Sir Keir Starmer has called on Boris Johnson to impose a short "circuit-breaker" lockdown across England to bring the coronavirus resurgence under control.
The Labour leader heaped pressure on to the Prime Minister after it emerged he dismissed a recommendation for the measure from Government scientists three weeks ago.
In his most dramatic intervention to date, Sir Keir said a two to three-week national lockdown was needed to improve test and trace and prevent a "sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter".
He told a televised press conference that Mr Johnson was "no longer following the scientific advice" by proposing "far less stringent restrictions" than suggested by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
Sir Keir said: "There's no longer time to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt. The Government's plan simply isn't working. Another course is needed."
He said schools must stay open but that all pubs, bars and restaurants should be closed during the circuit-breaker, while firms are compensated so "no business loses out" in order to "break the cycle" of infection.
"If we don't, we could sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter. That choice is now for the Prime Minister to make. I urge him to do so," Sir Keir said.
Follow the latest updates below.
London Palladium defends safety measures after claims it was 'packed'
The London Palladium has been forced to defend its Covid safety measures after photographs of an audience apparently crammed into the auditorium sparked criticism.
Pictures taken at events held on Sunday and Monday evening appeared to show crowded stalls with little social distancing and only the odd empty seat.
Critic Mark Shenton, who attended one of the events, questioned how safe Sunday night’s event could have been, stating that he believed "social distancing was not complied with.”
“Seating, at least in stalls, was in every single row and only distanced by leaving a single free seat between parties,” he said.
Hospitality firms demand more support as 10pm closing time comes under fire
Businesses in the hospitality sector have called for more support after Sage minutes showed that curfews were likely to have a marginal impact on the transmission of the virus.
UK Hospitality's chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "The curfew was brought in without any compelling evidence that it would impact [the spread of] Covid-19. Now we see that the recommendations were that it would barely help.
"It is squeezing the remaining life out of businesses and must be reconsidered, at the very least in those areas where infection rates are low."
10 patients test positive for Covid-19 at Swansea hospital
A new coronavirus outbreak at a hospital in South Wales has caused routine surgeries to be postponed, after 10 patients and five members of staff tested positive.
The outbreak at Morriston Hospital in Swansea has forced staff to prioritise care for emergency and urgent cardiac and cardiology patients, while strict infection control plans are put in place.
Swansea Bay University Health Board said most of the infections were confined to the hospital's cardiac services.
The health board said: "We have acted swiftly to initiate a robust infection control response, together with colleagues from Public Health Wales.
"This has included contact tracing, the wider testing of staff, and stringent mitigating actions aimed at preventing further infections, including closing four wards.
"Staff who have tested positive and their contacts are isolating at home, and patients who have tested positive are being carefully managed, with stringent infection control measures in place."
Netherlands returns to 'partial lockdown' as Covid-19 cases soar
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said today the Netherlands must return to a "partial lockdown", including the closure of bars and restaurants, as the country battles to control the coronavirus in one of Europe's major hotspots.
"Today we are announcing new and weighty measures and in fact we are going to a partial lockdown," Rutte said in a nationally televised news conference at which he announced that bars and restaurants will be closed excepting for takeaway or delivery. Alcohol sales in the evening will also be banned.
Rutte said that the measures will go into effect on Wednesday for a period of two weeks. They also include making the wearing of cloth masks mandatory for people 13 years and older in indoor spaces. Gatherings of more than 30 people are banned nationwide.
The number of cases in this country of 17 million has surged in recent weeks to a daily record of nearly 7,400 on Tuesday. It now has one of the highest per capita infection rates worldwide.
Prospect of fans returning to stadiums dealt blow by 'strong evidence' shouting helps spread of Covid-19
The prospect of fans returning to sports stadiums appears to have suffered a further set-back after a key government advisor specifically highlighted the “increasingly strong evidence” of shouting and singing in the spread of Covid-19.
Professor Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer and a specialist in the transmission of infectious disease, was responding to a question about the evidence for the known causes of transmitting the virus.
Van Tam, who was key to agreeing the guidelines for the Premier League's Project Restart and who has been a point of contact for sports throughout the pandemic, particularly stressed known risk factors like closed spaces, crowds and close contact but also emphasised the volume and duration of exposure. By volume, he said that he meant “the level of noise”.
Immunity critical in 'long term' end to pandemic, says epidemiologist
A health expert has said herd immunity will be critical in the long term to end the pandemic, as he responded to comments by the Health Secretary that it is "a flawed goal".
Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said herd immunity should not be discounted but said there was currently not enough exposure for it to work in the short term.
Prof Woolhouse said:
"Going forward, we would expect more people to be exposed at some stage or another and that immunity would be important, whether natural or through a vaccine," "Herd immunity is the way this thing ends, one way or another."Whether he (Health Secretary Matt Hancock) calls it a goal or not, it will end with herd immunity."
Essex County Council requests tougher Covid-19 restrictions
Essex County Council is to write to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to request stricter Covid-19 restrictions.
The authority wants to be moved from Tier 1 (medium) restrictions to Tier 2 (high) on the advice of Essex's director of public health and wellbeing, Dr Mike Gogarty.
The county has seen a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, and rates in nearly all districts are now rising exponentially, the council said.
David Finch, the leader of Essex County Council, said: "By acting now, we can hope to stem this increase, limiting the time that we are in these enhanced restrictions and - above all - avoiding further escalation into 'Very High'.
Labour MP Chris Matheson self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19
Labour MP Chris Matheson has revealed he is self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.
The City of Chester MP, who is shadow minister for media, announced his diagnosis on his Facebook page.
He said: "After feeling ill last Saturday, I went for a coronavirus test at Deeside and tested positive. The symptoms aren't very pleasant, but I don't have it nearly as badly as many others.
"I now have to stay at home and can't attend Parliament in person, but will have a proxy vote which will be cast by one of the opposition whips on my behalf.
"I am trying to rest as much as possible, though I will continue to try and answer my emails and my staff will still be working. I would like to thank them for keeping the show on the road, as they always do.
Intensive care unit at Nightingale hospital reopened in response to escalating Covid admissions
An intensive care unit at Northern Ireland's Nightingale hospital has been reopened in response to escalating Covid admissions in Belfast.
The facility is not yet being stood up on a region-wide basis, but will be accepting Covid-19 patients being treated within the Belfast Trust area.
The Belfast Trust has also cancelled 105 planned surgeries at Belfast City Hospital and Musgrave Park Hospital for the next two weeks to free up staff to respond to the worsening coronavirus situation.
The Nightingale facility in the tower block of Belfast City Hospital will start treating intensive care patients after the nearby Mater Hospital reached near capacity, with 10 of its 11 ventilated beds currently full.
Chris Hagan, medical director of the Belfast Trust, said "This decision was extremely difficult and one that we did not want to have to make. We have, however, seen a significant rise in admissions related to Covid-19 in recent days and feel it is now necessary to move to this stage in our surge plan to ensure we can continue to deliver safe levels of care."
Relatives of care home residents could soon be given key worker status
Relatives of care home residents will soon be treated as key workers, a government minister has revealed, as part of a pilot scheme to allow safe visits.
Helen Whately, the care minister, told the joint Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee she wants to enable regular visiting, "but it must be safe".
Currently, it is up to individual care home managers to ensure appropriate provisions are in place in order to enable safe visiting from relatives and friends.
However, there are some managers who have banned visits altogether in order to protect vulnerable residents from contracting Covid-19.
Social and Religious Affairs Editor Gabriella Swerling has the full story here
Conservative health minister hits back at Labour call for 'circuit breaker'
Responding to Sir Keir Starmer's call for a "circuit-break" lockdown, Conservative health minister Nadine Dorries tweeted:
"You need to speak to your Manchester Mayor (Andy Burnham) who has been opposed to intervention measures all the way!"
— Nadine Dorries 🇬🇧#StayAlert (@NadineDorries) October 13, 2020
Shadow Chancellor echoes Starmer's demand for 'circuit breaker'
Labour MP Anneliese Dodds has echoed Sir Keir Starmer's call for a two-to-three week 'circuit breaker'.
The shadow chancellor posted on Twitter: "This government has failed. Failed to get a grip on the virus after six months of trying. Failed to protect jobs and businesses. Failed to keep people safe."
