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COVID-19: All the latest LIVE worldwide updates - today's updates are also on our Portal page, here)

Coronavirus - 14th October


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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 10:41

Summary for Wednesday, 14th October

  • Schools in Northern Ireland will close for two weeks and hospitality businesses face tighter restrictions
  • Tighter restrictions are being introduced in parts of Europe in response to a rapid rise of infections
  • A new three-tier alert system has taken effect in England, with millions of people facing extra curbs
  • The Netherlands - experiencing one of the worst surges - is imposing a month-long partial lockdown
  • The Czech government has announced the closure of schools, bars and clubs for three weeks
  • The World Bank said it will supply $12bn (£9.3bn) to help developing countries purchase and distribute vaccines, tests and treatment
  • There are 38 million confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide, with 1.08 million deaths

Good morning if you're joining us in the UK and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
We will bring you the latest updates from the UK and around the world throughout the day.
Here are some of the latest headlines:

  • The new three-tier system for coronavirus restrictions comes into force in England today . The Liverpool region is the only area to be under the toughest rules, with the closure of pubs and bars that do not serve meals. Government health officials are due to meet later to discuss the possibility of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and some other areas joining the top tier
  • Liverpool’s MPs have warned the city risks being "dragged back to the 1980s" without proper financial support. The city's five Labour MPs have written to the government and are questioning why a national short lockdown was not put in place following scientific advice three weeks ago
  • It comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a two week "circuit-breaker lockdown" to bring the rising rate of infection under control . Sir Keir said measures were not working and a different approach was needed to avoid a "sleepwalk into... a bleak winter".
  • Such a move appears to be the plan in Northern Ireland with the Stormont executive understood to be ready to extend the half-term school holiday to two weeks. Hospitality businesses will only be able to open for takeaway, a ban on alcohol sales after 20:00, no indoor sport or contact sport involving mixing of households and a prohibition on close-contact services other than those for an essential health need
  • Tighter restrictions are being introduced in parts of Europe in response to a rapidly rising number of infections
  • The Netherlands is imposing a month-long partial lockdown to curb one of the region's worst coronavirus surges. Mask wearing is now compulsory indoors
  • The Czech government has announced the closure of schools, bars and clubs for three weeks
  • More than four million people have been tested in the Chinese city of Qingdao. China says it aims to test all nine million residents within five days after five new cases were detected over the weekend
  • US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has accused President Trump of dismissing the threat that coronavirus poses to senior citizens . The "only senior Donald Trump seems to care about" is himself, Mr Biden said

Latest from Europe

Czech Health Minister Roman Prymula went on TV last night to say the next weeks would be "complicated and cheerless", as a partial lockdown came into force , shutting schools, university dorms, and bars. And Dutch cafes and restaurants are looking at four weeks of closures from 22:00 (20:00GMT) tonight.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron will go on national TV tonight, with reports of 20:00 or 22:00 curfews planned for cities with the highest rates of infection such as Paris. "Nothing's been ruled out", Equalities Minister Marlène Schiappa has said.
And Catalonia's government in north-east Spain will decide today whether to close bars and restaurants for the rest of October, as total hospital admissions have reached 984.
It's not all bad news. Stefano Lancilli, a 55-year-old policeman has finally left hospital, more than seven months after he tested positive for Covid-19 in Codogno, at the height of the Lombardy outbreak in northern Italy. Corriere della Sera says he had already been treated for pneumonia and legionella. No wonder he says "it's a very tough virus".
Bulgaria has reported 785 daily infections this morning and eight further deaths. The capital Sofia has the highest number.
Meanwhile, Berlin officials have taken a new tack in trying to persuade people to wear masks in public. A new ad campaign shows an elderly woman in a floral face-covering, giving the middle finger to anyone without a mask.

How does England's new tiered system work?

England's new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions comes into force today with areas now categorised as at medium, high or very high risk. But what restrictions are there in each tier?
Areas with the lowest rates of infection will be placed in Tier One. They will face the basic national rules currently in force. The rule of six applies, which means you may not meet in a group of more than six people, indoors or outdoors. This currently covers most of England.
The rules for Tier One also apply in Tier Two. In addition, you are not allowed to meet socially with people you do not live with indoors. That includes in private homes, pubs or restaurants. You can still meet friends and family outdoors, but only in a group of up to six people. This covers areas such as Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Newcastle while Essex has asked to be put in this tier.
Tier Three is where areas with the most rapidly rising transmission of coronavirus will be placed. There are basic restrictions and there may be further measures agreed for particular areas - the government said it would work with local councils on the additional measures. You are not allowed to meet socially with anybody who is not part of your household or your support bubble indoors or in certain outdoor locations.
You cannot meet in private gardens or pub gardens, but you are allowed to meet in parks, beaches, countryside or forests, as long as you are not in a group of more than six. Pubs and bars will be closed unless they are serving substantial meals while serving alcohol. Currently the Liverpool City Region is the only area in this category.
For more guidance you can read our explainer here .
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What was Sage's advice and what happened?

