Coronavirus latest news: Scotland to scrap most Covid restrictions from August 9, Nicola Sturgeon announces

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Nicola Sturgeon has announced that most of Scotland's remaining Covid restrictions are set to end on Monday, as the country moves beyond Level 0.

The First Minister announced in a press conference that most legal restrictions on physical distancing and social gatherings will end on August 9, and no venues including nightclubs will be legally required to close.

However, face coverings will remain mandatory for “some time” in certain public settings, pubs and restaurants will still be obliged to collect customer details and home working will continue to be advised.

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that the Test and Protect scheme will continue to trace positive cases, but fully-vaccinated Scots who complete a negative PCR test will be able to avoid self-isolation.

She added that Covid certification is being considered for use at “higher-risk venues”, but said the Scottish Government recognises the “ethical, equity and human rights’ issues” associated with their implementation.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

05:20 PM

Greggs to create 500 new jobs as profits surpass pre-pandemic levels

Greggs expects to create around 500 new jobs in the coming months, and plans 100 net openings this year, as profits bounced back to surpass pre-pandemic levels.

The popular bakery chain, which had 2,115 shops at the start of July, said it has the opportunity to grow to at least 3,000 stores as recent recovery had been "stronger than we had anticipated".

The business revealed a pre-tax profit of £55.5 million for the 26 weeks to 3 July, compared with a £65.2 million loss for the same period last year, and is also up on the 2019 first-half figure of £40.7 million.

05:07 PM

Call to halve 10-day Covid isolation as ‘people barely infectious’ after five

The 10-day self-isolation period for Covid could be safely halved because people are barely infectious five days after symptoms develop, studies suggest.

Data from Oxford University’s Pathogen Dynamics Group, the team which advises the Government on the NHS app, showed that 40 per cent of infections occur before symptoms emerge, and 35 per cent within the first and second day of symptom onset.

In contrast, only about two per cent of transmissions are passed on in days five to 10 after symptoms emerge.

Read the full story here

04:59 PM

Rugby League World Cup set to be postponed

The Rugby League World Cup, which was set to be held in England in nearly two months, is looking like it will be postponed, the Press Association (PA) is reporting.

PA understands that the Government, which backed the cup with funding of around £25 million, will now agree to postpone the event for 12 months.

The recommendation will be made at an emergency board meeting tomorrow, with an announcement coming soon after.

Australia and New Zealand had already pulled out of the cup, citing the safety of their teams amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

04:42 PM

Microsoft mandates vaccination for US office workers

Microsoft has announced it will require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and guests entering its US offices from September.

The company said that it will continue to review the situation on a local basis.

Other tech businesses have implemented similar policies, with Uber, Facebook and Google all announcing they will require proof of vaccination when staff return to the office, while Apple are reportedly considering the requirement.

04:25 PM

Global vaccine rollout, in pictures

Rovaniemi, Finland

Mr Lordi, of the Finnish hard rock band Lordi, receives his second Covid-19 vaccination from nurse Paula Ylitalo in Rovaniemi, Finland on 1 August 2021 - Jouni Porsanger/Lehtikuva
Mr Lordi, of the Finnish hard rock band Lordi, receives his second Covid-19 vaccination from nurse Paula Ylitalo in Rovaniemi, Finland on 1 August 2021 - Jouni Porsanger/Lehtikuva

Haifa, Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accompanies his mother, Mirna Bennett, to receive her third Covid-19 vaccine dose, in Haifa, Israel on 3 August 2021 - Elad Gershgoren/Shutterstock
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accompanies his mother, Mirna Bennett, to receive her third Covid-19 vaccine dose, in Haifa, Israel on 3 August 2021 - Elad Gershgoren/Shutterstock

Siliguri, India

People queue to receive a dose of the Covishield vaccine at a primary school in Siliguri, India on 3 August 2021 - Diptendu Dutta/AFP
People queue to receive a dose of the Covishield vaccine at a primary school in Siliguri, India on 3 August 2021 - Diptendu Dutta/AFP

04:05 PM

Lincoln spike in infections linked to nightclub, officials say

A spike in Covid-19 cases in Lincoln has been linked to a nightclub, according to local health officials.

Cases in the Wharf and University area of the city, which houses much of the city's student population and has a variety of shops, bars and clubs, reached a rate of 1,140 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending July 29.

