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Coronavirus - 17th November

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 09:50

Summary for Tuesday, 17th November

  • England's regional Covid tier system may need to be "strengthened" in order to "get us through the winter months", says Dr Susan Hopkins, a senior health official
  • A government minister, Robert Jenrick, adds that the system is being "reviewed" - to see what worked and what didn't
  • Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set to announce later whether the strictest Covid restrictions will be imposed in the west of the country
  • The number of weekly deaths in England and Wales mentioning Covid-19 on the death certificate reaches highest level since May
  • US President-elect Joe Biden has warned Donald Trump's refusal to hand over power to him in the usual way could cost lives amid the pandemic
  • A number of US states have imposed new restrictions as cases in the US top 11 million
  • EasyJet has reported its first annual loss in its 25-year history as the pandemic continues to bite deeply into the airline industry


Tuesday's coronavirus news across the UK

Good morning and welcome to today's coronavirus live page.
Here's a round-up of the main UK headlines this Tuesday:


‘England lockdown tiers may need strengthening’

England's regional Covid tier system may need to be "strengthened" to get the country "through the winter", a senior government adviser has said.
Public Health England's Dr Susan Hopkins said they needed to look at what "tiers there may be in the future" when the lockdown ends on 2 December.
A three-tier system was used in England to tackle the spread of coronavirus before the national lockdown began on 5 November.
Speaking at the government’s evening coronavirus briefing yesterday, Dr Hopkins said the tier system had had a "different effect in each area".
"Tier three plus" had led to a reduction in cases in the North West, she said, while tier two "holds in some areas and not in others", depending on "how well individuals are taking that advice in".
However, she added: "We see very little effect from tier one and when we look at what tiers may be there in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone."
Read more on this story here .

Latest news from around the world

Here's a look at what's happening:

  • In the US, President-elect Joe Biden has warned "people may die" as a result of the pandemic if his incoming administration continues to be impeded by President Donald Trump, and that co-ordination was needed to tackle the coronavirus outbreak
  • A number of US states, from California to New Jersey, have imposed new restrictions as the number of cases continue to surge in the country ahead of the holiday season which kicks off with Thanksgiving later this month. State governors and mayors are restricting gatherings and encouraging or requiring people to wear face coverings
  • Hungary and Poland have blocked approval of the EU's budget over a clause that ties funding with adherence to the rule of law in the bloc. The package includes €750bn (£673bn; $888bn) for a Covid recovery fund
  • Sweden has announced new restrictions on public gatherings, banning public events of more than eight people from next Tuesday. Currently, up to 300 can attend some events. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven warned the situation “is going to get worse”
  • Denmark's government says it's reached agreement with enough other parties to pass legislation to permit a total cull of farm-raised mink, because of coronavirus. The legislation will also temporarily ban the practice of farming mink for fur till the start of 2022.


Tier system in England 'being reviewed'

Further to Dr Susan Hopkins' comments last night , the housing secretary says the government is reviewing the pre-lockdown three-tiered system of coronavirus restrictions in England.
Robert Jenrick said the measures under the old system varied “quite a bit” in different parts of the country and ministers will be looking at which rules were most effective.
The government hopes to return to a tiered system of coronavirus rules once England's national lockdown ends on 2 December.
“I think in the new tiers we’d like greater consistency and we will have to look at the evidence to see which of those measures were actually the most impactful on the virus,” Mr Jenrick told BBC Breakfast.
He said the government has not yet come to a decision on whether they will bring in a tier four - which would impose even tougher restrictions than seen previously.

Is this Covid wave in the US the worst yet?

Mike Hills - Visual Journalist
Americans may have tuned out of coronavirus news as they focused on the outcome of the presidential election, but the pandemic has quietly been getting worse in the country.
The number of infections in the US has reached new heights in recent days, surpassing 150,000 cases in one day for the first time since the outbreak began.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert, has warned that the country faces "a very challenging and ominous situation" as it approaches winter.
So how bad is the situation and how much does it vary across the country?
Read the full article here .

EasyJet slumps to first annual loss in 25-year history

Coronavirus - 17th November 607faa10

EasyJet has reported its first annual loss in the airline's 25-year history - as the coronavirus crisis continues to affect the travel industry deeply.
The airline posted a loss of £1.27bn for the year to 30 September as revenues more than halved.
EasyJet added that it expected to fly at just 20% of normal capacity into next year.
However, the company has welcomed the possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine, and said underlying demand was strong for air travel.
Read more of this story here .
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 10:10

Nearly 2,000 weekly Covid deaths in England and Wales

A total of 1,937 deaths registered in England and Wales mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate in the week ending November 6, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is an increase of 40% (558 deaths) compared to the previous week, and the highest number since the week ending 22 May.

