Coronavirus live news: Russia sets new record daily death toll; at least 66 die in Iraq Covid hospital fire

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “UK reports highest deaths since early April – as it happened” was written by Nadeem Badshah (now); Mattha Busby,Kevin Rawlinson, Martin Belam ,Helen Sullivan (earlier), for theguardian.com on Tuesday 13th July 2021 22.46 UTC

11.46pm BST

This blog is closing now but thanks very much for reading. We’ll be back in a few hours with more rolling coverage of the pandemic from all around the world.

In the meantime you can catch up with all our coverage of the pandemic here.

11.22pm BST

In the UK, more pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants could be facing collapse, despite restrictions easing from 19 July, having built up almost £10bn in debt during the pandemic.

Hospitality, retail and property business leaders told MPs on Tuesday there was an urgent need to revamp business rates, kick off arbitration on rent debts and extend payment terms for government-backed loans, as the government hands over responsibility on Covid protection measures to individual businesses:

Updated at 11.31pm BST

10.45pm BST

A British couple were prevented from boarding flights after having an Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine that is not licenced in the EU, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The vaccine has been authorised by the World Health Organisation, but it is yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency and consequently is not accepted by the EU vaccine passport scheme.

The newspaper reported that while some European countries have individually decided to accept it, Malta will not accept the Indian-made variety of the jab.

The Department of Health and Social Care had previously insisted that no Britons who had received the Indian-made jabs would be negatively affected.

A spokesman said earlier this month: “All AstraZeneca vaccines given in the UK are the same product and appear on the NHS Covid Pass as Vaxzevria. The European Medicines Agency has authorised this vaccine and we’re confident travel will not be affected.”

On Tuesday, the department did not respond to a request to comment on the experience of a British couple who were turned back at Manchester Airport when they tried to board a flight to Malta on Friday.

Updated at 11.05pm BST

10.30pm BST

Three months since Papua New Guinea launched its Covid vaccine rollout, just 60,000 people – or 0.6% of the population – have received their first dose, with many people hesitant due to misinformation and fears around the vaccine.

Despite a recent surge in cases that has overwhelmed the already rickety health system, just over 2,800 people have received their second dose.

Recent monitoring of Covid-19 awareness programmes by Caritas Australia found that the overwhelming majority of communities in rural areas still have extremely limited knowledge about the disease and how to prevent its spread.

Diane Unagi, Caritas Australia’s country representative in PNG, said that the bulk of the population were getting their information by word of mouth, rather than on social media or from watching and reading the news.

10.23pm BST

The World Health Organization’s chief scientist has advised individuals against mixing and matching Covid-19 vaccines from different manufacturers, saying such decisions should be left to public health authorities, Reuters reports.
“It’s a little bit of a dangerous trend here,” Soumya Swaminathan told an online briefing after a question about booster shots. “It will be a chaotic situation in countries if citizens start deciding when and who will be taking a second, a third and a fourth dose.” Swaminathan had called mixing a “data-free zone” but later clarified her remarks in an overnight tweet. “Individuals should not decide for themselves, public health agencies can, based on available data,” she said in the tweet. “Data from mix and match studies of different vaccines are awaited – immunogenicity and safety both need to be evaluated.”

10.06pm BST

Malta reversed plans to introduce a ban on unvaccinated travellers hours before it was due to come into effect Wednesday with those without coronavirus jabs able now to quarantine.
“Persons who arrive to Malta from any of the countries listed… without being in possession of a vaccination certificate shall be required to submit themselves to a period of quarantine,” the government said in a legal note. The length of the quarantine period was not immediately clear, although Malta had already imposed a requirement for those arriving from certain “red” countries to spend 14 days in self-isolation, AFP reports.

10.01pm BST

Mexico’s health ministry on Tuesday reported 11,137 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 219 more fatalities, bringing its total to 2,604,711 infections and 235,277 deaths.
The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll could be 60% higher than the official count, Reuters reports.

9.00pm BST

A summary of today’s developments

  • Daily vaccinations hit a new high in France on Tuesday. “Today you are 792,339 to have received a first jab, a new record. This drive must amplify and continue in coming weeks,” the country’s prime minister Jean Castex wrote on Twitter.
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel said she is not planning to follow France and other countries in introducing compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations for parts of the population, despite the number of jabs given yesterday at its lowest since February amid apparent hesitancy.
  • Thailand defended mixing two different Covid-19 vaccines, after the WHO’s top scientist warned it was a “dangerous trend” not backed by evidence. Authorities said they will mix a first dose of the Chinese-made Sinovac jab with a second dose of AstraZeneca to try to achieve a “booster” effect in six weeks instead of 12.
  • The European Medicines Agency said it is analysing data on rare cases of a nerve disorder reported among recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, after the US added a warning label to the shot. In its decision to add a warning label, the FDA said 100 preliminary reports of GBS included 95 serious cases that required hospitalisation and one reported death.
  • Cyprus has reported a record-high number of new Covid-19 infections, health ministry data showed, with the number of positive cases surging past 1,000. Tuesday’s figure of 1,081 cases was the highest single-day count since the eastern Mediterranean island recorded its first cases of coronavirus in March 2020, Reuters reports.
  • Greece will require customers at indoor restaurants, bars and cafes to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the government announced. Under the new regulations, which will remain in force until next month, all customers at indoor bars and restaurants will have to be seated. Those dining outdoors will not require proof of vaccination or a test.
  • Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that created one of the first Covid-19 vaccines to be approved, has been making a hard sell for emergency approval of boostersadditional doses given to those already vaccinated, especially immunocompromised adults.
  • Bangladesh is to lift its nationwide lockdown for the country’s second-biggest religious festival, the government has said, even as new infections rise. The removal of the curbs would “normalise economic activities” ahead of the celebrations, it added. Tens of millions of people usually head back to their villages to mark Eid al-Adha with their families.
  • India’s Covid vaccination rollout has continued to falter due to supply shortages and vaccine hesitancy, casting doubt on the government’s pledge to vaccinate the entire population by December. Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister of Delhi, tweeted that “vaccines have run out in Delhi again. The central government gives vaccines for a day or two, then we have to keep the vaccine centres closed for several days.”
  • Philippine police temporarily suspended a requirement for officers seeking promotion to meet body fat targets, after chiefs argued pandemic restrictions had made it difficult for officers to work out and lose weight following a study which showed almost 35% of personnel were overweight and nearly 10% obese.

8.52pm BST

Stanislas Niox-Chateau, who heads one of France’s biggest online websites used to book vaccine appointments, told RMC radio there were record numbers seeking vaccines after the president’s announcement.
In nearly 24 hours, some 1.7 million vaccine appointments had been booked through Doctolib, Reuters reports. Meanwhile daily vaccinations hit a new high on Tuesday. “Today you are 792,339 to have received a first jab, a new record. This drive must amplify and continue in coming weeks,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Twitter.

8.49pm BST

Hospitals, GPs and other health providers will still be able to require patients and visitors to wear masks unless they are exempt, after Public Health England (PHE) said existing guidance on Covid infection control will continue beyond 19 July.

Health providers have been pressing the government for clarity on the situation around face coverings in hospitals and GP surgeries when legal requirements on mask-wearing will be lifted, with the NHS Confederation urging mandatory mask-wearing to continue.

In response, PHE made clear on Tuesday that its infection prevention control (IPC) guidance is to remain in place, meaning the current situation on mask-wearing in health and care settings will continue.

Under the guidelines agreed by the four nations of the UK and put in place for the pandemic, it sets out the need for “use of facemasks/coverings by all outpatients (if tolerated) and visitors when entering a hospital, GP/dental surgery or other care settings”. It also recommends physical distancing of 2 metres and thorough hand hygiene, with “patients in all care areas still to be encouraged and supported to wear a face mask, providing it is tolerated and is not detrimental to their medical or care needs”.

8.40pm BST

Cyprus has reported a record-high number of new Covid-19 infections, health ministry data showed, with the number of positive cases surging past 1,000.
Tuesday’s figure of 1,081 cases was the highest single-day count since the eastern Mediterranean island recorded its first cases of coronavirus in March 2020, Reuters reports. Two people died of Covid-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of deaths to 382, the health ministry said.

8.32pm BST

Bahrain said entry will be banned from 16 new countries including Tunisia, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa and Indonesia over coronavirus concerns, the state news agency (BNA) reported.

Bahrain had suspended entry of travellers from countries on its “Red List” in May, a list that included India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Bahrain has excluded citizens and residents with valid residency visas from the ban, Reuters reports.

8.21pm BST

El Salvador’s Congress suspended all public and private gatherings of large groups of people for a period of 90 days amid a rise in coronavirus infections, suspending concerts, rallies and sporting events and enforcing mandatory mask use.

Public transport, churches, bars, restaurants and nightclubs were not included in the closure. Commercial and labor activities were also not affected by the new measures, Reuters reports.

“Mayors who hold festivities, carnivals, rallies or mass events in the next three months will be sanctioned with 100 minimum wages and criminally prosecuted for the crime of disobedience,” Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said on Twitter.

8.04pm BST

The US administered 334,942,236 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Tuesday morning and distributed 387,241,530 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Those figures are up from the 334,600,770 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by July 12 out of 387,006,120 doses delivered.

