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Coronavirus - 12th October


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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 10:00

Summary for Monday, 12th October

  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tells a news conference he is taking a "balanced approach" to managing the virus
  • But he says he does not favour another national lockdown "right now" because it would harm the economy
  • Boris Johnson tells the Commons there will be a new three-level alert system for England - medium, high and very high
  • Liverpool will be on the highest level of alert, the PM says. He adds he does not want a new national lockdown
  • More people are in hospital with Covid than before lockdown in March, says NHS medical director Stephen Powis
  • Top UK scientific advisers have said NHS Nightingale hospitals are on stand-by in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate
  • Most A-level and GCSE exams in England will be delayed by three weeks in 2021
  • In China, Qingdao's population of nine million will be tested for Covid-19 over five days after 12 cases
  • There are more than 37 million confirmed cases globally with more than 1.07 million deaths

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic response. Throughtout the day, we will bring you the latest measures being taken to tackle Covid-19 as its menace remains a challenge for many authorities world-wide.
To begin with, here’s a round-up of the latest updates from around the globe, and some of the things to be keeping an eye on.

New local lockdown restrictions in England to be unveiled

New local lockdown rules for England are due to be announced later.
The Liverpool City Region is expected to face the tightest restrictions under a new "three tier" system, which will classify regions as being at a "medium," "high" or "very high" level of alert.
But Steve Rotheram, the city region's mayor, said "no deal has been agreed".
Talks between local leaders elsewhere in England and the government in Westminster continue.
More clarity on restrictions is expected later, with new curbs to be reviewed after a month.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee "to determine the final interventions".
He will then announce changes in the Commons, before speaking at a Downing Street press conference in the evening.

China to test 9m in five days

The Chinese city of Qingdao is testing its entire population of nine million people for Covid-19 over a period of five days.
It comes after a dozen cases were confirmed linked to a local hospital which treats imported patients.
China had in May tested the entire city of Wuhan - a population of 11 million and the epicentre of the global outbreak.
The country has largely brought the virus under control.
That's in stark contrast to other parts of the world where there are still high case numbers and lockdown restrictions of varying severity.

What are European countries doing?

Just as Europe was hoping it could put Covid to rest, the virus has risen again, with renewed venom. Case numbers have been rising and in their wake, hospital admissions too. Each country is trying to find the right combination of measures - local lockdowns, test-and-trace initiatives, economic support and public communication - to drive down numbers as winter approaches.
As the UK government prepares to unveil a range of new lockdown rules, BBC reporters from France, Germany and other European capitals explain how their countries are managing .

South Korea lowers social distancing guidelines

South Korea’s prime minister has lowered the country’s Covid-19 social distancing guidelines to the lowest level as case numbers drop.
Daily domestic case numbers have stayed around 50 despite fears of a spike after a recent harvest holiday week.
The country is now at Level 1 of its three-tier system.
Karaoke centres, gyms and buffets can now open, while crowds of almost a third capacity are permitted in stadiums.
Facemasks are still required in many public places.
And President Moon Jae-in said the government "will ensure that there will be no loophole, even for a moment, in antivirus measures for high-risk and multiuse facilities".
South Korea was one of the first countries to be hit by the pandemic, but is viewed as one of the world's coronavirus success stories for its management of the disease.
A total of 433 people have lost their lives to the virus.

Three tiers beckon for England

BBC Breakfast
England areas facing the tightest new coronavirus restrictions will be able to exit from the curbs only after "getting the infection under control", the UK's Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Dowden said Prime Minister Boris Johnson would announce the "full detail" of the government's latest plan for Covid-19 measures, adding: "The proper way to do this is to put all the information out there at once."
But he said the "basic principle is that the country would be split into the three" tiers, adding that "the higher the levels of infection" an area had, "the higher the level of the category".
"The point of doing this now is to ensure we get the disease under control," he said.
Dowden added that MPs would vote on the new tier plan on Tuesday.

Covid virus survives up to 28 days

The virus responsible for Covid-19 can remain infectious on surfaces such as banknotes, phone screens and stainless steel for 28 days, researchers say.
The findings from Australia's national science agency suggest SARS-Cov-2 can survive for far longer than thought.
However, the experiment was conducted in the dark. UV light has already been shown to kill the virus.
Some experts have also thrown doubt on the actual threat posed by surface transmission in real life.
The coronavirus is mostly transmitted when people cough, sneeze or talk.

Virus survival brings us back to basic advice

Pallab Ghosh - Science correspondent, BBC News
Covid-19 spreads primarily through the air. Studies have shown that the virus can remain infectious in airborne particles for more than three hours. What's less certain is the degree to which it can spread via surfaces such as banknotes and touchscreens.
Previous studies have assessed its survivability on stainless steel and their results have varied wildly, ranging from between three and 14 days at room temperature.
The new study looked at how long the virus could survive on glass, paper and plastic notes as well as steel. They found that they could detect it after 28 days on all these surfaces at 20C - significantly longer than the earlier studies had indicated. The experiments were, however, carried out in virus friendly conditions - in a dark room with stable temperatures and humidity - so the virus may well not do so well in the real world.
Even so, these results highlight the need to wash hands as well as touchscreens regularly and to avoid touching one's face in order to minimise the risk of infection.

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Liverpool 'needs help controlling virus' - leading scientist

BBC Breakfast
Liverpool "really needs assistance with controlling this virus", a leading scientist advising the UK government on coronavirus has said.
Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Breakfast: "The last I heard we had over 600 cases per 100,000 [people], bed occupancy in the main hospital was over half of our beds are already filled with Covid, and we're not even into winter yet.
"I think it was 22 people ventilated on mechanical ventilators in our intensive care units.
"Already staff are feeling overburdened, emotionally wiped out [and have] a lot of psychological stress.
"And they're looking outside and thinking we're not even into winter yet."
Asked the specific science underpinning restrictions on hospitality, Prof Semple said: "Alcohol and people's behaviour are well known to be factors that result in relaxation of one's adherence to regulations, let's put it politely.
"And so I can understand why this move is happening."

New restrictions 'likely to be enacted Wednesday'

Today Programme - BBC Radio 4
New coronavirus measures for England "are likely to be enacted on Wednesday", according to Liverpool's metro mayor Steve Rotherham.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We're told that the orders will be placed before Parliament today, there will be some debate tomorrow, but the orders are likely to be enacted on Wednesday and that's where the tiers will be announced."
As we mentioned earlier, the Liverpool City Region is expected to face the tightest restrictions under a new "three tier" system, which will classify regions as being on "medium", "high" or "very high" alert.
Rotherham said there was "no wiggle room" for the region in terms of what tier it will join, but he said local officials were discussing "discretionary areas" with the UK government.
He said they had "discussed around the possibility of restaurants being one of those discretionary areas".
Rotherham added that the new restrictions would "initially" last four weeks, before being reviewed.

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Iran hits half a million infections

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Iran has hit half a million virus infections, with more than 3,800 new cases confirmed.
Fines are now being implemented in Tehran for those who ignore regulations including refusing to quarantine while sick and failing to wear a mask in public. Business can be given fines for not ensuring customers wear masks.
Meanwhile, the country's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has tested positive for the virus.
A total of 28,544 people have died of Covid-19 in Iran.

