UK records a further 156 deaths coronavirus deaths; thousands protest in Turkey against Covid measures – as it happened
A summary of today's developments
- The UK has recorded 156 new deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test on Saturday and 29,547 new cases. The overall death toll is now 134,144 and the total number of coronavirus cases is 7,197,662.
- Boris Johnson is due to set out the UK government’s plan to tackle coronavirus over the coming months, with a reluctance to impose further lockdowns and a focus on vaccination. A number of powers allowing the government to shut down sections of the economy in England are set to be repealed including those to impose restrictions on events and gatherings, to temporarily close or restrict access to schools, and to detain infectious people.
- Brazil reported 14,335 new coronavirus cases and 712 additional Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the country’s health ministry said on Saturday. More than 585,000 people have died from the virus in Brazil, with nearly 21 million cases.
- Hundreds of people marched on Saturday in a North Macedonia town to remember the 14 people killed in a fire at a Covid-19 field hospital earlier this week.
- More than 120,000 people demonstrated across France on Saturday, according to official figures, to protest against the coronavirus health passports they say discriminate against the unvaccinated.
- Joining the European Union as an independent nation would “put rocket boosters” on Scotland’s coronavirus recovery, a senior SNP MP has claimed. PA reports that Alyn Smith, the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, said firms were having to try to survive the Covid-19 pandemic at the same time as coping with the fallout from Brexit.
- The former prime minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, has been fined $500 (£266) for allegedly failing to wear a mask in violation of the country’s coronavirus restrictions. He was photographed this week by a member of the public in Manly, Sydney, apparently wearing no face covering.
Brazil reported 14,335 new coronavirus cases and 712 additional Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the country’s health ministry said on Saturday.
More than 585,000 people have died from the virus in Brazil, with nearly 21 million cases.
Mexico recorded 12,511 confirmed coronavirus cases and 675 more deaths from the virus on Saturday, according to health ministry data.
It brings the total number of confirmed cases in the Latin American nation to 3,506,743 and the overall death toll to 267,524, Reuters reports.
Boris Johnson is due to set out the UK government’s plan to tackle coronavirus over the coming months, with a reluctance to impose further lockdowns and a focus on vaccination.
The prime minister will host a press conference next week, as a decision is expected on how to roll out a booster jab programme, PA reports.
Johnson is expected to say that vaccines will continue to be the first line of defence over the autumn and winter, a high-risk time for coronavirus as other respiratory illnesses circulate.
And in a move away from locking down the country, a number of powers allowing the government to shut down sections of the economy in England are set to be repealed including those allowing the closing down of the economy, the imposing of restrictions on events and gatherings, the power to temporarily close or restrict access to schools, and powers to detain infectious people.
Hundreds of people marched on Saturday in a North Macedonia town to remember the 14 people killed in a fire at a Covid-19 field hospital earlier this week.
People marched in silence through central Tetovo and kneeled in front of the destroyed hospital. They also placed a wreath and flowers at the site, Associated Press reports.
The fire broke out late Wednesday, destroying the facility within a few minutes, killing 12 patients and two visiting relatives. Twelve people were also injured.
The blaze is believed to have started by accident, although an investigation is still underway.
On 30 June 2020, Victoria’s Covid cases were doubling. Within a week the state would be in its second lockdown.
That same day Pfizer wrote to the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, with a clear sense of urgency, wanting to discuss a vaccination deal.
Act fast, they hinted – other nations are signing deals.
Almost four months and hundreds of deaths later, Victoria’s lockdown ended. Two more weeks after that, Australia finally signed the Pfizer contract.
Andy Knight is broke, and there is no end to lockdown in sight.
On a day when the ACT chief minister announced another two dozen Covid cases, Knight went down to the shops thinking he had $28 to his name. But the ATM showed minus three dollars.
“Some pending payments suddenly came through at the wrong time for me,” he says.
It wasn’t always like this. One of the big, cruel ironies of Australia’s pandemic is that for people like Knight, 57, in some ways life may never have been better than last year.
