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Coronavirus - 24th September

Kitkat
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:Covid-19: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 10:32

Summary for Thursday, 24th September


  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak will unveil a plan aimed at minimising further unemployment as stricter Covid-19 restrictions come into force in the UK
  • The number of daily reported cases in the UK rose by a quarter to 6,178, according to the latest government figures
  • The UK could become the first country to conduct "challenge trials" - where volunteers are immunised with a vaccine before being deliberately infected
  • About 2,500 students at a Swiss hospitality school have been placed in quarantine after a major outbreak following private parties
  • Canada has announced an ambitious plan to create jobs and invest billions on healthcare, housing and childcare following the fallout from Covid
  • Face masks are no longer mandatory on public transport in most of New Zealand as infections continue to drop


Hello from the UK and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
We will bring you the latest updates from the UK and around the world throughout the day.
Here is a recap of the latest key global developments:

  • The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths around the world has passed 975,000, according to Johns Hopkins University
  • Around 2,500 students at an elite hospitality school in Switzerland are in quarantine after a spike in cases. Authorities said the number of outbreaks, which emerged after private student parties, more targeted lockdowns impossible
  • Face masks are no longer mandatory on public transport in most of New Zealand as cases drop. They are now only required in Auckland – the centre of a recent outbreak – and on planes
  • Israel is to introduce more restrictions from this Friday, a week after entering its second lockdown. The new rules were announced on Thursday morning and will allow fewer businesses to operate and impose further curbs on travel
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced an "ambitious plan" to increase jobs and spending on childcare, including through taxes on "extreme wealth inequality".


UK morning summary

Here's a more detailed look at this morning's main headlines from around the UK to bring you up to speed:

  • At 12:30 BST, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to announce a plan to replace the furlough scheme, aimed at minimising further unemployment as coronavirus restrictions continue into the winter. The plan is expected to be a salary top-up scheme similar to Germany's
  • A contact-tracing smartphone app has been launched in England and Wales, designed to tell users they need to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects they have been in contact with someone who was infected
  • Pharmacy chain Boots has suspended flu jab bookings amid "unprecedented demand", following calls to increase vaccinations to reduce the impact of flu during the pandemic. But NHS England says stocks remain available
  • The UK is discussing plans to be the first country in the world to carry out "human challenge studies" of potential vaccines, where healthy volunteers are deliberately infected with the virus after vaccination to test its effectiveness. The studies could start in London in January
  • A former head of the UK civil service, Lord O'Donnell, will say in a speech today that the UK has lacked leadership and "over-promised and under-delivered" during the pandemic
  • Northern Ireland ministers will consider whether to follow the rest of the UK in imposing a 22:00 closing time on the hospitality industry
  • Hundreds of students at Glasgow University have been told to self-isolate after 124 tested positive for Covid-19.


Latest from Europe

Some 2,500 students at Lausanne’s EHL hotel management school in Switzerland are having to self-isolate until Monday after an outbreak thought to be linked to one or more parties. Eleven positive cases have been identified and authorities say they're too widespread to make the quarantine more targeted.
Three-quarters of the student body have been ordered to remain at home or in their accommodation until 28 September. EHL is one of the world’s top hotel and catering schools.
France is shutting restaurants and bars in its second city Marseille from Saturday, as daily infections nationally hit 13,072 on Wednesday. Mayor Michèle Rubirola says nothing justifies a total closure and another local leader has condemned the move as "collective punishment".
New rules come into force in Munich in southern Germany this morning; masks are compulsory in the city centre for anyone over the age of six and meetings are limited to five people.
Covid-related deaths in Spain have topped 31,000 after 130 more fatalities were reported on Wednesday.
It'll be a big night in the Hungarian capital Budapest, where up to 20,000 fans will be allowed to watch Bayern Munich play Sevilla in the Uefa Super Cup final. But the two clubs expect only around 1,500 of their supporters to travel because of the pandemic.

Israel to introduce stricter lockdown rules

Israel made headlines last week as it became the first industrialised country to enter a second nationwide lockdown.
But after daily cases reached a record 6,861 in the country on Wednesday, the government has now announced even stricter rules to come into force from Friday.
While the private sector was initially allowed to continue working as long as face-to-face contact with consumers was avoided, only essential businesses will now stay open. There will also be new restrictions on protests.
The government has decided against closing synagogues for Yom Kippur – one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar – amid opposition from religious groups. However, services will only be able to operate under restrictive measures.