Booze ban? Czech PM floats new measures

Rob Cameron - BBC Prague Correspondent
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has summoned a meeting of the country’s national security council this morning to discuss the resurgent wave of coronavirus cases, the highest per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe.
However, signals that the government could declare a full national lockdown appear to be receding, and instead officials will focus on trying to prevent people from mingling.
With the virus spreading so fast, officials had appeared to be softening up the public for a new lockdown. But now it seems there won’t be any tightening until Wednesday, and even then, it will be more like recalibrating existing measures. The ones in place already are certainly creative: shopping centres have been told to turn off their free Wi-Fi to dissuade teenagers from loitering.
But new ones mooted by the prime minister appear rather unconvincing. Pubs and restaurants already have to shut by 20:00; he’s now suggesting one solution might be to ban them from serving alcohol, to deter people gathering outside afterwards.
There’s also an open question on what to do about younger primary school pupils, who are pretty much the only ones still physically in class every morning.
There is a sense however that all of this is fiddling while Rome burns – the graphs showing daily new cases and hospitalisation are almost enough to induce vertigo.
The government says it can’t afford another long national shutdown – the people feel it’s only a matter of time.

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UK culture secretary: 'Higher risk associated with hospitality venues'

Today Programme - BBC Radio 4
There is a "higher risk" of contracting coronavirus associated with hospitality venues, the UK's culture secretary has said.
Oliver Dowden told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there were "challenges" linked with the hospitality industry, including "that you can't wear a mask when you're sat down and eating", "social interaction with people you don't normally meet" and "ventilation".
Dowden said the issue was something he had discussed with the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
On the new lockdown restrictions for England, Dowden added: "We are taking reasonable and proportionate measures because we can see the risks coming down the line."
Earlier, the culture secretary told Sky News he hoped the virus could be under control after Christmas.
"If those measures are successful we hope to be able to take areas out of those high levels of restrictions," he said.
"The purpose of doing this is to ensure we get the virus under control so by the time that we get through to after Christmas we are in that position where it is under control.
"Indeed I hope it will be sooner than that."

Analysis: Almost impossible to judge impact of restrictions

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
The problem with introducing the sort of restrictions that are being suggested to control the spread of the virus is that no-one is really sure whether they will really work.
Firstly, while the government’s advisers can track patterns in where infected individuals have been prior to being diagnosed, they cannot prove that they were actually infected in those places.
Secondly, there will be unintended consequences.
Close pubs and you may make the situation worse by driving people to mix more in private homes which are less "Covid-secure”.
It is point that has been made in recent days by Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese as well as others, as ministers weigh up their options.
Then there is the economic, social and emotional toll of closing down parts of a community.
These are decisions that will divide opinion and, what is more, it will be nigh on impossible to judge exactly what impact they will have had on the virus.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 11:21

Russia infections head for new records

Russia has reported more than 13,500 cases - just short of the most for a single day since the start of the pandemic.
More than 1.3 million people have now tested positive for Covid-19 in Russia - the fourth highest number in the world.
A total of 125 people more deaths have been confirmed, taking the overall death toll to 22,722.

Anthony Fauci says Trump campaign ad quote misleading

Top US government scientist Anthony Fauci has said an edited clip of him used in a Trump campaign ad is misleading.
It shows Dr Fauci saying he "can't imagine that anybody could be doing more" to fight Covid-19, suggesting he is speaking about President Trump.
However, Dr Fauci was talking about himself and other medical officials.
The infectious diseases expert has previously clashed with Mr Trump over how to handle the pandemic.
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UK hospitality sector in legal action over lockdowns

The UK hospitality industry plans to take legal action to stop new local lockdown rules that could force pub, clubs and other venues to close.
Trade body the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said there was no evidence that hospitality venues contributed to the spread of Covid-19.
It comes as the government prepares to unveil new restrictions for England .
NTIA boss Michael Kill said the hospitality industry had been left with "no other option".
"These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package presented by the chancellor in an attempt to sustain businesses through this period," he said.
"This next round of restrictions are hugely disproportionate and unjust, with no scientific rationale or correlation to Public Health England transmission rates, when compared to other key environments."

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Coronavirus alert levels in England

As we've already mentioned, a new "three-tier" system for local lockdowns is due to be announced later.
You can find more information on the three alert levels here:
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Two Rwandan priests penalised for 'chaotic' Masses

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Father Emmanuel Ndagijimana and Father Felicien Nsengiyumva

Authorities in Rwanda have penalised two Catholic priests after presiding over Masses that violated coronavirus safety measures.
The Catholic parish of Ruhengeri in the north of the country - where the priests are stationed - also risks closure.
Father Emmanuel Ndagijimana and Father Felicien Nsengiyumva are said to have failed to adhere to the number of congregants allowed to attend Mass.
Police found "a chaotic situation" in the church and "everyone there was at high risk of infection", according to a government statement.
"We remind religious denominations particularly those that were permitted to resume services to follow strict safety guidelines as issued by relevant authorities," the statement said.
Rwanda's cabinet approved the reopening of worship places in July but under strict safety measures. Worshippers have to wear face masks, get their temperatures taken and maintain social distance.

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Coronavirus spreading south in England

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On the geographical spread of coronavirus, Van-Tam notes that on their graphics, there are now very dark areas in the north-west of England and the north-east.
"Really a confluent dark purple colour across the northern part of the UK," he says.
But he says the right-hand chart is "of rather more concern".
"The dark brown areas indicate the latest data on where things are heating up and you can see that the reach of the dark brown colours is further south into a greater land mass across England," he says.
He adds that "it has changed in a matter of just a few days".
"That is clearly a matter of great concern to me," he says.
Prof Van-Tam said the resurgence of cases this autumn has been mainly in adults aged 20-29.
He says the data shows the spread is happening from the younger age groups to the 60-plus age group in the north-west and north-east of England.
This is of significant concern because the elderly suffer a much worse course of Covid-19 and are more difficult to save, Prof Van-Tam says.

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Summary from The Guardian:

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • Global coronavirus cases are nearing 37.5m, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker , as surging infections in India as well as the US and Europe contribute to higher daily totals that show no sign of slowing. The death toll worldwide stands at 1,075,848.
  • Italy is planning to introduce new restrictions nationwide as infections climb to levels last seen in March. Italian experts meet on Monday to consider new restrictions, expected later in the week, as the country’s daily infections surpassed 5,000 in recent days for the first time since March. Deaths linked to the virus, however, are far lower than at the peak of the pandemic in spring.The health minister, Roberto Speranza, said he had proposed a nationwide ban on private parties, while Rome would also target opening hours for bars and restaurants.
  • Health authorities in Greece announced a daily record of 13 deaths from Covid-19, along with 280 new confirmed infections. The country’s total number of cases since the pandemic started stands at 22,358, with 449 deaths.New restrictions on the number of people allowed inside restaurants, museums and archaeological site are being imposed on Monday in Athens and several regions around Greece where the incidence of new cases is considered particularly high.
  • More than half of France’s nurses are close to burning out, according to a survey of nearly 60,000 of them, which found they were struggling with cancelled holidays and increased work due to coronavirus.
  • The British prime minister, Boris, Johnson is expected to unveil a three-tier alert system of Covid restrictions for England. The first tier is expected to include existing restrictions limiting gatherings to six people and a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, and existing rules on masks and social distancing. The second tier is likely to include bans on home visits and indoor socialising with other households in bars or restaurants, while the final tier could force bars and pubs to close. Places such as Merseyside, Manchester and Newcastle – the worst-affected areas – are expected to face the toughest restrictions.
  • In China, the city of Qingdao in the eastern Shandong province announced plans to test each of its nine million residents, after six new cases emerged linked to a hospital treating infections in returning international travellers. The exercise is expected to take place over five days. The city reported six new cases and six asymptomatic cases as of 11 October. Most of the cases were linked to the Qingdao chest hospital.
  • South Korea confirmed 97 new cases, a modest rise from the daily levels reported last week, just as officials eased social distancing restrictions after concluding that transmissions have slowed after a resurgence in mid-August.
  • A second case has been confirmed in Solomon Islands, the Pacific archipelago that had, until this month, remained Covid-free. The first case, confirmed on 3 October, was a student who had been repatriated from the Philippines in late September. The second confirmed case is another student who was on the same flight.
  • French Polynesia’s president, Edouard Fritch, has tested positive on returning to Tahiti from France, where he met the French prime minister, Jean Castex, and the president, Emmanuel Macron.