Tweet  Office for National Statistics:

Of deaths involving #COVID19 registered up to Week 45, 38,155 deaths (65.1%) occurred in hospitals.
The remainder mainly occurred in


  • [care homes (16,422)
  • private homes (2,807)
  • hospices (804)

http://ow.ly/c89x50CmAmp
Coronavirus - 17th November Enbbng10

The number of deaths involving #COVID19 increased across all of the nine English regions http://ow.ly/pJCI50CmAr6
Coronavirus - 17th November Enbbnf10
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 10:25

Summary from The Guardian

Here are the key global developments from the last few hours:

  • Mainland China reported 15 new Covid-19 cases on 16 November, up from eight cases a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Tuesday. The National Health Commission said in a statement all new cases were imported infections originating from overseas.
  • India’s daily cases fall to lowest number since mid-July. Daily coronavirus infections in India fell to their lowest since mid-July, with 29,163 new cases reported for the last 24 hours, taking the total to 8.87 million, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
  • Parts of west Scotland braced for Level 4 restrictions, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to announce her decision on Tuesday. On Monday, Ms Sturgeon said at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing that rates in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lanarkshire health board areas are “stubbornly high”.
  • Virus vaccine to be free in Belgium. The Belgian government said Monday it intends to make any coronavirus vaccine available to around 70% of the population, some eight million people, and free of charge.The jab will not be compulsory, added Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke as he and regional counterparts attended an interministerial health conference.
  • Philadelphia bans indoor gatherings. In one of the most aggressive actions taken in the US to confront the looming crisis, Philadelphia officials on Monday ordered a ban on “indoor gatherings of any size in any location, public or private,” except among individuals who live together.
  • WHO hails ‘encouraging’ virus vaccine news. Reported breakthroughs in Covid-19 vaccine research are “encouraging”, the World Health Organization’s chief said on Monday, but voiced concern about surging cases and warned against complacency.
  • California will dramatically roll back its reopening efforts, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, announced on Monday, saying he was pulling the “emergency brake” amid a troubling surge in cases. The changes, which take effect Tuesday, will see more than 94% of California’s population and most businesses across the state return to the most restrictive tier of rules aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
  • The US biotech firm Moderna has claimed that its Covid-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective, according to an interim analysis released on Monday and based on 95 patients with confirmed Covid infections. The company plans to apply to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency-use authorisation.




Russia has just reported a record high of 442 deaths related to the novel coronavirus, taking the official death toll to 33,931.
Authorities also reported 22,410 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, including 5,882 in the capital, Moscow, bringing the national tally to 1,971,013.




Reuters has just published an illuminating breakdown of Covid facts and figures from across the world.


Deaths and infections

• For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread of Covid-19, open here in an external browser.

Europe

• British prime minister Boris Johnson is considering a temporary cut to the aid spending to help the country’s Covid-ravaged public finances, The Times reported.
• The Premier League said 16 people had returned positive results in its latest round of tests conducted on players and staff last week.
• The World Health Organization (WHO) said there had been 65 coronavirus infections among staff at its Geneva headquarters.
• German chancellor Angela Merkel said leaders of the country’s 16 federal states were resisting her efforts to agree stricter measures.

Americas

* US president-elect Joe Biden said “more people may die” if outgoing president Donald Trump continues blocking a US transition of power as the pandemic worsens.
• Canada’s remote Arctic territory of Nunavut is suffering its first community outbreak and will close all non-essential services, as well as schools, for at least two weeks.
• Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine will be easy to distribute, particularly to rural areas, because it can be stored for one month at standard refrigerator temperatures, the head of vaccines for the US Operation Warp Speed programme said.

Asia-Pacific

• South Korea will impose stricter social distancing rules for the greater Seoul area a month after easing them.
• Australia’s fifth most populous state on Tuesday reported one new Covid-19 case overnight, dampening fears of another deadly cluster emerging.
• New Zealand has made masks mandatory from Thursday for users of public transport in Auckland as well as on all domestic flights.

Middle East and Africa

* Israel cast a wider net on Monday in its quest to secure a vaccine for Covid-19, approaching Russia to discuss buying its Sputnik V vaccine.
• Iran reported a record 13,053 new infections and 486 deaths over the past 24 hours as the government planned tougher restrictions.

