US tops six million coronavirus cases – up one million in three weeks

More than six million coronavirus cases have now been recorded in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University.

On Monday, researchers at the university recorded 6,006,327 COVID-19 cases in the US and 183,203 deaths.

Three weeks ago, the US reached five million confirmed cases.

Coronavirus cases in the US have exceeded six million
Image: American Football has started up again in some states, with players wearing masks to warm up but not to play

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have been tracking global cases since the start of the pandemic.

The US has had the highest number of cases over the past few months, with Brazil coming in second with 3,862,311 cases and 120,828 deaths as of Monday.

The UK has the 13th highest number of cases in the world, at 338,079, with 41,588 deaths, according to the university.

Health officials in the US believe the number of cases there are much higher, with around 10 times as many people infected for every reported case, due to limits on testing and the large number of mild cases that have gone unreported or unrecognised.

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Many Americans have resisted wearing face masks and social distancing, with the US failure to contain the spread of coronavirus met with astonishment and alarm in the rest of the world.

On Friday, Donald Trump used a 70-minute long speech in which he accepted the Republican presidential nomination to claim the US has had one of the best responses in the world to the pandemic.

Trump accepts Republican presidential nomination

The president said: “The United States has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country in the world.

“The European Union’s case fatality rate is nearly three times higher than ours. Altogether, the nations of Europe have experienced a 30% greater increase in excess mortality than the United States.

“Unfortunately, from the beginning, our opponents have shown themselves capable of nothing but a partisan ability to criticise.

“When I took bold action to issue a travel ban on China, Joe Biden called it hysterical and xenophobic. If we had listened to Joe, hundreds of thousands more Americans would have died.”

The coronavirus pandemic has slashed support for Mr Trump, but he sought to improve his chances in his speech by declaring there will be a vaccine before the end of 2020 – despite virulent disagreement from epidemiologists.

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Coronavirus cases are on the rise again across more than half of the U.S.

A bicycle rider in Liberty State Park wears a mask during the fourth phase of reopening on August 30, 2020 in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Roy Rochlin | Getty Images

Coronavirus cases are rising across more than half of the nation even as the outbreak slows across former hotspots in  Arizona, Florida, California and Texas. 

New cases are up by at least 5%, based on a seven-day average, in 26 states as of Sunday, compared with just 12 states a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In Arizona, Florida, California and Texas, new cases are declining by at least as much, though those states still accounted for nearly 10,000 new cases combined on Sunday — or about a fourth of all new U.S. cases.

Across the nation, average new cases have climbed three out of the last five days.

Many of the recently growing outbreaks across the country are occurring in the Midwest, including Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and the Dakotas. Those states collectively reported more than 7,400 new cases Sunday, according to data collected by Hopkins.

Flattening

Iowa has reported an average of more than 1,100 new cases a day over the past seven days, more than double from a week ago, according to Hopkins data. Some of that rise, though, is likely because the state began including antigen test results last week. South Dakota has reported an average of more than 290 cases per day over the past week, up over 104% compared with a week ago.

New cases are also still rising in a number of more populous Southern states. Alabama has reported an average of more than 1,400 new cases a day over the past week, up more than 53% from a week ago, according to Hopkins data, and South Carolina has reported an average of over 905 daily infections, up 15% compared with last week.

The steady rise of new cases in these states and others are turning up in the national numbers. New cases nationwide have been on the decline for more than a month, but the rate of decline has slowed over the past few days. Average new cases have hovered between 41,000 and 43,000 over the past week, a level far higher than federal health officials say is acceptable heading into the fall.

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The country collectively reported 35,337 new cases on Sunday, according to Hopkins data, but case reporting tends to drop over the weekend with local health departments closed. The seven-day average of new cases per day has risen over the last two days after weeks of decline. It now stands at just over 42,100, down just 1.2% compared with a week ago — more than double the daily average in early June before the outbreak started to pick up speed again, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data.

