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Coronavirus - 30th September


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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 10:29

Summary for Wednesday, 30th September

  • Belgium's coronavirus death toll passes 10,000, while over 117,000 people have been infected
  • Donald Trump and rival Joe Biden clash over vaccines and masks during a chaotic debate
  • New York City has announced it will fine people who refuse to wear face masks or coverings
  • UK PM Boris Johnson will lead a briefing later after the UK recorded the highest number of daily coronavirus cases
  • A group of senior MPs has warned Johnson it would be "unacceptable" to introduce further restrictions without Parliament's approval
  • The world has seen more than 33.6m coronavirus cases and 1m deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University

UK round-up

Meanwhile, here is a round-up of the main UK stories this morning:

Latest across Europe

One million people in Madrid already have restrictions on their mobility and social contacts, but it could soon become city-wide. After a drawn-out political row, Spain’s health ministry has agreed lockdown terms with Madrid officials that will apply to all cities of more than 100,000 people. Cases would have to top 500 per 100,000 of the population, the rate of positive tests should reach 10% and over 35% of intensive care beds should be full. Madrid has hit all those limits.
Belgium has reached 10,000 Covid related deaths – it’s seen 14 more deaths in 24 hours and has an infection rate of 181 per 100,000.
Dutch musical Soldier of Orange has been halted until Sunday because half the 30-strong cast have tested positive – it only got going again this month after a six month pause because of the pandemic.
Albania has pushed back the start of the school year back a month to November, after 127 new cases were reported on Tuesday.
Ukraine has hit a new daily record of 4,027 cases in the past 24 hours. And Finland is shutting bars in Helsinki from tomorrow at 11pm because the epidemic is in an “acceleration” phase – 149 cases were recorded nationally on Tuesday.

Pandemic stirs rancorous US presidential debate

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Donald Trump and Joe Biden met for the first of three presidential debates

President Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden clashed fiercely in the first White House debate - one of the most chaotic and bitter debates in years.
Some 20 minutes of the 90-minute debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was taken up with the pandemic and the 200,000 American lives it has claimed.
The discussions ranged from the economic impact of the pandemic, vaccines and mask-wearing to the president's handling of the crisis.
Mr Biden rubbished Mr Trump’s leadership, saying: “He panicked or he looked at the stock market”.
“A lot of people died and a lot more are going to die unless he gets a lot smarter, a lot quicker,” Mr Biden added.
Mr Trump’s responded by objecting to the use of the word “smart”, telling his opponent: “You graduated either the lowest or almost lowest in your class”.
Local rules required everyone in the room to wear masks, but of the president's family members present only US First Lady Melania Trump donned a face covering during the debate.
You can read more on our Debate Live Page here .

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 10:54

Why do people break the law on quarantine?

Dominic Casciani - Home Affairs Correspondent

Across the UK, normally law-abiding people are harbouring a guilty secret.
They are the Covid holiday quarantine-breakers.
They travelled to holiday spots where the beaches were drenched in sun and where coronavirus infections were starting to surge.
When they came home, they didn't shut themselves away for a fortnight. Instead, they broke the law.
We don't know how many people have been ignoring the self-isolation law after coming back from a Covid-19 hotspot.
But rates of infection from people who have recently travelled overseas, have been rising, says the Office for National Statistics.
Read more here.

North Korea admits to 'faults' in virus prevention

North Korea - one of the most secretive countries in the world - has not confirmed any Covid-19 cases, although observers doubt it could have escaped the pandemic entirely.
Pyongyang closed its border with China in January, and the country is thought to be operating a shoot-to-kill policy at its borders to prevent the virus entering the country.
But North Korea's approach has come under scrutiny in recent days because of the shocking way it shot dead a South Korean official who was found floating in the North's waters.
On Wednesday, the official KCNA news agency reported that "some faults" had been discovered in North Korea's efforts to prevent an outbreak, during a recent meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party – attended by leader Kim Jong-un.
The report did not state what those faults were but the meeting “stressed the need to strictly guard against self-complacency, carelessness, irresponsibility and slackness”.
Kim Jong-un issued a rare personal apology to the South last week, over the killing of the South Korean official.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 11:33

Cabinet minister hints at Covid law concessions

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Business Secretary Alok Sharma has hinted that concessions could be on their way as the government looks to quell a Commons rebellion over coronavirus laws.
MPs are to vote today on extending emergency powers given to the government in March to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 50 Tory MPs have backed an amendment calling for a debate and vote on any future curbs on people's freedoms.
Mr Sharma told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The reason we are sometimes having to bring these in pretty quickly is to actually keep people safe - and I know all parliamentarians, Steve [Baker] and others totally get that - and the issue is the scrutiny.
"It is the case that when we've introduced restrictions, we have to make sure there is a vote within 28 days or they lapse.
"But what colleagues are asking for is if there is some way, prior to decisions being made, whether they can be involved and I know that is something that we are looking at in government and we will come forward with some suggestions."
Pressed on whether there were concessions coming, the minister said: "We are having a look, as I said - I don't want to pre-empt anything that comes out."

