign would include “targeted, community-by-community, door-to-door outreach to get remaining Americans vaccinated by ensuring they have the information they need about how safe and accessible the vaccine is”.
My colleague John Bowden reports.
General secretary of University and College Union criticises government’s reopening
19:02 , Celine Wadhera
The general secretary of the University and College Union criticized the government’s plan to lift “health and safety measures in education while cases are climbing rapidly”.
Dr Jo Grady said: “The shocking outbreaks we have seen in colleges and universities over the past academic year show that educational settings act as Covid incubators and help the virus spread rapidly.
“Worryingly, it appears the government has learned nothing, and is set to repeat the same mistakes, abandoning important safety measures too early and showing a continued reckless disregard for health and safety.
“Last year, ministers in Westminster failed to listen to staff and students when they pushed ahead with an unsafe reopening of college and university campuses for in-person teaching.”
“This cannot be allowed to happen again, and vaccines need to be made available to all students as quickly as possible.”
Last month, universities across the country called on the Government to set up vaccination centres on university campuses to ensure students are fully vaccinated at the start of the autumn term.
Restrictions on face-to-face teaching in universities to end in English universities
18:43 , Celine Wadhera
Restrictions on face-to-face teaching in English universities are set to be lifted later this month, as the government continues to lift coronavirus restrictions.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs today that “there will be no restrictions on in-person teaching and learning in universities unless students are advised to isolate or impacted by local outbreaks”.
His announcement comes after many universities said that they had planned to adopt a blended approach for classes in the autumn term, mixing in-person and online teaching.
A Universities UK spokeswoman said: “Following the prime minister’s announcement and the statement by the education secretary, universities are awaiting publication of updated guidance for higher education and will review this as part of making decisions for the period after restrictions end and planning of the autumn term
She added that the health and wellbeing of staff, students and local communities was Universities UK’s main priority.
Lambda variant map: total worldwide cases of Covid strain first discovered in Peru
18:25 , Celine Wadhera
The Lambda variant that was first detected in Peru in December 2020 and is now the dominant strain of Covid-19 in South America.
It has since been discovered in 26 countries around the world, including the UK.
The variant is concerning to scientists for its “potential increased transmissibility or possible increased resistance to neutralising antibodies,” suggesting that it could spread faster than other variants or prove resistant to vaccines.
My colleague Joe Sommerlad has more, including a map of where the variant has been detected.
Hospital ‘reaches capacity’ amid rise in cases
17:53 , Peter Stubley
A hospital in Scotland has cancelled all non-elective surgery amid an increase in Covid cases.
NHS Highland said that Raigmore Hospital in Inverness has reached capacity and has been placed at “code black status”.
A large number of staff are having to self-isolate which is placing pressure on staffing levels.
NHS Highland said: “The impact of this at Raigmore Hospital, in particular, has been significant over the past few days. We have reached capacity in the hospital, we have long waits in our Emergency Department and we know people requiring urgent care will still need to come in for treatment. As a result, the hospital is currently at code black status.
“The impact on services is also being experienced across our community teams both in Highland and Argyll and Bute.
“Urgent work is taking place to ensure we can treat our patients appropriately and compassionately.
“Medical, surgical and clinical support teams are meeting regularly to agree the actions that must be taken and discuss what more can be done to reduce the pressure on services within the hospital.”
Top 10 areas for Covid infections
17:47 , Peter Stubley
Dundee has the highest weekly rate of new cases in the UK, at 881 per 100,000 population, according to the government’s Covid dashboard.
Tamworth in Staffordshire is second, with a rate of 734, while Newcastle, South Tyneside and Gateshead remain in the top 10.
The figures cover the seven day period ending 1 July.
- Dundee City 881.3
- Tamworth 734.1
- Midlothian 719.2
- Newcastle upon Tyne 712
- South Tyneside 690.2
- Gateshead 629.5
- Oxford 629
- Rossendale 621.1
- East Lothian 608.8
- North East Lincolnshire 607.9
Lord Bethell under investigation over pass for Hancock’s aide
17:33 , Peter Stubley
Health minister Lord Bethell is formally under investigation over a complaint that he sponsored a parliamentary pass for the aide Matt Hancock was caught kissing on leaked CCTV.
