FRANCE has done "just enough" to stay off the UK's quarantine list for now – as A-Level results roll in today.
A string of destinations including Malta, Holland and Gibraltar are now likely to be added to a list of nations requiring visitors to quarantine for up to two weeks when they return to the UK.
While cases in France are on the up, The Sun understands it’s not yet reached a point where officials feel the need to pull the air bridges.
A Whitehall source indicated that France had done “just enough” to stay off the list for now – but there are still fears ministers could insist on quarantine measures by the end of the month.
It comes as thousands of A-Level students were left devastated today – after exam regulators revealed 40 per cent of grades were marked down.
Because exams were cancelled during lockdown, a computer algorithm is for the first time being used to adjust grades given by teachers to 250,000 students.
Four in ten grades have been changed, with nearly two in five (39.1 per cent) pupils’ grades in England marked down, according to data from exam regulator Ofqual.
Exam bosses at Ofqual admitted teens who miss out on a university place will have to wait until next week to find out how the appeal process works.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus death toll has dropped by 5,377 following an urgent review into the way deaths are recorded.
It means that now, only deaths that happen within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test will be counted towards the official figure.
It comes following the announcement that positive tests have remained above the crucial 1,000-a-day mark.
A total of 1,009 new cases have been diagnosed – bringing the total number of positive tests to 313,798.
However, the number of new cases diagnosed is lower than yesterday, when 1,148 people were confirmed to have the virus.
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NATIONAL EXPRESS SEES SHARES PLUNGE
Bus and coach firm National Express saw shares fall as much as 17% after it posted statutory pre-tax losses of £122.2 million for the first six months of 2020.
The group said passenger numbers tumbled 80% during global lockdowns, and by 90% in the most impacted parts of the business.
It temporarily suspended all UK coach services from April 5 to July 1 in the face of the coronavirus lockdown, but kept scaled-back operations running across the West Midlands and Dundee.
The group revealed passenger numbers remain around 80% lower across its UK coach arm, which is operating with around 15% of daily seats, while customer numbers are still 47% lower in the Midlands and 53% down in Dundee.
TOP 10 COVID HOTSPOTS REVEALED
Areas in Essex and Scotland have crept onto the list this week with the remaining hotspot regions being dominated by towns and cities in the North of England.
Experts identified six new hotspots and claimed we are still trying to get over the first wave of the virus.
Halton in Cheshire is at the top of the list this week with 0.34 per cent of residents in the area having displayed symptoms of 1,171 of people using the app.
PRIMARY SCHOOL CLOSES FOLLOWING INFECTION
A primary school has temporarily closed in Aberdeen after a case of Covid-19 connected with the institution.
Aberdeenshire Council said a number of staff from Peterhead Central Primary School are self-isolating after a case was confirmed within the school team.
Pupils had not yet returned to the school, which was closed on Wednesday due to weather issues.
A health board spokeswoman said: “We are investigating a detected case of Covid-19, connected with a primary school in Peterhead.
“Our health protection and Test and Protect teams are working hard to establish who close contacts may be and advising them to isolate.”
A&E VISITS IN ENGLAND DOWN 30% ON LAST YEAR
A&E attendances at hospitals in England were down 30% last month compared with a year ago, NHS England figures show.
A total of almost 1.6 million attendances were recorded in July 2020, down from around 2.3 million attendances in July 2019.
NHS England, which published the figures, said “significantly lower” attendances compared to the previous year was “likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response” – suggesting that people are still staying away from A&E departments because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The 30% year-on-year drop for July compares with a fall of 33% recorded in June, 42% in May and 57% in April.
JULY PUB SALES DOWN BY HALF ON LAST YEAR
UK pub, restaurant and bar chains have said that sales halved in July compared with last summer after reopening for the first time after lockdown.
Sales in July were 50.4% lower year-on-year, according to data from the latest monthly Coffer Peach Business Tracker of hospitality firms.
Bars saw sales tumble by 63.3% for the month, while restaurant sales dived by 59.8%.
Pubs were more resilient, with sales falling by 44.7%.
“The figures are a reflection of the fact that reopening of sites has been gradual, and not all by any means are back in business, plus those that are open are in general trading at well below normal levels,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the survey, with The Coffer Group and RSM.
'FROZEN CHICKEN INFECTED'
China said on Thursday a sample of frozen chicken wings imported into Shenzhen from Brazil had tested positive for the virus.
The discovery by local disease control centres was part of routine screenings of meat and seafood imports that have been carried out since June, when a new outbreak in Beijing was linked to the city's Xinfadi wholesale food centre.
