Scotland recorded six coronavirus deaths and 1,456 new cases in the most recent 24-hour period, according to Friday's Scottish Government figures.
It brings the death toll under the daily measure - of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days - to 7,930. The daily test positivity rate is 6.2%, up from 4.6% the previous day.
A total of 474 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19, down 16 on the previous day, with 60 patients in intensive care.
So far, 4,007,577 people have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,162,662 have received their second dose.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced this week that she would make a decision on whether Scotland can go beyond level zero next week.
Humza Yousaf says he is "confident" that Scotland can move out of most major coronavirus restrictions by August 9 despite concerns over the level of vaccine uptake.
The Health Secretary was optimistic that the entire country would be able to move out of the levels system next month.
Scroll down for all the latest updates throughout Saturday.
Experts warn of killer new variant
t is a "realistic possibility" that a new Covid variant could emerge which could kill more than a third of the people it infects.
Documents published by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) today have said that future strains of the novel coronavirus could be as deadly as MERS.
In such a scenario, the virus could kill 35% of those it infects.
The panel, which advises the government on its pandemic response, warned that such mutations are most likely to occur when the virus is widely spread - as it is currently in the UK.
They also noted that the virus may mutate in such a way that allows it to evade current vaccines, although this is unlikely.
The emergence of such strains could lead to a return to tighter restrictions and lockdowns, while delivering another huge economic blow to the country.
192 new Covid cases in the Lothians
NHS Lothian has recorded 192 new coronavirus cases overnight.
99 of these were reported to be in the City of Edinburgh, with a further 19 in East Lothian, 17 in Midlothian and 55 in West Lothian.
1,018 new Covid cases in 24 hours
Spain could be added to new amber list
Tens of thousands of holidays are under threat this evening amid fears Spain could be added to the amber-plus list.
Tourists returning from the Costas would still have to self-isolate even when the EU quarantine rule is axed.
Data expert Tim White warned of the move after NHS Test and Trace figures showed 2.9% of people arriving in England from Spain between July 1 and 21 tested positive for Covid.
He said: “More worryingly for Spain is that 3% of the samples had a variant not widespread in the UK.
“I cannot see Spain being put on red but amber-plus is likely – and likely for the islands of Spain, too, because of the very high infection rates.”
However, Paul Charles, head of travel consultancy The PC Agency, claimed infections in Spain were “flatlining at the moment and starting to reduce a little bit”.
The number of fresh Covid cases in the UK has dropped slightly with 29,622 new infections reported in the last 24 hours.
A further 68 dates have been recorded during the same time period.
On Thursday the UK recorded 31,117 cases and 85 deaths and last Friday there were 35,842 fresh infections and 64 fatalities
In total the nation has recorded 5,830,774 Covid cases and 129,583 deaths since the pandemic began making the UK the seventh worst affected country in the world.
The news comes as fresh figures show around 1 in 65 people tested positive for the virus in England last week.
The latest ONS weekly infection survey estimated that 856,200 people in the community population had Covid-19 in the week up to July 24.
This is the highest level since the week to January 30.
A reminder of Friiday's figures
Fears international students could bring new variants into UK
Government scientists have warned of concerns over any increase in foreign travel and the return of international students in September to the UK's battle against Covid.
Newly published documents show ministers were told that a surge in foreign trips could pose a risk due to the import of new variants.
A paper by the SPI-M modelling group from July 14 said: "Global surveillance, particularly on the emergence and control of novel variants of concern, and vaccination is required to bring infections worldwide under control.
"Any increase in foreign travel over the summer and the return of international students to universities in the autumn is of particular concern."
The warning came ahead of the Government's decision to press ahead with easing quarantine rules for double-jabbed arrivals from the EU and the US.
Fears perspex screens could increase transmission if used wrongly
There are fears that "Covid secure" perspex screens may increase transmission if not used properly.
Scientists advising the UK Government say that they could actually be doing more harm than good if they are placed in positions that block airflow or cause poor circulation.
