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Coronavirus: Lockdown easing on hold as shielding ends

Words: - BBC News - 07:06 01-08-2020

People shielding against coronavirus can now leave their home and return to work, as a further easing of lockdown restrictions in England is postponed.

More than two million at high risk will no longer need to isolate in most of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It comes after the PM applied the brakes to easing restrictions further and as some businesses remain closed.

England's chief medical officer warned the UK may have reached the limit on lifting lockdown as cases rise.

Prof Chris Whitty said the "idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control" is wrong.

Asked whether it was safe for England's schools to fully reopen to all pupils in the autumn, Prof Whitty said it was a "difficult balancing act" but "we have probably reached near the limit, or the limits, of what we can do in terms of opening up society".

Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said he supported the government's decisions on shielding and the lockdown restrictions.

But he told BBC Breakfast the "way in which the [lockdown] announcement was communicated" on Thursday night "sort of dribbling out" without all the detail "has caused a degree of confusion and anxiety".

Meanwhile, a new report suggests more than half of the people furloughed during the pandemic are now back at work, as companies begin contributing to the costs.

When lockdown began in March, those considered extremely clinically vulnerable - an estimated 2.2 million people in England - were advised to stay at home, or shield, to avoid contracting Covid-19.

People in high-risk categories include those who have had an organ transplant, are receiving immunosuppressant drugs, undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or have severe respiratory conditions.

Now, they can return to work if they cannot work from home and as long as their workplace is Covid-secure. It is still advised they maintain social distancing when outside.

From Saturday, those who were shielding in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will no longer receive food boxes and medicine deliveries from the government.

But shielding advice remains in place for Blackburn with Darwen in the north-west of England, Leicester and Luton, and the most vulnerable will continue to shield in Wales for another two weeks.

Norah Grant, who has chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and leads a support group for people under 60 with the condition, says the decision to end shielding was "very odd just considering everything that is happening in Manchester and all around".

"I don't think I will be changing my habits," she tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme, adding that she will be able to work from home in one of her two jobs.

"A lot of people in our [support] group are very nervous about going back to work," she said.

Sara Swanson, who has an immune deficiency which means she can't produce antibodies, says she will also continue to shield.

"I really don't think it is safe," she says. "There are a lot of people not following the rules.

"So for me it is safer for me to just stay at home."

She says she will only be able to work "partially" from home, so it will impact her financially.

Boris Johnson on Friday announced that the further easing of lockdown restrictions in England - due to come in this weekend - would be postponed for at least a fortnight.

It means that the following will not be able to take place until 15 August, at the earliest:

The rethink on easing England's lockdown follows new restrictions for people in parts of northern England, after a spike in virus cases.

New lockdown rules were introduced in areas including Greater Manchester, east Lancashire, and parts of West Yorkshire. The rules include a ban on separate households meeting each other inside their homes and private gardens.

Face coverings will be mandatory in more indoor settings, such as cinemas, with the new rules being enforceable in law from 8 August.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday suggest infection rates in England are rising, with around 4,200 new infections a day - compared with 3,200 a week ago. However, the level of infection is still significantly lower than it was during the peak of the pandemic.

A further 120 people have died with Covid-19 in the UK according to the latest DHSC figures, bringing the total number of virus deaths to 46,119. Meanwhile, 880 new lab-confirmed cases have been recorded - the highest in more than a month.

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Bafta TV Awards 2020: Ten things we learned at the virtual ceremony

Words: - BBC News - 01:18 01-08-2020

It was "showbusiness as usual" at this year's Bafta TV Awards, despite the dramatically pared-down ceremony.

There was no red carpet or live audience on Friday evening, and winners dialled in remotely to accept their prizes.

"Tonight, we reward various people while keeping the kind of distance from them that I've dreamed of my entire life," joked host Richard Ayoade.

"It is sad it has taken a pandemic to enforce the most basic parameters of personal space."

Chernobyl and Stath Lets Flats were among the big winners of the night, and Glenda Jackson won her first TV Bafta at the age of 84.

Here are some ceremony highlights alongside a few things we learned in the winners' Zoom room.

Sian Clifford won female comedy performance for her role in Fleabag

However, she and her co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge did have to break in to their friend's house to get a good enough signal to dial in.

The pair, each nominated for their performances in Fleabag, were spending the evening together at Phoebe's place - before everything went wrong.

"Our connection right up to the wire wasn't working," Clifford explained afterwards. "We were trying to do it in Phoebe's garden, and we were getting feedback, and the poor Bafta producers were saying 'you need to sort it out'.

"So we broke into our friend's house, who lives down the road, he's away on holiday."

Fortunately, they asked his permission first - and they didn't need to smash any windows.

"He was more than happy to oblige," Clifford clarified. "And Phoebe had a spare set of keys."

We take our hats off to this truly outstanding tan.

Which, to be fair, he may not have had to travel far to achieve - as the UK had its hottest day of the year on Friday.

Usually at the Baftas, the stars receive their trophy there and then - but this year they'll have to wait for them to be delivered in the post.

Romesh Ranganathan came up with his own solution to this problem as his Misadventures documentary series won the features prize.

His DIY Bafta trophy appeared to be made of some tinfoil, sticky tape and a Christmas bauble, which he accepted on his own awards podium - made from a dustbin.

Watching on TV, you may have (quite rightly) been taking the opportunity to nose around some celebrities' houses.

On first glace, The End of the F****** World star Naomi Ackie appeared to have the most boring background of the night - a plain white wall.

But, the best supporting actress winner explained afterwards, that's because she's currently in the process of moving house.

"Do you wanna see?" she asked, tilting her camera. "This is my room right now because I'm packing - everything is a mess.

"My bed is in the wrong place, I've got loads of furniture that's unbuilt just behind me... and I had to buy a sofa, they're really expensive - did you know that?!

"So I would have made it more interesting if I could."

Not everybody had to dial in to the ceremony via Zoom - some special guests joined Ayoade in the Bafta studio.

Normal People's Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal were there to present the entertainment performance prize to Mo Gilligan.

But prior to the ceremony, the pair ensured they were fully compliant with social distancing guidelines, by bringing a measuring tape with them.

It's probably the furthest apart they've ever been from each other's bodies, as anyone who has watched the series will tell you.

Mescal was still riding high from his Emmy nomination earlier this week, but Normal People won't be eligible for a TV Bafta until next year.

While Strictly's win for entertainment programme was a chance to celebrate the 2019 series, questions remain over how this year's will work, given social-distancing guidelines.

"People have to think outside the box to put on such a magnificent show," head judge Shirley Ballas told BBC News backstage. "And everyone is pulling towards making the most spectacular show ever.

"We may only have 10 shows instead of 13, but I'm just delighted we got any at all in the current crisis."

She explained: "[The professional dancers] are self-isolating in the hotel for all the group numbers, that's about as far as I can tell you, but they're taking massive precautionary measures.

"We'll be spaced a little bit more on the [judging] desk, and I guess there'll be one-way traffic going in, and they'll think of everything to make it work. You can't have an autumn and a winter without Strictly!"

Rumours have also been swirling that Bruno might have to miss this year's Strictly because quarantine rules could prevent him flying between the UK and the US - where he also appears on Dancing With The Stars.

But, Shirley said: "If the flight [restrictions] and everything lift, I know that Bruno will do everything in his power to do both shows - that's Bruno."

Will Sharpe won best actor for his performance in Giri/Haji - a series notable for its bilingual nature.

Characters speak both English and Japanese in the show, with subtitles applied to certain scenes. Sharpe says the use of subtitles is less alienating to viewers than it used to be.

"The success of Parasite has been very helpful in terms of that," he said - referring to the Korean winner of best picture at this year's Oscars.

"The feeling I get is the world is becoming increasingly international, and entertainment is shared around the world more readily and more rapidly."

He points out: "It means you have to watch it properly as well, you can't be scanning through your phone at the same time. You have to be engaged with it, and maybe that's why it can be a challenge - but it's worth it."

As they presented comedy entertainment programme, Kermit the Frog encouraged Miss Piggy to say hello to the ceremony's host, Richard Ayoade.

"Who's Richard? Never heard of him," replied The Muppets' biggest diva.

"He's hosting the Baftas? The IT Crowd? The Crystal Maze?" said Kermit, trying to jog her memory, to no avail.

Kermit then reminded her Ayoade also hosts Channel 4 series Travel Man, "where he takes different celebrities to cities around the world".

"Oh! That Richard Ayoade!" replied Miss Piggy. "I adore him. Love you Richard, kissy kissy. By the way, I'd like to go to Venice."

"You've ruined my losing streak!" joked Jared Harris as he was announced as the winner of best actor for Chernobyl.

It was one of two awards the HBO series won on Friday night - in addition to the seven it took home from the Bafta Craft Awards last month.

But in his acceptance speech, Harris actor mentioned that a producer told him their first choice for the role was triple-Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis

"I was actually really flattered," Harris clarified backstage. "I was second to Daniel Day-Lewis, I mean that's an incredible slot to be in. I'll take his cast-offs all day long!"

It's unlikely casting directors will ever be able to secure Day-Lewis again, as he announced his retirement from acting in 2017, but Harris is hopeful he'll return.

"He's a wonderful talent. The way he approaches his work, you can see he needs to take a break every now and then because it's so all consuming, so I'm hoping he'll be back."

"It's been a while since I played to a place this empty," joked Adrian Lester as he took to the stage to present best leading actress.

Tim Minchin, meanwhile, made light of the red carpet's absence, asking the nominees during his song: "Tell me, who is the designer of your tracksuit?"

But some argued this year's ceremony was actively an improvement.

"These Baftas were miles more enjoyable than the normal Baftas," wrote The Daily Telegraph's Anita Singh. "Brilliant host, short speeches, done in 90 minutes, what's not to love?"

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US election 2020: The war hero who could be Biden's running mate

Words: - BBC News - 00:47 01-08-2020

Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran

Who is Tammy Duckworth, the US senator from Illinois who is reportedly on the short list for the vice-presidential slot on the Democratic ticket?

Born in Bangkok and wounded in the Iraq war, Tammy Duckworth has a Purple Heart and the instincts of a street fighter.

Her name has come up frequently during high-level discussions about the vice-presidential slot for the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden. She has also become a target for Fox News's Tucker Carlson and other conservatives.

When she said recently on CNN that she was open-minded about the prospect of removing US monuments to US founders and slave holders, Mr Carlson questioned her patriotism.

She fired back, saying that Mr Carlson should "walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America".

Her challenge to Mr Carlson attracted national notice and drew people's attention both to her political acumen and to her military background. She was shot down in a helicopter during the Iraq war and lost her legs.

Many Democrats believe that her military record and her tenacity during fights with conservatives, as well as her background as an Asian-American, would strengthen Mr Biden's candidacy. If he chose her as a running mate, say her supporters, she would help to shore up votes among veterans, minorities and women.

'Walk a mile in my legs' Tammy Duckworth has said

Yet many believe that Mr Biden should pick a black running mate instead - Senator Kamala Harris is frequently mentioned as a possibility. Besides that, Ms Duckworth's home state is safely Democratic. Other contenders for the Democratic ticket, a group that includes New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, could help Mr Biden in states where he could use a boost.

