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Coronavirus - 1st December


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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 11:38

Summary for Tuesday, 1st December

  • Debenhams is to close, putting 12,000 jobs at risk, after JD Sports pulls out of rescue deal talks
  • It comes after retail giant Arcadia, the biggest concession operator in Debenhams, collapsed into administration
  • MPs are to vote later on the government's proposals for tier restrictions across England
  • More than 55 million people will enter the two toughest tiers from 00:01 GMT on Wednesday if the plans are passed
  • Covid-19 could be causing lung abnormalities still detectable more than three months after patients are infected, research suggests
  • The "invisibility of vulnerable children" during the pandemic should be a "matter of national concern," says England's chief inspector of schools
  • Pfizer and BioNTech seek EU approval for their coronavirus vaccine
  • A travel corridor linking Hong Kong and Singapore - the first of its kind in Asia - is delayed

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the main stories in the UK this morning:

Latest from around the world

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Dr Scott Atlas was accused by many in the scientific community - including his academic colleagues - of misleading people about the pandemic

And here are the main coronavirus stories elsewhere in the world this morning.

  • US President Donald Trump's controversial special adviser on the coronavirus, Scott Atlas, has resigned
  • Canada's federal government will spend C$100bn ($77bn, £58bn) to kick-start the country's post-pandemic economy
  • All retail outlets, hairdressers, museums and libraries will reopen in the Republic of Ireland today , after a lockdown of nearly six weeks
  • The United Nations is appealing for a record £26bn next year to fund humanitarian aid around the world. It says the number of people in need of aid and protection will rise 40% from this year, largely because of the economic effects of the pandemic

Latest around Europe

  • A new “pandemic hospital” with more than 1,000 beds opens in Madrid this morning although no patients will come through its doors for a few days. Construction of the Isabel Zendal hospital only began in July. Spain reported 9,200 Covid deaths in November, the highest since April, but the level of infection has been falling.
  • Mass testing of all children and teachers will take place in the central German town of Hildburghausen, where a Covid outbreak has shut schools. The tests involve around 8,000 children and 1,000 teachers. Another 388 deaths have been reported in Germany in the past 24 hours. Mass testing across Austria will start later this week with the aim of reaching as many people as possible by Christmas.
  • Non-essential shops have been reopening in Belgium this morning after a month's closure – daily hospital admissions have fallen to 120, the lowest since early October.
  • Face masks are now obligatory for over-13s in public in the Netherlands – in shops, government buildings and schools, but not in places of worship or for sex workers.
  • Italy’s regional leaders will push the government today to allow hotels in ski resorts to open over Christmas while closing international borders. So far Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said only that the resorts will have to shut. Germany and France have shut ski lifts over the holidays but the Swiss are keeping theirs open.

What are the rules in the new tiers and your other questions answered

Later today, MPs will vote on the government's plans to replace the national lockdown in England with a revised, tougher set of tiered restrictions on what people can do.
Despite opposition to the plans, the measures are expected to be approved by the Commons, meaning they would come into force from 00:01 GMT on Wednesday.
But how are the rules going to change around hospitality or meeting up?
Read our handy explainers here on:

'Too many inconsistencies' within England's Covid tier plan, Tory MP says

Tory MP Tim Loughton is one of those who says he will be voting against the government’s proposals for a stricter tier system across England later.
The former children's minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he was “disappointed” by the impact assessment of the measures published by the government on Monday, describing it as “a cut and paste job” that “doesn’t add an awful lot to what we already know”.
He also told Today there were “too many inconsistencies” within the tier system.
The MP gave the example of his own constituency of East Worthing and Shoreham, which he said had the lowest infection rates in the whole of south-east England – below 30 per 100,000 – yet was still being placed in tier two from Wednesday.
A number of Conservative MPs have criticised the new tier system, but with both Labour and the SNP abstaining from the vote, the measures are expected to pass.
Read more on this story .

Lib Dem leader says he will not vote for 'chaotic' tier system

As we have been reporting this morning, MPs will vote later on the government's proposals for stricter tiers across England.
The new measures, which would come into force from 00:01 GMT on Wednesday, would mean more than 55 million people entering the two toughest tiers.
A number of Conservative MPs have threatened to vote against the plans, while Labour has said it will abstain in the Commons vote.
The Liberal Democrats are also unconvinced and their leader, Sir Ed Davey, has said he will not support the "chaotic" plans.
He tweeted : "I will not be voting for this arbitrary, confusing and chaotic tier system today.
"If Johnson wants our support he needs to work with local authorities to build a system which keeps people safe, and builds back public trust in the Covid guidelines."
Despite opposition to the plans, the measures are expected to pass.

Gove confident no further lockdown in England

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove also said he is confident there will not be another lockdown in England.
He said the Welsh government had lifted restrictions "too expansively" after its 17-day "firebreak" lockdown and as a result it then had to "slam the brakes on again".
Wales is bringing in new restrictions on Friday , after a rise in infections since its lockdown ended on 9 November.
"That's one of the reasons why we're exiting the lockdown cautiously [in England]," Gove told BBC Breakfast.
"The example of Wales shows what can happen if you lift the restrictions in too blanket a way too soon."

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 11:49

Lewis Hamilton to miss GP after testing positive for Covid

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Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton will miss this weekend's Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain after testing positive for coronavirus.
His team, Mercedes, said the Briton woke with mild symptoms on Monday and returned a positive result at a subsequent test and again at a retest.
Hamilton, 35, who is now self-isolating, won the Bahrain Grand Prix at the same circuit on Sunday.
Mercedes say a replacement will be named in due course.
"Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well and the entire team sends him our very best wishes for a swift recovery," a statement said.
Read more

Doctor in viral photo tried 'to be a little more human'

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A picture of Dr Joseph Varon hugging an elderly man went viral over the Thanksgiving weekend

Wearing full protective gear, a doctor embraces an elderly man in an intensive-care unit for coronavirus patients in Houston, Texas.
Captured by a photographer on Thanksgiving, it was a poignant moment that encapsulated the despair felt by many during the pandemic. The picture went viral on social media.
Now, in an interview with US broadcaster CNN , the doctor has revealed why he hugged the man.
Dr Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center, said he saw the elderly man crying as he entered a Covid-19 ward.
When he asked the man why he was crying, he said: “I want to be with my wife.”
“So, I just grab him. I hold him. I did not know that I was being photographed at the time. And he was just crying and eventually he felt better and he stopped crying,” Varon said.
The doctor said the man was “doing much better” now and, provided he tests negative for Covid-19, may be able to see his wife before the end of the week.
Varon said he and his staff “try to be a little more human” with Covid-19 patients.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 11:56

Debenhams set to close putting 12,000 jobs at risk

Department store chain Debenhams is going into liquidation, the BBC understands.
It means all 12,000 employees are likely to lose their jobs when the chain's 124 shops cease trading.
The move comes after JD Sports pulled out of a rescue deal to save the chain, which is currently in administration for the second time in a year.
It is understood staff were told this morning and Hilco, the restructuring firm which specialises in winding-up retailers, will start going into stores tomorrow to begin clearing stock.

JD Sports quits Debenhams rescue deal talks

JD Sports has pulled out of talks over a rescue deal for department store chain Debenhams.
It was the last remaining bidder for the firm, which is in administration, and up until the end of last week had been closing in on a deal.
But retail giant Arcadia is the biggest concession operator in Debenhams and its collapse is understood to have been a factor in JD Sports' decision.
Without a buyer, Debenhams could be wound down, risking thousands of jobs.
Companies like Arcadia and Debenhams have been hit hard by coronavirus restrictions.
Read more .

Debenhams faced 'extremely challenging' economic landscape

A viable deal to secure the future of Debenhams could not be reached amid an "extremely challenging" economic landscape, the joint administrator for the department store chain has said.
Debenhams fell into administration for the second time in April and hopes had rested on a rescue bid from JD Sports.
But Debenhams' 124 shops are now set to close after the sports chain pulled out.
Geoff Rowley of FRP Advisory, joint administrator to Debenhams and partner at FRP, said: "All reasonable steps were taken to complete a transaction that would secure the future of Debenhams.
"However, the economic landscape is extremely challenging and, coupled with the uncertainty facing the UK retail industry, a viable deal could not be reached."

Analysis: Debenhams hit by Covid and a changing High Street

Ben Thompson - BBC Business correspondent
This really does seem like the end of the road for Debenhams - and that's really because of so many factors.
The changing way that we shop - so many of us doing that online. But also the impact of the Covid pandemic - that's meant the shops have been closed for a long time.
The final straw was the administration yesterday of Arcadia, because a lot of the concessions in Debenhams' stories are those of Arcadia brands. So it means Debenhams as a proposition is less viable. It is less attractive to any would-be buyers.
Debenhams has 124 stores across the country employing about 12,000 staff, so inevitably the big question now will be about their future.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 11:58

Hong Kong-Singapore travel corridor postponed

Away from news on the UK High Street now, what would have been the first quarantine-free travel bubble in Asia - an air corridor linking Hong Kong and Singapore - has been delayed.
Hong Kong’s government said the decision was taken due to the “severity” of the coronavirus situation in the special administrative region of China.
The travel corridor was scheduled to launch on 22 November, but has been put back until next year.
Flights were called off a day before they were due to depart, after Hong Kong reported a spike in coronavirus infections.
The territory has recorded about 6,300 cases and 109 deaths - relatively few by international standards - but infections have been rising rapidly in recent days.
The arrangement would have allowed people to travel between Hong Kong and Singapore without quarantining provided they had had a coronavirus test.

Australian states to open internal borders ahead of Christmas

Australia has taken another significant step out of its tough Covid-19 restrictions, with more lifting of border closures between states.
The government in Western Australia said it would reopen its borders to Victoria and New South Wales next week, allowing people to travel between those states without the need for quarantine.
Tight internal border controls have been a key tool in the effort to keep Covid-19 under control.
Western Australia had been coming under pressure to let people in from the country’s two most populous states, which have gone weeks without any community transmission.
However, Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan said the state was not yet at the point where it could relax its border to South Australia.
The announcement came on a big day for border re-openings, with people in Sydney and Victoria now able to enter Queensland without restriction, and Victorians allowed into South Australia.
Barring major outbreaks, the prospect of Australia being entirely open by Christmas is now looking a realistic one.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 12:01

UK Covid deaths still rising, but very slowly

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics

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The number of Covid deaths and excess deaths in the UK are still rising, but very slowly, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
There were 3,038 Covid-19 deaths in the week ending 20 November - up by 7% compared with the previous week. A few weeks ago they were rising by roughly 35% a week.
In this week's figures, the total number of deaths in the UK, 14,276, was 21% above the five-year average. Last week, the total was 19% above the five-year average.
On Monday, separate daily figures released by the government recorded a further 205 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test and 12,330 new cases.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 12:04

Breaking News

Pfizer and BioNTech seek EU approval for their vaccine

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US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech are seeking regulatory approval in the EU for their coronavirus vaccine.
Clinical studies show the jab is 95% effective at protecting people from becoming ill with Covid-19.
In a statement the two firms said if approved the jabs could be rolled out in Europe "before the end of 2020".
The news comes a day after the maker of a similar vaccine, Moderna, said it had applied for US and European emergency regulatory approval.

North east areas of Scotland expected to be placed into tier three restrictions

Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are expected to move into tougher Covid restrictions when Scotland's alert levels are reviewed later.
The areas are currently in level two, but public health officials have recommended the move into the higher tier following an increase in cases across the NHS Grampian area.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already said the 11 areas under level four - the harshest of the five levels of restrictions - will remain there until 11 December.
Each local authority's position in the system of measures is reviewed every Tuesday.
Read more

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 12:08

UN: Pandemic pushes people in need of aid up by 40%

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The conflict is northern Ethiopia is just one humanitarian crisis the UN has been dealing with

The health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic has led to a 40% spike in the number of people needing humanitarian assistance worldwide, the United Nations has said.
The UN said a record 235 million people worldwide will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021.
Calling on the world to “stand with people in their darkest hour of need”, the UN launched an appeal for $35bn (£26bn) next year to provide humanitarian aid around the world.
The UN's emergency relief coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said it was the bleakest and darkest assessment of humanitarian needs ever presented.
“A clear choice confronts us. We can let 2021 be the year of the grand reversal - the unravelling of 40 years of progress - or we can work together to make sure we all find a way out of this pandemic,” Lowcock said.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 12:12

Fauci: US in ‘worst’ stage of pandemic

The US is going through the worst stage of its coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began, the top infectious diseases expert in the country has said.
Dr Anthony Fauci told the BBC new records appeared to be set every day, with between 100,000 to 200,000 new cases and 1,000 to 2,000 deaths seen daily.
He said the US had broken a national record for the number of people currently in the hospital with Covid 19. As of Monday, there were a record 96,039 people in hospital with the disease, according to the Covid Tracking Project .
“And the totals of deaths are 266,000 deaths and over 13 million cases. So we're really having a terrible time,” Dr Fauci added.
At the end of the Thanksgiving holiday last week, Fauci warned of “surge upon surge” of coronavirus cases as millions of people travelled to and from trips to see loved ones.
Health experts had called for people to spend Thanksgiving at home, but last week US airports marked their busiest period since mid-March.

‘Children ripping bags open for food’ as charities help in Burnley

A community group in Burnley says it has seen "unprecedented" demand for help during the pandemic.
Mick Fleming, from Church on the Street, which provides food to homeless people and others who need it, said the coronavirus pandemic had hit the poor hard.
He said: "I go into houses and I sometimes have children ripping the bags open to get at the food as I'm carrying them in the door.
"And it's not alright that... And it wasn't as bad as that before the virus."
BBC analysis has shown the death rate from all causes between April and June this year in the most deprived areas was nearly double that of deaths in the least deprived parts of England.
The majority of the top 10 cities and towns with the highest death rates were in the north of England.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 12:39

Quick catch-up: Latest from the UK and around the world

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It's lunchtime in the UK - here are the latest coronavirus headlines here and worldwide:

  • High street retailer Debenhams is preparing to close all its UK stores after takeover talks collapsed on Tuesday - 12,000 jobs are at risk . The firm was hit by restrictions during the pandemic
  • Dozens of Conservative MPs are expected to vote against government plans to introduce a new tiered system of coronavirus restrictions across England on Wednesday
  • The measures are likely to pass as Labour and other opposition groups are abstaining
  • Official data shows nearly 2,700 deaths mentioning Covid-19 on the death certificate were registered in England and Wales in the week ending 20 November - the highest figure since May
  • Large parts of Scotland are expected to enter tougher restrictions when the country's coronavirus alert levels are reviewed later
  • The United Nations has launched its largest ever appeal for humanitarian aid. It's asking for £26bn to help people affected by the pandemic, famine, and wars in Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan
  • The US is experiencing its worst-stage of the pandemic since it began, Dr Anthony Fauci has told the BBC
  • The European Medicines Agency regulator has said it will complete a review into a promising coronavirus vaccine by 29 December at the latest

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 12:42

Link between England case rates and tiers

There has been a lot of discussion about which tiers of coronavirus restrictions areas fall into, as MPs prepare to debate and vote on the new system later today.
Tiers have been applied in broad areas, generally matching counties or city regions.
According to last week's briefing paper , one of the key "indicators" for deciding a tier was an area's case rate per 100,000 people for the week ending 19 November.
This chart shows the cases per 100,000 people for that week, in each of the areas.
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An exception to the broad approach was made for Slough. This local authority has a high rate and has been put in tier three, while the rest of Berkshire and neighbouring Buckinghamshire have been placed in tier two.
Local authorities within Kent had a wide range of case rates, with Tunbridge Wells much lower than Swale or Thanet. However, at county level, Kent and Medway had just over 300 cases per 100,000 and was rising.
Many MPs, however, are still unsatisfied with the government's explanations.
Conservative MP Damian Green, who represents Ashford, asked the government to apply rules at "a local level, districts rather than counties or regions" as "restrictions which people feel are unfair to their particular community will simply not be respected or obeyed".

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 12:44

Commons set to debate new tiers for England

MPs will in the next 30 minutes start to debate the new coronavirus tiers that are due to be introduced in England on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to open the debate in the Commons, ahead of a vote this evening.
Some Tory backbenchers are angry that their constituencies will face tougher restrictions than before the latest lockdown.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the BBC Labour supports public health restrictions but "the government has not come forward with the economic package that families and businesses... need".
Labour says it will abstain in the vote because of its "misgivings".
It means the government is expected to win approval for the measures, which it has described as necessary to stop infections rising again.

Use our look-up tool to check which Covid tier your area is set to be in from tomorrow.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 12:53

Vaccine passports: We want customers to feel safe

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 Live's Nicky Campbell asked listeners what they thought about vaccine passports.
Emma runs the Stables Pub and Restaurant in Exeter. She thinks they are a good idea.
“I think it’s something that we seriously have to consider. Being in the hospitality sector, things have been pretty tough so far," she said.
She also said it will encourage those that have been in quarantine to feel safe when they return to normal life.
“We have a lot of people that have been isolating for months and months and months, and we want them to feel safe coming out and coming into the pubs," she said.
“We have a lot of older customers that come to us so it would be a massive consideration for them, to feel safe in our environment."
She also said it will make staff feel more comfortable at work.
“We have a big responsibility for our team," she added.
Robin, in Coventry doesn’t think it’s logistically possible for vaccine passports to work.
“One of the big problems, is when you crunch the numbers, there’s 66 million people in the country.
“You’re looking at two and a half years before the last person gets vaccinated," he said.
Listen to BBC Radio 5 Live's Your Call programme on the free BBC Sounds app.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 16:55

No changes to virus alert levels in Scotland

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No changes have been made to Scotland's Covid-19 alert levels.
There had been speculation that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire were likely to move from level two to three following a rise in cases across the NHS Grampian area.
But Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said they would not change, adding that the government would continue to "look carefully" at those areas.
She also confirmed 11 areas would remain in level four - the harshest restrictions - until 11 December.
Read more here.

Why are cases so high in the Dakotas in the US?

Reality Check
Top US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci says the US is experiencing its worst coronavirus spread since the pandemic began, highlighting outbreaks in the Dakotas.
“In North and South Dakota, the weather is such that it allows really for only indoor types of congregating, which is the worst possible thing that you could have when you have a high degree of community spread" Dr Fauci told the BBC.
The two states have had the highest numbers of deaths per person in the US in the last seven days.
South and North Dakota regularly have sub-zero temperatures in winter, making outdoor meetings more or less impossible.
But they also haven’t implemented public health measures seen elsewhere. Neither state entered full lockdown, large-scale events have been permitted and the governors have been reluctant to mandate mask-wearing.
In mid-November, North Dakota did make mask-wearing compulsory in most indoor public places and outdoors where social distancing is not possible.
In South Dakota, the Republican Governor Kristi Noem said of the recent Thanksgiving holiday: “We won’t stop or discourage you from thanking God and spending time together this Thanksgiving.”

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 17:00

Beware January

Helen Catt - Political correspondent
A warning shot from Mark Harper, the chair of the group of Tory backbenchers who oppose the restrictions.
He says to maximise “unity” in the party in the future the government needs to “start treating members of Parliament properly” and provide the necessary information to make decisions.
We know that not enough Conservatives will vote against the government to stop the tiers coming into force this time but they'll get to vote again early next year, if the government wants to keep the tiers in place. Now that Labour has shown its support is not guaranteed, the threat of a bigger Tory rebellion next time could be greater.
Meanwhile, have you been wondering why Scotch Eggs keep being mentioned in the Commons?
It's all because of something the Environment Secretary George Eustice was asked yesterday . For some MPs, it's become a bit of a symbol for rules that, they think, are either confusing, conflicting, or simply show government intervening in the tiny details of everyday life.

Social factors a bigger determinant of health than genes, MPs told

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Social and structural factors provide the greatest opportunity and challenge in tackling racial inequalities, MPs have heard
Prof Kevin Fenton, public health and regional director for London at Public Health England, said issues such as poverty, poor housing, education and employment were key drivers of inequality during Covid-19.
Prof Fenton, author of a report on Covid-19 deaths within the black, Asian and minority ethnic population, said such social factors are "much bigger determinants" of overall health and wellbeing than access to healthcare or a person's genetic profile.
He told a joint hearing of the Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee: "Those social and structural factors is where I would say we're going to have the greatest opportunity but also the greatest challenge."

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 17:02

Northern Ireland death toll passes 1,000

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A further 15 people have died in Northern Ireland after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the Department of Health's recorded total to 1,011.
A further 391 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours.
Health Minister Robin Swann said Tuesday's death toll was a "sad milestone" for the country.
The department's daily figure for deaths is based on a positive test result having been recorded in the previous 28 days.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 17:05

Trump pandemic adviser resigns and other US headlines

Let’s take a look at the coronavirus situation in the US, which has the highest number of infections and deaths of any country in the world.Here are the headlines:

  • The latest figures show there have been more than 13.5 million infections and 268,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus, a tally by Johns Hopkins University says
  • Dr Anthony Fauci, the most senior disease expert in the US, told the BBC the country is going through the worst stage of its coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began
  • The number of people currently in hospital with Covid-19 reached a record high of 96,039 on Sunday, according to the Covid Tracking Project
  • A special Covid-19 adviser to US President Donald Trump has resigned , after a controversial four-month tenure in which he was accused of downplaying the threat of coronavirus
  • A Covid-19 testing site in Los Angeles has been reopened after it was temporarily closed to allow scenes to be filmed for a remake of a teenage romantic comedy
  • In more positive news, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech say they are seeking regulatory approval in the EU for their coronavirus vaccine
  • Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called an emergency meeting to vote on who they recommend should get the first doses of an approved vaccine

Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to spend Christmas 'quietly' at Windsor Castle

Coronavirus restrictions mean everyone has been forced to rethink their normal Christmas plans this year.
That includes the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh - who will be spending Christmas at Windsor Castle rather than Sandringham, Buckingham Palace has said.
They normally spend Christmas with other members of the Royal Family at Sandringham.
A palace spokesperson said: "Having considered all the appropriate advice, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor."
"Like everyone they hope things will get back to normal in 2021," the spokesperson added.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 17:11

Breaking News

Further 603 people die with Covid in UK

A further 603 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 59,051.
Government figures also show that as of 9am on Tuesday, there have been a further 13,430 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

Protests overshadow opening of Madrid Covid-19 hospital

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Protests were held outside the new hospital near Madrid airport

The opening of a new coronavirus hospital in the Spanish capital Madrid has been met with protests.
The Isabel Zendal hospital was built in three months at a cost of nearly 100 million euros ($120m; £89m).
Madrid's government said the hospital will eventually have a capacity of 1,056 beds, which will ease pressure on the region's health-care system during the pandemic.
But the cost of the hospital and concerns over the lack of doctors and nurses to staff it have stirred anger, leading to protests as the hospital was inaugurated on Tuesday.
Madrid's regional President Isabel Diaz Ayuso officially inaugurated the unfinished building, to chants from demonstrators demanding her resignation.
At the moment there are only 240 beds available in the hospital, where the first patients are expected to arrive next week.
Critics say the money used to build the facility could have been better spent elsewhere, but Ms Diaz said no one should view a new public hospital as "bad news".

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Madrid's regional President Isabel Diaz Ayuso said she was proud of the hospital

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Critics say the hospital was a waste of public money

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 17:15

Former cabinet minister will rebel - for first time in 10 years

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MPs are still debating the proposed new tier restrictions for England in the House of Commons - we are expecting a vote in the early evening.
Conservative MP Jeremy Wright, a former cabinet minister, has said he will vote against the proposals - his first rebellion on policy matters for 10 years.
The ex-attorney general said he believed the county of Warwickshire should not be subjected to blanket tier three rules when the case rate there is now lower than before the current lockdown - when it was in tier one.
"It is profoundly damaging to hospitality businesses in particular," he says, adding much of the crucial pre-Christmas economy will be lost due to the timing of a potential review on 16 December.
"If the government imposes restrictions when they are not justified, people are less likely to obey them when they are justified," he adds.

