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Coronavirus - 20th November

Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 10:47

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Summary for Friday, 20th November

  • People aged 50-64 in England are being offered free flu jabs from 1 December as part of an expanded winter vaccine scheme
  • Just half of close contacts given to England's NHS Test and Trace are being reached in some areas, a BBC investigation has found
  • Millions of public sector workers in England face a pay freeze after a huge rise in spending to fight the pandemic
  • More than two million people in Scotland are preparing to move to the country's toughest level of coronavirus restrictions
  • Northern Ireland is set to face a two-week period of tougher lockdown measures from next Friday
  • A "tough" six months lies ahead for Europe, the World Health Organization has warned
  • Mexico has recorded more than 100,000 Covid deaths - the fourth country to pass the sombre milestone
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told Americans to avoid travel for the Thanksgiving holiday amid soaring Covid-19 cases


Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a quick summary of the main stories in the UK:


What’s the latest from around the world?

As the total number of cases around the globe approaches 57 million, here's a reminder of the top international stories:


What's the latest across Europe?

The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, has died in hospital, weeks after leading a large public funeral for Montenegro's most senior cleric, who also died of Covid-19. The patriarch was 90. Thousands of mourners attended the 2 November funeral without masks or practising social distancing. You can read more on that here.
There's concern in Greece too, where the head of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos, has been admitted to hospital with mild Covid symptoms. Ieronymos, 80, has backed the government's strict Covid rules. But a 62-year-old Greek bishop who insisted on maintaining communion ceremonies despite the pandemic was buried this week.
The EU may conditionally authorise the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in the second half of December, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, as long as it gets the go-ahead from the EU medicines agency.
Germany's daily infection rate has hit a new record 23,648 cases in 24 hours. The transmission or reproduction rate is estimated at just below one, so for every 100 people infected, another 99 people are catching the virus.
Amazon in France has agreed to postpone its Black Friday promotion by a week to early December, under a proposal by Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire. Non-essential shops are pushing to reopen at the end of next week.
Bars and restaurants in Sweden will tonight have to stop serving alcohol from 22:00 (21:00 GMT). And Sweden's Royal Academy of Sciences is now calling for a rethink on the decision not to recommend wearing face masks - it says they should be worn in public indoors.

Parts of Scotland brace for toughest restrictions

More than two million people in Scotland are preparing to move to the country's toughest level of coronavirus restrictions.
The level four rules will come into force at 18:00 GMT in 11 council areas, including Glasgow.
Non-essential shops will close, as will pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, gyms and visitor attractions - but schools will remain open.
The restrictions will remain in place until 11 December.
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 10:58

Tougher restrictions in Northern Ireland from next Friday

Northern Ireland’s government has ordered tougher coronavirus restrictions from next Friday - described as a "short, sharp circuit-breaker" - closing restaurants, non-essential shops and gyms for two weeks.
It means that cafés and hairdressers that are allowed to reopen this morning for the first time since mid-October will have to close again after a week.
Schools remain open under the measures.
Ministers have also advised against household gatherings outside of support bubbles, and said people should work from home "if at all possible".
The restrictions have been criticised by many businesses leaders , with the Stormont Executive being described as a "coalition government run by numbskulls" by the prominent hotelier Bill Wolsey.
Read more .

Wales FM: Talks over UK-wide Christmas rules ongoing

Talks between the four UK nations over restrictions for the Christmas period are under way, Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford says.
Drakeford said he hoped for a "common approach" to travel within the UK after differing restrictions in recent months - Wales ended a "firebreak" lockdown this week as restrictions continued in England and Scotland.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We agreed some broad parameters on Wednesday and remitted officials of all four administrations to work now on the detail, so I remain hopeful that it will be possible to reach a four-nation approach to Christmas.
"I certainly think that is the right thing to do - if it is achievable - and certainly Wales will be at the table next week looking to find an agreement."
Drakeford said an agreement on permitting travel across the UK during the Christmas season was "top of the list of things to agree", even if a wider agreement was not possible.

