Hospital patients and staff will soon be able to find out if they have coronavirus within just one hour under a rapid testing programme being developed by the government.
The tests, which detect the virus from a non-invasive nostril swap, could be vital for restarting NHS services, allowing patients and staff to be quickly assessed before surgery or other health care procedures.
The development came as almost 40 countries reported record daily increases in Covid-19 cases over the past week, with the pandemic gathering pace in every global region amid fears of a second wave of infections.
More than 15.86 million people have been reported to be infected worldwide.
Britain could be facing a collapse in its health and leisure infrastructure, the industry has warned.
Please see below for how today’s events unfolded.
Hello and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Indoor gyms and pools reopen in England as government encourages fitness
Indoor gyms and pools are reopening in England this weekend, with the government encouraging people to improve their fitness ahead of a potential second wave of coronavirus later this year.
Leisure centres have been allowed to reopen for the first time in four months, with strict hygiene and social-distancing measures.
However, at least a third of public facilities are expected to remain shut due to financial viability issues after receiving no income since March.
Our lifestyle writer, Sarah Young, has more information below on the new rules in gyms:
Obesity significantly increases risks from Covid-19, Public Health England says
People who are overweight or obese are at a significantly higher risk of hospitalisation or death from coronavirus, according to a government review.
In a review of existing studies, Public Health England (PHE) found people with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 were at a higher risk of poor outcomes and hospitalisation from Covid-19.
People with a BMI of between 30 and 35 had a 40 per cent higher risk of dying with Covid-19, while those with a BMI above 40 had nearly double the risk in comparison with those who are a healthy weight, the research found.
Our reporters, Andy Gregory and Ashley Cowburn, have the full story below:
Clear risks from being overweight and contracting coronavirus, PHE expert says
A senior Public Health England (PHE) expert has warned there are now clear risks in being overweight and contracting coronavirus, which could explain the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has had on different communities.
“You're more likely to be admitted to hospital, more likely to need treatment on an intensive care unit, we also know that it does increase your risk of death and it contributes to the various disparities we've seen,” Professor John Newton, the director of health improvement at PHE, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“As people get older, there is more obesity and the outcome is worse from Covid as you get older.
“People who live in poorer communities, obesity is significantly associated with that and obesity will explain some but not all of the effects of deprivation on the outcome of Covid.
“And also between different ethnic groups - obesity is substantially different between ethnic groups in this country and that may explain some but again not all of the difference between outcomes in ethnic groups.”
Public information campaign on obesity may not be enough, expert warns
A public information campaign is not likely to be enough to tackle the UK’s weight problem, following research indicating obesity is linked to higher Covid-19 risks, a health expert has warned.
David Buck, a senior fellow in public health and inequalities at the King's Fund, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “These sort of things around information et cetera are welcome but they may not be enough, particularly for those who are in more deprived areas, have difficult circumstances, have takeaways around them where it is so easy to walk past.”
When asked what should be done instead to tackle the problem, Mr Buck said: “One [option] is... planning regulations, giving local authorities stronger powers, clearer powers in order to help shape the environments around us, to help make them frankly less tempting to us so we are less likely to buy those foods and have those physical activities which are bad for our health and our obesity.”
He added: “Secondly, tax and price - one of the great things and welcome things the government has done is the sugar tax levy.
“And that's led to a huge change in the reformulation in drinks and the industry has been very receptive, made a big welcome change and that's taken about 30 per cent of calories out of the soft drinks market.”
South Korea and South Africa see cases jump as US states tighten restrictions
South Korea has reported more than 100 new coronavirus cases for the first time in four months, while South Africa has also seen a surge in infections.
The new cases in South Korea included 36 workers returning from Iraq and 32 crew members of a Russian freighter, the government said.
Officials had previously warned to expect a spike in cases from abroad and appealed to the public not to be alarmed.
South Africa, Africa's hardest-hit country, has reported more than 13,104 new confirmed cases, raising its total to 408,052, with 6,093 deaths in total.
Meanwhile in the US, Mississippi has tightened controls on bars to protect so-called “young, drunk, careless folks”, according to governor Tate Reeves.
Bars were already limited to operating at 50 per cent capacity but they will now also have to ensure all patrons are seated and stop sales at 11pm.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans has also ordered bars to close and banned restaurants from selling alcoholic drinks to take away amid an increase in cases of more than 2,000 in the surrounding state of Louisiana.
Government considering telling public to wear gloves, health minister says
The government is considering the possibility of telling people to wear gloves to prevent the spread of coronavirus, a health minister has said.
Lord Bethell was asked during a debate on coronavirus legislation in the House of Lords what the government’s position on the use of gloves was.
He replied: “To date, gloves are not in the guidance but they remain an area that we are looking at.”
Our reporter, Andy Gregory, has the full story below:
More than one vaccine may be needed for coronavirus, professor says
Professor Robin Shattock, who is working on a coronavirus vaccine at Imperial College London, has said it is important to have a number of vaccines available for Covid-19.
"I think we need a series of vaccines so, while we talk about this often as a race, it is a race where we need as many groups to get past the finishing post as possible because when we think of things on a global scale, developing enough vaccines for seven billion people is going to be too big a thing for any single group to do,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Professor Shattock also agreed with a growing amount of scientific opinion which has argued humanity will have to live with Covid-19 for potentially decades to come.
“I think that's true - it is highly likely we may need vaccinations to be boosted possibly even on an annual basis like we do for influenza,” he said.
“That's one of the benefits our particular approach has, that it is a low dose and can be used as frequently as it is required.”
Cases rising in every global region amid fears of second wave, analysis shows
Almost 40 countries have reported record daily increases in coronavirus cases over the past week, about double the number that did so in the previous week, according to a Reuters tally.
Data has shown a pick-up in the pandemic in every region of the world amid fears of a second wave of infections.
“We will not be going back to the 'old normal'. The pandemic has already changed the way we live our lives,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) director-general, said this week.
“We're asking everyone to treat the decisions about where they go, what they do and who they meet with as life-and-death decisions - because they are.”
Reuters reported that the rate of cases had been increasing not only in countries like the United States, Brazil and India, which have dominated headlines with large outbreaks, but in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Bolivia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Uzbekistan and Israel, among others.
The data, which was compiled from official reports, showed a steady rise in the number of countries reporting record daily increases in cases over the past month - with at least seven countries recording such increases three weeks ago, at least 20 countries last week and 37 countries this week.
Only 20 per cent of pools will reopen on Saturday, industry expert says
The chief executive of Swim England has estimated only 20 per cent of pools will be opening on Saturday - the first day such facilities have been allowed to open since lockdown in March.
Jane Nickerson said there were serious concerns for the industry as the UK was facing the possibility of losing 40 per cent of its pool stock by the end of this decade, even before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“They haven't had any money over the last three months at all,” Ms Nickerson told the BBC.
“They probably won't be doing swimming lessons to start with and they will be doing lane swimming with less people, which means they can't afford to open.
“Without some government support, I think a lot of pools will fail to open this year or if ever.”
She added: “We know that swimming saves the NHS and social care system £357m a year.
“We know every single pool returns around £7.2m in community benefits - in social cohesion, crime prevention, education attainment and health benefits - so a little bit of support now from the government will have its payback within months.
“It is not like it's asking for money that just gets thrown away - by tackling the health and obesity crisis in the pool, it actually saves a lot of money.”
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