Canada's Trudeau promises 'ambitious' recovery plan

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled an "ambitious plan for an unprecedented reality" amid rising Covid-19 cases in the country.
The announcements made on Wednesday include a plan to create more than a million jobs, a commitment to extend wage subsidies until next summer, and support for industries hardest hit by the virus - like the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors.
There was also a promise to make a significant, long-term investment in childcare, which is seen by some economists as key to helping women fully return to the workforce.
Following the announcement, Mr Trudeau warned Canadians that a second wave of the pandemic was "already under way".
"We're on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring," he said.
Read the full story here .

New Zealand relaxes mask restrictions

Face masks are no longer mandatory on public transport in most of New Zealand as new coronavirus cases continue to fall.
From midnight on Wednesday, they are required only in Auckland, the heart of a recent outbreak, and on planes.
The rest of New Zealand lifted all pandemic restrictions on Monday.
New Zealand was widely praised for its swift response to Covid-19 and everyday life largely went back to normal in June, but the virus reappeared in Auckland in August.
The country's biggest city went back into lockdown, temporarily, as other curbs were re-imposed elsewhere.
New Zealand has now recorded 1,468 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 25 deaths.
Read the full story here .

Volunteer to be given coronavirus: 'It made instant sense'

The UK is taking part in talks to run a "challenge trial" where healthy volunteers agree to be deliberately given coronavirus to test whether vaccines work and speed up research.
One of the potential volunteers for the trial, which could take place in London in January, is Alastair Fraser-Urquhart, a student in biomedicine.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think a challenge trial has the potential to save thousands of lives and really bring the world out of the pandemic sooner. It was just something that made instant sense to me."
Part of the group 1Day Sooner, which supports challenge trial volunteers, he said it would mean staying in "bio-containment" at a research facility for two weeks or more to prevent any risk of test subjects infecting anyone else.
Prof Peter Horby, an infectious diseases expert from Oxford University, said challenge trials have a long history going back to the earliest days of vaccination and have "real potential to advance science".
He said a Covid-19 challenge trial would be ethical because the risk to otherwise healthy young people was "extremely low" and some treatments to reduce the severity of the disease are now available, if the vaccines being tested fail.
Kitkat
Kitkat
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Posts : 7618
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 10:47

UK 'not ruling out' keeping students at university over Christmas

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"If you have the last nine months that I've had, you’d understand why we don't rule out anything."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK government does not "rule out" telling university students not to go home at Christmas to avoid spreading infection if the coronavirus crisis worsens.
"We haven't reached that point yet," he told BBC Breakfast. "I don't rule out anything.
"And if you have the last nine months that I've had, you'd understand why we don't rule out anything. It's not something that I want to do.
"But what's important is that we of course keep people safe and keep the virus under control."
Hancock was responding to a report in the i newspaper that scientists on the Sage scientific advisory group had warned the step could be necessary to prevent larger outbreaks "spilling over from [higher education] institutions" when term ends.
The health secretary also told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the UK was still "on track" for its target of 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.
Hancock said the accuracy of the newly-launched contact tracing app for England and Wales was "increasing all the time"
"What we know for absolute sure is the app will not tell you to self-isolate because you have been in close contact with someone unless you have been in close contact."

Missouri governor who opposed mask orders tests positive

The governor of the US state of Missouri, who opposes mask mandates, has tested positive for coronavirus.
Republican Mike Parson received his result on Wednesday, hours after his wife tested positive.
"I want everyone to know that myself and the first lady are both fine," he said in a video uploaded to Twitter, adding that his wife had been displaying minor symptoms and both were now quarantining.
Although the governor has previously recommended people wear masks and socially distance, he has rejected calls to introduce state rules requiring people to wear face coverings.
On Sunday, Parson posted photos of himself at a re-election event in the state alongside four other men. While they appeared to stand at a distance, none of them wore a mask.
More than 1,900 people are confirmed to have died with coronavirus in Missouri, which has seen around 1.2 million reported infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.

New Zealand Rugby opposes Christmas in quarantine

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The All Blacks are back in training for autumn and winter internationals

New Zealand Rugby has criticised December's Rugby Championship schedule because it means players will be forced to spend Christmas in quarantine.
The All Blacks play Australia in Sydney on 12 December and would need to self-isolate for 14 days on their return home under coronavirus protocols.
New Zealand Rugby has now called on the tournament's governing body and Rugby Australia (RA) to reschedule the fixtures, stressing it is "committed" to taking part in the competition.
RA says "formal" requests for a condensed five-week tournament were earlier rejected.
"That being said, no-one wants players and team management to be away from their families and in quarantine over Christmas," RA interim chief executive Rob Clarke said in a statement.
"Rugby Australia will do everything in its power to help assist New Zealand Rugby and the team in finding a reasonable resolution."
Read more on this story here .
Kitkat
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 10:51