There has been more than a 90% reduction in the number of fatalities in Ireland's second wave of coronavirus compared with the first

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly confirmed the impressive figures at the final report of the Special Committee on Covid-19 on Thursday.
"We're seeing a more than 90% reduction in fatalities in the second wave compared to the first wave," he said.
"So for every 100 people who died in the first wave, less than 10 have died this time. By any measure that's an extraordinary improvement."
Minister Donnelly commended health workers for their efforts throughout the pandemic, and pointed to a number of European states which have seen their health services overwhelmed during the second wave.
"That is why the Government took extensive measures throughout this pandemic to limit transmission of the virus when it was required - to ensure we protected lives and did not have a situation where our hospitals and intensive care units would become overrun," he added.
Nearly two million Covid-19 tests have been carried out in Ireland since the outbreak of the pandemic, and Mr Donnelly suggested that the country now has the capacity to perform around 140,000 tests per week.
The Republic is currently entering week five of its second full lockdown, which is due to end on December 1.
While infection rates have been dropping throughout the country in recent weeks, that decline has reportedly been stagnating, according to NPHET, who have urged the public not to lose focus in the fight against the virus as we approach Christmas.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 11:07

Inside test-and-trace - how the 'world beater' went wrong

The name NHS Test and Trace sounds like it is one whole service that is part of the NHS. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A BBC investigation published on Friday finds a complex web of different programmes that have been bolted together rapidly - and are underperforming in crucial areas.
Just half of close contacts given to England's NHS Test and Trace are being reached in some areas, it shows.
The network is failing in areas with some of the worst infection rates and research also found no-one from NHS labs was at a key government meeting with private firms about testing.
Read the investigation here .

CDC urges Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told Americans to avoid travel for the Thanksgiving holiday amid soaring numbers of infections.
"In the last week, we've seen over a million new cases," said the CDC's Erin Sauber-Schatz to reporters on Thursday. "Thanksgiving is a week away."
But the agency stopped short of issuing a travel ban for Americans.
The US has so far recorded more than 11.6 million coronavirus infections and more than 250,000 deaths.
Thanksgiving typically heralds the busiest week for travel in the US. Last year, an estimated 26 million travellers passed through the country's airports in the week surrounding the holiday.
Find out more about the latest rise in cases in the US here .

Mexico passes 100,000 coronavirus deaths

Meanwhile, Mexico has recorded more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 - the fourth country to pass the sombre milestone.
The country has suffered 100,104 deaths since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University, but government officials have acknowledged that the true toll is likely to be higher.
The news comes just days after the world's largest Spanish-speaking country reported more than one million infections.
Only the US, Brazil and India have recorded more deaths than Mexico, which has a population of roughly 125 million. Its mortality rate of 9.8% is one of the highest in the world, according to Johns Hopkins data .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 11:31

How a group of volunteers 'exposed' India's hidden Covid-19 deaths

Soutik Biswas - India Correspondent
Since March, a group of volunteers in India's southern state of Kerala have trawled local papers and news networks for reports on deaths due to Covid-19.
Led by Dr Arun N Madhavan, a general medicine physician, they checked the district editions of seven local newspapers and followed five news channels unfailingly every day. They took notes on every death reported in the news and obituary notices and diligently entered the details in a spreadsheet.
"It's a useful method of counting," says Prabhat Jha, of the University of Toronto, who led India's ambitious Million Death Study, one of the largest studies of premature mortality in the world.
As of Thursday night, the volunteers had counted 3,356 deaths from the infection in Kerala, which reported its first Covid-19 case in January and the first casualty in March. But the official death toll from the disease is 1,969.
"We are missing a lot of Covid-19 deaths here," Dr Madhavan told me. He reckons the state has recognised a little more than half of the deaths caused by Covid - and attributed the rest to underlying conditions or co-morbidities.
India has now recorded more than nine million coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins Univeristy - the second highest tally in the world after the US. But its fatality rate is among the lowest in the world and some experts allege substantial undercounting in several states.
Read the whole story here .

