Wednesday briefing: Ardern blasts ‘failure’ of New Zealand quarantine

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Top story: UK carers forced to resort to food banks

Hello, Warren Murray on the case for you this Wednesday.

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has brought in the defence force to oversee the quarantine of new arrivals after two women who were allowed to travel freely turned out to have coronavirus and came into “close contact” with at least 320 other people. Ardern, who weeks ago announced New Zealand was free of coronavirus, said it was an “unacceptable failure … It should never have happened and it cannot be repeated.”

Families have hailed as “a game-changer” how a campaign by the footballer Marcus Rashford on free school meals shamed Boris Johnson into announcing a “summer food fund” for children in need in England. Families entitled to the meals will receive a one-off voucher at the end of the school term to spend in supermarkets, worth £15 a week for the six-week break. It has emerged that more than 100,000 carers have had to rely on food banks during lockdown.


Marcus Rashford speaks of experience with childhood poverty in bid for free school meals – video

More than nine in 10 universities have told a Universities UK poll they will provide some in-person teaching at the start of term this year. The survey also suggests 87% are planning to provide in-person sporting, fitness and wellbeing activities. Healthcare charities have called for clarity over when there will be an end to coronavirus shielding in England, which affects roughly 2.2 million “clinically extremely vulnerable” people who are having to stay isolated. The government has said it is considering “next steps” for the programme beyond the end of June and a final decision has not yet been made.

New coronavirus infections have soared to record highs in six American states – Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Nevada. Authorities in Beijing have said another 31 people have been infected amid a fresh outbreak. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, schools suspended and all residential compounds ordered to reinstate strict screening. Brazil recorded its worst day yet for new cases with 34,918 diagnoses in 24 hours, bringing its overall total to 923,189. It registered 1,282 deaths since the last update on Monday, bringing the number of confirmed fatalities to 45,241. More than 8 million people have contracted the virus around the world and 441,000 people have died from Covid-19.

Latest breaking news as ever at our global coronavirus live blog.

There’s more in our Coronavirus Extra section further down … and here’s where you can find all our coverage of the outbreak – from breaking news to factchecks and advice.


Zuckerberg announces election hub – Facebook says it will launch a widespread effort to boost US voter turnout and provide information about the electoral process –just as it doubles down on its policy allowing politicians like President Donald Trump to post false information on the same subject. It is launching a voting information Centre that will also be on Instagram and will include details on registering to vote, polling places and voting by mail – drawing the information from state election officials and local election authorities. Facebook will also now let people turn off political and social issue advertisements that display the “paid for by” designation, meaning the ad was bought by a politician or political entity.


‘Line of actual control’ frays – India and China have been plunged into their worst military crisis in 60 years after at least 20 Indian soldiers were clubbed, stoned and fell to their deaths in a bizarre confrontation on disputed Himalayan territory. A brawl broke out in the Galwan Valley along their contested border, apparently when Indian and Chinese patrols stumbled across each other. An Indian officer was pushed and fell into the river gorge, sources said, leading to up to 600 troops from both armies storming in and fighting hand-to-hand with stones and iron rods. No shots were fired as patrols on both sides are typically unarmed. Crisis meetings between the two sides were being held after this first loss of life in the border dispute since 1975. Julian Borger writes: “Neither government wants this to escalate but the fact that there has been significant loss of life, at least on the Indian side, makes the situation much harder to defuse.”


Midweek catch-up

> David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have all condemned Boris Johnson’s plan to merge the foreign office and international development department, saying it will result in “less respect for the UK overseas”. The government is being criticised for seeking to tie Britain’s aid contributions to its foreign policy and trade objectives rather than send aid where it is most needed.

> The Trump administration is seeking a court order to block an explosive book by John Bolton, the former security adviser, that promises to “show a president addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends”.

> A teenage boy has drowned while taking part in watersports close to the Dunluce Castle and Whiterocks beach near Portrush in Antrim, Northern Ireland, police say.

> The “compliant environment” policy on immigration, which replaces the “hostile environment” that led to the Windrush scandal, has yet to show any effect, with MPs told the Home Office has “no idea” how many illegal immigrants remain in the UK.

