Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said 2,000 soldiers would be made available to help the devolved government’s efforts to track down those who have come into contact with infected persons. He also said regional administrations could make decisions themselves on how to handle the fight against the epidemic rather than have the central government take charge.
He said the government would support requests by regional leaders to declare localised states of emergency.
Mr Sanchez said: “The pandemic data curve is worrying and has to be contained.
“We have to be calm and vigilant.”
Meanwhile, doctors in Hong Kong have warned COVID-19 can strike a patient twice, as they claimed a person was reinfected with the deadly disease.
A man, 33, tested positive for COVID-19 only four months after he recovered the first time – settling alarm bells ringing across the globe.
The man, who has no underlying health conditions, was infected a second time by a different strain of the virus. People who recover from the virus develop antibodies, providing immunity.
However, immunity could be very short-lived and antibodies could disappear over time, experts have warned.
Doctors have said these findings show re-infection can occur only a few months after recovery – dashing hopes the disease could be wiped out as a result of herd immunity.
Following the case, a press release from the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong said: “The team showed the genome sequence of the virus strain in the first episode of Covid-19 infection is clearly different from the genome sequence of the virus strain found during the second episode of infection.
“This case illustrates that re-infection can occur after just a few months of recovery from the first infection.
“Our findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may persist in the global human population as it is the case for other common-cold associated human coronaviruses.”
The man spent two weeks in hospital the first time before testing positive a second time, with no symptoms, four months later.
Wednesday, August 26
0.08am update: Nearly 9,000 Florida children diagnosed with coronavirus in two weeks
Almost 9,000 children in Florida have been diagnosed with coronavirus since schools reopened in the state two weeks ago.
According to the Florida Department of Health there are currently 48,730 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state amongst those under 18.
This is an increase of 8,995 on the figure two weeks ago.
Schools in the UK are due to start reopening next month.
Tuesday, August 25
10.41pm update: Gaza in lockdown to contain its first COVID-19 outbreak
Gaza was in lockdown on Tuesday after the first cases of COVID-19 in the general population of the Palestinian enclave, whose restricted borders until now had helped spare it from an outbreak.
Health authorities in the Hamas-controlled territory are concerned over the potentially disastrous combination of poverty, densely populated refugee camps and limited hospital facilities in dealing with an outbreak.
A government spokesman said the four cases were uncovered after a woman travelled to the West Bank, where she tested positive.
Four members of her family then tested positive in Gaza, the first cases outside quarantined border facilities.
9.33pm update: Boris does U-turn and makes masks mandatory in schools
Students will have to wear masks in school corridors in areas of local lockdown in England.
Headteachers in any secondary school will have the “flexibility” to introduce mask rules in their schools.
The move comes after the PM said pupils should not have to wear masks in school.
8.25pm update: France sees drop in new COVID-19 cases but more young adults infected
The French health ministry reported 3,304 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, well below daily highs seen last week, though greater numbers of young adulte are testing positive, many without showing symptoms.
The number of new infections was above the 1,995 reported on Monday – a day that traditionally shows a dip, but remained well below Sunday’s new post-lockdown record of 4,897 and below levels above 3,600 reported in the second half of last week.
The cumulative total rose to 248,158, along with 30,544 deaths, including 16 in the past 24 hours, while the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 fell by 90 to a new post-lockdown low of 4,600.
The tally of people in intensive care rose by 11 to 410 and is now back up to levels last seen at the end of July, but remains far below the high of more than 7,000 in early April.
7.21pm update: Phil Hogan says he did not break any COVID-19 restrictions
The EU’s trade commissioner, Phil Hogan, has said he broke no public health regulations while in Ireland.
The senior politician said he believed he complied with rules designed to limit spread of coronavirus in the country after he was among 81 guests who attended a controversial golf dinner in the west of Ireland.
He returned to the Republic on July 31 and was required to restrict his movements for 14 days.
In a document published on the European Commission website, Mr Hogan said he tested negative for COVID-19 while in hospital for treatment on August 5 and claimed that “ended the self-restriction period”.
He told Irish broadcaster RTE: “I am satisfied arising from the test that I did that proved it was negative that I was no risk to anybody.
“Because of the fact that I had a negative test. Because my medical people said I was no risk to anybody. I checked with the Citizens Information website which is funded by the HSE and I felt that I was no risk to anybody by going to Adare.
“I understand the perception. I was covered by the regulations that my work-related activities and under the regulation there is a reasonable excuse mechanism that allowed me the exemption to do that.”
6.36pm update: French new coronavirus infections below last week’s highs
The French health ministry said it had recorded 3,304 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, well below daily highs seen last week and taking the cumulative total to 248,158.
The number of new infections was above the 1,995 reported on Monday – which traditionally shows a dip – but remained well below Sunday’s new post-lockdown record of 4,897 and below levels above 3,600 reported in the second half of last week.
The ministry also said the death toll rose by 16 to 30,544, while the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 fell to a new post-lockdown low of 4,600.
The number of people in intensive care rose by 11 to 410 and is now back up to levels last seen end July.
5.43pm update: Nottingham pensioner was first Covid case in UK
A 75-year-old woman in Nottingham was the first person to contract coronavirus in the UK, researchers believe.
She was admitted to hospital in late February.
The woman, who died after falling ill with the virus, provided a sample on February 21 – which later tested positive – after being admitted to hospital with severe breathing difficulties, researchers from the University of Nottingham say.
They made the discovery after analysing 1,660 samples from 1,378 patients that were collected between January 2 and March 11 from a Nottingham teaching hospital for routine diagnostic investigation.
Writing in a study which has not yet been peer-reviewed, the researchers say: “Patient 1 in this study is, to the best of our knowledge, the earliest described community-acquired case of SARS-CoV-2 in the UK, admitted to hospital care on the 21st of February 2020.”
4.55pm update: 16 new deaths and 1,184 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in UK
The UK has recorded 1,184 new cases of COVID-19 in the latest daily statistics published on Tuesday, up from 853 on Monday, government figures showed.
Sixteen people died after testing positive for the coronavirus within the previous 28 days, compared with four deaths announced on Monday.
4.05pm update: Gavin Williamson reacts to Ofqual chief’s resignation
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has thanked Ofqual chief Sally Collier for “the commitment she has shown to the role” as she stepped down.
He welcomed the appointment of Dame Glenys Stacey as Ofqual’s acting Chief Regulator and said his department would continue to work closely with Ofqual “to deliver fair results and exams for young people.”
3.42pm update: Ofqual chief quits in wake of A-levels uproar
Ofqual chief regulator Sally Collier has quit in the wake of the A-level and GCSE results U-turn in England and will be replaced by her predecessor Dame Glenys Stacey, the exams regulator said.
In a statement on Tuesday Ofqual said Ms Collier had decided “that the next stage of the awarding process would be better overseen by new leadership”.
It follows a Government U-turn away from awarding students in England grades based on an algorithm which appeared to boost private schools’ performance, and instead to award pupils their teacher assessed grades.
The controversial algorithm had led to many students having their results downgraded earlier this month.
Ofqual said: “The Ofqual Board supports Sally in this decision, and thanks her for her leadership and service over the past four years, which has included overseeing the successful introduction of an entirely new set of GCSEs and A-levels, and a new grading system.”
3.12pm update: Sadiq Khan says lessons must be learned as schools prepare to reopen
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said it is important that lessons are learned from the return of schools in different countries.
It comes amid calls for older pupils to wear face masks in areas where they cannot safely socially distance.
“Students need to be back in school and resume their learning in a safe environment,” said Mr Khan.
“It is vital that we do all we can to ensure we limit the spread of coronavirus in all settings, including in schools.
“The World Health Organisation has advised children over 12 to wear a face covering where they can’t socially distance, and as more countries are introducing them in school corridors and communal areas, it’s important that lessons are learned.
“I have continually called on Government to respond to the latest health advice and my team are speaking with officials in Scotland to ensure we have the most up-to-date advice ahead of our schools returning.”
2.40pm update: Hong Kong eases rules as the city teeters on a third wave of the virus
The city’s social distancing rules are expected to expire at midnight on Tuesday, August 25.
