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Specialist disinformation and social media reporter
West promoted conspiracies about vaccinations in his first big interview after
claiming he wants to run for US president.
Speaking to Forbes, Kanye said he was “very cautious” about a
coronavirus vaccine and said: “They want to put chips inside of us.”
He was echoing anti-vaccine conspiracy theories running rampant
online. And his comments gave further fuel for large anti-vax Facebook groups,
where bizarre and baseless claims about the pandemic
being cover for a plan to implant trackable microchips in all humans are
The coronavirus has prompted a new boom in
anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, which often spill out into more conventional
groups – like those for local areas or parents.
Public health experts and doctors warn that they could
undermine efforts to stop the pandemic, if a vaccine is approved and made available.
Read more on the interviewhere.
Kanye’s comments – and his presidential bid – come as he prepares
to release his tenth studio album.
Copyright: PA Media
Downing Street has defended Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comments over knowledge of asymptomatic transmission early on in the crisis.
Earlier, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on Johnson to apologise at Prime Minister’s Questions for saying “too many” care homes had not properly followed procedures.
Johnson denied his comments amounted to blaming care homes, telling PMQs: “The reality is that we now know things about the way coronavirus is passed from person to person without symptoms that we just didn’t know.”
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “The point is we’ve learned more about the scale of asymptomatic transmission.
“It is a new virus and we’re learning more about its transmission all of the time and as we’ve learned more, the government and public health bodies have adapted in accordance with the information we have.
“I think the point is we’ve been learning more about the scale and the nature of asymptomatic transmission as the pandemic has progressed.”
Minutes from a meeting of the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) on 28 January referenced asymptomatic transmission, saying “early indications imply some is occurring”.
Disinformation specialist, BBC Monitoring
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he’s treating his Covid-19 infection with an unproven drug – and even swallowed a pill in a Facebook video that’s gone viral.
The president, who for months downplayed the risks of the illness, said he had tested positive for
coronavirus on Tuesday.
In a Facebook video that has become one of the platform’s most
shared posts, he said he was treating his illness with hydroxychloroquine, an
anti-malarial drug that has been the subject of a lot of speculation – but so
far has not been proven effective against the virus.
While admitting that the drug had not been scientifically proven, he said “with all certainty” that it was working for him, and that he was feeling better. There were no doctors or medical professionals present in the frame.
In March, Twitter and Facebook deleted a video of Bolsonaro endorsing hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment, saying it violated their misinformation policies. The anti-malarial drug received global attention after being championed by US President Donald Trump.
The BBC has contacted Facebook for comment.
Despite some early studies which raised hopes, one subsequent larger-scale trial indicated that it’s not effective as a treatment.
The BBC’s Reality Check team has detailedwhat we know about the drug.
Good morning if you’re reading this from the US, good afternoon to our readers in the UK and Europe, and good evening if you’re joining us from Asia.
It’s been a busy day so far. To help you catch up, here are the main headlines.
- TheUShas registered more than 60,000 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours – a record high figure for the country. It comes as California and Texas each reported more than 10,000 new daily cases
- Meanwhile, elite universities Harvard and MIT are suing theUSgovernment over an immigration rule that would force international students to leave the country if their colleges don’t hold in-person classes in autumn
- In theUK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a package of measures aimed at combating some of the economic damage caused by the virus. This includes a £2bn ($2.52bn) “kickstart scheme” to create jobs for young people, a six-month cut in Value Added Tax on hospitality and tourism from 20% to 5%, and discounts for diners when they eat out – branded the “Eat Out to Help Out” deal
- Brazilianministers who’ve recently come into contact with President Jair Bolsonaro are being tested for coronavirus, after he announced he had tested positive yesterday. Bolsonaro insisted he was already feeling “fine”, and posted a video online of himself taking the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine
- France’snew Prime Minister Jean Castex has ruled out imposing another national lockdown if there’s a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the country
- Melbourne,Australia’ssecond-largest city, has nowgone into lockdown againafter a surge in cases
- A 32-year-old man with Covid-19 is facing charges inNew Zealandfor escaping quarantine at a hotel in Auckland, going shopping and taking selfies in a nearby supermarket
- Chinahas criticised theUS’swithdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the decision will have grave implications for developing countries
- Mumbai has become the first city inIndiato open up coronavirus testing to everyone. It’s one of the country’s virus hotspots, with about 86,500 cases
- There have now been more than 11.8m cases and almost 545,000 deaths worldwide, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University
A further 42 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals in England to 28,969, NHS England has said.
