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Coronavirus - 29th October


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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 10:08

Summary for Thursday, 29th October

  • A study by Imperial College London suggests nearly 100,000 people are catching Covid-19 every day in England
  • The authors say current measures to curb infections are not sufficient and "something has to change"
  • In Wales, the exams regulator is recommending GCSEs be scrapped in favour of assessments next summer
  • People in Scotland will find out later which level of the new five-tier system of rules their council area will be in from Monday
  • The UK reported a further 24,701 cases on Wednesday, and a further 310 deaths, bringing the total death toll to 45,675
  • France and Germany are both reinstating some form of national lockdown, as Europe confronts a surge in cases and deaths
  • Globally there have been more than 44.4 million coronavirus cases and more than 1.1 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University

Welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and around the world.
Here is a quick round-up of some of the main headlines in the UK this Thursday morning:

  • Nearly 100,000 people are catching coronavirus every day in England, a major analysis suggests . The study, by Imperial College London, says the pace of the epidemic is accelerating, with the authors adding we are at a "critical stage" of a second wave and "something has to change"
  • The Welsh exams regulator is recommending GCSE exams be scrapped in favour of assessments next summer - it says it's the best way of ensuring fairness to pupils, while offering certainty over what will happen in uncertain times. The Scottish government has already made a similar move while in England, the government is insisting all national exams will go ahead
  • A little later, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will set out which council areas across the nation will be in which level of the new five-tier system of coronavirus rules, when it kicks in on Monday
  • The UK government announced 24,701 confirmed cases on Wednesday, and a further 310 deaths. You can track the cases in your area here

We’ll keep you updated with the latest developments throughout the day.

What are France and Germany doing?

The dreaded return of national lockdown measures have been announced in France and Germany . German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron said they were necessary to avoid being overwhelmed by a second wave of coronavirus infections.
But what restrictions have they imposed, and are they as strict as those seen during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring?
Macron said that from Friday no one will be allowed to leave home, except for essential work or medical reasons. Those leaving their home will need to fill out a form, as had been required in the initial lockdown in March. Social gatherings are banned.
But Macron made clear that public services and factories would remain open, adding that the economy "must not stop or collapse". The curbs will apply until 1 December and will be reassessed every two weeks.
In Germany, the measures coming into force on Monday are less severe than in France, but they include the closure of non-essential businesses, such as gyms and theatres.
Bars and restaurants will close except for takeaway, but schools and kindergartens will remain open. Social contacts will be limited to two households with a maximum of 10 people and tourism will be halted.
The partial lockdown will now begin on 2 November and last until 30 November.
"We have to act and we have to act now," Merkel said.

What's happening around the world?

Here are some of the stories making headlines around the world.

  • France and Germany have reimposed partial national lockdowns to combat a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths. President Emmanuel Macron said the country risked being "overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first"
  • A similar uptick in coronavirus outbreaks has been seen across Europe, prompting countries to impose tighter restrictions
  • As those restrictions were announced in Europe and elsewhere, financial markets went into a tailspin , amid concerns over derailing fragile economic recoveries
  • In the US, the pandemic has been a prominent talking point ahead of the presidential election on 3 November. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump urged states to shun lockdowns as his Democratic rival Joe Biden said the pandemic could not be stopped by "flipping a switch"
  • In an interview with the BBC, White House coronavirus task force expert Dr Anthony Fauci said Trump's political rallies were bound to spread Covid-19
  • India reported 49,871 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, raising its total tally to more than eight million. Globally, India is behind only the US in the number of infections
  • Even remote places are seeing coronavirus cases now. The Marshall Islands , one of the last few places in the world untouched by Covid-19, has recorded its first two positive cases of the virus
  • But in Taiwan, a success story of the pandemic, there hasn’t been a single locally transmitted case in 200 days. Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone

Nearly 100,000 catching virus every day - study

James Gallagher - Health and science correspondent, BBC News
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Our main story this morning is that a major analysis suggests nearly 100,000 people are catching coronavirus every day in England.
The study, by Imperial College London, says the pace of the epidemic is accelerating and estimates the number of people infected is now doubling every nine days.
The authors say we are at a "critical stage" and "something has to change".
Experts are warning that we are fast approaching the peak in infections seen in the spring.
The React-1 study is highly influential because it is the most up-to-date assessment of Covid-19 in the country, with the last swabs taken only on Sunday and nearly 86,000 volunteers taking part.
Read more about the study here.

'Not clear if England rules are working' - Jenrick

A minister has defended England's system of coronavirus restrictions, after an Imperial College London study - mentioned below - said current measures were not sufficient to control the virus.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Breakfast imposing different rules in different areas "remains the right approach" because it takes "decisive action in those parts of the country where it is really needed".
He said the government wants to “try to avoid having a national blanket approach” to restrictions because full national lockdowns can have "scarring effects" and should therefore be a "last resort".
The Imperial College London study suggests "something has to change" in England's approach to the second wave - whether that be harsher restrictions, or people following current rules more strictly.
Jenrick said he was yet to read the study but, when asked if there was a problem with people’s behaviour, he added: “It’s not clear whether these restrictions are working or not… We will have to wait and see the true effectiveness of the moves to tier two and the moves to tier three.”
He urged people to redouble efforts to stick to public health guidance like washing their hands and social distancing.
“That will make a difference across all of the country,” he said.

