Warrington and Nottingham to move into highest tier of restrictions

Georgina Hayes
·93-min read
Pedestrians wearing facemasks walk through central Warrington, north west England  - AFP
Pedestrians wearing facemasks walk through central Warrington, north west England - AFP
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

07:00 PM

Today's top stories

Good evening. Here are some of the top stories from around the world today:

  • Hundreds of thousands more people will be placed under the most stringent coronavirus restrictions as both Warrington and Nottingham are set to enter Tier 3 this week.

  • The Government said that, as of 9am this morning, there had been a further 20,890 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK and 102 deaths.

  • The Oxford University coronavirus vaccine produces a "strong" immune response among the elderly, the latest data shows.

  • The firebreak lockdown in Wales descended into chaos as a ban on the sale of non-essential items led to a Tesco customer being told she could not purchase sanitary towels.

  • The ‘rule of six’ and 10pm curfew are likely to have had "zero effect" in reducing contacts, the first scientific study of the policies suggests.

  • Coronavirus testing kits which can provide results within 12 minutes will be available in Boots within a fortnight, the retailer said on Sunday night.

  • A South Yorkshire hospital trust has said that the number of Covid-19 patients on its wards is now "far beyond the first wave earlier this year" after it saw one of its largest daily rises.

  • Pressure in France for local lockdowns is increasing after the government's chief scientific advisor estimated that the country is seeing 100,000 new coronavirus cases every day.

  • Italians have been advised against trips to other European countries because of surging coronavirus cases, with the foreign ministry warning they could get trapped overseas if travel bans became necessary.

  • Australia's second-biggest city will this week exit its coronavirus lockdown following nearly four months under onerous restrictions, authorities announced on Monday, after no new daily cases or deaths were recorded.

Follow all the latest news in Tuesday's live blog

06:51 PM

Why women are neglecting their health during the pandemic

It’s no secret that women are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. From increased childcare responsibilities, to a higher chance of furlough and job loss, it’s thought that the fallout from lockdown restrictions will have a long-lasting impact on the lives of women around the UK.

Now, women’s healthcare is the latest 'collateral damage' to emerge as a result of the pandemic. A new survey undertaken by the charity Breast Cancer Now revealed that 47 per cent of women do not check their breasts regularly for signs of breast cancer, and one in 10 never do. When asked why they didn’t check for changes, 46 per cent of those who had not been diagnosed with breast cancer said they “forget” to do so. Others cited embarrassment or a desire not to bother their GP.

This adds to fears thousands of cancer cases are going undiagnosed as a result of the pandemic. Just last month, Breast Cancer Now warned that more than half a million women have missed vital breast screenings due to the halt in services during the first wave of the pandemic. The charity now calculates that around 8,600 women will now have undetected breast cancer.

Alice Hall has more here. 

06:49 PM

Around half of childcare providers 'do not expect to be sustainable by July'

Around half of nurseries and childminders do not think they will be financially sustainable by summer, figures from the Department for Education suggest.

A survey of more than 4,000 childcare providers in July found that only 45 per cent of nurseries and pre-schools open at the time of the poll believed they would be financially sustainable to continue for another year or longer.

Just over half (55 per cent) of childminders said they would be able to remain financially sustainable for at least a year, according to the research carried out for the Department for Education (DfE).

The figures come after early years sector leaders have warned that providers are at risk of closure.

They say settings could struggle to keep their doors open amid a loss of income from parent-paid fees due to reduced attendance during Covid-19.

But the research highlights that take-up of places has increased since July - when the survey was carried out - and an estimated 761,000 children attended early years settings on October 15.

06:48 PM

Lack of contact-tracing capacity driving coronavirus into 'darkness', says WHO

A lack of contact-tracing capacity in Europe is set to drive Covid-19 further into the "darkness", the World Health Organisation's top emergency expert told an online briefing today.

"We are seeing very, very high positivity rates and an increasing lack of capacity to do any effective form of contact-tracing, which is going to further drive the disease into darkness," Dr Mike Ryan said.

06:45 PM

France braces for tougher restrictions as cases rise by 26,771

France could announce tougher measures later this week to bring the coronavirus under control after the number of daily cases topped 50,000 for the first time, government sources suggested today.

The country reported 26,771 new cases today and 52,010 on Sunday.

President Emmanuel Macron will gather his top ministers on Tuesday to review efforts to curtail the outbreak, his office said.

The prime minister, Jean Castex, will then hold talks with political chiefs and labour union officials, before ministers gather for another meeting with Macron on Wednesday.

The meetings will focus on "the tougher measures under consideration to manage the health crisis," an official in Castex's office told AFP.

Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart - Cases default

06:40 PM

Spain reports 52,188 new coronavirus cases over weekend

It brings the total number of cases in the country 1,098,320, health ministry data showed today.

The overall number of deaths from the virus jumped by 279 to 35,031.

Spain entered a second state of emergency on Sunday, enabling a night-time quarantine to be enforced across the whole country except the Canary Islands.

Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default

06:34 PM

Low-and-middle income countries facing debt crisis due to pandemic

Low and middle income countries are facing a looming debt crisis as a result of economic pressures arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, a UN human rights expert has warned.

In a new report Yuefen Li, the UN’s independent expert on debt and human rights, called for “an effective set of measures and tools to avert a systemic debt crisis with even more devastating consequences to millions of already vulnerable individuals and communities”.

More than 40 per cent of low-income countries were already in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress prior to the onset of the pandemic. In the report, her first to the UN general assembly, Li said: "Temporary debt standstill, emergency financing, debt restructuring and debt cancellation should be part of the tool box of states, international institutions and the private sector, in order to address debt issues quickly. 

"The end game must be to free up fiscal space for investment in people’s acute needs.

"In order to flatten the Covid-19 infection curve and prepare for an equitable, resilient, greener and sustainable economic and social recovery from the pandemic, the debt problems have to be addressed as effectively and speedily as possible."

06:29 PM

Farewell to the £70bn furlough scheme

Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme comes to an end this week, at least in its original form.

Initially a three-month offer to those who would lose their jobs to Covid restrictions, the Job Retention Scheme became a six-month spending binge on a scale never seen before.

It is being followed by a Job Support Scheme, which after a few last-minute tweaks will look remarkably similar to furlough.

So did the initial scheme work? Was it worth the cost - and where does it leave the economy?

Tim Wallace has all you need to know here. 

06:23 PM

UK: Cases up by 20,890 as deaths rise by 102

The Government said that, as of 9am this morning, there had been a further 20,890 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 894,690.

A further 102 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of today. This brings the UK total to 44,998.

Separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies show there have now been 59,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - deaths default
Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - deaths default
Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - Cases default

06:21 PM

Coronavirus around the world, in pictures

Owner Keith Perryman (left) and staff Helen Manning and Owen Kirkwood prepare sandwiches in The Watering Can, in Greenbank Park, Liverpool, who are providing free school meals for children over the half term holidays - PA
Owner Keith Perryman (left) and staff Helen Manning and Owen Kirkwood prepare sandwiches in The Watering Can, in Greenbank Park, Liverpool, who are providing free school meals for children over the half term holidays - PA
Ballet dancers perform for Survival in the Square: The aim is to showcase the breadth of live events and the technical supply chain that support them, and that live events need government policies in place to help people to return to work and further financial aid - Guy Bell / Alamy Live News
Ballet dancers perform for Survival in the Square: The aim is to showcase the breadth of live events and the technical supply chain that support them, and that live events need government policies in place to help people to return to work and further financial aid - Guy Bell / Alamy Live News
A medical worker in a room with coronavirus patients at Rasoul Akram Hospital after sudden hike in Covid-19 cases led hospitals to reach full capacity in Tehran, Iran - Anadolu Agency
A medical worker in a room with coronavirus patients at Rasoul Akram Hospital after sudden hike in Covid-19 cases led hospitals to reach full capacity in Tehran, Iran - Anadolu Agency
The Urban Guard informs passers-by, merchants and food delivery workers after a new curfew from 10pm until 6am in central Barcelona, Catalonia - Shutterstock
The Urban Guard informs passers-by, merchants and food delivery workers after a new curfew from 10pm until 6am in central Barcelona, Catalonia - Shutterstock
South Korean groom Chang Seung-yun and his Vietnamese bride Nguyen Thi Ut pose a kiss during a wedding ceremony in Seoul, South Korea - Shutterstock
South Korean groom Chang Seung-yun and his Vietnamese bride Nguyen Thi Ut pose a kiss during a wedding ceremony in Seoul, South Korea - Shutterstock

06:08 PM

Italians warned against travelling abroad

Italians have been advised against trips to other European countries because of surging coronavirus cases, with the foreign ministry warning they could get trapped overseas if travel bans became necessary.

A statement on the ministry’s website said: "In view of the worsening epidemiological situation in Europe, the foreign ministry recommends that all compatriots avoid travelling abroad except for strictly necessary reasons. It should also be noted that given the high number of infections in many European countries, further restrictions on travel in the future cannot be excluded, which would risk complicating any return to Italy."

The ministry further warned of the dangers of travelling beyond Europe.

"Similar repatriation problems could occur, with much more serious consequences, in case of travel to non-EU destinations."

The Italian government helped repatriate almost 100,000 citizens earlier in the year after they were stranded abroad as borders were closed around the world amid coronavirus fears.

06:02 PM

Germany Inc fears the worst as second wave takes hold

Business confidence in Germany has taken a severe knock as the economic damage caused by a second Covid wave spreads to the “last stronghold” of Europe.

Fears of a double dip downturn in the region’s largest economy mounted after the Ifo Institute’s closely watched monthly business survey slipped for the first time in five months.

Its business climate index dropped back further into downturn territory, falling to 92.7 points from 93.2 in September, as growth expectations sank to their lowest level since June.

Clemens Fuest, Ifo president, warned that "in view of rising infection numbers, German business is becoming increasingly worried" with daily cases doubling in recent weeks.  Growing optimism about the outlook in the crucial manufacturing sector and the services industry "evaporated", the Ifo said.

Tom Rees has more here. 

05:53 PM

Nottingham to enter Tier 3 from Thursday

In a joint statement, Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council said: "Nottingham, Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe Council areas are set to move to Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions following discussions between Government and Council Leaders.

"These measures come into force at one minute past midnight on Thursday 29th October.

"The new measures will expire in 28 days and will be closely monitored by Government and local partners.

"The single package of measures across these specific areas will be formally announced tomorrow (Tuesday 27th October) and have been agreed to achieve a sustained reduction in infection rates, especially to help protect our vulnerable residents, the NHS and social care services.

"A package of support similar to those secured in other parts of the country has been agreed to help residents and businesses who will be impacted by the new restrictions.

"Further measures specific to these areas of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire will be announced tomorrow."