You can read the full story here.
Why perspex screens 'may increase Covid risk'
"Covid secure" perspex screens in workplaces may increase risk of virus transmission if they are placed in positions that block airflow or cause poor circulation, scientists advising the Government have warned.
In an undated document released on Friday by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), the experts said there is very little overall evidence on the effectiveness of these barriers at reducing infection transmission through droplets.
Evidence suggests coronavirus can spread from an infected person's mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak or breathe.
These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Sage experts said there may be benefits to using screens or barriers in certain situations - such as where people are sitting face-to-face and less than two metres of each other.
They added: "Screens are unlikely to provide any direct benefit in reducing exposure to the virus from droplets or aerosols when people are already located at 2m or greater or where they are not face to face.
"Unless they are designed to work with the airflow, screens are unlikely to reduce exposure to virus in smaller aerosols as they can easily pass around a screen with the airflow in a short period of time.
"There is some epidemiological and mechanistic evidence that suggests that screens could increase risks of aerosol transmission due to blocking/changing airflow patterns or creating zones of poor air circulation behind screens."
UK begins delivery of nine million Covid-19 vaccines overseas
The UK has begun operations to deliver nine million Covid-19 vaccinations overseas as part of an international drive to fight the virus.
The first flight carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to Guyana and Belize departed from Heathrow airport on Friday.
Further batches will be shipped this week and distributed to countries including Indonesia, Jamaica and Kenya, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said.
The Government has pledged a total of 100 million vaccines abroad, 80 million of which will go to the Covax scheme which helps supply vaccines to lower-income countries.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the plans to ship excess vaccines overseas to "vulnerable" countries on Wednesday.
Spain could follow France onto amber-plus
Ministers could scrap the quarantine exemption for fully vaccinated UK holidaymakers returning from Spain, an analyst has warned.
Data expert Tim White believes the Government may announce next week that the country will be added to the amber plus list.
This is due to NHS Test and Trace figures showing that 2.9% of people arriving in England from Spain between July 1 and 21 tested positive for coronavirus.
Mr White said: "More worryingly for Spain is that 3% of the samples had a variant not widespread in UK.
"So, from the data, my analysis is bleak."
He described the decision on Spain's status as a "huge call" for Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Spain is the UK's most popular tourist destination.
"Yobbish" former estate agent put Chris Whitty in a headlock
A "yobbish" former estate agent left Professor Chris Whitty "humiliated" after he put him in a headlock when England's chief medical officer declined to take a photo with him.
Lewis Hughes, 24, of Romford, Essex, put his future at risk with "10 seconds of madness" when he accosted Prof Whitty in St James's Park in central London last month, Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.
Footage of the incident, lasting around 20 seconds, was widely shared on social media.
Hughes, who was sacked following the incident on June 27, admitted a charge of assault by beating at the court on Friday and was handed a suspended sentence.
Senior district judge Paul Goldspring told the defendant: "He (Prof Whitty) goes about his very difficult job without the expectation of yobs like you accosting him, assaulting him.
"And to compound it all, he was further humiliated by that video being posted."
Hughes, who wore a suit to the hearing, was given an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for two years and was ordered to pay a total of £307 in fines and compensation.
The judge said Hughes' actions "undermined" the efforts of key workers throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Goldspring went on to say: "The act itself is not the most serious but there are very few cases that are more serious in my view."
He described Prof Whitty as someone who has led with "great dignity and professionalism" throughout the pandemic.
Mr Goldspring said he believed Prof Whitty would donate the £100 compensation awarded to him to charity, saying it would be the "mark of the man".
He told Hughes: "Let it be a lesson to you, yobbish behaviour and drinking alcohol has consequences."
Luke Staton, prosecuting, told the court Prof Whitty had not intended to report the footage until it had been released online.
He said Prof Whitty had been walking in the park when he was asked for a photograph by three individuals to which he declined.
The court heard Hughes then placed Prof Whitty in a "loose headlock" before he broke free and went to a nearby police officer.