Medical developments

• Samsung BioLogics said it is mass-producing a Covid-19 antibody treatment developed by Eli Lilly, as the US began distributing the drug last week after emergency-use approval.
• Moderna’s experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, the company said.
• The US government will send over 7m of Abbott Laboratories’ BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests to states, hospice providers, and for other uses this week.

Economic impact

• Asian stocks cautiously pushed further into record territory on Tuesday, and oil edged higher after US benchmarks were pepped up by news of another promising coronavirus vaccine.
• The German economy is likely stagnating or contracting as Covid-19 measures hit leisure activities as well as exports, the Bundesbank said.
• The coronavirus is a bigger risk to the US economy than a prolonged dispute over the presidential election result, according to a Reuters poll that showed the near-term economic recovery was slowing more than previously thought.



Denmark’s minority government has agreed with supporting parties to create the legal basis for an order to cull all of the farmed mink in the country given earlier this month to prevent the spread of a new strain of coronavirus, Reuters is reporting.
The legislation, which will be retroactive, follows an outcry after the Social Democratic government admitted it had no legal underpinning for the cull, which Denmark’s mink fur farmers say will end their business for good.
“The process has been messy,” food and agriculture minister Mogens Jensen said in a statement released on Monday night, about two weeks after the initial order to cull all mink was given.
“I am very happy that with this agreement we will hopefully create some peace around the very large culling operation taking place on the country’s mink farms.”
The deal, which will be made into law in the coming month, will ban all mink breeding until 2022 and provide a legal basis for ordering farmers to cull their healthy mink herds, which contain up to 17 million animals. Culls of infected mink had already been taking place under existing law.
The government will continue negotiations with parliament in order to reach a deal on compensating some 1,100 mink farmers.



Vaccine success gives world more hope
Moderna’s experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, the company said, becoming the second US drugmaker to report results that far exceed expectations.
Together with Pfizer’s vaccine, which is also more than 90% effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the United States could have two vaccines authorised for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available this year.

US states from coasts to heartland act to curb virus.
Several US governors, from the coastal states of New Jersey and California to the heartland of Iowa and Ohio, acted on Monday to restrict gatherings and boost face-coverings in confronting a coronavirus surge they warned is out of control.
Each of the four governors, representing both ends of America’s political divide and a mix of urban and rural regions, cited health data showing the pandemic reaching its most perilous point yet in the United States, threatening to overwhelm hospitals and claim thousands more lives in the weeks ahead.

South Korea warns of new crisis
South Korea will impose stricter social distancing rules for the greater Seoul area a month after easing them, officials said on Tuesday, warning of an even bigger crisis if anti-Covid efforts fail to dampen a spike in new cases.
Tighter curbs will ban public gatherings of 100 people or more, limit religious services and audiences at sporting events to 30% capacity, and require high-risk facilities including clubs and karaoke bars to broaden distance among guests.

Merkel very worried about Berlin
The situation in Germany is still very serious even though infection numbers are not rising so fast, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday, after federal and state leaders postponed until November 25th a decision on further lockdown measures.
Merkel said she would have preferred to have agreed stricter rules at a meeting with federal and state leaders on Monday, adding she was very worried about the uncontrolled spread of coronavirus in some places, including the capital Berlin.
“Infection numbers aren’t growing exponentially anymore, but are still far too high. So we have to reduce contacts, reduce contacts, reduce contacts,” Merkel said.

France regaining control
France’s health oberminister Olivier Veran said on Tuesday the country was regaining control over the coronavirus but was not ready to ease the second national lockdown.
After curfew measures applied in major French cities in mid-October failed to produce the results the government had hoped for, it enforced a one-month lockdown on October 30th, though it was less strict than the one that ran from March 17th to May 11th.
“If we let up our efforts too early, if we are less compliant with the lockdown, we might be subject to a new epidemic surge that would undo all the hard work done by the French people for several weeks,” Veran told BFM TV.
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 10:30

What's happening around Europe?