Public Health Lincolnshire's Natalie Liddle told the BBC that most of the cases were identified in people under 30.

She said: "We are currently managing a cluster of outbreaks in and around Lincoln - and we've seen a particular increase in cases linked to the night-time economy.

"We are particularly dealing with one large outbreak at the moment, [and] that has impacted a large number of people."

However, she did not name the venue that was believed to have driven the surge in infections.

03:45 PM

Head of Japan Medical Association calls for national state of emergency

The head of the Japan Medical Association called on Tuesday for a nationwide state of emergency to contain a surge in Covid-19 cases in Tokyo as the Olympics continue.

Tokyo had a record high of 4,058 new infections on Saturday and there are worries that hospitals are already being overwhelmed.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga insists there is no link between the sharp increase in cases and the Summer Games but some experts say it has sent a confusing message about the need to stay home, contributing to the rise.

Protesters demonstrate against the Olympic and Paralympic Games, in front of the Prime Minister's Office, in Tokyo, Japan on 2 August 2021 - Kantaro Komiya/AP
Protesters demonstrate against the Olympic and Paralympic Games, in front of the Prime Minister's Office, in Tokyo, Japan on 2 August 2021 - Kantaro Komiya/AP

03:18 PM

UK records 21,691 new Covid cases and further 138 deaths

The UK has recorded 21,691 new cases of Covid-19 and a further 138 deaths.

This marks the highest daily deaths figure since March 17, when 138 deaths were also recorded.

03:12 PM

Everton organising tribute to fans who lost their lives in the pandemic

Everton has asked supporters to send in the names and photographs of loved ones who lost their lives in the Covid-19 pandemic, to form part of a tribute set to take place during the first game of the new Premier League season.

The club said supporters should send in a name or optional photograph ahead of the opening game against Southampton on August 14.

03:02 PM

Florida hits record high Covid hospitalisation rate

The number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 in Florida has hit a record high, with 11,515 patients admitted in one day, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The data is used by the Florida Hospital Association to track admissions and staffing shortages. The figures also show 2,400 of those patients are in ICU beds.

The previous day, the data showed there were 10,389 Covid hospitalisations throughout the state; last year, Florida hit its previous high on July 23, with 10,170 hospitalisations.

02:48 PM

NYC to require proof of vaccination for indoor activities

New York City will require proof of vaccination against Covid-19 in order to gain access to indoor dining and entertainment venues and gyms, mayor Bill de Blasio announced.

It becomes the first big city in the US to impose such restrictions, with the new requirement set to come into effect on August 16.

De Blasio announced last week that city employees would be required to get vaccinated by mid-September or submit to weekly testing, and he has offered a $100 incentive for city residents who get inoculated.

About 66 per cent of adults in New York City are fully-vaccinated, according to official data, while 70 per cent of American adults have received at least one vaccine dose.

02:26 PM

Van Morrison drops legal challenge to NI's live music ban

Sir Van Morrison has dropped his legal challenge to a ban on live music being played in Northern Ireland, which was introduced during the pandemic as part of a wider raft of lockdown measures.

A spokesman for the musician said he welcomes the relaxation of restrictions, but "remains concerned by the failure of the NI Executive to share with him at any time the medical evidence that could ever have supported the need to maintain a blanket ban of live music".

Sir Van cancelled concerts at the Ulster Hall, which had been due to start on July 23, amid uncertainty over whether rule changes would be approved.

He also clashed with Stormont minister Robin Swann back in June, after the health minister called Sir Van's new anti-lockdown songs "dangerous" in an interview with Rolling Stone.

01:53 PM

US has donated more than 110 million Covid vaccines

The White House said the US has donated and shipped more than 110 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to more than 60 countries, ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia.

President Joe Biden has promised that the US will be the "arsenal of vaccines" for the world.

However, the 110 million doses the US has donated, mostly through the global COVAX programme, represent a fraction of what is considered to be needed worldwide.

President Biden speaks during a meeting with Cuban-American leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington D.C. on 2 August 2021 - Mandel Ngan/AP
President Biden speaks during a meeting with Cuban-American leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington D.C. on 2 August 2021 - Mandel Ngan/AP

01:39 PM

Sturgeon: Easing of restrictions 'does not signal the end of the pandemic'

Nicola Sturgeon has said that the easing of restrictions in Scotland does not "signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before Covid struck".

The First Minister urged Scots to remain cautious and said though the move "will restore a substantial degree of normality" it would be "premature" to declare the pandemic over.

Ms Sturgeon added that the change is "hard-earned" with everyone having made sacrifices over the past year-and-a-half to remain safe.

She said: "The harm the virus can do, including through the impact of long Covid, should not be underestimated. And its ability to mutate may yet pose us real challenges.

"So even as we make this move today, care and caution will still be required, and that is why I want to focus now on the protections and guidance that will remain in place after 9 August."

01:29 PM

Sturgeon: Self-isolation for fully-jabbed will end on August 8

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the automatic self-isolation requirement for fully-vaccinated Scots will end on August 8, if people complete a PCR test that comes back negative.

Fully-vaccinated people who come into contact with a positive case must complete a PCR test and await the results before they can leave self-isolation.

Children aged 5 to 17 will need to do a PCR test if identified as a close contact, and can avoid self-isolation if the test result is negative.

For under-5s, PCR tests are encouraged but not required.

Anyone with symptoms or who tests positive for Covid-19 will need to continue to self-isolate.

01:23 PM

Sturgeon: Covid passports for 'higher-risk venues' being considered

Nicola Sturgeon said that Covid certification is being considered for "higher-risk venues" but the Scottish government remind mindful of the "ethical, equity and human rights' issues" associated with certification.

The First Minister also said that large-scale events will have to continue to apply for permission to go ahead, with processes staying in place for outdoor events of up to 5,000 people and indoor events of up to 2,000 people, so the government and local authorities can assess risks associated with the event.

01:14 PM

Sturgeon: Face coverings will be mandated for 'some time'

Nicola Sturgeon said that face coverings will still be required in "all the same indoor settings" as they are currently, excluding for exempt people, and added that she expects masks to remain mandated in law "for some time to come".

Scotland's First Minister also said that Test and Protect will continue to contact trace positive cases and there will be an ongoing requirement for indoor hospitality and similar businesses to collect the contact details of customers.

Ms Sturgeon added that the government could introduce local measures in future if necessary.

Home-working will continue to be advised and businesses should consider 'hybrid-working' for the longer term, but they should recognise that a return to the office for some staff could be beneficial.

01:09 PM

Sturgeon: Scotland will move beyond Level 0 from Monday

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland will move beyond Level 0 restrictions from Monday, meaning that most legal restrictions on physical distancing and social gatherings will end - and from August 9 no venues will legally be required to close.

The First Minister said the success of the vaccination rollout had allowed them to take a step forward in ropening, with close to 100 per cent of over-60s being fully-vaccinated, while 72 per cent of over-18s have received both doses.

Ms Sturgeon said Scotland was considering booster shots in the autumn and was awaiting further advice from the JCVI regarding that.

12:52 PM

CDC: Serious side effects in children from Pfizer jab are rare

US health officials found that serious side effects in children who had received the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine had been rare.

As of 16 July, around 9 million teenagers aged 12 to 17 had received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - the only jab approved for that age group - and among roughly 9,240 reported side effections, 91 per cent were minor, such as soreness.

Jacob Alexander, 14, receives a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination in Los Angeles, US on 16 July 2021  - Frederic J Brown/AFP
Jacob Alexander, 14, receives a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination in Los Angeles, US on 16 July 2021 - Frederic J Brown/AFP

9 per cent of reported side effects were serious, with 4 per cent developing a heart problem known as myocarditis, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Friday.

"Local and systemic reactions are common among adolescents following Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, especially after the second dose; however, serious adverse events after Covid-19 vaccination are rare," said the report's lead author, Anne Hause, a CDC epidemiologist.

12:36 PM

Authoritarian governments have ‘obfuscated’ true Covid death tolls, analysis suggests

Authoritarian governments have “obfuscated” the truth and suppressed their Covid-19 death figures, according to an analysis of excess mortality rates in more than 100 countries worldwide.

The study, published in eLife journal on Tuesday and known as the World Mortality Dataset, found countries including Tajikistan, Nicaragua, Belarus and Russia have been “substantially under reporting their Covid-19 deaths” throughout the pandemic.

The discrepancies are so large, the paper adds, that it “strongly suggests purposeful misdiagnosing or under reporting of Covid-19 deaths”.