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'Wishful thinking' that elderly can be 'fenced off'

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NHS England’s medical director Prof Steve Powis is now speaking.
He says the UK is not alone in seeing a renewed growth in infection rates - drawing a comparison with the Netherlands and France.
He describes how hospitals in other countries are starting to see rising numbers of Covid patients - and says the UK is starting to see a similar change.
We have more patients in hospital with Covid-19 than we did before the government announced restrictions in March, Prof Powis says.
He says hospital admission rates are also increasing among older people.
There are "steep rises" in the number of people aged over 65 and particularly over 85 being admitted to hospital, he says, adding: "So the claim that the elderly can somehow be fenced off from risk is wishful thinking."

'Long Covid' problems starting to show, says NHS boss

In the last four weeks, hospitals in north-east and north-west England have seen a seven-fold increase in Covid patients in their intensive care units, NHS England's medical director Prof Powis says
But he adds: "We're not just concerned about hospital admissions."
We're also learning about the "long term side-effects of Covid" which can also affect the young, he says.
Symptoms of so-called "long Covid" are becoming more apparent, says Prof Powis, as he says it's not just a problem that affects older people.

Breaking News 

Nightingale hospitals in North asked to prepare

Prof Powis, who is NHS England's medical director, announces Nightingale hospitals in parts of the North of England - Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate - are being asked to mobilise in the next few weeks.
They are being asked to get ready to accept patients - whether that's Covid-19 patients or people recovering from the virus.
They could be asked to provide "elective and diagnostic services" for patients with conditions other than the virus, he says.
He says there will be regular testing for staff in high-risk areas, even when they don't have symptoms.

We don't want to postpone operations again, says NHS boss

Prof Powis says any additional measures that are put in place this week will take a number of weeks to show an impact.
He now turns to the NHS's other work - for example cancer treatment.
He said during the first wave of the virus, some people had to wait longer for operations.
"Where we can, we don't want this to happen again this time. But that depends on all of us doing what needs to be done to contain this virus," he says.
"As I've said throughout this pandemic, please use NHS services if you need them for your health needs."

'Take this disease seriously' - Manchester's medical lead

Manchester's medical lead Dr Jane Eddleston says north-west England has about 40% of all of the country's Covid cases, which is "proving challenging".
Greater Manchester has seen a three-fold increase in the number of patients in intensive care in the last five weeks and an eight-fold increase in admissions.
Thirty per cent of the hospital's critical care beds are now occupied by patients with Covid "which is starting to impact on the services we provide for other patients".
"I stress to you the importance of us taking this disease extremely seriously," she says.

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Analysis: Damage limitation time

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
It's clear our health leaders are very concerned.
The most chilling message in the press conference was from NHS medical director Stephen Powis, who warned that if we don't take measures to control the virus now, the death toll that will be seen this winter will be too high to bear.
Powis and his colleagues made one thing clear: we still have a window to tackle this.
The rise in hospital admissions is a concern - it's doubled in England in the past two weeks. But we are still some way from that peak in the spring, when there were 17,000 Covid patients in hospital in England.
And one thing the experts didn't mention is that the outbreaks in care homes are small - a lot lower than in the spring. So there are some early signs we are protecting the vulnerable.
But for the UK, as we head towards winter and the time when respiratory viruses thrive, it's damage limitation at this point.

Will non-urgent surgeries be cancelled?

The BBC's medical editor Fergus Walsh asks Prof Stephen Powis how close the NHS is to having to cancel non-urgent surgeries, as occurred during the first wave of coronavirus.
Prof Powis says during the first wave in April "we took a national approach" and unfortunately that did mean that we had to stand down elective services. We have seen an increase in waiting times as a result, he says.
"We are really determined to get back to normal in terms of treating those patients so we will do everything we possibly can to ensure to maintain those services."
But says "the key to this, is the control of infection in the community".
Our correspondent also asks whether there is scientific evidence behind closing pubs, bars and gyms.
Prof Van-Tam says that the virus thrives on human contact, particularly in closed spaces, crowded spaces and in close contact. He also says there is an emphasis on the duration people are likely to be in those spaces and the level of noise.
"All of those settings... are areas where the virus will thrive and spread if we allow it to," he says.

How sure are scientists that infection is spreading in the community?

The scientific advisers were asked how confident they are that transmission is happening in the community and not other settings, such as schools.
Prof Steve Powis says he is "very confident" that infection rates are increasing in the community.
"The data is clear and of course the difference from the first wave in April is that we have that data," he says.
He says it's "obviously important" that infection is also controlled in hospitals - but stresses: "This is a problem of community infection rates increasing."
On the infection rate in schools, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam says: "Actually if you salami slice the infection data very carefully across the school age bands, what you actually see is very low rates of increase in infection up to the age of 16."
He says the infection rate then picks up a bit in the 17 and 18 age bracket.
"We already know children are not drivers of spread in the community" as they are for the flu virus, Prof Van-Tam adds.

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Analysis: 'Deciding what to do is challenge of our time'

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News
We are in a crucial phase in the epidemic.
Either we choose the terms for controlling the virus now, or we wait and the virus will force our hand - as it did with lockdown in March.
Presenting this data is the easy bit. Deciding what to do about it is the challenge of our time.
This is still a virus that spreads easily between people and to which most of us have no immunity.
Cases are rising across nearly the whole of England, the North West is just leading the way.
And an initial surge in cases in young people is now bleeding into older age groups who are at most risk.
But every restriction on our lives has a knock-on effect on our physical and mental health, as well as to the economy.
The government is walking a tightrope. And with a strong desire to avoid a full lockdown and to keep schools and universities open, it is doing so with one hand tied behind its back.
Reducing the number of people we meet curbs the spread of the virus. Gyms, pubs and similar are in the firing line because this is where people are still gathering.
But it is still uncertain whether this will be enough to change the course of the epidemic.

It's a problem for North and South - Van-Tam

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England's deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam addressed the suggestion that Covid-19 is only a problem in the North and not a problem in the South.
"On the contrary," he says. "The epidemic this time has clearly picked up pace in the north of England earlier than it did in the first wave and that almost certainly relates to the fact that disease levels in the North never dropped... as far as they dropped in the summer as they did in the South.
"Pretty much all areas of the UK are now seeing growths in the infection rate," he says.
It's a "nationwide phenomenon" that infection rates are rising, he adds.

What did the scientists say today?