First cases reported in remote Marshall Islands

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The Marshall Islands had long managed to keep the virus from its shores

Until yesterday, the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean was one of the few places in the world spared from the pandemic.
However, two workers at a US base have now tested positive after arriving from Hawaii .
The local government stressed the two were "strictly border cases" discovered while the 35-year-old woman and 46-year-old man were in quarantine, with no threat of community transmission.
It called on people to "remain vigilant" and continue with basic precautions, but said there was no need for any lockdown measures.
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With a population of 55,000 people, the Marshall Islands closed its borders in March to keep the virus out.
Most island nations in the Pacific closed their borders in the early days of the pandemic, amid concerns their weak healthcare systems would not be able to cope with an outbreak.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 10:13

What do Thursday's newspapers say?

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Turning to Thursday's front pages, the i says a "change of strategy" is looming. It adds the prime minister is under pressure to introduce a "firebreak" lockdown across England after figures suggest almost 100,000 people a day are becoming infected.
There are fears families may be unable to celebrate Christmas together without action because cases are now doubling every nine days, the paper adds.
"Don't do it Boris!" is the headline for the Daily Mail, which says business leaders, campaigners and MPs are warning another lockdown would "wreak economic carnage".
The Guardian says the government is trying to find alternatives to a national lockdown, as new research suggests the south of England is following the same pattern of rising cases as the north. The paper says it has seen a letter from NHS Test and Trace suggesting up to 10% of England's population could be tested for coronavirus every week after government officials asked local health chiefs to deploy 30-minute saliva kits.
You can read our full paper review here.

Tighter national rules would have 'genuine benefits', scientists say

Two of the authors of Imperial College London's React-1 study, which shows nearly 100,000 people are catching coronavirus every day in England , have been setting out the implications of their work this morning.
Prof Steven Riley says the study "does suggest that we need to think about changing the approach" to tackling the virus.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there would be "genuine benefits to some kind of national policy" that could prevent the pattern in the south turning into the current pattern in the north - and bring about a reversal in the north as quickly as possible.
If the government were to impose such national measures, "sooner is better than later", he said.
Asked about the study's suggestion that the R number - the average number of people an infected person passes the virus on to - was now 2.86 in London, Riley cautioned against relying on specific numbers.
He said that, instead, the latest findings show a general trend of increasing acceleration of transmission in southern England, broadly in line with previous trends in the north of the country.
Co-author Prof Paul Elliott told BBC Breakfast more needs to be done to reduce "very high" levels of Covid-19 in the north of England.
Asked if this meant tighter restrictions than tier three - the top tier - he said councils have the power to introduce additional rules on top of the base level dictated by tier three.
Whether it's tighter restrictions or just a change in behaviour of the population, "we have to aim to get down that R value and we have to aim to get down the numbers", he said.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 10:20

Case numbers prompt talks over more measures for Leeds and West Yorks

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said talks will take place later today over moving Leeds and West Yorkshire to the highest tier of Covid restrictions.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there was a "concerning rise" in the number of cases and pressure on the local NHS in the two areas.
It follows the announcement that most non-essential operations in Leeds are being postponed after the number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients rose to a higher level than at the first wave's peak.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said it had 263 Covid patients on Tuesday, with 22 in intensive care units (ICU).

Nottinghamshire tier three measures to feature alcohol rule

Nottinghamshire's auction houses, car boot sales, betting shops, saunas and tattoo parlours must close as the county moves into tier three at 00:01 GMT on Friday, the government has announced.
Under the new measures, alcohol will also be banned from being sold after 21:00 in shops , but can be sold until 22:00 if bought "in hospitality venues where accompanying a substantial meal".
Hotels can remain open, as can gyms and leisure centres.
Nottingham, Rushcliffe, Gedling and Broxtowe had been expected to move into the top tier of Covid restrictions on Thursday .

A&E doctor says staff 'much more tired' than in first wave

An A&E doctor has been speaking to our colleagues at BBC Radio 5 Live about how the second wave of coronavirus feels harder for NHS staff than the first.
Dr David Ratcliffe, from Salford Royal's emergency department in Greater Manchester, says the first wave was easier in some ways because cancellations to non-urgent surgeries eased the pressure on the health service, allowing staff to focus on treating Covid-19 patients.
"It feels different and staff are tired this time - much more so than the first time," he says.
Tweet  BBC Radio 5 Live:
"At the moment it feels harder... this wave [of Covid] is very different" Dr David Ratcliffe from Salford Royal's Emergency department tells @NickyAACampbell "the last two weeks have become really hard"
Read more
Listen via @BBCSounds

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 10:24

France requires students to wear masks from age six

Masks must be worn by all students aged six and over in French schools as part of tougher coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister Jean Castex has said.
Until now, masks were mandatory only for students aged 11 and older.
But addressing parliament on Thursday, Castex told lawmakers that new efforts were needed “to protect all our children, teachers and parents”.
He made the announcement while presenting details about new national lockdown measures due to come into force on Friday.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the national restrictions would remain in place until at least the end of November. He said the measures were necessary, because the country risked being "overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first".

