Coronavirus latest news: First local lockdown could be enforced in Leicester ‘within days’ after surge in cases

The Government is considering imposing the first local lockdown “within days” following a surge in Covid-19 cases in Leicester, it has been reported. 

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock is reportedly examining the legislation required for the shutdown after it was revealed that there have been 658 cases of the coronavirus in the Leicester area in the fortnight to June 16.

The Department of Health and Social Care today stopped short of saying a local lockdown was likely for Leicester, but acknowledged the city was an area of concern as it urged residents in the city to be vigilant against the virus, according to The Sunday Times.

Follow the latest updates below.

Iran to make face masks compulsory from next week

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said today that mask-wearing will be mandatory in certain areas as of next week, and gave virus-hit provinces the green light to reimpose restrictive measures.

The Islamic republic has so far refrained from enforcing full lockdowns to stop the spread of Covid-19, and the use of masks and protective equipment has been optional in most areas.

But mask-wearing would be “obligatory in covered spaces where there are gatherings”, Rouhani said during a televised meeting of the country’s anti-virus taskforce.

The measure would come into force as of next week, continue until July 22 and would be extended if necessary, he said.

Rouhani said the health ministry had devised “a clear list” of the types of spaces and gatherings deemed high-risk, but he did not elaborate. He also did not say what the penalty would be for those who fail to observe the measure.

Official figures have shown a rising trajectory in new confirmed cases in Iran since early May, when it hit a near two-month low in daily recorded infections.

Focus of Budget must be jobs, says Labour shadow minister

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, said it was “possible already that unemployment is the highest it has ever been”.

As a result of the impact on the jobs market from Covid-19, Labour is calling for the Chancellor to be more flexible with the furlough scheme and continue to provide financial support to certain sectors.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Mr Reynolds said: “We need a jobs Budget – the focus should be jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs again.

“Crucially, things like the furlough scheme cannot be a one-size-fits-all scheme.

“If you look around the world a lot of countries are acting flexibly – we need to see that in this country for sectors that are still very much affected by the crisis.”

The Government should guarantee jobs to those out of work for a “significant period of time”, emulating the Future Jobs Fund which was created after the 2008 global crash, said Mr Reynolds.

Health chiefs warn of four-year wait for NHS to return to normal

Hospital chiefs have reportedly warned that it will take up to four years for the NHS to be able to provide its full range of services again due to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Observer newspaper quotes one official as saying some hospitals will only be able to provide 40 per cent of the care previously delivered once the NHS reopens.

Patients will face lengthy waits for operations and tests as the push by hospitals to remain infection-free brings side-effects such as more closed beds, the paper says.

Surgeons will also be carrying out fewer procedures than before the outbreak because of their need to wear more protective clothing.

The warnings come as hospitals face pressure to resume services for patients with conditions such as cancer, joint problems and obesity.

Government considering locking down Leicester after surge in cases

The Government is considering imposing the first local lockdown “within days” following a surge in Covid-19 cases in Leicester, The Sunday Times has reported. 

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock is reportedly examining the legislation required for the shutdown after it was revealed that there have been 658 cases of the coronavirus in the Leicester area in the fortnight to June 16.

The Department of Health and Social Care today stopped short of saying a local lockdown was likely for Leicester, but acknowledged the city was an area of concern as it urged residents in the city to be vigilant against the virus.

“We are supporting the council and local partners in Leicester to help prevent further transmission of the virus,” the spokesman said in a statement.

According to The Sunday Times, Leicester’s rise in cases follows an outbreak in food production plants in the area and reports of large crowds gathering outside takeaway restaurants.

Ireland to keep two-week quarantine for Britons

Ireland will reportedly maintain a 14-day quarantine for travellers from the British mainland in July even as it plans to ease travel restrictions with some countries.

A memo with the Irish cabinet committee said it was “highly unlikely” that Britain would be included in Ireland’s safe travel list, according to The Sunday Times.

On July 9, Ireland plans to lift a 14-day quarantine for people arriving from countries that have also suppressed coronavirus, the Irish government said on Thursday.

Grim milestone as global cases exceed 10 million

Global coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million on Sunday according to a Reuters tally, marking a major milestone in the spread of the respiratory disease that has so far killed almost half a million people in seven months.

The figure is roughly double the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organisation.