> The National Trust is urging people not to take a barbecue or light a campfire when they visit the coast and countryside following a spate of wildfires that have damaged flora and fauna.


Mental illness link to babies in care – Pregnant women who are at risk of their newborn being taken into care in their first year are far more likely to have had mental health problems compared with other expectant mothers, a report has found. The study covered more than 1,000 women in Wales. Lisa Harker, the director of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, which commissioned the research, said: “If help can be provided to women, especially when they report with health concerns early in pregnancy, it may be possible to reduce the number of infants taken into care.”

Coronavirus Extra

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is being protected from the coronavirus by a special disinfection tunnel that anyone visiting his residence outside Moscow must pass through, according to state television.





A tunnel is being used to douse Vladimir Putin’s visitors with disinfectant



A tunnel is being used to douse Vladimir Putin’s visitors with disinfectant. Photograph: RIA

The Russian news agency described the disinfectant as a fine cloud of liquid that covered people’s clothes and any exposed parts of the upper body. Russia has registered more than 7,000 deaths so far but there is doubt about the low figure.

Calls have grown to ban the diverse “wet markets” that stock and slaughter live animals – but, while identified with China because of coronavirus, they form a vital part of culinary culture in places you might not expect, including at least 80 across New York that stock live animals and slaughter them on demand for customers.

Today in Focus podcast: How is Keir Starmer changing Labour?

Elected as Labour’s new leader in March, pitched straight into the coronavirus crisis, denied even the chance to hold a victory party. But with public disquiet setting in over the government’s response, Keir Starmer’s ratings are surging.

Today in Focus

How is Keir Starmer changing Labour?

Lunchtime read: ‘I shouldn’t be where I am now’

A jailed father, a murdered boyfriend: Maya Jama, DJ turned TV presenter, has had some hard knocks in her 25 years. She talks about her determination to overcome them.





Maya Jama on the new show Save Our Summer



Maya Jama on the new show Save Our Summer. Photograph: BBC/Fulwell 73

Sport

Fire up the celebration-cam, unleash the crowd noise algorithm and daub those exposed extremities with rubbing alcohol – the Premier League returns tonight. But the government has warned fans that they will be dispersed by police if they turn up at matches being played behind closed doors – and that their clubs could play future games at neutral venues as a result. In Germany, Bayern Munich have been crowned Bundesliga champions for an eighth successive season after a 1-0 win at Werder Bremen.

In tennis, the 2020 US Open will go ahead behind closed doors at the end of August, although the news came from New York state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, who pre-empted the official announcement by 24 hours. Jonny Bairstow’s desire to keep wicket in Test cricket remains undimmed as England’s selectors finalise what has been dubbed a “behind-closed-doors training group” in the leadup to the West Indies series next month. English club rugby union is in chaos with some players being given 24-hour ultimatums to sign new contracts in order to exploit a loophole in the new salary cap rules. And the former snooker player Willie Thorne has been placed into an induced coma in hospital in Spain after suffering respiratory failure.

Business

UK Jobcentre claimants have risen 126% since March according to the latest figures. There were 1.24 million in March but the number rose to 2.8 million by the end of May. Most stock markets in Asia have picked up where Europe and Wall Street left off by rising on the promise of more stimulus from the US Fed. The FTSE100 is set for a slight dip this morning while the pound is worth $1.256 and €1.114.

The papers

Rashford forces PM into U-turn on free meals” is the Guardian’s print edition splash today. And since football’s coming back, others grab the opportunities this offers. “Back of the net” says the Mirror, straplining that heading with “100-day footie drought is over”. “Rashford 1 Johnson 0” says the i.





Guardian front page, Wednesday 17 June 2020



Guardian front page, Wednesday 17 June 2020.

Other stories fronting the editions this morning: in the Metro, “£5 drug cuts Covid deaths”, about the steroid dexamethasone. “£5 wonder drug saves lives” says the Express. The Mail splits up the pill packet to call it the “50p-a-day pill to conquer Covid” – although it doesn’t quite conquer it, rather it reduces the death rate among the most seriously ill. “Thousands to receive life-saving virus drug” says the Times.

The FT has “Sunak to break pension vow” as the pandemic makes “triple lock” increases seem unaffordable.

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