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Coronavirus news LIVE: Holidaymakers in France to find out UK quarantine fate today as A-level results roll in

TOURISTS in France will find out today if they will need to quarantine when they return.

A string of destinations including Malta, Holland and Gibraltar are now likely to be added to a list of nations requiring visitors to quarantine for up to two weeks when they return to the UK.

While cases in France are on the up, The Sun understands it’s not yet reached a point where officials feel the need to pull the air bridges.

It comes as thousands of A-Level students were left devastated today – after exam regulators revealed 40 per cent of grades were marked down.

Because exams were cancelled during lockdown, a computer algorithm is for the first time being used to adjust grades given by teachers to 250,000 students.

Exam bosses at Ofqual admitted teens who miss out on a university place will have to wait until next week to find out how the appeal process works.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus death toll has dropped by 5,377 following an urgent review into the way deaths are recorded.

It means that now, only deaths that happen within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test will be counted towards the official figure.

Follow our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates…

RIGHT TO APPEAL

Students may need to rely on a “late clearing process” through UCAS if they want to challenge their grades after the Education Secretary admitted the appeals system is “not ready”.

Students would normally have a hard UCAS deadline of September 7 but Gavin Williamson said there needs to be some flexibility because kids may not know their final results by then.

NHS WAITING LISTS REACH RECORD HIGH

Waiting lists across the NHS have reached the highest levels since records began due to the coronavirus pandemic.

New figures from NHS England revealed that the number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for routine hospital treatment in England is at its highest ever.

The June figures, which have been slammed as “scandalous” by doctors, show more than half a million patients in England had been waiting more than six weeks for a key diagnostic test after being referred by a GP.

A total of 540,593 patients were waiting for one of 15 standard tests, including an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy.

The equivalent number in June 2019 was 40,099.

DJOKOVIC TO PLAY IN US OPEN DESPITE VIRUS FEARS

Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he will compete in the US Open in New York later this month.

Several players have already pulled out of the tournament, including four-time winner and defending champion Rafael Nadal, due to coronavirus fears.

But the world number one, who tested positive for Covid-19 in June following the controversial Adria Tour, wrote on his website: “I am happy to confirm that I will participate at the Western & Southern Open and US Open this year.

“It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on many sides, but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited.

ITALY’S COVID PROBE ‘SHOULD BE DROPPED’

Prosecutors have investigated Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and six members of his government over how they handled the coronavirus crisis, but have recommended the case be dropped, Conte’s office said on Thursday.

Judicial sources confirmed the prosecutors had investigated the ministers following lawsuits filed in recent months in various cities on accusations including manslaughter, creating a pandemic and curbing Italians’ political rights.

The Rome-based prosecutors concluded that the accusations were groundless and the case should be dropped, the premier’s office said in a statement.

FOOD SALES IN PUBS AND RESTAURANTS RISE

Food sales in British pubs and restaurants rose by nearly a third in the week that followed the launch of the governments Eat Out to Help Out subsidy scheme, data consultancy firm CGA said on Thursday.

Food sales were up by between 95% and 106% on the first three days of the scheme which launched on Monday, Aug. 3, compared with the same days during the previous week.

Sales over the next four days, when the discounts did not apply, fell but left the week-on-week increase at 31%, CGA said.

The government’s scheme offers 50% off the bill for eat-in food and drink – up to 10 pounds per person and excluding alcohol – on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

A LEVELS: MOST A & A* GRADES REWARDED IN A DECADE

A-Level students were left devastated after exam regulators revealed 40 per cent of grades were marked down today – but students overall received the most As and A*S in a decade.

Hundreds of thousands of students across the country this morning have been getting their A-level results – despite not sitting any exams this year because of the coronavirus crisis.

A breakdown of the results released this morning revealed the pass rates were up by 0.7% (those achieving A*-E) from both 2019 and 2018. A*s were only introduced in 2009.

OPEN DOORS: SAFEST HOLIDAY HOTSPOTS

There are still some countries with under 20 new cases per 100,000 across Europe at the moment.

Here are the European destinations still within the “safe” perimeters – although caution is advised if booking a holiday far in advance.

MERDE!

Hundreds of thousands of British tourists in France will today find out if they need to quarantine when they return.

Ministers are meeting today to decide whether to remove half a dozen countries from quarantine-free travel corridors and France has been labelled “on the brink” of being included.

The French health ministry reported 2,524 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday – the country’s highest level since lockdown.

But pulling France’s quarantine-free status will throw the holiday plans of up to 400,000 Brits into disarray.