The Lords Commissioner for Standards confirmed on Tuesday that the Tory peer was being investigated over his “use of facilities” in relation to Gina Coladangelo.
Mr Hancock’s embrace with the former adviser ultimately cost him his government job after it was revealed the pair breached coronavirus guidance.
The long-term friend of Mr Hancock was brought into the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) first as an unpaid adviser before getting the £15,000-a-year director role in September.
Members of the House of Lords can sponsor passes for secretaries and research assistants if they “genuinely and personally” fulfil those roles for the sponsoring member.
The sponsor has to sign a declaration to that effect, and it would be against the rules if the individual did not work for the peer.
A House of Lords spokesman said: “The Commissioner for Standards is investigating a complaint regarding Lord Bethell sponsoring a pass for Gina Coladangelo.”
Bank of England staff to return to office for one day a week
17:25 , Peter Stubley
The Bank of England will ask its workers to return to the office for one day per week from September.
Most of the Bank’s staff have worked from home since the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, with only 5 per cent going into the office because their roles demanded it.
Government recommendations to work from home if possible will lift on 19 July along with the rest of England’s coronavirus lockdown rules.
Hospital admissions: Are we headed for trouble?
17:10 , Peter Stubley
The latest hospital data for the UK reveals that there were 2,140 Covid patients in hospital (as of 4 July).
This is up by 35 per cent from the previous week, and is the highest figure since 15 April.
There are 369 patients on ventilation, as of 5 July.
It is comparable to the situation in late September last year, when there were 2,000 patients in hospital and 300+ patients on ventilators.
However at that time the UK was reporting around 6,000 new cases a day, compared to the 27,000+ cases a day being reported at the moment.
Even so, the Health Service Journal reporting that rate of increase in Covid patients in England is the highest since October.
“I think we are in real trouble”, says Alastair McLellan.
BREAKING: The number of Covid+ patients in England is now growing at 38% per week. That is the fastest rate of increase since last October! I think we’re in real trouble
— Alastair McLellan (@HSJEditor) July 6, 2021
Why should you wear a face mask after ‘freedom day’?
16:36 , Peter Stubley
The government’s decision to scrap the requirement to wear masks in shops and on public transport has been widely criticised, with polls revealing most British adults favour keeping the rules after 19 July.
Here’s an in-depth guide to the hot topic of face coverings, including the scientific basis for wearing them during a pandemic.
Vaccine update: Jabs total rises to 79.3 million
16:23 , Peter Stubley
A further 77,000 people received their first Covid vaccine dose yesterday, with nearly 148,000 receiving a second dose.
It brings the total number of “double-jabbed” adults in the UK to 33.8 million – or 64.3 per cent of the adult UK population.
86.2% of all adults in the U.K. now protected with one dose and 64.3% with the two dose protection. We keep going 💉💉💉 https://t.co/xKFyVc7C07
— Nadhim Zahawi (@nadhimzahawi) July 6, 2021
Covid daily update: 37 deaths, 28,773 cases
16:15 , Peter Stubley
A further 37 deaths and 28,773 cases have been reported in the UK, according to the latest daily figures.
It is the highest number of deaths since 23 April and the highest number of cases since 29 January.
On 6 July, 28,773 new cases and 37 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported across the UK.
— Public Health England (@PHE_uk) July 6, 2021
We need to go ‘hell for leather’ to prevent more long Covid, says Whitty
16:10 , Rory Sullivan
England’s chief medical officer has said a large increase in the number of long Covid sufferers needs to be prevented by going “hell for leather” with the vaccine rollout and infection prevention methods.
Addressing the Local Government Association’s Annual Conference, Professor Chris Whitty said: “Since there’s a lot of Covid at the moment and the rates are going up I regret to say I think we will get a significant amount more long Covid, particularly in the younger ages where the vaccination rates are currently much lower.
“Fundamentally the two ways to prevent long Covid in my view are to keep Covid rates right down and make sure everyone is vaccinated so they get very mild disease and I think we really just need to push hell for leather for those two.
“The deaths from Covid I think are mercifully going to be much lower in this wave compared to the previous ones as a proportion of cases but long Covid remains, I think, a worry.
