AstraZeneca signs $15m deal with Oxford firm to manufacture vaccine

AstraZeneca signs $15m deal with Oxford firm to manufacture vaccine

  • September 1, 2020
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A chemist works at AstraZeneca's headquarters - Retuers
A chemist works at AstraZeneca’s headquarters – Retuers

AstraZeneca has signed a $15m deal with an Oxford firm to manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine.

The global pharmaceutical company will pay Oxford Biomedica the sum upfront to reserve manufacturing capacity at its plant.

Two of the manufacturing suites will become operational in the next two months – significantly earlier than originally planned.

Oxford Biomedica could get an additional $35m plus other costs until the end of 2021 under the new 18-month deal.

Follow the latest updates below.

10:19 AM

Grounded by Covid, Nigerian diners get a taste of air travel

Missing the thrill of air travel during the coronavirus lockdown? A Nigerian restaurant is now offering its customers the illusion of flight without them ever having to leave the ground.

The diners at Urban Air in the Nigerian capital Abuja sit on plush white seats and peruse a flight-themed cocktail menu beside windows illustrated with blue skies and puffy white clouds.

Some customers take selfies as staff leave the “cockpit” to serve them.

“The environment is really amazing considering this corona stuff,” said IT worker Fatima Garba during her second visit.

“It’s been a while since we’ve all got to sit inside of an airplane and this just reminds us of that.”

Nigeria has suspended all international commercial flights since late March. It also curtailed domestic flights for several months, though they have since resumed.

Since opening on August 15, the restaurant has served roughly 100 adventure-hungry Nigerians each day.

A view from the business class section - Reuters
A view from the business class section – Reuters
Restaurant owner Ugo Young said even his partner, who is also head chef, had questioned whether a flight-themed restaurant would work - Reuters
Restaurant owner Ugo Young said even his partner, who is also head chef, had questioned whether a flight-themed restaurant would work – Reuters

10:14 AM

PM chairs socially-distanced Cabinet meeting

As Parliament returns from summer recess, Boris Johnson is chairing a socially-distanced Cabinet meeting this morning in the Locarno Suite in the Foreign Office. 

Let’s hope that no other ministers are caught shaking hands (see post at 10.22).

The Prime Minister has a large list of political headaches to contend with – many of them pandemic-related – from the reopening of schools in England to rows over tax rises to pay for the virus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the PM leave 10 Downing Street for the meeting - PA
Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the PM leave 10 Downing Street for the meeting – PA
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is due to appear at the Commons later, attends the meeting - Reuters
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is due to appear at the Commons later, attends the meeting – Reuters
Cabinet's new normal... - PA
Cabinet’s new normal… – PA

10:00 AM

Poland bans direct flights from 44 Covid-hit countries

Poland is banning from tomorrow direct flights from 44 countries including Spain, Israel and Romania in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Central European country, the Government said today.

The United States, Malta, Montenegro, Mexico, Brasil, Argentina and India are also on the list of countries, but local media reported that Russia and China had been removed from it.

The move follows measures to reintroduce restrictions on public life in the worst affected parts of the country, as the Government tries to tackle the spread of the virus without resorting to a complete lockdown.

Poles are, however, allowed to fly to and from any country they want if they choose indirect flights through countries that are not on the list, such as Germany.

Poland, a country of 38 million, has officially registered 67,922 Covid-19 infections and more than 2,000 people have died with the virus. 550 new infections were registered today, according to Health Ministry data.

09:53 AM

Meet the parents joining the home schooling revolution

The coronavirus pandemic has helped fuel a rise in the number of parents opting to remove their children from school long-term. Rosa Silverman has some of their stories. 

When the new school term starts this week, Jess Kim’s two children will not be waiting at the gates alongside their former classmates. Instead, they’ll be joining the growing number of pupils whose parents have decided to stick with home schooling post-Covid. 

For those who have spent the past few months counting down the days until they can dispatch their restless offspring back to the classroom again, the decision may seem incomprehensible. But a significant minority feel differently.

