Coronavirus: Virus alert level drops, and quarantine rules to be relaxed

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Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus outbreak this Friday evening. We’ll have another update for you on Saturday.

1. Virus alert level drops

The UK’s coronavirus alert level has been downgraded from four to three. The health secretary hailed the news as “a big moment for the country” – but the chief medical officers warn the change “does not mean that the pandemic is over”. How does the alert level system work? Meanwhile, a £1bn fund has been announced to help England’s children catch up on what they have missed while schools have been closed.

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2. Quarantine rules to be relaxed

The government is planning to relax its travel quarantine rules in early July for some countries, our transport correspondent reports. The UK hopes to secure a number of “travel corridors” with countries such as Portugal – so people travelling in either direction would not have to self-isolate on arrival. Read our explainer on the quarantine rules. And, as Wales looks set to lift its travel restrictions, here’s a piece on whether or not you can go on holiday within in the UK.

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3. Secrecy claims over meat factory outbreak

It’s been claimed that a coronavirus outbreak at a meat factory in West Yorkshire was shrouded in “secrecy”. The Kober factory – a supplier to Asda – has been temporarily closed after workers tested positive. Kirklees Council said no-one at the factory has died, or been seriously ill, but we’ve learned about 100 people have been asked to self-isolate.

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4. Virus was in Italy by December

Italian scientists say sewage water from Milan and Turin contained coronavirus traces in December, long before the country’s first confirmed cases. It adds to evidence from other countries that the virus may have been circulating much earlier than thought. Our head of statistics has compared different countries’ death tolls.

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Media captionThe BBC revisits Lombardy, the site of Europe’s first major outbreak of coronavirus, to ask what went wrong

5. Bike bonanza

By Alice Evans and Ella Wills

Toilet rolls. Hand sanitiser. Pasta. Flour. The early pandemic-induced shortages have passed in the UK, but now there is a new one: bicycles. As people venture further afield for exercise, or return to the workplace while avoiding public transport, bikes – new and used – are at a premium. From a teacher who was told she might have to wait until 2021 for new stock, to the NHS worker whose bike was stolen while she shopped for food, we speak to some of the people who’ve struggled to get their hands on a bike – old or new – during lockdown.

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Saskia Breet

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And don’t forget…

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page and get all the latest via our live page.

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