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Breaking news | Covid-19 wrap: Virus already in Italy by December, UK unveils 1 billion schools ‘catch-up’ plan


Breaking news | Covid-19 wrap: Virus already in Italy by December, UK unveils 1 billion schools ‘catch-up’ plan

Breaking news | Covid-19 wrap: Virus already in Italy by December, UK unveils 1 billion schools ‘catch-up’ plan

Breaking news
The coronavirus was already present in northern Italy in December, over two months before the first case was detected.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said English schools would receive $1.2bn in funding to help pupils catch up.Shops and cafes reopened in Singapore as measures were relaxed – but were warned “not to go overboard celebrating”.Virus already in Italy by December: waste water study  The coronavirus was already present in two large cities in northern Italy in December, over two months before the first case was detected, a national health institute study of waste water has found.Researchers discovered genetic traces of Sars-Cov-2 – as the virus is officially known – in samples of waste water collected in Milan and Turin at the end of last year, and Bologna in January, the ISS institute said in a statement seen by AFP on Friday.The results “help to understand the start of the circulation of the virus in Italy,” the ISS said.Italy’s first known native case was discovered mid-February. Samples from October and November 2019 were negative, showing the virus had yet to arrive, La Rosa said.JUST IN: Analysis of waste water in Italy shows Covid-19 was present in the county as early as December, 2019.— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) June 19, 2020Given the large number of coronavirus cases that have little or no symptoms, waste water testing could signal the presence of the virus even before the first cases are clinically confirmed in areas untouched by the epidemic or where it has ebbed.The ISS said it had urged the health ministry to coordinate the collection of samples regularly in sewers and at the entrance to purification plants “as a tool to detect and monitor the circulation of the virus in different territories at an early stage”.AFPUK unveils 1 billion schools ‘catch-up’ plan after lockdown         British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said English schools would receive 1 billion ($1.2bn) in funding to help pupils catch up after missing months of classes due to the coronavirus.The financial boost comes as his government faces withering criticism over its broken pledge to have all primary school children back for a month before the summer holidays.The new money includes 650 million for state-run primary and secondary schools to “lift educational outcomes”, and 350 million for a tutoring scheme specifically for the most disadvantaged youngsters.The UK’s covid-19 alert level has been downgraded from four to three following a recommendation from the country’s chief medical officers— Sky News Breaking (@SkyNewsBreak) June 19, 2020Head teachers will be able to decide how to spend the 650 million, but the government said it expects it to be spent “on evidence-based interventions”, in particular small group tuition.”Guidance will be provided to the sector on how to implement the protective measures necessary to open safely, and to parents on how to minimise the spread of the virus if they choose to attend,” he added.AFPEU seeks post-virus recovery plan         EU leaders launched fraught negotiations Friday, deeply divided over how to raise and then distribute a major recovery fund to revive a European economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.On the table at Friday’s virtual summit is a proposal from European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen for a 750-billion-euro ($840-billion) rescue fund that, if accepted, would mark a historic milestone for EU unity.We have a collective responsibility to deliver. Today #EUCO leaders will discuss our long term #EUbudget and the recovery plan to fight #COVID19Now is the time to engage.— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) June 19, 2020But opposition is fierce from countries known as the “frugal four” – The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Austria – who have promised to fight deep into the summer to rein in the spending.A French source called it a “warm-up round” that would “take the temperature” before leaders land a compromise in late July.AFPCafes, shops reopen as Singapore eases virus curbs         Shops and cafes reopened in Singapore on Friday as coronavirus measures were relaxed – but the city-state’s leader warned people “not to go overboard celebrating”.More than two months after a partial lockdown was imposed, massage parlours and spas also resumed operations while beaches were no longer off limits and sports and other facilities opened again.Social gatherings of up to five are allowed under the relaxed rules, but people must wear face masks and stay one metre apart.In a Facebook post marking the reopening of most businesses, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: “I am sure all of us have been eagerly looking forward to this day for a long time! But please don’t go overboard celebrating.”Potential super-spreader venues such as cinemas, bars and nightclubs remain closed.And live music and TV shows are not allowed at reopened businesses as the noise could cause customers to speak more loudly, spreading droplets which could contain the virus.AFPCoronavirus fuels bicycle sales in congested Bangladesh cities     Dhaka commuters hitting the streets again after a months-long lockdown are opting for bikes to maintain social distancing – and are discovering that pedal power is a way to beat the city’s notorious traffic.”Bike sales have grown to an historic high,” shop owner Mohammad Ibrahim, who now sells nine bicycles a day instead of three, told AFP news agency.”Most people now avoid buses, taxis or auto-rickshaws … [and] buying bicycles as alternatives.”Salesman Abdus Sobhan said mid-range bicycles selling at 10 000-25 000 taka ($120-$300) had sold out.Rezoan Mahbub, a senior executive at a paper-importing firm, said the lockdown made him realise the benefits of owning a pushbike.Aljazeera

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