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Coronavirus news – live: Cases pass 25m worldwide, amid warning government ‘cock-up’ may lead to 50,000 unnecessary UK deaths

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WHO state cooperation is key to coronavirus recovery

The UK is facing up to 50,000 unnecessary deaths because Boris Johnson’s government “consciously allowed” coronavirus to spread, a former chief scientific adviser has said.

Sir David King, who founded the Independent Sage group, described the official response to the pandemic as a “complete cock-up by government”, driven in part by a desire to maintain secrecy around the scientific advice it was receiving.

This come as the Conservative's Charles Walker, deputy chair of the 1922 Committee, warned that the prime minister’s U-turns are creating a “climate of uncertainty”, making it “increasingly difficult” for Tory MPs to defend government policy.

Follow the latest updates live:


Good morning and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. We'll be bringing you the latest news, updates and analysis throughout the day.

Samuel Lovett30 August 2020 08:23

Reopening universities could spark second coronavirus wave, academics warn

 The risk of infection on campuses could see universities become ground zero for a second wave of Covid-19 unless they avoid face-to-face teaching, academics have warned.

The movement of an expected one million students around Britain as they return to universities in the next month has led the University and College Union (UCU) to warn the Government is "encouraging a public health crisis".

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said the mass movement "could lead to universities being the care homes of any second wave of Covid".

She also accused the Government of a lack of planning, with more students expected on campuses following the admissions fiasco as data emerges that infection rates are increasing among younger people.

"So the very people who are increasingly getting infected by this virus are being encouraged in mass numbers to move all around the country and congregate and live together," Ms Grady said.

"It doesn't make sense."

Samuel Lovett30 August 2020 08:24

India sees record jump in daily cases

India has registered a record 78,761 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the worst single-day spike in the world.

The Health Ministry also reported 948 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 63,498.

India now has the fastest-growing daily coronavirus caseload of any country in the world, and has reported more than 75,000 infections for the fourth consecutive day.

Sunday's surge has raised the country's total virus tally to over 3.5 million and comes at a time when India is reopening its subway networks and allowing sports and religious events in a limited manner from next month as part of efforts to revive the economy.

The crowded subway, a lifeline for millions of people in the capital New Delhi, will be reopened in a phased manner from 7 September.

Schools and colleges will, however, remain closed until the end of September.

The South Asian country has the third-highest caseload after the United States and Brazil, and its fatalities are the fourth-highest.

Samuel Lovett30 August 2020 08:32

'Climate of uncertainty'

A senior Conservative has warned that the prime minister’s U-turns are creating a “climate of uncertainty”, making it “increasingly difficult” for MPs to defend government policy.

Charles Walker, deputy chair of the 1922 Committee, told the Observer: "Too often it looks like this government licks its finger and sticks it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. This is not a sustainable way to approach the business of governing and government.”

The government has made numerous U-turns in recent weeks, most recently on face masks in schools and the grading of A-level results.

Mr Walker added: “It is becoming increasingly difficult for backbenchers now to promote and defend government policy as so often that policy is changed or abandoned without notice. Whether this approach is by design or by accident, the climate of uncertainty it creates is unsustainable and erodes morale."

Samuel Lovett30 August 2020 08:36

Influencers paid taxpayer funds to promote struggling test and trace scheme  

The government has admitted to paying social media influencers and reality TV stars to promote the NHS Test and Trace system as it failed to reach its 80 per cent target for the ninth week in a row.

A spokesman said the government had a responsibility to "use every means possible" to keep the public informed during the pandemic.

He said: "Our use of social media influencers has meant over 7 million people have been reached. This is just one part of a wider campaign utilising TV, radio, social, print and other advertisements to ensure the public has the information it needs."

It comes as the Sunday Mirror reported Love Island stars Shaughna Phillips, Chris Hughes and Josh Denzel were among those paid by the Cabinet Office to tell their online followers testing for Covid-19 was "free, quick and vital to stop the spread".

But Ms Phillips and Mr Hughes have also both posted images online in the last month which showed them failing to socially distance from others on Mediterranean islands.

The Mirror cited a social media expert as saying the stars would usually command between £5,000 and £10,000 for an ad post.

The government's spokesman said: "All costs involved in the campaign will be published as part of the regular transparency reports on"

Samuel Lovett30 August 2020 08:40

Germany’s confirmed cases continue to grow

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 785 to 241,771, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

The reported death toll rose by six to 9,295, the tally showed. 

Samuel Lovett30 August 2020 08:55

Health experts decry Trump's shunning of virus rules

Public health experts expressed concern Friday about president Donald Trump's largely mask-free, socially un-distanced Republican convention event on the White House lawn, saying some of his 1,500 guests may have inadvertently brought and spread the coronavirus to others.

"There almost certainly were individuals there who were infected with Covid-19 but don't know it," said Dr Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University.

"I worry about these individuals infecting one another and most certainly going back to their home," said Dr Wen, who previously served as Baltimore's health commissioner.

Mr Trump delivered his speech accepting the GOP presidential nomination at the Thursday night event, which continued a pattern of flouting coronavirus safety guidelines.

Few in the audience wore masks when virtually all leading public health professionals, including the administration's, say face coverings play a big part in slowing virus transmission.

Public health officials also expressed concern over a march in Washington on Friday to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The size of the event had been scaled back because of coronavirus concerns.

Samuel Lovett30 August 2020 09:10

Russia's infection tally climbs to near 1 million

Russia reported 4,980 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, pushing its confirmed national tally up to 990,326.

Authorities said 68 people had died of Covid-19 over the last 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 17,093.

Samuel Lovett30 August 2020 09:25

The UK is facing up to 50,000 unnecessary deaths because Boris Johnson’s government “consciously allowed” coronavirus to spread, a former chief scientific adviser has said, reports political editor Andrew Woodcock.

Sir David King described the official response to the pandemic as a “complete cock-up by government”, driven in part by a desire to maintain secrecy around the scientific advice it was receiving.

In an interview with Red Pepper magazine, the first part of which is published today, Professor King said he founded the Independent Sage group of scientific experts to inform the public about Covid-19 because of the “complete mess” of the official response in the first months of the outbreak.

And in the second part of the interview, due for publication on Wednesday, he claimed: “The prime minister believed in the herd immunity programme … The prime minister said, ‘We have to be prepared for losing some of our loved ones, every one of us has to be prepared.’

“So, there was that expectation. They consciously allowed the disease to spread.”

Read more below:

Samuel Lovett30 August 2020 09:40

US networks struggle to fill fall TV slots after coronavirus shutdowns

Reality shows, re-runs and revivals make up most of the television menu this fall as America's top four broadcasters grapple to fill holes in their schedules caused by coronavirus production shutdowns. 

Most scripted dramas, including popular shows like "This Is Us" and "9-1-1," will not be available until November or later, while the "Star Trek: Discovery" series that has been behind a paywall for three years will get a run on free-to-view CBS, the networks announced this week.

Samuel Lovett30 August 2020 09:55

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