- Dominic Cummings denies fresh claims that he broke lockdown
- Oxford University vaccine trial has only 50pc chance of success
- Lockdown saved no lives and may have cost them, says Nobel Prize winner
- Revealed: Police spoke to Cummings’ father twice over Durham trip
- Everything we know so far about Dominic Cummings’ drive up north
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Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief advisor, remains in post tonight with a declaration of support from the Prime Minister following reports he broke lockdown rules to travel to Durham.
At this evening’s press conference, Boris Johnson said Mr Cummings acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”, despite claims he went on a day trip to Barnard Castle and travelled over 200 miles during the lockdown period.
Mr Johnson said his advisor’s actions were in keeping with the rules, which make provision for childcare emergencies.
But although the Prime Minister insisted he had heard the full story this afternoon in Downing Street, he failed to answer several key questions about Mr Cummings’ trip to Durham.
Mr Johnson he had examined the events “carefully” and reports in the newspapers “do not seem to correspond remotely with reality”.
He did not point to specific inaccurate claims.
Follow the latest updates below.
Government scientific advisor says Boris has ‘trashed advice’
Stephen Reicher, who says he is involved in the Scientific Pandemic Influenza group on Behaviour, a component of Sage, said Boris Johnson had “trashed” advice on how to build trust in the population on Covid-19.
As one of those involved in SPI-B, the Government advisory group on behavioural science, I can say that in a few short minutes tonight, Boris Johnson has trashed all the advice we have given on how to build trust and secure adherence to the measures necessary to control COVID-19.
— Stephen Reicher (@ReicherStephen) May 24, 2020
He added: It is very hard to provide scientific advice to a government which doesn’t want to listen to science. I hope, however, that the public will read our papers and continue to make up for this bad government with their own good sense.”
Tory MP describes ‘collective dismay’ over Johnson support of Cummings
Paul Maynard, a Tory former minister, was withering in his response to the Prime Minister’s defence of Dominic Cummings. The Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP said: “I can only share the collective dismay and I understand the widespread anger.
“So many people in this constituency have gone out of their way to stick to both the letter and the spirit of the guidelines and laws, despite it coming at great personal emotional cost.
Comment: Here’s what the Government must do to avoid an enduring depression
Policymakers need to push every button and tug every lever to get Britain moving again – before it’s too late, writes Daniel Hannan.
I’m not sure we have the slightest sense of what is about to hit us. The United Kingdom is plunging into a worse recession than anything it experienced during the First World War, the Second World War or the crash in between.
We will borrow more than £300 billion this year – more than twice as much as after the 2008 financial crash. That crisis was severe enough: even with a decade of austerity, we had still not eliminated the deficit when the coronavirus struck. This time, it is far, far worse. Despite the furlough scheme, 856,500 people were driven onto the dole last month, an increase of 69 per cent. Our GDP is down by perhaps a third.
A country that loses a third of its income can no longer afford the things it used to take for granted. When I say “a country” I don’t just mean “a government”.
Pretty much every British citizen reading these words is going to suffer some loss. It might happen through taxation, inflation, devaluation or lost earnings but, one way or another, we’re almost all going to be poorer.
Sturgeon joins calls for Dominic Cummings to resign
Nicola Sturgeon yesterday urged Boris Johnson to put public health above loyalty to his “trusted adviser” by ensuring Dominic Cummings stands down, Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor, reports.
The First Minister said she and Dr Catherine Calderwood faced the same choice after Scotland’s former chief medical officer twice travelled to her family’s second home during lockdown.
She said it was “tough” to lose a close adviser during the pandemic but the alternative was undermining the “integrity of public health advice” being issued by the government during the crisis.
In a message on social media posted shortly before the Prime Minister presided over the daily Downing Street briefing, she said that Mr Johnson “and Cummings should do likewise.”
But Mr Johnson denied that Mr Cummings’ continued presence in 10 Downing Street risked the public ignoring official advice and claimed there was a “sharp distinction” with Dr Calderwood’s case.
He said that “unlike the lady you mention” Mr Cummings went into self-isolation for at least 14 days and this was “determined by the childcare needs of the family.”
Government investigating ‘unauthorised’ tweet
The Government says it is “investigating” a tweet posted from the official UK Civil Service account that appeared to call Boris Johnson “arrogant and offensive”.
A Government spokesman said: “An unauthorised tweet was posted on a government channel this evening. The post has been removed and we are investigating the matter.”
See the tweet in the post at at 18.07.
Sir Roger Gale: This story will run and run
Veteran Tory MP Sir Roger Gale said he was “very disappointed” with the Prime Minister’s decision to defend Dominic Cummings.
He told the PA news agency: “I’m very disappointed, I think it was an opportunity to put this to bed and I fear that now the story is simply going to run and run.”
Headteacher’s union leader welcomes schools announcement
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the Prime Minister’s recognition that it will not be possible for all primary schools in England to open to more pupils from June 1.
“The reality is that many schools will need to phase back eligible pupils over a period of time, and there will be a great deal of variability across the country according to context,” he said.
“We also welcome the decision to push back bringing in Year 10 and 12 students to June 15 and the clarification about the maximum number of students at any one time.”
He added: “However, we have to say that the Government has not done a good job in building confidence in its plans. It has not communicated the rationale for its chosen approach well, and it left primary schools with little time to plan and implement safety protocols.”
Barnard Castle number plate belongs to Dominic Cummings, says Sky News
Sky News is claiming to have verified the number plate seen in Barnard Castle by a witness, and says it is a car owned by Dominic Cummings.
More as we get it.
Downing Street previously denied that Mr Cummings made that journey. Boris Johnson dodged questions about Barnard Castle at this evening’s press conference.
Tory MP ‘unconvinced’ by Cummings defence
David Warburton, the Tory MP for Somerton and Frome, said he was “unconvinced” by Boris Johnson’s defence of Dominic Cummings.
“As much as I despise any baying pitchfork-led trials by social media, I’m unconvinced by the PM’s defence of Cummings,” he tweeted.
“We’ve all been tasked with tempering our parental, and other, instincts by strictly adhering to Govt guidance.”
Police were called to Cummings’ home because of journalists
After police officers were seen at Dominic Cummings’ north London home, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Police were called to an address in Islington at 2.49pm on Sunday, May 24.
“It was reported that a large crowd of people were outside the address.
“Officers attended the location. The call was not treated as an emergency.
“The officers knocked on the door of the property. There was no reply.
“Media present were reminded of social distancing guidance. A number of members of the public were asked to move on, without issue.
“No other action was taken by police. The caller was advised that police had attended the location.”
Scotland Yard would not confirm who had called the police.
Here is a video of the police at the address earlier today:
Sir Keir Starmer: This is an ‘insulted to the sacrifices made by the British people’
Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party said: “This was a test of the Prime Minister and he has failed it.
“It is an insult to sacrifices made by the British people that Boris Johnson has chosen to take no action against Dominic Cummings.
“The public will be forgiven for thinking there is one rule for the Prime Minister’s closest adviser and another for the British people.
“The Prime Minister’s actions have undermined confidence in his own public health message at this crucial time.