Pizza worker's 'lie' forced South Australia lockdown

South Australia was forced to enter a state-wide lockdown because a man with Covid-19 had lied about his link to a pizza shop, police say. The strict lockdown began on Wednesday after the state detected 36 infections, including its first locally acquired cases since April.
But this would have been avoided if the man had told the truth - that he worked shifts at the shop - officials said.
He said he only went there to buy a pizza.
This misinformation prompted health officials to assume the man had caught the virus during a very brief exposure and that the strain must be a highly contagious one.
"To say I am fuming is an understatement," state Premier Steven Marshall told reporters on Friday.
State officials said they would lift the lockdown on Saturday - three days earlier than planned - after recording only three new cases on Friday.
Australia has relied on lockdowns, widespread testing and aggressive contact tracing to push daily infections close to zero.
Read more here .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 11:37

WHO advises against antiviral drug remdesivir

The World Health Organization has said it does not recommend the use of remdesivir, an antiviral drug given to US President Donald Trump after he developed Covid-19.
An expert panel said the drug "is not suggested for patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19, regardless of how severely ill they are, because there is currently no evidence that it improves survival or the need for ventilation".
Friday's new guidance, published in the British Medical Journal, follows trials involving potential Covid-19 treatments in several countries.
Remdesivir's manufacturer Gilead has previously rejected the WHO's findings against the drug.
Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of remdesivir in hospitals, saying that it cut recovery time on average by five days during clinical trials.

Mixing at Christmas could lead to 'tens of thousands' more cases

Mixing at Christmas could lead to "tens of thousands" more Covid cases and a need for extra restrictions in the future, a leading scientist has warned.
Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter said the advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that for each day the rules were relaxed at Christmas five days of tighter restrictions would follow "doesn't sound implausible".
"It is quite plausible that a few days of relaxing would lead to tens of thousands more cases and that means extra deaths and measures needed to bring those under control," the statistician and chairman of the Winton Centre for risk and evidence communication at the University of Cambridge told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
He also predicted that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus - currently 16,000 - would this winter exceed the 17,000 peak reached in spring.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 11:40

Morning re-cap as health secretary says England's lockdown is working

Health Secretary Matt Hancock appeared on broadcast outlets this morning.Here's what we learned:

  • There are "promising signs lockdown is working" in England, Hancock said. He pointed to a decline in the seven-day average of new cases
  • Ministers are still working out a set of rules to allow Christmas "joy" in a way that also "keeps people safe"
  • Asked about reports that millions of public sector workers face a pay freeze next year, Hancock said he wouldn't comment on internal discussions, adding: "I always fight for the NHS"
  • Anyone over the age of 50 in England who wants a free flu jab will get one by January, Hancock promised - the over 65s are "the top priority"


Gatherings limited in Finland's capital

The number of people allowed to meet in public in the Finnish capital Helsinki will be limited to 20 under new rules announced on Friday, Reuters news agency reports.
Finland has reported 20,000 cases and 374 deaths since the pandemic began, and its 14-day average of coronavirus infections is the lowest in Europe at 58 cases per 100,000 people.
However, health authorities say that figure is almost twice as high in the capital.

Welsh firebreak lockdown has succeeded - Drakeford

Wales' 17-day firebreak lockdown has brought coronavirus rates down across the nation, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.
The Welsh Labour leader told BBC Breakfast: "We've had 10 consecutive days of numbers coming down in Wales, positivity rates coming down in Wales, we're beginning to see that feed into a slowdown in the number of people being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.
"So we think that firebreak period has succeeded. The question is whether it has succeeded enough, and whether people in Wales are now behaving in ways that allow us to capitalise on the ground we've gained, rather than seeing it frittered away."
However, he warned people risked facing stricter measure over Christmas if infection rates rise again.
Read more .
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 11:52

Hong Kong records 26 new infections

Hong Kong has "probably entered" its fourth wave of infections after a spate of coronavirus cases, the city's health minister has warned.
Twenty-six new cases were recorded by Friday in Hong Kong, of which 21 were transmitted locally.
The news comes ahead of the launch of a planned travel corridor with Singapore this weekend, Reuters news agency reports.
The move would allow passengers to fly between the two cities without the need for quarantine, as long as they tested negative for coronavirus before departure and upon arrival.
Hong Kong has confirmed more than 5,500 infections and 108 deaths since the pandemic began. In September, it introduced voluntary mass testing of its residents, although the decision was criticised over privacy concerns.