We've been hearing from the government's scientific and medical advisers about the latest coronavirus data. Here's what we learned:

  • Three Nightingale hospitals in the north of England have been asked to get ready to accept patients in the next few weeks. Nightingale hospitals were set up across the UK at the start of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, to be used in the event of the NHS being overwhelmed. Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate have been asked to "mobilise"
  • It's "wishful thinking" that elderly people can somehow be "fenced off" from the risk of the virus, NHS England's medical director Prof Steve Powis said. There are already steep rises in the number of over-65s - and particularly over-85s - being admitted to hospital
  • More people are now in hospital with Covid-19 than before the first batch of lockdown restrictions were introduced in March
  • The executive medical director of Manchester University's Foundation Trust, Dr Jane Eddleston, urged people to take the virus "extremely seriously". She says nearly 40% of England's Covid cases are in north-west England
  • Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, made clear it's not just a problem for the North. On the contrary, he said: "Pretty much all areas of the UK are now seeing growths in the infection rate."

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Lebanon tightens restrictions further

Martin Patience - BBC Middle East correspondent, Beirut
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Officials fear a continuing rise in cases could overwhelm Lebanon's fragile health services

Like many countries, Lebanon is currently witnessing a surge in the number of recorded coronavirus cases.
The big fear is that the country’s battered health system will simply be overwhelmed as it grapples with the effects of an economic meltdown and the destruction of the Beirut blast in August.
With relatively limited resources to fight the virus - there are, for example, just 206 beds in the country’s intensive care units set aside for coronavirus patients - the authorities are using tough lockdowns to try to curb its spread.
The caretaker government has ordered more than a 150 villages into lockdown for a week. It has also ordered bars and nightclubs to close until further notice.
But trust in the government is almost non-existent in Lebanon and many people may choose to ignore the latest restrictions.

Breaking News 

GCSE and A-level exams in England will happen later in summer

Most A-level and GCSE exams in England will be delayed by three weeks next year due to the pandemic, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed.
The exams will go ahead but they will be delayed, he said.

Trump 'cure' needs more testing, scientists say

The drugs Donald Trump is touting as a cure for coronavirus need more testing, scientists say.
Speaking to CBS, David Ho, a physician and researcher who created the cocktail of drugs that made HIV/AIDS survivable, said it was too soon to claim it as a cure.
"Well, these are ongoing studies. They, I think, are going to enroll thousands of these patients. They have only entered the clinic in June, July. So we need to give it more time," he said.
Labatories, including Ho's, are searching thousands of natural antibodies from patients to find combinations against Covid-19.
Dr Leonard Schleifer, the CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which developed the antibody cocktail which was given to Trump, has said that a $450m contract the firm won from the US federal government over the summer will ensure around 300,000 doses of the treatment.
But he said there are not enough doses are available yet and it would need to be rationed.
"Coming up with a distribution system where we take what's limited, and we try and give it to the people who most need it, who would most benefit from it - the vulnerable people, elderly people, people who are at high risk, household contacts perhaps," he said.
"We have to figure out ways to ration this."

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 16:48

'More time to prepare for exams' after Covid disruption

The government has confirmed that GCSE, AS and A-level exams will go ahead in England next summer.
Most of them will take place three weeks later than usual. One paper in GCSE English and one in GCSE maths will still be sat in the week before half term, as well as some AS and A-levels which typically have low numbers of students.
It means students will "now have more time to prepare for their exams", the government said.
The summer exam series will begin on 7 June and end on 2 July for nearly all GCSEs, AS and A-levels.
Rather than results arriving on consecutive Thursdays as they usually do, results days for the exams will be in the same week - so Tuesday 24 August for AS and A-levels and Friday 27 August for GCSEs.
It comes after widespread criticism over the government's handling of exams this year.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Students have experienced considerable disruption and it’s right we give them, and their teachers, the certainty that exams will go ahead and more time to prepare."

What's the situation in South Asia?

Reality Check
India has the second-largest number of coronavirus cases in the world with over seven million cases and could soon overtake the US with the most infections.
But while there are some signs of the pandemic slowing in India, could some of its neighbours be witnessing a second spike in cases?
Pakistan is witnessing a rise in daily cases in its Punjab province, but overall cases are still below the 1,000 a day mark.
Bangladesh saw its daily cases peak around mid-June before they dropped in the last week of July and beginning of August. Daily cases hover between 1,000 and 1,500.
Sri Lanka is witnessing a spike in cases after a cluster was found this month in a garment factory. It has had spikes in cases since April, but has had relatively low numbers overall.
Read more on Covid-19 in South Asia here.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 16:52

Welsh leaders 'disappointed' over potential lack of England travel rules

We're also following the update from Wales, where Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething is giving a briefing.
He says he and Wales' first minister joined the Cobra meeting that was chaired by the UK PM Boris Johnson this morning.
All four nations of the UK are in charge of making their own coronavirus lockdown rules and have different restrictions in place.
Asked whether the Welsh government could decide to ban travellers coming in from England, Mr Gething says he and the Welsh first minister are "deeply disappointed" that the PM Boris Johnson is "still taking the approach where there is only going to be guidance on whether people should or shouldn't travel in and out of highly infected areas".
Mr Gething adds: "There is clear evidence the virus is waking up for the winter."
He says coronavirus is moving quickly through the UK and through Wales.
"I do not want to scare people but I do want people to understand we potentially face a very difficult few months ahead of us," he says.
One person in every 500 has coronavirus in Wales, he adds.
He says the Welsh government is considering all options - including potentially national measures.

'Merseyside bars and pubs set to close; restaurants spared'

Some more detail now on what rules there might be for parts of the UK expecting to be put into the third - and most serious - tier of coronavirus restrictions later on today.
Our political correspondent says Merseyside MPs on a phone call with Health Secretary Matt Hancock have been told bars, pubs, gyms and betting shops will have to close, while restaurants will stay open for now.

Analysis: Is the NHS prepared for a second wave?

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
There are now more people in hospital with Covid-19 than there were when the UK went into lockdown in March.
That is alarming. But the NHS is also in a much better position to cope.
There are better treatments available and more knowledge of how best to care for patients who fall seriously ill.
The upwards trajectory in hospital admissions is also nowhere near what it was. Admissions are doubling every fortnight currently, compared to every five days or so during the UK's first wave.
There is also free capacity. Overall, about 3% of all hospital beds are occupied by Covid patients, while in the summer there were 30,000 beds free – three times what there normally is (unfortunately we don’t have a more recent figure because NHS England won’t publish one).
But the national picture does mask the real pressure being felt in particular areas.
There is most concern about hospitals in north-west England which are caring for more than a third of patients, with senior doctors warning it is starting to affect the ability of the NHS to care for other patients.
On current trajectories, North West hospitals could hit the numbers seen during the first wave in about three weeks, which is why the Nightingale hospitals in those regions are being stood up.

Evidence shouting and singing can spread virus

Earlier, Jonathan Van-Tam - England's deputy chief medical officer - was asked whether there was scientific evidence that closing bars, pubs and gyms would slow the virus.
He said closed spaces, crowded spaces and close contact all lead to increased virus transmission.
And he also said the level of noise has an impact, saying scientists "have increasingly strong evidence" that shouting and singing makes the "expulsion of virus-laden particles go further".