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Since the start of the pandemic, the government's Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) has been in the limelight, but the advice it has given has been kept private - until Monday night.
Papers, dated 21 September, were published setting out what scientists thought should happen .
Here are some of the points they raised and what happened next:

  • Full lockdown - Sage did not recommend a full lockdown like the UK had in March. It said that while it would have a big impact on cases and deaths, it would also hurt people in other ways and have an impact on the economy. The government introduced its three-tier system from today
  • Circuit-breaker - Sage advised a two or three week circuit breaker lockdown, saying it would have "similar levels of effectiveness" to that of the national spring lockdown. The plan was rejected by the government, but Labour has now backed the move
  • Mixing households - Sage said the government should consider putting a stop to all mixing between households unless in a support bubble. This is because spreading the virus between households allows the epidemic to be sustained. Mixing with other households indoors has been banned for people living in areas on "high" or "very high" alert. Outdoor mixing is allowed in groups of no more than six
  • Pubs and restaurants - Sage said the government should consider the immediate closure of all bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms, and "personal services" - for example hairdressers. The government largely rejected the advice. Most of England can continue visiting pubs and restaurants, although since cases began to spike, a 22:00 curfew has been ordered. In "very high" alert areas, pubs and bars must close unless they are operating like a restaurant and only serving alcohol as part of a sit-down meal.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 11:16

Syrian government sets up temporary hospital

The Syrian government has set up a temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients at a Damascus sports complex in preparation for a possible second wave.
The facility at Al-Faiha Stadium will operate 120 beds for people requiring oxygen, but has capacity for 100 more.
The health ministry has reported 4,774 cases of Covid-19 and 228 deaths in government-held areas since March.
However, experts believe the actual figures are significantly higher.
Read more here .

Russia's Covid situation 'very strained'

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Russia has recorded more than 1.3 million cases

The Covid situation in Russia remains "very strained", the country's health minister has warned.
Mikhail Murashko said that many people were not following safety guidelines.
The country has recorded more than 1.3 million cases and over 22,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
It comes as Moscow has announced the introduction of online learning for most of its students.
The move applies to students from grades six to 11 and is set to be in place for two weeks.
Students in grades one to five are set to return from a two-week holiday put in place to prevent a further outbreak among younger students.
According to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, older students account for two thirds of children infected with the virus.

New Zealand football team cancels Wembley friendly

New Zealand's football team will not travel to Wembley to face England in an international friendly next month, because of travel and player availability complications.
England were due to host the All Whites on 12 November but New Zealand Football (NZF) said the game could "potentially jeopardise" their players' careers.
"A number of the team would be subject to quarantine or restrictions on their return home," NZF said in a statement.
"This would heavily disrupt their domestic seasons."
New Zealand have not played an international match since their friendly defeat by Lithuania last November.
"The shifting nature of travel restrictions and commercial flight availability under Covid means that we do not have certainty we could assemble a squad at Wembley," the NZF statement continued.
"Defaulting on this fixture at the last minute is not an option."

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 11:16

Speaker urges vulnerable MPs to stay away from parliament

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In the UK, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has urged MPs who are particularly vulnerable to stay away from parliament amid rising cases of coronavirus.
A spokeswoman for the Speaker's Office confirmed he has told "a number of members" in a recent phone call to avoid travelling to Westminster.
In a statement, the spokeswoman said: "The advice we have given all staff, which is to work from home if they can, is the same for MPs, particularly those who are under medical supervision.
"As Covid cases are rising across the country, the last thing the speaker wants to do is encourage MPs who are vulnerable to take risks by travelling into Parliament.
"This is exactly what he told a number of members during a recent phone call."

Police disperse Liverpool crowds ahead of new restrictions

Police dispersed large crowds who gathered in Liverpool city centre hours before new coronavirus restrictions came into force today.
The city and surrounding region have been placed in the very high risk tier of England's new system.
But social media footage showed people dancing and surrounding a police car in the city's Concert Square.
City mayor Joe Anderson said the pictures "shame our city".
Merseyside Police said the crowd was dispersed quickly and safely.
Ch Supt Peter Costello said: "While we understand how the new rules which are due to be implemented are frustrating for some, we would continue to advise everyone to abide by them - including keeping social distancing - for the safety of everyone."
Tweet  Joe Anderson:
These pictures Shame our City, attacking our brave Police Officers is unacceptable. Our Health Service is creaking, 300 in Hospital & 30 people dead in week. Ignoring these facts is why we are in Tier 3 measures.
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Germany records highest infections since April

Germany has recorded more than 5,000 new daily coronavirus infections for the first time since April.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, 5,132 infections were reported on Tuesday. A further 43 deaths were also confirmed.
It comes as transmission figures continue to rise across Europe.
A number of German states have agreed that residents of high-risk areas should not be allowed to stay in hotels in other parts of the country.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "watching with great concern" the situation in Europe.
"I must say the situation continues to be serious," she added.