Sarah Newey has more detail on this story

12:20 PM

Mounting anger at vaccine inequality as rich countries plan booster shots

There is mounting anger that wealthy countries are planning to deliver booster shots in autumn, at a time when billions of people have not even had one shot.

Israel has announced plans to begin giving booster shots to older adults next week, while the Telegraph understands that a third dose will be offered to 32million Britons starting early next month.

An internal World Health Organisation document, seen by Nature, estimates that if the 11 rich countries that are either rolling out boosters or considering it this year were to give the shots to everyone over 50 years old, they would use up roughly 440 million doses of the global supply.

If all high-income and upper-middle-income nations were to do the same, the estimate doubles. The WHO maintains that these jabs would be better used in lower income countries, where roughly 3.5 billion haven't had a single vaccine.

"At a defining moment that cries out for international collective action we're witnessing the opposite - a retreat to nationalism and the grotesque hoarding of vaccines by the wealthy," Prof Gavin Yamey, a professor of global public health at Duke University in America, wrote on Twitter.

12:08 PM

Festival goers queue for Covid vaccine to get free tickets

People queued from 6am in west Belfast to receive a Covid-19 vaccination and the change of free festival tickets.

The first 500 people to receive the Pfizer jab at the city's Falls Park on Tuesday walked away with complimentary tickets to Feile Music Night, set to take place on 8 August, which will feature sets from DJ Paul Van Dyk and Judge Jules.

Event director Kevin Gamble said: "Feile an Phobail over the last 34 years has always shown leadership, particularly in west Belfast and north Belfast, and if we can help support the health trusts in driving up the vaccinations, this is us playing a very small part in that process."

Feile an Phobail organiser Kevin Gamble (left) giving Peter Berne (right) a free ticket to the festival, after he got vaccinated against Covid-19, in Belfast on 3 August 2021 - Liam McBurney/PA
Feile an Phobail organiser Kevin Gamble (left) giving Peter Berne (right) a free ticket to the festival, after he got vaccinated against Covid-19, in Belfast on 3 August 2021 - Liam McBurney/PA

11:56 AM

Sudan’s hidden Covid death toll

“I can’t find my father’s grave. He died of Covid one month ago, but now I can’t find his grave,” shouts Katya* in a hoarse voice.

Tears begin to well up in the young woman’s eyes as she walks from mound to mound, looking for any sign of the man who brought her into this world. “He was a good man. He was a doctor,” she says.

It’s a hopeless task. Gravediggers reckon there are about 250,000 people buried in the Al Sahafa in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital’s largest cemetery.

If Sudan’s official coronavirus statistics are to be believed, only 2,770 people have died since Covid-19 came knocking on the door.

This would mean that the nation of 44 million – scarred by decades of conflict, corruption and sanctions – is one of the success stories of the pandemic. But there’s a problem: almost no one believes the government figures. Sudanese health care workers and researchers told The Telegraph that a hidden pandemic had probably killed thousands if not tens of thousands more.

Will Brown and Simon Townsley report from Khartoum

11:40 AM

New PPE for medical workers hailed as a 'real game-changer'

A new full-face protective hood that can be used as PPE by medical workers has been called a "real game-changer" by a hospital consultant.

The hood is called the Morecambe Bay Hood and has been designed free of charge by BAE systems and a Lancashire-based family owned firm.

Makers of the new hood said it delivers a continuous stream of clean filtered air, significantly reduces 'fogging' and helps improve communication between staff and patients because facial expressions can be seen more clearly and lip-reading is easier.

Dr Sarah Price, consultant in palliative medicine at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: "It feels safe to wear the Morecambe Bay Hood. It's comfortable, easily cleanable and it means that the whole of your face is on show for those interactions that really matter. These things are real game-changers."

11:24 AM

Twin sister who lost her brother to Covid urges people to get jabbed

Jenny McCann, who lives in Pinner in Greater London, has shared the story of her twin brother John's death from Covid-19 on social media to try and persuade hesitant people to get vaccinated.

John, who was 42, had been battling coronavirus for four weeks, and had no pre-existing health conditions. He did not want the vaccine.

11:10 AM

DHSC says new head of Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) to be announced soon

The Department for Health and Social Care has responded to the news (see 9:00am post) that Clare Gardiner, the Director General of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and an ex-spy, has resigned from her post.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) is part of the UK Health Security Agency and is led professionally by the Chief Executive.