“Millions were watching for answers and they got nothing. That’s why the Cabinet Secretary must now launch an urgent inquiry.”
Department of Health doesn’t know how many people have been tested in last 24 hours
As of 9am 24 May, there have been 3,458,905 tests, with 110,401 tests on 23 May.
259,559 people have tested positive.
As of 5pm on 23 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 36,793 have sadly died. pic.twitter.com/j7uG40adct
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) May 24, 2020
There has been an issue with data collection at the Department of Health again today.
Usually, the department says how many people have been tested in the last 24 hours.
Today, the number is “unavailable” due to an “issue with data collection”.
The Department of Health did not answer any questions from the Telegraph about the issue when asked this morning.
What did we learn from that press conference?
As press conferences go, that was a pretty big one.
Today’s briefing was moved from 4pm to 5pm and commandeered by Boris Johnson in a last minute change of plan.
Here’s everything we learnt:
- Dominic Cummings clings on. The Prime Minister said while he understood that it looked bad that Mr Cummings had appeared to have broken the rules, he was satisfied his advisor acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”.
- But we don’t know what happened. Mr Johnson didn’t answer any specific questions on the Cummings family road trip, including whether or not they visited Barnard Castle, as reported in the Mirror and Guardian. We don’t know if he stopped on the way, when he told the PM he was going, and whether he made a second trip.
- Downing Street denies the reports. We heard again that the reports about Mr Cummings were inaccurate, but Mr Johnson didn’t say what specific details were wrong.
- UK is heading for phase two. Mr Johnson said phase two of lockdown would begin soon, with more details “in the coming days”. We should hear more on non-essential shops and socialising, he said.
- Year 10s and 12s will go back on June 15. Part of phase two will be more children in school. While Reception and Years One and Six go back from June 1, students who have exams next academic year will have some contact hours from June 15.
Dominic Cummings has not undermined the advice, says Boris Johnson
A journalist from the Scotsman asks whether the Government’s advice has been undermined by Dominic Cummings.
The Scottish chief medical advisor had to resign after she broke the rules to protect the guidance, he says.
Mr Johnson says the key difference between the two incidents is that Dominic Cummings did not break the rules.
The guidance remains unchanged, says Boris Johnson
Charlie Cooper from Politico asks whether the advice from the Government has changed. Should people who are in the same position now do what Mr Cummings did?
Mr Johnson said the advice remains unchanged and there is provision in the guidance for childcare.
Mr Cummings and his wife were taking precautions in case they both “went under” from the virus, and sought the help of his parents, he said.
Boris Johnson: I get it, it looks bad
Mr Johnson says “one of the reasons he wanted to come and talk to everybody about that” is because he “totally gets” that the trip to Durham looks like hypocrisy.
He says he has looked at what happened and thinks people will agree that he behaved “responsibly and legally”.
Boris Johnson dodges the detail on Dominic Cummings
After some technical issues, Iain Watson says some Tory MPs have been in contact with the BBC who are worried Mr Cummings spread the virus across the UK.
When did he tell Mr Johnson he was going to Durham?
And did he have a visit to Barnard Castle on April 12?
Boris Johnson does not answer the questions. He says the actions were “sensible and defensible”.
Mr Johnson says he has looked at the reports “carefully” and is satisfied there was no wrongdoing.
Boris Johnson: Reports do not ‘remotely correspond with reality’
Gary Gibbon from Channel 4 says he is puzzled.
Boris Johnson said Dominic Cummings needed childcare help, but he says Mr Cummings has said he did the childcare himself.
While Mr Cummings was following “instinct”, everyone else was following rules.
Boris Johnson says the reports about Dominic Cummings “do not seem to correspond remotely with reality”.
“As far as I can see he stuck to the rules and acted legally and responsibly,” he added.
Boris Johnson: Dominic Cummings’ response was ‘totally understandable’
Robert Peston says the “simple agreed facts” are that Dominic Cummings breached three lockdown rules:
- He left the house when his wife had symptoms
- He was in a car with her for several hours
- He went to a second home
Should people in a similar position do the same thing?
Mr Johnson said Mr Cummings had “severe childcare issues” and his response was “totally understandable”.
“Yes that did involve travel, but looking at the situation, I think any father, any parent would certainly understand what he did.
“I spent a lot of time talking about it with him today.”
Boris Johnson: I know opening schools is going to be ‘very tough’
Kate from Woking says her school says it cannot open for Reception, Year One and Year Six, plus the children of key workers.
Mr Johnson says he “totally understands” the issue will be “very tough”.
“We will make sure we stagger things and we pace things,” he says.
“The really important thing is…to keep pushing down the incidence of the disease.
“That is going to be the most effective way to make sure not just our schools but our economy is ready to go back as soon as possible.”
How can we work with other countries on Covid-19?
Now we move to the public questions.
Penny from Hampshire asks how countries across the world can all respond to the coronavirus pandemic in a joined-up way.
Mr Johnson says “a real fight took place across the world as we tried to protect our populations”.
He says he wants to see a more “international approach”, where a solution can be found together.
“People have different levels of optimism about whether we will get a vaccine this year, but I am hearing more and more signs of confidence about our ability to do it.”
Stage two will include more socialising and non-essential shops, says Johnson
Mr Johnson said there will be more detail on stage two in the coming days.
“We will set out what moving to step two means for non-essential retail and more social contacts in the near future”
“We are making progress but that progress is conditional, provisional.”
The UK must keep the R rate below 1, he said.
“We are beating this thing.”
Boris Johnson accepts June 1 deadline may not be possible for all primaries
Mr Johnson acknowledged that the June 1 opening date “may not be possible for all schools,” but he hopes schools will be able to open classrooms “as soon as possible”.
“While of course we realise social distancing may not be possible, especially when teaching young children”, Government guidance has been published that gives advice to teachers.
Boris Johnson: Year 10 and 12 students will go back to school from June 15
Boris Johnson says the Government will begin to open schools in two steps:
- From June 1, Reception, Year One and Year Six will go back to primary school.
- From June 15 secondary schools will provide ‘some contact’ for Year 10 and Year 12 students to help them prepare for exams.
The Government is in consultation with unions and headteachers.
“We will of course continue to consider all of the evidence,” he said.
UK to move to lockdown stage two ‘in coming days’
Mr Johnson says as we mourn people who have died, “we strengthen our resolve to beat this virus”.
He has been clear he would lift lockdown in a “safe and controlled way”, but the UK is ready to move to step two of the lockdown plan “in the coming days”.
“In line with the approach being taken in many other countries, we want to start getting our children back into the classroom,” he says.
Cummings acted ‘responsibly, legally, and with integrity,’ says Johnson
Boris Johnson says Dominic Cummings has acted “responsibly, legally, and with integrity, and with the overall aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives”.
Mr Johnson says it is “thanks to the country’s collective resolve that we continue to make progress.”
Boris Johnson backs Dominic Cummings
Boris Johnson says he is going to begin by answering “the big question” by answering whether No10 has been asking the public to follow the guidelines “while senior people here in Government do something else”.
Have some people been “basically flouting” the rules, he asks?