05:39 PM

Melbourne reports no new coronavirus cases and will lift lockdown after Australia stamps out second wave

Australia's second-biggest city will this week exit its coronavirus lockdown following nearly four months under onerous restrictions, authorities announced today, after no new daily cases or deaths were recorded.

Stay-at-home orders for Melbourne's five million residents will be lifted from midnight Tuesday into Wednesday while restaurants, beauty salons and retail stores will be permitted to throw open their doors.

On Sunday, the capital of the state of Victoria hit its target of fewer than five daily cases on average across 14-days, but state authorities delayed an end to lockdown while waiting for more than 1,000 Covid-19 test results in northern Melbourne.

The tests found no new cases, and on Monday the state reported zero new cases, and zero deaths from the coronavirus.

Premier Daniel Andrews told local media “with zero [new] cases and so much testing over the weekend… we are able to say that now is the time to open up.”

Giovanni Torre has more here. 

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

05:31 PM

Would you pay a stranger to watch you work to boost concentration?

The number of people that are paying for strangers to watch them working from home has surged during the pandemic, as users try to improve their focus and productivity, reports Michael Cogley

New York-based Caveday has seen an 800 per cent increase in memberships for its so-called "work sprints" since March - a service that involves working side-by-side with strangers on silent Zoom call with your camera on. 

The company, which aims to recreate the professional atmosphere of an office, charges $40 (£30.2) a month for 52 minute sessions. These are followed by guided breaks that can include activities like stretching and breathing exercises.

Caveday said such online "work gyms" help improve concentration and make people less likely to become distracted and turn on the TV or play with their phone.

“It used to be right for freelancers and people that could control their time,” said Jeremy Redleaf, a Caveday co-founder, in an interview with CNN. “Then all of a sudden, when the pandemic hit, it was right for … almost everybody.”

Read more here.

05:24 PM

Research shows disparities between private and state school pupils in lockdown

Almost twice the proportion of private school students were receiving the equivalent of a full school day of teaching during lockdown than state school students, according to new research.

According to a study by the London School of Economics (LSE), the lockdown has highlighted the growing educational disparities between privileged students and those from poorer backgrounds.

The research suggested nearly three quarters (74%) of private school pupils were benefiting from full days of teaching during lockdown, compared with just 38% of pupils from state schools.

Private school pupils were five times more likely than state school pupils to have had at least four online lessons a day.

They were also four times more likely to have spent more than five hours a day on schoolwork.

According to the study, four in 10 pupils across the country are still not receiving the same number of teaching hours as they did before the pandemic hit, while about 2.5 million children across the UK received no schooling or tutoring at all during lockdown.

05:17 PM

Comment: Time to take unhealthy options out of the spotlight – we need tough restrictions on junk food ads

High levels of childhood obesity are the canary in the mine – the UK needs to act now, writes Dr Oliver Mytton.

For too long television advertising has cast unhealthy foods in a starring role in children’s minds, whilst healthier options are pushed off-stage. 

Who could forget Tony the Tiger telling children that sugar laden cornflakes are G-r-r-reat! Last week, with colleagues, I published a paper in the medical journal, PLOS medicine, showing how Boris Johnson’s proposal to rebalance food advertising by stopping the deluge of TV adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm could reduce the number of children with obesity by 40,000, yielding a health benefit of £7.4 billion. 

The mechanism is simple but powerful: when children see these adverts, they tend to think about eating unhealthy food. Children then respond by eating more food and more calories. The flood of advertising has permeated all areas of our lives, over time shaping our buying habits, what we eat and ultimately influencing our health.

Stopping this advertising – effectively putting up flood barriers – prevents this happening. Our research also estimated advertising restrictions would have a two-fold greater impact in reducing obesity among children whose parents earn the least compared to those who earn the most.

Read more here. 

05:10 PM

What’s your ‘Covid age’?

As anybody who has followed the news for the last eight months will know, Covid-19 is a far deadlier threat to the old than the young.

Over-80s make up more than half (53 per cent) of patients who have died in English hospitals after testing positive for the virus, and 92 per cent were over 60, according to data from Public Health England (PHE).

But some doctors are now worried that the public’s overwhelming focus on age – whilst undeniably a huge factor – is making broadly healthy older people more frightened than they need to be, and lulling younger patients with conditions like obesity and diabetes into thinking they have nothing to fear.

So, what are the factors that contribute to your Covid age? Luke Mintz has all you need to know here. 

04:58 PM

Controversy over Spain's six-month state of emergency

The Spanish government is facing a backlash over its plans to put one of Europe’s worst Covid hotspots under a six-month state of emergency.

Opposition parties said six months was too long, epidemiologists said this may be too little too late, and some citizens balked at nightly curfews.

“The curfew doesn’t make much sense. Does the virus only infect people between 2300 and 0600? No,” said Marta Aragoneses, a 36-year old schoolteacher, enjoying a cigarette outside a cafe in La Latina.

Nearby, Mariano Moreno de Guerra, a pharmacist on his way to work in La Latina, said what worried him was plans for a six-month state of emergency.

“I don’t like what they’ve done at all,” he said. “They are acquiring a taste for confining people and that could be dangerous. Extending it by six months is an absolute outrage. I see a lot of potential for abuse.”

The nationwide curfew is set to last until at least 9 November while the government said on Sunday it would seek parliament’s approval for the state of emergency to last six months and give each region the right to take its own measures to tackle the pandemic - Anadolu Agency
The nationwide curfew is set to last until at least 9 November while the government said on Sunday it would seek parliament’s approval for the state of emergency to last six months and give each region the right to take its own measures to tackle the pandemic - Anadolu Agency

04:52 PM

Hospice staff still without regular Covid testing, charity warns

Hospice staff should be tested each week for coronavirus otherwise facilities risk having to close, an end-of-life charity said.

Marie Curie said the lack of access to regular weekly testing, which is available to care home staff, is compromising the care of dying people.

The charity is concerned whether its hospices will be able to operate safely while supporting the increasing number of people who will need palliative care this winter.

It is also calling for weekly testing of a close relative or carer who will be able to provide support to the patient when they visit.

And it is concerned about delays and shortages of flu vaccines for hospice staff, calling this a further "kick in the teeth" for the sector.

04:44 PM

Norway imposes restrictions amid rise in cases

Norway will impose tougher measures to curb the virus following a recent rise in the number of infections, including stricter rules on private gatherings.

The government also said it would stop exceptions to quarantine rules that foreign workers coming to work in Norway enjoyed until now.

From Friday all foreign workers arriving in the Nordic country from EU countries that are experiencing a high number cases must undergo a ten-day quarantine.

“We need to do more to control the spread of the infection,” Solberg told a news conference.

Indoor public gatherings will now be limited to 50 people, reversing an earlier decision to allow up to 200 people, while the maximum number permitted to meet in a private setting will be cut from 20 to a household receiving no more than five guests.

While Norway has Europe’s lowest level of new infections, the government believes that a failure to impose targeted measures now could lead to a broader lockdown later, like those of several other countries.

04:36 PM

Holidaymakers 'offered fake Covid test certificates by travel agents'

A ‘fit to travel’ Covid certificate is the new holiday must-have, but obtaining a PCR test can be expensive, time consuming and complicated. Is it any wonder, then, that reports are emerging of illegal counterfeit certificates? 

On the black market, a forged Covid test certificate can cost as little as £50, according to an investigation by the Lancashire Telegraph – which found that some travel agents in Bradford and Blackburn are allegedly offering fake paperwork to clients. 

Speaking anonymously, one traveller explained: “We needed a Covid-19 test for a family member and I spoke to one travel agent and he said, ‘Get it done and even if it comes out positive we will provide a negative one for you for £50’.”

Others have boasted of tampering with certificates themselves – which were later accepted by airlines and overseas border control. “It is quite simple,” said one Blackburn-based traveller, who claimed he flew to Pakistan and entered the country with forged paperwork. 

Hazel Plush has more here. 

04:29 PM

Debate over free school meals 'sounds like it is from Victorian times'

The debate over the Government's provision of free school meals sounds like it is from Victorian times, according to George The Poet.

The spoken word artist, whose real name is George Mpanga, added that it is "weird" that the cause had to be taken up by footballer Marcus Rashford before it became an issue that is widely discussed.

Mpanga told the PA news agency: "It's weird that we are having conversations that sound like they are from the Victorian era in 2020.

"It is weird that Marcus Rashford, as much as I love and respect what he's about and what he's chosen to represent, it is weird that it falls on his shoulders, or he's had to take up the mantle."

The Government is under pressure to reverse its decision not to extend the benefit to the holidays and Rashford has been using social media to publicise businesses and councils across the country who have pledged to feed children during the school break.

04:26 PM

Nuremberg cancels famous Christmas market

The Bavarian city of Nuremberg also canceled its famous Christmas market, one of Germany’s best-known and a major tourist draw.

City officials originally wanted the bustling Christkindlesmarkt to go ahead under strict hygiene rules, but Mayor Marcus Koenig said they concluded it would send the wrong signal as virus cases rise.

“This decision is very difficult for us. The Christkindlesmarkt with its great tradition belongs to Nuremberg,” Koenig said.

Other Christmas markets around Europe have also been cancelled, including Edinburgh's -  AFP
Other Christmas markets around Europe have also been cancelled, including Edinburgh's - AFP

04:19 PM

Cancelling a holiday due to Covid: What are my consumer rights this half term?

Restrictions are ramping up across the country as the number of coronavirus cases spiral, dashing hopes of a half term getaway. 

Whether you push ahead with your travel plans or not – and if you can get money back – will depend on the level of risk at your destination and in your home area. 

With the rules increasingly confusing and the process of getting a refund often frustrating, we have all you need to know here. 

04:13 PM

Government should offer more support for children on free school meals, says Tory council leader

The Conservative leader of Darlington Council has said the Government should offer more support for children on free school meals ahead of next holiday "but we have to do something now". 

Heather Scott told Sky News the money that had been allocated previously which ministers have suggested could be used during the half-term holiday had already been spent but the council had taken the decision to give support "not only to those on free school meals but other families" as well. 

She added: "The PR for the Government nationally has not been good but I am more concerned about the people of Darlington and as leader of the council, we will do whatever we can to support them."

Asked what Number 10 should do, she added: "We will be urging them to, certainly when we come into the next school holidays, to do something but we have do something now."

04:11 PM

Hospital says number of Covid patients now 'far beyond the first wave'

A South Yorkshire hospital trust has said that the number of Covid-19 patients on its wards is now "far beyond the first wave earlier this year" after it saw one of its largest daily rises.

The trust which runs Doncaster Royal Infirmary (DRI) said it now has 201 patients who have tested positive, which is "almost double where we were last Sunday".

