Coronavirus: Obama pays tribute to pandemic graduating class

Cyclists ride past a sign thanking NHS staff that continue to work during the coronavirus pandemic near the village of Frant, southern England o


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Edited by Alix Kroeger and Suzanne Leigh

All times stated are UK

  1. Would phased easing of lockdown been better?

    We now come to questions – the first asks if a phased easing of the lockdown would have been the better option given the high “R” rate in the North East and Yorkshire.

    “R” is the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average.

    Alok Sharma replies that the government could look at what can be done at the devolved level when the government gets better, more detailed data.

    “But it is too soon right now,” he says.

  2. People ‘returning to NHS for help’

    We’re now hearing from Prof Stephen Powis, the national medical director of NHS England.

    He says there has been concern that people who need urgent medical help have not been visiting hospitals due to fears over coronavirus and “not wanting to be a burden on the NHS”.

    Latest A&E figures show a record low level of visits.

    But he says the number of people seeking help for things such as strokes “has now gone back to normal”.

  3. Six drugs have entered clinical trials, Sharma says

    Alok Shama says the government will also put £38m towards building a “rapid deployment facility” to ensure a coronavirus vaccine is widely available in the UK.

    However, echoing warnings made by other authorities and experts, he says “it’s possible will never find a successful coronavirus vaccine”.

    He adds that six drugs aimed at fighting the virus have now entered clinical trials

  4. UK daily death figure dips to lowest level since March

    Doctors look at a chart

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: The overall death toll remains the highest in Europe

    As we’ve just heard from the business secretary, the UK’s daily figure for coronavirus deaths has dropped to 170 – that’s the lowest since the day after the lockdown began.

    The announcement comes a week after the first easing of restrictions in England.

    But the overall death toll remains the highest in Europe, and is now 34,636.

    UK death numbers announced on Sundays and Mondays are typically lower than the other five days of the week, due to fluctuations in how quickly deaths are reported by hospitals and care homes.

    Today’s figure is almost 100 fewer than the 268 reported a week ago.

    We’ve got more here.

  5. Government announces £84m vaccine funding

    Alok Sharma says the government is providing an additional £84m to help accelerate work towards finding a vaccine.

    “This new money will help mass produce the Oxford vaccine so if trials are successful we have dosages to start vaccinating straight away,” he says.

    He also says a licensing agreement with AstraZeneca has been reached allowing for the manufacture of 30 million doses to be available by September.

    “The UK will be first to get access,” he says.

  6. We need to find a safe workable vaccine, Sharma says

    Business Secretary Alok Sharma says that “if everyone stays alert we can control coronavirus by keeping the infection rate down”.

    However he adds that “in order to definitively conquer this disease we need to find a safe workable vaccine”.

    He says the vaccine trial in Oxford University is progressing well and says the speed at which the trials have been organised is “genuinely unprecedented”.

    He adds that trials by Imperial College will start in October.

  7. UK briefing’s graphics

    Here are the slides from today’s government briefing, led by Business Secretary Alok Sharma.

    Social distancing slide

    Copyright: Cabinet Office

    Testing slide

    Copyright: Cabinet Office

    Chart showing data from hospitals

    Copyright: Cabinet Office

    Charts showing people in hospitals

    Copyright: Cabinet Office


    Copyright: Cabinet Office

  8. BreakingUK death toll rises by 170

    A further 170 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, Sharma says.

    It brings the total number of deaths to 34,636.

    Daily death tallies announced on Sundays and Mondays are typically lower than on the other five days, due to hospital reporting delays.

    The latest daily testing figures do not include those from Northern Ireland due to “technical issues”, he says.

    Business Secretary Alok Sharma at Sunday's briefing

    Copyright: PA Media

  9. UK government briefing starts

    Business Secretary Alok Sharma begins the UK government’s daily briefing on the coronavirus response.

    Stay with us as we bring you the latest.

  10. Texas reports huge spike in cases two weeks after reopening

    A man gets his hair cut in Texas on 8 May

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: Texas allowed all retail businesses to reopen earlier this month

    Texas reported its largest one-day spike in new coronavirus cases on Saturday with 1,801 new infections.

    It comes after the governor allowed all retail businesses to reopen on 1 May, but with restrictions on capacity.

    Thirty-three more people died on Saturday, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,305.

    Around 700 of the new cases were reported in Amarillo, where a meatpacking plant has been identified as a source of the local outbreak.

  11. Johnson risks fracturing national unity, warns mayor

    Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham

    Copyright: PA Media

    Image caption: “There are different issues in different places,” the mayor for Greater Manchester said

    The UK government is risking a “second spike” of the virus in the north of England by ignoring regional leaders, the mayor for Greater Manchester has warned.

    “There are different issues in different places. Listen to people locally, work with them,” Mayor Andy Burnham told the BBC. “If the government carries on in the same vein, expect to see an even greater fracturing of national unity.”

    Burnham also questioned why only London’s transport network (TfL) had been promised a government bailout, and why the capital’s mayor is the only one to sit on the government’s emergency planning group, Cobra.

    He said the UK’s original “Stay at Home” message should not have been replaced by the new “Stay Alert” message in the north, where it is thought the infection rate is currently higher.

    The governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have refused to follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s easing plan.