Reality Check

Raw fish eating stunt aims to dispel Covid fears

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A television appearance by a former Sri Lankan fisheries minister has caused quite a stir on social media. In a bid to allay fears that eating seafood can lead to coronavirus infection, Dilip Wedaarachchi sank his teeth into a raw fish at a press conference whilst assuring viewers that it was perfectly safe to do so.
“I am making an appeal to the people of this country to eat this fish. Don’t be afraid. The coronavirus will not infect you,” he said.
Sri Lanka has experienced a recent surge in coronavirus cases, and rumours have been circulating that the source of the infections has been the main fish market in the capital, Colombo.
The market was forced to shut and a lot of fish was left unsold following the discovery of a cluster of infections there.
In its advice on coronavirus safety, the World Health Organisation does not explicitly warn against eating raw fish and meat but does say, " as a general rule, the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 12:06

Gatwick to launch airport testing for passengers and staff

The travel industry has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic - with airport testing hailed by some as a solution to make air travel safer.
Well now London Gatwick Airport, south of the UK capital, says it will make Covid-19 screening available before departure and after arrival for passengers, staff and local residents.
It says results will be available the next day and that the scheme will satisfy any future changes to the UK's quarantine policy.
Currently, arrivals from many countries must quarantine for 14 days - but reports today say ministers are considering a so-called "test and release" policy allowing people to leave quarantine after a negative test result.
From 30 November, Gatwick passengers and staff will pay £60 for a test, with the general public charged £99.

Stockholm attraction to close for first time in 129 years

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For the first time in years, Skansen will not hold its annual Christmas market

A major attraction in the Swedish capital Stockholm is to close for the first time in 129 years due to coronavirus restrictions.
The Skansen open-air museum, which also holds an annual Christmas market, said it would close from 27 November
"It has been a difficult decision, but based on the current guidelines at the same time a necessary one," Skansen's CEO said in a statement, adding that he hoped to be able to reopen in the spring.
Earlier this week, Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced that public gatherings would be limited to eight people from next Tuesday after a surge in infections.
Unlike its neighbours, Sweden has never imposed a nationwide lockdown, with citizens encouraged to observe social distancing while businesses remained open.
However, it has also seen a much higher number of infections than other Scandinavian countries, with more than 200,000 confirmed so far, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 12:08

Overnight curfew for most of California begins on Saturday

California has announced an overnight stay-at-home order for most of the state, following a "recent, unprecedented" rise in coronavirus cases.
The rules, which were announced by the state's public health officer on Thursday, ban all gatherings and non-essential work between 22:00 and 05:00 local time in affected areas.
The curfew begins on Saturday and will last for one month.
The order affects the 41 counties currently under California's purple tier, or more than 94% of the state's population.
California is the most populous state in the US, which has seen more than 11.7 million infections and 250,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 12:13

Energy watchdog considers raising price cap due to Covid

It's the time of year many of us are putting our heating on as colder weather sets in.
But come April, we might have to shell out more for energy bills, thanks to coronavirus.
Energy regulator Ofgem is considering increasing the cap on what households can be charged on their bills, as the coronavirus pandemic is putting pressure on energy companies.
It is considering a rise of £21 to the default price cap, per household, when it comes up for review. That would be on top of any other changes made to the amount that companies can charge customers on their default rates.
The current price cap, running from October 2020 to the end of March 2021, is £1,042 per household for gas and electricity.
Ofgem reviews it every six months and was already expected to raise it in February, when it announces details of the new price cap coming into force from April.
Ofgem said the potential £21 hike will help remove some of the pressure on energy companies who are facing high levels of unpaid bills as households struggle to keep up during the pandemic.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 12:19