“I can tell you today I have had extensive face to face conversations with Dominic Cummings, I have concluded that in travelling to find the right kind of care at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus, and when he had no alternative, I think he followed the instincts of every father.
“I do not mark him down for that.”
Ian Blackford: Dominic Cummings must go
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said Boris Johnson must use today’s press conference to announce the sacking of Dominic Cummings.
There are suggestions @BorisJohnson is attempting to kick the issue into the long grass with an extended ‘investigation’. Let’s be clear, that would be far too little too late at this stage. The only acceptable course of action now is to remove Dominic Cummings from his post.
— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) May 24, 2020
“We already know Dominic Cummings broke multiple lockdown rules. There can’t be one rule for the Tory government and another for the rest of us. Any attempt to fob off questions and cling onto his adviser in this way would not be acceptable,” he added.
“It simply won’t wash.
“I hope Boris Johnson will come to the press conference and announce Dominic Cummings has finally done the decent thing and resigned – or been removed. If not, this will drag on and on, and seriously undermine public confidence in the Tory government and its Covid-19 response.”
Cummings broke the law, says former Durham police chief
Dominic Cummings “broke the law” by travelling 260 miles to stay near his family in Durham during lockdown, the area’s former police chief has said.
Ex-Chief Constable Mike Barton has criticised Mr Cumming’s for “trying to evade” his responsibilities.
Mr Barton also criticised the Government for using “weasel words” in defending the Prime Minister’s chief aide.
It comes after Durham Constabulary said police officers did speak to Mr Cummings’ father despite Downing Street denials there was any contact with his family over his alleged lockdown breaches.
No 10 had said on Saturday morning: “At no stage was he [Mr Cummings] or his family spoken to about this matter, as is being reported.”
The Americans taking hydroxychloroquine, Donald Trump’s coronavirus ‘miracle’ drug of choice
Americans across the country are taking hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic, in spite of the latest research indicating that the antimalarial increases the risk of mortality by 34 per cent.
When Donald Trump stood at the White House podium and talked about a “miracle” new drug he said could ward off Covid-19, Patricia Taylor knew right then she had to have it.
The president’s pitch seemed like the first bit of hope for the 60-year-old tech worker from Santa Clara County, California, who had agonised for weeks about contracting the potentially deadly virus.
She immediately ordered the drug – hydroxychloroquine – through an online doctor, who recommended she take one 200mg pill a week with zinc and vitamin D “until the end of the pandemic”.
“I thought – this is the Holy Grail. I now had a prescription of the drug that was the closest thing helping beat back this terrible virus,” she said.
Mrs Taylor spoke to The Sunday Telegraph just before a study was published on Friday showing the antimalarial increased the risk of mortality by 34 per cent, with a 137 per cent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias.
Since Mr Trump first mentioned hydroxychloroquine in March there has been a run on the drug.”
Sturgeon: It is always ‘tough’ to lose a public advisor, but ‘integrity’ must come first
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has weighed in on the Cummings debacle, arguing that while it is always ‘tough’ to lose an advisor, the integrity of public health advice must come first.
I know it is tough to lose a trusted adviser at the height of crisis, but when it’s a choice of that or integrity of vital public health advice, the latter must come first. That’s the judgment I and, to her credit, Catherine Calderwood reached. PM and Cummings should do likewise.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 24, 2020
Arson investigation launched after 5G mast torched
An arson investigation has been launched after a 5G mobile phone mast was torched in Derby.
Derbyshire Police appealed for witnesses after the fire brigade were called to the blaze off Scarborough Drive in the Chaddesden area of Derby, at 2am on Sunday.
In a statement, the force said: “We believe the fire was started deliberately and we are investigating.”
Following the outbreak of Covid-19, more than 50 similar incidents have been reported nationwide, believed to be linked to false claims the 5G network is spreading coronavirus.
Conservative MP Damian Collins, who has set up a fact checking service to combat falsehoods during the pandemic, said: “It’s not good enough that we just have to remove certain posts that are wrong.”
Mr Collins added that famous figures with large followings also needed to act more responsibly with what they share online.
Coronavirus patients to be monitored for a year
Coronavirus patients will be monitored for up to a year, one hospital trust has revealed, amid concern over further pressure on the NHS to provide after care.
Emphasis has been placed on discharging patients rather than providing long term rehabilitation, meaning some are unlikely to make a full recovery, charities and health unions have warned.
Patients have suffered with coronavirus symptoms for months after testing positive, with some even losing the ability to walk after spending weeks in hospital, doctors said.
Dr Matthew Knight, Consultant Respiratory Physician at West Hertfordshire Hospital, said seven weeks on some of his patients are still experiencing breathlessness, fatigue and the “sensation of temperature”.
“Some of these poor people can’t walk, they’ve lost all their muscle mass and they really are starting from a very low base physically,” Dr Andrew Barlow, Clinical Lead for Respiratory Medicine at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said.
Our reporter Lizzie Roberts has the latest here.
Police officers have arrived at the home of Dominic Cummings
Two police officers have been pictured outside of Dominic Cummings’ house in Islington this afternoon. The officers knocked on the door but walked away just moments later after there was no response.
The PM’s special advisor has been in a meeting at Number 10 since morning.
Special report: The parents at war over sending their children back to school
Class WhatsApp groups are blowing up with rows over whether to children should go back to school on June 1, reports Maria Lally.
Before lockdown, school WhatsApp groups were a slightly bothersome but useful way to remember World Book Day and the after-school cake sale. But in recent weeks, they have become vicious battlegrounds, with parents fighting over whether some children should or should not return to school next month — lobbing verbal missiles at each other as they entrench deeper into their views.
“It’s like a civil war has broken out on class WhatsApp groups,” says Caroline*, a mother-of-two from Hertfordshire. “There’s a lot of parent-shaming going on.
The parents who can, but aren’t, sending their children back on June 1 are being quite militant. There’s a lot of ‘Do you really trust those clowns to get it right? There’s no way my Ben is going back; it’s irresponsible’. Some have gone so far as to accuse those parents who want their children to return as people who ‘don’t care if kids die’.”
Some are wondering if this new divide is even that new after all, or simply a reopening of an old wound which has always existed between working and stay at home mums who may be finding home-schooling a lot less stressful.
One mum tells me: “I’ve noticed that the parents who are the least worried about schools being shut until possibly September are often mums who don’t work, or are teachers themselves or married to teachers. They seem wholly unaware of what it is like when you are not in this privileged position.
Read the full report here.
Downing Street press conference delayed
Today’s Downing Street press conference will be held at 5pm, instead of the usual time of 4pm.
It is not yet clear who will be leading today’s briefing. Several MPs including the Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, have called for the PM to chair today’s conference, in light of the growing criticism of his chief advisor.
If you are just joining us, here is a summary of today’s top stories:
Several Conservative backbenchers – including Steve Baker, Caroline Noakes and Peter Bone – have called for Dominic Cummings to resign following claims that the chief advisor broke lockdown rules to visit family members in Durham
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has said that Labour is now calling for an urgent investigation into Mr Cummings.