    Writing in the Observer, he added: “Arguments will increase about funding. And if we don’t get the help we need, there is a risk of a second spike here which, in turn, will pass the infection back down the country through the Midlands to London.”

    Chart showing R rate differences by region

    Copyright: BBC

  12. India lockdown extension confirmed

    Divya Arya

    BBC World Service

    Narendra Modi

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

    We told you a few minutes ago that India’s National Disaster Management Authority had requested the extension of the country’s lockdown to 31 May. This extension has now been confirmed, with considerable relaxations.

    Offices can work with staggered business hours, shops are allowed to open with a limited number of customers, and states have been given the authority to identify containment zones, which will continue to have restrictions in place, while other areas can open up.

    States also have the authority to allow inter-state travel but air travel, metro rail services, schools, colleges, religious places, hotels and places for social gatherings will remain shut.

    The rules will need further clarifications from each state and there is a high possibility of chaos in the following days as the details are communicated to people and implementing authorities.

    India had announced a lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus on 24 March.

  13. Watch: US celebrities congratulate graduates

    Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: Barack Obama and LeBron James congratulate US graduates

    Many schools in the US have had to cancel or postpone graduation ceremonies because of the pandemic.

    Former US President Barack Obama and NBA star Lebron James are amongst a host celebrities to have sent students messages to congratulate them.

  14. Hospitals demand safer roads for key workers

    Cyclists on Westminster Bridge during lockdown

    Copyright: PA Media

    Image caption: Hospital bosses have written to local councils to flag specific concerns over road layouts

    Some hospitals in London are calling for streets to be made safer to help doctors and nurses “get to work safely” as they tackle the pandemic.

    Hospital bosses have written to local councils to flag specific concerns over roundabouts and road layouts, which they fear discourage people to cycle or walk into work.

    Organisers of the group, called Key Workers need Streetspace, say councils should make the changes to “improve the health of local communities” and to help workers “continue to use the healthiest and cleanest modes of travel”.

    The UK has warned workers who need to commute should cycle or walk “wherever possible” because the two-metre (six-feet) distancing rule meant there would 10% of the usual numbers on public transport.

    Earlier this week the mayor of London announced that some city streets would be converted to walking and cycling only, while the UK government has pledged £250m ($300m) for pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements and safer junctions in England.

  15. UK government briefing now at 16:30 BST

    We’ve just heard the start time for the UK government briefing has been pushed back to 16:30 BST (15:30 GMT).

    Stay with us as we’ll bring you all the latest updates.

  16. Egypt to tighten restrictions at end of Ramadan

    Egyptians look at traditional lanterns in Cairo

    Copyright: AFP

    Image caption: Egypt will impose tight restrictions from next Sunday

    Sweeping restrictions will be in place across Egypt for six days from 24 May as the country celebrates Eid, the extended holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

    Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said public transport would be halted, and a public curfew would be imposed from 17:00 to 06:00.

    Shops, restaurants, beaches and parks will also be closed, and restrictions on citizens’ movements will stay in place for at least two weeks afterwards.

    Madbouly said the measures would protect public health and help to prevent any further spread of the coronavirus.

    Over 11,700 cases have been reported in Egypt, along with 612 virus-related deaths. The government has slightly eased its nightly curfew, despite the daily number of cases continuing to rise.

    Our colleague Rebecca Schraer has more on how to fast safely for Ramadan during the pandemic.

  17. BBC’s #LastNormalPhoto goes viral

  18. Northern Ireland reports three more coronavirus deaths

    The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Northern Ireland has risen to 476 after three more deaths were reported by the Department of Health.

    The figures mostly cover deaths in hospitals.

    UK-wide figures
    published by the Department of Health – which use a different timeframe to
    those of individual nations and also include deaths in the community and care
    homes – will be published later.

  19. Thailand reopens shopping centres as restrictions ease

    A visitor rides an escalator in front of a screen featuring the slogan

    Copyright: AFP

    People in Thailand have been rushing to shopping centres today as the government begins to ease lockdown restrictions.

    With new virus cases dwindling, the centres are opening for the first time in more than eight weeks.

    People walk arround the food court

    Copyright: AFP

    But strict measures are in place. All visitors must walk through a disinfectant mist at every entrance, and thermal scanners are in place to check people’s temperatures.

    Staff and visitors are also required to wear masks and keep a two-step distance from those around them.

    People stand in line to enter the Siam Paragon shopping mall

    Copyright: AFP

    In a controversial move, shoppers must adhere to a contract-tracing system through their phones. They have to register when they enter and leave the facility, as well as checking in and out of individuals stores within it.

    More than 3,000 cases have been reported in the south-east Asian country, along with 56 virus-related deaths.

    A woman helps shoppers use QR codes to sign in to stores before entering

    Copyright: AFP

    A ban on international visits has been extended until the end of June, and the government said it will be monitoring infection rates before deciding when to ease other restrictions.

  20. India’s lockdown could be extended until 31 May

    India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has requested a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus is extended to 31 May.

    The NDMA, responsible for setting policy on the lockdown, made its request in a letter to India’s interior ministry, which is expected to issue detailed guidelines on the lockdown later on Sunday.

    There have been more than 90,000 cases of coronavirus in India and at least 2,871 deaths.

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