The agency said 184,543,821 people had received at least one dose while 159,675,163 people were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, Reuters reports.

7.57pm BST

The speaker of Tunisia’s parliament and the leader of the Islamist Ennahda Party Rached Ghannouchi has contracted Covid-19, an advisor to Ghannouchi told Reuters.

He added that Ghannouchi, 80, is at home and will work remotely.

Ghannouchi, the leader of the biggest party in the parliament, received two doses of a Covid vaccine this year.

Tunisia is seeing a significant increase in Covid-19 cases, with intensive care wards almost full, health authorities said, after successfully containing the virus in the first wave last year.

In total, Tunisia has recorded more than 500,000 coronavirus cases and about 16,500 deaths.

7.41pm BST

As ministers proceed with lifting most of England’s restrictions next week, a third of the population is still unprotected from getting infected with Covid, scientists have estimated.

There have been about 15 million infections so far (roughly 27% of England’s population), and once partial and full vaccinations are accounted for that leaves approximately 33% of the population still susceptible to being infected with the Delta variant that is now dominant, said Matt Keeling, a professor of populations and disease at the University of Warwick and a member of a Sage subcommittee focused on infectious disease modelling and epidemiology (Spi-M).

Roughly half the UK is now fully vaccinated but Covid infections are surging again and hospitalisations are on the rise, driven by the spread of Delta and the lifting of some restrictions. On Tuesday the UK reported 50 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test, the worst daily toll since early April, and 36,660 new Covid cases.

7.31pm BST

Greenland’s government introduced new virus curbs on Tuesday after a cluster of Covid-19 cases were reported on the huge Arctic island, AFP reports.

Starting Tuesday at 4 pm local time (1800 GMT), residents of the Danish autonomous territory will be required to wear face masks in public places, shops, taxis and on public transport, Greenland’s Prime Minister Mute Egede told a press conference.

The move came after 13 cases were recently reported on Greenland.

In addition passengers would not be allowed on buses that have no free seats left, and restrictions were also introduced on the number of people in restaurants and shops.

7.20pm BST

US health officials, after meeting with vaccine maker Pfizer, reiterated that Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need to get a booster shot at this time, a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Department said.

Pfizer said last week it planned to ask U.S. regulators to authorise a booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine, based on evidence of greater risk of infection six months after inoculation and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, Reuters reports.

“Both Pfizer and the U.S. government share a sense of urgency in staying ahead of the virus that causes Covid-19, and we also agree that the scientific data will dictate next steps in the rigorous regulatory process that we always follow,” said Pfizer spokesperson Sharon Castillo.

7.11pm BST

Parisians queue in the rain to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at a temporary vaccination centre at Hotel de Ville on July 13, 2021 in Paris, France. More than 900,000 French people have made an appointment for a Covid-19 vaccine after the announcement of French President Emmanuel Macron that certificates will be required for long distance travel, indoor public spaces and restaurants and cafes.
Parisians queue in the rain to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at a temporary vaccination centre at Hotel de Ville on July 13, 2021 in Paris, France. More than 900,000 French people have made an appointment for a Covid-19 vaccine after the announcement of French President Emmanuel Macron that certificates will be required for long distance travel, indoor public spaces and restaurants and cafes.
Photograph: Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

6.54pm BST

New South Wales’ coronavirus case numbers will keep bubbling along and restrictions will continue for months because of a “soft lockdown” approach that relies too heavily on people doing the right thing without clear guidance, a top epidemiologist says.

Prof Tony Blakely runs epidemiological modelling on Covid-19 for the University of Melbourne’s school of population and global health, and provided advice to the Victorian government during its prolonged second wave in 2020.

He says NSW needs to tighten its definition of essential workers and prioritise vaccinating those people if it wants to contain the Delta variant outbreak within weeks rather than months.

6.44pm BST

Today so far…

  • German chancellor Angela Merkel said she is not planning to follow France and other countries in introducing compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations for parts of the population, despite the number of jabs given yesterday at its lowest since February amid apparent hesitancy.
  • Thailand defended mixing two different Covid-19 vaccines, after the WHO’s top scientist warned it was a “dangerous trend” not backed by evidence. Authorities said they will mix a first dose of the Chinese-made Sinovac jab with a second dose of AstraZeneca to try to achieve a “booster” effect in six weeks instead of 12.
  • The European Medicines Agency said it is analysing data on rare cases of a nerve disorder reported among recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, after the US added a warning label to the shot. In its decision to add a warning label, the FDA said 100 preliminary reports of GBS included 95 serious cases that required hospitalisation and one reported death.
  • Greece will require customers at indoor restaurants, bars and cafes to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the government announced. Under the new regulations, which will remain in force until next month, all customers at indoor bars and restaurants will have to be seated. Those dining outdoors will not require proof of vaccination or a test.
  • Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that created one of the first Covid-19 vaccines to be approved, has been making a hard sell for emergency approval of boostersadditional doses given to those already vaccinated, especially immunocompromised adults.
  • Bangladesh is to lift its nationwide lockdown for the country’s second-biggest religious festival, the government has said, even as new infections rise. The removal of the curbs would “normalise economic activities” ahead of the celebrations, it added. Tens of millions of people usually head back to their villages to mark Eid al-Adha with their families.
  • India’s Covid vaccination rollout has continued to falter due to supply shortages and vaccine hesitancy, casting doubt on the government’s pledge to vaccinate the entire population by December. Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister of Delhi, tweeted that “vaccines have run out in Delhi again. The central government gives vaccines for a day or two, then we have to keep the vaccine centres closed for several days.”
  • Philippine police temporarily suspended a requirement for officers seeking promotion to meet body fat targets, after chiefs argued pandemic restrictions had made it difficult for officers to work out and lose weight following a study which showed almost 35% of personnel were overweight and nearly 10% obese.

6.38pm BST

Mask wearing will remain compulsory on the tube and other London transport services after next Monday, Transport for London is to announce, as national rail and bus operators in England said they would only request passengers follow government guidance.

Unions and bus industry bodies attacked the government for its confused messaging over the changes from 19 July, when face coverings will no longer be mandatory, saying the changed rhetoric had left operators unable to plan and could put staff and services at risk.

Airlines have already indicated that they will continue to demand passengers wear masks, and cross-Channel train service Eurostar has now said it will make mask-wearing a condition of carriage, from check-in at London St Pancras station.

6.13pm BST

The director of public health in the UK’s latest Covid hotspot says his biggest anxiety is losing “vast swathes” of the local workforce to self-isolation in the coming weeks, particularly in health and social care.

South Tyneside, in the north-east of England, has asked the government for help to step up its vaccination programme after recording a seven-day rolling average rate of 1,308 cases per 100,000 people, the highest in the UK.

6.03pm BST

Italy has approved the temporary distribution of a coronavirus antibody treatment by Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline and US company Vir Biotechnology, the country’s health ministry said.

The therapy, named Sotrovimab, could be distributed until 31 January, it said, adding that the authorisations for all the other monoclonal treatments already in use in the country had also been extended to the same date.

Antibody treatments are designed to decrease the severity of Covid-19 among patients diagnosed with the infection. Rome has approved monoclonal antibody therapies from Eli Lilly and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

At the end of May, the EU’s drug regulator backed the use of Sotrovimab to treat patients who are at risk of severe disease and do not need supplemental oxygen above the age of 12.

5.53pm BST

Staying in France, a new metro line supposed to connect key sites in the 2024 Paris Olympics will not be ready in time for the Games, the operator of the Grand Paris Express project has said, announcing a two-year delay partly caused by pandemic restrictions.

Line 16 is part of a huge multibillion-euro expansion of the Paris metro network, part of which had been due for completion before the games, AFP reports. Line 16 will run from Saint-Denis on the northern edge of Paris, site of the athlete’s village and Stade de France stadium, to the suburb of Le Bourget, which will host the press centre.

The line, which will put some of the capital’s most deprived suburbs on a metro line for the first time, is also one of the key legacy projects of the 2024 Olympics.

President Emmanuel Macron had promised that the first section would be ready in time for the Olympics, but the head of the Grand Paris Express – the name of the supermetro project – confirmed that construction was running behind schedule.

Jean-Francois Monteils said construction delays, in part caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, meant the first section of line 16 would be ready only for the second half of 2026.

A total of four automatic lines, covering a total of some 200 kilometres, are being added to France’s 14-line metro network to better connect the suburbs with the city.

5.46pm BST

French government accused of discriminating against vaccine sceptics

France has been criticised for discriminating against vaccine sceptics and those who would not be fully vaccinated before the “health pass” rules come into effect.

AFP reports that some allege the government is effectively imposing general vaccination by stealth – the French word for dictatorship, Dictature, was trending on Twitter.

Cinema and restaurant owners said they worried the rules will force many patrons to stay away just as they are emerging from months of pandemic closures.

“We’re not the police. Lots of my clients are not vaccinated. If they have to have a test and wait 48 hours to have a beer, they’re not going to come,” one Paris restaurant owner said.

Jocelyn Bouyssy, the head of the CGR Cinemas group, told Franceinfo radio that he was “very angry” about the health pass, which would be difficult to implement and dissuade people from going out to watch a film. “We’re like lambs being led to the slaughter,” he said.