Tobias Ellwood, chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, has called for Boris Johnson to give a ‘formal address’ to the nation, arguing that ‘firm leadership, command and control’ was urgently needed.
NHS England has announced 147 new deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 25,691
A total of 2,270 patients have now died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus
The British public will be able to access a coronavirus vaccine from September, the chief executive of drug maker AstraZeneca has said.
164 mine workers in South Africa have tested positive for coronavirus
Russia has reported 153 coronavirus deaths within the past 24 hours bringing the country’s death toll to 3,541.
Three states in India have sought to delay the planned reopening of their airports on Monday
The reported death toll in Germany has risen by 31 to 8,247, while the number of cases now stands at 178,281.
More than 100 gold mine workers test positive in South Africa
164 mine workers in South Africa have tested positive for coronavirus, reports Reuters.
The Mponeng gold mine in South Africa, is owned by AngloGold Ashanti and is the world’s deepest mine. On Thursday, the company conducted 650 tests on members of staff.
The mine had restarted operations at 50 per cent capacity on April 22 after closing due to the pandemic. However, in light of the recent cases, the company has said that operations will be halted ‘as a precautionary step’.
Cummings has ‘undermined’ the rule of law, says Jonathan Ashworth
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has called for a full explanation of Mr Cummings’ behaviour, arguing that what “we’ve had so far has had more holes in it than a block of Swiss cheese”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, the Labour MP said: “This is a deadly, deadly virus which spreads with speed, which is why we went into a lockdown and it’s why the Government told us and put into law a rule that we should stay at home, a rule that Dominic Cummings helped design with Boris Johnson.
“His behaviour is utterly irresponsible. He has undermined that rule, as have a whole chorus of Cabinet ministers including the Health Secretary, extraordinarily, undermined that public health rule which is about keeping people safe.”
Mr Johnson, he said, should “not hide away, should come out today at the press conference and give us a full explanation as to Mr Cummings’ behaviour”.
He added: “I’m afraid, at the moment, it rather looks like double standards, it looks like there’s one rule for the privileged elite who happen to be friends with Boris Johnson, and another rule for the rest of us who have had to make huge sacrifices, not seeing our elderly relatives, staying at home.”
Scotland: Coronavirus death toll rises to 2,270
A total of 2,270 patients have now died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, a rise of nine from 2,261 on Saturday, according to the Scottish Government.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases within the country now stands at 15,101, up from 60 the previous day.
NHS England reports 147 new coronavirus deaths
NHS England has announced 147 new deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 25,691. Of the 147 new deaths announced today:
28 occurred on May 23
40 occurred on May 22
12 occurred on May 21
Labour: Dominic Cummings acted ‘irresponsibly’
Speaking to Sky News this afternoon, Labour MP Mary Foy argued that Dominic Cummings acted “irresponsibly”.
The MP for the City of Durham said: “I think Dominic Cummings has acted so irresponsibly – he’s a senior aide to the PM who has quite clearly broken rules that he’s been involved in making for the rest of us.”
“It’s not just about you and your family, its about the greater good and that’s what the government have been telling us.”
“I think the public would like to see the Government showing some leadership.”
Revealed: Police spoke to Dominic Cummings’ father twice over 260-mile trip to Durham
Durham Police spoke to Dominic Cummings’ father twice over allegations he had breached lockdown rules, The Telegraph can reveal.
Downing Street initially denied there had been any contact between the force and Mr Cummings’ family.
But they were forced to clarify the position after Durham Police took the unusual step of naming Mr Cummings in a statement, confirming they had spoken to him about the trip.
Now The Telegraph can disclose that there was a second discussion between officers and Mr Cummings senior, earlier this month after a further allegation was made that his son was in the region.
Click here to read the exclusive report from our crime correspondent, Martin Evans.
Cummings ‘has to go’, says Tory MP Peter Bone
Peter Bone has joined the growing list of Conservatives calling for the removal of Dominic Cummings.
Speaking on LBC this afternoon, the MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, said argued that Cummings “has to go”.
Mr Bone argued that once an advisor becomes the story, it is time for them to leave.
Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough, said when an advisor becomes the story, the advisor has to go.
He said Boris Johnson can carry on without Dominic Cummings if he goes but it will be hard if he stays.
— LBC (@LBC) May 24, 2020
Farage: ‘If you are seen to be above the law then you’re in real trouble’
Speaking on his LBC show this morning, Nigel Farage argued that the growing criticism of Dominic Cummings was justified.
Mr Farage told a caller: “If you’re at the top of the tree instructing and ordering people to stay at home – it is crucial that you follow your own rules.”
“If you’re seen to be above the law then you’re in real trouble – common sense tells me that.”
He added: “What this story does – is it blows apart completely any authority the government has got on continuing lockdown.”
A campaign van has appeared outside of Cummings’ house
A campaign van, organised by the protest group ‘Led by Donkeys’ has appeared outside of Dominic Cummings’ house in Islington.
The chief advisor is currently at Number 10 and was pictured leaving his house earlier this morning.
The video being broadcast on the van, features Prime Minister Boris Johnson encouraging the public to stay at home and avoid contact with individuals outside of their immediate household.
Comment: ‘Britain’s universities were struggling before this crisis. They must innovate if they are to survive’
Tough decisions must be taken if the Higher Education sector is to thrive in future, writes Anthony Seldon.
Cambridge University’s announcement that, because of Covid, it is dispensing with physical lectures in the coming academic year, should not have come as a surprise. British universities, for all our undeniable strengths, are in deep flux.
The pandemic is the proximate cause for change. But the need has been present for many years.The skills graduates require for work, students’ aspirations, digital technology and mental health needs have moved on this century, but universities have not kept pace.
The question is whether the university sector will lead the charge, or have it dictated by outsiders. Since I became a Vice-Chancellor five years ago, I’ve been struck by the lack of autonomous spirit within the sector until the last few months when Universities UK, the body that oversees Vice-Chancellors, has seized the reins. We must build on this, and show Government and the Office for Students we can shape our own future.
Click here to read the full piece.
Exclusive: China has emerged as a front runner in race to start human trials for Covid-19 vaccine
China is pulling ahead in the race to find a vaccine for the new coronavirus, with Chinese research teams accounting for 60 per cent of vaccine candidates currently in human trials.
New data obtained exclusively by the Sunday Telegraph reveals that there are now 224 vaccines in development around the world – almost double the total of just a month ago.
The data, collated by Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi), reveals that while North America has the largest number of vaccine projects underway – accounting for 49 per cent of the world’s total – China is furthest along the development track.
Of the 10 vaccine candidates that have progressed to human trials globally, six are Chinese and it is the only country to have a candidate now firmly into Phase II trials.
That vaccine is being pioneered by the Chinese biotech firm CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. It utilises a “non replicating viral-vector” design similar to the one being developed by Oxford University in England.
Read the exclusive report from Paul Nuki and Sarah Newey here.
The public deserve to know what the PM knew and when, says SNP group leader
Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster group leader, has echoed calls for Dominic Cummings to resign.
Speaking to Sky News this afternoon, Mr Blackford said: “He has to go and the Prime Minister now has to sack him”.