‘Getting stuck’

To be sure, the nation is still reporting daily new cases far below the peak of the outbreak in late July when the country was reporting nearly 70,000 new cases every day. Hospitalizations, which lag behind the trend of new cases, are also down. As of Sunday, states reported 35,730 individuals currently hospitalized with Covid-19, down 9.4% from a week ago, according to data collected by Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer project founded by journalists at The Atlantic magazine.

The worrying trends across the Midwest come about two weeks after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the middle of the country “is getting stuck” when it comes to combating the virus.

“We’re starting to see some of the cases now in the red zone areas are falling, but if you look at those states that are in what we call the yellow zone, between 5% and 10%, they’re not falling, so middle America right now is getting stuck,” he told Dr. Howard Bauchner with the Journal of the American Medical Association. “We don’t need to have a third wave in the heartland right now.”

In the same interview, Redfield said he’d like to bring the number of daily new cases reported across the country to below 10,000 and the number of new Covid-19 deaths reported each day below 250. 

Zoom In IconArrows pointing outwards

Schools reopening

The recent rise in new cases comes as many of the country’s students head back for in-person learning at colleges and K-12 schools. 

“I’d like to say that it’s surprising, but it’s not,” Dr. Christine Peterson, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa, said of the outbreak in her state. “Both Iowa State and the University of Iowa started on campus instruction this last week, which means that in the last couple weeks, over 50,000 students have returned to those campuses with bars open and no restriction on gathering.”

The University of Iowa reported 130 cases last week after the first week of class. More than 13.6% of all tests came back positive, the university said, adding it still has “adequate isolation and quarantine housing available.” Other universities and public school districts across the country have reported worrying outbreaks among their student bodies, prompting some schools shift to virtual learning from in-person classes.

The recent surge in cases in Iowa prompted Gov. Kim Reynolds to order the closure of bars in some of the state’s most populated counties last week. In Johnson County, one of Iowa’s most populous areas with over 150,000 residents, more than 22% of all Covid-19 tests are now coming back positive, according to the county. In Iowa City, which is located in the county, the school board voted last week to start classes online only. 

While Peterson applauded the steps as common sense mitigation measures, she said they’re “too little too late.” She added that with bars finally closed, she’s optimistic that Iowa will be able to get a handle on the outbreak. 

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Fall approaching

The recent uptick in many states is particularly worrying as a holiday weekend and the fall season quickly approach. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said he’s “nervous” about activity over Labor Day weekend and about the months ahead as the weather turns, flu season settles in and people perhaps let up their guard against the virus.

“I think the fall is going to be a bit of a mess,” he said in a phone interview last week. “If Labor Day begins with a 50-person backyard barbecue that turns into a 30-person indoor drinks after the sun goes down, that’s going to be a huge problem.”

He added that Labor Day could mark the beginning of what may be difficult months ahead. However, he said he does see “glimmers of hope” in recent advances in testing and treatment that could empower local officials to prevent outbreaks and save lives.

“Once you get beyond September, so much is changing so fast. Some part of me keeps hoping that will be okay as time goes along,” he said. “But boy, there’s a lot of months ahead before this stuff starts getting meaningfully better.”

— CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report.

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‘My girl grew up in black culture – allow her’: Stars defend Adele after Instagram photo backlash

High-profile black figures including Naomi Campbell and MP David Lammy have defended Adele over claims of cultural appropriation, following backlash for an image she posted on social media.

The Tottenham-born star attracted criticism from some fans after sharing a photo on Instagram showing her in a Jamaican flag bikini top and with her hair in Bantu knots.

Alongside the image which was taken in the singer’s Beverly Hills garden, she wrote: “Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival my beloved London GBJM”.

The 2020 edition of west London’s traditional celebration of Caribbean and Black culture took place remotely for the first time in its 50-year history due to coronavirus, with Adele was clearly keen to celebrate from her home in LA.

However, it was the 32-year-old star’s decision to wear Bantu knots – a traditional African hairstyle in which the hair is twisted into a series of small coiled buns – that led some to denounce the singer’s choice of costume.

