Here is a round-up of the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, May 24.
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Confirmed worldwide cases: 5,311,089
Confirmed deaths: 342,104
Confirmed recoveries/discharges: 2,112,198
In Wales, the number of people dying after testing positive for coronavirus is on the decline.
On Saturday, the latest update was six more people died in hospital with the virus, bringing the total in Wales to 1,260 .
Public Health Wales (PHW) also announced 185 new confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the overall total to 13,169 .
Boris Johnson is under renewed pressure to sack Mr Cummings after reports surfaced that the 48-year-old made a second trip to County Durham, where his family lives, despite social restrictions.
The PM pledged his “full support” on Saturday to his under-fire chief adviser, who it emerged had travelled 260 miles to the North East in March to self-isolate with his family while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.
According to the Sunday Times, Mr Johnson told allies he would not throw Mr Cummings “to the dogs” following reports he made the journey to ensure his four-year-old child could be looked after as he and his wife were ill with coronavirus.
But according to reports in the Observer and Sunday Mirror, the former Vote Leave campaign co-ordinator made a second trip to Durham and was seen there on April 19 – five days after being photographed on his return to Westminster.
A second eyewitness told the two papers they saw him a week earlier in Barnard Castle on Easter Sunday, a popular tourist location 30 miles away from Durham, during the period he was believed to be self-isolating.
Downing Street has said it would “not waste time” replying to the fresh allegations from “campaigning newspapers”.
Delay in imposing lockdown saw cases rise by 1.3m in nine days
The UK government’s hesitance to implement lockdown restrictions saw the number of those infected with coronavirus rise by 1.3 million in nine days, it has been reported.
According to an investigation by The Sunday Times’s Insight team, Boris Johnson’s delay in imposing measures saw cases rise from 200,000 on March 14 to 1.5 million on March 23 as the government deliberated on the timing and scale of the lockdown.
The increase in cases during this time is shown in a study by Imperial College London’s pandemic modellers and Oxford University’s department of statistics.
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The study used backward modelling to calculate that the rate of infection was doubling every three days on March 14 – the date it is believed the Government first agreed that lockdown measures would be necessary to curb the virus’s spread.
Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the Government’s Nervtag (new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group), told the paper: “I think that critical period of delay made the big difference to the peak numbers, both of hospitalisations and of deaths.
“I think everyone would accept now in retrospect that if we’d gone for lockdown a couple of weeks earlier that would have greatly reduced the numbers of hospitalisations and deaths.”
Low coronavirus transmission rate could jeopardise vaccine trial
An Oxford University vaccine trial’s chances of success could be halved due to how quickly the coronavirus is fading in the UK, it has been reported.
Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group began development on a coronavirus vaccine in January, using a virus taken from chimpanzees.
Following an initial phase of testing on 160 healthy volunteers between 18 and 55, the study is now set to progress to phases two and three, which involve increasing the testing to up to 10,260 people and expanding the age range of volunteers to include children and the elderly.
But a leading member of the project has told The Sunday Telegraph that the low transmission of Covid-19 in the community leaves the trial with only a 50% chance of success.
Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute, told the paper that if the virus’s spread is too low not enough of the volunteers will catch it and the trial will be unable to definitively say if the vaccine works.
“It’s a race against the virus disappearing, and against time,” Professor Hill said.
“We said earlier in the year that there was an 80% chance of developing an effective vaccine by September. But at the moment, there’s a 50% chance that we get no result at all.
“We’re in the bizarre position of wanting Covid to stay, at least for a little while.”
Split three-day week proposed to aid economic recovery
A split three-day week should be considered as part of the economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, with workers separated into two different teams, a report is urging.
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) is suggesting that firms arrange “A teams” and “B teams”, typically working Monday to Wednesday or Thursday to Saturday, based on a similar arrangement in South Korea.
This would help enable social distancing at work and ease congestion on the roads, cycling infrastructure and public transport, said its report.
Employees would then have greater choice to combine work with caring, learning, or volunteering and lead to a future of more flexible work for both employers and employees, said the RSA.