“We don’t know how big an issue it’s going to be but I think we should assume it’s not going to be trivial.”
WHO expert says rush to lift restrictions ‘very premature’
15:54 , Rory Sullivan
Dr Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organisation’s health emergencies programme, has urged world leaders not to rush into lifting Covid-19 restrictions.
“We’ve made a very premature rush back to full normality and I think we’re going to pay a price for that,” he said.
Ella Glover reports:
Weddings: Has the pandemic changed them forever?
15:50 , Rory Sullivan
Weddings have been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic.
But have the last 15 months altered the industry forever?
Join Emma Henderson, The Independent’s IndyBest editor, and a panel of experts to hear about the future of the wedding trade.
The event will be held over Zoom on 14 July from 6.30-7.30pm.
Government needs to offer ‘clarity’ on how to stop spiralling infections, says Labour
15:35 , Rory Sullivan
Labour has criticised education secretary Gavin Williamson for offering “no clarity on how the government will stop infections spiralling”.
This came after Mr Williamson gave a Commons statement in which he announced that the school “bubble” system will be scrapped from 19 July to prevent further educational disruption.
His opposite number, Kate Green, said: “Just over an hour ago the DfE confirmed that last week 623,000 pupils were not in school because of coronavirus, and while 471,000 of those pupils were out of class because of a bubble collapsing, there was still over 150,000 who were not in the classroom with confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus or because of potential contact with a case outside the classroom.
“It’s not just bubbles that have driven pupils from the classroom, it’s the Conservatives’ negligence in letting the Delta variant take hold at the same time as they failed to support schools with the necessary precautions.”
Scotland to have ‘fundamentally’ different Covid restrictions to England
15:15 , Rory Sullivan
From 19 July, Scotland will have extremely different coronavirus restrictions to England, a Scottish minister has confirmed.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes said there will be “fundamental difference” in the countries’ approaches, with mask wearing likely to extend into the summer north of the border.
Social distancing and the need for masks will be scrapped in England from mid-July, while the next easing of “major” legal restrictions in Scotland will take place on 9 August.
The minister said: “There are some similarities but there are two fundamental differences with Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday.
“The first is, on the timetable itself: we have said that all of Scotland will move to Level 0 on July 19, so that includes the easing of physical distancing indoors and outdoors, and then we’ll move beyond Level Zero from August 9.
“But we do think that there will still be some baseline measures – for example the wearing of face masks – which will continue for a longer period of time because we all know the virus is still with us and it is still infectious.”
Huge rise in school Covid absences
15:00 , Rory Sullivan
School absences relating to the coronavirus hit record numbers last week, with 640,000 pupils unable to attend classes.
Of these children, 561,000 were self-isolating after possible contact with a Covid-19 incfection, while 34,000 had a suspect case and 28,000 had a confirmed case of the disease.
More than 18,000 students were also off school because their schools had temporarily closed.
Businesses can encourage workers to return to office, government says
14:45 , Rory Sullivan
Businesses have the government’s support in encouraging workers to go back to the office, the housing secretary has said.
The day after the prime minister said the remaining lockdown restrictions would be lifted from 19 July, Robert Jenrick noted that it would be better for towns and city centres if people went back to work.
“So businesses have the support of a strong government message now if they want to encourage their staff to return to the office,” he added.
More UK deaths registered in 2020 that in any year since First World War
14:30 , Rory Sullivan
A total of 689,629 deaths were registered in the UK in 2020, more than any year since the First World War, the Office for National Statistics has said.
This means that for the first time in almost 50 years there were more deaths than births, which stood at 683,191 last year.
The last time deaths outweighed births in this country was in 1976.
What is the Epsilon variant?
14:15 , Rory Sullivan
The Epsilon variant of coronavirus– also known as B.1.429 – was first discovered late last year in California.
Soon afterweards, the US’ Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) designated it as a variant of concern.
Early research suggested that it was 20 per cent more transmissible than previous strains of the virus.
Tim Wyatt has more:
School bubbles to be lifted, Williamson says
14:00 , Rory Sullivan
The use of “bubbles” at schools will no longer be required from 19 July, Gavin Williamson has confirmed.
