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Coronavirus - 30th November


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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 10:07

Summary for Monday, 30th November

  • Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she will not have an "indoor Christmas dinner" with her parents this year to avoid putting them at risk
  • Boris Johnson hopes to avoid a Conservative rebellion over the three tier system of restrictions in England by publishing an impact assessment
  • A study has found that coronavirus cases in England fell by almost a third in a fortnight after the latest lockdown restrictions began
  • Shops in England could stay open longer in the run-up to Christmas in a plan to boost high streets
  • US virus expert Anthony Fauci has warned of a "surge upon a surge" in cases after millions of people ignored advice and travelled home for Thanksgiving
  • Globally more than 62.7 million people have been infected and 1.46 million have died with Covid, according to Johns Hopkins University

Good morning and welcome to today’s live coverage. Here’s a look at today’s main stories to get started:

Here are the global headlines

Here we’ve summarised the stories that are making headlines around the world.

  • As of Monday morning, there have been 62,746,222 Covid-19 infections and 1,459,497 deaths linked to the disease worldwide, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University
  • Dr Anthony Fauci, the top American infectious diseases expert, has warned there could be "surge upon surge" of coronavirus cases in the US after millions ignored advice and travelled home for the Thanksgiving holiday
  • Eight people have died during prison riots in Sri Lanka , where inmates have been protesting over conditions following a surge of coronavirus infections
  • Official figures from China suggest the country’s economy continues to recover relatively quickly, a year after the outbreak began in the city of Wuhan. Manufacturing activity in November grew at its fastest rate for three years
  • Organisers of the delayed Olympic Games in Tokyo have estimated a cost of around 100 billion yen ($960m; £720m) for measures to ensure the event is coronavirus-safe
  • International students have arrived in Australia for the first time since the country shut its borders to curb coronavirus infections in March. A charter flight carrying 63 students landed in Darwin on Monday
  • In France, the country’s top court has ordered the government to review a law limiting the number of people in churches during religious services to 30.

Sturgeon: I won't have Christmas dinner with my parents

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will not have an "indoor Christmas dinner" with her parents this year to avoid putting them at risk from coronavirus.
"I've not seen my parents since July and I would dearly love to see them today and at Christmas, but I don't want to put them at risk when a vaccine is so close," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"We might go and have a family walk somewhere, but the idea ...of an indoors Christmas dinner is something we will not do this year."
In Scotland, three households will be allowed to form a bubble and mix inside their homes between 23 and 27 December.
However, Sturgeon said: "The default advice I would give is that if you can manage it over Christmas, not to come together with other households."
For more detail on the rules over Christmas across the UK see our explainer .

Large number of Tory MPs unsettled by Covid restrictions, minister says

Environment Secretary George Eustice is asked on BBC Breakfast whether more than 70 Conservative MPs may be about to oppose the introduction of a tougher tier system when it ends.
Eustice says: “We’re facing a large number of our MPs who are unsettled by the measure that have had to be taken. We absolutely understand that anxiety.”
The government must convince MPs and the public that “we’ve got a route through this" with the deployment of vaccines meaning we can “turn the corner by early summer”.
“We shouldn’t stumble at this last hurdle,” he said.
He adds the data showing a fall in coronavirus infections “vindicates” the government’s decision to impose a national lockdown in England.
Eustice says he's not surprised if the Labour Party votes against the three-tier system tomorrow, and adds a national emergency is not a time to “play politics”.

Sunday trading hours could be extended to avoid overcrowding - minister

Eustice is also asked about newspaper reports that shops could be allowed to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the run-up to Christmas
He tells the BBC the government is “looking at a range of measures to try to ensure that we don’t get overcrowding” when non-essential shops reopen.
Ministers want to ensure that social distancing can be maintained in stores after England’s national lockdown ends on 2 December, but Eustice says he is “not aware if there is a decision around round-the-clock opening”.
He says there has been “discussion over Sunday trading hours”, however.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 10:18

