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Coronavirus - 23rd October


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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 11:06

Summary for Friday, 23rd October

  • Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sets out a new five-tier alert system to come into force from 2 November
  • Tough new measures are in place in Greater Manchester, with South Yorkshire also moving to tier three on Saturday
  • Warrington will move to England's highest tier from next week as talks continue with Nottingham about a similar move
  • A 17-day national lockdown described as a "firebreak" will begin in Wales at 6pm
  • US President Donald Trump and his White House challenger Joe Biden clash over Covid in their final live TV debate
  • US regulators given full approval for the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat Covid-19 patients in hospitals
  • France is extending an overnight curfew to dozens more areas

Good morning and welcome

Friday is finally here! Thanks for joining our live coverage of coronavirus developments in the UK and around the world. We’ll be bringing you updates throughout the day.

The latest from the UK

Here’s what you need to know to kick off your day:

Curfews increasing across Europe amid record infections

Millions of people face new restrictions on movement after record infections were reported in several European countries.
Some 46 million people in France will come under 21:00 to 06:00 curfew – with 38 new areas added to the list. More than 41,000 new cases have been reported. Jean Rottner, head of the north-eastern Grand Est region, says the situation has worsened “in big cities like Reims and Strasbourg - but also a number of more rural areas like the Ardennes”.
Slovakia is to impose a partial lockdown for a week from tomorrow, allowing travel to work, basic shopping and school for younger children; four areas near the Polish border will face almost total lockdown. Nineteen further deaths have been reported.

  • Portugal is imposing a lockdown on three northern districts affecting 150,000 people – and the whole country will have restrictions on movement for next week’s holiday weekend
  • Denmark is closing its border to German tourists after both countries reported record infections. Work and family visits will be allowed
  • Italy’s Lazio and Campania regions begin night-time curfews tonight - Lombardy started last night
  • The Belgian government is set to announce fresh virus restrictions
  • Spain’s regional authorities have failed to reach a broad curfew agreement but a number of areas are imposing them anyway. Navarre and Rioja have already moved and Madrid will decide its next step today

But there’s good news too: The Canary Islands have been removed from Germany’s risk list and are being added to the UK’s travel corridor from Sunday.

The latest from around the world

Elsewhere in the world:

Why is Wales going into lockdown?

Wales' 17-day "firebreak" lockdown will start at 18:00 BST - but why is such action being taken?
Wales has the lowest reproduction, or R number, in the UK at between 1.1 and 1.4 - but the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 is the highest it has been since June.
Ministers say they need to act now so the NHS can keep essential hospital services and treatments running on top of expected winter pressures, and not get overwhelmed.
The rules - brought in to coincide with half-term holidays - mean pubs, bars and restaurants, gyms, and all non-essential shops will be closed. While food shops, off-licences and pharmacies can stay open, First Minister Mark Drakeford has made it clear that supermarkets will only be able to open parts of their business that sell "essential goods".
The health minister, Vaughan Gething, has also said that delaying lockdown measures would have impacted December trade for businesses - so part of the aim of the break is to allow "a much more normal Christmas season".
If you still want to know more about what the measures mean for you... Read our guide here.
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Why is coronavirus so deadly?

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News
A simple virus has brought life as we know it to a screeching halt.
So what is it about this coronavirus? What are the quirks of its biology that pose a unique threat to our bodies and our lives?
In the early stages of an infection the virus is able to deceive the body.
Coronavirus can be running rampant in our lungs and airways and yet our immune system thinks everything is a-ok.
Our body's cells start releasing chemicals - called interferons - once they are being hijacked by a virus and this is a warning signal to the rest of the body and the immune system.
But the coronavirus has an "amazing capability" of switching off this chemical warning, says Prof Paul Lehner from the University of Cambridge - "it does it so well you don't even know you're ill".
Read more here.

Treasury will 'respond' to changes in virus - Barclay

The chief secretary to the Treasury says the government will "respond where the path of the virus has changed", after the chancellor announced big changes to the Job Support Scheme set to replace furlough in November.
"What is clear from our discussions with business leaders is that the situation has deteriorated over the last few weeks," Steve Barclay tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"That is why we've listened and we've [acted] quickly to strengthen the package of measures, as part of this overall balanced approach between tackling the virus but also taking decisions that are in the longer-term fiscal interests of the country."
The increased support for jobs and workers hit by Covid restrictions follows growing clamour from firms in tier two areas.
Under the revised scheme, employers will pay less and staff can work fewer hours before they qualify for support.
At the same time, the taxpayer subsidy has been doubled.
Find out more about the changes here.

Labour calls for job support clarity

Labour says ministers need to be clearer about how they decide what financial support areas moving into tighter restrictions will get, and how long this will be for.
"Initially it was suggested there was some kind of a negotiation going on between government and local areas about support for businesses," shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"Now it looks like actually there's a formula that's being used by government but they haven't published it anywhere, they've not discussed it, it hasn't been voted on for government."
Her comments follow a breakdown in talks between the government and local leaders in Greater Manchester over financial support offered under tier three restrictions.
Local leaders originally requested £90m for businesses affected by new restrictions, but lowered their demand to £65m.
In the end, they were given a £60m support package, which will be distributed across the region.
This week, the government is talking to local leaders in Nottingham and Warrington about the introduction of tier three restrictions.