“The former Director General (DG) has returned as planned to a role in national security.

“The JBC continues to operate routinely under robust interim arrangements.

“A formal open competitive recruitment process has concluded and the new DG will be announced imminently.”

10:45 AM

England postpones cricket tour of Bangladesh

England have postponed their six-match cricket tour of Bangladesh from September/October to March 2023.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said it decided to reschedule the tour mutually with the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

It is understood the postponement is due to a busy schedule and the difficulties of Covid-19 quarantine protocols.

10:36 AM

Pakistan hits one million daily vaccination target

Pakistan hit its target to vaccinate one million people a day against Covid-19, with people rushing to get vaccinated as the country nears its introduction of mandatory vaccination certification for workers in public-facing roles.

The government announced last week that from the end of August all workers in schools, shopping centres, hospitality businesses, and the transport and airline industries, would be banned from entering public offices unless they had a certificate.

Asad Umar, the minister in-charge of Covid-19 operations, tweeted that he was "happy to report that the target we had set for one million vaccinations in a day was crossed".

From a population of 220 million, more than 31 million people have received one vaccine dose, while only 6.7 million have been fully-vaccinated, according to the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC).

People queue to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Karachi, Pakistan on 1 August 2021 - Rizwan Tabassum/AFP
People queue to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Karachi, Pakistan on 1 August 2021 - Rizwan Tabassum/AFP

10:20 AM

WHO: 'Mix-and-match' Covid vaccines are a 'dangerous trend'

A growing number of countries are considering switching to different Covid-19 vaccines for second doses or booster shots, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) calling the mix-and-match vaccine practice a "dangerous trend" since there was little data available about the health impact.

The following countries are considering, or have decided to adopt, the mix-and-match solution:

  • Cambodia announced that a booster shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine would be offered to people who had previously received two doses of either the Sinopharm or Sinovac jabs, while a Sinovac booster shot would be given to people fully-jabbed with the AstraZeneca vaccine

  • Denmark said that combining AstraZeneca's vaccine with a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna's shot would provide "good protection"

  • Germany will start offering a booster shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines from September to vulnerable people, regardless of what vaccine they had originally received

  • Indonesia is considering offering a booster shot to all healthcare workers inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine

  • Vietnam said it will offer the Pfizer vaccine to people who had received AstraZeneca as their first dose

09:59 AM

Covid around the world, in pictures

People wearing protective face masks queue to ride a roller coaster at the Hamburger DOM amusement fair in Hamburg, Germany. The fair is so far the biggest in Germany to reopen this year following lockdown measures due to the pandemic - Morris MacMatzen/Getty
People wearing protective face masks queue to ride a roller coaster at the Hamburger DOM amusement fair in Hamburg, Germany. The fair is so far the biggest in Germany to reopen this year following lockdown measures due to the pandemic - Morris MacMatzen/Getty
Canadian-American singer and songwriter Grandson shows the words 'Get Vaxxed' written on his hand as he poses on the red carpet prior to the world premiere of DC Film's 'The Suicide Squad' at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California - Caroline Brehman/Shutterstock
Canadian-American singer and songwriter Grandson shows the words 'Get Vaxxed' written on his hand as he poses on the red carpet prior to the world premiere of DC Film's 'The Suicide Squad' at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California - Caroline Brehman/Shutterstock
This aerial photo taken on Aug 3, 2021 shows a restricted residential area due to Covid-19 in Yangzhou, in China's eastern Jiangsu province - STR/AFP/Getty
This aerial photo taken on Aug 3, 2021 shows a restricted residential area due to Covid-19 in Yangzhou, in China's eastern Jiangsu province - STR/AFP/Getty

09:30 AM

Care home deaths slightly up

A total of 155,133 deaths have now occurred in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.

The highest number of deaths to occur on a single day was 1,484 on January 19.

During the first wave of the virus, the daily toll peaked at 1,461 deaths on April 8 2020.

A total of 35 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to July 23, up from 27 deaths in the previous week.

In total, 42,649 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began.

The ONS figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.

09:01 AM

Covid weekly deaths at highest since April

A total of 327 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending July 23 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - up 50% on the previous week.

It is the highest total since 362 deaths in the week to April 16.