Retail federation FCD chief Jaques Creyssel said on C-News TV said it was hard to imagine how anyone could stop a customer who needed to buy food or medicines.

“The government did not want to make vaccination mandatory for all and puts the onus on private companies,” he said.

Creyssel added that the industry has a lot of young staff, many of whom are not vaccinated and that given that it takes about one and a half months to get two doses, it was not feasible to get everyone ready by early August.

But government spokesman Gabriel Attal said there was no “vaccine obligation” in the historically highly sceptic country but that the severe measures represented “maximum inducement”.

“I have a hard time understanding, in a country where 11 vaccines are already mandatory… that this could be seen as a dictatorship,” he said, adding that after a year of studying the vaccines “the time of doubting is long past.”

President Emmanual Macros announced yesterday that from August anyone wanting to go out to eat or drink, take a long-distance train or visit a shopping centre would need to show either proof of vaccination or a negative test.

The pass will also be needed to attend a festival, a theatre show or a cinema screening, and free Covid tests will end in September, Macron added in the speech watched by 22 million people.

He also announced mandatory vaccinations for healthcare staff, retirement home workers and others working with vulnerable people from September, in line with similar moves in Greece, Italy and Britain.

Updated at 6.02pm BST

5.30pm BST

South Korean baseball league suspended after Covid outbreak

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) has suspended its season after five players tested positive for the coronavirus.

After calling off two games last week, the KBO suspended its season until at least 9 August as the government strengthened restrictions in Seoul and nearby regions to the highest levels so far during the pandemic.

The league had always planned to take a three-week break for the Summer Olympics, the New York Times reports.

In and around Seoul, the amount of fans allowed back started at 10% of stadia capacity and rose to 30% in June.

It comes as the MLB in the US prepared to hold its all-star game in front of a capacity crowd in Denver after it was cancelled last year.

Fans in South Korea have criticised the two teams that reported the infections, the NC Dinos of Changwon and the Doosan Bears of Seoul, after the former beat the latter last year to win the KBO championship.

In a statement reported by the NYT, the Doosan Bears apologised to its fans and league officials and promised to be “even more thorough in the future.”

5.15pm BST

Algeria is the latest African country to announce it will produce coronavirus vaccines domestically, after Senegal became the first last week.

Cabinet minister Lotfi Benbahmed told National Radio Algeria that the country would produce the Russian Sputnik vaccine along with the Chinese Sinovac jab.

The BBC reported that he said Chinese technicians would arrive in Algeria by the end of the month to “prepare the arrival of raw materials” and “the production of the vaccines would start in September”.

State-owned pharmaceutical company Saidal would aim to produce 2.5 million doses of both vaccines a month, according to the minister.

The locally-made jabs would be 45% cheaper than imports and 90% cheaper once the raw materials were produced in Algeria, according to Benbahmed, with an apparent saving of at least .

According to the BBC, Sinovac has also agreed to supply Algeria, population 45 million, with 15 million doses of its vaccines by the close of 2021, which it will export.

5.05pm BST

JPMorgan Chase’s second-quarter profits have risen 155% as the US economy continues to rebound with life in the country approaching normality in many places.

The largest US bank, seen as a bellwether of the US economy, profit surge came even as trading revenues fell 28% from last year’s record-breaking levels, Reuters reports.

As the nationwide vaccination drive allows Americans to get back to work, there were signs consumer spending was bouncing back. Combined debt and credit card spending was up 22% compared with the same quarter in 2019. Despite profits reaching .9bn, overall revenues fell 7% to .4bn.

“My God, the company is doing quite fine,” CEO Jamie Dimon said on a call. “Our bankers, our traders, our credit card, our debit card, our merchant services, our auto business, our digital, it’s doing pretty good.”

While trading revenue slumped 28% to .1 billion, the overall Wall Street banking business remained strong during the first half of the year, driven by a record volume of large deals. Investment banking revenue rose to .4 billion as fees jumped 25%.

Updated at 5.05pm BST

4.56pm BST

My colleague Martin Chulov reports on rising anger and questions about the competence of Iraq’s health sector.

Angry residents in the city of Nasireyah torched two police vehicles and demanded accountability for family members who had died in the fire yesterday at the Al-Hussein teaching hospital. Iraq’s president, Barham Salih, claimed that corruption at the hospital, which was ravaged by flames, had also been a factor.

Failures of Iraq’s bloated and often inefficient public sector have often been highlighted by citizens who claim the state delivers little despite reaping huge revenues from oil production. Scenes of flames and smoke belching from the sanctuary of hospitals – twice in three months – have been a particularly visceral symbol of the government’s shortcomings.

The majority of the people killed last night were Covid-19 patients, although officials in the Dhi Qar province said that at least three health sector officials had also died.

4.18pm BST

UK reports 50 new Covid deaths amid 36,660 further cases in 24 hours

The UK has reported 50 deaths within 28 days of a positive test; the worst toll since early April as the government prepares to remove almost all restrictions in England from next week. An additional 36,660 cases were registered, according to official data.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 154,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

UK government data up to 12 July shows that, of the 80,975,508 Covid jabs given in the UK so far, 45,978,017 were first doses; a rise of 54,296 on the previous day. Some 34,997,491 were second doses; an increase of 125,360.

Updated at 4.41pm BST

4.12pm BST

In England, Covid-related pupil absence has hit a new record high since all students fully returned to class in March this year, with more than 830,000 children out of school last week, Government figures show. PA Media reports:

About one in nine (11.2%) state school pupils did not attend class for Covid-19 related reasons on 8 July; up from 8.5% on 1 July and 5.1% on 24 June, according to Department for Education (DfE) statistics.

These include approximately 747,000 children self-isolating due to a possible contact with a Covid-19 case, 35,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus and 39,000 with a confirmed case of Covid-19.

The latest figures come after education secretary Gavin Williamson announced last week that the use of “bubbles” in schools and colleges in England will come to an end as the country moves towards easing lockdown restrictions.

Updated at 4.26pm BST

3.38pm BST

WHO warns against ‘dangerous’ vaccine mixing, Thailand defends strategy

Thailand has defended mixing two different Covid-19 vaccines, after the WHO’s top scientist warned it was a “dangerous trend” not backed by evidence.

Authorities said they will mix a first dose of the Chinese-made Sinovac jab with a second dose of AstraZeneca to try to achieve a “booster” effect in six weeks instead of 12.

Thailand’s chief virologist Yong Poovorawan said this would be possible by combining an inactivated virus vaccine – Sinovac – with a viral vector vaccine such as AstraZeneca.

“We can’t wait 12 weeks [for a booster effect] in this outbreak where the disease is spreading fast,” he said. “But in the future, if there are better, improved vaccines … we will find a better way to manage the situation.”

His comments come a day after the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, called the strategy a “dangerous trend”, saying: “We are in a bit of a data-free, evidence-free zone as far as ‘mix-and-match’.”

Thailand has reported more than 353,700 coronavirus cases and 2,847 deaths – the bulk of them detected since the latest wave kicked off in April from an upscale Bangkok nightlife district.

Updated at 4.26pm BST

3.24pm BST

The company that owns Pepsi is to increase the prices of its products this year, it said, after it raised its full-year earnings forecast on surging demand for its sodas as economies reopen following lockdowns.

A host of factors, including disruptions in global supply chains and rising demand, has pushed up raw material prices, forcing packaged food companies such as PepsiCo and rival Coca-Cola Co to pass on costs to consumers, according to Reuters.

PepsiCo’s move to raise prices will also be used to offset higher advertising and marketing costs, which rose 30% in the quarter as the company looked to take advantage of a reopening US economy, chief financial officer Hugh Johnston told Reuters.

“Performance in the food service channels was very sudden after three-quarters of negative growth,” Johnston said. “It opened up very rapidly and there was a lot of desire for people to get out as they got vaccinated.”

In August, the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca banned the sale of sugary drinks and high-calorie snack foods to children – a measure aimed at curbing obesity, a key risk factor which seriously heightens the risk of death from Covid.

“It’s important to finally put the brakes on this industry, which has already sickened our country and our children,” said Magaly López Domínguez, the Oaxaca lawmaker who presented the bill. “This health emergency makes it even more evident the damage caused by the consumption of these sugary drinks.”

Updated at 4.28pm BST

3.15pm BST

Amid pressure from Pfizer, which faces scrutiny over a potential profit-motive behind their actions, the US is reviewing the need for a third Covid-19 booster shot among residents who have already been vaccinated but needs to see more data to know if additional shots could raise people’s risk of serious side-effects, a health official has said.

The US government has not made a decision on whether to administer booster shots to residents but sees a greater potential need for them among the elderly and other groups at high risk for severe infection, said Jay Butler, deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Updated at 4.30pm BST

3.00pm BST

A 24-hour livestreamed concert to benefit global recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic has been announced for 25 September.

Music stars including the Weeknd, Ed Sheeran and Billie Eilish are confirmed to perform at Global Citizen Live. Performances will take place across the world, from Central Park in New York to the Champ de Mars in Paris, as well as London, Los Angeles, Lagos, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Seoul.

The event aims to help to secure a series of pledges from governments and companies, including the donation of a billion doses of Covid vaccine, bn (£4.3bn) in famine relief and 0m for education programmes. The French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian prime minister Mario Draghi and speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi are among politicians supporting the campaign.