Happy to be home after 61-day Italy quarantine

A man who spent two months in isolation in an Italian coronavirus facility has spoken of his joy of being home with his family.
Britons Rhys James, 23, from Pembroke Dock, Quinn Paczesny, 20, from Sheffield, and Will Castle, 22, from Brighton, had been teaching in northern Italy before they tested positive for Covid-19 in August.
They were kept in separate rooms at a facility in Florence and told they needed two consecutive negative tests - or a double negative - before they could leave the rooms.
Only Will Castle got a double negative while the other two tested positive and were facing another week in isolation, before the law changed.
Last Friday, after 61 days of having food left outside their doors and staying in touch via video calls, they were told they could leave.
Rhys James and Quinn Paczesny flew back to the UK where they were greeted by their parents holding a "welcome home banner".
"It's been so lovely, they are treating me like royalty at the moment - we will see how long that lasts for," James said.
Read more here.

Which parts of England are facing tougher rules?

We've heard that people in Nottinghamshire and Warrington are waiting to find out whether they'll be subject to tier three restrictions.
Which other parts of England are facing "very high" tier three rules? And which places are about to change tiers?
Greater Manchester moved into England's highest level of coronavirus restrictions overnight, joining Liverpool City Region and Lancashire.
South Yorkshire will also move into tier three restrictions from 00:01 on Saturday.
And what about tier two?
Millions of people in London, Essex, York and other areas are already under the "high alert" Covid measures.
Rising infections mean that Coventry, Stoke and Slough will move into tier two restrictions at 00:01 on Saturday .
You can find out what the rules are in your area by entering your postcode here.
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Sewage sites to test for traces of virus

Testing sewage for Covid-19 has been shown to give local health teams an early warning of outbreaks, before they spread.
Scientists established earlier this year that fragments of the virus's genetic material could be identified in human waste. And crucially they can be detected even when there are only asymptomatic Covid-19 cases in the community.
Now a testing scheme is being extended across the UK after a pilot in south-west England.
Ninety waste-water treatment sites in England, Wales and Scotland will be testing sewage for Covid-19 traces.
The technique is already being used elsewhere in the world. The University of Arizona in the US, for example, tests waste from its student residences twice a week.
Britain is also looking to advise developing countries on the practicalities of this method, as many low-income countries do not have enough testing machines for their populations.
Read more here.

Scotland waits for news of five-tier alert system

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to publish details of a new five-tier alert system of Covid-19 restrictions.
The system - which will add two levels to the three tiers already used in England - is expected to come into force from Monday 2 November.
Sturgeon has said the middle tiers will correspond roughly to England's three, and there will be a lower tier that is "closest to normality" as possible without a vaccine.
She said an additional top tier would be "closer to a full lockdown" - and was added because England's chief medical officer had acknowledged tier three restrictions were not necessarily enough to reduce infections in all circumstances.
The new "strategic framework" will also include details of support for businesses hit by restrictions and a new testing strategy.
Temporary restrictions targeting the hospitality industry in the central belt of Scotland in particular [url= in Scotland%3A Hospitality curbs extended for another week,-21 hours]have been extended to cover the gap[/url] until the new system comes into force.
Sturgeon will hold a virtual coronavirus briefing at 12:15 BST with deputy chief medical officer Nicola Steedman.
Read more on this story.

How do new post-furlough changes work?

Yesterday, the chancellor unveiled increased support for jobs and workers hit by Covid restrictions, which will replace the furlough scheme from November.
Some businesses in tier three areas have to close - including pubs and bars that don't serve substantial meals, and betting shops.
If you work for one of these businesses and your workplace has to shut, you'll be paid 67% of your wages - up to a maximum of £2,100 a month - through the government's Job Support Scheme (JSS).
You must be off work for a minimum of seven days to be eligible. Your employer doesn't have to pay towards your salary.
In areas under tier two rules, like London and Essex, places like pubs and cafes have been less busy because household mixing indoors is banned.
Staff at businesses such as these - which can open but only have enough work for employees to return part-time - can also get help under the JSS, regardless of which tier the business is in.
To be eligible, you have to be paid by your employer to work a minimum of 20% of your hours per month.
Your employer must pay an extra 4% of total wages to cover some of the hours not worked, and the government will pay 49% of your total salary to cover hours not worked.
So, overall, you would get at least 73% of salary. The maximum contribution the government will make is £1,541.75.
Make sense? Here's a handy graphic to help...
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Nottingham hospitals postpone surgery amid Covid rise

A "dramatic increase" in the number of patients with Covid-19 has led hospitals in Nottingham to postpone some non-urgent operations.
More than 200 patients at the hospitals have tested positive for coronavirus - 16 are in a critical condition, and some have died.
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust's chief executive Tracy Taylor said a "full ward of people" were arriving to the Queen's Medical Centre and City Hospital each day.
She said the surge in patients was "similar to April" and some non-urgent surgery will be postponed until at least 6 November.
It comes as officials in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are in discussions about whether the areas will move into tier three restrictions.
Read more.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 11:48

Bolton MP Yasmin Qureshi discharged from hospital

Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi, who was admitted to hospital with pneumonia after testing positive for Covid-19 this week, tweets that she has been discharged.
Ms Qureshi, who represents Bolton South East, says she is grateful to the NHS workers who provided "excellent" care.
In a follow-up tweet, she thanks her own staff and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle for "allowing me to still be able to vote this week".
"I am completely overwhelmed by the kind messages I have received from everyone, they meant so much," she adds.
Tweet  Yasmin Qureshi MP:

:Left Quotes: Update: A quick message to say that, thanks to the excellent care I received at @boltonnhsft over the last week, I have now been discharged from hospital. I am so grateful to the wonderful staff who looked after me and proud of the NHS.