Ohio's unlikely surfing boom

In any year but this, landlocked Ohioans would descend in their thousands on the beaches of the Florida panhandle and the Carolinas for summer vacation. The pandemic, unsurprisingly, has changed all that.
In July, a Covid-19 outbreak in central Ohio was blamed on holidaymakers returning from Florida and Arizona, two states badly affected by the virus this summer. News such as this has forced many to abandon any out-of-state travel plans.
But for locals missing the sea waves, a new community of surfers has this summer sprung up in the most unlikely of places.
In Dayton, Ohio, the pandemic has fuelled an emergent river surfing scene that's drawing adventure seekers down to their local rivers.
Read the full story here .

Brazilian state hopes to roll out Chinese vaccine in December

With Brazil still registering thousands of new coronavirus infections daily, politicians are keen to strike deals with vaccine makers to try to protect Brazilians from Covid-19.
On Wednesday, the governor of Brazil's most populous state, São Paulo, said he expects to start immunising the population with a Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine in December.
Joao Doria said five million doses of the Sinovac vaccine would be delivered next month. He added that he hopes the entire state could be vaccinated by the end of February.
Doria said there were encouraging signs that the Sinovac vaccine was safe, after it reached the third stage of tests with 50,000 volunteers in China. If the vaccine is approved by the Brazilian authorities it will then be rolled out across the country.
Brazil has recorded more than 4.6 million infections since the pandemic began, while on Wednesday the official death toll rose to 138,977.
There are around 40 different vaccines around the world in clinical trials , with research happening at breakneck speed. Most experts think a vaccine is likely to become widely available by mid-2021.

Welsh pub curfew likely to add 20 minutes drinking up time

There's an art to timing that final pint before the bell for last orders - and it's about to get more complex as the nations of the UK impose different curfew rules on the hospitality industry.
In England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the 22:00 curfew coming into force tonight would mean closing "not just calling for last orders".
But in Wales, health minister Vaughan Gething said similar rules coming into force on Tuesday would only mean pubs have to stop serving at 22:00.
"I think we're talking in the order of 20 minutes" of drinking up time, he told BBC Radio Wales.
Scotland is imposing a similar 22:00 curfew on pubs and restaurants from Friday, while Northern Ireland's ministers are expected to introduce a 23:00 closing time today .
Kitkat
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 13:27

Coronavirus hits Orthodox sect of Mount Athos

Danai Howard, BBC News
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Russia's prime minister is due to stay at the Panteleimon Monastery

More than 100 coronavirus tests have been carried out at the Greek Orthodox holy site of Mount Athos, after 13 cases were reported in the heart of the Greek Orthodox Church.
At least two monks were reportedly in a serious condition and were taken to Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki (nearly 160km away), for hospital treatment.
The results of the tests have so far been negative, but national media have said this doesn't paint a clear picture of what is happening on Mount Athos, as there was "no particular willingness for extensive inspections" carried out by the National Organisation of Public Health.
Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin is due to visit Mount Athos today and stay at the Panteleimon Monastery, where most of the monks are Russian, but it is not clear if the visit will go ahead as planned .
The cluster of 20 monasteries perched on the peaks of the northern Mount Athos region is considered the spiritual heart of the Orthodox Church. Often referred to as the "Holy Mountain" in Greek, only men are allowed to make pilgrimages to the site, with valid entrance permits.
Women – and even female animals – aren't allowed on Mount Athos.
The way of life for the 2,000 monks living within the monasteries has hardly changed since the 9th Century. But now, only 10 pilgrims are allowed to visit each monastery amid tightened coronavirus measures, and two monasteries have closed their doors entirely.

About 2,500 students at Swiss school under quarantine

Around 2,500 students at a prestigious hospitality school in Switzerland have been placed in quarantine after a spike in cases.
The spread of the virus has reportedly been traced back to private parties at the EHL hotel management school of Lausanne.
"A number of outbreaks have been reported within different departments, making it impossible to introduce a more targeted lockdown than the 2,500 students involved," regional authorities said in a statement.
Three-quarters of all students at the EHL facility are now under orders to remain at home or in their accommodation until 28 September.
EHL is one of the world's top hotel and catering schools and attracts students from around the globe.
Kitkat
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 13:35

How has the virus affected UK unemployment?

Coronavirus - 24th September B804a410

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been under pressure to tackle the threat of rising unemployment - as the UK faces up to six months of coronavirus measures during the second wave.
But how has unemployment been affected by Covid-19 so far?