Under this system, all pupils in a particular bubble – which could be as large as an entire year group – need to self-isolate if one member of the group tests positive for Covid-19.
Speaking in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon, the education minister Gavin Williamson said: “Though keeping children in consistent groups was essential to control the spread of the virus when our population was less vaccinated, we recognize that the system of bubbles and isolation is causing disruption to many children’s education.”
“That is why we’ll be ending bubbles and transferring contact tracing to NHS test and trace system for early years settings, schools and colleges.”
Russia reports record number of daily Covid deaths
13:43 , Rory Sullivan
Russia reported a record 737 daily coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, raising the national death toll to 139,316.
The country also confirmed 23,378 new infections, more than a fifth of which occurred in Moscow.
The federal statistics agency believes many more people have died from Covid-19 than the Kremlin’s figure. It estimates that roughly 270,000 people in the country have lost their lives because of the disease.
Exclusive: Long Covid campaigners urge Javid to reconsider time of restriction easing
13:26 , Rory Sullivan
Sajid Javid should “reconsider” lifting all coronavirus restrictions later this month, Long Covid campaigners have said.
The advocacy group LongCovidSOS has written to the health secretary, saying the government has been treating the condition as “an afterthought”.
The letter said the latest decision will condemn “thousands of predominantly young, active people … to prolonged ill-health and disability every day”.
It added that there “may not be a perfect time to lift all restrictions, but the time is certainly not now”.
Samuel Lovett has this exclusive:
Labour criticises government over lack of financial incentive for those self-isolating
13:17 , Rory Sullivan
The shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has criticised the government for failing to provide a financial incentive for those who are self-isolating and have to miss work.
The Labour MP made the comments after Sajid Javid announced further easing of coronavirus restrictions.
In response to his counterpart’s announcement, Mr Ashworth said: “Now he has justified allowing infections to climb by pointing to the weakened link between hospitalisations and deaths and that we are building a protective wall. But of course, the wall is only half-built and we know from outbreaks in Israel and research that the Delta variant can be transmitted through fully vaccinated people even if they don’t get it.”
He added: “Now, I understand the rationale for his announcement today, but I’ve got to tell him again that the biggest barrier to an effective isolation policy hasn’t been the inconvenience but the lack of financial incentive to stay at home. And if we are going to live with this virus the days of people soldiering on when unwell are over, sick pay is vital to infection control, would he (Mr Javid) please now fix it?”
Government will let England’s pubs stay open to 11.15pm in case of penalties in Euro 2020 final
12:56 , Tim Wyatt
The government is set to tweak the law to let pubs across England stay open until 11:15pm on Sunday night – in case the Euros final goes to extra time and penalties.
Downing Street confirmed that the government would put forward an emergency change in the law so pubs can stay open late for the special occasion.
Adam Forrest reports:
Fully vaccinated people will no longer have to self-isolate from 16 August
12:49 , Tim Wyatt
Sajid Javid, the new health secretary, has told the House of Commons those who have received both doses of the vaccine will not have to self-isolate if they are a close contact of a new positive case of Covid from next month.
At present, if you are told by NHS Test and Trace you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid you must enter 10 days of self-isolation, even if you have had both your jabs.
But from 16 August, Mr Javid announced, the rules will change so that those who are fully vaccinated can continue their lives as normal even if they are logged as a close contact.
Similarly, the rules will also be relaxed on the same date for those under the age of 18, who have not yet been offered the vaccine. They too will be freed from needing to self-isolate.
Instead, both the vaccinated and under-18s will be encouraged to get a Covid test.
Indonesia grapples with worst wave of Covid so far
12:44 , Tim Wyatt
Health officials in Indonesia are wrestling to bring under control the country’s worst outbreak of coronavirus yet, with 31,189 new cases and 728 deaths recorded on Tuesday.
Southeast Asia’s most populous country has seen record daily infections numbers in 11 of the last 16 days as the highly transmissible Delta variant rips through the nation.
Hospitals have become overstretched, with problems securing enough oxygen supply, and some patients have been unable to receive medical attention because of limited resources.
However, backup medical facilities are being prepared for a worst-case scenario where daily coronavirus infections reach 40,000 to 50,000, an official said on Tuesday.
