Covid UK news latest – Coronavirus restrictions could return in THREE weeks amid 'pingdemic' chaos & rising cases

COVID cases are on the rise, forcing millions of Brits – including essential workers – to self-isolate as grim numbers begin to resurface.

Around 99 per cent of areas are now reporting an increase in coronavirus cases, with Redcar & Cleveland, Copeland, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough and Castle Point topping the list.

Also, the UK death toll from the virus rose by 96 yesterday – almost double the death toll of this time last week.

Tuesday's figures showed the worst fatality levels since March, with another 46,558 new cases also confirmed.

Read our Coronavirus live blog for the very latest updates…

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    IMAGE: UK COVID-19 CASES AND DEATHS PER DAY

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    NO.10 DEFENDS NEW 'KEEP LIFE MOVING' SLOGAN AFTER LABOUR CRITICISM

    Downing Street has defended the Government's new coronavirus three-word slogan of "keep life moving", which was criticised by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

    The Prime Minister's official spokesman said it was a "marketing phrase" being used by the Department of Health and Social Care.

    He said: "As you've seen throughout the steps, we've had marketing campaigns materials in line with the latest guidance, so it's simply going to be used in that."

    He added: "It emphasises the need to continue to progress cautiously as we come out into this next step."

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    KEIR STARMER IN SELF-ISOLATION AFTER ONE OF HIS CHILDREN CONTRACTS COVID-19

    Sir Keir Starmer has entered self-isolation after one of his children tested positive for coronavirus around the time he was in the Commons for Prime Minister's Questions.

    The Labour leader tested negative on Wednesday morning ahead of his appearance in Parliament where he grilled Boris Johnson over his isolation policy.

    It will be the fourth time Sir Keir has had to enter quarantine since the pandemic began and will force him to alter plans to launch his "safer communities" campaign on Thursday.

    Sir Keir said: "This lunchtime, one of my children tested positive for Covid. I know it's my responsibility to follow the rules – my family and I are now self-isolating."

    A spokesman for the Labour leader said: "Keir was already doing daily tests and tested negative this morning. He will continue to take daily tests."

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    COVID DAILY DEATHS SURGE BY 60% IN A WEEK WITH 73 FATALITIES AND 44,104 NEW CASES

    Coronavirus deaths have surged by 60 per cent in a week with another 73 deaths in the past 24 hours.

    Another 44,104 new cases were reported today, up from 42,302 last Wednesday.

    The figure is down from yesterday's tally when 46,558 tested positive for the virus.

    Today's reported deaths brings the total so far during the pandemic to to 128,896. Another 39,035 people received their first vaccination dose, with 161,279 receiving their second jab.

    Read more here.

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    EXPLAINED: ESSENTIAL WORKERS WHO CAN AVOID SELF-ISOLATION:

    Double jabbed workers who can avoid self-isolating if pinged:

    • Railway signallers
    • Air traffic controllers
    • NHS staff
    • Care home workers
    • Food production workers
    • Train drivers
    • Medicine manufacturers
    • Border security guards
    • Water and electricity supply workers

    MINISTER INSISTS CRUCIAL SERVICES CAN CONTINUE TO OPERATE DESPITE "PINGDEMIC"

    A health minister has said "crucial services will be able to continue to operate" despite the "pingdemic" because of a new Covid system launching next month.

    Helen Whately told MPs there had been a "specific policy" which allowed NHS staff to continue to work even after being alerted by the NHS app as having been in contact with someone who had been infected.

    She added: "The Prime Minister has also said we will make sure that crucial services will be able to continue to operate, even recognising that many people are at the moment isolating and that goes beyond health and social care, and that in mid-August we are introducing a new system."

    The obligation to self-isolate if "pinged" by the NHS Covid app is due to be scrapped next month.

    MAPPED: ROYAL MAIL ‘PINGDEMIC’ DELIVERY CHAOS AREAS

    Deliveries of letters and packages have been disrupted after a wave of postal staff have been forced into Covid self-isolation.

    Royal Mail service alerts were issued for eight locations alone over the weekend, from Bath to Blackpool, the Sun can reveal.

     

    WILL THERE BE ANOTHER LOCKDOWN?

    Chris Whitty has warned England could be plunged back into lockdown within five weeks as Covid cases surge during the third wave.

    The chief medical officer says coronavirus hospitalisations are doubling about every three weeks and could hit “quite scary numbers”.

    His stark warning came days before July 19’s ‘Freedom Day’ and the final step in Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of Covid curbs.

    But top doc Prof Whitty said the country is “not out of the woods yet” as cases rocketed to the highest level in six months.

    Speaking at a Science Museum webinar, Prof Whitty said: “I don’t think we should underestimate the fact that we could get into trouble again surprisingly fast.”

    STAYING SAFE

    Spain is unlikely to be added to the amber plus list anytime soon, the government has confirmed – providing some relief for Brits.

    Last week, France was excluded from the new amber list rules which lets fully vaxxed Brits skip the 10-day quarantine when returning to the UK.