“I have to confess, I have loved [home-schooling]. So much so that we’re going to continue, even though we no longer have to,” says Kim, a stay-at-home mother of a nine-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter. “It was something we had always vaguely considered we might one day do anyway; but lockdown brought things into focus and helped us realise we could definitely now make this work.”

Kim’s family aren’t the only ones who have opted out of the school system following lockdown. Specialist colleges have recorded a notable rise in demand for online courses as parents fearful of sending their children back to school during the pandemic seek out alternatives. 

“We’ve seen about a 60 per cent increase year on year in enrollments in the last three months,” says Greg Smith, head of operations at the Oxford Open Learning Trust, which provides distance learning courses.

Read more here. 

09:47 AM

Kenya’s health ministry told to publish Covid-19 tenders

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered the ministry of health to publish all procurements related to the Government’s response to Covid-19, following accusations of inflated tenders and misappropriation of funds.

The tenders to be published are those undertaken by state-run Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa).

Lawmakers have already started their own investigations into the allegations.

Kemsa’s chief executive had last week told Senators that he had received instructions from Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe and Principal Secretary Susan Mochache on awarding of tenders.

The pair has denied any wrongdoing.

“The Ministry of Health, within the next 30 days, must come up with a transparent, open method and mechanism through which all tenders and procurement done by Kemsa are available online,” President Kenyatta ordered on Monday.

09:37 AM

Tourism to Spain down 75pc year-on-year

The number of foreign tourists visiting Spain fell by 75 per cent in July from a year earlier, data showed today, as the coronavirus outbreak shaved tens of billions of euros off the nation’s usual income from the sector.

Spain, usually the world’s second-most visited country after France with some 80 million visitors a year, welcomed just 2.5 million foreigners in the normally brisk holiday month of July, Spain’s National Statistics Institute said.

Foreign holidaymakers spent €14.29 bn (£12.74bn) in Spain in the year to July, a gaping 73 per cent below the €52.36bn (£46.7bn) they had spent by that point last year.

Plunging custom for hotels, bars and other services enjoyed by tourists has contributed to ravaging an economy of which it usually makes up around 12 per cent, as virus cases climbed past 460,000.

The Government said on Monday it expects a more than 10 per cent rebound in the third quarter of the year after an 18.5 per cent contraction in the second quarter.

Britons remained the biggest group visiting Spain during the first seven months, despite a 77 per cent year-on-year decrease in their numbers. In July, when London imposed a quarantine on people returning from Spain, France was the biggest market.

09:29 AM

UK manufacturing sector expands as companies resume operations

The UK manufacturing sector expanded at the fastest rate for over six years in August, as companies restarted operations following the pandemic.

The closely-followed IHS Markit/CIPS manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) recorded a score of 55.2 in August, from 53.3 in July.

Anything above 50 is considered an expansion in the sector.

09:22 AM

Caught red-handed…

The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, has been filmed shaking hands with a colleague on his way into this morning’s socially distanced Cabinet meeting.

It is not yet known who he was greeting, but unless that person is from Mr Wallace’s household or support bubble, his actions would appear to be a breach of social distancing guidance. 

09:15 AM

Schools in England start to reopen, in pictures

Pupils on the first day back to school at Charles Dickens Primary School in London - PA
Pupils on the first day back to school at Charles Dickens Primary School in London – PA
Approximately 40 per cent of schools are expected to welcome back students for the start of the autumn term today - PA
Approximately 40 per cent of schools are expected to welcome back students for the start of the autumn term today – PA
More than a quarter of parents said they were not planning to send their child back to school at the start of term, while a further 20 per cent remained undecided - PA
More than a quarter of parents said they were not planning to send their child back to school at the start of term, while a further 20 per cent remained undecided – PA
Pupils and parents queue at drop off - PA
Pupils and parents queue at drop off – PA

09:10 AM

Blame put on Public Health England unfair, says Jeremy Hunt

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the blame laid at Public Health England’s door over testing had been unfair, but that the decision to scrap the organisation could be a positive move.