This government has failed.
Failed to get a grip on the virus after six months of trying.
Failed to protect jobs and businesses.
Failed to keep people safe.
Enough is enough. We need a circuit break to get a grip on this virus and protect jobs and livelihoods.
— Anneliese Dodds (@AnnelieseDodds) October 13, 2020
Bolton MP resigns from role over rise in Covid cases
Parliamentary Private Secretary Chris Green has resigned from his role saying that local lockdowns are a 'cure worse than the disease'
The Conservative MP for Bolton announced the news on his Twitter account.
The Bolton lockdown has clearly not worked, and I believe that the cure is worse than the disease, so I have stepped down from my role as Parliamentary Private Secretary. pic.twitter.com/HdEm4hw8Rh
— Chris Green (@CGreenUK) October 13, 2020
'Shielding has had a catastrophic effect on my mental health'
Coronavirus has seen my anxiety and depression reach dizzying new heights, and despite new shielding rules, I won’t be venturing out soon,writes Juliette Wills
I've been sick for 20 years (I’m now 48) with spinal arthritis, ulcerative colitis and a host of other immune-related conditions so I’m used to feeling isolated, frustrated and lonely. I’m used to having no money for a holiday, a fancy dinner or a manicure. Life has passed by me steadily since 2000, but coronavirus has seen my normally manageable anxiety and depression reach dizzying new heights; ones I sometimes feel like jumping from.
Sir Keir Starmer rejects suggestions that 'circuit breaker' would damage economy
Sir Keir Starmer rejected suggestions that the introduction of a coronavirus "circuit-breaker" would damage the economy.
"The damage to the economy will be caused by weeks and months of the approach the Government has set out," he told a news conference.
He said Labour would not be voting against the Government's latest measures in the Commons on Tuesday, even though they did not go far enough.
"We are not going to vote down a package of restrictions because restrictions are needed," he said.
"The problem with the vote in Parliament is that it is a take it or leave vote. If you vote it down, there are no restrictions."
Confusion as NHS app users receive 'ghost' notifications incorrectly warning of coronavirus exposure
NHS Covid-19-app users should ignore ‘exposure’ notifications that are wrongly leading people to think they may have coronavirus, the Department of Health has said.
People have been expressing confusion and consternation on social media after receiving ‘ghost’ notifications warning of ‘possible Covid-19 exposure’ in the past few weeks.
However, when users click on the notification it takes them to the app where there is no further information.
Keir Starmer's call for two to three week 'circuit breaker'
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "This would not mean closing schools. But if this happens imminently, it can be timed to run across half-term to minimise disruption. But a circuit break would require significant sacrifices across the country.
"It would mean only essential work and travel. That everyone who can work from home should do so. Non-essential offices should be closed.
"Household mixing should be restricted to one household except for those who've formed support bubbles.
"And all pubs, bars and restaurants would be closed for two to three weeks - but compensated so that no business loses out because of the sacrifices we all have to make. It should also mean that the UK Parliament moves to remote working."
The Labour leader reinforced his demand on Twitter:
We are at a decisive moment in the fight against the coronavirus.
That’s why I'm calling for a circuit break in England - to protect the NHS, fix testing and get control of the virus.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) October 13, 2020
Keir Starmer: 'No longer time to give Prime Minister benefit of the doubt'
Sir Keir Starmer has said: "There's no longer time to give this Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt.
"The Government's plan simply isn't working. Another course is needed."
Questioned on the economic consequences of a two to three work 'circuit breaker' on the nation, Starmer said that it would be 'more costly' in the long run to maintain the current approach.
Live: Keir Starmer says schools would remain open during 'circuit breaker'
Labour leader Keir Starmer has said that the proposed 'circuit breaker' would be very similar to the national lockdown introduced in March.
However he said schools would remain open and touted the option of the 'circuit breaker' taking place across October half-term to cause 'minimum disruption'.
Live: Keir Starmer demands two - three week 'circuit breaker'
Keir Starmer has demanded a two to three week circuit breaker in England, a temporary set of clear restrictions designed to get the R rate down and reverse the trend of hospital admissions.
He said this would not mean schools closing and could be timed to run across half term to minimise disruption.
The following measures applied nationally would include:
Working from home
Essential travel only
Ban on households mixing except if support bubbles formed
Pubs bars and restaurants closed for 2- 3 weeks but financially compensated
UK parliament moves to remote working
Live: Keir Starmer updates
Labour leader Keir Starmer said the Government has lost control of the virus and it is no longer following scientific advice.
He said: “Sage has warned that not acting now will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences.”
“Just as in the first wave the burden of a large second wave will fall on the frailest in our society and BAME communities.”
Watch live: Keir Starmer holds first coronavirus press conference
U.S. Army chief returns to Pentagon after self-quarantine
The Army's chief of staff returned to the Pentagon on Tuesday, in a sign that the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff were starting to move towards ending their self-quarantine following a coronavirus scare at a recent top-level meeting.
Two senior military officials who attended the meeting earlier this month tested positive for Covid-19, leading to almost all of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff to go into self-quarantine last week.
"I was tested this morning and all negative and I've been cleared by the docs (doctors) to come back in," U.S. Army Chief of Staff General James McConville said during a press conference at the Pentagon.
Coming up: Keir Starmer holds first coronavirus press conference
Labour leader Keir Starmer will hold his first live televised press conference as Labour Party leader, responding to the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday and the ongoing rise in coronavirus cases.
Labour deputy leader describes rise in Covid-figures as 'utterly grim'
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has described the latest coronavirus figures as "utterly grim" and condemned the Government's handling of the pandemic.
Ms Rayner posted on Twitter:
Utterly grim COVID-19 figures today. 143 deaths, 17,234 new cases, 655 new hospital admissions.
The government has lost control, and local lockdowns have clearly not worked. The PM has no plan to get a grip of this crisis or get us through the winter. Abject failure.
— 🌈 Angela Rayner 🌈 (@AngelaRayner) October 13, 2020
Public Health England say rising number of Covid-19 deaths is 'concerning'
Public Health England (PHE) said the rising number of Covid-19 deaths is "concerning".
Dr Yvonne Doyle, PHE medical director, said: "The trend in Covid-related deaths is starting to rise quickly, which is hugely concerning.
"We have seen cases increasing especially in older age groups which is leading to more hospital admissions.
"This is a stark reminder for us to follow the guidelines. Importantly, do not mix with others when unwell."
"We must all do our part to help control the virus by following the restrictions in our areas, maintaining social distance, wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and washing our hands regularly."
Northern Ireland: Covid rates 'will keep rising' if schools and hospitality remain open, health minister warns
Covid-19 infection rates will keep rising if schools and the hospitality sector remain open, a paper from Northern Ireland's health minister has warned.
Advice from health and scientific experts has been submitted by Robin Swann for Stormont ministers to consider.
The weekly meeting of the powersharing administration, scheduled for Thursday, was brought forward in an indication that decisions on fresh restrictions are imminent amid rapidly increased virus spread.
Earlier this week, First Minister Arlene Foster, deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, Health Minister Robin Swann and Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride attended a Cobra meeting.
She told the Assembly they received an update on the "current state of play" across the UK.
Mrs Foster also spoke of her concern at the "very high level" of transmission of the virus, and the "unenviable position" that part of the region has the highest rate in the UK.
French MP gets ovation on first day back after Covid coma
French parliamentarians gave a standing ovation on Tuesday to a lawmaker who was making his return to work after he caught Covid-19 and spent a month in a coma.
The speaker of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, told deputies he was giving the floor to Jean-Luc Reitzer who was admitted back in March and spent two and a half months in hospital being treated for the effects of the virus.
Members of the assembly got to their feet and applauded Reitzer, as he made his way to the microphone to give his speech. "Thank you, I am very touched," he told his colleagues.
Reitzer has been a member of parliament since 1988 and is a member of the centre-right opposition Les Republicains party.
Merseyside leaders hit back at claims they 'kowtowed' to Government
Merseyside leaders have hit back at suggestions they "kowtowed" to the Government as they prepare for strict restrictions to be brought in.