Patients were aged between 22 and 100 years old. Six patients, aged between 60 and 94, had no known underlying health conditions.
While hairdressers around England have reopened, beauticians have had to stand back and watch, with no reopening date yet announced.
Some workers think it unfair and feel frustrated.
The pair highlighted the fact that the beauty industry contributed billions annually to UK GDP and employed more than 150,000 people in its service side.
“At the moment it does feel like we’re not seen as relevant,” Jenna Woolliscroft, who runs Bella’s Beauty in Stoke-on-Trent,told the BBC.
A Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy spokesperson said beauty salons would open as soon as “we are confident they are able to operate in a Covid-secure way”.
“This is particularly important where there can be a greater risk of transmission due to prolonged periods of face-to-face contact.”
More on the US move to start withdrawing from
the World Health Organization (WHO).
David Nabarro, the WHO special envoy for Covid-19,
says the US decision to leave will hit the body’s finances.
Dr Nabarro told the BBC the
WHO is “underfunded.”
WHO gets its money from mandatory and voluntary
contributions, paid both by member states and a wide
range of private bodies.
The US was due to cover more than 20% of the
organisation’s mandatory contributions in 2020 – none of which has been paid.
The WHO has outstanding balances from many other
member states too. As of 30 June, it had received less than 60% of its mandatory
contributions for this year.
But it could be the voluntary
contributions that really matter, as the figures for 2018 show they made up the vast majority of WHO funding.
These payments amounted to more than $2bn in that year. The US was the biggest
contributor, paying around 12%. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made up another 10% of voluntary funding.
Voluntary contributions have become increasingly
important over the years, and they could become more so as the US pulls
Copyright: Getty Images
Earlier, we mentioned the announcement that diners will get a 50% discount off their restaurant bill during August in an attempt to bolster the embattled sector.
Unveiling the deal, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the UK was facing a “unique moment” because of Covid-19, adding: “We need to be creative.”
Pubs and restaurants reopened on Saturday after more than three months in lockdown.
The new deal means people can get up to £10 off per head if they eat out between Monday and Wednesday in August.
The discount will not apply to alcohol, but to food and soft drinks up to £10 per person.
The Confederation of British Industry welcomed the announcement, adding that restaurants and pubs have been especially hit by lockdown.
“Targeted support to drive demand, will help keep people in jobs and businesses alive,” the grouptweeted.
Health and science correspondent, BBC News
Copyright: Getty Images
Boris Johnson told Prime Minister’s Questions earlier: “The
one thing that nobody knew early on during this pandemic was that the virus was
being passed asymptomatically from person to person.”
The PM made the claim after being accusedof trying to shift the blame for coronavirus deaths onto care homes.
But the question of asymptomatic transmission has actually been a concern since the very
beginning of the pandemic.
Chinese officials were talking about it on 26
January andI reported on it at the time.
This was big news, as it immediately meant
coronavirus would be much harder to contain.
There are still uncertainties, as it is harder to study how
the virus spreads when people are not obviously sick.
And there are likely differences between people who are pre-symptomatic (infected and still healthy, but about to become ill),
pauci-symptomatic (technically ill, but with symptoms so mild they may think
they’re fine) and true asymptomatic (people who have the virus, but never
Copyright: Getty Images
Two prestigious universities in the US are taking legal action against the government over an immigration rule they say will force international students to leave the country.