Updated at 4.30pm BST

2.50pm BST

Canada is to donate almost 18m doses of the AstraZeneca Covid jab to help inoculate people in less developed countries, after it obtained more than enough vaccines than it needed for its population.

International development minister Karina Gould and procurement minister Anita Anand said the doses were part of the government’s advance purchase agreement with the pharmaceutical company and would be distributed through the vaccine sharing programme Covax, CBC reports.

“This donation is a result of our proactive approach to securing hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccines in our initial contracts. With close to 55 million vaccines in Canada, and with the demands of the provinces and territories for this vaccine being met, we are now in a position to donate these excess doses,” Anand said, according to CBC.

Anand said 79% of eligible Canadians had received at least one dose of a vaccine and 55% were now fully vaccinated. She said the federal government is also holding a reserve of three millions doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, CBC reported.

It comes after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said that people who received a first dose of AstraZeneca should receive a mRNA vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose, Global News reported, due to rare cases of blood clots from the AZ jab.

CBC quoted opposition MP Garnett Genuis as saying the federal government should not be exporting vaccines that “it does not recommend for Canadians.”

The government needs to clarify how they view the AstraZeneca vaccine, whether they believe that it is as effective as other brands, and why they are choosing to transfer this brand as opposed to others.

It comes after the Canadian government committed to donating CA0 million to Covax.

Updated at 2.51pm BST

2.36pm BST

Bangladesh is to lift its nationwide lockdown for the country’s second-biggest religious festival, the government has said, even as new infections rise.

AFP has the story:

The cabinet said all restrictions would be eased in the Muslim-majority country of 169 million people from Thursday ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival which will be celebrated from 20-22 July this year.

The removal of the curbs would “normalise economic activities” ahead of the celebrations, it added. Tens of millions of people usually head back to their villages to mark Eid al-Adha with their families.

Bangladesh imposed its strictest-ever lockdown at the start of the month as new Covid-19 cases and deaths climbed to pandemic highs.

Under the lockdown, people were only allowed to leave home for emergencies and to buy essentials, with public transport, shops and offices shut.

Mohammad Shahidullah, who heads a health committee that advises the government on how to manage the pandemic, said his group of experts opposed the easing of the lockdown.

The death toll has risen above 16,600. But experts say the real figures could be much higher amid fears of underreporting.

2.28pm BST

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland will move to level 0 of her government’s five-tier system of Covid controls on 19 July, but with continued restrictions around physical distancing and numbers meeting both indoors and outdoors, and the wearing of face masks remaining mandatory “for some time to come”.

2.21pm BST

Philippine police have temporarily suspended a requirement for officers seeking promotion to meet body fat targets, after chiefs argued pandemic restrictions had made it difficult for officers to work out and lose weight.

AFP reports that rules introduced at the start of the pandemic by former police chief Debold Sinas – who has publicly acknowledged his own efforts to shed kilos through diet and exercise – made it compulsory for the 220,000 members of the force to work out daily and submit monthly body mass index (BMI) readings.

Officers seeking to rise up the ranks were blocked if they failed to meet BMI targets, said personnel head Major General Rolando Hinanay. A 2019 study showed almost 35% of personnel were overweight and nearly 10 percent obese.

In a memo to his recently appointed boss, police chief General Guillermo Eleazar, Hinanay called for the rule to be suspended. He argued Covid-19 restrictions had made it difficult for officers to work out and lose weight. “As a result, many personnel were disqualified for promotion,” Hinanay said.

Eleazar confirmed today he had approved the request. “Thousands of our personnel need sympathy and understanding as they go about their task enforcing minimum public health safety protocol 24 hours (a day) amid this pandemic,” said Eleazar. “But the suspension is only temporary and it will be enforced again once we start getting back to normal.”

Officers are supposed to have a BMI of between 18.5 and 27, depending on their age, to qualify for service. Generally a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a “healthy weight”.

A petition filed by disgruntled officers had argued the policy was “detrimental” and “a form of discrimination to personnel who are above normal BMI”.

1.59pm BST

The number of pupils absent from schools in England for Covid-related reasons is at its highest since schools fully reopened in March, with almost 840,000 children out of class last week, according to official government data.

1.47pm BST

Greece will require customers at indoor restaurants, bars and cafes to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the government has announced.

Under the new regulations, which will remain in force until next month, all customers at indoor bars and restaurants will have to be seated. Those dining outdoors will not require proof of vaccination or a test.

“It is crucial not to give the impression that we are losing control of the pandemic so that our tourism industry can go on and operate normally,” development minister Adonis Georgiadis said. “The course of Greece’s economy will hinge on how well we comply with the measures and control the pandemic.”

A government-launched application, “COVID FREE GR”, which can scan European digital vaccination certificates or the results of PCR or rapid tests, will be available to establishments to ensure compliance. Public and private sector employers will have the right to ask employees whether they have been vaccinated.

Health minister Vassilis Kikilias said nursing home staff will have until 16 August to obtain at least a first shot, a mandatory measure the prime minister announced yesterday. Those who refuse to comply will not be able to work and will not be paid.

Greece, population 11m, reported 2,065 new Covid-19 infections and 10 deaths yesterday, bringing the total number of infections since the first case was detected in February last year to 440,872 and the death toll to 12,802.

Updated at 5.36pm BST

1.37pm BST

Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that created one of the first Covid-19 vaccines to be approved, has been making a hard sell for emergency approval of boosters – additional doses given to those already vaccinated, especially immunocompromised adults.

But in private meetings with Pfizer yesterday, senior US officials said they needed more data – prompting the latest debate over how to curb a pandemic which has claimed more than 620,000 lives in the country. Last week, the US health department also rebuked Pfizer for pressing for a booster shot, and Anthony Fauci, Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, has said there isn’t enough evidence to support needing a third shot.

1.28pm BST

South Korea’s rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations to people aged 55-59 has come to a week-long halt after a spike in new cases sparked a rush for shots, booking up available supplies and crashing the official reservation website.

Reuters has the story:

The halt in vaccination appointments for people in the upper 50s age bracket came last night, the first day that inoculation bookings were opened to under-60s.

While South Korea is ahead of its schedule in vaccination targets, the pace has slowed sharply in recent weeks to around 30,000 doses a day from a peak of 850,000 earlier, as it finalises shipment schedules to begin Moderna Covid-19 inoculations for people in their 50s.

“Due to strong demand, 1.85 million Moderna doses were fully booked and reservations for those who couldn’t sign up will resume on July 19,” the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a statement. A total of around 3.52 million people in the 55-59 age group were eligible to sign up, leaving 1.67 million still to reserve shots.

Just about 11.6% of the country’s 52 million population has completed vaccination, including receiving both shots for products requiring two doses, while 30.4% have received one dose, according to government data.

Health authorities sought to reassure the public that enough vaccine supply will be secured in August for the 55-59 age group who could not book yesterday and for other people in their 50s, a KDCA official told a briefing. “We deeply apologise for failing to notify in advance of the possibility of early closure,” the official said.

The new cases brought South Korea’s total tally to 170,296, with 2,048 deaths, KDCA data showed.

1.17pm BST

Before the UK government urged ‘extreme caution’ around the lifting of restrictions on so-called ‘freedom day’, my colleague Shivani Dave spoke to Prof Stephen Reicher about how mixed messages surrounding restrictions can affect our behaviour.

1.07pm BST

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said it is analysing data on rare cases of a nerve disorder reported among recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, after the US added a warning label to the shot.

The “EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) is analysing data provided by (J&J) … on cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) reported following vaccination,” the European medicines regulator said in a statement to Reuters. “PRAC has requested (Johnson & Johnson) to provide further detailed data.”

The EMA scrutiny comes after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday added a warning for GBS to the fact sheet for J&J’s shot, and after the EMA four days ago included a warning for AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 shot for people to be on alert for potential side effects.

Around 12.8 million people have received J&J’s one-dose vaccine in the US, while J&J has distributed 18.6 million doses to EU countries, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

In its decision to add a warning label, the FDA said 100 preliminary reports of GBS included 95 serious cases that required hospitalisation and one reported death, Reuters reports.

The UK’s drug regulator said separately today it was also reviewing cases of GBS in vaccinated people, but that so far, “our review has not established that these vaccines increase the risk of GBS”. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is widely used in Britain, though J&J’s shot has yet to be deployed there.

GBS is a rare neurological condition in which the body’s immune system attacks nerve fibres’ protective coating. Most cases follow a bacterial or viral infection. Most people fully recover from GBS.

12.50pm BST

Here’s the latest on a Malaysian coronavirus vaccination centre which was temporarily closed today after more than 200 workers tested positive for Covid-19.

The hub in hard-hit Selangor state was forced to close after 204 staff and volunteers out of 453 there tested positive, said Khairy Jamaluddin, minister in charge of the inoculation drive.

Those infected had low “viral loads” and none had serious symptoms, possibly because most workers at the site in Shah Alam city had been vaccinated, he said. He added that 400 of the workers there had been inoculated, but he did not say which vaccine they had been given.

Malaysia is using the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Sinovac shots. “This is the first time we’ve had to shut down a [vaccination centre] because of positive cases, but we acted fast,” Khairy said, adding it would not hamper the overall programme.