  • The most recent figures for the unemployment rate - how many people want a job and are able to work, but can't find one - covers May to July and is 4.1%, up from 3.9% in the previous three months
  • This number is still close to the lowest it's ever been, but it is always based on surveys taken in previous months and is not right up to date
  • Another measure - the number of people claiming benefits because are they are out of work or on very low incomes - shot up 120% to 2.7 million between March and August
  • Young people have been most affected - unemployment is up 76,000 for 16- to 24-year-olds compared to last year
  • The optimistic forecast from the government's spending watchdog is for unemployment to reach 9.7% this year, and then return to pre-crisis levels in 2022.
  • In its least optimistic scenario, the Office for Budgetary Responsiblity forecasts it peaking at 13.2%, in 2021 - with four million people out of work and staying high into 2024


The furlough scheme is ending - but what was it?

A major focus of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's statement, due today from 11:45, is expected to be a replacement for the furlough scheme, which expires next month. But what did it do?

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - to give its proper title - was designed to prevent a major rise in unemployment when entire industries were shut down as the UK went into lockdown in March
  • It paid 80% of the wages of workers placed on leave, or furlough, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month
  • As the economy began to open up again, employers were asked to pay 10% of the wages of those on furlough, plus their National Insurance and pension contributions
  • Furloughed workers can also now return to work part-time with the government paying for any remaining hours not worked
  • In July, around five million workers were still receiving some or all of their income through the scheme, many in the hospitality sector


Furlough scheme to end - chancellor

The chancellor says the furlough scheme will end because the support must "adapt and evolve".
He said no decision was harder but it is "fundamentally wrong" to keep people in unviable jobs.
Kitkat
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 13:49

Sunak announces new 'Job Support Scheme'

Here is the detail from the Treasury...
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Self-employment scheme extended

The chancellor says he is also extending the scheme for self-employment on "similar terms" to the existing job support scheme.

'Pay as you grow' announced for businesses

Rishi Sunak announces a "pay as you grow" scheme for businesses which took government guaranteed loans during the crisis.
"Loans can now be extended from six to ten years nearly halving the average monthly repayment," he said.
They can also move to interest only payments or suspend payments if they are "in real trouble" for up to six months.
He said no credit rating will be affected.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will also be extended for up to 10 years.
There will also be a new loan scheme in January, the chancellor says.

No lump sum for VAT payback

More detail from Rishi Sunak's announcement..
Tweet  HM Treasury:
1/ Businesses who deferred their VAT will no longer have to pay a lump sum at the end of March next year. They will have the option of splitting it into smaller, interest free payments over the course of 11 months - benefitting up to half a million businesses
Coronavirus - 24th September Eirjpk10

Job Support Scheme mainly for small and medium firms

Alex Forsyth - Political correspondent
Only large businesses that can prove they’ve been adversely affected by Covid will be eligible for the Job Support Scheme.
Given the amount being spent, the government is keen support goes only where it’s needed.
Hence, there is eligibility criteria that sounds like it’ll be more stringent than the blanket approach of the furlough scheme - which was of course put in place more quickly at the height of the pandemic.

Chancellor seeks to support 'viable' jobs only

Alex Forsyth - Political correspondent
The thrust of the chancellor’s message is that the country needs to find a sustainable way to live with the virus.
That means targeting government support - rather than the blanket approach at the start of the pandemic.
It echoes Boris Johnson's statement earlier this week when he said restrictions might be in place for six months.
The government seems to stressing now the virus is here to stay - until there’s a viable vaccine.

Sunak cancels VAT increase

Chancellor Rishi Sunak says the final step he's taking will support two of the sectors worst affected by the pandemic - hospitality and tourism.
He says he is cancelling the planned increase of VAT from 5% to 20%, which was due to come into effect in January.
Instead, the lower rate of 5% will remain until 31 March next year.

Labour welcomes government 'U-turn'

Responding to Chancellor Rishi Sunak's statement, Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds says she called for targeted wage support 40 times and was "rebuffed" 20 times by the government.
She says it is a "relief" that the government has "U-turned", but says the delay in introducing the new scheme will have impacted on businesses' confidence.
The deadline for redundancy consultations for large firms before the end of the furlough scheme came and went last week, she says, "without a word from this government".

Workers on Job Support Scheme can't face redundancy

Sunak said businesses will not be able to issue redundancy notices to employees on the Job Support Scheme - and there will be restrictions on capital distributions to shareholders.
The chancellor told the Commons: "There will be restrictions on larger companies, in terms of capital distributions to shareholders while they are in receipt of money for their workers on this scheme.
"And indeed they will not be able to make redundancy notices to those workers who are on this scheme throughout its duration."

How will the Job Support Scheme work? An example...