Under the rule, introduced by the Trump administration, foreign students would be barred from staying in the country if their colleges don’t hold in-person classes this autumn. Much university teaching is shifting online during the pandemic.
Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – two of the highest-ranking universities in the world – have now asked a federal court to block the rule.
Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said in an email to the Harvard community: “We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students – and international students at institutions across the country – can continue their studies without the threat of deportation.”
A food factory in the UKthat has seen 289 confirmed cases of coronavirus among its workersis meeting union representatives on Wednesday after staff said they did not feel safe.
Concerns were raised at the weekend when some workers at Rowan Foods in Wrexham told BBC Wales they had been working on site while they await their test results.
The Unite union’s regional organiser, Dave Griffiths, said: “We are still being told by some of the workers that they are scared to go to work.”
He added that the union wanted clarification on sick pay arrangements.
Rowan Foods has been paying statutory sick pay to workers who have had to self-isolate because of the virus, raising concerns that many were reluctant to take time off because they could not afford to lose the money.
The company previously said that from 1 June “no one will be financially disadvantaged by doing the responsible thing and isolating where required”.
Copyright: PA Media
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has delivered a statement to the Commons, announcing a package of measures aimed at combating the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a brief overview of his announcements:
- A plan to keep furloughed workers in their jobs when the scheme ends in October. If employers keep workers in their jobs until January 2021 they will get a £1,000 bonus per employee
- A £2bn “kickstart scheme” to create more jobs for young people. The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24, who are at risk of long-term unemployment
- A temporary stamp duty holiday, exempting the first £500,000 of all property sales from the tax
- A temporary cut in VAT on hospitality and tourism, to 5% from 20%, for the next six months
- Diners will get a 50% discount off their restaurant bill during August. The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ deal means people can get up to £10 off per head if they eat out between Monday and Wednesday
- A £3bn green package, with grants for homeowners and public buildings to improve energy efficiency
- New payments for businesses hiring apprentices
We earlier reported that the US is set to withdraw visas from foreign students whose courses have moved online because of the pandemic.
The move sparked a flurry of criticism, with politicians and academics arguing that international students would be left with little choice but to leave the country or transfer to a new university that offers in-person teaching.
“We spend a lot of money in our tuition, our rent, and now the government is telling us to go away,” one Twitter user wrote. “So many students cannot afford the ridiculously expensive plane tickets during [this] pandemic.”
Incoming students, too, have been left in limbo about whether they will be able to enter the country and pursue their academic goals.
“I live my life day to day not knowing when I will be able to start university,” says Molly Canham. The 18-year-old from England tells the BBC that she is due to start at Louisiana State University in August on a full sports scholarship.
“I’m worried that my only option will be to take any course that has face-to-face time just so I can get there,” she says. “Not being able to go there in August leaves me in fear that my scholarship may be rejected. A lot of students I know are scared.”
Will you be affected by this decision? Share your experiences by emailing[email protected]or send a message on WhatsApp to +44 7756 165803.
Ministers who have recently had contact with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro are being tested for coronavirus after he announced that he was infected.
Mr Bolsonaro, who had developed a high temperature and a cough, said on Tuesday that he was already feeling better.
He posted a video on social media of himself taking the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine – an anti-malarial treatment championed by US President Donald Trump.
Studies of the drug early in the pandemic raised hopes, but a subsequent larger trial showedit was ineffective.
He told reporters that he was feeling “very well” and removed his mask so they could “look at my face”.
Several senior members of Mr Bolsonaro’s cabinet said they had taken the test, and some are still awaiting their results.
Mr Bolsonaro has in the past played down the risks posed by coronavirus.
BBC News, Paris
We reported earlier that France’s new Prime Minister Jean Castex had ruled out a new national lockdown in the event of a resurgence of coronavirus in the country.