The choice of a running mate has added importance for Democrats because of Mr Biden's age and his own assessment of his role.

He is 77, and if he were elected he would be 82 by the end of his term. He sees himself as a "transition candidate", and even his diehard supporters assume that if he were elected he would not seek a second term.

Former vice president Joe Biden sees himself as a 'transitional candidate'

That means that the person who serves as his vice-president could someday become president.

Ms Duckworth, who is 52, is best known for her work on veterans' issues. In addition, she has worked on health-care policy and spoken frequently about national security. She fought in the Iraq war, but she believes that it was a mistake.

"It's a tough lesson," she says. "And I hope this nation will be a lot more sceptical of the reasons to go to war."

She also has a compelling personal story. She and her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, have two daughters, Abigail and Maile Pearl, and she was the first to bear a child while serving as a US senator.

Her father, Frank, a US citizen, worked for the United Nations, and her mother, Lamai, is originally from Thailand.

Ms Duckworth, who speaks Thai, lived with her parents in Singapore, Indonesia and Cambodia because of her father's UN job.

The family was in Cambodia, living in Phnom Penh during a period of violence shortly before the Khmer Rouge took power in the mid-1970s.

She recalls going to her market with her mother when, suddenly, bombs began falling. Her mother pushed her to the floor of the car, Ms Duckworth says, "so I wouldn't see the bloodiness".

Ms Duckworth later enlisted in the military, following in the footsteps of her father, a Vietnam veteran. She once told me that she did not see herself ever running for president.

Joe Biden has reportedly taken a shine to Tammy Duckworth

"I don't have that fire in my belly," she says. But she is a ferocious advocate for Mr Biden, and he has taken a shine to her.

During an online fundraiser, he praised her bravery in battle and in politics. "I can't think of anyone who has shown more courage," he said. Addressing her directly, he said: "I'm grateful for you here with me in this fight."

Ideologically, Ms Duckworth is a good match for Mr Biden, a centrist Democrat. Among Democrats in the US Senate, she, too, appears in the middle of the ideological spectrum.

In recent weeks, she has ripped into President Donald Trump and his "failure to lead our nation", showing her willingness to act as Mr Biden's attack dog during the campaign.

Mr Biden's aides interviewed her not long ago for the vice-presidential slot, she said during a live Washington Post chat on Thursday. She described the job interview as "positive".

Who could be Joe Biden's running mate?

Presidential candidate Joe Biden has pledged he would choose a woman as his running mate. Those on the rumoured shortlist include:

Read more about Mr Biden's potential running mate here

After retiring from the military, Ms Duckworth worked on veterans' issues at the state and national level and was elected to Congress in 2012. She won a senate seat in 2016, becoming the state's junior senator and following in the footsteps of President Barack Obama. Her rise from state politics to national prominence has been fast.

Dick Simpson, the head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says that she has moved up more rapidly than anyone in politics he has seen in half a century. Mr Obama, who also got his start in Illinois politics, rose higher than Ms Duckworth. But as Mr Simpson points out: "It took a little longer."

Peter Levin, the founder of a software company in Washington, worked with her at the US department of veterans affairs and says that she has an innate talent for politics.

"She naturally brings out the best in people even when there's tension in the room," he says, explaining that she is skilled at tuning "her language, her emphasis, to the person she's speaking to" in order to build consensus.

Her record in politics is far from perfect, however.

She has struggled to get legislation passed in Congress, and she has been criticised for her work on veterans' issues. She said all the right things, according to her detractors in Illinois, but many of the veterans' programmes that she spoke about never got off the ground.

A spokesman for Ms Duckworth disagreed with the negative assessment of her work as a lawmaker, saying that she has been effective as a senator and has, among other achievements, passed bipartisan legislation and blocked "efforts to repeal the Americans With Disabilities Act".

The criticism has hardly slowed her down, and throughout her career she has shown an unusual resolve. While recovering from her war injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland in 2004, she was given "heavy-duty pain blocks", she says, but they barely muffled the agony of losing her legs.

Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Tammy Duckworth is the first Thai-American woman elected to Congress

Yet during her recovery and in the years that followed, she has shown almost no self-pity: "For me, it just comes back to the fact that I'm so grateful to be alive. I know that sounds so corny," she says. "But I think of what my buddies did to get me out and of the pilot who carried me to safety. I can't mope around."

Her supporters are hoping that Mr Biden will choose her as his running mate so that she can bring her enthusiasm to the campaign. He is expected to announce his decision this week.

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Who is Ferran Torres? The inside story of Man City's imminent new signing

Words: - BBC News - 23:01 31-07-2020

p European Football

Ferran Torres' signing for Manchester City from Valencia, which will be made official soon, puts an end to the rumours over the past few months linking him to just about every major club in all of the biggest leagues.

He has had offers from Juventus, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund - and got calls from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United - but it is City about to finalise a deal estimated at about 25m euros (£22.6m) plus 12m euros (£10.9m) in extras.

The time has come for the 20-year-old - a prodigiously talented, lightning fast winger - to seek his fortune elsewhere in the footballing world.

Valencia wanted much more for the youngster but were conscious that he could have left for free in a year's time - Manchester City have got themselves a bargain.

When I met up with him last week in Valencia, I asked him whether he was learning languages.

"Yes, you have always got to be learning languages because you never know where football will take you tomorrow.... but above all I am learning English, because English is essential whatever part of the world you are in," he said.

So highly is Torres rated that many at the club thought a new Valencia side could be built around him. But, as always seems to happen at Valencia, politics and finance intervened.

With contract negotiations dragging on, the club decided not to take a chance - and have accepted a transfer fee instead.

Yet Torres retains a loyalty both to the club and his home town of Foios, around six miles to the north of Valencia's Mestalla home.

Just as he will have no criticism of Foios - "I was raised there, have all my friends there and the truth is I feel very much at home there" - neither will he hear a word said against the club he joined as a seven-year-old.

He recalls the first time he put on the Valencia kit just before going to training as a kid.

"I remember putting on the shirt then going into the bathroom looking at myself almost in a daze," he said.

"I was just wearing the shirt and my underpants and I was just staring at the shirt and saying to myself: 'What am I doing here? How did I get here?' It was a special moment.

"At the end of the day, it is the team from my land and the team that has given me everything."

But now Torres knows the time has come to leave the club he has supported all his life.

He said: "As a player, I consider myself to be ambitious, someone that wants to win, win win, and... as time passes and you feel you are better prepared, then you want to take on greater challenges, experience a change of environment. Yes, I think I am ready to do so.

"Inside I always think that I am the best, and that I want to be the best and I work to try to be the best. If you don't believe yourself that you are the best, then no-one is ever going to believe that you are."

Ferran Torres became the youngest player to make 50 appearances for Valencia His skill and speed were obvious to everyone from the moment he joined the club as a boy.

He made his way through the ranks and, much like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had done before him, spent most of his time playing in sides and leagues featuring youngsters much bigger - and almost always at least two years older than him.

"I did suffer because of the big physical differences that existed," he said. "I was tiny in comparison to some of the people that I could see were fully formed and I struggled to the point that I would leave crying.

"To go into challenges as a 14 or 15-year-old against strong 17 and 18-year-old men was hard for me. That feeling of not being able to win, not being able to do what I wanted to was something I found hard to take in."

He received news of his inclusion in Valencia's first-team squad when playing for Spain at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup in India. On 16 December that year, he became the first person born in the 2000s to play in La Liga as he made his league debut against Eibar.

Torres' game is based on blistering speed, superb close control and unpredictability in attack. A modern day winger - he can also play inside - he has a great change of pace, is very powerful, steady with the ball at his feet and strong in the air.

Comparisons are already being made to a young Cristiano Ronaldo, a player who he cites as his main reference, "not just because of the way he plays his football but also because of the way he carries himself away from football". He added: "It is worthy of admiration and I would like to follow his steps."

He is not yet the finished article but is as close as is possible for one so young and has been described by Valencia academy director of recruitment, Jose Gimenez, as "the complete player".

Perhaps his greatest asset is his football instinct. "More than a conscious understanding, what I do I do instinctively," he said. "If by that you mean understanding then I guess it is, although I never really think that I have known what I am going to do, but rather just done in at that moment."

Torres will be sorely missed at Valencia not just by the team but also the fans who adore him as one of their own.

"For many of the fans you are a reference and they are also spending their time having their photo taken with you and that should also be respected and so I spend whatever time is necessary to be with them," he said.

Until recently, Torres was still living with his father in Foios, although he has since bought himself an apartment in Valencia. The winger recalls a childhood tilling the soil in his grandfather's orchard, something he now realises was another part of his education.

"At the end of the day, these are the small details that we must never lose, because although it has nothing to do directly with football, it has helped, me at least, to become the type of person that I am," he said.

His closest friends call him Ferri; Torres said of them: "I have above all four friends that I have had all my life and with who I do practically everything, and the fact is we always stay in contact with one another.

"When I do things badly, they tell me, and when I do well, they are there to congratulate me, but more than anything else I am most grateful to them when they tell me about the things that I have done wrong."

He is also extremely fond of his two dogs, an 11-year-old Podenco Andaluz called Minnie and a 12-year-old Czechoslovakian Wolfdog called Lluna.

"For my sister and me they are everything. In fact we couldn't live without them. They have lived it all with me. Everything we have talked about they have lived with me," he added.

There is currently no talk of romance for Torres. The main woman in his life at present is his sister Arantxa, six years his senior.

Torres said: "With my sister it's true that I am much more open. With her I express much more what I am thinking at that particular moment. She is my confidante.

"She's been through some very difficult and complex times and she has confronted them and come through them. She has her own career, her master's degree and that has a great merit. She has always been super-protective of me.

"I think that the reason I get on so well with her is because she knows how to stay on the margins, not to smother me, and I know that if I want something, I can go to her.

"She will never ask me, but when I have any doubts about anything or any type of problem, the first person I always go to is her.

"We have a tattoo on our ankles - an anchor - in which are the words 'I refuse to sink'. That's because we have gone through difficult times together and we have always come through them and moved forward."

I asked him: why is the tattoo in English?

"I don't know," he answered. "I think it looks better in English."

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12 teams, 12 questions for a new Scottish Premiership season

Words: - BBC News - 16:38 31-07-2020

p Scottish Premiership

Midway through April, Scottish football disappeared down a rabbit hole.

Three-and-a-half months of controversial resolutions and failed reconstructions, enforced relegations and bitter recriminations. We've had the Rangers dossier, the Deloitte report, the Court of Session hearings and the arbitration panel.

Through increasingly aggressive communications - in public and in private - relationships have been torn asunder. Scottish football is an unending and glorious odditorium, but what's happened in recent times has gone beyond that.

But competitive football is back, thank heavens. Remember it? The league season is upon us. Not as we have known it, but it's here nonetheless, fan-less for now, but very welcome all the same.

Despite all the talk, there are still 12 teams in the Premiership and 12 distinct stories. There are hopes and fears, like every other year.

In that sense, if in no other sense, things are back to normal. It won't be long before new narratives take hold, before controversy of a different kind rages.

Twelve questions, then, for the new season. Football chat, at last.