Poland records its highest number of daily infections

Adam Easton - Warsaw Correspondent
There were 6,526 new Covid-19 infections in the past 24 hours, the Polish health ministry tweeted, an increase on last Saturday's record of 5,300.
The number of Covid-related deaths - 116 - also topped the previous record of 76 set last week. The new records were based on 43,800 tests, up from 33,800 a day earlier.
Poland has reported a total of 141,804 cases and 3,217 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The country's second coronavirus wave is much bigger than its first. The number of cases now is more than 10 times higher than the highest number in the spring.
As a result, new nationwide restrictions were reintroduced from last weekend with the requirement for all Poles to wear a face mask while outdoors in public. In the worst affected "red zone" areas, bars and restaurants must close at 22:00.
The number of hospital admissions has increased rapidly in recent weeks. There are now 6,084 hospital beds occupied, an increase of 415 in the past 24 hours, and 467 patients are on ventilators, up by 46.
The health ministry has said it is increasing the number of beds available by 2,000 to a total of 11,000 nationwide, and the number of ventilators by 300 to a total of 1,100. Individual hospitals are reporting a shortage of beds and ventilators and of trained staff needed to operate them.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 11:30

Breaking News

Schools to close in NI as tighter restrictions introduced

Schools will close for two weeks and hospitality businesses face tighter restrictions in Northern Ireland in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
First Minister Arlene Foster has outlined the new measures, which also include limits on weddings and funerals, and come into force on Friday.
Pubs and restaurants will close for four weeks, except for takeaways and deliveries, while the Halloween half-term break for schools has been extended to two weeks.

NI reaction: 'Our health crisis is now a hospitality crisis'

Following late night talks, new measures have been confirmed in Northern Ireland with pubs and restaurants forced to close other than for takeaway services.
The hospitality industry has reacted to the news with many fearing it could be the end of their businesses.
Colin Neill from Hospitality Ulster told BBC News NI: "We understand that obviously health comes first, but I think it's fair to say the hospitality industry has done more than any other industry to step up with measures.
"We have a health crisis, we accept that, but we also now have a hospitality crisis."
"To be honest I think we're done," said Dan's Bar owner Gerard Keenan.
"In a couple of weeks or so, if it hasn't changed I think we've no choice, we'll have to sell our bar, I don't really want to do this anymore."
North Belfast pub owner Kelvin Collins said it is "crunch time number two" for his business.
"It's a hard time for everybody," he said.
First Minister Arlene Foster said the executive would provide financial support to those affected by the latest measures "as best we can" while her deputy, Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O'Neil, said it would "do everything we possibly can to make sure there are protections in place".

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 11:33

Australia records new cluster cases

Australia has recorded several clusters of cases in the country.
New South Wales recorded 13 new cases prompting the state to delay the easing of restrictions on restaurants and weddings.
The state of Victoria recorded five deaths and seven cases. Four of those cases were in Melbourne. Currently, people in Melbourne are only allowed to leave their house for recreation for two hours.
Three cases in Shepparton, north of Melbourne, are linked to a Melbourne resident who did not tell contact tracers that they had visited the city.
Anyone who has symptoms in Shepparton has been told to get tested. Images from a testing site in Shepparton show long queues.
Tweet  Grace Evans:
Police are now telling Shepparton locals at the back of the line to go home and come back tomorrow for screening if they don’t have symptoms , or endure a 6 hour wait to get tested.
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Liverpool's critical care beds 'over 90% full'

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Intensive care units (ICU) at Liverpool hospitals are at 90% capacity, the city council has warned, as health facilities deal with a second spike of Covid-19 infections.
Paul Brant, cabinet member for adult health and social care at Liverpool City Council, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Our intensive, critical care beds are filling up very fast.
"The most recent figures I've seen suggest they are over 90% full and our acute hospital trusts have occupancy levels of Covid-positive patients of over 250.
"At the current rate of increase, we would expect Liverpool to surpass the peak of the first wave probably within the next seven to 10 days."
He said not all patients in intensive care were suffering from Covid, but warned units were "running-very full" with an increasing number of coronavirus-positive people requiring care.
He added: "It has become clear that the intensity of the demand on hospital services here in Liverpool is crowding out anything other than dealing with Covid."