The Commons Health Committee chairman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “My experience of Public Health England was that they basically did what ministers told them to do, so I think it would be wrong to make them a scapegoat.

“But I don’t think that means we can’t improve the structures we have.”

Asked whether the complaints about the organisation in terms of its record on testing were fair, Mr Hunt said: “I think probably unfair, because, if you look back to that period in January and February, you can see there was a blind spot in the whole scientific establishment going well beyond Public Health England that made us all want to treat this like flu rather than Sars, which meant we de-emphasised testing.

“That was a failure that went back to my time as health secretary as well because we ran huge pandemic exercises preparing for flu and not thinking about Sars-like viruses.

“I think it would be unfair to lay that all at the door of Public Health England but does that mean we can’t improve the structures we have? No, I’m sure we can, and so I think it probably will be a positive thing.”

09:03 AM

Hungary lets tourists from Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia in

Hungary has decided to let tourists from its three eastern European neighbours, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, enter the country with a fresh negative coronavirus test, it said late on Monday, just as a lockdown on its borders took effect.

Last week, Hungary said it would close its borders to foreigners from today to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. Returning Hungarian citizens can avoid a 14-day quarantine only if they provide two negative Covid tests.

However, after talks with the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, on Monday, the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, agreed to let Czech visitors who have already booked holidays in Hungary for September enter the country, the foreign ministry said.

The easing was subsequently extended to Poland and Slovakia, the ministry said in a statement. Visitors coming to Hungary have to produce a negative Covid test not older than five days, which Budapest says represents sufficient safety guarantees.

As of Monday, Hungary had reported 6,139 coronavirus cases with 615 deaths. The number of new cases has surged in recent days, just as Hungary prepared to start the school year.

08:58 AM

Just 365 fines issued to public transport users for breaking face covering rules

Fewer than 400 fines have been issued to public transport users in England breaking face covering rules despite one in 10 passengers not complying, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

Some 115,423 people have been stopped and reminded that coverings are mandatory in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Cabinet minister wrote on Twitter.

A further 5,277 were prevented from boarding and 4,182 were ejected from or told to leave a service.

Just 365 fines have been issued.

08:53 AM

Former health secretary backs ‘rapid testing’ in schools

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has backed a call from epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson for “rapid testing” to be introduced in schools, using a similar model to that used in Germany.

The Commons Health Committee chairman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think he is right, and the reason he is right is because we know something now we didn’t know back in January, which is that about 70 per cent of the people who transmit coronavirus don’t have any symptoms at all and so that makes it much harder to get public consent for things like sending people back to school or going back to offices and so on because it is a silent transmitter and even a silent killer sometimes.

“The way you get round that is by having very quick, very effective large-scale testing.

“I think, in fairness to the Government, it is heading in this direction but we could be much more systematic about it if we really wanted to raise confidence.

“If, for example, we said that every secondary school teacher was going to be tested twice a week, then that would really give people confidence that if they were sending their kids back to school, they weren’t sending them into a zone where they might pick up the virus.”

Mr Hunt said he thought it was possible to ramp up testing in such a way but that there were concerns around “false positives” – although he said a second test could help rule out such anomalies.

08:44 AM

Cases in Germany up by 1,218

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,218 to 243,599, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed today.

The death toll rose by four to 9,302.

Coronavirus Germany Spotlight Chart - cases default
Coronavirus Germany Spotlight Chart – cases default

08:40 AM

The new ‘Zoom economy’ brings winners and losers

The home working revolution could mark a ‘profound rebalancing of the economy’ – but the benefits won’t be shared equally, writes Tom Rees. 

Where better than the white sands and crystal clear waters of the Caribbean to wait out a pandemic? With faster internet speed than the UK and Covid-free since June, Barbados is trying to tempt workers who can log on remotely into making the idyllic island their home.

The new 12-month “Barbados Welcome Stamp” is aimed at the millions of workers who have found they can work from anywhere in the world without a hitch. The $2,000 (£1,530) visa may only be a gimmick to whet the appetite of holidaymakers, but it does hint at the huge potential the new “Zoom economy” holds.