Wales urged to replace GCSE exams with assessments

The Welsh exams regulator is recommending next summer's GCSE exams be scrapped in favour of assessments.
Qualifications Wales said it was the best way of ensuring fairness to pupils, while offering certainty over what will happen in uncertain times.
The Scottish government has made similar move, only keeping exams for Highers - its A-level equivalent.
In England, the government is insisting all national exams will go ahead.
But its exams regulator, Ofqual, is consulting on how GCSE and A-level exams can be modified so that they are held fairly next summer.

'Move away' from local approach, says government adviser

A scientific adviser to the government says it's "not too late" for England to combat the recent rise in coronavirus cases and deaths.
Dr Mike Tildesley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that without “urgent action”, every part of England would likely be under tier two or tier three restrictions - with strict curbs on socialising - in the lead-up to Christmas.
The scientist, who is a member of the government's pandemic modelling group , said the R number is greater than 1 across the country and that some form of national lockdown or a “circuit-breaker” would have more effect in the parts of England that are currently in tier one.
The reproduction number, or R rate , is a way of calculating the ability of the coronavirus to spread. It's the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average.
He urged the government to “move away” from regional “firefighting” tactics to slow infection, “to something more national".
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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 10:28

The stories making headlines in Northern Ireland

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Schools were closed on 19 October as part of tighter Covid-19 restrictions

Stormont ministers are to meet later to discuss the effect of the latest Covid-19 restrictions on transmission rates in Northern Ireland.
They will also consider what measures are to be put in place to allow pupils to return to classrooms safely. Schools are expected to reopen next week after closing on 19 October as part of a short period of tighter restrictions imposed by the NI Executive.
Finance Minister Conor Murphy is also due to set out the latest allocations of funding, which will include a multi-million support package for hospice care across Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, it's understood the SDLP will call for Northern Ireland's auditor to investigate how Covid-19 grant support schemes have been run by the executive.
NI's Department of Health reported on Wednesday that the first person under the age of 20 had died with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.
Aaron Doherty, from the Creggan area of Londonderry, was among nine people who had died with the virus in Northern Ireland in the previous 24 hours , bringing the nation's total coronavirus death toll to 680.

Covid leaves 500 Scout groups 'at risk of closure'

More than 500 Scout groups could close and others face a "bleak" future with coronavirus hampering fundraising, the Scout Association has said.
Groups in some of the poorest areas of England were hit when social distancing ended jumble sales, quizzes and car washes, the organisation said.
But a new fundraising campaign aims to try to save those most at risk, with a virtual race around the world.
Chief Scout Bear Grylls said scouting was needed now more than ever.
More than 7.000 groups have so far joined the fundraising event, which challenges Scouts to travel 172,000 miles collectively in their local areas.
The campaign hopes to raise £300,000 for the various groups at risk of closure, the association said.
Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 10:40

Latest government data shows rise in new cases and hospital admissions

These charts show the most up to date government figures, giving you an idea of the current picture in the UK.
The latest statistics are as of yesterday afternoon - we'll bring you an update on these later today.
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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 11:02

Comedian Bobby Ball dies after Covid-19 diagnosis

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Bobby Ball, one half of the comedy double act Cannon and Ball, has died at the age of 76 after testing positive for Covid-19, his manager has confirmed.
Ball performed alongside his long-time friend and colleague Tommy Cannon, starting out as comics on the cabaret circuit in the north of England.
He also starred in several sitcoms including Not Going Out, Last of the Summer Wine, Benidorm and Heartbeat.
Leading the tributes, Cannon said: "Rock on, my good friend, I can't believe this, I'm devastated."
His wife Yvonne added: "I will always miss him, he was so joyful, full of fun and mischievous."

Peckham nightclub's licence revoked over Covid breaches

A south London nightclub has been stripped of its licence after it ignored coronvarius regulations.
Afrikiko Restaurant and Club in Old Kent Road, Peckham, continued acting as a nightclub and failed to abide by social-distancing rules, Metropolitan Police said.
On one occasion, more than 45 people were found in the nightclub's basement.
A number of breaches of the venue's licensing conditions were also found to be taking place.
Nightclubs have been shut since coronavirus forced the UK into lockdown in March.
Despite numerous attempts by officers to engage with staff at the premises and encourage them to abide by the new regulations, there were further deliberate breaches, the Met said.