Debate over circuit break continues in the UK

There is a lot of talk in the UK this morning about introducing a so-called circuit-break lockdown.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to do so, Sage papers show it advised one three weeks ago, but the government refused to do so.
Northern Ireland is to close schools for two weeks from Monday and introduce tighter restrictions while the Welsh government has said it is actively considering a circuit break .
Rachel Reeves, shadow chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it had been a "mistake" for the government not to follow scientific advice to impose a short lockdown.
But senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin told Today he supported short circuit-breaker restrictions but not on a national level.
"In the areas where there are very sharply rising cases there is a strong case for going straight to tier-3 measures, but these should be selective, they should not be national. Whereas Essex has got an 82% increase over the last seven days, Cornwall has only got 16.2%, Somerset has only got 39%."
Professor Matt Keeling, one of the scientists behind a non-peer-reviewed paper claiming a circuit-breaker lockdown could save lives, said the "stricter the restrictions, the greater the impact".
You can read more about circuit break lockdowns here .

'We won't be entirely back to normal before 2022'

BBC Radio 5 Live
The head of the UK's vaccine taskforce has told BBC Radio 5 Live's Your Call that life will not entirely return to normal before the end of 2021.
But Kate Bingham said the UK would have a working life closer to normal than to lockdown.
She said the earliest a vaccine could be available would be the end of this year, but any vaccine would be given to the most vulnerable first, before being rolled out to the wider population.
Ms Bingham said: "I think it's highly unlikely people will be protected forever... it is possible that we'll need to continue to re-vaccinate people after they've had an initial vaccination in order to maintain immunity."
She added that the speed of the hunt for a vaccine would not mean compromising safety.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 11:42

England, Wales and Scotland among nations with most excess deaths

England, Wales and Scotland are among the nations which had the highest number of excess deaths as a result of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, a study has found.
Research, led by Imperial College London, analysed weekly data from 19 European countries, Australia and New Zealand, between mid-February and the end of May.
England, Wales and Spain experienced the largest increase in mortality, with nearly 100 excess deaths per 100,000 people.
According to the researchers, this is an increase of 37% for England and Wales and 38% for Spain, when compared to how many deaths would have been expected without the pandemic.
In Scotland, the excess death deaths rate was 84 per 100,000 people during the first wave, which is a 28% increase from average expected deaths.

What has changed in Northern Ireland?

As we have been reporting, new rules have been introduced in Northern Ireland to stem the rise in coronavirus cases.
As well as the closure of schools and the hospitality sector , other changes will be introduced from Friday including:

  • A 10 person and two household limit on bubbles
  • No overnight stays outside of bubbles
  • A ban on close contact services other than those essential for health
  • No indoor sport or any sport with mixing of households other than at elite level
  • 15-person limit on mass events
  • Funerals and weddings limited to 25 people with no pre or post-event gatherings
  • Off licences and supermarkets unable to sell alcohol after 20:00

The rules will initially be in place for four weeks, before being reviewed. First Minister Arlene Foster said she was determined for them to be a "time-limited intervention".
You can follow events in Stormont here .

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 13:10

Breaking News

Don't go to Blackpool, urges Scotland's First Minister

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has asked people in Scotland not to go to Blackpool. She says a large number of cases in the nation are associated with visits to the Lancastrian seaside town.
In the last month, 180 people in Scotland who had Covid reported that they had recently been in Blackpool, Ms Sturgeon said.
She specifically asked people not to travel to Blackpool to watch the Old Firm game, between fierce Glasgow footballing rivals Rangers and Celtic, in a pub on Saturday.
It's something they can't currently do nearer home .
The first minister said the Scottish government is currently advising against non-essential travel to the parts of England which are classified as on "very high alert" under the new three tier system.
That is the Liverpool City Region at the moment.
She also asked people from these areas not to travel to Scotland either.