Investigation into Welsh care home outbreak

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A Covid outbreak at a care home in Wales is being investigated, after 15 deaths in three weeks.
There have been 56 cases among residents at Llangollen Fechan Care Home, with 33 staff also testing positive.
The movement of staff and residents is being restricted to help reduce transmission.
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 13:02

No further relaxation of rules in Wales, says Mark Drakeford

"There is no room" for the further relaxation of coronavirus measures in Wales, and they will stay same for the next two weeks, First Minister Mark Drakeford says.
Speaking at a press conference, he stressed how important individuals' choices were to defeating coronavirus.
"We need everyone - every single one of us - to play our part, to make sure we continue to build on the progress of the firebreak and keep those cases falling," he said.
He added: "we know what we have to do" - avoiding contact with other people, avoiding public transport where possible, and working from home for those who can.
"If we do all this together, we can have a path through to Christmas."
The Welsh Government is working on a joint plan with the other UK nations.

Covid infection rates levelling off in England and Scotland

Infection rates are levelling off in England and Scotland and decreasing in Wales and Northern Ireland, latest weekly data from the Office for National Statistics suggests.
Rates in school-age children are still rising while they are falling in young adults.
The figures cover the week to 14 November, nine days after the second lockdown was introduced in England.
Read more here.

Drakeford: No sticking points over UK-wide Christmas rules

Drakeford says he hopes a UK-wide agreement on regulations around Christmas will extend beyond travel rules.
He says that different traditions in the four UK nations will need to be reflected, for example, the importance of Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland.
Drakeford adds that there will be a further meeting between the four UK nations once further research by scientists has been completed.
"There are no sticking points and there are no disagreements," he says.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 13:08

Brand new 2-week 'circuit-breaker' lockdown for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is reportedly on the verge of implementing a fresh new lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.
A new 'circuit-breaker' is being planned from November 27, and is set to last for a fortnight.
Under new restrictions, all non-essential retail will be closed, in a huge blow to the high street during the crucial run up to Christmas.
All non-essential leisure and hospitality businesses will also be closed, as well as churches and other religious facilities.
It's understood that schools will however remain open.
The news comes as Northern Ireland's initial five-week 'circuit-breaker' lockdown came to an end yesterday, after a week's extension was agreed last Wednesday.
Today, cafes, coffee shops, hairdressers and salons are expected to reopen, but will be forced to close again next week should lockdown be reimposed.
Government officials met on Thursday and agreed that further lockdown measures were necessary.
Health Minister Robert Swann reportedly warned Stormont colleagues that if action wasn't taken immediately, hospitals in the North would be overrun before Christmas.
Mr Swann also urged the Government to consider imposing local travel restrictions too.
On Thursday, Northern Ireland confirmed 12 further deaths from Covid-19 and 487 new cases of the virus.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 13:12

Met Police 'don't want to stop Christmas meals'

Coronavirus - 20th November Cb2db510

Uncertainty about what might be allowed over the Christmas period has stoked fears that police will enter homes to enforce coronavirus restrictions.
But now the head of the Metropolitan Police in London has said the force has "no interest in interrupting family Christmas dinners" to catch Covid-19 rule breakers.
Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick added that the Met - Britain's biggest police force - will work with whatever the government's restrictions will be at the time.
But she told LBC's radio phone-in with Nick Ferrari that officers "have no powers of entry".
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 13:19

What's the latest from China?

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
Official media in China say that the last patients in north-western Xinjiang have been cured of Covid-19 and discharged from hospital .
Last month, an outbreak in the city of Kashgar led to 428 people testing positive, 78 of those with symptoms. Businesses and schools closed, and there were several rounds of city-wide testing to identify symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
However, there are fresh concerns in the eastern city of Tianjin, which has a population of more than 11 million people.
Officials today confirmed in a press conference that eight people have tested positive within the city (five with symptoms, three without). Residents in part of the city have been told “not to leave their homes” , and a nursery and hospital have been “put under closed-off management”. It is thought that they may have contracted the virus via the hospital, where a number of logistics and cold-chain workers were already being treated.
There are also concerns about school transmissions in Hong Kong. Junior students at primary schools across the city will close from Monday for two weeks, after a spate of new cases. Nurseries are already closed in the city until 6 December as a “precautionary step during the Covid-19 crisis”, after more than 100 outbreaks of the common cold were recorded.
Today, the city’s health minister warned Hong Kong had “probably entered” its fourth wave of coronavirus.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 13:34

