UK Covid Latest: Coronavirus cases rise to 24,248 with 15 more deaths in UK as Boris remains set on Freedom Day

COVID cases have rocketed by 161% today latest data shows, however it's good news as deaths remain low.

The Government also expects to receive the results of the taskforce reviews into the use of so-called vaccine passports and the future of social distancing to be made available this week, the Sunday Express reported.

Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said the data was "looking good" for Covid rules to be rolled back after 'Freedom Day'.

He told Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday: "Like many people, I want to get away from these restrictions as quickly as I possibly can and we don't want them to stay in place for a day longer than is necessary.

Read our Coronavirus blog below for the latest news and updates...

  • Harvey Lindsay

    DELTA VARIANT

    A total of 161,981 confirmed and probable cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant have now been identified in the UK, according to the latest figures from Public Health England – up by 50,824, or 46%, on the previous week.

    Of the 161,981 cases, 148,538 have been in England, 10,185 in Scotland, 1,749 in Wales and 1,509 in Northern Ireland.

    The Delta variant continues to account for approximately 95% of confirmed cases of coronavirus across the UK.

  • Harvey Lindsay

    PUPILS COULD BE FORCED TO WEAR MASKS AGAIN AS UNIONS CALL FOR RETURN

    Pupils could be forced to wear face masks in class AGAIN after calls from the UK’s largest education union for face coverings to be reimplemented from September.

    Abandoning face coverings in education centres should “absolutely” be reconsidered when kids return for the new school year if Covid infections remain high, the National Education Union said.

    Unions want the government to implement a number of measures in exchange for their support – such as face masks, better ventilation, and twice-weekly tests by public health officials to limit the spread in schools of the Delta variant.

    Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the NEU, also wants ministers to scrap the “madness” of the bubble system that sends whole classes into isolation if one student tests positive, the Telegraph reports.

    The bubble system is proving a big headache for teachers and parents who are relentlessly left scrambling on short notice.

  • Harvey Lindsay

    WHEN DOES THE FURLOUGH SCHEME END AND WHAT ARE THE CHANGES?

    The furlough scheme is set to end in September and this date hasn't been extended despite delays to restrictions easing.

    The coronavirus job support scheme will continue to run for another two months, as it supports people's wages during the pandemic.

    Originally the scheme was only supposed to run until March this year but plans to extend it until September were outlined in the Budget a few months ago.

    The furlough scheme pays workers 80% of wages for hours not worked, up to £2,500 a month, supporting millions of workers during the pandemic.

    However, support has already started to wind down, even though "freedom day" has been postponed to July 19.

    Companies are now expected to start chipping in for the cost of paying furloughed workers.

    The delay to freedom day is due to covid rates increasing across the country and more cases of the delta variant being reported.

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    SIX FREEDOMS SET TO RETURN ON JULY 19 (Continued…)

    NO NEED TO ISOLATE

    Among the Freedom Day plans expected to be signed off by the Cabinet include those who have received both doses of a Covid jab not being required to self-isolate when they come into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus.

    Tests will still be available for those who wish to have one.

    Currently, anyone alerted by Test and Trace that they have been near someone who has tested positive must — by law — isolate at home.

    But after a successful pilot scheme running since April, ministers are set to replace that rule for the fully vaccinated with 20-minute lateral flow tests taken each day for the same amount of time.

    If you are negative, you would be free to leave the house that day — in a major boost for workplaces.

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    DRUNK G7 SUMMIT COPS BRAWLED ON BOAT AND THREW UP WHILE OFF-DUTY IN CORNWALL

    One had to be rescued from the sea after jumping overboard from the cruise ship they were staying on.

    Two more scaled the ferry’s funnel and a fight broke out among other boozed-up officers sent to guard world leaders at the gathering in Cornwall last month.

    Drunk cops are said to have vomited in the ship’s stairwells during the mayhem.

    Two female officers also got into trouble for taking an official police vehicle to a beach where they “disrobed and sunbathed”.

    A Greater Manchester Police officer jumped from the MS Silja Europa, moored off ­Falmouth, and had to be ­rescued by coastguards.

    A source said: “He was very drunk and jumped in the sea for a dare. The officer very nearly drowned and was sent back home in disgrace.”

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    SIX FREEDOMS SET TO RETURN ON JULY 19 (Continued…)

    CHECK OUT

    The PM is set to scrap the QR code sign-in requirement for pubs and restaurants to curb the number of Brits being forced to isolate through the NHS app.