  • Schools and shops classed as non-essential have shut this morning as Austria’s new lockdown rules have come into force. You can only leave home to drive to work, buy basic goods, seek medical care or take exercise. Contact is reserved for relatives who see each other regularly.
  • An Italian athlete has been fined €400 (£360) for breaking Covid rules after his friend fell into a ravine and died as they ran in mountains near the Swiss border. Simone Massetti, 34, fell 200m (650ft), Corriere della Sera reports. Under current regulations in force in the region, you aren't allowed to travel outside your local area.
  • Denmark’s political parties have backed the government’s controversial plan to cull the country’s entire mink population. A ban on breeding mink will last until December 2021. But there is still a question mark over the political fate of agriculture minister Mogens Jensen, with one leading political figure calling the mink cull Denmark's biggest political scandal in recent years.
  • Infections may be falling in Germany but there has been a sharp rise in daily deaths - 267 have been reported in the past 24 hours. Now Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned Germans to avoid any contacts that aren’t absolutely necessary. "Infection numbers aren't growing exponentially anymore, but are still far too high. So we have to reduce contacts," she said this morning.
  • France has recorded another 508 deaths in 24 hours but Health Minister Olivier Véran says there are signs of improvement. He's held out the hope of relatives meeting up for Christmas, saying this morning: "What we very clearly want is obviously to let France spend Christmas and the New Year with families."
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 11:13

New fines likely for outdoor drinkers in Ireland

Shane Harrison - BBC NI Dublin correspondent
The Irish cabinet is expected to agree on new fines of less than €300 for people drinking alcohol outdoors.
Concerns have been expressed about the number of people congregating to drink in various Irish city centres at the weekend.
Pubs in the Republic of Ireland are closed but can sell takeaway drinks.
Customers purchasing takeaway alcohol cannot drink it less than 100m from the establishment.
Ministers are expected to discuss a proposal from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly for smaller fines - as the current ones are widely felt to be too high.
Read the full story here .

No plans to make Covid vaccine mandatory

The government does not have any plans to make having the Covid vaccine compulsory, according to the housing secretary.
Robert Jenrick said ministers will instead need to “win the argument” and persuade the public the vaccine is safe.
“We’ve seen with previous vaccines over the course of the last 20 or 30 years there’s sometimes misinformation, that misinformation is now predominately online," he said.
“We’ve got to combat that and persuade people that it’s safe to take the vaccine.”
Yesterday it was announced that US company Moderna had produced a vaccine that is nearly 95% effective, according to early data.
The results came just a few days after the release of similar results from Pfizer.
Mr Jenrick said the UK was “well placed” with pre-orders for a range of different Covid vaccines being produced across the world.
He told BBC Breakfast it looks as though a large proportion of the population will have access to a vaccine over the course of the first half of the next year.
“That will make a huge difference in our ability to return to a degree of normality.”
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 12:10

Ireland has just two weeks to improve its Covid-19 situation before anything resembling a 'normal' Christmas will be lost

Irish Post
According to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), the situation is "deteriorating" with reductions in coronavirus case numbers stalling.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said "widespread" infections were occurring across the country in different settings, just days after dozens of revellers were spotted drinking en masse together on the streets of Dublin and Cork.
"We are concerned the positive trajectory we had has at best stalled and is in fact deteriorating," he said, adding that there was only a short time "to turn this around" by focusing on the basics of public health.
Dr Glynn implored the public to make the most of the final two weeks of lockdown, indicating that it would be the last real chance we have of protecting Christmas.
He stressed, however, that the Irish people shouldn't focus beyond the next few days or begin looking to the festive season.
"If we keep focusing on three and four and five weeks' time, we take our eye off what we need to be doing today," he added.
"It is hard enough for people to do what need to be done today as well as having to worry or be concerned about what might happen in four or five weeks' time.
"I am fully aware of what's coming. We all want to enjoy a good Christmas."

Irish Government WILL NOT ban takeaway pints following public backlash, but outdoor group drinkers will be fined €80

The Government is set to perform a swift U-turn on banning takeaway pints after fierce public backlash.
Over the weekend, dozens of revellers were pictured drinking together on the streets of Dublin and Cork, with no sign of social distancing in place.
As a result, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced on Monday that the Government would consider a ban on takeaway drinks, describing the scenes over the weekend as "extremely concerning".
But news of the proposed ban was met with protest, with many accusing the Government of a 'knee-jerk' reaction off the back off a few social media posts.
Publicans around the country also stressed that crippling the pub industry even further would spell disaster for the hospitality sector.
Independent TD Micheal Healy-Rae insisted that it was only "a very small number of people" who broke the rules, and that the rest of country shouldn't be punished for their mistakes.
"This is Ireland, not Moscow," he said. "We can't bring in new legislation for every event that will happen at different locations throughout the country."
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly was expected to bring a memo to Cabinet today to propose an outright ban on the sale of alcohol from pubs for the remainder of lockdown, but it looks as if no such proposal will be heard.
Instead, a tightening of restrictions could be implemented.
One consideration is handing out fines of up to €80 to anyone found drinking in a group outdoors and therefore in breach of Level Five restrictions.
Dublin City Council bye-laws already allow €75 fines for outdoor drinkers away from approved areas, and the suggestion from within Government is that the rules simply need to be properly enforced.
Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen tweeted: "Encourage compliance and enforce existing restrictions/regulations if necessary but don't punish others who need lifelines like takeaway options to stay afloat."
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 12:18

