Restrictions are being lifted as cases fall in major cities

The number of new daily Covid-19 cases continues to drop in major cities and regions in Europe and the US as Wuhan records first new cases since the end of the lockdown.

The US reported relatively stable numbers of new cases throughout last week but economic reopening in several states could push the numbers back up. There are also reports of an outbreak inside Donald Trump’s White House as some staff went into isolation.

The UK saw some of the smallest daily increases in new cases since March. Britain is also set to slowly ease restrictions as the official government guidance was changed from "stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives" to "stay alert, control the virus, save lives".

Spain is loosening lockdown rules as well, mostly in rural areas that were less affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Italy, which has the third highest death toll at 30,000, saw numbers continue to fall over the last week.

Elsewhere in China, authorities have reported new coronavirus clusters in Wuhan, where the outbreak first originated. These are the first new confirmed cases since lockdown was ended in April.

Monitoring the cities at the heart of the Covid-19 outbreak

Cities – with their high population density, young and mobile demographics, and developed public transport systems – are particularly susceptible to rapidly-spreading viral outbreak. Here we drill down into subnational Covid-19 figures to show which areas are seeing disproportionate numbers of Covid-19 cases.

While different countries count at different administrative levels, the pattern is clear: London and Madrid are "regions" in their own right, while New York State includes New York City and Lombardy covers Milan. This chart is currently being updated weekly with the latest figures – although some countries have a slight delay in publishing the very latest case numbers by region or state.

Covid-19 regional comparison chart

–Nicu Calcea

 
 
 
 

Sadiq Khan and Grant Shapps clash over free bus travel for under 18s

A London bus at Victoria station. Image: Getty.

The latest front in the row between Transport for London (TfL) and national government over how to fund the capital’s transport system: free bus travel for the under 18s.

Two weeks ago, you’ll recall, TfL came perilously close to running out of money and was forced to ask for a bail out. The government agreed, but offered less money, and with more strings attached, than the agency wanted. At present, there are a range of fare discounts – some up to 100% – available to children depending on their age and which service they’re using, provided they have the right Oyster card. One of the government’s strings, the mayor’s office says, was to end all free TfL travel for the under 18s, Oyster or no Oyster.

The Department for Transport’s line on all this is that this is about maximising capacity. Many working-age people need to use buses to get to their jobs: they’re more likely to be able to do that, while also social distancing, if those buses aren’t already full of teenagers riding for free. (DfT cited the same motivation for banning the use of the Freedom Pass, which provides free travel for the retired, at peak times.)

But in an open letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, the mayor, Sadiq Khan, wrote that TfL believed that 30% of children who currently received free travel had a statutory entitlement to it, because they attend schools more than a certain distance from their homes. If TfL doesn’t fund this travel, London’s boroughs must, which apart from loading costs onto local government means replacing an administrative system that already exists with one that doesn’t. 

Some Labour staffers also smell Tory ideological objections to free things for young people at work. To quote Khan’s letter:

“It is abundantly clear that losing free travel would hit the poorest Londoners hardest at a time when finances are stretched more than ever... I want to make sure that families who might not have a choice but to use public transport are not further disadvantaged.”

London’s deputy mayor for transport, Heidi Alexander, is set to meet government officials next week to discuss all this. In the mean time, you can read Khan’s letter here.

UPDATE: The original version of this piece noted that the full agreement between the mayor and DfT remained mysteriously unpublished. Shortly after this story went live, the agreement appeared. Here it is.

Jonn Elledge was founding editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.