Fauci warns of ‘uptick’ after Thanksgiving travel

As Americans return home from their Thanksgiving holidays, there is concern about the spread of coronavirus in a country already struggling to contain the pandemic.
As we reported earlier , the top infectious diseases expert in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci, has said the the country “may see a surge upon a surge” of coronavirus infections in the next two or three weeks.
Health experts had called for people to spend Thanksgiving at home, but this week US airports marked their busiest period since mid-March.
Anywhere from 800,000 to more than one million travellers passed through US airport checkpoints on any day during the past week, official transport statistics showed.
"There is almost certainly going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel," Dr Fauci told US broadcaster CNN.
The US has already recorded more than 13.3 million infections and 266,875 deaths, the highest figures in the world on both counts.
As of Sunday, there were 93,219 people in hospital with Covid-19, the highest number since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 10:21

Virus protest descends into deadly riots at Sri Lankan jail

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Inmates protested on the top of the prison building in Colombo

A protest over the coronavirus situation in a Sri Lankan prison has led to deadly riots.
At least eight prisoners were killed and more than 50 injured in clashes with guards at the Mahara maximum security prison near the capital Colombo , officials say.
Police spokesman Ajith Rohana told the BBC guards had "used force to control an unruly situation" in the prison.
Inmates have held protests in recent weeks, demanding an increase in coronavirus testing, early release on bail, and new isolation facilities for infected prisoners as cases rise.
About 1,000 cases have been reported from the country's overcrowded prisons.
Sri Lanka experienced a jump in virus cases last month when two clusters - one at a garment factory and another at a fish market - emerged.
There have been 23,484 cases and 116 deaths reported in Sri Lanka so far, according to figures collated by John Hopkins University

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 10:24

French church limit 'infringes freedom of worship'

With the festive period fast approaching, governments are facing tough questions about whether to ease restrictions in time for Christmas. In France, the government has said it will relax its national lockdown in phases.
It decided religious services would be able to take place, providing a 30-person limit was enforced. But the country's highest court has ordered a review of this limit, after it was challenged. Religious leaders argued that churches and cathedrals were more spacious than most public spaces.
"The claimants are right in saying that the measure is disproportionate," a court statement said. "Thus it is a serious and illegal infringement on the freedom of worship."
The government has been given three days to modify the policy and take proportionate measures. Elsewhere in Europe:

  • Thousands of health workers have marched in the Spanish capital, Madrid, in support of the country's public health system. They called for an increase in funding to cope with the pressures of the pandemic
  • Turkey is reporting record death rates amid concerns a recent surge in infections may overwhelm its health system
  • And in Germany, some traditional festive markets are going ahead, but with a novel twist. They are opening to drivers - rather than visitors on foot - with each stall operating as a drive-through service

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A drive-in Christmas market in southern Germany

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 10:29

Shops in England can open longer in run-up to Christmas

Earlier, we heard from Environment Secretary George Eustice saying the government was looking at ways to avoid overcrowding in shops in December.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said shops in England will be allowed to stay open for longer in the run-up to Christmas and in January.
Local authorities will be able to temporarily waive the rules restricting retail opening hours and shopkeepers and councils will decide how long stores will stay open, he said.
The new rules would run from Monday to Saturday.
Jenrick said the relaxation of the rules would allow shopping to be "more pleasant and safer".
Read more .

Darth Vader actor Dave Prowse 'died with coronavirus'

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Dave Prowse, the Bristolian former bodybuilder best known for playing Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, died with coronavirus, his daughter has told the Sun .
On Sunday, it was announced that Prowse had died aged 85 , after a short illness.
He had been in hospital for two weeks with Covid-19, the Sun reported.
His daughter Rachel, 50, told the newspaper: "He might have looked quite scary but as a person he was a sweet, kind and generous man. He really was a gentle giant. And to us he was our dad.”
“It’s horrible that Covid restrictions meant we did not get to see him and say goodbye," she added.
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Prowse was best known for playing Darth Vader

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 10:32

Johnson calls for 'unity' from MPs over new Covid tiers

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a rebellion from some of his own MPs over the the new tier system for England.
MPs will vote on the measures on Tuesday, and a group of around 70 Tory backbenchers, the Covid Recovery Group, have demanded to see the evidence government is basing its new system on.
The prime minister has promised to publish this health, economic and social data - which we're expecting later today.
In a letter to the Covid Recovery Group, Johnson called for "unity and resolve", defending the tier system as a "balanced" approach that would help protect the NHS, keep schools open and allow the economy to reopen safely.
The group's chairman Mark Harper said: "I welcome the fact that the government has recognised our concerns about the enormous impact that its proposals will have on the hospitality industry and has suggested further support."
He called for details of the support being proposed, as well as the cost-benefit analysis of the restrictions, to be published "as soon as practically possible".
Read more .
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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 10:42

