THE R rate is above 1 in the South West of England, however, the reproduction number across the UK is currently between 0.7 and 0.9.
Also, transport operators will have the power to refuse permission to travel if a person is not wearing a face covering from Monday.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said commuters travelling without face coverings could also face fines.
He made the announcement during this evenings coronavirus conference, as he confirmed the death toll has increased by 202 to 41,481.
It comes after it was reported pubs may have to close for good if social distancing is not reduced, say industry experts.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to cut the two-metre rule in half to one metre.
It comes as scientists, senior MPs and industry chiefs agree that without the relaxed rule, three-quarters of pubs and restaurants may shut permanently.
And Health Secretary Matt Hancock had said it is Brits' "civic duty" to get tested if they have symptoms.
Follow for all the latest coronavirus news and updates below…
COMMON COLD COULD GIVE YOU IMMUNITY
The common cold could give you immunity from coronavirus, says This Morning’s Dr Philippa Kaye.
The TV medic told Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford that researchers are checking how our bodies are fighting back against the new killer bug.
She said today: “It’s really interesting that Covid-19 is a coronavirus and we have seen lots of different coronaviruses throughout our life.
“The researchers have found out that exposure to some of those coughs and colds could give you some immunity to Covid-19.”
The Londoner – who is also an author and mum-of-three – was referring to research on the T Cell – white blood cells which are basically our immune system soldiers.
Dr Philipa added: “Our immune systems are amazing and very complex that we have a cell called the T Cell and the T Cell is what gives your immune system memory.
“Because coronavirus shares some of the same genetic material as with other coughs and colds, it could be that our body’s immune system will remember enough to help us deal with Covid-19.”
Full story from our health team below.
This Morning’s Dr Philippa reveals common cold could give you immunity from coronavirus
CONCERN IN TURKEY AS CASES RISE
Turkey has reported a higher daily number of coronavirus cases just two weeks after lockdown restrictions were relaxed.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported 1,195 confirmed cases in 24 hours, pushing the country's total confirmed caseload in the pandemic to 175,218.
However, the country also reported 15 more virus-related deaths, the lowest day-to-day mortality number in more than two months.
According to Koca, false optimism is allowing the virus to spread again and he urged the public to wear masks and abide by government advice on distancing and hygiene.
PM FACES CARE HOME QUESTIONS
Boris Johnson is facing renewed questions over his efforts to protect vulnerable care home residents from coronavirus.
It comes after the Labour party used a new report to claim the sector was an 'afterthought' in the pandemic.
Whitehall's spending watchdog confirmed on Friday that 25,000 hospital patients were discharged into care homes in England at the height of the pandemic without all being tested for Covid-19.
Conservative former health secretary Jeremy Hunt joined Labour MPs in criticising the Government, saying it was “extraordinary that no one appeared to consider the clinical risk to care homes”.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) insisted it took the “right decisions at the right time” but was facing questions over its handling of the crisis in care homes.
The NAO report said that one in three care homes had declared an outbreak by May 17 and that 25,000 patients were discharged from hospital into the sector between March 17 and April 15.
COVID FEARS FUELLED PANIC-BUYS
People who felt threatened by the spread of the Covid-19 are likely to have stockpiled essentials such as toilet roll in the early lockdown phase, new research has shown.
Consumers with anxious and conscientious personalities were found to be more likely to cave into panic buying than their more placid counterparts.
Now research from academics from Germany and Switzerland has revealed that your panic buying habits could all be down to your personality.
The researchers surveyed 1,029 adults from 35 different countries, with all participants recruited through social media.
The Hexaco Inventory ranked six personality domains which include honest humility, emotionality, extraversion, agreeableness (versus anger), open to experience and conscientiousness.
The most common personality trait of those who stock piled had been the emotionality factor; this would include people who generally worry a lot and have mild forms of anxiety.
Full story below.
What your loo roll panic buying in early Covid lockdown says about your personality
NORTH-EAST ENGLAND WORST HIT
Official figures show that Middlesborough in the north-east of England was the worst hit region of the country between March 1 to May 31.
Middlesbrough's elected mayor Andy Preston, who made a controversial decision to close the town's parks, said: “Sadly, while shocking and devastating for the families involved, these statistics aren't surprising.
“Decades of severe deprivation in Middlesbrough has led to poor health and high death rates. Raising all of our communities out of deprivation is our biggest challenge.