Merkel makes emotional Covid appeal to Germans

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Angela Merkel appealed to Germans to follow the rules to avoid a second lockdown

"We are in the process of risking everything we've achieved in recent months ," German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned, in a passionate address to the Bundestag.
Responding to the rise in infections in recent weeks, she appealed for Germans not to let down their guard against coronavirus, as rules and restrictions would be a waste of time if people did not observe them.
"I'm sure that life as we knew it will return," she told MPs as she defended the billions of euros of extra debt Germany was facing in 2021.
Germany was facing a difficult phase, she added. Health officials reported 1,798 new cases on Wednesday and another 17 deaths.
The chancellor agreed with 16 state premiers on Tuesday that private parties should be limited to 25 people, with fines for anyone failing to give correct details to help contact tracing.
But she held out hope too.
"Families will party again; clubs, theatres and football grounds will be full again. And what joy that will be," she said. "But we now have to show we can carry on acting patiently and sensibly, and in that way we can save lives."

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 11:57

Coventry University students 'flout Covid-19 rules in party'

Up to 200 students are believed to have gathered for a party, flouting coronavirus restrictions.
Police said officers had attended halls at Coventry University in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Officers have worked with the management of Arundel House to close some communal areas and increase security, West Midlands Police said.
The university has said it is "deeply concerned" over a video of the party and condemned the "blatant breaches" of rules.
Current government guidance states that only groups of six people or fewer are allowed to meet and students have been told they must limit socialising, staying within separate "households" and being taught in managed groups.
Read more

One million women in UK may have missed breast scans

Almost one million women in the UK have missed vital breast screening due to coronavirus, a leading charity has estimated.
Breast screening programmes were paused in March as the NHS focused resources on tackling the pandemic.
Breast Cancer Now calculates that around 8,600 women who have not had a scan have undetected breast cancer.
The scanning programme is running again, but social distancing measures have reduced capacity.
Read more

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 14:01

Israeli ministers get power to ban mass protests as rates surge

Tom Bateman - BBC Middle East correspondent
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People protested against the law in Jerusalem before it was approved by Israel's parliament

Israeli MPs have handed ministers the power to ban mass protests as coronavirus rates surge.
The measures would mean demonstrators are confined to “capsules” of no more than 20 people and must stay within 1km (0.6 miles) of their homes.
For weeks, big protests have taken place in Jerusalem against Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership.
The PM has described them as virus “incubators” without providing evidence of the claim.
Protest organisers called the vote for new powers an “execution ceremony for democracy”.
Despite a second national lockdown new daily cases reached more than 8,000 last week.
Tensions have come to the fore over Israel’s democratic versus its religious character; with a heated debate about restrictions on protest and prayer.
A top scientist warned that allowing worship inside synagogues on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day which fell on Monday, risked “mass transmission”; while reports have emerged of widespread flouting of the rules in some of Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox areas.

Commons speaker criticises government over Covid regulations

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Before Prime Minister's Questions, the Commons Speaker makes a highly critical statement on this afternoon’s debate on the government’s emergency coronavirus powers.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle says the way the government has passed regulations with little notice and no debate has been “totally unsatisfactory”.
He says the government has treated Parliament with "utter contempt" and must "rebuild trust" with MPs.
The Speaker said an amendment tabled by a Conservative backbencher would not be selected for debate because he believes it is not within the scope of the day’s proceedings and risks undermining Parliament.
The proposed amendment tabled by Tory MP Sir Graham Brady would have required further national restrictions to be voted on in advance before they came in.
There is a meeting after PMQs in which MPs and ministers will discuss a potential compromise to give MPs more say.
Read more about the issue in Laura Kuenssberg's blog

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 14:11

Teenage drug dealers posed as key workers during lockdown

Teenage drug dealers have been pretending to be key workers during the pandemic to evade police, authorities in London have said.
City Hall's Rescue and Response's annual report found demand for drugs was "very high" during lockdown.
More than 3,000 people were identified as being exploited to move drugs from London to 41 towns and cities across the UK - so-called "county lines" drug dealing.
The youngest age of a dealer was 10 and the oldest 26, the report has revealed.
The report found that some posed as key workers to justify breaking lockdown restrictions if they were stopped.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "It's vital we act now to protect children and young Londoners who we know are at increased risk of exploitation by County Lines during the pandemic.
"Criminal individuals and gangs are using the uncertainty created by Covid-19 to recruit disadvantaged young Londoners, many of whom have lost their jobs and, in some cases, their accommodation."