08:46 AM

Covid back in Wuhan, in pictures

Masked shoppers line up to pay for goods as it was announced Wuhan would be testing all 11million of its population after a Covid outbreak - Getty
Masked shoppers line up to pay for goods as it was announced Wuhan would be testing all 11million of its population after a Covid outbreak - Getty
Panic buying in Wuhan after an outbreak of the delta variant - Getty
Panic buying in Wuhan after an outbreak of the delta variant - Getty

08:40 AM

Just one in five civil servants back in the office, minister admits despite claiming to 'lead by example'

Just one in five civil servants are back in the office, a minister has admitted, despite claiming the Government has been "leading by example" on getting back to work.

After months of telling people to work from home, there is now a desire within Westminster to get workers back to their offices after the guidance was dropped.

This is partly down to giving city and town centres a much-needed boost in footfall as ministers attempt to haul the economy back to pre-pandemic levels.

But a minister has estimated around 20 per cent of staff at the Department for Education are in the office on any one day at the moment.

Gillian Keegan, minister for apprenticeships and skills, told Times Radio: "I think we have led by example and I think more and more people will, but we have said use the summer to get people coming back, get people comfortable with coming back, and you know not everybody will be back all the time, flexible working will be part of our future and we are not telling businesses what to do."

08:00 AM

Ex-spy has resigned as Joint Biosecurity Centre boss, minister says

Gillian Keegan, minister for apprenticeships and skills, has said it is her understanding that the director general of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) has resigned, following reports.

Asked on LBC to confirm if Clare Gardiner has resigned, Ms Keegan said: "Yes I believe that she has. I mean I don't have any responsibility for that area, but you know, all of these things - there is a group of experts who are basically there that are looking at data, analysing data and then giving advice to the Government, and so I guess they will be looking for a new chair."

Asked why Ms Gardiner has quit, Ms Keegan said: "I don't have any understanding at all of that, no, I have only heard what you have heard."

It is understood that former spy Gardiner, who was appointed to head up the JBC by Boris Johnson has left her post with no successor appointed.

Her details were removed from the website in mid-June.

07:36 AM

'The Government is not matching the public with its own responsibilities'

A leading behavioural scientist has praised the British public for consistently being ahead of the Government in terms of their awareness of the dangers of Covid-19.

Stephen Reicher, Professor of Social Psychology at the University of St Andrews and Member of Independent Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), told Sky News: "The public have always been behaving responsibly.

"The remarkable thing when you look at the data is that people have always been ahead of the Government in being aware of the dangers (of Covid).

"The problem, to some extent, is that the Government is not matching the public with its own responsibilities.

"It does seem as if the changes in the Covid rules come as quickly as medals come to the UK team (at the Tokyo Olympics).

"We've got to use the summer, we squandered it last year.

"We should be installing ventilation in public spaces. In New York, they're going to have two air purifiers in every classroom.

"If the Government showed the same responsibility the public is showing, I think we'd be in a far better place in the autumn."

06:47 AM

Children glued to screens during lockdown twice as likely to become short-sighted

Pandemic lockdowns may have damaged the eyesight of children, with young people nearly twice as likely to be short-sighted than before Covid, possibly because they spent less time outdoors and longer in front of a screen, researchers believe.

Scientists in Hong Kong found the estimated chance of developing myopia for a six-year-old rose from 17 per cent before the pandemic to 28 per cent.

Similarly for seven-year-olds, the risk increased from 16 per cent to 27 per cent and eight-year-olds from 15 per cent to 26 per cent.

Short-sightedness, or myopia, usually occurs when the eyes grow slightly too long, so that objects in the distance appear blurred.

Previous studies have found that playing outside as a child reduces the risk, which may be linked to light levels, or because being indoors increases the time spent gazing at near objects and not enough time looking across long distances.

06:38 AM

Wuhan to test its entire 11m population after outbreak

Authorities in Wuhan on Tuesday said they would test its entire population for Covid-19 after the central Chinese city where the coronavirus emerged reported its first local infections in more than a year.

The city of 11 million is "swiftly launching comprehensive nucleic acid testing of all residents", senior Wuhan official Li Tao said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Authorities announced on Monday that seven locally transmitted infections had been found among migrant workers in the city, breaking a year-long streak without domestic cases after it squashed an initial outbreak with an unprecedented lockdown in early 2020.

China has confined the residents of entire cities to their homes, cut domestic transport links and rolled out mass testing in recent days as it battles its largest coronavirus outbreak in months.