“People will look back at what Covid changed, and they’ll see it changed the way we worked,” says Mark Dixon, founder of office space company IWG.

“It has forced people to experience a different type of working that they wouldn’t have normally done and for our industry in the medium to longer term it will be transformational.”

Forced on employers and workers by the pandemic, the shift to remote working has crammed years of transformation into just weeks and months. But keeping workers cooped up in spare bedrooms and entrenched social distancing rules are also having a dramatic impact on other parts of the economy. The Zoom economy has as many losers as winners.

Read the full piece, which is part of our ten-part New Normal series looking at the ramifications of Covid-19 on businesses and economics, here. 

08:31 AM

Cases in Russia pass 1 million

The total number of coronavirus cases in Russia passed one million today after 4,729 new infections were reported.

That brought the country’s total tally to 1,000,048. Russia’s coronavirus crisis centre said 123 new deaths had been confirmed in the last 24 hours.

Coronavirus Russia Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Russia Spotlight Chart – Cases default

08:24 AM

Schools given a ‘small number’ of home testing kits, says minister

Asked about the possibility of regular testing in schools, Nick Gibb said schools have been given a “small number” of home testing kits.

The education minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Whenever a pupil or member of staff show symptoms, they will be asked to return home and then to take a test.

“They will be given priority in the testing regime – we have capacity for 300,000 tests a day.

“Yes (there is an onus on parents to arrange a tests) and if a school is concerned that the parents are unable to get to a testing centre, every school has been sent a small number of home testing kits that can be used for those families.”

08:20 AM

Cases in Ukraine could reach 3,000 a day by month’s end, warns PM

The number of new coronavirus cases in Ukraine will continue to rise in September and could reach 3,000 a day by the end of this month, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said today.

Ukraine reported 2,088 cases today and 2,141 on Monday. Last week the daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to a record 2,481.

The increase comes after Ukraine last week imposed a temporary ban on most foreigners from entering the country until September 28 and extended lockdown measures until the end of October to contain a recent spike in cases.

The country has reported a total of 123,303 infections and 2,605 deaths from the virus.

08:15 AM

Leeds bars shut doors after positive coronavirus test

A group of bars in Leeds city centre have been temporarily closed after a worker tested positive for coronavirus, the BBC reports.

The four bars, all on Call Lane, shut to customers after a member of staff contracted Covid-19.

All staff at Oporto, Jake’s Bar, Neon Cactus and Power Corruption and Lies will now be tested for the virus.

The venues, which are run by Akito Bar Group, released a joint statement on Monday confirming the “precautionary measure”.

The statement said: “We are working with Public Health England to follow the correct steps and a full deep-clean will be carried out in all sites.”

08:12 AM

Survey suggesting young people are three months behind learning shows importance of schools return, says schools minister

Asked about a teachers’ survey suggesting that some young people are three months behind where they should be with their learning, schools minister Nick Gibb said it showed the importance of children being back in school.

The education minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The important thing now is that young people are back in school, back being taught by their teachers.

“Over the lockdown period, schools worked hugely, very hard to make sure there was work for students to do, online lessons and so on.

“But … it is always harder, even for the most hard-working student at home, to learn as effectively in that environment as opposed to being at school with your teacher.”

He also defended the level of access to technology during the schools shutdown after the same survey suggested a quarter of pupils did not have access to a computer or tablet at home.

“Schools didn’t just rely on online lessons, they also had other work sent home and so on, but we did procure one of the biggest procurement of computers in this country – over 200,000 computers were bought on a global market and given over to schools,” said Mr Gibb.

“And we’ve also acquired a further reserve of over 100,000 computers for areas of the country with local restrictions in place, should that happen.”

07:23 AM

WHO director: Hospitals likely to see increase in patients

Hans Kluge, World Health Organisation Europe regional director, said a host of factors meant hospitals were likely to see an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients this autumn.

He said local lockdowns were the best way to target any outbreaks, however, rather than national shutdowns.