The centre’s closure led to thousands of appointments being rescheduled, but it will re-open tomorrow after sanitisation, with new staff.

Health minister Adham Baba later told reporters nearly 700 new beds for virus patients had been added at hospitals in the capital, as well as in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan state, taking the total to over 5,000. He also announced an extra 1,200 medical staff would be hired and about 5,000 new volunteers brought in to help in the three hard-hit areas.

The country of almost 33 million people has so far reported more than 855,000 virus cases, and nearly 6,400 deaths. It has ramped up its jab drive by opening mass vaccination sites, and about 11% of the population are so far fully vaccinated while almost 25% have received a first dose.

Residents wear face masks receive bottles of drinking water from a delivery worker through the barbwire at the Segambut Dalam housing area which was placed under the enhanced movement control order.
Residents wear face masks receive bottles of drinking water from a delivery worker through the barbwire at the Segambut Dalam housing area which was placed under the enhanced movement control order.
Photograph: Wong Fok Loy/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

12.33pm BST

As greater Sydney prepares for its fourth week of lockdown, a multibillion-dollar Covid assistance package has been announced by the federal and New South Wales governments.

The NSW treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, said the package would provide support for “every worker, for every business, right across the state”.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said the package would serve as a template for other extended lockdowns, and it was in the “national interest” to get the support right.

12.16pm BST

Germany not planning to mandate jabs, like France, says Merkel

Staying in Germany, chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany is not planning to follow France and other countries in introducing compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations for parts of the population,

“We do not intend to go down this road,” Merkel said. “We are at the beginning of the phase in which we are still promoting [vaccination], where we have more vaccines than we have people who want to be vaccinated,” she said.

After a slow start to its vaccination campaign earlier this year, Germany sped up its drive over the summer and had by Tuesday fully vaccinated 42.6% of adults, with 58.5% vaccinated at least once. But demand has slowed over the past two weeks, with the number of jabs given yesterday at its lowest since February, AFP reports.

Wolfram Henn, a genetics specialist at Saarland University and a member of the German Ethics Council, which advises the government on its vaccination strategy, today called for jabs to be made compulsory for teachers.

But Merkel said she did not believe the German government could “gain trust” by following such a path. “I think we can gain trust by advertising vaccination and also by letting as many people as possible in the population (…) become ambassadors for the vaccine from their own experience,” she said.

In the UK, as elsewhere, vaccination has been recommended but not compelled even for healthcare workers, as my colleague Sarah Boseley notes, with many concerned that the jabs have not received full approval due to an absence of long-term data.

Bloomberg columnist Andreas Kluth, who himself got the jab as soon as possible, wrote recently that research suggests that vaccine mandates could send psychological signals that actually hinder overall compliance since people resent being manipulated.

12.02pm BST

German officials have said coronavirus measures should be maintained until more of the population has been vaccinated, and one called England’s plan to lift most restrictions despite the spread of the Delta variant “a highly risky experiment”.

England will become from 19 July the first part of the UK to lift the legal requirement to wear masks and for people to socially distance.

German economy minister Peter Altmaier said coronavirus restrictions were still necessary to avoid a further lockdown of the economy. “We would all be well advised to take the necessary safety measures,” he told Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper in an interview.

Alena Buyx, the head of the German Ethics Council, said compulsory vaccinations were not necessary in Germany. “We have much better vaccination rates among healthcare staff than France,” she told broadcaster ZDF. “I believe that we do not need to consider this.”

But Reuters reports that she added that restrictions should not be eased as long as not even half the population is fully vaccinated, describing England’s move to lift nearly all remaining coronavirus restrictions as a “highly risky experiment”.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said yesterday that coronavirus restrictions had been lifted too soon in the Netherlands, which borders Germany, and he apologised as infections surged to their highest levels of the year.

11.51am BST

More than 20,000 French people a minute booked vaccine appointments in the hours after Emmanuel Macron announced that cafés, restaurants, shopping malls and trains would be out of bounds for unvaccinated customers from next month.

11.44am BST

India’s Covid vaccination rollout has continued to falter due to supply shortages and vaccine hesitancy, casting doubt on the government’s pledge to vaccinate the entire population by December.

A number of states, including the capital, Delhi, said they had run out of vaccine stocks this week while others including Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra said vaccine supplies were running critically low in many areas, particularly for those aged between 18 and 45.

Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister of Delhi, tweeted that “vaccines have run out in Delhi again. The central government gives vaccines for a day or two, then we have to keep the vaccine centres closed for several days.”

The central government has disputed the claims of shortages and said all states were informed weeks in advance how many vaccines would be sent to them each month.

11.33am BST

In the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Australia was lauded by news outlets around the world as a model of how to handle the virus. The country recorded few cases and when there were outbreaks, authorities brought them under control.

A year later, Australia’s management of the pandemic is hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

“One day a rooster, the next a feather duster”, the Financial Times wrote in an editorial lamenting the glacial pace of the country’s vaccine rollout.

“Sydney in lockdown, borders shut and hardly anyone vaccinated. How long can Australia go on like this?” CNN said. The network has also reported on the backlash to Sydney’s graphic vaccine ad, which depicts a young woman – she looks younger than 40, the age limit to be eligible for a vaccine – gasping for air, alone in hospital.

Meanwhile, my colleague Calla Wahlquist reports that concerns about the spread of the Delta variant in apartment buildings has prompted a hard lockdown of two residential complexes in Sydney and Melbourne.

An apartment building in Bondi Junction in Sydney’s east remains under police guard after eight cases of Covid were detected across five of the 29 apartments, while residents of an apartment building in Maribyrnong in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs have been ordered to isolate after a removalist with Covid worked there last week.

11.22am BST

Iraq Covid hospital fire death toll at least 66

The death toll in a fire that spread through a coronavirus hospital in southern Iraq rose to 66, health officials have said, as an angry crowd blaming local authorities for negligence gathered near the city’s morgue.

Reuters reports that more than 100 others were injured in last night’s fire in the city of Nassiriya, which an initial investigation showed began when sparks from faulty wiring spread to an oxygen tank that then exploded, local police and civil defence authorities said.

In April, a similar explosion at Baghdad Covid-19 hospital killed at least 82 and injured 110. The head of Iraq’s semi-official Human Rights Commission said the blast showed how ineffective safety measures in a health system crippled by war and sanctions still were.

“To have such a tragic incident repeated few months later means that still no [sufficient] measures have been taken to prevent them,” Ali Bayati said.

Anger spread among people gathered at Nassiriya’s morgue as they waited to receive relatives’ bodies. “No quick response to the fire, not enough firefighters. Sick people burned to death. It’s a disaster,” said Mohammed Fadhil, who was waiting there to receive his bother’s body.

Two health officials said the dead from the fire included 21 charred bodies that were still unidentified, according to Reuters. The blaze trapped many patients inside the hospital’s coronavirus ward, who rescue teams struggled to reach, a health worker said before entering the burning building.

Prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi had ordered the suspension and arrest of health and civil defence managers in Nassiriya, as well as the al-Hussain hospital’s manager, his office said.

People gather near a firefighting truck as a massive fire engulfs the coronavirus isolation ward of Al-Hussein hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, late on 12 July.
People gather near a firefighting truck as a massive fire engulfs the coronavirus isolation ward of Al-Hussein hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, late on 12 July.
Photograph: Asaad Niazi/AFP/Getty Images

Hello and greetings to everyone reading, wherever you are the in the world. Mattha Busby here to take you through the next few hours of global Covid developments. Thanks to my colleague Martin Belam for covering the blog up until now. Please feel free to drop me a line on Twitter or message me via email (mattha.busby.freelance@guardian.co.uk) with any tips or thoughts on our coverage.

Updated at 11.28am BST

11.13am BST

That Germany would eventually this year reach a point where supply of vaccines would outstrip demand has long been anticipated by scientists and politicians. That this point would be reached in July is coming as a surprise to many.

Several vaccination centres across Germany have in recent days voiced concern that they are running below capacity, with spare appointments going unbooked. “The last time we administered as few first doses of vaccine as yesterday was in February”, health minister Jens Spahn tweeted on Monday. “But unlike in February there’s plenty of vaccines around now”.

France’s decision to make the jab mandatory for care workers is being followed with intense interest, but the independent German Ethics Council that advises the federal government is split on the issue.

Geneticist and council member Wolfram Henn called for compulsory vaccinations for nursery workers and teachers, telling Rheinische Post newspaper that “those who decide out of free choice to work with a group of vulnerable people carry a special responsibility in their field of work”.

But Ethics Council chair Alena Buyx advised against following the French precedent, saying the rates of vaccinations in comparative fields of work were much higher in Germany.

Several German municipalities are working to increase the incentives to get the jab instead: in the populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia, authorities are from this week starting to offer drop-in vaccinations on shopping miles, at sports venues and inside shopping centres. From 16 to 18 July people in Cologne can be vaccinated without appointment outside the city’s historic cathedral.

Economist Nora Szech, of the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, has proposed upping incentives even further by offering a €500 reward for people to get their shot of vaccine. Those who had already been vaccinated would need to be compensated retrospectively, she added: “That way, we will get to 90%”.