China reported 61 domestic cases on Tuesday as an outbreak of the fast-spreading Delta variant reached dozens of cities after infections among airport cleaners in Nanjing sparked a chain of cases that have been reported across the country.

06:18 AM

Today's front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, Aug 3.

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06:00 AM

Covid app tweaked to alert fewer people and end ‘pingdemic’

The NHS app has been updated so that fewer people will be asked to self-isolate in a government U-turn designed to end the disruption caused by the "pingdemic".

Under new programming, only those who have been in contact with an asymptomatic case in the past 48 hours will be pinged.

Previously, the app traced contacts back five days for both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections, even though previous studies have shown that people become infectious one to two days before the onset of symptoms and are unlikely to spread the virus earlier.

Read the full story

04:49 AM

French territory of Guadeloupe to go into new lockdown

France's overseas territory of Guadeloupe will to go into a new lockdown for at least three weeks to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, said the local Guadeloupe authority on its Twitter account, as France battles a fourth wave of the virus.

The authority said the French West Indian island's new lockdown would start on Aug. 4, with the re-introduction of a curfew running from 8pm (0000 GMT) until 5am (0900 GMT) the following day, and limitations on people's movements.

France's overseas territories of La Reunion and Martinique have also entered new lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.

People wait in line to be vaccinated in Pointe-a-Pitre, on the French Caribbean archipelago of Guadeloupe - AFP
People wait in line to be vaccinated in Pointe-a-Pitre, on the French Caribbean archipelago of Guadeloupe - AFP

03:58 AM

Sydney lockdown could be eased if vaccination rate hits 50pc

Australia's New South Wales said on Tuesday it could ease a lockdown that demands five million people stay at home until the end of August if 50 per cent of the population is vaccinated, even as new infections linger near a 16-month high.

A lifting of restrictions in New South Wales would be a boost for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, under intense pressure for his government's handling of the vaccine rollout, with the threat of a second economic recession in as many years looming.

New South Wales on Tuesday reported another 199 locally acquired cases in the past 24 hours but state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said curbs could be eased if six million people are vaccinated by the time the lockdown is due to end.

"Six million jabs is roughly half the population with at least one or two doses," Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney. "That gives us additional options as to what life looks like on 29 August."

Ms Berejiklian didn't say exactly how many in New South Wales were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, but said the state is on course to meet its vaccination target.

Read more: One AstraZeneca dose gives 82pc protection against beta variant hospitalisation or death

02:26 AM

Japan limits hospitalisation of Covid patients to most serious

Japan will shift policy to focus on hospitalising patients who are seriously ill with the Covid-19 and those at risk of becoming so, officials said, to avoid strain on the medical system as cases surge in Olympics host city Tokyo and elsewhere.

The country has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, and is recording more than 10,000 daily new infections nationwide. Tokyo had a record high of 4,058 on Saturday, exceeding 4,000 for the first time.

"We will secure the necessary beds for severely ill patients and those at risk of becoming so," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday evening after a government task force meeting.

Other patients will be asked to stay at home, and the government will ensure they can be hospitalised if their condition worsened, Suga said. Previous policy had focused on hospitalising a broader category of high-risk patients.

01:59 AM

Despite precautions, Obama birthday bash draws criticism

Even though Barack Obama plans to celebrate his 60th birthday adhering to all the current health guidelines, the former president has come under fire - mainly from the Republican camp - for throwing a large party amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases due to the delta variant.

The celebration is to take place this weekend on the upscale island of Martha's Vineyard, in full compliance with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the main US public health agency, according to unnamed sources quoted by the American press.

All the guests will need to be vaccinated and have tested negative for coronavirus, the sources said.

The event will take place outdoors, and a "Covid coordinator", whose exact role has not been specified, will be present on the premises.

Read more: Barack Obama under fire for 500-guest party at Martha's Vineyard as Covid cases spike

01:10 AM

New Zealand PM takes Covid test after reporting sick

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has taken a Covid-19 test after picking up a "seasonal sniffle" from her three-year-old daughter, the government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Ms Ardern will step back from her duties for the day due to the sickness and the deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will take on the responsibilities, the spokesman said.

New Zealand is largely free of coronavirus and has had no cases in the community since February.

Jacinda Ardern received her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday - Getty
Jacinda Ardern received her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday - Getty

12:03 AM

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