More than 120,000 people demonstrated across France on Saturday, according to official figures, to protest against the coronavirus health passports they say discriminate against the unvaccinated.
The health pass, or a recent negative Covid test, is required to enter cafes, restaurants and many other public places, AFP reports.
The interior ministry said 121,000 had demonstrated in France, 19,000 of them in the capital Paris where police arrested 85 people after clashes broke out.
Three members of the police were slightly injured during the protests, the ministry added.
This was the ninth consecutive weekend of protests.
A zoo in Atlanta, US, said at least 13 western lowland gorillas have tested positive for Covid-19, including 60-year-old Ozzie, the oldest male gorilla in captivity, Associated Press reports.
Employees said the gorillas had been coughing, had runny noses and showed changes in appetite.
Plans for Covid vaccinations for 12- to 15-year-olds across the UK are to be announced by the government this week, with a mass inoculation programme beginning in schools within two weeks, the Observer has been told.
New proposals for a Covid booster programme are also expected to be set out on Tuesday, but it is thought ministers may be backing away from plans for Covid passports in confined settings such as nightclubs amid opposition from some Tory MPs.
It is believed that vaccinations for children will begin on 22 September. NHS leaders are understood to have been briefed on the plans after schools were told to be ready to introduce the programme.
When asked to confirm the plan, a Department of Health source said ministers had not received final advice from the CMOs and did not want to prejudge them.
Following the Guardian’s interview with Prof Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, who said general practitioners are finding it difficult to “maintain a safe service” to patients due to the amount of pressure they are under, the British Medical Association has responded.
Marshall said a combination of a drop in staff numbers and an increase in demand for services from GPs, including complex consultations and the vaccination programme as well as demand from a growing population, has made things difficult for doctors.
Dr Richard Vautrey, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, pointed out that even before the pandemic started there were already too few family doctors, a limited wider workforce, inadequate spaces and unmet government promises, PA reports.
Vautrey said: “Government pledges to deliver more GPs remain unmet and as workload pressures now increase at an alarming rate due to the pandemic and the growing backlog of care, it is no wonder that many practices are struggling to provide patients with the good care that GPs want to deliver, and that patients expect and deserve.”
About 5.7 million people in Greece, or 55% of the population, are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and 59% have received one dose, according to the latest official figures.
The country recorded 2,197 confirmed new infections on Saturday and 39 deaths, Reuters reports.
Police in Greece’s second city Thessaloniki fired tear gas at anti-vaccination protesters ahead of a keynote economic speech by prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The police used teargas and a water cannon to keep about 1,000 protesters away from the venue of the speech.
There has been opposition in Greece to the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination of all health workers, who are threatened with suspension if they fail to comply, AFP reports.
Tougher air, sea and rail transport restrictions also come into effect on Monday, with the unvaccinated no longer entitled to free testing.
India’s foreign minister has urged Australia to ease coronavirus travel restrictions for thousands of students who have been unable to get into the country since the pandemic started 18 months ago.
Foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said he raised the issue “in some detail” with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne, AFP reports.
“We have heard a lot from the students and I think their frustrations, their feelings, are completely understandable,” Jaishankar told reporters.
“Many of them would like to be at the institutions where they want to study,” adding students were “a very high priority” for his government, which has also faced hurdles with the US and Canada.
“We have been having some problems with some other countries as well. We had initially with the US, we are still having some issues with Canada,” he added.
France has reported a further 46 Covid-19 related deaths in hospital and said 2,131 people are in intensive care with the virus, Reuters reports.
The city-state’s ministry of health on Saturday confirmed 555 new Covid-19 cases in Singapore, taking its total case count to 71,167, Reuters reports.
These comprise 486 community cases, 64 dormitory residents cases and five imported cases.
The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on business, gutting high streets as familiar names fell into receivership.
But for some less well-known firms, the past 18 months have been transformational.
Those that have thrived did so by carving out a new niche – with products as varied as Covid sequencing technology kits and surgical masks with virus-killing coatings. We asked some of them about the year everything changed.
More data from Italy. Patients in hospital with coronavirus – not including those in intensive care units – stood at 4,117 on Saturday, down from 4,164 a day earlier.