“Dominic Cummings has broken the lockdown regulations and has broken the advice that we have all been given by the government – and of course he is the architect of much of what the Prime Minister says and delivers.”
“It is clear that he has to accept responsibility and he needs to go.”
On Twitter, Mr Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, reiterated his claims, arguing that the PM had “very serious questions to answer about his judgement and integrity”. He wrote:
“The public deserve the truth. Boris Johnson must put on record what he knew about Dominic Cummings’ rule-breaking and whether he played a role in the Downing Street cover-up, which kept the public in the dark for eight weeks.”
“The various contradictory excuses are not credible and do not stack up. There is now a mounting rebellion of Tory MPs who are demanding Mr Cummings go. They understand the lasting damage this is doing to public confidence in the Tory government and its Covid-19 response.”
‘The advisor should go’ argues Sir Robert Syms
Sir Robert Syms, Conservative MP for Poole, has also called for Dominic Cummings to resign.
In a post on Twitter, Sir Syms argued that at this point in the crisis, the focus should be on the launch of the test-and-trace system rather than the behaviour of Mr Cummings.
The Govt have to explain Test Track and Trace and the next phase of lifting lockdown next week. Whatever the merits of a Govt Advisor they should never be the story or it detracts from central message which is to get us out of this crisis. The advisor should go.
— Sir Robert Syms MP (@RobertSyms) May 24, 2020
Sage member says parents’ fears about schools reopening are ‘misplaced’
Parents’ fears about schools reopening are “misplaced”, one of the Government’s scientific advisers has said, as he warns that the ‘Stay at Home’ message was “too successful” and has left people scared to go out.
Dr Gavin Morgan, an expert in education psychology at University College London who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said that much more work is needed to reassure the public that it is safe to send children back to the classroom.
“The Government’s campaign has been too successful,” he said, referring to the ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’ mantra of lockdown.
“People are scared, people are frightened. And this is really misplaced because schools are safe places. Lots of schools are ahead on this, they have put social distancing measures in place already, they are safe and they are equipped to open.”
Read the full report from our education editor, Camilla Turner, here.
Labour calls for Boris Johnson to lead today’s press conference
Labour has called on Boris Johnson to lead this afternoon’s press conference to “answer questions” over allegations that his chief advisor, Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules.
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said that Labour was asking for an urgent investigation by the Cabinet Office on the matter, describing it as an “extraordinarily serious situation”.
Speaking on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, he said: “What we’re asking for, for two things: firstly for there to be an urgent investigation by the Cabinet Office, and second for the Prime Minister today to take the press conference, the daily press conference, himself to provide answers, because this is an extraordinarily serious situation.”
“The British people have made sacrifices, extraordinary sacrifices, to get through this crisis by following the guidelines.”
Lift the lockdown now to protect ‘Blue Wall’ jobs, Boris Johnson told by leading party donor
Boris Johnson should lift the lockdown to protect jobs, and save the economy, a leading Tory donor says as he argues that an easing of restrictions would help newly won Tory seats in the north.
Writing in The Telegraph, Alexander Temerko who owns some of the biggest manufacturing businesses in the north of England says the Prime Minister owes it to the voters in the so-called Blue Wall of northern seats to lift the lockdown urgently. The Ukrainian-born businessman who has donated heavily to the Conservatives and knows Mr Johnson says:
“These are not initiatives to be placed on the backburner – rather, they are of the utmost importance to press forward with now, for delaying will be ruinous.
“The Government owes it to British workers – and to workers in the Blue Wall that gave Boris their trust in the last election, in particular.”
Our Chief Political Correspondent, Christopher Hope has the latest here.
India: States seek to delay airport reopenings amid coronavirus fears
Three states in India have sought to delay the planned reopening of their airports on Monday, reports Reuters.
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, have said that they are not prepared to open for flights due to concerns surrounding the recent rise in coronavirus cases, state government officials say.
On Sunday, India registered 6,767 coronavirus cases, the country’s biggest 24 hour jump yet, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to over 131,000.
Airlines – including SpiceJet Ltd and IndiGo – are currently preparing to resume one third of their domestic flight operations from tomorrow.
Enforcing UK-style lockdown could have made things worse in Sweden, top scientist says
Pivoting to a UK-style lockdown could have made things worse in Sweden, one of the country’s leading infectious disease experts has said.
Anders Björkman, a professor of infectious diseases at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, said the country would have “not gained anything” from introducing a lockdown in March when the UK did.
He said the cost of such measures “would not have been worth it” for society. “School children are not the ones who makes the difference, and you can keep the restaurants open, but perhaps forbid the 60+ or 70+ from attending.”
Read the full report by Hannah Boland here.
Liberal Democrats: PM needs to reassure the public that the rules apply to everyone
Speaking on Sky News this morning, Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, said that she had received correspondence from her constituents asking why Dominic Cummings was allowed to breach the rules.
She said: “The public are now quite rightly asking questions about what happened – I’ve had letters this morning from constituents wanting to know why was Dominic Cummings able to do this when this was not the advice as the rest of us understood it.”
“I think Boris Johnson has to act now to reassure people that the government is taking this seriously and the rules apply to all of us. “
“My own opinion is that I wouldn’t have driven that distance but that’s not the point – the point is that tens of thousands of people in this country have followed the advice, those in the same situation as Dominic Cummings have stayed at home and followed the advice that Cummings was responsible for putting out there.”
A ‘formal address’ from the PM is needed, argues MP Tobias Ellwood
Tobias Ellwood, chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, has called for Boris Johnson to give a ‘formal address’ to the nation, arguing that ‘firm leadership, command and control’ was urgently needed.
GOVERNMENT is entering the most complex phase of biggest emergency since WW2.
But the ship is being blown off course.
Time for a FORMAL ADDRESS from the Captain offering firm leadership, command & control to resolve setbacks, re-unite collective resolve & rebuild mission focus.
— Tobias Ellwood MP (@Tobias_Ellwood) May 24, 2020
SNP: ‘The longer Mr Cummings stays place, the more he will undermine the Tory Government’s credibility’
The allegation that Dominic Cummings made more than one journey between London and Durham “is now an issue of Boris Johnson’s judgment and integrity”, according to the SNP’s Westminster deputy leader.
Kirsty Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North, said: “The Tory Government now has serious and growing questions to answer about Dominic Cummings’ rule-breaking and the Downing Street cover-up.”
“Despite having eight weeks to get their story straight, the excuses are just not credible and do not stack up. This is now an issue of Boris Johnson’s judgment and integrity.
“A mounting rebellion of Tory MPs have joined calls for Dominic Cummings to go. They understand the lasting damage this is doing to public confidence in the Tory Government and its Covid-19 response.
“The longer Mr Cummings stays in place, the more he will undermine the Tory Government’s credibility and the more people will question the Prime Minister’s judgment.”
The latest coronavirus figures from around the world
Across the world more than 5.2 million people have now been diagnosed with coronavirus. The worldwide death toll now stands at 340,196.
Here’s an update on some of the latest statistics from across the globe:
Mexican health authorities have registered 3,329 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases to 65,856 cases. The country has now recorded 7,179 Covid-19 deaths.