One Twitter user wrote: “If 2020 couldn’t get any more bizarre, Adele is giving us Bantu knots and cultural appropriation that nobody asked for.

“This officially marks all of the top white women in pop as problematic. Hate to see it.”

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Another said: “If you haven’t quite understood cultural appropriation, look at @Adele’s last Instagram post. She should go to jail no parole for this.”

Writing in the comments section of the Instagram post, a user said: “Bantu knots are NOT to be worn by white people in any context, period.”

Responding to reports of the social media backlash, Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy wrote on Twitter: “Poppycock! This humbug totally misses the spirit of Notting Hill Carnival and the tradition of ‘dress up’ or ‘masquerade’ Adele was born and raised in Tottenham she gets it more than most. Thank you Adele. Forget the Haters.”

Commenting on the singer’s original post, Supermodel Naomi Campbell, whose mother was born in Jamaica, commented with two love heart emojis and two pictures of the Jamaican flag.

The X Factor winner Alexandra Burke also stuck up for Adele, telling the BBC’s Carnival tribute show: “I see the pic. She looks hot. She’s obviously been working on her body, that for me is a big deal. She’s looking good.

Notting Hill carnival on August 25, 2019 in London, England. One million people are expected on the streets in scorching temperatures for the Notting Hill Carnival
Image: Last year’s Notting Hill carnival took place amid sweltering conditions in west London

“As a Jamaican girl myself, my girl has grown up in black culture. People forget she’s from Tottenham. She probably eats jerk chicken all the time like all of us.

“All I’m saying is the girl looked good, leave her. Allow her man. If Popcaan is going to endorse it and say yes my girl you’re wearing the flag and you’re wearing it well. Let her live her best life, leave her alone. We love Adele.”

Many of the singer’s celebrity friends also showed their support, with Jamaican musician Popcaan shared a fist emoji and a love heart, and Westworld actress Tessa Thompson commented with a flame emoji.

Carnival is moving from the streets of Notting Hill to the internet due to COVID-19.
Image: This year’s carnival went virtual due to COVID-19

Guardians of the Galaxy star Zoe Saldana wrote: “You look right at home guurrrl”, while US comedian Chelsea Handler commented: “Oh, yeah, baby!”

Many fans also had positive words about her choices, with one writing: “To all the ignorant non-Jamaicans dragging Adele for supporting the Jamaican culture, sit down! You don’t speak for us!

“We are proud of Adele! Nuff respeck to her!”

Adele posted this message on Instagram to mark her birthday: Thank you for the birthday love. I hope you’re all staying safe and sane during this crazy time.
I’d like to thank all of our first responders and essential workers who are keeping us safe while risking their lives! You are truly our angels ♥️
2020 okay bye thanks x
Image: Adele revealed her seven-stone weight loss earlier this year. Pic: Instagram/@Adele

Another said: “How are non-Jamaicans getting mad at Adele when Jamaicans aren’t even mad themselves. This is normal carnival attire. Let Adele sing HELLO PON DI ADA SIDE.”

While a third commented: “I am Jamaican, and I don’t mind this at all. We have bigger things to worry about. The internet is a cesspool of people having too much thoughts.

“Go vote. Register to vote, focus on your mental health. This is a non-issue.”

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Adele’s Instagram account has already attracted lots of attention this year, after the birthday image she shared back in May showed a dramatic weight loss of around seven stone.

It came after the multi Grammy and Brit award-winning star filed for divorce from her husband Simon Konecki last September, citing “irreconcilable differences”.

The couple have a son, seven-year-old Angelo.

Sky News has contacted Adele for comment.

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WHO warns that ‘no country can just pretend the pandemic is over’

The World Health Organization urged countries Monday to continue implementing safety measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, such as limiting public gatherings and protecting vulnerable groups as they try to reopen businesses and services. 

“The more control countries have over the virus, the more they can open up. Opening up without having control is a recipe for disaster,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual news briefing from the United Nations health agency’s Geneva headquarters. “No country can just pretend the pandemic is over.”

