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Literature fans have used the pandemic as an opportunity to dig out copies of The Plague – Albert Camus’s classic novel about an outbreak of bubonic plague in Algeria under French colonial rule.
The country today is the third worst affected in Africa, with 1,475 deaths.
One doctor in Oran, where Camus’s book is set, says the parallels are haunting.
“We weren’t able to avoid thinking about the plague Albert Camus described during this pandemic… Most patients were very scared – there were a lot of rumours going around. Everyone was caught off-guard.”
Many Algerians also accuse the authorities of exploiting the pandemic to put a halt to a large protest movement that was threatening to destabilise the government.
Glastonbury Festival organiser Emily Eavis has said she is “still very much aiming for June” next year for the festival’s return, and has no plans to push it back to September 2021.
She added that ticket sales will be delayed, however – because the festival remains sold out from this year. So few people have asked for refunds that they do not have enough tickets to resell in October, when booking normally begins, she said.
The deadline for requesting a free refund for 2020 ticket holders has been extended to January and sales will begin in April instead, Ms Eavis said.
New rules allowing police in England to fine the organisers of illegal raves up to £10,000 came into force ahead of the bank holiday, prompting some police forces to begin a crackdown.
Participants in illicit gatherings can also be fined, starting at £100.
But while some forces said they had seized thousands of pounds of equipment to prevent events taking place, others said the powers meant “absolutely nothing” as organisers were often too hard to identify.
“We will seize the equipment – I don’t care if you’ve hired it from someone or if it’s yours, we will break up your event,” said Chief Inspector Lewis Basford from Essex Police after preventing an unlicensed music event from going ahead in Harlow.
West Midlands Police said reports from the public this weekend were dominated by smaller house parties rather than large raves, however.
Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said the new powers mean “absolutely nothing” in London, as people just set up a sound system in the street and deny responsibility for it. He called for stronger powers allowing them to “close the area down”.
On Saturday about 38,000 people protested in Berlin, Germany over coronavirus restrictions, with some calling the virus a hoax.
Far-right groups tried to storm the Reichstag parliament building and 300 were arrested after throwing bottles and stones at police. The demonstrators were ordered to disperse after too many participants refused to wear masks or keep a safe distance.
Protests also took place in the UK, France and Switzerland. In London’s Trafalgar Square, signs reading “masks are muzzles” and “new normal = new fascism” were held up as about 1,000 people attended a rally.
In Zurich, Switzerland an estimated 1000 people who are against mask-wearing gathered.
Meanwhile in Paris 300 people denounced the government’s decision to make wearing a face mask mandatory as the country struggles to contain a rising infection rate which officials on Saturday called “exponential”.
University lecturers in the UK are calling for the mass return to campus to be delayed to prevent “a silent avalanche of infections”, the general secretary of the UCU union, Jo Grady, told BBC Breakfast.
Larissa Kennedy, national president of the National Union of Students (NUS), added that students also want universities to avoid in-person teaching wherever possible and for more investment in high-quality remote learning.
But Prof Carl Heneghan, an Oxford University epidemiologist and practising GP, told BBC Breakfast that despite people’s anxiety, “right now it is as safe as it ever has been to go back”.
“If the issues change, if it becomes more risky, that’s the time when we row back,” he said.
He said US campuses which have experienced outbreaks have found the transmission is not happening in lectures but “in the fraternity houses and outside where there was a significant amount of mixing going on”.
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As the global number of cases passes 25 million, India has set a new world record for the highest number of new infections reported in 24 hours.
The country, which is the world’s second most populous with 1.3 billion people, reported 78,761 cases in one day.
It also reported 63,000 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began.
India has now recorded 3.5 million cases in total, behind Brazil and the US.
Officials say India’s comparatively low rate of testing also means it is not capturing the full impact of the virus.
“Testing per million in India at 30,000 remains the second lowest in top 10 (virus-infected) countries. Mexico is lowest at about 10,000,” virologist Shahid Jameel told AFP news agency.
Here’s a round-up of the main stories around the UK this morning:
- University lecturers are warning that sending more than a million students around the country to resume face-to-face classes is a “recipe for disaster”. Universities say they are prepared but the UCU union says they risk becoming the “care homes of the second wave”
- And as school pupils return this week in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has written an open letter to parents saying that refusing to send their children into class risks putting a “huge dent in their future life chances”
- A leading Conservative backbencher has said it is becoming “increasingly difficult” to defend government policy amid a series of U-turns in its approach to the pandemic. Charles Walker, deputy chair of the 1922 Committee, told the Observer the sudden changes in policy created a “climate of uncertainty”
- A memorial service for the villagers of Eyam, held annually to mark their sacrifice in quarantining themselves to avoid spreading the plague of 1665, is to be held online due to fears of coronavirus
- Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the nation “cannot let coronavirus define its future” as she prepares to set out her programme of government. She said she intends to “drive a strong recovery” and address Scotland’s “deep-seated challenges”
- And David Arnold, the composer of five Bond movie soundtracks, has said the UK music industry is “on a precipice” due to coronavirus, because it is “almost impossible” for musicians to make a living without live performances
Hello and welcome to our live reporting on the coronavirus pandemic around the world.
Eight months after China first reported cases of a “mysterious flu”, global cases of coronavirus have now passed 25 million.
We’ll be reporting on this milestone, as well as other stories as they happen. The other main stories so far on Sunday:
- India has broken the world record for the highest number of new cases recorded in one day. More than 78,000 infections were reported in 24 hours
- There’s outrage in Germany over the use of far-right and Nazi symbols at “anti-corona” demonstrations outside the parliament in Berlin. More than 300 people were arrested at protests against coronavirus restrictions on Saturday
- Thousands have protested against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his government’s handling of the pandemic as he also faces a corruption trial
- New restrictions come into force on Sunday in South Korea where the infection rate is alarming officials. From 9pm-5am restaurants, bars and bakeries will be take-away only in the Seoul area for at least one week. The country reported 299 new infections on Saturday