Further 48 food factory workers test positive in Wales

A further 48 workers at a Welsh food factory have tested positive for coronavirus.
A testing unit was set up at Peter's Food Service in Bedwas, Caerphilly county, last week after 19 employees were found to have the virus.
More than 600 people were tested and the pie and pasty maker said it was "working proactively" with the local authority and NHS tracers.
Read more about the outbreak here.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 11:32

Scotland poised for announcement on local virus rules

At about 12:20 GMT, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to announce which tier of coronavirus rules each of Scotland's 32 local council areas will be placed into.
The country's new five-tier system - which includes a bottom "level zero" that will allow life to return almost to normal - will come into effect on Monday.
Provisional tiers published earlier this week suggested North and South Lanarkshire could both be placed in the highest "level four" category - which would mean the two areas would be placed under restrictions close to a full lockdown.
Much of the rest of the country will be placed in either level two or three but rural areas including the Highlands and the Western Isles and Moray, which have far fewer cases of the virus, are likely to be moved down to level one.
We'll be bringing you the key headlines from the first minister's press conference and our colleagues in Scotland will also be reporting on the announcement in a dedicated live page.
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Breaking News

Wales Covid patient numbers up by almost 25% in a week

The number of patients in hospital with coronavirus in Wales has increased by nearly a quarter on last week.
Latest figures from NHS Wales show 1,110 Covid-19 patients are currently in hospital - which is more than 80% of the level at the pandemic's peak in April.
The Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board has seen nearly 100 more patients in its hospitals, compared to last week.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 11:36

Pret a Manger distances itself from founder's lockdown comments

Food chain Pret a Manger has given a testy response to its founder's comments on the possibility of another national lockdown in the UK.
Julian Metcalfe, who founded Pret as well as Itsu, told the Daily Mail a tightening of nationwide restrictions would be "impossible", adding: "Society will not recover if we do it again to save a few thousand lives of very old or vulnerable people."
He said young people in Britain would face the impact of the virus for "the next 20 to 30 years" and that just because France is soon to begin a second national lockdown , "doesn't mean we have to".

Pret distanced itself from Metcalfe's words, saying on Twitter : "He has not run the business for over 10 years and we do not agree with his opinion. We at Pret strongly believe we must take steps to stop the spread of the virus and tackle the new wave of infections."

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 11:48

Telford and Wrekin 'certain' to move to tier 2 restrictions, says local leader

Telford is "certain" to be moved into tier two, "high" alert level, from Saturday, the leader of the local authority has said .
Labour leader of Telford and Wrekin Council Shaun Davies tweeted to say more information from the government would be released soon.
Data for the seven days to 25 October show the rate of new infections stands at 220.2 per 100,000 people, up from 154 over the previous seven days.
Other parts of Shropshire remain in tier one.
The tier two restrictions mean households in Telford and Wrekin will no longer be able to mix indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
For more on how England's tier system works you can watch this handy video here .

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 13:22

Lunchtime coronavirus headlines round-up

If you are just joining us, here are some of the latest developments today:

Breaking News 

Further 1,128 cases in Scotland

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon begins her statement by saying that a further 1,128 people in Scotland have tested postive for coronavirus.
There have been a further 37 deaths recorded within the past 24 hours, she adds.
Health board breakdown:
The first minister says the provisional data indicates the breakdown of new cases is as follows:

  • NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde: 416
  • NHS Lanarkshire: 266
  • NHS Lothian: 117
  • NHS Ayrshire and Arran: 121

The remaining are spread across nine other health boards.

Breaking News 

Level 1 areas unveiled

Highland, Moray, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have all been assessed as Level 1, Ms Sturgeon says.
In Level 1 people can meet in groups of up to six from two households both indoors and outdoors.

Breaking News

No Scottish regions to go into top tier

No areas of Scotland are to be placed in the highest level of the country's new five-tier coronavirus restrictions system, which begins with Level 0.
The Scottish government had been considering putting both North and South Lanarkshire in Level 4 but has not done so.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Level 4 would be used "when transmission is extremely high and risks the capacity of the NHS to cope".
She said the situation in North and South Lanarkshire had been very finely balanced and was a "borderline decision" as she called on people to continue to do their part to avoid more severe restrictions.

Breaking News 

Level 2 and Level 3 areas confirmed

The first minister says the following areas will be in Level 2:

  • Aberdeenshire
  • Aberdeen
  • Fife
  • The Borders
  • Dumfries and Galloway
  • Argyll & Bute
  • Perth & Kinross
  • Angus

While those in Level 3 are as follows:

  • Inverclyde
  • East and West Dunbartonshire
  • Dundee
  • Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire
  • The City of Glasgow
  • South Ayrshire
  • East Ayrshire
  • North Ayrshire
  • Stirling
  • Falkirk
  • Clackmannanshire
  • The City of Edinburgh
  • Midlothian
  • West Lothian
  • North and South Lanarkshire
  • East Lothian

North and South Lanarkshire are in Level 3 despite having the highest rate of Covid in Scotland.
This was a "borderline" decision and will be kept under review on a daily basis, the first minister says.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 13:26

Huge swathe of Scotland sees Level 3 restrictions

As First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirms which areas will be placed in which levels of the new system, a huge swathe of the country is already subject to Level 3-type restrictions.
Most of the central belt, which covers about 3.3 million people, has already seen pubs and restaurants closed and there's a ban on household visits.
Level 3 restrictions also mean:

  • Cafes, pubs and restaurants are allowed to open until 18:00 GMT to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Alcohol sales are not be permitted indoors or outdoors
  • All leisure and entertainment venues are closed, including cinemas
  • No non-essential travel is allowed out of a Level 3 area
  • Indoor exercise is restricted to individuals

Sturgeon says Levels 2 and 3 are designed to "apply the breaks" where Covid cases are on the increase.
"Our aim is that these restrictions, especially Level 3, are in place for as short a time as possible," she says, with the intention to bring areas down to Level 2 rather than allowing infections rates to "drift to Level 4".

