Tuesday evening UK news briefing: Story behind mass testing Covid data

Covid case numbers are rising, but what is the story behind the figures? 

A Telegraph analysis shows that mass testing is giving a skewed picture of the pandemic, with community prevalence now five times lower than when the country had similar case numbers last year. 

Britain today recorded 20,479 cases, with the seven-day total increasing by 72pc. Looking at daily data, it might be assumed the country is now in a similar predicament to mid-December, when around 20,000 daily infections were reported. 

Yet almost three times the number of tests are now being performed each day. Science Editor Sarah Knapton reports how critics have called for the focus to be shifted to admissions and deaths – because vaccinations have broken the link between infections and healthcare needs. 

It comes as the non-essential travel ban to Scotland from Greater Manchester will be lifted – marking an easement of tensions between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and mayor Andy Burnham.

Scotland now has the UK’s highest Covid infection rate. View case numbers by region.

Meanwhile, more than 375,000 pupils are off school as a result of Covid – up from 239,000 the previous week and a record high since classes went back in March. 

The latest data comes as The Telegraph launches Campaign for Children, calling on ministers to put children first and take action to bring an end to the disruption of schools.

PM condemns ‘thugs’ who harassed Chris Whitty

Scotland Yard is investigating an incident in which Professor Chris Whitty was jostled in a London park as a common assault, despite the Chief Medical Officer insisting he did not wish to pursue the matter. Watch a video uploaded to social media, which shows Prof Whitty looking uncomfortable as two men harassed and grabbed him while trying to persuade him to pose with them. It drew widespread condemnation, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressing shock at "despicable harassment" by "thugs". Questions were also raised as to why police officers who were near the scene had not arrested those allegedly responsible at the time. Crime Correspondent Martin Evans reports that it happened the day after a large mob of anti-lockdown protesters gathered outside Prof Whitty’s London home, chanting "murderer".

England v Germany: The rivalries that really matter

All eyes were on Wembley this evening. As England took on Germany in their last-16 Euros tie (follow updates and match analysis here), the two sides restarted a football rivalry that has never suffered from a lack of hype. But there is no doubt the two countries are competitive in other, less emotive areas. From beer to holidays, Guy Kelly takes a lighthearted look at the (other) rivalries with Germany that really matter.

At a glance: Coronavirus evening briefing

  • Near-ultimate protection | Upgraded masks cut risk ‘by 100pc’
  • Australia | How strict defences were breached by delta variant
  • City bosses | Overseas executives win quarantine exemption
  • Travel | Double-jabbed drive bookings for Spain and Portugal
  • Teenagers ‘outlawed’ | ‘Under-18s like me are holiday castaways’

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Starmer’s future in balance | Voters go to the polls in the Batley and Spen by-election on Thursday. Polling suggests the Conservatives could take the seat, which has been held by Labour for 24 years. Firebrand candidate George Galloway could split the vote. Watch our documentary by Political Correspondent Tony Diver in the constituency, where Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer aims to avoid a hat-trick of bad results.

  • BBC | Over-75s licence fee amnesty to end next month
  • Dalian Atkinson | Pc jailed for killing ex-Aston Villa footballer
  • Jacob Zuma | Ex-South Africa president jailed for contempt
  • Picasso | Painting recovered nine years after elaborate heist
  • Pictures | Princess Diana’s Ford Escort sells for £52,000

Around the world: ‘Heat dome’ sparks records

Community cooling centres have been opened as western Canada and parts of the western US baked in a heatwave that broke temperature records. Lytton in British Columbia smashed Canada’s all-time high, with 47.5C (117.5F). The scorching weather has been blamed on a so-called "heat dome" – a high-pressure ridge trapping warm air in the region.

Tuesday interview: Priyanka Chopra Jonas – ‘Lockdown made me look at my failures’

Bollywood-cum-Hollywood star Priyanka Chopra Jonas is finally tackling rejection and self-doubt head on, hears Claire Cohen, in the latest episode of our Imposters podcast. Listen to the podcast

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the Bollywood turned Hollywood star

Comment and analysis

  • Jeremy Warner | ‘Global Britain’ PR guff never ceases to amaze
  • Charles Moore | PM was right to wait until Hancock resigned
  • Telegraph View | This punishment of the young must end
  • Suzanne Moore | Be Kind? Just another way to tell us to Be Quiet
  • Ben Aldiss | No, a bad year for wasps isn’t a good year for us all

Editor’s choice

  • Camilla Tominey video | Princess Diana’s statue may not be enough to heal royal rift
  • Dreaded middle-aged spread | Why macro counting could be key to midlife weight loss
  • Lexus LC-C review | It beats BMW and Mercedes rivals – but it comes with some flaws
  • Business and money briefing

    Property | House prices rose at the fastest pace in more than 16 years in June, jumping 13.4pc year-on-year as buyers rushed to snap up homes before the end of the stamp duty holiday. Chief City Commentator Ben Marlow says it will be difficult to extinguish the fire the break has lit.

    • Sterling | Pound slides as delta variant jitters grow – live updates
    • Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods | Motorists take to streets in protest
    • On top of markets | Live stocks and shares updates 24 hours a day

    Sport briefing

    Wimbledon | His grass-court preparations may not have been to his usual standards, but Roger Federer has returned to Wimbledon. Follow live action against Adrian Mannarino. Tennis Correspondent Simon Briggs explains eight-time SW19 winner Federer’s Wimbledon romance in three acts. And follow today’s performance of seven Britons.

    • Cricket | England v Sri Lanka, first ODI: latest score updates
    • Rugby exclusive | Auto-promotion not guaranteed for 2024
    • F1 | ‘Hamilton should not worry too much about Styrian GP’

    Three things for tonight

    • Watch | Hemingway, BBC Four, 9pm – master of ‘muscular’ prose
    • Diet tips | Three easy ways to lose weight by changing what you eat
    • Play | Telegraph Puzzles featuring today’s Crossword and Sudoku

    And finally… for this evening’s downtime

    The return of Mrs Henderson’s Windmill Girls | They famously carried on posing as Nazi bombs rained down on London during the Bltiz. Now a new generation is preparing to take the stage.

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