Decision on Welsh travel restrictions 'within days'

A decision on restricting travel into Wales from other areas of the UK that have high levels of coronavirus is to be made in the coming days.
Welsh ministers have been asking for controls, but none were forthcoming in Monday's announcement from Boris Johnson about putting the UK into different "tiers" of Covid risk.
Wales' health minister Vaughan Gething told the BBC it would work in a similar way to the "stay local" rule enforced by police during the initial lockdown. That saw people from England being turned away from entering Wales.
Mr Gething said it had been "disappointing" to hear there would be no legal protection brought in by the UK government to prevent people in English hotspot areas from travelling outside their region.
That's the rule in the parts of Wales currently under local lockdowns.
He said there's particular concern about people travelling to holiday destinations in Wales like Pembrokeshire, Powys and Anglesey. They are not currently under any lockdown restrictions.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 13:59

Dutch hospitality taking the hit

Anna Holligan - BBC News Hague correspondent
A socially distanced queue snaked down the street outside my local bar this morning.
Initially thinking enthusiastic drinkers had decided to brave the autumn chill to get their rounds in early, as I approached I noticed everyone was clutching papers.
One woman told me she'd come for an injection. I peered inside where nurses wearing visors and masks were preparing syringes. The popular drinking venue has been transformed to serve flu jabs.
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Noah Kester is worried about having fewer days work

The new Dutch partial lockdown rules focus on limiting social interactions.
From 22:00, bars, restaurants and cafes - including those selling cannabis - will be closed for at least four weeks. They can still offer takeaways. Grocery stores and off-licences are banned from selling alcohol after 20:00.
Noah Kester, a waitress at Bagels and Beans café in The Hague, is worried about what will happen after this period.
She'll continue serving coffee-to-go but is afraid she might have fewer days at work.
She told me she was shocked by how quickly the Dutch infection rates had shot up. "In the summer, everything looked like it was going to be fine here, until suddenly it wasn’t... I think the government wasn't expecting it either. But I don't think it’s fair that we [the hospitality sector] are the ones who take the hit when we have been so careful."
The "rule of four" applies to friends indoors and outside.
Schools, colleges and universities will stay open, with the Dutch prime minister saying education was too important to close them - yet.
Face masks have been made mandatory inside enclosed public spaces for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Rush hour was quieter than usual. People have been asked to stick to essential journeys only and work from home when possible.
The impact of these restrictions will be assessed in two weeks' time, if the numbers haven't started to dip by then, the Dutch health minister has warned a full lockdown is on the cards.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 14:07

'Forgive me if I greet you from a distance' - Pope Francis

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Pope Francis has signalled his intention to distance himself from worshippers following criticism over his relaxed attitude to virus restrictions.
"Forgive me if I greet you from a distance," the Pope said during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.
"I would like, as I usually do, to come close to you and greet you, but... it is better to keep your distance," he added, according to AFP news agency.
"I believe that if all of us, as good citizens, respect the prescriptions of the authorities, it will help to put an end to this pandemic."
The pontiff has rarely been seen wearing a mask since the start of Italy's outbreak in February. During recent weeks he has been photographed kissing the hands of newly-ordained priests, and joking with other prelates who were also without masks.
His change of tone comes days after four Swiss Guards tested positive for coronavirus. The Vatican has not said if any of them have been in contact with the Pope.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 14:36

'Miracle cure' trial paused

Rebecca Morelle - Science correspondent, BBC News
A US clinical trial testing monoclonal antibodies to treat Covid-19 has been paused for safety concerns.
The treatment has been developed by drug company Eli Lily, and is similar to the one Donald Trump received after testing positive for coronavirus (his was from biotech company Regeneron).
The therapy involves giving patients laboratory-made antibodies that boost the immune response and block the virus from entering cells. Early results have been promising - and Donald Trump declared monoclonal antibodies a “miracle cure” after his recovery. But - and this is a big BUT - the treatment is still unproven, which is why it is being tested in large clinical trials and why it’s so important to do these trials properly.
Temporarily stopping a clinical trial, to properly investigate if, for example, a person has become ill, is a vital part of that process. We’ve already seen a pause with the Oxford vaccine trial, and more recently with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate - and this stop-start process is likely to happen with new treatments like monoclonal antibodies, too.
There are currently few details about the circumstances that led to Eli Lily’s trial being halted - and the duration of the stoppage would depend on how long any investigation takes. A lengthy delay would increase the time it takes to show whether the treatment is or isn’t effective - but safety must always be the priority over speed.
Read more about monoclonal therapy here.

Bars and restaurants to close in Spain's Catalonia region

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All bars and restaurants in the Spanish region of Catalonia must close for 15 days from Thursday, to help contain the spread of coronavirus, authorities have said.
Pere Aragonès, the region's interim chief, said restaurants could still offer delivery and take-away services.
Shops and parks will also have limited opening hours during the period.
It comes as cases continue to surge in Spain. Nearly 900,000 cases have now been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University, making it the worst-affected country in Europe.
Last week the capital, Madrid, and its surrounding suburbs were put on a partial lockdown.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 14:57

