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Coronavirus UK latest news: 29 Covid-19 hotspots at risk of local lockdown as deaths hit 41,361 – LIVE updates

A total of 29 areas have been named by Public Health England on their latest watch list of coronavirus hotspots.

Special measures are already in place at 21 ‘areas of intervention’, while eight places are named as ‘areas of concern’ where local lockdown measures could be implemented next.

Elsewhere, Brits raced back from France to beat the 4am quarantine deadline this morning – with many furious they missed the last trains and boats.

It means those who didn’t make the cut-off will have to quarantine for 14 days on their return to the UK.

People returning from Malta and the Netherlands must also do the same and remain indoors for two weeks

The death toll rose in the UK on Saturday, with 41,361 people dying due to the coronavirus in Britain.

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

TICKETS HIKED AS BRITS SCRAMBLE TO GET HOME

British tourists in France were being charged around the same as a return to Australia (£649 with BA) to get them home before quarantine restrictions were imposed.

British Airways hiked fares up to nine times for passengers returning from the south of France.

The final seats on its afternoon and evening flights from Nice to London were costing €727 and €854 – compared to €102 for passengers flying next Monday, a kayak.co.uk search showed.

DFDS Seaways doubled fares for ferry passengers sailing from Calais to Dover yesterday, with two passengers and one car costing £196, compared to the £109 next week, a directferries.com search showed.

P&O ferries had availability yesterday evening – but prices were at least £200 a car, rather than £90 on normal days. 

The lowest priced Eurostar tickets available on Friday morning were £210.

PHE TO BE SCRAPPED

Matt Hancock is to announce that Public Health England will be scrapped and replaced by a specialised body aimed at protecting England against coronavirus and other pandemics, The Telegraph reports.

The new body, called the National Institute for Health Protection, will see the pandemic response arm of PHE merged with the NHS Test and Trace programme.

ELITE SEX CLUB RETURNS WITH RAPID COVID TESTING

An elite New York sex club, Snctm, has reopened with rapid Covid-19 testing for VIP guests, staff and performers.

The secret society will host the first in series of erotic events on a date to be confirmed next month, with tickets priced at an eye-watering $3,750.

The private members’ club, which has been known to attract A list celebrities, has become known for hosting parties in cities from Moscow to Miami offering guests the chance to realise their wildest sexual fantasies.

Read the Sun’s exclusive on it here.

FOUR PUBS CLOSE AFTER CUSTOMERS AND STAFF TEST POSITIVE

Four pubs in Stanley, County Durham, have been closed after an outbreak.

Customers of The Stanley Empire Club, Phoenix Club, The Ball Alley and East Stanley Working Men’s Club are now being traced by NHS officials according to ChronicleLive.

County Durham’s Director of Public Health, Amanda Healy, has issued an urgent plea for anyone who visited the pubs on those dates to self-isolate.

Anyone who visited Stanley Empire Bar on August 9, 10, or 11 is being asked to self-isolate after customers tested positive.

SPAS AND JACUZZIS REOPEN

Spas, Jacuzzis, and pools have reopened, as long as social distancing is in place, but saunas and steam rooms are still off-limits in England.

Government advice remains that they “should stay out of use for the time being as the risk of transmission is unclear”.

The latest advice adds: “Spas should keep saunas and steam rooms closed until further notice”.

Leisure centres were permitted to reopen from 25 July.

Saunas and steam rooms in England were set follow suit on August 1 but Boris Johnson confirmed last month that they must remain closed after a rise in coronavirus cases.

On July 31 he announced the Government had postponed the further easing of lockdown measures for specific grassroots sport, gym and leisure facilities.

Wet treatments in spas, such as saunas, steam rooms and hydrotherapy pools have been permitted in Northern Ireland since July 24.

Many businesses, including Spabreaks.com, are campaigning for the same in England, Scotland and Wales.

SCOTLAND MARKS A MONTH OF NO CONFIRMED CORONAVIRUS DEATHS

No one in Scotland has died of coronavirus since July 15, meaning the country has gone a whole month without any covid deaths.

The Scottish government confirmed that 51 people tested positive today.

244 patients remain in hospital suffering from the virus, the lowest since figures were first published on March 27.

The number of deaths in Scotland remains at 2,491, while a total of 19,289 people have now tested positive for the virus.

Today’s COVID statistics. Prevalence across Scotland remains low – and thankfully, another day of no deaths amongst confirmed cases. But these figures also tell us that the virus is most definitely still out there – so please be ultra-careful and follow all the #FACTS advice. https://t.co/P6EC1bT8Ek

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 15, 2020

P&O ‘GHOST SHIP’ CAPTAIN SHARES PICS OF ABANDONED VESSEL

Captain Marcin Banach has shared photos of his life aboard the deserted P&O Azura cruise ship, that would normally carry 3,000 passengers and 1,000 staff.