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 16:54

Pope's Swiss Guards test positive

Four Swiss Guards - the papal protection force - have coronavirus symptoms and been placed in isolation, the Holy See's press office has announced.
There have been three other cases in recent weeks, said the director of the office Matteo Bruni. The Holy See has had 12 confirmed cases and no deaths, according to a world-wide tally kept by the Johns Hopkins University in the US.
The 110 member Swiss Guard are responsible for the personal security of the Pope. They have served the papacy for five centuries, first coming to Rome to protect Pope Julius II in 1506. Members of the Guard must be Swiss, Catholic, single and under the age of 30. They are also required to complete basic training with the Swiss army.
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Analysis: NHS director's plea for people to use health service

Philippa Roxby - Health reporter, BBC News
In the midst of bleak warnings over rising hospital admissions for Covid-19, NHS medical director Stephen Powis has urged people to keep using the health service for any health problem.
As we reported earlier, at a Downing Street press conference he said that includes worrying chest pains, or any potential signs of cancer such as blood in the urine.
During the first wave of the epidemic in the UK, the NHS had to stop non-urgent surgery.
Services for cancer, heart problems, mental health issues and many other areas were also reduced - or people were put off seeking help, which meant many didn’t receive the treatment they needed.

This time around, health bosses are determined that doesn’t happen.
The message is that they will do everything in their power to maintain services.
And that means people must continue to contact their GP if they have a health issue or any suspect symptoms.
The fear is that a second wave of Covid-19 this winter will not only cause deaths from the virus, but many more from other conditions that were ignored.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 16:57

Why is China testing a city of 9 million?

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
This week, the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao will test all nine million of its residents during a five-day testing drive.
Everyone will receive two nucleic acid tests, a serum test for antibodies, and those who test positive will undergo seven days of monitoring.
This was confirmed within 24 hours of the region confirming 12 new cases of Covid-19 – six with symptoms, and six without.
China learnt heavy lessons during its initial outbreak of Covid-19 at the beginning of the year, and it has now been nine months since the first death from Covid-19, in the central city of Wuhan.
At the time, the country was criticised both domestically and internationally for not controlling the situation in the city of Wuhan faster. It has since been standard procedure for mass testing to be carried out as soon as a single case of Covid-19 is identified in order to prevent a more widespread outbreak.
But also, as the national Global Times newspaper notes today , China’s basic medical insurance funds “cannot afford nationwide free Covid-19 vaccinations”.
The country’s government had earlier warned that it does not have the capacity to provide testing and treatment for all 1.4 billion Chinese people.
So this is why blitz tests are carried out. The hope is that any trace of the virus, no matter how small – even if it’s on import packaging, or if a patient is asymptomatic – will be eradicated, and won’t be given a chance to spread.

Scotland to draw up 'three-tier' lockdown system

Earlier we heard that the Welsh government is considering all options - including national measures - to tackle rising coronavirus cases.
Now the Scottish government has said it will implement a three-tier framework of Covid restrictions - similar to that being introduced in England - later in October.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her devolved administration was aiming to "align as closely as possible with other UK nations" on a strategic level.
New measures were imposed chiefly in Scotland's central belt at the weekend, but Ms Sturgeon said these "reset" restrictions were "temporary" and would be replaced with a multi-tier system.

She also said that “professional advisers” told the UK government’s Cobra meeting on coronavirus this morning that the “very minimum level of tier 3” restrictions due to be announced in England today are “probably not sufficient to get R back under 1”.
Ms Sturgeon was responding to a question about reports that some bars and restaurants may still be allowed to open under the strictest level of the UK’s government’s new tier system for England.
Ministers have also been considering ways to curb the spread in Northern Ireland , as infection rates continue to spiral.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 17:00

What are the latest developments?

Hello and thank you for following our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, brought to your by our team in London and colleagues around world.
If you're just joining us, here are some of today's biggest developments:

  • NHS Medical Director Stephen Powis says more people are now in hospital with Covid than before the country's lockdown in March. Case numbers are also rising markedly in areas of northern England
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to speak in the Commons at 15:30 BST, and give a conference later this evening. It's expected that he will announce a new, three-level alert system for England - with Liverpool facing the strictest curbs
  • More than 37.5m cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll has also risen to 1.07m
  • Chinese authorities in Qingdao say they will be testing the city's entire population of nine million people for Covid-19, over a period of five days. It comes after the discovery of a dozen cases linked to a hospital treating coronavirus patients arriving from abroad
  • Top US government scientist Anthony Fauci has said an edited clip of him used in a Trump campaign ad is misleading .

UK and Kenya to raise $5bn for post-Covid-19 education

Anne Soy - BBC News, Nairobi
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The two countries will co-host an education summit mid next year

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta are due to launch a call to action on Monday to raise $5bn (£3.8bn) for educating the most vulnerable children around the world.
The number of children out of school has risen sharply during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) estimates that up to 1.3 billion learners globally are out of school and experts are warning that many may never return as their countries’ economies contract.
The two leaders will also announce plans to co-host a major education summit in the UK mid next year to rally support for this cause.
Prime Minister Johnson and President Kenyatta will urge world leaders to support their efforts to get more children to school by investing in an initiative dubbed the Global Partnership for Education.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, about a quarter of a billion children were out of school. That number increased six-fold by April of this year because of school closures meant to help slow down the spread of the virus.
The school closures have left children mostly in poor regions even more vulnerable.
Girls are more likely to fall victim to female genital mutilation, early marriage or teen pregnancy, and boys living in conflict zones are at a greater risk of being recruited into armed groups.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 17:05

Concerned about new restrictions? Beware of misinformation

Marianna Spring - Specialist disinformation and social media reporter
With an announcement coming today of new measures to tackle coronavirus in England, rumours are understandably spreading in Facebook and WhatsApp groups.
A lot of the online conversation has been fuelled by speculation in the press and conflicting briefings from politicians.
It’s a fertile time for misinformation to spread on social media. Here’s a reminder of how you can stop bad information going viral:
[*]Interrogate the source - and pause before you share. Where has the information come from? A copied and pasted message that’s attributed to a friend of a friend is much less reliable that trusted sources for updates
[*]Ask yourself how a post makes you feel. Often misleading information and conspiracy theories play on the feelings of worry and frustration that come with news about possible restrictions
[*]Think about bias. Lots of people share false claims about lockdown or coronavirus that confirm their political opinion
Criticism of the government’s handling of the pandemic, general confusion and opposition to lockdown are all very legitimate.
False claims that coronavirus is a “hoax” or unhelpful panicky messages are less useful.

Supreme Court hearing goes ahead despite Covid concerns

Amy Coney Barrett, US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, is appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee despite coronavirus concerns.
The confirmation hearing room has been prepared in consultation with health officials to ensure that social-distancing rules are met.
Two Republican senators on the committee, Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, have recently tested positive. Lee is attending today's hearing in person. Tillis tweeted on Sunday night that he was about to finish his quarantine and was following remotely.
Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee who is also a panel member, is also participating remotely.
Judge Barrett's nomination so close to the 3 November presidential election has sparked a political row between the Republicans and rival Democrats.
Judge Barrett's approval would cement a conservative majority on the top court.
Follow live coverage for what is expected to be a fiery confirmation hearing here.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 17:12

PM sets out details of three alert system

Boris Johnson says the evidence shows "changing our behaviour" has saved lives.
He now sets out the details of the new three tiered system.
He says the medium level, which will cover most of the country, consists of current national measures - including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew.
The high level, he says, aims to reduce household-to-household transmission by preventing all mixing between different households or support bubbles, indoors.
Most areas already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the high alert level.
Areas in the very high level will see social mixing prohibited indoors and in private gardens. The PM also says pubs and bars will be closed in those areas.