Roughly 43% of the entire German population is fully vaccinated as of this Tuesday; 58.7% have had at least one shot. In view of the transmissibility of the Delta variant, Germany’s disease control agency has proposed a target vaccination rate of 85%.

11.01am BST

  • Russia has recorded 780 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as registering 24,702 new cases nationwide.
  • A vaccination centre in Malaysia was ordered to close for sanitisation after more than 200 volunteers and workers there tested positive over the weekend, the country’s science minister said.
  • South Korea reported 1,150 new coronavirus cases for Monday, the day it implemented the toughest curbs it can apply on residents and business activity in Seoul as the country battles its worst-ever outbreak.
  • At least 50 people have died after a fire tore through the Covid isolation ward at a hospital in city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. The death toll is expected to rise, as search operations at al-Hussain coronavirus hospital continued after the fire was brought under control. Sixteen people were rescued from the burning building.
  • Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed and appealed for the scarce shots to be shared with poor countries who have yet to immunise their people instead of being used by rich countries as boosters.
  • The number of Delta variant Covid cases in Turkey has risen to 750 from 284 seven days ago and overall cases climbed 20% at the weekend compared with a week earlier.
  • France’s health minister Olivier Veran said “The virus is doubling every five days.”
  • First minister Nicola Sturgeon will announce to the Scottish parliament at 2pm whether Scotland will drop to Covid precautions level 0 next week.
  • The decision to lift England’s remaining Covid restrictions next Monday – even as cases of the Delta variant surge around the country – is expected to turbocharge the epidemic and push the nation into what one leading scientist called “uncharted territory” in terms of the numbers of people left suffering from long Covid.
  • South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said that days of protests, looting and riots in the country led to the cancellation of coronavirus vaccination efforts in some parts of the country and could lead to further disruption of the programme just when the country was picking up the pace to inoculate its citizens.
  • Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said that a sufficient number of hospitals combined with a speed-up in the vaccination rollout among the elderly meant the city will be able to hold “safe and secure” Olympics in 10 days.
  • Australia will donate 1.5m doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine to Vietnam soon, the Southeast Asian country said in a statement.
  • A Western Australian man has been jailed for at least two months for booking tradespeople to work on his house while he was supposed to be quarantining after returning from interstate.

That’s it from me today. Andrew Sparrow has our UK live blog. Mattha Busby will be here shortly to carry on with the latest coronavirus developments from around the world.

10.46am BST

AFP have a look this morning at one of the stranger Covid regulations to come into effect around the globe – South Korea’s decision to limit what can be played in gyms based on the tempo of the songs.

The regulations, aimed at stopping gym-goers breathing too hard or splashing sweat on others, ban gyms from playing music with a faster tempo than 120 beats per minute during group exercises like zumba and spinning.

The musical diktat has prompted ridicule and fury, and a list of “safe” K-pop songs is circulating online. One social media users said “I guess the virus spreads faster depending on the tempo of the music.”

South Korean infection rates remain low by global standards at little more than 1,000 a day, but are at their highest of the pandemic, with new records set on three consecutive days recently. That has alarmed authorities in a country where the vaccine rollout has been slow and convoluted, hampered by a failure to obtain supplies.

10.34am BST

Australian man jailed for two months for breaching Covid self-quarantine orders

A Western Australian man has been jailed for at least two months for booking tradespeople to work on his house while he was supposed to be quarantining after returning from interstate.

The 53-year-old man arrived in Perth from Brisbane on 27 June. He was ordered to quarantine for 14 days and said he would quarantine at his home in Scarborough.

In addition to tradespeople, the man also invited members of the public to his home to buy items he had been selling on an online platform.

Police were alerted after the man told someone visiting his home that he was under Covid self-quarantine orders.

“Subsequent to entering self-quarantine the man had tradespeople conducting work and members of the public attend his address to buy items that were listed for sale online,” WA police said.

“A complaint was made to police after the man disclosed to a person attending his address that he was under self-quarantine,” police said.

10.31am BST

The number of Delta variant Covid cases in Turkey has risen to 750 from 284 seven days ago and overall cases climbed 20% at the weekend compared with a week earlier, health minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Reuters reminds us that Turkey eased most coronavirus-related restrictions on 1 July after daily cases tumbled from a peak above 60,000 in April to about 5,000, but Koca said latest figures pointed to a rise.

“These increases have emerged more in places where the level of inoculations is low,” Koca told reporters after a cabinet meeting, noting rising cases in provinces of south-east Turkey.

He called on people to get vaccinated and said that about 61% of the adult population had received at least one dose of vaccine. He has set a target level of 70% by the time of the Eid al-Adha holiday next week. The ministry was not proposing new restrictions.

Updated at 10.42am BST

9.42am BST

Russia sets new record daily toll of 780 Covid deaths

Gleb Stolyarov reports for Reuters that Russia has recorded 780 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as 24,702 new cases nationwide.

Russia is in the grips of a surge in cases that authorities have blamed on the contagious Delta variant and the slow rate of vaccinations. Moscow, where the mayor has said the situation is beginning to stabilise, reported 4,991 new Covid cases.

Updated at 10.42am BST

9.29am BST

Andrew Sparrow has launched our UK live blog for the day. He’ll be following the latest Covid and political developments there.

I’ll be continuing here with the latest global coronavirus developments.

9.19am BST

Reuters report that official figures showed that China administered around 9m doses of vaccine on 12 July, taking the total to 1.391bn doses.

9.15am BST

British Land, owner of shopping centres including Sheffield’s Meadowhall and Broadgate in London, said trading at its out-of-town retail parks was almost back at pre-pandemic levels, as rent collection improved across its portfolio.

The company, one of Britain’s biggest commercial property owners, is betting on open-air retail parks that are accessible by car to lead the recovery, as Covid lockdown measures are eased.

Footfall and sales at its retail parks were at 96% and 99% of pre-pandemic levels between 17 May and 3 July. At covered shopping malls, footfall and sales were 75% and 89% of 2019 levels.

Read more of Julia Kollewe’s report here: Shopping at retail parks near pre-Covid levels, says British Land

9.14am BST

Australia to donate 1.5m doses of AstraZeneca shot to Vietnam

Australia will donate 1.5m doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine to Vietnam soon, the Southeast Asian country said in a statement on Tuesday.

The donation of the Australia made vaccines and Am (£21m) to help procure vaccines followed a meeting between Vietnam’s deputy minister Pham Binh Minh and Australian minister for trade, tourism and investment Dan Tehan.

The Vietnamese government also said on Tuesday it would receive an additional batch of one million AstraZeneca doses from Japan on July.

Reuters report that vietnam’s domestic inoculation programme, which started in March, has so far relied heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine and authorities have faced calls for a faster rollout.

Only around 3.8m people have received one vaccine dose up to now, while 280,367 have been fully vaccinated in the country of 98m people, according to official data.

9.06am BST

Prof Calum Semple, a member of Sage, said the “winter bump” will be a mixture of Covid and all the other “respiratory viruses that we didn’t experience in the last year or so”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “That’s why I’m saying, ‘we’re going to have a miserable winter, I’m sorry, we’re going to have a rough winter’.”

PA media report that asked whether restrictions would come back, he said: “Possibly, and it may just be about reinforcing some common sense. It may be bringing back some mask-wearing in certain environments, but I don’t foresee the lockdowns or the school suspensions that we’ve seen.”

He also said there were some older people in hospital where the vaccine “just can’t help” them “because they’re older, and the immune system doesn’t protect them”.

Prof Semple said he felt the biggest unlocking was 17 May, later saying it was “quite realistic” that there could be up to 2,000 hospital admissions per day.

He added: “My big message to people now is ‘sure we’ve weakened the link between community cases and hospital cases, but that link is not broken and it’s the people that are not vaccinated that are still coming to harm’.”

8.46am BST

Professor of public health at Edinburgh University Linda Bauld told BBC radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme this morning ahead of Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement on whether restrictions will be eased: “What I’m expecting to hear from the information I have that’s publicly available, is we will proceed to Level 0 on 19 July.”

The only business sectors that remain closed under Level 0 are nightclubs and adult entertainment, but there are still some restrictions in place on the numbers of people from mixed households allowed to meet up. The full details are here.

PA media report Prof Bauld going on to say:

The situation, although still fragile, does seem to be showing some signs of being certainly sustainable, as in we’re able to cope with it. We may well be past the peak… I’m hoping what we’re seeing is a consistent trend.

What the Scottish government will want to avoid is what is happening in Europe now. The Netherlands has seen an over 700% increase in cases. They’ve had to close nightclubs again, put restrictions on bars and restaurants, they’ve had to cancel mass events.

I think the Scottish Government will want to continue to move forward, but Level 0 is not a huge jump, it’s a relatively modest jump to the next stage.

8.43am BST

Sage expert: unless mandated, face masks ‘probably won’t do any good’

An interesting contribution to the face mask “debate” in England this morning from Sage member Prof Graham Medley who says wearing face masks ‘probably won’t do any good’ unless everybody is doing it.

PA media report he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

I personally will wear a mask to protect other people. I think it’s quite a reasonable thing to do; it doesn’t have a huge imposition in terms of economic impact or in terms of freedom, and I think there is evidence to suggest it does good, but only if everybody does it.