CITY AIRPORT PAUSES TERMINAL EXPANSION
London City Airport has announced a “temporarily pause” to its terminal expansion project as the return of passenger demand to pre-Covid-19 levels “will take longer than initially expected”.
Chief executive Robert Sinclair said: “For the time being, we have taken the decision to focus our attention on delivering the vital additional airfield infrastructure which will provide our existing and prospective airline customers with the potential to bring new generation aircraft to this airport in greater numbers, which will be a crucial aspect of how we build a better, more sustainable airport.
“Completing the terminal extension and new east pier very much remains part of our future and, with the foundations for both in place, we stand ready to take those projects forward when demand returns.”
HONG KONG STILL IN 'CRITICAL PERIOD'
Hong Kong reported 69 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, of which 65 were locally transmitted, as authorities cautioned the global financial hub still faced a critical period to control the virus, which has seen a resurgence since early July.
Since late January, more than 4,200 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 65 of whom have died. Thursday's figure was up slightly from Wednesday's 62 cases.
PEREZ MAKES FORMULA ONE RETURN
Perez became the first Formula One driver to go down with coronavirus after he tested positive on the eve of last month's British Grand Prix.
Racing Point said: “We're pleased to share the news that @SChecoPerez has tested negative for COVID-19.
“The FIA have confirmed that Checo can return to the F1 paddock and he will compete for the team in this weekend's Spanish GP.”
Perez is due to appear in front of the media in Barcelona later on Thursday.
TUI CONSIDERS DIVESTMENT TO LOWER DEBT
TUI, the world's biggest tourism group, is considering divesting parts of the business to bring down the high levels of debt it has taken on to help it withstand the coronavirus pandemic.
The company said it was evaluating options to “achieve the optimal balance sheet structure”.
Asked if the group was considering a rights issue and divestments, TUI chief executive Fritz Joussen said: “Yes that's what it is. That's what it is exactly.”
Speaking to reporters on a call on Thursday, Joussen said that any divestments would not be distressed or forced sales.
NEARLY 6% OF ENGLAND WAS INFECTED, STUDY SUGGESTS
Nearly 6% of people in England were likely infected with COVID-19 during the peak of the pandemic, researchers said on Thursday.
A total of 313,798 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Britain, 270,971 of which have been in England, or just 0.5% of the English population.
However, a study which tested more than 100,000 people across England for antibodies to the coronavirus showed that nearly 6% of people had them, suggesting that 3.4 million people had previously contracted COVID-19 by the end of the June.
WETHERSPOON BOSS CALLS ON SCIENTIST TO REVIEW PUB CLAIMS
Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has called on a top scientist to share his evidence linking an Aberdeen coronavirus outbreak to customers in pubs.
He took aim at Aberdeen University’s bacteriology professor Hugh Pennington, who said a recent outbreak in the Scottish city was tied to transmission among drinkers, The Telegraph reports.
Mr Martin said: “Given the importance of the pub industry to its staff, customers and as a taxpayer to the Exchequer, it would be very useful if Professor Pennington could publish the basis of his assumptions, so that they could be thoroughly analysed and peer-reviewed.”
LEVY WITHDRAWN FROM CELTIC CLASSIC
Frenchman Alex Levy has been withdrawn from this week's Celtic Classic by the European Tour after he came into contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
The 30-year-old was due to tee it up at Celtic Manor on Thursday but after learning of a positive coronavirus test of a friend he had met at home in France over the weekend, he informed organisers who took the decision to pull him out of the event.
Levy himself returned a negative test on his arrival at the Welsh venue on Tuesday and is not exhibiting any symptoms- but must now self-isolate for 14 days.
He has been replaced in the tournament by Denmark's Martin Simonsen.
TOP OF THE CLASS
2.9 per cent more students are off to university this year compared to last year – on the weirdest results day ever.
Initial Ucas figures this morning revealed the total number of students accepted on to UK degree courses has risen with 358,860 as students wake up to their A-level results today.
Around 300,000 school leavers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are receiving calculated grades to help them progress onto university or work after this summer's exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But despite the drama, one in four pupils are expected to be awarded top grades.
RUSSIA: CASES RISE
Russia reported 5,057 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing its nationwide tally to 907,758 – the fourth largest caseload in the world.
Russia's coronavirus taskforce said 124 people had died over the last 24 hours, bringing its official death toll to 15,384.
MORE DESTINATIONS COULD FACE QUARANTINE LIST
A string of getaway destinations including Malta, Holland and Gibraltar are now likely to be added to a list of nations requiring visitors to quarantine for up to two weeks when they return to the UK.
While cases in France are on the up, The Sun understands it’s not yet reached a point where officials feel the need to pull the air bridges.
But there are still fears ministers could insist on quarantine measures by the end of the month.