Celtic fans have sung about it for years and now the season of truth has arrived. History beckons for Neil Lennon's side. If you had to bet your last fiver, you'd lump it on them completing what they started when beating Hibs 2-0 away back in the first game of the 2011-12 season.

Can anybody see the pressure getting to them? Can anybody see stand-up players who have reeled off trophy win after trophy win suddenly being cowed by the enormity of what they're chasing? Is Scott Brown going to fall in a heap? Is Odsonne Edouard suddenly going to become powder puff in front of goal? Are Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie, James Forrest and the rest going to lose their way? A whole series of improbable events would need to happen for Celtic to be stopped.

Upsets occur, so it's not a racing certainty, but they look to have too much artillery, too much character and too much motivation. Ten-in-a-row is nigh.

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Would another treble tempt Celtic captain Brown to retire..?

It might seem ridiculous to say that such a totemic football figure will not have experienced the kind of pressure that awaits him in the coming season, but it's surely true. Pressure of playing is one thing, but the pressure of managing a Rangers team that has to stop Celtic winning the league on pain of persecution is quite another.

It's hard to think of another guy in global football who will have a more stressful environment than Gerrard in the months ahead. And now he's got the drama surrounding Alfredo Morelos to contend with as well.

Even if his striker stays - a big if - his best XI is probably going to be largely the same as the implosion months of last season, unless some excellent business is done in the coming weeks and months. That's possible, of course. Gerrard is pushing for more funds to buy more players.

He has a good starting line-up, and if they steal a march on Celtic early on and transfer the pressure on to them then you never know what might happen, but have they got the nerve to go the distance? Doubts persist about temperament. They've collapsed two years in a row, so predicting anything other than second place is a blind punt not a prediction based on evidence.

David Turnbull's return after a cruel injury was wonderful to see, even if it only lasted for 19 minutes against St Mirren and 17 minutes against Hearts at the end of last season. The young Motherwell midfielder is due some luck and, if he gets it, the big question is can he reproduce his excellence of 2018-19 that convinced Celtic to bid for him.

p twitter Motherwell will feel like they've signed a new player of fantastic potential. That's if they manage to hold on to him. That's not a given.

It's worth reminding ourselves of his influence in the season before last - the decisive goal in games against St Mirren, Dundee, Hibs, Dundee again, Hearts, Hamilton, Dundee once more and Livingston. Nine league goals (16 in all competitions) and five league assists for a team that finished eighth.

A crude way of calculating it, perhaps, but that's 24 league points. Stephen Robinson's pulse must be quickening at the prospect of Turnbull in full flight.

Sam Cosgrove's injury is a terrible blow after his 23 goals in all competitions last season.

Derek McInnes has indicated that Aberdeen will try to play with more creativity this season, so the two-month loss of the man best equipped to capitalise on the extra attacking edge Jonny Hayes should bring will have rocked everyone at Pittodrie. They have brought in young Ryan Edmondson from Leeds on loan, but the onus will be on Curtis Main to deliver. No pressure.

McInnes is going to have to plan without the injured Mikey Devlin for two months but at least he has another important player, Craig Bryson, fit again. Solving the problem up front is the manager's biggest early-season challenge.

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Behind the scenes as Livingston prepare for players returning

Gary Holt received great and justified praise for the job he did in getting Livingston up to fifth last season, especially after his goalkeeper Liam Kelly and two hugely influential defenders in Craig Halkett and Declan Gallagher left last summer. To finish where they did was a tribute to Holt's management.

There's always an elephant in the room when it comes to Livi and that's the perceived advantage their artificial pitch gives them. Last season they got 28 points at home and only 11 away. They won one league match on grass. The previous league season they only won two.

If they manage to keep striker Lyndon Dykes, then improving the away form and silencing the critics has got to be a major driving force for them.

If he's not already sick of hearing about how much St Johnstone are going to miss Tommy Wright, then he soon will be. Wright was a colossus at McDiarmid Park and Davidson has a huge job on his hands to keep things moving in the right direction on his return to Perth. He's cool, though. He's his own man.

The squad he's inherited is a decent one with some really gifted young players at his disposal. The loss of Drey Wright will have hurt but the signing of defender Shaun Rooney from Inverness looks a solid acquisition. Previously a coach at Millwall, Davidson looks like he's relishing his new life.

Only Celtic and Rangers scored more league goals last season than Hibs and the signings of Drey Wright and Kevin Nisbet are surely going to see those numbers improve again. And yet the capture of Gogic might yet prove to be more meaningful as Hibs attempt to bring some robustness to the middle of the park.

They score enough goals to challenge for top three but concede way too many. Only the bottom three - Ross County, Hamilton and Hearts - shipped more last season, so it's not rocket science to see where they need to improve. Gogic could be part of the solution.

p twitter The Kilmarnock winger turns 37 in December and yet he's still bringing his influence to bear. Whether it's for Rangers, Cardiff, Birmingham, Nottingham Forest, Rotherham, Ross County or his current team, Burke has scored at least one goal in each of his last 15 seasons. He's odds-on to make it 16.

To add another layer to this, Burke scored his first senior goal, for Rangers against Kilmarnock, in March 2002. Team-mate Eamonn Brophy was still in Primary One. Burke's experience and energy is invaluable to his side. A class guy and an example to others.

The Czech goalkeeper was outstanding and his loss is acute. It's hard to quantify how many points his saves were worth to St Mirren, but he was a much-valued character. Jim Goodwin has brought in Jak Alnwick to replace him and pretty much a new back four. Richard Tait, Joe Shaughnessy and Marcus Fraser are experienced operators at this level.

Ilkay Durmus and Jonathan Obika scored important goals last season and young Kyle McAllister is a talent. That said, they need more threat. They only got 24 league goals in 30 games last season and only escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth. If Goodwin can find a little firepower, then the coming campaign can be a whole lot less stressful than the last one.

Ross County conceded an average of two goals in each Premiership game last season If they concede the volume of goals they shipped last season then they're going to be in trouble. They lost 60 goals in 30 league games.

The way they were going - only two wins in their 13 games before the season ended - they might have been in mortal danger of the drop had the pandemic not saved them. Even Hearts, as hopeless as they were, got more points in 2020. Billy Mckay's goals in March saved them further anguish, but that defence needs to show vast improvement.

Been there, done it and have egg on the face to prove it. Just when you think Hamilton are on an inexorable slide into relegation, they produce something to remind you of their battling qualities.

From the end of December to the end of February they didn't win a league game, but in their last two matches before the season was called, they beat Rangers away and Kilmarnock at home and didn't concede in either. They finished 11th.

You wouldn't bet against them doing the same this time and then surviving the play-off.

The striker was the difference between promotion and another season in the Championship for Dundee United. He prospered despite fairly average service for much of the season, a tribute to his predatory instincts.

He scored 29 goals in 35 games, the majority of them in the Championship. Can he step up? It would be a major surprise if he didn't. Shankland had three games against Premiership opposition last season - two Scottish Cup ties against Hibs and a League Cup contest against Hearts - and scored in all three.

He's a natural finisher and though he's moving up a level he's still plenty good enough to take advantage of defensive mishaps. Watching Shankland adapt will be fascinating.

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Coronavirus: How many confirmed cases are there in your area?

Words: - BBC News - 18:15 28-07-2020

There have been more than 300,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far in the UK and over 45,000 people have died, government figures show. However, these numbers only include people tested, and the actual death toll is higher.

Here we a take a look at some of the key figures of the pandemic in the UK - estimates of the death toll and whether cases are rising or falling. You can also find out more about cases in your area using our search tool and map.

Find out how the pandemic has affected your area and how it compares with the national average:

Public Health England figures on coronavirus cases were updated on 2 July to include people tested in the wider community, as well as hospitals and healthcare workers, causing the numbers to increase sharply. Figures for the rest of the UK already included people tested in the wider population.

If you can't see the look-up click here.

The new coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19, was first confirmed in the UK at the end of January, but the number of daily confirmed cases and related deaths only began to increase significantly by the second half of March.

Lockdown restrictions came into force across the UK at the end of that month and the number of new confirmed cases continued to rise until April, before starting to fall steadily throughout May and June.

However, the downward trend now appears to have stalled.

On Tuesday, a further 581 cases were reported.

How many confirmed cases are there in your area?

Since some of the March lockdown restrictions were eased, a number of local outbreaks have been identified across the country. Health Secretary Matt Hancock says targeted action is being taken every week against such clusters of infections.

The Lancashire town of Blackburn with Darwen is one of the latest hotspots, where coronavirus cases are rising, as is Luton in Bedfordshire. Both towns say gyms and other leisure facilities will remain closed for the time being.

Local lockdown measures were announced in Leicester at the end of June and although non-essential shops were told last Friday they could reopen, people have been urged not to leave their homes just to go shopping.

Public Health England has also produced a coronavirus watchlist of areas, based on an assessment of incidence rates, and other indicators such as trends in testing, local responses and plans, healthcare activity and mortality.

While the fall in the number of new cases of coronavirus appears to have stalled, government-announced deaths have continued to drop since a peak in mid-April, though the downward trend has slowed recently.

On Tuesday, a further 119 deaths were reported. On Monday there were only seven deaths announced, but the figure is often lower at weekends and just after because there is a delay in reporting deaths on Saturdays and Sundays.

The latest figures were published on the government's coronavirus dashboard - although a review is taking place into the way deaths from coronavirus are counted in England.

Public Health England have confirmed that reported deaths may have included people who tested positive months before they died. Other UK nations include only those who died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a Commons committee last week that the results of the review would be published "very, very shortly".

The majority of the UK's deaths have been in England, with just over 41,000 so far.

No new deaths were reported in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

When looking at the overall death toll from coronavirus, official figures count such deaths in three different ways.

On a daily basis, Public Health England counts the deaths of people who have tested positive for coronavirus, providing the government with a figure it announces each 24 hours.

But the Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes weekly updates using two other measures.

The first includes all deaths where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate, even if the person had not been tested for the virus. The latest figures using this measure suggest there had been more than 55,000 deaths by 17 July.

The ONS also looks at all UK deaths over and above the number usually expected for the time of year. The latest figures for this measure show the death toll was just under 64,000 up to 17 July.

In recent weeks, figures used in this third measure have actually been falling.

This is because the number of deaths from all causes registered in a single week - including coronavirus - has now stayed below the five-year average for four weeks in a row.

The UK has the highest official death toll in Europe and the third highest in the world, after the US and Brazil.

However, both countries have much larger populations than the UK and the number of people who have died per 100,000 people in the UK is currently higher than for either the US or Brazil.

The government has argued it is too soon to make definitive international comparisons but, as the impact of the first wave becomes clear in many countries, analysis is beginning to suggest the UK has been the hardest hit of the leading G7 nations.

The "R number" is the average number of people an infected person will pass the disease on to.

If R is below one, then the number of people contracting the disease will fall; if it is above one, the number will grow.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, known as Sage, believes the R number across the whole of the UK is currently between 0.7 and 0.9.

The government says in England itself it is between 0.8 and 1.0.

The estimate for Scotland is between 0.6 and 0.9. In Northern Ireland it is between 0.7 and 0.9, while it is between 0.6 and 0.8 in Wales.

