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   Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain"s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leaves his home, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London

As it happened: UK minister quizzed on PM aide's lockdown journey

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Summary

    1. UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps defends the prime minister's top aide
    2. He says Dominic Cummings, who has been accused of breaking lockdown rules, has the PM's "full support"
    3. Cummings insists he did "the right thing" when he drove 260 miles to a family home in County Durham with symptoms
    4. England's deputy chief medical officer says people with symptoms should stay at home, unless there is "extreme risk to life"
    5. China, where the virus erupted last year, has for the first time recorded no new cases
    6. Spain's La Liga can resume behind closed doors from 8 June, the country's PM says
    7. Muslims around the world are being urged to celebrate Eid al-Fitr at home amid the pandemic
    8. Globally, more than 5.2m cases have been recorded, says Johns Hopkins University; 338,000 have died and 2m have recovered

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   Edited by Paulin Kola and Sarah Collerton

   All times stated are UK
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    1. Posted at 17:13 23 May17:13 23 May

Thanks for joining us...
       A lifeguard wearing face mask takes the rescue boat onto the shoreline during the lifeguard test on May 23, 2020 in Punta Marina Terme, Italy.
       Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images
       We're pausing the live page, thank you for joining us today. Here's a round-up of today's main developments:
          + Ministers are rallying around Dominic Cummings, the UK prime minister's top aide, who has been accused of breaking lockdown rules by travelling 260 miles to be near relatives
          + UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps defended Cummings and said he has the PM's "full support"
          + China, where the virus erupted last year, has recorded no new cases for the first time
          + Spain's La Liga football league can resume behind closed doors from 8 June, PM Pedro Sánchez has announced. He also said that Spain will reopen to foreign tourists from July
          + Ahead of US Memorial Day on Monday - honoring and mourning the military personnel who had died while serving in the US - Jerome Adams, the country's top doctor, has reminded Americans that wearing a face covering is to protect others.
       And a reminder that quite a few of us worked to bring the latest to you today, including: David Walker, Robert Greenall, Steven Sutcliffe, Jonathan Jurejko, Deirdre Finnerty, George Wright, Matthew Henry, Matthew Cannon, George Bowden, Jennifer Scott, Victoria Lindrea, Sarah Collerton, and Paulin Kola.
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    2. Posted at 17:09 23 May17:09 23 May

Pandemic must force us to rethink, says philosopher
       Youssef Seddik poses for a picture during confinement at home in the capital Tunis on May 23, 2020
       AFPCopyright: AFP
       Renowned Tunisian philosopher and anthropologist Youssef Seddik says he hopes the pandemic will usher in a new way of thinking - and a new way to use language.
       In an interview with AFP news agency in Tunis, he said his time in lockdown had changed him "by making me think about words, about sayings that were self-evident and that we thought were automatic".
       "For example: killing time. What is time killed? It is no longer positive," he said. "Confinement must change our automatic response to language and force us to reflect more, to no longer trust the obvious and ready-made formulas."
       He added: "Perhaps we are about to inaugurate another way of thinking, rather like when we went from the Middle Ages to the Age of Reason."
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    3. Posted at 16:59 23 May16:59 23 May

Danish football club set up 'virtual grandstand'
       How AGF Aarhus' 'virtual grandstand' will look with players celebrating in front of it
       AGF AarhusCopyright: AGF Aarhus
       The screen will show 200 fans at a timeImage caption: The screen will show 200 fans at a time
       Video calls have become an increased part of everyday life for many people during lockdown. And the coronavirus crisis has seen football forced into a big change, with matches having to be played without supporters.
       So Danish club AGF Aarhus has brought them both together in an attempt to create a unique atmosphere at their stadium.
       They are installing a giant screen along the side of the pitch, creating what they call "the world's first virtual grandstand". There will even be a section for away fans.
       "The players will see that they have the support from the city even though there are no supporters in the stands," said the project's co-ordinator Soren Carlsen.
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    4. Posted at 16:53 23 May16:53 23 May

Las Vegas workers wary as reopening nears

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       Video caption: Chips are down as Las Vegas prepares to reopenChips are down as Las Vegas prepares to reopen
       The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the global tourism industry. In the US city of Las Vegas, which has been built around tourism, 160,000 hotel rooms are sitting empty.
       Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has set 4 June as a target date to reopen casinos and although the city's employees are glad to be going back to work, some are awaiting reassurances that they will be safe.
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    5. Posted at 16:50 23 May16:50 23 May

