Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.
Boris Johnson has appealed to people to exercise their new freedoms with caution as most mandatory lockdown restrictions in England are finally lifted. But with Covid-19 cases continuing to soar and renewed warnings about the pressure on the NHS, there was no mood of celebration in Government.
Johnson is spending so-called “freedom day” self-isolating at his official country residence at Chequers after being “pinged” by NHS Test and Trace following a contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who subsequently tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile Thailand reported 11,784 new Covid cases on Monday, the fourth consecutive day of record infections, as the country struggles to tackle its worst outbreak to date.
More on these stories shortly. In the meantime, here are the other key recent developments from around the world:
- Six British athletes and two staff members from the athletics squad were forced to self-isolate after coming into close contact with a member of the public who had Covid-19 on their flight to Tokyo.
- Covid cases are increasing in every state in the United States, while millions remain unvaccinated against the highly contagious Delta variant, the US surgeon general warned.
- Tens of thousands of vaccinated Muslims circled Islam’s holiest site in Mecca on Sunday for the second pared-back hajj in two years, but it is an event which has previously attracted 2.5 million people. The pilgrims remained socially distanced and wore masks as they walked.
- Questions are growing over the UK’s workplace pilot scheme, which allows certain government departments and other public bodies to avoid isolating after exposure to Covid.
- The Delta variant is continuing to spread rapidly in France, as the nation registered more than 12,500 new Covid cases on Sunday. It was the third day in a row that the daily case figure has exceeded 10,000, the Reuters news agency reported.
- Hospitals in the Spanish region of Catalonia could face “severe pressure” as Covid infections peak while some staff are off on holiday.