Just 1.6% of Indonesia’s more than 270 million population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Japan to ship millions of Covid vaccines to Taiwan
12:00 , Rory Sullivan
Japan will ship more than a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Taiwan this week, the government has announced.
Tokyo will send 1.13 million shots to the island on Thursday, foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi confirmed.
This follows a donation of 1.24 million doses to Taiwan last month. Japan will also send a million spare vaccines to each of Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Responding to news of the gift, Taiwanese premier Su Tseng-chang wrote: “True friends always lend a hand when they need each other the most.”
Sage warns that ‘freedom’ from Covid restrictions could only last weeks
11:40 , Rory Sullivan
Spiralling numbers of coronavirus cases could mean restrictive measures need to be reintroduced in a matter of weeks and will be “required for much longer”, government scientists have warned.
This comes after the government announced yesterday that face coverings and social distancing would be ditched from 19 July.
Video: Javid says he’ll cary mask for ‘foreseeable future’
11:25 , Rory Sullivan
No ‘freedom day’ for clinically vulnerable, charities warn
11:15 , Rory Sullivan
The government has been warned that lifting mandatory mask wearing will have a negative effect on those most at risk from coronavirus.
Gemma Peters, chief executive of Blood Cancer UK, said those with blood cancer would feel less safe after the removal of social distancing and mask wearing.
“This means that for many of them, July 19 will not be freedom day in England but the day more freedoms are taken away from them,” she said.
Care home Covid deaths at pandemic low
11:00 , Rory Sullivan
The weekly number of Covid-19 deaths among care home residents has reached its lowest point since the start of the pandemic.
In England and Wales, there were 10 coronavirus-related deaths in this demographic in the week to 25 June.
New health minister will carry mask for ‘foreseeable future’
10:55 , Rory Sullivan
The new health minister Sajid Javid has said he will carry a face mask around with him for the “foreseeable future”.
Ahead of the easing of more Covid-19 restrictions on 19 July, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday: “For the foreseeable future I’ll be carrying a face mask with me, I think that’s a very responsible thing for anyone to do, as I’ve said the pandemic is not over.”
This approach differs from some of his Conservatives colleagues, including Miriam Coates who said she would not wear a face covering on public transport because “showing our faces is part of being human”.
Ashley Cowburn has the story:
Second man charged with assaulting Chris Whitty
10:40 , Rory Sullivan
A second man has been charged with assaulting England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty in London last month.
Jonathan Chew, 24, will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, the Met Police said.
This comes after Lewis Hughes, 23, was charged with the same crime, after videos of the incident were posted online.
Read more here:
UK businesses call for clarity after lockdown announcement
10:25 , Rory Sullivan
Business leaders urgently need more clarity about the easing of lockdown, industry groups have said.
While social distancing rules will be scrapped from 19 July, it remains unclear how self-isolation and testing will work in the future.
Shevaun Haviland, the director-general of the British Chamber of Commerce, said: “Businesses in England still do not have the full picture they desperately need to plan for unlocking. Firms do notâ¯ yet know â¯the future of self-isolation rules, if testing will remain free for them, or when international travel will open up effectively.”
Jon Sharman reports:
ONS releases latest Covid death toll
10:10 , Rory Sullivan
There have been 153,926 deaths involving coronavirus in the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.
All of these fatalities mention Covid-19 on the death certifcate.
The most deaths in a single day was the 1,481 recorded on 19 Janaury, slightly more than the 1,461 which occurred on 8 April last year.
Video: Health minister warns Covid cases could reach 100,000 a day
10:00 , Rory Sullivan
Working adults in England’s poorest areas four times more likely to die from Covid
09:50 , Rory Sullivan
The coronavirus mortality rate is 3.7-times higher for under-65s living in the most deprived communities, a new study has found.
The Health Foundation, which conducted the research, said the “unequal burdens” of the pandemic have been “carried by different population groups and regions”.
It also found that six in every 10 people who died with the disease between January and November 2020 were disabled.
Our science correspondent Samuel Lovett has more details:
Indonesia, Fiji and Bangladesh prepare for fresh onslaught of Covid cases
09:41 , Rory Sullivan
While talk in the UK centres on easing Covid restrictions, in many parts of the world infections rates are rising.