Djokovic sets up Balkan tennis tournament
       World number one Novak Djokovic playing at the Australian Open
       Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images
       With the professional tennis tours on hold until at least August because of the coronavirus pandemic, domestic and regional tournaments appear to be the future - in the short-term, at least - for the world's top players.
       Tournaments in Germany and the United States have already been played - without spectators, line judges, ball kids or handshakes. And more are set to follow around the globe.
       Serbia's Novak Djokovic, the men's world number one, has set up a Balkan-based tournament which starts on 13 June and will feature Austria's world number three Dominic Thiem and Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.
       Scottish doubles player Jamie Murray is planning an exhibition event for the leading British men next month, while the British National Championships - featuring men, women, junior and wheelchair events - will return at "some point this year".
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    6. Posted at 16:48 23 May16:48 23 May

Iran to reopen religious and historic sites
       Iranians wearing face masks attend Laylat al-Qadr prayers
       Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images
       The President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has announced that the country's religious, cultural and historic sites will reopen on Sunday as it eases restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
       The move coincides with the Eid celebrations that mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Mr Rouhani urged pilgrims visiting shrines to avoid mass gatherings and observe social distancing.
       A decision on the reopening of mosques across the country is due to be announced next week.
       Iran says more than 7,000 people have so far died from Covid-19, but the number is believed to be much higher.
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    7. Posted at 16:46 23 May16:46 23 May

US top doctor: 'Wear masks to protect others'
       US Surgeon General Jerome Adams
       Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images
       US Surgeon General Jerome Adams - the country's top doctor - has taken to Twitter in an effort to clarify confusion over the use of masks and face coverings.
       "Wearing a face covering has always been more about protecting your neighbor than protecting yourself," he tweeted.
       "But the more people who wear them, the lower the likely spread and burden of Covid-19 in YOUR community. What’s good for your neighbor is also good for you in the long run!" he added.
       "For most people over the age of 2, wearing a mask is completely safe. As an anesthesiologist, I wear a mask all day long to protect my patients in the operating room."
       See below for more on whether we should be wearing face masks.

Video content
       Video caption: Should I wear a mask to stop coronavirus?Should I wear a mask to stop coronavirus?
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    8. Posted at 16:42 23 May16:42 23 May

Cluster of 40 cases traced to German church service
       A group of 40 churchgoers who attended a service after lockdown was eased in Germany earlier this month have contracted coronavirus, health officials say.
       Six of those infected were taken to hospital. The service was held on 10 May at a Baptist church in the city of Frankfurt.
       Church officials say they followed social distancing rules and disinfected the building ahead of the service. They have now reverted to online worship.
       At least 16 of the cases were detected in Hanau, east of Frankfurt. As a result, the town has called off a prayer gathering that Muslim leaders had organised for this Sunday.
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    9. Posted at 16:40 23 May16:40 23 May

Cummings should be sacked - SNP's Westminster leader
       Ian Blackford speaking from home in an interview
       PA MediaCopyright: PA Media
       Dominic Cummings should be sacked by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for travelling almost 260 miles to be near family members during lockdown, says the Scottish National Party's Westminster leader Ian Blackford.
       "It is quite shocking. We've had no acceptance that what he did was wrong," Blackford told the BBC News Channel.
       "It is obvious this is a journey which was unnecessary and has put at risk the whole public messaging that the UK government has delivered over the past few weeks.
       "He should have resigned by now. There is no real defence and Dominic Cummings should be sacked by the prime minister."
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   10. Posted at 16:39 23 May16:39 23 May

A picture of the sacrifices made during the pandemic
       Charlotte Cole sees her son through the window of her parents' home
       PETER AUSTINCopyright: PETER AUSTIN
       The everyday sacrifices millions of us have made during the pandemic are illustrated by a self-isolating nurse who has been separated from her two-year-old son George for five weeks.
       Charlotte Cole, from Lancashire, took the "hard decision" to move George to her parents, who live five minutes away, after Covid-19 was confirmed at one of her workplaces.
       The 30-year-old and her husband have been making daily trips to see the toddler through a window ever since.
       Read more here.
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   11. Posted at 16:35 23 May16:35 23 May