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (DBTH) announced the figures amid reports that people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the North East and Yorkshire region could soon outstrip the North West.

The HSJ reported that the latest NHS data showed a 42 per cent increase in patients admitted or newly diagnosed in North East and Yorkshire hospitals.

DBTH said in a statement today: "In the past 24 hours, we have admitted a number of patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 and, as a result, we are now caring for 201 such individuals - far beyond the first wave earlier this year."

03:58 PM

Doctors raise concerns over DIY firework displays

Doctors have raised concerns about the prospect of people injuring themselves with DIY firework displays as many traditional Bonfire Night displays have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Medics who deal with reconstructive surgery and those who care for patients with hand and burn injuries have urged people to think twice before purchasing fireworks for use at home.

A survey of 1,200 British adults, conducted by the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (Bapras), found that 37 per cent were considering putting on a display at home.

Mark Henley, consultant plastic surgeon and president of Bapras, said: "Every November, plastic surgeons across the UK witness serious injuries caused by fireworks, with many patients requiring multiple rounds of complex reconstructive surgery.

"With the NHS stretched to capacity due to Covid-19 and a huge backlog for surgical procedures, we simply cannot afford for an increase in preventable injuries and urge people to think twice before purchasing fireworks for personal use."

03:50 PM

Warrington moves into Tier 3

The Government confirmed Warrington will move to the highest tier of coronavirus restrictions from 00:01 on Tuesday.

The Tier 3 rules mean pubs and bars will close unless they can operate as a restaurant and people are largely banned from mixing with anybody outside their household or support bubble.

Betting shops, adult gaming centres, casinos and soft play centres will also close.

The council will receive a financial support package of £1.68 million to help contact tracing and enforcement as well as £4.2 million in business support from the Government.

Three-tier postcode tool
Three-tier postcode tool

03:39 PM

Italy fears more violent demonstrations

In Italy, there are fears of more social unrest after riots broke out on Friday night in Naples and a protest turned violent in Rome on Saturday, reports Nick Squires from Rome. 

Further demonstrations are planned for this evening in Naples and Turin. In Naples, protesters are coming together under the slogan "You close us down, you pay us", amid anger over a new regulation which stipulates that  bars and restaurants must shut each night at 6pm.

Many in the hospitality business fear financial ruin. In Turin there will be a protest against "dictatorship, curfew and lockdown", with reports that activists from both the far-Left and the far-Right could be involved - a potentially explosive mix.

03:36 PM

Public trust has been 'eroded' over Wales' non-essential item ban

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, said public trust has been "eroded" over communication of the Welsh Government's ban on supermarkets selling non-essential items during Wales' firebreak lockdown.

"The important thing for the Welsh Government to acknowledge is that they have made a complete mess of the messaging," Mr Price said.

"Humility is important in admitting that you have got it wrong. They should have focused very clearly and very simply on the public health message.

"The objective of closing non-essential retail for this period is to try to limit the number of contacts so they can limit the number of infections - and that's somehow got completely lost in the messaging which has then eroded public trust over the weekend.

"There are families across Wales that are mourning today because they've lost lives. The firebreak is here to save hundreds and hundreds of lives.

"We lost sight of that over the weekend and we've got to refocus on it now."

03:30 PM

Comment: We would be bonkers to sacrifice our freedoms for the sake of 'saving Christmas'

We would be bonkers to sacrifice our freedoms for the sake of 'saving Christmas', writes Ross Clark.

Sorry, but no. Christmas can be fun, for some people. For many others it brings indifference or means nothing at all.  What, by the way, has happened to the Welsh government’s usual commitment to diversity in its promotion of Christmas as the light at the end of – or rather in the middle of – the tunnel? What about the Buddhist festival of Loy Kratong next Sunday, which Drakeford has just messed up, or the anniversary of the crowning of Haile Selassie celebrated by Rastafarians next Monday?  

But even if mince pies and carols are your annual highlight, Christmas is not a big enough carrot to make us want to put up with the stick of yet more lockdown restrictions.

The prospect of a semi-normal, semi-festive season is not going to gladden the hearts of the several million people who are likely to lose their jobs over the next few months as businesses which scraped through the spring lockdown finally give up the ghost. 

Read the full piece here. 

03:20 PM

Head of the UK Vaccines Taskforce is taking part in vaccine trial

Kate Bingham, head of the UK Vaccines Taskforce, is taking part in the phase 3 study of a new Covid-19 vaccine developed by US biotech company Novavax.

Writing in the NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry newsletter, Ms Bingham said: "Like all of you, I want to play my part in helping researchers quickly get the results they need to determine whether any of the vaccine candidates we have secured access to in the UK are effective against coronavirus. 

"After I received the email inviting me to join a phase 3 study for a new vaccine developed by US biotech company Novavax, I completed the additional online screening forms and then received an evening call from the study physician. I kept my fingers crossed that this would work out as I couldn’t wait to get started."

15,000 people from across the UK will take part in the Novavax study over the next 13 months at a number of regional sites including Blackpool, Bradford, London, Stockport, Glasgow and Belfast.

"I felt very well looked after at every stage, which was clearly explained to me and all my questions were answered," she added.

"I was sent away with an electronic symptom diary installed on my phone, which I’ll use to track how I feel on a daily basis. I also have a number to call a physician any time day or night should I have any complications or concerns during the study."

03:10 PM

NHS short of over £1bn for Covid second wave and onset of winter

The NHS has been given in excess of £1bn less than it needs to tackle the second wave of Covid-19, deal with the coming winter and restart routine operations, the Guardian reports.

Hospitals across England face holes in their budget for the rest of the year of up to £20m, which they say is hampering their efforts to prepare properly for the service’s annual winter crisis and get back to pre-pandemic levels of surgery.

The NHS in London faces a gap of up to £200m between the amount trusts and CCGs say they need to deal with the next few months, senior sources in the capital’s health service told the paper. The NHS in Greater Manchester also faces what officials call “a significant gap”.

The Royal Stoke, one of the NHS’s biggest and busiest hospitals, accused NHS England this month of making “a clear and obvious error” that has left it £20m out of pocket.

03:03 PM

Netherlands hits daily case record

The Netherlands has hit a new record for daily coronavirus infections, with 10,343 new confirmed cases announced today.

The national institute for public health and the environment also reported 26 more Covid-related deaths.

A total of 301,597 cases of coronavirus have been counted in the country so far, and 7,072 deaths.

Coronavirus Netherlands Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Netherlands Spotlight Chart - Cases default

02:56 PM

Small firms ‘shed staff at record rate’

Small businesses laid off workers at a record rate in the third quarter of this year amid a two-year decline in confidence, a survey suggests.

Revenue growth among Britain’s small companies also hit an all-time low as they struggled with Covid restrictions, according to the study of 1,500 firms by the Federation of Small Businesses. The small business index stood at minus 32.6 in the third quarter of the year, down 28 points on the second quarter. The result means that confidence has been contracting since July 2018, the lobby group said.

A third said they expected their performance to improve in the run-up to Christmas, while the rest expect it to worsen. More than half said revenues had dropped due to the pandemic. One in four had cut jobs in the past three months, with 29pc expecting to do so before the new year. Just over a tenth expect at least a quarter of staff to go.

Michael Cogley has more here. 

02:50 PM

Free school meals 'an absolute lifeline', says disabled mother

Mother of two Nicola Palmer, from Hinckley in Leicestershire, described the campaign to extend free school meals through the holidays as an "absolute lifeline".

She told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme: "Me and my partner have been disabled... we do actually have two children both at school and we do struggle when it comes to half-term and things like that money-wise because we don't get a lot of money in the house."

She added: "No vouchers or anything at all were sent to us, we basically just had to sort ourselves out and there was one day where me and my partner actually didn't have no dinner at all just to make sure that the kids were eating."

Asked how she coped, she said: "We just have to deal with it, we just have to cope and just carry on as normal."

02:45 PM

'We have lost control of the epidemic': France may be at 100,000 virus cases daily

Pressure in France for local lockdowns is increasing after the government's chief scientific advisor estimated that the country is seeing 100,000 new coronavirus cases every day.

On Sunday, 52,000 new Covid-10 infections were reported in France, another daily record - but yesterday Jean-François Delfraissy, the government's chief scientific advisor, said the true figure was probably twice as high. 

Dr Delfraissy joined other senior doctors in urging the government to introduce local lockdowns or a weekend lockdown that would effectively extend the current 9pm curfew in force in much of the country to weekends in order to limit social contacts.

“There are probably more than 50,000 cases per day. We estimate, on the scientific committee, that we are more in the region of 100,000 cases per day," Dr Delfraissy told RTL radio on Monday. He expressed surprise at the “brutality” of the increase.

David Chazan and Jorg Luyken have more here. 

Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart - Cases default

02:36 PM

Belgium records almost 12,500 cases a day for a week

An average of almost 12,500 new cases of coronavirus were reported every day in Belgium last week, compared to about 5,000 every 24 hours a week earlier, according to figures released today.

About one person in every five who is tested turns out to be positive, with the very elderly hardest hit.

On average over the past week, 42 people died from the virus each day, bringing the death toll to 10,810, in a country with a population of around 11.5 million people.

Pressure is building on Belgium’s hospitals, where 467 people are being admitted on average each day, a rise of 85 per cent. Almost 5,000 people are currently in hospitals, more than 750 of them in intensive care, according to the latest data.

“What we do now, what we will do in the next two weeks, will be decisive,” said Yves Van Laethem, a spokesman for Belgium’s Covid-19 crisis centre. If the figures don’t change, he said, “we are likely to reach 2,000 patients in intensive care in two weeks. That is our maximum capacity.”

02:32 PM

England records 91 further Covid deaths

A further 91 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 31,910, NHS England said on Monday.

Patients were aged between 44 and 95. All had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between September 24 and October 25, with the majority being on or after October 23.

Three other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.

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

02:26 PM

Doncaster hospitals caring for more patients than first wave

Hospitals in the Doncaster area have seen one of their largest daily rises of admissions of patients testing positive for Covid-19 and are now caring for numbers "far beyond the first wave earlier this year".

The trust, which runs Doncaster Royal Infirmary, said it now has 201 patients admitted who have tested positive - 164 at that hospital, 16 at Bassetlaw Hospital, in Worksop and 21 at Montagu Hospital, in Mexborough.

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals said this was "almost double where we were last Sunday" and "far beyond the first wave earlier this year".

It said that, of these 201, eight require critical care, with three on mechanical ventilation, 20 non-invasive ventilation and 11 receiving oxygen.

The trust said: "Please note, contrary to some claims on social media, this does not mean the other 150 or so patients do not require high levels of hospital care, it simply means they just do not need these specific interventions and treatments."

Doncaster is in Tier 3 - the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.

02:00 PM

Government's own advisory committee backs Marcus Rashford's campaign

The Government's own advisory committee on social mobility has backed Marcus Rashford's campaign on free school meals.

The Social Mobility Commission urged the Government to extend free school meals during school holidays until Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

A commission spokesman said: "We know that the current pandemic is having its greatest impact on the poorest regions in Britain where people are already struggling to afford food for their families.

"Our recent report - The Long Shadow of Deprivation - identified some of the 'coldest' social mobility spots in the country and many of these are now in the higher tiers of Covid restrictions.

"Our earlier research this year showed that 600,000 more children are in poverty than in 2012.

"We believe the Government should do all it can to start reversing that trend.

01:53 PM

Fears grow over respiratory health as smog season descends on India and Pakistan – while Covid rages

With the arrival of October a grim new season descends on the great cities of northern India and eastern Pakistan.

Each year, the autumn heralds the arrival of smog. Pollution in cities like Delhi and Lahore is bad throughout the year, but from October to January it spikes to create a dirty pall over tens of millions of residents. Sharply soaring vehicle emissions, industrial pollution and the smoking stacks of brick kilns combine with autumnal fog and smouldering stubble fields. The long-lasting fug smudges the horizon, irritates eyes, inflames sinuses and tickles throats.

Recent research estimated at least 6.7 million deaths globally in 2019 were due to long-term exposure to air pollution, and the premature death of half a million infants in their first month. Air quality monitoring websites listed cities around Delhi this weekend as having hazardous levels of pollution some 20-times that found in London.

The arrival of 2020's smog has brought an added worry to India and Pakistan, where air pollution is some of the world's worst. This year's season comes in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic which has upended normal life and killed more than a million people. 

Ben Farmer, reporting from Islamabad, has more here. 

Politicians and health officials are now anxiously waiting to see if the blanket of smog will worsen the impact of the countries' coronavirus outbreaks - Reuters
Politicians and health officials are now anxiously waiting to see if the blanket of smog will worsen the impact of the countries' coronavirus outbreaks - Reuters

01:45 PM

Coronavirus around the world, in pictures

Dancers wearing face masks backstage in Spain. In Madrid, the capacity limitation in theaters is between 50% and 75% as a preventive measure against Covid-19 - Shutterstock
Dancers wearing face masks backstage in Spain. In Madrid, the capacity limitation in theaters is between 50% and 75% as a preventive measure against Covid-19 - Shutterstock
Los Angeles, California, USA: Voters wearing face masks cast their ballots in a vote center at Staples Center in Los Angeles - Zuma Press
Los Angeles, California, USA: Voters wearing face masks cast their ballots in a vote center at Staples Center in Los Angeles - Zuma Press
Flares explode as police clash with activists during a protest called by Forza Nuova far-right group against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of Covid in Rome on Friday - LaPresse
Flares explode as police clash with activists during a protest called by Forza Nuova far-right group against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of Covid in Rome on Friday - LaPresse

01:41 PM

'Sea of people' donating to meals project brings tears to eyes of volunteers

Volunteers providing holiday meals to children say they have been left with "tears in their eyes" by the generosity of the community.

Those helping at the Pudsey Community Project, in West Yorkshire, say they have been deeply moved by the "sea of people" who have brought in what they can afford - even if that has just been a single bottle of squash.

The vicar of Pudsey Parish Church, the Rev Richard Dimery, said: "We've just been thrilled to see a sea of people, the voluntary sector and businesses stepping forward and saying 'we want to help those who are in need'."

He said: "It's brought tears to the eyes of some of the volunteers to see people donating food - just coming in and bringing a bottle of squash or three bags full of donations.

"We know however many people come over the next few days and say 'we're in need, can you help' - we can say yes to that."

01:32 PM

Government must make children 'a national priority', says Labour

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said the Prime Minister must make children "a national priority".

She said: "Warm words from Boris Johnson will do nothing for the over 1.4 million children at risk of going hungry this half term that he and his MPs refused to help last week.

"Labour will not give up on the children and families let down by this Government and we will hold the Prime Minister to his word, forcing another vote in Parliament if necessary.

"The Government must now make children a national priority, and ensure that no child goes hungry."

01:30 PM

Sandwich shop owner receives 'overwhelming' response to free meals pledge

Sarah Marriott, co-manager of the Brunch Box sandwich shop in Deal, Kent, said the response to their free meals offer has been "overwhelming".

She told the PA news agency: "In light of the recent Government changes we just thought we would try and help out and do our bit.

"Never did I imagine people would want to donate but so many people in the community have helped out and donated.

"We have done a lot of (food) bags today - literally put them on a table in the doorway so that people don't have to feel embarrassed. They can just roll up, take what they need and nothing needs to be said about it.

"It feels really good to be able to help out."

01:28 PM

Boris Johnson still has 'full confidence' in Dido Harding

Downing Street said Boris Johnson continued to have "full confidence" in Baroness Dido Harding as head of NHS Test and Trace.

Senior Tory Sir Bernard Jenkin had called for her to be removed after latest official figures showed fewer than 60 per cent of the contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19 were being traced and told to self-isolate.

Mr Johnson's official spokesman said: "I think we've certainly set out before that the Prime Minister continues to have full confidence in Dido Harding.

"NHS Test and Trace has built a testing capacity of over 360,000-a-day from a starting point of 2,000-a-day in March - that is a bigger figure per head than in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. 1.1 million have been contacted and told to self-isolate.

"But as you've also heard the Prime Minister say, the system does need to improve especially in terms of the turnaround times for tests and we expect that to happen."

He said staffing levels were being increased and that more automation would allow for more tests to be carried out "in order to drive improvement".

01:24 PM

Vaccine candidate shows 'strong immune response' among elderly

The Oxford Covid-19 vaccine shows a "strong immune response" among elderly participants, experts have said.

Information from an earlier stage of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine candidate trial suggests "similar" immune responses among younger and older adults, scientists said.

Data on the safety and immune responses among those taking part in the phase two vaccine trial has been submitted for peer review in a medical journal.

But the findings have been discussed before publication, prompting more excitement about the vaccine - considered one of the forerunners in the Covid-19 vaccine race.

The vaccine is currently in a phase three clinical trial, which means the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine is being tested by thousands of participants across a number of different countries.

Experts have predicted that the data from the trial could be presented to regulators within weeks.

01:15 PM

Government defends decision to remove VAT holiday on face masks

The Government has defended the decision to remove the VAT holiday on face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) at the end of the month.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It is probably worth me setting out what the VAT relief on PPE was designed to do, and that was to accelerate supply to the health and social care sectors when supply did not match demand earlier this year.

"What it did was save them around £200 billion when they needed it.

"Prices and supply have now stabilised and we have committed to providing free PPE to every adult care home, who have been the main beneficiaries of this tax relief, until March 2021.

"Also most businesses can recover any VAT that they will incur (when buying) PPE as business expenses."

Read more: Cost of facemasks to rise as Treasury scraps VAT exemption on PPE

01:13 PM

No 10 says it's still on target to increase testing capacity to 500,000 a day

Number 10 said it was still on target to increase coronavirus testing capacity to 500,000 per day by the end of the month, despite the deadline approaching in only five days.

"The target still stands and I think we have set out that it is our intention to meet that figure by the end of the month," said the Prime Minister's official spokesman.

"It (the target) is capacity for 500,000 per day."

Pressed on how the current capacity would increase from 369,000 to 500,000 in such a short amount of time, the spokesman added: "We have known throughout that the target was to have a capacity of 500,000 by the end of (October).

"We are working to get additional laboratory capacity coming on stream."

01:10 PM

What are the rules around trick or treating?

Downing Street has suggested that trick or treating can take place this Halloween as long as the respective tier-related social distancing rules in each area are adhered to.

Asked about the prospect of trick or treating being banned this year, the Prime Minister's official spokesman: "The rules are those which apply to household mixing in general and what that means in practice is if you in a Very High alert level then you cannot mix with other households indoors or in private outdoor spaces.

"If you're in a High Covid alert level then the rule of six applies in private gardens and outdoor spaces but households must not mix indoors.

"And in terms of the Medium alert level, you can meet indoors and outdoors in groups of no more than six people.

"The rules are there for all circumstances and people will have to use their commons sense in ensuring they are following the rules."

01:06 PM

Opposition demands ban on non-essential items is 'dropped today'

Andrew RT Davies, shadow health minister for the Welsh Conservatives, said the ban on supermarkets in Wales selling non-essential items during the country's firebreak lockdown "must be dropped today".

Mr Davies said the "chaos and confusion" of a woman incorrectly being told she could not buy sanitary products at a supermarket was a direct result of the ban.

"This ludicrous policy has caused real anger and it's not fair on staff working in our supermarkets and the general Welsh public who are now at their wits' end with Labour ministers," Mr Davies said.

"The Welsh Labour Government has rushed out a policy that was not even understood by the country's largest supermarket and that's the fault of the First Minister and his colleagues."

A sign in front of books in an ASDA store in Coryton - Getty Images Europe
A sign in front of books in an ASDA store in Coryton - Getty Images Europe

01:04 PM

Last week 'one of the deadliest' in Wales, says Health Minister

Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething said last week was "one of the deadliest" in the country since the start of the pandemic, with more than 60 people dying with Covid-19.

Public Health Wales will report a further six deaths later today, Mr Gething told a press conference.

There are 616 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Welsh hospitals, the highest figure since May 24 and up 26 per cent on last Sunday.

Fifty-six people are in critical care in Wales, an increase of 14 per cent.

"This is not an easy time for any of us in Wales," Mr Gething said. "For the next two weeks, we must all live with a new and very tough set of regulations."

01:01 PM

'No plans' to reduce quarantine period in Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon said she has "no plans" to reduce the two-week self-isolation period in Scotland.

The First Minister was asked about reports that the UK Government was considering reducing the length of time people with coronavirus symptoms or close contacts of people who test positive should isolate.

"We have no plans at the moment to reduce the period of self-isolation," Ms Sturgeon said.

She added: "We keep all of this under review; we don't want people to live under the most severe restrictions for longer than is absolutely necessary."

Scotland's national clinical director Jason Leitch said he was not aware of any scientific advice in any part of the UK that would support a reduction from the current 14-day period, or 10 days from the date a person's symptoms end.

01:00 PM

Scotland 'on track' for 65,000 a day test capacity

Scotland is "on track" to have capacity for 65,000 coronavirus tests per day by winter, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said.

Ms Freeman told the Scottish Government coronavirus briefing that a "significant proportion" of the testing capacity increase will come from three new regional laboratory hubs that she expects to open in November and December.

More than a third of the potential capacity will be provided by the new laboratories, she said.

12:57 PM

Wales ministers meeting with supermarkets this afternoon

Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething has said supermarkets have discretion to sell non-essential items to customers "in genuine need" during the firebreak lockdown.

Mr Gething said Welsh Government ministers were meeting retailers this afternoon to review the regulations and guidance and ensure "that it is being applied fairly and consistently".

"If there are anomalies, we will look at whether the guidance needs to be revised or strengthened to make it clear that supermarkets have some discretion to sell to people who are in genuine need," Mr Gething said.

Mr Gething said public health advice about the effectiveness of the firebreak would have to be "revisited" if non-essential retail was opened.

"If we want to unravel that now we'll be in a very different place, a less effective measure, and that's not what this government is going to do," he added.

12:54 PM

Wales' Health Minister 'saddened' to hear of sanitary product incident

Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething has said he was "saddened" to hear of an incident in which a woman was incorrectly told she could not buy sanitary products at a Tesco store due to the firebreak lockdown.

Tesco has apologised over the error and said an aisle selling sanitary items at one of its stores was temporarily closed due to a break-in.

Mr Gething told a press conference in Cardiff: "I was very saddened to see this particular exchange on social media this morning from a supermarket telling a woman she could not buy period products. This is simply wrong.

"It's an incorrect reading of the regulations and the guidance. I am very sorry that this woman was given this information.

"Supermarkets are open and trading as are many other shops and are able to sell the wide range of everyday items that we all need.

"But there are some other items that won't be on sale for the next two weeks. These are items that other high street shops, which are currently closed, can't sell at the moment."

12:51 PM

Scotland's five tiers to be unveiled ahead of parliamentary debate, says Nicola Sturgeon

The geographic division of Scotland into five tiers will be set out ahead of a coronavirus debate in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

The new five-level approach will be introduced from November 2 and the level will depend on the spread of Covid-19 in local authority areas.

Areas in the central belt which are currently subject to stricter local restrictions are likely to be classified as level three, while other areas may be equivalent to level two, the First Minister said. 

Speaking today, Ms Sturgeon said a "sustained" fall of virus transmission will be needed for an area to move down tiers.

"The best way of moving to a lower level of restrictions and of living more freely is to have a lower level of transmission of the virus," she told the daily press conference.

"The best way we have of driving transmission lower and keeping it low is for all of us to stick to the rules that are in place at any given time."

​Read more: Scots face severe limits on travel under Sturgeon's five-tier lockdown plan

12:45 PM

Five things to read this lunchtime

Good afternoon. Here's some news, analysis and comment from across our website to accompany your lunchtime reading:

12:33 PM

Boris Johnson hasn't spoken to Marcus Rashford since June

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We don't want to see children going hungry this winter, this Christmas, certainly not as a result of any inattention by this Government - and you are not going to see that."

The Prime Minister praised the work of Marcus Rashford but confirmed he had not spoken to him since the summer.

Speaking during a visit to a hospital in Reading, Mr Johnson said councils had been given extra cash and Universal Credit had increased.

"We will do everything in our power to make sure that no kid, no child goes hungry this winter during the holidays, that's obviously something we care about very much".

'The Government has lost and should concede defeat' - Have your say on free school meals

12:30 PM

Has Zoom and face mask wearing made you want botox?

It seems to be the case for some people in Brazil, at least.

The demand for botox treatment in the country has nearly doubled during the course of the coronavirus pandemic, as people seek a perfect wrinkle-free forehead while wearing a facemask.

“People now look each other in the eye more, in the eyes and the forehead—just where their wrinkles are,” said Aline Medici when speaking to the Wall Street Journal. Ms Medici owns a franchise of 21 beauty clinics across Brazil, Ad Clinic, with her husband.

Dermatologists in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are reporting anywhere between a 20 and 100 per cent rise in botox treatments since April. Some is due to pent-up demand from the lockdown, but the rise is mostly driven by those seeking treatment for the first time. The biggest increase in demand is coming from men.

Dermatologists say that a combination of spending all day looking at your own face on Zoom and constantly wearing a mask in public has made people more conscious of wrinkles on their forehead and around their eyes.

12:24 PM

Hospitals in Iran running out of capacity for Covid cases

Hospitals in many Iranian provinces are running out of capacity to handle Covid-19 cases, health authorities say, with the coronavirus killing about 300 people a day.

Authorities have complained of poor social distancing, and the deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, said the pandemic could cause 600 daily deaths in coming weeks if Iranians failed to respect health protocols in the Middle East’s worst-affected country.

A caption that ran on state television news said an Iranian died of novel coronavirus every five minutes, a rate that corresponds to daily death tallies reported by the authorities of just above or below 300 over the past 20 days.

Some experts have doubted the accuracy of Iran’s official coronavirus tolls. A report by the Iranian parliament’s research centre in April suggested the coronavirus tolls might be almost twice as many as those announced by the health ministry.

Coronavirus Iran Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Iran Spotlight Chart - Cases default

12:19 PM

Italy's cultural world dismayed over new virus decree

Actors, theatre directors and cinema owners in Italy are dismayed over the government's decision to close down theatres and cinemas for a month, reports Nick Squires in Rome

There are warnings that some small theatres and cinemas may not be able to survive financially, having already been battered by Italy's national lockdown earlier this year.

"Even during the Second World War, cinemas in Italy did not shut down. People continued to watch films even as the bombs fell," said Marco Bellocchio, a renowned director and producer. He was one of dozens of figures from the world of art and culture who signed an open letter of protest addressed to Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister, and Dario Franceschini, the culture minister.

They argued that there is very little evidence that outbreaks of coronavirus have taken place in cinemas and theatres.  "There were no outbreaks, there was not a problem," Mr Bellocchio told La Repubblica newspaper.

The Venice and Rome film festivals had gone ahead without incident, with hundreds of film showings involving thousands of people. "Small cinemas and theatres risk closing down for good. The whole sector is in serious difficulty," he said.

12:10 PM

Cash boost for families 'needed to lift up to 700,000 children out of poverty'

Families must be given an urgent cash boost if up to 700,000 children are to be spared from living below the poverty line during the coronavirus pandemic, a new report warns.

Doubling child benefit payments or raising universal credit and tax credits for children would make a "life-changing difference" to the poorest households, say the IPPR think tank and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

The Government must also invest in childcare as part of a family stimulus package that would help boost the economy through higher household spending as parents continue working, they urge.

The researchers looked at two ways to boost cash to families as unemployment rises, both of which they say would significantly reduce poverty.

Doubling child benefits would lift more than 500,000 children and 200,000 adults out of poverty, and boost GDP by £19 billion over 18 months, considering the impact of additional spending, they estimate.

And increasing the child element of Universal Credit by £20 a week per child and removing the two-child limit would lift more than 700,000 children and 300,000 adults out of poverty. This would boost GDP by £15 billion over 18 months, they estimate.

12:04 PM

Assailants throw molotov cocktails at Germany's public health agency building

Unidentified assailants threw Molotov cocktails at a building belonging to Germany's public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), early on Sunday morning. 

Security guards at the building were able to put out the flames. Photos from the scene in southern Berlin showed smashed glass in one window and smoke stains on the external facade.

Berlin’s state security service has taken over the investigation due to the suspicion of a political motive.

The attack is the latest sign of increasing polarization in German society over the government's response to the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with the RKI advising the government on strategy.

Case numbers have tripled over the past fortnight, leading the RKI to call for stricter rules on mask wearing in all areas where crowds gather. Some 8,700 new cases were reported on Monday morning.

11:57 AM

Coronavirus infections reach 17,000 in Switzerland

More than 17,000 new Covid-19 cases have been reported in Switzerland.

Switzerland’s health minister has said that health restrictions expected to be announced this week to contain the spread of coronavirus are likely to be in place for a long time.

Alain Berset told a news conference in Lausanne: “What we’re preparing now will likely last a long time. We’re not making decisions on Wednesday for Friday, we’re making decisions for the next weeks and months.”

So far the Alpine country has recorded 121,093 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus, and a death toll of 1,914.

11:49 AM

Restaurants work around curfew by reviving ‘le mâchon”, a traditional Lyon brunch

Restaurants in Lyon have responded to the 9pm coronavirus curfew in force in much of France by reviving a traditional but long-abandoned morning meal called the 'mâchon', reports David Chazan. 

French diners are reluctant to eat early enough to return home before the curfew, so a dozen 'bouchons' — traditional Lyonnais restaurants — are trying to tempt them by serving the local version of brunch from 10am to noon on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The ‘mâchon’ features the famed specialities of Lyon, which prides itself on its distinguished gastronomic heritage.

It would typically consist of ‘jambon persillé’, cooked ham in jelly seasoned with parsley, ‘cervelle de canut’, a dish of soft fromage blanc seasoned with chopped, herbs, shallots and salt, poached sausage in red wine sauce, and ‘andouillette’ chitterling sausage with apple purée, and a praline tart to finish.

Traditionally, several dishes would be placed on the table for people to serve themselves, but the virus that has brought the “mâchon” back to life has also forced it to adapt, so it is now served as a succession of small individual dishes, washed down with a glass or two of wine.

Yann Lalle, owner of the Poêlon d’Or restaurant, told BFM TV : “We’re trying to adapt to the new timings and the curfew and we hope the mâchon will help all of us keep our spirits up.”

Mr Lalle said few Lyon restaurants were still opening in the evening. “We’re not like the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ countries. The French don’t finish work until about 6 or 6-30pm, and they like to go home and change or take a shower before going out for dinner, which leaves too little time before curfew.” - AFP
Mr Lalle said few Lyon restaurants were still opening in the evening. “We’re not like the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ countries. The French don’t finish work until about 6 or 6-30pm, and they like to go home and change or take a shower before going out for dinner, which leaves too little time before curfew.” - AFP

11:42 AM

Business inundated with donations to provide free meals for poorest children

Keith Perryman, owner of the Watering Can cafe in Greenbank Park, Liverpool, said they had prepared 100 packed lunches, with sandwiches, crisps, soft drinks, biscuits and fruit, on Monday morning.

He said anyone in need could come into the cafe between 12pm and 2pm and any leftover meals would be taken to a local school which would help to distribute them.

"If anyone is embarrassed about asking for free lunches we've come up with the codeword 'Frank', who is our dog, so if people ask for Frank we can provide them with the free lunches."

He said the business had set aside £2,000 for the meals but had been inundated with donations since they had announced their plans and were planning to use the extra money for a similar scheme over the Christmas holidays.

He told the PA news agency: "We've had donations from £5 up to £500. We had a lady come in this morning with 100 cupcakes for the meals and another who is bringing us cookies tomorrow.

"Liverpool has always been well-known for its community support and this is all about looking after each other."

Read more: Boris Johnson faces Tory revolt over free school meals

11:37 AM

'It's a godsend': Free meals for children across England as communities step up

Businesses from all over the country have followed Marcus Rashford's campaign on free school meals and are digging in to help to provide for vulnerable children over half term.

A mother-of-three, one of many people already benefiting, said the support was a "godsend" after struggling during the pandemic.

It comes as the Government faces growing pressure to perform a second U-turn over the funding of free school meals in the holidays.

One business stepping up is Midland Mencap Community Centre in Weoley Castle, Birmingham which was given more than £1,000 in donations to buy food over the weekend.

Coming to collect a bag of food for the week, mother-of-three Aisha said: "It's amazing. It's a godsend actually, because I have been struggling.

"The vouchers over the summer helped so much. The Government has spent billions so how can they not now help children who are hungry?"

11:32 AM

Bulgarian schools could switch to online learning amid surge in cases

Bulgarian schools will be allowed to switch to online studies, the education ministry said today, as the Balkan country struggles to contain a fresh surge in coronavirus infections.

Bulgaria, like most of the European Union, is reporting a sharp rise in infections, with the total number of confirmed cases almost doubling to 37,889 since the start of October. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov himself tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday.

The ministry said school heads in areas with high numbers of infections, such as the capital, Sofia, could choose to switch to distance learning if they see a rising number of abstentions due either to infections or quarantines.

The ministry recommended switching to online learning first for high schools, saying online studies for primary pupils should be introduced only if absolutely necessary.

11:27 AM

Halloween goes on at the White House with a few Covid twists

With a bit of rejiggering, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump played host on Sunday to hundreds of superheroes, unicorns, skeletons and even a miniature version of themselves as part of a Halloween celebration at the White House.

In years past, the President and First Lady personally handed out candy to the costume-clad kids. This year, the treats were provided separately as participants walked along a path on the South Lawn.

The kids still briefly met the pair, who waved and offered words of encouragement from a safe distance about how much they liked the costumes.

Guests older than 2 were required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing - Bloomberg
Guests older than 2 were required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing - Bloomberg
Trump was particularly pleased with a young boy with a distinctly Trump head of hair and a partner who did her best Mrs. Trump impersonation - AFP
Trump was particularly pleased with a young boy with a distinctly Trump head of hair and a partner who did her best Mrs. Trump impersonation - AFP
The South Portico of the White House was decorated with bright-colored leaves in various shades of autumn, chrysanthemums and pumpkins, while a military band set the mood by playing songs such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” - Bloomberg
The South Portico of the White House was decorated with bright-colored leaves in various shades of autumn, chrysanthemums and pumpkins, while a military band set the mood by playing songs such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” - Bloomberg

11:18 AM

Would you pay to sit on a public beach to adhere to social distancing?

A proposal by a private club to cordon off a section of Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach has divided local residents and sparked a debate on changes to public spaces in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Amalfi Beach Club, in a petition posted online earlier this month, proposed paid access to individual cabanas or tents on part of Australia's popular beach to meet rules on social distancing and group sizes, from the months of February to May.

The move would help create jobs and support the local economy, said Janek Gazecki, a producer at the Amalfi Beach Club. The petition, addressed to the local Waverley Council, has garnered about 1,000 signatures.

"Our proposal is not to privatise the beach, or make it exclusive for the wealthy. It utilises existing leasing mechanisms for use of public land - absolutely anyone can go online and book a space," he said in response to criticism.

"It attracts tourism at a time when it is significantly down at Bondi Beach. It is an ideal way to raise morale and boost the local economy during a recession," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

Waverley Council said it was examining the proposal.

With some cities easing lockdown restrictions, tempers have flared over use of public spaces, as authorities have handed pavement space to restaurants in need of outdoor seating, and limited visitors to parks and beaches - Bloomberg
With some cities easing lockdown restrictions, tempers have flared over use of public spaces, as authorities have handed pavement space to restaurants in need of outdoor seating, and limited visitors to parks and beaches - Bloomberg

11:11 AM

More areas to face toughest coronavirus restrictions

Hundreds of thousands more people are expected to be placed under the toughest coronavirus restrictions this week as ministers opened up on how areas could exit their lockdown measures.

Parts of Nottinghamshire look set to be the next to enter the highest Tier 3 alert level in England after discussions carried on through the weekend.

Local politicians have indicated that they expect the new measures could come into force as early as Wednesday.

The council in Warrington in Cheshire has already said it will be joining Tier 3 on Thursday, with Downing Street saying discussions are still "ongoing".

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said areas would have to prove that their infection rate was "coming down", especially among those aged 60 or over, before they could be removed from the strictest measures.

He has also refused to rule out bringing in a tougher set of Tier 4 impositions following reports another level is being considered to tackle England's rise in infections.

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

11:03 AM

Tesco apologises for non-essential item confusion

Tesco has apologised for the confusion surrounding the sale of non-essential items in Wales, saying an earlier tweet was sent in error.

The original tweet, which said sanitary products were banned under Welsh Government guidelines, was a "response we're using when challenged on products that we have been asked to restrict by the Welsh government", they said.

"Clearly sanitary products are an essential purchase and I'm so sorry to see that one of our stores has them restricted at the moment," the store's Twitter account said.

10:57 AM

Sanitary products ARE essential items, Welsh Government says

In the latest confusion over the ban of non-essential items in Wales during the country's firebreak, the Welsh Government has said sanitary products DO count as essential.

It follows our post from 10:33am, where we reported that Tesco were reportedly banning people from buying sanitary products. 

The superstore said it had been instructed "not to sell these items for the duration of the firebreak lockdown".

But tweeting in response, the Welsh Government said: "This is wrong - period products are essential.

"Supermarkets can still sell items that can be sold in pharmacies.

"Only selling essential items during firebreak is to discourage spending more time than necessary in shops. It should not stop you accessing items that you need."

10:44 AM

Italian restaurateurs furious at new restrictions

In Italy, the owners of bars and restaurants are furious that from today, they will have to close their doors at 6pm,

Nick Squires reports from Rome. 

The order was contained in a new package of anti-coronavirus measures that was announced yesterday by the government.

The new restrictions are due to last until at least November 24. Swimming pools, gyms, cinemas and theatres must close altogether.

Italy is struggling to deal with around 20,000 new cases a day.

The government has told the country's 60 million people to avoid all unnecessary travel. 

The hospitality business will be hit particularly hard by the new measures.

"No one was expecting such a blow. I feel really down about it," said Gianni Mele, the owner of a restaurant in Milan.

He will try to salvage his livelihood by opening for lunch and offering takeaway and delivery food in the evenings.

"During the lockdown we posted our menu on Facebook and Instagram, we did what we could." But he says he has already sustained huge losses since the pandemic hit Italy in late February.

"My income has dropped by 55 per cent according to my accountant."

His wife thinks they may have to close altogether and reopen in the new year.

A skeleton is seen at a restaurant table to protest against the new national restriction to contain the coronavirus pandemic - Antonio Masiello/Getty
A skeleton is seen at a restaurant table to protest against the new national restriction to contain the coronavirus pandemic - Antonio Masiello/Getty

10:33 AM

Period products classed as 'non-essential' items in Wales

Sanitary products have reportedly been classed as "non-essential items" in Wales after Tesco cordoned off the products.

It comes as the Welsh Government instructed supermarkets to stop selling non-essential items as part of a two-week firebreak to reduce Covid-19 infections.

One customer tweeted Tesco on Monday morning to ask: "Can you explain why I was told today that I can’t buy PERIOD PADS as I’m sure they are essential to women ?!!! But I can buy alcohol it doesn’t make sense".

Another said: "I’m literally Raging & in tears @Tesco how the hell is beer essential and PERIOD PRODUCTS are Non essential".

In a response to the tweets, Tesco said it had been told by the government not to sell the items.

A tweet sent from the store's official Twitter account, which has since been deleted, said: "We understand how frustrating these changes will be for our Welsh customers.

"However, we have been told by the Welsh Government not to sell these items for the duration of the firebreak lockdown."

10:23 AM

Pressure for lockdown grows as France ‘loses control’ of epidemic

Pressure for local lockdowns is increasing on the French government after 52,000 new Covid-19 infections were reported on Sunday night, another daily record, David Chazan reports from Paris.

Jean-François Delfraissy, the government’s chief scientific advisor, said that number reflected only confirmed cases and he estimated the total number at about 100,000.

He joined other senior doctors in urging the government to introduce local lockdowns or a weekend lockdown that would effectively extend the current 9pm curfew in force in much of the country to weekends in order to limit social contacts.

“There are probably more than 50,000 cases per day. We estimate, on the scientific committee, that we are more in the region of 100,000 cases per day," Dr Delfraissy told RTL radio on Monday. He expressed surprise at the “brutality” of the increase.

Eric Caumes, head of the infectious diseases department at Paris’s largest hospital, La Pitié-Salpêtrière, said: “We have lost control of the epidemic.”

Jean Rottner, the conservative president of the eastern French region bordering on Germany and himself a doctor, tweeted: “I am certain that we are heading towards a lockdown.”

Dr Rottner told Franceinfo radio: “I’m asking for us to start discussing it before it’s too late… instead of waiting another two or three weeks, the government should open discussions with unions and employers’ groups now.”

10:23 AM

Five stories to read this morning

  1. Restrictions: Rule of six and curfews likely to have 'zero effect' on reducing contacts

  2. Alternative: Tory MPs want a pandemic equivalent of the European Research Group

  3. Face masks: School could face legal action after pupil is excluded for failing to wear mask

  4. Long read: The strange ways that coronavirus can affect the brain

  5. Business: ‘Chicken king’ dines out on crisis-hit competition

10:10 AM

Iran reports Covid death every five minutes

Hospitals in many Iranian provinces are running out of capacity to handle Covid-19 cases, health authorities say, with coronavirus now killing around 300 people a day or one person every five minutes.

Authorities have complained of poor social distancing, and Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said the pandemic could cause 600 daily deaths in coming weeks if Iranians failed to respect health protocols in the Middle East's hardest-affected country.

A caption that ran on state television news said an Iranian died of novel coronavirus every five minutes, a rate that corresponds to daily death tallies reported by the authorities of just above or below 300 over the past 20 days.

Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV on Sunday that 32,616 people had died of the disease and the number of confirmed cases had reached 568,896.

Some experts have doubted the accuracy of Iran’s official coronavirus tolls. A report by the Iranian parliament’s research centre in April suggested that the coronavirus tolls might be almost twice as many as those announced by the health ministry.

Schools, mosques, shops, restaurants and other public institutions in Tehran have been closed since October 3. As Covid-19 cases and deaths continued to hit record levels, the closure was extended until November 20, state TV reported.

