Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Mixed messages on masks, protests in Cuba and good news for pandas

17 July 2021

9:00 AM

17 July 2021

9:00 AM


England expects everyone to wear masks in crowded places, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said in a televised address, even though the law requiring it was to be dropped on 19 July. He said: ‘We’re removing the government instruction to work from home where you can but we don’t expect that the whole country will return to their desk as one from Monday.’ He added that the ‘single most crucial thing’ people could do was to get vaccinated. He declared it ‘a matter of social responsibility’ for nightclubs and other venues to demand a Covid pass, proving vaccination or a recent negative test, to allow entry. The Night Time Industries Association resented being used as a cat’s paw. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, asked Transport for London to make the wearing of face coverings a condition of carriage. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, told MPs that when the House returned from the summer recess that begins on 22 July, it would be physically.

In the seven days up to the beginning of the week, 192 people had died with coronavirus, bringing the total of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 128,399. By the beginning of the week, 65.6 per cent of the adult population had received two doses of vaccine; 86.9 per cent a first dose. The daily number of cases detected by tests rose from 24,885 to 32,367 in a week (and was expected to rise more), and the number remaining in hospital rose from 1,916 to 2,731.

England was beaten by Italy on penalties in the final of the Euro 2020 championship, watched on television by up to 30.95 million people. A large number of drunken fans broke into the ground, some occupying seats reserved for Italy supporters; 19 police were injured and 45 people arrested. Novak Djokovic won a sixth Wimbledon title and Ashleigh Barty became Australia’s first Wimbledon women’s champion for 41 years. The government won a vote on reducing foreign aid from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 of national income. The annual rate of inflation rose from 2.1 to 2.5 per cent in June. Michael Horovitz, the performing Beat poet, died aged 86.


The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 4,045,911 by the beginning of the week, an increase of 58,731 from the week before. In Thailand, 618 medical workers caught Covid between April and July despite being fully vaccinated with the Chinese vaccine Sinovac; it was decided to use AstraZeneca for second doses and add a booster dose. Healthcare workers in France must be fully vaccinated by September or they would not be paid. A woman in her nineties with Covid died in Sydney, Australia’s first locally contracted coronavirus death this year. At least 92 people died in a fire at a Covid isolation ward at a hospital in the Iraqi city of Nasiriya. The Olympic Games in Japan will be held without spectators, while a state of emergency in Tokyo prohibited the sale of alcohol in bars.

Riots and looting claimed the lives of at least 72 people as the former president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, aged 79, began a 15-month sentence for contempt of court after failing to attend an inquiry into corruption. President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti was shot dead at his house and his wife wounded; police blamed 28 mercenaries. A military court in Jordan sentenced Bassem Awadallah, a former courtier, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, to 15 years in prison for seditious conspiracy with the former crown prince Hamzah. The Prosperity party of Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, won 410 out of 436 seats in elections, though the war-torn Tigray region did not take part.

In Cuba, thousands took to the streets shouting ‘freedom’ and ‘down with the dictatorship’. Venezuelan officials said that 22 suspected gang members and four policemen died in two days of clashes in Caracas. Lebanon saw power cuts after its two main power stations shut down for lack of fuel. The annual rate of inflation in the United States rose from 5 to 5.4 per cent in June. In China 17 people died when a hotel collapsed in Suzhou. China said that the number of pandas in the wild had reached 1,800, and that the species was no longer endangered. Sixteen people taking selfies on top of a watch tower in Jaipur were struck by lightning. CSH

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