Here’s what you need to know on 15 July. This article was updated at 5pm.
Deaths: The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said 45,053 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Tuesday – up by 85 from 44,968 the previous day.
Scientists at Cambridge University predict there will be between 45 and 85 daily deaths with coronavirus by the end of July. The model predicts that the East of England is likely to have the highest rate of infections, ahead of London and the Midlands. Read more here.
Policy: Face coverings could be mandatory until a coronavirus vaccine has been found, the health secretary has suggested. Matt Hancock said the policy would be in place for the “foreseeable future”. Read more here.
Politics: Boris Johnson has refused to say whether he read a major report forecasting a worst-case scenario of 120,000 coronavirus deaths between September and June. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) if he read the Academy of Medical Sciences report, which was commissioned by the government’s own chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance. The PM only said he was aware of the report. Read more here.
Boris Johnson has committed to an “independent inquiry” into the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. He said he wanted to “learn the lessons of the pandemic in the future”, during PMQs on Wednesday. Read more here.
Scotland: Pubs and hairdressers are among the businesses reopening on Wednesday as the country marks the biggest easing of lockdown yet. Nicola Sturgeon cautioned that she would not hesitate to reimpose lockdown should case numbers rise. Read more here.
Local spikes: Blackburn is facing a “rising tide” of coronavirus cases, with the rate going up to 47 per 100,000, up from 31.6 cases in the seven days to July 4. The authority is third on the list of highest weekly rates, behind Leicester, which has a rate of 118.2 cases per 100,000. Read more here.
Finance: Some businesses have confirmed they are passing on the cut in VAT to customers from today. VAT will drop from 20% to 5%, but some cafes and restaurants are expected to pocket the difference to help in the coronavirus recovery. Read more here.
ASOS has announced it will repay the furlough money it claimed from the government after a boost in sales during lockdown. The online fashion warehouse saw sales rise by 10%, outstripping many competitors. Read more here.
Hospitals: Nurses not wearing face masks led to a coronavirus outbreak which caused a hospital’s A&E to be temporarily closed, an inquiry has found. An investigation by Hillingdon hospital in north-west London has found that a nurse who had coronavirus unwittingly infected 16 others during a training session they all attended on 30 June, in what was described by a doctor as a “super-spreading event”. Read more here.
R rate: England’s R number, which indicates the rate of spread of coronavirus, dropped lower than previously reported before lockdown measures were eased, a new study indicates. It was down to 0.57, with an average of 13 cases for every 100,000 people. Read more here.
Vaccine: There could be good news about the progress of a vaccine being worked on by a team at the University of Oxford by Thursday, it’s been reported. The vaccine is already in human trials and developers say they are encouraged by what they have seen so far. Read more here.
Read more about COVID-19
Rest of the world
Italy’s calls for help to other EU states when the coronavirus pandemic hit were ignored, it’s emerged. Janez Lenarčič, the European commissioner responsible for crisis management, revealed it meant no one was prepared for the pandemic. Read more here.
An experimental vaccine being trialled in the US has boosted patients’ immune systems and proven safe in 45 volunteers. Volunteers given two doses had more antibodies than the average coronavirus survivor, the team reported. Read more here.
A popular party strip on the island of Majorca has been closed after video footage appeared to show British tourists flouting social distancing guidelines. Footage shared on Twitter shows a large group singing and chanting while climbing on cars on Punta Ballena in Magaluf. Read more here.
Captain Tom Moore, who captured the hearts of the nation during lockdown by walking lengths of his garden to raise money for NHS charities is to be knighted in a special in-person ceremony at Windsor Castle. He called it a “huge honour” and said he was looking forward to meeting the Queen. Read more here.
A 99-year-old war veteran who has survived a Nazi assassination attempt, a horror plane crash and breast cancer has now also defeated coronavirus. Joy Andrew was struck down with the deadly illness at the Minister Grange care home in May. But care home staff watched on in disbelief over the following weeks and months as Joy called on the wartime spirit to "miraculously defeat" COVID-19. Read more here.