No 'green light' for anywhere in England

Vicki Young - Deputy Political Editor
The new three tier system is medium, high and very high.
One Whitehall insider said we shouldn’t call it a traffic light system because there’s “no green light”.
That shows how perilous the situation is across England.
Many will want to know how an area can move into lower tiers with fewer restrictions.

Liverpool will face strictest rules from Wednesday

The prime minister confirms that most areas already subject to local restrictions - on top of the national rules - will automatically move into the "high alert" category - that is, tier two.
In addition Nottinghamshire, east and west Cheshire, and a small area of the High Peak will also move into that tier, he says, after a rise in cases in those areas.
The "very high alert level" will apply where transmission rates are rising most rapidly, and "where the NHS could soon be under unbearable pressure without further restrictions", he says.
Merseyside - including the city of Liverpool - will be in the "very high alert" category, under the most severe set of restrictions, from Wednesday.
"Engagement with other leaders in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire and Humber is continuing," the PM adds.
"I know how difficult this is, they like us, like everyone in this House, are grappling with very real dilemmas, but we cannot let the NHS fall over when lives are at stake."
He urges local authorities to "work with us on these difficult but necessary measures in the areas that are rated very high" in return for more support, adding: "I believe not to act would be unforgivable so I hope that rapid progress can be made in the coming days."

Breaking News 

UK records a further 13,972 cases

The government has released its daily coronavirus figures, announcing a further 13,972 confirmed cases on Monday.
The government also announced a further 50 people had died with Covid-19, after testing positive within the last 28 days.
That includes 43 in England, four in Wales, three in Northern Ireland and none in Scotland.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 17:17

What did we learn from the prime minister's statement?

In the last hour, we heard a statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the government's latest measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Here are some of the most significant announcements:

  • The prime minister has said he does not believe another national lockdown would be the "right course" in combating the pandemic
  • Instead a new, three-tiered lockdown system will be rolled out, categorised under medium, high and very high
  • Most areas in England will be put on a medium alert level - meaning current restrictions continue, including the 10pm hospitality curfew
  • But areas which already have local restrictions on household mixing will be automatically put on high alert. Under this category, social mixing will be prohibited indoors and in private gardens, and many businesses will be closed including pubs, gyms and casinos. The Liverpool City Region will become the first area to enter the very high alert level
  • The prime minster has also said that all retail outlets, schools and universities will remain open.

PM Boris Johnson press conference at 19:00 BST

We're still hearing from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the Commons, as MPs question him over the new three-tier system.
He's also holding a press conference this evening - it's now expected at 19:00 BST.
He will be joined by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Covid in charts: UK deaths rise as cases remain high

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 17:23

A proposal has been put forward which would see health authorities from both sides of the Irish border tackling coronavirus in conjunction with one another.
Irish Post
Speaking to BBC NI on Sunday, Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne stressed that "closer alignment" between authorities was needed across the island of Ireland in order to stand the best chance of tackling the virus effectively.
Mr Byrne added that the Taoiseach and political representatives of Northern Ireland were currently discussing the proposed initiative.
"This island should be treated as one single epidemiological unit and shouldn't be used then in a political context because at the moment our public health issues are far more important than any other considerations," Byrne said.
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Thomas Byrne (L) with Taoiseach Micheál Martin (R)

Last week, infectious disease specialist Professor Sam McConkey called for a joint policy on Covid-19 for Ireland and the UK, and stressed the restrictive measures would only prove effective if they're applied universally through the island of Ireland.
A recent spike in cases in both the Republic and Northern Ireland in recent weeks has emphasised the importance of decisive and cohesive action.
Two deaths and 814 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Ireland on Sunday, while in the North, 1,066 new cases and one further death were confirmed.
In a poll ran by, a whopping 91% of respondents said think authorities from Ireland and Northern Ireland should sync up and tackle the virus from an all-Ireland perspective.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 18:26

Conservative mayor calls on government to think again

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Birmingham is among the places now in tier two

The mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street - who is a Conservative - has said he is "disappointed" about the majority of his area being moved into tier two, following the PM's announcement earlier, meaning stricter restrictions than those currently in place.
"This is not something regional leaders supported, nor what I believed would be happening following extensive conversations over recent days," he said.
"The region was united, cross-party, in supporting the existing restrictions".
Among the new restrictions that his area faces is a ban on households mixing in hospitality venues.
"This is something the latest local epidemiology does not support," says Mr Street in a tweet.
"I am disappointed the government is pressing ahead with this despite the united view of local leaders."
He is urging the government to review the decision, saying the evidence shows that the problem is transmission in household settings and the restriction on hospitality "will not solve that".

UK PM faces questions and criticism from all sides

Ellie Price - Daily and Sunday Politics reporter
The day is following a grimly familiar pattern.
It started with a data briefing from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer - painting a depressing scene of how the virus is spreading, particularly in areas of northern England.
The Prime Minister is now taking questions from more than 100 MPs, and this evening he will address the nation directly.
In the Commons, he set out more details of the three-level alert system. But the questions, and criticisms, have come at Mr Johnson from all sides of the House, highlighting his challenge.
Since March, the Labour Leader Keir Starmer has lent his broad support to government restrictions. But today he accused the PM of being "several steps behind the curve”.
There were numerous questions of whether the government could be more generous in its financial support for businesses affected.
And from Conservative MPs, some said individuals should be left to make their own decisions, with others saying tougher measures need to be imposed now.

How is Nottingham doing?

Sian Lloyd - BBC News Correspondent
There’s been a steady stream of cars at Nottingham’s drive-through testing centre today - at the Motorpoint Arena car park site in the heart of the city.
The area has the highest Covid rate per 100,000 people in England.
The rate in Nottingham shot up over a very short space of time and local public health officials have said that three quarters of all new cases are in the 18 to 22-year-old age group.
There are around 60,000 students in Nottingham at the city's two universities - who have been described as a significant part of the outbreak here, but by no means the whole story.
The transmission rate is said to be on the wrong path generally and public health officials say they would welcome uniform restrictions for both the city and wider county area.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 18:30

Does the new system go far enough?

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
Some will say ministers should have gone further, while others argue they have already gone too far.
But the problem with the restrictions that are being discussed is that no-one really knows what impact they will have.
Closing Covid-secure pubs, for example, could just drive people to gather more in homes where the risk of transmission is even greater.
The other factor, which is not grabbing the headlines today but is just as important, is whether the test and trace system is up to the job.
Test results are taking too long to return, contact tracers are failing to reach enough of the close contacts of infected individuals and, even when they do, most people do not follow the isolation guidelines to the letter.
Infections, hospitalisations and deaths are certainly going to rise - by how much and for how long is the big unknown.
Certainly with better treatments in place and the UK in a stronger position to protect care homes – four in 10 deaths were among their residents in the first wave – many believe the toll should not be as great as it was in the spring.

Which areas are at which levels?