Drive-in voting in the Czech Republic

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The pandemic has had an impact on elections around the world - at least 71 countries and territories postponed elections due to Covid-19 , although 64 places still held polls amid the outbreak.
In the Czech Republic, elections to the Senate are going ahead - but voters who are currently in quarantine are required to cast their ballots from their cars, at drive-in polling stations.
Initially, people isolating or in quarantine were not allowed to vote - but as their numbers went up, legislation was passed to ensure they could still take part, AP news reports.
The country has had more than 67,800 cases and 630 deaths, Johns Hopkins University reports.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 14:16

Moscow sees Covid cases surge again

Sarah Rainsford - BBC Moscow Correspondent
For a few weeks over summer, life in Moscow returned to near-normal: city parks filled up; shops and museums, even the Bolshoi Theatre, re-opened.
Floors and pavements were daubed with social distancing marks and there were regular loudspeaker announcements recommending face masks. But the vast majority of Muscovites ignored them. Even the Kremlin spokesman admitted he’d been to the cinema on Sunday and no-one had bothered with any face covering.
So the number of Covid-19 cases is surging again. Moscow is the hotspot, with 2,308 reported cases over the past 24 hours - the most since late May. Russia as a whole recorded 8,481 new cases.
President Putin this week called the coronavirus an invisible but "dangerous" enemy, but all the talk for now is of how well Russia’s healthcare system is primed to cope – and a stress on enforcing those protective measures that already exist.
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Anxious to shield the economy, officials are shying away from a return to lockdown. Still, Moscow’s mayor has asked thousands of city firms to help staff work remotely again and recommended that the elderly and sick stay indoors.
He’s also doubled the October school break from one to two weeks, asking parents to keep their children home as much as possible. "Let’s use this holiday to slow the spread of the infection and protect our health," Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his blog.
But according to the Tour Operators’ Association, bookings to Russia’s south coast, Crimea and Turkey for that extended holiday have soared.

Delirium a ‘key symptom’ of Covid in frail older people

Philippa Roxby - Health reporter, BBC News
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There are three main symptoms of a coronavirus infection, but research suggests frail, older people can also experience delirium or confusion.
Scientists don’t know why vulnerable over-65s, who are more likely to have falls and be in poor health, are more likely to have this symptom.
But they are warning doctors and carers to look out for signs of confusion, drowsiness or strange behaviour in this age group because it could be an early sign of Covid-19.
In the study of 800 people, one in five patients in hospital with Covid had delirium as their only symptom.
Among people who recorded their symptoms on an app, a third who experienced delirium did not have the classic symptoms of a cough or fever.
Read more here .

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 17:09

How many fines are issued to people breaching restrictions?

Reality Check
Almost 19,000 fines were issued by police forces in England and Wales between 27 March and 21 September, new data released by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) shows.
Most of these were during the early part of lockdown in March, April and May, with figures dropping significantly from mid-May onwards.
Despite a slight increase recently, only 151 fines were issued for breaching coronavirus restrictions in the four weeks to 21 September.
In the first week after the "rule of six" was introduced on 14 September, 15 people were fined for failing to follow it, although the NPCC cautions there could be a reporting lag.
Between 15 June and 21 September, 89 fines were issued for not wearing a face covering.
More than 4,000 referrals have been made by public health authorities in relation to quarantine rules for people returning from abroad.
In more than 3,000 of these, officers found the individual was complying with the rules, a further 218 people were successfully encouraged to self-isolate, nearly 700 people couldn’t be reached and 38 fines were issued for failing to self-isolate.