At an online press conference on Tuesday, the leaders of the six authorities in Liverpool City Region and metro mayor Steve Rotheram said they were continuing to negotiate with the Government for a better funding package to support businesses such as bars, pubs, gyms and betting shops - which will be forced to close from Wednesday under the new Tier 3 measures.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on Monday that the Government had "agreed" with Mr Rotheram to introduce some of the restrictions.
But Mr Rotheram referred to the "sheer chuztzpah" of the Prime Minister for naming local leaders when "all of our lives we've been doing everything that we possibly can to prevent the Prime Minister and his ilk from gaining power".
He said: "Since the Prime Minister's statement in the House yesterday I have had people accusing me of selling our region down the river or of letting people down."
Comment: 'Failing to keep gyms open could cripple the nation’s recovery from Covid-19'
Not everyone wants to – or even can – exercise outdoors in all weather conditions. But regular exercise has become even more important, writes Dr Davina Deniszczyc .
This winter, access to gyms has never been so important. It might once have been true that exercise was a "leisure" activity. But in the time of Covid, gyms are an essential health service, and one that has a huge positive impact on people’s physical and mental health.
'All I can see is redundancies': pubs and restaurants fear the worst as three-tier system hits
The new ‘three-tier’ system announced on Monday for a new wave of local lockdown measures that will affect the hospitality industry separates areas of the country into three different categories of coronavirus hotspots.
As of Wednesday 14 October, areas with the highest levels of infection will have to close pubs, gyms and casinos in order to stop the spread of the virus.
Though the new measures will allow restaurants (and pubs that can operate as a restaurant) to continue operating in ‘very high’/tier three areas, many business owners argue that consumer confidence has been lost and the industry has been left in a limbo similar to March: restaurants that can open cannot seek financial support, yet additional rules deter diners from visiting.
“It’s a really scary time for us,” says Dave Critchley, head chef of Lu Ban in Liverpool, which has been placed in the ‘very high’ category. “We’ve been getting snippets of information all weekend, press releases and rumours of forced closures, and these have been no help whatsoever.
Leader of London council demands 'circuit breaker' lockdown
Councillor Kieron Williams, the Labour and Co-operative leader of Southwark Council in London, called for a "circuit breaker" lockdown.
He said: "With positive cases rising at worrying speed in Southwark and across London, I'm calling on the Government to urgently implement a circuit breaker.
"It's imperative that we follow scientific advice without delay, or we will be risking people's health. There is no way to dress up the facts here - we are at a critical point and without immediate action, people in Southwark will needlessly die.
"I urge the Government to follow Sage's advice and implement a circuit breaker this month. I know what a worrying time this is for our residents and businesses, but a short period of tighter restrictions could be less painful to the local economy and to families than something which essentially draws the process out for longer and risks future lockdown over Christmas as cases continue to rise."
Belfast hospitals cancel elective surgeries as Covid-19 rages
All elective surgeries have been cancelled across Belfast this week due to a rise in Covid-19 hospital admissions, a source familiar with the plans said today as the devolved government debated whether to impose new restrictions.
Northern Ireland has become one of Europe's biggest Covid-19 hotspots in recent weeks and its health minister on Friday described the situation as getting more grave by the hour, with further constraints likely to be imposed soon.
The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, which runs the capital city's hospitals, cancelled operations, including cancer procedures, for the rest of the week with no timescale as to how long the measures would be in place, reports have said.
The Belfast Trust had no immediate comment on the situation, a spokesman said.
Spanish doctors strike as Covid-19 cases rise and government mulls new restrictions
Hundreds of primary care doctors on Tuesday went on strike in the Spanish region of Catalonia calling for better working conditions as coronavirus cases rise.
With close to 900,000 registered cases and more than 33,000 deaths, Spain has become the pandemic's hotspot in Western Europe with the capital Madrid and nearby suburbs on lockdown since last week.
Public primary care centres are the first line of defence against the virus as they handle testing and tracing potential cases as well as treating the sick. Medics say those centres are overwhelmed.
"We're asking for help, because we cannot give people the resources they need to be treated during this Covid pandemic," said Natalia Roses, a doctor at a protest in Barcelona on the first of the four-day strike.
Anger over sports crowd ban grows after Arsene Wenger speaks at 'packed' London Palladium
The English Football League and chairman of the Football Supporters’ Association both hit out at the Government’s coronavirus-containment policy after photos and videos from Monday night’s ‘An Evening with Arsene Wenger’ began circulating on social media.
Footage posted on Twitter showed audience members loudly chanting “One Arsene Wenger!” as the former Arsenal manager was welcomed to the stage for an event to promote his new autobiography.
Television presenter Piers Morgan, an Arsenal supporter, retweeted the post, as well as posting a photograph of the audience, adding:
How can the London Palladium be packed like this last night for an event with Arsene Wenger, but football fans aren’t allowed to watch matches outside even socially distanced?
I’m completely bemused. 👇 pic.twitter.com/updEL3KvV2
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 13, 2020
Football: Cristiano Ronaldo tests positive for Covid-19
Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive for coronavirus.
The Juventus forward is feeling well and hasn't been suffering with symptoms, but is now self-isolating and will play no part in Portugal's clash with Sweden tomorrow.
Portugal's Football Federation said: "Cristiano Ronaldo was released from the work of the National Team after a positive test for Covid-19, so he will not face Sweden.
"The Portuguese international is doing well, without symptoms, and in isolation.
"Following the positive case, the remaining players underwent new tests this Tuesday morning, all with a negative result, and are available to Fernando Santos for training this afternoon, in the City of Football.
"The game, counting for the qualification phase of the League of Nations, is scheduled for Wednesday, at 19:45, in Alvalade."
Norway to provide Covid-19 vaccine free of charge
Norway will provide a vaccine against Covid-19 free of charge to its inhabitants when one becomes available, the government said on Tuesday, and this would become part of the country's national vaccination programme.
Norway, which is part of the European single market but is not a member of the European Union, said in August it would get access to the vaccines that the EU obtains via deals negotiated with pharmaceuticals companies.
"We want as many people as possible to get the offer of receiving a safe and effective vaccine. This is why vaccination will be free of charge," Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a statement.
Sweden, an EU member and Norway's neighbour, will buy more of the vaccines than it needs and then sell them on to Norway.
France trials no-swab Covid test with results in 40 minutes
French researchers say they have had encouraging initial results from trials of a Covid-19 testing system that, they say, can deliver results in 40 minutes with no swab and no need to send off samples to a lab.
The French system showed 87.5 per cent accuracy for detecting positive results when tested on a sample of 220 people, the researchers said, and they are now seeking approval from the French regulator for the system to go into commercial use.
"It's a test that can be done anywhere," said Alexandra Prieux, President of SkillCell, one of the partners in the project.
The system, called EasyCOV, is one of a number of options being developed around the world to try to fix a bottleneck with Covid-19 testing.
Sage warned Boris Johnson that 10pm curfew would have 'marginal' effect the day before it was imposed
The Government’s scientists advised that a 10pm curfew would make a “marginal” impact on transmission of Covid - the day before Boris Johnson announced one, newly released documents show.
The papers from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) show that its members had little confidence in the measures the Government went on to to announce.
They also warn that the test and trace system is doing little to reduce the spread of Covid - and say they expect its success to suffer a “further decline” amid lack of public faith in it.
Food shortages in Afghanistan as coronavirus worsens country's humanitarian crisis
Afghanistan's Covid-19 outbreak has pushed another five million people into food shortages, dramatically worsening the humanitarian situation in a country already racked by conflict.
The arrival of the new coronavirus has seen work dry up and livelihoods shrink, the United Nation's food assistance branch was warned.
The World Food Programme said the numbers deemed to be hit by “severe food insecurity” had leapt from 12 million at the start of the year, to an estimated 17 million now.
Ben Farmer and Akhtar Makoii have the full story here
Welsh government claims lack of travel restrictions undermines ability to tackle outbreak
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has written to Boris Johnson to claim a lack of travel restrictions for English lockdown areas is "undermining" Wales's ability to control the spread of coronavirus.
The letter has been described by Mr Drakeford as "one final opportunity" for the Prime Minister to prevent people living under lockdown in England from being able to travel to areas of Wales where levels of the virus are low.
The First Minister's letter says: "The evidence against allowing travel from high-prevalence areas is clear. Examination shows the infection, as a general rule, concentrating in urban areas and then spreading to more sparsely populated areas as a result of travel.