Mr Castex, who before taking over as head of government
last week was in charge of co-ordinating France’s strategy of lifting the lockdown, said that the
cost of another complete lockdown would be too high.
“Yes a [new lockdown] plan is ready,” he told France’s RMC radio, in
answer to a question about a possible second wave.
“But we are not going to do it as we did it in March. For one thing we have learned a lot. But also, a total [lockdown] would have terrible consequences. So [any measures] will be
The latest weekly bulletin from the French health ministry
described the virus as circulating at “low levels”, with the number of
new clusters stable and no sign of a resurgence.
daily death count in hospitals is 13.
However, two overseas territories – French Guyana and the
Indian ocean island of Mayotte – are still reporting high levels of
circulation. Mr Castex said he will visit Guyana this weekend.
Copyright: Getty Images
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeonhas said that people returning to Scotland from Spainand Serbia will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Last week the UK government announced that quarantine in England would not be required for passengers returning from either Spain or Serbia.
But Ms Sturgeon said she would not lift the quarantine requirement while the prevalence of coronavirus in Spain and Serbia was higher than Scotland.
She stressed it would not be possible for travellers to avoid quarantine in Scotland by flying into an English airport and then travelling to Scotland, because Scottish health officials will have the details of those who are travelling back into the UK.
However, quarantine in Scotland will not be required for passengers travelling from 57 other countries and territories listed by the UK government.
The new arrangements will come into affect on Friday.
UK shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds responds to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s statement by saying today should have been a day where the government “built a bridge” between what has been done so far and what needs to be done now “to get our economy moving again”.
She said there should have been a back-to-work budget, but instead Sunak had delivered a statement with many of the big decisions delayed.
“It should have been the day when the millions of British people worried about their jobs and future prospects had a load taken off of their shoulders,” she said.
“It should have been the day when we got the UK economy firing again.
“Today, Britain should have had a back to work budget, but instead we got this summer statement with many of the big decisions put off until later as the benches opposite know full well.”
Stamp duty, the tax on buying land or properties, is being temporarily cut in England and Northern Ireland.
From now until 31 March it will only be charged on properties costing £500,000 or more.
Previously it was charged on properties costing £125,000 or more, except for first-time buyers, who paid nothing up to £300,000 and then a reduced rate up to £500,000.
So this will be a tax cut for first-time buyers looking for property over £300,000 and other buyers going for anything over £125,000 (there are different rules for people buying second homes).
The Halifax says the average price paid by a first-time buyer was £231,455 – so the average first-time buyer would not benefit.
Figures from Zoopla suggest that at the moment 16% of sales in England were exempt from stamp duty last year – they reckon that would have been 89% if anything up to £500,000 had been exempt.
The chancellor announces a temporary holiday on stamp duty on the
first £500,000 of all property sales in England and Northern Ireland, to run until 31 March next year.
He says the change will take place immediately.
The levy is paid on land or property sold for £125,000 or
more – although first-time buyers pay no tax up to £300,000.
He also said he would cut VAT from 20% to 5% for the hospitality and tourism sectors from 15 July until 12 January.
Sunak said he wanted to see pubs, restaurants, cafes and B&Bs “bustling again”.
He also announced a plan which will see some diners will get a 50% discount off their restaurant bill during August.Read more here.
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak says more than 700,000 people are leaving education this year and many are starting their careers.
Under-25s are 2.5 times as likely to work in a sector that has been closed, he says.
“We cannot lose this generation,” he says.
He announces a new “kick-start” scheme, which he says will give hundreds of thousands of young people the “best chance of getting on”.
The scheme will pay employers to create new jobs for any 16-24 year old at risk of long-term unemployment.
Funding will be conditional on employers showing they are new jobs, and they must be at least 25 hours a week, and pay at least the minimum. wage.
He says the government will cover costs for six months – equivalent to £6,500.
Employers can apply to be in the scheme from next month, with the first kick-starters expected to start in the autumn.