US airline offers transatlantic Covid testing programme

Coronavirus - 17th November 83aa1210

On Monday, United Airlines launched a free transatlantic coronavirus testing pilot programme for customers.
The airline is offering free rapid tests to every passenger over two years old and crew members on select flights from Newark to London Heathrow. They will have to take the test three hours before departure, ABC reports .
Passengers who do not want to be tested will travel on another flight.
The programme, which aims to ensure everyone on board has tested negative for the virus before flying, is in place until 11 December.
Last month, passengers flying from Heathrow to Hong Kong became the first in the UK to have the option of paying for a rapid Covid test before checking in .

Could England get a tier four?

The housing secretary has said the government is currently reviewing England's three-tiered system of coronavirus restrictions - which were in place prior to the second national lockdown.
Robert Jenrick said no decision has been made on whether a tier four could be introduced when the current rules end on 2 December.
The three-tiered system was introduced across the country on 14 October - with regions being classed as being medium risk, high risk or very high risk.
Tier three rules banned households from mixing indoors or in outdoor hospitality venues and private gardens. Pubs and bars which didn't serve meals were also ordered to close.
However, some regions under these restrictions imposed even tougher rules - such as a ban on the sale of alcohol from off-licences after 9pm.
Scotland is the only part of the UK that currently has a tier four option - which is closest to England's current national lockdown rules.
Under these rules , socialising is not allowed in people's homes, but six people from two households can still meet outdoors and there would be no limit on outdoor exercise.
Non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes as well as leisure facilities and places would also be forced to closed. But schools would remain open.
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 12:23

West of Scotland awaits news on moving to level four

Scotland will be hearing from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in two hours' time, when she's going to announce whether the toughest Covid restrictions are going to be imposed in the west of the country .
She's said it was "likely" some areas would move from level three to level four - the highest level. It could include the six councils in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, including Glasgow itself.
Under level four restrictions , restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars are closed, other than for takeaways, and all but essential retail have to shut their doors.
Socialising is not allowed in people's homes, but six people from two households can still meet outdoors and there is no limit on outdoor exercise under level four. But people are advised to minimise the number of meetings with people from other households.
There has also been speculation that North and South Lanarkshire could also be moved to the highest tier.
The government is also looking at whether any areas could move down a level, with Ms Sturgeon saying: "This is not a one-way street."
She is set to make the announcement at about 14:20 - we'll bring you updates as we have them. Any changes would come into effect on Friday.

70,000 excess deaths in UK since pandemic began

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
The UK has seen 70,839 excess deaths in the months since the pandemic started, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.
“Excess” deaths are the difference between those seen this year and what we’d expect based on the last five years.
It’s higher than the daily death count because it includes people whose Covid wasn’t confirmed by a positive test - as well as people who died because of the strain the pandemic put on the NHS and society.
Most of these deaths occurred in the first wave: the weeks since the start of October account for just over 5,500 of the total.
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 12:29

Coronavirus in the Amazon

Coronavirus is ripping through indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest.
Now, some are starting to fight back.
Indigenous leaders told the BBC what they are doing to protect their communities - and that they believe we are paying the price for disrespecting nature.

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 12:43

Israel continues to ease restrictions

Yolande Knell - BBC Middle East correspondent, Jerusalem
Israel is reopening shopping centres and hotels in the popular winter tourist resorts of Eilat and the southern Dead Sea, as it continues to emerge from its second national lockdown.Visitors will now be able to go to these areas for the first time in weeks, so long as they have tested negative for Covid-19.But some unnamed health officials quoted in the Israeli media have expressed dismay at the latest easing of controls, saying no further restrictions should be lifted until case numbers stop rising.The basic reproduction rate — the average number of people infected by each individual with the virus — is currently 1.08, according to the Health Ministry.
Meanwhile, there is growing pressure on the Hamas authorities in the neighbouring Gaza Strip to consider another lockdown after the number of new Covid cases registered there on Sunday was 490, the highest yet for a single day.
So far, the increase has been in mild and moderate cases but there is concern the number of serious infections could rise as more older people become infected.
Gaza – which is kept under blockade by Israel and Egypt – has a fragile healthcare system that medics warn could easily be overwhelmed.
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 12:57

