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UK buys £400m stake in bankrupt satellite rival to EU Galileo system

3 July, by Jasper Jolly[ —]

Investment with India made in US firm OneWeb after Brexit locks UK out of Europe’s satellite navigation system

The UK government has pledged to invest $500m (£400m) in bankrupt satellite company OneWeb, giving it a stake in a business that provides broadband from space.

The government, which has proven so far unwilling to take stakes in major British companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic, will receive a “significant equity share” in the loss-making company as it seeks to make “high-risk, high-payoff” investments of the kind advocated by 10 Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings.

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Is coronavirus really in retreat in the UK?

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3 July, by Nicola Davis[ —]

Key questions about Covid-19 answered as lockdowns ease across the four nations

England is approaching a significant relaxation of lockdown on Saturday, while in Scotland, outdoor cafes and beer gardens will begin to reopen from Monday. But with rises in infection cropping up around the UK is Covid-19 really on the wane?

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What kind of face mask gives the best protection against Covid-19?

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3 July, by Hannah Devlin Science correspondent[ —]

Your questions answered on what type of mask to wear to cut the risk of getting or spreading Covid-19

Yes. Different types of mask offer different levels of protection. Surgical grade N95 respirators offer the highest level of protection against Covid-19 infection, followed by surgical grade masks. However, these masks are costly, in limited supply, contribute to landfill waste and are uncomfortable to wear for long periods. So even countries that have required the public to wear face masks have generally suggested such masks should be reserved for health workers or those at particularly high risk.

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'I'm cautiously optimistic': Imperial's Robin Shattock on his coronavirus vaccine

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3 July, by Sarah Boseley Health editor[ —]

Team is using new approach that could be cheap and scalable and become the norm within five years

Prof Robin Shattock would have liked slightly longer to develop the revolutionary approach to vaccines that he is pretty sure will not only save lives in the Covid-19 pandemic but become the norm for vaccine development within five years.

His team at Imperial College were working on Ebola and Lassa fever vaccines using new technology but had not got as far as human trials when a novel coronavirus started to kill thousands of people in Wuhan, China.

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Coronavirus live news: Miami-Dade mayor imposes indefinite nightly curfew; South Africa cases surge

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3 July, by Damien Gayle (now); Jessica Murray, Caroline Davies and Helen Sullivan (earlier)[ —]

Biggest single-day jump in South African cases month after lockdown eased; Belgrade declares state of emergency; cases worldwide close to 11m

The US reported a daily global record of more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday as infections rose in the vast majority of states and America’s top public health expert spoke of a “very disturbing week”, write Joanna Walters and Victoria Bekiempis in New York for the Guardian US.

Hospitals in some of the new hotspots in the US south and west put themselves on a crisis footing and face becoming overwhelmed. Florida reported almost 10,000 new cases in the past 24 hours and that state along with Texas, Arizona and California together made up almost half of the total of new infections.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Saudi Arabia has passed 200,000, according to the latest update from the country’s health ministry, weeks ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage, which has been drastically cut back because of the pandemic.

The Gulf’s worst-hit country has now 201,801 confirmed infections including 4,193 new cases on Friday alone. There have been 1,802 deaths, while more than 140,000 of those infected subsequently recovered.

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The Guardian view on protecting the public: cover your face | Editorial

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2 July, by Editorial[ —]

Scotland is right to mandate masks or similar coverings in shops. Wearing them can save lives

Wicked. Horrific. An affront to British liberties. Proposals to make wearing seatbelts compulsory were angrily opposed in the early 1970s. Some warned that it might make motorists more reckless, or endanger unborn babies. MPs claimed there was no real evidence of the benefits. Others complained it would be uncomfortable for women or the elderly. It took years of political battle to change the law, saving tens of thousands of lives.

In retrospect, the outrage looks not merely mistaken but utterly bizarre. Wearing a seatbelt is simply a matter of course now. Yet similar claims have been heard in this pandemic when it comes to wearing masks. The World Health Organization insisted there was not enough evidence to recommend their routine use, changing its advice only last month. Other officials warned that mask-wearers might be lulled into a false sense of security, and would fail to distance themselves from others. There was real and understandable concern that mass purchases would leave no protection for medics and other frontline workers who desperately needed it. But this disparagement of masks may have come at a cost.

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Every dog year not equivalent to seven human years, scientists find

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2 July, by Nicola Davis[ —]

Study of DNA changes in labradors suggests puppies age much faster than older dogs

Dogs do not simply age at seven times the rate of humans, scientists have found in a study that reveals young dogs might be “older” than previously thought.

The findings suggest a one-year-old puppy is actually about 30 in “human years” – an age when humans, at least, might be expected to have stopped running riot with the toilet paper.

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Forget any false sense of security: we are still at the start of the global pandemic | Jeremy Farrar

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2 July, by Jeremy Farrar[ —]

Until every country is protected, we are all at risk. Only effective vaccines and treatments will allow us to eradicate coronavirus

• Dr Jeremy Farrar is director of the Wellcome Trust

Six months on from the first cases of Covid-19 emerging in Wuhan, many of us in Britain will be feeling a mixture of relief and trepidation as England’s lockdown eases. The loosening of restrictions, alongside warmer weather, has brought hope. The UK government is understandably anxious to get society and the economy back on track. This is what we all want, and it’s what scientists are striving to ensure.

Since the virus began to ripple across the world, scientists have worked at incredible speed to deepen our understanding of Covid-19. There have been advances in record time; more than 200 vaccine candidates are already in development, and a treatment identified, dexamethasone, that we now know saves lives. We’ve achieved in months what would normally take decades.

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I am a paramedic working for NHS test and trace but I've yet to make a single call

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2 July, by As told to Sarah Johnson[ —]

I am being paid to sit and refresh my computer screen every 15 minutes. The ‘world-beating’ system is a shambles

NHS test and trace was meant to be world-beating, but in my experience it’s been a shambles. I am a paramedic who has been working for the service since it launched, but I have yet to make a single call.

Last week I got an email from NHS Professionals, the largest NHS staff bank in the UK. It said it had almost been a month since the service went live, and thanked me for my “hard work and commitment to date”.

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Wise words? The advice that I can't forget

2 July, by Adrian Chiles[ —]

From my nan telling me not to lick my finger when turning a page to dubious showering guidance, why do some things stick in our brain?

It’s funny, the things that stick in your mind for ever. When I was little, my brother and I would usually go to our grandparents’ house after school. We would be given our tea in front of the telly, which we would sit and watch while Grandad read the Express and Star and Nan read a magazine. I noticed that every time she turned a page, she licked her finger first. Deducing this was the kind of adult modus operandi I should be aiming for, I started doing the same thing. I went so far as to pick up magazines I couldn’t even read properly, just to practice and perfect my finger-licking page-turning technique. Before long, my Nan saw me proudly in action.

“Oh, don’t do that, Ade,” she said.

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