    Hospitality bosses have called for changes to the Test and Trace app amid complaints it is leading to staff shortages and could end up putting punters off visiting pubs and restaurants.

    Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, which runs 66 bars across the UK, said the app was "casting the net quite wide" in terms of who it pings as a close contact of a positive case.

    And Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said the app was "becoming a huge issue for our pubs".

  • [email protected]

    BORIS JOHNSON TO GIVE PRESS CONFERENCE ON MONDAY AS HE ANNOUNCES ALL COVID RESTRICTIONS LIFTED FOR FREEDOM DAY

    The Prime Minister will make a speech at 5pm on Monday as the nation prepares for full unlocking on July 19.

    Mr Johnson will address the nation tomorrow as Brits prepare to ditch enforced social distancing, masks, and isolation – aspects that have become a way of life in the last 16 months.

    This comes after today's Covid cases rose by 161 per cent in a fortnight – while the death toll remained low with 15 more reported fatalities.

    Thanks to Britain's vaccine rollout, surging cases have not resulted in high death tolls – with Freedom Day just a matter of weeks away.

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    SIX FREEDOMS SET TO RETURN ON JULY 19 (Continued…)

    FLY AWAY

    Double-jabbed Brits returning from amber list countries reportedly won't have to quarantine after July 19.

    Downing Street sources said the decision wasn't confirmed yet as some details needed to be confirmed – including in relation to unvaccinated kids, the Mail on Sunday reported.

    The sources also reportedly said that fully-vaccinated travellers would still have to take one Covid test before they left and another two when they got back.

    Right now Brits who go overseas to amber list countries have to stay inside for 10 days on their return.

    They also need to take a pre-arrival Covid test, as well as tests on day two and day eight of quarantine.

  • [email protected]

    SIX FREEDOMS SET TO RETURN ON JULY 19 (Continued…)

    SOCIAL DISTANCING

    Social distancing will no longer be required as part of unlocking on July 19, reports have suggested.

    According to The Sunday Times, mask wearing will become voluntary in all settings and the one metre-plus rule in hospitality venues will end, meaning a return to drinking at the bar without the requirement for table service.

    Mass events, including festivals, will also be allowed under the proposals for the final stage of the road map out of lockdown, the paper reported.

    The Government also expects to receive the results of the taskforce reviews into the use of so-called vaccine passports and the future of social distancing to be made available this week, the Sunday Express reported.

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    SIX FREEDOMS SET TO RETURN ON JULY 19 (Continued…)

    BUBBLES BURST

    The school bubble system will be scrapped and replaced by daily testing, the Mail on Sunday reported.

    Mr Johnson is set to announce that kids will no longer have to miss school if a student in their bubble has Covid.

    Those deemed close contacts will have to take lateral flow tests instead.

    The new rules will be in force when kids go back to class in autumn.

    Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has previously said he wanted the bubble system dropped "as quickly as possible".

  • [email protected]

    SIX FREEDOMS SET TO RETURN ON JULY 19 (Continued…)

    BUBBLES BURST

    The school bubble system will be scrapped and replaced by daily testing, the Mail on Sunday reported.

    Mr Johnson is set to announce that kids will no longer have to miss school if a student in their bubble has Covid.

    Those deemed close contacts will have to take lateral flow tests instead.

    The new rules will be in force when kids go back to class in autumn.

    Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has previously said he wanted the bubble system dropped "as quickly as possible".

  • [email protected]

    MORE THAN HALF OF BRITS ARE FULLY PROTECTED FROM COVID AFTER HAVING BOTH VACCINATIONS

    The continued success of the UK's world-leading jabs rollout comes as remaining lockdown restrictions are set to lift on 'Freedom Day' later this month.

    There were 137,389 first dose Covid vaccinations given out yesterday, with 196,209 second doses administered.

    Those figures mean more than half of all Brits have now had two vaccinations.

    There have been 33,614,952 second doses of the vaccine given out in total across the UK – more than half of the population.

    Meanwhile 45,274,497 Brits have received their first dose.

  • [email protected]

    SIX FREEDOMS SET TO RETURN ON JULY 19

    Brits are set to enjoy six new freedoms from July 19 after enduring months of Covid restrictions.

    Boris Johnson is expected to announce that social distancing, compulsory face masks and quarantine for vaccinated travellers will all be scrapped on 'Freedom Day'.

    NO MASKS

    Forced mask wearing will be ditched when Covid restrictions are finally relaxed.

