It’s now or never for freedom from Covid restrictions, says PM
Record 641,200 pupils off school in England as a result of Covid
Are we heading for another u-turn? There are reasons to be apprehensive
Face mask law to end on July 19 but businesses can set their own rules
Call for urgent supply of vaccines as delta variant threatens Africa
Sajid Javid has said that the link between Covid infections, hospitalisations and deaths has been “severely weakened”, as he defended the decision to open up society from July 19 despite surging cases.
Speaking to the Commons, the Health Secretary said that while Britain’s vaccine programme has not entirely broken the link, hospitalisations remain significantly below the figures seen during the first and second waves of the pandemic.
He noted that around 27,000 new cases of Covid-19 were detected yesterday, but the number of people hospitalised with the virus in England stood at around 2,000, far below the figure of around 20,000 at a similar point during the second wave.
The Health Secretary added that he does expect infections to keep rising, and by July 19 daily rates could reach 50,000.
Beyond that, they will continue to rise “as high as 100,000 – I have been very upfront about that”.
However, Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, warned that the so-called protective wall from the Covid vaccine was “only half built”.
He noted that in Israel, data suggests the Pfizer vaccine is only 64 per cent effective at stopping transmission of the Delta variant, “so sadly being double-jabbed means you are still a risk to others and yet he is releasing controls on transmissions at a time when infections are rising”.
Follow the latest updates below.
Covid-related pupil absence in English schools at record high
Covid-related pupil absence in schools in England has hit a new record high since all students returned to class in March, Government figures show.
Around 8.5 per cent of state school pupils did not attend class for Covid-19-related reasons on July 1, up from 5.1 per cent on June 24 and 3.3 per cent on June 17, according to Department for Education (DfE) statistics.
These include approximately 561,000 children self-isolating due to a possible contact with a Covid-19 case, 34,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus and 28,000 with a confirmed case of Covid-19.
Vaccine success marks time ‘to start moving away’ from face masks
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, responded to a request by Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth for a U-turn on face masks by saying “there is a role for masks” in a pandemic”, but “when you have the best vaccine programme in the world you need to start moving away from those restrictions”.
Mr Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said vulnerable people will have their “freedoms curtailed” because of concerns that will arise when face masks become voluntary.
He added: “Let’s have a U-turn on mask-wearing. Let’s have freedom, but not a high risk free-for all.”
Mr Javid responded that “as the shadow health secretary, he should be just as concerned about non-Covid problems as he is about Covid problems”.
Sajid Javid: ‘We must balance the risks’
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said “after the 18 months we have all endured” he took pleasure in talking about a world without “the blunt world of rules” and restrictions.
“I understand some people are cautious about the idea of easing restrictions, but we must balance the risks,” he said.
“This pandemic is far from over and we will proceed with caution, but we are increasingly confidence that our plan is working.”
In addition to self-isolation rules ending for fully-vaccinated adults and under-18s, Mr Javid confirmed the same rule will apply to those returning from amber countries, but said Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, will set out details later this week.
Sajid Javid: ‘Odds have shifted in our favour’ thanks to vaccines
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, is delivering his second address to the Commons in two days, and has confirmed that self-isolation rules will lift for fully-vaccinated adults on the 16 August.
He said the ‘odds have shifted in our favour’ thanks to the vaccination programme, with both doses reducing symptomatic infection by almost 80 per cent.
From August 16, when even more people will have had both doses, “anyone who is a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate if they have been fully vaccinated”.
People will have to wait two weeks after getting the jab to assume this new freedom, he adds.
People who test positive for Covid-19 will still have to self-isolate regardless of their vaccination status, while under-18s will be exempt from isolation rules from the same date and will instead be contacted with advice about testing depending on their age, and will only have to self-isolate if they test positive.
Westfield White City to ‘encourage guests’ to wear masks
Jacinta Rowsell, manager of the Westfield Shopping Centre in White City, says the company will still “encourage guests” to wear masks, the BBC reports.
“We are very focused on the fact that guests coming to the centre want to feel safe,” she said.
Individual shops “may implement their own policy” on masks, she added.
US sends two million Covid vaccine doses to Vietnam
The US sent Vietnam two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday, the White House said.
The Moderna vaccine shipment should arrive in Vietnam this weekend, an anonymous official told AFP.