There were 40 new admissions to intensive care, edging up from 37 on Friday. The total number of intensive care patients stood at 547 from a previous 548, Reuters reports.
Some 333,741 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past 24 hours, compared with a previous 286,028, the ministry said.
More than 2,000 people demonstrated in Istanbul on Saturday against official coronavirus-related mandates including vaccinations, tests and masks, responding to new government measures and an inoculation push.
In Turkey’s largest such protest, mostly maskless people shouted slogans, held placards and Turkish flags, and sang songs in defence of what they called individual rights, echoing anti-vaccine rallies in some other countries, Reuters reports.
On Monday the government began requiring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test for all users of intercity planes, buses and trains, as well as for those attending large events such as concerts or theatre performances.
All unvaccinated school employees are required to take a PCR test twice a week. Masks and social distancing are required in public.
Italy reported 57 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections stood at 5,193.
Italy has registered 129,885 deaths linked to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain. The country has reported 4.6 million cases to date, according to Reuters.
UK death toll increases by 156
The UK has recorded 156 new deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test on Saturday and 29,547 new cases.
The overall death toll is now 134,144 and the total number of coronavirus cases is 7,197,662.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has said another Scottish independence referendum would allow people to “define and decide our recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic, reports PA.
Blackford argued that Scotland was on a “different path” from the Westminster government and that Conservative sleaze, benefit cuts and tax rises “that always, always punish the poor” made the case for independence.
Addressing the SNP conference, he said:
And, as we know, a fish rots from the head down. Whether it’s Covid contracts for cronies, donations for decorating or Tory texts for tax breaks – a trail of cronyism leads back to Downing Street and the prime minister.
Even John Major’s government would blush at that scale of sleaze. Because at the very same time they’re abusing their power to enrich their friends, they are making the political choice to punish the powerless.
The BBC reports that three coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in Northern Ireland.
Another 1,424 cases of coronavirus were reported on Saturday. This is down from 1,687 on Friday.
The total number of deaths linked to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland since the start of the pandemic is 2,447.
The Times says the number of deaths from Covid-19 per head of population in the US is higher than the UK for the first time this year.
Several members of a troop of western lowland gorillas at Zoo Atlanta have tested positive for the coronavirus after handlers noticed many of the great apes were showing signs of mild coughing, runny noses and a small loss of appetite, AP reports.
Zoo Atlanta said animal handlers collected faecal samples and nasal and oral swabs from the gorillas and sent them to a lab at the University of Georgia, which returned presumptive positive results for the virus that causes Covid-19, a Zoo Atlanta statement said.
The zoo added that it was awaiting confirmation of the test results from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, which also received samples.
The statement did not say how many of the gorillas appeared to be infected.
However, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported 13 had tested positive.
Another news outlet suggested that the world’s oldest living male gorilla was among those testing positive, although this has not been confirmed.
The zoo statement said its teams were collecting samples for testing from its entire gorilla population, which totals 20 members living in four troops.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports members from each of the four troops showed evidence of infection.
Sam Rivera, senior director of animal health at Zoo Atlanta said:
The teams are very closely monitoring the affected gorillas and are hopeful they will make a complete recovery.
Returning to EU will put 'rocket boosters' on Scotland's Covid-19 recovery, says senior SNP MP
Joining the European Union as an independent nation would “put rocket boosters” on Scotland’s coronavirus recovery, a senior SNP MP has claimed.
PA reports that Alyn Smith, the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, said firms were having to try to survive the Covid-19 pandemic at the same time as coping with the fallout from Brexit.
The decision to leave the EU, he said, had caused shortages within the labour market and resulted in empty supermarket shelves across the country.
Getting back into the European Union would put rocket boosters on our recovery from Covid. We can do better than we are doing right now. Independence in Europe is the answer to the problems that Scotland has.
Large numbers of doctors, nurses and other medical workers have been marching in Warsaw to demand higher wages and an improvement in working conditions made more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic, reports AP.