European countries react to record daily rises

A number of European countries are seeing surges in cases of coronavirus right now, including several that have reported record daily increases today. Here's the latest.
In Romania, the number of confirmed cases went up by 2,158 in the past 24 hours - a record for the country.
The government has extended a state of alert until mid-October, and Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said he was "very concerned by what I have seen today". Cabinet officials are going to discuss potentially introducing further measures.
Meanwhile in Slovakia, the government has approved a new state of emergency that will come into force tomorrow and last for 45 days. The move gives the government the power to impose stricter Covid measures, but doesn't automatically mean another lockdown.
The country reported a record 567 single-day rise in cases on Tuesday. Writing on Facebook, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said that after the initial 45 days, "we will decide whether to continue or if we will be able to return to normal".
The Netherlands also reported a record single-day rise today, with 3,924 new cases of the virus. The daily number of new cases passed 3,000 for the first time yesterday. On Monday, a raft of new measures were introduced to curb the rise in infections.
As our chart below shows, many countries in Europe are seeing a second rise in cases.
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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 17:12

Eight die in Welsh hospital outbreak

Eight patients have died with coronavirus at a hospital where 82 cases have been linked to an outbreak on the site.
Planned surgeries have been temporarily stopped at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant as part of a plan to manage the outbreak.
Patients who would usually be taken to A&E in an emergency will also be sent elsewhere.
The temporary measures came into force at 14:00 BST on Wednesday.
Read more here.

Foreign students in UK 'begging security staff for food'

A student has told the BBC that international students are being forgotten in the Covid crisis engulfing Scotland's universities.
Reese Chamberlain, who is studying at the University of Edinburgh, claims foreign students who are self-isolating are being forced to call security begging for food.
He said calls and emails to student welfare are going unanswered.
The university said it was supporting all students who were self-isolating.
More widely, over 1,000 students have been asked to self-isolate after a series of Covid-19 outbreaks at several Scottish universities.
Are students allowed to go home? This and other questions are answered here .

MPs to be given a say on national Covid-19 measures

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says that - where possible - the government is to allow MPs a vote on any coronavirus regulations that would apply to the whole of England or the UK .
He told MPs for these "significant national measures", Parliament would be consulted.
He added: "But of course responding to the virus means that the government must act with speed when required and we cannot hold up urgent regulations which are needed to control the virus and save lives."
He said he hoped MPs would be happy with the new arrangements.
Conservative MP Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, praised Mr Hancock for being "prepared to listen" regarding the importance of parliamentary scrutiny.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 17:16

Coronavirus 'could widen England's north-south divide'

Coronavirus restrictions could cause England's north-south divide to "massively increase", Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has warned.
Speaking at a weekly press conference, he said: "If we go into a winter with the north under local restrictions, millions of people under restrictions, businesses suffering because of those restrictions, no support for those businesses, we are going to see a widening of the north-south divide.
"If you look back in years to come you'll think Covid-19 did more harm to the north of England than Margaret Thatcher and whatever she did in the 1980s.
"This is a real danger that is staring us right in the face."
He added that "a government that says it wants to level up cannot put the north of England under restrictions without support - it's pretty much as simple as that".
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said it "worked closely" with local leaders and public health teams to make informed decisions on local interventions and "when necessary take swift targeted action to control the virus".

'Importance of proper scrutiny' of Covid-19 measures

Matt Hancock's move follows concern from Tory MPs over a lack of parliamentary scrutiny.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle warned the government against treating Parliament with "contempt".
Mr Hancock told MPs there would be regular statements and debates "and the ability for members to question the government's scientific advisers more regularly, gain access to data about their constituencies and join daily calls with the paymaster general".
Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs, had been pushing for MPs to have more of a say over restrictions introduced to tackle the virus.
He said Mr Hancock had "understood the importance of proper scrutiny in this place and the benefits that can bring to better government as well".
MPs are debating a motion that will extend the Coronavirus Act, the emergency legislation passed in March, which grants extensive powers to the authorities to tackle Covid, such as closing schools and stopping mass gatherings.

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Number of new UK cases tops 7,000 for second day in row

There have been 7,108 new cases of coronavirus reported in the UK, bringing the total to 453,264.
It comes a day after the number of cases passed 7,000 on Tuesday, with a total of 7,143 - it was the highest number of daily cases since mass testing began.
There were 71 deaths reported on Wednesday of those who died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test. It's the same number of deaths as reported on Tuesday, and brings the total number of deaths to 42,143.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 17:21

How Kuwait's late ruler was laid to rest in era of Covid

The late ruler of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, was laid to rest today in a small service at the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque.
The royal court said the funeral was restricted to the emir's relatives, in order to deter large crowds, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Everyone at the service wore masks, too.
The funeral took place shortly after Sheikh Sabah's half-brother was sworn in as the new emir.
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UK PM to address nation at 100th press conference

