Coronavirus update: Boris Johnson says ‘warning light’ is on for UK

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The UK Government has reversed its plan to ease lockdowns and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned of a potential second wave of infections as he announced changes to restrictions.

Meanwhile India tallies a record number of new infections in the past day, but the country is pressing on with reopening sections of the economy and removing a curfew.

This story will be updated throughout Saturday and was last updates at 1:45am.

Saturday’s key moments:

Britain PM Johnson postpones easing lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has postponed an easing in lockdown restrictions amid fears of a second wave of the pandemic and issued a warning to Britons at the same time.

Mr Johnson gave the warning a day after a late-night announcement of a new lockdown in northern England and said the reopening of casinos, skating rinks and bowling alleys has been delayed, and wedding receptions will have to be cancelled.

“Our assessment is that we should now squeeze the brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control.”

The changes, combined with the stricter lockdown imposed on more than 4 million people throughout Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire, are the largest reversal of restrictions to date in the UK.

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the Government had probably reached the limit of reopening society and the economy without causing an increase in the number of infections.

“We all know that what we have to try and do is to get to the absolute edge of what we can do in terms of opening up society and the economy without getting to the point where the virus starts to take off again,” he said.

More than 45,000 people in the UK have died from COVID-19, according to Government figures.

As restrictions return to parts of England, Northern Ireland has launched the UK’s first COVID-19 tracing app.

A similar app was launched in Ireland on July 8, and cases can now be traced across the island’s open border by its two separate health services.

Record number of new infections in India

Two people in PPE swap medical testing kits
There are more than 1.6 million cases in India now as daily cases hit a new peak.(AP: David Santiago/Miami Herald)

A record surge of 55,079 new cases in the past 24 hours has taken India’s coronavirus caseload past 1.6 million, as the Government decided to lift a night curfew that has been in force since late March.

The Health Ministry on Friday also reported 779 additional deaths, taking total fatalities to 35,747.

The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons including limited testing.

The night curfew will be lifted this weekend and yoga institutes and gyms will reopen on August 5, according to the Home Ministry.

The Government has also removed interstate restrictions on movement of people and goods.

Hotels in the Indian capital will reopen as they no longer serve as quarantine facilities.

Lockdown remains in place across all containment zones.

Subways, cinemas, swimming pools, entertainment parks, bars, theatres, auditoriums and other social gathering places will remain closed until August 31.

Fourth straight day of record deaths in Florida

Florida has reported a record increase in new COVID-19 deaths for a fourth day in a row, with 257 fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to the state health department.

The state has also confirmed 9,007 new cases, bringing its total infections to over 470,000, which is the second-highest in the US behind California.

Florida’s total death toll rose to nearly 7,000 — the eighth-highest in the nation.

Florida is among at least 18 states that saw cases more than double in July.

It has reported record daily increases in cases three times during the month, with the highest on July 12, at 15,300 new cases in a single day.

Deaths are rising at their fastest rate since early June and one person in the US died about every minute from COVID-19 on Wednesday as the national death toll surpassed 150,000, the highest in the world.

Cases surge as graft hampers South Africa’s fight

A woman in a face mask looks through a barred window
South Africa has the fifth-highest caseload in the world.(Reuters: Mike Hutchings)

South Africa’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases is edging close to half-a-million, with the Health Ministry reporting 11,046 new cases overnight.

That brings the country’s caseload to 482,169, including 7,812 deaths.

Corruption in the country’s pandemic response is also a growing problem.

On Thursday, the health minister in the country’s epicentre of Gauteng province was forced to step down over corruption allegations related to Government contracts for COVID-19 personal protective equipment.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned that now, more than ever, South Africa’s persistent problem with widespread graft is endangering people’s lives.

South Africa makes up well over half the cases on the African continent and has the world’s fifth-highest virus caseload.

As cases increase, the first of thousands of South African-designed ventilators have rolled off a Cape Town assembly line.

Hospitals in the country had struggled to source them on global markets, as richer nations scrambled to obtain ventilators and protective gear, officials said.

South Africa aims to build 20,000 ventilators.

F1 driver Sergio Perez tests positive, gifting Nico Hulkenberg return

A pink F1 racing car is seen on a race track
Nico Hulkenberg will drive for Racing Point for the first time, he last raced in November 2019 for Renault.(AP: Frank Augstein)

Nico Hulkenberg has made an unexpected return to Formula One, stepping in at Racing Point after Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the British Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 32-year-old Hulkenberg lost his seat at Renault for this season so was available when Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer made the call.

The German was immediately back in action for the first time since November, driving in first practice on Friday at Silverstone, where no fans are attending due to the pandemic restrictions.

“I was on my way to the Nurburgring for another racing project when the call from Otmar came,” Hulkenberg said.

The race will be Hulkenberg’s 178th Grand Prix.

Perez believes he picked up the virus on a trip home to Mexico between the Hungarian and British races to visit his mother after she had an accident.

Spain records worst day in months

Spain has reported its highest number of new coronavirus infections in almost three months, as authorities aim to contain new outbreaks.

In the past 24 hours, 1,229 new cases were recorded, marking the largest rise since a lockdown was lifted on 21 June, according to Government data.

The figure meant that Spain recorded more than 1,000 infections for a third consecutive day.

A Spanish Health Ministry official said community transmission of the virus has “exceeded expectations” in recent days.

At least 282,641 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in total in Spain, with 28,441 deaths.


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