Protesters, including midwives, physical therapists and lab technicians, beat drums and blew horns.
In speeches and their banners, they stressed they were working extremely long hours, putting their patients in danger and also driving themselves to early deaths.
Marchers in white caps carried banners saying: “Rested medic (equals) safe patient!” and “One nurse for 30 patients!” Who to help first?”
Organisers called for a moment of silence during the march to honour the health care workers who have died from Covid-19.
Health minister Adam Niedzielski said he was open to discussing the demands with the protesters but added the state cannot afford to meet all their demands.
Unions’ meetings with the health minister broke down on Friday and he accused the protest organisers of “creating theatre” on the streets in a search of “social applause”.
The protest took place in central Warsaw and was to head past parliament and end at the prime minister’s office.
The Independent reports on experts who are warning that Covid-19 hospitalisations are increasing at an “alarming” rate.
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has increased by more than 1,000 within the last 11 days, jumping from 7,091 to 8,098 – a 14 per cent rise, it adds.
According to government data, Covid bed occupancy levels are at their highest levels since 10 March.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, told the publication the rise in admissions comes at a time when there is “exceptional” demand across “urgent and emergency care and mental health services” and just as the NHS is trying to catch up with the backlog. Staff shortages and increased infection control measures are exacerbating the problem.
So no one should be under any illusions about the scale of the task we face in the coming months as we head into what looks like being a very difficult winter.
Japanese officials will begin discussing whether to roll out booster shots next week, with the possibility of administering third doses by the end of the year.
The Japan Times cites sources as saying that health experts on a government vaccine subcommittee will analyse the matter, and assess the option of mixing doses of vaccines produced by different manufacturers. The country uses three vaccines – Pfizer’s, Moderna’s and AstraZeneca’s.
A total of 61.9% of the Japanese population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 49.8% have had two doses. The government aims to have fully vaccinated all eligible people by early November.
Hello, this is Clea Skopeliti taking over the blog for an hour while my colleague Jane Clinton grabs a break. Do let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed – you can reach me on Twitter @cleaskopeliti. Thank you.
Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott fined for allegedly failing to wear mask
Former prime minister of Australia, Tony Abbott has been fined $500 (£266) for allegedly failing to wear a mask in violation of the country’s coronavirus restrictions.
He was photographed this week by a member of the public in Manly, Sydney which appeared to show him without a face covering.
Abbott said he was “well within the law, reasonably interpreted” and would not waste police time by challenging the fine, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
But he added the sooner Australia left behind what he called a “health police-state mindset” the better.
A “listening” bench in Chelmsford, Essex, is capturing women’s experience of the pandemic.
Women recorded their thoughts and these were uploaded to the bench for the Snapping the Stiletto and the British Science Festival project, the BBC reports.
The New York Times reflects on Joe Biden’s vaccine push which relies on a “first-of-its-kind” application of a 51-year-old law.
South Africa’s health regulator has approved Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for use by children aged 12 and older, paving the way for the government to offer vaccinations to teenagers, Reuters reports.
The South African Health Products Authority said the decision came after a review of updated safety and efficacy information submitted in March.
The country’s vaccination campaign has ramped up with just over 12% of its more than 60 million people vaccinated.
Health insurers say vaccine hesitancy is now the main issue impacting the pace of the campaign and the government has launched efforts to persuade people to get the jab.
South Africa has a large youth population, with about 28% under the age of 15.
Covid-19: UK lecturers fear students' return
Dr Stephanie Coen, assistant professor in health geography at Nottingham University, is eager to get back to teaching in person. But she fears that with students not required to wear masks when classes start in a few weeks, squeezing them like “sardines” into her tiny room for seminars will be unsafe.
“Some of our Covid safety material talks about respecting people’s choices. But this isn’t about personal choice, it is about public health. It is about caring for each other.”
On Thursday the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, reiterated instructions for universities to give students the return to normality they want, with face-to-face teaching this autumn. But academics say the government has not ensured this will be safe, failing to give clear guidance that masks, social distancing and proper ventilation should be compulsory in classrooms.