“This is just the beginning of doses being shipped to southeast Asia,” the official said.
They added that the delivery to Vietnam, made through the World Health Organisation’s Covax program, is part of a strategy aimed at “ending the pandemic everywhere.”
A million doses went to Malaysia on Monday and last week the White House announced delivery “soon” of four million doses to Indonesia. Other countries in line for some of the 80 million doses donated by the US include Cambodia, Laos, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Thailand.
UK businesses received almost £80bn in Government Covid loans
UK businesses received almost £80 billion in emergency Government-backed loans during the Covid-19 pandemic, a Treasury news release says.
Over 1.6 million loans – including Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans – were approved between April 2020 and May 2021.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We promised to stand by businesses at every stage of the pandemic and we have delivered on that promise.
“I am proud of the extraordinary extent of support we’ve offered since March last year – we will continue to back businesses and protect people’s jobs as we recover from coronavirus.”
Weekly care home resident deaths at lowest level since pandemic began
The number of weekly registered deaths of care home residents involving Covid-19 has fallen to its lowest level since the pandemic began, figures show.
The deaths of 10 care home residents relating to Covid-19 were registered in the week to June 25 in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
It takes the total number of care home resident deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales to 42,556.
Mike Padgham, Chairman of the Independent Care Group, which represents providers in North Yorkshire, said: “Today’s reported fall is very welcome news and all of us are happy to see fatalities in care and nursing homes down to single figures – we will be even happier when they are at zero.”
12 per cent of last year’s deaths from Covid, ONS data suggests
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that 12.1 per cent (73,766) of deaths registered in England and Wales in 2020 were related to Covid-19.
The highest numbers of deaths last year due to coronavirus (29,435) were recorded in April, the ONS said.
Figures show the highest Covid-19 death rate was in the North West of England, at 176 per 100,000 people, while the South West saw the lowest death rate, at 59.3 per 100,000.
Indonesia to import oxygen from Singapore amid shortage
Indonesia is sourcing emergency oxygen supplies for Covid-19 patients from Singapore, the government announced on Tuesday.
The government said about 10,000 concentrators – devices that generate oxygen – were to be shipped from neighbouring Singapore, with some arriving by a Hercules cargo plane earlier. They are also in talks with other countries, including China, for help.
Hospitals in capital city Jakarta are topping 90 per cent occupancy, while more than a dozen hospitals in second-city Surabaya are now full and unable to take more patients, authorities said.
“The team is preparing for a scenario of up to 50,000 cases a day, maybe even 60,000 to 70,000 per day at worst,” said senior minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, tasked with enforcing new virus rules.
“But we hope that won’t happen.”
A record 728 deaths were recorded over the past 24 hours.
Christmas in July: Pret brings back festive sandwich early
Pret A Manger has decided to sell its Christmas sandwich in stores from today – despite it being July – to offer people who missed out on the favourite in the winter, because of lockdown restrictions and home working, the chance to grab a bite.
UK managing director Clare Clough said: “Every year customers ask us for the Christmas sandwich to return earlier and earlier, and after many customers missed out on having one last year we’ve decided to stand by our mission of spreading joy through our food and coffee, and bring our iconic Christmas sandwich back early for a limited time this summer.”
The sandwich is in shops from today until early August.
Carers ‘deliberately excluded’ from honours, says industry body
The National Care Association has criticised the lack of official recognition for carers across the UK and their work during the pandemic, a day after the NHS was awarded the George Cross by the Queen.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, Chair of the NCA, said:
“National Care Association is delighted that our colleagues in the NHS have been recognised on NHS Frontline Workers Day and we congratulate them.
The George Cross is an award that recognises the greatest acts of heroism/courage in circumstances of extreme danger and they are deserving of it.
The irony is that the 1.6 million social care staff, who also fought on the front line, have not been bestowed any such honour despite their heroism and courage.
We would like to express our disappointment that once again our workforce, who have supported some of the most vulnerable people of our society with nominal support from government have been deliberately excluded from any recognition of their role throughout the pandemic.
This must not be allowed to continue. We urge the Secretary of State to fight for Social Care and not take the same path as his predecessor.”
Face ask polls | Early results
Just over an hour ago, we asked you for your opinions on face masks.