Virus measures add costs to delayed Tokyo Games

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The Tokyo Olympic Games are due to begin in July 2021

The cost of hosting the delayed Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan next year is swelling, as organisers invest in measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
A report by Japan’s Kyodo news agency said organisers would need to spend an extra 100 billion yen ($960m; £720m) on virus-proofing the Games.
The money will be spent on health-care infrastructure, including a testing system and personal protective equipment, the report said.
The Games were expected to cost around 1.35 trillion yen before they were postponed in March. The delay is expected to increase the total cost by about 200 billion yen, according to Kyodo’s report .
Earlier this month the head of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, said he was "very confident" that spectators will be able to attend the Games next year.
Bach said the IOC would take "great efforts" in making sure fans were vaccinated before arriving.
More than 11,000 athletes from about 200 countries were scheduled to take part in the 2020 Games, now due to begin in July 2021.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 12:16

UK ‘can’t take foot off the pedal’ as infections fall by a third

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About one in 100 people are estimated to have the virus

With just a couple of days left in England’s national lockdown, a major study suggests infections have fallen by about a third .
Some of the worst-hit areas saw the biggest improvements during the four-week shutdown, the study found.
But cases remain high, with an estimated 72,000 new infections a day compared to 100,000 before lockdown.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the country cannot "take our foot off the pedal just yet".
The findings come from Imperial College’s React-1 study, which gives the most up-to-date picture of infections. It involved swabbing more than 100,000 people from 13-24 November.

How to avoid catching Covid this Christmas

Earlier we heard Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying she would not be sharing a Christmas dinner indoors with her parents - despite the rules allowing this.
But if you do choose to have guests over, how can everyone stay as safe as possible?
Any social setting increases the risk of infection, but our science editor David Shukman says there are a number of things you can do to reduce this risk.
These include limiting the number of guests, avoiding sharing food and drink and ventilating the room by keeping windows open.
We've got some more tips here .

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 12:23

Biden adviser: Many will be in intensive care over Christmas

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Thanksgiving is often the busiest week of the year for travel in the US

More leading disease experts have issued dire warnings about the spread of coronavirus in the US after millions travelled home for Thanksgiving, against medical advice.
A coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden, Dr Céline Gounder, told CBS News she was concerned about the pressure on hospitals after the November holiday.
Dr Gounder said "unfortunately, that means that many people who celebrated with family, with friends over Thanksgiving will find themselves in the hospital, in ICUs over Christmas and New Year".
Dr Gounder issued the warning on Saturday, a day before data showed the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in the US had reached a record high of 93,238.
Another expert, emergency medicine physician Dr Megan Ranney, likened the strain coronavirus was placing on hospitals to “a natural disaster occurring in all 50 states at the same time”.
Read more: Fauci warns of 'surge in cases' post Thanksgiving .

Students 'are not avoiding Covid testing'

National Union of Students president Larissa Kennedy tells the News Channel the "vast majority" of students welcome the mass testing starting today at many universities across the UK .
She denies students are reluctant to take a test because they fear being told they have to isolate, and cannot return home.
But Ms Kennedy says there should be more financial support for those who did end up needing to self-isolate.
Universities are opening temporary testing centres where hundreds of thousands of students will be checked for Covid this week before they leave.
Students have been asked to take two tests, three days apart.
If they test negative, many students will leave university in the "travel window" starting from 3 December - but testing is voluntary and it will not be available in all universities.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 12:27

Christmas rules for hospitality to be set out by Welsh government

We're expecting Wales' first minister to outline new coronavirus rules for pubs, bars and restaurants shortly.
One option being considered is the "level three" system in Scotland, where alcohol sales are banned and venues have to close at 18:00.
Pubs, bars and restaurants reopened in Wales on 9 November after a 17-day lockdown, and currently close at 22:00 GMT.
The new restrictions would come into force from 4 December.