“Let’s not forget that we’re entering three phenomena – one is the reopening of the schools for the academic year, the second is the flu season and the third is the excess mortality in the elderly population during the winter,” he said.

“So I wouldn’t be surprised, unfortunately, if we see an increase in October, especially towards late November (of hospital admissions) – there’s no reason for panic but we have to be aware.”

06:56 AM

3 in 4 adults plan to get vaccinated against Covid-19, survey reveals

Some 74 per cent of adults globally are wiling to get vaccinated against coronavirus.

The survey by the World Economic Forum and market research firm Ipsos polled close to 20,000 adults across 27 countries between July 24 and Aug 7 this year.

Read the full survey here.

06:47 AM

‘Even with quarantine it’s worth going abroad’ – Readers on their first post-lockdown holidays

New travel restrictions have been imposed across Europe and beyond with the Netherlands, Malta, Monaco, Turks & Caicos and Aruba joining France in being removed from the Government’s ‘safe’ travel list. 

Given the current restrictions and the suggestion from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that quarantine measures could be “triggered” for any country that has more than 20 cases per 100,000, is it still worth trying to book a holiday abroad? 

Telegraph readers who have travelled abroad reveal if they regretted their decision to book a post-lockdown holiday.

Read what they have to say here.

06:38 AM

Thailand commuters return to work after bank holiday weekend

 Commuters wearing face masks walk through an overpass in Bangkok, Thailand.

On Sept 2 it will be 100 days since the country last reported a domestic Covid-19 infection, as it remains on of the world’s few success stories in terms of curbing the spread.

Commuters in Thailand - Diego Azubel/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Commuters in Thailand – Diego Azubel/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

06:30 AM

No country can just pretend the pandemic is over, says WHO director-general

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivered this video message on Aug 31, telling the public  “we all must remain serious about suppressing its transmission and saving lives.”

06:18 AM

Millions of flu jabs could be delayed until December

Millions of flu jabs may not be offered until close to Christmas, despite fears of an NHS winter crisis, The Telegraph can reveal.

Ministers have promised “the biggest flu vaccination programme in history” in a bid to ensure the NHS can cope if it is hit by a “double whammy” of flu and Covid this winter.

They pledged to expand the programme to half the population, with healthy over 50s offered a jab, as well as pensioners, those with underlying health conditions, and young children.

But now patients have been told it is likely that they will have to wait until December for the jab – despite the fact the flu season may well start earlier, and amid fears of a second wave of Covid.

Read the full story here.

06:09 AM

Back to school across the world

Primary school children return to the classroom in Schwerin, Germany, on their first school day after the summer holidays.

Pupils in Germany - Jens Buettner /DPA
Pupils in Germany – Jens Buettner /DPA

Elementary school students wear masks on the first day of school in Kfar Yona, Israel.

Pupils in Israel - Ariel Schalit/PA
Pupils in Israel – Ariel Schalit/PA

05:59 AM

Face masks on planes rule unenforceable, says tourism industry

Cabin crew are unable to force passengers into wearing face masks, members of the tourism industry have warned following an outbreak on a Tui flight where travellers were “disregarding the rules”.

Travel chiefs have cautioned that there is likely to be an uptick in the number of coronavirus outbreaks on planes after 16 cases were linked to the flight from Zante to Cardiff.

Steve Freudmann, chairman of the Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT), said a change in the rules is now necessary as current measures mean there is “very little” cabin crew can do to get passengers to wear face masks.

“The general consensus in the travel industry is that it’s very unfair on tour operators and airlines in asking them to become enforcers,” he said.

Read the full story here.

05:48 AM

Putting Portugal back on quarantine list will cause ‘chaos and hardship’

Passengers arriving in the UK from Portugal no longer had to self-isolate from 4am on Aug 22 after an approved travel corridor was confirmed.

However, quarantine measures could be reimposed on holidaymakers returning from Portugal due to a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, said: “Another U-turn by the Government, adding Portugal to the quarantine list, will cause further chaos and hardship for travellers.