We are expecting to hear from Prime Minister Boris Johnson shortly.
He's going to be leading a coronavirus briefing, alongside Chief Medical Officer for England Prof Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
It is the 100th briefing on coronavirus since the pandemic began.
On Tuesday, the PM had to apologise, saying he "misspoke" when asked to clarify details of new tighter coronavirus restrictions in north-east England.
Earlier today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised MPs a vote "wherever possible" on England or UK-wide coronavirus regulations.
There had been concern from Tory MPs about there being a lack of parliamentary scrutiny on such measures.
But he said: "We cannot hold up urgent regulations which are needed to control the virus and save lives."
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle had warned the government not to treat Parliament with "contempt" with regard to the introduction of coronavirus regulations.
The UK reported 7,108 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday and a further 71 deaths.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 18:54

South Africa to reopen borders for first time since March

South Africa is reopening its borders to all African countries from Thursday, although tourists from 50 places deemed to be high-risk - including the UK, the US, India, France and Russia - will be banned.
The country closed its borders at the start of its national lockdown - one of the strictest in the world - on 27 March. Although restrictions on movement and business started to be eased from June, borders stayed shut to avoid cases of the virus coming in from abroad.
Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor says the reopening of borders will be done "gradually".
For now, although anyone from African countries is allowed, she says "only business travellers with scarce and critical skills, diplomats, investors and professional sports people coming for events from the high-risk countries will be permitted into the country".
Those who can travel will have to show evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken fewer than 72 hours before departure. They will also be screened upon arrival, and will need to install a Covid-19 tracing app on their phones.

Czech Republic declares new state of emergency

Rob Cameron - BBC Prague Correspondent
The Czech government has declared a new state of emergency, which comes into effect next Monday.
Health Minister Roman Prymula told parliament that the rate of infection in the country was "among the worst in the world", and that urgent action was needed to prevent a crisis in hospitals.
The state of emergency will, among other things, allow officials to draft in final year medical students to help out in hospitals, and to swiftly introduce new restrictions - such as moving all secondary school lessons online, introducing a cap of six people per party in restaurants, and limiting all events - with exceptions for ballet and theatre - to 10 people indoors and 20 outdoors.
The state of emergency will be in place for 30 days. Parliament will then have to approve an extension.

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 19:00

What happens next is the big unknown

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent

It is now clear the second wave is here. Infections, hospital cases and deaths are all rising.

But what happens next is the big unknown.

The doomsday scenario of a doubling of cases every week that was put forward last week is not materialising.

The increase in hospital admissions is even more gradual – and the total numbers being admitted are more than 10 times lower than they were at the peak.

It points to a slower, less severe wave this time round.

But it is still early days.

We are just at the start of the autumn and winter period when respiratory viruses circulate more.

The situation could easily unravel.

However, the UK, like other countries, is in a much stronger position than we were when we literally sleepwalked into the first wave.

Better treatments are in place, social distancing has become routine and – despite the problems – there is much more testing available.

The odds are certainly stacked in our favour more than they were six months ago.

Read more analysis here .

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 19:37

Analysis: No big announcement but 'stark reminders'

Jonathan Blake - BBC political correspondent
There were no big announcements in the briefing but several stark reminders about the spread of coronavirus in the UK.
On more than one occasion, the scientists flanking the prime minister said things were "heading in the wrong direction".
Boris Johnson again warned the UK was at "a critical moment".
This was an attempt to reinforce the message that people need to stick to the rules - and a reminder that if things get worse, there could be more restrictions, even another national lockdown, to come.
Everything rests on how far and how fast the virus spreads - both the level of disruption we'll continue to see in our daily lives and the relative success, or failure, of the government's response.

Doctors on strike in Peru and Spain

As cases rise again across the world, doctors are sounding the alarm about working conditions in their hospitals.
Hundreds of junior doctors are protesting in Barcelona, Spain, saying that their working hours are now twice as long as what's stated in their contracts, but their pay is low.
Similar protests are being held on the other side of the globe in Lima, Peru, where more than 9,000 healthcare workers are staging a 48-hour walkout to demand higher pay and better conditions.
The doctors' union in Peru says the government hasn't kept its promises to increase salaries or pay bonuses during the pandemic.
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In Barcelona, doctors lay on the ground in their scrubs

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They maintained social distancing at the protest at the Plaza de Espana

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In Lima, Peru, doctors say the government hasn't kept its promises to healthcare workers

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More than 9,000 healthcare workers are protesting in Lima

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Post by Kitkat on Wed Sep 30 2020, 19:40

What's been happening today?

We will be bringing our live coverage to a close shortly.
But before we do, here's a look back at the main headlines of the day.

Thanks for joining us

Many thanks for joining us today on our live page.

It has been written by: Ashitha Nagesh, Paul Seddon, Penny Spiller, Alex Therrien, Lauren Turner and Katie Wright.
The editors were Helier Cheung and Paul Gribben.

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 03:00