The ship is currently sitting tight off the coast of Devon while it waits for permission to start operating again November 12, 2020.

Marcin has been sharing his daily life with his Twitter followers.

He shared a snap of himself working out in a totally empty gym – an unusual sight for a cruise ship in August.

Another showed him wrapped up in dust sheets or strolling around the deck to keep fit.

Captain of ‘ghost ship’ P&O cruise liner shares pics from empty vessel abandoned by passengers & crew off coast of Devon

SOUTH AFRICA LIFTS LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a sweeping removal of lockdown restrictions on the economy after declaring that the country has moved beyond the peak.

The SA government will now end the ban on alcohol and tobacco, allow restaurants and taverns to return to normal business, subject to strict hygiene regulations, and remove the ban on travel between provinces from midnight on Monday.

Ramaphosa said: “All indications are that South Africa has reached the peak and moved beyond the inflection point of the curve.”

SA imposed one of the world’s toughest lockdowns early on in its fight yet saw a surge in coronavirus infections that left it with the fifth highest number of cases in the world — currently around 579,000, of whom around 11,500 have died.

The economy is in tatters, with millions of South Africans living in extreme poverty, according to Reuters.

TWO IN FIVE ADULTS DISAPPROVE OF GOVERNMENT’S A-LEVEL HANDLING

A new poll has shown that 42 per cent of English voters disapprove of the way the government has handled A-Level and GCSE results.

Only 5 per cent of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland think exam results given by algorithm should stand as actual results.

The poll also found that:

60 per cent of the public said they would prefer pubs and restaurants to shut in September if it means schools can re-open.

The poll by Opinium approached 2,005 UK adults between August 13 and 14.

‘A METALLIC TASTE’

A young coronavirus survivor has shared how she can still taste coronavirus over a week after kicking the worst of the bug.

Trina Dinh, 26, was placed in an induced coma after falling sick with COVID-19 July 26 and was finally sent home last week.

She told The Herald Sun: “I have COVID taste in my mouth — it has a metallic taste and it just doesn’t go away. I even woke up at 4am this morning just to brush my teeth because I couldn’t deal with it.”

Ms Dinh’s ordeal saw her oxygen levels plunge to 84 per cent at one point.

“I can’t even describe it. It is the most terrifying feeling because you don’t understand why. You are trying to do everything you can with your mouth and your nose, you are trying to gasp in the air, but nothing is going in. It is like suffocating.”

She has now been home from hospital for a week but is still positive for COVID-19 and has pneumonia with doctors telling her it will take months to recover.

Her father remains in a serious condition in Melbourne, Australia.

WALES REPORTS ONE DEATH AND 27 NEW CASES

Wales has reported that one person has died and 27 new cases have been discovered.

The principality’s total cases now stand at 17,543, with 1,587 dead.

14,000 DEBENHAMS JOBS AT RISK AS FIRM ‘DRAWS UP PLANS FOR LIQUIDATION’

Debenhams has allegedly drawn up plans for liquidation after 242 years in business.

The move could risk 14,000 staff jobs if the retailer doesn’t survive coronavirus, the biggest jobs cull in the UK so far, according to Sky News.

Debenhams, which has 124 UK stores, is currently looking for a buyer for all or part of the business to help it stay afloat and has not gone into liquidation, but is making plans in case it has to.

It hopes to complete the sales process by the end of next month.

It’s the latest retailer to announce job cuts following the spread of Covid-19 with WH SmithBoots and John Lewis all confirming mass redundancies

British Airways currently holds the record for the most jobs cut in one go due to the impact of the pandemic, with 12,000 employees at risk of being out of work – although this figure is under review and could be reduced.

TURKEY AND MALTA REPORT RECORD NEW DAILY CASES

Malta, which was put on the UK quarantine list this weekend, reported its highest ever one day rise – 72 new infections.

Malta has a very small population of around 515,000, meaning that any major uncontrolled outbreaks on the island could be catastrophic.

Meanwhile Turkey has reported it’s highest daily case count since June – 1,256 new cases, with 21 deaths.

‘IT DOESN’T REALLY MAKE SENSE’

Three French friends returning to London from France have slammed the government’s decision to make them quarantine even though they have all tested negative for coronavirus in the past week.

School worker Lou Le Mener, 23, student Aurelia Crea and IT worker Marine Coupe, 25, all French nationals living together in London, arrived back at St Pancras on Saturday evening after visiting family.

Ms Coupe told Press Association: “It doesn’t really make sense. The UK was the last to quarantine and now they’re bringing in these hardcore measures.

“And in France too, everyone is wearing a mask, but here, no.”

Ms Crea said: “We wanted to come back yesterday but it was about 300 euros a ticket and the website was crashing.

“Then you have a lot of people in the same place, crowded trying to come back. The Eurostar today was very quiet.

“I feel it’s unfair for us to have to quarantine but we will do it. In Paris we have to wear masks almost everywhere, we already felt trapped there and now we are trapped again.”