What's the purpose of each of the new levels?

Sturgeon is telling the Scottish Parliament what the purpose of each level of coronavirus restrictions is.
The baseline Level 0 and Level 1 are intended to ensure as much normality as possible - but they do not remove all restrictions.
When we begin to see community transmission in an area, and when the spread of the virus cannot be linked to a specific outbreak, we need to apply the brakes, and that is essentially what Levels 2 and 3 are designed to do, she says.
The aim is that these restrictions – especially in Level 3 - are in place for as short a time as possible.
If any area is at Level 3, the aim must be to bring it down to Level 2 and then Level 1, rather than allow it to go to Level 4.
The government will only put areas into Level 4 when transmission is extremely high and risks overwhelming NHS capacity.

Scotland's three indicators for deciding Covid levels

The Scottish government uses three indicators to determine which of the five levels of Covid restrictions each local authority area should be in.
1. Number of cases
The first is the number of cases per 100,000 people, including for particular age groups. This uses the latest actual data and a two-week forecast.
2. Positivity rates
This looks at the seven-day average of the number of positive tests in relation to all tests carried out over the past week.
Glasgow City, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian are all above the 10% threshold for Level 4. The World Health Organisation has set 5% as a level to cause concern.
3. Hospital capacity
Nationally, there are an estimated 2,000 hospital beds available. But it varies across each area, as does the projected number of beds needed.
Read more here.

Sturgeon 'cannot rule out' new national lockdown

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she "cannot rule out" a return to national restrictions if people did not adhere to the new local measures.
Ms Sturgeon Scots to "dig in and stick with it", adding that success in suppressing the virus will lead to the easing of restrictions across the country.
She added: "We are, as of now, making progress in Scotland. But cases are still rising and the situation we face is fragile. And across Europe the pandemic is accelerating.
"So I cannot rule out a move back to nationwide restrictions in the next few weeks, including at Level 4."

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 13:29

Birmingham move to tier 3 'inevitable', city council chief says

Away from Scotland, the leader of Birmingham City Council has said a move to tier three restrictions is "inevitable".
Ian Ward said: "Given the rising case rate and other factors, a move to tier three would seem to be inevitable at some stage."
He said he was talking to other council leaders, MPs and public health officials on a daily basis to try to agree a unified position on a support package with the government.
He said the council wanted to work with the government to protect lives, jobs and the economy but did not want "imposition without negotiation".
Mr Ward added: "But I have certainly not said that we are going into tier three imminently. That's not currently the case."

NHS Covid-19 app to send more self-isolation alerts

Leo Kelion - Technology desk editor
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An update to England and Wales' contact-tracing app means it is set to send out more self-isolation alerts .
Gaby Appleton - who recently took over NHS Covid-19 - said this was being done to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus and coincides with a change to the app's algorithm to make its contact-matches more reliable.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously voiced concern about people being told to stay at home because of false alerts and, as a result, the app had previously required a higher risk score to be calculated before triggering a self-isolate command.
The new director of product for Test and Trace said her team was so confident in the improvements made to distance estimates that it had moved the level at which notifications were triggered even lower than first planned.
"We believe lowering the threshold is necessary to reduce the R rate and break the chain of transmission," she said.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 13:46

Nottinghamshire tier 3 move a 'complete circus', says local leader

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The whole of Nottinghamshire - known as "Robin Hood Country" will move into tier three on Friday

The leader of Bassetlaw District Council in Nottinghamshire has called the county's move into the top tier of coronavirus rules a "complete circus".
Bassetlaw will face tier three restrictions from 00:01 GMT on Friday, along with the rest of Nottinghamshire.
Nottingham, Rushcliffe, Gedling and Broxtowe had been expected to make the move to tier three on Thursday, but it was delayed by 24 hours to allow the entire county to move up at the same time.
Simon Greaves told BBC Radio Nottingham: "Back in September, the government were told things need to happen in order to make some dramatic changes - they didn't take the advice.
"We're now at this policy of local arrangements and I think that action should have been taken a lot quicker in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.
"Our hospitals and NHS have been hit by a tsunami, that's the reality."