The reported death toll in Germany has risen by 31 to 8,247, while the number of cases now stands at 178,281.
The death toll in Indonesia has risen by 21 to 1,372.
Russia has reported 153 coronavirus deaths within the past 24 hours bringing the country’s death toll to 3,541.
Malaysia has reported 60 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 7,245.
Keep up to date with the global picture using our interactive tracker.
British people will be able to access a Covid-19 vaccine from September, says drug maker
The British public will be able to access a coronavirus vaccine from September, the chief executive of drug maker AstraZeneca has said.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show this morning, Pascal Soriot said that British people would be able to access the vaccine from the autumn.
Asked if people in Britain will be among the first to get the vaccine, Mr Soriot said: “Yes, we have actually received an order from the British Government to supply 100 million doses of vaccine, and those will go to the British people.
“And there’s no doubt, starting in September, we will start delivering these doses of vaccine to the British Government for vaccination.”
However, Mr Soriot stressed the importance of rapid testing, stating: “We have to run as fast as possible before the disease disappears so we can demonstrate that the vaccine is effective.”
Craig Whittaker: ‘You cannot advise the nation one thing then do the opposite’
Craig Whittaker, Conservative MP for Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, has joined the chorus of Tory MPs calling for Mr Cummings to resign. In a tweet posted earlier this morning, Mr Whittaker said:
“I totally agree that Dominic Cummings position is untenable.
“I’m sure he took the decision in the best interests of his family but like every decision we take we also have to take responsibility for those decisions.
“You cannot advise the nation one thing then do the opposite.”
‘When an advisor becomes the story, the advisor has to go’, argues backbench MP
Speaking on LBC this morning, Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, argued that Dominic Cummings “has to go”.
He said: “When an adviser becomes the story, the advisor has to go.”
“Boris Johnson can carry on without Dominic Cummings if he goes but it will be hard if he stays.”
There cannot be one rule for some and ‘wriggle room’ for others, argues MP Caroline Nokes
Tory MP Caroline Nokes, chairwoman of the Commons Women and Equalities committee, said she has informed her party whips there could not be one rule for the majority but “wriggle room” for others when it comes to lockdown rules.
I made my views clear to my whip yesterday. There cannot be one rule for most of us and wriggle room for others. My inbox is rammed with very angry constituents and I do not blame them. They have made difficult sacrifices over the course of the last 9 weeks.
— Caroline Nokes MP (@carolinenokes) May 24, 2020
Anyone in public spaces ‘should wear a mask’, says president of the Royal Society
Dr Venki Ramakrishnan, who sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and is president of the Royal Society, told Andrew Marr on BBC One that face coverings should be worn in public spaces to help to reduce transmission.
He said: “I think anyone in public spaces should wear a mask because it’s simply another tool to reduce the possibility of infections.”
“I don’t think masks are be all end all, you have to think of it as one leg in a multi-legged stool that holds up prevention of transmission.”
Cummings’ position is no ‘longer tenable’, says backbench MP
Sir Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet, is among the increasing number of Tory backbenchers calling for Mr Cummings to resign.
While as a father and as a grandfather I fully appreciate Mr Cummings’ desire to protect his child. There cannot be one law for the Prime Minister’s staff and another for everyone else. He has sent out completely the wrong message and his position is no longer tenable.
— Sir Roger Gale MP (@SirRogerGale) May 24, 2020
Cummings ‘undermined the core public health message’, argues leading professor
Devi Sridhar, a professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, has called for Mr Cummings to resign.
Speaking on the Sophy Ridge show this morning, she said: “He undermined the core public health message which was to stay home, to make sure that children are not left with elderly relatives and also going from an area that was ahead of the country – London – to an area that was a bit behind, north-east England.”
Prof Sridhar also argued that the Government has “misread” the public feeling in its handling of the issue.
She added: “It seems unfair that there is one set of rules if you belong to a certain part of society… and another set of rules if you don’t.”
“I think possibly the Government has misread the reading of this – this is not a political issues, this is about right and wrong, a public health response and trying to get through a crisis where every single person is affected.”
Labour to call for investigation into Dominic Cummings
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said that Labour was calling for an urgent investigation into Mr Cummings.
Speaking on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show he said: “What we’re asking for, for two things: firstly for there to be an urgent investigation by the Cabinet Office, and second for the Prime Minister today to take the press conference, the daily press conference, himself to provide answers, because this is an extraordinarily serious situation.”
“The British people have made sacrifices, extraordinary sacrifices, to get through this crisis by following the guidelines.
“We know of grandparents, for example, who’ve not seen their grandchildren for months, sometimes newborn grandchildren, people who’ve died alone without families by their side, people who’ve not been able to attend funerals, and that’s happened because people have followed the guidelines.”
Shapps: Reports that Cummings returned to Durham a second time are ‘completely untrue’
Grant Shapps said the latest allegations, that Dominic Cummings returned to Durham and was spotted on April 19, were untrue.
He told the Sophy Ridge programme: “I think there are more stories today that I’m seeing that he travelled backwards and forwards, accusations he then went back up to Durham again further times – I understand it is completely untrue.
“When he came back to London, which was on April 14, I see, he has remained in London since and hasn’t been back to Durham.
“There are all kinds of things that are being said here that are completely untrue.
“The basic story is actually pretty straightforward. Husband and wife were ill, they hunker down, they look after their four-year-old and they don’t move until they are better.
“And coming back down to London afterwards, they would have been travelling for essential work which is always allowed as well.”
Grant Shapps: Dominic Cummings took ‘necessary precautions’ while isolating in Durham
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was ‘sure’ that Dominic Cummings followed social distancing guidelines once he arrived in Durham.
He told the Sophy Ridge show: “I don’t have all the times and dates for you but I understand he will have travelled up there towards the end of March and stayed there, remained there for 14 days, didn’t leave the property and isolation, as per the rules and guidance.”
Mr Shapps said he was sure Mr Cummings obeyed social distancing rules.
He said: “You’ll appreciate I wasn’t with them so I can’t tell you exactly what that journey was like, but what I do know is that Dominic Cummings – I saw a clip yesterday of him asking journalists to be spaced two metres apart, so I know he is a stickler for those rules about what to do to make sure you are following the two-metre rule and the like, so I’m sure that they took all the necessary precautions.”
Steve Baker: ‘No one is indispensable – Dominic should go’
Tory MP Steve Baker, speaking on the Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, argued that it was time for Dominic Cummings to go.
“If he doesn’t resign, we’ll just keep burning through Boris’s political capital at a rate we can ill afford in the midst of this crisis,” he said.
“It is very clear that Dominic travelled when everybody else understood Dominic’s slogans to mean ‘stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’.
“And I think mums and dads who very much care about their children and who have been forgoing the childcare of their extended family will wonder why he has been allowed to do this.
“I really just don’t see, as we approach the Prime Minister (appearing) at the liaison committee on Wednesday, how this is going to go away unless Dominic goes.”
“Dominic’s tactics are out of place and he should go – he has ended up not abiding by the spirit of the slogans he enforced on the country.”
