PORTUGAL have been removed from the UK’s quarantine list in relief for British holidaymakers.
Anyone returning from the Iberian nation will now no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.
But it is bad news for Croatia, Austria and Trinidad, as the countries joined France and Spain on the quarantine list.
It comes after it was revealed countries in Europe are registering 26,000 new coronavirus cases a DAY, the director general of the World Health Organization’s Europe office has said.
In a Thursday morning briefing, Hans Kluge said while the “epicentre” of the pandemic had moved to the Americas, the European region still accounted for 17% of the global total of coronavirus cases.
He said: “Every day now the European Region reports an average of over 26,000 new [coronavirus] cases.
“This is due in part to the relaxation of public health and social measures, where authorities have been easing some of the restrictions and people have been dropping their guard.”
Meanwhile, the coronavirus death toll rose by 6 in the UK on Wednesday, with total fatalities numbering 41,403.
Follow our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates…
END OF OUR COVERAGE
That brings our coverage for tonight to an end.
But we’ll be back from 6am tomorrow with all the latest on the coronavirus crisis.
CORONAVIRUS HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS OVER-COUNTED
Coronavirus hospital admissions were over-counted as recovered patients returning without Covid were included in stats, it’s been revealed.
An investigation for the Government’s Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) found that people were being counted as ‘Covid hospital admissions’ if they had EVER had the virus.
Government figures show that, at the peak of the pandemic in early April, nearly 20,000 people a week were being admitted to hospital with coronavirus – but the true figure is unknown because of the problem with over-counting.
This over-counting mirrors the problems with data for coronavirus deaths – where people who had died of other causes were being included in Covid-19 statistics if they had once tested positive.
Read our full report on that here.
BRAZIL SEES CASES SURGE
Brazil has reported 45,323 new cases of the coronavirus and 1,204 deaths caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry confirmed.
The country has now registered 3,501,975 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 112,304, according to ministry data.
The rise in fatalities takes the total death toll across Latin America past 250,000.
RUSSIA TO BEGIN MASS TESTING OF ITS NEW VACCINE NEXT WEEK
Mass testing of Russia’s first potential COVID-19 vaccine to get domestic regulatory approval will involve more than 40,000 people, backers of the project confirmed today.
The testing programme will also be overseen by a foreign research body when it starts next week.
The vaccine, called “Sputnik V” , has been hailed as safe and effective by Russian authorities and scientists following two months of small-scale human trials, the results of which have not been made public yet.
But Western experts have been more sceptical, warning against its use until all internationally approved testing and regulatory steps have been seen to be taken and proved a success.
SPAIN’S TOP VIRUS EXPERT WARNS OF SURGE IN INFECTIONS LINKED TO NIGHTLIFE
Spain’s top coronavirus expert has warned of a surge in infections mostly tied to nightlife during the summer holidays.
The head of the country’s health emergency coordination center Fernando Simon says younger people should know they can infect older relatives – despite being at a lower risk of death themselves.
“Nobody should be fooled, things are not going well”, Simon said today as Spain’s caseload rose by 3,700.
MCDONELL PRAISES STARMER’S COVID-19 RESPONSE
Labour’s former shadow Chancellor John McDonell has praised Sir Keir Starmer’s response to the coronavirus crisis – claiming the party’s new leader has got it “exactly right”.
Mr McDonnell praised Mr Starmer for approaching the Government in a “constructive way” during the pandemic.
Speaking to John Pienaar on Times Radio, Mr McDonnell said: “Keir’s got this exactly right.
“He’s approached the Government in a constructive way – and we’ve got to get through this crisis together – but he can’t help but point out failure after failure. And people are getting pretty angry.”
WHY WAS PORTUGAL NOT AN AIR BRIDGE COUNTRY BEFORE?
Brits have reacted with delight as tourist favourite Portugal was removed from the UK’s quarantine list this evening.
The Foreign Office had previously advised against all but essential travel to the Iberian nation and anyone returning would have to self-isolate for 14 days.