Scotland travel guidance to become law

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Scotland's guidance on non-essential travel is to become law from 18:00 GMT today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
It means if you live in a level three or four area in Scotland you must not travel outside your local authority unless it is for an "essential" purpose.
And people from elsewhere in Scotland should not travel to a level three or four area.
There must be no non-essential travel between Scotland and other parts of the UK and Irish Republic.
Further to that, the guidance and advice for everyone in Scotland is not to travel abroad and not to take holidays overseas.
Sturgeon said people have asked why it is against the law to travel from level four areas in Scotland but only guidance not to travel abroad.
"Just because it is not against the law to travel overseas does not mean we think it is OK to do it," she said.
Sturgeon also said she wants to get Covid rates down before Christmas, when people might be meeting with family members more.
"The fact is, the fewer people in the population who have Covid by the time we get to Christmas, the lower the risk of others being infected with it during that period," she said.
She added it was clear the risks at Christmas will not be zero but they would be lower.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 16:22

Pfizer applies for US emergency authorisation

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech say they will apply for emergency authorisation in the US for their Covid-19 vaccine on Friday.
It will be the job of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to decide if the vaccine is safe to roll out. It is not clear how long the FDA will take to study the data. However, the US government expects to approve the vaccine in the first half of December.
Data from an advanced trial showed the vaccine protects 94% of adults over 65.
The trial involved 41,000 people worldwide. Half were given the vaccine, and half a placebo.
The companies said in a release that they have also begun submissions for authorisation in areas including the UK, Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan, with a up to 50 million doses expected to be produced by the end of this year, followed by as many as 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
The UK has pre-ordered 40 million doses and should get 10 million by the end of the year.

Ugandan politician charged with breaking virus rules

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Ugandan presidential candidate Bobi Wine has been released on bail after being charged with spreading coronavirus.
Wine held a large rally this week but human rights groups say the virus charge is a pretext to suppress political opposition.
Protests broke out and 28 people died in clashes when the popular politician, who is also a pop star, was arrested this week.
The musician, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, is among 11 candidates challenging President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986.
Human Rights Watch says it is clear that the Ugandan authorities are using Covid-19 guidelines to repress opposition and that the governing party has held large events ahead of the election on 14 January 2021.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 16:32

Spain plans to vaccinate large part of population by mid-2021

Spain expects to vaccinate "a very substantial part" of its population within the first half of next year, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Friday.
"Our country, Spain, will be the first country in the EU, along with Germany, to have a complete vaccination plan," he said, adding that full details would be presented at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Spain is home to 47 million people and has been badly affected by the pandemic, with more than 1.5 million infections and 42,291 deaths.

Rudy Giuliani's son tests positive for Covid-19

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The son of Rudy Giuliani - the personal lawyer and outspoken defender of Donald Trump - has tested positive for Covid-19.
Like his father, Andrew Giuliani also works in support of the Trump administration, currently serving as a special assistant to the president.
The younger Giuliani says he is experiencing mild symptoms and has begun quarantining.
It's been a busy couple of weeks for his dad, the former mayor of New York, who is leading the Trump campaign's efforts to challenge the election results.
Here are some of Rudy Giuliani's recent claims, fact checked.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 16:36

UK headlines as virus rates 'level off' in England and Scotland

If you're just joining us, here a some of the main coronavirus developments happening in the UK today:


The latest daily figures across the UK

Here are the latest daily figures for the number of coronavirus cases and deaths across the UK:

  • In Scotland, there have been a further 1,018 cases and 32 deaths
  • In Wales, there have been a further 1,020 cases and 31 deaths
  • In Northern Ireland, there have been a further 369 cases and 12 deaths

Meanwhile, NHS England announced a further 326 patients who tested positive for the virus have died.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 16:42