Tedros outlined “four essential things that all countries, communities and individuals must focus on to take control.” He said countries should “prevent amplifying events,” which he said many countries have linked to large gatherings at stadiums, nightclubs and places of worship. He added that countries and people can find “creative ways” to be social. 

He added that countries should prevent deaths by protecting vulnerable people, including older people, people with underlying conditions and essential workers. This will help save lives and alleviate the burden on countries’ health systems, Tedros said. 

Tedros also said “individuals must play their part” by wearing masks, social distancing and washing their hands frequently. He added that governments can avoid stay-at-home orders by implementing targeted responses to outbreaks through testing, contact tracing and isolating.

“If countries are serious about opening up, they must be serious about suppressing transmission and saving lives,” he said. “This may seem like an impossible balance, but it’s not. It can be done and it has been done.”

Tedros added that the WHO recently published guidance on how hotels, cargo ships and fishing vessels can safely resume operations as “part of our commitment to supporting every sector to reopen as safely as possible.”

WHO officials said the so-called new normal will include at least some mitigation measures, such as social distancing and mask wearing. The WHO has previously said that such measures will likely need to be followed in many countries even after a vaccine is eventually brought to market. 

Dozens of vaccine manufacturers have launched trials for their coronavirus vaccine candidates, according to the WHO, and at least two have started large phase three trials. Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Dr. Stephen Hahn said over the weekend that his agency would consider issuing an emergency use authorization for a vaccine before its phase three clinical trial is fully complete. 

But Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, warned Monday that authorizing a vaccine too early and with too little data could create a variety of problems. 

“The risk of approving a vaccine prematurely for us is that, first of all, it will make it very difficult to continue with randomized clinical trials,” she said. “And secondly, there’s a risk of introducing a vaccine that’s been inadequately studied and might turn out to have a low efficacy, thereby not doing the job of bringing an end to this pandemic or even worse, have a safety profile that’s not acceptable.” 

She added that the emergency use of a vaccine should be done “with a great deal of seriousness,” particularly because it could lead to adverse side effects in some parts of the population. She added that the decision should be made using as much safety and efficacy data as is possible.

“Scientists around the world are united in a call for agencies and for companies, and most companies have supported this stance, that the approval of a vaccine must be based on data from phase three clinical trials,” Swaminathan said.

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, echoed Swaminathan in saying that collecting and monitoring vast amounts of data is crucial as nations start distributing vaccines to their general population. As the vaccine is introduced to larger and perhaps more diverse parts of the population, negative side effects could emerge, underscoring the importance of the collection of safety data.

“The difficulty and the the challenge with the vaccine is, at the moment, we’re moving from vaccinating tens or hundreds of people to now vaccinating thousands of people,” he said. “We need to get the safety and efficacy data from those studies. Because if you move too quickly to vaccinating millions or hundreds of millions or billions of people, we may miss certain adverse events that you won’t pick up with smaller numbers so you need to maintain monitoring.”

He added that there are strict regulations around emergency use of vaccines and drugs in the European Union and the U.S. as well as in parts of Africa and India. It’s crucial that governments are led by their regulatory agencies, he said.

“Each country has a sovereign right to define its policy for vaccination or any other therapeutic intervention in its population, but it must be guided by the highest possible ethical standards, the highest possible scientific standards,” he said.

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Body found in search for top diplomat missing since May

Police searching for missing diplomat Richard Morris have found a body in the forest where he jogged regularly.

Detectives have not formally identified the body, but Mr Morris’s family has been told of the discovery.

The former UK ambassador to Nepal, 52, vanished on 6 May after setting out on a run from his home in the village of Bentley, Hampshire.

Search for Richard Morris
Image: Officers spent a month searching for the diplomat in a forest and surrounding areas

Police searched Alice Holt Forest near Farnham and other areas where the father-of-three was known to run regularly, but scaled down their operation a month later.

They appealed for sightings from other runners and asked them to check his profile on the running app Strava, while motorists were asked for footage from dashboard cameras.

