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Coronavirus latest news: Boris Johnson accused of ‘making policy on a wing and a prayer’ over Christmas claim

Boris Johnson has been accused by Labour of making policy “on a wing and a prayer” after he claimed on Friday that Britain could make a “more significant return to normality” before Christmas.

As the Prime Minister said the public should start “looking ahead with optimism”, the chief medical officer for England, Prof Chris Whitty, and the chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, were pessimistic in their evidence to the House of Lords, with Prof Whitty reiterating the need to maintain social distancing “for a long period of time”.

“There is a very significant chance that it [coronavirus] comes back in force,” Sir Patrick added. “Everyone that I’ve spoken to thinks it’s highly likely that this disease will continue to circulate and will come back in waves.”

Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said: “Can we have confidence that the government’s scientific advisers support these measures? This can’t be done on a wing and a prayer. It requires a credible plan, and national leadership.”

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Parliament ‘too risky’, says Australian PM

Australia’s prime minister is seeking to to postpone the sitting of parliament, saying the increased community transmissions of the coronavirus in the country’s two most populous states have made it too risky.

Scott Morrison said he had consulted with the parliamentary opposition and had asked the Speaker to postpone the two-week session. Lawmakers are now expected to meet in Canberra on Aug 24.

“The government cannot ignore the risk to parliamentarians, their staff, the staff within the parliament and the broader community,” Mr Morrison said, adding he acted based on the advice of medical authorities.

On Saturday, Victoria reported 217 new cases of the coronavirus cases, after a record 428 cases on Friday. New South Wales said it was banning dancing, singing and mingling at weddings as authorities struggle to contain a new wave of infections.

Scott Morrison said there is a risk to parliamentarians

Scott Morrison said there is a risk to parliamentarians



The six types of coronavirus

Six distinct types of coronavirus have been identified by scientists in a breakthrough that promises to save lives by flagging the highest-risk patients.

Analysis of thousands of cases by artificial intelligence software has revealed different “clusters” of symptoms and ranked them in order of severity.

Headache and loss of smell are common to all six groupings, but the range of symptoms varies widely after that.


Record cases in US for third straight day

The United States marked a record number of coronavirus cases Friday for the third consecutive day, notching 77,638 new infections in 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The country also recorded 927 deaths in one day.

The US, the hardest-hit by the coronavirus in the world in absolute terms, has suffered 139,128 total fatalities out of 3.64 million confirmed cases.

Experts believe the US never emerged from its first wave of infections, and cases have been surging again in recent weeks, particularly across the south and west in states that pushed to lift lockdown restrictions early.

In California, Los Angeles County reported 4,592 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, a single-day record.

A refrigerated trailer outside of HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest. Texas officials are bringing in refrigerated trucks to cope with the body count

A refrigerated trailer outside of HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest. Texas officials are bringing in refrigerated trucks to cope with the body count



EU leaders deadlocked over virus recovery plan

Divided European Union leaders appeared certain to head into a second day of marathon talks over a €750 billion rescue fund to kickstart the bloc’s economy  after the coronavirus pandemic on Friday. 

Heads of state and government of the remaining 27 member states were downbeat over their chances of striking a deal as they met in Brussels for their first face to face summit since the pandemic at 10am local time. By the evening, there was no sign of a breakthrough in negotiations over the unprecedented stimulus package.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, the bloc’s two most influential leaders, have thrown their weight behind a European Commission plan to give €500 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans to countries worst-hit by the crisis.

They face strong opposition from the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark. The “frugal four” want stricter conditions on the cash, which they would prefer to be in loans, and balk at the bolstered €1.1 trillion EU Budget for the next seven years, which is also under negotiation.

Read more: EU leaders downbeat ahead of summit talks on €750 billion coronavirus rescue fund

Angela Merkel greets European Council President Charles Michel with an elbow bump, followed by Emmanuel Macron and Finland's Sanna Marin

Angela Merkel greets European Council President Charles Michel with an elbow bump, followed by Emmanuel Macron and Finland’s Sanna Marin



Captain Sir Tom Moore’s incredible journey to a knighthood

When he set off down the garden path a few months ago to complete 100 laps of his garden in time for his 100th birthday, Captain Tom Moore could never have imagined that his fundraising walk for the NHS would lead him here, Joe Shute writes.

But on Friday, as he crossed the immaculate turf of Windsor Castle’s quadrangle, he took the final few steps in what has been a quite unbelievable journey.  

The Queen was there to present him with a knighthood in her first face-to-face Royal engagement with a member of the public since the coronavirus lockdown came into force in March.

Read more: The Queen has spoken of the resilience of her generation. Sir Tom Moore is the best of it


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