Blackpool sends SOS message to PM

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Blackpool Tower was lit up last night with an SOS message, as the town's businesses say they have had "mass cancellations" on an "unimaginable scale" since moving into tier three restrictions.
Over 1,000 traders have written an open letter to the prime minister asking him to save the resort's tourism industry.
Hotels and guesthouses, which are usually full during October half term, "lie virtually empty", they said.
The letter states urgent aid is needed or many businesses will shut.
Read the full story here.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 13:47

Confirmed cases in half of NI schools

There have been confirmed Covid-19 cases in half of Northern Ireland's schools since the start of term in late August, according to new figures published by the Public Health Agency (PHA).
The agency reported 2,030 positive cases in schools since teaching returned.
And it said there had been 608 Covid-19 "incidents" in 519 schools up until 20 October.
An "incident" can be a single positive case, a cluster of two to five cases or more than five cases.
It's the first time the agency has reported the number of Covid cases specifically in schools.
You can find out more about it here.

Nottingham tier 3 discussions 'amiable'

Hugh Casswell - Political reporter, BBC Radio Nottingham
Nottingham and parts of Nottinghamshire are expected to be moved into the tier three - very high - Covid alert level next week.
Discussions between the government and council leaders are continuing after talks ended on Thursday without a final decision being made - but it is understood they are on the finer details, such as whether or not gyms can stay open.
Talks have been described as "amiable and constructive", with one source saying the government seems keen to come to an agreement after the very public disagreement with the mayor of Greater Manchester.
With Parliament not sitting next week, ministers could lay a Statutory Instrument on Monday next week, with the new restrictions coming into force on Wednesday in Nottingham City, Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe.

The latest from around the world

Here are the most recent updates on the pandemic if you're just catching up over lunch:

Breaking News 

New five-tier Covid alert system for Scotland

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is announcing a new five-tier system of restrictions for Scotland.
The new system adds two levels to the three tiers used in England.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 13:50

New Scotland alert system will come into force on Monday

Scotland's new five-tier alert system will come into force from Monday 2 November. Different local authorities will be placed into different tiers in the coming days.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the tier for each area will depend on the levels of infection nationwide or in different parts of the country.
She says: "We are proposing today five levels of possible intervention. This will allow us to take a national approach if required. It is possible that the whole country could be placed in the same level."

Sturgeon: Level 4 'like a full lockdown'

Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland's new level zero is "broadly comparable to the position we reached in August when the virus was very suppressed, but still a threat".
Level one and level two are the closest to normal the country can be without effective treatment or a vaccine, while the highest grade would be more similar to a full lockdown.
The first minister said the new strategy was about "striking the best balances we can" between suppressing the virus and minimising wider harms to businesses and individuals.

Wales lockdown 'will save lives'

Meanwhile in Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said a firebreak lockdown coming into force at 18:00 BST on Friday is "a short, sharp shock that will save people's lives".
"The clear advice we have is that we need to act urgently now because the virus is moving too fast," Drakeford told a press conference in Cardiff. "We have to act and have to act now."
Public Health Wales has reported 45 deaths in people with Covid-19 this week, Drakeford said.
He also said that supermarkets only selling essential goods during the short lockdown is "a simple matter of fair play".
"We are requiring many hundreds of small businesses to close on the high street right across Wales. We cannot do that and then allow supermarkets to sell goods that those people are unable to sell.
"And we are looking to minimise the amount of time that people spend out of their homes during this two-week period. This is not the time to be browsing around supermarkets looking for non-essential goods."

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 13:53

Breaking News

Warrington to enter tier three restrictions next week

Warrington will enter tier three coronavirus restrictions next week, after an agreement was reached with the government this morning.
The area will see the same rules imposed as currently apply to some other places in tier three, meaning gyms will stay open but soft play centres will close.
The deal is worth £5.9m. Local Conservative MP Andy Carter says this is proportionate to the financial settlement for other tier three areas.
Read more

Infections still rising across the UK, says ONS

Coronavirus infections are still rising across the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It estimates cases have risen by a quarter to more than 35,200 a day in England.
Around one in 130 people you meet in the street in England had coronavirus in the week to 16 October, data from its infection survey suggests .
That's compared to one in 180 in Wales and Scotland, and one in 100 in Northern Ireland.
The highest levels of the virus continue to be in the north west and north east of England.
Infection rates have been highest among older teenagers and young adults in recent weeks.
The ONS figures are based on a survey of people in random households, whether they have symptoms or not, giving one of the most accurate pictures of the epidemic.
Although cases are still rising, they suggest a slight slowing in the rate of growth of infections since the previous week's survey.
Read the full story here.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 13:55

Scotland's new tier system in detail

Let's have a closer look at Scotland's new tier system.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says it is "flexible" with different levels, assessed weekly, that can be applied in different parts of the country depending on the prevalence of the virus. The intention at all levels is to keep schools open

  • Level zero will see most businesses open and eight people from three households able to meet indoors
  • Level one is closest to England's medium level and will see will see indoor meetings restricted to six people from two households
  • Level two is closest to England's high level, and will prohibit indoor meetings and place limitations on hospitality
  • Level three is closest to England's very high level, and will see "tougher restrictions" similar to those now in place in Glasgow and Edinburgh at present, including the closure of pubs Restaurants may be able to open in some situations
  • Level four will involve the closure of non-essential shops and only six people from two households will be able to meet outdoors

Sturgeon stressed that although level four would be similar to the full lockdown implemented in March, there would be key differences - with the aim being to keep manufacturing and construction operating. The aim across all levels is to keep schools open.
Read more: How will Scotland's tier system work

Firebreak lockdown will reset the clock - Wales FM

As we have been reporting today, Wales will go into a "firebreak" lockdown from 18:00 BST.
The country's First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh government was "unanimously" presented with advice that a firebreak lockdown was "the best course of action".
"It is a sharp, deep form of restriction that creates a break in the transmission of the virus," Drakeford said.
"We think it will work in Wales to this extent. Not that it will magic the virus away, not that we will emerge on 9 November not needing to worry about it, but that it will reset the clock and allow us to get through to Christmas without needing to see a period of such significant restraint."
He said he hoped measures being put in place in other parts of the UK to reduce the spread of coronavirus would succeed.
"Then we will all be able to meet with family, with friends, have some sort of Christmas in which there is still something for us all to celebrate," Drakeford said.
Read our story here

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 13:56

The latest from around the UK

If you are just joining us this lunchtime, here are the most recent updates from around the UK:

UK R number falls slightly

Earlier, we reported that coronavirus infections across the UK are continuing to rise, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.
It's important to also note that new government data shows the reproduction rate of the virus in the UK has fallen slightly.
The estimate for the R number is between 1.2 and 1.4, according to data released by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
Last week, the R number was between 1.3 and 1.5.
R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.
When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.
An R number between 1.2 and 1.4 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 12 and 14 other people.

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Coronavirus - 23rd October Empty Mother tragically dies alone in hospital after being 'unable to choose' which child would be allowed to visit her

Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 14:01

A dying mother died in hospital without seeing any of her children after being "unable to choose" which of them could visit her.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hospital rules in Wales state that patients are only allowed to have one person come and see them.

The woman, who was suffering from a brain tumour, was left with an impossible decision to make after the hospital told her to decide which of her for children could come and say goodbye.

Heartbreakingly, she was unable to decide, and passed away without seeing any of them, according to Wales Online,
"We had one palliative care resident at the end of life due to a brain tumour who refused to have her family visit because she would not choose which one of her four children it should be," a nurse revealed.
Another spoke of the difficulty of giving out terrible news over the phone due to the pandemic.
"I put the phone down and cried my heart out. To give someone bad news over the phone, not knowing where they are and who they are with, not holding their hand or sitting down with them, [was] horrible," she said.
Over the course of the pandemic, many have criticised the fact that strict lockdown measures prevent families from being together when it matters most, at times of hardship and bereavement.
Some feel that exceptions need to be made, particularly for cases such as this, where a mother is forced to decide which of her children she's allowed to see before she dies.

Like Ireland, Wales is heading back into full lockdown, with a 17-day 'firebreak' set to begin at 6pm this evening.
Its aim is to "slow" the rise of Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions around the country, though it's estimated the lockdown may cost the Welsh economy more than £500m (€551m).

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 14:56

Summary of today's global updates from The Guardian

Here are today's key developments so far today:

  • Trump and Biden sparred over the coronavirus pandemic in the final presidential debate , with the president defending his response to a pandemic that has already claimed 223,000 American lives. Trump said of the pandemic, “I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that it came here. It’s China’s fault.” Biden argued Trump had “no clear plan” to bring the virus under control.
  • Australia will slightly lift the cap on the number of citizens and permanent residents allowed to return each week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as local Covid-19 cases slow to single digits. Australia has since July capped the number of locals allowed to return home each week in an attempt to reduce the threat of spreading Covid-19 once they enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotels. Morrison said the current cap will rise to 5,865 people in November, an increase of 290, after Western Australia and Queensland states said they would accommodate more locals.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug to treat Covid-19: remdesivir , an antiviral medicine given through an IV for patients needing hospitalization. The drug, which California-based Gilead Sciences Inc is calling Veklury, cut the time to recovery from 15 days to 10 on average in a large study led by the US National Institutes of Health.
  • Study finds between 130,000 and 210,000 US deaths could have been avoided. The Trump administration’s botched response to the pandemic has led to between 130,000 and 210,000 preventable deaths, according to a report from a team of disaster preparedness and public health experts. The team calculated avoidable deaths by estimating how many people would have died in other nations, like Japan and South Korea, if they had the same population as the US, and comparing those figures to the US death rate.
  • French health authorities reported another 41,622 confirmed Covid-19 cases over 24 hours on Thursday, an all-time daily high that was published shortly after the government announced a broad extension of the curfew put in place a week ago in Paris and other major cities.
  • Trump tests negative for virus pre-debate. The White House chief of staff says president Donald Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus ahead of Thursday night’s second and final presidential debate.
  • EU’s flagship Covid-19 recovery cash will come late -diplomat. States hit hardest by the pandemic will have to wait longer for €750bn meant to help restart their economies, a senior diplomat said, as a fresh rise in infections shuts down business on the continent again.
  • Supermarkets in Wales to sell only essentials during lockdown.They will not be allowed to sell items such as clothing and hardware during the Covid-19 firebreak lockdown, first minister Mark Drakeford said, to ensure a “level playing field” as many retailers will be forced to shut.
  • Greece will impose a curfew in areas most affected by Covid-19, including Athens. The prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said movement would be banned from Saturday between 12.30am and 5am in locations deemed high-risk.
  • The Canary Islands, the Maldives, Denmark and Mykonos were added to England’s travel corridor list. Travellers from those destinations will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days from 4am on Sunday 25 October. The opposite is true for travellers arriving from Liechtenstein, which was removed from the list.
  • France extended a night-time curfew to more regions, affecting two-thirds of the French population. The prime minister Jean Castex said the 9pm-6am curfew would be extended to 38 departments and some overseas territories for six weeks, starting from midnight on Friday.

Ukraine registered a daily record of 7,517 Covid-19 cases, the national security council said on Friday, up from a previous record of 7,053 on Thursday. The total number of cases climbed to 330,396.
The council said 121 new coronavirus-related deaths were registered in the past day. On Wednesday, the toll hit a record 141.
Ukraine has recorded over 5,000 new coronavirus cases almost every day since the start of October. The rise in infections has prompted the government to extend lockdown measures until the end of 2020.

The Czech Republic registered 14,151 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, down from a record of 14,968 the previous day, health ministry data showed on Friday.
The country, which is experiencing Europe’s biggest surge in new Covid-19 cases, has recorded 223,065 infections since March. Deaths have risen to 1,845 from 1,739 reported a day earlier, which includes 55 deaths on Thursday along with revisions to previous days.

In Spain, the number of nights booked by tourists in hotels plunged 78% in September compared with the same month a year ago as travel restrictions ravaged the crucial tourism industry, data from the INE national statistics office showed on Friday.
Reuters reports:
The September data was worse than the 64% fall recorded in August.
Despite a slight uptick in activity after Spain emerged from a strict coronavirus lockdown in June, overall hotel bookings in the first nine months of the year have slumped 71% since the same period a year earlier, INE said.
The data showed the northern regions of Cantabria and Asturias had the highest levels of hotel occupation in September, at 37% and 35% respectively.
Tourism, which accounts for about 12% of Spain’s economic output has been decimated since the pandemic brought global travel to a grinding halt.
Still, there was a glimmer of hope on Thursday as England and Germany lifted warnings against travel to the Canary Islands, potentially salvaging some of the winter season on the archipelago.

Aeroports de Paris, operator of the French capital’s main airports, cut its full-year passenger traffic outlook on Friday as a second wave of Covid-19 infections gathers pace, reports Reuters.
Traffic at Charles de Gaulle and Orly will fall 65-70% rather than the previously forecast 63%, ADP said as it posted January-September revenue of €1.67bn, down 53%.
ADP, which also holds stakes in international airports in countries including Turkey and India, said aviation and retail revenue both fell by more than half in the period.
Traffic has suffered a “new strong decrease” in recent weeks, chief financial officer Philippe Pascal said, “as a consequence of the new wave of epidemic around the world.”
ADP is rolling out Covid-19 testing at the Paris airports, but Pascal declined to comment on the target passenger capacity.

Poland reported a record 13,632 new coronavirus infections on Friday, health ministry data showed, as the government prepared to announce further restrictions to halt the spread of the pandemic.
The ministry also said the number of recorded deaths had fallen to 153 from a record high of 168 a day earlier.

In Australia, smartphone apps and wearable surveillance devices including ankle bracelets are among options that could allow returning travellers to quarantine at home rather than in a hotel, a review has suggested.
The national hotel quarantine review was released on Friday with the prime minister, Scott Morrison , stating all options were on the table and he would let “experts” develop “innovative” solutions.
Read the full story HERE

The Philippines’ health ministry on Friday recorded 1,923 new coronavirus infections and 132 additional deaths, the largest daily increase in casualties in 15 days.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had increased to 365,799, while deaths had reached 6,915. The Philippines has the second-highest number of Covid-19 infections and fatalities in south-east Asia behind Indonesia.

Several US regions are showing “signs of deterioration”, according to a report from CNN.
With more than two dozen states reporting rising Covid-19 infections, new reports from leading health officials show a worsening of the pandemic across several US regions, it states.

