Top UK adviser Prof Neil Ferguson resigns over lockdown breach
Austria says easing lockdown has not led to spike in infections; Macron says major foreign travel will be limited this summer; global deaths pass 250,000, Inflation around the world collapses amid pandemic, Top UK adviser resigns after breaking lockdown rules
Global confirmed cases exceed 3.6 million. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say at least 3,610,006 people have been infected since the outbreak began, while at least 252,346 are known to have died. The figures, which are based on official and media reports, are likely to significantly underestimate the true scale of the outbreak.
Italy records lowest increase in cases for two months. Deaths in Italy climb by 236 on Tuesday, against 195 the day before, while the daily tally of new infections stands at 1,075, against 1,221 on Monday. It is the lowest number of new cases for two months.
WHO urges investigation of possible early cases. The recent discovery that a man in France was possibly infected before the virus was even reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by Chinese authorities has prompted the body to investigate other suspicious cases.
The WHO said the findings were not surprising but gave a “whole new picture on everything”.
Major foreign travel to be limited this summer – Macron. It is unlikely French people will be able to undertake major foreign trips this summer and even trips within Europe may have to be limited to reduce the risk of a resurgence of the epidemic, said the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
“It is too soon to say whether we can take holidays. What I can say is that we will limit major international travel, even during the summer holidays,” he said.
Austria: reopening shops has not accelerated spread. The first loosening of lockdown measures in Austria three weeks ago, in which thousands of shops reopened, has not led to a new spike in infections, the country’s health minister said.
Austria acted early and cut the daily increase in infections to less than 1%. Buoyed by those numbers, it also became one of the first countries in Europe to loosen its lockdown.
Face masks should be worn on flights in future. The International Air Transport Association, which represents global airlines, says it is recommending the wearing of masks on flights, though normal seat allocation can be maintained. Adopting physical distancing on flights had been dismissed as unworkable by the Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary.
Virgin Atlantic to cut jobs and quit Gatwick. Virgin Atlantic plans to cut more than 3,000 jobs and shut its operations at Gatwick airport.
Trade unions and staff were being briefed on the redundancies on Tuesday at lunchtime, according to one official, with an external announcement expected imminently.
Majority of new Spain cases among medics. More than 70% of new cases detected in Spain over the past 24 hours are among medical staff,the health ministry says. With the epidemic receding after peaking more than a month ago, Spain has begun moves to ease out of the lockdown.
Israel and Netherlands studies claim progress in antibody trials. Separate studies in Israel and the Netherlands claim to have created antibodies that can block the infection, a potential future treatment touted as a game-changer until a vaccine becomes available.
No guarantee Tour de France will go ahead. There is no guarantee the Tour de France will go ahead this year, according to the French sports minister, Roxana Mărăcineanu. “Many people are begging me to keep the Tour even behind closed doors,” Mărăcineanu told France Television. “I hope it will take place but I am not sure. We do not know what the epidemic will be like after lockdown.”
Top UK adviser Prof Neil Ferguson resigns over lockdown breach.
Prof Neil Ferguson is the academic whose modelling evidence has been central to not just Boris Johnson’s coronavirus strategy, but for those strategies in France, Germany and the US too. His resignation is a huge blow to the government’s authority on the pandemic.
It was his work that prompted a seismic shift in government policy in the UK response from essentially letting the virus spread through the population to the wholescale stay-at-home policy now in place.
The evidence that changed the government’s policy came from the centre he founded with colleagues at Imperial College, the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, which collaborates with the World Health Organization.
His decision to resign from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), after allowing his lover to visit him at home during the lockdown while lecturing the public on the need for strict social distancing, will leave a gaping hole for ministers to fill.