Hampshire Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious and a file is being prepared for the coroner.

Mr Morris’s family is being supported by specialist officers, Hampshire Police said.

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The diplomat was last seen by a member of the public at about 10.50am on 6 May, running in Isington Road, Alton.

Officers searched more than 3.4 square miles (9sq km) of land and water in Alice Holt Forest as well as areas of Alton and Binstead.

Richard Morris went missing from his home on 6 May
Image: Mr Morris was ambassador to Nepal from 2015 to 2019

They also viewed CCTV footage and carried out house-to-house inquiries but found nothing by June, when they halted the search.

Mr Morris was a regular participant in the weekly Alice Holt run on Saturdays, a 5km route around the forest along tracks, trails and cycle paths.

Prince Harry in Nepal
Image: Mr Morris was with Prince Harry during his royal tour of Nepal in 2016

He was the UK’s ambassador to Nepal between 2015 and November 2019, and was with Prince Harry during his tour of the country in 2016.

Before that, he headed the Pacific department in the Foreign Office and has held senior diplomatic posts including in Australia and Mexico.

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Coronavirus live updates: U.S. tops 6 million cases; New Jersey set to resume indoor dining this week

New cases of the coronavirus are rising in more states across the U.S. compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins University. New cases nationwide are still falling, though the pace of improvement has slowed. The U.S. reported an average of about 42,100 new cases over the past seven days, down just 1.2% compared with a week ago, according to CNBC’s analysis. Globally, cumulative infections now top 25 million. 

Here are some of the day’s important headlines:

The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:

  • Global cases: More than 25.2 million
  • Global deaths: At least 847,100
  • U.S. cases: More than 6.0 million
  • U.S. deaths: At least 183,200

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Prince William’s former private secretary ‘set to be UK’s new top civil servant’

A former private secretary to Prince William will reportedly be named the UK’s new top civil servant.

Simon Case will be named as cabinet secretary on Tuesday, the Financial Times reports.

He spent almost two years working as the Duke of Cambridge’s right-hand man, before temporarily moving to Downing Street earlier this year to help with the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Boris Johnson, left, and Sir Mark Sedwill, right, are pictured here in July 2019
Image: Sir Mark Sedwill announced in June that he would be stepping down from the role

Government sources have declined to comment on the reports, but a Cabinet Office spokesman said: “An official announcement on the new cabinet secretary will be made on Tuesday 1 September.”

It comes after Sir Mark Sedwill announced in June that he would be stepping down from the role.

His decision followed reports of clashes with Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser.

Analysis: He’s a Brexit expert – but critics will dismiss Case as the PM’s “yes man”
By Jon Craig, chief political correspondent

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Simon Case instantly became a leading contender for the top job in the Civil Service after Boris Johnson poached him from Prince William to work in 10 Downing Street.

A former private secretary to David Cameron when he was prime minister, the 41-year-old had been working at Kensington Palace for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

It’s claimed the PM rang William personally and asked permission to borrow his invaluable “Man Friday”. Mr Case won’t be returning to the Royals now, though few in Whitehall thought that was likely.

Mr Case is credited with turning William and Kate into a PR success story and it’s claimed his experience with the dysfunctional Royal household will help him cope with the PM’s controversial aide Dominic Cummings.

When Mr Case took on the newly created post of permanent secretary in Downing Street, it was also clear Sir Mark Sedwill’s days as cabinet secretary were numbered and the ex-courtier was the PM’s choice to succeed him.

Just like the Royals, he wears tweed suits and a Barbour jacket and is described as “slightly pompous”.

But crucially, he is seen as a Brexit expert, which is no doubt why he got the job. Critics will claim, however, that this makes him the PM’s “yes man”.

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India says China’s military made moves near disputed border

An Indian army convoy drives towards Leh, on a highway bordering China, on June 19, 2020 in Gagangir, India. As many as 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a “violent face-off” with Chinese troops on Tuesday in the Galwan Valley along the Himalayas.
Yawar Nazir | Getty Images

India said Monday its soldiers thwarted “provocative” movements by China’s military near a disputed border in the Ladakh region months into the rival nations’ deadliest standoff in decades.