Indonesia has prepared backup health facilities for a worst-case scenario where daily infections reach 40,000 to 50,000.
Bangladesh extended its strictest lockdown to July 14 to combat a surge in coronavirus cases led by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Fiji’s Covid hospital mortuary is now full and the Delta variant is fuelling record levels of infections.
How do you feel about restrictions ending? Tell us in our commenting poll
09:31 , Tom Batchelor
How do you feel about the final stage of lockdown taking place?
Do you feel relieved that the end of the roadmap is in sight or do you think the government is taking this step too soon?
We want to know what you think about 19 July being the date restrictions come to end.
Submit your thoughts in the comments section of the story below:
We can’t think only about Covid, says health secretary
09:25 , Tom Batchelor
The world can no longer think only about Covid-19 and ignore the other critical health issues, economic problems and education challenges that have build up during the pandemic, Sajid Javid has said.
“We can’t live in a world where the only thing that we are thinking about is Covid – and not about all the other health problems, our economic problems, our education challenges and we have to make use of a vaccine that is thankfully working,” he told Sky News.
“When I came into this department with a fresh set of eyes – it is shocking when you look at all the other health problems that have built up: Some 7 million people have not come forward during the pandemic for help from the NHS with their health problems.”
Chris Whitty on the three times we should still wear a mask after 19 July
09:19 , Tom Batchelor
Professor Chris Whitty has laid out the three circumstances in which he will continue to wear a mask after 19 July: in crowded indoor spaces; if required to do so by “any competent authority”; and when doing so will make others feel more comfortable.
Here is the government chief medical adviser’s full guidance:
Easing rules will ‘make conditions for virus transmission more favourable’ – former chief scientific adviser
09:12 , Tom Batchelor
The government’s former chief scientific adviser has said the lifting of Covid restrictions will make it “even more favourable” for the virus.
Professor Sir Mark Walport told Sky News: “I don’t think anyone would have imagined taking off all restrictions at a time when there are 25,000 infections a day, doubling about every nine days.
“The reason it’s become possible for ministers to make this decision is because the vaccine programme has become so very successful and has weakened, but certainly not broken, the link between infection and the most serious consequences of disease.
“As the prime minister says, by 19 July it’s quite likely there’ll be 50,000 cases a day and when we do take off the restrictions it will make the conditions for transmission of the virus even more favourable for the virus.
“I think there is a very high priority to keep the vaccines up, and I think the other thing is the guidance needs to be very clear for people.”
School bubbles set to be dropped in lockdown lifting
09:06 , Tom Batchelor
Schools “bubbles” are set to be scrapped as Covid measures are eased across England from 19 July.
The measure keeps pupils and teachers in groups to minimise mixing and help limit the spread of coronavirus.
Concerns have been raised in recent weeks about the interpretation of rules which have resulted in large groups of pupils being sent home for 10 days if another pupil in their bubble tests positive for Covid-19.
At 1.30pm today the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, will update the Commons on easing restrictions in schools.
Read the full report here:
Bereaved families dismayed at ‘gut-churning’ Johnson announcement
08:59 , Tom Batchelor
Families who lost their loved ones to Covid-19 have said Boris Johnson’s plans to scrap social distancing and mask-wearing rules from later this month were “gut-churning”.
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group accused the government of having “skewed priorities” and said it was “an error to act like we’ve got Covid beaten”.
Here is the story:
Covid easing ‘calculated risk’, says health expert
08:51 , Tom Batchelor
Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said the lifting of coronavirus restrictions is a “calculated risk”.
The professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, speaking in a personal capacity, told Times Radio: “I wouldn’t say this is a gamble, it’s more of a calculated risk.”
He added that there was “no reason” why businesses should not be able to refuse to serve customers without face masks after July 19.
“They can’t mandate it, but neither are businesses mandated to have to serve you, so if you run a nail bar and you want the clients to wear a face mask, you simply say ‘You have to wear a face mask if you want to get your nails done’.
“That’s a good example of some direct, personal, face-to-face contact for a good 40 minutes where you don’t want your staff breathing in what Joe Public is breathing on to you.