The government has said in the past that the R number is one of the most important factors in deciding when lockdown measures can be eased. But it now says that infection rates are too low to calculate R precisely in all areas of the UK.

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Coronavirus: Cornwall locals 'too scared' to go shopping

Words: - BBC News - 06:50 01-08-2020

Residents described the situation in St Ives as "absolute madness"

Residents in popular resorts have said they are "too scared" to go food shopping because of visitors pouring down narrow streets and ignoring social distancing.

On social media locals have described some Cornish resorts as being "absolute madness," and "Benidorm on steroids".

Street marshals have been patrolling hotspots giving social distancing tips.

Visit Cornwall advised people to plan ahead and change plans if resorts were busy.

Some people in Perranporth say it is the busiest they have ever known it

St Ives resident Claire Harris, 37, said her family was "too scared to go food shopping".

She told the BBC she had banned her children from the main shopping street and harbour front because of the crowds and said this was "the general consensus among friends".

Jonathan Pitts, who like Ms Harris manages holiday lets, said: "Sadly I think a lot [of tourists] have the same attitude - that they've come to escape it [Covid-19]."

Claire Harris said her three children were currently banned from St Ives' main street for their safety

Vicky White, from Newyln, said: "It makes me very uneasy to go out with my two young kids. The pavements have been bustling.

"It is sad for residents to not be able to enjoy where they live."

Many Perranporth residents said they felt ousted from the town's convenience stores, some of which were overwhelmed by groups of shoppers.

One woman in her 60s who wanted to be known only as Linda, told the BBC she had complained to the head office of one of the stores.

Staff members said on Facebook's Perranzabuloe Community group they faced an "unreal" amount of abuse from customers for trying to comply with measures in store.

Vicky White, a young mum from Newlyn, said she did not feel safe taking her children out

Royden Paynter, harbour master at Mousehole, said: "Suddenly we've been hit with a stampede.

"Everybody is a bit more stressed this year - they don't move out of your way".

But Adrienne Munday, a small business owner there, said Covid-19 concerns had been "over dramatised" in the media and most people were delighted to welcome back the "summer buzz".

Jake Diviney, 21, from Bedford, said it was "busier than expected" but he had felt completely safe on holiday in Perranporth

An extra £500,000 was given to Devon and Cornwall Police by the local Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez in July to help communities manage the pandemic this summer, enabling the introduction of street marshals.

Some Cornwall residents said they were 'delighted' to see their towns thriving again

There were 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Cornwall in the week up to 26 July, a rise of 14 from the previous week.

A Cornwall Council spokesperson said: "To help guide people in city and town centres we have marked 'keep right' walkways and put up signing, and there are street wardens on hand to offer advice.

"Cornwall Council will continue to monitor congested sites and provide signs and marshals where they may help, but we ask everyone to be considerate of others and follow public health guidance to help reduce the risk of transmission."

Malcolm Bell from Visit Cornwall said: "It seems busier than ever but we are actually below the normal peak levels".

He advised people to "plan ahead and be prepared to change your plans when volumes of people make social distancing difficult".

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Coronavirus: What does my boss have to do to keep me safe?

Words: - BBC News - 00:21 01-08-2020

Employers in England now have more freedom to decide whether staff should return to their place of work.

But with many people still worried about contracting coronavirus, what are your rights?

From 1 August, the government has changed its guidance about asking people to work from home where they can.

"We're going to give employers more discretion and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely," said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

That could mean continuing to work from home or returning to the workplace, Mr Johnson said. Employers should talk to their workers about what steps to take and only bring them back to their place of work if it is safe to do so.

Anybody will be able to use public transport - including to get to work - the prime minister said.

For those who do return to work in England, government guidance on working safely across a range of sectors is available. There is separate advice for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Employers must follow a strict code of measures, which can include:

If employees are unhappy and their employer has not addressed their concerns, they should contact their local authority or the Health and Safety Executive, who can force firms to take action.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) says companies should publish risk assessments, so employees know what safety measures are being taken. However, it says that not all firms have done so.

Many workers in public-facing jobs, like shops, bars and restaurants, have already gone back to their workplace. Office workers are among those who could soon be asked to do the same.

Employment law expert Simon Rice-Birchall, from Eversheds Sutherland, says that people who do not show up for work should not expect to get paid.

However, employers should be "extremely careful" about deciding to discipline or sack them.

Under employment law, workers have the right to walk off the job to protect themselves from "serious and imminent" danger, he says.

There are 2.2 million people in England classified as being at high-risk, including those who have received organ transplants or are on immunosuppression drugs.

Employers must be "especially careful" to protect such people, says Tom Neil, from arbitration service Acas.

This may include varying their responsibilities, or keeping them on furlough until it is safer for them to return.

From 1 August they will no longer need to shield and may return to work if their workplace is Covid-secure.

The updated government guidance advises people "that they may use public transport, while encouraging them to consider alternative means of transport where possible".

However, many people are afraid that using public transport will expose them to the risk of being infected by coronavirus.

Face coverings are currently required on public transport across the whole of the UK.

Employers are also encouraged to stagger working times outside rush hour and provide parking and bike storage.

Acas says employers should discuss with returning staff how they will travel to and from work, and offer help where possible.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has rejected reports that face coverings will be made mandatory for office workers on-site in England, though.

Mr Johnson has said that if schools are not open and workers cannot get childcare, employers should not expect staff to return.

While it is not necessarily legal protection if you refuse to go to work, Mr Johnson said parents and guardians who are unable to return "must be defended and protected on that basis".

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Coronavirus: What is shielding?

Words: - BBC News - 14:01 28-07-2020

Cancer patients need to take extra care

Advice is changing for people who have been shielding against catching coronavirus.

When lockdown began, about 2.5 million people were advised to take extra steps to avoid contracting the disease, because they were considered more at risk of needing hospital treatment.

Shielding will be paused in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from 1 August. Wales will recommend the same from 16 August.

This is because infection levels in the community are now falling, so the risk of exposure is significantly less than it has been.

People will no longer have to "stay at home" and follow shielding guidelines, although they are advised to take particular care when outside, and strictly maintain social distancing.

For some people this will be welcome news, while others will be understandably anxious.

Shielding was never compulsory and it is still your choice to decide what you are comfortable about doing - you may still want to spend a lot of time at home, for example.

If possible, take things at your own pace and talk through any worries you have.

The relaxation of the rules allows those who have been shielding to see more people, enjoy the summer and be more active.

Experts strongly advise people with serious underlying health conditions to follow social distancing recommendations - keep 2m away from other people outside your home and, whenever possible, limit the number of people you meet, shops you visit, and non-essential journeys.

You should only go back to your workplace if it is Covid-safe, which means that your employer has taken the necessary steps and risk assessments to reduce the risk of infection for employees.

It may be possible to work from home. You can discuss this with your employer.

Yes. People on the shielding list may be advised to shield again if coronavirus starts to rise again across the UK.

Your individual health risk, should you catch coronavirus, has not changed, despite shielding being paused.

In Oldham, in the north of England, anyone shielding has been asked to continue to do so until 14 August. This is because of rising coronavirus cases in the area.

People in high risk categories, who include:

The list does not include all elderly people, although they are strongly advised to do social distancing.

New guidance from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says that most youngsters with conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and kidney disease do not need to continue to shield and could be removed from the shielding list held by the NHS.

About 90,000 people shielding are under 18. Children will only be removed from the shielding list by their GP or specialist doctor after discussions with the child and their family.

If you have been told that your child no longer needs to shield, they can go to school, college or nursery.

From 1 August, people will no longer receive food boxes and medicine deliveries provided by the National Shielding Service.

People will retain their priority for supermarket delivery slots, and still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments when shielding is eased.

The NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme will continue to offer support after shielding is paused. They can support you with:

These are symptoms of coronavirus, as are loss of smell or taste. It does not mean that you definitely have it, but you should contact the NHS 111 online coronavirus service, or call NHS 111 or your doctor. Do this as soon as you get symptoms. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or hospital.

In an emergency, call 999 if you are seriously ill.

You could prepare a hospital bag just in case. This should include your emergency contact, a list of medicines you take and any information on your planned care appointments, as well as things you would need for an overnight stay, such as a toothbrush and pyjamas.

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Coronavirus: What are social distancing and self-isolation rules?

Words: - BBC News - 08:17 14-07-2020

Social distancing means keeping apart from people to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

The rules and guidance are being relaxed across the country.

Rules are different in each UK nation - and they will not ease in Leicester, which is currently under a local lockdown.

The original rule across the UK was that you had to stay 2m (6ft) away from anybody who was not a member of your household.

Those rules have now been relaxed.

You should still ideally stay 2m (6ft) apart, but if that's not possible, you can stay 1m (3ft) apart with extra precautions such as face coverings and not sitting face-to-face.

In Scotland the exemptions to the 2m rule are only in some premises such as pubs and restaurants, and face coverings are compulsory in shops.

And in Wales, while the 2m rule remains, the guidance is changing to reflect the fact that it is not realistic to stay that far apart in somewhere like a hairdresser's shop.

The only people you do not have to distance yourself from are those you live with and those you have linked to in a support bubble.

In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, single adults living alone - or single parents with children under 18 - can form a bubble with one other household of any size, and visit each other's homes. In Wales, two households of any size can now join up in a similar "extended household".

Also, in Scotland, children aged 11 or under no longer have to socially distance with others outside.

Outdoors in England, up to 30 people from two households can meet, or a maximum of six people can meet from multiple households.

People from different households must maintain social distancing throughout.

People who are clinically vulnerable and are "shielding" can now gather in groups of up to six people outdoors, including individuals outside of their household.

In Scotland, up to 15 people from five different households can meet outdoors.

In Northern Ireland, up to 30 people who are not in the same household can meet outdoors.

In Wales,any number of people from two different households can now meet outdoors.

In England, two households up to a maximum of 30 people can meet indoors and overnight stays are allowed.

In Scotland, up to eight people from three different households can meet indoors while social distancing. In Northern Ireland, groups of up to six people not in the same household can meet indoors.

In Wales, indoor meetings are still not allowed, but with indoor bars and restaurants due to reopen in August that will presumably be relaxed.

The guidance encourages people to keep windows and doors open for ventilation.

If you have guests coming for a meal, put crockery and cutlery in a dishwasher or hot soapy water (and then rinse in cold water) immediately after use.

Experts recommend the following:

Pubs, restaurants and cafes have been able to reopen indoors in England and Northern Ireland, as long as they follow safety guidelines.

Staff should practise good hand hygiene and social distancing, but they don't have to wear face coverings.

The government advice to employers includes:

Read the government guidelines for staff in pubs and restaurants and hotels and attractions.

Indoor parts of pubs and restaurants will reopen in Scotland on 15 July, while in Wales they can open outdoors from 13 July and indoors from 3 August.

Self-isolating means staying at home and not leaving it.

People who have symptoms of coronavirus should isolate themselves for seven days and arrange to get tested. Symptoms include:

Other members of their household should isolate for 14 days and not leave their homes.

If you test positive you will be contacted by contact tracers, who will establish who else you might have passed on the infection to.