:Left Quotes:  In White House coronavirus task force reports obtained by CNN this week, officials say there are “early signs of deterioration in the Sun Belt and continued deterioration in the Midwest and across the Northern States.”
The data comes as more state leaders have sounded the alarm on increasing infections, hospitalizations and deaths. The national average of new daily cases has climbed to just under 60,000 – a level that hasn’t been seen since the first week of August.

Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš (of the ANO party) has asked health minister Roman Prymula to resign only weeks after he took up the post, after he was caught breaking restrictions that he ahd advocated for.
Radio Prague reports :

:Left Quotes:  Prymula, an epidemiologist, pushed for stricter measures such as closing schools and restaurants. But he met MP Jaroslav Faltýnek, head of the ruling ANO party’s parliamentary group, in a restaurant on Wednesday evening.
The tabloid newspaper Blesk published corresponding photos, which showed the health minister outside the establishment, not wearing a face mask.

Restrictions in the Czech Republic states that restaurants should be closed to dine-in guests, and cannot operate take-away windows after 8pm.
Our thanks to a reader in the Czech republic who drew our attention to this story.

Schools in Ireland have been told they can close early today following a recall of hand sanitiser over health concerns.
The department of agriculture recalled the Virapro sanitiser after it emerged that prolonged use can cause dermatitis, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation and headaches. Some of the product contains methanol rather than ethanol, it said.
“Tests by the department show that some of the sanitiser on sale does not comply with regulations governing the content and efficacy of such products,” it said.
Members of the public were advised to stop using the product “with immediate effect”.

Malaysia’s health ministry reported 710 new coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the total to 24,514 infections. The south-east Asian country, which has seen total cases double in the past month, also recorded 10 deaths, raising its total number of fatalities to 214.

Spanish regions ask government to impose night-time curfews
The Spanish regions of Castilla and Leon and Valencia were clamouring on Friday for the government to impose night-time curfews after authorities failed to reach a decision on nationwide restrictions the previous day.
“We want this to happen today if possible, rather than tomorrow,” said Alfonso Fernandez Manueco, the regional leader of Castilla and Leon, which formally requested a curfew on Thursday.
“The virus doesn’t understand administrative boundaries or different political stripes,” he told a joint news conference with health minister Salvador Illa.
Spain’s regions have a high degree of autonomy and are largely responsible for responding to the pandemic but restrictions on freedom of movement, like curfews, require the national government’s intervention.
The central government is actually also in favour of curfews but postponed a decision after the Madrid region and the Basque country opposed such a move on Thursday. Prime minister Pedro Sanchez is due to make a televised address to the nation at around 1100 GMT to speak about the pandemic.

Poland to partially close primary schools and restaurants as part of 'red zone' measures
Poland’s prime minister said on Friday that “red zone” measures including the partial closure of primary schools and restaurants would be adopted nationwide in the face of a record spike in coronavirus infections.
The move came as the EU country of 38 million people reported a new 24-hour record of 13,632 coronavirus cases on Friday.
Half of Poland, mainly large cities and surrounding areas, was already designated a high-risk “red zone” last Saturday on top of a previous rulemaking face masks mandatory in public places.
“All of Poland will be designated a red zone as of tomorrow,” prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a virtual press conference.
He said the new measures are tailored to ensure “that the economy works faster than during the spring” lockdown, which was more restrictive.
Poland’s economy is expected to shrink by 3.6% this year, according to an International Monitary Fund estimate, giving it among the best outcomes in the European Union.

A French woman on the Thai resort island of Samui has tested positive for the coronavirus and probably acquired it after arriving in Thailand in what could be one of few cases of local transmission, health officials said on Friday.

The finding was announced the same week that Thailand began allowing some tourists to enter again after banning all commercial flights since early April. On Tuesday, 39 tourists from Shanghai flew into Bangkok under a special tourist visa program that allows in a limited number of visitors under tight restrictions, including a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
The 57-year-old woman arrived in Bangkok with her husband and son on 30 September, and all three underwent the mandatory 14-day quarantine, during which they tested negative twice for the disease, said Dr Sophon Iamsirithaworn, director of the bureau of general communicable diseases.

Belgium tightens social contact rules, banning fans from sports matches

Belgium, one of the European countries worst hit by the new coronavirus, tightened restrictions on social contacts on Friday by banning fans from sports matches, limiting the number of people in cultural spaces and closing theme parks.
Belgium had already closed cafes, bars and restaurants and imposed a night curfew, and has Europe’s second-highest infection rate per capita after the Czech Republic. New infections hit a peak of 10,500 on Thursday.
But the government has resisted calls from medical experts to order a new lockdown to avoid causing more economic pain.
The restrictions – running until 19 November – also include stricter social distancing. They are intended to avoid crowding on public transport and impose a limit of 200 people in theatres, concert halls and cinemas.
“We are pressing the pause button … we have a single objective, which is to limit contacts that are not strictly necessary,” Belgian prime minister Alexander de Croo told a news conference.
“There’s no law that can stop the virus, the only ones who can stop it are us … all together.” Epidemiologist Marius Gilbert wrote on Twitter that hospitals were on the brink of collapse.

