Coronavirus latest news: UK deaths highest since June - watch Matt Hancock address MPs live

Dominic Penna
·88-min read
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

Deaths from coronavirus in the UK have reached their highest level since June 5 after a further 241 people died.  

Deputy chief medical officer for England Professor Jonathan Van Tam said he expected the upward trend in coronavirus deaths to continue.

Mr Van Tam, speaking at a press conference, said: "Part of that surge in deaths is related to the weekly pattern of slightly lower figures at the weekend, and then a kind of catch-up earlier in the week.

"But overall is the trend upwards? Yes. "Do I expect the trend in deaths to continue upwards? Yes, unfortunately I do."  The deaths figure on June 5 was 258.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, said: "The trend in deaths is rising sharply.

"Tragically we know that older people and those with underlying health conditions tend to suffer more if they become unwell."

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Manchester would move into Tier 3 restrictions despite local leaders and the Government failing to  come to agreement on a financial package.

Follow the latest updates below.

06:52 PM

Hancock decries 'political attacks' over £8-per-head comment

Matt Hancock is criticised from the Labour benches about the Greater Manchester £22 million support programme, which amounts to £8 per head.

"On the contrary we're rising above that level of political attack," Mr Hancock says.

He says that the number of cases across Nottinghamshire is "worrying" and says that "talks are ongoing" about a potential move to Tier 3 restrictions.

"It may be that more needs to be done," he says. "We will be driven entirely by the data and working closely with the local authorities."

06:47 PM

Test and Trace: Hancock pressed on local delegation

Matt Hancock is pressed on when more powers on Test and Trace will be delegated to local authorities.

"I'm a fan of fast turnaround times and I hope the data gets turned round even more quickly in County Durham.

"When it comes to the case rate, yes there have been good signs, I am still worried about the case rate among the over-60s and the discussions with local leaders continue but I absolutely take his point on board."

He is asked to agree that a blanket national lockdown would be "wrong", to which Mr Hancock says: "I wholeheartedly agree.

"The localised and regional approach is being taken up across the world - in France, indeed in Sweden, it's put in place a similar position to ours."

06:41 PM

'Duty on all of us' to curb the virus, says Hancock

"There is a duty on all of us to send messages to the communities who we serve, that people need to take a personal responsibility to try and reduce the spread of this virus," Mr Hancock says.

He says that the measures put in place in care homes are working, amid ONS figures which today revealed the number of care home deaths has reached a three-month high.

"We must all take responsibility to reduce the spread of the virus."

06:40 PM

Labour Party to force Commons vote on Tier 3 lockdown

Labour has said it will tomorrow force a vote in the House of Commons demanding a "fair deal" for communities which face Tier 3 restrictions.

"The vote follows the Government's failure to reach an agreement with Greater Manchester on the financial support available to people and businesses," the party said in a statement.

06:38 PM

Matt Hancock: The NHS is 'very much open' despite lockdowns

Matt Hancock says that the NHS is "very much open" and that "the best way through this is undoubtedly keep the virus down, but make sure the NHS across all four nations of the UK is open for all other conditions".

"If you are asked to go to hospital, it is the safest place for you to go," he says.

Responding to a question from Alexander Stafford, he acknowledges "action does need to be taken" in South Yorkshire and that talks are unfolding "in a highly collegiate and constructive way".

"He makes the case directly to ministers day after day about what's best for the area," he says.

Asked about the "massive poverty" that could affect Wales under its full lockdown, the Health Secretary insists that there is a "substantial" amount of support available.

Mr Hancock again says that extra funding remains on the table for Greater Manchester, repeating his call for regional leaders to return to negotiations.

06:32 PM

Manchester support 'unprecedented', Hancock insists amid abandonment accusations

Christine Jardine, MP for Edinburgh West, says people have been "abandoned" in Greater Manchester and wonders "where will be abandoned next".

Mr Hancock refutes this and once more describes the levels of support offered by the Government as "unprecedented".

He insists this is only possible by the UK "acting together and working together".

06:30 PM

Matt Hancock says Greater Manchester lockdown offer 'fair'

Matt Hancock says he is worried about the number of over-60s contracting the virus, who are "more likely to end up in hospital or worse". He says that "the best thing in cancer treatment is to keep the virus rate down".

Mr Hancock adds that the Greater Manchester measures are equivalent to the measures proposed for Lancashire, and claims it is "fair" that the "same levels of support" are available.

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock updating MPs on the COVID-19 pandemic, in the House of Commons in London on October 20, 2020. - AFP via Getty Images
A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock updating MPs on the COVID-19 pandemic, in the House of Commons in London on October 20, 2020. - AFP via Getty Images

Asked about ending Tier 3 lockdowns, Mr Hancock says:

The best exit strategy for anywhere that does go into Tier 3 that wants to go into a lower tier is for everybody to follow those rules, follow social distancing and try to get the case rate coming down.

But for the nation and indeed for the world the best exit strategy is mass testing and a vaccine. We need a long-term solution to Covid as well as the short-term action we're having to take.

These things are better done by consent and by getting messages out about personal responsibility you do tend to get case rates down.

06:26 PM

'Nobody is looking for political differences', says Health Secretary

Pat McFadden says that today "marks a low point in the crisis", and asks Mr Hancock to pledge that future measures will not be taken with saving money in mind.

"We will work very closely together to make sure we keep the virus under control in the West Midlands," Mr Hancock says. "The local leadership has worked across party lines to do what is right by the people of the West Midlands."

The Health Secretary says that Jonathan Van Tam is a "very fine scientist and a brilliant man", and that "nobody is looking right now for political differences".

He says that he wants to "take decisions as locally as possible", but does not rule out a full national lockdown or disagree with the demands made by Sir Keir Starmer.

06:23 PM

Matt Hancock will 'follow the data'

Matt Hancock says that the Government has worked very closely with Tees Valley and that it will "continue to follow the data and take the action that's needed".

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock updating MPs on the COVID-19 pandemic, in the House of Commons in London on October 20, 2020. - AFP via Getty Images
A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock updating MPs on the COVID-19 pandemic, in the House of Commons in London on October 20, 2020. - AFP via Getty Images

 Responding to a question about the mental health impact of restrictions, he says the "best way to address mental health" is to keep Covid-19 under control.

06:21 PM

End of furlough questioned by SNP

"The majority of people try to follow the advice to reduce the spread of Covid," says Pippa Whitford, the SNP spokesperson at Westminster.

"Does the Secretary of State not think it's a bit inappropriate for politicians with well paid and secure jobs are due to some form of misbehaviour requiring tougher penalties?

"People want to do the right thing, but sometimes people feel they've no option but to continue going out of the house."

Ms Whitford cites a King's College London study suggesting that less than 20 per cent of those who develop symptoms go on to self-isolate on the grounds of deprivation, dependent children and not being able to work from home.

She asks why Mr Hancock is not continuing the furlough scheme and says there are millions of people who have not received any support since March.

"The vast majority of people want to do the right thing," Mr Hancock says, pointing to the £500 self-isolation payment for those on low incomes.

"There are signs that the uptake of that has allowed people to complete isolation when they need to in order to keep others safe."

06:18 PM

'Work with us,' Matt Hancock urges Greater Manchester leader

Sir Peter Bottomley insists that the Shadow Health Secretary has been "moderate" in not going as far as his leader Sir Keir Starmer in calling for a national fire break lockdown.

Mr Hancock urges the leaders of all nine boroughs of Greater Manchester "to work with us and make sure we can do this".

Sir Peter also raises concerns about testing in Worthing, to which Mr Hancock says he "will look into" where there is a problem.

06:16 PM

Matt Hancock accuses Jonathan Ashworth of 'political games'

Matt Hancock accuses Jonathan Ashworth of "playing political games with political rhetoric" and commends the Labour leadership of the Liverpool City Region, which accepted the same offer that has been rejected by Mancunian leaders.

"I look forward in the coming days to working with the Mayor, if he's willing to come back to the table," Mr Hancock says.

"Crucially it is incumbent on us all to send the same public health messages to our constituents wherever we represent across the country, to make sure we are clear about the part everybody needs to play to keep this virus under control.

"It is that sort of public health messaging, rather than political games, I think the public is looking for."

06:14 PM

Boris Johnson response 'petty and vindictive', says Jonathan Ashworth

"The leaders of Greater Manchester were willing to compromise," Mr Ashworth says.

"Rather than finding the £5 million extra, the Prime Minister pulled the plug on negotiations and then took £38 million off the table.

"What a petty, vindictive, cowardly response. The Prime Minister may think he's punishing the politicians, in fact he's punishing the people."

He says that "people need to know how long these measures will last", and claims the Chief Medical Officer has said the restrictions won't be enough to bring the national R rate down.

"This isn't a game, it's about people's lives. People need proper financial support. This is a national crisis and we won't defeat this virus on the cheap."

06:12 PM

Greater Manchester will be watching in disbelief, says Shadow Health Secretary

"Tonight people across Manchester and the boroughs of Greater Manchester and towns will be watching the news in disbelief," says Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary.

"They will be asking why was it right to cover 80 per cent of wages in March and just two-thirds of their wages in October. What happened to that Chancellor who plastered across social media soft focus selfies of himself boasting he would do whatever it takes?

"That Chancellor is forcing people on the national minimum wage to live on just £5.76 an hour. From 'whatever it takes' to taking from the lowest paid.

"Where is the Chancellor? He should be here to defend the consequences of his decisions that will mean a winter of hardship across the North."

06:11 PM

Matt Hancock: 'We will be by your side'

"At these difficult times for your great city, we will be by your side," Matt Hancock tells the people of Manchester.

"The best thing we can do... is for everyone to come together, to follow these new rules and for all to play their part in tackling this deadly virus.

"The path through a pandemic is never straightforward. It requires all of us to make difficult decisions and tough sacrifices and get the virus under control.

"I know these local restrictions are hard... But we must not waver now. We must persevere as we work so hard on the long-term solutions that will see us through."

06:10 PM

Matt Hancock: 'Our door is open' to Manchester regional leaders

Matt Hancock stumbles across his words as he says that those on low-income will receive "70 per cent" of their normal wage, which he corrects to 80 per cent. 

Greater Manchester will receive £22 million from Government, he says.