UK ‘NOT FACING SECOND WAVE’

The UK is not at the beginning of a second coronavirus wave, and is still trying to end the first, new data suggests.

The latest prevalence figures estimate that 24,131 people in the UK currently have symptomatic Covid-19.

According to the data, the amount of symptomatic coronavirus nationally has remained stable.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “This is further confirmation that we aren’t at the beginning of a second wave and rather, still trying to end the first. The figures also suggest that the outbreaks we are seeing in other countries such as Belgium, France and Spain aren’t having an effect here in the UK yet.

“On top of this, the hot weather which caused concern by making many flock to crowded beaches and parks doesn’t seem to be having the predicted negative impact.

“Overall, we are pleasantly surprised by the figures this week, which are back down to the early July levels and hope that the good news continues.”

FOUR TIMES AS MANY LONDONERS HAD VIRUS THAN CORNISH, STUDY SHOWS

Four times as many Londoners have had Covid compared to Cornwall residents, according to the largest study of its kind.

Imperial College London research shows one in eight of those living in the capital have been infected since the start of the pandemic.

It compares with fewer than one in 33 people in South-West.

More than 100,000 volunteers used antibody home-testing kits to track the spread of the virus.

The findings suggest six per cent of people in England – around 3.4 million people – have already had the bug.

It is more than ten times higher than the 314,000 Brits who have so far tested positive for coronavirus.

SMOKING BANNED

A region in Spain has banned smoking in the streets due to the risk it causes in transmitting coronavirus.

Galicia, in the northeast of Spain, has introduced the ban on any public walkways where social distancing cannot be followed, after 827 new cases.

Spain’s coronavirus cases have hit 376,864, with 28,579 deaths.

According to local media, the ban has been introduced because tobacco smoke poses a “risk of infection” of coronavirus, as well as forcing people to remove their masks while smoking.

The ban, in place from today, includes “terraces where people are in close proximity”.

For more on this story, click HERE.

CRUISES CANCELLED

Viking Cruises has cancelled all holidays until next year due to the ongoing pandemic.

The cruise liner has been forced to suspend trips until 2021 due to “complicated overseas travel”.

All passengers with cruises booked this year can claim a full refund, if requested by August 24, or 125 per cent future cruise credit.

The credit must be used in the next 24 months, and 2021 and 2022 cruises can be booked now.

For more on this story, click HERE.

NHS ENCOURAGING CANCER CHECKS

More people are starting to come forward for cancer checks, the NHS has said.

On figures for cancer referrals, an NHS spokesperson said: “Hospitals have successfully and quickly cared for patients urgently referred by their GP, with over 92% of urgent cancer referrals being investigated within two weeks, and 85,000 people starting treatment for cancer since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“More people are now coming forward for a cancer check, with 45,000 extra referrals this month, and the key point remains that anyone who is concerned about a possible symptom should contact their GP and get a check-up.”

VIRUS ‘SPREADING RAPIDLY’ ACROSS ORKNEY ISLANDS

The head of NHS Orkney has said he is concerned the virus is “spreading rapidly” across the islands.

The health board’s chief executive Michael Dickson said a number of people have developed symptoms and then travelled to their homes across Orkney and to mainland Scotland.

Mr Dickson said in a statement: “NHS Orkney is responding to a significant Covid public health issue and we are profoundly concerned that the virus is spreading rapidly across our community.

“We believe there is a real risk to the people of Orkney, including those on the remote isles, and urge them to take care.”

TRACK AND TRACE FIGURES REVEALED

Since the launch of NHS Test and Trace, 214,890 close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 have been reached through the tracing system and asked to self-isolate.

This is 81.5% out of a total of 263,515 people identified as close contacts.

The remaining 48,625 people (18.5%) were identified as close contacts, but were not reached.

The weekly figures show that 74.2% of close contacts were reached in the week ending August 5, up from 72.4% in the previous week, but down on the 90.7% reached in the first week of Test and Trace.

NEW CONTACT TRACING APP TRIAL

Residents of the Isle of Wight, the London borough Newham, and NHS volunteer responders across England will be part of a new contact tracing app trial, the Department for Health and Social Care has said.

The app will include alerts based on postcode, QR check-in at venues, a symptom checker and a way to book tests, using Google and Apple-developed technology.

Trials will start from Thursday on the Isle of Wight and with NHS volunteer responders across England, followed shortly by Newham residents, as part of the country’s NHS Test and Trace service.

It will log the time and distance a user has spent near to anyone, even if they don’t know them, so it can alert them if necessary if that person later tests positive for Covid-19.