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 17:35

Breaking News

Oxford to join Tier 2 from Saturday

Oxford City Council has announced the region will join the second tier of coronavirus restrictions from Saturday morning.
A notice on the council's website said: "Over the past three weeks, we have not only seen a continued rise in cases in the city, but increasing evidence of the spread of the virus beyond people in their teens and twenties to older, and potentially more vulnerable, age groups.
"It is evident that the virus is no longer confined to younger people but is now affecting a much wider age range. Hospital admissions have begun to increase as a result."
For a reminder of what tier two - otherwise called the "high alert" level - means, you can read our explainer.
Tweet  Oxford City Council:
Oxford will be moving to Tier 2 (high alert) for coronavirus. This means you must not meet socially indoors with anyone you don’t live with – unless they’re in your support bubble. The change will take effect from Saturday morning.
Coronavirus - 29th October Elbvyj10

Doctors call for a review of Covid patient discharge

Senior doctors have called for a review of how hospital patients in Wales are discharged during the pandemic.
The Royal College of Physicians said guidelines were causing delays and adding to pressures faced by the NHS.
It said patients who had recovered were staying longer than needed, taking up beds.
The Welsh government said its guidelines allowed both Covid and non-Covid patients to be discharged as promptly and safely as possible.
The guidance - updated in July - says patients must be in a position to self-isolate for 14 days after they have left and if this is not possible they should be transferred to a "suitable step down facility".
But Olwen Williams, vice president of the Royal College of Physicians in Wales, said this was leading to "bottlenecks" in hospitals.
Read more.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 17:40

England-wide lockdown a possibility, says home secretary

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the government can rule nothing out when it comes to coronavirus restrictions - including a national lockdown.
Asked if she would rule out another national lockdown, she said: "I think at this stage of course we can rule nothing out because we are a government that is focused on making sure that we stop the spread of this virus, and also we protect public health.
"So we have been using, and we are using, and we will continue to use, every single means available to us to do exactly that."

Two women fined £10,000 each over house party

Two 19-year-old women each face a fine of £10,000 after breaching Covid-19 regulations by organising a party at a house with a DJ and dance area.
Kent Police officers were on patrol in Canterbury when they heard noise coming from the home during the early hours of 22 October.
The force reported that, inside, they found a large gathering, with well in excess of 30 people.
If you need a reminder of what powers the police have and what the rules are, you can read our explainer here .

Some Blackburn families 'ignoring guidelines', says public health director

Families "making their own judgements" on coronavirus guidelines are keeping rates high in Blackburn with Darwen, the local public health director has said.
The Lancashire borough has recorded the highest infection rate in England despite being subject to additional Covid-19 measures for months.
Prof Dominic Harrison said some households were "not complying completely" with self-isolation and social mixing guidance and called for a short national lockdown.
He said a circuit-breaker would provide "a much better chance" to stop rising cases, but the prime minister has said he hopes the tier system will avoid a national lockdown.
Lancashire moved into tier three - the top level of England's coronavirus restrictions - on 17 October, but Blackburn with Darwen has had additional measures in place since July.
"What's becoming increasingly obvious is that tier three is the right medicine at the wrong dose," Prof Harrison said.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 17:49

Mass testing to be rolled out in Redcar pilot

A mass coronavirus testing programme will be rolled out across Redcar in North Yorkshire, with all residents being offered a test whether they have symptoms or not .
Sites will be set up with the help of the Army after the town was chosen for the pilot alongside two others areas.
The town's Conservative MP, Jacob Young, backed the move and said testing would begin on 23 November.
He said the tests offered would use saliva samples rather than swabs, with results available within half an hour.
Mr Young told BBC Radio Tees that Redcar had been "picked out of a hat" of similar-sized towns and the government would work alongside the council and the Army to "massively increase testing capacity".
"Ultimately, we're going to get a better understanding of who has Covid and who doesn't," he said.

'No stand-off' on West Yorkshire tier 3 talks, local leader insists

A West Yorkshire council leader has denied the region is in deadlock with the UK government about entering the highest level of Covid-19 restrictions.
Long-running talks continue between central and local leaders amid rising hospital admissions.
Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchliffe previously said ministers seemed "unflinching in their resolve" in moving the area to tier three - but she has told the BBC she "wouldn't call it a stand-off".
The talks have been taking place as hospitals in West Yorkshire announced the cancellation of some routine operations and numbers of Covid-19 patients on wards reached levels higher than in the first peak.
Government minister Robert Jenrick said earlier that talks were scheduled for today with local leaders in the city of Leeds and the rest of West Yorkshire, due to a "concerning rise in the number of cases and pressure on the local NHS".
Read more here.

Breaking News 

Telford and Wrekin to enter Tier 2 from Saturday

We reported earlier that Telford and Wrekin looked set for tier two restrictions - and the local authority has now confirmed that it will enter the "high alert" level this weekend.
It means that, from 00:01 GMT on Saturday, people must not socialise with those outside of their household or support bubble indoors, and must respect the rule of six outdoors.
More detail about the decision can be found on the council's website.
Tweet  Telford and Wrekin Council:

The Government has now announced that from 00:01am on Saturday 31 October that Telford & Wrekin will be moving from Covid Alert level Medium Tier 1 COVID ALERT LEVEL HIGH TIER 2!