Anybody they deem to be at risk will have to isolate themselves for 14 days from the point of contact.

In England, until recently, those categorised as "clinically extremely vulnerable", or "shielders" have also been self-isolating, but they can now go outside for exercise and meet up to five other people outdoors while social distancing if they want to. They can also form a support bubble.

From 1 August, shielding in England will be "paused". The guidance in Northern Ireland is similar, but different in Wales and Scotland.

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CoronaVirus translator

What do all these terms mean?

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Antibodies test

A medical test that can show if a person has had the coronavirus and now has some immunity. The test detects antibodies in the blood, which are produced by the body to fight off the disease.


Someone who has a disease but does not have any of the symptoms it causes. Some studies suggest some people with coronavirus carry the disease but don't show the common symptoms, such as a persistent cough or high temperature.

Containment phase

The first part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which involved trying to identify infected people early and trace anyone who had been in close contact with them.


One of a group of viruses that can cause severe or mild illness in humans and animals. The coronavirus currently sweeping the world causes the disease Covid-19. The common cold and influenza (flu) are other types of coronaviruses.


The disease caused by the coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It primarily affects the lungs.

Delay phase

The second part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, in which measures such as social distancing are used to delay its spread.

Fixed penalty notice

A fine designed to deal with an offence on the spot, instead of in court. These are often for driving offences, but now also cover anti-social behaviour and breaches of the coronavirus lockdown.

Flatten the curve

Health experts use a line on a chart to show numbers of new coronavirus cases. If a lot of people get the virus in a short period of time, the line might rise sharply and look a bit like a mountain. However, taking measures to reduce infections can spread cases out over a longer period and means the "curve" is flatter. This makes it easier for health systems to cope.


Short for influenza, a virus that routinely causes disease in humans and animals, in seasonal epidemics.


Supports firms hit by coronavirus by temporarily helping pay the wages of some staff. It allows employees to remain on the payroll, even though they aren't working.

Herd immunity

How the spread of a disease slows after a sufficiently large proportion of a population has been exposed to it.


A person whose body can withstand or fend off a disease is said to be immune to it. Once a person has recovered from the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, for example, it is thought they cannot catch it again for a certain period of time.

Incubation period

The period of time between catching a disease and starting to display symptoms.

Intensive care

Hospital wards which treat patients who are very ill. They are run by specially-trained healthcare staff and contain specialist equipment.


Restrictions on movement or daily life, where public buildings are closed and people told to stay at home. Lockdowns have been imposed in several countries as part of drastic efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Mitigation phase

The third part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which will involve attempts to lessen the impact of a high number of cases on public services. This could mean the NHS halting all non-critical care and police responding to major crimes and emergencies only.

NHS 111

The NHS's 24-hour phone and online service, which offers medical advice to anyone who needs it. People in England and Wales are advised to ring the service if they are worried about their symptoms. In Scotland, they should check NHS inform, then ring their GP in office hours or 111 out of hours. In Northern Ireland, they should call their GP.


Multiple cases of a disease occurring rapidly, in a cluster or different locations.


An epidemic of serious disease spreading rapidly in many countries simultaneously.

Phase 2

This is when the UK will start to lift some of its lockdown rules while still trying to reduce the spread of coronavirus.


PPE, or personal protective equipment, is clothing and kit such as masks, aprons, gloves and goggles used by medical staff, care workers and others to protect themselves against infection from coronavirus patients and other people who might be carrying the disease.


The isolation of people exposed to a contagious disease to prevent its spread.


R0, pronounced "R-naught", is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person. If the R0 of coronavirus in a particular population is 2, then on average each case will create two more new cases. The value therefore gives an indication of how much the infection could spread.


This happens when there is a significant drop in income, jobs and sales in a country for two consecutive three-month periods.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome, a type of coronavirus that emerged in Asia in 2003.


Staying inside and avoiding all contact with other people, with the aim of preventing the spread of a disease.

Social distancing

Keeping away from other people, with the aim of slowing down transmission of a disease. The government advises not seeing friends or relatives other than those you live with, working from home where possible and avoiding public transport.

State of emergency

Measures taken by a government to restrict daily life while it deals with a crisis. This can involve closing schools and workplaces, restricting the movement of people and even deploying the armed forces to support the regular emergency services.

Statutory instrument

These can be used by government ministers to implement new laws or regulations, or change existing laws. They are an easier alternative to passing a full Act of Parliament.


Any sign of disease, triggered by the body's immune system as it attempts to fight off the infection. The main symptoms of the coronavirus are a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.


A treatment that causes the body to produce antibodies, which fight off a disease, and gives immunity against further infection.


A machine that takes over breathing for the body when disease has caused the lungs to fail.


A tiny agent that copies itself inside the living cells of any organism. Viruses can cause these cells to die and interrupt the body's normal chemical processes, causing disease.

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Coronavirus vaccine: Might it have side-effects?

Words: - BBC News - 15:29 22-07-2020

Latest questions

Your questions

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The government says people with medical conditions or disabilities that mean they cannot wear a covering will not have to do so.

We do not yet have the precise wording of the rules for shops. However, face coverings have been compulsory on public transport in England since 15 June and the rules for that are pretty broad.

Anyone who cannot wear a covering "because of any physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability", or who would experience "severe distress" from doing so, is exempt.

We don't know for sure whether there will be cards sent out by the government saying that people do not have to wear face coverings.

That has not happened for public transport, so it seems very unlikely to happen when the rules are extended to shops.

On public transport, if a police officer sees a passenger not wearing a face covering they have been told to ask whether they have an exemption before pursuing any further action.

Some disability charities are producing badges or cards for people to carry with them signalling they are exempt from wearing a face covering.

It won't be compulsory for shop workers in England to wear a face covering because "it won't always be right for every setting in a retail environment", according to Environment Secretary George Eustice.

However, Mr Eustice says that many workers already wear coverings or are protected by a screen.

The face covering requirement for customers will help to protect shop workers, according to Heath Secretary Matt Hancock, who told Parliament that shop workers have suffered disproportionately from coronavirus.

In Scotland, where face coverings for customers have been compulsory since 10 July, shop staff also do not have to wear them, but it is "strongly recommended" in the guidance that they do.

People in England will not be required to wear a covering in places where it's not practical.

Environment Secretary George Eustice gave the example of pubs, cafes or restaurants.

On public transport in England, people are allowed to remove their face coverings if it is "reasonably necessary" for them to eat or drink. Clearly that would apply to everybody in a pub, cafe or restaurant.

Face coverings are not compulsory for shop workers, but there is no limit on how long a covering can be worn.

If you are wearing one for a long time, there are some things you might need to consider.

It is likely that over the course of an eight-hour shift you would need to remove the covering sometimes - to eat or drink, for example.

The government advises that you should wash, or sanitise, your hands thoroughly before and after touching a face covering.

On public transport, the government has said that passengers going on long journeys should take more than one face covering with them and a plastic bag for storing them after being used.

The government defines a face covering as “something which safely covers the nose and mouth” which “must securely fit round the side of the face”.

A face visor would therefore not meet this definition.

Transport for London says any passenger wearing a visor must have a separate covering over their mouth and nose as well.

The government says it is introducing these rules now to minimise risk and increase confidence as the country returns more to normality.

On the timing, ministers say they have been following the scientific advice about face coverings as it has evolved - as issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO initially said that masks were not effective in preventing the spread of the virus, but that advice has now changed as it has learnt more about how the disease spreads.

However, Labour has accused the government of being "slow and muddled" on face-covering policy and has questioned why the new rules are not coming into force sooner.

End of Latest questions

All about coronavirus

Your questions

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Coronavirus is an infectious disease discovered in China in December 2019. Its more precise name is Covid-19.

There are actually hundreds of coronaviruses - most of which circulate among animals, including pigs, camels, bats and cats. But there are a few - such as Covid-19 - that infect humans.

Some coronaviruses cause mild to moderate illnesses, such as the common cold. Covid-19 is among those that can lead to more serious illnesses such as pneumonia.

Most infected people will have only mild symptoms - perhaps a fever, aching limbs a cough, and loss of taste or smell - and will recover without special treatment.

But some older people, and those with underlying medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer are at greater risk of becoming seriously unwell.

The NHS has more about symptoms.

When people recover from an infection, their body is left with some memory of how to fight it should they encounter it again. This immunity is not always long-lasting or totally efficient, however, and can decrease over time.

It is unclear, though, if people who have recovered from coronavirus will be able to get it again.

University of Oxford’s Prof Sarah Gilbert, who is working on creating a vaccine for Covid-19, says that it “probably is likely” that an infected person will be able to be reinfected in the future.

The UK government views antibody tests - which can show if a person has had Covid-19 - as central to its plans to end the current lockdown and allow people to return to work.

But the World Health Organization has said that there is no evidence that antibody tests can show that a person has immunity or is protected against reinfection.

Scientists have said that the “incubation period” - the time between catching the virus and starting to show symptoms - is five days on average. However, some people can have symptoms earlier or much later than this.

The World Health Organization advises that the incubation period can last up to 14 days. But some researchers say it may be up to 24 days.

Knowing and understanding the incubation period is very important. It allows doctors and health authorities to introduce more effective ways to control the spread of the virus.

Both viruses are highly contagious.

On average, it's thought people with the coronavirus infect two to three other people, while those with flu pass it on to about one other person.

There are simple steps you can take to stop the spread of flu and coronavirus:

Wash your hands often with soap and water

If you have returned from holiday abroad and have to self-isolate in quarantine, you will not automatically qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), so it's possible you might have to make arrangements with your employer if you cannot work from home.

Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and then put it in the bin

For four out of five people Covid-19 will be a mild disease, a bit like flu.

Symptoms include [fever, a dry cough or loss of smell and taste(

If the virus gets well established in the lungs it can cause breathing difficulties and pneumonia. About one in seven people may need hospital treatment.

Recovery time will depend on how sick you became in the first place. Some people will shrug off the illness quickly, but for others the path to full health could take months, and leave lasting problems.

This is the subject of ongoing research, but little is still known about how many people are carrying the virus without knowing it.

Different studies currently suggest a huge range of possibilities for how many "silent spreaders" there are - ranging from 5% to 80% of cases. That was the conclusion of an analysis by Prof Carl Heneghan of the University of Oxford and colleagues who looked at 21 research projects.

The upshot, they said, was that "there is not a single reliable study to determine the number of asymptomatics". And they said that if the screening for Covid-19 is only carried out on people with symptoms - which has been the main focus of UK testing policy - then cases will be missed, "perhaps a lot of cases".

Some scientists believe that asymptomatic cases may be the main force driving the pandemic, and there have been calls for increased testing to establish how many "silent carriers" there may be.

Diabetics are not included in the list of people at highest risk who should shield at home. However, some may be advised to shield if they suffer from a combination of factors, such as heart disease or obesity, as well as diabetes - which put them at much higher risk of complications.

A third of virus deaths in England from 1 March to 11 May were linked to diabetes, but research suggests the threat for those under 40 with type 1 (insulin-dependent) or type 2 diabetes is still very low.

Age remains the strongest risk factor for becoming severely or fatally ill with coronavirus, say experts.