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  • All areas, excluding those listed below


  • Cheshire (Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East)
  • Greater Manchester (Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham)
  • Warrington
  • Derbyshire (High Peak - the wards of Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John’s, Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South, Hadfield North)
  • Lancashire (Lancashire, Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley)
  • West Yorkshire (Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield)
  • South Yorkshire (Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield)
  • North East (Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland)
  • Tees Valley (Middlesborough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool)
  • West Midlands (Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall)
  • Leicester (Leicester, Oadby and Wigston)
  • Nottingham (Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City)

Very High

  • Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton)

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 18:35

WHO criticises 'problematic' herd immunity discussions

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The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has spoken out against supporters of a 'herd immunity' approach to the pandemic.
Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease - thereby breaking transmission and protecting those who are not immune.
It can be reached through vaccines, or when a sufficient number of people have recovered from a disease and developed resistance to future infection - or both.
Since no peer-approved coronavirus vaccine exists, some have argued for herd immunity by allowing the virus to spread.
But at a news conference, WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus called this "scientifically and ethnically problematic".
He added that the long-term impacts of coronavirus are still unknown, and it is not clear how strong or lasting people's immune response can be.
"Letting Covid-19 circulate unchecked therefore means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death," said Dr Ghebreyesus.

Scientists worry three tiers don't go far enough

Pallab Ghosh - Science correspondent
The prime minister said his tier system aims to balance the risks to public health with the risks to the economy.
The idea is to impose the most severe restrictions in the areas where the infection rate is highest while allowing as much of normal life as possible to go on in areas where infection is lower.
But one senior adviser to the government’s scientific advisory group told me, off the record, that he didn’t believe the restrictions are strong enough.
The scientist said that they were “shocked” that tier one is simply maintaining the current rules – when the current rules are seeing an increase in cases across the country.
They said that it was not simply a matter of bringing the R number below one, but bringing it sufficiently below one that cases drop quickly and hospital capacity isn't overwhelmed.
Although there is scope for tighter restrictions under tier three, their worry is that these have to be negotiated locally, which introduces delay while infections may continue to rise.
The scientists added that they are “extremely worried” that tier three does not go far enough and that cases, hospitalisations and deaths will continue to rise in the worst affected areas although slightly slower than before.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 19:00

Summary update from The Guardian @ 2:00pm BST

Here are the key events from the last few hours:

  • For the second day in a row, Iran has announced the highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus, with 272 new victims, as well as its single-day highest count of new cases, with 4,206.
  • Moscow began enforcing measures to keep a third of office workers at home, as Russia reported more than 13,000 new cases on Monday.
  • In the UK, three Nightingale hospitals in the north of England have been told to prepare to take patients as Covid cases rise. Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy medical director, said a corresponding rise in deaths was inevitable.
  • Malaysia announced it will impose some restrictions on movement in its capital city and in the neighbouring state of Selangor from Wednesday, as the country grapples with a fresh surge of coronavirus cases.
  • French authorities could be forced to impose new lockdowns in a bid to contain another surge in coronavirus cases that is putting a strain on hospitals, prime minister Jean Castex warned.

Travel corridors between European states and the Canary and Balearic Islands
Stephen Burgen - The Guardian
The Spanish government has agreed protocols to establish travel corridors between European states and the Canary and Balearic Islands, both of which rely heavily on tourism and have been hit hard by the Covid crisis.
The protocol states that a traveller arriving in the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands from a destination with an Accumulated Incidence (AI) of 50 or less per 100,000 inhabitants in the previous 14 days would not have to undergo any test on arrival.
Those coming from destinations with an AI greater than 50 will have to present a negative diagnostic test for active infection carried out a maximum of 48 hours before the flight.
Before leaving the islands, visitors must undergo a diagnostic test 48 hours before their flight’s scheduled departure. The tests will be carried out at designated health centres and the cost will be borne by the regional governments.
If visitors prove positive and are obliged to quarantine or are hospitalised, the local government will cover the costs.
“The protocols are a useful measure to reach agreements with our European partners to allow us to recover mobility and reactivate the flow of tourists under safe conditions,” Reyes Maroto, the tourism minister said, adding that she hoped the measures could be extended to other tourism destination on the Spanish mainland.
In a written statement, the government said the protocols are complementary to EU guidelines on travel restrictions that are expected to be approved next week.
Unemployment in the Balearics has risen by 90% compared with last year as a result of the Covid emergency. The Canary Island government says GDP has fallen by 32.6% while unemployment is running at 40%.
Both the Balearics and the Canaries are heavily dependent on British and German tourism.

Covid in Europe: second wave gathers pace across continent
Here’s Kim Willsher’s piece on French prime minister Jean Castex urging people to limit gatherings in their homes and warning that he expects the battle against coronavirus to go on for months:
:Left Quotes:  “I cannot regulate things in private spaces. It is not legally possible, we are the country of public freedoms and it is not possible under our constitution. I ask people, I keep asking … the only people who can introduce regulations in private spaces are the people themselves,” Castex said.
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  Jean Castex
“We are engaged in battle against a virus, it’s not finished, it will last several months more, I think.
“What we have to avoid are people glued to each other, not wearing a mask, in enclosed spaces. I ask them to respect the protection measures in private places as they do in public places.”
Read more here

Leader of Brooklyn protest against Covid lockdowns arrested on riot charge
In the US, a leader of protests against new coronavirus restrictions in Brooklyn has been arrested on charges of incitement to riot and unlawful imprisonment of a journalist.
Heshy Tischler, a city council candidate and activist in the Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Borough Park, was taken into custody on Sunday evening in connection with his actions during a street protest on 7 October.
Video shows a crowd of men surrounding, jostling and taunting Jewish Insider reporter Jacob Kornbluh, who has been covering resistance to social distancing in the neighbourhood.
Tischler, who was not wearing a mask, can be seen screaming in Kornbluh’s face. Kornbluh, also an Orthodox Jew, said he was struck and kicked during the incident.
Read the full story here

Lorenzo Tondo - The Guardian

In Italy, police have blocked around 60 websites and a number of social media advertising campaigns that were selling fake products to fight Covid-19.
The Carabinieri health protection command said on Monday that the bogus products included illegal medicines, previously banned due to their side-effects. The websites were based outside Italy, the Italian press agency ANSA has reported.
In September, Italian authorities had blocked two websites based in Cameroon that were selling antidepressant drugs disguised as a cure for the coronavirus. The sites were blocked as part of the Tranquil Summer 2020 drive between June and September.

Failures at Austrian ski resort ‘helped speed up spread' of Covid-19 in Europe
Philip Oltermann - The Guardian
reports on a new report which finds “momentous miscalculations” in how Austrian authorities handled an outbreak at a ski resort.
The outbreak in Ischgl, described as the “ground zero” of the coronavirus first wave in Europe, led to thousands of tourists taking the virus home.
:Left Quotes:  [The report said] that authorities should have shut down après-ski bars, restaurants, ski lifts and non-essential bus services on 9 March.
The previous day, health authorities had been informed that a waiter at one of the town’s après-ski bars had been tested positive for Covid-19 and eleven staff members had served tourists for a week while displaying flu-like symptoms.
Yet bars in Ischgl were not ordered to shut down until 10 March and the skiing season not declared over until 12 March – “a wrong decision, from an epidemiological perspective”, said Roland Rohrer, the commission’s chair.
You can read the story here

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 19:03

Staff at Merseyside hospital see sharp rise in patients

Hugh Pym - BBC News Health Editor
At Whiston Hospital on Merseyside, in north-west England, there has been a sharp rise in Covid-19 patient admissions over the weekend.
The catchment area includes Knowsley, which has one of the highest infection rates in the UK.
There were 65 coronavirus patients on Friday. Today there are 90. Of those, nine are in intensive care - double the number a week ago.
Staff I spoke to seemed surprised and concerned about the rapid pace of events.
They were prepared for a second wave and there is scope to expand critical care capacity further.
But, while back in March they were told to postpone all non-urgent operations and appointments to free up beds, this time they are expected to continue with all forms of care as well as the Covid surge.
And the hospital management has warned there may come a point soon when all routine work will have to be put on hold once again.