“There’s no reason why many businesses can’t actually just say ‘Hang on a minute, in this setting we want you to wear a face mask’.
“I don’t see why public transport companies couldn’t make the same assessment.”
Sajid Javid warns Covid cases could hit 100,000 a day as restrictions scrapped
08:45 , Tom Batchelor
Sajid Javid has warned that Covid cases could get as high as 100,000 cases a day this summer, as he suggested numbers will “rise significantly” after all remaining Covid restrictions are eased in a fortnight.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the new health secretary described the situation as “unchartered territory”, but also stressed link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths had been “severely weakened”.
Here is the full story:
Which restrictions are set to end on 19 July?
08:36 , Tom Batchelor
All regulations on social distancing and mask wearing are set to be lifted on 19 July, although there will be guidance on mask-wearing in confined places, the government announced on Monday.
The requirement to work from home where possible will also end, but employers are encouraged to consult with their staff about this move.
Local transport authorities and airlines will be able to set mask-wearing as a condition for travel, but there will be no law requiring masks to be worn.
Here is the full list of changes:
Ministers shouldn’t rule out reimposing Covid restrictions if cases hit 200,000 a day, warns Sage scientist
08:29 , Tom Batchelor
Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the government, has said that “policy will have to remain flexible” after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
He warned that cases could conceivably hit 150,000-200,000 a day, which he said would “cause some pressure to the health system”.
“This is a slight gamble, it’s a slight experiment at the moment, and I think it’s justifiable and I’m reasonable optimistic, but policy will have to remain flexible,” he told theToday programme.
“If we end up in something close to the worst-case scenario we and other groups are looking at, which I think is unlikely but can’t be ruled out, then yes there will need to be some course direction later.”
Javid to unveil changes to self-isolation rules
08:24 , Tom Batchelor
During his media round on Tuesday morning, Sajid Javid also said he would set out self-isolation changes for those who have had both vaccine doses in Parliament later today.
“We will have a more proportionate system of test, trace and isolate, and it is absolutely right that those that have been double jabbed that we can take a different approach than the one we take today,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“In terms of what we will be doing exactly, you will have to wait for my statement to Parliament later today.”
Sajid Javid: I will wear a mask in enclosed spaces
08:18 , Tom Batchelor
Sajid Javid has said he would continue to wear a face covering in a crowded space or if he was with someone who felt uncomfortable about one not being worn, once restrictions are eased.
The health secretary told Sky News: “For the foreseeable future I will be carrying a face mask with me, I think that’s a very responsible thing for anyone to do.
“As I have said, the pandemic is not over.
“If I’m in a crowded or enclosed space, I will wear a face mask. In fact I will wear one if I was next to someone or near someone that felt uncomfortable with others not wearing face masks.
“And that’s what I mean by personality responsibility.”
Germany to lift UK travel ban
08:13 , Tom Batchelor
A ban on travel from the UK to Germany is to be lifted after Berlin announced Britain was no longer a country of variant concern.
Germany’s public health institute said on Monday that the UK as well as India, Nepal, Portugal and Russia were no longer “areas of variant concern”, reducing travel restrictions for people arriving from those countries.
All five countries had been downgraded to “high incidence areas”, the Robert Koch Institute said, meaning their citizens can now travel to Germany – but must quarantine on arrival for 10 days.
The quarantine period can be shortened to five days if they test negative, and people who are fully vaccinated can avoid quarantine altogether.
Prior to the change in classification, travelers from those countries were banned from entering Germany unless they were residents, in which case they had to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
Tory MP says she won’t wear mask on public transport
08:00 , Tom Batchelor
A Tory MP has said she will not wear face masks on public transport once the restrictions are eased because showing her face is “part of being human” – despite a warning about the risk of spreading the virus to vulnerable people.
Miriam Cates said while she expects members of the public will continue to wear masks on public transport after the rules are scrapped, she will not.
“I think people will wear face masks on public transport, that is their decision,” she told LBC radio.
But asked if she would do so, the MP replied: “No I wont be. I think freedom is very important, I think showing our faces is part of being human.”
‘How irresponsible can you get?’