"Over the last 10 days we've sought to reach agreement with local leaders and unfortunately we were not able to reach an agreement. As well as the support we've outlined we've made a generous and extensive offer to support Manchester's businesses.

"This offer was proportionate to the offer we've given Lancashire and the Liverpool city region but unfortunately the Mayor rejected it.

"That offer remains on the table. Our door is open to further discussions with local leaders in the coming days about business support."

06:08 PM

Manchester lockdown confirmed by Matt Hancock

Mr Hancock says there have been more Covid-19 infections in Greater Manchester in October than July, August and September combined.

"There are more Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester hospitals than the whole of the South-East and South-West combined," he says.

"Informed by this data we've made the difficult decision to place Greater Manchester into the 'Very High' Covid alert level, coming into force at one minute past midnight on Friday."

He confirms that households cannot mix indoors or most outdoor settings, groups must be limited outdoors to the rule of six, pubs and bars must close unless 'substantial' food is served.

He says that adult betting centres, casinos and a range of other venues must close.

06:07 PM

Matt Hancock: 'We must act where the virus is spreading'

"We must act where the virus is spreading," Mr Hancock says.

"In the parts of the country where it is spreading the fastest it is our sombre duty to take action to save people's lives and protect the NHS.

"Our goal is to get life back to as normal as possible, support the NHS, keep children at school and shelter the economy as much as possible."

He says it has been "clear for some time" that further action is needed in parts of northern England, flagging the Liverpool and Lancashire agreements.

06:03 PM

Pupils may find it easier to get top grades in 2021 exams, minister suggests

Pupils may find it easier to get top A-levels and GCSEs next summer as a minister said that "grading" could be used to make up for the lost classroom time during lockdown, our Education Editor Camilla Turner reports.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, suggested that grade boundaries could be moved to ensure that pupils taking their exams in 2021 are treated fairly.

During an education select committee hearing, he was asked how the Department for Education will ensure that the Government will ensure that students will not fare worse in their exams as a result of missing so much of the course.

"There are two issues. One is across the issue across the country as a whole, the lost education that all students will have suffered as a consequence of schools being  closed to most students from March until summer," Mr Gibb said.

He told MPs that this "will be dealt with through issues such as grading" adding that that Ofqual and the exam boards are currently "working through" this.

Read the full story here.

06:00 PM

Matt Hancock announcement expected any moment now...

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, is to address the House of Commons in the next couple of minutes.

It comes after deaths from coronavirus in the UK reached their highest level since June 5, after a further 241 people died.  

Mr Hancock's appearance at the despatch box - his second in as many days - also comes amid ongoing political strife over Greater Manchester being placed in Tier 3 measures.

05:58 PM

'There is much yet to do' to end pandemic, writes chair of Vaccine Taskforce

With the search for a safe and effective vaccine well underway, it is vital that countries pool their resources to ensure fair global access, says Kate Bingham, chair of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce.

In his presidential inauguration speech in January 1961, John F Kennedy famously said: “United, there is little we cannot do... Divided, there is little we can do.”Those words have rarely rung truer than now, as the world battles the Covid-19 pandemic. 

With the search for a safe and effective vaccine well underway, it is vital that countries pool their resources to ensure fair global access to this vaccine or vaccines when they’re found.No country can stand alone in this, and no country should be isolated.

As we all know, Covid-19 doesn’t respect borders. No one is safe until we’re all safe. Unless countries all over the world have a mutual interest in working together, there is little we can do. Which is why Boris Johnson’s £548 million pledge to help fund an internationally coordinated response is a giant leap in the right direction.

The money will go to COVAX, a multilateral initiative that will accelerate vaccinedevelopment, scale-up manufacturing and provide vaccines, with an ambitious target of reaching one billion people globally by the end of next year. The organisation will act as a sort of invisible scaffolding rig around the world: it’ll provide a framework that will help eradicate this pandemic and ensure we’re much quicker to respond to the next one. 

Read the full op-ed here.

05:56 PM

Greater Manchester lockdown: Lisa Nandy brands Government approach 'disgraceful'

Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Foreign Secretary and Labour MP for Wigan, has said that the Government's approach to negotiations is "in bad faith", "immoral" and "disgraceful".

"The Government appears to be waging war on the people of Greater Manchester," she wrote on social media. "I grew up under Thatcher but I’ve honestly never seen anything like this."

 

05:51 PM

Andy Burnham: Tier 3 lockdown will increase poverty, homelessness and hardship

Andy Burnham has accused the government of walking away from negotiations over Greater Manchester entering a Tier 3 lockdown, which he said will “increase levels of poverty, homelessness and hardship”.

The area will be put in the highest Covid alert level unilaterally as a consequence. The Mayor of Greater Manchester said the 10 boroughs estimated that the cost of the restrictions would be £15m a month.

He added that they were prepared to go down to £65m for the next six months, but the Government’s final offer was £60m.

It is understood that all pubs and bars will be shut for 28 days, unless they are serving substantial meals. Betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres, and soft play areas will also be forced to close.

 

05:39 PM

How Manchester has reacted to the Tier 3 restrictions

Greater Manchester has entered Tier 3 restrictions after an almighty row between Andy Burnham and the Government.

Mr Burnham said ministers were not willing to agree to a £65m business support package to keep Manchester's businesses running.

It appears the city will receive much less than that - but Downing Street says they will have access to other funds in the future.

Aashni Shah has battled with anxiety, depression and OCD for nearly a decade and fears that the new restrictions will lead to physical and mental burnout.

Aashni Shah, a 22-year-old student is worried about her mental health
Aashni Shah, a 22-year-old student is worried about her mental health

The 22-year-old Manchester Metropolitan University student lives on her own and has not seen her family, who are back in India, since last Christmas. Read her full account here

05:31 PM

Tier 3 funding for Greater Manchester remains uncertain

Funding to help businesses facing Tier 3 restrictions in Greater Manchester remains uncertain, despite multi-million pound support packages having been agreed for Merseyside and Lancashire.

Greater Manchester leaders had asked for £90 million to support the region through to the end of the financial year but so far the Government has only agreed to £22 million to help authorities implement and enforce restrictions.

Both the Liverpool City Region and Lancashire secured £30 million of business support on top of the £14 million and £12 million, respectively, agreed for enforcement.

At a Downing Street briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not confirm whether Greater Manchester would be getting any extra funding.

He said: "Obviously we want to do more, but for the sake of fairness the deal has to be in line with the agreements we reached with Lancashire and Merseyside, where we have made progress."

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said leaders had been prepared to reduce their funding request to £75 million, or even to a "bare minimum" of £65 million, but said the Government had "walked away" from negotiations.

05:28 PM

Watch: Andy Burnham learns of incoming Tier 3 restrictions in Greater Manchester

 A video posted on social media reveals the moment Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, first learned of the new restrictions coming into force from Friday onwards. 

Under the new restrictions, mixing between households is barred, bars and pubs must close unless they offer substantial food servings and all travel to the region is heavily advised against.

In the clip, posted on Twitter, Mr Burnham said: "This is no way to run the country in a national crisis, this is not right, they [the Government] should not be doing this."

05:19 PM

Jonathan Van-Tam does not support 'circuit breaker' lockdown

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has said he does not currently support a nationwide 'circuit-breaker' to curb spread of the virus.

"We are trying to walk a very fine line between getting the virus under control in areas where it is out of control and incurring the minimum amount of economic damage in doing so," he told a No 10 news conference

"In areas where it is out of control hard measures are needed.

"But do I think right now it is appropriate to insist on those similar hard measures in, for example, the South West of England or Kent, where levels of the disease are very, very much lower than in the North of England - the national firebreak you talked about? No, I don't think that is right.

"I don't think that is consistent with the epidemiological picture that we are seeing."

05:15 PM

Government looking at how it may review care home restrictions

The Government is looking at how it may review restrictions to allow people to visit their elderly relatives in care homes, the Prime Minister said.

Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference the situation is "absolutely wretched" for people who have been unable to see their loved ones during the pandemic.

A member of the public - Vicky from Lancashire, who has only seen her grandmother once since March - asked Mr Johnson if there is an opportunity for visiting restrictions to be reviewed.

He responded: "We do have to prevent the spread of the virus in care homes - you remember what happened in the early part of the year, so we have had to take some steps to protect elderly residents from the possibility of infection by visitors.

"But we are certainly looking at what we can do to review the circumstances that might allow people to visit their elderly relatives in extreme circumstances, and on compassionate grounds, because, you know, I can see how absolutely wretched it is and I think many, many people across the country have now had experience of this problem."

05:11 PM

Key points from Boris Johnson's address

  • Greater Manchester will come under Tier 3 restrictions from midnight on Friday.

  • This equates to 6 million people and 12 per cent of the population in England now under Tier 3 restrictions. 

  • Boris Johnson did not clarify today what financial support businesses in Greater Manchester will now receive. 

  • The Prime Minister said he could not agree to the £65 million proposal put forward by council leaders in Manchester for business support as it would be 'out of kilter' with support packages offered to Lancashire and Merseyside. 

  • Covid-19 infections are increasing among those aged 65 and above. 

05:04 PM

Watch: Andy Burnham hits out at Government after talks collapse

04:53 PM

Boris Johnson fails to clarify what financial aid Manchester will receive

When asked to clarify whether Greater Manchester will be getting the funding it asked for, the Prime Minister said the deal had to be in line with Lancashire and Merseyside "for the sake of fairness".

At a Downing Street press briefing, he said: "Obviously we want to do more, but for the sake of fairness the deal has to be in line with the agreements we reached with Lancashire and Merseyside, where we have made progress."

He pointed to how 46,700 businesses in Greater Manchester have received local authority grants of £546 million, and 96,100 people have received support under the self employed income support scheme.

However, it remains unclear what financial aid will be offered to Manchester.

04:50 PM

Boris Johnson: 'Universities have done a great job' in tackling virus

The Prime Minister said: "We are walking a narrow path, we don't want to go into a national lockdown with all the economic and social damage it can do."

"The regional approach is a reasonable one, that is what we are going to do."

"Universities have done a great job in getting their virus under control."

"The R is above 1 but not that much above 1 if we all follow the guidance together and everybody gets together and complies with the rules for the Tiers then I have no doubt we can drive it down in those badly affected areas."

From midnight on Friday, Greater Manchester will be under Tier 3 restrictions equating to 6 million people and 12 per cent of the population in England. 

04:45 PM

Boris Johnson: 'Deeply sorry' over Covid restrictions in Manchester

The Prime Minister said: "I am deeply sorry that it is necessary to put these measures in place."

"I am deeply sorry for what is necessary, nobody wants to enact measures like this. I do think there has been some simplifications thanks to the Tiering system."

"We want to give businesses and people in Manchester the proper levels of support." 

"Our door remains open to Andy to discuss that."

04:43 PM

Boris Johnson: £22 million offered to Manchester is separate to any other financial support

The £22 million offered to Manchester is separate and additional to any other support that was offered to Manchester for business support, the Prime Minister has clarified. 

04:40 PM

Boris Johnson: Manchester deal has to be in line with agreements struck in Merseyside and Lancashire

Asked about the failure to reach a financial agreement with Manchester authorities, Boris Johnson said:

"We want to do more but for the sake of fairness the deal has to be in line with agreements we have reached with Lancashire and Merseyside." 

Mr Johnson had said earlier: "In line with the additional measures taken in Lancashire, casinos, bingo halls, betting shops, adult gaming centres and soft play areas must also close.

"Regulations will be laid in Parliament on Thursday, and come into force just after midnight."

04:37 PM

Jonathan Van-Tam: 'We can't afford to let our elderly die'

Jonathan Van-Tam said: "We can't afford to let our elderly die and our NHS to be completely consumed by looking after Covid, so it can't do its other 'business as usual' work."

"We will have to take as tough measures as necessary to stop that."

04:34 PM

Boris Johnson: £22 million of funding for Manchester

Boris Johnson said Greater Manchester would receive £22 million in funding as part of a "comprehensive package of support". 

Mr Johnson said Greater Manchester would receive £22 million in funding as part of a "comprehensive package of support".

On the negotiations that broke down with leaders in the region, the Prime Minister added: "Over the last 10 days we tried to get an approach with local leaders in Greater Manchester. Unfortunately an agreement wasn't reached and I do regret this.

"As I said last week, it would have been better and we would have a better chance of defeating the virus if we work together."

He said that, in addition, the Government "made a generous and extensive offer to support Manchester business" but "the mayor didn't accept this unfortunately and given the public health situation I must now proceed with moving Greater Manchester to the very high alert level."

04:33 PM

Boris Johnson defends local and regional approach to lockdown

The Prime Minister was asked how many areas would need to be under the highest tier of restrictions before a national lockdown is imposed.

In response to the question by a member of the public - Jake from Chester - Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press briefing: "What we are trying to avoid is a national lockdown at all.

"We don't rule anything out but the difficulty is that the distribution of the virus this time round is very uneven by comparison with March and April.

"And so the right response is, as many other countries are doing, to go to this local and regional approach."

04:33 PM

Jonathan Van-Tam gives infection rates in Greater Manchester

Jonathan Van-Tam gave the following figures for the doubling rates of Covid-19 infections in and around Greater Manchester. 

  • Manchester increased from 302 per 100,000 to 326 per 100,00

  • Salford  has increased from 164 to 287 per 100,000

  • Wigan has increased from 207 to 399 per 100,000 

04:30 PM

Boris Johnson: Discussions with Andy Burnham will continue

Asked about the breakdown in negotiations with Andy Burnham, Boris Johnson said:

"We wanted a deal that was the best way forward, we have had to take action just because of the urgency of the situation." 

"Other discussions will undoubtedly continue."

"We don't want to do this in a way that we have had to."

"I am grateful to them and the leadership of the councils in Greater Manchester for getting behind the measures that were put in place."

04:26 PM

Boris Johnson: 'We could not do deal with Greater Manchester that is out of kilter with other Merseyside and Lancashire

Boris Johnson said: "I bitterly regret any restrictions that lead to damage to business and people lives."

"Nobody wants to put people in Greater Manchester through the experience they have been."

"Andy Burnham is right in what he says about the length of endurance Greater Manchaster has shown."

"The £22 million, that is additional to other support."

"This is a Government that has put 190 billion already into supporting business and jobs across the country we are investing huge sums of money to support local authorities and another £1 billion."

"Greater Manchester will have 'access to all kinds of funds". 

Commenting on the breakdown in negotiations between Westminster and Manchester, Boris Johnson said:

"We could not do a deal with GM that is out of kilter with Merseyside and Lancashire". 

04:20 PM

Boris Johnson: Covid-19 cases rising among the over-60s

The deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, has said coronavirus cases are rising among the over-60s, putting pressure on the NHS.

At a Downing Street news conference he said "heat maps" showing the spread of the disease showed "very significant areas of heat" across all ages in Greater Manchester.

"The infections that have seeded in the younger age groups are now penetrating the older age groups," he said.

"This is most concerning because it is the penetration of the disease into the older age groups that gives the NHS significant problems."

04:19 PM

Boris Johnson: National lockdown not ruled out

A national lockdown is not ruled out, Boris Johnson has said.    

On the topic of care homes, Mr Johnson said: "We do have to prevent the spread of the virus in care homes."

"We are certainly looking at what we can do to review the circumstances that might allow people to visit care homes in extreme circumstances and on compassionate grounds"

04:16 PM

Boris Johnson: Manchester moved into Tier 3 restrictions

Boris Johnson has confirmed Manchester will come under Tier 3 restrictions. 

The following restrictions will apply:

  • Bars and pubs must close unless they offer substantial food servings.

  • Ban on separate households mixing.

  • Gatherings limited to the rule of six. 

  • People are advises against travelling to Manchester

  • Casinos, gambling and soft play areas will all have to close. 

There will be a financial care package of £465 million for local authorities across England. 

£22 million will be offered to Greater Manchester. 

04:12 PM

Rate of infection rates increased in Manchester

Greater Manchester has experienced alarming rates of Covid-19 infections. 

Jonathan Van-Tam released this slide during the press conference

Greater Manchester has experienced alarming rates of Covid-19 infections.   
Greater Manchester has experienced alarming rates of Covid-19 infections.

04:10 PM

Geographical spread of Covid-19 in England

Geographical spread of Covid-19 in England
Geographical spread of Covid-19 in England

04:08 PM

Jonathan Van-Tam: Infections from young people are reaching older people.

Jonathan Van-Tam infections that have penetrated among younger people are now reaching older people. 

Cases of Covid-19 for older generations are now 'baked in' for next two-three weeks, he said. 

04:05 PM

Live: Boris Johnson addresses the nation

Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer provides an update on infection rates in Manchester. 

There has been an increase in the rate of infections for those aged 60 and above, Mr Van-Tam said.

04:02 PM

Boris Johnson to address nation at 5pm

Boris Johnson will shortly provide an update, on the Government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

He is likely to comment on the breakdown in talks over proposals to place Manchester into Tier 3 restrictions. 

Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham has claimed the Government walked away from negotiations after they refused to give an additional £5 million in a financial support package. 

03:52 PM

Manchester councils believed they had agreed financial support package with Government

The leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese said local leaders twice thought they had an agreement with the Government on a financial support package, only to be let down.

"In the discussions we have had over the last couple of days we have thought twice they were going to be able to meet us in being able to support that package," he told a news conference with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

"Twice when it has got to the end of the day they have let us down and they are letting the people of Manchester down."

Sir Richard said they had still not seen anything in writing from the Government on what conditions it was seeking to attach to any additional funding.

"Even the money that they were talking about we still have no idea what conditions they would attach to that money," he said.

03:45 PM

Andy Burnham: 'Pandemic has hit northern England harder because of entrenched poverty'

Mr Burnham said: "What is fair treatment for the lowest paid in society?" 

"Most people myself included in more middle income can live on two thirds wages, but how many people would understand to live on two thirds of their minimum wage?"

"The pandemic has hit northern England harder because of entrenched poverty, the Government has neglected the North for so many years," he added.  

03:40 PM

Andy Burnham: '10pm curfew is counter-productive'

Mr Burnham said the 10 pm in curfew is "counter productive". 

He said: "I don't think the Government has produced the evidence that the virus is spreading in the hospitality sector." 

03:38 PM

Andy Burnham: 'I would not accept two-thirds of wages for the lowest paid in this region.'

 Mr Burnham said: "Parliament does need to make a judgment on this."

 "I would not accept two-thirds of wages for the lowest paid in this region." 

"It cannot be right to put people in lockdown on two-thirds of their wages."

03:36 PM

Andy Burnham calls on Parliament to 'intervene' in negotiations

Andy Burnham calls on Parliament to "intervene" in breakdown on negotiations between Manchester and Westminster. 

03:35 PM

Andy Burnham accuses Westminster of 'grinding communities down' with negotiations

Mr Burnham said: "I don't believe that we can proceed as a country on this basis through the pandemic by grinding communities down, through punishing financial negotiations."

03:35 PM

Andy Burnham: 'I fought with everything I have got for people on the lowest incomes'

Mr Burnham said: "I fought with everything I have got for people on the lowest incomes, in the end it came down to a small amount of money."

"Has the Government worked out what Tier 3 will do to the people on the poverty line," he said. 

03:33 PM

Andy Burnham: 'Government did not make workable proposal for Manchester'

The Government has not put forward a proposal to make the Tier 3 plans work, Mr Burnham said.  

Mr Burnham said: "I don't think it is right to ask people to go into a lockdown, to accept further changes within their lives, without supporting them through all of that.

"How can we carry the public with us through this pandemic if we are forcing them to lose their income, their place of work, without supporting them through that?"

03:32 PM

Andy Burnham: 'Government walked away from negotiations'

The Government walked away from negotiations, Andy Burnham insists. 

He said: "We were prepared to carry on talking".

"You cannot support people on the cheap." 

The Government's approach in negotiations was "you will get what we give you," he added. 

Mr Burnham claims Government's refusal to increase financial package was a"deliberate act of levelling down".

The Government's proposal of £60 million until end of financial year  was unworkable, says Andy Burnham. 

03:27 PM

Mayor Andy Burnham's address on Tier 3 negotiations in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham insisted the Government "walked away" from negotiations and said that local leaders were not offered enough to protect people through the "punishing" winter ahead.

Speaking to reporters, he said civic leaders were prepared to reduce their bid for financial support to £65 million - a figure he described as the "bare minimum to prevent a winter of real hardship".

"That is what we believe we needed to prevent poverty, to prevent hardship, to prevent homelessness. Those were the figures that we had - not what we wanted - but what we needed to prevent all of those things from happening.

"But the Government refused to accept this and at 2pm today they walked away from negotiations.

"In summary, at no point today were we offered enough to protect the poorest people in our communities through the punishing reality of the winter to come.

"Even now I am still willing to do a deal but it cannot be on the terms that the Government offered today."

03:26 PM

Andy Burnham: Government 'did not accept reasoned, logical, evidence based approach'

Council leaders of Greater Manchester said it was "really sad" the Government have not accepted their "reasoned, logical and evidence based approach". 

"The door continues to be open in negotiations", they added. 

03:24 PM

Andy Burnham: Council leaders criticise Westminster after negotiation breakdown

The council leaders of Greater Manchster said that although they have put forward a "fully costed package" for the economic plan for Manchester if it goes under Tier Three restrictions, they as yet do not have "one jot from Government in writing", "nothing in writing". 

"That is not a way to work with us, they added. 

03:21 PM

Andy Burnham: 'Tough days lie ahead' for Manchester

The Mayor of Greater Manchester said: "We know this is going to be a difficult time for you but together with the leaders of Greater Manchester we will continue fighting for you." 

"Tough days lie ahead, please everybody observe the law at all times, please look out for each other", he added. 

03:19 PM

Andy Burnham: £15 million a month needed across Manchester

An estimated £15 million a month was needed across the ten boroughs of Manchester to prevent economic collpase says Andy Burnham. 

This equates to a total of £90 million pounds by December, 

They were prepared to reduce their demand to £75 million, then to £65 million to prevent a "winter of real hardship"

Government walked away from negotiations, says Andy Burnham.  

We are still willing to do the deal but the Government needs to meet the city's terms, he added. 

03:15 PM

Andy Burnham: Tier 3 restrictions would certainly 'increase levels of poverty, homelessness and hardship.'

Andy Burham said:  "People here have been living under restrictions for three months and they have taken a heavy toll on people. 

"They are struggling businesses are on the brink of closure."

"To introduce Tier 3 restrictions would certainly "increase levels of poverty, homelessness and hardship." 

"It cannot be right to close people's place on work without giving them proper support."

03:12 PM

Government has treated people of Greater Manchester 'with contempt' says Labour deputy leader

 The Labour deputy Angela Rayner has accused the Government of treating the people and local communities of Greater Manchester 'with contempt'. 

The MP for Ashton under Lyne said the people of the North 'has been short-changed' 

Ms Rayner posted on Twitter: 

03:05 PM

Andy Burnham press conference delayed by 10 minutes

The upcoming announcement by Mayor of Greater Manchester on the the city's deadlock with the Government over coronavirus restrictions has been delayed by 10 minutes. 

We will bring more updates as they arrive. 

03:02 PM

Will Greater Manchester's intensive units be overwhelmed?

The Government has said tougher coronavirus restrictions are needed in Greater Manchester because the region's intensive care capacity could be overwhelmed by Covid-19 within weeks.

But leaders in the area were angry about the Government's use of "selective statistics" and said the area's system can cope.

  • What is happening in Greater Manchester? 

Greater Manchester will be placed under stricter coronavirus controls after talks between the Government and civic leaders concluded without an agreement.

The region to move into Tier 3, which would mean a ban on households mixing, including in private gardens or outdoor hospitality settings, while pubs and bars will be forced to close unless they serve meals.

02:55 PM

Upcoming: Mayor Andy Burnham gives updates on Manchester Tier 3 restrictions

The Mayor Manchester, Andy Burnham will give a press conference at 4pm after the city was forced into Tier 3 restrictions when negotiations with Westminster collapsed today. 

This comes before Boris Johnson's address to the nation at 5pm on the latest coronavirus plans for the region. 

  • 4pm: Andy Burnham statement; The Mayor of Greater Manchester will give an update over proposals to place the region under Tier 3 restrictions.

  • 5pm: Boris Johnson live briefing; The Prime Minister will address the nation after negotiations with Andy Burnham failed to reach any conclusion and passed the midday deadline. 

  • 7pm: Matt Hancock statement to Commons. The Health Secretary will deliver an address to MPs this evening over coronavirus. 

02:40 PM

Conservative MP for Manchester says 'sense of failure is overwhelming'

William Wragg, Tory MP for Hazel Grove in Greater Manchester, said on Twitter: "The sense of failure is overwhelming.

"I shall avoid political comment until I have heard @MattHancock's statement in @HouseofCommons this evening.

"Leadership is required from everybody. Trust is placed in us all and that is the privilege of public office."

02:29 PM

Keir Starmer: Collapse of talks between Manchester and Westminster is 'a sign of Government failure'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the collapse of talks between Greater Manchester and Westminster was "a sign of Government failure".

"The Conservatives have been treating local communities, particularly in the Midlands, North West and North East, and their leaders with contempt.

"Labour recognise the need for stricter public health restrictions. However, that must be accompanied by extra financial support.

"Labour will continue to support Andy Burnham in the fight for people's jobs, lives and livelihoods."

Three-tier Covid lockdown map
Three-tier Covid lockdown map

02:23 PM

Scientists identify protein that make coronavirus 'highly infectious'

UK scientists believe they have identified a protein on the surface of human cells that makes coronavirus "highly infectious".

Called neuropilin-1, this protein is thought to help Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, rapidly spread across human cells.

University of Bristol researchers say the findings, published in the journal Science, could help in developing antiviral treatments that could block the "newly discovered interaction between virus and host".

The team said: "To defeat Covid-19 we will be relying on an effective vaccine and an arsenal of anti-viral therapeutics.

"Our discovery of the binding of the Sars-CoV-2 Spike to neuropilin-1 and its importance for viral infectivity provides a previously unrecognised avenue for anti-viral therapies to curb the current Covid-19 pandemic."

02:17 PM

Concern over 'debilitating' work stress for NHS staff

Experts have raised concern over "debilitating" work stress for NHS staff.

One academic said that staff entered the coronavirus pandemic with "high" levels of stress.

Plans have been proposed to support the NHS workforce, but without a detailed workforce strategy the plans are like a "new car without an engine", said Professor Michael West from the King's Fund think tank.

Prof West told the Health and Social Care Select Committee that one previous survey found that 27 per cent of staff had minor psychiatric illness compared with 18 per cent of the general working population as a whole.

And new research looking into the effect of the pandemic on NHS staff - which has had a particular focus on staff in intensive care units - suggests "significant impacts upon wellbeing", he added.

02:06 PM

Manchester talks on Covid restrictions allegedly broke down over £5 million in support.

Manchester Central Labour MP Lucy Powell said the breakdown of talks came over £5 million in support.

She said the Government had offered £60 million but Greater Manchester wanted £65 million.

She wrote on Twitter: "Just for some context, the money the Treasury recently clawed back from GM in business cash grants from March/April lockdown stands at £88 million.

01:58 PM

Greater Manchester to face stringent restrictions as leaders fail to agree a deal

Greater Manchester will be placed under stricter coronavirus controls after talks between the Government and civic leaders concluded without an agreement.

The region's mayor Andy Burnham held last-ditch talks with the Prime Minister earlier on Tuesday aimed at securing additional financial support for his consent on new restrictions.

But Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the discussions have concluded "without an agreement" and accused the mayor of being "unwilling to take the action that is required".

Pubs and bars will be closed, unless they are serving substantial meals, for a 28-day period, along with betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres and soft play areas.

Downing Street was unable to immediately confirm when the measures would come into effect.

01:55 PM

Upcoming announcements from Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Andy Burnham

Here are the timings for today's announcements on Covid-19 from Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Andy Burnham. 

  • 4pm: Andy Burnham statement; The  Mayor of Greater Manchester will give an update  over proposals to place the region under Tier 3 restrictions. Mr Burnham has so far resisted repeated demands from the Government to do so, despite a financial package of £22 million offered for the area. 

  • 5pm: Boris Johnson live briefing; The Prime Minister will address the nation after negotiations with Andy Burnham failed to reach any conclusion and passed the midday deadline. 

  • 7pm: Matt Hancock statement to Commons. The Health Secretary will deliver an address to MPs this evening over coronavirus. 

01:41 PM

'No sign of a second wave' as ONS data shows normal level of deaths for the time of year

There is no sign of a second wave, experts have said, as new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show deaths are just 1.5 per cent above the five-year average, and tracking on a normal trajectory for this time of year.

Although coronavirus deaths rose to 438 for the week ending October 9 - an increase of 36 per cent from the previous week when it was 321 - overall deaths rose just 143 above the five-year average. 

There were also 19 fewer overall deaths than the same week last year.

Experts at Oxford University say it would have to get to 1,200 more deaths above the norm before it would usually be considered ‘excess’ above the expected variation in the data.

Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - DEATHS default
Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - DEATHS default

 Sarah Knapton has the full story here

01:39 PM

Spain considers curfews to fight new coronavirus wave

The Spanish government is considering new restrictions, including possible curfews, in hard-hit regions like Madrid in a bid to tackle a new wave of coronavirus contagion, Health Minister Salvador Illa said today. 

Spain is set to impose a new swathe of Covid restrictions - Reuters
Spain is set to impose a new swathe of Covid restrictions - Reuters

The country, which has Western Europe's highest case load, is likely to surpass one million infections this week and several regions have toughened their coronavirus restrictions in the past few days.

Between Friday and Monday, Spain added nearly 38,000 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 974,449. The death toll jumped by 217 to 33,992.

Imposing a curfew in Madrid - one of Europe's hotspots of the pandemic - and possibly beyond would require invoking a state of emergency, Illa told reporters. Any such measure lasting more than two weeks would require the support of some opposition parties, she added.

01:14 PM

Wales: 1,148 new cases of Covid-19 diagnosed

There have been a further 1,148 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 37,400.

Public Health Wales said 10 further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic rising to 1,722.

01:12 PM

Nearly half of secondary schools in England have pupils at home self-isolating

Pupil attendance in class has fallen as nearly half of secondary schools sent home one or more students because of Covid-19, Government figures show.

More than a fifth (21%) of schools said they had one or more pupils self-isolating - Jeff J Mitchell /Getty Images Europe 
More than a fifth (21%) of schools said they had one or more pupils self-isolating - Jeff J Mitchell /Getty Images Europe

Around 86 per cent of secondary school pupils in England were in school last week compared to 87 per cent, the Department for Education (DfE) statistics suggest.

Overall, 89 per cent of students on roll in state schools, both secondary and primary, were in attendance on October 15, down from 90 per cent a week earlier.

More than a fifth (21%) of schools said they had one or more pupils self-isolating who had been asked to do so due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus inside the school.

This is 46 per cent of secondary schools and 16 per cent of primary schools.

12:59 PM

Italy's Campania region to impose nightly curfew as Covid-19 cases surge

Italy's southern Campania region plans to introduce a nighttime curfew from the coming weekend in an effort to tackle a surge in Covid-19 cases, the regional chief Vincenzo De Luca has said. 

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says the aim of Italy's new anti-virus restrictions is to head off another generalised lockdown.
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says the aim of Italy's new anti-virus restrictions is to head off another generalised lockdown.

The move follows a similar decision on Monday by the northern region of Lombardy.

"We are set to ask for a stop to all activities and people's movements from 11 p.m.," De Luca told reporters in Naples.

The central government will have to approve the request, but it is not expected to refuse. Unlike when the epidemic first struck in March, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is looking to give towns and regions more leeway to decide their own curbs as new cases flare around the country.

12:52 PM

Watch: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet subjects of her Hold Still lockdown photography project

The Duchess of Cambridge gave a community volunteer a “massive shock” when she called him out of the blue to reveal his portrait had been selected as a finalist in her Hold Still lockdown photography project, he has revealed.

Sami Massalami Mohammed Elmassalami Ayad, a volunteer at a community Food Hub in Hackney, north London, met both the Duchess and the Duke of Cambridge at Waterloo station on Tuesday as they viewed several billboards showcasing the final 100 images chosen from more than 31,000 entries. 

He said: “It was such a joy to meet the Duke and Duchess and I can’t believe my picture made it to the final 100. 

“I didn’t even know it was being submitted by my colleague at the food hub so it came as a massive shock when I got a call from the National Portrait Gallery saying the Duchess wanted to speak to me.  

Victoria Ward has the full story here

12:43 PM

Deadline for agreement on restrictions in Greater Manchester possibly extended

Sir Graham Brady, the MP for Altrincham and Sale West, has said the midday deadline for an agreement on new restrictions in Greater Manchester appeared to have been extended.

Mr Brady, who is also chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said it would be "very unfortunate" if Tier 3 controls were imposed without agreement.

"My understanding is that the deadline at noon came and went, and has effectively been extended," he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

"As far as I can tell the sticking point between the Greater Manchester council leaders and the mayor and the Government is really just about money now.

"I suspect this will end up coming down to a question of whether a sufficient compensation package can be agreed or not.

"I think it is more likely than not that there will be an agreement reached. I think it would be very unfortunate if in the absence of an agreement a settlement was imposed on Greater Manchester."

12:40 PM

Coronavirus vaccine will not be 'the cavalry' saving people from pandemic, expert warns

A potential coronavirus vaccine will not be "the cavalry" saving people from the coronavirus pandemic, an expert has said.

Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus: "There is a little bit of a representation that the vaccine is a bit like the cavalry riding over the hill and saving us all so we don't actually have to save ourselves: well, it's not."

He said it would be "counter-productive" if a vaccine was used to delay implementing other measures.

Prof Reicher added: "A vaccine solves nothing, it's people getting vaccinated that solves something."

12:35 PM

Scotland: Tiered lockdown expected to begin on November 2

A new tiered system of lockdown restrictions will come into force in Scotland on Monday November 2 if approved at Holyrood next week, the First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon said some areas may face stricter measures than those currently in force in the central belt, where licensed hospitality venues have been temporarily closed.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes in Scotland are only allowed to serve indoor customers between 6am and 6pm with a ban on alcohol inside, although alcoholic drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas. - Jane Barlow/PA
Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes in Scotland are only allowed to serve indoor customers between 6am and 6pm with a ban on alcohol inside, although alcoholic drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas. - Jane Barlow/PA

She told the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Tuesday that she will update the country about the temporary restrictions on hospitality businesses on Wednesday.

The Cabinet will decide if these restrictions, brought in on October 9 to stem a rise in cases and due to end on October 26, will be extended until the implementation of the tiered framework.

The First Minister set out the timeline for the decisions as she announced 15 coronavirus deaths and 1,456 positive cases were recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours.

12:28 PM

Comment: 'Don't believe the scare stories about hospitals running out of ICU beds'

Even in Manchester, hospitals are faring far better than the headline statistics suggest, writes Ross Clark. 

Is there anything more guaranteed to stir public emotion than the prospect of the NHS running out of intensive care beds and Covid-19 victims being left to die in corridors? First, we were told, that beds in Liverpool were 95 per cent full, then we were told those in Manchester were 80 per cent full. Wow, it is easy to think: it will only take a few more people on the general ward to develop complications and the NHS will have to throw in the towel. 

Read Ross Clark's full piece here

12:23 PM

Wales seeks Treasury aid to support businesses during 'circuit breaker' lockdown

The Welsh Government is "continuing to press" the UK Government to provide support to businesses during the two-week firebreak lockdown, economy minister Ken Skates has said.

The restrictions, which will require people to stay at home and non-essential businesses such as pubs and shops to be closed, will last until November 9.

The lockdown will be brought in to coincide with the school half-term.

Mr Skates said at the Welsh Government briefing that First Minister Mark Drakeford had again written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to resolve a "simple administrative issue" to allow the job support scheme to be topped up in Wales.

12:19 PM

Results of 2016 report examining UK's preparedness for pandemic to be published

The Government is publishing a long-awaited report into a 2016 exercise examining how well the UK could respond to a pandemic.

Exercise Cygnus aimed to "test systems to the extreme, to identify strengths and weaknesses in the UK's response plans" to an influenza pandemic, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs.

He added that "Exercise Cygnus was not designed to consider other potential pandemics" or to identify what action could be taken to prevent widespread transmission.

Mr Hancock said all 22 recommendations from the report had been accepted and acted on, including developing a free-standing Pandemic Influenza Bill.

12:10 PM

Household mixing allowed for work meetings in Tier 2 and Tier 3 regions

The Prime Minister's spokesman has said that under Tier 2 and 3 rules on household mixing people can still meet up for work meetings under certain circumstances.

"There is a specific exemption which says that people from different households can gather in indoor settings that are open for work purposes," the spokesman said.

"The reason that is there is that there are some people such as the self-employed and freelancers who may not have a workplace to conduct business meeting that need to take place face-to-face.

"We would encourage people to use alternatives to work meetings where possible," they added. 

12:07 PM

Infection levels in the north east mean authorities are "fighting a losing battle" in slowing spread of virus

Infection levels in the north east mean authorities are "fighting a losing battle" in slowing the spread of coronavirus, a public health expert has said.

Alice Wiseman, director of public health for Gateshead, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus: "Whilst we've still got the number of cases that we've got in our area, we know that we are fighting a losing battle in many ways in terms of how long we can hold off for further restrictions.

"So, ideally, I think it would have been that we would have got our house in order during the summer months, when the numbers were much lower."

Three-tier postcode tool
Three-tier postcode tool

12:00 PM

Boris Johnson to hold press conference on Covid restrictions in Manchester at 5pm

Boris Johnson is to hold a press conference when he is expected to set out the Government's next steps in relation to coronavirus controls in Greater Manchester, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said talks had continued on Tuesday morning at official level ahead of the Government's midday deadline for an agreement on the introduction of Tier 3 controls in the region.

Mr Johnson has also spoken directly to Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham following the passing of the deadline.

"The talks have been ongoing this morning. I am not in a position to confirm how that has been resolved," the spokesman said.

The press conference will take place at 5pm on Tuesday.

11:57 AM

'Very weak' evidence that mask wearing in society is effective, says Sweden's top pandemic expert

Sweden's top pandemic expert has claimed there is “very weak” evidence that mask wearing in society is effective.

Anders Tegnell, Sweden's state epidemiologist, said it was “dangerous” to believe masks could make “huge difference” in the fight against Covid-19. 

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Tegnell said: "Unfortunately, the evidence between using masks in society is very weak... we don't really have a good idea of where they should be used, (and) to what extent.”

He added that despite a lot of European countries making masks mandatory they are now experiencing a surge in cases.

11:44 AM

Government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme set hospitality industry back, says expert

The Government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme set the hospitality industry back, a public health expert has said.

Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus that the scheme had given a "boost to the hospitality industry in the summer but now many are being shut".

She added: "It's been one step forward for the industry, five steps backwards."

She said the sector was "vital" but also "one of the riskiest settings for transmission", and warned against "short-term populist views that pump money in that don't do it in a sustainable way".

11:40 AM

Psychological trauma of longest lockdown mounts in Buenos Aires as Argentina passes 1m cases

For more than 200 days, the citizens of Buenos Aires have lived in lockdown. Yet despite enduring one of the world’s longest quarantines, Argentina on Monday became just the fifth to reach one million confirmed cases of Covid-19.

With the end still out of sight, residents of the coastal city are counting not just the financial cost of the pandemic but the deep psychological one too.

In Buenos Aires, the lockdown is only gradually easing after more than 200 days - Bloomberg
In Buenos Aires, the lockdown is only gradually easing after more than 200 days - Bloomberg

An initial 10-day general national quarantine was decreed by the Argentine government on March 20, but it was later extended to weeks, then months. 

While the restrictions were lifted for large parts of the country in June, for residents of Buenos Aires and its metropolitan region, home to approximately 40 per cent of the country's population, those 10 days became seven uninterrupted months of lockdown. 

Read the full story here by Milagros Costabel 

11:34 AM

Sadiq Khan calls for 10pm curfew in London to be scrapped

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for the 10pm curfew in the capital to be scrapped now the city is under Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Khan said allowing restaurants to remain open beyond 10pm would support businesses by allowing them to increase bookings even with indoor mixing of households banned.

In a statement, he said: "I have said for a while that the current curfew rule needs to be rapidly reviewed. We saw the worrying consequences of increased social mixing on the streets and on public transport in the capital around 10pm immediately after its introduction.

"Now London and other parts of the country have moved into Tier 2 and higher restrictions, which prohibit household mixing, the current 10pm curfew policy makes even less sense and should be scrapped. 

"Immediately scrapping the 10pm curfew would allow more sittings of single households in restaurants throughout the evening, helping with cashflow at a time when venues need all the support they can get."

11:27 AM

England's Covid tier system is 'the worst of all worlds', says Sage member

England's coronavirus restrictions tier system is "the worst of all worlds", an expert has said.

Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus that the three-tier approach was a "good idea in principle" if it provided clarity and equity.

However, Prof Reicher, who is also a member of Sage, said there was a lack of clarity over what criteria was being used to place areas in different tiers, with variations of measures even within certain tiers.

He said: "So we have the worst of all worlds, we have a system where there is no sense of clarity. There is a growing sense of inequity and resistance."

Prof Reicher warned if resistance was "politicised" it could risk bringing "polarisation", as seen in the United States.

11:23 AM

Watch: Ireland announces emergency six-week lockdown

Ireland will enter a full nationwide lockdown from midnight on Wednesday lasting six weeks as the government tries to control a surge in coronavirus cases, described by the chief medical officer as “out of control”.

Michael Martin, the Taoiseach, said the drastic measures were necessary to “save Christmas” and ensure that retailers and other domestic businesses could look forward to a bumper December.

In an address to the Irish people on Monday night, Mr Martin said: "The evidence of a potentially grave situation arising in the weeks ahead is now too strong."

11:19 AM

WHO: 'There are no inevitable subsequent peaks or waves of coronavirus'

Epidemiologist leading the WHO's Covid response says countries must be 'vigilant but optimistic' while seeking to address gender inequality. 

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove is an American epidemiologist and a technical lead on the World Health Organisation's Covid-19 response programme. 

Maria Van Kerkhove, who helps to lead the World Health Organisation's response to coronavirus, says that the pandemic has illuminated underlying structural inequalities.
Maria Van Kerkhove, who helps to lead the World Health Organisation's response to coronavirus, says that the pandemic has illuminated underlying structural inequalities.

She told the Telegraph’s Global Health Security team:  "While it is true that the threat of a resurgence is always present, there are no inevitable subsequent peaks or “waves’. The trajectory of this pandemic is in our hands, as it has been since the beginning.

"We must remain diligent and vigilant but optimistic in our efforts. WHO outlined a strategic preparedness and response plan for Covid-19 some four days after we declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 30 this year with a global goal to suppress transmission, save lives and livelihoods."

Read the full interview with Dr Maria Van Kerkhove here

11:12 AM

Deadline passes on Government's Greater Manchester coronavirus ultimatum

Boris Johnson's deadline for agreeing a deal with Greater Manchester leaders on tougher coronavirus controls has passed without an official announcement.

The Government threatened to impose stringent restrictions on the region if an agreement was not brokered by midday on Tuesday.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham earlier suggested he would make a last-ditch bid with other civic leaders for more financial support ahead of the deadline.

Ministers are said to have offered £22 million to the region, equivalent to £8 per capita, with "additional support commensurate" with that offered in Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region. 

11:01 AM

UK on a 'losing game' if it tries to use local lockdowns alone

The UK is on to a "losing game" if it tries to use local lockdowns alone in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, a public health expert has said.

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said using lockdowns are "a last-resort measure".

She said local lockdowns were being deployed based on data covering hospitalisations and the NHS's capacity to manage the inflow of patients.

"I personally think that is a losing game because with this virus it is so infectious that if you try to rely on treating your way through it you'll be stuck in lockdown and release cycles."

She added: "The analogy for me is leaving your health services alone on the pitch as if they are the goalie and the rest of the field wide open."

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

10:56 AM

Australia hotel quarantine blood-testing error means hundreds asked to take HIV test

Almost 300 people who went through a scandal-hit hotel quarantine system in Victoria must be screened for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C due to fears of cross-contamination from the incorrect use of blood glucose test devices.

Police and Protective Services officers stand in the foyer of a quarantine hotel  - Shutterstock
Police and Protective Services officers stand in the foyer of a quarantine hotel - Shutterstock

Several of the test devices, which take small samples of blood from the fingertip, were used on multiple people in quarantine in Australia between 29 March and 20 August, despite being intended for repeated use by one person.

Needles in the device were changed after each use, but it is possible microscopic traces of blood remaining within the machine created a clinical risk of cross-contamination and infection.

Giovanni Torre has the full story here

10:51 AM

Covid-19 vaccine scientists take to TikTok to 'demystify' treatment development

Scientists working on a coronavirus vaccine are using social media as part of a new campaign to build confidence in the treatment development process.

As part of a campaign called Team Halo, researchers working on vaccines in the UK, US, South Africa, India and Brazil will post videos to TikTok, Twitter and Instagram highlighting their work.

The campaign will also see the participating scientists, known as Guides, respond to questions from the public and directly counter misinformation about Covid-19 spreading online. 

Dr Anna Blakney, a bioengineer and part of the vaccine development team at Imperial College London, said the initiative was a way of "demystifying" the work being done around vaccines.

10:43 AM

Gyms, pools and leisure centres 'should be reclassified as essential services' to stay open

An urgent call has been made for gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres to be reclassified as essential services and remain open through any national ‘circuit break’ and in areas with Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions.

Almost 400,000 people have now signed a petition to prevent gyms again being forced to close, the Liverpool Mayor has written to Boris Johnson demanding the evidence for shutting fitness facilities and ukactive has urged the Welsh government to recognise the sector’s “central role” in building health resilience.

A petition demanding that the Government allows gyms and other leisure facilities to stay open under Tier 3 Covid restrictions - Daniel Dal Zenarro
A petition demanding that the Government allows gyms and other leisure facilities to stay open under Tier 3 Covid restrictions - Daniel Dal Zenarro

There is also growing anger inside the sports and recreation sector at the lack of progress over an emergency funding package at a time when more than 6,000 jobs have been lost and almost 300,000 more are at risk.

Jeremy Wilson has the full story here

10:36 AM

Covoid-19 cases falling in the North of Tyne, says mayor

The North of Tyne elected mayor said coronavirus cases had plateaued or were falling since leaders successfully argued for the North East to have a reprieve from the Tier 3 restrictions.

Jamie Driscoll said: "We are expecting to meet with Government ministers and officials later this week, but nothing is in the diary and we have had no contact since Friday.

"Last week we talked through their data, and our data, epidemiology, NHS capacity and public health interventions.

"They accepted there was no case for moving into Tier 3.

"The latest evidence is that, across our region, case rates have plateaued or are falling.

10:32 AM

'We are not Liverpool' - Thousands sign petition to be removed from Tier 3

Thousands of Halton residents have signed a petition urging the Government to remove the borough from the Tier 3 restrictions imposed on the Liverpool city region.

The petition argues that Halton and the wider Runcorn area is part of Cheshire, not Liverpool.

It asks: "Take us out of the Liverpool city region and put us in medium lockdown where we belong."

The petition was started last week after the Government and Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram placed the city and its boroughs into Tier 3 restrictions, following a rising number of coronavirus cases and hospital admissions in the city.

It has gained momentum in recent days, and now more than 3,400 people have signed.

Three-tier Covid lockdown map
Three-tier Covid lockdown map

10:26 AM

Eating like the English? French curfew puts early dinner on menu

Restaurateur Pascal Mousset has a new menu he hopes will persuade his patrons to change the habit of a lifetime in response to Paris's coronavirus curfew, by - perish the thought - eating dinner as early as the English.

They can order his 19-euro "After Work" offering of foie gras, boar pate and calamari until 8:00 p.m., an hour before the lockdown takes effect in the capital and eight other cities - and just when they might normally be contemplating their starters.

Pascal Mousset, owner of "Chez Francoise" restaurant, displays an "after-work menu" created to be served before the evening curfew, - Charles Platiau/Reuters
Pascal Mousset, owner of "Chez Francoise" restaurant, displays an "after-work menu" created to be served before the evening curfew, - Charles Platiau/Reuters

Mousset, whose restaurant Chez Francoise is popular with lawmakers, throws in two glasses of beer or wine to help wash the food down.

"We said to ourselves we have two options: close in the evenings and turn off the lights or do something positive," he said, after last week's announcement of the new curbs gave the trade just 48 hours to adapt.

10:20 AM

Argentina passes one million coronavirus cases

Argentina has surpassed one million coronavirus cases, with areas outside the capital Buenos Aires bearing the brunt of recent infections.

The latest report from the Ministry of Health showed 12,982 new infections in the previous 24 hours, pushing the total to 1,002,649.

The number of deaths stood at just over 26,700, while more than 800,000 infected people had already recovered.

Argentina - which in March suffered South America's first coronavirus-related fatality - has the fifth-largest national case tally, behind the United States, India, Brazil and Russia.

South America's Covid case rates
South America's Covid case rates

10:14 AM

Italy PM recruits 'influencer' in battle against virus

Italy's prime minister has called on the country's most famous influencer to help spread the message among young people that masks need to be worn to try to halt the spread of the virus.

Giuseppe Conte contacted Chiara Ferragni, a fashion blogger, and her rapper husband, Fedez, who together have 32 million followers on social media.

Social media influencer, Chiara Ferragni boasts over 32 million followers alongside her husband Fedez - Robino Salvatore 
Social media influencer, Chiara Ferragni boasts over 32 million followers alongside her husband Fedez - Robino Salvatore

The approach by the prime minister was revealed by Fedez on his Instagram account, who said the call had been "very unexpected".

"If we can be useful in any way, we are happy. Italy finds itself in a very delicate situation and we cannot allow another lockdown. We can avoid it with a simple gesture - guys, wear a mask."

Italy recorded nearly 9,400 new cases on Monday, with 73 new deaths, up from 69 on Sunday. More than 36,000 people have died from the virus in Italy.

There are acute concerns that young people who socialise in pubs and bars at night are catching the virus and passing it onto their more vulnerable parents and grandparents.

10:07 AM

UK plan to be first to run human challenge Covid trials

The UK is pushing ahead to be the first nation to carry out "human challenge" studies where up to 90 healthy people will be deliberately exposed to Covid- 19

The trials, which could begin in January, aim to speed up the race to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr Doug Brown , Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology, said: 

While human challenge studies have the potential to hugely increase our understanding of which treatments or vaccines may be effective against a disease, it’s important to remember that no studies of this type are completely free of risk. One aspect that will need to be taken into consideration with Covid-19 is that we don’t currently have many proven treatments to give to people who become very sick with the illness. 

09:58 AM

WATCH: 'Government is trying to 'penny pinch' over Tier 3 restrictions'

09:50 AM

Supermarkets in Nottingham asked to reinstate designated shopping hours

Nottingham leaders are asking supermarkets to reinstate designated shopping hours for elderly and vulnerable.

Speaking ahead of discussions with the Government this week, Nottingham City Council leader councillor David Mellen said the Government is considering placing the area into Tier 3, but the area is already issuing guidance extra guidance.

He said: "I will make it clear that we want a package that properly protects local people, businesses, jobs and education, whether it's for Tier 2 or Tier 3, and will need to speak to the Government first about the details of this.

"However, we have not waited for the Government to act against rising Covid cases in the city - almost a week before government finally placed us in Tier 2 we issued clear advice about not mixing indoors with people from other households unless they are in your support bubble.

"This week once again we are taking the lead and are writing to supermarkets to ask them to reinstate an allocated hour for older and vulnerable people. We are considering other community facilities where this could also be reintroduced."

09:31 AM

North West records highest Covid deaths since June

North West England had 153 deaths involving Covid-19 registered in the week ending October 9 - the highest number for the region since the week ending June 12, according to the ONS.

In North East England, 60 Covid-19 deaths were registered in the week to October 9, which again is the highest for the region since the week to June 12.

Registered deaths involving Covid-19 increased week-on-week in all but two regions of England in the week to October 9. The exceptions were Eastern England and South East England. 

It comes as Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said this morning the region's hospital capacity was not close to being overwhelmed. 

"That's not what the most recent figures say, the infection rate isn't rising sharply, it is rising in a number of our boroughs but has been falling in Manchester," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 

He added: "We think there were some 'selective figures' put out yesterday, the current rate of occupancy of intensive care in Greater Manchester is around 80 per cent which is what it would normally be at this time of year, but we are not complacent."

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

09:04 AM

Region of Bavarian Alps goes back into full lockdown

This just in by Justin Huggler in Berlin:

An area in the Bavarian Alps will today become the first locality in Germany to go back into full lockdown in response to the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Residents of the Berchtesgadener Land, a mountainous area near the Austrian border, have been ordered to stay in their homes from 2pm today. Schools, nurseries, restaurants and non-essential shops have been ordered to close.

The lockdown was ordered after the weekly infection rate in the sparsely populated region surged to 272 per 100,000 inhabitants, far over the German limit of 50. 

"There is no other way," Markus Söder, the regional chief minister of Bavaria said. "We can no longer trace all the contact chains. So we have to restrict contacts."

As with the first lockdown in the spring, the German restrictions are lighter than in many other countries. As well as being allowed to go to work or shop for essential items, people are allowed to leave their homes for exercise or fresh air, but must do so alone or with members of the same household.

Earlier this month, Bavarian mountain farmers return their cattle from summer pastures across lake Koenigssee near Berchtesgaden, see the pictures below.

Bavarian mountain farmers return their cattle from summer - Matthias Schrader /AP
Bavarian mountain farmers return their cattle from summer - Matthias Schrader /AP
Bavarian mountain farmers return their cattle from summer pastures across lake Koenigssee near Berchtesgaden, Germany - AP
Bavarian mountain farmers return their cattle from summer pastures across lake Koenigssee near Berchtesgaden, Germany - AP
Bavarian mountain farmers return their cattle from summer pastures across lake Koenigssee near Berchtesgaden, Germany - AP
Bavarian mountain farmers return their cattle from summer pastures across lake Koenigssee near Berchtesgaden, Germany - AP
Bavarian mountain farmers return their cattle from summer pastures across lake Koenigssee near Berchtesgaden, Germany, -  AP
Bavarian mountain farmers return their cattle from summer pastures across lake Koenigssee near Berchtesgaden, Germany, - AP

08:53 AM

ONS: Nearly 60,000 Covid-19 deaths registered

Just over 59,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK.

Figures published this morning by the ONS show that 53,863 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to October 9, and had been registered by October 17.

Figures published last week by the National Records for Scotland showed that 4,301 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to October 11, while 915 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland up to October 9 (and had been registered up to October 14), according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Together, these figures mean that so far 59,079 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases. 

Excess Deaths - UK-wide
Excess Deaths - UK-wide

08:44 AM

Covid-19 deaths rise for fifth week

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 registered in England and Wales has risen for the fifth week in a row.

A total of 438 deaths registered in the week ending October 9 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up from 321 deaths in the week to October 2.

It is the highest number of registered deaths involving Covid-19 since the week ending July 3.

Excess Deaths - UK-wide
Excess Deaths - UK-wide

08:31 AM

Expert 'optimistic' about vaccine development

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said "there is light at the end of the tunnel" with regard to Britain getting a vaccine for Covid-19.

Asked when the UK could see a vaccine, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I'm really quite optimistic.

"I think there is light at the end of the tunnel, in that there are so many trials of vaccines going on under very, very well-controlled conditions.

"I would be surprised if some of those vaccine studies don't report this side of Christmas.

"And of course some of those vaccines have been pre-purchased and pre-batched ready for distribution against the possibility that they are going to be found to be effective in the phase three trials.

"So I think that that will be limited stocks of vaccine which are going to be available for the most high-risk people in the early part of next year.

"But of course there won't be sufficient vaccine to roll out a full vaccination programme; we need to take it stepwise and be cautious."

Read more: 'Challenge trials' set to infect volunteers with coronavirus to help speed up creation of vaccine

08:13 AM

Mark Drakeford: 'We need genuine national effort'

Mark Drakeford, First Minister, said the gap between low and high incidence areas of Wales has been "narrowing" over the past 10 days.

He told BBC Breakfast: "I'm afraid if we don't take action, it's only a matter of time before even Ceredigion begins to feel the impact of the rising tide.

"In places like Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, they are rural areas of Wales. Their hospitals are small. Even a modest rise in coronavirus cases in those parts of Wales will put the health service under real pressure.

"Other parts of Wales have worked very hard to help protect those parts of Wales where the virus has continued to be suppressed.

"This is the moment when we need a genuine national effort, all areas of Wales, all citizens of Wales, as part of one great national endeavour."

08:10 AM

Mark Drakeford: Firebreak lockdown will be 'short but very sharp'

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

First Minister Mark Drakeford has insisted that the "firebreak" lockdown in Wales will end on November 9 and is deliberately designed to be "short but very sharp".

He told BBC Breakfast that the effects of the lockdown, which begins at 6pm on Friday, will not be seen within the two-week period but after it.

He said the Welsh Government will use metrics such as the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 each day, the positivity rate, and the number of people being admitted to hospital to establish how successful it has been.

"We have a series of things that we will test to see the impact of this fortnight of significant closure of people's personal and business lives in Wales in order to make sure that we are able to move into the rest of the autumn and the winter in a position where our NHS is not threatened with being overwhelmed," Mr Drakeford said.

08:01 AM

Manchester offered £22m in additional support

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said £22 million has been offered to Greater Manchester and warned that action is needed before intensive care units are overwhelmed - a claim denied by the city's medical leaders.

Mr Zahawi told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We have been negotiating in good faith for 10 days with Andy Burnham and other local leaders in Greater Manchester.

"By the first week of November, if the trajectory continues at the rate it is at the moment, they will run out of ICU capacity in Greater Manchester.

"That is something we should both focus on, set politics aside.

"We have said to Andy and other local leaders that we will put £22 million into help for Greater Manchester, £8 per capita."

There would also be "additional support commensurate with what we have done in Liverpool City Region and in Lancashire".

07:22 AM

Human challenge vaccine trials get green light

Test subjects could be exposed to the new coronavirus in controlled settings from January in a bid to speed up vaccine development, officials have confirmed.

The Government is backing so-called human challenge studies, whereby a small number of participants who have received a vaccine will be purposefully exposed to Covid-19 to assess the vaccine's efficacy.

It is hoped these studies will help speed up vaccine development.

In the trials, a small number of young and healthy participants - aged 18 to 30 - will be given a vaccine candidate, which has previously been assessed in earlier clinical trials.

This group of up to 90 participants will then be exposed to the virus in a controlled environment.

They will be carefully monitored to assess how the vaccine works and any possible side-effects.

Officials said that human challenge trials offer the chance to speed up vaccine development.

07:04 AM

Sweden's top epidemiologist claims 'little evidence' for masks

Sweden's state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has said there is "little evidence" for the impact of mask wearing in the community.

"Unfortunately, the evidence between using masks in society is very weak... we don't really have a good idea of where they should be used, (and) to what extent," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Unfortunately, a lot of the countries in Europe now have implemented masks since a long time... (and they are seeing) a big surge in the number of cases right now, so I think it's dangerous to believe that masks will make a huge difference when you have an epidemic like this one."

Sweden is also considering reducing restrictions for its elderly and shielding population, he added, and the country's increase in cases has been "slowing down".

06:43 AM

Andy Burnham: Shielding needs to be 'looked at seriously'

Mr Burnham said he thought shielding of eldery and vulnerable people in Greater Manchester needed to be "looked at seriously" and suggested it was "part of the solution".

He said: "I have to say I am worried genuinely about the Tier 3 policy as it is developing because we have had briefings from very senior figures - the deputy chief medical officer - who said to us that for Tier 3 to have a chance you have to close a lot of things.

"The trouble with the way that the Government are pursuing this at the moment is that they are not funding local areas to support people through the closure of lots of things within their community, and that is a major flaw at the heart of this Tier 3 strategy as it develops."

Read more: Shielding not lockdown the answer for Manchester, Boris Johnson told

06:32 AM

Andy Burnham: 'We won't break the law if Government imposes restrictions'

Andy Burnham said if restrictions are imposed they wouldn't "break the law" and would accept the decision. 