Hong Kong tightens rules ahead of ‘critical’ two weeks

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Hong Kong's leader said the next two weeks would be "critical"

Now to Hong Kong, where authorities have announced more measures to stop cases spreading.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam told reporters on Monday that a new wave of Covid-19 had hit the territory “very quickly”.
Gatherings will now be limited to no more than two people, karaoke lounges will be closed and most civil servants will be asked to work from home, Lam said.
"It will be very critical in the coming two weeks," Lam said.
The measures come in addition to restrictions announced on Sunday, which will see all schools close for the rest of the year.
By imposing tough restrictions, the territory of 7.5 million people has so far managed to avoid large outbreaks seen elsewhere, recording about 6,000 infections and 109 deaths to date.
But in recent days, infections have been rising at a much faster rate, with Lam saying 76 new cases had been reported on Monday.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 12:29

Moderna files for vaccine approval in US

Michelle Roberts - Health editor, BBC News online
Moderna has filed for US regulatory approval of its coronavirus vaccine so that it can be recommended for widespread use.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will look at trial data for the mRNA vaccine and decide if it is safe and effective enough for emergency authorisation.
Clinical studies show the jab is more than 94% effective at protecting people from Covid-19 illness.
Pfizer, which has a similar jab, has already filed for the same US approval.
UK regulators are also reviewing data on the Pfizer vaccine, as well as another type of Covid vaccine from AstraZenca and Oxford University , to decide whether to grant emergency approval.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 12:30

Breaking News 

Pubs and restaurants in Wales to be banned from selling alcohol

Pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales will be banned from selling alcohol and will have to close at 18:00, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.
They will be able to sell takeaway food and alcohol after that time.
The rule comes into force from Friday at 18:00 and will be reviewed on 17 December.

Indoor entertainment venues must close in Wales from Friday

Indoor entertainment venues in Wales, including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres and casinos, must close from 18:00 on Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.
Indoor visitor attractions, such as museums, galleries and heritage sites will also have to close.
Outdoor visitor attractions will remain open and other coronavirus restrictions in Wales will remain the same.
However, Drakeford said when the English lockdown ends on Wednesday, the Welsh government will look again at travel restrictions and will make a further announcement later this week.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 12:35

Leading medical journal reveals concerns over British government’s Covid cronyism

Fiona Audley - Irish Post
A leading medical journal has published a scathing editorial accusing the British Government of “suppressing science for political and financial gain”.
The BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal, claims “Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health”, adding “politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement”.
Explaining their stance, they state: “The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.”
They add: “Government appointees are able to ignore or cherry pick science—another form of misuse—and indulge in anti-competitive practices that favour their own products and those of friends and associates.”
The UK government is currently facing a legal challenge after it awarded £250m worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts to a US jewellery company.
The BMJ reports that the not-for-profit legal organisation the Good Law Project and EveryDoctor, a doctor-led campaigning organisation, claimed that one of the contracts was awarded to the jewellery company without any advertisement or competitive tender process.
The case is one of a number of lawsuits launched against the government by the legal campaigning group over contracts and positions awarded during the pandemic.
The group is also mounting a separate High Court challenge to the government’s decision to award lucrative contracts to companies with little or no experience in the supply of PPE.
Good Law Project director, Jolyon Maugham QC, told the BMJ:
“At last we can all see—in simple black and white—the staggering sums flowing from public coffers to private pockets. “Who could blame individuals for joining the queue if the government is handing out free money?
“But you and I, and our children, are going to have to pay higher taxes because the government’s incompetence handed fortunes big enough to last generations to obscure foreign businessmen.”
The BMJ have called for “full transparency about decision making systems, processes, and knowing who is accountable for what” from the government.
“Science is a public good,” they state.
“It doesn’t need to be followed blindly, but it does need to be fairly considered.”
They add: “When good science is suppressed by the medical-political complex, people die.”

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 18:36


Latest headlines

If you're just joining us, here are the main stories to catch up on so far today:

When does England's lockdown end?

