Here’s what you need to know on 19 June. This article was updated at 5pm.
Deaths: There were 173 coronavirus deaths in the UK in the 24 hours up to 5pm on Thursday. Read more here.
Policy: The UK’s coronavirus alert level is to be reduced from Level 4 to Level 3 following a recommendation by the country’s chief medical officers. The chief medical officers (CMOs) for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, said in a statement that they had agreed to downgrade the alert level after a steady and continuing decrease in cases in all four nations. Read more here.
Virus transmission: The coronavirus “R rate” has stayed at the same level this week, the government has confirmed, remaining between 0.7 and 0.9 for the UK as a whole. The range has decreased slightly in England since last week, and now stands at 0.7-0.9. Read more here.
Education: Boris Johnson has said he is “sure” all children can be back in school full-time from September, as he hinted social distancing rules in classrooms could be relaxed to help more pupils get back quicker. The Prime Minister also announced a £1bn catch-up programme for pupils who have missed out on months of school. Read more here.
Science: Britons with Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage are 20 per cent more likely to die if they develop COVID-19, but there’s no increased risk to black people according to the biggest study of ethnic diversity in death rates. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh discovered that South Asians have a much greater chance of dying from the disease if they are sick enough to need hospital treatment. Read more here.
New mums are much more likely to suffer from post-natal depression amid the coronavirus pandemic, a new study has suggested. Researchers revealed that the number of women suffering from the condition have soared with up to three in four pregnant women or those who have recently given birth suffering with anxiety during the pandemic, compared to less than one in three suffering beforehand. Read more here.
Business: Three large meat factories have closed in England and Wales after more than 100 workers tested positive for COVID-19. Mobile testing tents have been set up outside an Asda-owned meat processing site in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, after workers contracted the virus, following the closure of sites in Wrexham and Anglesey. Read more here.
Wales: First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced Wales will reopen its border from 6 July, so holiday makers and day-trippers will be able to visit. Non-essential shops will be opening from Monday, and there has been an easing of measures on places of worship and the housing market. Read more here.
Read more about COVID-19
Rest of the world
Traces of coronavirus were found in Italy’s water supply in December, suggesting the virus was circulating more than a month before the country reported its first cases. Scientists discovered the presence of SARS-Cov-2 – the virus which causes Covid-19 – in wastewater collected from two northern cities towards the end of 2019. Read more here.
Spain is adding more than 1,000 more fatalities to its coronavirus death toll after officials revised a backlog of inconsistent data. The toll is now 28,313 - authorities had stopped updating the tally at 27,136 on June 7. Read more here.
The recent outbreak of coronavirus in Beijing is a European strain, it’s been reported. Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official Zhang Yong revealed said: “The virus is from Europe, but is different from the virus currently spreading in Europe.” Read more here.
Animals from Living Coast zoo in Torquay have been rehomed after the zoo admitted it might have to euthanise them, as they were forced to close. Living Coasts said they were “hanging in the balance” as a loss of revenue through ticket sales meant they were unable to afford upkeep and maintenance of animals and facilities.On Friday morning it was announced that several aquariums and zoos had come together to find new homes for the marine species at Living Coasts. Read more here.