If an employee works reduced hours the employer pays for that. And in addition, the employer and government pay one-third of the lost pay each (up to the cap).
So for someone on £2,000 a month working half their hours, they’d get £1,000 normal pay plus £333 extra from their employer and £333 from the government.
The employer can also claim the job retention bonus - as long as they qualify for that.

What did the Chancellor announce? A recap...


  • A new Jobs Support Scheme will be launched for employees working at least a third of their normal hours, who are being paid for that as normal. The government and employers will jointly increase their wages to cover two-thirds of their lost pay and the employee will keep their job
  • All small and medium-sized businesses are eligible, but larger businesses must show their turnover has fallen during the crisis. Employers can use it even if they have not previous used the furlough scheme it replaces
  • It will run for six months from November
  • The existing grant for self-employed people is being extended on similar terms to the Jobs Support Scheme
  • A “pay as you grow” scheme was announced for businesses, allowing them to extend their bounce back loans from six to 10 years, reducing their payments
  • Businesses can also move to interest-only payments or suspend repayments for six months if they are "in real trouble". Credit ratings will be unaffected
  • The government guarantee on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will be extended to 10 years and a new successor loan guarantee programme will be announced in January
  • The temporary reduction of VAT from 20% to 5% for some sectors will remain in place until 31 March 2021


Unions accuse Sunak of using 'plaster to cover gaping wound'

Unions have accused Chancellor Rishi Sunak of using a plaster to cover a "gaping wound" while jobs have already been lost.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said the furlough scheme should have been extended beyond next month.
"Any support for jobs and key industries during this unprecedented global pandemic is to be welcomed," he said.
"However, the chancellor's measures are akin to using a plaster to cover a gaping wound.
"Our members in the commercial sector, aviation and culture are already being threatened with hundreds of redundancies, as employers seek to capitalise on the economic fallout from Covid-19."
Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) leader Manuel Cortes said: "Better late than never, but the government's indecision has already seen jobs lost in droves and caused huge needless anxiety among millions of workers.
"The chancellor said they will target support at 'firms who need it the most'.
"That must be fine-tuned so that the jobs of our members in the travel trade are saved and high-street travel shops don't become a thing of the past."

Income tax deferred - but not cancelled

Kevin Peachey - Personal finance correspondent
Extra support has been announced to allow people to delay their income tax bill - but it will still need to be paid.
Millions of self-employed people or those who have more than one source of income have to complete a self-assessment tax form every year.
The chancellor said that those with tax debt of up to £30,000 will be able to set up a payment plan over 12 months to January 2022.
That will help people with immediate financial problems, but they will still need to find the money eventually.
They will also need to get through to HM Revenue and Customs on the phone to set up the plan. In the past, that has been a frustrating experience for many people.

Johnson responds to Sunak's speech

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was not in the Commons during the chancellor's statement, as he was visiting police recruits in Northamptonshire.
Speaking there, Mr Johnson said the government was "continuing to do everything we can to support the work force, jobs and livelihoods throughout the crisis".
"But the really important thing is everybody follows the guidance that we set out," Mr Johnson added.
"That's why I'm here today in Northamptonshire talking to the police about what they're doing to underpin, to support the enforcement of those rules.
"It's absolutely vital that everybody does that.
"I know that people think it's a great package of new rules to press the virus but will it be enforced?
"And my message is - yes it will be, and there will be serious fines for people who don't comply."

Government wage contribution falling from 80% to 22%

The maths in the new Job Support Scheme are not especially easy to grasp.
So a helpful way to think about it is the overall percentage of a person’s salary that the government can end up paying for.
For someone who works a third of their standard hours, the government’s contribution would be two-ninths - or approximately 22% (compared with 80% at the beginning of the furlough).
The employer would pay the first third, like normal, and another two-ninths on top. The employee would get nearly 78% of their salary.
The 22% government contribution is a maximum. For someone working 50% of hours, the government contribution is 17%. It’s a sliding scale.
The scheme for self-employed people will also be less generous than previously. It will now be worth 20% of earnings (compared to 80% at the beginning).
So in terms of what the government contributes the two schemes are roughly level.

Concerns remain over household bills - and mortgages

Kevin Peachey - Personal finance correspondent
The chancellor's announcement concentrated primarily on protecting jobs and, therefore, people's wages.
While many will be relieved their income has more certainty, the question over how to pay household bills needs an immediate answer.
The largest bill is often home loan repayments, and government-backed mortgage holidays come to an end at the end of October.
Instead, people will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the financially vulnerable may still be given deferrals by lenders.
However, unlike now, this will be marked on their credit report - potentially affecting their ability to borrow in the future.