But he added he would say to the Government "is that a wise thing to do".

If a "punishing lockdown" is placed on the region through the winter, "it'll be the poorest people that will suffer as a result of that", he said. 

He added: "All of the experts, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Scientific Adviser, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, every single one of them has said to us that they are not certain Tier 3 would work, and the only way it's got a chance of working is if you fully fund it so that lots of things will close so that it will have a maximum impact."

06:25 AM

Andy Burnham: 'Selective figures' have been used relating to capacity

Mr Burnham said he would be meeting local leaders this morning and will propose that they write to the Government setting out what they think is a "fair figure" of financial support. 

"If you put a place under restrictions for as long as we have been under restrictions it grinds people down," the Manchester mayor told BBC Radio 4 Today.

"All along this has been about standing up for people and businesses which will otherwise be seriously harmed," ge added.

Mr Burnham also disagreed that the infection rate is rising "sharply" across all of Greater Manchester, arguing their current hospital capacity is at around 80 per cent.

He added he there has been some "selective figures" put out by the Government relating to their capacity.

"We are not complacent," he said, but added: "Health is about more than simply controlling the virus, we are concerned now if we go into a tier 3 lockdown that potentially lasts for months we will see a mental health pandemic".

06:20 AM

Andy Burnham: 'Government ultimatum is provocative move'

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, has said a "late night ultimatum" of a midday deadline for a deal was a "provocative move".

Discussions between Greater Manchester leaders and central Government about whether the region should move into Tier 3 restrictions are yet to reach a conclusion.

Mr Burnham told BBC Radio 4 Today: "A late night ultimatum, briefed to the media, was a slightly provocative move, but I'm not coming on to rise to that, I'm going to try to be positive and respond and see if we can find a way forward."

06:03 AM

Noon deadline for Greater Manchester deal

Boris Johnson is preparing impose stringent new coronavirus controls on 2.8 million people in Greater Manchester after talks with local leaders failed to reach agreement.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick warned civic chiefs last night that they have until midday on Tuesday to reach a deal or face unilateral Government action.

The leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese said he still hoped it would be possible to find an agreed way forward in the hours remaining.

However he acknowledged they would have no choice but to comply if ministers decided to impose the most stringent Tier 3 restrictions.

"I am hoping that tomorrow (Tuesday) morning we will be able to sit down again with ministers and come to an agreement which will serve the best interests of the people of Manchester," he told BBC2's Newsnight.

"Clearly if Government imposes Tier 3 - and I hope that won't happen - we will clearly need to comply with that."

There was anger among some of those involved in the negotiations at what they said was the use of "selective statistics" by the Government to raise concern about the public health situation in the region.

In a joint statement with Sir Richard, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham also complained that a previous offer of financial support had been withdrawn by ministers.

Mr Jenrick, however, said that after 10 days of negotiations failed to reach an agreement, the deteriorating situation in the region meant the Government had no choice but to act.

"There are now more Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester hospitals than in the whole of the South West and South East combined," he said in a statement.
 "But, unfortunately, despite recognising the gravity of the situation, local leaders have been so far unwilling to take the action that is required to get this situation under control.
 "I have written to local leaders this evening to make clear that if we cannot reach agreement by midday tomorrow then I must advise the Prime Minister that despite our best endeavours we've been unable to reach agreement."

05:50 AM

Labour to trigger vote on free school meals

The Labour Party says it will force a parliamentary vote on the extension of free school meals to eligible children after the Government refused to prolong the scheme through the October half-term break.

Labour on Saturday gave the Government 72 hours to extend the initiative - the subject of a campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford - or face a vote.

With Downing Street having signalled it will not be prolonging the programme through the holidays, Labour said it would trigger a vote in Parliament on Tuesday, led by MP Angela Rayner.

Labour will table a motion calling on the Government to continue directly funding free school meals over the holidays until Easter 2021 to "prevent over a million children going hungry during the coronavirus crisis".

Read more: Gordon Brown backs Marcus Rashford's call for free school meals to be extended

05:22 AM

India posts lowest daily new cases in nearly four months

India posted its lowest daily coronavirus caseload in nearly four months, data from the health ministry showed on Tuesday, as new cases maintained decreasing trend from a peak in September.

The country reported 46,790 new infections in the last 24 hours, taking its tally to nearly 7.6 million. It also reported 587 deaths, taking the total to 115,197.

Experts have warned that infections could rise in India as the holiday season nears, with celebrations for the Hindu festivals of Durga Puja and Diwali due this month and in mid-November, respectively

Students arrive at a government girls school after the educational institutions were reopened nearly six months after the spread of Covid-19 n Attari village near India-Pakistan Wagah border post. - AFP
Students arrive at a government girls school after the educational institutions were reopened nearly six months after the spread of Covid-19 n Attari village near India-Pakistan Wagah border post. - AFP

04:59 AM

Working lunches in the pub could be exempt from restrictions

Working lunches could be exempt from Covid lockdown restrictions after an apparent “loophole” emerged.

Meeting people inside pubs and restaurants in tier 2 and tier 3 areas such as London, York and Manchester is not allowed as part of efforts to try and contain the spread of coronavirus.

But last night No 10 and local authorities suggested that such meetings were permitted so long as they are for "work purposes".

Government guidance stipulates that up to 30 people from different households may meet indoors for work purposes, as long as the place they are meeting is set up to follow Covid guidelines.

Read the full story

Three-tier postcode tool
Three-tier postcode tool

04:19 AM

'It's crackers': Life in the village divided into two tiers

For years, the only obvious difference between the cottages on either side of Roxby Beck was the colour of their wheelie bins.

Yet the fishing village of Staithes, in North Yorkshire, now finds itself truly divided.

On the north side of the river, around 40 houses have been stranded in "high" Tier 2 restrictions, meaning they cannot mix with friends and family indoors. On the other side, the bulk of the village remains in Tier 1, meaning people can freely meet their neighbours in pubs, cafes and restaurants as long as they abide by the "rule of six".

"According to the Government, I shouldn't even cross the bridge to go to the shops in my own village," complained one local. "It's crackers." 

Read the full story

Read more: Why 'blue on blue' Tory Covid row is more about old against new than South versus North

02:47 AM

China's Sinovac vaccine is safe, Brazil institute says

An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech appeared to be safe in a late-stage clinical trial in Brazil, preliminary results showed on Monday.

São Paulo's Butantan Institute, one of Brazil's leading biomedical research centers, which is carrying out the Phase 3 tests, said the two-dose vaccine, called CoronaVac, proved to be safe in a trial so far involving 9,000 volunteers.

But Butantan director Dimas Covas said data on how effective the vaccine is will not be released until the trial is completed on all of the 13,000 volunteers.

"The first results of the clinical study conducted in Brazil prove that among all the vaccines tested in the country, CoronaVac is the safest, the one with the best and most promising rates," São Paulo Governor João Doria told reporters.

The result is only preliminary and researchers will keep monitoring the participants in the on-going trial, Covas said. It's the first set of results of Sinovac's Phase 3 global trials, which are also being conducted in Turkey and Indonesia.

Read more: Vaccine 'unlikely to eradicate Covid', Sir Patrick Vallance tells MPs

Coronavirus deaths hit one million – how many more lives will it claim?
Coronavirus deaths hit one million – how many more lives will it claim?

02:01 AM

Ireland announces emergency six-week lockdown

Ireland announced some of Europe's toughest Covid-19 restrictions on Monday, plunging the country into lockdown for six weeks.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin moved the country to the highest level of measures following a surge in coronavirus cases in the country.

The lockdown, which will come into effect from midnight on Wednesday, will shut non-essential retail, close restaurants and pubs, and order people not to travel further than 3 miles from their homes. The travel ban is the strictest anywhere on the Continent. 

Schools will stay open and essential services such as construction will be allowed to continue, the Government said, while hotels can remain open only if they are providing rooms for essential workers.

Read the full story

Read more: Wales local lockdown rules as 'sharp, deep, two-week fire break' is announced

01:05 AM

China reports increase in infections from day earlier

China reported 19 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for Oct. 19, up from 13 cases a day earlier, the health commission said on Tuesday.

All of the new infections were imported, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

China reported 24 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 33 a day earlier.

As of Monday, mainland China had 85,704 confirmed cases, the health authority said, and the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

Read more: While the West locks down, China parties

The audience applauds after the opera "Angel's Diary" which portrays the doctor's rescue of coronavirus patients during the lockdown in Wuhan - Getty
The audience applauds after the opera "Angel's Diary" which portrays the doctor's rescue of coronavirus patients during the lockdown in Wuhan - Getty

12:14 AM

Argentina reaches grim milestone of 1 million cases

Argentina reached 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases Monday, making it the second nation in Latin America to reach the grim milestone and only the fifth in the world to do so.

The Ministry of Health said 1,002,662 people have now been diagnosed with the virus, and 26,716 have died.

Brazil reached 1 million cases in June and now reports 5.2 million total.

Latin America is one of the worst hit regions and home to half the 10 nations reporting the highest number of confirmed cases. Three other nations in Latin America are expected to reach 1 million cases in the coming weeks - Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

The region's high caseload is due to a combination of factors including weak public health systems, limited testing and contact tracing, and social issues like poverty.

A dog stands on a staircase where a worker disinfects the streets of the "Villa 31" neighborhood in Buenos Aires - AP
A dog stands on a staircase where a worker disinfects the streets of the "Villa 31" neighborhood in Buenos Aires - AP

12:08 AM

Trump calls Dr Anthony Fauci a 'disaster'

Donald Trump has launched a remarkable series of attacks on his top infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci, calling him a “disaster”, criticising his TV appearances and even mocking his recent poor opening pitch for Washington DC’s baseball team. 

The US president’s repeated swipes at the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases escalated a clash that has been simmering for months but also dominated coverage with just two weeks left to the election.

"Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we'd have 500,000 deaths,” Mr Trump said in a morning call with his campaign that reporters were allowed to listen in on. 

Read the full story

Donald Trump dances after speaking at a campaign rally in Arizona - AP
Donald Trump dances after speaking at a campaign rally in Arizona - AP

11:49 PM

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