France’s infection rate over 14 days is 30.3 per 100,000 – lower than the 37 per 100,000 that saw Spain removed from the list of safe nations urgently last month.
A Whitehall source indicated that France had done “just enough” to stay off the list for now.
An 11th-hour change to how students will receive their A Level grades has seen a “triple lock” put in place.
It means pupils will be able to appeal, resit exams in the autumn or use their mock grades — as long as mocks were sat under proper exam conditions.
But exam bosses Ofqual admitted those teens who miss out on a university place will have to wait until next week to find out how the appeal process works.
They said: “We are working urgently to operationalise this as fairly as possible and to determine what standards of evidence will be required for the appeal.”
RISHI'S THREE R'S
Rishi Sunak issued his own version of the three Rs tonight as he urged Brits to “rally round and fire up” the nation.
The Chancellor said now is the time to: RELIGHT the economy, RETURN to work and REOPEN schools.
He said: “The figures confirm we’re in an acute recession and the hard times are here. But in amongst the gloom there are some glimmers of growth.
“Now is the time for everyone to rally round and really fire up the economy together.
“Whether it’s going back to school or work in the office again, going to your local restaurant or pub for a meal or visiting your local shops for a bit of retail therapy, if we all play our part we can relight our economic firepower together.”
VIRUS OUTBREAK 'DID NOT SPREAD FROM LONDON'
The coronavirus outbreak in the UK appears to have been “widely dispersed” from the start, one of the scientists leading a study into the prevalence of the virus said.
Helen Ward, from Imperial College London, told BBC Breakfast: “What was interesting (about the study) is that we can tell from people who reported not only having a positive test, but we also asked about their symptoms so we can actually track for most people – the 70% of people who reported symptoms – when they think they were infected.
“And it did start in January, February, and actually it started right across the country, so you can't say that it started in London and spread out.
“Right from the beginning it was widely dispersed.”
CONTACT TRACING TRIAL
A NEW coronavirus contact-tracing app is due to begin trials in England today.
It will be based on Apple and Google's method, which involves smartphones detecting one another, the BBC reports.
The app is meant to support the NHS Test and Trace effort.
An app on people's phones will log when they have come close to someone for long enough for there to be a high risk of contagion.
The Isle of Wight, one other area and volunteers will be involved in the trials.
CORONAVIRUS ANTIBIODIES HIGH IN LONDON
AN IMPERIAL College study suggests the UK's coronavirus infection rate is much higher than previously thought.
Research found six per cent of England’s population had been infected with Covid-19 by July 13.
If correct, it would mean 3.4 million people have had the disease.
The study found 13 per cent of people in London had antibodies, with the figure three per cent in South West England.
Care workers (16 per cent) and health care workers (12 per cent) had higher results than non-key workers (five per cent), the study suggested.
NEW ZEALAND SPIKE
NEW Zealand has reported 14 new coronavirus cases.
It comes a day after its largest city, Auckland went back into lockdown.
It was found earlier this week that members of the same family had become infected.
It comes after New Zealand that seen no locally transmitted cases for more than three months.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “We can see the seriousness of the situation we are in.”
TRAVEL FEARS GROW
FOURTEEN countries with travel corridors to the UK have higher or similar Covid-19 rates to France, analysis suggests.
It comes amid fears for British holidaymakers that quarantine measures for travellers returning from France will be tightened on return to Britain.
The Daily Telegraph research found France had 18.1 cases per 100,000 of population.
The Netherlands (23.1 per 100,000), Gibraltar (35.6), Monaco (38.2), Malta (46.7), San Marino (53.0), the Faroe Islands (198.5), Turks and Caicos (278.9) and Aruba (547.9) had higher rates of new cases per 100,000 than France, analysis from The Daily Telegraph found.
Denmark (15.3 per 100,000), Iceland (14.7), the Czech Republic (14.0), Switzerland (13.3) and Poland (12.7) had a slightly lower rate than France.
CHILDREN accounted for just one in every 100 cases of Covid in England during the first wave of the pandemic, figures show.
Researchers from Public Health England (PHE) say the “reassuring” numbers confirm kids are not an important source of the infection.
They are also highly unlikely to die from it, with just one child with no underlying conditions killed by the bug during the study period.
The findings come after Boris Johnson said getting all pupils safely back into class next month is a “national priority”.
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TOP COP'S A-LEVEL WARNING
A POLICE chief has told A-level students not to break lockdown rules when they party after receiving their results.
Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Nick Bailey’s warning comes as Oldham faces further lockdown following a surge coronavirus cases.
The current Covid-19 lockdown regulations in the region will severely restrict any partying after students get their A-level exam results on Thursday.
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