"Much of Wales is now under local restriction measures and people living in those areas are prohibited from travelling outside their county boundary without a reasonable excuse. This measure is designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK.
"Our efforts are being undermined by travellers from high-prevalence areas in other parts of the UK travelling to Wales."
Covid-19 deaths highest since July
The number of deaths involving Covid-19 registered in England and Wales has risen for the fourth week in a row and is at the highest level since July 10.
A total of 321 deaths registered in the week ending October 2 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is up from 215 deaths in the week to September 25.
The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 2 October 2020 (Week 40) was 9,945.
▪️ 311 more than Week 39
▪️ 390 more than the five-year average for Week 40
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) October 13, 2020
Downing Street rejects Wales demand for ban on people from high-risk areas of England crossing the border
Downing Street has rejected Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford's call for a ban on people from high-risk areas of England crossing the border.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "There are no physical borders between Wales and England.
"What we have done is publish guidance which is very clear that people from very high risk areas such as Merseyside should avoid travelling in or out of the area.
"We have also made it very clear to the public that they should follow any local guidance which is issued by devolved administrations."
Regional leaders warned that Government has power to 'impose measures' if they resist their areas entering Tier 3
Downing Street has warned regional leaders that the Government has the power to "impose measures" if they continue to resist their areas entering Tier 3.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman declined to say which areas in northern England and Yorkshire and Humber the Government still wants to have the severest restrictions.
He said: "Calls have been taking place over the course of the weekend and yesterday and I would expect for there to be further engagement today.
"The Government does have the ability to impose measures if it's considered that's what's needed to reduce transmission, to safeguard the NHS and to save lives."
Government defends allegations that it is ignoring advice from Sage
Downing Street has given a lengthy defence of the Government from allegations it is ignoring the advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
On the recommendations to impose a "circuit-breaker" lockdown, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said:
"I think you need to look at what the full detail of those Sage minutes say, they explicitly point out that policy makers will need to consider analysis of economic impacts and the associated harms of their epidemiological impacts and that's exactly what the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and colleagues did."
On the range of other measures suggested by Sage, the spokesman said: "You can see that we took robust and targeted and proportionate action in September which was carefully judged to protect lives and to reduce the transmission of the virus whilst minimising the impact to livelihoods.
"In terms of the advice to work from home for all of those who can, that's what we asked people to do in September.
Read the full story here on how Boris Johnson overruled Sage scientists who called for harsher lockdown
Downing Street has not ruled out moving London into Tier 2
Downing Street has not ruled out moving London into Tier 2 as called for by Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "There's a process for considering whether further measures are needed in all parts of the country and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to pre-empt that.
"We look at a wide range of different data and take advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and local health officials on the ground, so we look not only at infection rates but also the rate of positive tests, admissions to hospitals, and admissions to intensive care units.
"We continue to closely monitor the data in all parts of England and I think we have shown that if it's judged additional measures are necessary we haven't hesitated to act."
Ministers, not scientists should be making decisions to tackle pandemic, says Jeremy Hunt
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the Government must be prepared to "change tack" if the current coronavirus restrictions fail to stem the spread of the disease.
Mr Hunt, who chairs the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, said ministers had just two weeks to assess whether the latest measures were working.
"If it turns out that we're not doing what we need to do to get this under control, yes, we have to change tack," he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.
"It should be ministers not scientists taking these decisions, and I think in some ways in the start of the crisis we put scientists under too much pressure. When we said we’re following the science in some ways you’re turning Chris Whitty into the secretary of state when you do that.”
Live: MPs debate and vote on coronavirus restrictions including PM's three-tier plan
Football: Celtic and Rangers fans urged to stay at home as warning issued to Cumbrian pubs
Several bars and pubs in Cumbria have been contacted by Scottish football fans looking to visit during the Old Firm match on Saturday, according to the local police force.
Celtic and Rangers supporters and venues have been warned ahead of the match that the rule of six will be strictly enforced by Cumbria Police.
Licensed premises in the central belt of Scotland - covering the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley health board areas - are closed due to tighter coronavirus restrictions.
Superintendent Matt Kennerley said: "We understand restrictions on licensed premises in Scotland might offer the temptation to travel south of the border to visit our pubs and bars - but anybody breaching rules here does face a fine."
UK facing one of the biggest challenges in western Europe in dealing with pandemic, says WHO
Dr David Nabarro said the UK is facing one of the biggest challenges in western Europe in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
The World Health Organisation envoy suggested that while the UK had "immense internal capacity" it may need to reorganise its test and trace system to better respond to local outbreaks.
"I think the UK has one particular challenge and that is for various reasons there is quite a lot of the virus around in the country," he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.
"That means the scale of the challenge now may well be one of the biggest in western Europe. But at the same time the UK has immense internal capacity in local government as well as in national government.
Covid-19 to blow a £21.1 trillion hole in world economy
Covid will blow a $28 trillion (£21.1 trillion) hole in the world economy by 2025, leaving the entire globe significantly poorer than it would have been without the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund has warned.
The shortfall compared to pre-coronavirus forecasts amounts to a loss of around $3,500 per person over five years.
Economists have upgraded their forecasts a little for this year as countries recovered more rapidly than expected from lockdowns, but there are still serious risks of another slowdown as the virus has not yet run its course.
Major trial to assess whether Vitamin D protects against Covid-19
Scientists have launched a new trial to investigate whether vitamin D protects against Covid-19
More than 5,000 people are being sought to join the research project to examine whether the so-called sunshine vitamin has protective effects against Covid-19.
Researchers from Queen Mary University of London, funded by Barts Charity, plan to run a project to find out if correcting people's vitamin D deficiencies over winter can reduce the risk and/or severity of Covid-19 and other acute respiratory infections.
People will take part in the study from their homes, without any face-to-face visits needed, as all vitamin D tests and supplements will be sent via the post.
Any UK resident aged 16 or over can participate if they are not already taking high-dose vitamin D, researchers said.
Netherlands to impose social restrictions to curb Covid-19 surge
The Dutch government will announce a new round of social restrictions tonight including the possible closure of cafes and restaurants, as the Netherlands battles to control the outbreak.
The number of cases in the country of 17 million has surged in recent weeks to a daily record of nearly 7,400 on Tuesday. It now has one of the highest per capita infection rates worldwide.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte's government has been loath to re-impose tougher restrictions that could hurt a fragile economic recovery, but has come under pressure from health experts to take action to avoid overloading the healthcare system.
The closure of cafes restaurants and an evening ban on alcohol sales are all expected to come into force
Swedish confirmed Covid-19 cases during pandemic rise above 100,000
Sweden registered 2,203 new Covid-19 cases in the last four days, Health Agency statistics showed on Tuesday, taking the total to 100,654 since the start of the pandemic.
Sweden has shunned lockdowns, leaving most schools, restaurants and businesses open throughout the pandemic.
Sweden registered 5 new deaths since Friday, taking the total to 5,899 deaths. Sweden's death rate per capita is several times higher than Nordic neighbours but lower than countries like Spain, Italy and the UK that opted for lockdowns.
Why Liverpool's lockdown is a devastating blow to local fashion businesses
When Boris Johnson announced that Liverpool was entering a tier-three lockdown, everyone wrung their hands over local nightlife and the hospitality sector.
But while fashion boutiques are allowed to stay open for the coming weeks, who is going to shop in a shut-down city?
“It’s very worrying for us, especially in the run-up to Christmas,” says Justine Mills, the founder of Cricket - now Britain’s biggest independent designer store outside of London.
“This is usually such an exciting time of year for us but we are extremely fearful; now that there are far fewer places to go out in, there is less reason to purchase clothing.”
Is a pasty a meal? Confusion reigns over 'substantial' meal rules for pubs in covid lockdown
New rules allowing restaurants and pubs to stay open if they serve “substantial” meals were mired in confusion on Tuesday as a minister suggested a Cornish pasty only met the criteria if served with chips or a salad.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said customers would be expected to eat a “proper” meal for restaurants and pubs in “Tier 3” to be allowed to serve alcohol and a packet of crisps or chips would not count.
However, critics warned that the regulations were open to interpretation which would leave restaurateurs and publicans with difficult judgements about what constituted the correct balance of alcohol and food.
