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Coronavirus news – live: Australia commits to free vaccine for all citizens as data shows depression rates double in UK

Follow the latest updates

Kate Ng,Jane Dalton,Vincent Wood
Tuesday 18 August 2020 20:30 BST
Coronavirus in numbers

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the coronavirus is being spread largely by young people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who are unaware they have been infected.

Takeshi Kasai, regional director for WHO Western Pacific, told a virtual briefing on Tuesday that young people driving the spread pose a risk to more vulnerable groups.

Meanwhile, Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison has announced it will manufacture a coronavirus vaccine and give it to its citizens free.

AstraZeneca’s experimental jab is considered a leader in the global race for an effective vaccine.

A major state-owned Chinese pharmaceutical company has claimed its coronavirus vaccine will be commercially available by the end of the year.

SinoPharm has two vaccines in trial and an annual manufacturing capacity of 220 million doses, said its chairman, Liu Jingzhen.


Good morning, and welcome to The Independent's liveblog following coronavirus-related news in the UK and around the world.

Kate Ng18 August 2020 08:06

Coronavirus spread driven by asymptomatic young people, warns WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) raised concerns that the spread of Covid-19 was being driven by people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, many of which did not show symptoms of having the virus.

WHO officials said this month the proportion of younger people among those infected had risen throughout the world and could put more vulnerable groups at risk.

WHO Western Pacific regional director Takeshi Kasai told a virtual briefing on Tuesday: “The epidemic is changing. People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving the spread. Many are unaware they are infected.

“This increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable.”

Kate Ng18 August 2020 08:15

Coronavirus vaccine ready by end of year, says Chinese company


The head of a major state-owned Chinese pharmaceutical company has claimed its coronavirus vaccine will be commercially available by the end of 2020.

Liu Jingzhen, chairman of SinoPharm, said the vaccine would cost under 1,000 yuan (approximately £109) and would be administered in two shots, 28 days apart.

He told state-owned newspaper Guangming Daily that students and workers in major cities would have to get the vaccine, but “not all of the 1.4 billion people in our country have to take it”.

Mr Liu is also the company’s Communist Party secretary. He told the paper he had been injected with the vaccine.

Kate Ng18 August 2020 08:21

Coronavirus could be linked to type 1 diabetes in children, study suggests

A study has suggested that Covid-19 could be linked to the onset of type 1 diabetes in children, after finding some hospitals saw twice as many young patients with the condition compared to normal times.

Diabetes, which inhibits the body’s ability to produce insulin, may develop alongside the virus.

Vincent Wood has the details:

Kate Ng18 August 2020 08:40

Marks & Spencer to cut 7,000 jobs due to pandemic

Marks & Spencer has announced it is to cut 7,000 jobs in the next three months as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic becomes ever clearer.

Workers at stores across the UK will be affected by the cuts, as well as those working in regional management and at the high street chain’s central support centre.

The company said total sales have been down 29.9 per cent since shops reopened two months ago, with stores in town centres and shopping centres remaining “heavily impacted by social distancing and reduced footfall”.

Harry Cockburn reports:

Kate Ng18 August 2020 09:00

Three primary school pupils test positive for coronavirus


Three children attending separate primary schools have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland.

Renfrewshire Council confirmed a positive case at Todholm Primary School in Paisley. Two other cases were detected in pupils in Perth and Kinross, and both are self-isolating at home with mild symptoms along with their immediate family members.

NHS Tayside and Perth and Kinross Council said in a joint statement the schools will remain open as there is currently no evidence of any transmission of the coronavirus within either of the schools and the risk to staff and other pupils has been assessed as low by public health specialists.

41 close contacts of the positive cases have been identified by the health protection team, including some school pupils and staff. They have been notified and advised to self-isolate for two weeks from 14 August.

Jacquie Pepper, depute director, education and children's services at Perth and Kinross Council, said: "We hope both children who have tested positive for Covid-19 make a full and speedy recovery.

"We have worked closely with NHS Tayside's health protection team and wish to reassure parents that all settings which these pupils have attended during their infectious period have been identified. Close contacts have been asked to self-isolate as a precaution.

"This will be a worrying time for parents; however, there is no evidence of wider transmission and children should attend school as normal."

Kate Ng18 August 2020 09:15

Irish health chiefs back more coronavirus restrictions - report

Public health officials in Ireland have recommended that older people be urged to limit time spent outdoors and gatherings in homes be restricted to six people to control the spread of coronavirus.

According to a report by the Irish Independent, health chiefs met on Monday to decide if more restrictions were needed to stem a growing spread of Covid-19.

Government and officials have called the rise in cases deeply concerning. The cabinet will meet later today to consider the recommendations.

Ireland’s restrictions now limit gatherings to 50, while 10 visitors from no more than four different households are allowed in the homes of anyone else to limit house parties.

Kate Ng18 August 2020 09:30

Everything you need to know about reusable face coverings

Louise Whitbread has all the details:

Kate Ng18 August 2020 09:45

Is the UK’s post-lockdown housing market boom running out of steam?

The UK property market had its busiest month in July in more than a decade with over £37bn of sales going through, according to Rightmove.

But there are signs things could be slowing down. Ben Chapman investigates:

Kate Ng18 August 2020 10:00

Shadow health secretary calls PHE shake-up ‘irresponsible’

Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health secretary, has described the replacing of Public Health England as “irresponsible” and “desperate blame-shifting”.

He tweeted: “Last year ministers outlined PHE’s priorities. They didn’t mention preparing for a pandemic…

“A structural reorganisation mid-pandemic is time-consuming, energy sapping. It’s risky indeed irresponsible.

“And what an insulting way to treat hardworking staff who heard about this from a pay-walled Sunday newspaper leaving them with questions and worries about their jobs.”

Baroness Dido Harding, who runs NHS England’s Test and Trace scheme, will reportedly head the government’s new Institute for Health Protection, which will replace PHE.

Kate Ng18 August 2020 10:15

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