The government has confirmed England's new tiers system will “come into effect from the beginning of Wednesday 2 December”, marking the end of the lockdown.
In all tiers, all non-essential retail, including indoor and outdoor markets and car boot sales, can reopen from Wednesday, but must follow Covid-19 secure guidelines.
Other businesses and venues which can reopen from that day include personal care and close-contact services such as hairdressers, barbers, beauty salons and tattoo parlours, leisure and sporting facilities like gyms, leisure centres, golf courses and swimming pools, and public buildings including libraries, community centres and halls.
We've answered more of your coronavirus-related questions here .

Drinkers in England's tier two 'could order Scotch egg' as substantial meal

Drinkers in tier two areas of England may be able to order a Scotch egg with their pint to keep in line with post-lockdown rules, a cabinet minister has suggested.
Under new restrictions from Wednesday, pubs in those high risk areas can only open if they function as a restaurant - with alcohol only served as part of a "substantial meal".
Environment Secretary George Eustice told LBC Radio that Scotch eggs would constitute such a meal "if there were table service".
Downing Street later did not rule this out - as the prime minister's official spokesman refused to point out the difference between a bar snack and a meal.
He added that "bar snacks do not count as a substantial meal but it's well established practice in the hospitality industry what does".
Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 18:45

Potential Tory rebels await No 10's tier report

Ellie Price - Political Correspondent
Conservative MPs have told me they are waiting on the publication of a new impact assessment to see whether they can support their own government over the new tiered restrictions in England.
The report will be a sort of cost-benefit analysis for the proposed new tiered restrictions for England on things like health, the economy and on social issues as well.
There was a bit of a panic at the weekend with Boris Johnson writing to MPs setting out the importance of the restrictions and spelling out a concession - allowing MPs to vote again on these restrictions at the end of January.
If there's no vote, the restrictions will automatically end at the beginning of February.
But while there is a real sense the government is worried about getting its own MPs onboard - Labour looks as though it will support the government, meaning a defeat is unlikely.

Chinese doctor assaulted for stopping men entering hospital without masks

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst

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Footage of Dr Ye in a hospital bed has sparked anger

In China, two men have been detained for 15 days and given a 500 yuan fine ($76; £57) for assaulting a doctor who tried to prevent them from entering a hospital without a mask.
National broadcaster CCTV reports that Dr Ye Mingliang was on duty at the entrance of the hospital in Ziyun county, southwestern Guizhou province, when he “quickly stopped [the men] and asked them to wear masks”. However, they “refused to cooperate and chased Dr Ye, pushed him to the ground and scratched his face”. Police told the broadcaster that “one of the assailants smelt strongly of alcohol”.
Footage of Dr Ye in a hospital bed today has ignited anger across China, and many on the popular Sina Weibo social network say they think a 15-day penalty for the men is “too light”.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many people have come to regard Chinese medical workers as “angels without wings”.
But before the full extent of the outbreak hit, attacks on medical workers were depressingly common in China. Hospitals in one southern Chinese city installed metal detectors at entrances at the beginning of the year to prevent visitors from bringing knives or weapons inside.
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Surveillance footage showed medical workers approaching the men, who tried to walk into the hospital without visiting the epidemic checkpoint

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Vaccine minister: NHS is ready for 'immediate' start

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Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi tells BBC Radio 4's World at One the NHS is ready to begin deploying any vaccine "immediately" once it is approved.
"We're ready," he said, adding: "the NHS has done tremendous amounts of planning for the different vaccines."
He said the health service has worked to ensure vaccination hubs are able to handle vaccines that require storage at low temperatures - with other plans in place for those that do not.
Health and social care workers and care home residents are first in line to receive any vaccine, with the over-80s also at the top of the government's priority list, he added.
He said the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is closest to being approved.

‘Vaccines may be ready by Christmas’ and other US headlines

Let’s take a look at what’s happening across the Atlantic in the US, where the coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll.