Our Home Affairs Editor Charles Hymas has the full story here
'Inevitable' that London will enter Tier 2 restrictions in the 'next few days,' says Sadiq Khan
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said that it is inevitable the capital will pass a "trigger point" to enter the higher Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions in the "next few days".
He told Sky News: "Across our city... the average over the last seven days is about 90 per 100,000. All the indicators I have, hospital admissions, ICU occupancy, the numbers of older people with cases, the prevalence of the disease, the positivity are all going the wrong direction.
"Which means, I'm afraid, it's inevitable over the course of the next few days London will have passed a trigger point to be in the second tier."
First death from Covid-19 reinfection reported in the Netherlands
An elderly woman in the Netherlands has become the first reported person to have died after getting reinfected with Covid-19.
The woman, who was 89, had a rare bone marrow type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia which compromised her immune system.
Researchers of the findings, which were published in the Oxford University Press, said that the woman initially attended an emergency department with a severe fever and cough before testing positive for the virus. She was discharged five days later and apart from some persisting fatigue, her symptoms “subsided entirely”.
Britain's Got Talent Christmas special halted after crew member tests positive
Filming on a Britain's Got Talent Christmas special has been halted after crew members tested positive for coronavirus.
Production on the festive edition of the talent show has now been postponed after at least three crew members tested positive before the first day of filming.
A Britain's Got Talent spokeswoman said: "As a result of a positive Covid-19 result received yesterday we have implemented our protocols and a number of crew members are self-isolating at home.
"As a result, we are unable to continue filming our BGT Christmas Special today and have taken the decision to postpone.
"The safety of all those involved in the show is our number one priority and we follow extensive Covid-19 related procedures to adhere to all government guidelines."
Comment: 'When a disease is as lethal as Covid, we can't let people make their own decisions on risk'
Only an all or nothing approach will solve the collective problem, writes Sam Bowman.
Solving Covid is what economists call a “collective action problem.” These exist when everyone (or almost everyone) might want to do something, but they can't trust each other to do the same, and for the agreement to work, it's all-or-nothing.
Pilot scheme will see relatives of care home residents treated as key workers
A pilot scheme will be launched "shortly" which will see relatives of care home residents treated as key workers to enable safe visits, the care minister has said.
Helen Whately MP told the joint Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee she wants to enable visiting "but it must be safe".
Campaigners have been calling for a designated relative to be given key worker status and regularly tested to make visits safer, amid concerns for isolated residents.
Asked about this by committee chairman Jeremy Hunt, Ms Whately said a pilot scheme will be launched "shortly".
Ms Whately did not provide any details, or give an indication of when the pilot would start, but said: "What I can say is that we are moving forward on it and we are going to pilot it."
Rise in hate crimes during pandemic amid protests, report suggests
Racially and religiously-motivated hate crime rose during the coronavirus pandemic amid Black Lives Matter and far-right group protests, a government report suggests.
The document published by the Home Office, which looked at hate crime trends in England and Wales amid lockdown restrictions, warned that rises in reports of these offences to police in June were a third higher than the previous year and remained high in July.
The provisional findings said: "The increases seen in June and July 2020 were likely to be related to the Black Lives Matter protests and far-right groups' counter-protests in England and Wales following the death of George Floyd on the 25 May in the United States of America."
Comment: 'Boris has chosen the worst possible option for the economy'
The tier system means months of misery. That will be far more difficult for business than a short, sharp circuit-breaker lockdown, writes Matthew Lynn.
Early closing for pubs and restaurants. Restrictions on the numbers of people that can gather at any one time. The constant looming threat of a harsher lockdown, and, perhaps worst of all, a cancelled Christmas. The Government's new system of tiered lockdowns might make sense for controlling the virus, although even that is, to put it mildly, debatable. But one point is surely obvious. It is the worst possible policy for rescuing the economy.
Local lockdowns: Pasties could be a 'proper meal' if served with chips, says minister
Patrons must eat "a proper meal" if they are to be served alcohol in pubs - and packets of crisps do not count, a Government minister has said.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that as long as food items such as Cornish pasties came with a side of chips or salad and were served on a plate, to a table, they could be considered as "a normal meal".
It comes as new restrictions placed on "very high alert" areas in the UK may force some pubs and bars to close unless they can operate as a restaurant - providing food with drinks.
Speaking to LBC on Tuesday, Mr Jenrick said that a meal must be "substantial" and "the sort of meal that you would expect to have as a midday meal or an evening meal".
"The test in law is that a substantial meal is the sort of meal that you would expect to have as a midday meal or an evening meal," he said.
"It would be like a main course, rather than, say, a packet of crisps or a plate of chips."
Millions told to shield in first wave will not be told to stay home
Millions of people who shielded during first lockdown will not be told to stay home this time, as health officials admit policy caused “harm” and “left people feeling imprisoned”.
But more than two million people who are considered “clinically extremely vulnerable” will be told to take practical steps to reduce exposure to the virus - such as only meeting others outdoors if possible.
In the first wave of the pandemic, such groups were issued with advice to stay home and avoid contact with others.
This time, those considered at risk will be advised to reduce contact with others, but there will be no blanket instruction to stay home.
Our Health Editor Laura Donnelly has the full story here
Pure Gym considering legal action over closure of sites in Liverpool
The UK's largest gym chain, Pure Gym, has said it is considering legal action over the Government's decision to close gyms and fitness centres in the Liverpool area as part of Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions.
Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive of the company, said the group was "extremely disappointed" over the move, which will force it to close seven sites in the Liverpool City Region.
He urged the Government to present the data to support the closure of gyms and fitness sites, claiming that there is "no evidence of Covid-19 transmission in gyms".
Comment: Careers advice is welcome. But not everyone has to be in the IT crowd
This tone-deaf advert is a reminder we are not automatons best suited to computing. Humans are at our best working in jobs we care about, writes Victoria Lambert
Ballet is almost the most vocational career imaginable so although very few will perform at Covent Garden, many others find deep satisfaction in dance-related careers. “Fatima” is not a real person, but dancers are professionals who understand their physical dance career will end earlier than most other professions and plan ahead for when the pointes get hung up for good. They are unlikely to be taken by surprise by a job pivot as extreme as needing to move into cyber security.
The six-month positivity plan to get you through a winter lockdown
The winter months may seem daunting in the current climate, but there are ways to lighten the load.
Take a walk outside - even if the weather is terrible: Experts are in agreement that walking outside can lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and improve feelings of self-esteem.
Phone a friend: Talking through your worries with someone close can ease your mind, and help to keep loneliness at bay.
Do some winter gardening: There's a reason the NHS now offers gardening as a social prescription. A King’s Fund report showed that gardening helps to reduce depression and anxiety, and improve social functioning.
Germany proposes extension of school holidays to stop children freezing in 'Covid clasrooms'
Politicians in Germany have proposed extending this year's Christmas school holidays to prevent children being forced to study in freezing classrooms because of coronavirus restrictions, reports Justin Huggler.
German schools have told children to bring blankets to lessons after authorities ordered classroom windows be opened fully every 20 minutes to provide ventilation.
"We should think about extending the winter holidays by two to three weeks and shortening next summer's holidays," said Hamburg MP Christoph Ploss.
But the proposal has been met with anger by parents already concerned at the disruption to their children's education.
"The children are already so unsettled by the whole corona thing! For goodness' sake please just let school run in a 'normal' way as far as possible. Don't introduce even more chaos and confusion," one parent told Bayerischer Rundfunk radio.
Pandemic sees biggest rise in unemployment in over a decade
Soaring job losses amid the pandemic have sparked the biggest rise in unemployment for more than a decade and experts have warned over more pain to come as coronavirus restrictions ramp up.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed a 138,000 surge in unemployment between June and August - the largest increase since summer 2009.
The employment rate in June to August was down 0.3 percentage points on the previous three months, while unemployment was up 0.4 percentage points. The economic inactivity rate was unchanged https://t.co/VJV2eagePA pic.twitter.com/dWxsyWYzBA
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) October 13, 2020
This took the jobless total to a three-year high of 1.52 million, while the rate of unemployment jumped to 4.5%, from 4.1% in the previous three months.
It came as redundancies rose by a record 114,000 quarter-on-quarter to 227,000 as the coronavirus crisis claimed jobs across the economy.