Coronavirus - 29th October Elgbqz10

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 17:53

Breaking News

Department of Health announces new Tier 2 areas

Telford and Wrekin Council has already announced it is moving to the second tier of England's Covid restrictions from Saturday - but it isn't the only area to make such a move.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the following areas are moving to Tier 2 from 00:01 GMT on Saturday:
Yorkshire and the Humber: East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston-Upon-Hull, North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire
West Midlands: Dudley, Staffordshire, Telford and Wrekin
East Midlands: Amber Valley, Bolsover, Derbyshire Dales, Derby City, South Derbyshire, the whole of High Peak, Charnwood
East of England: Luton
South East: Oxford City
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We have agreed with local leaders to move more areas into the high local Covid alert level this week.
"These restrictions are challenging for us all, but it is only by working together and following the rules that we will bring down the rates of infection.
"A failure to act now will only lead to longer disruption and greater economic damage."

Merkel warns of 'long, hard winter' as national restrictions return

Coronavirus - 29th October C2f02310

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned of a "long, hard winter ahead" as she defended the reinstatement of a national lockdown .
Addressing the country's parliament on Thursday, Merkel said that "winter will be hard - four long, difficult months - but it will come to an end".
"This pandemic brings the question of freedom to the fore. Freedom is not 'every man for himself', it is responsibility - for oneself, one's family, the workplace. It shows us we are part of a whole," she said.
During her speech, Merkel was heckled by members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party who oppose the restrictions. Leader Alexander Gauland accused the government of "corona dictatorship".
In response, Merkel warned that disinformation and conspiracy theories undermined the fight against the pandemic.
Germany will begin a partial lockdown on Monday. It will last until 30 November, under terms agreed by Merkel and the 16 state premiers.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 17:58

Breaking News

Northern Ireland's schools to reopen on Monday

Jayne McCormack - BBC News NI political reporter
The Stormont Executive has agreed that schools in Northern Ireland will reopen on Monday , BBC News understands.
Ministers met on Thursday and decided extra measures will be put in place to allow pupils to return to classrooms safely.
That will include the mandatory wearing of face coverings for post-primary pupils on school transport.
Schools closed on 19 October as part of tighter Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the NI Executive.
The two-week closure period was subject to review on Thursday and it is understood the parties have now approved their reopening.
Details will be set out by the first and deputy first ministers at a press conference at Stormont after 16:00 GMT.

Breaking News 

UK records a further 280 Covid deaths

Another 280 people have died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, according to the latest government figures .
It brings the official total number of coronavirus deaths to 45,955.
There have also been a further 23,065 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus recorded in the UK as of 09:00 GMT on Thursday, taking the total number of UK cases to 965,340.
On Wednesday, 24,701 new cases were reported, along with 310 deaths.

What are the Tier 2 rules?

As more areas across England move from tier one, the lowest level of virus rules, to tier two, the middle level, here's a guide to tier two rules.
If you live in a tier two area, you...

  • Can no longer meet people socially indoors if you do not live with them - whether in private homes, pubs or restaurants
  • Can continue meeting people in their support bubbles as before, and informal childcare may also be provided
  • Can still meet friends and family outdoors, but only in a group of up to six people
  • Should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If you need to travel, you should walk or cycle where possible, or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport

Read our full guide on the various rules across the UK.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 18:03

Christening party organiser fined £10,000 after 50 people attend

The organiser of a christening party attended by up to 50 people has been fined £10,000 for breaching Covid-19 rules.
Some guests had travelled from London to the gathering in the Blakenhall area of Wolverhampton on Saturday, which included a hired marquee, DJ decks and live entertainers, West Midlands Police said.
Wolverhampton is currently in tier two, with a ban on mixing indoors.
Supt Simon Inglis said it was a "reckless breach of Covid rules" at a time when the virus was spreading.
When police arrived at the home, the male organiser told them around 20 people were present but officers said they found more than 40 partygoers at the property.
Told the party was a breach of Covid rules, the organiser told officers: "Oh my god, I spent too much money on this party. Give me one hour."

Meat processing factory records 175 positive Covid tests

At least 175 people have tested positive for coronavirus at a meat processing factory in Norfolk.
All 1,000 workers at Cranswick Country Foods in Watton are being tested after staff in the butchery section were found to have Covid-19.
Breckland Council officials and NHS Test and Trace staff have been deployed to Watton for "reassurance".
Four positive cases in the butchery department were confirmed on 15 October and testing was brought in five days later. Testing between 22 and 23 October found 175 cases.
Norfolk's director of public health Dr Louise Smith said 350 workers had been tested so far.
Read the full story here.