It is ‘critical’ that parents believe that schools are safe, warns former Ofsted chief inspector
Speaking on Sky’s Sophie Ridge On Sunday programme, former Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said that it was now time to reopen schools, however he warned that it was “critical” that parents were confident in the safety of doing so.
He said: “It is all right opening up schools but if parents lack that confidence they are not going to send (children) in.
“It seems to me that the Government have got a real part to play here making sure that parents have the evidence.”
He also argued that local authorities should be given the responsibility of policing safety standards once schools reopen, commenting:
“The Government really should have spent that last three months preparing the ground well, holding meetings with the parent and teacher associations to make sure all the facts are there.
“Transparency is absolutely critical and families who don’t necessarily read all the research from the research bodies need something to go on to make that balanced judgment, and I am not sure they have received that.”
Labour: If everyone had followed Dominic Cummings’ example, the transmission rate would have remained high
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News, Labour MP Sarah Jones argued that if everyone in the UK had followed Mr Cummings’ example and broke lockdown rules for personal reasons, the transmission rate of coronavirus would not have been lowered. She argued:
“If everybody had decided to break the rules then we wouldn’t have brought this infection rate down.
“And when we heard the Prime Minister, we heard him say ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ – he didn’t say ‘or drive 260 miles to Durham if you think that’s the right thing to do’.
“That wasn’t what we heard and that wasn’t what was said and that wasn’t what everybody else did, and that’s why we need answers.”
People are justified in feeling ‘angry’ about Dominic Cummings’ breach of lockdown rules, argues Labour MP
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News this morning, Shadow Policing Minister, Sarah Jones argued that in light of revelation that Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules to visit his family in Durham, many were ‘feeling rightly angry’. She said:
I think what we’ve heard in the last 24 hours suggests some quite serious allegations against the Prime Minister’s chief advisor and I think people are feeling rightly angry.
Millions of people have put their lives on hold and made huge sacrifices to obey the rules during this period and we have seen the heartbreak of people not being able to attend funerals of loved ones not being able to see their family members as they die.
And I think people are rightly feeling is it one rule for us and one rule for the people at the top.
And I think there are questions to ask, both in terms of what Dominic Cummings did, but also in terms of the response that we saw yesterday, where we seemed to get this rowing back of the rules from minister after minister suggesting that nothing had been done incorrectly.”
Dominic Cummings ‘must go’ says Conservative MP Steve Baker
Conservative MP Steve Baker has argued that Dominic Cummings should leave his position as chief advisor.
Mr Baker, a prominent member of the 1922 Committee, argued on Twitter that it was ‘intolerable’ that the government had lost ‘so much political capital’ over the course of the pandemic.
Writing for The Critic Magazine, Mr Baker argued that allegations of a further breach in the Sunday papers were a “disaster”.
He added: “Dominic Cummings must go before he does any more harm to the UK, the Government, the Prime Minister, our institutions or the Conservative Party.”
“Time is up. It is time for Dom to resign so Boris can govern within the conventions and norms which will see us through.”
It is intolerable that Boris’ government is losing so much political capital. Three changes are immediately required:
1 – Govt needs competitive expert advice
2 – Govt must insist on high software engineering standards
3 – Dominic Cummings must got.co/zUOCVcDAmN
— Steve Baker MP (@SteveBakerHW) May 24, 2020
China confirms three new coronavirus cases
China recorded three new COVID-19 cases on May 23, following the first day with no new cases since the outbreak began, the National Health Commission said in a statement on Sunday.
Last Friday was the first time China had seen no daily rise in the number of cases since the pandemic began in Wuhan last year.
The country’s official death toll stands at 4,634, while the number of confirmed cases has now reached 82,974.
25,000 contact tracers recruited ahead of test-and-trace launch
25,000 contact tracers have been recruited ahead of the launch of a new test-and-trace system, the Government has said.
The technology, which involves tracing and advising people who may have come into close contact with someone testing positive for the virus, is scheduled to launch at the end of this week.
The Government has been aiming for human contact tracers to be in place for June 1 – the earliest date for opening schools and non-essential shops in England.
The public will be asked to work closely with the newly-recruited contact tracers, who will run a national virtual call centre operation, the Government said.
Oxford University vaccine trial has only 50pc chance of success
It began in January as a “little lab project” after a curious new disease emerged in China.
Little more than four months later, the eyes of the nation – and perhaps the world – are firmly upon Professor Adrian Hill and his team at Oxford University.
The stakes could hardly be higher. If proven effective, the ZD1222 vaccine would allow people to leave their homes, go back to work, and rebuild the economy.
But Professor Hill, director of the university’s Jenner Institute, revealed that his team now faces a major problem, throwing a September deadline into doubt.
In short, their adversary is disappearing so rapidly in the UK that the next phase of trials has only a 50 per cent chance of success.
More small-scale outbreaks in South Korea
South Korea has reported 25 additional cases over a 24-hour period, amid a continuation of small-scale outbreaks in the country.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the additional figures released Sunday took the country’s total to 11,190 with 266 deaths. The agency says 10,213 of them have recovered and been released from quarantine.
It says 17 of the 25 new patients were locally infected while the rest eight came from overseas.
Claims pandemic originated in Wuhan lab ‘pure fabrication’
Claims promoted by the Trump administration that the global coronavirus pandemic originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the central Chinese city are a “pure fabrication”, the institute’s director said.
Wang Yanyi was quoted by state media Sunday as saying the institute did not have “any knowledge before that nor had we ever met, researched or kept the virus . We didn’t even know about the existence of the virus, so how could it be leaked from our lab when we didn’t have it?”
President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly said they suspect the virus that was first detected in Wuhan was somehow released from the laboratory.
Calls for churches to open next month
Boris Johnson has been urged by a group of Conservative MPs to allow churches to open for prayer, weddings and funerals as soon as next month.
The 20 MPs questioned why shoppers can go to a “busy supermarket” to buy food and drinks but worshippers in need of spiritual sustenance cannot currently pray in a largely empty church.
Social distancing could take MPs hours to vote
MPs could have to spend hours queuing to vote physically in the House of Commons when they return to work after their Whitsun break early next month because of social distancing during the Covid-19 crisis, secret trials have found.
Plans to isolate new arrivals to the UK
From June 8, all new arrivals in the United Kingdom will have to self-isolate for two weeks.
This will include Britons returning from other countries, in addition to new arrivals from other countries.
The measures will give police the power to carry out spot checks at the homes of international arrivals, and impose fines of £1,000 for breaking the self-isolation rules.
Councils ‘will have to justify their actions’
Councils could be told to explain publicly their reasons for not allowing primary schools to open next week amid Government concerns that as few as a quarter will restart classes.
Government officials are hoping that regional school commissioners will be able to exert some pressure on local authorities to encourage primary schools to reopen on June 1.
There has been private frustration in Whitehall that more than 50 councils expect their schools to stay closed, despite being given detailed guidance about a safe return.
Numbers suggest New York is making progress
The number of deaths in New York state caused by coronavirus in the past 24 hours is 84, the lowest one-day total since late March, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
“The news is good news,” Mr Cuomo said in his daily televised briefing.