There was a chink of light as real-time payroll data showed a 20,000 increase in the number of UK workers on company payrolls last month - the first since the lockdown in March.
Israel: Shoe shop owner bankrupted by lockdown dumps wares on street
A despondent shoe shop owner in Tel Aviv dumped his stock on the streets for people to collect for free after he was bankrupted by lockdown, as anger grew in Israel over the government's fiscal response to the pandemic.
Video footage posted online showed Avi Samay, the shop owner, emptying his goods onto the pavement as passersby helped themselves to free shoes.
"It’s all caused by mental and economic desperation,” Mr Samay told Ynet News. “If I’m going to lose everything, at least others should benefit.”
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) October 12, 2020
Many small business owners say they have received no credible support from the government to keep them afloat during the pandemic.
Unfortunately for Mr Samay, his act of generosity was punished by Tel Aviv's local authorities, who handed him a 5,000 shekel (£1,100) for creating a mess, and ordered him to clean it up.
The Mayor of Tel Aviv later said that the fine would be cancelled as it was issued in error.
Millions of vulnerable people to receive new advice 'tailored' to local Covid alert levels
Clinically extremely vulnerable people in England will receive new guidance to help them reduce their risk from coronavirus, tailored to where they live, the government has announced.
The guidance will be tied into the new Local Covid Alert Levels framework, meaning those at the highest risk of serious illness from the virus will receive specific advice depending on the level of risk in their local area, as coronavirus rates continue to rise.
These additional precautions, recommended by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) for England, will give an extra layer of protection specifically adapted to people’s locations and level of risk, as dictated by the Local Covid Alert Levels.
It is now harder for homecare staff to get tests, care association warns
Jane Townson, chief executive of the UK Homecare Association, said it is now harder for homecare staff to get tests.
She told the Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee: "In the very beginning for people with symptoms actually finding tests wasn't too difficult but now it has become really difficult because more and more people have been promised tests.
"Once schools have gone back and universities, it is very difficult for people even with symptoms to get tests quickly. We still haven't made any progress on getting asymptomatic testing for the live-in care workers. We would argue that in areas of local lockdown where transmission rates are higher homecare workers ought to be on the routine testing list as well."
She believes this should also cover unpaid homecarers and said there is "confusion" about the guidance on what formal and informal carers should or should not be doing.
Italy adopts new anti-virus measures
Italy has adopted an array of new measures to combat an alarming increase in the number of coronavirus cases, with around 5,000 being reported each day, reports Nick Squires
The government adopted the new decree overnight.
Among the new measures is a ban on all school trips and excursions for children.
Bars and restaurants must now close before midnight.
Amateur contact sports such as football and basketball have also been shut down.
Italians have been told not to socialise at home in groups of more than six people - although the number can be greater if the people are members of the same family. After weddings, christenings and first communions, receptions must cater for no more than 30 people.
Nottingham will not go into Tier 3 restrictions this week despite having the highest infection rate in England
Nottingham will not go into Tier 3 restrictions this week, despite having the highest coronavirus infection rate in the country, a minister has said.
Asked whether some areas with high infection rates such as Manchester and Newcastle should be in the highest alert level, Robert Jenrick said the current position had been agreed with the local leadership.
The Communities Secretary told BBC Breakfast: "I hope they don't have to go into Tier 3. There is no plan for them to do so.”
A total of 2,777 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in Nottingham in the seven days to 9 October, the equivalent of 834.2 cases per 100,000 people.
'Circuit break' would have prevented need for longer lockdown, says Sage member
A member of the expert panel of scientists advising ministers through the coronavirus pandemic said a "circuit break" lockdown would have prevented the need for "intensive and long-term" restrictions later.
At its September 21 meeting, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) suggested immediately introducing a national lockdown lasting between two and three weeks to halt the rapid spread of the virus - dubbed a "circuit break" lockdown.
But the Prime Minister appeared to reject the idea when he laid out a tiered system of restrictions on Monday, placing only Liverpool City Region into the harshest measures of Tier 3, which includes the widespread closure of the hospitality sector and banning social interactions between households.
Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London and a member of Sage, said he did not think the restrictions included in Tier 3 would result in the R rate being pushed below one, meaning the virus was likely to still spread at pace.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Prof Hayward said that the failure to "take decisive action several weeks ago" meant it was "not really surprising that we're continuing to see large increases in cases".
Explained: Donald Trump's claim of immunity from Covid-19
The claim by President Donald Trump on Twitter that he is now “immune” to Covid-19 has sparked a new wave of controversy.
“A total and complete sign off from White House Doctors yesterday”, he announced to his 87 million followers on Sunday afternoon. “That means I can’t get it (immune), and can’t give it. Very nice to know!!!”
Just 24 hours after President Trump posted his tweet, a new report in the Lancet detailed the first confirmed case of reinfection with Covid in the US in a 25-year old man in Nevada.
The man had recovered from a relatively mild Covid infection in April, only to end up severely ill in hospital in June. Genetic sequencing, as well as PCR tests, left no doubt that the patient had caught the virus twice.
“[The findings] are very concerning both from the point of view of the very short time between the two infections and the fact that the second illness was more severe than the first,” says Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia.
So who was right – President Trump or Twitter?
Read the full explainer here from our Global Health team
Hospitals move to cancel operations
A hospital in Plymouth has become the latest to cancel routine inpatient operations to make way for Covid patients.
University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust said it was temporarily pausing non-critical planned surgery at Derriford Hospital, although day case procedures are still going ahead.
Chief operating officer Kevin Baber said: "Due to a growing number of Covid patients and a need to ensure we can keep everyone safe we continue to temporarily pause non-critical inpatient surgery at Derriford Hospital.
"Please note that surgery for patients attending the hospital as day cases, without needing an overnight stay, is still going ahead for most patients."
Offering an apology to patients, he said it was a difficult decision but safety was the top priority.
Polish PM in quarantine
The Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has gone into quarantine after he had contact on Friday with a person who has tested positive for Covid, a government spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mr Morawiecki has no symptoms and so far has not tested positive for the disease, the spokesman also said, adding that the prime minister continues to fulfil his duties.
Russia reports highest-ever daily deaths
Russia reported on Tuesday its highest-ever number of daily deaths and cases of people infected with Covid-19, fueling concerns that a second wave of the pandemic is hitting the country.
There were 13,868 new infections and 244 virus deaths, the government's coronavirus crisis centre said, with both figures surpassing previous records set since the start of the outbreak.
With the fourth-highest infection tally in the world, Russia has recorded just under 23,000 fatalities since the start of the pandemic - a much lower figure compared with other badly-hit countries.
Officials have earlier said they are only counting deaths directly caused by the virus, leading critics to accuse Russia of under-reporting Covid mortality to downplay the scale of the situation.
At the start of the pandemic, Russia imposed sweeping restrictions, but most were lifted in June ahead of a vote on constitutional amendments which could see Putin stay in power until 2036.
Certain measures have been reimposed in the capital Moscow, which accounts for roughly 30 per cent of the country's caseload.
Insurers offer a helping hand
Insurers have confirmed that pledges to support people working from home due to coronavirus and motorists whose habits have also changed because of the pandemic will last until at least the end of this year.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said the extra support already in place, which was due to expire at the end of October, has been extended until December 31 2020.
The ABI said this could be of significant help to many of the UK's 17million home insurance policyholders and 27million motor insurance customers.
Under the temporary support measures, if someone is an office-based worker who is working from home because of the pandemic, their home insurance will not be affected. They do not need to contact their insurer to update their documents or extend their cover.
And if someone has to drive to and from their workplace because of the impact of Covid-19, their insurance policy will not be affected, the ABI said.
Also, if someone is using their own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries to support others who are impacted by Covid-19, their cover will not be affected.
Giro d'Italia on brink as Covid hits five teams
The Giro d'Italia was on the brink of cancellation on Tuesday, reported the Reuters news agency, after five teams were hit by Covid cases on the first rest day of the three-week grand tour.
With almost two weeks left until the finish in Milan, the Mitchelton-Scott team withdrew from the race after four staff members tested positive for the coronavirus following British rider Simon Yates pulling out last week.
A rider from Jumbo-Visma, a Team Sunweb rider, one staff member from Ineos-Grenadiers and AG2R-La Mondiale also returned positive tests, organisers RCS said.