People in hospital with Covid at highest level for almost six months

Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
The number of people in hospital with Covid has risen to more than 10,000.
This is half the level it was at the peak in spring and the highest number for nearly six months.
It comes after a sustained rise in admissions since September.
It means around one in 13 hospital beds are occupied by Covid patients.
That may not sound a lot, but there are two things to remember.
Firstly, hospital capacity has been affected by the need for social distancing and the segregation of wards, meaning not all beds can be used.
Secondly, the admissions have not been evenly distributed.
The north west of England is caring for nearly a quarter of the patients.
That has left hospitals in places like Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool very close to capacity, although there are signs the rise in admissions may be levelling off.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 18:07

Breaking News

Cyprus and Lithuania taken off travel corridor list

Cyprus and Lithuania have been removed from England's travel corridor list, the Department for Transport has announced.
That means, from this Sunday, people arriving from those countries will have to self-isolate for two weeks.
The decision comes after a rise in coronavirus cases in both countries.
Lithuania's seven-day rate of cases per 100,000 people has reached 140, while Cyprus is on 112.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added: "We are not adding any countries to the list of travel corridoors this week."
You can read more about the UK's travel quarantine rules here.

Stockholm residents advised against socialising amid new restrictions

Maddy Savage - BBC News, Stockholm
People living in Stockholm and the Swedish regions of Västra Götaland and Östergötland have been advised against going to gyms, museums, libraries, swimming pools and shopping centres until 19 November.
They have also been told to avoid physical contact with people they do not live with.
This follows similar restrictions introduced in the regions of Uppsala County and Skåne last week, following an uptick of infections in these areas.
All regions with tougher guidelines will keep the current limit of 50 people at public events.
National guidelines are set to change on 1 November, allowing public gatherings of up to 300 people, as long as social distancing measures are in place.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 18:10

Breaking News

Tees Valley in Tier 3 talks with government

Local leaders in the Tees Valley area of the north-east of England say the government has informed them of its intention to put the region into tier three restrictions.
A statement on behalf of the leaders of Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington, Stockton and Hartlepool Councils, the mayor of Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley mayor, said further discussions would take place on Friday with nothing agreed as yet.
Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council leader Mary Lanigan, speaking on behalf of he group, said: “The government informed us late last night of their intention to take the Tees Valley into tier three restrictions.
"We have had an initial meeting with ministers this afternoon where they again stressed this intention due to the current infection rate and the increased number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19."

Nottinghamshire to receive £23.1m in Tier 3 funding

Nottinghamshire is expected to receive £23.1m in funding to support businesses and managing Covid-19 enforcement as it enters tier three restrictions.
The funding will see a £16.5m business support scheme for firms in the county and £6.6m for managing systems like NHS test and trace locally.
The figure excludes Nottingham city, which will receive its own funding.
The news comes as the whole of the county enters the highest coronavirus restrictions in England on Friday.
Under Nottinghamshire's tier three restrictions alcohol cannot be sold after 21:00 GMT in shops, but can be sold until 22:00 if bought "in hospitality venues where accompanying a substantial meal".

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 19:47

Breaking News 

West Yorkshire to enter Tier 3 on Monday

West Yorkshire is to become the latest area to join the top level of restrictions in England when it enters tier three at 00:01 GMT on Monday.
Under tier three - also known as "very high" - restrictions, there can be no mixing of households indoors or ourdoors in private gardens.
Pubs and bars that do not serve substantial food must close and people are advised to avoid travel out of the area.
Overnight stays are banned and you cannot hold a wedding reception.
In addition, casinos, soft play, adult gaming centres, betting shops and car boot sales must shut in West Yorkshire.
Shisha cafes will not be allowed to serve shisha but may operate as cafe.

West Yorkshire's move to Tier 3 a 'very difficult decision'

The leader of Leeds City Council has said it was a "very difficult decision" to move West Yorkshire into tier three and a "significant moment" for Leeds and the region.
Leeds City Council's chief executive Tom Riordan said a financial support package of £46.6m had been negotiated with the government for the region in addition to the tier two funding - with an further £12.7m for testing and tracing
Casinos, car boot sales, adult gaming centres and soft-play areas will have to close under the new restrictions.
Julian Hartley, chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said the number of Covid patients in hospitals had increased to 268 today - higher than in the first wave.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Oct 29 2020, 19:50

Thanks for joining us...

That's all from us today, thanks for joining our live coverage. Here's a recap of the day's top stories:

  • Millions more people in England will move into tighter restrictions from Saturday, with areas of Yorkshire and the Humber, parts of the West and East Midlands, as well as Luton and Oxford City all moving into tier two measures
  • And from Monday, West Yorkshire will join tier three , England's highest level of restrictions
  • In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the country's new tier system . No areas have yet been placed in the highest tier - Level 4 - although the first minister did not rule out a return of national restrictions
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel was heckled as she introduced tougher restrictions in parliament and warned of a "long, hard winter" ahead
  • France's lockdown is to be restored on Friday, with people ordered to stay at home, unless they need to leave for essential work or medical reasons
  • Cyprus and Lithuania have been added to both England and Wales' quarantine lists , meaning arrivals from 04:00 GMT on Sunday must self-isolate for two weeks
  • Pizza Express is to cut a further 1,300 jobs across 370 restaurants as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll on the hospitality sector
  • And finally, entertainer Bobby Ball, best known as one half of comedy double-act Cannon & Ball, has died aged 76 after being diagnosed with Covid-19

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 03:53