Diabetes UK advises anyone with diabetes to try their best to manage their condition carefully, keeping their blood sugar in range as much as possible, as well as following social distancing measures.

Asthma UK's advice is to keep taking your daily preventer inhaler (usually brown) as prescribed. This will help cut the risk of an asthma attack being triggered by any respiratory virus, including coronavirus.

Carry your blue reliever inhaler with you every day, in case you feel your asthma symptoms flaring up. If your asthma is getting worse and there is a risk you might have coronavirus, contact the online NHS 111 coronavirus service.

Coronavirus can be more severe in older people and those with pre-existing conditions such as heart and lung illnesses, or diabetes.

There is no evidence that disabled people who are otherwise healthy - and who don't, for instance, have respiratory problems - are at greater risk from coronavirus.

Covid-19 can, in a small number of cases, lead to pneumonia, most notably in people with pre-existing lung conditions.

But as this is a new virus, no-one will have any immunity to it, whether they have previously had pneumonia, or any other form of coronavirus such as Sars.

Wearing masks has become commonplace not just in hospitals but also among the general public.

It presents major challenges for some deaf people who rely on lip-reading to communicate, but who also need to stay safe from catching the virus, especially if in a hospital setting.

The charity Action on Hearing Loss says there are some clinically approved see-through covered face masks that help enable lip-reading. However, they do not provide enough protection against aerosols spread by coronavirus, and wouldn’t be right for health and social care workers to use during this pandemic.

They say it might be worth using a small whiteboard to communicate. There are also some subtitling or captioning apps that may provide some help.

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Yes. According to the advice from Public Health England, a scarf or a bandana tied around your head is fine.

The important thing is that it covers both your mouth and your nose – and that you can breathe easily.

Whether you are wearing a scarf or a homemade mask, the advice is that you should continue to maintain other hygiene measures. So wash your hands, or use hand sanitiser before you put your face covering on and off, and don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth at all.

Wash the face coverings after each time you use them (for this reason it might be worth avoiding textiles which need special care, such as wool or silk) and keep the used face coverings in a plastic bag until you can wash them.

Quarantining cities and telling people to stay at home may seem extreme, but the alternative is to let the virus spread unrestrained.

There is no vaccine for this new virus, as there is for flu, which makes elderly people and those with underlying health conditions very vulnerable to its effects.

If you’re living with someone who’s self-isolating, you should keep all contact to a minimum and, if possible, not be in the same room together.

The person self-isolating should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened, and keep away from other people in the house.

If you live with someone who has symptoms, you'll also need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started - this is how long it can take for symptoms to appear.

If you get symptoms, self-isolate for seven days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you're self-isolating for longer than 14 days. If you do not get symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after 14 days.

If you live with your partner, they count as being part of your household. If neither of you is showing coronavirus symptoms and you are already in close contact, having sex won't increase the likelihood of you catching the virus from one another. If one person does have symptoms, they should be self-isolating in a separate room.

Using contraception such as condoms won't alter your risk of catching the virus, as having sex will bring you into close physical contact anyway.

"If you are going to touch each other's genitals it's likely that you will potentially be kissing at the same time - and we know the virus is passed through saliva," Dr Alex George told the BBC's Newsbeat.

"Essentially, any possibility of transfer of coronavirus - from your mouth to your hands, to genitals, to someone else's nose or mouth - increases the risk of passing on coronavirus."

It’s actually difficult to know how many new cases of coronavirus there have been during the lockdown, because until recently, there has been very little testing of the population as a whole (it was mostly just those in hospital and some NHS and care staff who were being tested).

There is also a lag effect with the figures. It takes time for the effects of social distancing to be seen in the daily figures for cases, hospitalisations and then deaths - around three weeks at least - so it may appear as if there are more cases than there currently are. It’s true that some people have been ignoring the rules regarding lockdown. But police chiefs say that compliance is still holding up.

What we do know is that confirmed daily cases of the virus have been on a downward trend since early April, and the rate of infection has dropped significantly. There’s also been a fall in the number of new people being hospitalised, or dying from the virus.

Where there does seem to be a steady rise in the number of cases is in the UK’s care homes. Latest figures suggest that a third of all coronavirus deaths in England and Wales - and nearly half of those in Scotland and Northern Ireland - take place there.

If you are concerned about whether a call, text or email is genuine, you can check the NHS England Test and Trace service website or the Scottish Government Test and Protect website or the Public Health Agency website in Northern Ireland.

Genuine contract tracers will never ask you for any financial information such as credit card or bank details.

They will also not ask you to set up a password or Pin over the phone, or to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087.

If you don’t want to talk over the phone in England, you can ask for an email or text inviting you to log into the web-based service instead.

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Me and my family

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Pregnant women are being advised by the UK government to stay at home and keep contact with others to a minimum. However, they should attend antenatal clinics as normal.

There is no evidence to suggest that pregnant women are more likely to get coronavirus. But, for a small number of women, being pregnant may change the way their body deals with a severe viral infection.

The government’s chief medical adviser says this is a precautionary measure until scientists find out more about the virus and that "infections and pregnancy are not a good combination in general”.

Mothers pass on protection from infection to their babies through their breast milk.

If your body is producing antibodies to fight the infection, these would be passed on through breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding mums should follow the same advice as anyone else over reducing risk - cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough, throw away used tissues straight away and wash hands frequently, while trying to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

This is highly unlikely to happen, according to scientists and vets.

While there are rare cases where an animal has caught the virus from a human, there is no evidence that humans can catch the virus from animals.

It is possible that a pet's fur could become contaminated if an infected person has previously touched or stroked the animal.

But even without the threat of coronavirus, you should always wash your hands with soap and water after handling an animal or its lead, and avoid touching your nose and mouth.

In general, children appear to be relatively unaffected by coronavirus, according to data from China and other countries.

This may be because they are able to shake off the infection or have no symptoms or only very mild ones similar to a cold.

However, children with underlying lung problems, such as asthma, may have to be more careful.

All schools in the UK are currently closed, except for vulnerable pupils or children of key workers.

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Leaving the house

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Yes it is.

Government guidance on staying at home says: "Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents' homes."

If neither parent nor child is showing symptoms of the virus or self-isolating, children of separated parents are still allowed to stay with either of them.

However, the Family Division of the High Court has said that, in England and Wales, if one parent is worried that moving their child would be going against public health advice, they may "vary the arrangement to one that they consider to be safe", even if the other parent does not agree.

Where this is the case, family courts will expect parents to allow contact by video chat or phone.

It depends on a number of factors.

"Typical" business trips to Germany are not currently permitted except to workers carrying out "essential functions" such as healthcare. A certificate from your employer to that effect will be needed if that is the case.

With the introduction of quarantine restrictions at UK borders, returning to the UK is not as straightforward.

Anyone entering the UK has to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival. There are a number of exemptions to this rule, including UK residents who ordinarily travel overseas at least once a week for work.

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My finances

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Yes it does, as long as she is buying in England or Northern Ireland. The stamp duty holiday started on Wednesday and lasts until 31 March 2021.

The date of completion, which is when you can move into your new home, not exchange, when signed contracts are handed over, is the relevant one for stamp duty purposes.

Yes, you will not pay stamp duty for the portion under £500,000. The portion between £500,001 and £585,000 will still be taxed at 5%.

So, overall the bill will be cheaper under this temporary policy, as it will for many people buying in more expensive areas.

The idea is to get the whole housing chain moving. But questions have been raised because buyers of even the most expensive properties will benefit.

Anyone buying through shared ownership effectively buys the property in stages, and often pays stamp duty in stages.

However, you do have the option to pay stamp duty in full up-front, based on the market value of the property, so in your case that would benefit from the temporary stamp duty holiday.

It is a choice for you.

The government plans to put a list of participating restaurants, cafes and pubs on its website.

Businesses are also likely to let customers know via their websites, social media and email.

Those that want to take part in the scheme can register from Monday 13 July.

Providers will probably not refund people who have already booked and paid, as the price was agreed at the time of sale.

Accountants say there may be some flexibility, but that will depend on the fine print of the policy, which we have yet to see.

Some small businesses pay VAT at a flat rate as part of schemes to reduce administration.

In guidance from HM Revenue and Customs, it says that some of these will be reduced to reflect the new temporary lower rate elsewhere.

People affected by coronavirus will be able to delay their mortgage payments for up to three months.

It is important to bear in mind that any interest and capital repayments which are missed, will be added to the mortgage balance.

This means that any future monthly mortgage bills are likely to be slightly higher.

Energy companies have promised to help you if you have a pre-payment meter. So you may be able to authorise a friend to top up your energy card for you.

You could also ask your supplier to send you a card by post which is already topped up. The government says that if it's urgent the supplier should be able to add credit directly to your account. You should be able to top up online as well.

And you will have to pay back any credit your supplier gives you. So you should contact them to ask about when and how to do this.

If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days, although many airlines are struggling to meet that deadline.

Ryanair, for example, says customers who want a cash refund will receive it ''in due course'' as it is dealing with a much higher volume of requests than usual, with fewer staff.

Many airlines are trying to avoid giving refunds and are offering vouchers for another flight or a free re-booking instead.

If the airline later folds, the voucher will probably become invalid. And any rebooking could affect the terms of your travel insurance.

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Work issues

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We may have to wait until the Budget in the autumn to find out if there is any further support for businesses after the furlough scheme has wound down.

The one-off payment of £1,000 in January is the job retention bonus announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

If you’re self-employed, you could be eligible for a taxable grant of up to 80% of your trading profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month, if your livelihood has been affected by the pandemic, and you meet certain conditions.

You must have been self-employed since at least the start of April 2019, and have a trading profit of less than £50,000 a year on average.

Initially, this was a one-off payment designed to cover March, April and May, up to a maximum total of £7,500. In August, applications will open for a "second and final" payment covering 70% of profits, up to a cap of £2,190 a month for another three months (£6,570 in total).

The scheme - which is called the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme - is open to any claimant who makes more than half of their income from self-employment.

The government has said that everyone should work from home if possible, and only go into a workplace if their job "absolutely cannot be done from home".

Your employer has a duty to protect your health and safety. If you or a member of your household have an underlying health condition which increases vulnerability to coronavirus, you could argue that you have a right not to come into work.

If you still do not want to go in, you could ask to take time off as holiday or unexpected leave, but your employer does not have to agree to this.

An employer could bring disciplinary action against an employee who they consider to be refusing to work without a good reason.

Self-employed people who have symptoms or have been told to self-isolate may apply for two benefits - universal credit or employment and support allowance.

Normally, you would be eligible after four days of being ill. However, the government has responded to the spread of coronavirus by saying that companies will temporarily pay SSP from the first day off.

But charities are worried that there is still a five-week delay before universal credit is paid.

Anyone aged 18 or above can apply for universal credit if they live in the UK and are on a low income or out of work.

Students in full-time education aren’t usually eligible for universal credit, but they can make a claim if they do not have any parental support, are responsible for a child or are in a couple with a partner who is eligible for universal credit.

People aged 16 or 17 can also apply for universal credit if they do not have any parental support, are responsible for a child, caring for a disabled person or cannot work.

You can use the government's benefits calculator to find out how much you may be entitled to.