    Boris Johnson plans to tear up laws which force people to cover their faces on buses and trains, and in shops and other indoor venues.

    The Prime Minister wants to make it a personal choice rather than a legal requirement enforced with fines of up to £6,400.

    A source said: “It’s all part of a shift from legal enforcement to common sense.

    “There will be some official guidance that in certain settings, like a crowded train, it might make sense to wear a mask.

    “But it will no longer be compulsory. People will be able to decide for themselves whether or not to cover their face.”

  • [email protected]

    PUPILS COULD BE FORCED TO WEAR MASKS AGAIN AS UNIONS CALL FOR RETURN

    Pupils could be forced to wear face masks in class AGAIN after calls from the UK’s largest education union for face coverings to be reimplemented from September.

    Abandoning face coverings in education centres should “absolutely” be reconsidered when kids return for the new school year if Covid infections remain high, the National Education Union said.

    Unions want the government to implement a number of measures in exchange for their support – such as face masks, better ventilation, and twice-weekly tests by public health officials to limit the spread in schools of the Delta variant.

    Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the NEU, also wants ministers to scrap the “madness” of the bubble system that sends whole classes into isolation if one student tests positive, the Telegraph reports.

    The bubble system is proving a big headache for teachers and parents who are relentlessly left scrambling on short notice.

  • [email protected]

    FRANCE AND ITALY ‘TO JOIN TRAVEL GREEN LIST THIS MONTH’

    France and Italy are among more than 20 nations set to join the green list of countries open to Brit holidaymakers, it has been reported.

    Stabilising Covid infection rates mean Brits could soon visit the countries without having to quarantine.

    It comes as holidaymakers have started to arrive in Majorca and Ibiza, just hours after the Balearic Islands, Malta and Madeira were added to the UK green list.

    Italy and France could join them before the end of the month, according to analysis by former British Airways strategy chief Robert Doyle, the Telegraph reports.

    He claims to have cracked the formula the government uses to decide which countries go on the green list to make his prediction.

    As well as the two Brit favourites other countries are Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Norway, Vietnam, Denmark, Slovakia, North Macedonia and the Czech Republic.

  • [email protected]

    WHEN DOES THE FURLOUGH SCHEME END AND WHAT ARE THE CHANGES?

    The furlough scheme is set to end in September and this date hasn’t been extended despite delays to restrictions easing.

    The coronavirus job support scheme will continue to run for another two months, as it supports people’s wages during the pandemic.

    Originally the scheme was only supposed to run until March this year but plans to extend it until September were outlined in the Budget a few months ago.

    The furlough scheme pays workers 80% of wages for hours not worked, up to £2,500 a month, supporting millions of workers during the pandemic.

    However, support has already started to wind down, even though “freedom day” has been postponed to July 19.

    Companies are now expected to start chipping in for the cost of paying furloughed workers.

    The delay to freedom day is due to covid rates increasing across the country and more cases of the delta variant being reported.

  • [email protected]

    BORIS JOHNSON TO SCRAP QR CODE SIGN-IN FOR PUBS & RESTAURANTS 

    The PM will unveil plans this week to tear up many of the Covid rules which have plunged the hospitality industry into chaos.

    In just three weeks, the government will ditch the rules which require businesses to collect customers' contact tracing details, The Times reports.

    A host of measures will be introduced on Freedom Day to slash the red tape and cut the number of people being forced to isolate after being pinged by the NHS Test and Trace app.

  • [email protected]

    JUST OVER 1% OF LONG COVID CASES RECORDED BY GPs

    Only a small minority of cases of long Covid are being recorded by GPs, a study has suggested.

    Previous research estimated that as many as two million people in England are suffering ongoing symptoms after a Covid-19 infection.

    A new study has found that only 23,273 cases were formally recorded between February 2020 and April 2021 at GP practices.

    Experts analysed data from GP records of 57.9 million patients in England – about 96% of GP patients across the nation.

    More than a quarter of practices (26.7%) had never logged a case, according to the article in the British Journal of General Practice.

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    WORLD’S DEADLIEST VIRUSES WERE ‘SHIPPED TO WUHAN LEAK LAB FROM CANADA BY ROGUE SCIENTISTS’

    Some of the world’s deadliest viruses were shipped to the Wuhan Institute of Virology from Canada by two rogue scientists with links to the Chinese military, it is reported.

    Bombshell documents revealed how a shipment of dangerous Ebola and Nipah viruses were sent in 2019 from Canada’s National Microbiology Lab to the Wuhan facility at the centre of the “lab leak” storm.