'Bold steps' will save hundreds of thousands of jobs, say businesses

A business group has praised the chancellor for listening to employers and unions and "acting decisively".
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, said: "These bold steps from the Treasury will save hundreds of thousands of viable jobs this winter."
Manufacturers organisation Make UK said Rishi Sunak deserved credit for reflecting on the experience of other countries and implementing similar measures, with the Job Support Scheme having been compared to similar programmes in France and Germany.
Chief executive Stephen Phipson said it would make the UK "strongly competitive" when normal conditions returned.
Kitkat
Kitkat
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 16:38

Helsinki airport trials sniffer dogs as virus detectors

Coronavirus - 24th September 81019210
The dogs have been specially trained to detect the coronavirus

Sniffer dogs are a familiar sight at airports, where border agents use them to detect illegal substances and contraband.
Now sniffer dogs are using their noses for a different purpose - coronavirus.
Dogs specially trained to detect Covid-19 have this week started sniffing passengers as part of a trial at Finland's Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
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Canine coronavirus tests take minutes to complete

Volunteers are training a team of 15 dogs and 10 instructors for the research programme.
The dogs can detect coronavirus in humans five days before they develop symptoms, Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, the University of Helsinki professor who is running the trial, told Reuters news agency.
"They are very good [at detecting coronavirus]. We come close to 100% sensitivity," she said.
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The trial is taking place at Finland's Helsinki-Vantaa airport

Passengers wipe their necks with cloths, which are then placed in a can and put in front of dogs to sniff. A canine test can deliver a result within minutes.
But while the trial has shown early promise, more research needs to be done to prove the efficiency of canine testing. At the moment, passengers who take part in the trial are also instructed to take a swab to confirm the result.
In the future, it is possible that "these dogs go around passengers in a similar way to customs dogs", the deputy mayor of Vantaa, Timo Aronkyto, said.
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 16:44

Dutch celebrities face backlash over Covid rebellion

Anna Holligan - BBC News Hague correspondent
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Singer and model Famke Louise was widely criticised after appearing on Dutch talk show Jinek

Influencers, rappers and a world-renowned DJ have been heavily criticised in the Netherlands after publicly announcing they were abandoning efforts to combat Covid-19.
Their campaign came as the numbers in Dutch intensive care units hit 100 for the first time since June and infection rates rose 60% on last week.
The Netherlands is among several European nations seeing a second wave.
The young stars used the hashtag #ik doe niet meer mee - "I'm out".
But as the backlash has grown, a number of them appear to have changed their minds.
Read the full story here .
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 16:59

Parties blamed for outbreak as elite Swiss university orders 2,500 students to quarantine

Swiss authorities have ordered 2,500 students at an elite university to quarantine after off-campus parties led to "significant outbreaks"of COVID-19.
All undergraduates at Lausanne Hospitality Management University have been ordered to quarantine, both on and off campus, because the number of outbreaks "made a more targeted closure impossible".The university, in the French-speaking Vaud region, is considered one of the top hospitality management schools in the world.
Coronavirus - 24th September Skynews-coronavirus-switzerland_5106537
Eleven students have tested positive but the university has told 2,500 to quarantine


A statement from officials said: "The earliest elements of an investigation indicate that the organisation of one or more parties was at the origin of these many outbreaks of infection."
The parties are thought to have taken place before new coronavirus containment measures in the region were announced on 15 September.
School administrators were taking "all necessary measures" to ensure classes were continuing online, the statement said.
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 17:11

Flag memorial marks 200,000 US deaths

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The coronavirus death toll passed 200,000 in the US this week

A sea of American flags can be seen on the lawn of the National Mall in Washington DC, each one representing some of those who have died with Covid-19 in the country during the pandemic.
This week, the coronavirus death toll surpassed 200,000 in the US , the highest number of fatalities in the world.
To commemorate those who have lost their lives, the Covid Memorial Project organised for 20,000 flags to be planted in the capital.
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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has visited the National Mall to see the flags

"This extreme loss of life is staggering,” the group wrote on a GoFundMe page, accusing US President Donald Trump of mishandling the pandemic.
The memorial project “seeks to simply say: these lives are more than a statistic - they were family, friends, neighbours”, the group wrote.
President Trump has defended his response to the pandemic, arguing that he took swift action to ban arrivals from China and Europe earlier this year, among other measures.