Festive scenes of normality and no social distancing on the Isle of Man

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A lantern parade was held as part of the celebrations

Thousands of people gathered in the Isle of Man for the annual Christmas lights switch-on on Thursday evening.
The festive celebrations were led by a lantern parade which was accompanied by a choir singing carols.
There have been fewer than 400 cases of coronavirus on the Isle of Man and unlike the UK, there are currently no social distancing requirements on the island and gatherings are permitted.
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A choir of carollers joined the lantern parade
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A pipe band entertained the crowds during the celebrations
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 16:46

What's happening around the world?

If you're just joining us, here's a reminder of the day's top global stories:

  • Mexico, the world's largest Spanish-speaking country, has now recorded more than 100,000 deaths, as well as more than a million cases. Authorities there acknowledge the true toll is likely to be higher
  • India has also reached a new milestone, with more than nine million cases
  • There has been some good news on the vaccine front, with Pfizer applying for emergency approval in the US
  • But the country's largest state, California, has announced a new overnight curfew for most of its residents starting on Saturday, amid a surge in cases
  • In Europe, meanwhile, the World Health Organization has warned that the continent faces a "tough" six months
  • The head of the Serbian Church has died of Covid-19, less than three weeks after he attended a large public funeral for a bishop who had also contracted coronavirus
  • Ugandan pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine has been charged with breaking coronavirus rules, but human rights groups say the decision is politically motivated


Birmingham NHS trust boss says more Covid patients than any other provider

Kathryn Stanczyszyn - Senior reporter, West Midlands
The head of the West Midlands’ biggest hospital trust says it now has more patients with coronavirus than any other NHS provider in the country.
The chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham, Dr David Rosser, told a briefing this afternoon there are currently 452 Covid-positive patients across three hospitals – the Queen Elizabeth, Heartlands and Good Hope.
Dr Rosser said November’s admissions are on course to be double that of both March and April.
He also said he’s struggling to understand why the trust is likely to be again the hardest hit in the country in terms of admissions during this second wave.
Currently University Hospitals Birmingham is keeping its fourth hospital, Solihull, as a "Covid-free" treatment centre, but Dr Rosser said the trust was "close" to having to use that site for emergency Covid patients as well.
He said that at the moment that would be a preferable option to re-opening the Birmingham Nightingale hospital, because of issues with staffing.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 16:50

Train crashed after driver 'became distracted by Covid text messages'

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The front corner of the class locomotive, which had been assisting freight trains, came to rest in the path of an oncoming passenger train

A train driver became distracted by text messages about coronavirus shortly before a crash, a report has found.
A passenger train crashed into a derailed class 65 locomotive near Bromsgrove station in Worcestershire in March. The driver of the locomotive had been distracted by text messages following the announcement of lockdown restrictions.
No one was hurt, but the passenger train - a Cardiff Central to Birmingham New Street service - was significantly damaged.
The report, published by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) , found the driver of the locomotive, who had 18 years' experience, hit a buffer stop after sending and receiving text messages about how the lockdown would affect his childcare arrangements.
The RAIB suggested three learning points for drivers in its report, including one about complying with mobile phone policies in the driving cab.
Read more here.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 16:55

Row over NI reintroduction of Covid restrictions

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Arlene Foster says ministers had to impose restrictions because the R-number was rising

Northern Ireland's first minister has denied her party - the unionist DUP - performed a U-turn by agreeing to tighter Covid-19 restrictions one week after voting against measures proposed to the executive.
First Minister Arlene Foster said the evidence "had changed".
Earlier today some businesses reopened as rules lifted across the nation - but any celebration will be short-lived as a two-week "circuit-break" has been announced , beginning on 27 November.
The decision has been met with anger from many business leaders, including the prominent hotelier Bill Wolsey who said the power-sharing government "can't even produce a coherent policy to fight a common enemy".
But Foster said the executive "had to act" given that the R-number - the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus to - was rising.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 16:57