“It is exactly why I insisted that Middlesbrough was a special case and that our parks had to remain closed when parks elsewhere were open.”
WHO: VACCINE SHOULD BE AVAILABLE AS PUBLIC GOOD
In a press conference, the World Health Organisation has said that a coronavirus vaccine should be made available as a public good.
“Many leaders…have promoted the idea of making any vaccine a global public good, but that should continue to be promoted,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference.
“More leaders should join the boat, and we need to have a truly global political commitment and global consensus before we even have the product,” he said.
“That is what we are pushing.”
It comes amid fears that countries could potentially hoard vaccines or drugs that treat the virus; with poorer countries impacted negatively.
WHO: CORONAVIRUS REMAINS 'VERY MUCH IN UPSWING'
The World Health Organisation has said that the coronavirus epidemic is “very much in the upswing” with a danger the disease could swiftly return to countries as they emerge from lockdowns.
Top emergencies expert Mike Ryan told a news conference today: “We are still very much in the upswing of this pandemic especially in the global South.
“It's not surprising at all that any country coming out of a so-called lockdown can have clusters of disease, re-emergence of disease in clusters.
Though he added: “That's not necessarily a second wave.”
US CASES PASS 2 MILLION, ACCORDING TO CDC
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported 2,016,027 cases of the coronavirus.
It marks an increase of 21,744 cases from its previous count, while the number of deaths had risen by 947 to 113,914.
The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual US states.
STUDENT NUMBERS TO DROP
Tens of thousands fewer students could start university this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, UCAS has predicted.
In a worst-case scenario, up to 46,000 fewer domestic students will start courses this autumn compared to last year, a blog from the admissions service estimates.
The warning came as UCAS data showed the number of students who have already decided to defer their places this year has increased by 2%.
The figures reveal 31,380 applicants have at least one deferred choice as of earlier this week, compared to 30,760 at the same point last year.
Students who have applied through UCAS have until June 18 to make a final decision on their university offers.
EGYPT TO RESUME TOURIST FLIGHTS
Egypt is resuming international flights from next month – despite coronavirus cases continuing to rise in the country.
Resorts such as South Sinai and the Red Sea, whose resort cities of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada are among the most attractive tourist destinations worldwide, will be back on the map for tourists from July 1.
Cairo Airport will remain closed to international commercial flights until further notice.
Egypt suspended regular international flights in March and shut down restaurants, hotels and cafes due to the pandemic.
Apart from the resorts, however, other international flights will remain suspended until further notice.
The country is also offering other incentives, such as the removal of tourist visas and 20 per cent discounts to visit attractions and landmarks.
“Among the most important incentives is the cancellation of the need for tourist visas of visitors to Egypt's touristic governorates until Oct. 31,” the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
Our travel team has more on that below.
Egypt to resume tourist flights from July 1 – despite rising coronavirus cases and strict curfew
R RATE FEARS
There are fresh fears over the coronavirus R rate – which has shown to be creeping up in the south-west of England.
Across the UK, the reproduction number is currently 0.7 to 0.9, whereas in England it sits between 0.8 to 1, according to the latest figures.
In the South West the R rate sits between 0.8 and 1.1 and it's the only place in England where the rate has crept above 1.
This is while East England sits between 0.7 and 0.9.
SCOT ZOO ISSUES FUNDING PLEA
Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park are calling on the Scottish Government to allow them to reopen by early July, as they warned their future is at risk amid lockdown.
Zoos and safari parks in England can reopen on Monday, but Scottish attractions have been told the earliest they can welcome visitors again is July 15.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) had hoped to open Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park by the end of June with increased safety measures in place, but it said the Scottish Government has rejected its plans.
Chief executive David Field said: “Delaying the reopening of Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park for at least five weeks means we will miss the start of the summer and lose £500,000.
“We have had to borrow £5 million overall due to the loss of our visitor income and every day we remain closed increases the risk that we will not be able to continue our wildlife conservation work.”
The government's daily coronavirus press briefing has just ended.
Here's a reminder of all the main points.
- The total number of coronavirus deaths now in the UK stands at 41,481 – an increase of 202 fatalities since yesterday.
- The transport secretary reminded the public that face coverings will become mandatory on public transport from Monday. He reiterated that employees should continue to work from home unless they are unable to do so.