A third of pubs in Ireland are at risk of closing their doors for good if industry restrictions due to Covid-19 remain in place.
The Irish Post
According to research from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), one in three pubs believe there's a "moderate chance" their business will close permanently in the coming months if nothing changes.
DIGI surveyed over 1,000 businesses in Ireland to decipher how well they'd been coping during lockdown.
Pubs around the country are still covering staff wages, rent and maintenance costs during lockdown, and in some cases, financial support from the Government covers less than 20% of their monthly bills.
Research shows that nearly one in five pubs have weekly bills of over €2,000, without even pulling a single pint.
The hospitality industry has taken a massive hit ever since the outbreak of coronavirus in Ireland. All pubs shut in March, and only those able to serve substantial meals were allowed to reopen in late June. The remaining 'wet' pubs were kept shut until September - going over six months without a single customer.
Even when open, social distancing rules, curfews and capacity limits have meant that life pre-Covid-19 is still a distant memory for pubs and bars nationwide.
Four in 10 pubs that have been allowed to reopen under new rules report a decline of more than half in their trade compared with a year ago. The same number say their profits are down more than 60% on the same period last year, according DIGI research.
Unsurprisingly, 67% of publicans say their mental health has suffered as a result of trying to keep their business afloat since lockdown.
DIGI chairman Liam Reid said the impact of the pandemic had been "severe".
"With further restrictions an inevitability, coupled with a lack of a coherent strategy or any certainty, the sector requires a direct response and targeted support measures," he said.
"Our survey of publicans shows plainly that there have been very serious financial implications for those publicans who have fought to protect their business throughout the pandemic. This has led to massive personal strain.
"Now is the time for the Government to act. They simply cannot delay any longer. Ireland's drinks and hospitality industry has suffered through the longest lockdown in the EU."

Berlin ad sticks middle finger to mask rule breakers

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An ad campaign has been launched in Germany featuring an elderly woman giving the middle finger to people who refuse to wear masks.
"The raised index finger for all those without a mask," reads the poster, alongside a photo of the masked woman.
Visit Berlin has said the campaign is to highlight the importance of protecting the health of the elderly.
But the campaign has proved controversial, with some in Germany calling it insulting.
The "We obey the corona rules" ad, launched by the Berlin Senate and Visit Berlin, initially appeared on Tuesday in a local newspaper, but it quickly spread on social media.
Read more on this story here .

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Breaking News

People to be banned from travelling to Wales from Covid hotspots

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People from coronavirus hotspot areas will be stopped from travelling to Wales , the first minister has announced.
Mark Drakeford said he would use devolved powers to do it.
He had asked Boris Johnson to intervene in the matter, bringing in legal protection to prevent people in English hotspot areas from travelling outside their region.
But if that is not done then Wales would introduce the move by the end of the week.
Wales reported 946 new cases on Wednesday - the largest daily increase since the pandemic began.

Wales travel ban to start Friday evening

Here's a bit more on the announcement from the Welsh government.
They want to prevent people travelling to Wales if they live in an area of England, Scotland or Northern Ireland that has high levels of coronavirus.
The new restrictions are planned to come into force at 18:00 on Friday.
While it would be illegal to break the rules, it's not clear what action would be taken if people flout the travel ban.
It follows a row between Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and the prime minister over whether parts of England should have travel restrictions.
Scotland's Nicola Sturgeon has backed Mr Drakeford's calls for such restrictions.

First minister 'determined to keep Wales safe'

There are currently 17 areas of Wales under local lockdown restrictions.
Under those rules, people must not enter or leave an affected area without a reasonable excuse like work or education.
Mark Drakeford wants similar travel restrictions to be put in place across the UK.
He told the Welsh parliament that there was evidence the virus was "moving from east to west across the UK".
"As a general rule, it is concentrating in urban areas and then spreading to more sparsely populated areas as a result of people travelling," he said.
"I am determined to keep Wales safe."

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 18:06

Switzerland prepares for crisis meeting as cases surge

Switzerland has recorded a further 2,823 infections - double the daily figures recorded five days ago.
The increase brings the number of cases in the country - and neighbouring Lichtenstein - to 68,704.
A further eight deaths were recorded, bringing the death toll to 1,816.
The government will reportedly hold a crisis meeting on Thursday to discuss what steps need to be taken to avoid a second lockdown. It is thought they will discuss the tightening of measures such as the wearing of masks, testing, and limiting public gatherings.
It comes as cases in Europe continue to rise.

Africa reports 'substantial rise' in deaths

Reality Check
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the Africa region has reported "a substantial rise" in deaths recently.
The number of new deaths increased by 27% during the week ending 11 October, when compared with the previous week - the highest rate of increase in all WHO regions.
It was mainly driven by an increase in deaths in South Africa, Ethiopia and Angola.
Globally, however, it meant the region still only accounted for about 3% of new deaths.
The WHO says new cases also rose - by 11%. That was partly down to a rise in the number of cases in South Africa and Ethiopia.
In Kenya, reported numbers doubled compared with the previous week.
The WHO's Africa region does not include some countries in North Africa, but there have also been increases there.
Morocco and Tunisia have reported a rise in new cases and deaths.
And in Tunisia, new cases doubled while new deaths nearly tripled.
Read more here .