It is understood the government’s decision not to initially include Portugal on the list was down to a spike in coronavirus cases in the capital Lisbon.
Tourists will not have to quarantine when entering Portugal – and now will no longer have to do so upon returning to the UK.
Madeira and the Azores will only allow visitors who have tested negative for coronavirus within the last 72 hours – but this could change depending on infection rates.
HIGHER PROPORTION OF IRISH POPULATION INFECTED THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
The proportion of the Irish population infected with Covid-19 is three times higher than that detected through other surveillance methods.
Almost 60,000 people aged under 70 contracted the disease up to mid-July, representative sampling of antibody levels in the capital Dublin and Sligo suggested.
The estimated prevalence rate is 1.7%.
Principal investigator Dr Derval Igoe said: “It is not surprising that a relatively low national seroprevalence of 1.7% was observed here.
“Other countries in Europe, such as Spain and Italy, where there has been a much more intense epidemic, have reported national seroprevalence estimates of 5% and 2.5% respectively.
“This means that the vast majority of people living in Ireland had not been infected with Sars-CoV-2 virus by the time of the study.”
BIRMINGHAM ‘AT RISK OF LOCAL LOCKDOWN’
Birmingham is at risk of a local lockdown within days, city leaders have warned.
It comes as the city is set to be added to the government’s “watch list” of hard-hit regions.
Dr Justin Varney, Birmingham’s public health director, told BirminghamLive: “We are at a knife-edge moment… The next five to ten days are crucial”.
Birmingham currently has the 13th highest infection rate in the country, though most of the regions above it in the list – such as Blackburn With Darwen or Oldham- are in local lockdown.
MACRON INSISTS STUDENTS WILL GO BACK TO SCHOOL
French president Emmanuel Macron has insisted that the country will send millions of students back to school starting September 1 – despite the biggest weekly spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since March and April.
The country’s national health agency reported 4,771 new infections Thursday, and more than 18,000 new cases over the past week.
This represents the biggest weekly rise since April.
Concerns are mounting among teachers and parents in France that schools wont be able to keep the virus at bay as classrooms open, with one leading teachers union demanding the government to delay the start of the school year.
JET2 RESUMES PORTUGAL FLIGHTS
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said it will resume its flights and holidays programme to Faro, in Portugal’s Algarve, from Monday.
This includes multiple weekly flights departing from all nine of its UK bases – Belfast International, Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle.
It comes as Portugal was removed from the government’s quarantine list earlier this evening.
CORONAVIRUS HOME TEST KIT WHICH DELIVERS RESULTS IN MINUTES COULD BE AVAILABLE IN WEEKS
A new pregnancy-style coronavirus home test kit which costs just £5 and produces results in minutes could be approved in weeks, a leading scientist has claimed.
Sir John Bell, a government adviser and Oxford University scientist, said that the handy testing devices were currently being assessed by Public Health England.
Professor Bell said the kits could cost as little as £5, and could be available through Amazon or Boots if proven to be over 90 per cent accurate.
Read our full report here.
HOUSEHOLDS OF FACTORY WORKERS IN MEAT PLANT MUST SELF ISOLATE
Anyone living in a household with a factory worker from a food processing plant in Coupar Angus has been told to isolate at home until Monday August 31, NHS Tayside has said.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the 43 positive cases identified so far, as part of an outbreak at the 2 Sisters food processing plant, as “a significant cluster”.
Of those cases 37 are factory workers and six are contacts.
GREECE: STAT BREAKDOWN
There are fresh fears that travellers returning from Greece could soon be asked to quarantine – following the government’s decision to add Croatia and Austria to the list.
We break down the key coronavirus figures for the country below.
R RATE ABOVE 1 IN IRELAND
Addressing Ireland’s infection rate, Professor Nolan said: “The R-number is now at or above 1.2.
“There are two concerns now, the number of new cases per day remains high and the pattern has changed from large outbreaks in specific settings to much smaller outbreaks widely distributed across the country.