So I think that, without the mandation, then we end up with a situation where even if the majority of people, let’s say 70% of people wear a mask, will that actually do any good because of the 30% who don’t? I think that is something which still needs to be determined and discussed.

I understand the government’s reluctance to actually mandate it. On the other hand, if it’s not mandated it probably won’t do any good.

8.31am BST

A vaccination centre in Malaysia was ordered to close for sanitisation on Tuesday after more than 200 volunteers and workers there tested positive over the weekend, the country’s science minister said.

Those inoculated from 9-12 July at the centre, about 15.5 miles (25km) outside Kuala Lumpur, are advised to self-isolate for 10 days, minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters.

The facility has a capacity of about 3,000 doses daily. Of the 453 workers and volunteers screened, 204 tested positive, Khairy said.

Rozanna Latiff reports for Reuters that the incident comes as Malaysia struggles to contain its biggest outbreak yet, with record deaths and cases amid a ramping up of its vaccination programme and stricter lockdown measures over the past month.

The centre will resume vaccinations on Wednesday after sanitisation and a change in staffing, Khairy added.

Updated at 8.40am BST

8.20am BST

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said on Tuesday that a sufficient number of hospitals combined with a speed-up in the vaccination rollout among the elderly meant the city will be able to hold “safe and secure” Olympics in 10 days.

But Koike, speaking to Reuters in an interview at the Tokyo government headquarters, which has for the last few weeks doubled as a vaccination site, also warned that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over and the spreading Delta variant remains a risk.

“Very many people will be vaccinated in the coming 10 days and during the Olympics. The biggest change as a result of that will be a substantive fall in the ratio of deaths and severe cases among the elderly,” Koike said.

“Because of that, and because the medical system is ready, I think we can press ahead with a safe Olympics,” said Koike, who has returned to work after a brief break due to fatigue during which she was admitted to hospital.

The Japanese capital entered its fourth state of emergency on Monday causing bars and restaurants to close early, amid a rebound in Covid-19 cases that also pushed the Games organisers last week to ban spectators from nearly all venues.

Spectators from abroad were already banned months ago, and officials are now asking residents to watch the Games on TV to keep the movement of people to a minimum.

“It’s very sad that the Games are being held without spectators,” said Koike. “It’s clear we’ll be able to lower the risks (because of that), but the spectators are also very important for the athletes and give them a big boost. It’s a big shame that we have to hold the Olympics without them.”

Updated at 8.40am BST

8.07am BST

Politico’s London Playbook email has this nugget this morning on what it says is the thinking of some more cautions Conservative MPs on the backbenches of parliament in the UK:

Playbook has detected increasing unease in the Tory Party over the decision to choose now as the time to ditch legal enforcement of Covid measures. One Tory MP said that, given how bad the projected case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths are, Downing Street would lose nothing by staying at Step 3 – which has most restrictions eased anyway – but keeping the legal requirements on masks and other social distancing measures.

They argued it makes “no sense” to open nightclubs while cases are at 30,000 per day and young people aren’t double vaccinated, suggesting the appetite for clubbing will be pretty low. They accepted that a new lockdown was not wanted or justified, but proposed a “slightly less unhappy medium” – keeping Step 3 in place for another month or so until every adult has the chance to be fully vaccinated.

With one-in-three adults still not double jabbed – and that third predominately younger people – the government risks alienating millions of younger voters by creating the impression it doesn’t care if they get Covid, the MP said.

Updated at 8.41am BST

8.04am BST

In England, we seem to be back at this stage of government advice about the pandemic.

8.03am BST

Covid infections ‘doubling every five days’ in France – health minister Veran

A very quick Reuters snap here that this morning on BFM TV, France’s health minister Olivier Veran said “The Virus is doubling every five days.”

The statement comes a day after president Emmanuel Macron announced a mandatory vaccination order for health workers.

7.53am BST

Our video team have this report just gone up on the dozens of people who have been killed, with scores more injured, in a fire probably caused by an oxygen tank explosion at a coronavirus hospital in Iraq’s southern city of Nassiriya.

One health worker told Reuters that many patients were trapped in the coronavirus ward, with rescue crews struggling to reach them. The hospital fire was a further blow to Iraq’s healthcare system, already struggling with an influx of patients and short supplies in the midst of the global health crisis.

7.48am BST

Thailand has given the go-ahead for home isolation of coronavirus patients with mild symptoms and use of home self-test kits, as a coronavirus outbreak continues to puts pressure on its capital’s healthcare and testing capacity.

The rapid antigen test kits, the approval of which was announced in the official Royal Gazette on Tuesday, should be available in stores next week.
A Food and Drug Administration official said efforts were being made to keep the price of the kits, which are less accurate than RT-PCR tests, at around 100 baht (£2.20).

Reuters report that authorities also approved home and community isolation for asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic coronavirus cases, as daily infections of more than 9,000 stretch resources.

The outbreak was initially fueled by the Alpha variant but 57% of recent cases in Bangkok have been the highly contagious Delta variant, officials say. Thailand has also reported seven cases of suspected mixed infection with the two variants at a Bangkok construction site.

7.46am BST

Bank of England lifts Covid restrictions on banks’ shareholder payouts

The Bank of England has lifted all Covid restrictions on dividends at the UK’s largest lenders, paving the way for a boom in payouts even as the pandemic continues.

Officials said banks were strong enough to weather the remainder of the Covid pandemic, and that interim results from the upcoming stress tests – due in December – showed the banking sector “remains resilient” despite continued uncertainty. “Extraordinary guardrails on shareholder distributions are no longer necessary,” the financial policy committee said.

The announcement will be welcomed by shareholders, who have had their payouts curbed for 16 months.

The regulator forced lenders to scrap roughly £8bn worth of dividends as well as share buybacks in March 2020 in the hope of giving banks an additional cushion to weather an economic downturn sparked by the Covid crisis.

Read more of Kalyeena Makortoff’s report here: Bank of England lifts Covid restrictions on banks’ shareholder payouts

7.42am BST

‘Mixed advice’ driving Covid vaccine hesitancy in pregnant UK women

Pregnant women are being given dangerously mixed messaging from health professionals, with figures suggesting a “very high” vaccine hesitancy among the vulnerable group, according to campaigners.

Three-quarters of pregnant women in the UK feel anxious about the easing of coronavirus restrictions with many saying the move is like “another lockdown” for expectant mothers, according to a survey of about 9,000 pregnant women by campaigning group Pregnant Then Screwed.

Its founder, Joeli Brearley, who will give evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on new parents to the parliamentary petitions select committee on Wednesday, said pregnant women were the only vulnerable group not to have been prioritised for the vaccine, and misinformation had “spread like wildfire” with many women refusing to be vaccinated as a result. The survey found that 40% have not had a single dose and only 21% have had two doses.

“The idea of ‘freedom day’ is a complete nonsense for hundreds of thousands of pregnant women,” said Brearley. “As people cast off their masks in wild abandon, the majority of pregnant women are being forced into a lockdown of their own.”

The group said it had been inundated with stories of negative messaging given to pregnant women from healthcare professionals.

Read more of Alexandra Topping’s report: ‘Mixed advice’ driving Covid vaccine hesitancy in pregnant UK women

7.37am BST

Talking of case numbers in the UK, the latest data on the government’s own dashboard is that in the last seven days:

  • There have been 228,189 new cases, a week-on-week rise of 28%
  • There have been 200 death, a week-on-week rise of 56%
  • 3,081 people have been admitted to hospital, a week-on-week rise of 56%

As ever, depending on where you stand on the lifting of restrictions, it is likely you will either have an eye on cases or hospitalisations as the one true key metric.

7.35am BST

In the UK it is chief secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay who has been wheeled out today for the media round. Given his brief, he has already stressed the need for businesses to “fire up” as he argued it is a good time to ease coronavirus restrictions, indicating that the government are firmly thinking of the economy rather than caution.

PA report the minister told Sky News: “There’s no perfect time to do this. What we’ve done is deploy the vaccine – an extra seven million – opening when the schools are shut is seen as the optimum time to do so.

“It’s about getting that balance right, people reaching their own judgments, being sensible, following the guidance.

“But we also need to get back to normal, businesses need to fire up, we need to get the economy going, and those are important as well because there are consequences to not doing that, both economically and in terms of people’s health.”

Also worth noting that he began to add some doubt on the government’s previous bullish announcements that any lifting of restrictions in England was irreversible, saying “one never knows” if changes might have to be made again in the future.

As I’ve noted previously in this blog, there’s a school of thought that one of the reasons for dropping the face mask mandate in England from 19 July is that it would be one of the easiest levers for the UK government to reach for if cases numbers continue to rise. “As we promised, we aren’t going back into lockdown but you need to put your masks on once everybody goes back to school for extra protection” is a very plausible future message.

7.29am BST

Anne Davies brings us this analysis today of the increasingly difficult position that New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian finds her government in as they try to get to grips with the latest outbreak in Australia:

Only essential workers can leave their homes in greater Sydney to attend work. The rest of us are to remain indoors except for the four reasons to leave, including getting essential supplies.

On Tuesday the rules got tougher for some essential workers. Those living in the Fairfield LGA now should not go to work except “if really essential”. They must have a Covid test every three days. They should carry proof of those tests with them. Presumably the NSW police will be checking.

