The government is preparing to award coronavirus testing

The government is preparing to award coronavirus testing contracts worth an estimated £5bn to commercial bidders, in what critics fear is a “backdoor” subsidy to the private sector.

The vast new budget, which works out at £2.5bn per year and will be managed by Public 

Health England (PHE), is equal to the entire annual spend on English NHS laboratories.

It came as the US Senate approved a bill imposing sanctions on Chinese officials and any Hong Kong police units clashing with protesters. China’s foreign ministry warned of “strong countermeasures” against the US if the bill becomes law.

China has said it reserves “the right to take corresponding measures” if the UK pushes forward with its plan to give three million Hong Kong residents the right to settle in the country.

Mr Hoppe declined to comment on whether the information was sufficient to charge Brueckner, 43.

He also renewed a plea for information about a Portuguese mobile phone, registered in drifter Brueckner’s name, which had the number 351-912-730-680.

Alexei Navalny, Russia’s best-known opposition politician, said the results were a “huge lie that have nothing in common with the opinion of the Russian people. This vote is invalid and illegal.” He accused Mr Putin of seeking to rule for life.

The final day of voting came the day after Mr Putin unveiled a huge new monument to Soviet soldiers who died fighting against Nazi Germany.

Thailand has not recorded any new locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 for more than a month. 

Officials have eased restrictions with strip clubs and soapy massage parlours finally allowed to open from July 1, however, international tourist are still banned.