“The measures announced this week, asking us to stay apart, aim to suppress Covid-19 in the community.”
IRELAND CONFIRMS 136 NEW CASES
Another 136 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team said.
Professor Philip Nolan, who is modelling spread of the disease for the Government, said: “The overall picture is of a sustained high level of new cases being confirmed per day, also a shift in the pattern of those cases.”
It comes as the country tightened restrictions – particularly for the elderly- amidst fears of a sustained rise in infections.
COUNCIL SHUTS RESTAURANT FOR NOT COMPLYING WITH COVID-19 REGULATIONS
A restaurant has been shut down by the local council for not complying with coronavirus regulations.
Grillaz, in Bolton, was ordered to close from 5pm today.
The council claims that the restaurant was “overcrowded” with “no queue management” – and continued to flout restrictions despite a final warning.
OVER 1,400 FURTHER VIRUS DEATHS IN THE US
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today confirmed that the number of coronavirus deaths had risen by 1,404 to 172,416.
Cases rose by 46,500 to reach a total of 5,506,929 – the highest caseload in the world.
With Croatia just now added to the government’s quarantine list, we break down some of the important numbers below.
THREE STAFF AT WETHERSPOONS PUB TEST POSITIVE
Three staff at a Wetherspoons pub have tested positive for coronavirus – but the boozer will remain open.
The infections were recorded at the North and South Wales Bank in Wrexham, North Wales.
Other members of staff are now in self-isolation, and Public Health Wales has been informed of the outbreak.
SERIE A PLAYERS TEST POSITIVE
At least eight Serie A players have tested positive for coronavirus this week as they return from the football offseason.
The latest clubs to announce Thursday they have positive cases among their players were Torino with two, and Napoli with one.
Roma and Cagliari also confirmed positive cases yesterday.
It comes ahead of the new season of Italy’s top flight, which is scheduled to start on September 19.
YOUNG PEOPLE FEEL ‘INVINCIBLE’, WHO BOSS WARNS
A senior official from the World Health Organisation has warned that young people are starting to believe they are “invincible” in the face of coronavirus.
Dr Hans Kluge, the organisation’s regional director for Europe, said today he was “very concerned” about new data which shows a rising number of cases among under-24s.
“Young people are at the forefront of the Covid-19 response and they have a very powerful message to convey through their behaviour and their communication,” said Dr Kluge.
PORTUGAL TOURIST BOARD ‘DELIGHTED’
We have some reaction just in from the President of Portugal’s tourist board – following the UK’s decision to establish a “travel corridor” with the country.
Mr Luis Araújo said: “We are delighted to have the UK government confirmation for Portugal’s inclusion in an air bridge arrangement to prevent mandatory quarantine upon return to the United Kingdom.
“For quite some time now tourism and government officials have consistently maintained our unwavering confidence in the safety of Portugal as a result of a thoroughly efficient and effective multi-sector strategy to contain the virus as early as possible and the implementation of concise measures and infrastructure with the capacity to prepare the tourism sector for a safe reopening.
He added: “We are now delighted to have arrived at a decision which we feel far better reflects the reality of the situation in Portugal.”
CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK CLOSES MEAT FACTORY
A coronavirus outbreak has forced a meat processing factory to close its doors as 35 workers were struck down with the killer bug.
Cranswick Country Foods, which processes pigs in Cullybackey, Northern Ireland, will shut for a deep clean following the cluster of coronavirus cases among staff members.
Health Minister Robin Swann said 35 cases had been identified at the meat plant – which has 500 workers.
Read our full report on that here.
CASES RISE IN ITALY
Italy has recorded another large increase in coronavirus infections, adding 845 new cases to its confirmed toll.
The country has ramped up testing in recent weeks, with nearly 77,500 virus tests were conducted in the last day compared to a daily average of 50,000.
The government has mandated testing for all people returning from Spain, Malta, Greece and Croatia and has set up testing sites at airports to try to inform infected passengers upon arrival.