Hospitalisations, intubations and new infections were all in decline.
“In my head, I was always looking to get under 100,” Mr Cuomo said.
“It doesn’t do good for any of those 84 families that are feeling the pain.
“But for me it’s just a sign we are making real progress.”
The toll is the lowest since March 24. At the pandemic’s peak in New York in early April, state officials were reporting up to 800 deaths per day, and daily tolls repeatedly surpassed 1,000 when probable cases were included.
‘I think lockdown saved no lives’
Lockdown caused more deaths than it saved, a Nobel laureate scientist said as he predicted the UK would emerge from Covid-19 within weeks.
Michael Levitt, a Stanford University professor who correctly predicted the initial trajectory of the pandemic, sent messages to Professor Neil Ferguson in March telling the influential government advisor he had over-estimated the potential death toll by “10 or 12 times”.
The Imperial College professor’s modelling, a major factor in the Government’s apparent abandoning of a so-called herd-immunity policy, was part of an unnecessary “panic virus” that spread among global political leaders, Prof Levitt now tells The Telegraph.
Outbreak at pasta factory
A pasta company in Washington state has announced there was a coronavirus outbreak at its Spokane factory.
It comes as the state prepares to reopen parts of its economy after lockdown.
The Spokesman-Review reported that Philadelphia Macaroni Company said on Friday that 72 workers were tested for Covid-19 and 24 were positive.
Health officials said there was an increase in Spokane County, with 31 new positive cases between Thursday and Friday.
Company officials said that all of the factory employees had since been tested and the facility was disinfected.
The company is working with the Spokane Regional Health District to conduct contact tracing and determine further prevention measures.
Earlier this month, protestors took to the streets to complain about coronavirus restrictions forcing people to stay home.
France ready to return to church
French churches are preparing to hold their first Sunday masses in more than two months after the government bowed to a ruling that they should be reopened – provided proper precautions are taken.
Priests, pastors, rabbis and imams will have to ensure that the correct safety measures are in force.
Worshippers will have to wear masks, there will have to be disinfectant gel on hand and the seating will need to be organised to ensure people keep a safe distance from each other.
The pandemic around the world…
- The pandemic has killed 342,061 people worldwide, the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University show. There have been 5,288,392 reported cases in 188 countries. The top three highest number of cases are in the United States, which has 1,622,447; Brazil, 347,398; and Russia,335,882.
- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced that its top-flight football league La Liga can resume from June 8, more than two months after the virus halted the season. He has also offered a boost for Spain‘s tourism industry, with overseas visitors allowed to return to Spain from July.
- The towering Greek temple complex at Paestum, on the south coast, is the first Italian archaeological site to reopen to the public. Pompeii, south of Naples, will be accessible on Tuesday. The Vatican Museums are set to reopen on June 1 by reservation.
- Four EU countries dubbing themselves the “frugal four” have presented their own proposal for post-coronavirus economic recovery. Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden want emergency help for badly affected countries to take the form of one-off loans that must be agreed within two years.
- India will organise special trains to get at least 3.6 million migrant workers stranded by the lockdown back home. India has 131,423 reported cases and 3,868 deaths.
- As Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr today – marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan – Afghanistan has announced a “strict lockdown”.
- In Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation, the government has banned traditional travel across the country, and many residents are turning to smugglers and false certificates to join their loved ones.
- Mexican health authorities registered 3,329 new cases and 190 new deaths, bringing the total number to 65,856 cases and 7,179 deaths.
Millions of Australians continue to access app
Six million Australians have downloaded a mobile phone app that helps health authorities trace coronavirus infections, officials said today.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the CovidSafe app is playing a strong role in Australia‘s response to the pandemic and several countries have expressed interest in learning from its positive impacts.
If a user is diagnosed, the app works to identify other users who have been in close proximity for 15 minutes or more in the previous three weeks.
The government has said at least 40 per cent of Australia’s 26 million people need to use the app for it to be effective. There are approximately 17 million mobile phones in Australia.
‘They were not simply names on a list. They were us.’
The New York Times has devoted today’s entire front page to a long list of names of people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.
The names and brief descriptions culled from obituaries from around the country fill six columns under the headline “US deaths near 100,000, an incalculable loss”. It then explains: “They were not simply names on a list. They were us.”
The all-text list takes the place of the usual articles, photographs and graphics in an effort to convey the vastness and variety of lives lost, according to Simone Landon, assistant editor of the graphics desk.
A tally kept by Johns Hopkins University says more than 96,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the United States.
Tom Bodkin, chief creative officer of The Times, said he did not remember any front pages without images, although there had been pages with only graphics, during his 40 years at the newspaper.
Brazil struggles to control case numbers
Brazil’s coronavirus curve steepened further a day after it overtook Russia to become the country with the second-highest number of cases.
The Latin American nation added 16,508 cases on Saturday and said the death toll rose by 965.
Brazil now has 347,398 confirmed cases – trailing only the US globally – from 330,890 on Friday.
Its death toll has risen to 22,013.
As the country shatters records and the contamination curve fails to flatten, President Jair Bolsonaro remains adamant about his crusade to reopen commerce and the economy, and to tout the malaria and lupus drug chloroquine even though there isn’t sufficient scientific proof to back it up for Covid-19.
His stance has proved too much – two health ministers have resigned amid the pandemic. The ministry is currently being run provisionally by an army general.
Will rule’s ‘exceptional circumstances’ protect chief aide?
When the Prime Minister announced Britain was going into lockdown two months ago he gave the apparently unequivocal instruction that we must all “stay at home”.
Within 24 hours, the deputy chief medical officer for England outlined possible exceptions to that rule, including how ill parents with a small child created “exceptional circumstances”.
Now, after it has emerged Dominic Cummings and his wife travelled 260 miles with their son to stay at a home near his extended family in Durham – despite having coronavirus symptoms – allies of Boris Johnson’s special advisor are highlighting that advice to justify his trip.
Experts to consider if diabetics need more protection
Diabetics could be forced to shield at home against Covid-19 following a review by government scientists after it emerged people with diabetes are at significantly greater risk of dying if they catch the virus.
Almost one in three deaths from coronavirus in hospital had diabetes.
Most diabetics are currently classed as “clinically vulnerable” rather than the “clinically extremely vulnerable” – the worst affected group of people who received letters from their doctors telling them they must stay at home under almost all circumstances.
However, scientists will consider whether they need more protection.
Today’s top stories
- Dominic Cummings says claims that he made a second trip to his family in Durham during the lockdown are “totally false”
- Without Covid-19 spreading in the community, volunteers will not catch the disease, leaving scientists unable to prove that their ZD1222 vaccine – due in September – makes any difference
- Lockdown has caused more deaths than it saved, a Nobel laureate scientist says, as he predicts the UK will emerge from Covid-19 within weeks
- As Covid-19 subsides across the continent, the UK excess death toll during the crisis is now one of the highest in Europe
- Councils could be told to explain publicly their reasons for not allowing primary schools to open next week
- Diabetics could be forced to shield at home against Covid-19 after it emerged that people with diabetes are at significantly greater risk of dying if they catch the virus