    The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said it sent the 15 strains of viruses on a commercial flight to China “for the purpose of scientific research” in March, 2019.

    The package included a sample of the deadly zoonotic Nipah virus – which causes severe swelling of the brain, difficulty breathing and seizures.

    It also included several strains of the Ebola virus, which causes fevers, vomiting, diarrhoea as well as internal and external bleeding. The disease has claimed more than 11,300 lives in West Africa.

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    LUXEMBOURG PRIME MINISTER XAVIER BETTEL RUSHED TO HOSPITAL WITH COVID

    Xavier Bettel is due to stay in hospital for at least 24 hours to undergo "additional tests and analysis" as he is kept for observation.

    The 48-year-old was admitted this morning as a "precautionary measure", a statement from his office said.

    Bettel began a 10-day self-isolation period on June 27 – less than two days after attending a European Union summit in Brussels.

    He was reported to have mild symptoms at the time, such as a fever and headache.

    None of the other 26 EU leaders who took part in the meeting were considered contact cases, however, as social distancing rules were adhered to and masks were worn.

    The Luxembourg leader received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine back on May 6.

  • [email protected]

    SINGAPORE TO BECOME ONE OF FIRST NATIONS TO STOP COUNTING COVID CASES

    The south-east Asian country has recorded just 36 deaths since the start of the pandemic by implementing draconian rules to curb the infection rate, and officials now wanting to ditch measures such as counting infection numbers each day.

    A blueprint has now been laid out by three leading members of Singapore's Covid-19 taskforce to end 18 months of tough restrictions in order to restore quarantine-free travel and public gatherings.

    The city-state, which has a population of 5.7million, has to date recorded 62,617 cases – but this proposal would see an end to a daily tally count.

    The hope is to let people "get on with their lives" by scrapping tough rules and instead controlling the virus through other means, such as mass vaccination and better treatments.

    "Instead of monitoring Covid-19 infection numbers every day, we will focus on the outcomes," the trade, finance and health ministers wrote in a joint op-ed in the Straits Times.

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    VACCINES HAVE CUT LINK BETWEEN COVID INFECTIONS AND DEATHS, LEADING HEALTH OFFICIAL SAYS

    A leading health official says vaccines have cut the link between Covid infections and deaths.

    Former deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries’s comments came as England’s R rate fell yesterday for the first time in eight weeks.

    The head of the Health Security Agency said: “Although cases are rising, we are not seeing a proportional rise in the number of people who are being admitted to hospital.

    “The data suggests this is testament to the success of the vaccination programme and clearly demonstrates the importance of getting both doses of the vaccine.”

    Since May, Covid cases have shot up five-fold but the number of patients in hospital has not even doubled — there were just over 1,000 at the end of June.

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    OUT OF CREDIT

    Hundreds of thousands of self-employed workers who claim Universal Credit will have their payments cut from next month.

    The government is reintroducing the Universal Credit minimum income floor in August – which will end a benefits boost for workers.

    It was temporarily removed in March 2020 as part of the emergency coronavirus budget.

    The suspension was to help self-employed Universal Credit claimants who would have lost income due to self-isolation or restrictions on trading in the pandemic.

    While it is suspended, those earning less than the minimum wage have been receiving extra benefits.

  • [email protected]

    COVID NEWS ROUNDUP

    • Compulsory mask wearing will be ditched when Covid restrictions are finally relaxed on Freedom Day
    • Face masks will be a "personal choice" after July 19, a minister has confirmed
    • Boris Johnson is set to scrap the QR code sign-in requirement for pubs and restaurants to curb the number of Brits being forced to isolate through the NHS app
    • Double-jabbed Brits returning from amber-list countries 'won't have to quarantine after July 19'
    • School bubbles are set to be dropped after a senior government vaccines adviser said they risk paralysing society and bringing in a lockdown by the back door

    FESTIVALS, NIGHTCLUBS, GIGS AND HOUSE PARTIES SET TO RETURN JULY 19

    Covid lockdown restrictions will be rolled back on 'Freedom Day' by Boris Johnson as the vaccination programme continues to roll on.

    Nightclubs and gig venues will reopen on July 19 – and there'll be no need for Covid tests or proof of jabs.

    Social distancing will be scrapped, meaning drinkers will once again be able to get served at a bar.

    Meanwhile house parties and large music festivals will once again be allowed, just in time for summer, the Sunday Times reported.

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