Early indication suggests that more than half of you (51pc) will be ditching your masks for good.
Of those who said they will sometimes continue to wear a mask after July 19, more than two thirds (67pc) have said the place they will most likely wear a covering would be on public transport.
And asked why people would continue to wear a mask – you say your main motivation is to help protect others (42pc).
You can still have your say below.
If you answered “sometimes”…
And finally, why?
More deaths than births last year for first time in almost 50 years
More deaths than births took place in the UK last year for the first time in nearly half a century, figures suggest.
A total of 689,629 deaths were registered in 2020, while 683,191 live births were recorded.
This means that natural change in the UK – the difference between births and deaths – was a negative figure of 6,438.
It is the first time deaths have exceeded births since 1976, according to provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It is also only the second time this has happened since the start of the 20th century.
‘Government must not fly blind into situation where virus is allowed to run rampant’
Responding to the Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s admission that Covid cases could rise to 100,000 a day later in the summer, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus Layla Moran MP said: “The Health Secretary must clarify what this figure would mean for hospitalisations, deaths and long Covid cases, and what the expected impact on the NHS will be.
“The Government must not fly blind into a situation where the virus is allowed to run rampant while the patchwork of support services for long Covid patients is stretched to breaking point.
“We also need urgent clarity on the impact of these plans on the clinically vulnerable and immuno-suppressed.
“Many of these people are deeply worried about protections like mask-wearing being dropped on July 19. For them, so-called Freedom Day risks meaning their freedoms to travel or visit crowded indoor places are taken away.”
Coronavirus around the world, in pictures
Government’s former chief scientific adviser criticises mass easing
Professor Sir Mark Walport, the Government’s former chief scientific adviser, said the lifting of Covid restrictions will make it “even more favourable” for the virus.
He 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 July 19 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.”
Sir Mark added: “People are going to have to behave responsibly and that guidance really matters.”
Cases could top 100,000 a day in summer, warns Health Secretary
Coronavirus case numbers could reach 100,000 per day in the summer as restrictions are eased, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
“By the time we get to the 19th, we would expect case numbers by then to be at least double what they are now, so around 50,000 new cases a day,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“As we ease and go into the summer, we expect them to rise significantly and they could go as high as 100,000 case numbers.
“We want to be very straightforward about this, about what we can expect in terms of case numbers.
“But what matters more than anything is hospitalisation and death numbers, and that is where the link has been severely weakened.”
Businesses can still enforce mask wearing, says Sage member
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said “there’s no reason” why businesses should not be able to refuse to serve customers without face masks after July 19.
He told Times Radio: “There’s no reason why businesses which have made their own assessments cannot say actually ‘If you come in here we still want you to wear a mask’.
“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.”
‘I wouldn’t say this is a gamble, it’s more of a calculated risk’
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.
“We do have good data now that does indicate we are gradually breaking the links in the chain between community cases and severe cases in hospital.”
He went on to say: “I should point out, looking at the data last night, 88% of people in hospital, from what I could see, had not been vaccinated or had had the vaccine but hadn’t had the chance to develop immunity, so that’s within 28 days of the vaccine.
“There’s now an incredibly strong signal that the vaccination is working and protecting the vast majority of people.”
Polls | Have your say on face masks
We want your answers.
If you answered “sometimes”…
And finally, why?
Update later on self-isolation changes
Health Secretary Sajid Javid 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.”
Call for urgent supply of vaccines as delta threatens Africa
Africa is facing a “perfect storm” of Covid-19, Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, has warned, with cases surging by almost 2,000 per cent in just a month in some parts of the continent.
It is an “urgent, vital necessity” to increase vaccine supply to Africa as the delta variant begins to take hold, Mr Blair wrote in the foreword of a new report, published on Tuesday.
However, other leading figures said that the focus for the short-term needs to shift away from vaccines to dealing with the acute emergency unfolding in many African countries.
Vaccines could help prevent another wave of infections but are too late to stop the “India-scenario” already sweeping across Africa, according to Dr Ayoade Alakija, co-chair of the Africa Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance. Instead, countries need oxygen, treatments, testing and field hospitals, she said.
Nations including South Africa and Uganda have already sounded the alarm about rising infections and overwhelmed hospitals, and on Friday Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Africa director, said that the continent was facing its worst week in the pandemic so far.