RCS, in a joint statement with the International Cycling Union, said the teams' doctors had ordered "isolation measures".
Riders in the Giro stay in a biosecure bubble when not on the road, just as they did for the Tour de France, which finished on Sept 20. No riders tested positive for the virus that causes Covid while on the French tour.
Tier system could be implemented in Scotland
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said England's tiered alert system would "give an idea" of a similar scheme to be proposed in Scotland.
It will be discussed by MSPs after the October recess and could come into effect when stricter measures are due to be eased on October 25.
New measures were introduced by the Scottish Government last Friday which mean pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes outside central Scotland can only conduct indoor business between 6am and 6pm and not serve alcohol, although alcoholic drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas.
But pubs and licensed restaurants in five health board areas - Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley - were forced to close for all but takeaway service until October 26.
Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling, casinos and bingo halls were made to close and no outdoor live events are allowed in these five areas.
In addition, shops were asked to return to two metres of physical distancing and to reintroduce measures from earlier in the pandemic such as one-way systems.
In terms of seeing friends and family, people cannot meet others from another household unless they are part of an "extended household", available to people who live alone or only with children under 18.
People can meet outdoors in groups of up to six, not including children under 12, from no more than two households, and a maximum of six people from two households can meet in public indoor spaces such as cafes, pubs and restaurants.
National lockdown still not ruled out
Robert Jenrick said it is right that the Prime Minister has not ruled out a national lockdown but argued that such a "blanket" measure does not reflect the varying rates of infection across the country.
Asked why Boris Johnson said a national lockdown is not being considered "right now", the Communities Secretary said: "The Prime Minister was very clear - we do not want to have a blanket national lockdown.
"We don't rule anything out, that would be wrong. We have to keep all the measures under review.
"But you can see there are such wide variations in the number of cases, from as low as 20 or 30 (per 100,000 people) in parts of the West Country, up to approaching 1,000 cases per 100,000 in some of our great cities like Nottingham.
"So, if we can take a proportionate but localised approach, then we should be able to bear down on the virus in the places where it is most concentrated."
He stressed: "We are not penalising any one part of the country - what we are trying to do is take a proportionate approach which doesn't put in place measures in another where they are clearly not needed today."
Tier status being kept under review
Asked whether some areas with high infection rates such as Manchester and Newcastle should be in the higher alert level, Robert Jenrick said the current position had been agreed with the local leadership.
The Communities Secretary said: "I hope they don't have to go into Tier 3. There is no plan for them to do so.
"We hope that the measures that we have put in place are sufficiently robust to bear down on the virus and to get it back down under control and to flatten the curve in those communities, but we keep this under review.
"The purpose of the tiered approach is to show people what the path might be should the steps we have implemented this week not be sufficient."
"No plans" for other areas to be moved into Tier 3 this week
Robert Jenrick says there are “no plan for other parts of the country to go into Tier 3” this week.
Mr Jenrick said the Government had taken "robust action" despite being accused of ignoring its own scientists, after documents showed that a "circuit-breaker" lockdown was recommended for England by expert advisers three weeks ago.
The Newark MP said this had included introducing the rule of six and 10pm curfews for pubs and restaurants but that the Government had also taken a "balanced " approach to the situation.
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) October 13, 2020
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) had suggested immediately introducing a national lockdown lasting between two and three weeks to halt the rapid spread of the virus.
Mr Jenrick told BBC Breakfast: "We listened to that advice as we always do and we did take action but these are balanced judgments.
"We also have to balance that up against the effect on the economy, people's jobs and livelihoods, on education which we have made a priority and all the other unintended consequences of taking action, whether that is on people's mental health, on other illnesses and elective surgery that might be delayed or cancelled as a result of that.
"We took a balanced view as to what was required at that moment and that's the way we will continue to behave."
Exam delays "not to be sniffed at"
Interim chief regulator at Ofqual, Dame Glenys Stacey, said she would be providing the Government with advice next month on contingency plans for exams after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced most of the tests would be delayed for three weeks.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the options available for exams, she said: "For example, optionality - yes, we can have a look at that but not narrow the curriculum.
"More multiple choice questions, for example, might be the answer for some subjects; exam boards providing formula sheets to take into exams in science subjects; exam boards providing other advanced materials beforehand."So there is no one answer here and indeed the right approach is likely to differ between subjects and we are onto that work now."We will be providing comprehensive advice to Government on this next month, so there is not much longer to wait."
Addressing the delay of three weeks for most exams, Dame Glenys said it amounted to an increase of 8% to the school year and that such an extension was "not to be sniffed at".
The Chancellor responds to job figures
The number of UK workers on payrolls increased by 20,000 last month, but has fallen by 673,000 between March and September due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
In total there were still nearly 700,000 fewer employees on a payroll than in March, before the lockdown.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "I've been honest with people from the start that we would unfortunately not be able to save every job."But these aren't just statistics, they are people's lives."That's why trying to protect as many jobs as possible and helping those who lose their job back into employment, is my absolute priority."This is why we put together an unprecedented £190 billion package of support and have a comprehensive Plan for Jobs."
Why no national lockdown?
Lockdown had to be balanced against the health of the economy, says Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
He says that education has been made a priority and ministers took a balanced view as to what was required at that moment in time.
Mr Jenrivk concedes "We can always do better than this" and discusses how Track and Trace will have a more local focus.
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) October 13, 2020
What we know is that Boris Johnson overruled Sage scientists who called for harsher lockdown measures in minutes released from a Sage meeting in late September.
Papers from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) show that the body called for an immediate introduction of national interventions, saying failure to take such measures could result in "a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences".
Vaccine trial halted due to patient illness
Johnson & Johnson has temporarily halted its Covid-19 vaccine trial because one of its participants had become sick, according to AFP.
"We have temporarily paused further dosing in all our Covid-19 vaccine candidate clinical trials, including the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial, due to an unexplained illness in a study participant," the company said in a statement.
The pause means the enrollment system has been closed for the 60,000-patient clinical trial while the independent patient safety committee is convened.
J&J said that serious adverse events (SAEs), such as accidents or illnesses, are "an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies." Company guidelines allow them to pause a study to determine if the SAE was related to the drug in question and whether to resume study.
The US has given J&J about $1.45 billion in funding under Operation Warp Speed.
Sharp lockdown would bring virus under control
Professor Tom Solomon, Director of the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool says that a short sharp lockdown would help and that other measures are inevitable.
"If we do have a bigger lockdown then you get control quicker," he said.
"I think we will ultimately have to have more restrictions."
"If we do have a bigger lockdown then you get control quicker"
Professor Tom Solomon tells #BBCBreakfast the suggestion of a mini lockdown from SAGE "would make a difference".https://t.co/LA1g2hFUHD pic.twitter.com/iccR8ThBke
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) October 13, 2020
ONS releases jobs figures
The number of UK workers on payrolls increased by 20,000 last month, but has fallen by 673,000 between March and September due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: "The latest monthly tax numbers show that the number of employees on the payroll was little changed in September.
"However, in total there were still nearly 700,000 fewer than in March, before the lockdown.
"Our newly adjusted survey figures show that in the latest period almost half a million fewer people were in work than just before the pandemic, while almost 200,000 others said they were employed but were currently not working nor earning any money.
"Since the start of the pandemic there has been a sharp increase in those out of work and job hunting but more people telling us they are not actively looking for work.
"There has also been a stark rise in the number of people who have recently been made redundant."
Tough local lockdowns will give NHS best chance over winter
Local lockdowns will help alleviate potential pressure on the health service and help ensure treatment for non coronavirus-related problems is available, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson has said.
Speaking to Good Morning Britain, he said: "The fact that we are beginning now to mobilise the Nightingale centres is a clear indication of the pressure the NHS might come under which is why we have been arguing... that it's really important we move quickly and decisively to tough local lockdowns wherever they are needed.
"Clearly the NHS has been under pressure and clearly we'd always like more staff, we'd always like more beds, and that's an issue which the Government hopefully is going to address when it looks at the spending for the NHS over the next few years.
'We'll carry on trying to ensure that everybody who needs the NHS and who needs treatment will get it.'