  • The latest figures in the US show there have been more than 13.3 million infections and 266,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus. Those are the highest numbers on both counts of any country in the world
  • Several leading disease experts have expressed concern about the spread of coronavirus over the Thanksgiving-holiday period, with one likening the pressure it’s expected to put on hospitals to a “natural disaster”
  • The number of people currently in hospital with Covid-19 reached a record high of 93,238 on Sunday, according to the Covid Tracking Project
  • There was better news, however, as the Health Secretary Alex Azar gave an update on the progress of vaccines developed by American companies. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines could be approved by regulators and made available to Americans before Christmas, Azar suggested
  • Azar’s comments came after Moderna said it was filing for US and European emergency regulatory approval of its vaccine
  • Meanwhile in New York, once the epicentre of the country’s epidemic, the mayor of the city said schools will begin to reopen for in-person learning on 7 December for students whose parents agree to weekly testing. Schools were shut earlier this month after a spike in positive tests

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 18:52

More Covid fines handed out during lockdown in England and Wales

The number of fines handed out by police in England and Wales for breaching Covid restrictions has begun to rise amid tighter lockdown rules.
Weekly figures published by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) showed 1,137 fixed penalty notices were issued between 6 November and 12 November, compared to 947 the previous week.
The number of fines handed out peaked during the first national lockdown in April and May, stayed low between June and September, and have gradually begun to rise since then, particularly since 23 October.
England's current lockdown began on 5 November, while there was a firebreak lockdown in Wales between 23 October and 9 November.

Starting ski season now ‘doesn’t make sense’, Germany says

The German government has urged other European Union member states to hold off from opening ski resorts until coronavirus infections have gone down.
A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested on Monday that European countries should take a co-ordinated approach to relaxing restrictions.
"It doesn't make sense to undermine national contact restrictions... by starting the ski season too early," Steffen Seibert told reporters.
The German government is seeking an agreement with EU countries to keep ski resorts closed until early January.
Last week Merkel told parliament that efforts were being made to reach a Europe-wide decision, but reaching an agreement with neighbouring Austria is proving difficult.
Some of the early European coronavirus hotspots were at ski resorts, helping spread infections across the continent. Many Germans were infected at the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl in March.
Italy and France, two other skiing destinations, have seen among the highest number of coronavirus infections in Europe as well.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 18:56

Greater Manchester Police handed out most lockdown fines in England

Police in England handed out 1,977 penalty fines for breaches of the national lockdown during the first two weeks of November, according to figures from the National Police Chiefs Council.
The greatest number of fines were issued in north-west England which, along with Leicester, has now been subject to the longest period of restrictions.
Greater Manchester Police handed out the most penalties - 309 since the national lockdown began on 5 November.
Merseyside Police issued 277 penalties and there were 178 handed out in Lancashire. Leicestershire Police have issued only 30 penalties under the November lockdown laws.
Police chiefs believe the significant difference between the areas may be down to the willingness of people to comply with requests from officers to break up a gathering, along with the amount of police time that has been allocated to investigations.

Analysis: England's new tiers much bigger than before

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
The proposed new tier system of Covid restrictions in England applies to bigger areas than the previous system used over the summer.
Back then, action was supposed to be hyperlocal - sometimes with different rules in the same local authority.
Now the tier curbs apply to whole counties or even regions.
The modellers advising government say that working on a broader scale “may make measures more effective” since it reduces the chances of people travelling across tier boundaries.
The price is that low-Covid parts of a county can get swept up in countywide restrictions.
Tier three Tunbridge Wells and Ashford in Kent have low rates compared to most of England – about 120 cases per 100,000 in the week to 19 November.
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Most local authorities in England saw more than 180 cases per 100,000 people that week.
But they have seen rising rates in recent weeks, while the rates in the rest of England have been falling.
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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 18:59

Why vaccines are not compulsory under UK law

Jack Goodman - BBC Reality Check
You might be seeing claims on social media that a Covid-19 vaccine will be made compulsory in the UK.
But the government has said it will not do this and the current law does not allow it.
A law called the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 , which applies in England and Wales, allows public health measures to be taken in circumstances like the current coronavirus outbreak.
However, it explicitly states that regulations cannot require a person to undertake medical treatment, including vaccination . This provision remains in place. The Coronavirus Act introduced in March 2020 extended this prohibition to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Nadhim Zahawi, the health minister in charge of the vaccine rollout, told the BBC today that the vaccine won’t be compulsory.
He said: “I think it’s right that it’s voluntary. People have to be allowed to be able to decide for themselves whether they want to be vaccinated.”
He suggested that pressure to be vaccinated might come from ‘service providers’ - places such as restaurants, bars and sports venues, which might want to see proof of vaccination.
People against vaccinations in general have been sharing graphics in Facebook groups about how to “legally decline a vaccine”. As we’ve shown, the current law can’t force anyone to take a vaccine.
Guidance from the NHS about vaccinations for children makes it clear that vaccines are not compulsory and a parent “should be asked for your consent before each vaccination.”
We've been fact-checking more of the most widely shared dubious coronavirus claims here.