17 million people living in tier two and three areas

We'll hear more from the Prime Minister soon, but following today's announcement, a number of areas that did not previously have extra restrictions, will now have to operate under tier two (or high) rules.
The areas include all of Walsall and Nottinghamshire and parts of the Tees Valley, Cheshire, South Yorkshire and High Peak.
In total this is about 4.4 million people.
Places which already had extra local restrictions have also gone into the tier two category
Some of those will be moving to harsher restrictions, some easier. For example, Birmingham had a ban on household mixing in homes, but not in bars and restaurants, now households cannot mix in either indoor setting.
This means over 17 million people in England are living in tiers two (high) and three (very high) areas - that is about 30% of the population.
Most of England remains in tier one (medium) - where current national restrictions apply - such as the rule of six measure.

Johnson, Sunak and Whitty poised for Downing Street press conference

It's almost time for this evening's press conference with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and England's chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, in Downing Street.
Follow our live stream of the press conference at the top of the page.
The PM was in Parliament earlier, outlining the new three-tier alert system for local coronavirus restrictions in England, which will take effect on Wednesday.
Here are some of the key things you need to know ahead of the conference:

  • The new system is split into three alert levels: medium, high and very high. Most areas in England are in the medium alert level - meaning current restrictions continue, including the 10pm hospitality curfew
  • Areas that already have local restrictions on household mixing will automatically be placed on "high" alert
  • The Liverpool City Region is the only area, at the moment, to be placed in the "very high" category, with restrictions including that pubs, bars and betting shops will have to close
  • For those areas on "very high" alert, there will be further financial support for improved contact tracing and more funding for local enforcement, as well as the offer of help from the armed services
  • But the Labour mayor of Liverpool has said an argument for a stronger financial package for the city "wasn't listened to"
  • The PM said all retail outlets, schools and universities will remain open

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 20:33

Nightingale Hospitals braced for rising patient numbers

Fiona Trott - BBC News
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Much of the focus has been on restrictions changing today in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. Within the health service, preparation for treating patients in a second wave is stepping up.
On an industrial estate in Sunderland, this building could soon be saving lives.
The Nightingale Hospital has 460 beds and until now has never been used. Along with the sites in Harrogate and Manchester, it’s getting ready for the next phase of the pandemic as patient numbers continue to rise.
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It will be up to local clinicians to decide whether the Nightingale beds are used for coronavirus patients, or for those who don’t have the virus and still need urgent treatment.
It’s not surprising that these buildings are now on standby. Figures suggest that out of the ten hardest hit local authorities in the UK, six are in the north of England.
These Nightingale hospitals are getting ready to take some of that pressure.

Wales 'could ban' visitors from England hotspots

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Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford has threatened a travel ban on visitors from Covid hotspots in England coming to Wales if the prime minister does not impose his own.
He said he was giving UK ministers "one final opportunity" before he makes changes in Welsh law.
The UK government announced on Monday that it will advise against non-essential travel from Merseyside - which is facing the toughest coronavirus restrictions in England - but it stopped short of making it illegal, angering Welsh ministers.
Mr Drakeford said he could close the border with England, but that is not his preferred option.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 20:57

What's happening in Europe?

Hello and thank you for joining our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
We've spent a lot of time following today's announcements by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Here are some of the most significant developments across the rest of Europe:

  • Two of the continent's worst-hit countries have reported a big jump in cases and hospital admissions. Spain registered nearly 28,000 more cases since Friday, nudging the cumulative total towards 900,000
  • Meanwhile in France, nearly 1,000 Covid-19 patients were taken to hospital during the latest 24-hour period for which figures are available
  • New measures are being rolled out in Croatia to counter the spread of coronavirus - including a limit on gatherings of no more than 50 people. It comes as authorities reported 181 new cases on Monday, bringing the national toll to 20,621 cases and 327 deaths
  • In neighbouring Slovenia, the country's chief Covid-19 adviser has urged people to cancel traditional gatherings planned for 1 November, the Day of Remembrance of the Dead. Bojana Beovic warned that, with cases rising, more restrictions may have to be introduced

West Ham against radical Premier League plans

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West Ham's London Stadium

West Ham are against radical plans by Liverpool and Manchester United to reform the English football pyramid, according to a club source.
The proposals, which include reducing the Premier League to 18 clubs and scrapping the EFL Cup, have been put together by Liverpool owner John Henry and Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer as part of a plans for a Covid rescue package for English Football League clubs.
Under the controversial plans, nine clubs would be given "special voting rights" on certain issues, based on their extended runs in the Premier League.
West Ham would be one of those nine clubs but it is understood they were unaware of the proposals - and were shocked when they emerged into the public domain on Sunday.
A club insider has told BBC Sport they are "very much against" it.
Read more about the Project Big Picture plans here.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 21:03

Meeting notes show ministers depart from scientists' advice

Laura Kuenssberg - Political editor
Recent advice from Sage, the government's scientific advisory group for emergencies, has just been published.
It includes recommendations made in a meeting on 21 Sept , which included asking ministers to consider immediately introducing:

  • A short "circuit-breaker" lockdown
  • A ban on household mixing
  • All bars and restaurants should close
  • An "urgent" re-imposition of a fresh package of measures

The government has stopped way short of this - perhaps why Prof Chris Whitty was so keen to demonstrate his view that the basic three tiers of measures aren't enough on their own.
It also shows how much the political atmosphere has changed.
At the beginning of the pandemic, ministers were very keen to be seen to be following Sage advice.
This paper makes clear how they are making different decisions now.
Quite the timing too, publishing all this about an hour after a national press conference.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Oct 12 2020, 21:13

What are the latest global developments?

Here are some of the biggest developments around the world:

  • More than 37.6 million coronavirus cases have been reported globally, along with 1.08 million Covid-related deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University
  • America continues to be the world's worst-hit country, with over 7.7 million cases - followed by India and Brazil with 7.1 million and 5 million cases respectively
  • The head of the World Health Organisation has spoken out against supporters of a "herd immunity" approach to the pandemic. Tedros Ghebreyesus called the approach "scientifically and ethically problematic" and said the long-term effects of coronavirus were still unknown
  • Chinese authorities in Qingdao say they will be testing the city's entire population of nine million people for Covid-19, over a period of five days. It comes after the discovery of a dozen cases linked to a hospital treating coronavirus patients arriving from abroad
  • Russia has reported more than 13,500 cases - just short of the most for a single day since the start of the pandemic. More than 1.3 million people have now tested positive for Covid-19 in Russia, the fourth highest number in the world
  • Two Catholic priests have been penalised in Rwanda after presiding over Masses that violated coronavirus safety measures. Rwanda's cabinet approved the reopening of places of worship in July but under strict rules, including a compulsory use of face masks

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Updates were brought to you by: Alice Evans, Claire Heald, Ella Wills, Francesca Gillett, George Wright, Joshua Cheetham, Kate Whannel, Katie Wright, Paul Seddon and Paulin Kola

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