The government advises that people who are self-isolating should work from home wherever possible and be paid as normal.

If they can’t work from home, employers must ensure any self-isolating employee gets sick pay or is allowed to use paid leave days if they prefer.

Employees in self-isolation are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for every day they are in isolation, worth £95.85 per week, as long as they qualify.

However, employers can choose to pay staff their full wages during this period if they wish.

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Back to school

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The government says that this plan is still on course.

At the beginning of lockdown, the government promised to provide laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people, so that they would not fall behind in online learning organised by their schools.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs on the Education Select Committee that 200,000 laptops would be delivered, some at the end of May, but most of them in June.

On 9 June Mr Williamson told the House of Commons that 100,000 laptops had been distributed, prioritising children who have social workers, and that the government was on schedule to distribute all the computers over the coming month.

However, he faced criticism from the opposition that the roll-out was taking too long. Labour MP Meg Hillier said that it was “already late for vulnerable pupils, and with no clear plan about catch-up”.

Separate schemes to provide vulnerable children and adults with laptops have been announced in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Although the government has changed its advice on the use of face coverings in public places, it still recommends that face masks or face coverings should not be worn in schools.

It adds that face coverings should not be worn in any circumstances by those who are not able to handle them properly (for example, small children or those with special educational needs or disabilities), as they may “inadvertently increase the risk of transmission”.

Trish Greenhalgh, professor of primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, told the Times Educational Supplement that face coverings could also have a bad effect on the mental health of some children: “If compulsory masking is going to tip some kids into a bad space after weeks of stressful lockdown, we need to balance that risk with the potential benefits.”

Meanwhile, other countries have taken different approaches when reopening schools. In France, for example, face masks are compulsory for teachers and pupils aged 11 and over, but they are not worn in Denmark.

There are no current plans to open schools for most pupils during the summer holidays, but the situation varies across the UK.

In England, some Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children have gone back, but the government has dropped plans for all primary school pupils to return before the summer.

Similarly, some Year 10 and Year 12 students in England will go back from 15 June, but the government has confirmed that secondary schools may not fully reopen until September "at the earliest".

Schools in Wales will reopen from 29 June for all age groups, but only a third of pupils will be in class at any one time. The summer term has been extended by a week to 27 July, and the autumn half-term holiday will be stretched to two weeks.

Schools in Scotland and Northern Ireland won’t be returning until after the summer holidays in August.

Across the UK, some vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers have been in school throughout the crisis, including during the Easter holidays, but it is not yet clear whether that provision will continue over the summer break.

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Student issues

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Ultimately this is a personal decision, but it echoes what a lot of students are thinking right now.

A recent survey of students applying for undergraduate places found that more than one in five were considering deferring for a year if universities were not going to operate normally.

University campuses have been closed this term by the Covid-19 outbreak and there is no guarantee how far they will open in the autumn. The University of Cambridge has said it will have no face-to-face lectures in the next academic year, and the University of Manchester has said that, to begin with, its lectures will be taking place online only. Other universities are considering a delay to the start of the academic year.

Before you make a firm choice, the higher education watchdog, Office for Students, says your university should give you “absolute clarity” on whether courses will be online, on-campus or a mixture. And if the information isn't available next month it must be provided before clearing in August.

Once you have all the information, you need to weigh up what's important to you. Bear in mind the universities minister says you'll have to pay full fees even if you're learning online - but if you are offered distance learning you could potentially save on accommodation and other living expenses.

Also, if your university can offer a campus experience, access to facilities like libraries, bars and cafes is likely to be limited - so student life could be very different to normal.

The Department for Education has indicated that it is possible for students to get their fees back.

In a statement, it said that if universities are “unable to facilitate adequate online tuition then it would be unacceptable for students to be charged for any additional terms”.

To claim a refund, students first need to complain directly to their university. If that is unsuccessful then students in England or Wales can lodge an appeal with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).

If your university is in Scotland then it’s the SPSO (Scottish Public Services Ombudsman) and for Northern Ireland, you go to the NIPSO (Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman). Students will need a “completions procedure form” from their university in order to file an appeal.

Most students have gone home to self-isolate, leaving their student properties empty but they still have to pay rent.

If you’re worried about paying rent for an empty student property, first of all check your tenancy agreement. Some contracts will have a “break clause” which will allow you to cancel your lease early if you give your landlord enough notice.

If you don’t have a “break clause”, you can always speak to your landlord and ask for a “reduced payment plan”. This could mean you pay less rent each month.

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Life after lockdown

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It is a good question. Indoor gyms are obviously good for health and wellbeing, but there’s concern Covid-19 transmission will be more difficult to control in them because of the physical exertion by gym-goers, the damp conditions in changing rooms and the fact that social distancing is generally less easy.

The government hopes indoor gyms, swimming pools and spas - so called “close proximity” venues - can reopen in England later in July. But PM Boris Johnson says outdoor gyms and playgrounds can reopen from Saturday 4 July.

In Northern Ireland, indoor gyms will reopen on 10 July. In Scotland, gyms will only reopen in Phase Three of the country’s Covid route map – which is not expected until mid-August. No date has been set for the reopening of indoor gyms in Wales.

In England, 4 July marks the date when two households of any size can meet up indoors. This can be at one another’s home, or else in shared accommodation away from home.

In addition, 4 July is also the day from which people in England can start to take holidays away from home, at hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation.

Government guidance states that the holidaymakers should “take particular care to maintain excellent hygiene - washing hands and surfaces - and avoid using shared facilities like bathrooms wherever possible”.

It also advises that you should not share private swimming pools with anyone outside your household or support bubble, nor should you share a paddling pool or any sort of garden equipment, which would appear to include hot tubs.

Self-catering holiday accommodation is now open in Scotland and Northern Ireland but two households are not allowed to share. Holidaying in Scotland and Wales is not yet allowed but that is expected to change in July.

Yes - from 4 July, you can stay in your second home in England for any reason.

Going on your own for work is fine, but if you were going for any other reason you could stay there in groups of up to two households (your support bubble counts as one household), as long as you maintain social distance from anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble.

From 29 June in Scotland, you can travel to a second home to check it is secure and in good condition. You should only stay there for as long as is reasonably necessary to make these checks, and you can't stay there for leisure. You can't visit a second home in Wales, but holiday accommodation in Northern Ireland is reopening from 26 June.

The government has now announced that driving lessons and theory tests will be able to resume in England, Scotland and Wales from 4 July. Driving tests will resume from 22 July.

Other than emergency training and tests for critical workers, no driving instruction or driving tests have been taking place since the beginning of lockdown. They have not been able to restart because the risk of transmitting the virus in a car is higher.

In Northern Ireland, where driving instruction is the responsibility of the Driver and Vehicle Agency, tests and lessons remain suspended.

Lockdown is essentially a blunt tool. With the testing and tracing system now in place, the idea is to be much more forensic in trying to contain the virus.

The government now has the capacity to carry out 200,000 tests a day - in March it was only a few thousand. We now have an extensive network of contact tracers.

On top of this, social distancing continues and lots of measures - like face coverings, and screens in shops - will limit the spread of the virus. So the picture is significantly different from how it was in March.

Places of worship in England - which have been open for private prayer since 13 June - will be open for services from 4 July, including weddings with up to 30 guests. But not all are likely to open immediately.

The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church both say they will publish guidance shortly on how services will be conducted while maintaining social distancing and avoiding unnecessary risk.

Jewish reaction - both liberal and orthodox - has been cautious. The chief rabbi said that reopening was not a single event, “but rather a cautious, phased process” that would take place over the course of months.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has issued guidance for the reopening of mosques, but has warned that it will be a gradual process - “mosque leaders must carefully plan and decide when they feel they can put the required controls in place to reopen in the safest way possible,” said Harun Khan, Secretary General of the MCB.

The problem for schools is one of social distancing and space.

Secondary schools have begun reopening in England, but only a quarter of pupils from two year groups are going into school at any one time - and they’re meant to keep 2m apart.

In English primary schools, children are not expected to maintain social distance - they’re organised in bubbles of 15, and these bubbles are kept separate. This also places limits on the number of children who can be in school, since this arrangement generally requires two classrooms where there was only one before.

From 4 July, the 2m social distancing rule will be relaxed to 1m in England, but it’s probably too late for these changes to feed through to bigger class sizes before school breaks up a few weeks later.

However, the government has said it intended to bring all children back to full-time education in September. Guidance on safety measures is due to be published in the next couple of weeks.

Schools in Wales - where the 2m distancing rule remains in place - are due to reopen on 29 June. About a third of pupils will be allowed back at any one time. Schools in Scotland and Northern Ireland are not opening until August at the earliest.

The Ministry of Justice has not given a date for the resumption of visits. It says the measures are temporary, and that the restrictions will be reviewed at some point, taking into account public health advice.

Prison visits were suspended at the beginning of the lockdown in March. Since then, relatives and friends have had the option of writing to inmates, or sending an email to the prison, which is then printed out and passed on.

As a temporary measure, secure phone handsets have been given to pre-approved prisoners at 55 prisons, allowing them to speak to a small number of pre-authorised contacts.

The Church of England says that it does not expect to resume normal services before the end of the year, although the approach would vary on a regional basis.

The Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, who’s leading the Church’s plans for reopening, says questions remain about various aspects of worship including sharing hymn books, distancing within the church buildings, and Holy Communion.

Research conducted by the Resolution Foundation has found that the coronavirus pandemic could increase youth unemployment by 600,000 this year.

If you’re worried about finding a job you can head to the National Careers Service for advice on how to find job vacancies.

You can also search online for virtual job fairs. This could help you explore different job opportunities and connect with potential employers directly from home.

Experts recommend using lockdown to refresh your CV and also look for any online training opportunities which might put you in a better position when you eventually apply for a job.

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Testing, tracking and tracing

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People experiencing symptoms will be asked to report this as soon as possible and order a test.

You can either do this via the NHS website or if you do not have access to the internet you can dial 119 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or 0800 028 2816 in Scotland.

If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive you may be contacted by text message, email or phone.

The only part of the process which will need a smartphone is the contact tracing app. The government now says this is not likely to be working before the winter.

No. The tracers will be interested in anybody who has had close contact with a person who has tested positive.

Close contact means being less than 1m (3ft) from somebody at any point, or between 1m and 2m away for more than 15 minutes.

You shouldn't be that close to a delivery driver.

There is a small potential risk of contamination if the food or packaging has been handled by someone who has tested positive.

Online shopping customers are therefore generally advised to leave packaged goods for 72 hours if possible before handling them, or to spray and wipe plastic or glass containers with diluted bleach.

Unwrapped fresh goods should be washed under running water and left to dry.

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The short answer to this is no.

It's true that you don’t have to go into quarantine if you’re returning to the UK from what’s known as the Common Travel Area (CTA) - Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

When the government first announced its plans, there was some speculation that to avoid quarantine, travellers from other countries would be able to fly into an airport in the CTA, and then on to the UK and so avoid having to self-isolate.

However, this loophole (termed by some the "Dublin dodge") has now been closed by the government. Travellers will only be exempt from quarantine if they have been in the CTA for 14 days or more.