Iain Dale’s fiery clash with Tory MP Miriam Cates, who won’t wear a face mask on public transport after July 19 because ‘freedom is very important’ and ‘showing our faces is part of being human’.@IainDale pic.twitter.com/7qAR1HwTXY
— LBC (@LBC) July 5, 2021
Interviewer Iain Dale tweeted after his show: “I’m rarely surprised by the utter stupidity of some of our MPs, but this one really takes the biscuit.”
Former health secretary suggests lockdown easing not irreversible
07:54 , Tom Batchelor
Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, has suggested the government should avoid committing to the “irreversible” easing of Covid restrictions, saying that with new variants and surging infection rates the situation “may sadly yet change”.
The chairman of the Commons Health Select Committee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “At the moment, the projections are that the deaths from Covid will actually be less than some of our worst years for flu.
“When you have that kind of change, I think it’s reasonable to change the social contract to one of co-operation, rather than compulsion.
“But I think we have got to be careful about using the language of irreversibility, because we still have 350,000 new infections every day across the world, there is still room for the vaccine-busting variants that we are all worried about.
“So we have to be on our guard and recognise that things may sadly yet change.”
Boris Johnson says rules on masks and social distancing set to be torn up
07:44 , Tom Batchelor
Boris Johnson has confirmed plans to tear up social distancing and mask rules on 19 July despite forecasts of 50,000 daily coronavirus cases by that date, warning that failure to reopen society now could force England to keep restrictions in place until 2022.
The prime minister said he believed that high vaccination levels will provide a summer “firebreak” to hold numbers of deaths down as the third wave of Covid-19 peaks, but admitted he might have to reimpose curbs in the winter if new jab-resistant variants emerge.
Here is the full story on what was announced yesterday evening:
Japan to ship vaccines to Asian countries
07:12 , Akshita Jain
Japan has said that it will send millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to its Asian neighbours this week.
Foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi said 1.1 million more doses will be sent to Taiwan, after 1.24 million were delivered last month.
He said 1 million doses each will also be sent to Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam this week.
18 children die of post-Covid complications in Indian state
07:00 , Akshita Jain
In the Indian state of Rajasthan, 18 children have died in the last two months from post-Covid complications.
17 of these deaths happened due to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children at JK Lone hospital, which reported 155 such cases, according to Hindustan Times.
According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, or gastrointestinal organs.
Tourists throng Indian state after restrictions eased
06:36 , Akshita Jain
Tourists have flocked Himachal Pradesh after the state eased Covid-19 restrictions last month. This comes even as experts have warned of a third wave of the pandemic that could hit India soon.
A state official said that Himachal Pradesh has received 600,000-700,000 tourists since it relaxed restrictions in late June.
Tourists going to Himachal Pradesh no longer need a negative RT-PCR report or an e-pass to enter the state.
Himachal Pradesh | Tourists throng in Shimla as heatwave hits Delhi, north India
“As there are reports that 3rd wave of COVID19 will come, so we’d decided to use this no lockdown period,” says Nishant, a tourist from Delhi pic.twitter.com/YWAA4IP7cQ
— ANI (@ANI) July 5, 2021
India likely to get 7 million doses of Moderna vaccine but indemnity issue poses a hurdle
06:19 , Akshita Jain
India is likely to get 7 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine through the UN-backed COVAX initiative, but it remains unclear when the doses would arrive.
The uncertainty is mostly because the Indian government is yet to decide on giving indemnity to the vaccine maker, The Print quoted officials as saying.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have reportedly demanded indemnity from the Indian government. The Serum Institute of India — which manufactures the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine — also said that all vaccine makers should be granted the same protection.
India increases vaccination pace, but it’s not enough to reach December goal
06:01 , Akshita Jain
India has increased the pace of vaccination in recent days, but it still falls short of the rate required to inoculate the entire adult population by the end of this year.
5.57 million doses were administered daily on average from 21 to 30 June, the highest for any 10-day period since the vaccination drive began in January, according to The Hindu’s data.
However, India needs to administer more than 8 million doses daily to be able to vaccinate all adults by December. The government had earlier said it will be in a position to inoculate 10 million people daily by July to August.
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic for Tuesday 6 July, 2021.