The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Channel crossings, chain-gangs for criminals and Tesco Bank shuts up shop

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The daily number of coronavirus cases detected by tests fell from 54,674 on 17 July to 23,511 by 27 July. About 92 per cent of adults in England and Wales had coronavirus antibodies at the beginning of July, according to an estimate by the Office for National Statistics. In the seven days up to the beginning of the week, 447 people had died with coronavirus, bringing the total of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 129,130. (In the previous week deaths had numbered 284.) In a week, numbers remaining in hospital rose from 4,121 to 5,238. By the beginning of the week, 88 per cent of adults had accepted a first vaccination; 70.3 per cent had received two doses. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said that students might have to prove vaccination to be let into lectures; Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said: ‘We need to be extremely careful that we don’t go from a Brussels-type democracy to a Beijing-type democracy.’ Dustmen and prison officers would be allowed to continue to work if ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid-19 app, but supermarkets complained that staff shortages provoked by pinging were leaving some shelves empty.

The government was looking at ways to exclude China General Nuclear, the Chinese state-owned nuclear energy company, from the building of Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk, a project led by the French company EDF. Tesco Bank said it would close all its 213,000 current accounts by the end of November, having lost £175 million in April compared with a profit of £193 million in the previous 12 months. The government proposed curious methods of reducing crime such as by making prisoners released on licence wear ankle tags for a year to monitor the amount of alcohol in their sweat.

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