Breaking News 

UK reports 19,724 new cases

A further 19,724 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the UK.
And there have been 137 more deaths of people who had tested positive for Covid-19 in the previous 28 days.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 18:10

Used tests handed out to households in Birmingham

Kathryn Stanczyszyn - Political Reporter, BBC WM
Birmingham City Council has admitted that used coronavirus test kits were handed out to households in Selly Oak as part of its drop and collect service.
The error happened on Tiverton Road on Tuesday - with some students claiming on social media that they did not realise the swabs were not new.
Around 25 used kits were handed out and the council said it had carried out an investigation overnight. It added that there was no evidence of cross-contamination from the used tests as the mistake was noticed quickly and the kits were still intact.
It said there would now be a "root and branch" review of the service.

Belfast Nightingale hospital to reopen

Northern Ireland's Nightingale hospital will reopen, health minister Robin Swann says.
The temporary facility at Belfast City Hospital was stood down in May when coronavirus cases decreased.
Mr Swann said the hospital had to be formally established again due to "rapidly escalating pressures" across all of NI's health trusts.
"It is not something I wanted to do - it was a decision I tried to hold off on for as long as possible," he said.
Read more here.

What's happening in Europe?

As case numbers continue to grow around Europe, here are some of the biggest developments from across the continent:

  • In Spain, bars and restaurants will be closing tomorrow for 15 days in the region of Catalonia. With more than 896,000 cases, Spain is currently the worst-hit country in Europe
  • Pope Francis has signalled his intention to distance himself from worshippers following criticism over his relaxed attitude to virus restrictions.
  • Slovenia has reported 707 new infections, a record number. The government said "new measures will be introduced, because those which are currently in force have not yielded results"
  • Authorities in neighbouring Croatia have also confirmed a record 748 new cases, a week after setting a previous record. New measures are being rolled out in the country this week, including a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people
  • A record was also set in nearby Bosnia, with 482 new cases, and in Russia, with 14,321

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 18:13

Karachi markets to shut amid fears of rising cases

M Ilyas Khan - BBC News, Islamabad
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Authorities in Pakistan's densely populated financial capital Karachi have ordered more than 20 daily markets to close indefinitely amid fears of a rise in Covid infections as winter approaches.
The "bachat" (savings) bazaars told to shut are all in central Karachi, where cases are higher than average. In recent weeks city authorities have enforced "micro lockdowns" in more than two dozen areas.
The markets were launched in the 1980s to provide food, clothing and other goods at cheaper prices for the less well-off.
Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, has less than a quarter of Pakistan's population but accounts for nearly half of its total coronavirus infections and deaths.
Last month, most bazaars started to reopen after a strict lockdown was eased in Karachi and other urban centres in Sindh.

Hospital admissions up across the UK

There were 647 patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus in England on Monday, the day the most recent data is available from - up from 472 the previous week. It brought the total, since the pandemic began, to 125,343.
There are currently, as of Wednesday, 4,146 people in hospital in England. A week ago, there were 2,944 in hospital.
The different nations of the UK report their hospital figures in a slightly different way, so information from Wednesday is not available everywhere yet.
In Scotland, 527 Covid-19 patients were in hospital as of Tuesday, up from 262 a week earlier.
In Wales, 345 Covid-19 patients were in hospital as of Tuesday, up from 261 a week earlier.
And in Northern Ireland, 150 Covid-19 patients were in hospital as of Monday, up from 129 the previous week.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 18:49

Catalonians respond to bar and restaurant closures

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Earlier today, we reported that bars and restaurants in the Spanish region of Catalonia will be closing from tomorrow, for 15 days, as part of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Restaurants will still be able to serve takeaway and delivery orders, but locals have been sharing their concerns with Reuters news agency.
"This will be the end for us," said restaurant manager Benito Mateo. "The restaurant industry was already bad but with this it will be total chaos.”
Restaurant customer Pilar Ferrer has also described the decision as "very risky".
"On the one hand I feel bad for them because they will earn less money, but I also consider that it is a sanitary measure and that it must be respected," he added.