'I buried my cousin on Facebook Live'
       Mercy Juma
       BBC Africa, Nairobi
       Funeral of Mercy's cousin, Chris
       Mercy JumaCopyright: Mercy Juma
       The chairs were placed at least 1m (3ft) apart - family sat on one side, church officials on the other. Everyone wore a mask.
       Everyone knew of the strict instructions that the Kenyan government had laid down for funerals during the coronavirus pandemic.
       Only 15 people could gather for the burial of my cousin, Chris, and everything had to be done by 09:00 local time.
       By 07:00 the rest of us had gathered, in front of our phones and computers, watching the burial unfold as a friend live-streamed it on Facebook.
       See here for more on how Mercy paid her final respects to her cousin Chris.
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   12. Posted at 16:33 23 May16:33 23 May

Man jailed for spitting at police officer
       Darrell Glen Humphries
       South Wales PoliceCopyright: South Wales Police
       A 53-year-old man from Wales has been jailed for 26 weeks for spitting at a police officer after claiming he had coronavirus.
       Darrell Glen Humphries admitted the assault when he appeared before Cardiff magistrates.
       It is the latest of a spate of similar incidents in the UK.
       Thames Valley Police, for example, said between March and April there were 198 assaults on police officers, 58 of which involved them being coughed, spat at or bitten.
       In Kent, police reported 196 assaults on officers in March and April, with nearly double the number of spitting incidents compared to last year.
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   13. Posted at 16:31 23 May16:31 23 May

Italy death toll continues to drop
       Italy has recorded 119 new deaths from the coronavirus, down from 130 on the previous 24 hours.
       New cases rose to 669, up from 652 on Friday, the Civil Protection Agency said.
       The overall death toll now stands at 32,735, the third highest in the world behind the US and the UK.
       Italy imposed a strict and lengthy lockdown on 7 March - initially in the north, then nationwide - with a ban on walking or exercising more than 200m (656ft) from home.
       In early May, some restrictions were relaxed and people are now able to travel for longer distances, as well as visit their relatives in small numbers.
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   14. Posted at 16:30 23 May16:30 23 May

Cummings issue has resonance way beyond Westminster
       Iain Watson
       Political correspondent

Video content
       Video caption: Shapps faces questions on Cummings' lockdown tripShapps faces questions on Cummings' lockdown trip
       Ministers are rallying around Dominic Cummings and it's clear the PM does not want to lose a trusted adviser with whom he first worked closely on the Vote Leave campaign.
       The hope is that this will be seen as a "Westminster bubble" story and that the bubble will soon burst. Also, after a U-turn on the NHS surcharge for migrants this week, No 10 will not want to look as though it is on the run.
       But this is an issue that has resonance way beyond Westminster.
       Other parents will have been sick during the pandemic and stuck to what they thought were the guidelines to self isolate for up to 14 days.
       So, the danger for the government isn’t just the prospect of political attacks from opponents.
       It is the perception the rules that apply in your street don't apply to Downing Street. And if No 10 are interpreting the guidelines flexibly enough to allow people with Covid symptoms to travel substantial distances to isolate away from their principal residence, the wider public may follow suit.
       That may, in turn, make the government's task of pushing the reproduction rate of the virus down all the more difficult.
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   15. Posted at 16:27 23 May16:27 23 May

What did we learn from today's briefing?
       Today's UK government coronavirus briefing was held by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who was joined by Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England.
       Much of it was dominated by the news the PM's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, had travelled from London to County Durham during the lockdown to self-isolate near family.
       Here is what we learnt:
          + The prime minister gives Dominic Cummings "his full support" following criticism of his lockdown journey, Shapps says
          + Public health advice on self-isolation remains the same - those with symptoms should stay at home for seven days, but where there is a "safeguarding" issue, interpretations may differ, Harries advises
          + Lockdown guidance requires common sense, Harries says, and should be applied if two parents were ill and unable to look after a small child. For context, No 10 said Cummings made the journey to ensure he had childcare for his son after his wife became ill and in case he showed symptoms himself
          + The welfare of Cummings' child, who is four years old, is important in this case, says Shapps. He tells reporters: "It is for an individual to make the decision of how do I ensure I have enough support around the family."
          + Shapps announces £283m to start moving public transport back to a full timetable, but warned a fully-restored service "will only be capable of conveying one-fifth of normal capacity" when allowing for social distancing
          + The Covid outbreak "must be the catalyst" to fixing the rail infrastructure", Shapps says
          + The total number of deaths across all settings in the UK is 36,675.
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   16. Posted at 16:23 23 May16:23 23 May