'Leaked documents' suggest NHS plan for Covid vaccine rollout

Everyone in the UK who wants to receive a coronavirus vaccine could get one before the end of April 2021 if supplies are sufficient, according to a report of a leaked NHS plan on how to roll-out jabs.
The Health Service Journal (HSJ) says it has seen documents that shows the government is planning a huge immunisation programme across GP-run facilities, roving vaccine teams and “mass vaccination sites”.
However, the plan relies on several assumptions, such as that only 75% of adults will accept the offer of a vaccine, and that seven million doses of the vaccine will be available in December.
And don't get too excited just yet - the Covid vaccines that have shown promising initial results in recent weeks have a long way to go before they become widely available.
The HSJ says the plan it has seen lays out the priority groups for receiving the vaccine, and the dates they'll be offered it:

  • Beginning of December: Healthcare workers, care home residents and care home staff
  • Mid-December: People aged 80 or over
  • Late December: Those aged 70 to 80
  • Early January: Everyone aged 65 to 70, as well as all high and moderate risk under 65s
  • Mid-January: Everyone aged 50 to 65
  • Late January: Everyone else over the age of 18 (but most of this group would be vaccinated during March, the report says)
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 18:10

UK reports further 511 Covid deaths

A further 511 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, according to the UK government's latest daily figures.
It brings the total death toll by this measure to 54,286.
The government data also shows there were 20,252 new confirmed cases of the virus, in the past day, bringing the country's total number of cases to 1,473,508.

Headlines from today's No 10 briefing

Here is a recap of the main points from the No 10 briefing.

  • A fall in daily case numbers over the past week – from 24,430 to 22,287 - suggests the second peak is “flattening”, Matt Hancock says
  • A further 511 people have died in England within 28 days of testing positive, while 16,409 people are currently being treated in hospital
  • The health secretary says it is too early to say how far restrictions can be relaxed after the England-wide lockdown ends on 2 December while the deputy chief medical officer says the picture is “improving” but could quickly worsen again
  • Jonathan Van Tam says everyone “wants a break” over Christmas but people will need to comply with “proportionate measures” and be sensible if they want to gather together
  • The government has begun the process of seeking regulatory approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with the firm handing over data to the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
  • If this or other vaccines are approved, the UK will be ready to start using it next month, with the bulk of the rollout beginning from January
  • All over-50s will be eligible for a free flu jab from 1 December
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 18:23

Christmas fun could lead to worst-case scenario in Canada

Canada's top public health official says the country could see 60,000 new cases of coronavirus a day by the end of December if people increase their social contacts over the holidays.
If things remain the same, Dr Theresa Tam said on Friday the country is on a trajectory to see 20,000 cases a day in five to six weeks.
Dr Tam said the second wave has "far surpassed" peak levels from the first, with a current average of about 5,000 cases a day.
Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to limit their interactions, but no national measures were called for.
“We are now going to have to really tighten up once again,” Trudeau said.
“This is frustrating. I know we’ve all heard stories of people who’ve thrown up their hands and aren’t doing their part anymore.”
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 20:06

US Republican Senator Scott has Covid-19

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US Republican Senator Rick Scott has tested positive for Covid-19, he said in a statement on Friday.
The Florida politician is "feeling good and experiencing very mild symptoms", he said, adding that he will be working from home until he is cleared to return to Washington.
Scott is the latest US senator to test positive for the virus, following 87-year-old Senator Chuck Grassley who announced he had been infected earlier this week.
Scott had campaigned last week with Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are both facing run-off elections in January for seats in Georgia. The results of these races will likely determine which party controls the country's upper chamber.
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 20:10

What's been happening around the world today?

Thanks for joining us on another busy day of coronavirus news.
Here are some of the main international stories today:
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Post by Kitkat Fri Nov 20 2020, 20:16

Today's UK headlines - and thank you for joining us

We're bringing this live page to a close now. Before we do, here's a look at some of the key UK headlines today:

The live page has been brought to you by Becky Morton, Victoria Bisset, Alice Evans, Gavin Stamp, Holly Honderich, Penny Spiller, Lauren Turner, George Bowden and Rob Corp.

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