Number of cases passes 55 million

There have now been more than 55 million coronavirus cases and 1.3 million deaths across the world, according to the latest data collated by Johns Hopkins University .
As the graphic below shows, it took six weeks for cases to go from 10 to 20 million, but less than three weeks to go from 40 to 50 million cases.
Read more here: Tracking the global coronavirus outbreak
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 13:07

'Emergency brake' for Austria

A second national coronavirus lockdown has come into effect in Austria, after earlier measures failed to contain rising infections. It will last until at least 6 December.
Schools and all non-essential shops have closed, and people are only allowed out for specific purposes - such as shopping for essential supplies, exercise, and if they have to travel for work.
At more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, Austria currently has one of the worst rates of cases in Europe.
Health Minister Rudolf Anschober described the lockdown as an "emergency brake" , saying it was needed to protect intensive care capacity.
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 15:52

Travel rules relaxed for turkey farm workers

Travel rules have been relaxed for people arriving in England to work on poultry farms to help make sure turkeys are available for Christmas dinners next month.
From today, seasonal workers from abroad can work straight away, during their 14-day quarantine. They will have to still self-isolate from the rest of the public during those two weeks.
To avoid any potential spread of coronavirus, they also have to form "cohorts", or live and work with a group of the same workers during their time in England. They will not be allowed to mix with other employees.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the new measures will ensure food producers can "keep up with the Christmas demand".
Industry groups had previously warned of turkey shortages without enough skilled workers to process the meat.

Breaking News 

Eleven areas in Scotland to move to level 4 restrictions

Eleven council areas are to move from level 3 to level 4 coronavirus restrictions, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says.
The change will take place from 18:00 Friday and will be for a "strictly limited" period.
She said she knows this news is "disappointing" and will "demand more sacrifice from all of us", but that the "end is within grasp".
Nineteen council areas will see no change this week and two areas will move down from level 3 to level 2.
The Scottish government has taken account of factors including case number and the trends in each area when deciding which level they should be in, said Ms Sturgeon.
There is "ground for continued and significant concern" about coronavirus in the areas moving to level four restrictions, says First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Those council areas are: the City of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.
The measures will begin on Friday, will be in place for three weeks, and are due to be lifted on 11 December.

Two areas move down to level 2

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announces that East Lothian and Midlothian will move down from level 3 to level 2 from next Tuesday, 24 November.
She says they have both seen a “marked decline” in infection rates.

Travel restrictions to become law in Scotland

Guidance on travel restrictions in Scotland will become law from Friday, Nicola Sturgeon says.
That means people living in level three or level four must not travel outside their own council area, except for certain essential purposes.
And those living elsewhere in Scotland must not travel to level three or level four areas, again apart from in limited exceptional circumstances.
There is to be no non-essential travel between Scotland and other parts of the UK.

'Short and sharp' plan intended 'to have impact before Christmas'

It is hoped that moving areas to level 4 now will mean people might be able to enjoy Christmas and Hanukkah with more freedom.
Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs: "I know people are frustrated that other restrictions have remained in place longer than planned.
"But level 4 is intended to be short and sharp. And in this situation, it is specifically intended to have an impact in advance of Christmas and the most challenging winter period.
"Lifting the level 4 restrictions then [on 11 December] - as we will do - also means that they will not be in place for most of the Hanukkah period - so again, while celebrations may be different, there will be a greater degree of freedom.
"We will assess nearer the time the level that will apply in each area when the level 4 restrictions end on December 11."
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 16:19

Which Scottish council areas are staying at the same level?

Nicola Sturgeon says Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, Moray and the Highlands will remain in level one. But those in Moray and the Highlands are not allowed to visit other people’s houses.
Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, the Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, and Argyll & Bute all remain at level two.
The City of Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Dundee, Fife, Perth & Kinross and Angus all remain at level three.

Another 37 deaths in Scotland

Before announcing the level four areas, Nicola Sturgeon said a further 37 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died, taking the total to 3,323 deaths in Scotland by that measure.
A further 1,248 people have tested positive for Covid-19. That is 9.7% of the tests carried out.
This takes the total number of positive cases in Scotland to 83,259.