Local military commanders from the two countries were meeting along the disputed frontier on Monday to resolve the issues, India’s defense ministry said. It said India was committed to dialogue “but is also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity.”

The statement said China’s People’s Liberation Army on Saturday night “carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo” and “violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements” to settle the standoff in the cold-desert region.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said border forces were communicating over recent matters but gave no details.

“Chinese border troops always act in strict compliance with the Line of Actual Control, and have never crossed the line for any activities,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.

India’s defense ministry issued its statement after a gap of a day and did not give details of the nature of the new incident.

The statement said Indian troops “undertook measures to strengthen our positions and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on ground.”

It said the activity took place on the southern bank of Pangong Lake, a glacial lake divided by the de facto frontier between the rivals and where the India-China face off began in early May on the lake’s northern flank.

Indian military experts said the latest incident occurred in Chushul sector, where the two sides were generally respecting each other’s positions.

“We never had any problem in this place and we hold it pretty strongly,” said Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, who served as the Indian military’s northern commander. “After relative calm, China has suddenly opened a fresh, brand new front. It’s a huge provocation.”

India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory and separated it from disputed Kashmir in August 2019, ending its semi-autonomous status and straining the already prickly relationship between New Delhi and Beijing. China was among the countries to strongly condemn the move, raising it at international forums including the U.N. Security Council.

According to some Indian and Chinese strategic experts, India’s move exacerbated existing tensions with China, leading to the deadly June border clash.

The disputed and undemarcated 3,500-kilometer (2,175-mile) border between India and China, referred to as the Line of Actual Control, stretches from the Ladakh region in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim. The two Asia giants fought a border war in 1962 that also spilled into Ladakh and ended in an uneasy truce. The two countries have been trying to settle their border dispute since the early 1990s, without success.

The ongoing standoff high in the Karakoram mountains is over disputed portions of a pristine landscape that boasts the world’s highest landing strip, a glacier that feeds one of the largest irrigation systems in the world, and a critical link to China’s massive “Belt and Road” infrastructure project.

The face off began at three places. Soldiers at Pangong Lake ignored repeated verbal warnings, triggering a yelling match, stone-throwing and even fistfights. By June it escalated and spread north in Depsang and Galwan Valley, where India has built an all-weather military road along the disputed frontier.

On June 15, the troops engaged in a nighttime clash in Galwan that was the deadliest conflict in 45 years between the nuclear-armed rivals.

According to Indian officials, Chinese troops atop a ridge at the mouth of the narrow valley threw stones, punched and pushed Indian soldiers down the ridge at around 4,500 meters (15,000 feet), leaving 20 Indians dead, including a colonel. China did not report any casualties.

Accusing each other of instigating the violence, both sides pledged to safeguard their territory but also to try to end the standoff that dramatically changed the India-China relationship.

Several rounds of military and diplomatic talks on ending the crisis have been unsuccessful.

In a symbolic move, India banned some Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok, about two weeks after the deadly clash, citing privacy concerns that it said pose a threat to India’s sovereignty and security.

On Saturday, India pulled out of multinational military exercise organized by Russia in which China and Pakistan, India’s bitter rival, are also participating. India apparently cited the coronavirus pandemic but experts say the decision to pull out from the exercise was because of its raging territorial dispute with Beijing.

“So far, Chinese transgressions were limited to about half a dozen places alone in Ladakh. By opening new fronts, is the whole Line of Actual Control fair game now?” said Hooda, the military expert.

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‘We’ve missed so much teaching time, I think our A-levels should be delayed’

Labour has called for next year’s GCSE and A-level exams to be delayed so pupils can catch up on teaching time lost due to the pandemic.

Lucy Bentley, 17, from Hayes, west London, is worried about the impact not going to school for so long will have on her A-level results next year – and is apprehensive about having to contend with pupils from this year’s cohort who have delayed their university places.