Jennifer Rigby has more here.
Javid denies there is an ‘acceptable’ figure for deaths
Health Secretary Sajid Javid denied that there was a figure being considered as an acceptable excess mortality rate from coronavirus as restrictions are lifted in England.
“It’s not about some number of deaths being acceptable, of course not,” he told Sky News.
“What we are seeing is that with rising case numbers, yesterday I said we could see a doubling of case numbers by the time we get to July 19, we are not seeing a corresponding increase in hospitalisations and deaths numbers.
“That is because the vaccine is working, that’s what the vaccine is for.”
ICYMI | Sajid Javid’s statement to MPs
You might have missed the Health Secretary’s statement to MPs in the Commons given that it overlapped with the Prime Minister’s address to the nation.
Here it is for you:
Jeremy Hunt: I’m not opposed to restrictions being lifted
Chairman of the Commons Health Select Committee Jeremy Hunt has said he is “not opposed” to coronavirus restrictions being lifted.
The former health secretary told LBC: “I have been on the cautious side of this debate for the whole of the last year but I’m actually not opposed to what the Prime Minister is doing.
“The reason is because if you look at the data at the moment, the projected number of deaths from Covid going forward is less than a bad flu year.
“That’s not what’s happened up to now but I’m talking about going forward from now.
“If you’ve got the context where the death rate is lower than some diseases that we normally cope with, then I think it’s alright to change the social contract from compulsion to co-operation because we have to find a way of living with this virus.”
Israel donating 700,000 Pfizer doses to South Korea
Away from the UK, Israel will deliver about 700,000 expiring doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine to South Korea later this month, and South Korea will give Israel back the same number, already on order from Pfizer, in September and October.
South Korea has quickly distributed the COVID-19 vaccines it has, but has struggled to obtain enough doses in a timely manner amid tight global supplies, particularly in Asia.
“This is a win-win deal,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement announcing the deal on Tuesday. “Together we will beat the pandemic.”
After a stellar roll-out, Israel has administered both shots to around 55% of its population and seen turnout plateau.
Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said the deal will allow South Korea to accelerate its vaccination plans, including providing shots to employees in some sectors that have a high amount of contact with other people.
ICYMI | Catch up with Boris Johnson press briefing
If you missed the Prime Minister’s briefing last night, then catch up below.
Four week delay to Freedom Day ‘has been worth it’
Professor Neil Ferguson said the four-week delay to lifting coronavirus restrictions “has been worth it”.
He told the Today Programme: “The modelling tended to indicate that there was a real benefit to the four-week delay we’re just coming to the end of now, in terms of topping up vaccination, getting second doses to people over the age of 40.
“I should say of everybody who has died in this pandemic in the UK, 99% of them have been over the age of 40.
“By the time we finally relax, nearly everybody in that age range will have had two doses, which gives a high level of protection.
“There are benefits going beyond that, there are still a few benefits but they’re more incremental.
“So I wouldn’t say it is a sweet spot but the four-week delay we have gone through has been worth it.”
Local authorities retain lockdown powers
The Health Secretary did not rule out the return of local lockdowns in the winter.
Sajid Javid said: “One concern that is still there throughout the world is that there will be new variants. Nobody can rule that out and nobody will know what they look like.
“There will be a risk of a vaccine-resistant variant and while there’s no evidence of that yet, it’s something we can’t rule out.”
When asked about the prospect of winter lockdowns, he said there was a “real risk of some kind of vaccine resistant variant”, adding: “That is why it is sensible to retain some powers.”
Local authorities will “retain powers at least until the end of September, and we will review them then”, he added.
And Mr Javid said: “If there is a need for the local use of powers, that is something that can be done.”
Health Secretary will continue to wear a mask
Health Secretary Sajid Javid 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.
He 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.”
Health Secretary understands concern over masks
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he understood that many people will be concerned about the rules around face coverings changing.
“I fully understand why many people will be anxious, they would want to be cautious,” he told Sky News.
“That is why other protections remain in place.”
He added that “for the foreseeable future”, he would be carrying a face mask with him and would wear one in a crowded situation.
Chris Whitty video: Second man charged with assault and obstructing police
A second man has been charged in relation to a video which emerged showing England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty being accosted in a central London park.