CASES SPIKE IN FRANCE

France has reported 3,310 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, breaking post-lockdown records as fears of a second wave sweeping Europe are coming to fruition.

This is the fourth consecutive day that cases have been on the rise since the country regained a grip on the situation following its lockdown.

The country has had 249,655 cases to date according to Johns Hopkins data, and was placed on the quarantine list this weekend, with holidaymakers racing back to beat the 4am deadline this morning.

IRELAND REPORTS HIGHEST NUMBER OF DAILY CASES SINCE MAY

Ireland has reported a daily case rise of 200, its highest in three months.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn warned there are now “multiple clusters” and “secondary spread” of Covid-19 nationwide.

Of the 200 new cases, 103 are men and 96 are women and 68 per cent are under the age of 45. 25 cases were identified as being down to community transmission.

The country suffered a steep rise in cases over the last two weeks as multiple clusters emerged, prompting local lockdowns.

There are fears in Tipperary that the county could become the new epicentre for Covid-19 after a mushroom farm closed its doors due to an outbreak.

Ireland’s case total has now hit 27,191 after four confirmed cases were denotified. The death toll remains at 1,774.

550 STRIP CLUB PUNTERS TOLD TO QUARANTINE

550 visitors to the Brass Rail strip club in Toronto have been told to quarantine after a worker tested positive for coronavirus.

Customers who left their details upon entering the club are currently being contacted by authorities and will now have to quarantine with their families at home.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said: “I feel sorry for people when they go to their house and tell them that they were at the Brass Rail, that’s who I feel sorry for.

“Sorry for the spouse, seriously. Man, I wouldn’t want to be on the end of that one.”

Authorities said the employee worked on August 4, 5, 7, and 8. They refused to specify whether the person was a stripper or another member of staff.

The club was issued a notice of noncompliance and the city is working to ensure physical distancing measures are followed.

WELSH A-LEVEL STUDENTS WILL BE ABLE TO APPEAL MODERATED GRADES

The Welsh Government has announced that A-Level students in Wales will be able to appeal against their grades if they are lower than their teachers’ predictions.

There has been an outcry in Wales after 42 per cent of all A-level grades were lowered during the moderation process.

Education minister Kirsty Williams said appeals would be allowed if “there is evidence” pupils should have received higher grades.

She added: “There is a guarantee that no-one will receive a lower grade after appeal and all appeals are free.”

HUGE ANTI-MASK PROTESTS TAKE PLACE IN BIRMINGHAM

A huge crowd of anti-mask protesters have gathered in Birmingham city centre for a “freedom gathering” against masks and coronavirus lockdown measures.

A speaker at the protest in Victoria Square argued that the pandemic that has affected over 21 million people world wide is “about control” and argued that masks “have next to no effect”.

Scientists have shown through multiple models and studies that masks help protect others and have a significant effect on the likelihood of transmission.

Birmingham saw its Covid-19 infection rate increase from 13.8 to 28.1 per 100,000 people after 321 new cases were recorded in the seven days up to August 11.

65 PEOPLE TEST POSITIVE IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland has announced 65 new cases today.

The Department of Health did not release any information on deaths, which will be published on Monday.

IRISH CHAIRMAN OF TOURISM AUTHORITY RESIGNS

The chairman of Ireland’s tourism authority, Michael Cawley, has resigned after defying government guidance to avoid all non-essential travel by going on holiday to Italy.

Ryanair’s former chief operating officer, handed in his resignation on Saturday after details of his Italian excursion were revealed by the Irish Independent.

BRITS LEFT FURIOUS AFTER MISSING THE 4AM DEADLINE

Brits have been left apoplectic after their efforts to get home before 4am today from France were foiled.

160,000 Brits attempted to return from France to the UK yesterday in a bid to avoid the new two week self isolation rules.

A woman who had to leave her kids behind so she didn’t miss work told Sky news: “This quarantine makes no sense because when my husband gets back, he will have to self-isolate in the same house.

“This is all just utter madness.”

Many holidaymakers were left stranded as tickets home quickly sold out or skyrocketed in price following the government’s announcement at 10pm on Thursday.

One group even hopped on a fishing boat to get back across the channel to escape quarantine last night.

GERMAN HEALTH MINISTER WARNS AGAINST ‘PARTY HOLIDAYS’

Germany’s health minister has criticised “party holidays” and defended a decision to declare nearly all of Spain a coronavirus risk region following a spike in cases there.

Jens Spahn told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper: “I know how much the Germans love Spain, but unfortunately the infection rates there are rising sharply, too sharply,”

“Whoever goes to Spain despite the warning should protect themselves and others while on holiday. Party holidays are irresponsible in this pandemic.”

People returning to Germany from designated risk regions face a coronavirus test or two weeks’ compulsory quarantine, just like in the UK.

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