Coronavirus live news: Iceland cluster traced to non-isolating French tourists; virus 'becoming more contagious'

By Amy Walker (now) and Helen Sullivan (earlier)

05:29

Iceland cluster traced to French tourists

A cluster of around 100 Covid-19 cases in Iceland have been traced back to two French tourists who refused to isolate, a local newspaper reports.

The French pair arrived in Iceland in mid August and were instructed to remain in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus, the country’s chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason said.

“I have information that it was difficult to get them to follow instructions,” he stated. “I really cannot say more.

Around 100 new infections in Iceland have been traced back to two venues in Reykjavik.

Around 100 new infections in Iceland have been traced back to two venues in Reykjavik. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The epidemiologist said the pair brought with them a “French strain” of Covid-19 that has been picked up in around 100 new infections traced back to two establishments: the Irishman pub and the Brewdog restaurant, both in Reykjavík.

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UK debt soars over pandemic costs

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Summary

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01:51

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan for today.

Now, as you all know, it is my duty and honour to bring you the very latest in coronavirus news. But if you’ll allow it, here is a non-pandemic piece about sisters, a pair of stolen boots and very Scottish chins:

I’m not sure that I’ll ever feel completely Australian. But I know that I only began to feel settled here when my sister visited. She is where I am from, she fastens the compass needle to the compass. In my old-new boots, I feel like she is where I am always going, too.

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In June Boris Johnson told the country it was our patriotic duty to go to the pub and spread the coronavirus: that having been an effective message, the government is now mandating the early closure of pubs and restaurants in what is being called a “curfew”, as though it were the public and not the government who were a bunch of unruly children.

“Curfew” is a contraction of the original French couvre-feu, meaning literally “cover the fire”. In medieval Europe, it was common for a bell to be rung at a certain hour in the evening (often eight o’clock) indicating that all fires must be covered or put out, in order to prevent domestic fires from accidentally burning down whole villages or towns.

The term was subsequently borrowed to refer to a restriction on citizens’ movements after dark, but the traditional “ringing of curfew” by church bells persisted long after its original purpose, as in Grey’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”: “The curfew tolls the knell of parting day.” Now it is tolling the knell of parting beer. One may doubt, though, that these curfews will suffice to put out the fire of the resurgent pandemic:

01:27

South Korea to tighten social distancing curbs during two holiday weeks

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As the number of coronavirus deaths worldwide looked set to pass a million within days, Rio de Janeiro delayed its annual Carnival parade for the first time in a century because of Brazil’s continued vulnerability in the pandemic.

The global death toll passed 980,000 on Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. With the number of deaths confirmed daily averaging more than 5,000, it looks likely the toll will pass 1 million within days. There are 32m cases worldwide.

Coronavirus live news: France sees record new cases; virus may be becoming more contagiousRead more

Earlier in the week, death toll in the United States, which has suffered more coronavirus-related deaths than any other country, passed 200,000. The number of cases is nearing 7m.

Brazil, which has the second-worst death toll worldwide with 139,000, and the third-most cases, with 4.6m, cancelled its carnival parade, which usually takes place in February, for the first time in 100 years. Rio’s League of Samba Schools, LIESA, announced that the spread of the coronavirus had made it impossible to safely hold the traditional event: