Infections are doubling about twice as fast in North West, Yorkshire and West Midlands

Max Stephens
·65-min read
One in 100 people in the North West of England had contracted the virus - PA
One in 100 people in the North West of England had contracted the virus - PA
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

06:03 PM

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​​Read all the latest news in Saturday's live blog

05:55 PM

Madrid residents react angrily after government reimposes state of emergency

People in Madrid and the surrounding towns reacted with anger on Friday after the Socialist-led government invoked a state of emergency to reimpose with immediate effect a partial lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19

Some of the 3.8 million people affected in the capital and eight satellite towns said the politicians had bickered while contagion rates soared. "

They are clowns, they are making fun of us as much as they can and more. They (politicians) have no shame," said Pilar Lopez, a cleaner.

05:42 PM

Exclusive: Swing state polling shows Biden pulling away after debate and Trump's coronavirus

Joe Biden is pulling away from Donald Trump in key swing states after the president’s combative debate performance and his positive test for coronavirus, new polling for The Telegraph has found. 

The share of voters saying they back the Democratic presidential nominee has jumped in four of the six states Mr Trump won by the narrowest margins in 2016, according to research taken after both events. 

The responses suggest that far from the US president closing the polling gap by which he has trailed Mr Biden for much of the year it is actually widening as the race enters its final few weeks.

Read the full story here by our US Editor, Ben-Riley-Smith

05:37 PM

Exclusive: Do not make us close because of Covid-19, plead gyms, swimming pools and leisure facilities

The Government has been warned that it would worsen health inequalities if it closed gyms, swimming pools and leisure facilities in the communities being hardest hit by Covid-19.

In a letter seen by Telegraph Sport, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, the 11-times Paralympic gold medallist and chair of ukactive, has written to all 650 MPs urging them “to recognise gyms and leisure facilities as a safe and essential service in the nation’s fight against this virus”.

Swimming pools are desperate to stay open - John Walton /PA
Swimming pools are desperate to stay open - John Walton /PA

The intervention comes as the Government considers new lockdown measures, from Monday, in largely northern areas of the country experiencing particularly high Covid-19 infections.

Chief Sports Reporter, Jeremy Wilson has the full story here

05:35 PM

USA: Broadway theatres sound alarm as closure extended until May 2021

Broadway theatres today extended coronavirus shutdown until the end of May 2021, bringing the closure of one of New York City's biggest tourist attractions to more than a year and forcing a revival of musical "The Music Man" into 2022.

Broadway theatres are set to remain closed until May 2021 in New York - Mike Segar/Reuters
Broadway theatres are set to remain closed until May 2021 in New York - Mike Segar/Reuters

Broadway theatres went dark in mid-March as the pandemic hit New York and previous target dates for reopening have come and gone without any progress in finding a way to put on indoor shows with live audiences that also protects actors and backstage crews working in cramped conditions.

Producers of "The Music Man," who had hoped to stage the revival in May 2021 with Hugh Jackman, said they had pushed back the opening date of the show until February 2022.

05:22 PM

'I had a miscarriage and wanted a hug, but thanks to Covid I was alone'

Hearing about my miscarriage on my own, then coping with the traumatic physical symptoms was bad enough but then along came the Facebook ads, writes Becky Gamester-Newton. 

As I lay on the couch in a darkened hospital room, without my husband by my side, I glanced from the grey ceiling to the sonographer’s screen. Where there should have been a foetus was a small blob surrounded by a vast black space – a uterus that had cruelly expanded for nothing. 

Read Becky Gamester-Newton's full piece here

05:14 PM

Britons more anxious about Covid than at any time since April

Anxiety levels among Britons have reached their highest level since April as fears about a second Covid wave grow, Government data shows.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysed levels of anxiety between September 30 and October 4 and found they had increased to the highest level since the peak of the pandemic. 

A sign warns pedestrians in Liverpool to maintain their social distance as coronavirus infection rates grow - Getty Images Europe/Christopher Furlong 
A sign warns pedestrians in Liverpool to maintain their social distance as coronavirus infection rates grow - Getty Images Europe/Christopher Furlong

In its weekly release on the social impacts of the virus, the ONS published data related to average anxiety scores.

It found the average anxiety score for all adults increased to 4.3 this week – the highest figure since April 3 to 13, when it stood at 4.9. 

Social and Religious Affairs Editor, Gabriella Swerling, has the full story here

05:08 PM

Homeless migrants sleep rough beneath Dubai's skyscrapers as Covid employment crisis bites

Dubai is witnessing a rare uptick in homelessness as migrant workers left destitute by the Covid downturn have begun sleeping out in parks under the glistening skyscrapers.

Blue collar workers from Asia and Africa say they are trapped after losing jobs and running out of money to return home.

Migrant labourers have been made destitute by the coronavirus lockdown in Dubai
Migrant labourers have been made destitute by the coronavirus lockdown in Dubai

Migrant workers who spoke to The Telegraph claimed they have been left abandoned after losing their jobs as the economy tightens. 

Ashleigh Stewart has the full story here 

05:01 PM

Watch: Rishi Sunak hopes new scheme will be 'safety net'

Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough scheme by six months, providing support for businesses that are forced to close shop as a result of further lockdown restrictions.

The scheme was due to close completely at the end of October, but the Chancellor has said it will now run on to help companies and employees that are pushed to the brink of collapse by the pandemic.

Businesses that are legally required to shut for a period over the winter as part of local or national restrictions will be able to receive grants from the Government to pay the wages of staff who cannot work. 

04:56 PM

Italy testing chaos as new rules require travellers to prove they are virus-free

Travellers to Italy are facing chaos after being told they can't use NHS tests to meet a new requirement to prove they don’t have the virus on entering the country, and also learning some Italian airports are only offering the service nine to five.

Street vendor wear face masks as they ply their trade in front of The Colosseum in Rome 
Street vendor wear face masks as they ply their trade in front of The Colosseum in Rome

The plans of people with holidays already booked to the mediterranean country were thrown into disarray earlier this week when Italian health minister Roberto Speranza announced they would need to have a negative within 72 hours of arrival.

The confusion was compounded when the Foreign Office advised that travelers would not be able to use the NHS testing system to satisfy the requirement.

Mike Wright has the full story here

04:51 PM

Restaurant boss 'devastated' over level of support offered by government

The owner of a successful Asian fusion restaurant said he was "devastated" at the level of support offered to his business if it has to shut due to the coronavirus crisis.

Ian Wong, who has built up his Asiana restaurant in Sunderland city centre over 10 years, said the proposed support package will still see employers having to contribute to staff National Insurance and pensions.

And Chancellor Rishi Sunak's offer of a £3,000 monthly grant for affected firms would not cover his rent, he said.

Sunderland is one of the local authorities in the North of England which is under tighter lockdown measures, and where it has been suggested bars and restaurants might be forced to temporarily close next week.

Mr Wong said: "I think it is inevitable we will be asked to close and it is devastating, the support they are offering us.

"I cannot see where all this is going to go, especially if this is planned to last for the next six months. I can see 50% of the hospitality trade will go."

04:43 PM

Nottingham's weekly rate of infection of Covid-19 highest in the UK

Nottingham's weekly rate of 760.6 new cases per 100,000 people is both the highest in England and in the whole of the UK.

It is the only area of the country to record a rate above 700 per 100,000.

The second highest rate in the UK is for the Northern Ireland local authority area of Derry City & Strabane, where the figure is currently 684.1 cases per 100,000.

Coronavirus UKLA current
Coronavirus UKLA current

04:36 PM

Children in local lockdown areas of Wales will be able to travel for sport

Children living under local lockdown restrictions in Wales will be allowed to travel for sporting activities outside of their county boundaries, the Welsh Government has announced.

Fifteen counties are currently subjected to the restrictions, which prohibit people from entering or leaving an area without a reasonable excuse such as work or education. 

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford - Getty Images Europe/Matthew Horwood 
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford - Getty Images Europe/Matthew Horwood

Almost 10,000 people had signed a petition calling for children to be able to travel to maintain training in their chosen sports with their clubs.

First Minister Mark Drakeford, speaking at the Welsh Government's coronavirus press conference on Friday, said the regulations would be amended to allow for the change.

Mr Drakeford warned that Covid-19 was "waking up for winter" and said the Government was working to "turn back the tide", but only restricting freedoms when necessary.

"This is a difficult balancing act," he said.

04:25 PM

U.S health department expects over 1 million antibody doses from Regeneron,

A top U.S. health official said on Friday that the government expects to have access to over 1 million doses of Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc's and Eli Lilly's & Co's antibody treatments for Covid-19 in 2020.

The official told reporters that the government will allocate the treatments to the states based on need, similar to the mechanism they used with Gilead Sciences Inc's antiviral drug remdesivir for Covid-19. 

The Regeneron drug is undergoing clinical trials
The Regeneron drug is undergoing clinical trials

Both companies have said the drugs were shown to work in clinical trials and that they have submitted an emergency use authorization to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The government official said the U.S. planned to distribute the treatments at no charge to patients, similar to remdesivir

04:15 PM

WHO say they want to avoid 'punishing' coronavirus lockdowns

The World Health Organization's top emergencies expert said today that authorities should try to avoid "punishing" lockdowns, as many countries see a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 infections.

Mike Ryan was speaking at a briefing in Geneva, the day after the WHO reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 338,779 in 24 hours led by a surge of infections in Europe.

"What we want to try to avoid - and sometimes it's unavoidable and we accept that - but what we want to try and avoid is these massive lockdowns that are so punishing to communities, to society and to everything else,"  he said.

Coronavirus animated spread - 1 million deaths
Coronavirus animated spread - 1 million deaths

04:06 PM

UK's Covid-19 case rate is third highest of major European nations

The UK's rate of coronavirus cases has risen to the third highest of all major European nations, new figures show.

Over the past seven days 153 cases per 100,000 people have been recorded in the UK.

This is more than countries such as France and Spain, which have rates of 141 and 124 respectively.

The only major European countries with rates higher than the UK are the Czech Republic (249) and the Netherlands (183).

Figures have been calculated by the PA news agency based on data collected by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Coronavirus UKLA current
Coronavirus UKLA current

03:59 PM

Support needed to stop restrictions leading to 'huge economic downturn,' PM told

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to throw South Yorkshire "a local lockdown lifeline" by leaders from across the region, ahead of expected enhanced restrictions.

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis has written to Mr Johnson along with the leaders of all four councils saying: "Without additional support we face a huge economic downturn which will impact the people and businesses of South Yorkshire for decades to come.

"Rather than levelling up, the Government risks doubling down on health, social and economic inequality and entrenching it for generations to come.

"We stand ready to work with you to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and ensure South Yorkshire pulls through this, together."

03:50 PM

Iranian hospitals battling coronavirus to stop non-emergency treatment

Iran said on Friday large numbers of coronavirus infections meant its hospitals would not treat non-emergency patients and extended a lockdown in the capital, which has been the hardest hit, for a second week.

The daily death toll from Covid--19 reached a record of 239 this week in a third wave of infections in Iran, which has the highest official death toll in the Middle East. Authorities have been warning for days of severe shortages of hospital beds.

Schools, mosques, shops, restaurants and other public institutions in Tehran closed for a week on October and the governor extended the closure on Friday for another week. - Shutterstock
Schools, mosques, shops, restaurants and other public institutions in Tehran closed for a week on October and the governor extended the closure on Friday for another week. - Shutterstock

"Due to the large number of coronavirus outpatients and patients, hospitalization of non-emergency patients is not allowed until further notice," Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

Military hospitals will now also admit civilian coronavirus patients, state media said.

03:41 PM

Watch: How to winter-proof your face mask

With winter around the corner, experts warn against replacing face masks with winter accessories. 

Rain, cold weather and dry skin create a whole host of new problems when wearing a face mask or using hand sanitiser. 

Dr Dominic Pimenta, Chairman and Co-founder of HEROES gives advice on precautions that can be taken this winter.

03:34 PM

Trump unlikely to return to campaign trail until Monday after bout with coronavirus

.S. President Donald Trump is unlikely to travel this weekend for campaign events as he had hoped and is more likely to return to the campaign trail on Monday, an administration official said on Friday.

Trump, recovering from Covid-19, had said on Thursday night he was hoping to hold rallies in Florida on Saturday and Pennsylvania on Sunday, but aides said the logistics of staging events on such short notice made them hard to pull off.

03:26 PM

Support packages needed to get people through self-isolation, experts warn

Government scientific advisers warned that support packages including financial aid should be rolled out as a "matter of urgency" to encourage more people to self-isolate for the full period required.

New papers published by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on Friday said current rates of full self-isolation for people in the community with cough, fever or anosmia were around 18 to 25 per cent. 

The report, by the independent Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-b), added that rates were particularly low among the youngest and poorest.

Rates would be likely to improve with the addition of different forms of support including financial, "tangible non-financial", information and emotional.

Are Covid-19 cases rising or falling in your area? All local authorities with lookup. Updates automatically
Are Covid-19 cases rising or falling in your area? All local authorities with lookup. Updates automatically

03:16 PM

Comment: 'Politicians are destroying Britain's pubs with vanishingly little evidence'

The 10pm ‘curfew’ is now widely acknowledged to be a mistake, it may even have made things worse, writes Christopher Snowdon. 

There is very little to suggest that shutting down highly regulated hospitality venues breaks the cycle of transmission, says Christopher Snowdon - PA
There is very little to suggest that shutting down highly regulated hospitality venues breaks the cycle of transmission, says Christopher Snowdon - PA

 

The 10pm ‘curfew’ is now widely acknowledged to be a mistake. Empirical evidence is again lacking, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that it has led to crowds on public transport and an increase in house parties. It is easy to imagine a further surge in unregulated private gatherings if pubs are closed down altogether.

Read the full article here

03:05 PM

Hospitals in the North of England will hit bed capacity with Covid-19 patients, experts warn

Hospitals in the north of England will likely hit bed capacity with Covid-19 a leading coronavirus expert has warned after reports revealed today that the rate of infections has soared over the past two weeks. 

Across England, there are approximately 45,000 new infections each day, a study from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI found.  

Separate data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 224,400 people in England had coronavirus between September 25 and October 1,

Reacting to these findings, Professor James Naismith FRS FRSE FMedSci, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, and University of Oxford, said:

There are dire warnings that hospitals in the North of England will hit bed capacity.  It is hard to over state the risk that brings.  There has been a revolution in science and medicine, provided people can be looked after in hospital, the death toll will be much lower. If however, the hospital system overloads, then triage will operate, meaning choices will be who gets treated and who does not.  Untreated severe Covid-19 is a significant killer.  Overloading hospitals will have spill over into many other illnesses where a drop in care will also lead in time to deaths and disability.  This overloading is the thing that I most fear.

02:54 PM

Trick or treating banned over Covid-19 fears

Trick or treating will not be allowed in Lancashire this Halloween, it has been announced. 

The Lancashire Resilience Forum said there would be restrictions to prevent large-scale events marking occasions including:

  • Prophet Muhammed's birthdate

  • Halloween

  • Bonfire Night

  • Remembrance Sunday

  • Diwali

  • Hanukkah and the switching-on of Christmas lights

Trick or treating would not be permitted as it would increase risk of household transmissions, a spokesman from the organisation said.

02:48 PM

Watch: Rishi Sunak extends furlough scheme

02:45 PM

Second pub lockdown leaves staff 'absolutely broken'

Pub staff are being left "absolutely broken" at having to shut down for a second time, according to one landlord in Scotland.

Karina Bowlby, who owns The Fat Pheasant at Newton, near Edinburgh, was on Friday preparing to close her pub until at least October 25 as new restrictions come into force at 6pm.

Like many in the industry, pub landlord Karina Bowlby feels hospitality has been unfairly singled out for tighter restrictions. - PA
Like many in the industry, pub landlord Karina Bowlby feels hospitality has been unfairly singled out for tighter restrictions. - PA

It comes as a blow to Ms Bowlby and her team, who felt like they had only just got back on track after being allowed to reopen from the first Covid-19 lockdown in July.

"Last weekend, we were fully booked and the team were on a high thinking, 'This is great, we've got everyone's trust and confidence back again, things are going to be really good from now on'.

02:39 PM

Watch: Donald Trump tells seniors 'cure' to coronavirus will be free

02:34 PM

New support should provide lifeline for companies, says business leaders

Business leaders have praised new Government support for companies, saying it should "cushion the blow" for those most affected by new coronavirus restrictions, but unions say more needed to be done to save jobs.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the Government will pay two thirds of the wages of staff in pubs, restaurants and other businesses if they are forced to close under new coronavirus restrictions.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, said: "The steep rise in infections in some areas means new restrictions to curb numbers feel unavoidable.

"The Chancellor's more generous job support for those under strict restrictions should cushion the blow for the most affected and keep more people in work.

Roger Barker, from the Institute of Directors, said: "This new intervention should provide a lifeline for many companies and people impacted by the efforts to stop the virus spreading.

"Alongside wage support, ramping up grants for affected firms marks a sensible step."

02:27 PM

'A shallow understanding of the continent': how Africa has defied Covid-19 expectations

When Burkina Faso recorded sub-Saharan Africa’s first case of coronavirus on March 9, doomsday predictions for Africa came in thick and fast. 

Experts, NGOs and commentators — many of them based in faraway Western capitals — predicted utter ruin. The virus would soon tear through Africa’s crowded slums, overload the handful of ventilators on the continent and kill millions.   

Scientists are unsure why coroanvirus cases are so low in Kenya - and across Africa - Simon Townsley 
Scientists are unsure why coroanvirus cases are so low in Kenya - and across Africa - Simon Townsley

Mercifully these predictions have fallen flat, so far. Africa’s 55 countries now have a combined caseload of 1.5 million cases and 37,000 deaths, just three per cent of the global deaths from Covid-19. 

Cases are beginning to surge in parts of North Africa. But across south, central, east and west Africa — coronavirus cases have consistently fallen for the last month. 

Africa Correspondent Will Brown has the full story here

02:18 PM

Nicola Sturgeon: 'I hate every aspect of unavoidable decisions on Covid-19 rules'

Nicola Sturgeon has spoken about the "horrendously difficult" decisions she is having to make to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Hours ahead of new measures affecting the hospitality sector coming into place, the First Minister admitted: "I hate every aspect of what we are doing right now with every fibre of my being."

But with six further coronavirus deaths recorded in Scotland in the last 24 hours, she warned the action is necessary to avoid more fatalities.

The latest rules, announced amid mounting concern over growing numbers of Covid-19 cases, involve pubs and licensed restaurants in five health board areas across most of central Scotland being forced to close for all but takeaway service.

Where are the UK's coronavirus hotspots?
Where are the UK's coronavirus hotspots?

02:10 PM

Microsoft allows employees to work from home permanently

Microsoft will allow its employees to work from home permanently even after it reopens it offices, according to an internal memo issued this week. 

Under the company's "hybrid-workplace" plan, Microsoft will let most employees work flexible hours or work from home for up to 50 per cent of their working week without applying for approval. 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella - Jason Alden /Bloomberg
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella - Jason Alden /Bloomberg

If employees want to work from home permanently, or change their hours from full-time to part-time, they can ask for permission from their manager. 

Morgan Meaker has the full story here

02:04 PM

Government to pay two-thirds of wages for firms shut by local lockdowns

Businesses forced to close under the new traffic light system will have two thirds of their workers’ wages paid for by the Government, Rishi Sunak has announced. 

In a significant expansion of the job support scheme, the Chancellor has revealed that employees will no longer have to work part-time in order to qualify for the wage subsidy. 

“The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”   - Getty Images Europe 
“The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.” - Getty Images Europe

Businesses ordered to close prior to any fresh additional restrictions will also qualify, throwing venues such nightclubs, which have been shut since March, a vital lifeline. 

Treasury sources say the scheme is expected to cost hundreds of millions of pounds a month. 

Harry Yorke has the full story here

01:56 PM

Germany agrees stricter anti-Covid measures for virus hot spots

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she and mayors from Germany's 11 largest cities agreed on Friday to adopt stricter anti-coronavirus measures if infections exceed a threshold of 50 cases per 100,000 population in a week.

Restrictions could include tighter rules on mask-wearing, restrictions on private gatherings and stricter rules on buying alcohol, Merkel said, adding that her top priority was to avoid shutting down the economy and society again, as in the spring.

"These are the days and weeks that will determine in what shape Germany will get through winter in this pandemic," Merkel told reporters. "Summer went very well overall, but we now see a picture that is cause for concern."

Coronavirus Germany Spotlight Chart - deaths default
Coronavirus Germany Spotlight Chart - deaths default

01:48 PM

Northern leaders set to oppose restrictions on hospitality

Some northern leaders are set to voice their opposition to further coronavirus restrictions being placed on hospitality, at a meeting with Government officials.

New restrictions are expected which could see pubs and restaurants in areas of northern England temporarily closed.

Pubs and restaurants in coronavirus hotspots are set to face fresh restrictions after Downing Street said new data suggests there is "significant" transmission taking place in hospitality setting - AFP
Pubs and restaurants in coronavirus hotspots are set to face fresh restrictions after Downing Street said new data suggests there is "significant" transmission taking place in hospitality setting - AFP

But critics said the hospitality sector had been "forgotten" and "picked on", amid fears businesses would not come back from a second lockdown.

Leaders from areas of the North were due to have a Government briefing with a senior Whitehall official on Friday, but the meetings were understood to have been delayed to the afternoon.

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon said before the meeting that the council leaders of Northumberland, Newcastle, South and North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham had "agreed a line".

He said: "Despite three sets of regulations in 10 days and the ensuing mixed messaging, there is evidence that, excluding higher education students (which is a national problem), new cases are beginning to plateau.

01:42 PM

Moscow hospitals feels strain of second Covid-19 wave

Alexei Karzin, head of a 20-bed intensive care unit in a Moscow hospital, felt a sense of relief when his unit stopped treating Covid-19 patients in early September and could get back to looking after stroke victims.

His relief was short-lived.

Medical workers transport a Covid-19 patient inside the City Clinical Hospital Number 52 - Reuters
Medical workers transport a Covid-19 patient inside the City Clinical Hospital Number 52 - Reuters

Three weeks later, he turned his ward back into a "red zone" after the hospital struggled to cope with a sudden influx of coronavirus patients.

"I knew, of course, there would be some increase in infected people," said Karzin, sitting at his desk at Moscow Hospital Number 52. "But we didn't expect it to be this sharp and to involve such high numbers."

On Friday, Russia's new daily infections for the first time exceeded the peak of the outbreak in May and reached a new record of 12,126 cases.

Karzin, who contracted the virus during the first wave, said the only time off he had taken this year was spent looking after his elderly parents who also got Covid-19.

"I have no emotions anymore. There's nothing good in it, it's sad. We sleep and dream about seeing it over one day," he said.

01:32 PM

Germany: More restrictions in cities 'inevitable' if measures don't help

The German government said further restrictions to halt a rise in coronavirus infection rates would be inevitable if measures agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the mayors of the country's largest cities did not yield results within 10 days.

Angela Merkel speaking after 16 German cities and counties exceeded the warning value of 50 new Covid-19 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days - Shutterstock
Angela Merkel speaking after 16 German cities and counties exceeded the warning value of 50 new Covid-19 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days - Shutterstock

Ms Merkel and the mayors of 11 cities on Friday agreed a package of measures that would allow cities to receive military help to support their  local coronavirus response if case numbers hit 35 per 100,000 residents within a week. 

01:23 PM

Comment: 'Following the polls on Covid has now damaged No 10's approval ratings'

The Government has sacrificed long-term credibility for short-term popularity, writes Patrick O'Flynn. 

The truth is that when it comes to the Covid pandemic both Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer are tracking public opinion polls almost obsessively, as well as running their own private surveys and focus groups.One Cabinet source told me a couple of weeks back that “nearly everything the Government does is being driven by polling that shows most people still have a ‘better safe than sorry’ outlook”.

Read Patrick O' Flynn's full piece here

01:18 PM

Covid treatment given to Donald Trump was developed using cells from aborted foetus

The coronavirus treatment given to Donald Trump and described by the president as a “cure” was developed using human cells from a foetus aborted decades ago, despite Mr Trump's opposition to the practice. 

US President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he leaves Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland - Saul Loeb/AFP
US President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he leaves Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland - Saul Loeb/AFP

Regeneron’s cocktail of antibodies was tested on HEK-293T cells derived from an elective abortion performed in the 1970s, a practice denounced by the Trump administration and many supporters. 

Antibodies taken from a mouse and a human who has recovered from the virus are used in the drug. 

Verity Bowman has the full story here

01:09 PM

Hundreds of University of Bristol students told to self-isolate

The University of Bristol has told hundreds of students to self-isolate after 40 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the same halls of residence.

All 300 students in The Courtrooms accommodation in the city centre have been told to remain in their flats and only socialise with those in their living circle, due to the cluster of coronavirus cases.

The latest figures from Bristol University show that 254 students and three staff members have tested positive for Covid-19.

01:06 PM

UK R value falls to between 1.2 and 1.5.

Scientists advising the Government said the current R value - the number of people an infected person will pass coronavirus on to - for the UK is between 1.2 and 1.5.

This is down slightly on last week when it was between 1.3 and 1.6.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) estimates the number of new infections is growing by between 4% and 9% every day.

Sage said it was "almost certain that the epidemic continues to grow exponentially across the country, and is confident that the transmission is not slowing.

"While the R value remains above 1.0, infections will continue to grow at an exponential rate.

"This is currently the case for every region of England and all have positive growth rates, reflecting increases in the number of new infections across the country."

01:03 PM

Sophie Countess of Wessex self-isolating after contact tested positive for Covid-19

Sophie, Countess of Wessex is self-isolating after coming into contact earlier this week with an individual who has now tested positive for coronavirus.  

The 55-year-old royal not experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19 but is said to be following all relevant Government guidelines.  - Reuters
The 55-year-old royal not experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19 but is said to be following all relevant Government guidelines. - Reuters

Her Royal Highness will be isolating at her Bagshot Park home, a Surrey mansion where she lives with husband Prince Edward and their children Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn.

The 55-year-old royal not experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19 but is said to be following all relevant Government guidelines. 

Sophie is not thought to have seen any members of the wider Royal Family since she met the unnamed person who has subsequently tested positive.   

On October 4 the Countess of Wessex, who is patron of the Royal Mencap Society, ran part of the virtual 2020 London Marathon in support of the charity with one of its team runners in Windsor Great Park

Three days later, she visited the National Space Centre, Exploration Drive, Leicester, to mark World Space Week and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire (Mr Michael Kapur).

12:49 PM

Wales: Halloween and Bonfire Night will have to take place differently this year "if they are to go ahead at all".

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford has said Halloween and Bonfire Night will have to take place differently this year "if they are to go ahead at all".

"I'm very reluctant to say to children and young people that Halloween is cancelled in Wales but I do think there are ways in which it might be possible for a different sort of celebration to take place that doesn't cause risk to them or to others," Mr Drakeford said.

He told a press conference in Cardiff that further guidance on the events would be provided by the Welsh Government "closer to the time".

12:47 PM

'I couldn't say goodbye to my dying mother': The families ripped apart by the Australian lockdown

The Australian government has indicated it will maintain firm restrictions on international travel until a Covid-19 vaccine is available and widely distributed a move that will have a prolonged impact on many Australians.

12:39 PM

Nicola Sturgeon admits 'lack of clarity' over cafe shutdown exemption

Last-minute changes to tough new lockdown restrictions in Scotland to exempt some cafes have created a "lack of clarity", Scotland's First Minister has conceded. 

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes outside central Scotland will only be allowed to operate indoors between 6am and 6pm from Friday and not serve alcohol, though drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas.

But pubs and licensed restaurants in five health board areas - Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley - will be forced to close for all but takeaway service for 16 days from 6pm on Friday.

Nicola Sturgeon revealed on Thursday that cafes can be exempt from the central belt shutdown during the day if they do not sell alcohol, triggering confusion about how a cafe is defined.

Addressing the change today she said: "I readily accept that that has resulted in a lack of clarity. Sometimes that's the price we have to pay right now for trying to be as flexible as possible.

12:31 PM

45,000 new Covid-19 infections every day in England, study reveals

Coronavirus cases are doubling about twice as fast in the North West, Yorkshire and the West Midlands as for the whole of England, according to the largest Covid-19 study of its kind.

Across England, there are approximately 45,000 new infections each day, the report from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI said. 

One  in 100 people in the North West had the virus, the highest regional prevalence, followed by the North East at 0.9 per cent. 

Experts behind the React study said the rate of growth of the epidemic across England has slowed in the last month, but the country was now at a "critical point in the second wave".

The report from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI looked at Covid-19 swabs from 174,949 volunteers tested across England between September 18 and Monday this week.

They warned that current measures such as the rule of six and restrictions in the north of England will not be enough to bring the epidemic under control.  

12:21 PM

Hospitals in Manchester 'preparing for the worst' as admissions double in a month.

Hospitals in Manchester are "preparing for the worst", intensive care workers have warned, as admissions double in a month.  

Professor Jane Eddleston, an intensive care consultant at Manchester Royal Infirmary, said Covid patients coming into hospitals rose from eight to 32 per day in the last five weeks and they occupy 30 per cent of critical care beds.

Cities in northern England and other areas suffering a surge in Covid-19 cases may have pubs and restaurants temporarily closed to combat the spread of the virus. - PA
Cities in northern England and other areas suffering a surge in Covid-19 cases may have pubs and restaurants temporarily closed to combat the spread of the virus. - PA

"This has translated through to a rise in admissions to critical care - we've gone from about three admissions a day at the beginning of September up to where we are now, which is just short of seven admissions a day," she said.  

"We're preparing for the worst, but hopefully the slight chink that we're seeing now in terms of some stabilisation of admissions in some of the providers in Greater Manchester will follow through in the model."

12:17 PM

Donald Trump maps return to campaign trail after White House says Covid-19 treatment complete

U.S President Donald Trump today prepared to return to the campaign trail with a pair of weekend rallies after his Covid-19  diagnosis sidelined him for a week in the race against Democratic nominee Joe Biden for the White House.

President Donald Trump walked out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to return to the White House after receiving treatments for Covid-19 - AP
President Donald Trump walked out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to return to the White House after receiving treatments for Covid-19 - AP

Trump, who announced he had been infected with Covid-10 on October 2 and spent three nights in a military hospital receiving treatment, said late on Thursday he was feeling "really good" and, with a doctor's blessing, aimed to campaign in Florida on Saturday and in Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Trump's illness has kept him from crisscrossing the country to rally support and raise cash in the final weeks before the November 3 election.

A return to in-person events would be aimed at convincing voters he is healthy enough to campaign and to govern.

While Trump has released several videos on Twitter, he has not appeared in public since he returned home from the hospital on Monday. He is scheduled to do an on-camera interview with Fox News on Friday night, his first since being diagnosed.

Mr Trump told the network late on Thursday he was likely to be tested for the virus on Friday. The White House has declined to say when he last tested negative for the disease.

12:04 PM

Northern Ireland: One in 500 people in private households had Covid-19

In Northern Ireland, an estimated 0.22 per cent of people in private households had Covid-19 in the two weeks from September 18 to October 1, or around one in 500 people.

Because the infection survey has only been running in Northern Ireland for a short period, the ONS said it is too early to comment on any trend on the proportion of population testing positive for Covid-19.

Due to a relatively small number of tests within the survey sample, the results should be treated with caution. Based on swab test results from 2,199 participants collected over the two-week period, just four people from four households tested positive.

11:55 AM

Wales will ease local restrictions, allowing children to take part in organised sporting activities outside of county boundaries.

The Welsh government will amend local lockdown restrictions to allow children to take part in organised sporting activities outside of their county boundaries.

In Wales, people must not enter or leave areas under local lockdown without a reasonable excuse such as work or education.

First Minister Mark Drakeford told a press conference in Cardiff that Covid-19 was "waking up for winter".

"There is no quick way of making things get easier, or better, soon," Mr Drakeford said.

"Over this winter, we will all be asked to make sacrifices to protect the most vulnerable, to prevent our NHS from being overwhelmed and to keep as many businesses and livelihoods operating safely."

11:46 AM

Self-isolating Durham students 'left without hot meal for six days'

Self-isolating Durham University students have complained that they were left without a hot meal for six days and forced to go to bed hungry.

One student, who tested positive within days of arriving at her the university, said her peers were not allowed to order in any supplies so had to rely on the food boxes provided by the university.

Over 250 students have tested positive at Durham University since the start of term   - Kevin George/Kevin George
Over 250 students have tested positive at Durham University since the start of term - Kevin George/Kevin George

She described how the food boxes consisted of “parcels filled with junk food” and ready meals, adding: “We are in a catered college so normally you would be given hot meals every day that would be cooked for us.”

Our Education Editor, Camilla Turner, has the full story here

11:41 AM

Downing Street 'won't hesitate to act' in tackling rising coronavirus cases

Downing Street said it "won't hesitate to act" to tackle rising coronavirus cases amid reports that new restrictions will be imposed next week.

A Number 10 spokesman said: "We have been clear that we are seeing cases rise across the country, especially in the North East and North West.

"And as we have been clear throughout the pandemic, we will continue to keep all that data under review and won't hesitate to act in order to protect communities and save lives."

The spokesman did not confirm when the Government would announce a new three-tier local lockdown system, which is reportedly to be outlined on Monday.

11:36 AM

Government has 'forgotten' hospitality industry, Manchester economy advisor claims

The hospitality industry has been "forgotten" and is in a "heartbreaking" position, a Greater Manchester nightlife boss has said.

Sacha Lord, the night time economy adviser for the region, said he had not been shown any statistics about the spread of coronavirus in bars and restaurants, which are expected to face further restrictions in parts of the north of England.

He said: "We keep saying 'show us the science' and if they show us the science of course we will absolutely work with them because we want the R rate to come down and if that means shutting, we'll close to help the R rate come down but the support package needs to be there."

Mr Lord said targeting the hospitality industry was a "cheap, easy thing" for the Government to do.

"They've forgotten that we are the fifth biggest industry in the UK, they've forgotten that we put £70 billion into the economy last year."It's a cheap headline, it looks like they're doing something but actually it's completely reckless."This is ruining people's lives, it's ruining people's businesses."

11:16 AM

17,200 daily cases of Covid-19 in homes in England between September 25 and October 1, ONS reports

There were an average of 17,200 new cases per day of Covid-19 in private households in England between September 25 and October 1, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up from an estimated 8,400 new cases per day for the period from September 18 to 24.

The ONS said there has been a "marked increase" in the rate of new infections over the last six weeks.

The figures do not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.

11:09 AM

Countess of Wessex self-isolates after contact tests positive for Covid-19

The Countess of Wessex is self isolating at home after coming into contact with someone who has subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex pictured alongside her husband Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex - Chris Jackson 
Sophie, Countess of Wessex pictured alongside her husband Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex - Chris Jackson

The 55-year-old royal is not experiencing any symptoms, but is following all relevant government guidelines and is self-isolating at home.

More updates to follow.

11:02 AM

Northern Ireland: Deputy First Minister self-isolating after family member tests positive for Covid-19.

Northern Ireland's deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill is self-isolating after a close family member tested positive for Covid-19.

The Sinn Fein vice president, who is being tested herself, will need to restrict her movements for two weeks and work remotely.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill  - Kelvin Boyes/PA
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill - Kelvin Boyes/PA

The development would only have potential self-isolating consequences for Ms O'Neill's Stormont colleagues if she tests positive for the virus.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "Joint head of government Michelle O'Neill has confirmed that she is being tested for coronavirus and is self-isolating after contact with a family member who has tested positive for Covid-19.

"Michelle will continue to follow the public health advice and carry out her duties in Government remotely."

10:50 AM

Cycling: Paris-Roubaix cancelled after surge in Covid cases in northern France

Paris-Roubaix, which was due to be raced on October 25, has been cancelled amid the Covid-19 crisis, organisers said on Friday.

The men's and inaugural women's races have been cancelled by local authorities following French health minister Olivier Veran's announcement on Thursday that the Lille metropole was being placed under maximum Covid-19 alert.

Paris-Roubaix, also known as 'the Queen of the Classics', was due to be on Oct 25 - Chris Graythen/Velo
Paris-Roubaix, also known as 'the Queen of the Classics', was due to be on Oct 25 - Chris Graythen/Velo

France's new daily Covid-19 infections were above the record 18,000 threshold for the second day on Thursday, while the number of people treated in hospital for the disease was up.

10:36 AM

Watch: Scotland fans erupt with joy watching Euro penalty shootout win outside pub after 10pm curfew

Scotland football fans erupted in celebration as they watched their team win on penalties from outside a Glasgow pub - after the 10pm coronavirus curfew.

Nico's in the city centre posted a clip of the supporters outside their doors as the national team battled Israel at Hampden Park staidum

Fans can be heard singing the nation's unofficial anthem Flower of Scotland seconds before midfielder Kenny McLean netted the winner. 

Under current Scottish Government guidelines fans cannot stay in pubs after 10pm.

10:31 AM

Pantomime set to return to West End after industry 'wounded' by pandemic

Pantomime, in peril because of the pandemic, will be returning to the West End.

Julian Clary, Ashley Banjo and Diversity, Nigel Havers and Beverley Knight will star in the show, in front of a socially-distanced audience, at the London Palladium.

Pantomime dames marched from London's West End to Parliament Square, demanding government support for theatre industry - Anadolu Agency 
Pantomime dames marched from London's West End to Parliament Square, demanding government support for theatre industry - Anadolu Agency

Producers said the three week-run would provide a "sticking plaster" on the "big theatrical wound" caused by Covid-19.

It is made possible due to a National Lottery initiative to buy seats which must remain empty for social distancing.

More productions at other venues will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

10:23 AM

China backs WHO scheme to help poor nations receive Covid-19 vaccine

China has said it will join an international effort to ensure poor nations receive a coronavirus vaccine.

Beijing's joining of the World Health Organization-backed scheme, fills a void in global health leadership left when America rejected the program.

China already has several leading vaccine candidates in late stages of development and ample production capacity.

A government spokeswoman said the country was joining the £14bn ($18bn) programme "to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support Covax.”.

The move was a "soft power win" for China, which has seen its reputation tarnished by accusations of covering up the initial outbreak, repression in Hong Kong and abuses in Xinjiang, analysts said.

“It is a win made all the easier by President Trump’s impetuous decision to withdraw from the WHO and his short-sighted refusal to commit the US to Covax," Nicholas Thomas, an associate professor in health security at the City University of Hong Kong told Bloomberg.

10:11 AM

Covid-19 app's check-in feature 'not expected to send out alerts frequently'

The effectiveness of England and Wales's coronavirus app is under the spotlight once again after the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it does not expect to send out alerts frequently from QR code check-ins.

People are able to scan codes on posters before entering venues such as pubs and restaurants using the app, allowing NHS Test and Trace to send an alert to anyone who has visited somewhere that experiences an outbreak.

Only one alert has been sent about a coronavirus outbreak in a venue since the service was launched two weeks ago. - Jason Cairnduff/REUTERS
Only one alert has been sent about a coronavirus outbreak in a venue since the service was launched two weeks ago. - Jason Cairnduff/REUTERS

The first Saturday after the app launched 1.5 million venue check-ins were recorded.

It was heralded as an important way to help contact tracing efforts, alongside separate Bluetooth contact tracing which keeps a log of individuals a person comes into close contact with.

But according to Sky News, only one alert has been sent about a coronavirus outbreak in a venue since the service was launched two weeks ago.

Given that it became a legal requirement for certain venues in England to display QR code posters on September 24, DHSC said it would not yet expect to see large numbers of alerts having been sent out linked to outbreaks.

10:05 AM

Thailand U-turns on decision to welcome back tourists

Thailand has done a U-turn on its plans to welcome back its first batch of foreign tourists since the government closed the borders in April to keep the pandemic at bay.

Thailand has seen its tourism industry collapse since the start of the pandemic - AFP/AFP
Thailand has seen its tourism industry collapse since the start of the pandemic - AFP/AFP

About 100 tourists from China were expected to arrive this month as part of a government plan to help get the tourism economy slowly back onto its feet.

However, officials have admitted that complicated processes involved in applying for and issuing special visas has set back progress.

The blueprint for reintroducing foreign tourists is based on strict precautions that only allow arrivals from countries deemed to be “low-risk” and also require two weeks quarantine at selected resorts.

The setback means that tourists may not be permitted to sun themselves on Thailand’s beaches until next year.

09:58 AM

More than 40% of adults leaving home less to socialise

The proportion of adults leaving home to socialise or dine out has fallen in recent weeks as local restrictions and fears for the winter continue, official figures show.

Just under half (43%) of adults reported meeting with others less often, when asked about changes to socialising outside their household, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

A quarter of adults said they had eaten or drank in a restaurant, pub or bar during the previous week when polled by the ONS between September 30 and October 4.

Three weeks earlier, 30% of respondents said they had done so in the past seven days.

Diners in Soho, London - Yui Mok /PA
Diners in Soho, London - Yui Mok /PA

The proportion of adults leaving their home to meet others in either a public place or a personal place, such as another person's home, has fallen eight percentage points over the same period.

Some 28% of adults polled between September 9 and 13 met others in a public place and the same proportion met others in a personal place in the previous week.

This has now dropped to 20% for both activities.

The ONS analysed responses from 1,573 adults about their feelings and activity during the past week in its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey examining the social impact of coronavirus.

09:44 AM

What it's like to have 'long Covid' — six cases with very different symptoms

Many are so fatigued they have barely been able to walk upstairs for months, others still get short of breath from the simplest task, and for some every bite of food that passes their lips tastes of ash.

For the growing number of people diagnosed with what is known as long Covid, living with the after-effects of Covid-19 has been harder than the virus itself. Now, experts say it could turn out to be a bigger public health problem than the excess deaths that have occurred since the start of the pandemic.

Read the full story here.

09:29 AM

Calls for stricter safety measures on buses after driver dies from Covid

Unite said Kofi Opoku, who was based in Croydon, south London, died earlier this week.

The union said bus driver safety is particularly sensitive as during the height of the pandemic earlier this year, male London bus drivers were the profession at greatest risk of dying from Covid-19, with at least 29 succumbing to the disease.

Unite, which represents more than 20,000 London bus workers, has called for improvements to vehicle safety to better protect drivers and passengers as the virus continues to spread.

London bus driver - Henry Nicholls/Reuters
London bus driver - Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Officer John Murphy said: "The death of Kofi Opoku is a terrible reminder of the horrible human cost of Covid-19. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

"During the first lockdown London bus drivers played a vital role in keeping the capital moving, and for that too many paid the ultimate price.

"Significant safety procedures have been already introduced, but action needs to be taken to reinforce those measures."

09:15 AM

Ministers accused of justifying pub closures with 'cobbled together' statistics

Ministers have been accused of justifying pub closures with "cobbled together" statistics including a three-month-old survey carried out in the US.

MPs in local lockdown areas have been shown an "early analysis" purporting to prove that pubs are the biggest spreaders of Covid-19, which was based on just a few hundred people who were infected.

It comes as Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, accused Boris Johnson of causing "confusion, chaos and unfairness" by waiting until next week to announce a new local lockdown system while ministers argue over the details.

Writing in The Telegraph, Sir Keir said families and businesses faced a "weekend of uncertainty" because of the delay in announcing the three-tier system, which was originally scheduled to be made public on Thursday.

Read the full story here.

09:07 AM

Woman who broke arm in January still waiting for operation

Sophie Meredith, 35, a contract manager for a facilities company from Telford, broke her left elbow in January and is still waiting to have an operation to fix it.

"It wasn't a simple break - I had to wait eight to 10 weeks to have the operation, as something in my arm needed to heal," she said.

But the coronavirus lockdown happened the day before it was due to go ahead on 24 March - and she's now been waiting 28 weeks.

Sophie has yet to learn when it will take place.

09:05 AM

Vulnerable could be told to shield in hotspots over winter

Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people living in coronavirus hotspots could be told to shield this winter under plans reportedly being considered by the Government as infections continue to soar.

Ministers are expected to outline a three-tier local lockdown system next week, which may see those most at risk if they catch Covid-19 being told to stay at home for months.

Around 2.2 million people in England deemed "clinically extremely vulnerable" were asked to shield at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, before the scheme was "paused" in July.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said coronavirus was "holding a gun" to Boris Johnson's head over the restrictions being introduced, adding that the nation faces an anxious wait to see the full impact on the NHS.

08:57 AM

Ministers executing £1bn 'smash and grab raid' on struggling businesses, Labour claims

More than £1 billion of funding allocated to support businesses through the virus crisis is being "clawed back" by the Government, Labour is claiming.

The Opposition said it amounted to a "smash-and-grab raid" on struggling businesses, especially as restrictions are being reimposed in some parts of the country.

Local authorities must hand back £1.3 billion of unspent emergency grants to the Government, including £340 million from areas subject to local restrictions, said Labour.

Shadow ministers repeated their call for remaining grants to be used for a Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund, to help save jobs and businesses.

Councils are having to return any money they have not used from a fund aimed at supporting small businesses and those in the hospitality, leisure and retail industries, said Labour.

Businesses are in a fight for survival and should still be able to access the funds, it was argued.

08:45 AM

Retail footfall decreases by more than 30 per cent

High street footfall "steadily dropped" throughout September as the tightening of restrictions impacted retailers' recovery, according to new data.

The latest BRC-ShopperTrack footfall monitor revealed that UK retail footfall decreased by 30.1% in September compared to the same month last year.

The figures revealed a 4.7 percentage point improvement against August but saw local lockdown restrictions weigh on shopping throughout the month.

Lewes high street - Eddie Mulholland
Lewes high street - Eddie Mulholland

"As the second wave of the pandemic sweeps the UK and additional restrictions come into force, footfall has steadily dropped during the month as many shoppers chose to stay at home," said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The report highlighted a nine percentage point fall in footfall from the start of September to the end of the period as local restrictions kept shoppers at home.

Ms Dickinson said: "It is likely that rising case numbers and future restrictions may see footfall decline in the coming months.

"Sales at upcoming holidays, including Halloween and Bonfire night, are also likely to remain muted."

08:31 AM

Shadow chancellor: Businesses forced to 'flip coin' over redundancies

Anneliese Dodds has said Rishi Sunak's Job Support Scheme is "forcing businesses to flip a coin over who stays and who goes" because it is cheaper to employ one worker than two to do the same hours.

She said the cost to an employer of bringing back two workers in the arts sector for half of the week versus one for the whole week is £163 in the UK - compared with £98 in the Netherlands, £69 in France and nothing in Germany.

"The Chancellor's sink-or-swim Job Support Scheme is forcing businesses to flip a coin over who stays and who goes," she tweeted.

08:17 AM

Scotland restrictions effective from 6pm

New restrictions introduced for Scotland's pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will come into effect from 6pm tonight.

Across most of the country these venues will only be allowed to operate indoors between 6am and 6pm and not serve alcohol. However, they can continue to sell drinks until 10pm in outside areas.

But pubs and licensed restaurants in five health board areas across the central belt will be forced to close for 16 days as of tonight.

Party-goers enjoy a final drink in Edinburgh on Thursday evening -  Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS
Party-goers enjoy a final drink in Edinburgh on Thursday evening - Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS

Establishments in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley can only provide takeaways during this time with the temporary measures set to end on Sunday October 25.

Shops have also been asked to return to two metres physical distancing and reintroduce measures from earlier in the pandemic such as one-way systems.

08:00 AM

Gordon Ramsay urges people concerned about cancer to see doctor

TV chef Gordon Ramsay and actress Dame Emma Thompson are among famous faces backing an NHS campaign calling for anyone concerned about cancer to get checked.

The NHS's Help Us Help You access campaign will use TV adverts, billboards and social media to urge people to speak to their GP if they are worried about a symptom that could be cancer.

It comes as new research found nearly half (48%) of the public would delay or not seek medical help at all in such a situation.

Gordon Ramsay - Dia Dipasupil /Getty Images
Gordon Ramsay - Dia Dipasupil /Getty Images

A fifth (22%) said they would not want to be a burden on the health service while a similar number said that fear of getting coronavirus or passing it onto others was a major reason for not getting help.

More than four in 10 people would leave it longer to get health advice than they normally would have before the coronavirus outbreak.

Ramsay said: "As we head into winter, it's really important that we remember that despite Covid-19, the NHS can still see us safely.

"I was really pleased to help reassure the public and remind them that the NHS is here for them when they need it."

07:44 AM

Financial strain on schools trying to stay 'Covid secure'

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said it was "baffling" that the Government is refusing to provide schools with financial support for additional Covid-19 costs this term.

In just the few weeks since the beginning of term, a survey from the union found that schools in England have spent an average £8,017 on additional costs to minimise the risks of Covid-19, which include enhanced cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand washing stations.

An NAHT survey, of more than 2,000 school leaders in England, found that schools have already lost an average £9,755 in income this term alone as restrictions have led to a drop in demand for renting out school facilities.

The findings come ahead of the NAHT's virtual conference where delegates will debate a motion which instructs the union to "use all means at our disposal to secure adequate funding for all our schools".

Previous data from the union showed that, between March and September, schools had spent an average of £9,990 and faced lost income of £15,915.

The new survey suggests that financial pressures on schools are mounting.

07:31 AM

North economy damage will be 'deep and lasting'

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has warned "the damage to the economy of the North will be deep and lasting" if the Government does not extend the furlough scheme.

Reacting to the news that 465 jobs are set to be lost at Manchester Airport, he tweeted: "The Government's line is that these jobs are 'not viable'. I say that they are.

"(Without) an extension to the main furlough scheme, the damage to the economy of the North will be deep and lasting."

07:15 AM

Chancellor to announce Job Support Scheme details

Rishi Sunak will announce the next stage of the Job Support Scheme later today.

A Treasury spokeswoman said: "The Chancellor will be setting out the next stage of the Job Support Scheme later today that will protect jobs and provide a safety net for those businesses that may have to close in the coming weeks and months."

Rishi Sunak - Tolga Akmen/AFP
Rishi Sunak - Tolga Akmen/AFP

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi warned that 2020 "is going to be a difficult year", after new figures on GDP showed a struggling economy.

He told BBC Breakfast: "This is a really tough year economically. The Chancellor has put around £190 billion into the economy to protect jobs.

"Undoubtedly 2020 is going to be a difficult year. The direction of travel is still positive, it's still over 2% growth, but nevertheless many many businesses, whether it's hospitality and retail or aviation are struggling with coronavirus as are many other nations around the world."

06:59 AM

Heritage organisations to get financial boost

The £103 million funding will support 445 organisations in England to carry out repair and maintenance work on cherished heritage sites to keep the venues running.

Sites to benefit include landmarks such as Gloucester Cathedral, Downton Abbey filming location Highclere Castle, Blackpool's Winter Gardens and the Severn Valley Railway.

Organisations welcomed the funding as an "essential lifeline" to ensure heritage sites can remain open following the financial hit caused by Covid-19.

Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "As a nation, it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past.

"This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post-Covid."

Grants are between £10,000 and £1 million, with a further round of up to £3 million due to be announced imminently.

06:44 AM

Leaks to newspapers about restrictions are 'counterproductive', claims business minister

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi has said "leaks" to newspapers over upcoming coronavirus restrictions are "corrosive".

He told Sky News: "I think you will agree with me that these leaks are completely counterproductive.

"You're doing a disservice to the service by speculation and leaks, I think that's wrong. I think the right thing to do is to wait for the decision that the Government will always make sure we attempt to do in a co-ordinated way with the local teams.

"I can promise you that this minister, or no minister, would actually instruct any member of staff to go out and actually brief this stuff out.

"This is really bad that people are leaking this stuff and I hope that whoever's doing this will stop because actually it's counterproductive, it's confusing and it's corrosive."

06:30 AM

'True devolution' will improve response, claims former minister

Former Tory Treasury minister Lord O'Neill called for "true devolution" to improve the coronavirus response and for a "tailored" version of the furlough scheme.

The crossbench peer, who is a vice-chair of the Northern Powerhouse group, said local leaders would run better test and trace systems.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "That mess clearly demonstrates the needs for true devolution of decision making. I'm certainly with those who believe if you gave that kind of power to local areas they would almost definitely have done a much better job than central Government did."

And he said fresh financial support is needed amid the prospect of greater restrictions on Covid-19 hotspots, which currently centre largely in northern England.

"Some kind of tailored specific version of furlough is almost definitely something that's going to have to be introduced and maybe additional forms of support schemes linked to the general loan programme," he said.

"I certainly think they have to consider, if they want compliance in this difficult phase we're going through, because it's all been going on for so long, they need to obviously have incentives to abide by whatever new rule they set and they need to be fair."

06:16 AM

Sats exams and Ofsted inspections will do 'more harm than good', report suggests

The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on primary schools and children in the most deprived areas in England, according to research published by UCL's Institute of Education (IoE).

The Government's plan to help pupils catch up on missed lessons following lockdown should not focus on testing and formal inspections as schools have had vastly different experiences, the researchers say.

Pupils sitting exams - David Jones /PA
Pupils sitting exams - David Jones /PA

More than three in four (77%) teachers think the most disadvantaged pupils will be unfairly penalised if testing and inspection go ahead in primary schools as normal, according to the report.

This figure rises to 84% among teachers working with the most disadvantaged communities.

Sats exams for Year 6 pupils - which are used to compare schools' performance - are due to take place in May, and Ofsted is planning to restart its full inspection programme from January.

The primary school tests and formal inspections were previously abandoned under coronavirus lockdown measures.

The authors say using national tests to judge primary schools would be unfair.

05:59 AM

Working from home breeds more happiness, report finds

A survey of 1,800 managers by the suggested those working from home remain happier than those in offices, although overall levels of happiness have fallen slightly in recent months.

Managers feel safer working from home yet they fear more for their job security, the study indicated.

Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), said: "While managers based at home are still happier than their workplace-based counterparts, the fall in scores shows that we haven't got it right yet.

"The missing link is managers and leaders shifting from 'crisis mode' to thinking long-term about how working from home sits with employee wellbeing - especially in light of new Government guidance.

"Adjusting the way we approach remote working means adapting management styles, with a particular focus on clear communication and making sure everyone is included.

"Managers also need to address new iterations of presenteeism once more workplaces open up, making it explicit that job security is not based on a person's willingness or ability to return to the workplace."

05:42 AM

Private school children more likely to receive mental health counselling

Private schools are more likely to provide pupils with mental health counselling in the wake of the pandemic than state schools in less affluent areas, according to a think tank.

Fewer state schools appear to be offering support services for students, like on-site counselling and parental schemes, than a decade ago, an IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) report suggests.

Less than half (48%) of teachers said their schools offered on-site counselling and 37% reported providing parental support programmes, according to a poll carried out ahead of schools fully reopening.

But the IPPR research found that independent schools and state schools in more affluent areas were more likely to provide key mental health support than those in the most deprived areas of the country.

Three in four (75%) of teachers in private schools said pupils had access to on-site mental health support, such as a counsellor, compared to 48% of teachers in state schools located in the least affluent areas.

Just over half (51%) of teachers in the state schools in the most privileged areas said students had access to on-site mental health provision, according to the polling by the Teacher Tapp app.

05:20 AM

'We've lost the balance of risks'

Boris Johnson will never defeat the coronavirus pandemic, Sir Iain Duncan Smith has said, and instead must start to help Britons learn to live with the disease.

The former Conservative leader told Friday's Chopper Politics podcast: "'I've never been to a time like this where we have almost suspended all judgement on everything else as secondary to Covid.

"And the truth is that if we go on just trying to push these spikes down the whole time ... then we could be in this for years because there are very few vaccines that have been completely effective against viruses."

Read more and listen to Chopper's Politics podcast here.

05:08 AM

Scientists study possible coronavirus mutation

Scientists in Chile are investigating a possible mutation of coronavirus in southern Patagonia, a region near the tip of the South American continent that has seen an unusually contagious second wave of infections in recent weeks.

Reuters has reported that researchers had detected “structural changes” in the spikes on the distinctive, crown-shaped virus.

Research is underway to better understand the potential mutation and its effects on humans.

University of Magallanes' Dr Marcelo Navarrete told Reuters: “The only thing we know to date is that this coincides in time and space with a second wave that is quite intense in the region.”

The news agency said the Magallanes region of Chile is largely a remote “glacier-strewn wilderness dotted with small towns and the regional hub Punta Arenas”, which has seen Covid cases spike over the past two months after a first wave earlier in the year.

04:43 AM

Israel PM's wife summons hairdresser for mask video

Public anger has deepened in Israel over a bitterly unpopular second coronavirus lockdown after reported violations by high-profile figures, including a hairdresser visiting the prime minister's wife.

Israel, which has one of the world's highest Covid-19 infection rates per capita, has re-imposed draconian movement restrictions, with people compelled to remain within a kilometre (less than a mile) of their homes.

Only essential workers are allowed to leave their residence, adding further stress to an already battered economy, while Jewish people have been barred from gathering with friends and family over the High Holidays.

A spokesman for the family of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his wife's decision to summon a hairdresser to their official residence, saying it was part of her efforts to contain the virus.

A family statement said Sara Netanyahu booked the appointment ahead of filming a "video, in which she called on everyone to wear masks".

"Ms Netanyahu is an influential public figure and this is an informational video for the public service. She assumed that hairdresser services can be used, as is customary on television channels," the statement said.

Sara Netanyahu - AP Photo/Francois Mori
Sara Netanyahu - AP Photo/Francois Mori

It added that the hairdresser wore a mask and gloves and that the prime minister's wife "strictly adheres" to all health ministry guidelines on containing the virus.

The Yediot Ahronoth newspaper voiced outrage at what it described as hypocrisy.

"Thousands of barbers and hairdressers stayed at home, without their livelihood [because of the lockdown]," it wrote on Wednesday.

"Yet once again, it turns out that the rules that apply to Israeli citizens do not apply to the prime minister's circle and his associates."

03:51 AM

Australia hopeful that second wave is contained

Australia reported its second straight day without any Covid-19 deaths on Friday, the longest stretch without any fatalities from the virus in three months.

Australian states and territories reported 16 cases in the past 24 hours, down from 28 on Thursday.

The results cement optimism that Australia has contained a second wave of infections.

Australia has reported more than 27,000 infections and about 900 deaths - far fewer than many other developed countries. 

READ MORE: Australia 'unlikely to open borders until end of 2021' when vaccine is available

Coronavirus Australia Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Australia Spotlight Chart - Cases default

03:17 AM

Prime Minister faces backlash over lockdown measures

Boris Johnson faced a backlash from "Red Wall" MPs and regional leaders on Thursday as they complained that lockdown measures were killing their local economies.

Large parts of northern England are preparing for new restrictions on Monday when a three-tier "traffic light" scheme is due to be introduced, which is expected to shut pubs, bars and restaurants in high-risk areas.

An estimated 10 million Britons are to be hit by the tougher lockdown measures as Covid numbers soar, with pubs and restaurants expected to be closed in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Nottingham.

READ MORE: Tougher lockdowns will wreck our economies, 'Red Wall' MPs warn Boris Johnson

03:10 AM

Data used to close pubs was 'cobbled together'

Ministers have been accused of justifying pub closures with "cobbled together" statistics including a three-month-old survey carried out in the United States.

MPs in local lockdown areas have been shown an "early analysis" purporting to prove that pubs are the biggest spreaders of Covid-19, which was based on just a few hundred people who were infected.

Is it time to close pubs and restaurants?
Is it time to close pubs and restaurants?

02:13 AM

China signs up to WHO-backed effort to share vaccines

China's foreign ministry said on Friday the country had formally joined the global Covid-19 vaccine initiative known as Covax, becoming the biggest economy to date to pledge support to help finance doses for low- and middle-income countries.

"We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support Covax," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

The Covax facility, led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), aims to deliver at least two billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2021.

WHO had been negotiating with China to enlist the country in the initiative, with Russia and the United States so far choosing not to join. The UK signed up in September.

01:59 AM

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