Record case numbers reported across Europe

Record numbers of cases of coronavirus are continuing to be announced around Europe today, as the continent grapples with a fresh wave of infections.
Italy, once the global epicentre of the pandemic, has reported 7,332 new infections - its highest daily increase on record.
Romania has also added a record 4,016 cases to its tally. And as we reported earlier, records have been broken today in Russia, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia.
Meanwhile 11,970 new cases have been reported in Spain. While not a record, it comes as Spain continues to report the highest number of infections in Europe - currently over 908,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Breaking News 

France introduces 'health state of emergency'

France is re-imposing a state of health emergency to contain the spread of Covid-19, the government says.
It comes shortly before President Emmanuel Macron is due to appear on national television at 19:00 GMT. He is expected to detail fresh coronavirus measures.
The change will allow "measures proportional to the health risks to be taken", and will come into force on Saturday, according to minutes from a cabinet meeting and reported by AFP.
The country, like many European nations, is grappling with rising case numbers in the pandemic's second wave.
Macron will give interviews with two French journalists in his TV appearance, his office says.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jean Castex said lockdowns may be introduced again if infection rates do not improve in hard-hit areas.

More than 9,000 in French hospitals

French President Emmanuel Macron's imminent announcement comes as French authorities say the number of people being treated in hospital has risen above 9,100 for the first time since 25 June.
The fear is the growing number of cases could overwhelm the country's hospital system.

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Breaking News

France to impose curfews on major cities including Paris

From Saturday, curfews will be in place in the French capital, Paris, and eight other cities including Grenoble, Lille, Lyon and Toulouse, President Emmanuel Macron announces.
The restriction will be in place from 21:00 to 06:00 local time. And is to last for at least four weeks.
It comes as France re-imposes a state of health emergency to contain the spread of coronavirus.

No visiting friends during curfew, Macron says

President Macron says during France's curfew, people will not be allowed to visit friends. All theatres, restaurants and bars will need to close during curfew, he added.
There will not be any travel restrictions between regions of France however and no restrictions on public transport.
Work and schools are also to continue as normal.

Fines for those breaking France curfew

Emmanuel Macron said that anyone violating the curfew being imposed in major cities in France would be fined 135 euros ($158.61).
The nightly curfew will affect almost one third of the country's 67 million people. A new national lockdown is not expected, however.
Mr Macron said of the curfew: "We won't be leaving the restaurant after 9:00 pm. We won't be partying with friends because we know that that's where the contamination risk is greatest."

Macron urges 'rule of six' in social gatherings

French President Macron is being interviewed by two journalists on TV for these announcements this evening, and he's said that people can still meet outside of curfew hours.
But he urged people to limit family gatherings to no more than six people. The president said exceptions could be made for those with over six people in their immediate families.

'We will get through this together' - Macron

Almost an hour into his TV appearance tonight, French President Macron has called for national unity, saying "we will get through this together".
Earlier he announced that, from Saturday, a four-week night-time curfew will be in place in Paris and eight other cities. He will also seek parliamentary approval to extend this to six weeks.
"If, during these six weeks, we follow the curfew, we act collectively to reduce the number of contacts, that’s the point at which we think we can progressively start to open again," said Mr Macron.
"I’m being very careful here because experience has shown that we can cannot control everything," he added. "We can’t outline everything but six weeks seems to us to be the best duration for our actions."

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Post by Kitkat Wed Oct 14 2020, 20:08

What's been happening today? Here's a round-up

It's been another busy day of coronavirus developments, with the latest being the new measures in France.
Here's what else has been happening both in the UK and across the world this Wednesday.

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the three-tier system of regional coronavirus restrictions that has started in England, saying it is the "right way forward" to "bring down the virus". He told MPs he hoped it would "avoid the misery of a national lockdown"
  • Liverpool is currently the only area in the top tier, meaning it has the toughest restrictions. Two hours before they came into force, large crowds were pictured dancing and surrounding a police car - LIverpool's mayor has now said these images "shame our city"
  • Wales is preparing to ban people travelling to the country from parts of the UK that have high rates of coronavirus. The new measure is set to come into force on Friday evening
  • New restrictions are being introduced in Northern Ireland , with schools closing from Monday and pubs and restaurants facing new restrictions from Friday evening. Hospitality businesses will be limited to takeaway and delivery services for four weeks from Friday
  • Infection rates are rising across Europe - and now new restrictions are being introduced in many countries. A partial lockdown comes into force in the Netherlands at 22:00 (20:00 GMT) and cafes and restaurants are closing. Spain's north-eastern region of Catalonia said that bars and restaurants will close for 15 days from Thursday. And the Czech Republic has shut schools and bars - it has had the highest rate of infection in Europe over the past two weeks.

Join us again tomorrow

So, it is au revoir, goodbye, from our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic today, and do join us again tomorrow.

Updates were brought to you by Claire Heald, Doug Faulkner, Joshua Cheetham, Lauren Turner, Mal Siret and Sophie Williams.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 13:44