“The Government is using arbitrary statistics to effectively ban 160 countries and in the process destroying the economy. It needs to introduce a testing regime to restore confidence.”

05:37 AM

Rheumatoid arthritis drug fails as Covid treatment

French drugmaker Sanofi said on Tuesday that its rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara – which it produces with partner Regeneron – had failed as a possible Covid-19 treatment and would be dropped for studies in this field.

Sanofi and Regeneron do not anticipate conducting further clinical studies for Kevzara in Covid-19, Sanofi added, after the latest set of trials in patients across the world showed adverse effects.

Previous trials had shown that the drug did not help patients with less severe Covid-19, the companies had said in July.

“Although this trial did not yield the results we hoped for, we are proud of the work that was achieved by the team to further our understanding of the potential use of Kevzara for the treatment of Covid-19,” said Sanofi’s Global Head of Research and Development John Reed.

“At Sanofi, we are committed to help combat the global Covid-19 pandemic, including developing vaccine candidates that can be manufactured at large scale,” he added.

05:27 AM

Boys fall further behind girls in studies during pandemic

Boys have fallen further behind girls during the pandemic, with some now lagging up to six months behind in their studies, according to a study by one of Britain’s leading education research bodies.

The majority of children have fallen three months behind after missing classes and schoolwork during lockdown, says the survey by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) of 3,000 heads and teachers in 2,200 schools.

But this figure masks big variations between boys and girls and a widening in the academic gap between the better off and poorest children, with the equivalent of one child in every class now assessed by teachers to be six months behind because of the pandemic.

Read the full story

Read more: Back to school: 30 tips from the experts

Boris Johnson talks to a class of year seven pupils on their first day at Castle Rock school, Coalville, central England - AFP
Boris Johnson talks to a class of year seven pupils on their first day at Castle Rock school, Coalville, central England – AFP

03:46 AM

Virus despair forces girls across Asia into child marriage

Tens of thousands of girls across Asia are being forced into marriage by desperate families plunged into poverty because of the pandemic, as campaigners warn years of progress tackling the practice is being undone.

Child marriage has long been common in traditional communities from the Indonesian archipelago to India, Pakistan and Vietnam, but numbers had been decreasing as charities made inroads by encouraging access to education and women’s health services.

These improvements are being eroded as the impact of the virus causes mass job losses leaving parents struggling to feed their families, experts say.

“All of the gains we’ve made in the past decade are really going to suffer,” explains Shipra Jha, head of Asia engagement, at NGO Girls Not Brides.

“Child marriage is firmly rooted in gender inequality and patriarchal structures. What’s happened is that it’s become compounded in the Covid era,” she adds.

Read more: Child marriages skyrocket in Malawi as Covid-19 closes schools, figures show

03:30 AM

Brazil’s president says no one will be forced to have vaccine

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has consistently downplayed the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, said on Monday that nobody will be forced to have the vaccine against the pandemic once it is developed.

The comments come after the government earmarked millions of dollars for the purchase and future production of vaccinations as Brazil suffers the second worst outbreak of the pandemic outside the United States.

“No one can force anyone to get a vaccine,” he said in response to a question from a supporter, according to a video posted on social media.

Brazil has become a hot spot in recent months, with 3,908,272 confirmed cases and 121,381 deaths.

On Monday, the Health Ministry reported 45,961 new cases of the coronavirus and 553 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Read more: When will a Covid-19 vaccine be ready in the UK?

Members of the Red Cross embrace as a Red Cross volunteer vest is projected on the Christ the Redeemer statue to pay tribute to their assistance to Brazilians during the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Reuters
Members of the Red Cross embrace as a Red Cross volunteer vest is projected on the Christ the Redeemer statue to pay tribute to their assistance to Brazilians during the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Reuters

02:43 AM

Asia’s factories emerge from virus gloom

Asian factories continued to shake off the coronavirus-induced gloom in August as more bright signs in China raised hopes of a firmer recovery in global demand, reducing pressure on policymakers to take more radical steps to avert a deeper recession.