    Fed-up holidaymakers in France were forced to return to the UK at short notice due to the last minute change.

    Dubbed the new “amber plus” list, it was feared that Spain and Greece could also be added, due to the rise in Covid cases which are the Beta variant which may be more resistant to the vaccine.

    Spain has recorded 162 cases of the Beta variant in the week to July 1 (8.8 per cent of sequenced cases) compared to France’s sequenced cases over the same period which was just 3.5 per cent.

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      POLICE BOSS WARNS OF LONGER RESPONSE TIMES DUE TO 'PINGDEMIC'

      A police and crime commissioner has warned the public that call response times will rise due to the so-called "pingdemic".

      Cleveland Police have had to cancel rest days and annual leave for some officers, as well as bringing in others from different shifts, to fill gaps caused by staff having to self-isolate following close contact with someone with Covid-19.

      It was reported that five officers were taken off duty and self-isolating in just one incident after they came into contact with a virus-positive prisoner.

      Police and crime commissioner Steve Turner called on the Government to review the rules for emergency workers who are pinged.

      He called for healthy emergency workers to be tested daily for coronavirus so they will not automatically be taken off frontline duties.

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      CHANGES TO THE FURLOUGH SCHEME (CONTINUED)

      But from July 1, the rules changed so that the government is only paying 70% of wages up to a maximum of £2,187.50 – employers now have to make up the difference so everyone still gets 80% pay.

      From August 1, the government contribution will reduce again and the amount companies put in will rise.

      The government will only pay 60% of furloughed workers' wages up to a maximum cap of £1,875.

      Again, your company will have to pay the remaining 20% so that you still get 80% of your wage in total.

      One thing to note is that you could miss out if your company was voluntarily paying extra.

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      CHANGES TO THE FURLOUGH SCHEME

      Changes to the rules around furlough mean that your employer will have to fund more of your wages – but what does it mean for your pay?

      Companies will have to foot more of the bill for anyone furloughed under the coronavirus job retention scheme from 1 August.

      The government extended the scheme until September 30, 2021, but revealed that employers would have to shoulder an increasing share of the financial burden.

      The good news is that the amount you take home each month shouldn't change, although it could if your company was voluntarily paying you extra.

      Under the original scheme, the government paid 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

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      THE SOONER JOHNSON LEAVES NO 10 THE BETTER, SAYS CUMMINGS

      Dominic Cummings has admitted he thought Boris Johnson being Prime Minister was “terrible for the country”,, but that he and “a few dozen” backers sought to use his premiership to their advantage.

      The former de facto chief of staff in No 10 said he had found Mr Johnson to have “hopeless” traits after working with him during the 2016 Brexit referendum, but agreed after he entered Downing Street three years later to assist him.

      But Mr Cummings, who left No 10 in the autumn after a power struggle, admitted he was now working to hasten the Prime Minister’s demise.

      Asked on the BBC whether he was looking to “hasten” Mr Johnson’s departure from Downing Street, he said: “Certainly. The sooner he goes the better, for sure.”

      In the hour-long broadcast, Mr Cummings said he had looked to “exploit” the situation the country found itself in after Mr Johnson took power.

      “I think it is terrible for the country but I keep trying to stress, you’ve got to balance up the different possibilities,” he said.

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      CASH BACK

      Millions of Brits forced to self-isolate because of coronavirus can claim £125, Martin Lewis has said.

      Workers can get the money if they are “pinged” by the NHS Covid app and can’t go to their workplace.

      Anyone who has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, or is self-isolating after being pinged by the NHS app can make a claim, Martin Lewis has explained.

      In his Money Saving Expert newsletter Martin said that HMRC has confirmed to him that claims can be made in these circumstances – not just when your employer tells you to work from home.

      The rules of the scheme say anyone who is required to work from home by their employer can claim tax back of up to £125 a year.

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      BREAKING: SIR KEIR STARMER TO SELF-ISOLATE

      Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is going to self-isolate after one of his children tests positive for Covid-19.

      A statement from the Leader of the Opposition's office said: "One Keir's children tested positive for Covid this lunchtime. In line with the rules, Keir and his family will now be self-isolating."

      The announcement comes just hours after Keir stood in the House of Commons to challenge Boris Johnson at PMQs.

      Johnson appeared remotely from his grace and favour Chequers after being forced to u-turn over his own self-isolation.

      He initially tried to get out of self-isolating after Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive by claiming to be part of a test pilot scheme but backed down after an outcry at the weekend.

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      CUMMINGS SAYS HE HAS NOT SPOKEN TO BORIS JOHNSON

      Answering a question on whether he still speaks to Boris, Dominic Cummings said: “Last time I spoke to him was the Friday I left No.10.

      “He texted me a few days later asking if I’d speak to him and I said no.

      “It doesn’t bother me one way or the other [if I speak to him again].”

      The former No10 adviser was speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg about how the Government handled the initial wave of the pandemic.

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      EXPLAINED: WHERE WILL FACE MASKS STILL BE NEEDED?