She talks about her concerns and her experiences of this year.

File photo dated 07/03/12 of a general view of pupils sitting an exam. Boris Johnson is facing calls to take charge of the growing A-levels "fiasco" amid mounting anger among students, teachers and MPs.
Image: Lucy supports the call to delay next year’s A-level exams

I am going into Year 13 and am studying three A-levels: geography, English literature, and philosophy and ethics.

Through this pandemic, the online support from my school has been fantastic, but some things are going to be problematic in Year 13 for me.

Missed teaching and coursework delay

One of the biggest difficulties with missing so much learning time is the fact that our coursework for some A-levels has been delayed.

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In English literature, our coursework should already be started – yet we have been unable to tackle coursework while being at home.

Coursework can take a long time to complete and with so much lesson time missed, Year 13 content needed to be learnt, coursework needed to be done plus university application prep – there isn’t enough time to complete all of this and sit our A-levels in May.

Mental health is really important and yet with so much work to do, it is going to be difficult for students sitting A-level exams in 2021 to cope.

Next year’s A-levels should be moved

Our school works really hard to tackle any problems we may have, however, I do believe that it would be beneficial to move our A-levels to July.

This would give us much needed time to complete coursework as well as learn the new content for Year 13.

Doing geography as an A-level, I think is going to be difficult for Year 13 students this year – as well as other subjects.

The reason for this is the fact that geography requires field work which we aren’t able to do, given the circumstances.

Geography is a very hands-on subject and I learn well when doing tasks surrounding our content, but as we are not able to go out and do the fieldwork we need we are having to do it in school which I think is going to be difficult.

The way we have to learn now has completely changed and it will take some time to get used to but we do not have that time to become accustomed to the changes. We don’t have the time to get everything done.

Education secretary, Gavin Williamson says he is "sorry for the distress this has caused young people."
Image: The Department for Education said it is considering its approach to next year’s exams

Fighting for university places with this year’s cohort

With so many students deciding to reapply to university for September 2021 from this year’s cohort, it is going to be so much harder for us to secure a place at a university and get the grades we need to move on to a degree.

I believe many Year 13s are anxious at this stage as we are unsure as to whether we can get all of our work done in time for exams and get it done to a standard that means we could be offered a university place.

I am hoping that 2021 A-level students will be taken seriously and that we will get the support we need to secure a place at university and do well in all of our subjects.

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TikTok deal to sell U.S. business could be announced as soon as Tuesday

TikTok has chosen a bidder for its U.S., New Zealand and Australian businesses, and it could announce the deal as soon as Tuesday, according to people familiar with the situation.

Microsoft, in partnership with Walmart, and Oracle are the two top contenders. The sale price is expected to be in the range of $20 billion to $30 billion, CNBC reported last week.

However, even though TikTok has selected a bidder, the deal could be slowed or derailed by the Chinese government, which updated its technology export list on Friday to include artificial intelligence technology used by TikTok. TikTok’s Chinese parent company, Bytedance, said over the weekend that it would need a license from the Chinese government before it can sell to a U.S. company.

Walmart emerged as a surprise contender last week, saying the social media app would augment its e-commerce efforts.

Walmart originally sought to be the majority owner in the deal in a consortium including Alphabet and SoftBank. But the U.S. government, which said it will ban TikTok in the U.S. if it doesn’t sell to a U.S. company by Sept. 20, wanted a tech company to lead the deal, according to sources familiar with the matter. Alphabet and SoftBank then dropped out, and Walmart partnered with Microsoft on the bid. In that scenario, Walmart would be a minority owner of TikTok.

TikTok’s CEO Kevin Mayer resigned last week as the deal neared its close, after just a few months on the job. TikTok executive Vanessa Pappas was named interim boss. Pappas told CNBC in an interview on Friday that she saw synergies with Walmart thanks to new e-commerce tools inside the TikTok app.

Representatives for Microsoft, Walmart and TikTok declined to comment.

CNBC’s Melissa Repko contributed to this report.

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