This easing of restrictions comes as daily COVID-19 cases have dropped to single digits.
Restaurants will resume so clients can eat inside until 9pm and cinemas and beauty parlours will reopen on Friday.
From August 28, masks will no longer be obligatory in country parks or for people exercising outdoors.
1.40pm update: Birmingham Council to introduce legally enforceable measures to curb the spread of COVID-19
This comes following a recent spike in the number of cases in Birmingham.
These new powers will allow the council and policed to investigate any businesses which are failing to comply with COVID safety measures.
12.54pm update: AstraZeneca has started an antibody drug trial in the UK
The drug could be both a vaccine and act as treatment against the virus.
The trial will include 48 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55.
It aims to study the body’s reaction to the drug and how the body processes it.
12.12pm update: Raheem Sterling tests negative for COVID-19 after going to a party with Usain Bolt
The Manchester City player was one of the attendees at his party in Jamaica last week.
After the party Mr Bolt tested positive for coronavirus and went into self-isolation.
11.10am update: Weekly rise in COVID-19 deaths due to heatwave, not virus – ONS
England and Wales have recorded a spike in weekly deaths, but this was due to the heatwave, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS said: “The rise in deaths between weeks 32 and 33 coincided with high temperatures in England and Wales, and heatwave warnings were issued by NHS England.
“The increased number of deaths, and the rise above the five-year average, were likely due to the heatwave; the coronavirus did not drive the increase, as deaths involving COVID-19 continued to decrease in week 33.”
10.53am update: Barclays comes to the rescue at London Zoo with a £20m loan
The UK bank has offered the money as the zoo has suffered from a lack of visitors due to the crisis.
The zoo is home to 20,000 animals and has been closed for the first time since the Second World War.
10.02am update: Spain warned of effects of second lockdown
Businesses and health professionals have warned the government the country is still recovering from the first lockdown.
The infection rate in Spain is the highest in Europe, with a 14-day infection rate of 166 per 100,000.
The country’s business lobby, CEOE, said: “A new confinement that would paralyse business activity would have catastrophic and irreversible consequences.”
9.31am update: Man who thought COVID-19 was a hoax loses his wife to the virus
Brian Lee Hitchens and his wife Erin from Florida thoiught the virus was fabricated, linked to 5G or similar to the flu.
The couple didn’t follow health guidance or seek medical help when they fell ill in early May.
Mr Hutchins recovered but his wife became critically ill and died from heart problems linked to the virus.
9.13am update: Qantas to shed thousands of staff and sell pyjamas to survive the pandemic
Alan Joyce, Qantas chief executive, said: “This is the greatest challenge the aviation industry has ever faced and airlines have to change how they operate to ensure they can survive long-term.”
The airline has started to sell kangaroo pyjamas to business class passengers, which it normally gives out for free.
Qantas has grounded 220 of its aircrafts.
8.38am update: Dr Anthony Fauci warns against rushing a COVID-19 vaccine
The top US virus expert has said a vaccine being rushed out too early could hurt the development of other vaccines.
President Donald Trump wants to see a vaccine as soon as possible to boost his chances of re-election on November 3.
Dr Fauci said: “One of the potential dangers if you prematurely let a vaccine out is that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the other vaccines to enrol people in their trial.
“To me, it’s absolutely paramount that you definitively show that a vaccine is safe and effective.”
7.46am update: Re-infection of COVID-19 has been confirmed in the Netherlands
Virologist Marion Koopmans said: “SARS-CoV-2 infections all have a different fingerprint, a genetic code.
“People can carry something with them for a long time after an infection and occasionally secrete a little RNA.
“Respiratory infections can strike twice, or more often. We know that you are not protected for life if you have had the infection and that is what we expect with Covid.”
Mr Koopmans said there was a clear immune response after an infection, but the question is how long it will last.
7.23am update: Southwark and Hackney have most COVID-19 cases in London
The infection rate has increased in 19 London boroughs.
Hackney recorded the highest rate, with 56 new cases at a rate of 19.3 per 100,000.
The second highest was Southwark with 50 new cases and a rate of 15.7.