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Coronavirus: Spain insists country is safe as two British ministers on holiday are caught out by sudden quarantine rule

Australia records largest number of deaths in one day

Andy Gregory
Sunday 26 July 2020 11:51
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Government's handling of Spain quarantine 'shambolic', says Jonathan Ashworth

Spain‘s foreign minister has insisted the country is safe after the UK’s sudden imposition of a mandatory two-week quarantine for travellers, and said that any retaliatory measure would be taken “on the basis of epidemiological data”, adding: “This is not a political exercise.”

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab defended the move, described by Labour as “shambolic”, which also caught out two government ministers as they holidayed in Spain – transport secretary Grant Shapps and the minister for London, Paul Scully.

It came as North Korea identified what is believed to be its first case of Covid-19, in a defector who returned after three years, state news agency KCNA reported.

Australia recorded its largest number of deaths in one day, with all 10 taking place in Victoria, which suffered its second-highest tally of new cases despite a lockdown in Melbourne.

Please see below for how the day's events unfolded:

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Good morning, we'll be using this blog to follow all of the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic.

Andy Gregory26 July 2020 09:05
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Aviation chief urges 'voluntary testing' and regional air corridors with Spain 

The government should adopt "voluntary testing" and regional air corridors instead of quarantining all holidaymakers returning from Spain, the group which represents the airline industry said.

"We back the idea of voluntary testing on arrival or before you leave, we think testing would enable perhaps countries where quarantine would still apply as a whole, to enable individuals to come back without the need for quarantine if they test," Rob Griggs of Airlines UK told BBC Breakfast.

"And that's something that's been trialled in various parts around the world now, but we also think it's important to enable countries that are on the 'go' list, and people are able to fly, they will have the added reassurance that they would be able to take a test when they come back and not have to quarantine.

"For us the testing element is very important and the regional aspect, if the whole country isn't necessarily affected in the same way, can we be a little bit more specific in whether restrictions apply."

Andy Gregory26 July 2020 09:08
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Labour criticises 'shambolic' Spain quarantine plans

  Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the government's sudden decision to take Spain off the safe list had left holidaymakers "confused and distressed".

"I understand why they've made the decision but, of course, the way in which this decision has been made in the last 24 hours is frankly shambolic," the Labour MP told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme.

"There are holidaymakers in Spain at the moment confused and distressed, there are people about to go on holiday to Spain and the islands like Tenerife who are confused, and they don't know whether their employers will allow them to take two weeks' quarantine - the government is just saying, 'we hope that employers co-operate'.

"Well, to be frank, I hope I win the lottery on Saturday but that doesn't mean it is going to happen.

"We need clarity from government now as to whether those who are asked to quarantine, whether they'll get financial support if their employers refuse it them and we need clarity for those holidaymakers who are currently in Spain who have properly saved up all year for their family holiday who are confused and distressed.

"The way in which this decision has been communicated is obviously causing anxiety."

Andy Gregory26 July 2020 09:16
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Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has the details on the government's decision to add Spain to the mandatory two-week quarantine list.

Andy Gregory26 July 2020 09:43
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UK 'must be able to take swift, decisive action', Dominic Raab says

The foreign secretary has said the government could did not apologise for the decision to re-introduce quarantine measures on Spain at short notice.

"The cases in Spain, the data came we got was on the Friday, showed a big jump right across mainland Spain, that was then assessed yesterday afternoon and we took the decision as swiftly as we could," he told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme."And we can't make apologies for doing so.

"We must be able to take swift, decisive action, particularly in relation to localised, or internationally in relation to Spain or a particular country, where we see we must take action.

"Otherwise, we risk re-infection into the UK, potentially a second wave here and then another lockdown.

"So yes, I understand it is disruptive for those going through this who are in Spain or have been considering going but we must though be able to take swift, decisive action to protect the UK because we've made such progress in getting the virus down and prevent the virus re-taking hold in the UK."

Andy Gregory26 July 2020 10:07
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Global efforts to find Covid-19 medicines 'being hindered by haphazard use of treatments in US, expert says

Global efforts to find Covid-19 medicines are being hindered by the haphazard use of treatments in the US, the expert leading Britain's quest for a cure has said.

Professor Martin Landray has told The Observer that American researchers have been compromising attempts to find a treatment by testing drugs in "an arbitrary, williy-nilly way".

The UK's Recovery Trial programme has involved 12,000 patients at several hundred British hospitals. It has already highlighted one promising new drug and found two others previously thought to have potential as being useless in the fight against coronavirus.

Practices in the US, however, have meant drugs that could help are yet to be properly evaluated, Prof Landray said.

At the top of the list is convalescent plasma - blood plasma taken from Covid-19 patients which contains antibodies that could protect against the disease.

"Tens of thousands of people have been given convalescent plasma in the US but these treatments were not randomised," Prof Landray, one of the founders of the Recovery Trial programme, told the paper.

"They just give individuals convalescent plasma in the hope it will work. Vast quantities have been given and they still have no idea whether it helps, harms or has no impact."

Andy Gregory26 July 2020 10:17
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Parents to create wind-farm outside Downing Street to urge coronavirus recovery tackles climate change

More than 100 high-profile parents have urged Boris Johnson to ensure the recovery from the coronavirus crisis tackles climate change, our womens' correspondent Maya Oppenheim reports.

An open letter asking the prime minister to ensure the response to the Covid-19 emergency takes climate change into account has been signed by Julie Walters and Lily Cole, two actors, Paloma Faith, a musician, Chris Packham, the TV naturalist, and others.

Parents will gather outside Downing Street on Sunday where they will create a real-life wind farm with handheld bamboo turbines to signify the low-carbon recovery they say is required “to create jobs for our children today and help ensure a safe climate tomorrow”.

Andy Gregory26 July 2020 10:26
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Australia records highest number of daily infections

Australia has recorded its highest ever daily tally of deaths from coronavirus, as authorities in Victoria state battled scores of clusters of infection and intensified efforts to trace their contacts.

State leader Daniel Andrews told a media briefing the state had reported 10 Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, Australia's highest ever daily toll. Victoria also recorded 459 new cases of the coronavirus, its second highest tally ever, he said, falling short only of the 483 last Wednesday, and up from 357 on Saturday, as infections remained persistent despite a two-week lockdown of its biggest city, Melbourne.

The state's second wave is being driven by workplace infections at places like aged-care and healthcare facilities, big distribution centres, slaughterhouses, cold-storage facilities and warehouses, Andrews said.

"What that tells you is that some people ... are feeling sick, they have symptoms and they are still going to work," he said. "If that continues, then we will just continue to see more and more cases."

Andy Gregory26 July 2020 10:34
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Andy Gregory26 July 2020 10:58
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Russia records over 5,000 new cases

Russia has reported 5,765 new coronavirus cases and 77 more deaths, a steep decline from the 146 deaths reported a day earlier.

The nationwide tally of infections has risen to 812,485, Russia's coronavirus crisis response centre said. The Covid-19 death toll now stands at 13,269 and 600,250 people have recovered.

Reuters

Andy Gregory26 July 2020 11:01

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