NATIONAL EXPRESS SEES SHARES PLUNGE

Bus and coach firm National Express saw shares fall as much as 17% after it posted statutory pre-tax losses of £122.2 million for the first six months of 2020.

The group said passenger numbers tumbled 80% during global lockdowns, and by 90% in the most impacted parts of the business.

It temporarily suspended all UK coach services from April 5 to July 1 in the face of the coronavirus lockdown, but kept scaled-back operations running across the West Midlands and Dundee.

The group revealed passenger numbers remain around 80% lower across its UK coach arm, which is operating with around 15% of daily seats, while customer numbers are still 47% lower in the Midlands and 53% down in Dundee.

TOP 10 COVID HOTSPOTS REVEALED

Areas in Essex and Scotland have crept onto the list this week with the remaining hotspot regions being dominated by towns and cities in the North of England.

Experts identified six new hotspots and claimed we are still trying to get over the first wave of the virus.

Halton in Cheshire is at the top of the list this week with 0.34 per cent of residents in the area having displayed symptoms of 1,171 of people using the app.

PRIMARY SCHOOL CLOSES FOLLOWING INFECTION

A primary school has temporarily closed in Aberdeen after a case of Covid-19 connected with the institution.

Aberdeenshire Council said a number of staff from Peterhead Central Primary School are self-isolating after a case was confirmed within the school team.

Pupils had not yet returned to the school, which was closed on Wednesday due to weather issues.

A health board spokeswoman said: “We are investigating a detected case of Covid-19, connected with a primary school in Peterhead.

“Our health protection and Test and Protect teams are working hard to establish who close contacts may be and advising them to isolate.”

A&E VISITS IN ENGLAND DOWN 30% ON LAST YEAR

A&E attendances at hospitals in England were down 30% last month compared with a year ago, NHS England figures show.

A total of almost 1.6 million attendances were recorded in July 2020, down from around 2.3 million attendances in July 2019.

NHS England, which published the figures, said “significantly lower” attendances compared to the previous year was “likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response” – suggesting that people are still staying away from A&E departments because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The 30% year-on-year drop for July compares with a fall of 33% recorded in June, 42% in May and 57% in April.

JULY PUB SALES DOWN BY HALF ON LAST YEAR

UK pub, restaurant and bar chains have said that sales halved in July compared with last summer after reopening for the first time after lockdown.

Sales in July were 50.4% lower year-on-year, according to data from the latest monthly Coffer Peach Business Tracker of hospitality firms.

Bars saw sales tumble by 63.3% for the month, while restaurant sales dived by 59.8%.

Pubs were more resilient, with sales falling by 44.7%.

“The figures are a reflection of the fact that reopening of sites has been gradual, and not all by any means are back in business, plus those that are open are in general trading at well below normal levels,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the survey, with The Coffer Group and RSM.

‘FROZEN CHICKEN INFECTED’

China said on Thursday a sample of frozen chicken wings imported into Shenzhen from Brazil had tested positive for the virus.

The discovery by local disease control centres was part of routine screenings of meat and seafood imports that have been carried out since June, when a new outbreak in Beijing was linked to the city’s Xinfadi wholesale food centre.

CITY AIRPORT PAUSES TERMINAL EXPANSION

London City Airport has announced a “temporarily pause” to its terminal expansion project as the return of passenger demand to pre-Covid-19 levels “will take longer than initially expected”.

Chief executive Robert Sinclair said: “For the time being, we have taken the decision to focus our attention on delivering the vital additional airfield infrastructure which will provide our existing and prospective airline customers with the potential to bring new generation aircraft to this airport in greater numbers, which will be a crucial aspect of how we build a better, more sustainable airport.

“Completing the terminal extension and new east pier very much remains part of our future and, with the foundations for both in place, we stand ready to take those projects forward when demand returns.”

HONG KONG STILL IN ‘CRITICAL PERIOD’

Hong Kong reported 69 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, of which 65 were locally transmitted, as authorities cautioned the global financial hub still faced a critical period to control the virus, which has seen a resurgence since early July.

Since late January, more than 4,200 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 65 of whom have died. Thursday’s figure was up slightly from Wednesday’s 62 cases.

PEREZ MAKES FORMULA ONE RETURN

Perez became the first Formula One driver to go down with coronavirus after he tested positive on the eve of last month’s British Grand Prix.

Racing Point said: “We’re pleased to share the news that @SChecoPerez has tested negative for COVID-19.

“The FIA have confirmed that Checo can return to the F1 paddock and he will compete for the team in this weekend’s Spanish GP.”

Perez is due to appear in front of the media in Barcelona later on Thursday.

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