Prof Whitty had recognised that the defendants were not "aggressive" but he doubted their intentions in asking for a photograph, the court heard.
Laurie-Anne Power, defending, said Hughes had been in London for a dance festival prior to the incident.
She said: "Ten seconds of madness has cost this young, ambitious man his future."
Ms Power said Hughes is "remorseful for his actions" and has paid a "heavy price" through losing his job as an estate agent.
She added he is a man of "exemplary good character" who has brought "humiliation" on himself and his family.
The court heard he approached Prof Whitty merely to get a photograph with him, and not because of his views on the pandemic.
However, Ms Power said Hughes recognised that Prof Whitty had "not given his consent to touch him".
A second man, Jonathan Chew, 24, from Chelmsford, Essex, pleaded not guilty to the same charge of assault by beating.
Chew, who wore a navy hoodie for the appearance, also denied wilfully obstructing police constable Steven Ozden on the same day.
He was granted bail and asked to appear at the same court on November 23 for a trial.
The court heard Prof Whitty is expected to give evidence at the trial.
The Metropolitan Police force launched an investigation after last month's incident, and officers carried out a welfare check on the chief medical officer, who did not suffer any injuries.
Case rates fall in every local authority down south
Covid-19 case rates have fallen in every local authority in England - the first time this has happened in all areas simultaneously since comparable figures began more than a year ago.
Not one of the 315 local authorities recorded a week-on-week rise in rates for the seven days to July 26.
Middlesbrough currently has the highest rate of new cases in England, but this is down sharply week-on-week from 1,421.5 cases per 100,000 people to 695.8.
The biggest fall was recorded by Redcar and Cleveland, which is down from 1,520.2 to 668.6.
Breckland in Norfolk saw the smallest fall, where the rate has dropped slightly from 160.8 to 157.2.
The figures represent an almost complete turnaround from earlier this month.
England's COVID-19 prevalence rises but increase may be slowing, ONS says
The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England is estimated to have risen to 1 in 65 people in the week to July 24, Britain's Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday, adding the rate of increase might have slowed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lifted the last COVID restrictions in England in spite of the pre-dominance of the highly-transmissible Delta variant which concerns scientists globally.
The ONS infection survey provides a fuller, although lagged, picture of the pandemic in Britain in a week where the official daily number of cases started to fall from this wave's peak of 54,674 recorded on July 17, 50,955 of which were in England.
"In England, the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to increase in the week ending 24 July 2021, though there are possible signs that the rate of increase may have slowed," the ONS said.
The estimated prevalence of 1 in 65 is up from the 1 in 75 reported for the previous week.
The ONS looks to estimate infection numbers in the community beyond those who have been tested, giving an estimate of prevalence that is unaffected by fluctuations in people coming forward to be tested.
Cases rose steeply in the run-up to the end of legal coronavirus restrictions in England on July 19, and health minister Sajid Javid said cases could hit 100,000 a day after the unlocking.
Instead, the number of new cases recorded each day started to fall. Epidemiologists have said that the end of the Euro 2020 soccer championship and school summer holidays might have helped reduce the spread of the virus, as well as cautious behaviour in the population.
They also say the impact of the July 19 unlocking, which saw nightclubs re-opening and the end of social distancing= requirements, will take a while to filter through to the data.
Daily reported cases fell for 7 straight days to a low of 23,511, but have risen on each of the last two days.
Cyprus to vaccinate 12-15 year olds against COVID-19
Cyprus on Friday said children aged 12 to 15 would be included in a mass inoculation programme to curb the spread of COVID-19, as it tightened regulations for access to public areas.
The island has been experiencing an aggressive spike caused by the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus which started manifesting in mid-June.
Cyprus has recorded 416 deaths from the coronavirus since March 2020 and 100,784 infections.
"The only way we can stop the emergence of new aggressive strains (of COVID-19) is vaccination," Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said in a statement.