Canada extends international travel ban

Canada's federal government has extended its existing travel ban on foreign nationals, as cases rise throughout the country.
Travel restrictions on Americans wishing to travel north have been extended again until 21 December, while the ban on travellers from all other countries has been extended until 21 January.
There are exemptions in place for Canadian citizens and their immediate family, permanent residents and people entering from the US for "essential" reasons.
All those who enter Canada are subject to a mandatory 14 days of self-isolation.
Canada has seen a total of 374,100 total infections so far and more than 12,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 19:03

Further 12,330 cases recorded in UK

A further 12,330 coronavirus cases have been reported in the UK, according to the latest government figures .
And 205 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, taking the total number of coronavirus deaths in the UK to 58,448.
The number of deaths recorded tends to be lower over the weekend and on Mondays due to reporting delays.
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Latest from the UK ahead of government briefing

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to lead a press briefing at around 17:00 GMT. While we wait here's the latest stories in the UK today:

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 19:08

What did we learn from today's Downing Street briefing?

Today's coronavirus briefing by the UK government has just finished. Here are some of the key points from the news conference:

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock said England's national restrictions have been “really tough” on everyone – but the “good news is they've been working” and the virus is back under control
  • He cited a study from Imperial College London which says coronavirus infections in England have fallen by about a third during lockdown
  • Testing people in the community to identify asymptomatic infections is the way forward, Hancock added, urging people to take a test if they're offered one as they might “save a life”
  • He said the next stage of the government's mass testing plans will be to offer widespread Covid testing to parts of England in tier three, to give them "a way out of the toughest restrictions"
  • Hancock also urged university students to take a test if they're offered one before they travel home for Christmas, but defended the fact that mass testing of students is not mandatory
  • Prof Stephen Powis, the national medical director of NHS England, added that a recent fall in coronavirus cases across the UK is now beginning to have a knock-on impact on reducing the number of people in hospital with Covid-19, and he urged people to remain vigilant to help those numbers to “continue to fall”
  • But Powis warned that the NHS is always at its busiest in January, February and March so it is “crucial” that the virus remains under control into the new year to reduce the pressure Covid adds on the health service

Italy's Calabria region battles two pandemics

Mark Lowen - BBC News, Rome
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An army field hospital in Calabria, meant to help with Covid-19 patients.

Calabria is Italy's poorest region. And while its infection rate and intensive care numbers are lower than northern Italy, its fragile health system is buckling. This region in Italy's southern toe was quickly declared a "red zone" in early November.
And while it battles its Covid-19 case load, it also faces the damage wrought by decades of political mismanagement and plunder by its mafia, the 'Ndrangheta, which infiltrated the healthcare system.
Criminal gangs seized resources and ran up massive debts, leading to 18 of its public hospitals being closed and savage cuts to beds and staff.
Read more about Calabria's two pandemics - coronavirus and the mafia .

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 19:11

White House expert urges Thanksgiving travellers to get tested

Dr Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has urged Americans who travelled for Thanksgiving or celebrated in large groups - against medical advice - to assume they have been infected with Covid-19 and get tested.
"We know people may have made mistakes over the Thanksgiving time period," Dr Birx said on CBS News on Sunday. "If you're young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later. But you need to assume that you're infected."
Experts have warned of an uptick in infections following last Thursday's holiday, which rivals Christmas in size and typically heralds the busiest week for travel in the US. Though the number of holiday air travellers dropped by about half this year, more than one million people passed through security at US airports on the day before Thanksgiving alone.

Brazilian city elects mayor - as he lies in a coma with Covid

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Maguito Vilela tested positive for coronavirus at the end of October

The city of Goiania in central Brazil elected a new mayor on Sunday.
But the victor, Maguito Vilela, was unaware of the result. That’s because since mid-November, Vilela has been in an induced coma, as he receives treatment for Covid-19 at an intensive-care unit.
Aged 71, the former senator tested positive for Covid-19 on 20 October. He was admitted to hospital a week later and was intubated on 30 October.
He came off the ventilator on 8 November, but was back on by 15 November, when he also progressed to a second-round runoff of the mayoral election.
On Sunday, Vilela was elected with 52.6% of the vote. When the result was announced, he remained unconscious on a ventilator in a stable condition, local media reported.
A prayer was held for him at a news conference after his victory.
Brazil has the second-highest number of virus deaths in the world.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 19:15

What's the latest from the UK?