Madrid government rejects calls for curfew

Sam Jones
The regional government of Madrid, which has rejected calls to impose a curfew, has instead announced that all bars, restaurants, cinemas and theatre must close at midnight from Saturday, and said that only people who live together will be able to mix socially between midnight and 6am.
The measure means that bars and restaurants will be allowed to close an hour later than they currently do under the state of emergency declared a fortnight ago by the central government.
The Socialist-led coalition of prime minister Pedro Sánchez stepped in to impose a partial lockdown on Madrid after the conservative regional government flip-flopped and launched a legal challenge to the limited confinement. This week, Spain became the first western European country to record 1m Covid-19 cases, about a third of them in the Madrid region.
Under the new measures announced by the regional government, all non-essential shops will need to shut between midnight and 6am and bars and restaurants will operate at 50% table capacity in inside and outside areas.
People in 12 areas of the region – including the capital itself – will remain subject to limits on their movements, with people allowed to enter or exit the affected areas only on work, school or medical grounds or for other pressing reasons.

Iran’s health ministry on Friday reported a record 6,134 new coronavirus cases for the previous 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 556,891 in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country.
Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 335 people had died from the disease in the past 24 hours, bringing total fatalities to 31,985.

Pope Francis may have been exposed to Covid-19, media report says

Pope Francis has been warned of potential exposure to Covid-19 after a Vatican diplomat was infected, Australian media reported on Friday.
Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, the Holy See’s ambassador to Australia, had a face-to-face meeting with Francis at the Vatican on 6 October, less than two weeks before testing positive to Covid-19 in Australia, Nine News reported.
Australian authorities say a diplomat who flew into Sydney on 9 October had tested positive to the coronavirus. They won’t reveal the diplomat’s identity.
The diplomat tested positive 10 days after he started quarantining at home in the national capital Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory Health Department said in a statement.
The department said the risk of infection was “low” for the two people who drove the diplomat 300 kilometers (185 miles) from Sydney to Canberra.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 14:59

Czech health minister refuses calls from PM to resign

Rob Cameron - BBC Prague Correspondent
Czech Health Minister Roman Prymula has refused calls from the country's prime minister to resign, after being pictured by a tabloid newspaper coming out of a restaurant late at night - despite all such establishments being closed.
The affair has thrown the country deep into political crisis, and public confidence in government restrictions has been left in tatters.
There was already considerable public grumbling at the latest restrictions, which include closing all pubs and restaurants.
So when the man who thought up those rules was caught by a tabloid photographer emerging from a restaurant and without a mask, it appeared his days – perhaps hours – were numbered.
However, he now says he was at a meeting in a private room in the building that also houses the restaurant, and that he put on his mask as soon as he got to his car.
The country now finds itself in an unedifying and toxic political struggle – right in the middle of the worst health crisis it has ever seen.

Your questions answered: England's tier system

Can I go into someone's house for a service such as hairdressing in tier two?
Is it alright to meet with people around the UK for work?
Someone in my support bubble is in tier two, but I'm in tier one. Should I follow the tier one rules or the tier two rules?
As more and more people across England face tougher restrictions, we've answered some of your questions about the new three-tier system of restrictions .
Check out our answers here.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 15:40

Kenya sees record spike in Covid-19 cases

Rhoda Odhiambo - BBC Africa Health, Nairobi
Kenya has reported a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases, with more than 1,000 people confirmed to have contracted coronavirus on Thursday.
This is the highest number of single-day cases to be recorded in the country since the first case was reported on 13 March.
Critics say the rise in cases is a result of people not adhering to safety measures in open spaces after President Uhuru Kenyatta relaxed restrictions three weeks ago.
The health ministry is holding talks with the management of about 20 hotels that will be converted into isolation facilities to ease off pressure in hospitals.
Some hospitals are said to have started recording a surge in admissions.
Daniel Yumbya, the chief executive of the Medical Pharmacists and Dentists Council, said the country has a total of 18,443 isolation beds - which is not enough.
"We’re now back to negotiating with private hotels to charge the bare minimum for patients in isolation. We do not want hospitals to be overwhelmed," Yumbya told journalists on Thursday.
Kenya has so far confirmed over 47,200 coronavirus cases with 870 deaths.

Virgin Holidays 'must pay refunds or face court'

Kevin Peachey - Personal finance reporter
Virgin Holidays has been ordered to meet refund deadlines following Covid-related cancellations or face court action by the regulator.
The company has agreed to pay refunds by 30 October for any holidays cancelled before September.
Those cancelled last month or this month will be refunded by 20 November.
By law, package holidays cancelled by an operator should be refunded within 14 days, but some people have waited three months to get their money back.
A spokesman for Virgin Holidays said it was "98% through the refund queue", adding: "Our focus now is on rebuilding trust with our customers, recognising that it has regrettably taken much longer than normal to process their refunds. We thank them sincerely for their patience throughout."
Meanwhile, holidaymakers have spoken to the BBC in recent months over the stress of getting refunds from Virgin Holidays.
Newlyweds David and Natalie Rogers, from Dudley, saved for two years for their dream honeymoon safari trip to Kenya but coronavirus ruined their plans.
"We were quite angry about having to wait on hold [to Virgin Holidays] for over eight hours, and a message on the line saying that travellers should have already received a voucher for their missed holidays. It just felt like we'd been forgotten about," they said.
Lynn and Martin Fox had remortgaged their home to pay for a holiday of a lifetime with their two children in Florida.
"If only they [Virgin Holidays] would have been honest with us and communicated with us, we would have been happy. If they put a date on the refund, we could have planned. But the phone cut off calls and emails were ignored," Mrs Fox said.
Read the full story here.