The milestone comes as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine is available.

Read more: Europe looks to Germany outbreak to set template for new normal

An aerial view of people in cars lined up to be tested in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California

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Getty

Australian state to introduce mandatory testing for travellers

Australia’s Victoria state will implement mandatory coronavirus tests for returning travellers after a sharp spike in infections over the past two weeks, the state’s premier said on Sunday.

The country’s second-most populous state had 49 new cases on Sunday, its highest in more than two months and the 12th consecutive day of double-digit rises. The rest of Australia has seen almost no infections.

“Much like a bushfire, putting this out is challenging,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told a press conference, alluding to wildfires at the end of last year that burnt through vast swaths of the country.

“Containing it, though, is something that we can do, and test and trace is the most effective thing to do.”

Victoria’s officials said earlier this week that some 30 per cent of returning travellers refused a Covid-19 test, and Mr Andrews said it will be a mandatory procedure. Australia also requires all locals who return to quarantine in hotels for two weeks.

Infections continue to rise in South Korea

South Korea has confirmed 62 additional cases over a 24-hour period, as the country continues to grapple with new clusters after easing social distancing rules.

The additional cases reported on Sunday took the total to 12,715 with 282 deaths.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 11,364 of them have recovered while 1,069 remain in quarantine.

The agency says 40 of the newly reported cases were domestically infected while the rest 22 came from overseas. It says 26 of the 40 domestic cases were detected in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.

Decline in daily cases  in China

Mainland China on Sunday reported 17 new coronavirus cases, mostly in the Chinese capital of Beijing.

The National Health Commission said 17 new infections were confirmed on Saturday, down from 21 a day earlier.

In Beijing, 14 new confirmed cases were reported, down from 17 a day earlier.

Since June 11 when Beijing reported its first case in the current outbreak, stemming from a sprawling wholesale food centre in the southwest of the capital, 311 people in the city of more than 20 million have contracted the virus.

People visit a park amid coronavirus pandemic in Beijing, China

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ROMAN PILIPEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Mexico continues to be hard hit by pandemic

Mexico’s health ministry on Saturday reported 4,410 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 602 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 212,802 cases and 26,381 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Jesus, a boy who works with his father cleaning and decorating graves, loads land on a wheelbarrow at the Xico cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City

Credit:
Reuters

News in brief from around the world

  • The Brazilian government announced on Saturday an agreement with Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to produce a vaccine that is undergoing tests.
  • US Vice President Mike Pence is calling off a planned campaign tour in Florida as the state experiences a surge in confirmed  cases.
  • Italy has registered the lowest day-to-day tally of deaths on Saturday since March 1, a week before the country went into lockdown.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned that the pandemic is far from over, as regional outbreaks gave rise to fears of a second wave.
  • The Serbian government says Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin has tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Britain‘s Royal Air Force says the first in a series of flights taking aid to Africa has departed for Ghana with materials for a field hospital.
  • Pakistan has announced a record increase in fuel prices days before the end of a fiscal year in which the country’s economy contracted for the first time in 68 years as a result of the  pandemic.
  • Egypt has lifted many of the restrictions put in place to fight the  pandemic, reopening cafes, clubs, gyms and theaters. Authorities also allowed the reopening of mosques and churches.
  • India‘s confirmed cases crossed half a million on Saturday with another record 24-hour jump of 18,552 infections.
  • The United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary with a scaled-down event because of the pandemic, one of many challenges a deeply divided world must tackle along with poverty, inequality, discrimination and unending wars.

US surpasses 2.5 million cases

The United States on Saturday surpassed 2.5 million cases, a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University showed, as the world’s hardest-hit country grappled with a surge of infections in several states.

There were 2,500,419 confirmed cases in the US, according to the Baltimore-based university as of 5:30 pm (2130 GMT).

US deaths now exceed 125,000, approximately one-fourth the world total of over 495,000.

Florida on Saturday reported a record 9,585 cases in 24 hours as infections there spike. The state’s rapid reopening saw young adults flocking to beaches, boardwalks and bars.

Texas and Florida, which both have Republican governors who resisted prolonged lockdowns, have announced new restrictions on bars.

Read more: Miami to close beaches on July 4 as US hits record number of cases

Hundred of people enjoy a warm day at the beach in Miami Beach

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CRISTOBAL HERRERA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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