China has reported 25 new Covid-19 cases on the mainland for 10 September up from 17 a day earlier, the national health authority has said.
One of the new infections was locally transmitted while the rest were imported, the National Health Commission said.
Reuters reports that the number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, was 21 – the same as the day before. Of the new cases, five were local.
The local confirmed case and four of the asymptomatic ones were found in Putian, a city, in the southern province of Fujian, the commission said.
Reuters reports the state-owned People’s Daily reported that all provincial and intercity shuttle buses running from Putian were suspended from Saturday as part of epidemic prevention and control measures.
Mainland China has confirmed 95,153 Covid-19 cases, with the death toll unchanged at 4,636.
Russia reports 796 deaths from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours and 18,891 newcases have been reported.
A fifth of shoppers have been blocked from paying with cash since lockdown rules eased, according to research by consumer group, Which?
The Philippines reports record Covid-19 cases
The Philippines has reported a record 26,303 new daily coronavirus cases, Reuters reports.
The health ministry said confirmed cases rose to 2.206 million, while deaths rose by 79 to 34,978.
AP reports that more than a dozen tented Covid-19 vaccination sites have been set up in busy areas in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, to make it easier to get jabbed.
Previously people had to go to vaccination centres which were mostly in hospitals to be inoculated.
Dr Misaki Wayengera, who leads a team of scientists advising authorities on the pandemic response, said of the new vaccination sites: “All of this we could have done earlier, but we were not assured of availability of vaccines. Right now we are receiving more vaccines and we have to deploy them as much as possible.”
Health authorities have been teaming up with the Red Cross to administer more than 120,000 doses that will expire at the end of September.
In addition to the 128,000 AstraZeneca doses donated by Norway at the end of August, last month the UK donated nearly 300,000 doses.
China recently donated 300,000 doses of its Sinovac vaccine, and on Monday a batch of 647,000 Moderna doses donated by the US arrived in Uganda.
Australia has topped 2,000 new Covid-19 cases for the first time. It has now recorded nearly 73,000 cases and a death toll of 1,084, Reuters reports.
Biden's vaccine push sets off legal challenges
AP reports that the push to require millions of US workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus is running into resistance from Republican leaders.
They are threatening everything from lawsuits to civil disobedience, plunging the country deeper into culture wars that have festered since the onset of the pandemic.
In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster says he will fight “to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian”. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, says she is preparing a lawsuit. And JD Vance, a conservative running for a US Senate seat in Ohio, is calling on businesses to ignore mandates he describes as Washington’s “attempt to bully and coerce citizens”.
“Only mass civil disobedience will save us from Joe Biden’s naked authoritarianism,” Vance says.
Queensland, Australia’s third most populous state, has said it may order a snap lockdown after a cluster of Covid-19 cases, Reuters reports.
Queensland, home to more than 5 million people, said it had detected five new infections in the past 24 hours after a family tested positive.
The next few days would be critical to see if a lockdown was necessary, authorities said.
State premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “If we start seeing any seeding, then we may have to take very quick, fast action. But at the moment, it’s contained to the family.”
The family lives in Brisbane, the state’s capital. It was not clear whether a lockdown would be limited to some parts of the state like previous orders.
The Times reports that compulsory face coverings and working from home will be reintroduced if Covid-19 cases rise this winter under government plans to protect the NHS.
Boris Johnson is expected to publish the Covid Winter Plan next week which will detail proposals on how to combat the spread of the virus.
UK should be prepared for winter Covid wave, Johnson to warn
Britain must head into an “uncertain” winter fully prepared for a new wave of the pandemic, Boris Johnson will warn next week as he unveils a blueprint to avoid shutting schools and pubs again.
The prime minister’s Covid winter plan will set out “contingency” measures – which could involve the reintroduction of some nationwide restrictions such as social distancing or masks – that would come into force if case numbers and hospitalisations begin to overwhelm the NHS again.
On Tuesday Johnson is expected to announce his plan for avoiding a full lockdown, including the introduction of Covid boosters and the biggest ever flu jab campaign, to be administered at the same time.