A video uploaded to social media appeared to show Mr Whitty looking uncomfortable as two men jostled and grabbed him while trying to persuade him to pose with them.
The footage drew widespread condemnation with the Prime Minister expressing shock and Priti Patel, the Home Secretary describing the incident as “appalling”.
Last week, 23-year-old Lewis Hughes – an estate agent from Essex – was charged with common assault, prompting questions as to why the second man in the video was not charged.
But on Tuesday morning, Scotland Yard said Jonathan Chew, 24, was charged with common assault and obstructing police.
He will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 6.
Experts warn against plan to scrap all restrictions
Boris Johnson’s pledge to end nearly all of England’s remaining coronavirus restrictions in one move despite cases rapidly rising has triggered a series of warnings.
British Medical Association council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said it was “incredibly concerning” for Mr Johnson to “decide to go full steam” despite warnings over rising hospitalisations and deaths.
He urged ministers to ensure the wearing of masks is compulsory “until the rampant spread of infection has been brought under control and more of the population are fully vaccinated”.
Professor Stephen Reicher, who advises the Government as part of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), warned there is a “very real risk prospect” that by the end of July there could be nearly a million cases per week.
“I really do fear that if we were to get up to those high numbers of infections there is a risk of causing huge damage primarily to young people because they’re the ones that aren’t vaccinated,” he told Channel 4 News.
“I think that’s a very big risk indeed, it’s not a risk I would take and I earnestly, I genuinely hope that I am wrong and it doesn’t happen but I wouldn’t be taking the risk.”
Blood Cancer UK chief executive Gemma Peters warned that the reduction of preventative measures will mean “more freedoms are taken away” from people with compromised immune systems.
Vaccine is ‘our wall of protection’, says Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid said that the coronavirus vaccine was “our wall of protection” as he said the Government was moving from a system of restrictions to personal responsibility.
“We need to learn to live with the virus and that is why yesterday I set out how we plan to ease restrictions from July 19, providing the tests that we have set are met,” the Health Secretary told Sky News.
“The reason we can afford to do this, which is to move from a system of rules and regulations, including rules we currently have on face masks, to a system of guidance and personal responsibility, is because of the vaccine.
“The vaccine is working, it is our wall of protection – jab by jab, brick by brick.”
‘Third wave going to look very different to second wave’
Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the Government, has said the third coronavirus wave will see “lower numbers” in hospital.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “This third wave is going to look very different from the second wave.
“In terms of cases per day, I think we will at least reach 50,000, I think (Prime Minister) was saying in his statement what he was expecting to see in the next couple of weeks, it will likely go higher than that.
“But what we do know is in the second wave there was a certain ratio between cases and hospitalisations and that ratio right now is being reduced by more than two-thirds, as we get more second doses into people it will go down even further.
“Even more positively, the ratio which we saw in the past between case numbers and deaths has been reduced by more like eight to ten fold.
“So the third wave, even if the number of cases per day gets very high, we’re still likely to see lower numbers of hospitalisations and deaths than we saw back in December and January just gone.”
‘We have got to be careful about language of irreversibility’
Chairman of the Commons Health Select Committee Jeremy Hunt has urged caution around “using the language of irreversibility” when lifting coronavirus restrictions because there is still a high number of infections each day worldwide.
The former health secretary 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.”
Today’s front page
Here is your Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, July 6.
Germany relaxes restrictions for travellers from four countries
Germany’s public health institute said on Monday the UK, India, Portugal and Russia were no longer “areas of variant concern”, reducing travel restrictions for people arriving from those countries.
All four countries had been downgraded to “high incidence areas”, the Robert Koch Institute said, meaning their citizens can now travel to Germany and 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.
The decisions, effective from Wednesday, come after Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday Britons who have had two vaccinations would soon be able to travel to Germany without going into quarantine on arrival.
Read more: Germany lifts travel ban on passengers from UK
Indonesia prepares extra facilities for worst-case outbreak scenario
Indonesia has prepared backup health facilities for a worst-case scenario where daily coronavirus infections reach 40,000 to 50,000, senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters on Tuesday.
He said the government has accommodation infrastructure that can be turned into isolation facilities and has also ramped up production of oxygen.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin added that the provinces in Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo island, were being monitored closely amid rise in cases of the delta variant in those areas.