You will have to show proof of when you entered the CTA, and how long you have spent there - such as a boarding pass or itinerary - when you enter the UK.

Key workers will not necessarily be exempt.

The government has published a detailed list of who will not need to follow the quarantine rules. Among others, it includes road haulage and freight workers, medical and care professionals providing essential health care, some seasonal agricultural workers, Eurostar and Eurotunnel employees, pilots and aircrew and people working to maintain key infrastructure such as the railways.

It also depends where you are going in the UK - some employees will be exempt from quarantine in England and Wales, but not Scotland.

The government guidance details what you’ll need to show when you enter the UK to prove you are exempt. This differs between categories but typically includes proof of your name and address, the name of your employer and what work you’ll be doing.

Unless your flatmates were travelling with you, they do not need to self-isolate or quarantine with you.

However, you must avoid contact with them and minimise the time you spend in shared spaces like kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas.

You should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window to the outside that can be opened, separate from your flatmates, and if you can, you should use a separate bathroom from them. If you do need to share these facilities, regular cleaning will be required after each person has used them.

Make sure you use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for bathing and showering, and for washing your hands.

Not necessarily.

If you have returned from holiday abroad and have to self-isolate in quarantine, you will not automatically qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), so it's possible you might have to take the extra time off as annual leave, or else as unpaid leave.

The Department of Work and Pensions says that anyone planning to travel should do so in the knowledge that they will be required to self-isolate on their return.

It adds that employers and staff should discuss and agree any arrangements in advance, and urges employers to take socially responsible decisions.

Meanwhile, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is still advising UK nationals against taking all but essential international travel.

End of Quarantine

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Support bubbles

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Skip Support bubbles

If you and your boyfriend both live alone and in England, the good news is that from 13 June, you can form a support bubble, which means that you can spend as much as time as you want in each other’s company, inside or outside a house. You don’t have to keep a 2m distance from one another, and you can stay overnight at each other’s house.

If you are living alone, and your partner is in a shared household (or vice versa), matters get complicated. You can still form a support bubble with your boyfriend but it will also be with his household, and it would be the only bubble allowed to that household.

What this means is that if one of your boyfriend’s housemates has a partner who is - like you - living elsewhere and alone, that couple will be prevented from meeting up.

Support bubbles are for the benefit of people who are living alone (or alone with children). If both you and your boyfriend are living in shared households, you are not allowed to form one and you are restricted to meeting outdoors and at a distance of 2m from each other.

You cannot form a support bubble with your boyfriend if he lives in Scotland or Wales, although Northern Ireland has announced that it is also introducing support bubbles from 13 June..

As a single grandparent, you will have the right to form a “support bubble” with your grandson and his family.

Under the government’s new guidance, from 13 June your grandson would be able to stay at your home, including overnight, and would not need to keep a 2m distance.

However, the complicating factor here is your lodger. Are you maintaining a 2m distance from each other, and are you using separate rooms and facilities? If the answer is yes, then there should be no problem.

On the other hand, if you have been using the same kitchen, living room and bathroom, and eating from the same crockery and cutlery as your lodger, then you are both effectively part of the same household, and you do not qualify to be part of a support bubble.

If you’re clinically vulnerable and shielding, and you're living alone (or you're a single parent with children under 18), then from 6 July in England and Northern Ireland, you will be able to form a “support bubble” with one other household.

This means you’ll be able to spend time in their house, and they’ll be able to spend time in yours, and you won't need to keep a distance from one another. It also means you can sleep over at each other’s home.

People who are vulnerable and shielding in Scotland and Wales are not yet allowed to form a support bubble and are advised to keep a social distance of 2m from other people wherever possible. From 1 August in England, shielding is to be suspended.

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Coronavirus: The bogus meme targeting Dr Fauci, and other fake claims

Words: - BBC News - 00:07 01-08-2020

This has been a busy week for fact-checkers looking into false and misleading claims about the coronavirus pandemic.

A misleading video featuring American doctors clocked up over 17 million views before social media platforms took it down.

There have been plenty of other claims flying around on US social media accounts, some of which we've been debunking.

Verdict: The quote, widely shared on social media, is false.

A meme generating thousands of likes on Instagram and Facebook this week implies that Dr Anthony Fauci, who is leading America's coronavirus response, is of the view that a vaccine must be delivered for "immediate human injection. Proper studies can be performed later".

This same post also suggests Dr Fauci has refused to endorse the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus because no "major study" has been done, presumably in an attempt to highlight the inconsistency of his position.

When contacted by the BBC, the US National Institutes of Health (where Dr Fauci works) said the reference to vaccines "is completely made up, Dr Fauci has never said anything like that".

"Operation Warp Speed" is the US government's plan to deliver a working vaccine by January 2021.

"The programme will determine the safety of the Covid-19 vaccines under study, ensure the safety of study participants, and maintain the integrity of the vaccine trials," according to the NIH.

Regarding the comments on hydroxychloroquine studies, the health body said: "Dr Fauci has said publicly that sound clinical research must be conducted to determine whether any particular drug is safe and effective for treating Covid-19."

Dr Fauci has also recently told the BBC that there have been "randomised control studies" which have shown that hydroxychloroquine is "not effective in the treatment of Covid-19".

Verdict: We can find no evidence to support this claim.

A post liked and shared 40,000 times on Twitter claims that 6,000 doctors surveyed around the world said hydroxychloroquine "works in Covid patients".

It was shared without a source and the post gained traction as the "America's Frontline Doctors" video was going viral this week.

We believe it incorrectly reports the results of a survey of about 6,000 doctors in 30 countries published in April by a company called Sermo.

We contacted the company and they provided data which showed that although 6,000 doctors were approached, only 2,171 responded to that particular question.

Of those, just 37% chose hydroxychloroquine as the most effective treatment out of a list of 15 options. That's around 800 doctors, or just 13% of those surveyed. Far fewer than the 6,000 claimed in the post above.

Furthermore, the survey company says the participants were doctors registered with them, and so not representative sample of all doctors across the world.

Verdict: This is misleading because it refers to research into a different virus.

Another widely shared tweet this week posted a 2005 laboratory study into the effectiveness of the drug chloroquine against the Sars coronavirus, followed by claims that "blocking access to a proven preventative treatment during a pandemic is a crime against humanity".

This is highly misleading. The 2005 study was testing chloroquine to combat infection from the Sars virus long before the current coronavirus or Covid-19 was known to exist.

Chloroquine is similar to hydroxychloroquine (the latter is a less toxic form of the former) and it has not been shown to be effective against Covid-19.

Sars is similar to but not the same as the novel coronavirus which causes Covid-19.

Also, this was done in a laboratory setting which means it wasn't administered to human patients.

Verdict: No evidence.

Rumours about the pharmaceutical industry blocking the rollout of hydroxychloroquine have also been widespread this week, particularly following the takedown of the video of the "America's Frontline Doctors" press conference.

A conservative radio host said in a post shared 3,000 times on Facebook: "Nobody's gonna make any money off hydroxychloroquine. Which is why, ladies and gentlemen, it is opposed."

A post shared thousands of times claims "Big Pharma" and "big government" in both the US and Europe have deliberately promoted other drugs because they are more expensive.

One Instagram user claimed that the doctors in the viral video were "risking their lives speaking out against Big Pharma".

"There is not a shred of evidence that hydroxychloroquine was "blocked" by anyone," says Prof Stephen Evans of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

He says the pharmaceutical industry does make money from hydroxychloroquine, which is approved for treating other illnesses such malaria.

"But in this specific area [treating Covid-19] they don't have a current alternative product, so they don't have a strong interest to discourage hydroxychloroquine use."

Additional reporting by Shayan Sardarizadeh.

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Leicester Muslims mark second Eid of extended lockdown

Words: - BBC News - 23:45 31-07-2020

The Patel family had spent two years planning a pilgrimage to Mecca

When Muslims are describing Eid celebrations to people from other faiths, many will say it's the equivalent of Christmas - a noisy, joyous festival of prayer, present-giving and fun with friends and family.

But in Leicester - one of Britain's most vibrant multi-cultural cities - this year's Eid al-Adha is looking rather more muted.

With the city still in lockdown and restrictions not due to be lifted until Monday, religious leaders and councils have reminded people not to gather in mosques and everyone has been encouraged to stay at home.

Celebrations began on Thursday evening and will run until Monday evening.

For Jawaahir Daahir, explaining to her three-year-old grandson Kamil that Eid would not be going ahead as planned has been "heartbreaking".

"He was on the phone telling me 'I want to come to your house grandma, I want to come to your house' and I was telling him 'you can't come right now' because I live in Leicester," she said.

"It's so sad - what can you say? It is so hard for the children to understand."

Jawaahir Daahir said Eid is usually a time for families to plan days out and get-togethers

Usually, Ms Daahir's house would be full of family members at this time - her six children, in-laws and her grandson.

After going to the mosque for prayer, there would be hugs with friends, sweets for the children and an array of specially-prepared dishes and presents at home.

The family would also arrange days out together - whether for meals at restaurants or walks at local beauty spots.

This year, although Ms Daahir has still been preparing some of the traditional food, those enjoying it will be limited to those living in her home - her mother and one of her daughters.

"We won't be leaving the house, basically," she said. "We will still be praying at home and talking to our family but it won't be the same."

Ms Daahir said she believed the lockdown would have a knock-on effect on celebrations throughout the city.

"This is the time when people buy presents and clothes, so it will affect businesses as well," she said.

Leicester was placed into an extended lockdown on 29 June and a recent review said places of worship would be able to fully reopen from Monday - when Eid ends.

Similarly to some parts of northern England, residents have been told not to meet with different households in their homes and gardens and park gatherings should be limited to six people.

It has been the second time Muslims in Leicester have marked a festival in lockdown after Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr fell in April and May.

The Patel family from Leicester had planned to perform the Hajj in Mecca this weekend but have had to postpone it to next year.

The annual pilgrimage to the holy site in Saudi Arabia would usually attract up to two million worshippers but this year all tourists and over-65s have been banned.

"I'm devastated," said Imran Patel.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go and we honestly thought this was our time but it just wasn't meant to be."

The Patel family had been planning their trip to Mecca for two years

The family had been planning the pilgrimage for two years and hoped to take the trip after Mr Patel suffered a major heart attack.

"For Eid this year, everyone is distant. We can't celebrate as we normally would but hopefully it won't be for long," he said.

"I wanted to complete my Hajj before I turned 40 next year but you just never know what's round the corner. I feel fit and well at the moment but who knows, this time next year I might not be."

Leicester City Council advised people to limit travel, social contacts and gatherings during Eid and encouraged people to "find new ways to worship, pray and celebrate safely together".

It said: "We know that congregational prayer is an important part of many religious practices and unfortunately that hasn't been possible for many months now because of the increased risk of Covid-19 transmission."

Imam Dr Hafiz Ather said this year's Eid was a time for people to be positive and grateful.

"Normally a prayer would commence the day of Eid in a local mosque but unfortunately we won't be able to do that here in Leicester," he said.

"We will still be able to spend time in prayer at home. We will still have a lovely meal and share stories and memories with our children and we will still remain upbeat.

"It is difficult this year. It is unprecedented. But at the same time we are just happy to be alive."

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