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic tests positive

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been placed in quarantine

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has tested positive for coronavirus, the club has said .
The 38-year-old former Sweden international has been placed in quarantine at home, with "relevant authorities" informed of his diagnosis.
His positive result came in a second round of testing after defender Leo Duarte tested positive on Wednesday.
Both players will miss Thursday's Europa League third qualifying round match with Bodo/Glimt.
All other players and staff at AC Milan were negative in the latest round of testing.
In a tweet, the former Manchester United player said he had not displayed any symptoms of the virus.
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 19:32

Coronavirus - 24th September Breaki28

UK daily cases up to 6,634

The UK government has announced another 6,634 Covid-19 cases - that's an increase on Wednesday's figure, which was 6,178.
They also said a further 40 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19. That's up from 37 deaths announced on Wednesday.
We'll have more charts setting out the spread of the virus in the UK later.

Denmark and Iceland added to England 'self-isolation list'

Denmark, Slovakia, Iceland and the Caribbean island of Curacao have been removed from the UK government's list of travel corridors, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.
That means travellers arriving in England from those countries after 04:00 BST on Saturday must self-isolate for 14 days, Shapps said.
He reminded travellers that they must self-isolate when returning from a non-exempt country, or face a fine starting from £1,000.
Tweet  Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP:
:Left Quotes:  Data shows we need to remove DENMARK, SLOVAKIA, ICELAND, and CURACAO from the Travel Corridor list. If you arrive in the UK from these destinations after 4am this Saturday, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days. [1/3]

'Signals are clear' as UK cases rise again

We reported earlier that the UK has reported 6,634 new cases, up from 6,178 the day before.
Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said: "The signals are clear. Positivity rates are rising across all age groups and we're continuing to see spikes in rates of admission to hospital and critical care.
"We must all follow the new measures that have been bought in to help control the virus and download the new NHS Covid-19 App which is the fastest way of knowing when you're at risk."
She also said: "This is the highest number recorded and a stark warning for us all."
While 6,634 cases is the highest number recorded by mass testing, experts believe the true number of daily cases was far higher earlier in the pandemic.

Europe at 'decisive moment' in pandemic, EU official warns

Europe is at a "decisive moment" in the coronavirus pandemic, with countries on the brink of national lockdowns amid a second wave of infections, the European Union's health commissioner has warned.
"It might be our last chance to prevent a repeat of last spring," Stella Kyriakides said today. "All member states must be ready to roll out measures immediately and at the right time."
Earlier this year, countries across Europe imposed strict nationwide lockdowns to curb the virus, grinding economic activity to an abrupt halt.
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 19:42

‘Caution replaced by hugs and parties’ Swedish PM warns

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Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven warned against complacency

Sweden has seen a “worrying” rise in coronavirus infections in parts of the country where people have not been taking social distancing seriously, its prime minister has said.
Stefan Lofven said the coronavirus situation in Sweden was “stable” compared to other countries, but there were signs of a resurgence.
"That's worrying. It requires that we tighten our behaviour," the prime minister said at a media briefing on Thursday.
“The caution that existed in the spring has more and more been replaced by hugs and parties, bus trips in rush-hour traffic, and an everyday life that, for many, seems to return to normal.”
Sweden has recorded more than 90,000 infections and almost 6,000 deaths to date, higher figures than its Nordic neighbours on both counts.
Unlike most countries, Sweden did not impose a sweeping lockdown at the height of the pandemic’s first wave. Instead, the country’s health officials emphasised personal responsibility, with limited restrictions on life.

Italy's president to UK PM: 'We Italians love freedom too'

Mark Lowen - BBC News, Rome
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Italian President Sergio Mattarella responded to Boris Johnson's comments on Thursday

The president of Italy has rebuked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for suggesting that Britons were more "freedom-loving" than his compatriots.
It was in parliament this week that Johnson was asked by a Labour MP whether Italy and Germany had lower Covid-19 infection rates than the UK because of more efficient testing and tracing.
"No" the prime minister replied. "There is an important difference between our country and many others around the world - ours is a freedom-loving country," he added.
Now, Italian President Sergio Mattarella has responded, telling reporters: "We Italians also love freedom – but seriousness is dear to us as well."
Italy, the first country in Europe to be overwhelmed by the coronavirus and impose a national lockdown, appears to have brought the pandemic under control.
Mask-wearing is scrupulous, testing is widespread and restrictions have remained in place for a long time.
But in a country that fought for independence and liberation from Nazi occupation, its president has reminded Johnson that the love of freedom isn't exclusively a British value.
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 19:47

Iran's virus death toll passes 25,000

More than 25,000 people have died with coronavirus in Iran, official figures show, as the country witnesses a spike in cases.
A ministry spokesman said today that 175 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the total fatalities in the country to 25,015.
However, an investigation by BBC Persian earlier this year found the number of coronavirus deaths was nearly three times as high as the official statistics.
The government's own records appeared to show almost 42,000 people had died with Covid-19 symptoms in the run up to 20 July, versus 14,405 reported by its health ministry at the time.
The country is the worst affected in the Middle East, with more than 436,000 coronavirus cases recorded to date.
Earlier this week, an official warned the country is facing a third wave of infections.