What are the level 4 restrictions in Scotland?

Here's a reminder of what the level 4 restrictions will mean for the 2.3 million people who will be living under them from Friday:

  • Socialising will not be allowed in people's homes, but six people from two households can still meet outdoors and there will be no limit on outdoor exercise
  • People will not be able to travel outside their own council area except for "certain essential purposes"
  • The premises which will have to close include non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and gyms
  • Schools will remain open full-time

The new rules will remain in place until 11 December.

Scotland's five levels explained

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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 16:24

France to host 2021 Six Nations games behind closed doors

France will play their Six Nations home games early next year behind closed doors, the French Rugby Federation has announced.
France was due to host games against Scotland and Wales at the Stade de France in Paris.
The president of the French Rugby Federation said the financial shortfall for the organisation would be €34m (£30m).
The final matches of this year’s Six Nations tournament were delayed due to the pandemic and the tournament eventually concluded earlier this month.
Other nations have not yet unveiled their plans for the 2021 tournament. However earlier this month Welsh Rugby Union interim chief executive Steve Phillips said "nothing is off the table" as to whether the 2021 Six Nations will be rescheduled.

No self-respecting Swiss wants a winter without a fondue - but is it safe?

Imogen Foulkes - BBC News, Geneva
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The days are growing cold, the first snow is falling on the ski slopes, and Swiss minds are turning to their favourite dish. Nothing is more comforting than sitting round the table with good friends, sharing a cheese fondue.
But in these troubled Covid times, some are questioning the fondue ritual: spearing a piece of bread, dipping it in that communal pot of bubbling cheese, and transferring it straight to your mouth. No self-respecting Swiss wants to endure a winter without fondue – but is it safe?
Arnaud Favre, who organizes the annual fondue festival, is sure it is.
“Lots of people have been worrying about whether it’s OK to eat fondue, with your friends, or even with people you don’t know – the answer is, there’s really nothing to fear. The Covid virus dies above 50 degrees Centigrade - fondue is cooked at 80 degrees."
Unfortunately for Arnaud, his fondue festival has been cancelled this year – big crowds of cheese-hungry people are too much of a risk. Restaurants in many parts of Switzerland are closed too – but a fondue at home with friends is still allowed, although the ritual is becoming more flexible.
Instead of one fork, fondue fans suggest, have two, one for dipping, and the other for eating. The advice seems to be working – as the Swiss brace themselves for this Covid winter, fondue sales are rising.
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 16:35

Police suspend £10k fines for large gatherings

Police chiefs have suspended the use of £10,000 fines for those who breach coronavirus rules on large gatherings.
It comes amid concerns over potential disparity between the amount being paid by some upfront, compared to those who challenge the fees in court.
When fines go to court they are means-tested, meaning the recipient's ability to pay is taken into account.
The National Police Chief's Council (NPCC) said it was working "urgently" with the government over the issue.
Read more here

How Scotland's rules were tightened, relaxed, then tightened again

Some of the major dates in Scotland's virus response:

  • The first positive case of Covid-19 is confirmed in Scotland
  • on 1 March. The person had recently travelled abroad
  • On 11 March, the first case of community transmission in Scotland
  • unrelated to travel, or contact with a positive case, is identified
  • The first coronavirus-related death is recorded on 13 March
  • On 19 March, it is announced schools and nurseries will shut by the end of the week
  • On 20 March, Nicola Sturgeon announced that all restaurants, cafes, pubs and cinemas were to close in Scotland
  • A UK-wide lockdown is announced on 23 March
  • On 28 May, Nicola Sturgeon announces the move to Phase 1 of the route map out of lockdown
  • , to start the next day
  • She announces the next stage of easing measures on 18 June
  • On 7 September, after a rise in cases, Nicola Sturgeon says it might be necessary to "put the brakes" on the further easing of lockdown measures
  • On 22 September, Nicola Sturgeon announces that a nationwide ban on visiting other households will be in place from the following day, with a 22:00 curfew on pubs and restaurants from 25 September
  • It is announced on 7 October that all pubs and restaurants across central Scotland are to be closed . Pubs and restaurants will be able to open in other parts of Scotland but can only serve alcohol outdoors
  • On 23 October, the government unveils the five different levels of rules that might be needed in different areas of Scotland, to come into place on 2 November
  • On 17 November, Nicola Sturgeon announces 11 areas are moving from level three to level four restrictions
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 16:37