Who else faced calls to quit over alleged UK lockdown breaches?
       Composite showing Dominic Cummings, Robert Jenrick Neil Ferguson and Catherine Calderwood
       BBCCopyright: BBC
       UK virus experts Prof Neil Ferguson (bottom left) and Dr Catherine Calderwood resigned from their roles, while government adviser Dominic Cummings (top left) and minister Robert Jenrick have defended their actions (top right)Image caption: UK virus experts Prof Neil Ferguson (bottom left) and Dr Catherine Calderwood resigned from their roles, while government adviser Dominic Cummings (top left) and minister Robert Jenrick have defended their actions (top right)
       As we've been reporting, the UK Prime Minister's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is facing calls to resign after making a 260-mile trip to visit family during lockdown.
       Other public figures - charged with leading the country's response to the virus - have faced similar calls for other alleged breaches. Here are the most-prominent cases:
       Professor Neil Ferguson - resigned from his role as a key government adviser after admitting that he had undermined social-distancing rules amid reports he meet his "lover" at his own home
       Dr Catherine Calderwood - resigned from her role as Scotland's chief medical officer in April after twice breaking lockdown restrictions to drive to her second home - about an hour from her Edinburgh property
       Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick - The cabinet minister defended his decision to travel from London to Shropshire, via his second home in Hertforshire, to visit his parents - saying he went to deliver food and medicine.
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   17. Posted at 16:18 23 May16:18 23 May

Who is Dominic Cummings?
       At the Downing Street Brexit night party on 31 January, Johnson hailed Cummings as a “genius”.
       The "dishevelled rule-breaker" who masterminded the Vote Leave campaign has become Boris Johnson's right-hand man.
       Many credit him with "getting Brexit done" and detect his handiwork in the cabinet reshuffle which saw Sajid Javid resign as Chancellor.
       So just who is Dominic Cummings - and how did he become one of the most talked-about figures in contemporary British politics.
       Read more in our in-depth profile, first published in February.
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   18. Posted at 16:18 23 May16:18 23 May

Can a badge really protect you from coronavirus?
       Reality Check
       Reality Check graphic
       BBCCopyright: BBC
       Social media is awash with posts containing fake and misleading information about the coronavirus pandemic.
       We've been fact-checking some of those claims most widely shared this week.
       So-called "protective" badges which ward off viruses are being sold around the world.
       Some of the badges, featuring a white cross design, appear to be of the type falsely marketed as "virus stoppers" in Russia. Some members of the Russian parliament wore them at a recent meeting of the State Duma.
       However, the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says the substance released by such badges - the bleaching agent chlorine dioxide - is harmful. It says claims that it helps protect against Covid-19 are "fraudulent".
       See here for more fact-checking on Covid-19 cannabis treatment, virus origin speculation and claims of a "mass execution" in Yemen.
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   19. Posted at 16:01 23 May16:01 23 May

Labour calls for Cummings inquiry
       The Labour Party has called for an inquiry into Dominic Cummings' trip from London to County Durham during the UK's coronavirus lockdown.
       In a letter to Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill, Labour's Rachel Reeves says: “The British people have made important and painful sacrifices to support the national effort, including being away from family in times of need.
       "It is therefore vital that the government can reassure the public that its most senior figures have been adhering to the same rules as everyone else.”
       The letter dissects an earlier statement from Downing Street - contrasting its words with those of government spokespeople, Boris Johnson and medical and scientific guidance.
       And it asks Sir Mark 10 questions, including when Johnson was made aware of his aide's trip to Durham.
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   20. Posted at 15:54 23 May15:54 23 May

What does the law say is a 'reasonable excuse' to travel during lockdown?
       Reality Check
       "County Durham" roadsign
       Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images
       Dominic Cummings, the PM’s top adviser, says he behaved “reasonably and legally” when he made a trip to an address in Durham at the end of March to be near relatives.
       He says it was because his wife had Covid-19 symptoms and he was worried about childcare if he became ill as well.
       The UK Government’s official advice says you shouldn’t visit another property - whether for isolation purposes or holidays.
       But in law, the definition of a “reasonable excuse” has never been clear. Read more about what powers the police have.
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