Indonesia records highest cases and deaths

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More than 10,000 people have died in Indonesia

Indonesia has seen a record number of new cases for the second day in a row.
More than 4,600 new infections were announced on Thursday, bringing the total number to 262,000. More than 10,000 people have died in the country since the pandemic began.
Indonesia is the 17th country to pass 10,000 Covid deaths,
While the official figures are the highest in South East Asia, there are fears the true number of cases could be much higher due to the country's low testing rate.
Earlier this week, the official in charge of the country's coronavirus response in the nine worst-hit provinces police and the military could break up illegal rallies in the run-up to December's regional elections.
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 19:51

US and China trade barbs over pandemic at UN meeting

Senior diplomats from China and the US have lashed out at each other at a meeting of the UN Security Council, deepening a row over the coronavirus pandemic.
China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, used his speech to reject US attempts to blame the country for the pandemic.
“I must say, enough is enough! You have created enough troubles for the world already," he told the meeting via video link on Thursday. “If someone should be held accountable, it should be a few US politicians themselves.”
His comments appeared to be a response to US President Donald Trump, who called for China to be held "accountable" for the pandemic in his address to the UN General Assembly earlier this week.
Tensions between China and the US have flared over the pandemic and a number of other issues, including trade and alleged human rights abuses.
The US ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, voiced anger at the tone of Thursday’s UN Security Council meeting.
"You know, shame on each of you. I am astonished and I am disgusted by the content of today's discussion," Craft said.

Russia records highest cases in over two months

The number of new daily coronavirus infections in Russia has reached 6,595, the highest since mid-July.
In the capital, Moscow, cases are at their highest level since late June.
Russia has recorded more than 1.1 million cases and almost 20,000 deaths since the pandemic began, and there are fears the new figures could signal a new wave in the country.
Moscow has already registered the world's first coronavirus vaccine, despite experts saying the trials were too small to prove its safety and effectiveness.
Last month, President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine had passed all the required checks and that one of his own daughters had been given it.
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:Covid-19: Re: Coronavirus - 24th September

Post by Kitkat on Thu Sep 24 2020, 19:55

More than 40 children test positive after German wedding

More than 40 children have tested positive after an outbreak linked to a wedding in the German town of Hamm, German news agency DPA reports.
Nine schools have been affected by the cluster of cases, a spokesman for the city said on Thursday, adding that only one of the children infected had no connection to the wedding.
Of the almost 200 people in the town to have tested positive, 150 were guests at the wedding, according to the town's official website. A total of 300 people are currently in quarantine and are subject to mandatory testing.
The news comes as a second German minister went into quarantine after he was found to have contact with an infected individual.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, who hosted a meeting of EU trade ministers in Berlin on Monday, said he was self-isolating as a precaution after the employee of a minister who attended had tested positive.
A day earlier, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was in quarantine after a member of his security staff tested positive.

UK evening round-up

We'll soon be bringing our coronavirus live page to a close for today.
Before then, here's a recap of the main UK stories from today.


Europe faces ‘decisive moment’ and other global headlines

In case you missed them, here are some of the main developments from around the world today.

  • Europe is at a "decisive moment" in the pandemic, with countries on the brink of national lockdowns, the EU's health commissioner warned
  • Sweden’s prime minister blamed a “worrying” rise in coronavirus infections on a lack of social-distancing discipline
  • Italian football club AC Milan said its striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic had tested positive for coronavirus
  • Influencers, rappers and a world-renowned DJ have been heavily criticised in the Netherlands after publicly announcing they were abandoning efforts to combat Covid-19
  • Around 2,500 students at a prestigious hospitality school in Switzerland were placed in quarantine after a spike in cases
  • In Iran, more than 25,000 people have been confirmed dead with Covid-19, figures showed, as the country sees a spike
  • President Donald Trump cast doubt on the approval of stricter guidelines for authorising the use of coronavirus vaccines in the US, calling the move “political”
  • Globally, there have now been more than 31.9m cases of the virus and more than 978,000 deaths, data collated by Johns Hopkins University says


That's it from us for today

We're now closing our live page - thanks for joining us. We'll be back tomorrow.

The live page writers today were:
Joseph Lee, Alexandra Fouché, Victoria Bisset, Joshua Nevett and Alex Therrien.
The page was edited by Mal Siret and Owen Amos.

    Current date/time is Sun Oct 25 2020, 08:44