Read more: ‘Dozens’ of Covid patients die in Indonesia as hospitals run out of oxygen
VIPs reportedly allowed at Tokyo opening ceremony, but no fans
Fans are likely to be banned from the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony over virus fears, but a reduced number of VIPs and Olympic officials will be able to attend, a Japanese newspaper reported.
International Olympic Committee representatives, foreign dignitaries, sponsors and others connected to the Games will be allowed into the National Stadium to watch the July 23 ceremony, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said late on Monday.
But under plans currently being discussed, fans would be locked out as organisers rethink attendance limits as concerns grow over rising virus cases in Tokyo.
The report, which cited several unnamed government sources, said organisers are working to whittle down the expected 10,000 “Olympic family” members to a level the Japanese public would find acceptable.
Read more: Vaccine passports will not be required for sports matches and concerts
Sydney lockdown call looms as new case numbers drop
The premier of Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) said on Tuesday she aims to decide within the next 24 hours whether to extend a lockdown in Sydney that is due to end on Friday as new infections dropped in the country’s most populous state.
Just 18 new locally acquired cases were detected in NSW on Tuesday, half of the previous day’s number. But Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the decision would also take into account her administration’s determination to make the current lockdown in the city of five million people the last, as it aims to step up vaccinations.
“That will factor into our decision-making as to whether it (the two-week lockdown) finishes on Friday or whether we continue for a period longer,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters. “I hope to be able to communicate to the community tomorrow on what next week looks like.”
Japan shipping another million vaccine doses to Taiwan
Japan will ship 1.3 million more doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to Taiwan, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Tuesday, after previously delivering 1.24 million for free last month.
Mr Motegi told a regularly scheduled news conference that the vaccines would be shipped on Thursday.
Hairspray cancels shows after positive test
West End musical Hairspray has cancelled its shows until next week after a member of the production team tested positive for coronavirus.
Starring singer Michael Ball, Hairspray had been praised by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden when it opened in London last month.
In a statement shared on Twitter, the show said someone on the production team tested positive “despite extremely robust measures being in place”.
All performances have been cancelled until Wednesday July 14, producers said.
Read more: What does Boris’s lockdown announcement mean for theatres, festivals and nightclubs?
Read more: Never mind July 19, Covid cancellations are already ruining theatre’s grand return
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Israel and South Korea reportedly agree to vaccine exchange
Israel agreed on Monday to provide about 700,000 expiring doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to South Korea, the Haaretz newspaper reported, citing Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Delivery of the doses is to begin later in July, and as part of the deal Israel will receive in September and October an identical number of Pfizer vaccine doses that had been ordered by Seoul, Mr Bennett said.
A spokeswoman for South Korea’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday she had no comment on the report.
Read more: Pfizer vaccine efficacy drops in Israel as delta variant spreads
Chinese city on Myanmar border reports three more cases
Authorities in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan reported three locally transmitted coronavirus cases for July 5, with all cases from the city of Ruili bordering Myanmar, according to Yunnan provincial authorities on Tuesday.
Yunnan province had reported three locally transmitted coronavirus cases the previous day as well, and is preventing individuals from leaving or entering Ruili city without special permission beginning from July 5.
The last outbreak of local cases in China was in the southern Guangdong province in mid-June.
Today’s top stories
Boris Johnson on Monday night announced the end of Covid restrictions and said that if Britain did not seize freedom now then a return to normality could be a long way away.
Bubbles are to end in schools on July 19, Boris Johnson announced on Monday as he said the “obvious way forward” is testing rather than sending large numbers of children home to self-isolate.
Germany has lifted its travel ban on passengers arriving from the UK, paving the way for summer holidays to the country for those who have been double vaccinated.
Boris Johnson has told the public they are set to no longer be legally required to wear masks from July 19, despite his chief medical advisor suggesting that face coverings should be worn as a “common courtesy”.
Government scientists have said “stronger” restrictions could be needed this autumn and winter, despite promises of an “irreversible” route out of lockdown.
Passengers on cross-border trains and buses will be free to ditch face masks in England but legally obliged to put them on as soon as they enter Scotland.
The SNP’s “critical failures” in handling the record surge in Covid cases cannot delay the move to the lowest level of lockdown this month, Douglas Ross said after Scotland was confirmed as Europe’s virus hotspot.