Children would be eligible for vaccines using the mRNA technology manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, and only with parental consent, Hadjipantelas said. The measure comes into effect on Aug. 2.
Data issued by the Health Ministry earlier Friday said that new infections have shown a decline over the past two weeks, with the average age of persons affected at 28.
Curbing a spike in the Delta variant and vaccine hesitancy among a section of the population were 'two very high hurdles threatening public health', Hadjipantelas said.
Authorities also tightened existing requirements that persons display a so-called 'SafePass' of either vaccination or a negative test to access public areas where a minimum of 10 persons gather.
The previous requirement was for 20 people. Some 65% of the population have completed their vaccination programme.
Australia PM says need 80% of adult population vaccinated before reopening
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said 80% of the country's adult population would have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the country can start reopening its borders to selected countries.
That level of vaccination would lead to an extension of "travel bubbles" with other candidate countries, and those vaccinated would have "special rules" applied to them as they would pose lesser health risk to community, he added.
Britain's transport minister says: I know the travel rules are painful
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday that he knew international travel restrictions were painful but that things were moving in the right direction.
"We're moving in the right direction," Shapps told Sky.
"I know it's painful, but I think that generally speaking, your viewers probably want to see us be cautious rather than sort of gung ho on this and that's exactly what we're trying to do."
Caring groups to share cash fund to relieve loneliness caused by pandemic
Nine groups are to share £1 million funding to help tackle problems of loneliness and isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.
The cash, from the Scottish Government, is part of £10 million that has been promised by ministers to support a new five-year plan that is being developed to help tackle such issues.
Groups including Glasgow Disability Alliance, YouthLink and Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) are among those to benefit, with CHSS receiving cash to help with its Kindness Caller programme.
Age Scotland, the Befriending Network, the British Red Cross, Home-Start, Intercultural Youth Scotland and the charity MECOPP, which works with black and ethnic minority carers, will also be awarded some of the cash.
Announcing the funding minister for equalities and older people Christina McKelvie acknowledged that "loneliness and social isolation have increased for some during the pandemic".
She said that this had "disproportionately affected young people, carers and those with disabilities".
The minister added: "Whether by providing access to counselling, learning opportunities or just a friendly voice to talk to over the phone, this new funding will help ensure people can stay connected and get the support they need.
"Social isolation and loneliness can affect anyone and can have a harmful effect on people's health and wellbeing.
"That is why we are developing a new five-year plan and we will invest £10 million across this Parliament."
Tressa Burke, Glasgow Disability Alliance chief executive, said the money would help to "mitigate brutal inequalities supercharged by the pandemic on disabled people".
She added: "Our member survey and engagement revealed that 82% worry about social isolation and loneliness, 60% face digital exclusion, 80% don't know where to turn to for help and 90% are worried about physical and mental health.
"The funding enables us to provide vital lifelines, programmes and support including digital coaching, wellbeing support and access to online activities which build confidence, connections and ensure the ongoing contributions of disabled people."
Tim Frew, YouthLink Scotland chief executive, said: "We are not all in the same boat in the storm. The evidence is that this pandemic has been particularly tough on the wellbeing of young people in some of our most marginalised and disenfranchised communities.
"This disproportionate impact must be addressed, to ensure every young person has the opportunity to thrive."
He added: "The youth work sector welcomes this fund from the Scottish Government, which will help to identify young people who have been coping with multiple challenges, such as young carers, and develop projects and programmes to meet their needs."
Marie Hayes, Scotland director for independent living and crisis response at the British Red Cross, said: "During the pandemic, just under half of us reported feeling lonely. As we recover and restrictions lift, there is a risk loneliness and isolation won't go away for many but instead become more entrenched.
"The British Red Cross warmly welcomes this new support from the Scottish Government.
"We can now build on our expertise to help people most in need to reconnect - people on low incomes or who live alone, people with disabilities and those suffering from poor mental health.
"Our services will help people navigate befriending services, access online support and activities and provide practical help to overcome barriers to wellbeing."