'You can sleep with a woman for 37 years but can't have lunch with her'

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Senior Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh tells the Commons a humorous anecdote of how coronavirus restrictions are being imposed within Parliament as he confirms he will vote "reluctantly" for the new measures.
Sir Edward says: "My wife had to come for a bit of House of Commons work today and we sat down at the same table... we were immediately told to sit at separate tables. It seems in Covid Britain you can sleep with a woman for 37 years but you can't have lunch with her."
"This raises a more serious point - that we don't want to return to the controls of wartime Britain. People romanticise it, but there is a deep attack on civil liberties throughout our country."
The MP for Gainsborough adds that the PM has acknowledged the need for a more granular approach to local rules in future.
He describes the proposed new tiers as a "compromise - it's not ideal". "How can I vote against this measure tonight when there is no alternative plan and when the result of my vote tonight is that frail and vulnerable people will die?" he asks.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 17:19

Dozens of German nuns test positive

Dozens of nuns at a convent in Germany have tested positive for coronavirus, church authorities said.
The convent's Mother Superior, Maria Cordis Reiker, said there had been 76 positive cases while another 85 had tested negative.
"Nobody has had to go to the hospital, and we are grateful for that," said Reiker, quoted by German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
The convent, in the northwestern town of Thuine, also runs day schools and a boys' boarding school.

Breaking News 

Premier League match off due to Covid-19 cases

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Newcastle United's game at Premier League rivals Aston Villa on Friday has been postponed following a "significant increase" in Covid-19 cases at the Magpies' training ground.
Several Newcastle players and staff members are self-isolating at home after returning positive test results
The club's training ground at Darsley Park was closed on Monday and Tuesday.
All players and training ground staff will be re-tested this week, the Premier League said in a statement.
Read more here.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 17:58

Vaccine awaits approval and Ireland ends lockdown: Round-up from Europe

Coronavirus - 1st December 8dc98d10
Shoppers in the Irish capital Dublin have hit the streets for the first time in weeks

Here's the latest from across the continent:

  • The EU medicines regulator is to decide by 29 December whether to approve the Covid-19 vaccine made by Germany's BioNTech and US partner Pfizer. If approved it will be the first vaccine available for EU citizens
  • Italy reported 785 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, up from 672 on Monday
  • France is aiming to launch a widespread Covid-19 vaccination campaign between April and June next year, its President Emmanuel Macron said
  • The Netherlands has made it compulsory to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces . The country is one of the last in Europe to introduce the measure

  • Ireland has ended its second partial lockdown, with non-essential retail reopening after six weeks shut

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 18:02

Hopes of vaccine before Christmas spur false rumours online

Alistair Coleman - BBC Monitoring
With a vaccine for Covid-19 expected to be approved before Christmas in the UK, online misinformation may be fuelling public fears about immunisation.
One recent study in the UK and US claimed that only 54% of people said they definitely would be vaccinated .
As a vaccine rollout approaches, more people have been making false claims about vaccines and peddling conspiracy theories that they are a plot to “control” the population.
One major claim is that Covid-19 vaccines may be dangerous because they have not been adequately tested. This is not true.
The Covid vaccine trials have happened at breakneck speed, but they haven't skipped any of the necessary steps to ensure patient safety.
While Facebook has tried to crack down recently on Covid-19 disinformation, dangerous claims are still being made on local, parenting and political groups on the site.
Another claim being widely shared is that vaccines will be mandatory, and people will be forced to carry a “vaccine passport”.
While some companies say they won’t serve customers unless they are vaccinated, the UK government says it has no plans for passports nor mandatory vaccination.