We'll soon be wrapping up our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the main developments in the UK this evening:

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock says England's four-week national lockdown rules have been “really tough” on everyone – but the “good news is they've been working” and the virus is "back under control" - although caution is still needed
  • The restrictions will be replaced by a three-tiered system of rules when lockdown ends on Wednesday
  • Shops in England will be allowed to stay open for 24 hours a day in the run-up to Christmas and in January, the housing secretary has said
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be banned from serving alcohol from Friday and will be unable to open to customers beyond 18:00 GMT. First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the new rules to tackle a rise in coronavirus cases
  • England and Wales' contact-tracing app is to add a Self-Isolation Payment feature as soon as next week, to help people apply for £500 of support. The money is already being offered to people who are told, by human contact tracers, to stay at home
  • Singer Rita Ora has said she's "deeply sorry" for breaking English lockdown rules to celebrate her 30th birthday at a restaurant in west London on Saturday
  • And health and care workers in Scotland are to be given a £500 payment as a "thank you" for their work during the pandemic, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said

Join us tomorrow...

Thanks for being with us for our coverage today.

Updates were brought to you by Alice Evans, Becky Morton, Claire Heald, George Bowden, Jasmine Taylor-Coleman, Joseph Lee, Joshua Nevett and Julian Joyce.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Nov 30 2020, 19:18

Ireland exits Lockdown: What rules do I have to follow under Level 3 restrictions?

Irish Post
Ireland is set to impose Level Three restrictions at midnight tonight following six weeks of full lockdown.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed last week that the country would be entering a modified version of Level Three according to the Living With Covid plan.
So to clear up any confusion, here's everything you need to know about December's Level Three restrictions:
Non-essential retail will be allowed to open immediately, including hairdressers and gyms.
Restaurants and gastropubs will be allowed to open with restrictive measures, but not until Friday, December 4.
Travel restrictions within your own county will be lifted immediately, but you won't be able to travel to another county for a non-essential reason until December 18, when restrictions will be eased further in the run up to Christmas.

Social and family gatherings
You should only mix with people in you support bubble inside your home.
Outside your home or in your garden, you can mix with up to 6 people from a maximum of 2 other households, while maintaining social distancing.

Pubs and restaurants
From Friday, December 4, restaurants and gastropubs (pubs that can serve a substantial meal) can open for indoor dining with restrictive measures, with a maximum of 6 people per table.
'Wet pubs' will remain closed, save for takeaway and delivery services.
Nightclubs and casinos will remain closed.

Face masks must be worn in shops and while taking public transport.
All retail shops and shopping centres can open, but with strict adherence to social distancing guidelines.

You should work from home unless it's absolutely necessary for you to attend work in person.

Schools and creches are open with protective measures.
Further, higher and adult education to escalate all appropriate protective measures and limit congregation as far as possible.

Domestic travel
Stay in your county apart from work, education and other essential purposes, though this is due to change on December 18.

Indoor/outdoor gatherings
No indoor gatherings should take place, including business meetings, training events, conferences, events in theatres and cinemas or other arts events (excluding sport). All should be one remotely/virtually where possible.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people are allowed, provided they are controlled environments with a named event organiser, owner or manager.

Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools will remain open for individual use only, and with protective measures in place.
No matches or other sporting events should take place, with the exception of professional, elite, inter-county, and senior club championship, which should all take place behind closed doors.
For sports training, outdoor non contact training is allowed, but only in pods of up to 15 (exemption for professional/elite/inter-county sports/senior club championship). For indoors, only individual exercise is permitted. No exercise or dance classes.

Religious services/funerals
Public religious services will open, with a maximum of 50 people permitted.
For funerals, up to 25 mourners can attend.

Hotels, guesthouses and B&B's will open, but with services limited to residents.

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 22:22