Iranian people wearing masks walk at a promenade in West Tehran - Majid Asgaripour/WANA 
Iranian people wearing masks walk at a promenade in West Tehran - Majid Asgaripour/WANA
Hospitals in many Iranian provinces are running out of capacity to handle Covid-19 cases, health authorities say, with coronavirus now killing around 300 people a day or one person every five minutes.   -  Majid Asgaripour/WANA
Hospitals in many Iranian provinces are running out of capacity to handle Covid-19 cases, health authorities say, with coronavirus now killing around 300 people a day or one person every five minutes. - Majid Asgaripour/WANA

09:57 AM

Hospital ward closes to new admissions after Covid infections rise

A ward at Ulster Hospital on the outskirts of Belfast has closed to new admissions due to patients and staff being affected by Covid-19.

The South Eastern Health Trust has confirm there are "currently a number of staff and patients affected by Covid-19 in a medical ward at the Ulster Hospital".

"The team are working together to minimise the impact on those affected and the services provided," the trust added.

"The ward is currently closed to new admissions and additional infection control measures are in place."

09:44 AM

WATCH: US is 'rounding the corner' on Covid, Trump claims

09:27 AM

When will the Covid vaccine be ready?

sked about preparations for a vaccine, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We want to be ready in case everything goes perfectly, but it's not my central expectation that we'll be doing that this year.

"But the programme is progressing well, as I say, we're not there yet, the true answer to your question is we don't know. We don't know when a first vaccine will be available, but my central expectation is in the first half of next year.

"Nevertheless, of course, we're doing the preparatory work now for how that will be rolled out.

"We've got the joint committee on vaccinations and immunisations has set out the order of priority and, of course, we're doing the logistical work led by the NHS, working with the armed services who are playing an important role in the logistics of it, to ensure that we have that roll-out programme ready, but preparing for a roll-out and actually having the stuff to roll out are two different things.

"So it's obviously something that we want to happen as soon as safely can be done and as fast as safely can be done, but we are not there yet."

09:20 AM

How can an area exit Tier 3?

Asked about the criteria for an area to exit Tier 3, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The first thing that's most important is that the case rate has to be coming down, and in particular we look at the number of cases amongst the over-60s because that's the number that is likely to translate into hospital admissions and sadly into deaths."

He added: "Unfortunately it's (NHS data) showing that hospitalisations are still going up and that they are again doubling every fortnight or so ... There's just under 100,000 beds in the NHS as a whole and you can see how many of those are taken up by people with Covid."

09:04 AM

'Trust the health authorities', South Korea urges

South Korea has sought to dispel concerns over the safety of its seasonal influenza vaccine, urging it on citizens in a bid to avert stress on a health system that is already grappling with the coronavirus.

Public anxiety over the safety of flu vaccine has surged after at least 59 people died this month following vaccinations, while last month about 5 million doses had to be disposed of as they were not stored at recommended temperatures.

Authorities have said they found no direct link between the deaths and the vaccines against flu, which kills at least 3,000 South Koreans each year.

"Do trust the health authorities' conclusion...reached after a review with experts," President Moon Jae-in said.

"There is a need to expand the influenza vaccination this year not only to prevent the flu, but also to ward off concurrent infection and spread of flu and Covid-19," he told a meeting.

08:41 AM

Selling non-essential items could 'undermine' the firebreak

Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething said that allowing non-essential retail to open during the country's two-week firebreak lockdown would "undermine the point" of the restrictions.

"We're having a really difficult stay-at-home period to make sure more people are alive," Mr Gething told Sky News.

"If we decided that larger retailers could carry on selling those items, we know we'd have the situation that Ireland faces right now, where smaller retailers are significantly unhappy and calling for action to be taken.

"If we then allow all non-essential retail to open then we'll undermine the point and the purpose of a package of measures to help save people's lives."

Mr Gething said many retailers had online shops which people could buy non-essential items from during the lockdown.

08:40 AM

Welsh supermarkets can sell non-essential items in 'exceptional circumstances'

Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething has said that supermarkets in the country can sell non-essential items during the firebreak lockdown in "exceptional circumstances".

The Welsh Government is due to discuss the ban, which has been heavily criticised over the weekend, with supermarkets on Monday.

"We're looking to have that clarity so you don't see cards, for example, sealed up in one shop but available in another," Mr Gething told Sky News.

"We want the clarity on the principle that if there really are exceptional circumstances when someone needs what would otherwise be a non-essential item, that can happen as well.

"We want that clarity because this potentially overshadows the much bigger issue of having a firebreak to save people's lives."

08:18 AM

Matt Hancock backs Test and Trace boss

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has pledged his support for Baroness Harding, the head of the Test and Trace system.

The system last week hit a record low, with just 59.6 per cent of the contacts of people who tested positive for the disease being successfully alerted and told to self-isolate.

Asked on BBC Breakfast if she is the right person for the job, Mr Hancock replied: "Yes, of course."

He said: "I look at the whole system and how it's operating. It's really easy to pick at one individual data point, but you have got to look at the system as a whole.

"This is a system that's expanding fast and is absolutely critical to helping reduce the spread of the virus."

07:54 AM

What coronavirus does to the brain

The brain can be affected by coronavirus 
The brain can be affected by coronavirus

The Telegraph's Harry de Quetteville has published a fascinating piece this morning on how coronavirus can cast a long shadow once the more obvious symptoms disappear. 

He writes: 

On March 17 this year, a man was taken to hospital in Israel suffering from a dry cough and a loss of sense of smell. He developed a fever and felt tired but, after three days as an in-patient, was released to quarantine.

Then something strange started happening. His handwriting changed. It became smaller, crabbed and unreadable. Not just that, but he struggled to speak clearly or write texts on his phone.

His right hand began to tremble. Eventually, symptoms became so bad that he returned to hospital, this time to the department of neurology, dealing in disorders of the brain and nervous system. A battery of tests was performed. Then doctors gave him a devastating diagnosis: Parkinson’s.

The man was just 45. It was two months since his positive test for Covid-19. This case, newly described, is not unique. Across the world, doctors have noticed that Covid is often accompanied not just by the familiar shortness of breath and coughing that affect the body, but also by a huge range of conditions hitting the brain – from foggy thinking, through delirium, all the way to strokes and Parkinsonism.

You can read the rest of the article here. 

07:45 AM

Surge in asymptomatic cases in China

China reported the highest number of asymptomatic novel coronavirus infections in nearly seven months on Monday following the discovery of a cluster of cases linked to a garment factory in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

Health authorities found 137 asymptomatic cases on Sunday during a drive to test 4.75million people in the Kashgar area triggered by an asymptomatic infection in a 17-year-old female garment factory worker reported on Saturday.

It was not clear how the teenager was infected, though the official Xinhua news agency said all of the new cases were linked to another garment factory where the patient's parents work. The parents had not tested positive for the virus, however, it said.

The teenager's infection was discovered during routine weekly testing in Xinjiang for what Xinhua called key groups of people. It did not specify who was in those groups or why she was among those tested.

The number of new symptomless infections was the highest since China began reporting daily counts of those cases on April 1.

07:41 AM

France 'could be seeing 100,000 new cases a day'

France may be experiencing 100,000 new Covid-19 cases per day - two times more than the latest figures - Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the government on the pandemic, told RTL radio on Monday.

"There is probably more than 50,000 cases per day. We estimate, on the scientific committee, that we are more in the region of 100,000 cases per day," said Delfraissy.

France registered a record 52,010 new confirmed coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said in a statement on Sunday, as a second wave of cases surges through Europe.

The new cases took the French total to 1,138,507, with France now ahead of Argentina and Spain to register the world's fifth highest number of cases after the United States, India, Brazil and Russia.

Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart - Cases default

 

07:18 AM

Government struck £119m Covid ad deal weeks before first lockdown

Ministers struck a  deal worth up to £119m with one of the world's biggest marketing companies for a Covid campaign three weeks before the country went into a national lockdown, official filings show, Simon Foy reports

The Cabinet Office signed the contract with London-based OMD Group, a subsidiary of US ad titan Omnicom, on March 2  - the same day Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended his first pandemic-related Cobra meeting - as the Government began to gear up its response to the crisis. 

Although the UK did not go into lockdown until March 23, the outline of its communications strategy appears to have been agreed weeks in advance. 

Read more: Government struck £119m Covid advertising deal weeks before first lockdown

06:59 AM

'It's unbelievable': Labour hits out at VAT suspension for PPE

Labour has hit out at the Treasury's decision to allow the temporary suspension of VAT on personal protective equipment (PPE) to expire, calling the move "unbelievable".

The Treasury cut VAT on PPE to 0 per cent in May, with the cut applying to items such as face masks and aprons purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against the virus.

It was initially due to return to 20 per cent in August, but was extended until October 31 at the estimated cost of around £255 million for the six-month period.

Labour says the Treasury has confirmed the suspension will not be extended, with shadow financial secretary to the Treasury James Murray calling the decision "the last thing" families need.

He said: "It's unbelievable that the Government wants to introduce a mask tax in the middle of a pandemic.
 "With Covid cases on the rise across the country, the Government should be doing all it can to help people follow its own guidance to wear a mask, not ramping up the cost of buying one.
 "Families across the country are already struggling financially as a result of the crisis. The last thing they need is to be penalised for doing the right thing."

Read more: Cost of facemasks to rise as Treasury scraps VAT exemption on PPE

06:49 AM

School could face legal action after pupil is excluded for failing to wear face mask

A secondary school may face legal action after a pupil with learning difficulties was excluded for failing to wear a face mask, Camilla Turner reports.

Brockhill Arts Performing Arts College, in Kent, could be accused by lawyers of failing in its duties under the Equality Act after it suspended a student who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The pupil has an "education, health and care plan" which means he has been officially assessed by the local authority and deemed to have special education needs and is legally entitled to extra support.

Read the full story here.

06:32 AM

Emergency use authorisation for South Korean rapid test

South Korea's Celltrion said on Monday that it had received emergency use authorisation from the US Food & Drug Administration for its rapid Covid-19 testing kit Sampinutes.

Celltrion said Sampinute delivers coronavirus test results within 10 minutes, with a sensitivity of around 94 per cent.

The authorisation came three months after requesting approval in late July. The product was launched in the US in August, according to the company statement.

"(The company) is planning to supply Sampinute across the United States through local wholesalers as it believes the demand for rapid diagnosis kits will be high, mainly among large businesses and government agencies that are about to return to work after telecommuting," it said in a statement.

06:27 AM

Coronavirus news from around the world...

  • Russia's tally of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 1.5 million on Sunday as authorities reported 16,710 new infections amid a rapid resurgence of the outbreak that has swept the country in recent weeks. Russia's caseload remains the fourth largest in the world.