Hungary politician admits attending lockdown-breaching party

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A senior politician from Hungary's ruling party has apologised after admitting being present at a house party broken up by Belgian police for breaching lockdown rules.
Jozsef Szajer, an MEP with Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, resigned suddenly on Sunday, offering little explanation.
But Belgian media reported on the breaking up of what it called a "sex party" in a gay district of Brussels, while prosecutors said a man with the MEP's initials was arrested after.
In his statement Szajer said he had been there at the "house party" and apologised to his family, colleagues and constituents for what he called a personal failing.
Szajer helped write Hungary's socially conservative constitution, which campaigners say is hostile to gay rights.

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 19:38

Breaking News

Government wins Covid tiers vote

The government has won by 291 votes to 78.
This means the new system of tiered restrictions across England will come into force from midnight.
But it is clear there was a substantial rebellion by Tory MPs.
We will get the details of who voted against in the next half hour or so.

How many Tory rebels?

Labour are suggesting 56 Tory MPs voted against the government, which would be the biggest rebellion by far of Boris Johnson's premiership.
But we must stress this has not been confirmed yet.

Care home visit hopes raised - but cannot all be fulfilled

Hugh Pym - BBC News Health Editor
News that tests are to be sent to care homes to allow relatives to visit over Christmas will be welcome for those in England who have waited a long time to visit loved ones and friends inside care homes, rather than trying to communicate through windows or on videolinks.
But therein lies the problem. The danger is that expectations will be raised of visits before Christmas which cannot all be fulfilled.
The biggest care home operators have been sent rapid testing kits but the smaller providers have not yet heard details about how they can obtain them. One told me that, while welcoming the initiative, he was concerned at the level of administration which would be required to book in visits and organise the testing and this might mean taking on more staff.
Some doubts have been raised about the effectiveness of the rapid testing technology with a relatively high number of false negatives if administered by less trained staff.
The scheme will not be fully rolled out by Christmas but officials hope it will be more accessible to a wider public early in the new year.

When will we know who voted against?

It will take a while for the breakdown of tonight's vote to be released.
The details of who voted for and against will appear first on Parliament's website.
Some of the 78 who opposed the new tiers will have been from Labour, while most of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party are also thought to have voted against.
We've also been looking out for the number of Tory MPs who did not vote at all, some of them lodging a protest this way.
Some have suggested this figure could be higher than expected.

Analysis: Sizeable Conservative rebellion

Helen Catt - Political correspondent
It does look like a sizeable Conservative rebellion - but we know that a handful of Labour MPs were going to break their whip to abstain and vote against too.
We need to wait for the breakdown to come in to see just how many were Labour MPs.
But the anticipation is there won't be too many of those - and so it does look like it is going to be quite a sizeable rebellion for the government here.

No 10 hails vote 'endorsement'

A government spokesman welcomed MPs voting to approve the new tiered system to replace the national lockdown in England and said ministers would work with those who expressed concerns.
He said: "We welcome tonight's vote which endorses our winter plan, brings an end to the national restrictions and returns England to a tiered system.
"This will help to safeguard the gains made during the past month and keep the virus under control.
"We will continue to work with MPs who have expressed concerns in recent days."

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Post by Kitkat Tue Dec 01 2020, 20:20

California families sue state over distance learning inequalities

Several families from California are suing the state, alleging it failed to provide "basic educational equality" for students working remotely by not providing the equipment, guidance or support that low-income families need to educate their children from home.
According to the suit, families have been forced to foot the bill for necessary school supplies or their children must do without.
"Parents and grandparents have had to become tutors, counsellors, child-minders, and computer technicians, and they have had to find a way to pay for what are now basic school supplies — laptop/tablets, paper, printing, and internet access,” the lawsuit, filed in Alameda Superior Court, said.
Meanwhile testing firm NWEA has analysed millions of US students who have been working remotely, finding a noticeable drop in maths ability but English remaining much the same.

The main stories from today

We're going to bring our live coverage to an end shortly.
But first a round-up of today's developments from the UK and around the world.

Join us again tomorrow

Join us for the latest on the coronavirus pandemic tomorrow.

Updates today were brought to you by Alex Kleiderman, Alex Therrien, Becky Morton, Emma Owen, Gavin Stamp, George Bowden, Claire Heald, Joshua Nevett, Kate Whannel, Martha Buckley and Thomas Poole.

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 21:06