- Peter Hendy, the chairman of Network Rail, says that the reality of transport opening up is that people will be closer to one another while on transport, making face coverings a necessity.
- Professor Stephen Powis from NHS England said that doctors are “beginning to get a sense” of how many people have antibodies. But he says it will take time for research to provide a conclusive answer though studies are currently being done in the UK and internationally.
- Mr Shapps said the government will provide more information on the possibility of “air bridges” or “travel corridors” on 29th June following sustained criticism of the UK's quarantine on travellers.
CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THE ADVICE
Mr Shapps finishes the briefing by saying that – after weeks of reporting large daily death and infection tolls- that
“we are reaching a point where those numbers are coming down”.
He adds: “People must continue to follow our advice, and from Monday if you're travelling on public transport please remember that face coverings are mandatory.”
'LEAVING EU PROVIDES BUSINESSES WITH CERTAINTY'
Mr Shapps says that the announcement that the UK will not be extending the Brexit transition period provides businesses with “certainty” amid fears of a financial downturn.
He says: “We have now left the EU at the beginning of the year. We leave the transition period at the end of the year.
“We will not be stretching out or extending the transition period in any shape or form”
He adds: “'Coronavirus has been a massive disruption… that is why we need the certainty for business of knowing we're leaving the transition period at the end of the year.”
NHS 'WILL HAVE CAPACITY' FOR SECOND WAVE
Regarding the prospect of a second wave of coronavirus in the winter, Professor Powis says the NHS “will have capacity” to deal with another outbreak.
He says: “We are thinking very hard about how we can get back to normal business in the NHS.
“But if we do see an increase in coronavirus perhaps in the winter that we have the capacity to deal with that.”
Responding to a question regarding the creation of air bridges from our reporter Natasha Clark, Mr Shapps says the government will provide more information on the policy on 29th June.
He says: “That's something we're actively working on. The first review of this takes place on 29th June… we will need to wait. At the moment it is a blanket situation.”
Asked about the possibility of regional lockdowns, Mr Shapps says that with more data to analyse the government will make decisions.
Mr Powis says that SAGE takes data from different academic groups who do modelling around the R number in different areas and produces a consensus.
He says that R is important but there are “other ways” of measuring the extent of infection among the population.
Mr Shapps adds that people in areas of higher infection rates – such as the south-west of England- should “stay alert” but not be “overly alarmed”.
Professor Powis says that the UK is moving from seeing a high level of infections to managing local outbreaks.
But he adds that Public Health England and the NHS are “used to” dealing with this, and knows how to manage them.
Professor Powis reiterates the need to control the spread of infection in hospitals.
He says that the some of the measures the NHS have taken recently include testing asymptomatic staff, and also improving data collection on hospital infections.
FACE COVERINGS 'HELP YOUR FELLOW TRAVELLER'
Face coverings will become mandatory from Monday, and Grant Shapps says this is so Brits can “help their fellow traveller”.
Peter Hendy, the chairman of Network Rail, says that the reality of transport opening up is that people will be closer to one another while on transport, making face coverings a necessity.
A reporter asks why there are significant health inequalities regarding coronavirus – after statistics show an increased risk from the virus in economically deprived areas.
Professor Powis says this must be scrutinised further, and says the NHS has been putting in “targeted approaches” that focus on these areas.
He says it is “crucial” to close the gap in these health inequalities.
Professor Stephen Powis is now responding to a question regarding antibody tests – which are at the core of developing immunity to the coronavirus.
He says that doctors are “beginning to get a sense” of how many people have antibodies.
But he says it will take time for research to provide a conclusive answer, though studies are currently being done in the UK and internationally.
He also mentions a programme called 'Siren' – which recruits healthcare staff who have been exposed to the virus and assesses their antibody levels and whether they are prone to re-infection. The results will be expected later this year.
'PRO-ACTIVE' STANCE ON ECONOMY
Responding to a question from a member of the public about the opening up of the economy, Mr Shapps says: “We want to have a proactive stance before getting this economy going again, when it is safe to do so”.
“People have not sacrificed so much in order for us to throw away with a second spike” he adds.
'DON'T ATTEND MASS GATHERINGS', SHAPPS SAYS
The transport secretary says “we must never be complacent” in stamping out racism and prejudice in society.
But he urges Brits not to attend mass gatherings as the virus continues to spread, even at a slower rate, ahead of planned protests across the country tomorrow in support of Black Lives Matter.