  • Austria has tightened its coronavirus rules as the Alpine country sees new daily records of infections. From Sunday, no more than six people are allowed to meet indoors. Outside, a maximum of 12 people are allowed to get together. In restaurants, the number of guests has been reduced to no more than 10 per table. People also must wear masks in train stations, markets and nursing homes.

  • The Czech government will almost certainly have to tighten its anti-coronavirus measures again as current curbs have not halted a surge in infections, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said.

  • American infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that it would be clear whether a Covid vaccine was safe and effective by early December, but that more widespread vaccination would not be likely until later in 2021.

  • India's central bank governor Shaktikanta Das said on Sunday that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

  • Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said he had a "general malaise" after testing positive for coronavirus and would stay home for treatment.

  • Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced a new state of emergency in an effort to curb soaring infections.

  • Italy on Sunday ordered bars and restaurants to close by 6pm and shut public gyms, cinemas and swimming pools to try to halt a rapid coronavirus resurgence.

  • Israel will begin human trials for a potential vaccine developed by a research institute overseen by the Defence Ministry on November 1 after receiving regulatory approval, the ministry said on Sunday.

  • Qatar has signed an agreement with drugmaker Moderna to buy its Covid vaccine as soon as it is approved and released for global use, state news agency QNA quoted a health official as saying on Sunday.

06:14 AM

Malaysian PM's grip on power erodes amid pandemic

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said his government was prioritising protecting people from coronavirus - REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said his government was prioritising protecting people from coronavirus - REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin faced calls to resign on Monday as doubts swirled over the support that he commands, after the king rejected his request to declare a state of emergency to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Muhyiddin had requested emergency rule amid a fresh spike in infections in Malaysia and a global pandemic that has battered the economy. But critics accused him of using it as a pretext to suspend parliament and avoid a test of his razor-thin parliamentary majority.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah's refusal is seen as further eroding Muhyiddin's grip on power, a month after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he had majority support in parliament, including from defectors from the ruling alliance, to form a new government.

Turning down Muhyiddin's request on Sunday, the king also asked politicians to end any politicking that could destabilise a government that he said had handled the pandemic well.

06:05 AM

Melbourne finally reopens after months of restrictions

A lockdown of Australia's second-biggest city, Melbourne, will be eased after the country's coronavirus epicentre went 24 hours without any new infections for the first time in four months, Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday.

With infections now under control, Mr Andrews said most restrictions would be eased in two phases from Tuesday, which should give Australia's ailing economy a boost.

Mr Andrews said people would be free to leave their homes from Tuesday while restaurants, cafes, shops, bars and hotels would be allowed to reopen.

Capacities at those businesses, however, will be capped at 40 people indoors and 70 outside.

The size of religious services would also be expanded.

06:00 AM

'Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest crisis of our age'

The head of the United Nations said on Sunday that "the Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest crisis of our age".

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened an online session of the World Health Summit with a call for worldwide solidarity in the global crisis and demanded that developed countries support health systems in countries that are short of resources.

The pandemic is the overarching theme of the summit, which was originally scheduled for Berlin.

Several of the leaders and experts who spoke at the opening stressed the need to cooperate across borders.

"No one is safe from Covid-19. No one is safe until we are all safe from it," said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"Even those who conquer the virus within their own borders remain prisoners within these borders until it is conquered everywhere."

More than 42 million people have been infected with the virus and more than one million have died.

05:40 AM

Calls for Covid hotels to ensure Scots follow quarantine orders

Scots who test positive for Covid-19 should be quarantined in hotels due to fears that orders to self-isolate are being widely ignored, an expert has said.

Professor Hugh Pennington said the commandeering of hotels could be “the only solution” to what he suspects is widespread non-compliance.

He has become the latest expert to back the adoption of South Korean-style "Covid hotels", telling The Telegraph that they had also proved a success in countries such as New Zealand and Australia.

Read the full story here.

05:36 AM

US school moves to remote learning after rule-breaking house party

An American school district superintendent says a Massachusetts high school will shift to fully remote learning after students attended a house party where they shared drinks and didn't wear masks.

Superintendent John Buckey said in a letter to families on Sunday the action was in response to Friday's house party with young people who were "generally ignoring" Covid rules.

Mr Buckley wrote that he understood "young people's desire to be together, as far away from adults as possible", but that ignoring the rules was "potentially harming the community at large".

Marblehead High School students will learn remotely until at least November 6. 

05:22 AM

Pupil is excluded for failing to wear mask

A secondary school in Kent may face legal action after a pupil with learning difficulties was excluded for failing to wear a mask.

The pupil has an "education, health and care plan", which means he has been officially assessed by the local authority and deemed to have special education needs and is legally entitled to extra support.

Official guidance from the Department for Education states that pupils should not be sent home over failing to wear a mask.

Read the full story here.

05:18 AM

Israel prepares to let children return to school

Israel has decided to begin sending children back to school.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced on Sunday that his coronavirus cabinet voted in favour of reopening school for children in grades one through four on November 1.

Older children will be divided into "capsules", and the children in younger grades will attend on alternating days to minimise class sizes.

Israeli schools opened for the school year on September 1 but quickly moved to distance learning as a coronavirus outbreak spread. The government subsequently imposed a month-long lockdown that closed much of the economy.

After mishandling the lifting of a first lockdown early this year, Israel is moving cautiously this time around.

Preschools reopened last week, and older children are to gradually return to school in a staggered plan over coming weeks.

05:02 AM

Mexico reveals true death toll

Mexican health authorities have acknowledged the country's true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is far higher than previously thought, with 193,170 "excess" deaths in the year to September 26.

Of those, 139,153 are now judged to be attributable to Covid-19.

Mexico's official test-confirmed death toll is only about 89,000, but officials previously acknowledged many people did not get tested or their tests were mishandled.

Authorities had previously presented an estimated death toll of 103,882, after taking into account mishandled tests. But the Health Department said on Sunday they had analysed databases to come up with the latest figure.

The analysis picked up symptoms related to Covid-19 mentioned on death certificates even if they weren't listed as the cause of death.

Coronavirus Mexico Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Mexico Spotlight Chart - Cases default

04:35 AM

Biden says Trump team have 'given up' on protecting Americans

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on Sunday - MANDEL NGAN/AFP
Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on Sunday - MANDEL NGAN/AFP

Donald Trump has claimed progress in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, even as the United States sets records for daily infections.

It has prompted Democratic challenger Joe Biden to accuse the president of surrendering to the pandemic.

In two days the US registered its highest number of new Covid cases - about 84,000 on Friday and 79,900 on Saturday. 

The pandemic, which has caused more than 225,000 deaths in the country and left millions of Americans jobless, remains front and centre in the presidential race.

Even as the pandemic surged in many parts of the country, Mr Trump told an airport rally in New Hampshire: "There's no nation in the world that's recovered like we've recovered."

"We are coming around, we're rounding the turn, we have the vaccines, we have everything. Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn," Mr Trump told cheering supporters - many not wearing protective masks or observing social-distancing recommendations.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN's State of the Union program: "We're not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas."

Mr Biden seized on those comments, saying Mr Meadows "stunningly admitted this morning that the administration has given up on even trying to control this pandemic, that they've given up on their basic duty to protect the American people."

"This wasn't a slip by Meadows, it was a candid acknowledgement of what President Trump's strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn't, and it won't," Mr Biden said.

03:24 AM

Campaign continues for Pence, despite aide testing positive

Mike Pence pumps his fist as he runs from his plane to the podium while arriving at a rally in Kinston, North Carolina, on Sunday - REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Mike Pence pumps his fist as he runs from his plane to the podium while arriving at a rally in Kinston, North Carolina, on Sunday - REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Vice-president Mike Pence campaigned on Sunday despite a Covid outbreak among his aides.

With a week to go before the November 3 presidential election, the White House cited Mr Pence's status as an "essential worker" as justification for his campaign travel, despite exposure to his chief of staff, Marc Short, who tested positive on Saturday.

Multiple senior aides to Mr Pence also tested positive, the White House chief of staff said.

A spokesman for the vice-president said Mr Pence and his wife had tested negative. 

Mr Pence addressed a rally in Kinston, North Carolina, on Sunday and will be in Hibbing, Minnesota, on Monday.

03:01 AM

161 new asymptomatic Covid cases in China

China has reported 20 new confirmed and 161 new asymptomatic Covid cases, the national health authority said on Monday. It follows a surge in symptomless infections in the north-western Xinjiang region.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all new confirmed cases were imported infections from overseas. 

Of the 161 new symptomless infections, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, 138 were locally transmitted.

Kashgar in the Xinjiang region started testing its 4.75 million people on Saturday after detecting an asymptomatic patient at a garment factory.  Another 137 asymptomatic cases were reported on Sunday due to the tests being conducted.

A total of 85,810 confirmed Covid cases have been recorded in mainland China, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,634.

02:48 AM

Singapore pauses use of two flu vaccines after South Korean deaths

Singapore has temporarily halted the use of two influenza vaccines as a precaution after some people who received them in South Korea died, becoming among the first countries to publicly announce a halt of the vaccines' usage.

South Korea reported that 48 people had died as of Saturday after getting flu shots, but said it would carry on with the state-run vaccination programme because they found no direct link between the deaths and the shots.

No deaths associated with influenza vaccination have been reported in Singapore, but the decision to halt the use of SKYCellflu Quadrivalent and VaxigripTetra was precautionary, the health ministry and the Health Sciences Authority (HAS) said late on Sunday.

Read the full story here.

02:31 AM

No new cases or deaths in Victoria, despite concerns

Australian health officials on Monday reported no new coronavirus cases or deaths in the state of Victoria, which has spent months under onerous restrictions after becoming the epicentre of the country's second wave.

It was the first 24-hour period without any new cases reported in the state since the five million residents of Melbourne were locked down after security bungles at quarantine hotels housing returned international travellers sparked a major outbreak in July.

Under the lockdown, people in the city - Australia's second-biggest - have been barred from leaving their homes for non-essential reasons and spent months under an overnight curfew.

Some restrictions were lifted last week, allowing haircuts and golf games to return, but further easing planned for Sunday was delayed to assess thousands of test results after a small outbreak in the city's north.

Pressure is mounting on  authorities to allow the city more freedom, with a litany of rules still in place despite the falling number of cases.

Masks are mandatory, restaurants are limited to takeaways and deliveries, non-essential shops have to remain closed and there is a ban on travel outside the greater Melbourne area or more than 25 kilometres (16 miles) from home.

The city's second round of stay-at-home restrictions began in July, when the state of Victoria saw around 190 new cases a day, rising to 700 in August.

The rest of Victoria state is already enjoying fewer restrictions, with gyms set to reopen and outdoor live music to resume from Tuesday.

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

01:44 AM

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