Fears of a second coronavirus spike grew after new figures showed the virus could be growing exponentially in the northwest of England.
The reproduction rate is thought to be 1.01 in the northwest and 1 in the southwest according to data compiled by Public Health England (PHE) and Cambridge University.
The blow comes as the World Health Organisation updated its guidelines to recommend everyone wear a mask while in public – and over-60s wear medical grade masks.
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A significant development yesterday as it was revealed the virus’s reproduction rate – the so-called R -number – was above 1 in the northwest and at 1 in the southwest.
“If the R is higher than 1 that means this disease is growing exponentially and will keep on spreading to more and more people,” Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientist, has previously said.
The government has long said that keeping this figure below 1 was vital to easing the lockdown – and to preventing a second deadly wave.
So, what might the new data mean? We look at the possible consequences here:
With the UK government making the wearing of masks mandatory on public transport from 15 June, the World Health Organisation has updated its own guidelines to recommend over-60s go one step further and wear medical-grade masks while in public.
But, warned the organisation’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,: “I cannot say this clearly enough: masks alone will not protect you from Covid-19.”
Sunday trading laws could be scrapped to help economic recovery Sunday trading laws could be scrapped for a year to help the economy recover from the coronavirus crisis.Supermarket bosses have previously urged the government to relax the legislation — which limits larger shops to only serving customers for six hours on Sundays — to ease queues and overcrowding.And it appears their calls have been answered, as Downing Street is said to be drawing up plans to extend trading hours as part of a package of measures to revive the economy.Read more: Sunday trading laws could be relaxed to help economy recover from coronavirus crisis
People's sleep poorer under lockdown, according to study
People are sleeping less well under lockdown, according to a new study conducted by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI.
Half of the people surveyed between 22 and 24 May reported more disturbed sleep, while 38 per cent of people said they experienced more vivid dreams.
The findings follow several previous studies by fitness tracking firms that revealed people have been sleeping longer during the lockdown period.
Schools 'strongly advised' not to admit more pupils
Schools are being “strongly advised” not to admit more pupils after new data suggested coronavirus could still be spreading in the northwest of England.
Headteachers in Tameside, east of Manchester, have been told to delay the wider reopening of schools beyond key workers' and vulnerable children, planned for Monday, “until there is further assurance,” the council's director of public health, Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy said in a letter to schools.
The North West has the highest rate of Covid-19 infections in England according to Public Health England (PHE), and data has suggested the reproductive rate, known as the R value, is higher than 1 in the region, a crucial marker for public health.
The R value refers to the average number of people that will contract coronavirus from an infected person.
If it is 1 or higher, the virus will spread exponentially through the population, while a value less than 1 indicates the virus is in decline.
Data from PHE released on Friday gave an R value of 1.01 for the North West and 1.0 for the South West, with all other regions below 1.
NHS chiefs criticise government for making policy ‘on the hoof’
NHS chiefs have criticised the government for making policy “on the hoof” after new face covering regulations for hospitals were announced, saying that trust leaders were not consulted in advance and “have been left completely in the dark”.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said on Friday that all hospital visitors and outpatients in England would need to wear face coverings and hospital staff must use surgical masks as of 15 June to help limit the transmission of Covid-19.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman added that, while members of the public attending hospital are “strongly urged” to wear a face covering, no one will be denied care and masks will be provided by the hospital if necessary.
MPs' seven-week summer holidays could be cut by 21 days in order to get Brexit and coronavirus legislation through Parliament, The Times' deputy political editor reports.
Steven Swinford says ministers are also considering cancelling the traditional conference recess in the autumn.
Leading scientists demand Boris Johnson hold inquiry into coronavirus mistakes
An urgent inquiry must be held now to avoid repeating the mistakes that have undermined the fight against coronavirus before the feared second peak, leading scientists say.
Boris Johnson has been told to end his refusal to order the investigation yet, with the warning: “Many more will die unless we find quick, practical solutions.”
A letter has been signed by 27 experts, of which more than half are professors in virology, public health, epidemiology or other relevant fields.
French police ban protests against them in Paris due to coronavirus
Anti-police violence protests around the Eiffel Tower have been banned due to coronavirus restrictions, Paris authorities have said.
In addition to this, demonstrations outside the US embassy – also planned for Saturday afternoon - have been barred from going ahead over public health concerns.
La Prefecture de Paris, the capital’s police force, said lots of people could be drawn to the protests, while current lockdown rules only allow 10 people to gather outside at a time.
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