Manufacturing activity in China expanded at the fastest clip in nearly a decade in August, as factories ramped up output to meet rebounding demand, a private survey showed. New export orders rose for the first time this year.

The upbeat findings contrasted with an official survey on Monday, which showed China’s factory activity grew at a slightly slower pace in August.

China’s Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 53.1 in August from July’s 52.8, marking the sector’s fourth consecutive month of growth and the biggest rate of expansion since January 2011.

In August, Chinese manufacturing expanded at its fastest rate in nearly 10 years - AP
In August, Chinese manufacturing expanded at its fastest rate in nearly 10 years – AP

01:43 AM

Virus brings deluge of medical waste to Indonesian river

For the residents along Indonesia’s Cisadane River, the coronavirus has brought not just deadly disease, but also a deluge of medical waste: a constant stream of syringes, face masks and hazmat suits floating by.

The double threat for those who depend on the 86-mile-long river to bathe and wash their clothes comes as Indonesia has struggled to contain Covid-19, now with the highest death toll in Southeast Asia, and in the past week almost 3,000 new infections a day.

As the virus has spread, medical waste had been piling up at Tangerang’s Cipeucang landfill. Then in May its walls collapsed, sending tons of garbage straight into the Cisadane’s khaki green waters.

“I still worry to be honest, but I have to wash here,” local resident Eka Purwanti, 36, told Reuters, as she did her laundry in the river, and children played on the riverbank, “I hope nothing will happen, although I know it’s a deadly disease.”

Ratna, a local, bathes her son as she washes clothes in the river - REUTERS
Ratna, a local, bathes her son as she washes clothes in the river – REUTERS
Volunteers work in teams to pull waste out of the river - REUTERS
Volunteers work in teams to pull waste out of the river – REUTERS
Some of the waste the volunteers found - REUTERS
Some of the waste the volunteers found – REUTERS
Syringes are a frequent find - REUTERS
Syringes are a frequent find – REUTERS

01:21 AM

Next year’s exams could be delayed

GCSE and A-level exams will be delayed next summer to give children the chance to catch up on lost lesson time, Gavin Williamson has indicated.

The Education Secretary told The Telegraph he was studying plans for a “short delay” to public exams “with the aim of creating more teaching time”.

Sources suggested exams could be pushed back to June and July, but would not cut into the scheduled summer holidays.

Around four in 10 schools in England will reopen fully on Tuesday. Mr Williamson said the new term brought a sense of “fresh hope” after months of turmoil, and called on the “whole nation” to get behind the millions of children returning and “help them learn, play and be kids again”.

Read more: Pupils to face GCSE and A-Level exam delay next summer

12:02 AM

Treatment hope in form of acai berries

Canadian researchers said Monday they are investigating a popular superfood – the acai berry – as a treatment to prevent Covid-19’s most severe symptoms.

Past studies have shown the berry’s extract may act as an inflammation inhibitor, which doctors believe could help prohibit the severe inflammatory response caused by the coronavirus.

University of Toronto scientists Michael Farkouh and Ana Andreazza, who have studied the berry’s effect on inflammation responses for nearly five years, are researching how it can be used to fight Covid-19.

“It’s a long shot,” Farkouh told AFP. “But acai berries are cheap and easily accessible for everyone, as well as safe, so it was worth trying.”

Acai berries may inhibit the body's inflammatory responses - GETTY IMAGES
Acai berries may inhibit the body’s inflammatory responses – GETTY IMAGES

11:33 PM

Ravers face hefty fines

Nearly two dozen people could be facing fines of £10,000 each for organising an illegal rave on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.

South Wales Police have been trying to disperse the rave since Sunday afternoon when around 3,000 people congregated at a former opencast coalmine near the village of Banwen.

By Monday morning, around 400 people remained, the force said, but it added it was having difficulty flushing them off the 4,000 acre site despite confiscating several sound systems.

Police said 22 people have been reported for summons, alleged to have organised the rave..

The rave in Banwen, Wales - PA
The rave in Banwen, Wales – PA

11:07 PM

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