Covid: Government borrowing down and lockdown blamed for short-sighted childrenon August 20, 2021 at 6:31 am

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday morning.

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

The government borrowed less money in July compared with the same month last year as coronavirus restrictions were relaxed in England, giving the economy a boost. The difference between spending and income from taxes was £10.4bn – which is £10.1bn less than the amount borrowed last July. The huge amount of borrowing needed to support public spending during the pandemic has pushed government debt to £2.2tn – or 98.8% of GDP.

Shoppers

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Two million people already living in lockdown in Australia’s largest city will now be placed under a curfew as Sydney tries to contain a new wave of Covid infections caused by the Delta variant first detected in India. Residents in the worst-hit suburbs of the city will not be allowed to leave their homes between 21:00 and 05:00. The entire city is also subject to stay-at-home orders that have been extended until the end of September. Covid infections in Sydney have more than doubled in the past week. More than half of Australia’s 25 million people are living in lockdown, amid Delta outbreaks also in Melbourne and Canberra.

Two healthcare workers test people in cars for Covid-19

image sourceEPA

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Despite July’s lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England, cinemas have reported that their takings are 50% down on the corresponding period in 2019. Picture houses took £65.7m in the four weeks from 19 July, compared with £129m in 2019. Despite this, cinema chains say they are “very pleased” with the figures and are confident takings will get back to pre-pandemic levels. Coronavirus has disrupted the schedule of new film releases, with the latest James Bond movie No Time To Die having been delayed three times. That film is now due out next month.

A cinema in London told passers-by in May "I assure you we're open"

image sourceGetty Images

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The daughter of an 85-year-old man who died with Covid last year has called for an inquiry into the Welsh government’s handling of the pandemic. Anna-Louise Marsh-Rees believes her father Ian caught the virus while he was in hospital for a gall bladder infection. Ms Marsh-Rees says infection control at the hospital was “poor”. The Welsh government says a UK-wide inquiry has been agreed and that there should be parts of it that deal with the “lived experience” of people in Wales.

Mr and Mrs Marsh-Rees

image sourceAnna-Louise Marsh-Rees

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Optometrists across the country say they are seeing an increasing number of children with short-sightedness (myopia) since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. They put this down to less time spent outdoors due to Covid restrictions, more time spent on screens, and a drop-off in numbers of eye tests carried out during the pandemic. The College of Optometrists is calling for parents to get kids playing outside for two hours a day, as this is proven to prevent or stop the development of myopia – and take their children for eye tests.

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Government statistics show 131,373 people have now died, with 113 deaths reported in the latest 24-hour period. In total, 6,392,160 people have tested positive, up 36,572 in the latest 24-hour period. Latest figures show 6,379 people in hospital. In total, 47,460,526 people have received their first vaccination

There has been quite a lot of talk recently about whether we will need to have a Covid vaccine booster. You can find out more here.

Find further information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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