New Zealand responds to Chinese concerns over imported goods

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
China, where the virus started, is one of the few countries where life is back to a version of normal, post-coronavirus.
No new domestic symptomatic or asymptomatic cases have been detected in the last 24 hours. But there are growing concerns in the country that Covid-19 may enter China via imported frozen goods.
A number of localised outbreaks earlier in the year in cities like Beijing and Qingdao were linked to handlers of imported frozen products , and China has been increasingly warning that cold-chain goods (those perishable goods transported at low temperatures) pose a serious threat to communities.
On Monday, China’s customs agency said it had “stepped up efforts” to prevent the virus from entering China by contacting all of the 109 countries that export cold-chain goods to the country. It also said it had suspended receiving goods from some 99 companies in 20 countries that export to China .
However, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has questioned claims that the coronavirus was found on beef exports from New Zealand, given the country has also returned to a version of normal.
She said she had been advised New Zealand exports were stored with products from Argentina that had tested positive, following reports New Zealand goods had tested positive in the Chinese city of Jinan.
“We are confident our products are not exported with Covid on them, given our status as being essentially Covid-19 free,” she told a press conference on Monday.
A spokesperson from the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs added: “New Zealand has not been informed of this officially by the Chinese authorities.
“New Zealand officials are working now to ascertain the origin and veracity of these reports.”
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 17:43

Couple who died with Covid 12 hours apart

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Northern Irish couple Owen and Bredge Ward, both 69, from County Tyrone, died just 12 hours apart after contracting Covid-19.
Martin, one of their six children, held his father's hand as he died and said he was in "complete shock". He said his parents "were always together" and "doted" on their nine grandchildren.
He said his mother's condition started to improve last week, but then his father "went downhill" and was put into a coma.
"Fast forward a week and my father was improving and my mother was getting worse.
"She passed away yesterday, then my father, from a position where he was getting better, just completely collapsed and within a couple of hours of my mother dying, he passed away too."

US senators clash over wearing masks in chamber


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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 17:58

Three or four family bubbles at Christmas?

Radio 4 PM
Coronavirus - 17th November 35727a10

A former UK government adviser, Prof Neil Ferguson, says numerous families could become a "bubble" for a week to be able to spend Christmas together.
A so-called "bubble" allows people who live in different households to be treated as one, in order to meet virus rules. For example, an adult living on their own in England can form a bubble with another household of any size.
Prof Ferguson told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "You could think of allowing three or four households to bubble together for a week but not contact anybody else, which would give more opportunity to see loved ones but not a free for all.
"And that, I mean modelling, would suggest increases risk somewhat but in a controllable way.”
Ferguson's modelling was used by the government before the lockdown in March.
The governments from the four nations have held talks about taking a joint approach to Covid rules over Christmas.
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 18:00

Headlines from around the world today

Thanks for tuning in to our coverage today - the live page will end soon. Here are the headlines from around the world today:


  • There have now been more than 55 million coronavirus cases and 1.3 million deaths across the world, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University
  • Pfizer has launched a pilot delivery programme for its Covid-19 vaccine in four US states. During trials, the vaccine was 90% effective in preventing the illness. However it must be shipped and stored at -70C (-94F) to remain effective, posing a significant challenge for its distribution
  • The boss of Moderna, the company behind one of the Covid vaccines whose initial results have recently been announced, has warned that long negotiations over purchasing the new vaccine will slow down deliveries to European countries
  • US Country singer Dolly Parton has been credited with helping fund the successful Moderna vaccine announced on Monday. Earlier this year she donated $1m (£800,000) to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, for coronavirus research
  • Head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, has said athletes will not need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to take part in the Tokyo Olympics next year. The Olympics were pushed back a year due to the pandemic
  • A second national lockdown has come into effect in Austria, after earlier measures failed to contain rising infections. It will last until at least 6 December. Schools and all non-essential shops have closed, and people are only allowed out for specific purposes – such as shopping for essential supplies, exercise, and if they have to travel for work
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Post by Kitkat on Tue Nov 17 2020, 18:03

Round-up of UK headlines

We'll be pausing our live coverage shortly so here's a quick recap of the main coronavirus stories in the UK today:



Thanks for reading

That's all from the Covid-19 live page today - we'll be back tomorrow morning.

The writers were Alexandra Fouche, Cherry Wilson, Lauren Turner, Katie Wright, and Sophie Williams. The editors were Claudia Allen and Owen Amos.

    Current date/time is Wed Jan 20 2021, 02:44