Coronavirus news you may have missed overnight: Dominic Cummings faces fresh allegations of breaking lockdown rules as test-and-trace system to launch

Number of Covid-19 infections now over 5.31 million worldwide

Kate Ng
Sunday 24 May 2020 09:58
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Dominic Cummings defends travelling during lockdown as 'reasonable and legal'

The coronavirus pandemic has affected every part of our lives, and the world faces the challenge of adapting to a new normal in order to save lives from the highly contagious disease.

Globally, over 5.31 million people have been infected by the virus, with more than 342,000 deaths.

This is your daily briefing of coronavirus news you may have missed overnight.

Dominic Cummings took sightseeing trip during lockdown, new reports claim

Boris Johnson’s most senior aide is facing fresh allegations he broke lockdown rules by taking a sightseeing trip on Easter Sunday.

The government came to Dominic Cummings’ defence after it emerged he made a 260-mile journey to see his parents in County Durham. Ministers insisted this first trip was essential and that he obeyed the rules by staying in one place while there.

But a joint report by The Guardian and The Mirror spoke to an eyewitness who said he had seen Mr Cummings on 12 April, 30 miles from Durham in Barnard Castle.

Another eyewitness said he saw Mr Cummings in Durham on 19 April, just days after he had been photographed returning to Downing Street.

Senior MPs are set to question Mr Johnson over the issue later this week, as pressure mounts for the prime minister to explain what he knew about the trip and to sack Mr Cummings for breaking the rules.

A spokesperson for No 10 described the reports as “inaccurate” and added: “We will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers.”

Test-and-trace to launch next week with 25,000 recruits

The government will launch its flagship test-and-trace system at the end of this week, just ahead of the June deadline set by the prime minister.

Some 25,000 contact tracers have been recruited in what ministers have called the largest virtual call centre operation in the country.

However, the NHS app that is due to accompany the system is not expected to be ready in time for the launch.

The programme traces the contacts of anyone infected with the disease and will warn people that they have been in close proximity of someone with coronavirus and advise them to self-isolate.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “A test-and-trace system allows us to isolate new infections so that we can control the spread of the virus, which will be vital while coronavirus remains present in the UK.

“As we continue on the road to recovery, this will mean that in time lockdown will no longer be necessary for the vast majority of the public and instead it will be possible for there to be a targeted lockdown for a small number of people.”

Hairstylist with Covid-19 potentially exposed 91 people to disease

Health officials have warned that a hairstylist in Missouri who continued to work despite having symptoms of Covid-19 may have exposed over 90 customers and colleagues to the highly-contagious virus.

The health authorities in Springfield, 200 miles southwest of St Louis, issued a warning advising people that they may have been exposed to coronavirus if they visited Great Clips salon between 12 May and last Wednesday.

The stylist, who was not named, tested positive for coronavirus and was thought to have become infected while travelling.

The Springfield-Greene County health department said in a statement: “The individual and their clients were wearing face coverings. The 84 clients potentially directly exposed will be notified by the health department and be offered testing, as will seven coworkers.

“It is the hope of the department that because face coverings were worn throughout this exposure timeline, no additional cases will result.”

Nevada plans to reopen casinos statewide on 4 June

Casinos in Las Vegas may reopen on 4 June, Nevada’s state governor Steve Sisolak has said.

All casinos were ordered to shut down on 17 March in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. The closing of the major tourist hotspots led to mass layoffs and furloughs of workers as tourism accounts for one third of employment in the state.

Department of Labour data for April shows Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 28.2 per cent, almost six percentage points higher than the next state, Michigan.

Mr Sisolak said on Friday: “Ahead of the holiday weekend, I wanted to announce to all Nevadans that I will be holding a press conference on Tuesday, May 26, to discuss the next phase in Nevada’s reopening plan. As long as our data stays consistent, I expect to announce a Phase 2 date for reopening.

“Additionally, the Gaming Control Board will meet Tuesday and will consider any action necessary with regard to reopening. Pending the evaluation of trends in our data and results of this meeting, I have set a target date of June 4, 2020, for reopening Nevada’s gaming industry.

“Over this holiday weekend, I want to remind Nevadans to stay safe by staying home, wearing face coverings if in public, avoiding large gatherings of ten or more and practicing aggressive social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people.”

Spain to open up to British tourists from July, says prime minister

Spain will open to foreign tourists from July, with its prime minister promising that the country would guarantee the safety of visitors as it tries to recover from the coronavirus lockdown.

Prime minister Pedro Sanchez said at a press conference on Saturday: “I am announcing to you that from the month of July, entry of foreign tourists into Spain will resume in secure conditions.

“Foreign tourists can also start planning their holidays in our country. Spain needs tourism and tourism needs safety in both origin and destination. We will guarantee that tourists will not run any risks, nor will they bring any risks to our country.”

Tourism in Spain accounts for 12.5 per cent of its GDP and over 12 per cent of employment in the country. The industry has suffered huge blows from the lockdown, which lasted around two months.

Mr Sanchez had a special message for British tourists, and told The Independent: “The connection between Spain and Britain is total in many ways from the point of economy and tourism. We would like to offer our absolute solidarity to the British society in this critical moment.”

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