CEO NHS Providers Chris Hopson tells @kategarraway that the NHS is doing everything they can to ensure people receive the treatment they require during the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/ShftAXeBSK
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) October 13, 2020
"But the bit that we can assure you is that every single NHS member of staff is going to do everything they can to provide as much treatment as possible for everybody but that's precisely why it's really important that people follow the advice about hands, face and space and that we try and minimise the number of Covid cases coming in so that we can provide the cancer treatment, the heart attack treatment, all the other treatments that are needed.
"If we put those tough local lockdowns in place, however painful they may be, and we can reduce the number of Covid cases, we're giving the NHS the best possible chance over winter, which is when we are at our busiest... that gives us the best possible chance to treat all of those people who need treatment."
Pubs in 'very high' risk areas to close again
Pubs and bars face closures across England in the areas worst affected by Covid-19, in the latest round of Government measures to combat the pandemic.
In an announcement to the House of Commons on Monday, Boris Johnson introduced a "three-tier" approach, with different measures rolled out in different regions depending on the amount of cases per 100,000 people. The measures will come into force on Wednesday.
The Liverpool City Region, which has a population of 1.5m people, was put in the "very high alert" category, or tier three, which means that social mixing indoors is banned and pubs and bars will be forced to close. Restaurants can remain open in the city, pending further announcements. Pubs and bars that can operate as restaurants will be able to stay open, and alcohol can only be served alongside a "substantial meal".
Roche plans to sell antigen lab tests by end of the year
Roche plans to start selling a higher-volume Covid-19 antigen test for laboratories by the end of the year as the Swiss drugmaker expands diagnostics for the pandemic.
"These fully automated systems can provide test results in 18 minutes for a single test (excluding time for sample collection, transport, and preparation), with a throughput of up to 300 tests per hour from a single analyser, depending on the analyser," the group said in a statement.
The company did not immediately provide details on the accuracy of the antigen test compared to the more-common molecular tests that are now the industry standard in determining whether somebody has an active Covid-19 infection.
Christmas comes early for retailers
The big day may still be more than 10 weeks away but Britons have already started their Christmas shopping with gusto, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Its latest survey for the five weeks to Oct 3 recorded a 5.6pc jump in total sales compared to last year - the best since December 2009.
The snapshot offers hopeful glimmers for an industry hammered by the national lockdown, and comes after it last month posted the fastest sales growth in more than a decade.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said there had been a “big improvement” in sales trends.
£40bn a year tax rises needed to stop debt spiralling, IFS warns
Taxes may have to rise more than £40bn a year to stop Government borrowing spiralling out of control, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned.
The think-tank said the deficit this year was set to reach levels not seen outside the two world wars due to Covid-19.
In its annual Green Budget, the IFS said over the medium term, taxes would almost certainly have to rise, noting that the Government had increased spending on day-to-day public services by £70bn in response to the pandemic.
India records lowest daily case rise in months
India's total coronavirus cases rose by 55,342 in the last 24 hours to 7.18 million on Tuesday morning, the lowest daily rise since mid-August, data from the health ministry showed.
Deaths from Covid-19 infections rose by 706 to 109,856, the ministry said.
India's coronavirus case load topped 7 million on Sunday and the country has added a million cases in just 13 days. It has the second-highest number of infections, behind the United States which is approaching the 8 million mark.
Peru's Machu Picchu reopens ... for one tourist
Peru's best-known tourist site Machu Picchu has opened after months of coronavirus closure, but for just a single visitor - a Japanese man stranded in the country by the pandemic.
"The first person on Earth who went to Machu Picchu since the lockdown is meeeeeee," Jesse Katayama posted on his Instagram account alongside pictures of himself at the deserted site."This is truly amazing! Thank you," he added in a video posted on the Facebook pages of the local tourism authority in Cusco, where the famed site is located.
Katayama spoke against the backdrop of the majestic mountaintop dotted with ancient ruins that once attracted thousands of tourists a day but has been closed since March because of the coronavirus.
The 26-year-old has been stuck in Peru since March, when he bought a ticket for the tourist site just days before the country declared a health emergency.
A post shared by Jesse Katayama (@jessekatayama) on Oct 12, 2020 at 4:18pm PDT
Johnson & Johnson pauses vaccine trial after participant becomes ill
Johnson & Johnson said on Monday it had temporarily halted its Covid-19 vaccine trial because one of its participants had become sick.
"We have temporarily paused further dosing in all our Covid-19 vaccine candidate clinical trials, including the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial, due to an unexplained illness in a study participant," the company said in a statement.
The pause means the online enrollment system has been closed for the 60,000-patient clinical trial while the independent patient safety committee is convened.
Mainland China reports first local infections in nearly 2 months
Mainland China reported its first locally transmitted Covid-19 infections in nearly two months, as Qingdao launched a city-wide testing drive after discovering new cases linked to a hospital designated to treat imported infections.
The National Health Commission said in a statement that a total of 13 infections were reported in mainland China on Oct. 12, down from 21 a day earlier.
Seven of the new cases were imported infections that originated from overseas, while all six local cases were reported in the eastern province of Shandong, where Qingdao is located.
Authorities in the area of the outbreak said on Tuesday that they have completed tests on more than 3 million people.
South Korea reports first triple-digit rise in cases in six days
South Korea reported 102 new coronavirus cases as of Monday midnight, marking a triple-digit increase in six days, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Tuesday.
Daily infections had fallen largely into the double-digit range in the past two weeks, which led the government to relax some rules on social distancing this week.
Thousands pray in Portugal for end to pandemic
Standing in circles marked to keep social distance, thousands of faithful gathered and held candles at one of Catholicism's most famous sanctuaries in Portugal on Monday evening, with many praying for the end of the pandemic.
Every October, around 100,000 people head to the Fatima Sanctuary to mark the third and last reported vision of the Virgin Mary more than 100 years ago. But, this year, only 6,000 people were allowed in the massive outdoor venue because of coronavirus restrictions.
Many of the faithful, all wearing masks, took the opportunity to pray for those affected by the outbreak.
"We need living in community - the pandemic ruined this," said Francisco Simoes, who walked more than 120 kilometres (74.56 miles) to the Catholic event. "We ask our Virgin Mary to free us from this damn pandemic and to help those who are sick, who have suffered and lost loved ones."
Trump ready to 'give ya a big fat kiss'
Just a week after his release from the hospital, President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail on Monday for the first time since contracting the coronavirus.
"It's great to be back in my home state, Florida, to make my official return to the campaign trail," Mr Trump declared in front of a crowd of thousands of supporters, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, mostly without masks, despite the ongoing pandemic.
"I feel so powerful," said Mr Trump, displaying no obvious signs of lingering infection. "I'll walk into that audience. I'll walk in there, I'll kiss everyone in that audience. I'll kiss the guys and the beautiful women ... everybody. I'll just give ya a big fat kiss."
With three weeks to go before Election Day, Mr Trump's doctor said on Monday for the first time that he had received a negative test for Covid-19.
First US case of Covid reinfection confirmed
Researchers in the US have reported the country's first confirmed case of coronavirus reinfection.
A 25-year-old man with no known immune disorders or underlying conditions was infected with Covid-19 on two separate occasions, according to a study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
While the authors said further research was required, they added the findings indicate previous exposure to the virus may not guarantee total immunity, and that all individuals should comply with control measures.
It is the fifth confirmation of reinfection worldwide, researchers said, with at least four other cases confirmed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Ecuador.
Today's top stories
Boris Johnson overruled Government scientists who pressed for national lockdown measures such as stopping all household mixing and closing all pubs, it emerged on Monday night.
Pubs and bars will be allowed to stay open in the highest “Tier 3” areas, as long as customers have a “substantial” meal with any drinks, under the new regional lockdowns.
A new three-tier system of increasingly tough restrictions will now determine local lockdowns in England, Boris Johnson has announced, in an effort to simplify the patchwork of rules in place across the country.
Statistics showing around 15,000 positive cases a day appeared to compare badly with highs of around 5,000 a day back in April and May, in fact, “this is an apples and pears comparison", Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said.
Liverpool will wake up on Tuesday with a collective hangover. The city has been plunged into chaos and confusion after being singled out for a strict new Covid-19 lockdown by the Prime Minister.
Schools in Germany are advising pupils to bring blankets to class and wear hats, coats and scarves during lessons as part of the fight against the coronavirus.