Welsh Conservatives call for clarity over which items are 'essential'

The Welsh Conservatives have called for urgent clarity over which items are classed as essential ahead of the "firebreak" lockdown in Wales.
The new restrictions come into force from 18:00 BST. People are being told to stay at home, with pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops shutting for 17 days.
Food shops, off-licences and pharmacies can stay open but supermarkets will be unable to sell items like clothes during Wales' temporary lockdown.
Darren Millar, shadow minister for Covid recovery, said with only hours to go until the lockdown begins, "confusion is rife".
"Supermarkets, convenience stores and other shops have no idea which goods the Welsh Labour-led government regards as non-essential so that they can restrict them from sale," he said.
Millar added: "Making last-minute diktats is irresponsible. Ministers must issue guidance immediately so that businesses and the public know where they stand."
Read our story here

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 15:45

England v Barbarians called off after players breach Covid rules

BBC Sport
Coronavirus - 23rd October 1feefb10

England's match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday has been called off after 12 Barbarians players were stood down for breaking Covid rules.
The players left their hotel bubble - contrary to team protocols - to have dinner at a London restaurant.
During its investigation, the Rugby Football Union said it discovered another breach where players left the hotel without permission.
It says those actions meant the "bubble environment" had been compromised.
Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 18:47

Crowds head for one last party in Cardiff

Crowds of revellers made it one final party night before the firebreak lockdown spells last orders for Wales.
Cardiff's city centre streets swelled on Thursday night ahead of the 17-day national shutdown that will see pubs and clubs closed.

Further 20,530 new cases across UK

A further 20,530 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK, the Department of Health has said.
The number is a slight drop on the 21,242 new cases on Thursday.
There were 224 more deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, taking the total UK deaths to 44,571.

Why Luton is self-imposing stricter tier 2 rules

Laurence Cawley - BBC News
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed Luton as the "way forward for the entire country" just a few weeks ago, after Covid cases there fell and local restrictions were lifted.
But the rate of infection has surged in the past week.
The council is now urging residents to voluntarily put themselves under tighter restrictions to avoid being put into a higher tier.
How are they reacting?
Read more here.

NI circuit break extension 'not off the table'

Northern Ireland's deputy first minister has said a potential extension of the nation's four-week circuit-break restrictions cannot be taken off the table.
At her first press conference since emerging from a 14-day self isolation after a family member tested positive, Michelle O'Neill said she hoped the measures could be lifted on 13 November.
But she stressed an extension may be needed if the virus has not been sufficiently suppressed.
"I think if everybody works really hard at the measures we've brought into place now in this intervention, then we possibly can avoid that. I want us to be able to avoid that. But I'm honest enough to be able to say that all these things have to remain on the table."
She also said the best way to avoid further lockdowns was to invest in a "first-class" test and trace system.

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 18:56

WHO call for 'immediate action' on Covid ahead of 'tough' few months

Imogen Foulkes - BBC News, Geneva
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the next few months will be "tough", with the northern hemisphere in particular at a critical juncture.
The head of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said too many countries in Europe were seeing an exponential rise in cases, and he called on their governments to take "immediate action" to try to ensure that schools could remain open and hospitals did not become overstretched.
WHO officials also said it was possible some results from its vaccine trials might be available by the end of the year, but stressed that these would be very preliminary results - "the bare minimum required for emergency use authorisation".

Welsh supermarkets cover non-essential items ahead of firebreak (me: Huh? scratchhead )

Supermarkets in Wales have been covering up non-essential items ahead of the nation's 17-day firebreak lockdown, which is due to start shortly.
From 18:00 BST shops will be forced to close - unless they sell essential items such as food. First Minister Mark Drakeford has said supermarkets should also stop selling items such as clothes as a matter of "fairness" until 9 November.
As shops prepare for the rules to come in, plastic covering has been placed over items such as pillows and cat baskets in Asda in Coryton, Cardiff.
The company said it had been given "little time to implement these changes or clarity on what is deemed 'essential'" - and a spokesperson "expressed our deep concerns about the implications for customers accessing products they genuinely need".
Tesco said it would work "incredibly hard" to comply with the Welsh government's rules, while Sainsbury's said it was "working around the clock to put changes in place".
If you are wondering what you can do during the Wales lockdown check out our guide here .

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Post by Kitkat Fri Oct 23 2020, 18:58

What's been happening today?

Here are some of the headlines from around the UK and the world today - as millions of people face further restrictions:

Goodbye - and thanks for joining us

That's it for our live coverage today.

It was edited by Holly Wallis and Alex Kleiderman, and written by Hazel Shearing, Doug Faulkner and Alex Therrien.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 14:11