      In London, Sadiq Khan has said face masks and coverings will still be compulsory on the capital’s transport network.

      Passengers in bus stations operated by combined authorities West and South Yorkshire, on the North East’s Metro and Greater Manchester’s Metrolink tram services will also be required to wear them under local rules.

      Supermarket chains – including Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose – will encourage customers to keep masks on.

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      40,000 CARE HOME STAFF RISK BEING LOST OVER MANDATORY JABS, SAYS ‘BEST’ ESTIMATE

      Around 40,000 care home staff risk being lost as a result of introducing compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations in England and could cost the industry £100 million to replace, according to the Government’s own “best” estimate.

      The number represents 7% of the profession’s 570,000-strong workforce and is the “midpoint” between the upper and lower estimates of 70,000 (12%) and 17,000 (3%) respectively.

      From the autumn, anyone working in a Care Quality Commission-registered care home in England must have two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine unless they have a medical exemption, under regulations already backed by MPs despite a Tory revolt.

      The threatened impact of the move emerged as the House of Lords inflicted a defeat on the Government to register concern about the way the measure is being brought in, with one peer accusing the Department of Health and Social Care of “lying”.

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      GRAPHIC: COVID-19 VACCINATIONS IN THE UK

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      LOCAL ACTION

      Millions of Brits in Covid-hit areas have been urged to continue to wear face masks and attend test sites amid a surge in cases.

      People living in areas such as Manchester, Blackpool and Cheshire will continue to receive support from the Government in a bid to bring cases down.

      Health Minister Lord Bethell said that as restrictions are eased across the country, we still needed to “pinpoint” local areas that are struggling to control cases.

      The Department of Health is continuing to give 11 areas support packages which include extra testing, support to maximise vaccine uptake and funding for local campaigns.

      There will also be the option to work with secondary school and colleges to reintroduce on site testing.

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      MAPPED: ROYAL MAIL ‘PINGDEMIC’ DELIVERY CHAOS AREAS

      Deliveries of letters and packages have been disrupted after a wave of postal staff have been forced into Covid self-isolation.

      Royal Mail service alerts were issued for eight locations alone over the weekend, from Bath to Blackpool, the Sun can reveal.

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      FOOD SUPPLY CHAINS ARE “STARTING TO FAIL” BECAUSE OF THE PINGDEMIC, INDUSTRY LEADERS WARN

      Food supply chains are “starting to fail” because of workers isolating over coronavirus contacts, an industry leader has warned as he criticised Boris Johnson’s effort to ease the “pingdemic”.

      The meat industry trade body said it cannot rely on the Prime Minister’s new exemption for some fully vaccinated critical workers because the bar has been set “very, very high”.

      In the face of widespread criticism from businesses over staff shortages as Covid-19 cases soar, Boris Johnson announced a plan for a “small number” of critical workers to be able to continue their functions.

      But British Meat Processors Association chief executive Nick Allen criticised “confusing messages” from the Government as he said ministers have not clarified who is applicable.

      “There’s an air of despondency creeping through the industry really. Until now we’ve managed to keep the food supply chain running but there’s a sense of we’re starting to fail on that front,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

      Asked if production lines are stalling, he said: “They are. It’s happening already. We’re starting to see that at retail level and in restaurants – everyone is struggling to get things out really.”

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      CASH BACK

      Millions of Brits forced to self-isolate because of coronavirus can claim £125, Martin Lewis has said.

      Workers can get the money if they are “pinged” by the NHS Covid app and can’t go to their workplace.

      Anyone who has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, or is self-isolating after being pinged by the NHS app can make a claim, Martin Lewis has explained.

      In his Money Saving Expert newsletter Martin said that HMRC has confirmed to him that claims can be made in these circumstances – not just when your employer tells you to work from home.

      The rules of the scheme say anyone who is required to work from home by their employer can claim tax back of up to £125 a year.

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      NO DECISION ON VACCINE PASSPORTS FOR SCOTS, NICOLA STURGEON SAYS

      No decisions have been made on whether vaccine passports will be used in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

      The First Minister insisted any proposal for people to prove they have been vaccinated against coronavirus in order to gain entry into specific venues “need to be really carefully considered”.

      It follows an announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that vaccine passports will be required for entry to nightclubs in England from September.

      Asked whether she was considering following the UK Government’s lead, Ms Sturgeon stressed that the Scottish Government has not yet decided whether to adopt the policy north of the border.

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      OVERSEAS NO-GO

      Double-jabbed Brits could miss out on overseas holidays because NHS mistakes mean their second vaccinations may not be recorded properly.

      An investigation found that many of those who have had two doses of a Covid jab do not have any official proof on the NHS app, the Telegraph reported.

      Currently, many holiday destinations need proof of vaccinations to allow entry or to avoid quarantine.

      But health officials have warned vaccine staff could make the mistake of not filling in fields in documents correctly or failing to properly “save” jab data.

      They have told anyone who has had their second jab recorded incorrectly to get in touch with their GP.

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