Other essential workers who live elsewhere and who are travelling outside greater Sydney should get a test every week. That’s after a removalist who later found out he had Covid travelled to Victoria and South Australia. Presumably that means truck-drivers and tradies.

But in a stunning commitment to ideology, the NSW is still stubbornly refusing to define an essential worker – even though there are now likely to be fines associated with breaches.

“To try and define essential work is really very challenging,” said health minister Brad Hazzard. “An employer and their employee would know whether the worker is really essential.”

Asked what an essential worker was, the chief medical officer, Kerry Chant, nominated health workers and aged care but many more are attending work in retail and hospitality venues.

While the Victorian government was prepared to say what it regarded as “essential providers” of services and essential workers, NSW has left a vacuum, with the result that NSW continues to see relatively high numbers of people who are out in the community while infectious.

Read more of Anne Davies’ analysis here: Words fail Berejiklian government as ‘essential’ NSW workers remain a mystery

7.17am BST

I worry that if you are reading this blog from outside of England today, some of the political discourse is going to appear very strange indeed following the events that surrounded England’s doomed appearance in the Euro 2020 final at the weekend.

7.14am BST

By the way always worth reminding ourselves that the announcements by prime minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Sajid Javid mostly only apply yo England. For the other nations in the UK:

First minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to make an announcement today at 2pm on whether Scotland is still on track to lift its restrictions.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said the Welsh government will be reviewing the situation on Wednesday.

Northern Ireland plans to further lift some restrictions on 26 July.

7.09am BST

Delta surge in UK ‘could leave hundreds of thousands with long Covid’

The decision to lift England’s remaining Covid restrictions next Monday – even as cases of the Delta variant surge around the country – is expected to turbocharge the epidemic and push the nation into what one leading scientist called “uncharted territory” in terms of the numbers of people left suffering from long Covid.

Ministers have been told to expect at least one to two million coronavirus infections in the coming weeks. And while the mass rollout of vaccines – which started with elderly and vulnerable people – will dramatically reduce the proportion who are hospitalised and die, the wave may leave hundreds of thousands of younger people with long-term health problems, researchers have said.

Also known as post-Covid syndrome, long Covid describes more than a dozen symptoms that can endure for months after testing positive for the virus. Many patients experience debilitating fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pains, sleeping difficulties and problems with memory and concentration, often referred to as “brain fog”.

Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College, says evidence from multiple countries now suggests that a significant number of people who get Covid – whether they know they are infected or not – are at risk of developing longer-term illness.

“From every version of Covid we’ve ever seen on the planet, we’ve got a rule of thumb that any case of Covid, whether it’s asymptomatic, mild, severe, or hospitalised, incurs a 10 to 20% risk of developing long Covid, and we haven’t seen any exceptions to that,” he said.

Read more from our science editor Ian Sample: Delta surge ‘could leave hundreds of thousands with long Covid’

7.05am BST

Good morning, it is Martin Belam here taking over this leg of the blog in London from my colleague Helen Sullivan. The chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has emphasised “caution is vital” ahead of England’s expected final relaxing of pandemic measures on 19 July.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard said the academy did not generally involve itself in public debate, but “we felt it necessary to say caution is vital”.

“We need everyone to think very carefully and responsibly about what they’re doing personally: Just because the law changes doesn’t mean that what we do as individuals has to change,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme.

“We are strongly encouraging everyone to continue to wear masks in crowded places, keep windows open and use the good weather to ensure good ventilation, and keep washing hands.

PA media report that the GP said the academy felt the standard of hygiene and personal protection needed to be even higher in hospital and social care settings.

“We want everyone to know if you come into a health and care setting you will be asked to wear a mask.”

Prof Stokes-Lampard added that vigilance was required to minimise the current surge in Covid-19 infections, saying: “Just because the law has changed, behaviour does not have to.”

7.00am BST

Germany to re-evaluate basing restrictions on case numbers

With Covid cases again on the rise, German officials said on Monday said that authorities need a “broader focus” beyond the country’s infection rate to fully gauge the impact the pandemic is having on the health system and the kind of measures that should be taken.

AP: For much of the past year the incidence rate — how many cases are confirmed per 100,000 people each week — has been key to the government’s decisions over what restrictive measures to impose.

The relevance of that figure is increasingly being called into question by those who argue that a sharp rise in new cases — already seen in other European countries such as Britain and the Netherlands — doesn’t necessarily mean many more seriously ill patients.

“Because the at-risk groups are vaccinated, a high incidence doesn’t automatically mean an equally high burden on intensive care beds,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Twitter. “The incidence is increasingly losing significance, we now need more detailed information on the situation in clinics.”

His ministry said that as of Tuesday, hospitals will need to transmit more data on their Covid patients, including names, the type of treatment and their vaccination status.

The government says 58.5% of the population have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 42.6% are fully vaccinated. The number of shots administered daily has dipped slightly in recent days, raising concerns that “vaccine lethargy”.

Germany’s disease control agency said last week that the country should aim to vaccinate 85% of people ages 12-59 and 90% of people over 60 to prevent the delta variant causing a strong resurgence of coronavirus cases this autumn and winter.

6.46am BST

South Korea cases top 1,000 for seventh day

South Korea reported 1,150 new coronavirus cases for Monday, the day it implemented the toughest curbs it can apply on residents and business activity in Seoul as the country battles its worst-ever outbreak, spurred by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) on Tuesday showed the daily tally topped 1,000 for a seventh consecutive day, though it was below last week’s peak at 1,378.

The latest clusters have seen far fewer serious infections than earlier ones, with many older and more vulnerable South Koreans now vaccinated against the virus. The new cases brought South Korea’s total tally to 170,296, with 2,048 deaths, KDCA data showed.

A man walks on a nearly empty street amid tightened social distancing rules in Seoul, South Korea.
A man walks on a nearly empty street amid tightened social distancing rules in Seoul, South Korea.
Photograph: Heo Ran/Reuters

A mass testing system has helped the country suffer lower Covid death rates than other developed countries so far without severe lockdowns.

But the new wave of infections prompted the government to impose the toughest restrictions yet in capital Seoul and neighbouring areas starting Monday, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people after 6pm.

About 11.6% of the country’s 52 million population has completed vaccination, including receiving both shots for products requiring two doses, while 30.4% have received one dose, according to the KDCA.

Updated at 7.00am BST

6.06am BST

WHO appeals for rich countries to donate vaccines rather than using boosters

Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed, the Associated Press reports, as they appealed Monday for the scarce shots to be shared with poor countries who have yet to immunise their people instead of being used by rich countries as boosters.

At a press briefing, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world’s grotesque vaccine disparity was driven by “greed” as he called on drugmakers to prioritize supplying their Covid-19 vaccines to poor countries instead of lobbying rich countries to use even more doses. His plea comes just as pharmaceutical companies are seeking authorization for third doses to be used as boosters in some Western countries, including the US.

“We are making conscious choices right now not to protect those in need,” Tedros said, adding the immediate priority must be to vaccinate people who have yet to receive a single dose.

He called on Pfizer and Moderna to “go all out to supply Covax, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and low and middle-income countries with very little coverage,” referring to the UN-backed initiative to distribute vaccines globally.

After a 10-week drop in global coronavirus deaths, Tedros said the number of Covid patients dying daily is again beginning to climb and that the extremely infectious delta variant is “driving catastrophic waves of cases.”

Both Pfizer and Moderna have agreed to supply small amounts of their vaccines to Covax, but the vast majority of their doses have been reserved by rich countries.

The UN-backed effort has faltered badly in recent months, with nearly 60 poor countries stalled in their vaccination efforts and their biggest vaccine supplier unable to share any doses until the end of the year.

Updated at 6.39am BST

5.59am BST

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed and appealed Monday for the scarce shots to be shared with poor countries who have yet to immunise their people instead of being used by rich countries as boosters.

More on that story shortly. In the meantime, here are the other key recent developments:

  • France will not allow health workers to go to work and will not pay them if they are not vaccinated against Covid-19 by September 15, the health minister Olivier Veran said.
  • Indonesia reported its highest daily number of infections on Monday, with 40,427 cases logged, data from the country’s Covid-19 task force showed.
  • South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said that days of protests, looting and riots in the country led to the cancellation of coronavirus vaccination efforts in some parts of the country and could lead to further disruption of the programme just when the country was picking up the pace to inoculate its citizens.
  • Vietnam has reported another new record in daily coronavirus infections, with 2,367 cases, its health ministry said.
  • The reopening of schools cannot wait for all pupils and teachers to be vaccinated, or for the number of Covid cases to be reduced to zero, the chiefs of Unicef and Unesco have said in a joint statement.
  • Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte apologised for relaxing coronavirus restrictions too soon as cases surge in the wake of reopening.
  • The number of people who did not have enough food to eat rose steeply during the pandemic to include almost a third of the world, according to a new UN report published on Monday.
  • Valencia’s regional government has succeeded in obtaining a court order to authorise lockdowns in more than 30 towns in eastern Spain as cases surge among unvaccinated young people.
  • Healthcare workers and nursing home staff in Greece will be required to be vaccinated against Covid, prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said as infections rapidly soar again after a sustained decline.

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