The UK recorded 118 additional deaths due to COVID-19 bringing the total number to 36,793, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
There were an additional 2,000 new cases of coronavirus as the prime minister said the country could likely move to a phased reopening of schools from June 1.
“We want to start taking our children back into the classroom in a way that is as manageable and safe as possible,” Johnson said.
He added that the June 1 opening would not be possible for all schools.
“Full social distancing may not be possible especially when teaching young children, our guidance sets out a range of protective measures to keep children and staff safe,” Johnson added.
Pressure mounts on top UK government aide to quit
Johnson’s top aide is facing new allegations he violated coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling 400 kilometres to northern England while his wife showed COVID-19 symptoms.
The Observer and Sunday Mirror newspapers reported on Sunday that Dominic Cummings was seen in the northeast of England on two more occasions in April.
Members of the UK’s opposition called for his resignation after it was firstly reported on Friday he violated the government’s own coronavirus restrictions.
Johnson, meanwhile, repeatedly defended Cummings at the briefing on Sunday.
Wuhan lab denies link to COVID-19
The Chinese virology institute in Wuhan, the city where the novel coronavirus emerged last year, said it had three live strains of bat coronavirus but none that match the COVID-19 strain.
The institute’s director told state broadcaster CCTV that claims by US President Donald Trump that the virus could have leaked from the facility were “pure fabrication”.
In an interview recorded on May 13 but broadcast on Saturday, Wang Yanyi said the centre had “isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats. Now we have three strains of live viruses … But their highest similarity to Sars-CoV-2 only reaches 79.8%.”
The virus is believed to have come from a food market in Wuhan.
France’s faithful return to Mass
In France, the religious are celebrating Sunday Mass for the first time in two months after indoor masses have been permitted for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown.
The reopening this week followed a high court ruling that the ban on religious ceremonies was illegal.
Spain set to reopen international borders
Foreign tourists will be able to go to Spain starting in July, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday.
The prime minister said tourists would be able to enter to Spain under certain security conditions.
International arrivals have largely ceased due to strict lockdown restrictions in Spain and quarantine rules. The tourism industry makes up 12% of Spain’s GDP.
There have been more than 28,000 confirmed deaths in Spain which is one of the worst-hit countries in Europe.
The Spanish football league La Liga will also restart on June 8, Sanchez announced. It follows Germany’s Bundesliga which restarted to empty stadiums last weekend.
Russia reports highest daily death toll
Russia reported 153 coronavirus deaths on Sunday over the previous 24 hours. It is the country’s highest daily death toll during the pandemic. Total fatalities now stand at 3,541 in the country.