Covid-19: One in 80 has Covid, and an Olympic opening ceremony like no other

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow.

1. Covid cases down for third day in UK

Covid cases are down for the third consecutive day in the UK, latest daily figures show. The UK recorded 36,389 new infections on Friday. But experts say it is too soon to say if cases have peaked, given that the statistics do not capture the impact of the relaxing of restrictions that happened in England and Scotland on 19 July, as well as in Wales on 17 July. Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest one in 80 people in the UK (1.3% of the population) has the virus now. That’s up from a week ago, when that figure was one in 100. The Delta variant accounts for nearly every case. And Public Health England has warned there is an increased chance of catching this variant, even if you have had Covid before. Friday’s figures also showed 64 further deaths in the UK within 28 days of a positive test.

A person wearing a face mask by a Tube train

PA Media

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2. An Olympics opening ceremony like no other

The Olympics being staged during a pandemic meant it was never going to feel like it had in previous years. But Tokyo put on a poignant show for the opening ceremony of the postponed 2020 Games on Friday – albeit to a largely empty stadium. Athletes from competing nations wore face masks and many were socially distanced as they took part in the parade at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium. Usually all of them march, but the numbers were reduced this year. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach described the occasion as a “moment of hope”, with the world united in sharing it together, after coronavirus “forced us to be apart” – but there were also protests outside the venue, with many unhappy the Games are going ahead in the circumstances. Covid rates in Japan are at their highest since January. You can follow all the action from the Games here with BBC Sport.

GB athletes at the Opening Ceremony

Getty Images

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3. Students denied quarantine exemption – after two jabs

Three students who had their first vaccine doses in England and second in Scotland have been refused exemption from travel quarantine rules. The vaccination certificates of the three friends, who go to St Andrews University, do not show they have had both jabs. Only the second shows up on their NHS Scotland paperwork, so if they went abroad they would have to isolate. The BBC has learned of issues for English students studying in Wales too. The Scottish and Welsh governments have said they are working to resolve the issue.

Giulia Benedetta Calabrese and friends

Giulia Benedetta Calabrese

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4. Firm fined for claiming clothes stopped Covid spread

An Australian activewear firm has been fined £2.6m (5m Australian dollars) for claiming its clothing “eliminated” and stopped the spread of Covid. Lorna Jane had advertised that its clothing used “a groundbreaking technology” called LJ Shield to prevent the “transferal of all pathogens” – but in a ruling, a judge said this claim was exploitative potentially dangerous. Lorna Jane said it accepted the court’s ruling and that it had been misled by a “trusted supplier” who sold them a product “that did not perform as promised”. The legal action was brought by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) after Lorna Jane began marketing the clothing last July during the Covid pandemic.

Lorna Jane

Lorna Jane

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5. ‘Giddy’ atmosphere as festival gets under way

It feels “strange and wonderful” to be back at a festival, says BBC music reporter Mark Savage. He is one of 40,000 people at Latitude Festival – which is operating under a government event safety trial. The number at the Suffolk site is fewer than attended the Euro 2020 final, but twice as many as you can squeeze into London’s O2 Arena. He says people are “ready to party” and that the “the atmosphere is slightly giddy, as if no-one can quite believe this is happening, and the musicians are equally excited”. Two acts – Irish band Fontaines DC and singer-songwriter Alfie Templeman – have been forced to pull out of appearing at the festival after positive Covid-19 tests.

A boy wearing ear defenders as the crowd watch Maisie Peters at Latitude Festival

Reuters

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And there’s more…

Some critical workers in England won’t have to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace. But who is included in that group? Find out all the information you need here.

There is further information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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